on theology and public policy

A great deal of current policy discussion seems to entail the presupposition that addressing the ills of society requires a central government with the power to implement policies that bring about societal wellness. In its christianized version this perspective is currently put in terms of bringing about social justice as an aspect of the coming of God’s kingdom. More and more frequently an explicit claim backing this argument is that the church is unable apart from the policy prescriptions of government to fulfill this mandate.

I must confess that I am increasingly uneasy about the theological understandings that seem to be embedded in such an argument. It’s such a monumental discussion, though, that I hesitate on the cusp of a new semester to engage the topic at a meaningful level.

This historical note caught my eye yesterday, not least because at one time I had to think carefully about the question of Social Security in light of my membership in a religious order. That may be just what I need as an entry point into the current discussion. My conclusions from that period should be useful as a starting place for new reflection.

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