Liberalism Does Not Frame 2k

When I read Jake Meador’s index of political theologies, I was generally in agreement and thought he accurately describe 2k. I guess my biggest disagreement was over his definition of liberalism:

When I speak of liberalism, I am referring to something broader than just left-wing politics or even some brand of liberalism realized in a single discipline, such as theological liberalism.

At its heart, liberalism is concerned with how human beings know things. As a system, it is suspicious of knowledge not derived from empirical observation. Thus it is suspicious of the claims of religious faith as they inform social life. Religious practice is fine for individuals, but any attempt to enforce a set of religiously based moral norms beyond the religious individual or maybe a voluntary religious community is suspect because the knowledge is not sure enough to justify political application. Indeed, this skepticism goes beyond a skepticism toward religious faith and goes so far as a skepticism toward any kind of comprehensive moral system that claims to be true in anything beyond a particular, local sense. We simply do not trust our moral judgments enough to think they can be binding in anything beyond an individualistic, voluntaristic sense. When this epistemological agnosticism becomes pervasive in a social order, you basically have some species of liberalism.

In an odd way, these instincts can make liberalism like a more traditional Christian sort of social order. It tells us that men should be persuaded rather than coerced into belief. It tells us that there is, as one friend put it, a “just area of sovereignty,” that each person possesses. However, the way that liberalism arrives at these ideas is not necessarily through the belief in a God who rules over creation and endows his creatures with dignity, honor, and freedom. Rather, they arrive at it through a lack of confidence in the ability of anybody to wield coercive authority justly or to infringe upon a person’s autonomy.

I don’t understand why you conceive of a political order in epistemological or philosophical categories. For mmmmmeeeEEEE, liberalism was mainly a way to overcome divine right monarchy that extends from Hammurabi through to those audacious claims for the papacy by canon lawyers in the thirteenth century down to French and British kings (among others) who objected to checks upon their power. The question that liberalism (classical) tackled was not how we know but what authority is legitimate. I guess you could push that back to epistemology. But why unless you privilege philosophy?

Meador went on to describe 2k’s relationship to liberalism this way:

The best way to get at the key difference between this group and the Radical Anabaptists is to highlight the differences in how they see the church’s relationship to civil society. For these thinkers, there is no problem with Christians participating in civil society. Indeed, such participation is inevitable. That is why Dr. Moore heads up an organization dedicated to protecting religious liberty and why Dr. Leeman and a number of his colleagues with 9 Marks pastor in Washington D.C. and support church planting efforts in the capitol city.

However, the good that these thinkers hope to achieve in all societies outside of the institutional church is purely natural while the goods they hope to achieve within the church are supernatural. The institutional church is, in Leeman’s understanding, an embassy for the Kingdom of God. Thus the institutional church as such is an institution of a qualitatively different sort than any other physical, visible institutions in the world. Likewise, Drs. VanDrunen, Hart, Clark, and Trueman have all at various times gotten very nervous about what they see as an attempt to sacralize work that is rightly understood as secular.

Thus there are two core pieces that unite the Post-Liberal Retreatists:

First, they have what I take to be a realistic and appropriately sober assessment of our cultural state.

Second, they see the work to be done in non-ecclesial institutions as being primarily defensive not only in our current moment, but in principle.

The positive work of taking hold of supernatural goods happens primarily in the institutional church. Thus the Post-Liberal Retreatists are suspended, as it were, between the Post-Liberal Protestants and the Radical Anabaptists. They share a similar read of the current cultural moment with both groups. Like the Post-Liberal Protestants, they still have a place for Christian participation in civil society. Like the Radical Anabaptists, they see the work of the institutional church as being qualitatively different than the work Christians do outside the church and essentially constructive in a way that civil society participation cannot be. So they would say, with the Anabaptists, that the church is a polis, but that it is not a comprehensive polis in the way that the Anabaptists use the term.

That sounds fair enough. But it locates 2k too much within the categories of the pre-modern and modern West. In fact, much of the blow back that 2k receives comes from Protestants who have a soft spot for Christian establishment in the form of the confessional state, whether Geneva’s City Council, Scotland’s monarch, or the Netherlands’ republic. Most critics of 2k want a Christian society of some kind. 2k is suspect, then, because it won’t support such a desire or programs to achieve such a society.

But what if Christendom or post-Christendom are not the only options? What about pre-Christendom? Here the idea is not that the time before Constantine was ideal but that a religiously diverse or even a religiously hostile environment is normal. It’s what Jesus and the apostles faced. Those are the conditions under which the church emerged and the canon established. For that reason, modern Christians should not think that either Christendom or a Christian friendly liberal government (like the U.S. before 1965) are the default settings for the church. Christianity can persist in any number of circumstances. It can be like the Old Testament promised land, like the Israelites in exile, like the early church under the domination of Rome, or even like Scottish Presbyterians in covenant with a divine-right monarch. Christianity is flexible. It’s not tied to one political order.

This perspective seems to inform Proto-Protestant in his assessment of political liberalism. Notice that he starts by identifying the way that Rome used to regard liberalism and the United States:

Classical Liberalism so poignantly represented by the United States was viewed as poison and a triumph of the secular over the sacred. Rome sought to protect its flock from the influences of American ideology. Classical Liberalism was the spawn of the Reformation’s triumph of the individual. The lone man was allowed to challenge and cast down all authority. This is the sociological aspect to Luther that many Protestants have failed to grasp. The individual gets to decide what is right and wrong and the Reformation unleashed epistemological uncertainty and the social chaos which began the long process of dismantling Christendom.

The Reformation led to Modernism and as a consequence Post-Modernism and now Nihilism.

Undoubtedly there is some truth to this narrative and the post World War II period has brought about a time of intellectual reconsideration on the part of Evangelical Protestants and not a few defections to both Rome and Constantinople. The political Papacy utterly defeated by the late 19th century reformed its teaching and came up with a new paradigm for the industrial secular age. Consequently it allied first with Fascism then with the West (in general) at the conclusion of the war. It began to build a new empire, one wed to the Capitalist forces so dominant in the Protestant world and joined the fight (real or imagined) against world Communism. Today Rome no longer rules a geopolitical realm but instead reigns over a vast financial empire and has regained a little of its lost ground.

Evangelicals have been forced to reckon with the problems of Christianity wed to Classical Liberalism and as I’ve written elsewhere there are tendencies both toward revisionist history and increasingly in the direction of abandoning Liberalism for a more Roman Catholic-friendly Throne and Altar type paradigm.

So if Protestants don’t follow Roman Catholics, where do they turn? The Bible and in so doing they abandon the sufficiency of Scripture. Protestants have made Scripture do more than it was supposed to:

There is undoubtedly much that is valid in the critique of Classical Liberalism and in what the Reformation unwittingly unleashed. And for this reason the glorification of Protestantism which is at its zenith in this 500th anniversary year, ought to be weighed carefully if not rejected.

But the truth of the critique is limited to the sociological realm.

The true problem is not individualism (which can indeed work to destroy society) but the attempt to formulate Sola Scriptura into a comprehensive societal worldview. That was a rival philosophical project rooted in speculation and dependent on speculative philosophical coherence… thus it fragmented.

The Reformers only began to toy with this question. Luther, perhaps the more conservative of the Reformers was content to sustain the Medieval-Renaissance order and sit under the protection of a so-called Christian prince. Calvin’s Geneva moved in the direction of Authoritarian Republican government. Zwingli took up the sword (so to speak) and died by it on the battlefield.

It was in the 17th century that Protestant Scholasticism began to earnestly reckon with the implications of the Reformation applied to society. It was at this point that Sola Scriptura as a social organising principle failed. Rightly so I would add, as the New Testament nowhere even envisions a Christian State/Christendom project. In fact it repudiates the very notion of it.

In wedding Reformation theology to the Christendom project the Protestant Reformers and certainly the Scholastics after them undermined their own vision and sowed the seeds for epistemological collapse. They employed (and even exploited) the Scripture for something it was not meant to be used for. In the end their project exploded into the 17th century Wars of Religion and ultimately undermined not only their social vision… but their theological and ecclesiastical hopes as well….

But even granting the narrative that Liberalism and Modernism were the natural outgrowth of Protestant theology applied to society, then such a notion must be condemned as sub-Biblical. It does not represent New Testament doctrine either in its concepts of values. Confidence in reason? I think not. Rights? The individual? Progress? None of the concepts are found in the New Testament. Only deformed Judaizing hermeneutics can locate them through distorted readings of the Old Testament.

If liberalism is not the basis for evaluating politics or its reaction to Christendom, the proper starting point for political theology is as Paul Helm recently observed Christ’s teaching that his kingdom is not of this world. Proto-Protestant explains what that means for 2k (even if he does not self-identify as 2k):

Speaking generally if both paradigms were and are wrong, what then are we to make of the so-called and very misnamed Judeo-Christian West? Not much. As a society it has some very good things about it and many that are rightly condemned. Christian it is not. And the more it is associated with Christianity the more problematic it becomes.

As pilgrims we understand that this world is not our home. We look for a city to come, a new heavens and new earth. We can live and function as the salt and light Oracular Church in any culture and civilisation. That said, some will be more pleasant than others. But pleasant isn’t always better, especially if it leads to laxity, complacency and confusion. Though not pleasant the most spiritually vivacious times of my life have been during periods of hardship and opposition. It’s not pleasant to live that way but the antithesis becomes razor sharp which spiritually speaking is healthy. It’s a good place to be. If goods, lands, and prosperity are set aside and no longer important to me, then hardship becomes certainly less hard. The yoke of suffering, the burden of Christ to which we are called, becomes a little lighter.

And though on a practical level I lament the downfall and paganising trajectory of the West … spiritually speaking it’s probably the best thing that could happen. The widespread apostasy is like a forest-burn. In the end it will make for a healthier forest. The forest to which I refer is not society, but the Church. Don’t ever confuse the two.

While on the one hand I celebrate the fact that the Protestant Classical Liberal narrative is being exposed as a lie… both doctrinally and historically, I am concerned that many Protestants are quickly succumbing to an equally problematic lie… the Pre-Liberal Throne and Altar vision of Medieval Roman Christendom.

If Jake Meador had started with the church in exile and Christians as pilgrims as the frame for his index, he might have used a this-worldly (immanentize the eschaton) vs. an otherworldy (don’t immanentize the eschaton) division. That one even pits 2k against Anabaptists since the latter regard (as I understand it) the company of believers as an outworking of “the perfection of Christ.”

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8 thoughts on “Liberalism Does Not Frame 2k

  1. The word “spiritual” (undefined) certainly makes Paul Helm Indifferent about the status quo. Luke 7.28 Whoever is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist. Paul Helm–“The kingdom is a dispensational matter. The kingdom of God has not to do with social policy of any kind… A person with a British and a Swedish passport )may be said to be a member of two kingdoms. But how we relate to a decaying culture and society is a matter of the individual Christian and the family. You may think that the Benedict Option is for you and your house. Others may be able to make a career in Caesar’s household.”

    DGH–But what if Christendom or post-Christendom are not the only options? What about pre-Christendom? Here the idea is not that the time before Constantine was ideal but that a religiously diverse or even a religiously hostile environment is normal….It can be like the Old Testament promised land, like the Israelites in exile, like the early church under the domination of Rome, or even like Scottish Presbyterians in covenant with a divine-right monarch. Christianity is flexible. It’s not tied to one political order.

    mcmark—Along with Bahnsen and most theonomists, I certainly agree that church and state are distinct in the land and children promises to Abraham. But if you live in a church which collapses all the promises to Abraham into one promise, you can say that the promise to Christ to have children is no different from the promise to Abraham to have children, and then you can say that the promise to Abraham to have children is no different from a presumed promise to Reformed Christians to have children who are born “in the covenant”.

    To be “Reformed” always means agreeing that some of the non-elect are born “in the covenant of grace”. This argument (even more than the Lutheran dogma of water regeneration) inherently TIES THE POLITICS of the church to the ideology of covenant succession . How much is “pre-Christendom” like the land and children promises to Abraham?

    Was Abraham (“pre-Christendom”) a “revivalist” or “a perfectionist” who reduced all the promises to Christ? Or did Abraham avoid immanentizing the eschaton by circumcizing all to whom land and children were promised?

    Does “spiritual” mean ” by definition church is not politics”?

    Calvin–About 130 years ago the popes reduced the city itself to their control, until they came into the authority they hold today. For some two hundred years they have so troubled the CHRISTIAN WORLD in their efforts to hold or increase that authority . . . that they have nearly destroyed the CHRISTIAN WORLD .

    Genesis 3: 14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent:
    You will eat dust all the days of your life.
    15 I will put hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your seed and her seed.
    He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

    Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises (plural) were spoken to Abraham and to his seed (Christ) . He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ.

    Luther –“For think what disaster would ensue if children were not baptized; what would be the final outcome but thoroughly heathenish existence? They separate themselves from the churches, even in those places where pure Christian doctrine prevails, and where the abuses and idolatrous practices have been abolished, and they set up a ministry and congregation of their own, which is also contrary to the command of God… In the case of tenets which are opposed to the secular government the matter is easier to deal with . For there is no doubt that in such cases the stiffnecked recalcitrants are sure to be punished as sedition-mongers. Also when it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism or unnecessary separation, then, because these articles are also important. . . we conclude that in these cases also the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.

    Genesis 12: 3 and you will be a blessing.
    3 I will bless those who bless you,
    I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
    and all the peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.

    Romans 4: 17 As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations. Abraham believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18 Abraham believed, hoping against hope, so that he DID BECOME the father of many nations, according to what had been spoken, So will your descendants be.

    The “spiritual” promise?–Abraham,you will have one child, forget all the other children you will have.

    Another promise–you will have children and some of them will be cut off from the covenant.

    Another promise—you will have children not born in your covenant, as many as believe the gospel by God’s effectual call.

    James Haldane –“although an oath was made to Abraham, securing the blessing to all families of the earth through him, this does not prove that the covenant made with him was the new covenant… To call this promise to Abraham the new covenant or “the covenant of grace”, is only calculated to mislead. For surely it was peculiar to Abraham that Christ should spring from him.”

    Proto– The Anabaptists of Munster fell prey to false prophets and visions. I’m not going to defend their actions but I will only say it was a deviation, not the norm. It was not a faithful representation of mainstream Anabaptism let alone Medieval Waldensian ethics. It was the Bohemian Chelcicky who criticized the violent revolutionary Taborite branch of Hussitism. They too were a deviation and like Munster failed and disappeared. Tuininga seems to allude to Munster in his comments. This is a common slander used by Magisterial Protestants to discredit the Anabaptists and all they stood for… as if the Munster Revolt were the norm or in any way represents what the Anabaptists generally stand for. Its excesses and failure are utilized to dismiss the entire Anabaptist Anti-Sacralist view even though Munster didn’t actually represent them. It is a classic straw-man argument.

    http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2014/03/two-articles-on-reformed-two-kingdom.html

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  2. I think that there is a problem when people try to automatically extend the ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ labels across political, theological, and philosophical spheres. The best way to describe theological liberalism is to say that it denies the supernatural of the Scriptures and tends to reduce all reality to the physical where science is the ultimate judge. But political liberalism is something that is significantly different than that and once you get to the political sphere, you now need to introduce the political left noting that there is no theological left. In addition, all that we can say about theological liberalism and at least much of what we can say about political liberalism can be derived from theological liberalism.

    Theological conservatism, from a Christian perspective, recognizes the supernatural alongside the natural in the Scriptures. Where God’s Word has spoken, God’s revelation is the ultimate judge. And a theological conservative doesn’t have to be a political conservative and a theological liberal doesn’t have to be a political liberal.

    However, there is a question that we Christians must answer regarding the recognition that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Do we take that to mean that we retreat from the world or as a source of strength to be involved in the world. Either approach can bring negative associations with the Gospel. In addition, we might want to look at the Reformers as semi-anarchists with regards to human authority. They can be classified that way in that all human authority should be tested by whether that authority’s legitimacy can be supported by the Scriptures in terms of their pronouncements and actions. And if an authority’s legitimacy cannot be supported by the Scriptures, it should be done away with.

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  3. Leithart–Tuininga defines liberal democracy as a system of representative, democratic government erected to protect rights “in accord with the rule of law under a system of checks and balances that includes the separation of church and state.” Virtually none of liberalism’s theological critics objects to these forms and procedures as such. Their complaint isn’t against representative government or voting or freedom of speech and association. No one advocates a fusion of Church and state. Rather, they claim that such a formal, procedural description masks the basic thrust of liberalism. Liberalism’s stated aim is to construct a society without substantive commitments, leaving everyone free to choose whatever his or her or her own may be. Liberalism’s common good is to protect society from adopting any single vision of the common good. That’s a deviation from classical and traditional Christian politics (including Calvin’s), which sought to orchestrate common life toward a common end—the cultivation of virtue or the glory of God.

    Leithart–“In fact—and this is the other side of the critique—liberal societies do have substantive commitments. The liberal state pretends to be a referee, but beneath the striped shirt it wears the jersey of the home team. Under the cover of neutrality, liberal order embodies, encourages, and sometimes enforces an anthropology, ecclesiology, and vision of the good society that is often starkly at odds with Christian faith. Tuininga never confronts that line of analysis. …Tuininga is right that Calvin never claims that “civil government is a means of grace by which God justifies or sanctifies human beings,” but who ever thought otherwise?… Because Tuininga hasn’t grappled with the theological critique of liberalism, he doesn’t fully recognize the anti-liberal force of Calvin’s positions.

    https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2017/06/is-calvin-among-the-liberals

    The liberal state does not forgive (but will kill) those who oppose liberalism.

    Hauerwas— Troeltsch saw quite clearly that if Christians were to assume the task of forming the ethos of modern societies, the “myths” once thought constitutive of the Christian faith must be rejected or reinterpreted. Reinhold Niebuhr wanted Christianity to be BOTH orthodox AND the “form” of culture. One of the benefits of assuming the mantle of Troeltsch is you get to call anyone who worries about making Christianity a civilizational religion a “sectarian.”

    Hauerwas–“The claim is that America has avoided the unhappy choice between heteronomy and autonomy and that therefore America has avoided and can continue to avoid the idolatry called theocracy. The religious right needs to understand that it does not need to use first-order theological language in public —though in the process the religious right may fail to notice it has thus accepted the philosophical presuppositions of Protestant liberalism.”

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  4. Mark,
    But Niebuhr was also in favor of elite-centered rule because he believed that the masses were an obstacle to change.

    In addition, when we look at the specifics of what is meant by a specific common good, what we can sometimes see is the erosion of rights for some for the sake of that good. And that comes from how some groups look at how they should society. When those groups look at sharing society as equals, then we see a maximum protection of rights. But when groups seek a privileged position so as to define, for society, a common good, then we see how groups can infringe on the rights of individuals from other groups.

    The same-sex marriage controversy is a case in point. Many fellow religiously conservative Christians, because of how they defined the common good, have, in the past, and currently tried to run roughshod over the religious rights of those whose religious views were at peace with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Thus in the name of the common good or human flourishing or whatever you want to call it, they have, in the past, criminalized homosexuality and near recently opposed the legalization of SSM. Thus, though this argument was not used in the courts, the religious of freedom of those who see homosexuality and SSM as being acceptable were being infringed on by the definition of the common good by these Christians. And this was despite the fact that we Christians have the right to preach against homosexuality, as we should.

    Or go back to Calvin’s day and his persecution of both witches and heretics. Should his persecution of those groups be allowed today in the name of protecting the common good?

    That Calvin and Leithart would disagree with me is no skin off my back. Both exhibit strong authoritarian tendencies though Calvin was more proficient at that than Leithert is. And something authoritarians never seem to be able to comprehend is what it means to share society with others as equals. That is because they can never turn off the authority switch. They are OCD about putting someone in charge. And seeing that we have the freedom of speech to tell people to repent, I don’t see how living as a Christian in today’s society is incompatible with the Christian faith.

    BTW, as for whether the liberal state will kill those who oppose the liberal state, shouldn’t we take an inductive approach to determine the answer? In addition, perhaps Liberalism’s definition of the common good is to broad for the myopia of some Christians, like Calvin, to see.

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  5. mcmark,

    Liberalism’s stated aim is to construct a society without substantive commitments, leaving everyone free to choose whatever his or her or her own may be. Liberalism’s common good is to protect society from adopting any single vision of the common good. That’s a deviation from classical and traditional Christian politics (including Calvin’s), which sought to orchestrate common life toward a common end—the cultivation of virtue or the glory of God.

    No kidding. What does Leithart think? Is he a United Colors of Beneton guy who thinks progressively that we can still have a “common good” like Calvin’s? A common good that unites everyone?

    You make deals and in 1789 the West made a deal. The nation would supply the common good. The question then became whether you wanted to be a republic (Switzerland) or an empire (UK and US).

    But to long for a common good also invites refugee crises. You can’t have common without exclusion.

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  6. I think this means that you see “the democratic nation state” as a common good. I think this means that you affirm the need for Christians to exclude or kill non-liberals or anti-liberals. You can’t have the collective breakfast without breaking a few eggs… Hitler was elected by the democratic process, and exclusions will follow…

    Romans 12 leave room for His[c] wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
    If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    For in so doing
    you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

    Be realistic—after you have defined what you have in common with pagans as the good, you tend to call good whatever you do to overcome what you call evil. Thank you God that we are less evil than those who once occupied Geneva…

    Romans 13–For the power serves God as an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.Submit…

    Psalm 76: 10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused.”

    James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires”

    Isaiah 10: 5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
    the staff in THEIR hands is MY fury!
    6 Against a godless nation I send him,
    and against the people of my wrath I command him,
    to take spoil and seize plunder,
    and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

    Isaiah 10: 12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, God will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes

    David Gordon (p 120 in “By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification”)–God was just as surely Israel’s God when God cursed the nation as when God blessed it.

    Amos 3: 2 I have known only you
    out of all the clans of the earth;
    therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.

    https://oldlife.org/2017/05/30/were-fdr-jfk-and-lbj-dispensationalists/

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  7. mcmark, who said anything about democracy? National Socialism was an ethos, as Walter Sobchak pointed out.

    Sure, liberal societies exclude non-liberals. Isn’t that what law enforcement does? You break the law, you don’t abide by liberal society.

    But at least liberal society doesn’t make Trinity or confessing Allah the law.

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  8. https://www.thenation.com/article/martin-luthers-revolution/

    Where could the elevation of the individual conscience and the bifurcation of holy pursuits from profane politics lead? Enlightenment liberalism was not, and is not, capitalism; the former is a collection of political, social, and economic theories, and the latter is a vast material system. Nor can (or should) Protestantism, in all its variegated forms, be equated with either liberalism or capitalism: There are expressly anticapitalist and entirely illiberal Protestants, and no tradition encompassing the Quakers, the Shakers, and the Amish could seriously be framed as a simple extension of liberalism.

    Yet there appears to be an important connection between the liberal thought that followed from Protestant arguments and the emergence of capitalism. “The kind of sociopolitical structure that Protestantism engenders—-based on free inquiry, participatory politics, and limited government—tends to favor market economics,” Ryrie argues, and “a certain generic restlessness, an itchy instability, is absolutely a core characteristic of the Protestant life.” As a result, he explains, “this self-perpetuating dynamo of dissatisfaction and yearning has helped to fuel and support the growth of capitalism.”

    Roper reminds us that “Luther was not ‘modern’” and had no intention of ushering in a post-Christian era, whether secular, liberal, democratic, or capitalist. Not coincidentally, Luther doesn’t appear to have been particularly gifted at foreseeing how his ideas would transform politics or would themselves be transformed by their emergence in public life.

    His two-kingdoms theology “left him without a positive account of what the state can do and how it might help its citizens,” Roper writes, “and it did not allow for a situation where a Christian or a Christian ruler would have to resist a superior authority.” When such events arose in his lifetime, Luther “abdicated responsibility, and left the matter for jurists to decide.”

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