September 9, 2019


The Ahmari-French Debate Was About Theology, Not Politics: Sohrab Ahmari sees a Catholic conception of the state as conservative. But what about those of us who are Protestant? (EMMA AYERS, September 9, 2019, American Conservative)

The problem is that, in dividing conservatives into teams, Ahmari has failed to account for differences in theology.

I'm from the Appalachian and exceedingly Protestant South. Most of the people who formed me fundamentally as a person would be hard-pressed to remember Pope Francis's name, let alone be up to date on Catholic dogma. In fact, there's a real reticence on the part of many Southern Protestants to even describe Catholics as Christians--Catholics, they say, pray to Mary and believe the pope is perfect. Catholics, they'll often say too, don't even believe in Scripture. 

Of course, these beliefs are based in a reactionary religious isolationism that fears Catholicism lest it mess with the area's deeply rooted Protestant culture. Still, there's a basic idea embedded in there and it's one that's fundamental to the Protestant faith. We have an inherent distrust of man and his capability of being righteous--whether or not he calls himself Christian. It's why we don't have bishops, why we keep our churches relatively atomized, and why we don't rely on the Church Fathers to interpret our Scripture for us. 

We like the idea of the decentralized and the small. That can mean anything from a tiny steepled church on a country road to a Sunday morning worship service held in a one-bedroom flat. It also usually means keeping the federal government small enough that it can't encroach on our lives. Our faiths are colored by a ceaseless emphasis on a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." It might deceive you at Sabbath worship, but our faith practice isn't very corporate, and there's a reason that's the case. Sure, there are the appalling monstrosities called megachurches, where the staff is grotesquely large and politics stretch far and wide. But that's still somewhat of a phenomenon, and plenty of us fail to see the Saddleback Churches of our time to be anything good. Why? Because, again, we like our structures small.

That goes for our social order, too. And to keep that order contained and manageable, our ideas have to be dispersed. That means letting our ideological enemies advocate for their ideas without fear of federal retribution for so doing.

Scripture, the only religious book to which we'll pledge our allegiance, certainly doesn't tell us to conquer our enemies. As French himself kept insisting last night, we're called by Christ to show them. We're to turn the other cheek, to advocate with love our morality and faith in a transcendent power. There isn't supposed to be a holy war, even if a government allows for too much selfish individualism or too much debauchery on the streets of New York City.

In the Protestant's eyes, there's no real fix to be found in implementing a religious state, because that would give untrustworthy man far too much power. Whether it's a pope, a bishop, or a certain New York Post editor with an ever-present look of scorn, all that power would do is corrupt them, because no man is truly incorruptible. 

So it's the Right themselves who wat to had over power to a vast pedophile ring?

Posted by at September 9, 2019 6:30 PM