A short post today, but here’s a good thread on the unbridgeable gap between Christianity and Liberalism – and here I’m talking about all forms of it back to the so-called Enlightenment.
The author of these tweets speaks of a difference in soteriology (salvation), but I think that’s the wrong doctrine; it’s the doctrine of man which is different, and that’s exactly what this thread is about. Man, on liberalism, is good. A blank slate. Only society can corrupt him. Only the system can cause him to go wrong. Marx is an inevitable stop on this path.
Man, on Christianity, is a sinner. He tends to toward evil and needs God. Societies and institutions, being man-made can be bad, too, but evil goes through every heart, as Solzhenitsyn put it.
This results in a different soteriology, but it starts with a difference in the view of what is wrong with man.
I’ve heard godly Christian men wonder why we can’t have politically liberal Christians; why Christianity is so intimately tied with the political right. There are some (Tim Keller, Russel Moore) who suggest it *is* possible, and I don’t think they are honest here; I think think they have divided loyalties. But for those kind-hearted, godly Christian men who just don’t think in political terms, I think there’s just some confusion.
Why are liberals and Christians so often not the same people? It’s not because the Republican Party is the party of Jesus (they’re mostly liberals, too). It’s not because conserving things is Christian and changing things is Satanic. It’s because liberalism just is a different religion. Conservatism is a disposition which everyone has toward the things they care about most, but it isn’t a religion. Thus one can be a conservative and a Christian in a way one cannot be a liberal and a Christian.
You will never get political liberals to align consistently with Christianity for the same reason you won’t get Buddhists or Muslims or atheists to do so.
I think it’s even deeper than that. The fundamental doctrine of the Enlightenment, rarely stated but always assumed, is that, for human life to be properly lived, it must not be regarded as having any transcendent purpose – because the Enlightenment, fundamentally, is simply a retroactive intellectual justification for the Peace of Westphalia and its cujus regio ejus religio stance. (It’s telling, I think, that John Locke, throughout the Second Treatise of Government, is continually appealing to Richard Hooker – who, of course, was doing something similar for the Elizabethan Settlement.) So it’s not so much that Enlightenment liberals and their successors can’t be Christians, as that they can’t let their Christianity matter – which comes in the long run to the same thing, of course.
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Your last statement is exactly right; either way they don’t worship Christ, no matter how much they let Christian civilization veneer their lives and work.
On the one hand I do see a link between Westphalia and the Enlightenment but on the other I think it’s a core Christian principle that belief cannot be compelled, even if it can be used as the basis for laws which have authority over people. This I get from the very nature of the Gospel itself, which Jesus Himself says is not to bring about an earthly kingdom, and that if it were, his followers would fight. In the context, to prevent his arrest, but I think this is more broadly applicable.
This might not be a disagreement, though. If the Enlightenment took this concept to its extreme and divorced it from its Christian roots, which I think it did, then it’s the twisting of something good. I’ve heard the Enlightenment called a sort of Christian heresy, which would concur with that.
No, I don’t think it’s a disagreement at all – unless, perhaps, you’re under the impression that the Peace of Westphalia wasn’t an act of religious compulsion. And I don’t see how you can be, since the whole point of it was to compel the signatory nations to retain whatever religion each one happened to be professing at the time of signing, to the point where the queen of Sweden, a scant six years later, was obliged to abdicate her throne upon converting to Catholicism. In other words, a bunch of politicians got together to consciously prevent whole nations from repenting of heresy (since, in a mixed group of Catholics and Lutherans, someone has to have a false conception of the Gospel, whatever one may believe the true one to be). From even the most rudimentary Christian standpoint, this was manifestly horrific; therefore, the Peace’s supporters had to contrive a non-Christian worldview to justify it, and the rest is history.
Not a disagreement, then. I’m just not as familiar as I ought to be with the implications of that treaty.
It’s not surprising to me, though. It wouldn’t be the last time wars led to insane overreactions that all but guaranteed even worse things in the future (WW1 leading to WW2, and WW2 leading to the death of Europe we see today).
Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .