The Puritan question: prophets vs. priests

There is a debate on Orthosphere blogs about the Puritan Hypothesis, the claim that today’s social justice Left (as well as all earlier iterations of Leftism) is just a secularized version of Puritanism.  JMSmith has given some support to this hypothesis, while Bruce Charlton has dissented.  On the one hand, that the Puritan Roundheads during the English Civil War were the precursors of later Leftism seems to me a plain historical fact.  And yet, one may still dispute the larger claim of an intrinsic spiritual affinity between the two.  I myself have agreed with Bruce that it is wrong to call Leftism an outgrowth of Christianity, even a heretical one.  There is simply nothing distinctively Christian about liberalism or Leftism.

The accusation that Protestants, and Puritans in particular, are precursors of later godless rebellions is an old Catholic polemic, long predating Moldbug.  “Puritans” in this context does not mean overly zealous Christians.  Naturally, no Catholic would grant low-church Protestants a monopoly on that!  Zeal vs. lukewarmness is one dichotomy of religious styles, one that transcends Christianity.  (Muslims, Buddhists, etc may also have or lack zeal.)  But there is another more relevant to us.

The two most enduring religious styles are the priestly and the prophetic.  They can both inspire great piety, but in content they are polar opposites.  The priest preaches God’s presence in the world, the prophet His absence–His alienation–from it.  The prophet condemns the exiting social order; the priest consecrates it.  The prophet proclaims God’s wrath, the priest God’s forgiveness.  It is for the priest to mitigate the cruelty of religious moralizing.  In speaking to the people of God’s manifestation in the world, the prophet warns against false positives, the priest against false negatives.  To the prophet, the great sin is idolatry, to see God where society says He is but where in fact He is not.  Any pretense of the social order to sacrality is anathema to prophets.  The only polity that could command his loyalty is the impossible Messianic kingdom of his fantasy.  Hence today they rail against patriotism and “racism”, and take the disenchantment of the world as a religious imperative.  The priest is at home in the world, for all order is part of God’s order.  To the priest, the great sin is sacrilege, profanation, impiety.

Prophets are relentless self-promoters, and the near unanimous opinion of men is that “prophetic” religion is good, while “priestcraft” is bad.  They are all wrong.  The prophetic innovators of the Axial Age created a terrible spiritual wound, expelling God from the world, alienating man from his sacred rituals, destroying the compactness of man’s primitive religious representation of the cosmos.  Today we see what a world of prophets looks like:  twitter mobs, antifa terrorists, ideological struggle sessions in every workplace.  The endpoint would be a crowd of moralistic sadists clawing each others’ eyes out in a frenzy of holy hatred.  They say that university professors are priests of Progressivism.  Would that it were so!  Imagine if professors taught students to be grateful to the great god Social Justice, to see all around them how Social Justice sustains and reconciles all things, to therefore to cherish these things.  But no, Social Justice is forever an angry god.

Islam and post-temple Judaism are prophetic religions.  In Jesus Christ we see a prophet turning the prophetic critique against itself in His criticisms of the Pharisees, who were the prophetic branch of the Judaism of the day.  None did Jesus condemn so vociferously as the moral preeners and those who presumed to gauge other men’s moral worth.  Most significantly of all, Jesus declared Himself to be the fulfillment of prophesy.  As hinted by Jesus Himself and stated explicitly by the early Church, this fulfillment was of a priestly, sacrificial nature.  So, if the prophesies are fulfilled, we have no more need for prophets!  Jesus is the prophet who abolishes prophesy and the priest who reconstitutes the priesthood.  The Catholic Church has always organized itself around the priestly principle.  Promoting social justice, critiquing “structures of power”, giving “voice to the voiceless”, “healing the world”–all of these things are totally alien to her nature.  Our Messiah has already arrived and is found bodily on our altars.

The Protestant Reformation had nothing to do with corruption in the Church; the Reformers themselves would not wish it to be trivialized so.  They struck at the basis of the Church’s priestly self-understanding, the doctrine of the Eucharist.  The Reformers denied that the Eucharist has a sacrificial character; this is the core of the Reformation debate, and everything else follows from it.  They worried that the celebration of the Eucharist constitutes additional sacrifices to Christ’s self-offering on Calvary, and that this would thus imply that the latter is inadequate.

Without stepping too far into this debate–for I am no theologian–it is helpful to recall the Catholic doctrine reaffirmed at Trent.  The Catholic Church teaches that each celebration of the Eucharist is not a new sacrifice, but a new appropriation of Jesus’ one all-sufficient sacrifice.  It is the nature of symbols to be suprapersonal in that their meaning is part of the public world rather than of the performer’s intentions, making it possible for others to affix their assent as well while remaining a single symbolic act.  Here we see the rationale of the Incarnation.  A purely spiritual act of devotion by the Son to the Father, however perfect, would be His alone, incommunicable, while a physical bodily self-sacrifice could be a symbol which we can appropriate in all its unfathomable depths of meaning.  Behind all of this is the priestly sacramental sense that the physical world is actually more capable of bearing meaning than are human thoughts and acts of will on their own.

Thus, it is certainly true that the Reformation contributed to the ascendency of the prophetic mode of religion.  Offering sacrifices is the defining role of a priest (just as moralistic bullying is the defining role of the prophet).  Nevertheless, among Protestants the two styles are found in varying combinations.  Anglicans strike me as nearly the same in religious temperament as Catholics.  Puritans were entirely prophetic and free of all priesthood, as they would proudly tell you.  Lutherans are somewhere in between.   Atheist Leftism is in no way a type of Christianity–“heretical”, “secularized”, or any other kind–but it clearly is in the prophetic style.  (Hence Jews and Muslims have greater affinity for it than Protestants.  Protestants affirm the Incarnation and substitutionary atonement and so retain some of the priestly imagination.) Meanwhile, Catholics since Vatican II have made a farce of their religion trying to be prophetic with protests, public statements, solicitude for high-status official victims, and humiliating apologies for historic failures to follow prophetic morality.

The only viable Catholic response would be to refuse to recognize in the prophets their precious moral superiority, to argue forthrightly the superiority of priestcraft over prophesy.

There is much concern over the upcoming Amazon Synod, in which the Church, in praising the pagan natives, seems to extol animism, pantheism, and ancestor worship.  Is it part of an ongoing apostasy?  Or could it be the Catholic Church beginning to embrace her own priestly, anti-prophetic nature?

37 thoughts on “The Puritan question: prophets vs. priests

  1. Pingback: The Puritan question: prophets vs. priests | Reaction Times

  2. Could this e further simplified by saying each class defines the source of truth differently? Prophets: truth is intrinsic–“i have seen god and he tells me xyz!” Vs priests: truth is extrinsic–“the answers come from xyz and if we study it and appreciate it we will learn it and abide by it.”

  3. Leftism is anti-Christian – or more generally anti-God and anti-Good – that is both its origin and nature, that is its *only* coherence.

    It is nuts, ignorant or confused for a Christian (of any kind) to regard the Left as any kind of Christian ‘heresy’: the Left is Christian Apostasy.

    Really, this is a no-brainer. Let’s just move on.

    • I agree with this. In fact, I would say the teaching that Leftism is “in some sense” Christian is the heresy, since heresy is an error that ultimately leads to apostasy. “Liberal Christianity” has converted millions of Christians to Liberalism, but virtually no Liberals to Christianity. Whether by design or only in effect, a heresy is a de-conversion device.

      Historical Puritanism obviously split into Protestant fundamentalism and Unitarian transcendentalism, and Unitarians transcendentalism evolved into Progressive utopianism. The later is now well beyond a heresy, but it does retain vestiges that betray its Christian origins. It’s celebration of love is the most obvious vestige, although love has lost its Christian function and meaning.

      When I identify Leftism with sevententh-century Christian Puritans, the connection is historical, temperamental, and behavioral. It certainly is not doctrinal or theological. I agree with you that Christianity must in one sense “evolve,” but very stoutly deny that every possible evolution deserves the name of Christianity. It seems obvious to me that one cannot be a Christian while denying that Jesus was, in fact, the Christ.

      When I call SJW’s “Puritans,” I mean temperamental and behavioral Puritanism. A growing number of them have no connection to historical Christianity, and are, in fact, apostate Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. Since I mean moralistic and meddlesome busybodies, I should perhaps say moralistic and meddlesome busybodies.

  4. Very clarifying! Of course I find myself on the opposite side, in this case, firmly supported by scripture:

    And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! (Numbers 11:27-29)

    It’s amusing to see devotees of priestly authority upset that the priests in authority fail to be authoritarian enough (see the above criticism of Vatican II) and thus they are forced to become critics and prophets themselves.

  5. “Today we see what a world of prophets looks like: twitter mobs, antifa terrorists, ideological struggle sessions in every workplace. The endpoint would be a crowd of moralistic sadists clawing each others’ eyes out in a frenzy of holy hatred.”

    Bonald, yours is a provocative argument, which I read with appreciation. You might even have nudged me a degree or two in your direction.

    In the relevant Venn Diagram I see considerable overlap between your “Prophets vs. Priests” and my “Woke: Cthulhu Awakens.” I continue to favor, not so much the Puritan Hypothesis, but (let us call it) the Puritan Analogy. The Analogy possesses a heuristic value that helps in understanding the religiose character of contemporary Leftism. The deeper truth, however, is this: That there is no “beyond” of Christianity; when the mob junks Christianity, it does not drive itself forward into the radiant future — it lapses backward free-fall wise into the Moloch Cult. We bear witness to the emergence of what might be called Orgiastic Puritanism, on the model of that branch of late-antique Gnosticism, the Carpocratians.

    Lovecraft, from whose imagination the Cthulhu Cult stemmed, adhered, not incidentally, to an extremely doctrinal atheist-materialist point of view, but, at the same time he matched the profile, culturally and psychologically speaking, of an extremely puritanical New England Puritan, who supported FDR’s socialist New Deal. These things are not exactly exclusive to one another, or so it appears to me. Thank you for your essay.

  6. I remember somewhere reading that the abolitionist John Brown resembled an Old Testament Prophet, with his flowing beard, flashing eye, and fierce scorn for the wicked world. Since we are warned against false prophets, I think it follows that the prophetic personality is natural in the human species. Or, if one has more sympathy for prophets, one might say that human institutions naturally degenerate to a point where prophetic calls for reform are necessary. I accept both views. There is a prophetic personality that combines great personal energy and extraordinary moral fastidiousness. Some false prophets are just grifters, and all prophets are a pain in the neck, but they have a definite function in a world subject to social entropy.

    We often talk about “holiness spirals” as if they went in only one direction. Certainly men strive for status by outdoing one another in mortifications or outward acts of personal piety. But men are also very happy to rationalize relaxation of spiritual and moral discipline. The priest figure can easily abet this downward spiral with the rationalization that it’s all good so long as the sacrifices are performed. Protestant travelers in Catholic countries invariably comment on the relative moral laxity, and I don’t think this can be dismissed as mere prejudice.

    So I am inclined to believe that prophets will expressed their fierce scorn for the wicked world no matter how wicked that world actually is. If the world happens to be in a relatively un-wicked state, those prophets are pests and should be “thrown into a well.” They really will “burn the world down,” since that is their destiny if we let them do it. But if the world happens to be in a relatively wicked state (as I believe it periodically is), those incendiary prophets are useful and necessary. When the world is in a relatively wicked state, the complacent priests are the pests because they function to conserve what must rightly be destroyed.

    In my conservatism, my natural tendency to conserve is tempered by a pessimistic acceptance of social entropy or decadence. Social institutions naturally decay, and sometimes reform. Sometimes this reforms get out of hand and the institution destroys itself in a revolution. In my view, the trick is to give the prophets their head when decay has become pretty bad, but then to start throwing prophets into wells and listening to priests once reform has gone far enough. But priests will not check decadence and prophets will not check revolution.

  7. Traditional Christians, particularly Catholics had no time for wokeness – they were too busy trying to deal with the basic, grave sins that we all do – keeping the 10 commandments in deed and spirt, and absolution when they failed – no time or energy for social justice crap. Hard enough just to keep myself out of hell or minimize my suffering in Purgatory. With easy, guaranteed salvation through Christian conversion there’s lots of time to be outraged by all the injustices of the world.

  8. A Puritan wishes everyone were as miserable as himself. A Prophet sets out to ‘make it so’. A Priest relieves the misery with sacrifice.
    What (or Who) is sacrificed determines whether it is worth the candle – or not.

  9. To the extent that low/levelling church polity, the denial of sacraments (eucharist and holy orders), every man his own priest/pope, is not meaningfully “Christian”, Bonald, I’m with you 100%. But it is undeniable, at least in the West, these are uniquely Christian heresies. I am not aware of great egalitarian movements and ideologies arising outside of the West. They may have. And then swiftly been repressed, as by right Western sovereigns did, until they didn’t.

    • “every man his own priest/pope, is not meaningfully “Christian”, Bonald, I’m with you 100%.
      Every man is his own priest. I am sure you are aware that all of Christs people are a Royal Priesthood.
      Even as there is an ordained hierarchy of Bishops/Overseers/Elders.

  10. This is a most enjoyable exchange.

    Bruce Charlton writes: “The Left is Christian Apostasy.”

    JMSmith writes: “When I call SJW’s ‘Puritans,’ I mean temperamental and behavioral Puritanism. A growing number of them have no connection to historical Christianity, and are, in fact, apostate Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.”

    @Charlton: There can be no apostasy without an original dispensation. Emperor Julian notoriously fell away from the Christianity in which he had been raised, but it is impossible to imagine, at least for me, that he retained no traits of his Christian upbringing. Indeed, Ibsen and Merezhkovsky both represent him as continuously obsessed with what he rejected. Most of my acquaintances on the Left are obsessed with Christianity, which they constantly berate. They think about God and Jesus, but not about the Holy Spirit, who remains foreign to them, much more than I do. For myself, I only think of their Leftism when the conversation comes around to it or when Leftists directly harangue me. My point is that Leftism, going back to the Jacobins, has what strikes me as an indissoluble relation to Christianity because of rather than despite its apostate character.

    @Smith: The word puritanism does not legitimately restrict itself in its application only to the historical Calvinist sect and does not necessarily refer only to zealous aberrations within the Christian milieu. The traits of Puritanism include (to name but a few) a narrow doctrine, a reactive stance against something long-established, doctrine-obsession, resistance to inquiry, agitation, militancy, and a proneness to violent action. Certain sects of Buddhism show these traits (Orwell wrote about them in one of his essays); so too, according to the descriptions, do certain branches of extreme pagan asceticism (Apuleius satirizes them in The Golden Ass). It is therefore entirely possible for modern SJW types “to have no connection to historical Christianity” and yet to bear the descriptor of puritan quite appropriately. SJWs qualify as puritanical in many ways. One way is in their fear of contamination, the prophylaxis of which is the function of their “safe spaces.”

    I will spare you my usual and no doubt tendentious discussion of Gnosticism.

    • I don’t know how helpful it is to others to make a distinction between what I call “ideological Puritanism” (which descriptive I’m sure I picked up somewhere, probably here, and perhaps from Tom or Jonathan, since the two of you have written on this subject numerous times at the Orthosphere) and its religious counterpart, but it’s been helpful to me in discussing the thing with my adult children and nephews and nieces, for example.

      • Tom: I did a quick search of the archives of my kids’ private blog and found a post on this subject in which I cited (and linked to) one of your essays, the link to which I am including below in this comment.

        P.S. I haven’t re-read your article in full, but I’m nevertheless pretty sure I derived the “ideological Puritanism” distinction from it in any case, judging from what I wrote in my article, and in the replies to comments it generated.

        Here is the link to your essay of which I speak:

        “What is Puritanism?”

  11. My contribution to this debate can be found here: http://thronealtarliberty.blogspot.com/2019/08/gnostics-puritans-and-left.html

    In a nutshell: There would be no New Left without an Old Left, and the Old Left can clearly and undeniably be traced back through history to the Puritans – Bolshevism grew out of Jacobinism, and Jacobinism took its inspiration from the Puritan rebellion against King Charles I.

    I will add that I have an extremely low view of historical Puritanism as a supposedly “Christian” movement. The Puritans were second generation English Calvinists who, when it came to the most important matters that Luther and Calvin got right, departed from the Reformers in a Romeward direction, while insisting upon departing even further from the pre-Reformation tradition on matters that were not merely Roman but genuinely Catholic. In other words, they were the opposite of the original Anglicans who tried to be both Protestant and Catholic in the best sense of both words. Puritanism combined the worst of both sides of the Reformation, not the best. It was itself a fanatical, schismatic, and heretical, apostasy and that it further apostatized into deistic, Unitarianism, and ultimately atheism is not surprising.

    Of course, as a member of the Society of King Charles the Martyr who has spent much of the last year re-reading the complete works of Richard Hooker, I may be a little biased. 😉

  12. The distinction between prophet and priest as Bonald has explained it for us here is closely related to the distinction in the Lutheran exegetical tradition between Law and Gospel. Law, in the Lutheran distinction, is the revelation of God’s holiness and His wrath against sin, Gospel is the revelation of God’s love, mercy, and propiatory grace extending forgiveness and reconciliation to sinners through Christ. A prophet, by Bonald’s definition, would be a “minister of Law”, a priest, a “minister of Gospel”. Here the Lutheran and Catholic understandings come together for Luther always insisted that Gospel takes precedence over Law, and that Law is subservient to the Gospel. Calvin himself followed Luther on this – I have noted often that where Calvinists and Lutherans disagree Calvin himself can usually and ironically be found to have been closer to the Lutheran than the Calvinist position. In Puritan practice, if not in their formal theology, Law took precedence over Gospel. Which is another way of saying what Bonald put as “Puritans were entirely prophetic and free of all priesthood, as they would proudly tell you.” This illustrates what I said above about the Puritans being the opposite of the classical Anglicans, departing from both Protestantism and Catholicism where these traditions were at their best rather than affirming the best of both.

    • Thank you for sharing your writings on the Puritan question, Mr. Neal, with which I am quite in agreement. The connection of prophet/priest with Law/Gospel is also insightful. My only qualification would be that priestly religion does have some restrictions of behavior particularly associated with it, those that we tend to think of as respect for sacred boundaries, taboo, horror of blasphemy, and the like. But even here, when priests concern themselves with social compliance of their morals, the main concern is preservation of appearances, eliminating flagrant violations.

      Priestly religion now finds itself in the uncharacteristic position of speaking up for sexual morality–asking us at least to be discreet in our infidelities and perversions–because this is seen more as a matter of taboo upholding than social justice.

  13. Pingback: Cantandum In Ezkhaton 09/01/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores

  14. “Puritanism” covers a multitude of sins, often stereotyped and exaggerated, and a multitude of virtues, often ignored or forgotten. John Demos’ book, A Little Commonwealth, showed that Puritans were not so “Puritanical” after all. They liked to dress colorfully, have parties, dance, sing, and drink.

    The Puritan family typically had between seven and ten children living in a small house and could be very warm and supportive. The nuclear family was the basic social unit and tranquility was an important social objective, not surprisingly, given their relatively small commonwealth and their small houses filled with so many children.

    This does not strike me as particularly similar to modern secular leftism, leaving aside the most serious and obvious difference that, as Bruce Charlton points out, the Puritans were, by and large and by their own lights, sincere and serious Christians, while the secular left is, by and large and by conscious decision, not.

  15. I think that some people are reluctant to admit that some of the ‘Puritans’ were strong, sincere, lived Christians (ie that Puritanism was a *Christian* revival, to a significant extent) – and, as such, some were better *Christians* than most of the ‘Catholics’ of their time and place. If this is agreed, then it becomes the primary consideration.

    There is also the point to be considered which I made in Thought Prison – http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.com/ – that IF we are being rigorous about the roots of Leftism in the church; THEN the Great Schism of c 1000AD was important, indeed decisive – when the modernising Leftists of the Roman and Western Catholic Church (who favoured philosophy, academia and abstraction) divided from the traditionalists of the Eastern Orthodox.

    That the Romans were modernisers is obvious from tha fact that the schism ushered in an immediate process of rapid theological (and organisational) change, such that no two consecutive generations of Roman Catholics stayed the same from then until now. For example after Scholasticism began, each new generation changed significant aspects of the previous one – and even Aquinas was subjected to significant change almost immediately (from eg Duns Scotus and William of Ockham).

    In other words – IF Puritanism is to be considered as the root of Leftism post 1500; THEN we need to be clear that Puritanism had its roots in Roman Catholicism from around 1000. So IF Leftism is the ‘fault’ of the Reformation (especially Puritans), THEN Leftism is ALSO (and more primarily) the ‘fault’ of the Roman Catholic church for schisming from the East!

    (Note: this is an if/ then argument – I don’t make this argument myself; because my primary concern is with the strength of Christian faith of specific persons; and therefore Not with their denomination/ theology/ philosophy/ specific ritual etc. I distinguish between Christianity on the one hand; and the explanations of it, details of its practice on th eother. My contention is that Leftism comes from weakening Christianity, from people leaving Christianity – in various ways and for various reasons.; at first making Christianity secondary, then actively opposing Christianity and all its components, pre-requisites and supports.)

    • > IF Puritanism is to be considered as the root of Leftism post 1500; THEN we need to be clear that Puritanism had its roots in Roman Catholicism from around 1000

      I’ve already done you one better, putting the blame on a religious movement a thousand years before Christ!

      Let me show my ecumenical side and say that, while posterity is by and large willing to take the Puritans at their word for being the more committed Christians, I’m sure there were a large number of equally good (and equally non-Catholic) Christians among the Cavaliers. I would place Charles I with the likes of Louis XVI and Nicholas II of great martyr kings.

      • Bonald: There is Joachim di Fiore — a half-century later than 1000 AD, but close enough. He was one of the first who, in Voegelin’s words, wanted to “immanentize the eschaton.” Christianity is metaphysically a revelation, but in this-worldly, institutional terms the revelation, which must be written down and edited, is subject to the same decadence as everything else. (See the reigning Pope.) The derivation of the Jacobin Clubs from Huguenot sodalities in the Age of Montaigne and the derivation of the Late-Medieval “Brotherhood of the Free” from Joachim’s preaching in the Twelfth Century are instances of the interference that the fallen character of intransigent this-worldliness exploits to delay its dissolution-by-redemption. Meanwhile Grace fights its own battle on behalf of the Good over the fallen man and the fallen nature. Being “committed” can never, on its own, be a virtue; “commitment,” like courage, must be evaluated by external criteria.
        “If Puritanism is to be considered as the root of Leftism post 1500; THEN we need to be clear that Puritanism had its roots in Roman Catholicism from around 1000.”
        Not in Catholicism, I believe, but in the Joachite distortion of Catholicism.

    • F Puritanism is to be considered as the root of Leftism post 1500; THEN we need to be clear that Puritanism had its roots in Roman Catholicism from around 1000. So IF Leftism is the ‘fault’ of the Reformation (especially Puritans), THEN Leftism is ALSO (and more primarily) the ‘fault’ of the Roman Catholic church for schisming from the East!,

      That’s right Bruce and you’ll have us believe Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were “better Christians” than Augustine and Aquinas.

  16. Take a look at the losers just appointed cardinals by Bergoglio and tell me that being “priestly” provides any sort of protection against become a rank apostate.

    • Mr. Public, I cannot allow you to speak disrespectfully of the Holy Father on my post. I know that I’ve been guilty of this myself and wouldn’t presume to judge you, but I’ve repented what I wrote and sometimes wish there had been someone to block my writings.

  17. I share the prejudice for priestly religion: ritual and sacrifice fire my imagination; Hebrews is my favorite epistle; blasphemy angers me much more than idolatry.

    On the other hand, the First Commandment condemns idolatry, not blasphemy.

    Wouldn’t it be better to say that the moral preening and self-promotion and alienation associated with the prophetic type are deformations of the true prophetic role? God obviously regarded the prophetic role as something good and necessary in O.T. times, it was a prophet of whom it was said none born of women was greater, and as you say, Christ Himself fulfills the prophetic role.

  18. >There is simply nothing distinctively Christian about liberalism or Leftism.

    Consider that both wanted to ban duelling. But only liberalism succeeded to. The Church considered duelling an uncivilized, barbarous Frankish pagan relic. This is very similar to the liberal viewpoint.

    It is very often noticed that liberalism looks something like a religion. One branch of Neoreactionary thought, namely the Jimian branch, says it is simply because being an intellectual, being a priest, a teacher, is a social class. The similarity between Christianity and liberalism is that both are ran by priests. Priest in this context boils down to people who tell people stories, and they cooperate with each other so that they tell the same story. Although I would prefer the terminology that priests, intellectuals work with information. Warriors are another class who cooperate for doing violence, the capitalists are another class who cooperate to produce but they also compete so they never end up being the ruling class, only warriors or priests.

    From what pops out of this social class analysis is that the two main systems are when the warriors are the ruling class and when the priests are the ruling class. Duelling is typically something warriors like to do. Christian priests never had enough power to ban it. Hence they were not the ruling class. Liberal priests managed to ban it. Hence they are.

    There is another evidence to the statement that during Medieval Christianity, warriors ruled priests. You yourself use the term “Germanized Christianity”. That comes from James C. Russel. Who very clearly demonstrated how this Germanization meant putting warriors above priests. The Eigenkirche of warlord aristocracy etc.

    A third evidence would be if I my plug by blog, radical lefty Tony Benn: https://dividuals.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/leftism-and-christianity/

    “His mother’s theology had a profound influence on Benn, as she taught him that the stories in the Bible were based around the struggle between the prophets and the kings and that he ought in his life to support the prophets over the kings, who had power, as the prophets taught righteousness.”

    This is really perfect, Bonald. The difference between the priest and prophet as you put it, in how they relate to reality, narrows down to how they relate to top warriors i.e. kings. Priests anoint kings, prophets undermine them. Thus, priests are ruled by warriors. Or at the very least accept them ruling everybody else.

    My interpretation is – that is only mine and very speculative, so take it with a pinch of salt – that the warrior and the priest represent something very deep. The warrior is the animal in us. Animals can do organized violence, look at pack hunters. The priest represents cooperation, coordination through speech, the distinctly human trait, the No. 1 human trait. The speaking animal. The political animal, *because* speaking animal. Speech is great, coordination via speech is great, it is really the difference between men and animals. But speech can get detached from reality. The function of speech is to influence others. It does not have to be true. Speech is the creation of a social reality. While warriorhood is rooted in brute-fact, animal reality. The speaking class, priests, intellectuals, prophets on their own are likely to get detached from reality, they live in the social world, the world of speech hence ideas, the information world. Warriors live in the tangible world. Hence I think when the infoworkers, the priests are realistic, accept the order of life, then they are being made so by warriors.

    BTW the Puritan-Marxist connection is not even new, Voegelin came up with it. But Voegelin didn’t really know who and where secularized that Gnosticism. Moldbug basically just pointed out that the Harvard is just the ideal place for that. Established for training Puritan preachers, then growing out from that, Emerson’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendentalism right at Harvard already showed much of leftism etc. etc.

    • I would say that Germanized Christianity blended priest and warrior in the person of the chivalrous knight. In the chivalrous knight, violence was sanctified and sanctity acquired power. This blend is hard to keep in balance.

      • How come kings in the Old Testament were anointed by prophets? King Saul and King David were anointed by Samuel, and Elijah was told by God to anoint two kings.

        However, on the other hand, looking it up just now, Solomon was anointed by the High Priest Zadok, and Joash was also anointed by the High Priest.

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