This development took place in both the toward the existing political order was determined by the imminent expectation of the kingdom of God, whose miraculous power had begun to be visibly realized in the figure of Jesus Christ.
From the perspectives of history and sociology, the Christian community has been related to the world in diverse and even paradoxical ways.
This is reflected not only in changes in this relationship over time but also in simultaneously expressed alternatives ranging from withdrawal from and rejection of the world to theocratic triumphalism.
Thus, its historical expressions may be as diverse as the Jeffersonian United States and Hitlerian Germany.
The other three types that Niebuhr proposed are variations on the theme of mediation between rejection and uncritical endorsement of the world.
From the perspective of theology or faith, the criticism of the world of which the Christian community itself is a part is the exercise of its commitment to Jesus Christ.
For the Christian community, the death and Resurrection of Jesus call into question all structures, systems, and values of the world that claim ultimacy.
The objective-institutional character of the church increases as it relinquishes its commitment to eschatological perfection in order to create the , the Christian commonwealth or society.
This development stimulates opposition from those who understand the Gospel in terms of personal commitment and detachment from the world.
It has served the typical religious function of legitimating social systems and values and of creating structures of meaning, plausibility, and compensation for society as it faces loss and .
The Christian community has sometimes exercised this religious function in collusion with tribalistic nationalisms (e.g., the “German Christians” and Nazism) by disregarding traditional church tenets.
The relationship of the Christian community to the world may be seen differently depending upon one’s historical, sociological, and theological perspectives because the Christian community is both a creation in the world and an influence upon it. He described the church as a conservative institution that affirms the world and mediates salvation through clergy and sacraments.