Christ the King

Imagine that, after having made a thorough study of the issue, you have been convinced that anthropogenic global warming is real and that its effects will be catastrophic for humans.  However, in your studies, you have also come to treasure the scientific enterprise.  You realize that coercion is utterly incompatible with the spirit of free enquiry on which science rests, and since government by its very nature involves coercion, you think it important for the purity of science to maintain a Separation of Science and State.  Although you are convinced that global warming is real, man-made, and dangerous, you realize that people of good will disagree with you, and you decide it would be wrong to impose your beliefs on them.  Therefore, you decide that the government should design policy according to what you are convinced is the dangerously false belief that carbon emissions are not a worry, and to avoid any taint of Science-State collusion, the entire subject of the greenhouse effect and the evidence for it should be concealed in public schools.  If climatologists want their children to be brought up differently, they can send them to private schools.  You defend this position of government ignoring the whole issue of global warming as one of “neutrality” between those who think it something urgent to counter and those who think it unreal or unimportant.

This is the position of a Christian who supports the Western ideal of “separation of Church and State”.  Don’t doubt that basing education and policy on false moral and religious beliefs (promoting sin and impiety) will have grave consequences for millions of souls.  And don’t imagine that there is anything neutral about established atheism.

34 thoughts on “Christ the King

  1. The dangerous false belief here is the facile libertarian thinking that the essence of State lies in coercion rather than in Justice.

    • An elegant, succinct statement. Indeed, a quotable quote.

      I suspect however that most libertarians would argue that they object not to coercion simpliciter, but to unjust coercion.

  2. Early Christians, before Constantine, followed the Jewish pattern of imposing their morality on their own members. Why can’t Christians do this again now? The reason for this approach is practical. At present, the government is out of reach, so thinking and talking about the government is a waste of time.

    • Pre-Vatican II American Catholics had a good way of approaching this issue. They maintained the belief that a Catholic state is the ultimate ideal to strive for. It is crucial to uphold this belief, no matter how unattainable the ideal is, because as soon as one decides that even ideally Catholicism should not be the official position of the community, one effectively admits that Catholicism is not objectively true. (As I tried to illustrate in my global warming thought experiment, I don’t think anybody really believes that the government should act on false beliefs rather than true ones. People would have good reason to suspect that the fellow in question doesn’t really think global warming is such a big deal, regardless of what he says about his “private beliefs”.) On the other hand, it was realized that there was no way to work toward making America Catholic in the foreseeable future, except in that having lots of babies and making converts contributed to that goal, so as a practical matter the Church’s efforts were directed toward governing her own house.

      What we have today in the American Church is the exact opposite. The rights of Catholicism as the Truth are not maintained even in principle, so that Catholics regard their faith as nothing more than a subjectively satisfying fantasy or a marginal accessory to their identity. And the Church has abandoned any effort to maintain even the most basic doctrinal or behavioral compliance from the laity or even clergy. The bishops still waste a lot of time on political advocacy, an odd thing given that they no longer claim to speak for a truth that everyone is obliged to obey. It would indeed be better at this point to simply declare the United States the enemy of God–for such it surely is–and teach the faithful to despise it. They must learn to see in the Church their primary allegiance and core of identity, in America an unredeemable tool of Satan, and in the conservative Protestants allies against a common enemy.

      • They maintained the belief that a Catholic state is the ultimate ideal to strive for.

        Really? You mean all the bigots who were against Catholic immigration to America were right, and they were letting in a subversive, anti-American force? Do we need to recreate the Know Nothing party?

      • They were right politically, although perhaps wrong theologically. In a democracy groups struggle to take control of state power, and a disciplined minority can punch well above its weight. It was only natural that the Catholics should aspire to make the United States a Catholic country, and only natural that the Protestants should oppose them. As it happens, by the time Catholic immigration became significant, in the 1840s, Humanitarians had already taken control of the American state and Humanitarianism was our established Church. The Humanitarians retained some Christian trimmings well into the Twentieth Century, but since the war with Mexico, every war we have fought has aimed to spread Humanitarianism.

      • Yes, a.morphous, that’s what he means.

        Catholicism was compatible with America when America, itself, was not true to its founders’ and elite’s desire. The America that Catholics came to in the late 19th C was Christian de facto, even though it was secular de jure. The “unprincipled exceptions,” as Auster used to call them, were more-or-less the rule. So, although Catholicism was not incompatible with America-as-it-actually-was at that time, it definitely was incompatible with America-as-the-Masons-and-Jews-wanted-it-to-become, with America as it is now.

        It was not just the Know Nothings who understood this. It was widely understood among America’s ruling class by the turn of the 20th C. Thus the war against Catholic culture, reaching its crescendo with Kelley vs Kraemer and Brown vs Board and their hideous legacy of destroyed neighborhoods.

        It does point up a key weakness of our evil elite, however. Letting in all those Catholics was an incredibly risky thing to do. Had the American Church managed to hold things together for a few more decades, the evil elite would have lost control of the country: the crash in Catholic fertility and loss of cohesive identity which flowed from the successful assault on Catholic culture stopped that.

        Why did they take this enormous risk: a risk they had to mitigate via the Great Migration—which as a side-effect of breaking up Catholic neighborhoods and thus Catholic culture in the US also greatly damaged roughly every city in the Rust Belt? Because of their greed. They can’t stop themselves from pursuing cheap labor policies. They can’t stop themselves from enacting giant financial scams. Sin is like that. It does not slake our thirst. Instead it accentuates it. No amount is ever enough. Eating more just makes us hungrier. So, eventually (not soon in my view), they will sell the branch they are sitting on, and they will fall.

        They are busy doing the same thing now with the Mexodus. Who knows, really, what the outcome of that is going to be? Are the Mexicans really going to just go along being lumpenproletariat forever? They are never going to grok that the Democrats are the party of blacks, atheists, financiers, and Jews (none of which groups are exactly popular amongst the Latins)? They are not going to demand any sort of accomodation from the evil elite, ever? What they seem to think is that “let’s all steal from the white petite bourgeoisie” is going to suffice to keep their bizarro coalition together. It’s a risk.

      • Oh cool, we can revive the Anti-Masonic party as well as the Know Nothings. How retro chic! This is hipster politics at its best.

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  4. I don’t know if you read the comment on forced conversions in the thread after Proph’s post, “Open Discussion: Teaching the Faith,” but this post strikes me as a good answer to it. Management of public opinion is one of the things that states do, and this becomes more important in a democracy, where the legitimacy of rule and public action is tied to the “will of the people.” The forced conversions of the past, which Proph’s commenter deplores, were political decisions not to permit visible religious minorities in the state. This makes sense from a Machiavellian perspective, since religious pluralism is always a source of political instability. It also makes sense from a Christian perspective, since a person who must listen to Christian preaching and perform Christian practices is presumably somewhat more likely to undergo true conversion than a person who is permitted to continue living as a pagan.

    As your example makes clear, aggressive public policy to curb global warming would demand that public opinion be very strongly behind these policies. After all, effective policies would impose painful costs on everyone, and where there are painful costs, there will be propaganda and censorship. I write this as an AGW agnostic who recognizes that, if the true believers are to succeed in implementing the programs they desire, they must at some point suppress dissenting opinion. This doesn’t mean that no one will any longer hold the dissenting opinion, only that they will thereafter hold it as a private opinion. My understanding is that medieval Church tolerated heretics, provided they were not proselyting heretics.

    I suppose I’ve undergone a “forced conversion” to AGW, insofar as I have learned to keep my agnosticism to myself. Similarly, a “forced conversion” to feminism, secularism, progressivism, etc. But when I grumble about this, I should grumble about the fact that these doctrines are false, not that they have violated some imaginary right to “freedom of opinion.” There will always be a cost for professing a dissenting opinion, and to complain about that makes no more sense than to complain about gravity.

      • I’m assuming that, from the Christian perspective, the goal is to minimize the population of Hell, and I suppose that could be described as a sort of cosmic utilitarianism. If Jeremy Bentham could be persuaded that the beatific vision exists, I think he would agree that it weighs very heavily in the hedonic equation. But my point is that a “forced conversion,” although not a true conversion, might very well produce conditions where true conversion became more probable than it would have been if the Pagans had been left to practice paganism. “Forced conversion” simply meant suppression of what Christians believed were false teachings and false practices that, if unsuppressed, would serve to swell the population of Hell.

      • There all sorts of circumstances that would lead to forced conversions that would be abhorrent in themselves. And that matters because Christ and his followers are not mad Benthamites.

      • I can imagine a forced conversion that was so brutal and offensive that it instilled a incorrigible prejudice against the Gospel. Christ and his followers were not mad Benthemites. They did not believe, for instance, that the sum pleasure of enjoying an infinite number of cheeseburgers could equal the pleasure of enjoying the love of God, but they certainly did maintain that there was utility in loving and obeying God. In fact critics of Christianity have often complained that all the talk of punishment and reward was vulgar.

  5. “from the Christian perspective, the goal is to minimize the population of Hell,”
    I deplore the quantitative approach to religion. It is misleading in the extreme and presumptuous otherwise. Love can not be quantified or calculated. To preach to the unbaptized is love but it is presumptuous to believe that the unbaptized is going to hell. You do not and can not know that.
    Indeed, you do not and can not know your own destiny. Not even Pope can know.

    • If there were not something rather crudely quantitative about religion, or at least the Christian religion, we would not been enjoined to spread the gospel. If divine love were only measured by quality, then the perfect love that exists within the Trinity would have sufficed. I don’t presume to know whether any particular individual (including myself) will be damned or saved, but I do not think it is immodest to speak of probability. If being preached to does not raise the probability that the unbaptized will be saved, how is it an act of love? Why not just buy them a beer, since their immediate happiness would be greater and the probability of their ultimate happiness unchanged?

      • To talk in terms of “probabilities” and their “minimization” or “maximization” is to hand over oneself over to vain puzzles e.g. should parents kill their children immediately after baptism. The quantitative language misses the point.

        We are enjoined to spread the Truth since man is created to know truth. Those that have realized the truth, are saved–this is one way of putting it.

        The neighbor to whom we tell the truth is not a statistic but an individual. The truth should be our goal not considerations of population of hell.

      • That is my point. It is impossible to force a man to believe a proposition. The most one can do is force him to behave as if he believed the proposition and forbid him from behaving as if some contradictory proposition were true. Granted, this will sometimes result in that man beginning to believe that proposition, and very often in his children believing that proposition.

  6. Indeed, even granted that a forcible conversion could lead a soul to heaven, but it may well lead the converter himself to hell. Thus there is no net utility.

    • Quite so, with respect to your first sentence. I would revise your second sentence to read “there is no assurance of net utility.” As I wrote somewhere above, I can well imagine forced conversions that are brutal and botched. And I can of course imagine forced conversions that establish false doctrines and blasphemous practices. As Bonald’s post describes it, the secularization of our schools was a forced conversion, since what is converted in a forced conversion is the curriculum, the public doctrine, the official ideology. Individual conversions follow this, the ultimate percentage converting depending on the rewards attached to conversion and the penalties attached to non-conversion. Here I am using the word conversion still in the sub-Christian sense of professing and practicing a faith, not in the fully Christian sense of justification.

      My point in these comments is to remove some of the horror that we’ve attached to the idea of forced conversion. A forced conversion is nothing but a change in what is taught as the truth, and forced conversions are bad only when the new truth that is taught is, in fact, false, or when the change in curriculum is so brutal and clumsy that the truth becomes hateful because it is associated with the brutal and clumsy forced conversion.

      • “A forced conversion is nothing but a change in what is taught as the truth”
        What is “forced” about it?

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  8. Yet there is a difference between the two claims that is not merely seeming. One we assume would be based on empirical and testable grounds whereas the other, I presume you know which, would never reach that same level of agreement and universal approbation. At present the imaginary situation that is described above is exactly how liberal progressives feel and the only reason more right leaning citizens don’t subscribe to the same is because they require more conclusive evidence and proof of anthropogenic causation specifically. If there was any I’m sure there wouldn’t be any reasonable holdouts. This is because of the weight of a true scientifically conducted investigation and its inherent convincing power. The truths of Christianity are not in the same way demonstrable. Reasonable, plausible, possible, but not exactly self evident. Demonstrable in the spirit but limited to individual and isolated experience. Unless one will say that I have imbibed too much of the modernist progressive materialist scientific paradigm and I am not clear about some aspect of Traditionalism that rejects parts of it when it comes into conflict with sacred tradition.
    Do I agree with the separation of Church and State? I agree it is and has shown itself to be problematic at this time but isn’t that development indicative of another issue that lies nearer the root of the problem? Which is corruption that is inevitable and ultimately overwhelming to all civilizations. We cannot prevent civilizational corruption and we cannot change our destiny as Christians which is to be a minority dearly beloved to God.
    The separation in our government shows that either Christians weren’t in charge or that they thought it wise. Today that separation is being misused and misinterpreted and an ideology which is the functional equivalent of a religion is allowed free rein and privilege in such a way that the separation was specifically meant to prevent. So this is not an matter of the separation essentially, I see it is a matter of dishonesty and corruption, in the handling and execution of power unto the establishing of their functional equivalent, by people who should have rightly been prevented from doing so by that same separation.

  9. t should not be supposed that keeping government and religion separate somehow means the government endorses atheism. There is a difference between the government (1) remaining neutral in matters of religion and leaving individuals free to choose, exercise, and express their religious views without government intrusion and (2) taking sides in matters of religion and promoting one view (whether theism [in one, any, or all its various forms], atheism, or whatever) to the detriment of others. It is one thing for the government to endorse the idea that god(s) exist or, alternatively, endorse the idea that god(s) do not exist; it is quite another for the government to take no position on the matter and respect the right of each individual to freely decide for himself.

  10. Some questions: If a Christian reigns does he have an obligation to execute Gods judgments and enforce Christianity or does he not have such an obligation but to obey a given constitution? Given the outcome of that question, if a Christian is put in that situation is he to decline it as an ultimate act of self denial and carrying of a cross and living for the next world? Is it a temptation like the one given to Jesus in the desert that he needs to pass up as Jesus did? or can he accept it without danger, guilt, or deception?
    What prevents us from reigning and enforcing Gods will in the churches today as our proper domain before we even start thinking about the world of unbelievers. Is the world in fact ours at this time or does it belong to unbelievers?

  11. Pingback: Repost: Christ the King | Throne and Altar


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