Theos LogoMy good friend (and Director of the public policy think tank, THEOS), Paul Woolley, sent me an interesting little piece they are running over on the THEOS website.

It’s a thought provoking read, and while you are free to leave comments below, I’m sure THEOS would love to hear from you.

As a heads up, this is simply a taster of a larger report they have produced which can be downloaded here (Report) or purchased as a hard copy.

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One of the Prime Minister’s advisers on faith, the author and social activist Jim Wallis, has backed the conclusions of a new Theos report published today, arguing that the church must think carefully before partnering with government.

The report by Theos, the public theology think tank, called Neither Private nor Privileged, examines the role of Christianity in Britain today. It rejects calls to privatise religious faith but insists that the nature of the church’s involvement with government should differ according to the ‘moral orientations’ of the state at any given time. The role of Christianity should, therefore, be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. Underpinning this approach, the contribution of Christianity in the public square will depend on the extent to which, by doing what it must do, it can persuade the public that it is ‘doing good’.

In his foreword to the report, Jim Wallis writes:

“The church… has the obligation to closely examine the moral orientation of the state, how its policies and actions contribute to the public good, not religious belief; and measure them against the church’s conception of the public good that underlies its public witness. This provides the framework to determine the appropriate response.

“We should reject allegedly utopian or perfect societies, which are impossible creations for sinful people in a fallen world. We should rather seek concrete reforms of the social situations and circumstance in which the church finds itself… And, as the report correctly points out, for Christians [this means] that we seek the ‘common good’ of the societies in which we live.

“A commitment to the kingdom mandates that we seek the ‘common good’ of the societies in which we live. Catholic social teaching is rich with the idea of the common good, as are Protestant traditions with their idea of the “public good”. Black church history is filled with a faith that cared for the whole community when nobody else did. Evangelical revivals led to social reforms and transformed both American and British society.”