I'm fully engaged in the Coming Anarchy Jesus vs. Mohammed thread. My latest of 7 comments is extensive enough that I'll just repost it here:
Elizabeth: you make a good point about Xian protest. however, there really wasn't a culture at all, so far as i'm aware, of protest in the Roman Empire, as you define 'protest'. further, since Xians were persecuted for their faith basically until Constantine, there was no 'opportunity' for protest when mere public practice could result in martyrdom.
while i really appreciate your knowledge of the history and trasitions of Xian practice, today it must take account of 2000 years of history. while we look to the first century and the NT, and before that to Judaism and the OT, we will be faced, obviously, with situations that were not experienced before.
one of those is Xianity in a culture where protest and, further, political action, is possible and does not result in martyrdom. in my view, Xians may engage in political action, broadly construed (and including protest) AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT RESULT IN THE COMPROMISE OF THEIR FAITH. because we Xians believe God is the final judge and we believe in the possibility of miracles, more Machiavellian compromises are not open to us (i scored pretty low on that Machiavelli test from a while back ;-). at the point of compromise, we have to abstain, and then the results are left to God: an unforseen miracle, martyrdom, apparent disaster. God must finally be the one who triumphs through His Church.
(somewhat tangentially, i have concluded, based on the above capitalized premise and the additional premise that politics is compromise and the compromise increases as the domain increases, it's awfully hard for Christians to politic, as such, at a national or international level, and maybe long before that.)
a corrollary here: 'power corrupts…' and Xians, who must above all remain faithful to God, regardless of the consequences, cannot afford any more corruption than what is already found in 'the world, the flesh, and the Devil' (to quote the Apostle Paul). accordingly, i have determined that any Xian use of 'power' must not result in corruption.
finally (still there ? ;-), your last paragraph: you are right that the traditional Xian view sees the world decaying (often called 'premillenial' nowadays, if you know the code), but, again, it need not be and is not the only view. many Xians believe we should do our best to improve the world (still in but not of) until Christ's return.
without putting too fine a point on it, my own participation with Tom Barnett and his vision is, in some small way, a personal outworking of this latter view.