A Survey of Recent Christian Ethics

By Edward Leroy Long Jr. | Go to book overview

6
The Rejection of Accommodation and Intentional Alternatives

Not all Christian ethicists find the embrace of institutions or involvement in political struggle to be acceptable ways of implementing Christian responsibility. A number, from quite different backgrounds, radically challenge the accommodation to principalities and powers that began when Constantine recognized the church and Augustine worked out the theory of the two cities. These thinkers are critical of the ambiguity of institutions and of the fruitless or demonic character of the violence upon which politics depends. Some of them are critical and reject accommodation without offering alternatives; others have more confidence in Christian patterns of special dedication.

The writings of Jacques Ellul are emphatic concerning the fallen nature of institutions and the fruitlessness of power for serving Christian purposes. One of the images that Ellul uses to develop his ideas is the image of the city. He does not use the term in the sense that Augustine did; rather he has in mind the contemporary urban structure that concentrates population in a small geographical area. Ellul has no doubt but that the city is built by those who are estranged from God--those who are rebellious and even guilty of murder. But despite this fact, we

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