Erastianism; John Stuart Mill, and the Saviour State

images10This is an outstandingly interesting (albeit long) article. I don’t agree with all his premises, especially with regard to intentions but he’s very good on outcomes. In any case he’ll make you think.  By Douglas Farrow writing for Touchstone magazine:

The Audacity of the State

Jeremiah Wright’s 1990 sermon, “The Audacity to Hope,” which lent Barack Obama the title of his electioneering book, has the story of Hannah as its text, and a painting by G. F. Watts

as its foil. Whether the lecture at which Wright first heard of the painting, or his own subsequent reading, included a consultation of G. K. Chesterton’s 1904 treatment of Watts, I can’t say. […]

The Savior State

When I speak of the audacity of the state, the kind of state I have in mind is what we may call the savior state. The main characteristic of the savior state is that it presents itself as the people’s guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen’s well-being. The savior state is the paternal state, which not only sees to the security of its territory and the enforcement of its laws but also promises to feed, clothe, house, educate, monitor, medicate, and in general to care for its people. Some prefer to call it the nanny state, but that label fails to reckon with its inherently religious character. The savior state does have a religious character, precisely in its paternalism, and may even be comfortable with religious rhetoric. […]

Re-Sacralized State

We can hardly be surprised at this. The Erastianism which (to speak anachronistically) had long been trying to get the upper hand in Christendom, managed to do so in the wake of the Lutheran Reformation, though it was in England that it first succeeded. The year 1534 brought the Act of Succession, and a mandatory oath of allegiance that included assent to everything declared by parliament about marriage in general and about Henry’s in particular. Later that year, the Act of Supremacy also established the king’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction, making no mention of the proviso formerly attached to it by the bishops: “as far as the law of Christ allows.”

Christendom, of course, had already seen many princes who were determined to make the church do their bidding. But Henry, by writing his supremacy into the laws of the realm, inaugurated a new era. In that era, the ongoing process of subordinating religion to the demands of the state would outrun the monarchy as such, and the Church of England too. Not merely some, butallof the church’s authority over things public would gradually be expropriated, binding even the conscience—as the Act of Succession already did—to the authority of the state.

Today we live in a society that shrinks in horror from the very idea of established religion, something the American Constitution in any case forbids. Yet we live, even if we live in America, in states increasingly ready to withdraw conscience clauses not only from public servants but also from doctors and druggists and so forth, requiring them to violate the teachings of their religion and the dictates of their consciences in order to demonstrate their allegiance to the state.

In Britain, and increasingly in North America, even churches and charitable organizations are not exempted from laws that demand conformity to state-endorsed ideologies loaded with religious implications. Penalties for violation include heavy fines or even imprisonment. Thus have we come round to accepting Erastus’s invitation to the state to punish the sins of Christians, supplanting the church’s sacramental discipline. We have come round, that is, to the de-sacralization of the church and the re-sacralization of the state, which is once again taking a tyrannical turn.

Keep reading: Touchstone Archives: The Audacity of the State.

Specifically, I have trouble with his underlying assumptions about the Enlightenment, about John Stuart Mill, and about Christianity’s inherent hostility to the individual rather than ecclesiology. Still more would I dispute libertarians antipathy to the family, it may be true of some but most are far more family friendly than the sacralized state.

But whatever their intention, in many ways, what he says here, is where we are. That is our baseline and it’s up to us to guide where we want to go.

“My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell

d9509e_a1183470b7ad4b3c9b79592ae6954221I ran across this earlier this year when Wolf Hall was running in the UK. Since it is running now on Masterpiece Theater, it seems a good time to bring it forward. It’s very good television, just don’t confuse it with objective history, it’s not, there’s a fair amount of propaganda in it.

Here’s Dr. Joanne Paul:

I like to think of More and Cromwell on some sort of bizarre historical seesaw. It seems that when one is up, the other is inevitably down. In A Man for All Seasons, More is the glorified protagonist, so Cromwell becomes the conniving enemy. In Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Cromwell is the hero, or at least antihero, and so More is given a less sympathetic portrayal.

Much of what we think we know of their relationship comes from More’s earliest biographers, who were keen to place the two men in precisely this sort of opposition. For instance, it is from More’s first biographer, William Roper, that we get the story of More, upon his resignation as Chancellor, advising Cromwell: “you shall, in your counsel-giving unto [the King], ever tell him what he ought to do, but never what he is able to do…. For if a Lion knew his own strength, hard it were for any man to rule him”. And Cromwell, in Roper’s version, teases and flatters More while he is in the Tower, prompting his reflections on “eye flattering fortune”

But how much do we really know about More and Cromwell – their relationship, what they thought of one another? We know the end of the story – or we think we do – the two men face off, and Cromwell wins, until he too is cut down. But is that the right way of thinking about it?

The two were probably born about the same time only about 5 miles apart; More in Cheapside, Cromwell in Putney. Neither came from particularly prestigious roots, More’s ancestors were brewers, bakers and candlestick makers, Cromwell’s father was a blacksmith and merchant. The main difference between the two men’s early lives seems to have been their paternal fortunes. More’s father was an up-and-coming lawyer, Cromwell’s was a brute and a drunk.

Continue reading: Dr Joanne Paul | Renaissance Historian | “My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell.

‘John Lydgate’s Medieval Identities: Monk, Poet, and Graffiti Artist’ The Newman Lecture

CAPGo1jWMAA7Ab6So after our Easter break we have the last Newman Lecture of this season. This one is by Dr. Karen Smyth of the University of East Anglia speaking on John Lydgate’s Medieval Identities Monk, Poet, and Graffiti Artist.

Karen Smyth is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the University of East Anglia.

As always, Professor Charmley’s live tweeting of the lecture is included in Storify form in the link following the Soundcloud. please do follow the link, there are a lot of pictures with this one.

‘John Lydgate’s medieval identities: monk, poet, and graffiti artist’ Dr Karen Smyth (with images, tweets) · ProfJCharmley · Storify.

Peacekeepers

FVhF8GUArchbishop Cranmer yesterday shared his thoughts about the British Trident, and they’re apropos for us as Americans as well. Trident is, of course, the British submarine based nuclear deterrent force, comparable in most respects to the US Strategic Command. The British were the world’s second nuclear armed power, because of their contribution (a huge one) to the Manhattan Project, and they have, as always, been steadfast in their duty.

I doubt I’m the only one who remembers with gratitude the sight of the American strategic forces at RAF Greenham Common guarded by the RAF regiment from the Moscow inspired Greens of the CND.

But that was then and now is now. The old Soviet Union is gone, although it does seem to be stirring somewhat like a phoenix, and its nukes still exist as do China’s, Pakistan’s and North Korea’s. Nor does it lo0k improbable that Iran, and perhaps others in the Middle East will develop nuclear weapons, and some may not be as rational.

Here is some of what His Grace had to say:

Trident is the price we pay not only for peace and national security, but for the contribution Britain makes to the security of the world. Our seat on the UN Security Council is contingent on our nuclear potency, which the SNP may not care very much about, but they will if President Putin keeps making incursions into Scottish airspace.

And it’s not only Russia: there’s also North Korea, and President Obama has just gifted the eschatological ayatollahs of Iran the means of ushering in the Mahdi and wiping Israel off the map. There is denial that this deal will do anything of the sort. But an assurance that Iran will open up their nuclear programme to inspection and not make a bomb for 10-13 years is no assurance of anything at all. When you believe you have a prophetic role to play in ushering in the End Times and the Second Coming of Isa, a decade-long delay is as a few minutes in the quest to reestablish Allah’s kingdom of righteousness.

There is no ‘Christian’ approach to nuclear deterrence: Jesus would no more bless a Trident submarine than He would a fruitless fig tree. And it’s hard to square a nuclear bomb with the Just War theory on the grounds of proportionality alone, let alone the collateral incineration of civilians. There is no jus post bellum after a nuclear strike: you’re dealing with the fallout (quite literally) for decades if not centuries.

But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ And Trident helped to establish international treaties of concord throughout the Cold War era, even if that peace was sometimes hot. How would a nuclear-free Scotland defend herself against a nuclear aggressor?

Keep reading Archbishop Cranmer.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? These ugly weapons, always restricted for ‘no first use’, that no one ever wants to use, have kept the peace in Europe, for 70 years, courtesy of the United Kingdom and the United States. These two great maritime powers have taken the doctrines that allowed them to first make and then protect the modern world and turned them into a doctrine that has allowed them to keep the peace worldwide, for nearly 70 years.

It has been hugely expensive for both countries both fiscally and psychically. It is a power no rational man would desire, the ability to end life on Earth, and yet our countries have done so, and kept the peace.

It was no joke when back in the 1940s the USAF Strategic Air Command took as its motto:

Stategic Air Command

Stategic Air Command; via Wikipedia

Peace is our profession

For truly these warriors, some of the best in the United States and the United Kingdom are indeed the peacekeepers. To them every person in the world owes their life, and such freedom as they have, or even hope for.

As Cranmer said above:

But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’

For truly:

Si vis pacem, para bellum

The War Against Freedom

2272458246_b77147169e_zIn recent days we have looked at various things, The War Against Academic Freedom, The New Intolerance, the likely outcome of forcing Americans to do much of anything, and today we’re going to look at the intolerance shown in the opposition to the RFRA in Indiana. We’ll start that with some background provided by Richard A. Epstein writing for The Hoover Institution.

The War Against Religious Liberty

Our country is in the midst of a heated and corrosive debate over what protections the law should afford to religious liberties. The matter reached its boiling point on March 17 when Indiana passed a now amendedReligious Freedom Restoration Act that was, with significant variations, patterned on the federal 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Hard as it is to remember, the federal RFRA represented an overwhelming bipartisan rejection of Justice Scalia’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which stood for the proposition that “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’”

Having enunciated that broad principle, Justice Scalia then upheld Oregon’s decision to deny unemployment benefits to Alfred Smith, a member of the Native American Church, because he was fired for having ingested peyote, a banned substance, as part of his religious rituals. Under Scalia’s iron logic, the disparate impact of this law on Smith did not require Oregon to make any accommodation for his religious beliefs. The denial of unemployment benefits here was collateral damage, given that Oregon did not initiate criminal proceedings against him, as it might have done if he had ingested peyote for recreational use.

Justice Scalia’s dangerously broad neutrality proposition prompted massive disapproval at the time because of the potential breadth of its application. Under that rule, the United States could draft Jews or Muslims into the military and force them to eat pork. After all, they have the choice to go hungry in order to not violate their religious convictions. It could also require commercial Kosher butchers to slaughter meat in accordance with federal health laws inconsistent with kosher rituals.

RFRA’s response established that the United States could not “substantially burden” the religious liberties of any person unless it could show a compelling state interest for the law that caused the burden, and even then it had to pick the least restrictive means to achieve its narrowly-defined public interest. During the more than twenty years that the federal RFRA has been in operation, it has provoked relatively little litigation on provision of services issues, and courts have never read it as a blanket license to discriminate. For the most part the application of the law dealt with matters of faith and religion.

 

Continue reading The War Against Religious Liberty | Hoover Institution.

That’s about as good on the background as I’ve seen. Mark Bauerlein writing on First Things has something to say on religious liberty as well

[I]n Public Discourse this week is a forthright statement of religious liberty signed by five distinguished figures. It’s a point that needs to be made again and again.

Religious liberty is the first freedom. It is one of the “moral roots” of our “constitutional system.” It is every American’s “birthright.” Without it, “civic harmony” is endangered.

And yet, a circumstance in our country today makes arguments for religious liberty alone inadequate. The statement acknowledges it in the third paragraph:

In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry.

That’s the crux of the matter. Religious conservatives demand religious liberty, while liberals, progressives, and libertarians demand that discrimination stop. In this set-up, which the media blast daily, conservatives don’t defend their beliefs. They only defend their right to exercise those beliefs. The charge of bigotry stands.

Keep reading:  RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IS A REARGUARD POSITION.

Ben Johnson writing on Life Site News tells us that

A New York Times columnist and a corporate leader have agreed that Christian churches “must” be convinced, or coerced, to change their teachings on sexual morality and abandon an “ossified” doctrinal teaching that sex outside heterosexual marriage is immoral.

Frank Bruni wrote that traditional Christianity – whether among evangelicals, Catholics, or Orthodox – provides the greatest resistance to normalizing homosexuality in the United States in a recent column in the New York Times.

“Homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere,” Bruni insisted. “The continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.”

Bruni quoted furniture tycoon Mitchell Gold, who has used his millions to found a liberal pressure group Faith in America, writing that Gold believes Christian churches “must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’”

Keep reading Christian churches ‘must be made’ to affirm homosexuality, says New York Times columnist.

Now remember that there is a difference, especially in the United States, between what is legal in the civil realm. Frankly, i can see little justification for banning SSM there, although I do think it should be confined two natural persons, which is a better firebreak. It is different in any church built upon Christ’s teaching, (or Mohammed’s, for that matter) that is very clear. But that does not give us the right to coerce others, but it does give us the right to say who is a member in good standing of our congregations. We are covenantal organizations, when you join, you  promise to obey (or at least try to obey) the teachings of the Church. If we do not have that right, the church itself has no meaning. And that is, I believe, the objective.


In many ways what we are seeing is a multi-pronged full on assault on freedom and liberty (yes, political correctness is part of this, it sets the allowable terms to be used, If you obey, you lose).

Why now? I think, with the best President they’ve ever had foundering in scandal, and ineffectiveness worse than anyone since Wilson himself after World War I, they have grown desperate because America is more conservative today than it has been since about 1928.

They have to win now, or they will be set back at least another 50 years, and so they are trying to make ha while the sun shines. If we stick with it now, I think we have a historic opportunity to roll back the nanny state, and increase freedom.

So cheer up and keep your powder dry, the kleptocracy is losing again, for at least another generation. Will America be as it was before? Nope it’ll be different, it always is, and likely it’ll be still better. because as always it will be:

The Shining City on the Hill

Because, amongst other reasons, as Maggie Thatcher said:

Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/margaret_thatcher.html#EHsh3oeD8k7vxAWp.99

Pilate’s wife: a reflection

Pontius_Pilate's_wife[I wanted to share this article of Jessica’s with you, because you and I know a lot of nonsense gets published about the history of Jesus this time of year. Jessica has more resources in this area than most of us can dream of, and knows how to separate fact from legend. So enjoy this article first published on All Along the Watchtower on 14 April 2014.

My post for today, The Testimony of a Woman is up on the Watchtower. In it, I speak of Our Lady and Mary Magdalene, and how they advanced the cause of women, and I bring greetings to us all from Jessica as i acknowledge the power of her testimony as well. Neo]

The dream had disturbed my sleep, and on waking and finding Pilate already gone, I called for the slave to bring me writing materials; the man was innocent, he must not die, was the burden of my words; but it would have been better had my husband been there; but he was about his duty – as usual.

My father had approved the match. Since much of the family wealth had been lost by grandfather’s decision to back Mark Antony, we had, he told me, to make the best of things in Augustus’ world, and Pilate was the protegé of a Senator who was ‘in’ with those who had supported the Emperor from the start; it could do us no harm, and besides, he had the reputation of being a decent man. It had not turned out quite as papa would have wanted, but Pilate’s many weaknesses did not include cruelty to his wife. Like many promising young men, his promise lay in the past, and the governorship of Judea had been by way of a compensation prize from his patron; some prize; what compensation?

I suppose it was better than Gaul – at least the weather was good; my sister, whose husband was posted there told me it rained all the time. But at least the Gauls knew they were barbarians and were pathetically grateful to be civilized by us; but the Jews! The Jews were forever going on about Solomon and his Temple, and their one God, as though that made them something special. I didn’t like their leaders; they were as self-satisfied and smug as the supporters of Augustus back home. But Pilate, having finally made it to this version of ‘the top’ had no intention of failing; it was typical of his optimism that he couldn’t see this was the end of the line, as good as it was going to get. His method was to give the Jewish authorities what they wanted – within pretty broad limits – in return for them keeping their stiff-necked fellow Jews in line. He was for ever saying that if he did well here, it might not be too late for something better elsewhere; there would be no elsewhere, the smell of failure was on him even when he came here. He wanted his name to live in history; as if.

It had been Mariam, my hairdresser, who had told me about Jesus, and the centurion had confirmed her stories; this man was a healer. Our son, our only child, Pio, had been lame from birth, and nothing the medicine men and women at home had been able to do had helped; but Miriam had asked Jesus, and Pio’s foot had been cured. I had followed his career thereafter with interest I had even seen him from afar and been struck by something about him. That might have been why I had that dream; it as certainly why I wrote to Pilate. I did not expect to be able to help, even though he had helped us; but I had to try.

Pilate explained that it had been ‘tricky – which was his way of saying that he might have had to show something he had never possessed – moral courage. The Jews, he told me, were ready to riot. I had been scornful, saying if that had been the case, why had that dreadful man Caiaphas wanted Jesus arrested by night and the trial to be carried out at once? But Pilate told me I did not understand; of course I did- he was a dreadful coward and had taken the easy way out; he always would.

That afternoon the sky had grown dark at the ninth hour, and there had been a heavy thunderstorm; it was said that the dead had been raised from their tombs and many had seen them; there was always many who had seen that sort of thing among the Jews; it was some sort of compensation for having only one God, I suspected. But I had felt uneasy; this was not right. When that Jew came and asked Pilate for the body, I interceded and he gave his permission; it was the least he could so, so he did it.

That was all long ago. He was recalled, half in disgrace, although the revolt last year and the destruction of the Temple showed that my husband had not been as useless as his enemies had alleged. After his death, Pio and I retired to our estate on the south of Gaul, not far from the sea. It was quite the coincidence that he should have run into some Jews there a couple of years back. They were followers of Jesus. I had heard the stories of his rising from the dead, and I had believed them. I had done my best to persuade Pilate not to allow Caiaphas and his ilk to persecute the followers of Jesus, but it had not worked. It was typical of Pilate that he never asked why I had intervened.

If he had asked, he might have found the answer to something which did puzzle him, which was why I became less discontent with our lot. Miriam’s cousin, Cephas, told her all about Jesus rising, and I sought him out, and saw and believed; he laid his hands on my head and I received the Spirit; since then I have followed The Way. That was why Pio and I made Mary and the others welcome, and why we celebrate the memory of Jesus on the Sabbath, where we sing some songs, hear readings from the memoirs of the Apostles, and drink His Body and His Blood – until he comes again. Pio has sworn to help Mary and the followers, and there is a building they can have. The Shroud is kept safe there, and many have been healed by it. I have told Pio he must be careful – the spirit of this age will persecute the followers of the Way; but we shall prevail – He said as much.

Legend has it that Claudia Pilate did indeed convert to Christianity.

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