It’s funny how trends change, and it’s even funnier how church trends change. There was once a time when Presbyterian intellectuals made the argument that agrarian living was better than city-living. John Murray said this went back to the city’s founding-father, Cain, and the Southern Presbyterians often argued that agrarian living allowed one to be most human, in touch with the soil and protecting a certain “slow” pace that left time for community, literature, and family. If you can believe it, there was even a time when GK Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc argued that the suburbs were closest to the Christian ideal, allowing modern man to retain his economic freedom while yet also giving him his own space for land and a family. Now of course, the city is all the rage.
We are told that the church is itself a city, a “polis,” that the Biblical vision of the future is urban, that Paul’s missionary strategy was urban, and that the city is more receptive to the gospel. All of this is true, in a way, but it is also a bit over-hyped. Continue reading