Protestantism and Liberalism


#1

The following post is from a private discussion with Jack, who thought that throwing it up here might spark a decent conversation. My argument is basically that true Protestantism is more or less just true liberalism, and that Protestants ought to be liberals. Here we go:

It’s true that modern liberalism has a troubling tendency to gain universalist pretensions to the point where it violates its own commitment to privacy and tolerance. For instance, I’ve spoken with quite a few “liberals” who simply don’t understand why they shouldn’t force the Amish to send their children to high school. This is “liberalism” run amok, having forgotten its original purpose of protecting privacy. The left’s obsession with forcing secularism into the private area of the family is beyond the proper scope of politics.

Unfortunately, the social conservatives are often even worse in this respect. When social conservatives merely object to the left’s secular value imperialism, then they are on strong ground. But they undermine this ground when they then turn around and try to counter the left with their own value imperialism through the state. Modern social conservatives would do well to remember that liberalism has been their traditional ally, not their opponent. I’ll explain.

Catholics are fond of arguing that Protestantism’s emphasis on the secular state leads to atheism. According to this view, the division of church and state was one of the major blows that led to the Enlightenment. First, I would say that the Catholics are correct only in the sense that the Enlightenment is ultimately the grandchild of the Reformation. But liberalism was meant to protect religion, not to undermine it.

This problem was famously the core of Kant’s philosophical project. The deeply Protestant Kant wanted to save Christian ethics from the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of secular rationality. The political problem is this: we certainly don’t want to go back to the Medieval tyranny of the Catholic church, but neither do we want the secular state to set itself up as a “God on Earth.” The solution is liberalism: morality is none of the state’s business. Religion is none of the state’s business. The state is properly nothing more than a contractual living arrangement between free and equal persons to leave each other alone. Jefferson spoke for this tradition when he said that what neither picks my pocket nor breaks my arm is none of the business of politics.

How does this defend Christianity? As Kant realized, Christianity can never win the political battle against secular rationality. Christian ethics is difficult and demanding. Secular rationality is easy and accommodating. If given the choice between the state that lets you give into all of your (non-harmful) base desires, or between the state that demands that you live like a Christian, which will people choose? For Kant, this was a no-brainer. People (for the most part) will not choose the Christian state (a contradiction in terms for Luther, but I digress). So the choice is: do we go back to Catholic-style tyranny (no choice at all), or do we defend the liberal state? This may seem like a no-win situation for the Chrisitan, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s in the liberal state that the Christian finds his or her liberty. The leftists who wish to set the state up as a “God on Earth” are violating the separation of church and state on which liberalism is based. They aren’t true “liberals”; they want to replace the church with the state, not protect the church from the state. To protect the church from the state in a world where Christian ethics cannot survive in politics, the only answer is a consistent liberalism: “I’m leaving you alone to raise your children in debauchery, so it’s only fair that you leave me alone to raise my children according to Christian values.”

The social conservative quest to make politics Christian is doomed to failure (as Kant realized long ago). If they really want to protect their values, then they should remember why the political rallying cry of our Protestant ancestors wasn’t “Christianity!” but was rather “liberty!”


#2

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[Jack note: I added some Edit additional comments below.]

J,

I thought I’d make a few observations and ask a few questions in an effort to stimulate a discussion.

When you say “true liberalism” I understand you to mean Classical Liberalism as contrasted with Statist Liberalism. Statist Liberalism is defined as those on the left that would use the power of the state to force their secular agenda on those that do not want it?

I understand you to hold that true Classical Liberalism would not use state power for that purpose, and that when it does do that, it means it has ceased to be genuine Classical Liberalism and has crossed over into Statist Liberalism?

I also understand you to be saying that “Live And Let Live” is one essential element within Classical Liberalism?

If I am correct in all of that, then you recogonize two seperate distinct camps in America:

(1) Classical Liberals (Who want to “Live And Let Live”)

(2) Statist Liberals (Who want to use State political power to force their leftish agenda upon Conservatives.)

I assume you would agree that the true Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberals do NOT now exist in substantual numbers in the House and Senate, and most certainly not in the ranks of the American left’s political activism groups?

(Btw, I did take note of your point in another thread that “Moral arrogance was no skin off anyone’s back as long as it did not translate into state power.”)

One could conclude from the bolded/sized words that your view is that “modern liberalism” is really a collection of backslidden Classical Liberals who ought to know better?

If so, that raises an interesting question: Can the American Left be re-taught to “Live And Let Live”?

(/grin … I hold: “No, not likely!”)

I understand you to be saying that when Social Conservatives enter the public square and preach against (your phrase was “object to”) the left’s secular values state-enforced agenda, then Social Conservatives are operating on strong legitimate grounds. You mentioned the example of the Amish, perhaps you could mention other examples where you think the American Statist Liberals overstep?..I’m trying to get a discussion going, more examples might help … /grin.

I understand you to be emphasing that both the left and right are engaged in a battle to get control of the state to use state power to force their social/political will on each other?

You mean Classical Liberalism with it’s heavy emphasis on “Live And Let Live.” IE the “Live And Let Live” element is what would be the ally of Social Conservatives?

Again, you mean Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberalism? You do not mean the Huffpo and Democratic Underground type of liberalism? For example, you would not classify Chris Matthews as a Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal?

You would not hold that MSNBC was an example of Classical Liberalism?

(Remember, I’m just trying to get a discussion going here … /grin)

You want both Powerful Religion and Powerful Secularism to “Live And Let Live”?

That word “liberalism” is a red flag to we Conservatives, again I understand you to be saying: The solution is Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberalism. Morality is none of the state’s business, religion is none of the state’s business?

Also, when you say, “Morality is none of the state’s business”, Conservative are going to quickly point out that all the state’s laws are based on somebody’s morality.

** Your phrase “leave each other alone” is a very accurate rephrasing of “Live And Let Live.” **

It is clear that, with regard to using the State as their weapon of choice, you want the American Left and the American Right to “leave each other alone” aka “Live And Let Live.”

Exactly! Secular rationality sure is easy and accommodating:

I just finished a thread here at RO where I could not even get a blanket moral condemnation of the very existence of the porn industry based upon the fact that they make a lot of films that simulate female rape and female torture for the entertainment of male sexual perverts that like to mentally experience the rape and torture of females, and this refusal came from inhabitants that claim to have a special love for “women’s rights” and “women’s issues.” Hypocrites one and all!

The present American electorate for certain will not vote to live under the Christian moral code in a Christian state.

Of course you mean the Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal state is the one in which you would say the Christian finds his liberty. ** But the problem we Christian Social Conservatives are going to have with this is that the Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal state does not yet exist in America. **

Based on your complaints about Statist Liberals up-post, you’d probably agree with what I just said, or at least with the idea that the present state of affairs in Washington is seriously imperfect with regard to “Live And Let Live.”

I don’t speak for Christian Social Conservatives, nonetheless I believe most of them would agree that we do not actually see “Live And Let Live” practiced by the American Left here in America (or in Europe either) in the areas that seem to be the 4 hot spots of the Left’s political activism:

(1) the public schools

(2) the workplace

(3) the public square

(4) the activists judges and their activist courts

The above is a clear statement of your view of Statist Liberals. You say that Statist Liberals are not true liberals IE you mean they are not Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberals.

I understand your firm position is: The only true liberal is a Classical Liberal IE a Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal.

( /grin … The precise phrases Statist Liberals and Classical Liberals will be crystal clear communication to Conservatives.)

In reply to that, I would say the goal of turning present day Statist Liberals into Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberals, for example in America’s public schools, is going to be a gigantic undertaking that will take a very long time.

Meanwhile, I believe 99% of Christian Social Conservatives are convinced that America’s public schools teach the liberal social values and social agenda. “Heather Has Two Mommies” Xs hundreds of other instances. Or put another way, the Statist Liberals that run America’s public schools are not actually leaving we Christians alone to raise our children according to our Christian values. This 21st century American non-Classical Liberal government forces we Christians to pay taxes to support the very public school systems that teach, against our will, the liberal social and moral code to our children.

This is NOT “Live And Let Live.”

Imo, this (1) public school situation and many other situations in the areas of (2) the work place, (3) the public square, and (4) the activists courts are going to have to become actually and factually “Live And Let Live” before we Christian Social Conservatives are going to pay any serious attention to the “Live And Let Live Philosophy”, which at this point is not a reality in America, rather its a hope and a dream of a very few people.

How does the Classical Liberal Political Party do in America’s national elections? /Big Grin

I’d agree its doomed to failure in this present time.

I would sure agree that the notion of the 21st c. American electorate, in it’s present state of “wisdom”, coming together and agreeing on issues like abortion and so-called gay marriage is not going to happen anytime soon. That notion is right out of Alice In Wonderland.

Moreover, its absurd to believe the 21st c. American secular state can codify the Judeo-Christian social moral code and then enforce it upon 300 million Americans! Tens of millions of whom are fornicating like rabbits, and committing adultry like it was no more than shaking hands, and boozing and whoring it up in Sin City, and divorcing like animals in the wild, and with serial “marriages” an on-going thing, and gobbling up porn on a huge scale? I recently read that tens of millions of women are now watching porn regularly with their husbands and boyfriends. All that, and such as that, is against the Christian moral code and if all that, and such as that, were codified it would take a police state applying sustained and increasing brutality to enforce it, and imo if those violations were processed through due process, it would totally and hopelessly clog the courts and thereby end up literally destroying the entire American judicial system.

The American secular state is having a hard enough time processing all the murderers, rapists, big time armed robbers, and white collar $$$ criminals and actually keeping them in jail.

Liberty! You said “liberty” and liberty means Live And Let Live.

I fervently wish that your Classical Liberals (the “Live And Let Live” folks) were numerous in America and the West. Why? Because “Live And Let Live” would be ideal support for my Christian Conservative beliefs and goals, which are that God fixes the world by Christianizing it.

You can immediately see that I would strongly love the idea of being left alone while we get on with the slow incremental millenniums-long business of Christianizing the world, seeing as how I believe that is the one and only longterm workable solution that actually fixes the world.

Cheers.

PS

Again:

The problem we Christian Social Conservatives are going to have with your prescriptions is that the Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal state does not yet exist in America as regularly demonstrated by what takes place in the workplace, public schools, public square, and activist courts.

:santa:


#3

Pertinent and timely to this discussion might be the Bill O’Reilly show yesterday evening, where O’Reilly got into a heated debate with some Atheist organization big shot about “Christmas Trees” on government property.


#4

Christians cannot live in a “live and let live” environment, were such a thing possible. Because we are commanded to “go into all the world and make disciples of [everyone].” We cannot live a true Christian life while practicing “live and let live.”


#5

Jack, your comments deserve a longer reply than I can give today, but I would just like to briefly respond to Susanna:

[QUOTE=Susanna]Christians cannot live in a “live and let live” environment, were such a thing possible. Because we are commanded to “go into all the world and make disciples of [everyone].” We cannot live a true Christian life while practicing “live and let live.” [/QUOTE]

In my opinion, you’re incorrectly giving the mandate to evangelize a political meaning which isn’t intended by the text. Spreading the word of the Gospel does not entail using the coercive power of the state to force others to live the way you think they ought to live. Similarly, Christ gives us the mandate to help the poor. Does this entail that we should use the state as a massive coercive charity organization? Of course not. You’re confusing Christ’s ethical philosophy with a political philosophy.

Liberalism is a theory about the proper role of the state, and *not *about how we should live our lives as private citizens. Spreading Christ’s message in one’s role as a private citizen is completely compatible with the political philosophy of liberalism, and indeed, most liberals throughout history have strongly believed that liberalism isn’t complete without Christ’s teachings on moral virtue.


#6

J., I agree. I believe that Christians are meant to be liberals in the classic sense.

It’s an aside to the conversation, but I think modern liberalism has no more to do with liberalism than modern conservatism. Modern U.S. liberals are simply “partial” authoritarians.

[quote=“Susanna, post:4, topic:37297”]
Christians cannot live in a “live and let live” environment, were such a thing possible. Because we are commanded to “go into all the world and make disciples of [everyone].” We cannot live a true Christian life while practicing “live and let live.”
[/quote]J. answered you well, Susanna. I’d add that “live and let live” is exactly what we are meant to do.

Our mandate to witness is just that, a mandate to *speak * and set an example not create Christians through the coercion of the state. Barring that mandate meaning to enforce Christianity as the Catholic Church did, we are left with the opposite. The idea of “live and let live” is that we do not coerce unbelievers to become believers.


#7

J,
No hurry, I understand about Father Time, take your time and get to it when you can.


Jack note to self:
Check these out later:
The Claremont Institute - The Liberal Assault on Freedom of Speech
and
First Amendment Under Attack | American Conservative News Politics & Opinion - The Land of the Free
as possible examples of Statist Liberalism.


#8

But isn’t that what the liberals are accusing of going beyond, when they claim we are trying to “shove our religion down their throats” just because we witness, or speak up in favor of moral values? In fact, some of them think that just without our saying or doing anything, aside from trying to behave like a Christian. Our behaviour often offends them, because it is a tacit condemnation of their behaviour. At least, that’s the way they see it. In any case, “live and let live” implies ***no ***activity geared toward changing them.


#9

Susanna,

We’re talking past each other. “Liberalism” is a political theory about the proper role of the state. If by “liberalism” you mean a moral theory that forbids Christian witness, then we’re just talking about two different things. I don’t recognize your use of the word “liberal,” and it has nothing to do with anything I’m talking about.

Jack,

[QUOTE=Jack]I understand you to mean Classical Liberalism as contrasted with Statist Liberalism. [/QUOTE]

This is a good way to put it, although — like most classical liberals — any association of the word “liberalism” with statism of any kind sticks in our craw a bit, as “statist liberalism” is actually an oxymoron. I would prefer the use of a word like “progressive” for the people who make up the American non-liberal left. Those of us who still understand what liberalism is tend to resent the fact that the word has been hijacked by statists on both the left and on the right. As usual, it’s left to philosophers to remember what these words actually mean: Liberalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
‘By definition’, Maurice Cranston rightly points out, ‘a liberal is a man who believes in liberty’ (1967: 459). In two different ways, liberals accord liberty primacy as a political value . . . freedom is normatively basic, and so the onus of justification is on those who would limit freedom, especially through coercive means. It follows from this that political authority and law must be justified, as they limit the liberty of citizens.

Paradigmatic liberals . . . also maintain that justified limitations on liberty are fairly modest. Only a limited government can be justified; indeed, the basic task of government is to protect the equal liberty of citizens. Thus John Rawls’s first principle of justice: ‘Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive system of equal basic liberty compatible with a similar system for all’ (Rawls, 1999b: 220).

[QUOTE=Jack]If so, that raises an interesting question: Can the American Left be re-taught to “Live And Let Live”?[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=Jack]I understand you to be saying that when Social Conservatives enter the public square and preach against (your phrase was “object to”) the left’s secular values state-enforced agenda, then Social Conservatives are operating on strong legitimate grounds. You mentioned the example of the Amish, perhaps you could mention other examples where you think the American Statist Liberals overstep?..I’m trying to get a discussion going, more examples might help … /grin[/QUOTE]

Sure. I think the left oversteps by mandating that children learn evolution in public high schools. In fact, I think this is basically an outrage, and I say this as someone who accepts the theory of evolution as obviously true. The problem is that social conservatives simply unite most people against them when their response to these outrages is to attempt to seize state power and ram creationism down peoples’ throats. This is exactly the wrong approach. I think that social conservatives could gain a lot of sympathy by just asking to be left alone. I think Americans (including leftists) are still extremely sensitive to privacy arguments. Right now, social conservative and secular progressives have their guns pointing at each other. But if it’s a contest between who gets to shove their values down everyone’s throats, then I think the progressives will win. I think social conservatives can win the fight by saying “look, how about we just don’t shove anything down anyone’s throats. Let’s have choices and liberty instead of mandates and authoritarianism.” That’s a fight I think social conservatives can win.

[QUOTE=Jack]Again, you mean Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberalism? You do not mean the Huffpo and Democratic Underground type of liberalism? For example, you would not classify Chris Matthews as a Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberal?

You would not hold that MSNBC was an example of Classical Liberalism?
[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=Jack]I don’t speak for Christian Social Conservatives, nonetheless I believe most of them would agree that we do not actually see “Live And Let Live” practiced by the American Left here in America (or in Europe either) in the areas that seem to be the 4 hot spots of the Left’s political activism:

(1) the public schools

(2) the workplace

(3) the public square

(4) the activists judges and their activist courts[/QUOTE]

In reply to that, I would say the goal of turning present day Statist Liberals into Classical “Live And Let Live” Liberals, for example in America’s public schools, is going to be a gigantic undertaking that will take a very long time.

It seriously sickens me to have these people associated with “liberalism.” It’s a travesty. These guys are statist progressives who want to run everyone’s lives. But remember how unpopular they are: there really aren’t very many of these people. Most people hold their nose and vote for progressives because they dislike statist conservatives even more. Hence, I don’t think the goal needs to be to convert progressives to liberalism, but to just ignore them and appeal to the majority of Americans who I believe to be actually sympathetic to “live and let live” arguments.

[QUOTE=Jack]Also, when you say, “Morality is none of the state’s business”, Conservative are going to quickly point out that all the state’s laws are based on somebody’s morality.[/QUOTE]

The distinction is this: for liberals, free and equal citizens can agree to arrangements on the basis of moral beliefs, but it’s not the job of the state to uphold morality. The state’s job is to carry out the business agreed upon, and as directed by, free and equal citizens. We can also understand it like this (at least from an Anglo-American liberal perspective): the state’s job isn’t to enforce morality, but to protect contracts.

[QUOTE=Jack]It is clear that, with regard to using the State as their weapon of choice, you want the American Left and the American Right to “leave each other alone” aka “Live And Let Live.”[/QUOTE]

Yeah, we’re crystal clear. The two sides can yell at each other and preach at each other as long as they want (as far as liberalism is concerned), just leave the state out of it.


#10

[quote=“Susanna, post:8, topic:37297”]
But isn’t that what the liberals are accusing of going beyond, when they claim we are trying to “shove our religion down their throats” just because we witness, or speak up in favor of moral values? In fact, some of them think that just without our saying or doing anything, aside from trying to behave like a Christian. Our behaviour often offends them, because it is a tacit condemnation of their behaviour. At least, that’s the way they see it. In any case, “live and let live” implies ***no ***activity geared toward changing them.
[/quote]If the “liberal” is merely offended and responding incorrectly, that isn’t our problem. If the liberal wants to pass a law, well, that’s a problem and illiberal within the context of this discussion. That would be an authoritarian impulse and not “live and let live” at all.


#11

Good posts, folks.

[quote=“J.Anderson, post:9, topic:37297”]
I think social conservatives can win the fight by saying “look, how about we just don’t shove anything down anyone’s throats. Let’s have choices and liberty instead of mandates and authoritarianism.” That’s a fight I think social conservatives can win.
[/quote]Me too. I think that it harmonizes well with their lip service to free markets and limited government.

[quote=“J.Anderson, post:9, topic:37297”]
Most people hold their nose and vote for progressives because they dislike statist conservatives even more.
[/quote]I think that this holding their nose business is done in cycles. I think a lot of conservatives were sick of holding their noses this time around.


#12

You got that one right!


#13

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J & RWNJ

:cool:

J,

Re your statement above: Wanna take a short trip down Memory Lane?

Read posts 92, 93, 94 (written 4/21/2009)

http://www.republicanoperative.com/forums/f22/pagan-another-name-still-pagan-19384/index10.html


Mystery Quote, written 8/6/2009

“Nah, he never changed his viewpoint on the word [liberal]. Colloquial usage was unacceptable to him. We just quit arguing
about it.”__Guess Who Said This? (Post 213)

:cool:

I got a memory like an elephant (on certain stuff). :grin:

J, be back tomorrow to post some responses to your very interesting posts in this thread.


Mystery Quote, Written 4/21/2009:

“I’m determined to fight back against the disgraceful way the term “liberal” is being used. People choose causes that matter to them, and I’ve decided to make a cause out of this situation.” ____Guess Who Said This?

`


#14

[QUOTE=Jack]Re your statement above: Wanna take a short trip down Memory Lane?[/QUOTE]

I actually no longer agree with certain aspects of Russell’s definition of “liberalism.” For instance:

[QUOTE=Russell]“The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way in which opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology. But if philosophy is to serve a positive purpose, it must not teach mere skepticism, for, while the dogmatist is harmful, the skeptic is useless. Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, one is certain of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or of ignorance.”[/QUOTE]

Russell here ascribes an epistemology to liberalism, but I think this is wrong. Liberalism has no “dog in the hunt” of epistemology.

Ray Monk has a very highly regarded biography on Russell, Jack. You’d probably like it. Russell’s rejection of Christianity is well known, but he spent his entire life in a state of extreme spiritual crisis. He was miserable his entire life, and extremely cruel to those close to him. This is against his popular image as the wise old affable gray hair with the pipe.


#15
  • I take it that part of the reason you, “actually no longer agree with certain aspects of Russell’s definition of “liberalism.” For instance: Russell here ascribes an epistemology to liberalism, but I think this is wrong. Liberalism has no “dog in the hunt” of epistemology”, would be found in post 4, here: http://www.republicanoperative.com/forums/f23/miscellaneous-short-quotes-some-ros-posters-37843/

  • Re Memory Lane: I’s just having fun with the Walk Down Memory Lane thing … /grin … I see you read on down to post 95 (in the old Pagan thread) to old Bertrand R. I never cared all that much for The Bertrand-Man, not a “Live And Let Live” liberal, was he.

J, thanks for the mention of Ray Monk’s biography on Russell, I went over to amazon.com and read all the reviews. Very interesting stuff over there.
Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Bertrand Russell: 1921-1970, The Ghost of Madness


“Regardless, of all the things worth reading this will always be high on my recommend list. Great philosophers are easier to understand when we know as much as we can about them as persons. Thanks Ray! Eternally grateful.”__Jamison


“Much of the book, however, is harrowing reading: all the more so because some of Russell’s best intended initiatives (his conviction that he must not let his baby son see that he adored him) had predictably disastrous results. The most tragic life in the Russell family, and the one which Ray Monk is the first to do full justice to, though, is that of Lucy Russell, Russell’s granddaughter. Reading the last pages of this book, it is difficult not to agree with Monk that Russell (and his entire family) was, indeed, haunted by the ghosts of madness.”__Susan Tridgell


"The chilling story of Bertrand Russell’s disastrous later life: his ferocious battles with his children, wives and mistresses, his financial needs covered by second-rate newspaper articles and American lectures for older women, his sometimes quite naive political struggles on the side of socialism (all land and capital must be the property of the State) and the peace movement.

At the end of his life, he allowed himself to be totally neutralized by an American CIA agent (I quote Bryan Magee). For the author, the reason for these disasters were two fundamental traits of Russell’s character: a deep seated fear of madness (a constant in his family) and a quite colossal vanity.

The big shock of his life was the destructive First World War. He became a profound misanthrope, who lost all confidence in humanity. It put nearly an end to all serious philisophical and mathematical work.

Thoroughly documented and extremely well narrated work. The author is very good acquainted with philosophy and mathematics."__Reynaert


The Ghost Of Madness must be a popular work.
Used: $24.71 + $3.99 S/H
New: $100.00 + $3.99 S/H

:cool:

PS
I have some responses coming to your other interesting, actually fascinating, posts.

`


#16

Catholics are fond of arguing that Protestantism’s emphasis on the secular state leads to atheism. According to this view, the division of church and state was one of the major blows that led to the Enlightenment. First, I would say that the Catholics are correct only in the sense that the Enlightenment is ultimately the grandchild of the Reformation. But liberalism was meant to protect religion, not to undermine it.

This is one of those threads that frustrates me, because my online time is limited (something about having a life). First, one problem is that the practical meaning - principles and actions arising therefrom - of “liberal” (and conservative, for that matter) has changed over time. where “conservatives” once tended to be aristocratic and monarchist, a significant part of modern liberals gravitate toward regulation and centralized government. A near reversal has taken place over 2 or 3 centuries!

On to the quote above. The separation of civil government and the church is not the direct child of the most prominent Reformers. Zwingli and Calvin were both very involved in the governance of their city states. While Luther was not tight with the government of Electoral Saxony, he really didn’t have a vision of the church being separate from civil government. The Schmalkaldic Wars were settled by the parties pledging to accept the principle that the official church of a nation/duchy would be the religion of its ruler. This was the genesis of the state church. So the premise of the argument you cited is just wrong.

My reading - not extensive - suggests that the historically liberal position of religious freedom arose from the Anabaptists, who were persecuted, often violently (and not always without cause), in Europe and North America (Quakers, unitarians and Deists - maybe even Catholics in Britain and North America - also deserve some credit in this). Even among America’s “Founding Fathers”, the idea of true religious freedom (rather than a state church that tolerated - on insecure and changeable terms - but taxed dissenters) was not universally accepted.

I have not had the time (this is what frustrates me, not your ideas) to read your entire first post, J.A. But my thinking and experience at this point is that modern Evangelical Protestants are reasonably well aware of how religious freedom has benefited them, value it accordingly and highly, and understand that it means freedom for all religions. In that sense, modern Evangelical Protestants are traditional liberals. In the cultural context of the US, I think the same is largely true of US Catholics (the serious observant variety, not the cafeteria or Easter-n-Christmas varieties). Strangely and ironically, the mainline Protestant denominations - now theologically liberal - are yet again inclined toward regulation and centralized government.


#17

The main reason I disagree with Russell on that aspect of the definition is because I think liberalism is only concerned with state power. Think about it like this: suppose a person were to hold to all of the traditional liberal positions vis a vis state power: i.e. limited government, free trade and markets, liberty as the primary political value, etc., but nevertheless disagreed with Russell’s epistemological view that beliefs must be held tentatively and with a scientific spirit; would we say that this person wasn’t a liberal? I don’t think we would, and that would seem extremely strange to me. Hence, I think Russell was simply wrong to try to place his personal epistemological positions as a requirement of “liberalism.” Liberalism is a political theory, and not an epistemological theory.


#18

Misc Points:

  • Imo, Classical Liberalism as it has been presented in this thread thus far, is a natural ally of we Christian Social Conservatives in our battle against an intrusive secular progressive tyranical state that has the potential to pose a serious threat to our Christian liberty to say what we want to say. For example, laws prohibiting Christians preaching against what we view as a moral evil to be codified as hate-speach by the State, and our churches losing their tax exempt status based upon our speaking out for certain political issues and for certain candidates at election time, and other First Amendment issues that we could list such as that old “Fairness Doctrine” designed by Statist Liberals to de facto shut down Conservative Talk Radio.

  • Classical Liberalism, as presented in this thread thus far, wants to maximize our Christian liberty to proclaim the truths of Christianity and Classical Liberalism also wants to keep the State totally off our backs and out of our lives. Whats not to like about that!

  • Also I understand Classical Liberalism to strongly desire a small government and one that does not interfer with capitalism and free enterprise by passing endless regulations that prevents robust and continued economic grow thereby creating more and more Sam’s Clubs /grin. Whats not to like about that! (There are millions of God’s people living in families with small children and they need the things that Sam’s Club sells. Sam’s Clubs calls for jobs too, both in America and overseas. It is reported that there are some 80 million Christians in China. They’d all need jobs, wouldn’t they? How about their little children (future Christians?) that need to eat food to be sure, and wear warm clothes.)

  • All the Bible believing Christians that I know understand the purpose of the secular State to be what Paul said it was in Romans 13, namely the restrainer of those who would do wrong while at the same time being the protector of those who do right IE protecting the do-right-people by restraining the do-evil-people. The State often fails to actually do that, but doing that is the sole purpose of the State in Ro. 13 and in the entire New Testament so far as I can tell.

  • The American Secular State, so far, doth actually protect the liberty of the American Christian Church to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” The Classical Liberals want the State to keep doing that. Whats not to like about that!

  • Christians should not desire the American Secular State to become a substitute for the Christian Church and proceed to carry out the task Christ gave to His Church, namely that we should organize into local congregations and become the proclaimers of God’s truths found in the Scriptures as well as providing the encouragement of mutual fellowship of Christians worshiping together. Imo, all Biblically knowledgeable Christians understand fully that the American Secular State could not fulfill the Church’s task even if it wanted to.

** What About The Abortion Issue? Many Christian Social Conservatives Want The Secular State To Outlaw Abortion. **

  • Imo, most of we Christian Social Conservatives want abortion out-lawed to save the lives of human babies.

Think of this section as an aside and sorta “just for the record.” I have, long ago, lost interest in participating in Abortion Threads and in Gay Threads, though I do read along once in awhile, eg I read a lot of the last debate between you and RET on the Abortion issue.

  • In my case I want it out-lawed for that reason plus I am well aware that Abortion is the centerpiece of Feminism and Feminism is a major centerpiece of the Progressive Left and I am also well aware that the day Abortion is out-lawed is the same day that Feminism dies in America and the same day Feminism dies in America is the same day the Statist Progressive Left de facto dies in America. There is far more riding on Abortion-On-Demand that saving the life of the human baby. Btw, I would out-law the performing of Abortions except for reasons of mother’s health and that to be determined by say a panel of 10 medical doctors and with a Review Panel of say 20 medical doctors in the background ~~ all this to prevent any hanky panky doctor-patient attempts to skirt the law. Anticipated objection: I am well aware there would be some tragic results that would arise out of doing this, but I trust not remotely as tragic as the present baby slaughters that number in the tens of millions and climbing. Its a tragic world.

(I am a Christian Family Traditionalist and I want the Traditional Family to be the building block of the future America.

Do I really believe that can be acheived via legislation? No not really, but I want to irritate the Progressives all I can, nonetheless. Ha. :grin:)

  • I would also out-law the selling of porn and paying actors to make porn under any circumstances by anybody. Imo, approaching abortion and porn this way would effectively shut down abortion and porn in America without hopelessly and destructively clogging the courts and thereby destroying America’s justice system. I’d make the penalities on first offense conviction so harsh that only the truly wild-men-crazy Abortion Performers and Porn Kings would even consider taking the chance of a first offense conviction.

  • How soon will outlawing abortion and porn as prescribed above actually take place in America? I don’t know, but most likely not in this century. This present American electorate will be a role model for the next American electorate? And so on? America’s “Collective Wisdom” is not looking all that impressive here at the beginning of the 21st century. Imo, it is only by the grace and mercy of the Sovereign God (and the fact that He has a Plan that requires Him to put up with Kindergarten childishness in order to eventually graduate a Senior Class) that these kindergarteners (the present American electorate) have not already vanished America off the map or reduced us back to the Stone Age. ** (As you can see, my hope is in the Sovereign God and in His Plan, NOT in the wisdom of the American electorate.)**

:cool:

PS

The above points are just a few that I dashed off from the top of my head, I have some more points coming that relate to some of your key statements in your OP and following posts.

You hold the view that, “These guys are statist progressives who want to run everyone’s lives. **But remember how unpopular they are: there really aren’t very many of these people.” __J **

I wish I could believe that (IE what I bolded). /grin

More about that asap.

`


#19

Pete,

Come back to us and post lengthy long drawn out posts :smile:, and “forget about life for awhile.”

Remember what the Piano Man said:

♫♫ ♪♪ ♫♫

"Sing us a song you’re the piano man
sing us a song tonight
well we’re all in the mood for a melody
and you got us all feeling alright ♫♫

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
’Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
** To forget about life for a while" **

♫♫

:grin:

`


#20

[QUOTE=PeteS]On to the quote above. The separation of civil government and the church is not the direct child of the most prominent Reformers. Zwingli and Calvin were both very involved in the governance of their city states. While Luther was not tight with the government of Electoral Saxony, he really didn’t have a vision of the church being separate from civil government. The Schmalkaldic Wars were settled by the parties pledging to accept the principle that the official church of a nation/duchy would be the religion of its ruler. This was the genesis of the state church. So the premise of the argument you cited is just wrong.

My reading - not extensive - suggests that the historically liberal position of religious freedom arose from the Anabaptists, who were persecuted, often violently (and not always without cause), in Europe and North America (Quakers, unitarians and Deists - maybe even Catholics in Britain and North America - also deserve some credit in this). Even among America’s “Founding Fathers”, the idea of true religious freedom (rather than a state church that tolerated - on insecure and changeable terms - but taxed dissenters) was not universally accepted.[/QUOTE]

Calvin is a complicated case. But Luther’s “On Secular Authority” couldn’t be more clear on his position vis a vis separation of church and state. You’re also wrong on the Anabaptists. In fact, Luther’s main objection to the Anabaptists was that they failed to separate church and state. The theological position of the Anabaptists was that they had no need for the state, because they were true Christians who needed nothing but the church. Luther argued that the Anabaptists had thus failed to properly separate the “two kingdoms” and so had fallen into theological error.