Martyrdom’s threat to the state

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Source: Mirror of Justice.

From Paul Kahn‘s “Putting Liberalism in Its Place” (link):

The Western state actually exists under the very real threat of Christian martyrdom:  a threat to expose the state and its claim to power as nothing at all.  In the end, sacrifice is always stronger than murder.  The martyr wields a power to defeat his murderer, which cannot be answered on the field of battle.

 

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Can’t We Build A Just Society?

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Jay W. Richards, Ph.D. asks Can’t We Build A Just Society? Here’s his answer:

While Christians can offer a foretaste of God’s kingdom, we recognize that only God can and will bring it in full. With this in mind, when we ask whether we can build a just society we need to keep the question nailed to solid ground: “Just compared to what?”

It doesn’t do anyone any good to tear down a society that is “unjust” compared to the kingdom of God, if that society is more just than any of the ones that will replace it.

Of course a modern market-based society like the United States looks terrible compared with the kingdom of God. But that’s bad moral reasoning. The question isn’t whether free enterprise measures up to the kingdom of God. The question is whether there is a better alternative in this life.

If we’re going to compare free enterprise with an extreme, we should compare it with a real extreme – like communism in Cambodia, China, or the former Soviet Union. Unlike Nirvana, these experiments are well within our power to bring about.

If we insist on comparing live options with live options, modern free enterprise could hardly be more different, more just, or more desirable than the outcomes produced by these communist experiments.

That doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. We should do everything we can to build a more just society. Micah 6:8 exhorts us to “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God.”

The best way to do that is to stay focused on reality and the truth of scripture rather than romantic ideals.

This post is adapted from Richards’ book Money, Greed, and God.

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The Cruelity of the Elite

Now and then I’ve written about different moral theories that seem to be taking hold culturally. One that I find especially worrying is the growing acceptance by Christians of antinomianism or the idea that the Gospel frees us from obedience to the moral law (you can read my thoughts about this here, here and here).

The theologian R.R. Reno makes the interesting observation that at least among the social elite in America a new moral model has taken hold: esotericism. He makes argument that matches with my own observations. Looking around me I see a moral system that encourages a kind of decadence that some can afford because they are wealthy and social privileged but which when imitated by those with less material wealth or social status leads to personal disaster.  This is simply cruel.

Here’s the part of Reno’s essay that summarizes the very real human and social problem of esoteric elite morality:

It’s this quality—the esotericism—that is as destructive today as political correctness and the dictatorship of relativism. I’m not a fan of the elite approach to sex and marriage, but it’s shown itself to be a functional system—for elites. The problem is that for everybody else it’s mysterious and inaccessible. And so we have no functional social norms for ordinary people. Traditional views are bludgeoned by the elite commitment to “inclusion.” But nothing clear takes it’s place. Elites are happy with their esoteric approach, which can’t function for society as a whole.

Why the esotericism? Why no commitment to a larger, functional social ethic of sex and marriage?

I don’t want to be too Marxist, but I think it has something to do with sustaining class domination. I can’t imagine a system more congenial to elite domination than one that demoralized most (the dictatorship of relativism) while allowing elites to flourishing according to esoteric norms that only insiders can apply (“healthy choices”).

You can read the whole of his essay here.

Why do the elites do this? Why do they not only engage in but actively encourage others to decadence? Continue reading

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Life in the ‘Kingdom of Whatever’

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Modern Western political theory tries (or pretends) to steer clear of prescribing morality. Because our society divides so bitterly over matters of truth and ethics, modern lawmakers tend to enshrine individual privacy and autonomy. But in doing so, they diminish the life-giving social importance of religious faith. This legal “neutrality” isn’t so neutral. In feeding the sovereignty of the individual, our public leaders fuel consumer self-absorption, moral confusion, and—ultimately, as mediating institutions like the family and churches wither—the power of the state. The Reformation has led, by gradual, indirect, and never-intended steps, to what Gregory calls the “Kingdom of Whatever.” It’s a world of hyperpluralism, where meaning is self-invented by millions, and therefore society as a whole starves for meaning.

From Archbishop Charles J. Chaput‘s review of Brad Gregory’s The Unintended ReformationPublic Discourse.

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Christian Values Aren’t Enough

Parents who raise their children with nothing more

English: Christus Pantocrator in the apsis of ...

Christus Pantocrator in the apsis of the cathedral of Cefalù.

than Christian values should not be surprised when their children abandon those values. If the child or young person does not have a firm commitment to Christ and the truth of the Christian faith, the values will have no binding authority, nor should we expect that they would. Most of our neighbors have some commitment to Christian values, but what they desperately need is salvation from their sins. That does not come by Christian values, no matter how fervently held. Salvation comes only by the Gospel of 

Jesus Christ.

Human beings are natural-born moralists, and moralism is the most potent of all the false gospels. The language of “values” is the language of moralism and cultural Protestantism — what the Germans called Kulturprotestantismus. This is the religion that produces cultural Christians, and cultural Christianity soon dissipates into atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of non-belief. Cultural Christianity is the great denomination of moralism, and far too many church folk fail to recognize that their own religion is just Cultural Christianity — not the genuine Christian faith

Read more  Albert Mohler.

Substitute “Cultural Orthodoxy” for “Cultural Christianity” and I think it applies. Does this mean that culture doesn’t matter or that we shouldn’t work to bring society into a ever closer harmony with the Gospel? Of course not! Important, essential really, though culture is, it is not sufficient for salvation. And this applies to both those Orthodox Christians who are cultural conservatives as well as to those who are cultural progressives. That I can justify theologically my cultural or political views is not to suggest that these views exhaust the mystery of salvation. Rather the best I can say is that my views are compatible with the Gospel.

Thoughts?

In Christ,+Fr Gregory

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