I’d given up hope of getting a blog post in this week. But inspiration has struck — at 4.30 on Friday afternoon! (Better late than never I guess).
Although, rather than ‘inspiration’ I should say ‘Oliver O’Donovan’…
You see, O’Donovan affirms my recent flip-flopping between conservatism and liberalism when he draws together some observations about the gospel and the created order at the conclusion of a densely-packed few pages of argument in chapter 3 of Resurrection and Moral Order (pages 53-58):
Christian ethics … looks both backwards and forwards, to the origin and to the end of the created order. It respects the natural structures of life in the world, while looking forward to their transformation. This can be seen, for example, in the First Epistle of Peter, which starts with a general characterization of the Christian life in terms of ‘hope’, which is set ‘fully on the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’, and then elaborates a special ethics in terms of respectful submission ‘for the Lord’s sake’ to every institution of human life, especially the institutions of government, labour and marriage (1 Pet. 1:13; 2:13ff). There is no conflict here between what might be thought of as the ‘radical’ character of the general outlook and the ‘conservatism’ of the specific counsel. A hope which envisions the transformation of existing natural structures cannot consistently attack or repudiate those structures. Yet the ‘conservatism’ (if it is proper to use the word) includes a sense of distance, which springs from a sharp awareness of how much the institutions need redemption and how transitory is their present form.
I find this heartening. And packed with explosive implications.
Heartening — not only because O’Donovan agrees with me(!) but because I’m due to preach on 1 Peter next semester and this suggests I’m not barking up entirely the wrong tree.
And packed with implications because taking 1 Peter seriously has the potential to lay dynamite at the foot of many cherished ideas about politics, work and relationships on both the right and the left.