It's Secular But It's Our Secular

Worries about the Islamization of the West are curious when the Christians worrying so frequently lament the decadence of the societies that Europeans now inhabit (both in Europe and the Americas). William Kilpatrick, for instance, believes the West confronts a situation comparable to what Europe faced in Hitler:

It’s estimated that in Brussels, the self-styled “Capital of Europe,” Muslims will comprise the majority of the population within 15 years. If Muslims were assimilating to Western ways and values it might be a different story, but many European Muslims seem to have taken to heart Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s belief that “assimilation is a crime against humanity.” In France alone, there are 751 Muslim controlled “no-go-zones;” in England, Muslims have their own sharia courts; in Scotland, the country’s largest-ever child immunization program was halted following Muslim complaints; in many countries schools have dropped the Holocaust and the Crusades from their curriculums at the behest of Muslims and have complied with Muslim demands for all-halal menus. Moreover, in deference to Islamic blasphemy laws, critics of Islam have been hauled before inquisitorial courts, and across Northern Europe numerous counter-jihad rallies have been cancelled out of fear of the “Antifas”—gangs of street thugs whose mission is to silence those critics of Islam who escape the court system. Meanwhile, churches are burned, Jews are beaten in the streets, and violent crime has skyrocketed.

As in 1939, the European elites have reacted to this cultural putsch with cringing appeasement.

But wouldn’t the dominance of Islam mean that the days of pornography, sexual licence and confusion, abortion, divorce, and open disregard for God are numbered?

Or could it be that serious Christians in the West (Protestant and Roman Catholic) prefer secular society to the wrong religious guys ruling us? In which case, secular society is the welcome outcome of antagonistic believers having to live together and figure out a common way of life that minimizes faith? Charles Featerstone (via Rod Dreher) explains well how Christians came to terms with a different way of relating Christianity to social order:

The state in the Christian West swallowed the church whole, domesticated it, placed it in service to the state, and then slowly released its grip once it knew bishops and pastors and congregations would readily come to heel (and those who didn’t weren’t strong enough or numerous enough to matter). This took several centuries, and is mostly done, though somewhat rough on the edges.

But secularization came much more painfully for Muslims:

It happened much more quickly (and roughly) in the Islamic world, was imposed on Muslims largely from the outside, and we forget how thoroughly secular the nation-states of the Arab Middle East were up until about 30 years ago. And they were even more secular in the 50s and 60s. (Which is why Qutub wrote a book in the first place, and got himself hung by Nasser.) Those secular states and the ideologies that gave them energy are largely gone, being undone by military defeat and economic failure. They are the past. They are not the future.

So if Christians in the West don’t like secularization, why can’t they empathize with Muslims who also find it objectionable? Or could it be that Christians need to do a better job of appreciating the secular governments that domesticated us and so saved us from our inner extremist (read Constantinian) selves?

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22 thoughts on “It's Secular But It's Our Secular

  1. IMO what is happening is that having lost their privileged status, some Christians, especially a consortium of evangelicals and conservative Catholics, are using fear to make the case for regaining that privileged position in society. And in making that case, they are identifying as trends nonChristian influences as being destructive (for example, see http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/02/false-gods-godlessness-islamic-corruption-death-great-britain.html, http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/02/secular-morality-oxymoron.html, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/does-islam-inevitably-lead-to-violence, and http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/03/progressively-redefining-human-nature.html) and Christianity as having been or is currently society’s Obi Wan Kenobi–‘our only hope’–(http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/02/godly-radicalism and http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/02/09/what-about-the-crusades/).

    The villains for this consortium of Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics are primarily same-sex marriage (no need to list the posts about this), Islam, Marxism, and atheism. That is our mortal foes are everything that Christianity is suppose to oppose. What is missing from this most feared list, besides themselves, are those western institutions they approve of such as American Exceptionalism and neoliberal capitalism. For these institutions, according to them, have posed a threat neither in the past nor the present. That is because, if this consortium has its way in regaining a privileged position in society, these institutions are keepers.

    All of this lends support to the above assessment that the Church in the West has been ‘swallowed’ and ‘domesticated.’ In short, the Church is attempting to repeat the history found in pre-revollutionary France and Russia. And we all know how well that worked out both for those countries and the Church.

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  2. Curt Day: “What is missing from this most feared list, besides themselves, are those western institutions they approve of such as American Exceptionalism … .”

    I stopped there, because this ridiculed “American Exceptionalism” idea, particularly as defined in both the Federal and State Constitutions that protect the Individual’s life, liberty and property meant the literal survival of my mother’s parents, as they found, as teenagers, here by themselves no less, a place of “Exceptional” safety. Contrast this with their European place of birth, where all powerful governments were “free” to murder one family outright, and for the other, documented the stealing of their home, farm, food…and people, who were never seen again. No wonder their view was expressed as “I luff Amerika!” and that was the end of discussion.

    Notice, that what happened to them by “secular” and atheist governments violated several Commandments, relevant parts of the WCF and Larger catechism. In contrast, remember, the Federal Constitution was created by men who were schooled in orthodox theology, and their State Constitutions did require for the oath of office an affirmation reflecting concepts found in Biblical Theology. If that is removed, what do you propose will be a sufficient replacement?

    It is just this simple, fallen men, when given absolute power over those they rule, whether in a Monarchist, Fascist, Socialist or any other “ist” framework…will do what they want …to you.

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  3. Nope, fresh out. Sports are about it for me, I’m looking forward to cathcing some of the Masters golf tournament in early April. If I stay awake during the evenings, that’s a good thing because it keeps the wife happy. I hope you don’t mind my asking, I was just curious.

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  4. Gold Rush Alaska was fun to go through, it was on netflix when I got through the first 3 or 4 seasons.

    There’s a Michael guy around here, he watches interesting stuff. Just FYI, watch out for his name amount the last 10 comments.

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  5. Thought of another one Hell on wheels should have 3 seasons on netflix.

    I don’t watch anything on live tv, it’s all streaming stuff, so I’m not a good person to ask. I do have a TV attenna though, so I look forward to the masters. That’s it from me, Curt. Take care.

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  6. AB,
    Thank you for the suggestions. I don’t watch netflix though. I do watch the Daily Show. And I watch the history channels along with sports. The MLB channel is reminding me that Spring is here as I keep shoveling. But when there is nothing on tv, I have a 6 part documentary series on intergalactic history. It has some action and probably some non orthodox religion. And when the mood strikes me, I work on music.

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  7. 6 part documentary series on intergalactic history

    I would be delighted to know what exactly that is. Sounds fascinating.

    Spring training indeed, Go Giants!!

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  8. Or could it be that Christians need to do a better job of appreciating the
    secular governments that domesticated us and so saved us from our inner extremist (read Constantinian) selves?

    People who’ve been hounded by shrinks who believe they’re on the Almighty’s payroll understand what a blessing the ability to think freely is. Any consequence that redounds by the will of God is unquestionable but the freedom to think your thoughts without fear, in this life, is of invaluable aid and comfort. And if it’s the Enlightenment that is responsible for this, I say thank you.

    In one of Hannah Arendt’s essays she explains how, with defeat looming inescapably, the Nazis did their best to root propaganda of national nazification (inescapable guilt for every single German) so that it would provide a place for no one and everyone to hide. By doing that no one then needs to be named and future reorganization is not as unrecognizable as one would think, given the circumstances.

    And that’s the danger present in any group whose power or influence to control the cultural narrative is disappearing.

    It’s also the danger with social gospelers and their incapacity or unwillingness to actually name names. A group, ostensibly created to create justice, can’t be a group looking just for a better justice. It must be a group that understands its own potential to create injustice in its pursuit of justice.

    Interdependencies have existed since the creation of Eve. So that catch all should be forced to disgorge as close to inarguable details as possible. If it can’t or won’t, that catch all is either an innocent sophist’s den or something akin to the need to root propaganda for purposes at odds with stated purposes. Either way it must be be challenged vigorously.

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  9. Russell,
    Your comment doesn’t seem to grasp what American Exceptionalism is. And part of that problem is that we Americans have difficulties in recognizing a world outside of us. That our nation claims immunities and privileges which it refuses to recognize in anyone else except for some allies. For what American Exceptionalism is that America has supremacy over all nations in that it can judge those nations but is subject to the judgment of no other nation or international law.

    As for the Constitution, please realize the rebellion to which it was responding. For our Constitution was not written in response to British tyranny. Rather, it was written by American elites in an effort to strengthen the federal gov’t and centralize power to be able to quell dissent and prevent another Shays Rebellion. That the Bill of Rights were not an original part of the Constitution. Evidence to what I am saying can be found in Henry Knox’s letter to George Washington, the Constitutional debates, and Federalist paper #10.

    That the Constitution provided safety for mom’s parents is good. But the racist aspects of the document as well as the price paid by minorities in the making of the nation, as well as the price paid by the people of the nations we invaded like the Philippines, were horrendous. Manifest Destinyand the Monroe Doctrine has visited atrocity after atrocity on many a people.

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  10. Curt, Curious to cite Fed #10, a product of James Madison, being a John Witherspoon, Presbyterian / Princeton trained political adept. No doubt he took in all the theology Dr. W taught, along with all the government doctrine straight from our illustrious mentor to untold numbers of State and National officers of the Founding era. All from one word-view… .

    Madison, the Prime architect of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights, seems like you want to scrap it all.

    At this point, what, exactly, do you suggest we replace it with? Can a better radiant beam of liberty be made under any other frame? What more un-racist plan ensures “equal protection” for everyone’s Life, Liberty and Property? Note that Madison excoriates socialist/communist redistribution in Fed. #10 ! “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project… . “.

    So, again, perhaps you can post your plan to replace the Constitution with what you consider a better framework of government… .

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  11. Erik,
    First, did you ever consider that some of Witherspoon’s political theology was more influenced by culture than then Scriptures. The same could be said of Machen’s libertarian politics.

    Second, if you want to know the context of the Constitution, you need to at least read the 3 documents I listed rather than assume the theology of the Constitution. The elite were worried because of dissent and Shays Rebellion. In fact, in arguing for his vision of job of the Senators, Madison stated that:

    1. he was afraid of expanding the vote in England because of the threat of agrarian reforms. That means only the privileged landowners received his approval for voting.

    2. he stated that the purpose of gov’t was to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority .

    Again, the Constitution was written in response to dissent and Shays Rebellion, which was a revolt against America’s elite, not Britain’s. And remember that Madison was not only part of America’s elite, he was born into it.

    Was the Constitution an improvement over what was in Europe? Yes. But does it deserve the pedestal on which we place it? Definitely not!

    BTW, a current weakness in the Constitution allows for people from all states to be represented but not people from all economic classes. That is because of money’s role in politics today and that was allowed by the same privileged people who wrote the Constitution to preserve their own privilege.

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  12. Erik,
    Thank you. It’s a concern at my age. But I have been working out with the elliptical walker and weightlifting. And the latter has done wonders in preventing the shoveling from hurting.

    I hope that the only shoveling you need to do comes from reading my comments.

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  13. Curt,

    Glad that you are done shoveling…time to rest up…and compose and post your new plan of government… .

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  14. I think devising a new plan for the gov’t is too big for a person like me even after I’ve recovered from shoveling. Plus, if I devise the plan by myself, it defeats the purpose.

    What we can do is to note the difference between having a democracy in terms of the state of being for one’s society and having a democracy in terms of political structures. Once we understand the differences between the two, we have a chance to make progress.

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