Society & Politics

How (Not) to Be Worldly: Tracing the Borders of the 'Earthly City'

James K.A. Smith

One of the significant tensions in Christian faith exists in holding earthly and heavenly realities in tandem; we are both creatures of this earth and yet representatives of God’s heavenly kingdom. In this short article, James K.A. Smith unpacks the different usages of the phrase “Earthly City,” and shows through them how we can resolve the Reformed affirmation of the earth with the Augustinian critique of earthly ways. By doing so, he provides a path along which we can walk that retains our duality rather than forcing the dichotomy between heavenly-minded escapism and earthly-minded materialism. We need, as Smith encourages, neither to be retreating from the earthly city nor wholly embracing it. Instead, we can be ambassadors of the City of God, working towards the redemption of the City of Man.

Check out a clip from an interview with Smith, further expounding this concept with regard to Christian political engagement.

Where do you find the lines between the City of God and the City of Man to be blurred?

What is more difficult to resist: the escapist withdrawal to heaven or the materialist over-emphasis of earth?

Source: Christianity Today

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