Dear friends and supporters,
In light of the attention-consuming political events of this past week, I’ve decided to postpone until next week my article on the difference between the gospel and salvation and instead briefly address the leading ideas behind, and implications of, the present altered political realities.
The “Progressivist” Stake in Politics
With their Georgia senatorial sweepstakes grab, the Democrats won a critical battle in their full-blown culture war. The Democrat Party is more and more molded by Leftism, one of whose main tenets is the reengineering of culture by politics. In this, it reflects its overlap with Cultural Marxism. (The term liberalism to denote the Left is becoming increasingly outmoded; Leftism, or “progressivism,” is more accurate.)
It is a mistake often made by libertarians to suppose that statism is the most dangerous sociopolitical vision. It is not. The most dangerous sociopolitical vision is one whose goal is not capturing political power as an end in itself but as a tool for reengineering society and even mankind. This is Cultural Marxism: man himself must be overcome by the The New Man (in politically correct language, The New Human). The state is simply the most efficient vehicle for accomplishing that objective. Soon-to-be Senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer crowed of his new role:
… President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will have a partner who is ready, willing and able to help achieve a forward-looking agenda and deliver help and bold change to the American people …
By “forward-looking agenda” and “bold change,” Schumer has in mind not only things like expanding the Covid-drama cotton candy largesse to $2000 per person but, much more ominously, passing the Equality Act, enforcing homosexuality at a federal (and, where feasible, international) level.
This is an entirely predictable trajectory for Leftism. No institution less powerful than the state can implement such massive cultural transformations as Leftists envision.
The Conservative Stake in Politics
Alternatively, conservatives perceive cultural change as primarily the province of “civil society”: the family, church, friendships, private schools, business, the arts, and other non-political spheres (see Roger Scruton’s Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition). The task of the state, in fact, is to provide the “safe space” for these institutions. Politics according to conservatives should protect not just individual liberty (under law) but also institutional liberty. The state keeps basic social institutions free to create and preserve a healthy culture.
This is an irreducible difference between conservatism and Leftism. Conservatives (traditionally, at least) get involved in politics to keep politics in its proper, limited place. Ironically, the conservative stake in politics is to depoliticize culture. When in his inaugural address, Ronald Reagan famously declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” he was uttering not only a conservative political truism, but a cultural one as well. If society needs to be changed, it’s not the state’s job to change it. Conservatives have a high view of the role of the family and church, for example, in shaping people’s lives. For Leftists, the state does a much better job of this.
For conservatives, therefore, politics is a necessary but minor aspect of culture. For Leftists, it is the great driver of culture. To conservatives, the culture war basically involves protecting and bolstering civil (non-political) society and its basic institutions from their enemies. To Leftists, those traditional institutions are the enemies that politics must overcome in the quest for the The Just Society.
For Leftists like Biden, Harris, Schumer, and Pelosi, the political war is the culture war. The state is man’s collective salvation.
This booklet shows that the grand political vision of our time, liberalism, is based on apostate theological presuppositions. Christians must overthrow those religious convictions to finally destroy political liberalism.
Order the book here.
“Soteriology” is defined as salvation doctrine, historically identified with Christian theology. Over the last two centuries, as secularism has pervaded the West, soteriology has shifted away from Christian theology toward power politics. Indeed, modern politics in many ways instantiates the secularization of Christian theology. When humanity loses Christian theology, it doesn’t abandon theological categories but simply secularizes them. The new christology = the modern political messiah; the new pneumatology = Hegel’s “world spirit” expressed in the nation; the new hamartiology = deviation from the Leftist agenda; the new ecclesiology = the political party, like the Communist or National Socialist; and the new eschatology = impending secular heaven on earth. These are the political categories of the new secular theology. Man looks to the state for his salvation.
Political soteriology for conservatives
One of the strangest ideational shifts of my lifetime has been conservatives’ embrace of political soteriology. I am convinced that this shift has paralleled the gradual de-Christianization and secularization of conservatism. While conservatism in the West over the last century could never have been merely identified with Christianity, it, like the U. S. Founding itself, was not thinkable apart from Christian influence, particularly the objectivity of moral standards such as we find in the Bible and in creation. Conservatives believe that politics must be judged according to and operate on the basis of objective truth standards.
As conservatism has lost touch with those divine transcendent standards, it has replaced them with other standards like national identity, not wrong in itself but a poor substitute for God’s standards. When Make America Great Again is severed from what made America great in the first place, the residue is a secular nationalism no better than a secular globalism. Deprivation of economic liberty crowds out God’s moral order as long as citizens identify first with a nation and second (or never) with the Triune God.
A deeper change is the move toward the merging of politics and culture characteristic of Leftism. When we no longer trust God to change culture via man’s faithful obedience, we are obliged to capture the levers of the state to change it. Lately this has been no less true of conservatives than Leftists.
The storming of the U. S. capitol during the recent pro-Trump rally is a graphic example of this malign transition in conservatism. Although most Trump supporters (like most Bidden supporters) are peaceful, a minority unleashed a carefully planned insurrection designed to disrupt the orderly proceedings of the Senate. Early claims that this was a ruse by Antifa (camouflaged as Trump supporters) to discredit Trump and conservatism have proven false. Donald Trump, Jr. took to Twitter imploring the few violent among his father’s fans to abandon their violence.
He obviously does not buy the Antifa conspiracy theory, as his father does not. Nor do the number of rock-solid Christian conservatives like Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss who have resigned in protest.
Like the violent protesters last summer in the wake of the George Floyd killing, these pro-Trump supporters justified violence on the alleged grounds of an unjust and therefore illegitimate political order. Blacks cannot get justice for alleged police brutality and, more widely, “systemic racism”; and Trump supporters cannot get justice for a “stolen” presidential election (despite the fact that no court or judge in the land, not even those appointed by Trump, could find evidence of widespread fraud). This supposedly systemic illegitimacy justifies extra-legal actions: the U. S. regime is corrupt and therefore inherently illegal, and, therefore, violence is justified in redressing the injustice. It’s not illegal to employ violence to undo illegal regimes.
The U. S. War for Independence
Some defenders of the recent violence have pointed to the American War for Independence as justifiable precedent, but the comparison is false (interestingly, they did not accept Black Lives Matter violence on these grounds). The Founders were influenced by John Calvin’s view (in the final chapter of his Institutes) that lower territorial magistrates may (and must) defend their citizens from the tyranny of higher magistrates. The war was conducted under lawful authority. Today this would mean that godly governors and mayors (for example) could employ state militias to protect against federal tyranny, in this case, against a fraudulent election, if that were what had happened.
But individuals violently resisting the civil magistrate apart from submission to duly constituted authority is sinful anarchy. Wednesday’s capitol breach was an act of sinful insurrection precisely because it did not operate under lawful authority. While there is little evidence that a handful of violent Antifa members were camouflaged as Trump supporters, there is ample evidence that a handful of violent Trump supporters acted as revolutionaries.
Extra-legality is always a mark of “Total Revolution.” Revolutionaries disdain adequate remedy at law and refuse to work within its boundaries; that’s what makes them revolutionaries. The hot-headed Jewish revolutionaries of the early Christian era, resentful of Roman occupation, incited the ghoulish decimation of Jerusalem by Titus in A. D. 70–72. There is nothing remotely Christian about this extra-legal violence, which Paul preemptively opposes in Romans 13. This text does not forbid lawful resistance to political tyranny, but neither does it permit insurrection.
This insurrection is sometimes called “conservative counter-revolution,” but it never is. It claims to be restoring the moral order overturned by Leftists, but it is actually an attempt to reverse the new Leftist (dis)order after assimilating the revolutionary gains — and strategies — of Leftism. It is a variant of revolution whose eyes are hidden to this fact by its opposition to other specific tenets of Leftism. But its orientation to society is revolutionary; it adopts, usually unknowingly, the guiding tenet of Leftism. This is a precise description of Germany’s National Socialism in its hatred for Marxism and classical liberalism. Nazism was not a conservative counter-revolution. It was a revolution opposed to many tenets of Leftism but committed to its most basic one.
In this way, too, violent conservatives in our time ape Leftism. They are political soteriologists no less than Leftists. The jettisoning of Christianity by an increasing number of conservatives invites its own version of revolution, salvation by politics.
The Georgia election and breach of the capitol were unmitigated sociopolitical disasters. There’s no way to lipstick this pig. There will be no legislative reigns on the Leftist revolutionary agenda, and while the conservative-dominated SCOTUS can block unconstitutional laws, it can do nothing about merely evil ones. The U. S. will be the political fiefdom of Biden-Harris-Pelosi-Schumer for at least the next two years.
Though not the only factor, Republicans committed to suppressing the vote and losing the Senate were a smashing success. Their actions were nothing short of reprehensible. It is time for the GOP to quit blaming everybody else for their failures. They need to take a hard look in the mirror.
However, “failure is not fatal; success is not final.” The overriding feature of society is not politics, but culture ( = religion). Christians stand under the authority of the reigning King. The victory is his.
Therefore, the Christian response is not defeatism, despair, or withdrawal. Now is the time for bold, public, uncompromising battle.
These are not the Last Days. These are the First Days of the Winning Days.
This past week Sharon and I were able to visit for the first time Pinnacle National Park, set along the San Andreas fault near King City, California. I’m not an avid hiker, but Sharon successfully cajoled me into a short but strenuous trek. Our daughter Peace, a deputy sheriff, joined us. It was a delightful venture.
My next e-book Total Revolution: Leftist Elitism Versus the United States should be published within two weeks.
Next week’s scheduled title for this CultureChange newsletter is “Gospel or Salvation? These are not identical, and assuming that they are radically minimizes biblical faith.”
I hope that many of you Texas friends will plan to join Sharon and me at this event a few weeks from now:
Thank you for your friendship and support. Meanwhile, walk boldly in faith, expecting victory.
Yours for the King,
Founder & President
Center for Cultural Leadership
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