Comment magazine, a substantive bi-annual journal for “Christian leaders and culture makers with rooted, fresh ideas for the faithful practice of North American public life,” dedicated their latest issue to the good of institutions. The magazine’s editor, James K.A. Smith, prefaced the issue boldly declaring “We Believe in Institutions.” Here’s an excerpt:
In a cynical age that tends to glorify ‘startups’ and celebrate anti-institutional suspicion, faith in institutions will sound dated, stodgy, old-fashioned, even (gasp) ‘conservative.’ So Christians who are eager to be progressive, hip, relevant, and creative tend to buy into such anti-institutionalism, thus mirroring and mimicking wider cultural trends (which, ironically, are often parasitic upon institutions!).
And yet those same Christians are rightly concerned about ‘the common good.’ They are newly convinced that the Gospel has implications for all of life and that being a Christian should mean something for this world. Jesus calls us not only to ensure our own salvation in some privatized religious ghetto; he calls us to seek the welfare of the city and its inhabitants all around us. We love God by loving our neighbours; we glorify God by caring for the poor; we exhibit the goodness of God by promoting the common good.
But here’s the thing: if you’re really passionate about fostering the common good, then you should resist anti-institutionalism.
To follow Smith’s line of reasoning, read the free article here.