Andrew Whitworth is the Assignment Editor for The Body Politic, where he works with bother regular and guest writers to develop article ideas and bring their articles from first draft to final draft.
The public square is a crowded place these days. As the internet and social media continue to change how we all engage in public conversation, it can be easy to feel lost among many voices. Here at the Center for Christian Civics, we don't want to simply produce more content for consumption--but we do think that there is a need for a church-focused forum for talking about politics and our civic responsibilities as Christians.
Where Does CXC Fit Into the Conversation?
There are many great organizations doing work in the sphere of politics and civic engagement. Whether they are think-tanks, media organizations or advocacy groups, most of them are outward-facing institutions. CXC is unique in that our primary audience is the church. We believe that politics, public life and civic engagement are matters of discipleship and vital work of the local church.
But too often, we don't have a theology of public life that's robust enough to support the scope of our passion or commitment. Too often, the vacuum left by the lack of a political theology has left room for idols like nationalism, race and identity politics to capture our imaginations. Our spiritual formation and witness has suffered because of this. We hope to engage Christians of all cultures and traditions, seeking justice and bridging divisions both inside and outside the walls of the church.
The question for Christians in a representative government is not whether we need to engage with the public square or not, but how. Even when the course forward is listening rather than speaking and learning rather than leading, it is not the route of disengagement. The simple command to love our neighbors as ourselves requires us to engage.
What is needed now is a reimagined Christian political witness and we here at the Center for Christian Civics hope to provide resources and equip Christians, both individuals and communities, toward this goal.
What Can You Expect From Us?
One of the ways we want to work towards this goal of equipping Christians is through this blog, The Body Politic. We hope this can be a forum that brings together a diverse set of Christian voices and readers to engage with what it means to live faithfully in our political callings and responsibilities.
We will run pieces covering three general areas: First, we will have regular articles covering civic education. How does our political system work? How has the way our government works changed over time? What can our country's history teach us about our present political moment? Second, we will have pieces focused on questions of political theology and spiritual formation. What does following Jesus have to do with politics? In what ways is the gospel political? How do Christians engage a pluralistic society with our exclusive faith? How do churches minister to those who work in government and politics? What role does the church play in political community?
And third, we will have pieces from Christians sharing personal stories of political engagement, hopefully helping bridge the gap between the "out there" work of politics and the "right here" work of our daily, common life. These pieces will come from congressional staffers, policy advocates, political scientists, community activists and private citizens across the political spectrum.
What We Hope for The Body Politic
We hope that this would become a community of folks working through these questions together. As the body of Christ, we recognize that iron sharpens iron and we have much to learn from one another. We hope that the readers and writers in this space will feel supported to do this work in their local churches and communities.
Our church communities have the opportunity to demonstrate the reconciling power of the gospel to our neighbors and our nation in a time when it is desperately needed. We hope that this space would be one that combats polarization and increases empathy and understanding. It is difficult to imagine this, given the deep fractures of our communities, but we think this is the only way forward. By having these conversations together, we hope to model different points of view in fellowship with one another.
At the same time, we want this space to b e one of learning and growth. We want this outlet to be challenging. We will not avoid conflict or difficult topics and we understand that civility is not always our end goal. We hope that by engaging with both humility and conviction, and with special effort to listen to people we might normally dismiss or ignore, that we will enter into the work of the Spirit to be formed more in the likeness of Jesus, even in our politics.
We want this blog to be collaborative, so please reach out to us with any questions, comments or ideas! Thank you for reading.
"Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."