In the Friday, July 25, 2008, Washington Post, I read an opinion piece by Michael Gerson on a recent biography of William Wilberforce by William Hague. In the final paragraph of his article, Gerson remarked that "Hague's life of Wilberforce should be read by every student of politics, to understand why mere prosperity and mere security will never be sufficient goals of evangelical political involvement."
While I concur about Wilberforce's example and look forward to reading this new biography, may I suggest that prosperity and security should never be proper goals for evangelical political involvement, at least not as they are often conceived by many evangelicals. It is very difficult for me, reading the New Testament, to imagine them to be goals that Jesus taught and sought for himself, or for his disciples and his church. Unless, I would argue, such prosperity and security are understood as the stuff of true shalom, the kingdom of God on earth, which is envisioned as ultimately encompassing all people and all peoples. Would then that we, Jesus’ followers, incarnated and pursued kingdom prosperity and security for all, not just for some, without inequity and injustice, without fear and conflict, both within societies and between societies. Yet I suspect that the prosperity and security pursued by evangelical political involvement, at least in the United States, are basically the bourgeois desires of relatively privileged segments of society and the regrettable conflation of Christianity with American nationalism. If I am correct, then they are not proper goals of Christian political involvement, for they fail the measure of that true prosperity and security which mark the blessings of God's shalom, God's kingdom, for all people across all divisions of privilege, affiliation, alienation, and enmity.