March/April Issue

Wednesday
Dec072011

Learning to be Reformed from a Jewish Novelist

From James K.A. Smith

As you'll note from my recent Perspectives article, "A Peculiar People," I've been thinking a lot about the dynamics of immigration and how that intersects with my own experience of being an immigrant--and being Reformed.  That's not just because my Reformed community finds its heritage in an immigrant population; rather, there is something inherent to this expression of the Reformed faith that is poised to appreciate the precarious place of the immigrant and the exile.  This is because the people of God inhabit that equally precarious place between common grace and antithesis--between the persistent affirmation that the whole earth is the Lord's (Psalm 24:1) and the heartbreaking recognition that the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19).   We serve the risen, coming King of creation but are constantly aware of the governorship of the enemy in this meanwhile.  And so we are like citizens who return to our homeland only to find it under foreign rule.  We are not so different from Israel, who returned from exile only to find themselves exiles in their homeland now run by the Roman empire.  

At the heart of what I've imbibed from Kuyper and Dooyeweerd and Runner and Seerveld is the sense that the covenant people of God will (and should) never quite be "at home" anywhere; the people of God hold citizenship in a far country which should make us uncomfortable but constructive inhabitants of any culture.

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