Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Great Film


Jim Kalb asks "Why Radical Traditionalism in Politics?"

Because conservatism as normally understood is not possible in America today. Conservatism stands for loyalty to what is settled. It presumes that one belongs to a culture and civilization that is basically well-founded and coherent, so that it will return to type if a few errors are debunked and excesses suppressed.

None of that makes sense today. All authoritative American institutions are left-liberal in their principles. As such, they are profoundly at odds with the implicit habitual goods fostered by tradition and with any orientation toward the transcendent...

the principles needed today must be radical, because they must be in sharp opposition to the leading principles of public life.

What we need are principles that go deeper and say more than simply announcing that they are "conservative" in some generic sense. They must catch hold of something that is sufficiently fundamental and all-encompassing to ground and provide a standard for social and political life. They must therefore be religious. It is the lack of such principles that has made it impossible for conservatives effectively to contest liberalism.

Further, the principles we need must be sufficiently concrete to give answers, and sufficiently anchored in experience to avoid utopian fanaticism. That means they must be principles supported by some particular political and religious tradition...

Read the rest of his post here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The family as model of the state

The family as a model for the organization of the state is a theory of political philosophy. It either explains the structure of certain kinds of state in terms of the structure of the family (as a model or as a claim about the historical growth of the state), or it attempts to justify certain types of state by appeal to the structure of the family. The first writer to use it (certainly in any clear and developed way) was Aristotle, who argued that the natural progression of human beings was from the family via small communities to the polis. Read the rest of the Wikipedia article.

From a letter on Christian political involvement

Thanks for your thoughts, _____. I'm more and more seeing the rationale for non-participation in the political process. Good men can differ on how best to represent Christ in the political sphere.

However, at what point will such an approach cease protesting worldly power and work to improve life as it actually is in this fallen world? No system is perfect because of sin, so should Christians perpetually relegate themselves to non-political action? In fact, not even ecclesiastical institutions can be free of taint, so should we disband all organized religion?

Now if the author is saying that non-involvement is the most effective strategy in this moment and place, I'd like to hear his reasons. Maybe you could outline his main points for me. For instance, what does "true involvement" mean?

As for hastening (or anticipating) the Kingdom, I guess in the ultimate sense we'd agree only Christ can bring the kingdom to its historical consummation/perfection/fullness. However, in principle the Kingdom is already perfect, redemption being fully accomplished in Christ and in (at least) some of his saints. Kingdom resurrection power is already immanent in the world, vivifying it, and raising the dead to life. So, are we acting in faith in this reality, or do we put limits on what God can do?

Christ transformed the playing rules by pursuing a path of total submission to the Father. This involved putting himself at the mercy of the established political powers, i.e., he was no revolutionary in the ordinary sense of the term. In other words, he transformed political society from the inside out through self-sacrificial love. Christ didn't avoid political influence, but he didn't seek it either. I guess that's the delicate balance for which we all should strive.

Does this mean that Christianity doesn't offer concrete proposals for political action and even how governmental authority should be arranged? I don't think so. Grace doesn't contradict nature; rather, grace calls men back to their true nature while at the same time redeeming that nature. There is a natural order. Christian political thinkers should identify what it consists of, and point the way to its recovery and renewal.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Book Recommendation: In Praise of Prejudice


Today, the word prejudice has come to seem synonymous with bigotry; therefore the only way a person can establish freedom from bigotry is by claiming to have wiped his mind free from prejudice. English psychiatrist and writer Theodore Dalrymple shows that freeing the mind from prejudice is not only impossible, but entails intellectual, moral and emotional dishonesty. The attempt to eradicate prejudice has several dire consequences for the individual and society as a whole. (information blurb from Google Book Search)

From the Wikipedia entry on Anthony Daniels, a.k.a., "Theodore Dalrymple":

Anthony (A.M.) Daniels (born 1949) is a British writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple. He has also used three other pen names. In writing under the pseudonym Theodore Dalrymple, Daniels says he "chose a name that sounded suitably dyspeptic, that of a gouty old man looking out of the window of his London club, port in hand, lamenting the degenerating state of the world."

Daniels has written extensively on culture, art, politics, education and medicine drawing upon his experience as a doctor and psychiatrist in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and more recently at a prison and a public hospital in Birmingham, in central England. He has travelled in many countries in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.

Daniels has revealed in his writing that his father was a Communist businessman, while his Jewish mother was born in Germany and came to the United Kingdom as a refugee from the Nazi regime. In 2005 he retired from England to move (with his wife) to France, where he plans to continue writing. His columns frequently appear in The Spectator as well as in City Journal, a magazine published by the Manhattan Institute.

In his commentary, Daniels frequently argues that the so-called "progressive" views prevalent within Western intellectual circles minimize the responsibility of individuals for their own actions and undermine traditional mores, contributing to the formation within rich countries of an underclass afflicted by endemic violence, criminality, sexual promiscuity, welfare dependency, and drug abuse.

He contends that the middle class abandonment of traditional cultural and behavioural aspirations has, by example, fostered routine incivility and ignorance among members of the working class. Occasionally accused of being a pessimist and misanthrope, his defenders praise his persistently conservative philosophy, which they describe as being anti-ideological, sceptical, rational and empiricist.

Here's a choice quotation:

The combination of relativism and antipathy to traditional culture has played a large part in creating the underclass, thus turning Britain from a class into a caste society. The poorest people were deprived both of a sense of cultural hierarchy and of the moral imperative to conform their conduct to any standard whatever. Henceforth what they had and what they did was as good as anything, because all cultures and all cultural artifacts are equal. Aspiration was therefore pointless: and thus they have been as immobilized in their poverty - material, mental, and spiritual - as completely as the damned in Dante's Inferno.

(From the essay, "Uncouth Chic", in "Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes The Underclass", Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 2001.)

___________________________________________

This is the third book by Daniels I've read. One of the best cultural critics I know of, Daniels has produced a short book that argues for a kind of cultural conservativism I've been coming to for a while. There are certain pre-rational commitments, prejudices, if you will, which are absolutely necessary for a healthy society that should rarely, if ever, be questioned.

Daniels shows that prejudices are inescapable, that a prejudice against prejudice is socially harmful, and that some predjudices are necessary preconditions for virtuous living.

He closes his well-written essay with the following paragraph:

It takes judgment to know when prejudice should be maintained and when abandoned. Predjudices are like friendships: they should be kept in good repair, Friends sometimes grow apart, and so sometimes should men from their prejudices; but friendship often grows deeper with age and experience, and so should some prejudices. They are what give men character and hold them together. We cannot do without them.

A Request for UO's Readers

Dear Readers of this blog,

A while back, Blogger updated its system, and I've just made the switch to a new template. I recommend to all Blogger users that they do the same. The features are much better!

Unfortunately, Blogger only transferred the links I had in place when the whole system changed over (I don't know how many months ago). So, I've got to manually go through all the links, deleting obsolete and adding new ones. This is going to be a laborious process over the next week or so.

While I'm doing this, I'd like to add new links to blogs and sites that you, my faithful readers, think would be worthwhile to add. Please copy your recommended links in the comments section of this post.

Faithfully Yours,

Andrew

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Response to Jack: The Necessity of Historical Generalization

I am grateful for your response, my friend. I’m sure you appreciate the difficulty of handling such a complex subject as this. Thousands of volumes have been written on the subject, and if the Lord leaves us, tens of thousands remain to be written still. I plead your forbearance while I attempt a good faith effort (however limited by my lack of ability) to meet your demands for biblical arguments and concrete historical examples.

As for “high level generalizations”, Russ, it’s hard for me to understand why you don’t want me to state the theoretical presuppositions I’m working with. Historical facts abstracted from a historiographical approach are meaningless. Generalizations are not only inescapable but absolutely essential to the acquisition of knowledge. Otherwise, all that’s left is an undifferentiated mass of uncoordinated data.

Being perfectly willing to submit my presuppositions to analysis, I’m interested in hearing from you how they make sense—or not—of the broad sweep of historical events. Biblical grounds are also important because the divine interpretations of events have been revealed. Since we both recognize Scripture’s authority in these matters we will in time be able to discuss what can be validly inferred from revelation.

What I want from you, Russ, is the biblical rationale for why the ideal of self rule in personal affairs derogates from the ideal of a hierarchically ordered society. Also, why does the sin involved in Israel’s desire for a king take priority over the sanctification of kingship in Christ’s messianic office, a kingship, I emphasize, that is not reserved to Christ alone but shared with his people.


Constantine

What are you trying to say or imply, Russ, when you argue about the historical context for Constantine’s reign? It’s all very well to point out that Diocletian reorganized the empire and that Constantine didn’t forge a completely new order. I never said nor implied differently. What was new about Constantine’s reign was his reliance on the Christian God’s favor for the establishing of his office and the peace of his realm.

So, Constantine didn’t make Christianity the official religion of Rome. So what? Forty years after his death Theodosius did. What benefit can you gain by denying that Constantine accomplished much foundational to the establishment of Christianity in the empire, not to mention ignoring what he accomplished for the Church merely by calling the first ecumenical council?


Roman History

The facts of Roman History can, I believe, be best incorporated into a historical account that compares the relative stability under monarchical rule with the confusion that obtained under popular rule. Allow me to quote the great Robert Filmer to this effect:

A little to manifest the imperfection of popular government, let us but examine the most flourishing democracy that the world hath ever known — I mean that of Rome. First, for the durability: at the most it lasted but four hundred and eighty years; for so long it was from the expulsion of Tarquin to Julius Caesar, whereas both the Assyrian monarchy lasted without interruption at the least twelve hundred years, and the empire of the East continued one thousand four hundred and ninety-five years.

Secondly, For the order of it, during these four hundred and eighty years, there was not any one settled form of government in Rome; for after they had once lost the natural power of kings, they could not find upon what form of government to rest. Their fickleness is an evidence that they found things amiss in every change. At the first they chose two annual consuls instead of kings. Secondly, those did not please them long, but they must have tribunes of the people to defend their liberty. Thirdly, they leave tribunes and consuls, and choose them ten men to make them laws. Fourthly, they call for consuls and tribunes again, sometimes they choose dictators, which were temporary kings, and sometimes military tribunes, who had consular power. All these shiftings caused such notable alteration in the government, as it passeth historians to find out any perfect form of regimen in so much confusion; one while the Senate made laws, another while the people. The dissensions which were daily between the Nobles and the Commons bred those memorable seditions about usury, about marriages, and about magistracy. Also the Grecian, the Apulian, and the Drusian seditions filled the market places, the temples, and the Capitol itself, with blood of the citizens; the Social War was plainly civil; the wars of the slaves, and the other of the fencers; the civil wars of Marius and Sylla, of Cataline, of Cæsar, and Pompey the Triumvirate, of Augustus, Lepidus, and Antonius — all these shed an ocean of blood within Italy and the streets of Rome…

But you will say, yet the Roman empire grew all up under this kind of popular government, and the city became mistress of the world. It is not so; for Rome began her empire under kings, and did perfect it under emperors; it did only increase under that popularity. Her greatest exaltation was under Trajan, as her longest peace had been under Augustus. Even at those times when the Roman victories abroad did amaze the world, then the tragical slaughter of citizens at home deserved commiseration from their vanquished enemies. What though in that age of her popularity she bred many admired captains and commanders — each of which was able to lead an army, though many of them were but ill requited by the people — yet all of them were not able to support her in times of danger; but she was forced in her greatest troubles to create a dictator, who was a king for a time, thereby giving this honourable testimony of monarchy that the last refuge in perils of states is to fly to regal authority. And though Rome's popular estate for a while was miraculously upheld in glory by a greater prudence than her own, yet in a short time, after manifold alterations, she was ruined by her own hands: suis et ipsa Roma viribus mil; for the arms she had prepared to conquer other nations were turned upon herself, and civil contentions at last settled the government again into a monarchy.


(From Patriarcha, 2.11-12)

Please note, Russ, that this quotation from Filmer summarizes a response I would make to your argument that the empire was predicated on the republic's accomplishments, which is itself a generalization. On the contrary, I argue, the peace and longevity of her rule was obtained through the leadership of her emperors. If Rome had remained a republic she would have fallen prey to inward strife and foreign invasion during perilous times sooner rather than later.

What we have here is a contest between two theoretical systems. I regard royal sovereignty as a summum bonum. Alternatively, Russ, you offer popular sovereignty as the ideal. Fine. Let's compare our theories by examining first principles in light of Scripture. Along the way, we can indulge in some historical speculation and have fun while we're at it.

(To be continued…)

Monday, July 14, 2008

From Sir Robert Filmer's PATRIARCHA

CHAPTER I.

3. I come now to examine that argument which is used by Bellarmine, and is the one and only argument I can find produced by my author for the proof of the natural liberty of the people. It is thus framed: "That God hath given or ordained power, is evident by Scripture; but God hath given it to no particular person, because by nature all men are equal, therefore he hath given power to the people or multitude."

To answer this reason, drawn from the equality of mankind by nature, I will first use the help of Bellarmine himself, whose very words are these: "If many men had been together created out of the earth, they all ought to have been princes over their posterity." In these words we have an evident confession that creation made man prince of his posterity. And indeed not only Adam, but the succeeding patriarchs had, by right of fatherhood, royal authority over their children. Nor dares Bellarmine deny this also. That the patriarchs, saith he, were endowed with kingly power, their deeds do testify; for as Adam was lord of his children, so his children under him had a command and power over their own children, but still with subordination to the first parent, who is lord-paramount over his children's children to all generations, as being the grandfather of his people.

4. I see not then how the children of Adam, or of any man else, can be free from subjection to their parents. And this subjection of children being the fountain of all regal authority, by the ordination of God himself; it follows that civil power not only in general is by divine institution, but even the assignment of it specifically to the eldest parents, which quite takes away that new and common distinction which refers only power universal and absolute to God, but power respective in regard of the special form of government to the choice of the people.

This lordship which Adam by command had over the whole world, and by right descending from him the patriarchs did enjoy, was as large and ample as the absolutest dominion of any monarch which hath been since the creation. For dominion of life and death we find that Judah, the father, pronounced sentence of death against Thamar, his daughter-in-law, for playing the harlot. "Bring her forth," saith he, "that she may be burnt." Touching war, we see that Abraham commanded an army of three hundred and eighteen soldiers of his own family. And Esau met his brother Jacob with four hundred men at arms. For matter of peace, Abraham made a league with Abimelech, and ratified the articles with an oath. These acts of judging in capital crimes, of making war, and concluding peace, are the chiefest marks of "sovereignty" that are found in any monarch.

5. Not only until the Flood, but after it, this patriarchal power did continue, as the very name patriarch doth in part prove. The three sons of Noah had the whole world divided amongst them by their father; for of them was the whole world overspread, according to the benediction given to him and his sons: "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." Most of the civilest nations of the earth labour to fetch their original from some one of the sons or nephews of Noah, which were scattered abroad after the confusion of Babel. In this dispersion we must certainly find the establishment of regal power throughout the kingdoms of the world.

It is a common opinion that at the confusion of tongues there were seventy-two distinct nations erected, all which were not confused multitudes, without heads or governors, and at liberty to choose what governors or government they pleased, but they were distinct families, which had fathers for rulers over them, whereby it appears that even in the confusion God was careful to preserve the fatherly authority by distributing the diversity of languages according to the diversity of families, for so plainly it appears by the text. First, after the enumeration of the sons of Japhet, the conclusion is: "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." So it is said: "These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations." The like we read: "These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations in their nations, and by these were these nations divided in the earth after the Flood."

In this division of the world, some are of opinion that Noah used lots for the distribution of it; others affirm he sailed about the Mediterranean Sea in ten years and, as he went about, appointed to each son his part, and so made the division of the then known world into Asia, Africa, and Europe, according to the number of his sons, the limits of which three parts are all found in that Midland Sea.

6. But howsoever the manner of this division be uncertain, yet it is most certain the division itself was by families from Noah and his children, over which the parents were heads and princes.

Amongst these was Nimrod who, no doubt, as Sir Walter Raleigh affirms, was by good right lord or king over his family; yet against right did he enlarge his empire by seizing violently on the rights of other lords of families; and in this sense he may be said to be the author and first founder of monarchy. And all those that do attribute unto him the original regal power do hold he got it by tyranny or usurpation, and not by any due election of the people or multitude, or by any faction with them.

As this patriarchal power continued in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even until the Egyptian bondage, so we find it amongst the sons of Ishmael and Esau. It is said, "These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their castles and towns, twelve princes of their tribes and families. And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families and their places by their nations."

7. Some, perhaps, may think that these princes and dukes of families were but some petty lords under some greater kings, because the number of them are so many that their particular territories could be but small and not worthy the title of kingdoms; but they must consider that at first kings had no such large dominions as they have nowadays. We find in the tune of Abraham, which was about three hundred years after the Flood, that in a little corner of Asia nine kings at once met in battle, most of which were but kings of cities apiece, with the adjacent territories, as of Sodom, Gomorrha, Shinar, etc. In the same chapter is mention of Melchisedek, king of Salem, which was but the city of Jerusalem. And in the catalogue of the kings of Edom, the names of each king's city is recorded, as the only mark to distinguish their dominions. In the land of Canaan, which was but a small circuit, Joshua destroyed thirty-one kings, and about the same time Adonibesek had seventy kings whose hands and toes he had cut off, and made them feed under his table.[1] A few years after this, thirty-two kings came to Benhadad, king of Syria, and about seventy kings of Greece went to the wars of Troy. Cæsar found more kings in France than there be now princes there, and at his sailing over into this island he found four kings in our county of Kent. These heaps of kings in each nation are an argument their territories were but small, and strongly confirms our assertion that erection of kingdoms came at first only by distinction of families.

By manifest footsteps we may trace this paternal government unto the Israelites coming into Egypt, where the exercise of supreme patriarchal jurisdiction was intermitted because they were in subjection to a stronger prince. After the return of these Israelites out of bondage, God, out of a special care of them, chose Moses and Joshua successively to govern as princes in the place and stead of the supreme fathers; and after them likewise for a time He raised up judges to defend His people in tune of peril. But when God gave the Israelites kings, He re-established the ancient and prime right of lineal succession to paternal government And whensoever He made choice of any special person to be king, He intended that the issue also should have benefit thereof, as being comprehended sufficiently in the person of the father, although the father only was named in the grant.

8. It may seem absurd to maintain that kings now are the fathers of their people, since experience shows the contrary. It is true, all kings be not the natural parents of their subjects, yet they all either are, or are to be reputed, the next heirs to those first progenitors who were at first the natural parents of the whole people, and in their right succeed to the exercise of supreme jurisdiction; and such heirs are not only lords of their own children, but also of their brethren, and all others that were subject to their fathers. And therefore we find that God told Cain of his brother Abel, "His desires shall be subject unto thee, and thou shalt rule over him." Accordingly, when Jacob bought his brother's birthright, Isaac blessed him thus: "Be lord over thy brethren, and let the sons of thy mother bow before thee." [Gen. 4:7]

As long as the first fathers of families lived, the name of patriarchs did aptly belong unto them; but after a few descents, when the true fatherhood itself was extinct, and only the right of the father descends to the true heir, then the title of prince or king was more significant to express the power of him who succeeds only to the right of that fatherhood which his ancestors did naturally enjoy. By this means it comes to pass that many a child, by succeeding a king, hath the right of a father over many a greyheaded multitude, and hath the title of Pater Patriae...

From Bishop Overall's Convocation Book

CHAPTER II.

To him that shall duly read the Scriptures, it will be plain and evident that the Son of God, having created our first parents, and purposing to multiply their seed into many generations, for the replenishing of the world with their posterity, did give to Adam for his time, and to the rest of the patriarchs and chief fathers successively before the flood, authority, power, and dominion over their children and offspring, to rule and govern them; ordaining by the law of nature, that their said children and offspring (begotten and brought up by them) should fear, reverence, and obey them. Which power and authority before the flood, resting in the patriarchs, and the chief fathers, because it had a very large extent, not only for the education of their said children and offspring, whilst they were young, but likewise for the ordering, ruling, and governing of them afterwards, when they came to men's estate. And for that also, it hath no superior [authority, or power, over, or above] it on earth, appearing in the Scriptures, although it be called neither patriarchal, regal, and imperial, and that we only term it potestas patria; yet, being well considered how far it did reach, we may truly say that it was in a sort potestas regia; as now, in a right and true construction, potestas regia may justly be called potestas patria.

CANON II.

If any man shall therefore affirm that men at the first, without all good education, or civility, ran up and down in woods, and fields, as wild creatures, resting themselves in caves, and dens, and acknowledging no superiority one over another, until they were taught by experience the necessity of government; and that thereupon they chose some amongst themselves to order and rule the rest, giving them power and authority so to do; and that consequently all civil power, jurisdiction, and authority was first derived from the people, and disordered multitude; or either is originally still in them, or else is deduced by their consents naturally from them; and is not God's ordinance originally descending from Him, and depending upon Him, he doth greatly err.

PLACET EIS.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ministry of Law

Over at Theopolitical, Davey Henreckson offers some provocative thoughts on the eschatological role of civil government:

If the civil realm, like the “law,” fills an eschatological role, it doesn’t have to be the antithesis of the spiritual realm. It can serve as the taskmaster to lead us to the beginning and end of all things: Jesus. Paul says in Galatians 3:21, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” The law, therefore, was not meant to give life in itself, but rather to point to the faith of Jesus, our true salvation. But further, abiding by the law directs us toward Christ. The law, and by extension the civil realm, was “sent by [God] to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good,” (pre-)schooling us in the ways of grace.

I have wondered for some time now whether king as God's minister (Rom. 13), should be thought of as the chief deputy of God's Law on the earth. If this is correct, then a case could be made that since the priest is the primary minister of redemptive grace that church and state perform distinct but complementary roles within the New Covenant economy.

St Paul says to Timothy:

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Tim. 1:8-11)

The proper use of the Law is in punishing and restraining sin. During the present age this power has been entrusted to the king, who acts as the agent of God's wrath (Rom. 13:4).

Here perhaps is a hint of the main thrust behind St. Paul's critique of the Law: that the Law in its civil character punishes and condemns, but cannot redeem. Earthly government is insufficiently equipped to produce righteousness and peace. The eternal city cannot be established through political efforts, as demonstrated by Israel's manifest failure, but has to be built "without hands" (Dan. 2:34ff.; cf. Heb. 11:10).

Earthly government can "make nothing perfect," though it can as a harsh taskmaster drive us to Christ. There is a proper use for government, but we must make sure we clearly delimit its role in light of the fact that the principalities and powers were put to shame at the cross (Col. 2:15).

Here, then, is the biblical basis for the institutional separation between church and state.

I challenge all who seek to uphold the Gospel and guard the prerogatives entrusted to the Church to likewise acknowledge and defend the proper role of the king as the supreme deputy of God's Law on earth till Christ returns, when all [earthly] dominion, authority and power will be abolished (1 Cor. 15:24).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Response to the Jack of Clubs: Political Order and Christian Faithfulness, Part 2

Russ, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you.

Getting back to your original point about solid data being necessary at the beginning of our investigations into truth, I wanted to list a few of the facts I’ve been working with:

· Christian monarchy is an old and venerable tradition, dating from Constantine, and was intrinsic to the first Christendom.

· Social order was preserved in Christian monarchical societies past the Reformation period.

· The modern era, notable for its egalitarian ethos, is simultaneously characterized by iconoclasm, antisacerdotalism, and the decline of religious faith and practice.

· Democracy, civil rights, and free markets have as yet failed to produce a devout citizenry that elects righteous leaders, frames laws to codify divine law, or produce an economy that cultivates the earth for God’s glory.

· Furthermore, there seems to be spiritual, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic decline in each succeeding generation (in both the ruling and working classes).

· Social order has declined to such a degree that less than half of our countrymen recognize the sanctity of human life (created in God’s Image), the fixed nature of human sexuality, the natural order of marriage, or even the existence of good and evil. All these things were taken for granted for nearly two-thousand years in Christian monarchical societies.

· This social disorder is historically linked to the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity and the Romantic ideal of individual autonomy which are in turn developments of radical Protestant Gnosticism (the rejection of fixed natural order and structure).

Now, back to the meat of your comment:

1. (cont’d.)

Just a quick remark here. I prefer vice-regency to the term vice-gerancy for obvious reasons. Such highlights the biblical idea that man was created to not only “manage” creation as God’s steward, but also to eventually inherit dominion over all created things as God’s king crowned with glory and honor (Ps. 8:4-8).

2. (cont’d.)

a) I do not grant that Authority (the lawful structure of command and obedience) is infinitely malleable; it has a certain form. It was originally granted in the form of Adam’s fatherly headship. And we neglect or subvert this form at great peril.

Tribes, being essentially extended families, have familial authority structures. Ideally, familial heads should exercise their covenant headship and swear fealty to a prominent familial head on behalf of their constituent families.

Aristocracies and oligarchies are basically democratic confederacies of powerful men. I say this because they are arrangements of compromise that fail to realize unified, coherent rule.

Republics attempt to balance the Rule of the Many with the Rule of the One. Such may provide a stable government for a temporary period, as in our United States, but ultimate policy commitments will be made either by presidents (for example, Lincoln and FDR) or judges (a Supreme Court majority) overstepping their constitutional authority and imposing their wills at opportune moments.

A nation must be impelled by the lucidity of One or the confusion of Many. Just as God is not ultimately one and three in an oppositional sense (the Son and Spirit submit to the Father’s will), so unified society has a basic identity and purpose articulated and interpreted by a ruling head. This ruling head being both biologically and spiritually dependent on his predecessors is under natural obligation to honor and preserve the heritage bequeathed to him. There is no more fitting figure for such a role than the Son-Father-King.

[Note: I'm prepending the formula "Father-King" with "Son" here to highlight the related facts that Adam was the original Son of God, that every human father is the son of his father, and that all the baptized are sons of God in Christ, who is the eternal Son of God.]

b) I agree, Russ, that kings can and have been unfaithful. But I do not thereby concede there are four (or more) categories of rulers. Authority is a kind of law; indeed it is the fundamental law. A change in office implies a change in law (cf. Heb. 7:12) God is not worshipped because he commanded it; he is worshipped because he’s God. The force of any law issued is derived from the status of the lawgiver.

Certainly, only one Man can be wholly identified with God, so only the commands of Christ Jesus are perfectly just and wise. Yet, the attempt to divide the form and content of authority is a terrible mistake. Lesser kings who administer Christ’s authority on earth must be respectfully obeyed until their actions wholly subvert the reason for their being.

To reiterate, there are only two categories of rulers: those who govern by imitating the form and manner of God’s rule and those who govern in the form and manner of their own devising, of which there can be infinite variation (oligarchy, aristocracy, democracy, etc.).

Well, Russ, I’m going to have to break off for now. I look forward to any thoughts you have on what I've presented thus far.

Vatican expresses regret over Church of England vote for women bishops

From Times Online
July 8, 2008

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Vatican expressed “regret” today at the Church of England's move to consecrate women bishops, which threatens to drive traditionalists into the arms of Rome.

Dozens of Anglo-Catholics are now expected to seek refuge in the Roman Catholic Church but most will remain within the Anglican fold and attempt to defeat women bishops at the final vote in about five years.

The Vatican statement, which mirrored that put out when the Synod voted to ordain women priests in 1992, said that last night's move presented a “new obstacle” to reconciliation between the Holy See and the Anglican Communion.

Read the rest of the Times Online article.

Introducing Iron Ink

Pastor Bret, a minister in the CRC, has done some great work on the errors of W2K, or, what he calls the Radical Two Kingdoms Theology (R2Kt). I hope to be interacting with Pastor Bret on this topic in the near future.

Here's a sample of Pastor Bret's analysis:

The dualism incipient in R2Kt viral thinking creates two different kinds of knowledge. One kind of knowledge is anchored in right reason. A second kind of knowledge anchored in revelation and faith. But in keeping with classical dualism R2Kt viral thinking offers no answer as to how these two kinds of knowledge can be reconciled. When such a situation obtains resolution must be arrived at in one way or another, if even only in an unofficial or pragmatic sense. The possible resolutions, it seems to me, reduce to two. The first possible option was seen in history when the Church was in the ascendancy. Here the ’spiritual’ truths triumphed over the truth of reason. When the state has been in the ascendancy the option has been for the truths of reason to triumph over ’spiritual’ truths.


Note: Radical Two Kingdoms theology (R2Kt) is an older and broader tradition than the specific ideology associated with Westminster Seminary California I refer to as W2K.

Thanks Misty!

Misty Irons writes from California to let us know her marriage is doing fine, despite the state's legalization of gay marriage. We're relieved. Truly.