Hunter says many things that sound quite good, and it is not surprising that he has gotten good reviews from around the Reformed and evangelical world. After all, what Kuyperian could take issue with this?
“In short, faithful presence in practice is the exercise of leadership in all spheres and all levels of life and activity” (p. 260).
But what kind of leadership? Hunter has made it clear that this is a “plays well with others” kind of leadership, and not a “runs with scissors” leadership. He means leadership that does not result in significant numbers of people actually following. For if that happened, we are back in Constantinianville.
“I have argued that faithful presence is a theology of commitment and promise” (p. 261).
Again, commitment to what? Promise of what?
And it is here that Hunter’s commitment to the academician’s disease becomes apparent. Real debate is mutually respectful, and occurs in paneled seminar rooms in toney universities. If Christians cannot rise to that level, then they should just shut up (p. 266).
“To engage in a war of words is to engage in symbolic violence that is fundamentally at odds with the gospel. And too often, on such hot button issues as poverty, abortion, race relations, and homosexuality, the poor, children, minorities, and gays are used as weapons in ideological warfare. This too is an expression of instrumentalization” (p. 266).
Now Hunter would say that he is only saying that Christians should “listen carefully to opponents,” and not that Christians should not take issue. But if what our opponents are saying is outrageous, like saying that if the unborn are chopped up into little pieces the Supreme Court doesn’t care, then maintaining that this topic is worthy of getting on the agenda for a civil and reasoned debate with fellow members of your academic club, then it has become apparent that your side has already lost the debate, because “your side” clearly doesn’t believe the words coming out of its own mouth. They don’t need to defeat us if we have already capitulated.
“Another and perhaps simpler way of saying this is that the burden of shalom falls to leaders” (p. 269, emphasis his).
Yes, it most certainly does. I have a great deal of sympathy with Hunter’s aristocratic emphasis, and I agree with him that leadership is essential. Populist uprisings are often far too broad, and not nearly focused enough. Leadership is essential. But aristocratic necessities are of no help when you come to the recognition that this aristocracy, this ruling class, is hopelessly corrupt.