Political Philosophy

Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton: Against Right-Wing Gnosticism

"Eric Voegelin’s warnings about the dangers of gnostic politics apply to the right as well as the left. Christians must make a clear and unequivocal distinction between the historic Christian faith and the misleading political religion that is more pervasive on the right than anyone seemed to realize." - Public Discourse

267 reads

Review of Krom's Justice and Charity: An Introduction to Aquinas’s Moral, Economic, and Political Thought

"The reader will learn much to his or her benefit about Aquinas from Krom. Still, I left the book not wholly convinced that a moral, economic, and political philosophy and theology of the virtues can do the work he hopes it can—that of providing practical guidance in and engaging with a confused world." - Public Discourse

222 reads

Is natural law the answer?

When Christians consider whether and how to legislate morality, we’re immediately confronted with the fact we’re actually asking two questions:

  1. What should inform the content of public morality in an ideal sense? That is, setting present geo-political realities aside and focusing only on transcendent values, what is “the public good,” how can we know it, and to what extent should we advocate for it in the public square?
  2. How does the Church apply this public morality in real life, within the geo-political, pluralist realities that are the real world?

One way some Christians have answered the first question is to turn to natural law theory; specifically, a broadly Christian form of natural law. Is this a fruitful path?

What is natural law theory?

When we say, “natural law,” we mean it is “natural” in the sense that it reflects the nature, essence or intended form of something (X). “Law” refers to a normative dictum that explains what X, in light of its nature, should do in certain circumstances.1 This means human beings can (1) observe the nature and intended purpose of something, and (2) these observations form the basis for moral values and obligations.

1588 reads

Protecting Christian Political Theology from the Shibboleth of “Christian Nationalism”

"In some corners, 'Christian Nationalism' is used as a synecdoche to dispense with anything unpopular about Christianity. If one does not like something about Christianity—say, its teaching on sexuality and family relations—just accuse it of self-serving power-seeking, and it can be discredited." - Public Discourse

370 reads

“In The City of God Augustine contended that Christians should never enshrine any earthly ‘city’ or empire or nation-state or polis as God’s country.”

"...many Christian theologians have come to believe that 'Americanism' is the world’s fourth great monotheistic religion. But that religion would be/is idolatrous. America is a great idea; I celebrate it and want to see it thrive. I’m a patriot, but not a nationalist. Christian nationalism in any country is wrong." - Roger Olsen

287 reads

Solzhenitsyn: Prophet to America - A review of Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West

"By way of an introduction to the Gulag Archipelago, readers would profit from reading Daniel J. Mahoney’s essay titled 'Judging Communism and All Its Works' in the Solzhenitsyn and American Culture collection." - Acton

968 reads

Thank God for the Rule of Law

Man-made laws are a mixed bag. Motivations range from desire to build a better society to desire to pander to a constituency, increase personal power, settle a score, or cover up wrongdoing. Even when well meant, laws often bring unintended consequences.  

Rule of law, though, is better. As an alternative to the rule of mere men, it’s a rare and precious blessing. A portion of the Oxford English Dictionary definition captures what I mean by the term.

… the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.

Events of the past four years, especially the last four weeks, have exposed the fact that many who ought to be the most devoted and disciplined in support of the rule of law have lost sight of its value and importance.

Rule of law is God’s invention.

When God organized ancient Israel into a nation, He chose to do more than put Moses in charge and rule through him. He provided words etched in stone (Exodus 32:16). Eventually He provided the entire Torah (Pentateuch), and Moses and later rulers were expected to apply it to the needs of the nation—and also obey it themselves.

6489 reads