Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

In propounding an absolutized view of the human being to which everything, including human thought, is subordinated, ideologies and political parties try to use the church or deprive it of its legitimate independence. This manipulation of the church . . . may derive from Christians themselves, and even from priests and religious, when they proclaim a gospel devoid of economic, social, cultural, and political implications. In practice this mutilation comes down to a kind of complicity with the established order, however unwitting.

Other groups are tempted in the opposite direction. They are tempted to consider a given political policy to be of primary urgency, a precondition for the church's fulfillment of its mission. They are tempted to equate the Christian message with some ideology and subordinate the former to the latter, calling for a "rereading" of the gospel on the basis of a political option. But the fact is that we must try to read the political scene from the standpoint of the gospel, not vice versa.

Traditional integrism looks for the Kingdom to come principally through a stepping back in history and reconstructing a Christian culture of a medieval cast. This would be a new Christendom, in which there was an intimate alliance between civil authority and ecclesiastical authority.

The radical thrust of groups at the other extreme falls into the same trap. It looks for the Kingdom to come from a strategic alliance between the Church and Marxism, and it rules out all other alternatives. For these people it is not simply a matter of being Marxists, but of being Marxists in the name of the faith.

Source: John Eagleson and Philip Scharper (eds.), Puebla and Beyond ( New York, 1979), pp. 194-202.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

G. MacEoin and Nivita Riley, Puebla: A Church Being Born ( New York, 1980).

Source for this document.

References for Document 172.

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