A Reformed Theological Perspective
by Richard W. Mouw
What is the relationship of the
city, viewed eschatologically, to present urban realities? This
is a crucial question. How should the biblical vision of the future
shape our present attitudes and actions?
The relationship here is a complex
one. consider again the vision of Isaiah 60. We might think of this
prophecy as being fulfilled in three different stages. The first
stage has already occurred for Old Testament Israel. Yet it was for
them only a partial and fragmentary realization. This Scripture
promised the restoration of Jerusalem to Jews in exile or just
returning from exile. They, or their children, were to rebuild
Jerusalem as the home of Godís chosen people and as a center of
international commerce. Nevertheless this Jerusalem never really
approached the grandeur of Isaiahís vision.
We might consider the New
Testament church as the second stage of this fulfillment. Here the
body of believers could be seen as a city drawing inhabitants from
many nations. In this new city the gifts of many peoples are shared,
power and authority are transformed, and oppression is lifted. This
fulfills another part of Isaiahís promise: "You shall call
your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise."
But the final denouement is yet to
come. Until then the people of God await the city which shall embody
the riches of their "Redeemer, the Might One of Jacob."
We, like Abraham, look
"forward to a city which has foundations, whose builder and
maker is God." Nevertheless, and this is the key, we wait as
those who are already delegates of that city. This is our time of
exile, but even in exile we are still a holy nation and a royal
priesthood under our King, Jesus Christ. Many of the blessings of
the promised city are already ours, with more for the asking.
Now, what we hope for in the
future city, and what we presently realize in the body of Christ, is
also what God wants for all human beings. while we are called to
witness to the coming of Godís city, biblical visions of that city
can also guide and inform our present efforts to establish urban
justice and righteousness. We can legitimately work for the
elimination of oppression and the transformation of culture as the
first fruits of Godís rule over the city.
Richard W. Mouw, "A
Reformed Theological Perspective on Politics," in Signs of
the Kingdom in the Secular City, edited by Helen Ujavrosy,
Chicago: Covenant Press, 1984, pp. 42-43