Christian diasporic life

As part of my preparation for co-teaching a course on Isaiah and Empire next semester I am reading (as opposed to not-reading)

[amtap book:isbn=0800632249]

He briefly discusses Jewish diasporic life and contrasts this with Zionism, and then moves on to consider various resources for Christian diasporic (as opposed to Constantinian/imperial) theology and life. His suggestions include the “Armenian diaspora… Anabaptism, in its modern Mennonite, Amish, and Hutterite manifestations, as well as Tolstoyan and related Russian nonconformism…” (p.11). Now, maybe he addresses it later, but it seems to me he misses a major stream of Christian non-Constantinian Nonconformist (in its original as well as, sometimes, modern senses) life. Surely English Nonconformism from the 1600s onward until relatively recently should not be overlooked in this project!

I vividly remember being told by an Anglican clergyman, representing the self-perceived dominant culture, telling me as a Baptist teenager in a “Religious Education” class at school, when he was asked asked about the eternal status of persons not baptised (in the Church of England) that “He was sure God made some sort of provision for people like that.” Out of such experiences a strongly “diasporic” in Smith-Christopher’s sense understanding of my life and faith was inculcated in me in opposition to the dominant discourse, as well as in my socialisation as a “Nonconformist”.

I realise that in New Zealand, the land where I am now a citizen, Baptists have not had such a strong sense of being a minority, and in the USA where many readers live, some strange (to me at least) sorts of Baptist have become almost an establishment church, but that hardly negates centuries of life and thought in the land of my birth…