Bob Robinson (here, here and here) and dlw (here) on their blogs, are grappling with and critiquing Gregory Boyd's new book, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. In the book, Boyd, an evangelical pastor known for his stands and books as a proponenet of open theism, complains about Christian involvement by evangelicals of "the religous right" as well as those of the religous left.
Paul E. Koptak in the NIV Application Commentary: Proverbs in his "Contemporary Significance" section of Proverbs 28:1-28 (pp 632-633) seems to me to steer a course between, on the one hand Christians refusing to bow to the state ("Caesar") as Lord. But rather living as those to whom Jesus is Lord, and doing so as those of another kingdom, counter and subversive to government in this world. Yet on the other hand hopefully sought out to serve in areas of leadership in government and thus bringing this other kingdom, the kingdom of God, as an influence on the state or government (local, state, national, international). He quotes Robert Webber: "The social and political work of evangelicals is counter cultural. However, the calling of the church is not to 'clean up America,' but to be the church, a radical counter cultural communal presence in society. The ultimate question is not 'How is America?' but 'How is the church?' (from R.E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World)
Koptak, after acknowledging Christians serving in community leadership roles adds: "We should cooperate and lend support when we can, but we should also speak when we disagree---and at root, Christians disagree with the rest of the world over the question of political authority, that is, who really is in charge. If we serve and speak as though we had no higher allegiance than the One who calls us to learn and live wisdom, we may be cheered, but we may also be jeered or something worse." He then quotes William Willimon: "...the church is, for better or worse, God's answer to what is wrong in the world. Just let the church begin telling the truth, speaking the truth to power, witnessing to the fact that God, not nations, rules the world, that Jesus Christ is really Lord, and the church will quickly find how easily threatened and inherently unstable are the rulers of this world." (from Willimon: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry)
Koptak's position probably aligns to some extent with Boyd's (and hopefully I am representing his position in this commentary, accurately). Bob Robinson and dlw, influenced by Abraham Kuyper (two links), see Boyd's position as at least tending towards a dualism that would evidently see God leaving the state to itself, God's rule being in the Church, and providentially- including even through the state (e.g., Cyrus and Caesar), aside from and in spite of the state. The state not being the entity of God's rule and kingdom, but nevertheless ordained by God to humans and accountable to him. Though some of Boyd's thought may be inconsistent (an interview in which he states that he is not saying Christians shouldn't serve in politics or be an influence there), the burden of what he seems to be saying is that Christians are to bring God's kingdom to earth in Jesus through fulfilling their calling as the Church. And that to be heavily engaged in politics (such as those of "the religious right"), is to at least be in danger of missing our calling as Church.
At this point I would side more with Koptak's thinking. I do believe the two extreme positions of H. Richard Niebuhr's classic, Christ and Culture: Christ against culture, and Christ transforming culture, have truth from Scripture on Christians' relation to culture and government. This is where the difficulty lies for me. We in Jesus as salt and light to this world, are surely to be influencers for good of human culture, which is simply all that is involved in how human societies live. And part of humanity's original call from God was to rule over the earth, which would inherently involve order and cooperation with other humans, itself a part of culture. Something most theologians do not believe was ever taken back by God because of the fall of humankind.
At this point I'm not sold on what I understand of the Kuyperian view. It seems to see Christ's victory at the cross, over the powers, as opening the door wide to God's full rule in government. I believe that is true. But though, this is post-cross and resurrection, and the beginning of the new creation through God's kingdom establishing itself on earth in Jesus, I just can't see all of this as fulfilled yet (such as in Psalm 2 or Revelation 11- note especially verses 15-18) in such a way that we can think of the possibility of the kingdom of God fully at home in any one human government/state. This seems to me to be a case of the present tension of "already/not yet", in that the kingdom of God is already present in Jesus, but has not yet come in its fullness as in the final judgment and restoration of all things.
What do you think on this, I believe- difficult and challenging issue?