Dual Citizens

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


I have tried to show in this paper that we need not a new way to think about the Church’s interaction with society, but a different one. Niebuhr’s typology no longer serves us adequately, because it is based in Christendom. First Peter, however, shows us that we live with a dual citizenship. We are both elect and exiled. We have an eschatological hope that is effected now in the communities in which we live outside of church walls. Our hope has public ramifications. I want to end with a final picture.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us to be salt. He says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.”[1] This is the clearest picture to me. In my apartment, I have a ramekin filled with salt on my counter. It is always sitting there, ready so I can grab it when I need to season my food. I make sure it is always full. But with it sitting on the counter, it has no usefulness to me. It is only once I put it in what I am cooking when it becomes useful. As it dissolves in the boiling water or clings to the leaves of my salad, it becomes unperceivable to my eye, but it has a profound effect in the food that I eat. Since I began properly seasoning my food, I can immediately tell when something I eat is not properly seasoned. It lacks flavor and is not as dynamic as it could be.

It is the same for us as Christians. If we are not in and amongst society, we are not useful. We can no longer stay within our church walls, but we need to be in our communities living out our eschatological hope for the good of the city.


Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

De Neui, Paul. “Christian Communitas in the Missio Dei: Living Faithfully in the Tension Between Cultural Osmosis and Alienation.” Ex Auditu 23 (2007).

Legrand, Lucien. The Bible on Culture. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2004.

McKnight, Scott. 1 Peter. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Metzger, Paul. “Christ, Culture and the Sermon on the Mount Community.” Ex Auditu 23 (2007).

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word Books, 1988.

Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1956.

Volf, Miroslav. “Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter,” Ex Auditu 10 (1994): 16-27.

Winter, Bruce W. Seek the Welfare of the City. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

[1] Matthew 5:13.