Baptist Social Teaching: Participatory Politics

hands-jpeg-tinyA starting point for Baptist Social Teaching can be the “polis” of the Church meeting. At its best – no – at it its least it should be participatory. In so far as this participation is based upon some theological convictions about the inter-relationship of the individual and the community under God it offers a model of civic engagement that belies the abdication of responsibility in a representative democracy.

‘The person becomes fully human, and fully free, only when actively engaged in ruling and being ruled in turns. Political activity, and the “positive freedom” which such participation is said to bring, become necessary constituents of a fully human existence. There is a qualitative difference – a moral difference perhaps – between the liberal understanding of politics as activity necessary simply to leave the individual free for his or her private concerns, and the ideal of participatory communal polity: “the lively sense of oneself as a participant in a free state, concerned for the common good”‘. Meilaender reflecting on Aristotle. (Friendship: A Study in Theological Ethics, 1981, pp. 70-71)

To present a view on which people vote or to vote for a position and then to take no responsibility for its impact for the common good is poor democracy. It is neither the democracy we should support nor should it reflect the nature of our own participation.

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