Responding to Simon Barrow


Simon Barrow of Ekklesia has published some thoughtful reflections on the Christian involvement in the election campaign earlier this year. He makes an interesting distinction between ‘functionalist’, ‘interventionist’ and ‘exemplary’ methods of engagement- I’ll leave you to do the reading on that. Towards the conclusion of his article he highlights a benign acceptance of the current political system in general and a lack of Christian challenge to the voting system in particular as being of specific concern. I largely agree with him although some of us were chipping away at first-past-the-post using our inherently equal human dignity as a starting point. Whilst his analysis is useful, I’m not sure that many of the loud voices have thought through their positions from first principles as these headings suggest. My summation would be that there were two basic approaches ‘reactionary’ and ‘pro-active’. The waking of the church into political engagement has largely come about because the church has suddenly found itself threatened by legislation- in a way that many had not anticipated. This has given rise to the ‘reactionary’ approach that lacks a positive voice about influencing political culture- it has no vision except that ‘what is coming is worse than what came before.’ No wonder Christians are sometimes accused of wanting to recreate the 1950s. I think the biggest challenge for us now is to challenge the reactionaries to get involved (hands dirty) and thereby to discover the possibilities of a more pro-active approach. Our theology needs to be all-encompassing and generous yet realistic about human nature and the limits of government. We have a huge task ahead as the tendency will be to shrink back and concentrate on ourselves in the post-election hiatus. But to have a ‘church vs the rest’ attitude will only cede ground to those who have a very different agenda.

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2 thoughts on “Responding to Simon Barrow

  1. Thanks for this a Gareth… I am glad ou are both more or less right thought ekklesias Power2010 was by no means near causal with re hung parliament. Also Simons article reads more like a blog post than a journal editorial… shame really. No focus. Could hav been better…

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