Can a people, after having duly consented to the formation of its government, remove that government using procedures not authorized by law? To put the question differently: can the formal legitimacy that a people provides a government preclude that people from exercising its sovereign power to strip those holding formal legitimacy of power, even though those in power have not violated the express terms of their compact with the people? These are the paradoxical questions that are at the heart of the political crisis in Egypt where duly elected president, exercising powers pursuant to a duly enacted constitution, was overthrown by the “people” who acted outside the formal rules “the people” had enacted for removing or otherwise disciplining its president.
I join this conversation as a political theorist having just published a book, Beyond Church and State: Democracy, Secularism, and Conversion (Cambridge 2013), in which I argue that the modern secular imaginary is premised upon an insufficient image of secularism as the separation of church and state, and that secularism should instead be understood as a process of conversion that reshapes key dimensions of both religious and political life
Hope is not drawn from the world-that-is. Hope is grounded in perceptions of the world-that-ought-to-be. It arises from the power of the world-that-ought-to-be. For Christians, the world-that-ought-to-be is the eschatological Kingdom of God. It is expected in the future, in God’s time. But, it is also in the present, which is God’s time. The Kingdom is a perpetual possibility, even as its realization must be perpetually deferred in its fullness.