How Christian is the Society We Want?

As Christians, we of the Orthosphere desire to live in a society that honors Christianity and whose public order (laws, rules, customs and such) reflects Christian truth to some extent. But how exactly should this be manifest?

Individual members of Orthosphere.org will, of course, speak for themselves. But here is a heavily edited version of a previously unpublished essay of mine addressing the issue.  Its purpose is not to enumerate specific ways that Christianity should be made manifest in the public order. Instead, it aims to paint a broad outline of the minimum that a Western society requires in order properly to be Christian.

Christianity’s Public Role in a Properly-Ordered America

Christianity must again become what it was for most of our history: the publicly-acknowledged religio-philosophical system underlying American society. Since liberalism currently plays this role, liberalism must be demoted to a private opinion. This does not mean that all Americans must be Christians, or that all Christians must be of one particular denomination. It means exactly and only what it says: Every nation must have a philosophical and spiritual system that is acknowledged publicly to be authoritative for the ordering of the nation. A nation, after all, is not just a group of people inhabiting the same geographic region. To be a nation, rather than an empire or an anarchy, a people need a common way of life and a common way of thinking about the most basic things, and these require a common religion.

And since Christianity is both the truest worldview and the historic center of American and Western society, it must form the philosophical and spiritual basis for the ordering of American society. Individual Americans will be free to disbelieve in Christianity, but they will not be free to try to make America itself either secular or of another religion. Of course, the unique peoples, history and customs of America also play a role in forming her society, so Christianity will not be the totality of America’s ordering principles.  It will be the authoritative religious system.

This Christianity which undergirds the social order is not the totality of Christian belief and practice. It might be called the general Christian worldview, consisting of Christian views of the basic natures of God, the natural world, man and society. Exactly how these views are to inform the laws and customs of society is a practical question that will have to be worked out at length. In this, we can look to societies of the past, especially America past, because past societies were not dragged down by the false worldview and wicked morality of today’s Left.

How exactly, then, will the social order take Christianity into account? In the Bible, God clearly brands certain activities as sinful, but the Bible does not specify God’s instructions for exactly how civil (as opposed to church) government should respond to these sins. We therefore can only affirm general rules rather than their specific applications, which cannot be specified in advance of actual conditions: The government of a properly-ordered society must not, as America’s government does now, actively support many practices and ideas that are clearly opposed in the Bible. And it must also support a proper moral system and punish those who by their lawbreaking become a threat to public order or safety.

The Christian understanding of man and society agrees with what is commonly called natural law, that is, a law that is recognized at least intuitively by all men who do not have a vested interested in denying it. A large part of a proper public order will consist of various official and unofficial sanctions that support what is commonly called “traditional morality.”

Christian doctrines concerning proper religious practice, the exact nature of the spiritual world and the salvation of individuals are not directly relevant for the ordering of society, except that these doctrines must not be subjected to inordinate public disrespect. To disrespect these doctrines publicly disrespects Christianity as a whole, and conspicuous public disrespect for the foundations of a society is always destructive. [Private disrespect is acceptable; it is not a threat to the ordering of society.]

Asserting that America’s social order must be based on Christianity naturally raises (in the mind of the liberal) the specter of “dominionism” or “theocracy.” While these words have various referents (and for the liberal, they invoke lurid images of a “Christian fascist” government baptizing non-Christians at gunpoint and punishing Sabbath-breakers), the actual meaning of “theocracy,” for the liberal, is any society where law and custom take Christianity into account.

Liberals will, of course, say that a Christian society is a violation of the “wall of separation between church and state,” an extra-constitutional principle that the Left has managed to establish formally. But they are being naïve at best, hypocritical at worst. Every nation always has a state religion, even if it is not acknowledged. Liberals, for example, believe in the religion of liberalism, and they worship its gods of diversity, tolerance, freedom and Nature. And, of course, the Liberal fights valiantly to ensure that worship of his gods is reflected in law and custom.

No, there is always a religion that rules. And it was the tradition in America for Christianity to rule with a relatively light hand. Unlike the nations of Europe, America never has had an official state church. And Americans have always tolerated non-Christians and non-Christian thought far more than other Christian peoples have. It was understood that Christianity was publicly to be honored, even as individuals were legally free to disbelieve privately.

When we traditionalists are arguing for traditionalist conservatism we generally will not lead with Christianity. We will be arguing for a properly ordered society rather than a specific view of God and therefore non-Christians of common sense and good will can agree with us. But we must be prepared to refute the hard-core atheists and other anti-Christians who attempt to falsify Christianity in order to invalidate traditionalist conservatism, and therefore we must be able to present arguments for theism and Christianity.

Since conservatism is concerned with the proper order of society, and since Islam is not just a theology but rather a comprehensive religio-socio-political system which includes its own view of the order of society, Islam is radically incompatible with proper American conservatism, and indeed with American society itself.

Finally, we must note with sadness that much of organized Christianity in the Western World is either indifferent or actively hostile to many of the correct principles of social order she once upheld. Liberalism, despite its anti-Christian basis, is almost as strong in the church as in the rest of society. Christian leaders frequently support the legitimization of homosexuality, mass immigration leading to Balkanization, and socialism, among other ills. But this is an aberration, not an authentic expression of Christianity, and so we may look to true biblical Christianity for proper principles of society.  And although the church’s primary duty is proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she has a subsidiary duty to promote other God-ordained principles that man and society need in order to live well. To that end, we must also work toward returning the church to expressing and supporting God-ordained principles of social order.

47 thoughts on “How Christian is the Society We Want?

  1. You’re missing something: the Christian belief (not ‘values’) which undergirded American society for most of our history was not a top-down affair; it’s difficult to see how one could compel Americans to once again believe in Christ’s kingship merely by appealing to the ‘social order’. Either first believe in Christ and then act on your convictions by bringing about his social dominion, or else command devotion to a utilitarian social order for its own sake, with Christianity as window dressing.

    • And the slow eradication of Christian influence, remaking us into an antiChristian society, was top-down.

      Another thing: eliminate Aritcle VI, paragraph 3, which was antiChristian poison. I’m not convinced our founders were, as a rule, all that gung-ho about Christianity.

      • The whole paragraph, or just the bit after the semicolon?

        I think the whole paragraph needs thinking about, but after thinking about it it would be best to keep it and overturn what opposes it.

        The problem with oaths now is that everybody’s main experience with sacred promises is marriage vows. Those are meaningless, and the legal force of the state and the moral force of society are all against whoever demands what vows entitle them to.

        Historically, sacred promises have been thought of as important props for the state. I don’t think that was just antique folly. I think the American founders were right to continue in the ancient way.

        When, through top down reforms that conflict with, over-ride and then end a mass culture of nearly indissoluble marriage, you change vows from something that everybody has experience of and knows to be really important to something most people have experience with and that everyone knows to be worthless, you undermine genuine service to the state and instead promote an attitude of doing and saying whatever it takes to get your hands on power.

  2. Alan, this is great, thanks.

    Kirillov, you are right that devotion and belief cannot be compelled. Or rather, they cannot be coerced. And you are also right that no one believes in something only because they heard it would be good for them, much less for society; they believe because they understand their belief to be true. But this is just as true of utilitarianism as it is of any other doctrine, religious or not.

    So, because the Orthosphere is interested in a truly good society, where people who believe in Christ do so for the right reasons, and are therefore saved from damnation, a tyrannical theocracy that forces “devotion” is the *opposite* of what we are aiming for. We aim rather for reformation of minds and hearts. They are the only sort of soil from which a good society may spring. So our apology for Tradition in general, and Christianity in particular, is crucial. True devotion to their ideals, and indeed to their Principal, can be compelled only by the assent of reason to demonstrations of truth.

    • “Kirillov, you are right that devotion and belief cannot be compelled. Or rather, they cannot be coerced. ”

      Of course they can. That’s just the cop out of those who wish to shy away from the dirty business of coercing.

      • God bless you, cherub.

        I’m afraid it’s just not true that I’m copping out of coercion because I’m shy. Why is it untrue? Because I’m not shy. I don’t find coercing people scary, I find it tiresome, ugly, and stupid. It’s a lot more fun to show them, in the most reasonable, charitable way, that their views are incoherent, and that they would do well to adopt other views.

        At a more basic level, let me ask: do you honestly, truly believe that devotion can be coerced? For example, if I put a gun to your head and ordered you to feel great devotion for a pile of dirty underwear, would you start feeling a strong and genuine urge to bow down and worship that pile of dirty underwear? Or would you just go through the motions, in order to avoid being shot?

  3. Well, “America” has always had an official state church: Church of England, notably, also the Church of Rome via its many rites and uses. Congregationalism was the state religion of New England. Dutch Reformed and others in New York when it was still New Amsterdam.

    Please respect the oft ignored but vitally important distinction: America means many things, but the history books will consider it to mean the people that came here starting ca 1620 and whose sacrifice, toil, and determination made them and their land the envy of the world.

    (As a practical matter, this means of course the New England-Pennsylvania axis, for the southern American colonies were hardly innovative. Indeed, they were the same-old-same-old and the Old World found little there to fascinate.)

    The Untied States of America, which I think is your true object, is merely one of the many creation of those authentic Americans who risked it all for New Jerusalem.

    So, on the basis of the deliberate, conscious thinking of my own ancestors, whose success is a matter of historical record, my vote is for public piety insofar as “government” is merely the organized political structure of the church in that locality.

    * laws that comport with the Ten Commandments
    * personal behavior that acknowledges our dependence and pending judgment of the Almighty: we are mere stewards, not proprietors, of our selves
    * removal or at least remediation of vice antecedents such as gambling, prostitution, intoxication, and so on (“Lead us not into temptation”)
    * facilitated expatriation of unbelievers (who are incompatible as we have learned the hard way)

    These need not happen immediately and should not happen immediately, but they must happen before cries of “pluralism” and “tolerance” erupt, leading us right back to our present situation.

  4. I’ve read into theonomy/dominionism a bit. I think the first book I read as a new believer was Tithing and Dominion, by Rushdoony. I have landed on the side of divine command theory and preterism. I also greatly appreciate liberty when it is not used as a cloak for vice.

    So when I get to thinking along these lines, I typically end up saying “I want the government Jesus wanted.” Which was not much to speak of. He didn’t even pay his taxes until someone bugged him, and even then it came out of a fish.

    I agree with the notion that the spectrum has autonomy and theonomy on the two ends. The muslims and liberals alike both seeking theonomy and following their gods. Many people make inspiring comments about how to structure civic society uner the banner of Christ, but it seems to me that Jesus leaned heavily on autonomy and personal responsibility, not so much on state coersion. I see the major collective relationships between men being through His church and the fellowship of believers, and it seems Jesus saw it that way too.

    So I think if we are going to remake this gun club from scratch… I like the idea of a covenant to begin with. I think our covenant (U.S. Constitution) just needed more specific reference to at least Natural Law, moreover Christ Himself. And the way to get that in there under my preterist conception would be to state the purpose of the covenant plainly: to see the Church victorious throughout all the world, and to see a day when sin has become so diminished that police and government are hardly needed at all. Like a 24/7 non-stop Great Awakening. In the interim, only Christians who are good-standing members of a chuch may vote. All social welfare is handled through the churches. The role of the federal authority would be to provide information, defense, and spiritual leadership; a chaplaincy. Non-believers would be tolerated as travelers, but enemies of Christ and natural law would be exiled; neither would be citizens.

    Of course that idea probably makes the Catholics and premillenialists pretty nervous. It could be argued that since Cromwell we’ve been trying the autonomy thing and it hasn’t been working out so well- University being one area where this shows quite clearly. If all we had to do was our part in recognizing and promoting God in our institutions, tolerating all comers, then what the hell happened to the Universities?! What the hell happened to the CHURCHES?!

      • @Joseph – me too.

        People in such societies – such as Byzantium, or Holy Russia – were surrounded by glimpses of heaven and examples of devotion. At its best, all of life was embedded in Christian rituals and reminders.

        Compared with other Christian societies they enjoyed a much greater *fullness* of Christianity. As a consequence, they were able to attain to higher levels of sanctity – with many Saints and Holy monks, nuns, elders, advisers, hermits, Fools for Christ…

        Of course these societies were imperfect, indeed deeply flawed, since this is a fallen world peopled by sinful men. And of course such societies impose short term restrictions in pursuit of longer term goals, and restrictions are felt more by some than others, and so on.

        And of course, such Holy societies mobilize the great efforts of supernatural purposive evil to energize their destruction: for example the Russian Westernizing Intelligentsia and Communists, or the Norsemen and Normans who destroyed the budding Holiness of Anglo Saxon England; or most obviously the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks which marked the beginning of the end for Christendom.

        Nonetheless, Byzantium is pretty much how Christians are *meant* to live on earth; and such societies are potentially (and sometimes actually) self-reproducing – whereas other models of Christian life are self-subverting, often due to their narrowness of conception, or because they are not truly Christian societies.

        In a Christian society, Christianity must be the ruling principle, *within* which all other activities are organized. This means that many of the distinctive fetishes of the West (including the USA) must be discarded (democracy, ‘independence’ of institutions like universities, the ‘free’ market etc).

        There is no question of imposing a society modeled on Byzantium, Anglo Saxon Christendom or Holy Russia – rather such societies are a consequence and earthly reward for a high average and maximum level of Christian devoutness.

        And indeed, in these End Times, we know (from authoritative prophecy) that such societies may never arise again (except perhaps in or from Russia).

        But we can contemplate such societies imaginatively so as to feel what is possible, what actually existed here on Earth in greater days – as Gondor contemplated Numenor, and Rohan or the Shire contemplated Gondor – the lower reverencing the higher.

      • Joseph,

        An Orthodox autocracy would not be America, in any way. I strongly believe in a mixed regime (with monarchical, aristocratic, and popular-rule elements), but regardless of who rules, the character of the nation will determine the peculiar nature of the regime. And each nation has its own special way of manifesting the common good. The Anglo-Saxon emphasis on the individual, the voluntary, and the local has its own benefits when it is anchored in the wisdom of a virtuous, Christian people. Even if all Americans entered into the fulness of the Church, they would remain Americans. They would manifest another way of symphonia — with localized decision making instead of a centralized power, civic minded citizens’ assuming the duties of public administration instead of an imperial bureaucracy, and a public celebration of “Main Street” and Everyman instead of the imperial cult. I do not say such to denigrate the empire; it has its own glory. Yet, there are many ways to incarnate Christendom. Let us have an American regime under God.

      • BruceCharlton and Joseph A.

        I agree with almost all you two said. Please remember my working verb is “dreaming”

        Joseph A. I do not live in “America” i.e. the USA, although on the same continent with her. Thus, I have different ideas and dreams not formed by USA specific history and ideals,,,

        Another thing, there are MANY different symphonies and most sound harmonious and beautiful, Thus my Orthodox Empire does not have to be a replica of Holy Russia or Byzantium. The people in my OE will create their own specific harmony… What my Empire WILL have in common with HR and Byz. is monarchy (if constitutional or autocracy, is not my concern here, but I tend to the latter). The Kingdom of God IS monarchy, God IS monarch. This is as it was ordained…

        “…….Byzantium is pretty much how Christians are *meant* to live on earth; and such societies are potentially (and sometimes actually) self-reproducing”

        BruceCharlton, this is so beautifully said and so full of hope, I love it.

    • Earl,

      I think the monarchists among us would say that the society you envision has never occurred, anywhere. In order to succeed your society depends upon the truth of post-millenialism, and not even Christians are agreed on the millenial issue. On the other hand, Christian monarchies have been legion, with some functioning better than others. An authoritarian Christian monarchy has been able to “keep the lid” on an intransigent populace in the past, and at the same time establish the boundaries most conducive to the salvation of the peoples’ souls. I personally don’t care if the majority of the lefties and libertarians chafe under the monarchy; I chafe under liberalism, and nobody worries about me.

      I would be interested to see a poll of Orthosphere followers, answering the following question: Do you want to re-fashion America into the place you’ve always dreamed of, or would you like to see a Christian society “pop up” organically, in what was once called Christendom, and then move there?

      • “I would be interested to see a poll of Orthosphere followers, answering the following question: Do you want to re-fashion America into the place you’ve always dreamed of, or would you like to see a Christian society “pop up” organically, in what was once called Christendom, and then move there?”

        I’ll take door number two.

        If we start to “re-fashion” America, how are we then different from the hated social engineers? If any Christian monarchy should ever materialize on US soil it will be because the people want it and make it so… How we go there from here, I do not know.

        If that will EVER happen it will not happen, in my estimation, on the whole of the territory that is today known as the USA…. it will come after that entity is a historical memory. It will become a reality on a part of that territory. If it is successful, it might spread to the former whole. But now we are into serious speculation… However, that these things have happened and will happen again is obvious to anyone with even a superficial acquaintance with history,

        The territorial integrity of the USA as it is constituted today is not exempted from the vagaries of history…

      • In that poll I’d have to pick Charlie: Get your hardware, load the boat, and hit the shores of Somalia. Why wait for things to collapse here when we can light the beacon somewhere else where there is no government?

  5. I see two problems involving Jews.

    First, who rules whom?

    Does this Christian society work with Jews and Jewishly committed gentiles (such as those with Jewish wives) dominating the mass media, finance, politics, higher education and law, and being a vastly disproportionate share of the very wealthy, and tacitly demonstrating by how the affirmative action laws work that to be Christian is a second rate identity?

    If that doesn’t work, if Christians have to take these dominating positions for the Christian society you want to be a reality, you should say how Christians will take the commanding heights of society, and hold them in the long run, in the face of what will certainly be brilliant, aggressive and endless efforts to undermine them and overthrow them.

    Gentile domination won’t just happen, as we can see from the fact that Jews, unimpeded, quickly become a ruling force with an anti-Christian agenda. The evidence is all around us.

    Second, an implied dichotomy of public and collective versus private and individual doesn’t work, or it only works in a society of relatively individualistic Whites.

    It fails with Jews, who organize with tremendous effectiveness at a level that’s high enough to let them out-compete and dominate individualist non-Jews, but not so high that their particular interest gets lost in the state as happened with the Anglo-Saxons. It fails with Muslims and the segmentary and tribal societies they have created. It fails with modern Jewish/liberal-dominated “pluralistic” pseudo-societies created by mass immigration and the systematic anti-White organization of society.

    The public/private thing is like something out of an old civics talk, describing a White society as it used to be before the Jewish cultural revolution. That’s old. The action now is in group power and group rights, against which an individual has no recourse.

    There’s a third problem, involving Whites: do they get to survive collectively or do they vanish?

    “Finally, we must note with sadness that much of organized Christianity in the Western World is either indifferent or actively hostile to many of the correct principles of social order she once upheld.”

    So true. And one of the really important things about modern Christianity is that it’s anti-White. For example, Christianity had a negative role in the fall of White-dominated South Africa. Christianity undermines the Whites morally on a global scale, and constantly encourages fatally anti-White policies like mass immigration into White countries from non-White countries.

    So: is your Christian society going to be built among Whites? In which case modern Christianity will sell the population into destruction and ultimately genocide. that doesn’t seem very stable. Or is your Christian society to be built by non-Whites after that annoyingly White population is crushed? That seems more stable, but then why not just wait and let the people who will build that Christian society come up with their own theories on how it should work?

    • Daybreaker,

      Auster suggests the following as the solution to the “Jewish problem”:

      1.To the extent that Jews as Jews pursue an anti-Western or anti-national agenda (for example, when Jews state that as Jews they are committed to open borders, or the advance of minorities at the expense of the majority, or the transformation of America into a universal nation, or the continued dismantlement of America’s Christian culture), they should be publicly confronted on that. It is legitimate to criticize and oppose the anti-majoritarian Jewish agenda as such, just as it is legitimate to oppose a harmful black agenda or a harmful Hispanic agenda as such.

      2. Jews who make it clear that their primary identification and loyalty is to Jews or minorities, rather than to America and its historic majority culture, should be told that they have the right to live and prosper in America, but not to speak for America or to have an influential role in its culture and politics.

      3. Peaceful and brotherly relations between the Jews and the white gentile majority is possible on the basis of the following quid pro quo: the Jews tolerate and respect the majority and do not seek to undermine it; and the majority tolerates and respects the Jews.

      4. As I’ve said many times, the initiation of such an approach, like the solution to many other problems we face, depends on the restoration of a white gentile majority culture that believes in itself, and stands up for itself in a firm but civilized way, and asserts its natural leadership position in America.

      • Auster is proposing what we had, tried and failed at. And even at that, any time any one puts his proposed policy into practice, he’s one of the most vociferous shouters of “ANTI-SEMITE”!

        His disingenuousness on this topic is pretty well documented in this regard and one can find it themselves if they search the web for it.

      • No, Auster only says “anti-semite!” to manifestations of irrational Jew-hatred. You are slandering a good man.

        As to the policy itself, the fact that America abandoned a good policy does not make it a bad policy.

    • But what does Auster’s long euphamism mean? What is this “telling?”

      And why limit analysis to Jews? How about Parsis, Chinese, Indians, Armenians and every other overachieving, ethnocentric minority? Or Muslims for that matter.

      One way to approach the question is to ask which offices, professions, and assets are going to be subject to a religious or ethnic test, and what will be the content of the test.

      • “And why limit analysis to Jews? How about Parsis, Chinese, Indians, Armenians and every other overachieving, ethnocentric minority? Or Muslims for that matter.”

        Jews, as the elder brothers of Christians, are built into Christianity in a way that Parsis, Chinese, Indians, Armenians and every other overachieving, ethnocentric minority are not. Jews move to where Christians are, and Christianity has always had relations of a troubled, unique and uniquely important kind with Jews. It might be fair for people thinking of building society on some other basis than Christianity to beg off addressing a Jewish question, but with Christianity Judaism is your starting point and it’s not valid to evade it.

        Also, Jews are exceptionally talented, intelligent, creative (and destructive), cohesive, aggressive and political. Their record is unique, they are not just another minority. And Jews, dwelling in one area in sufficient numbers, start to govern their neighbors, or at least to shape their culture as much as they can.

        Finally, Jewish crypsis has existed as long as Jews. Jews take on non-Jewish names even when they are dominant over gentile society, as in America. They have a history of taking on Christian identities, in order to bypass social impediments Christians place on their rise to power. (As “Christians” they continue to trade and associate with each other and marry amongst themselves and other Jews, and generally continue to play a team game against individualist gentiles, with great success.) They will pass any religious rest you impose, unless you create something like as Inquisition to give teeth to that test, and do you really want to go there?

    • “If we start to “re-fashion” America, how are we then different from the hated social engineers?”

      How are religious, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian men trying to structure society on models with historical success different from secular, egalitarian, men who try to structure society against all known history and human nature?

      Is this meant to be a serious question on your part?

  6. Of course it’s open to you to say that you’re just describing key features of an ideal Christian society, and some means of preventing a Jewish takeover is not essential because ideally Jews would spontaneously prefer to live under Christian domination, but then it’s open to me and everyone to laugh…

    I have some more questions.

    What’s the foreign policy of the model Christian state? The typical consequence of a neocon invasion is that the Christians get crushed (as in Iraq) or if their position is already hopeless it remains so (as in Afghanistan). Bombing the heck out of Christian civilians if their state is in conflict with Muslims is fine (as in former Yugoslavia). And as for building or joining something like an Organization of the Christian Conference to match the Organization of the Islamic Conference, forget it, the idea is so taboo as to be unthinkable. I assume a Christian foreign policy would be something different, but what guidelines would you suggest, and is there any theory behind them?

    How would a model Christian state deal with globally organized, institutionalized pressure to delegitimize it and eliminate it? I mean everything from the Vatican to the World Council of Churches to terrorism supported by Christian charities (as in the campaign to end White rule in Southern Africa). What counter-actions could it take? What inner resources would it have against continuous global attack from within the family of Christ? What source of state legitimacy could or would it point to?

    • “What’s the foreign policy of the model Christian state?”

      Daybreaker, we will decide that in the same meeting where we degree the appropriate patterns on our toilet-paper…

      You are asking for specific solutions for today’s problems in an abstract model of a society that might be constituted in an unspecified future.

      Me thinks you either have problems thinking in abstracts or the desire to de-rail the topic…

      • If you think the legitimation of the Christian state and its orientation in the world, whether of a revolutionary kind or a sort of Christianity in one country, are problems of the same order as appropriate patterns on your toilet paper, I’m not the one with problems thinking in abstracts.

      • “……. specific solutions for today’s problems in an abstract model of a society that might be constituted in an unspecified future……..”

        Lack of humour and reading comprehension problems as well, I apologize having been too hard on you…

      • Joseph: “You are asking for specific solutions for today’s problems in an abstract model of a society that might be constituted in an unspecified future.”

        If that’s a joke, it’s a weak one. These aren’t just today’s problems. Modern Christianity, with an anti-White bias and a strong non-White majority, is here to stay as far as we can see. Judaism is certainly here to stay. It was here before Christianity, it’s always been part of the Christian story and it always will be part of the Christian story. Who dominates is a perennial issue. The legitimation of the state is a perennial issue.

        I agree with Alan Roebuck that it would be better if Christianity was the dominant system in America and if liberalism was marginalized.

        I agree also that there are problems that a rough plan for a Christian social order shouldn’t be expected to solve, like “how are you going to accommodate Islam?”

        Alan Roebuck: “Since conservatism is concerned with the proper order of society, and since Islam is not just a theology but rather a comprehensive religio-socio-political system which includes its own view of the order of society, Islam is radically incompatible with proper American conservatism, and indeed with American society itself.”

        Correct.

        But there are also problems that a rough plan for a Christian social order should be expected to solve.

      • Daybreaker,

        YOU have asked ..What’s the foreign policy of the model Christian state? And then went on about today’s US foreign politics…

        “…But there are also problems that a rough plan for a Christian social order should be expected to solve.”

        Agreed, but not here and not now. Please go to the top of this topic. I have started it by talking about my dream…living in an Orthodox Empire that has achieved Symphonia. You want solutions for immediate problems of today solved in my dream?

        Dream on…

  7. Mr. Roebuck,

    Excellent post. The discussion of theocracy is important. American political scientists ask who rules, but they do not follow Aristotle in posing the more important question — ruling toward what end? If the many decide, what toward public goal will the many aim? If it is to the common good, then the many are but executives of something higher. In this way, all decent regimes are “theocracies,” since God — the Good — is the chief principle to which the rulers ultimately aim. If the rulers do not follow the common good, then the society slides toward anarchy, even if political procedures are followed.

    This reminds me of the Athenian Stranger’s explanation of the Athenians’ social decline in The Laws. Once, the Athenians were slaves to the laws. However, as freedom became license, the people lost respect for the laws and for traditional customs. Anarchy began to rule the city — anarchy that leads to the worst tyranny. Self will became the compass of everyone’s political actions instead of the common good, and in such situations, the will of the stronger comes to dominate the will of the weaker. “Absolute freedom” consumes itself.

  8. By the way Mr. Roeback, when has “consevatism” ever been a guiding principle for America? It has always been on the radical forefront (well along with its cousin Britain) of liberalism.

    Always going against the established order. Anglican Reformation not radical enough so come the Dissenters, and from Dissenter to Congregationalist, to Unitarian, to secular to your Harvard and Yale atheist.

    Throw in a little (or a lot) of Tikun Olam and Jewish ethnocentrism at the end of the 19th Century and she sharpens the razor even more for the cutting edge of liberalism.

    America doesn’t have, and never had a conservative bone in her body.

    • Cherub’s revenge asks “When has ‘conservatism’ ever been a guiding principle for America?” It has been rather the reverse: The principles that guided America past: Christianity, traditional morality, and so on are branded “conservative” by today’s rulers, the liberals. “Conservatism” as an organized movement is another thing entirely.

  9. Maybe a good way to think about this is to ask:
    #1 how do the believers/churches organize
    and #2 what do to do with the non-believers?
    And obviously, why?

  10. I have considerable sympathy for the vision laid out in Mr. Roebuck’s post above: normative civilizations are, after all, overwhelmingly characterized by a shared vision of reality, typically embodied in a predominating religious tradition. The problem, as most of the post is taken up with and as many of the comments have addressed, is “what to do with distinct or dissenting minorities within the larger normativity of the civilization in question?” This is a particularly pointed question for any vision of a normatively Christian society, as Christianity per se has little significant history of accommodating distinct or dissenting voices within the various domains of Christendom. This is true both with respect to non-Christians – the repeated pogroms against European Jews being the most obvious example – and Christian minorities viewed as outside the pale – whether in such Western examples as the Albigensian Crusade, or such Eastern examples as the Byzantine persecution of Monophysite Christians.

    The evocation of Christian toleration with respect to the American experience is somewhat disingenuous given that the very founding of the nation was already significantly influenced by notions of religious toleration nurtured in the intellectual currents of the Enlightenment. The Founders were, after all, as much Enlightenment rationalists as Christians – Jefferson’s noted cutting-room exercise upon the Gospels is but one example. In other words, even from its founding, America was, in significant ways, not a historically representative Christian society, given other influences at play – Jefferson is a long way from Justinian, after all.

    Further, whenever the historical toleration of Christianity in an American context is evoked, I am reminded of the history of anti-Catholicism throughout much of the history of the nation (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Catholicism_in_the_United_States); I have little doubt that, if the Eastern Orthodox had been present in significant numbers on American shores, they would have suffered a similar fate.

    This is not to single out Christians in particular. There is no evidence – based either on the Book of Deuteronomy and the various holocausts the Israelites visit upon their chosen enemies, or on the last sixty-plus years of de facto Apartheid Israeli policies – that Jews, for instance, have conducted themselves notably better, their unfortunate destiny of having been a vulnerable minority among majority Christian populations notwithstanding.

    The remarkable statement – “Since conservatism is concerned with the proper order of society, and since Islam is not just a theology but rather a comprehensive religio-socio-political system which includes its own view of the order of society, Islam is radically incompatible with proper American conservatism, and indeed with American society itself” – is strangely self- contradictory on multiple levels:

    First, practically every religious tradition one might care to name is a “comprehensive religio-socio-political system” and could hardly function effectively if it were not. Certainly, historical Christianity has been representative of just such an arrangement. No religion could flourish – or even function – if reduced to “just a theology”. It may be timely to recall that the much vaunted “separation of Church and State” is, in its full ramifications, an Enlightenment notion ‘in reaction to Christianity’ and not particularly a Christian one per se – one need only look to the Papal States, the Byzantine Empire, or post-Reformation England to see this clearly. Second, the very vision articulated in this post is precisely of the recovery of a “comprehensive religio-socio-political system”, the absence of which is felt to be keenly lacking. Third, there are perhaps two world historical examples of a “comprehensive religio-socio-political system” that has any reasonable track record of toleration of distinct minorities: the Chinese, grounded in a pragmatic Confucianism, and – ironically, in light of this post – the Islamic, grounded in a vision of the universality of prophethood to human communities. In this last regard, the Ottoman millet system of governance is of particular note.

  11. Traditional Morality is not, I think, coterminous with orthodox Christianity. All that is needed is for a true separation of Church and State (meaning a separation of ideology and state, of education and state, of NGOs and state, of interest groups and state). The state must simply cease being a cudgel whose purpose is to extract goodies from one identifiable class of citizens (usually the productive class) and giving to another (the… erm… less productive). In this sense alone, the libertarians are essentially correct. Of course the only way to do this is to create a state that is beyond politics, and thereby beyond democracy–a state, contra the libertarians, that is so powerful that it need not concern itself with the private actions and beliefs of its people. Once you get that, the state stops subsidizing non-traditional morality (aka., sin), simply because it is not, in the long run, profitable. And once you get, you have a perfectly fertile ground for Traditional Morality, like green shoots after a wild fire, to take root once again. Nature, herself, both teaches and desires Traditional Morality…

  12. I would like to live in a country where the laws clearly reflect Christian morality, whether it is a respublic or a monarchy doesn’t matter, as long as it’s not a democracy.

  13. I don’t think you can base a nation/civilization on Christianity broadly taken. You have to specify a denomination (although this is definitely not the right word, Catholicism, as well as Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxies are not considered denominations, rather Churches, since they can claim valid Apostolic Succession). Without an infallible authority, dogmas/doctrines, a Magisterium, and a non-democratic system, no church can stick to truth for too long. They succumb to the zeitgeist in one fashion or the other. And the times always change, truth does not. Also, certain denominations should not even be called such, since they do not even believe Christ is God, which is the basis of Christianity.

    You have to specify Catholicism, since so many “denominations” teach the validity of contraception, abortion, divorce, masturbation, stem cell research, euthanasia, gay-marriage, polygamy, and so many other issues). Their would still be a huge amount of discord. And what protestants don’t understand is, the principle of gradualism. We don’t go from full frocks to bikinis overnight. Small allowances were made that no one who applauded them at the time, foresaw the consequences and evolution of the phenomenons they stoked. Skirts rose up inch by inch, shown by the famous chart everyone has seen. Homosexual marriage is an issue that would have been unthinkable if things were already not in such dire straits. Allowing small things as the protestants do and think they are harmless, it eventually leads to the destruction of society. In fact, the decline of the West can be traced to the Protestant Reformation and its consequences.

    • I see we have yet another Catholic who believes that Protestantism and liberalism are synonymous. They are not, as demonstrated in Christianity and Liberalism, a seminal work by Reformed theologian J. Gresham Machen. (Machen’s thesis is that liberalism is a separate religion from Christianity; we have only to look around us and see the fervor with which liberal beliefs are defended, and its golden calves idolized, to see how correct this characterization is.)

      Liberalism is a disease that is eating away at Catholicism and Catholic-majority countries every bit as much as it is eating away at Protestantism and Protestant-majority countries.

      Liberalism, being the spawn of the devil, is not a logical or necessary outcome of the Reformation.

    • @UltraMontane

      How do you explain the Amish then? Southern Baptists? Lots of conservative Calvinist churches? Also, in Brazil the opposite of what is seen in Europe is valid: Protestants are generally much more conservative than Catholics.

      Also, one of the kings of the worst kinds of liberalism is France … a catholic country. Though over there liberalism imposed itself through armed revolution, while most Protestant countries simply lost without a single shot being fired.

      Summing up, please, do not equate Protestantism=liberalism, it is not correct. =) It is indeed worrying that some pseudo-churches like Methodists and Anglicans are Protestants, but I guess this is merely a problem caused by fragmentation and freedom. I wonder how Islam avoids this problem, since they are also fragmented.

      I think that liberalism struck Protestant countries first because they were richer. Liberalism seams to correlate very strongly with wealth. The only exception that I see in the entire world is Arab countries of the Gulf. Even non-Gulf Islamic countries tend to get more liberal as they get richer.

      It would be interesting to find out if a black country after getting rich would move into liberalism and drop ethnical fighting. There is none to test this theory… but somehow I doubt it.

      I know that at least rich Indians tend to be very typical liberals. Japanese somewhat less so.

      • Felipe,

        Excellent points.

        I have long wondered why it was that the Japanese (with whom I am very familiar) got infected with modern liberalism around the same time as everyone else (1960s), and my only answer is that it happened after they had reached a certain degree of affluence and were therefore susceptible.

        Kristor has done an outstanding job of explaining why wealthy societies are able to afford liberalism, so I will not repeat his explanation here.

      • Protestants aren’t generally more conservative than Catholics. In fact, it’s worse with Protestants.

        Protestants tend to have a superficial clothing of “conservatism” and this is perhaps worse because it’s a lie, a certain minor type of virus masquerading as something healthy, sane or whole on the outside, while in reality on the inside it’s deadening the system from within, e.g. for example, at first it’s “Nothing to see here. Everything is alright…” but then it’s like “What happened? We went through some major changes, a deadly infection and the apocalypse but nobody batted an eye and could see, feel nor hear this happening.

        Protestantism is that freaky. Protestants are also more likely to fall into heresy and heretical teachings. Protestants aren’t the sum of the outbreak, but they are among the Ground Zero victims and may be suspiciously regarded as either having been part of the virus, or being a passive acquaintance of it.

      • The Catholic Church has been infected with liberalism every bit as much as Protestant churches (in general) have. However, Protestantism, unlike Catholicism, offers an outlet. Certain Protestant denominations, mainly the Confessional ones, have explicitly rejected liberalism and preserve traditionalist thought, even sanity, in our increasingly revolutionary and insane world. In contrast, Catholics who reject the liberalism of their church risk excommunication (as happened with the Society of St. Pius X in 1988).

        Also, it is entirely unhelpful to throw around epithets like freaky and heretical here in the Orthosphere—at least when referring to mainstream Christians. I’m certain both the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants can find a long list of freaky and heretical Catholic beliefs and practices, too. Going down that road is counterproductive. Since that is a gap that shall never be bridged, we would be better off accepting our Christian brethren for now, and waiting to iron out our differences after we have overcome the liberal/Islamic onslaught that threatens to destroy us.

  14. Since that is a gap that shall never be bridged, we would be better off accepting our Christian brethren for now, and waiting to iron out our differences after we have overcome the liberal/Islamic onslaught that threatens to destroy us.

    An alliance against a common enemy.

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