Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our Missionary Citizenship (Re)defined

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner." - John F. Kennedy
Christian Democrats are often associated with the idea that the community is a 'key moral actor'. But you can easily find Dutch neocalvinists that reject this idea. These neocalvinists put Christian Democracy squarely in the camp of those that view 'the individual and not the community or state, as the key international moral actor'. Dutch theologian Klaas Schilder makes this case here. But this seems mostly forgotten. Mark Kerstens writes for example in a recent paper on the Relationship between R2P and the International Criminal Court:
'both liberalism and cosmpolitanism view the individual and not the community or state, as the key international moral actor and, as Molly Cochran claims, place moral value on individual autonomy, attributing 'to the individual a capacity to choose one's life, unencumbered by social attachments.'
While the speech 'Ich bin ein Berliner' by US President John F. Kennedy in Berlin in 1963, which early on explained the heart of the EU project, emphasizes the role of the individual it obviously has a Christian Democratic flavor to it (allthough Robert Cooper,  Counsellor in the European External Action Service, might not notice it.) The speech reminds us of De Civitate Dei. The reference to the Apostle Paul is clear when Kennedy states 'two thousand years ago the proudest boast was Civis Romanus sum'. Offcourse a reference to Apostle Paul's 'missionary citizenship' which permeates EU jurisprudence concerning free movement and EU citizenship:
"Like in the Roman empire now every citizen of an EU-memberstate, from Lissabon to Bukarest, can hold up his juridical status as citizen of the EU and tell the national authorities: Civis europaeus sum!"
When Robert Cooper, in a recent interview, says 'Conflict is the natural condition of mankind but natural conditions can be overcome by institutions' he summarizes the famous book 'Leviathan' in which Thomas Hobbes sets out his  doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments (originating social contract theory):
'Leviathan was written during the English Civil War; much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war.'
The book 'Alive in Leviathan' by Dutch theologian Ad de Bruijne discusses Oliver O'Donovan's thought on the relationship between faith and politics. Ad de Bruijne mentioned cosmolitanism in a recent symposium on ”Europe,  the end of national churches?' and paraphrased President John F. Kennedy's words: 'a citizen of heaven is loyal to other citizens of heaven, wherever they may live'. In this context he proposes the term missionary citizenship. To get an idea what 'missionary citizenship' means let's listen to what Bart Wallet appreciates in O'Donovan's ideas (bookreview 'Alive in Leviathan' ): 
'He argues that the Church is Israel's outstretched hand to the world. The church collects on  Israel's behalf for the kingdom of God.'
(allthough offcourse the emphasis on Israel betrays Wallet's special focus on Israel and link to pro-Israel lobby groups among Dutch Christians).

It's clear neocalvinists are engaged in the process of (re)defining their 'missionary citizenship'. To get acquainted with this ongoing intriguing process among Dutch neocalvinists you could read for example this sermon by a pastor from Loppersum in Groningen on Acts 28:31 or read the book Ambassadors in Jerusalem by another pastor from a small village in Groningen, the province where the influential  neocalvinist theologian Helenius de Cock and journalist (and ARP representative) Albertus Zijlstra were born.

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