Saturday, May 31, 2008

Response to the Jack of Clubs: Political Order and Christian Faithfulness

Over the past few years, Russ Smith, a.k.a. the Jack of Clubs, and I have "crossed sabers" over the monarchy/republic debate. I take the position that monarchy is the divine order of things, the entire cosmos being subsumed under the headship of Jesus Christ's kingship, and that earthly government ought to be patterned after it.

Russ takes the position that Christ's kingship can just as adequately be represented by other forms of government, and that the historical outworking of Christ's rule is through the agency of the Holy Spirit enabling the multitude to acknowledge and obey God's Law. Russ and I share the conviction that God's Law is the standard for earthly society, and thus share much in common. In this blog entry I will endeavor to clarify my positions in light of Russ' expressed criticisms responding to my previous post.

1. Here, I must admit I jumped the gun by too quickly equating the sources of political legitimacy with their—in my view—purest expressions or arrangements. Leaving aside the question of demonic inspiration for the moment, there are only two legitimizing rationales for government: the Mandate of Heaven or the Will of Man. Office is either granted by divine appointment or seized for some perceived benefit to man (e.g., preeminence, power, wealth, security).

Now, I take kingship to be the paradigmatic office of divine appointment, because the king is (or should be) God’s anointed. Therefore, when Russ asks about man’s vice-gerancy, he knows I will associate Adam’s headship with kingship. I have previously argued that the priority of Adam’s generation, his offices of husband, father, covenant-sacerdotal head, cohering in his person, made Adam the quintessential King before Christ.

But Russ posits a third alternative to monarchy and democracy, which he calls vice-gerancy. I take him to mean by this a Holy Republic of humanity, wherein all individuals share responsibility to obey God’s Law, order their personal lives, and cooperate in the common cultural task. Now, I have no problem with accepting the idea that mankind in general has a royal and priestly calling, and ought to do these things. But, to suppress the notion that particular individuals superlatively exemplify kingship and/or priesthood, as Adam or Melchizedek did, seems contrary to the intent of Scripture.

Regarding my equation of legitimacy and office, the whole point of my previous post was to explain how the logic of legitimacy favors one conception of office over another in life. There is an intimate relation between theory and practice; everyone recognizes that theory implies practice, but less obviously, practice disposes to favor theory. And if democracy is institutional unbelief, as I contend, Christians should have none of it.

2. I’m going to get to Russ’ points about composite governments, idolatrous monarchies, and faithful democracies in the next post. Right now, I'll conclude with an application of my theory of office to our current situation. According to my theory, all rulers fall somewhere on a continuum that runs between the ideal king who exercises merciful judgment & just beneficence and the ideal tyrant whose justice is disproportionate & mercy cruel. We Americans don’t normally call our presidents kings or dictators, but in my view our leadership definitely tends in the wrong direction. Remember: in a really functioning monarchy, the legislative, judicial, and executive powers are all exercised by the king. In our system we have entrenched demagogic politicians, unaccountable bureaucrats, and dictatorial judges. It seems to me, then, that the main difference between an unjust monarchy and an unjust republic is in the greater number of heads needing to be chopped off.

To be continued…

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two Systems of Political Authority

My theory of political authority breaks down essentially this way:

1. There are only two possible sources of political legitimacy: the Mandate of Heaven or the Will of Man, divine right Monarchy or Democracy.

2. There are therefore only two kinds of authority: the King exists as an icon of divine lordship, while the Dictator embodies the people's interests.

3. Corresponding to these alternate authorities, government exists either to administer divine justice on earth or to actualize human freedom.

4. Corresponding to these alternate purposes are two kinds of social order: sacral or secular society.

5. Within the sacral society there will always be factions that either 1) attempt to maintain the king's subservience to divine law (Traditionalists), or, 2) attempt to free the king from his obligation to divine law (Autocrats), or, 3) attempt to free the people from their obligation to the king in the name of divine law (Radicals).

6. Within the secular society there will always be factions that either 1) push toward the maximum amount of freedom possible (Progressivism), or, 2) pull back toward control for fear of moral or political anarchy (Conservativism). It should be noted that both progresives and conservatives are radicals in the sense of point 5 above.

7. Within secular societies, progressives will always determine the social problematic, while conservatives will always be the reactionary faction. Moral and political anarchy are inevitable in this system, and greater and greater control will be necessary to maintain order. Totalitarianism is the natural offspring of democratic practice.

8. Therefore, there appears to be a difference in tendency between Monarchy and Democracy. Monarchy can retain a principled stable position between autocracy and radicalism, while Democracy must always move toward totalitarianism in the name of freedom. In the end, the Dictator becomes absolutely free while the people become absolutely enslaved.

In a fallen world, Monarchy may not be able to guarantee a traditional stability, but Democracy guarantees anarchy and the totalitarianism it engenders.

Is W2K Pro-Choice?

Readers of this blog know the hard stand I take against W2K (Westminster Two Kingdoms) theology. The reason I single out W2K is because, 1) I'm familiar with it, and, 2) I view it as social antinomianism (lawlessness) masquerading as Christian orthodoxy.

Professing to chart a third course between (or perhaps around) the liberal-conservative standoff, W2K makes the case that one's personal faith (including one's ethical commitments) is only indirectly related to what one thinks is good for society. In this way W2K disengages the personal and social spheres, so that one can personally be "against," say, homosexual sex or abortion, but can publicly advocate and support gay rights or legal abortion.

Proponents of W2K aren't merely interested in promoting the modern liberal rights agenda. They work most effectively as public examples of a mythical creature both theologically conservative and politically liberal. This works quite well for the mainstream media that likes to trot out useful idiots like Michael Horton (a Christian theology expert) and Darryl Hart (a respected historian of American Christianity) to inform readers / viewers that one can believe in the Virgin Birth and not be Republican.

Well, certainly membership in a political party is not the same thing as membership in a Chrisian church. Nor does political conservatism = Christianity, per se. But it can be argued there is something wrong with a Christian "orthodoxy" that says society is not bound to acknowledge God's Lordship and Law. You can be assured I will do all in my power to expose the subversive tendencies inherent in W2K.

As of the writing of this post, two W2Kers I've recently dialogued with have failed to acknowledge a political commitment against abortion. You can read the exchange here. But even if one or both do eventually express a personal political commitment to the legal recognition of the sanctity of human life, W2K remains in essence a strategy to separate civil law from its foundation in divine law.

German parents post baby on eBay for 1 euro

AP foreign, Saturday May 24 2008

BERLIN (AP) - Authorities in southern Germany have taken custody of a 7-month-old boy after his parents posted an ad on eBay offering to sell him for one euro, or about $1.60.
Police spokesman Peter Hieber says the baby was placed in the care of youth services in the southwestern Allgaeu region.

Hieber said on Saturday that the mother told police the Internet ad was only a joke. Authorities have begun an investigation into possible child trafficking against the parents.

No offers were made for the child in the two hours and 30 minutes the ad was posted. The Internet auction site deleted the posting later. Several people who saw the ad alerted police.