Some years ago Robert Benne wrote an essay in First Things called "The Neo-Augustinian Temptation," which he describes as a movement "committed to the construction of an independent and distinct churchly culture based upon the full narrative of Israel and the Church as it has been carried through the ages by the Great Tradition."
But in light of Mark Tooley's incisive piece appearing this week at the American Spectator, I think the trend might just as well be dubbed the "Neo-Anabaptist temptation."
As Tooley writes, "Traditional Anabaptists, such as the Mennonites, foreswore military service and public office while not contesting the civil state's responsibilities, including armed force. But the new neo-Anabaptist movement is more aggressive, demanding that all Christians, and society, including the state, bend to pacifism. Traditional separatism has also compromised, with today's many outspoken neo-Anabaptist voices pushing many insistent political demands that invariably align with the secular left and religious left."
As the Benne and Tooley pieces demonstrate, the idea of two cities or two kingdoms is not unique to the Augustinian or Reformation visions of the world order. It's precisely in the details of the relations of these two that the various visions differ.
And as for how the neo-Anabaptists are "engaging" culture, Tooley writes, "Although the neo-Anabaptists sort of subscribe to a tradition that rejects or, at most, passively abides state power, they now demand a greatly expanded and more coercive state commandeering health care, regulating the environment, and punishing wicked industries."