Admittedly, this next quote is a bit long, and could be complex. I encourage you to thoughtfully read and process it all.
For Christians to regard the work of culture in any literal sense as “kingdom-building” this side of heaven is to begin with an assumption that tends to lead to one version or another of the Constantinian project, in which the objective is for Christians to “take over” the culture, fashioning all of the world in the image of the church or at least in accord with its values. Typically, this assumption leads to the dualism in which the culture either declares Jesus as Lord or it doesn’t. Christians are either “winning” the culture or “losing” it, “advancing the kingdom” or “retreating,” which is why all versions of the Constantinian approach to culture tend to lean either toward triumphalism or despair, depending on the relative success or failure of Christians in these spheres. This is why it is always dangerous to aspire to a “Christian culture” or, by extension, a Christian government, a Christian political party, a Christian business, and the like.
(James D. Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World pp. 233-234)
At first glance, this quote can seem at least controversial and possibly heretical. After all, we have been taught throughout all of our Christian lives that the duty of good, pious Christians is to go and impact culture, win the culture war, etc.
The problem with this predominant mentality is that the thing cherished is, in fact, a quasi-Christian utopia, where the morals, ideals, and values of the church are reflected and replicated in society. While eschatologically this is true that what began in a garden will consumate in a city (or empire, depending on your rendering of it), and the full and final manifestation of the Kingdom of God will in fact reflect all that he is, because the promise of Revelation comes finally to bear:
 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15 ESV)
But how, then, do we go about bringing the world that is to come here and now? How do we bring God’s shalom on earth if it is not brought through a culture war?
The answer comes when we examine what exactly we are questing for. Our utopia or Christ’s exaltation. What exactly are we trying to create?
In thinking about what a rediscovery of a “doctrine of vocation” might look like in our contemporary context, we must turn our attention to the notion of “building the kingdom of God” and the problematic trappings that come with the employ of that phraseology within the modern context of our evangelical ghetto:
It is also important to underscore that while the activity of culture-making has validity before God, this work is not, strictly speaking, redemptive or salvific in character. Where Christians participate in the work of world-building they are not, in any precise sense of the phrase, “building the kingdom of God.” This side of heaven, the culture cannot become the kingdom of God, nor will all the work of Christians in the culture evolve into or bring about his kingdom. The establishment of his kingdom in eternity is an act of divine sovereignty alone and it will only be set in place at the final consummation at the end of time… Perhaps it will be that God will transform works of faith in this world into something incorruptible but here again, it is God’s doing and not ours.
(James D. Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, pp. 233)
And so why, then, would we come out of our evangelical ghetto, if what we are doing is not in the strictest sense “kingdom work”? More on that to come later.
How does this quote strike you? Does it offend you, provoke you, or affirm you?