chapter  4
Liberating Captives: Theology and Social Christianity
Pages 18

How are Christians supposed to engage with the world when they are, in truth, expecting a new world that is yet to come? Why bother with the temporal when minds and hearts are meant to be fixed on the eternal? What can theology offer the churches to help Christians of all persuasions maintain their poise and prophetic witness within a public and plural world? These questions pepper the pages of the New Testament as much as they have absorbed Christians for two millennia. On the one hand, Christians are called out of the world, and are to no longer regard themselves as belonging to it. On the other hand, they are to be engaged with the world in all its complexities and ambiguities as fully as possible, being salt, light and least in society, incarnating the life of Christ into the hubris of humanity. The apparent dilemma is expressed by one early Christian writer in this way:

The unknown author of the late second century Epistle to Diognetus expresses a paradox that is at the heart of Christian engagement with social ordering, the political sphere and public life. He or she speaks for the first generation of Christians as much for those of the twenty-first, by formulating the sense of divided loyalties that can sometimes threaten the very identity of the church, and the place of Christians within the world.