What traditionalists are saying at Mangan’s

Many Darwinian and atheist conservatives don’t just express disbelief in God and Christianity. They see Christianity as inseparable from the mad egalitarian liberalism that is destroying our civilization. They are, therefore, not just non-Christians, but anti-Christians. The absurdity of self-described conservatives on a warpath against the founding religion of our civilization can only be ended by correcting the erronious view of that religion that set it off. I myself have said that much of organized Christianity as it now exists is the enemy of Western man. But that is a Christianity that has been perverted by liberalism, just as our entire civilization has been perverted by liberalism. To wage war against Christianity as such, because it is currently liberal, makes as much sense as waging war against the West as such, because it is currently liberal, or waging war the white race as such, because it is currently overwhelmingly liberal. It is the totality of what we are that must be saved from liberalism. Central to that task is recognizing the non-liberal truth of Christianity. And it appears that there are intellectually capable traditionalists who are making that case to the Darwinians at Mangan’s.

About which, Kristor writes:

Several of the comments over at Mangan’s were quite good. Andrew E. sounds like he has read Voegelin (or you):

Chuck, Come on man. Believe it, don’t believe it, but at least understand it correctly. Christianity articulates a reality with multiple levels, the material and the spiritual, the private and the public, the personal and the universal. The universality of Christianity refers to the belief that each human being, being made in the image of God, possesses equal human dignity and thus the potential to be saved and brought into the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s it, doesn’t sound like much because we take it for granted now but it was revolutionary in Jesus’ time.

The personal realm is not overthrown, immigration policy is not decided. The moral code is both objective and universal but doesn’t preclude discrimination per se. When a man and a woman marry, they discriminate against all the other people whom they could have married instead. Likewise, when a people form a nation, they discriminate against all the other peoples who could have been included as well. Even official (liberal) Christianity isn’t seeking to abolish monogamy.

And [Greek letter] has said something interesting:

As to the origins of PC, you may have a point on a couple of levels: (1) as dominant culture during our civilization’s formative years, Christianity gave birth to everything that came after it, including atheism; (2) as having introduced a universalist strain into religious thought, Christianity is at fault when that strain jumped its borders. But again, at this level of abstraction, how does it help us understand what’s happening now. America and the West became more PC to the precise extent that it became less Christian.

Note: no philosophically mature religion can fail to be universalist. The God of the Philosophers is necessarily the God of Everything, even if He is also the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Likewise, every creature stands in basically the same relation to the God of the Philosophers. In this sense is there in Christ neither Jew nor Greek. But also, that every creature stands in basically the same relation to God does not mean that their relations to Him are identical in every respect. The Jew remains a Jew, the Greek a Greek, to themselves, and to each other.

Commenter bgc makes crucial points:

… the future will be either Islam (if present trends continue) or Christian—and people will need to choose.

Christianity is *anti*-PC if properly understood (and if IQ is controlled); however Christianity minus Christ does indeed equal Political Correctness. E.g. In the USA the precursors of PC were the New England Unitarians—who were precisely Christians minus Christ. Modern ‘liberal’ Christians who disbelieve in supernaturalism are among the most PC people on the planet. But real Christians who believe in Christ as the son of God, supernaturalism, divine revelation etc. are the only potential bastion against PC in the West.

Secular conservatism/ libertarianism/ individualism is an interesting and challenging intellectual exercise; but has an intrinsic tendency to lapse into selfish short-termist hedonism (e.g. the fashionable Game nonsense). A short termist and hedonistic doctrine has zero chance of creating an effective political coalition; because the adherents will neither work together nor make sacrifices but their beliefs will always be encouraging them to free-ride or escape.

And here is my own contribution:

Dennis said:

” … the philosophes seem to be at least partly responsible for the modern origin [of liberalism]; on the other hand, why were there no philosophes in China, Japan, or Turkey?”

Simple: for the same reason there were almost no scientists in those countries: they weren’t Christian cultures, and so they didn’t believe the world was ordered by an eternally reliable divine ordinance. You can’t do science (or realist philosophy and theology) on a chaotic stew. So those societies didn’t create universities; on the contrary, Christian monasteries and Cathedrals did create universities. Furthermore, if there had been philosophes in China, Japan and Turkey, they would have been reacting not against Christianity, but against Confucius, Islam, and so forth. If you are going to have a heresy, such as liberalism, Islam, or Gnosticism, then you first need a truth such as Christian doctrine, from which the heresiarchs can stray.

Here’s a further comment I posted:

Dennis goes on: “Maybe it could be said that virtually every intellectual movement of importance came out of the West … So if that’s the case, it’s not strange to see liberalism arising there. Yet … liberalism does share some key tenets with Christianity … ”

All heretical and erroneous ideologies are built on, and preach, certain truths. That’s the only way they can seem at all credible to potential adherents. An erroneous doctrine that was wrong about absolutely everything could never gain traction; even the weakest, sickest intellects would find it simply silly. The appeal of heretical ideologies lies in their apparent power to explain everything with great parsimony by reference to a small set of truths, via an ultimately unjustified reduction: “everything is nothing but x.” “Ah ha!,” says the proselyte, “of course! X explains everything!” There’s a big psychophysiological payoff to such insights. All science and philosophy is the search for such insights. But good scientists and philosophers are careful about their perfectly general statements, because of the ever present threat of the argument from retortion: if everything is nothing but x, then “everything is nothing but x” is nothing but x.

Thus likewise liberalism preaches among other things certain moral truths, that are indeed Christian in origin: e.g., that all men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable life & liberty. Liberalism and Christianity agree to this truth, just as they both agree about gravitation and public health (two other contributions of Christian cultures to the common intellectual stock of all mankind). Like most erroneous ideologies, however, liberalism emphasizes such truths inordinately, neglecting other countervailing truths (that traditional Christian doctrine does not neglect), and in the process erring. It reduces everything to the equal dignity and freedom of all individuals, overlooking the fact that individual dignity and freedom are meaningless, or at least profoundly impoverished, apart from a social environment of prevalent order—i.e., hierarchy, authority, law, custom, tradition—and virtue.

Heresies can get started only in an already established cultural milieu, which informs them, and against which they react. It shouldn’t surprise us therefore that Christian heresies such as liberalism sprang out of Christian society. Liberalism is Christian in the same way that Arianism and Pelagianism are Christian, and that the Druze are Muslim.

Christians are of course not immune from philosophical error. That’s why there are always these heresies springing up, usually from within the Church. Sometimes they even seem to hijack the Church. That’s why Rome has long been quite suspicious of enthusiasms, such as those of Francis or the Beghars. But it seems hardly fair, or even accurate, to blame the ancestor for the acts of his rebellious descendant. To be sure, the acts and ideas of his ancestors shaped the milieu by which the rebel was then formed, and so influenced the nature of his heresy (making it, e.g., peculiarly Christian, or Muslim, or Marxist). But however much the form of the heresy derives from heretic’s intellectual patrimony, the fact of his heretical rejection of some portion of that patrimony is cannot fairly be ascribed to the patrimony. It wasn’t the patrimony that rejected the patrimony, it was the heretic.

So then: if liberalism is wrong, it is wrong not because it sprang out of Christian culture, but because it is wrong. Liberalism is mistaken both about reality and about Christianity. That many Christians are prone to error doesn’t make Christianity wrong; it makes those Christians wrong. And the mere fact that Christian culture gave birth to errors doesn’t mean that Christianity is false, or to be rejected. If that were the case, then the mere fact that Christian culture gave birth to such things as HBD should incline you to think that Christianity is correct, and to be accepted. Such an inference would of course be unjustified, and erroneous, either way.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 20, 2009 02:53 PM | Send

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