Friday, January 04, 2008

Gems from the North (14) - Political Polytheism

I will end this series with a couple of quotes from another book, Political Polytheism. At 660 pages long, this is not for those with weak arms, but it provides information about the origins of the American political system that you would not have got in your high school civics class. Everyone who is serious about understanding the American system should read it. Here is the warning at the beginning of the book.

Without biblical guidance from God’s covenant people, the whole world is now adrift in the rapids with a shattered rudder and a conked-out engine. That growing roar we now hear is ominous. Thus, a handful of Calvinist scholars and activists are today trying to make up for lost time and to recover lost intellectual territory before the turn of the millennium. We perceive that the whole world is in the throes of a massive religious, social, and philosophical upheaval, and the dominant ideologies of the last two or three centuries are no longer able to hold together the fragmenting center. What will be the new center? We know what it had better be: Jesus Christ. It does no permanent good to swing back from left-wing Enlightenment thought (socialism and social revolution) to right wing Enlightenment thought (capitalism and social evolution). (It will, however, increase per capita economic productivity and therefore per capita income.) We do not need a perpetual humanistic pendulum; we need a progressive manifestation of the kingdom of God in history.

In the midst of social and intellectual revolutions come major paradigm shifts. Entire worldviews change, and they can do so within a single generation. Judging from the extent of the visible turmoil today, as well as the intellectual turmoil, the next paradigm shift ought to be a whopper. We know that whatever philosophies today undergird world civilization are slipping rapidly. In fact, we are seeing serious attempts by scientists and social theorists to make slipping the basis of the next dominant worldview. The question is: What will be next? When the shift begins in earnest, Christians had better be in the paradigm marketplace with a table full of books and strategies containing principles for solutions to every major problem. A few manuals on direct action wouldn’t hurt, either.

Before this task can be accomplished, however, Christians must jettison the last three centuries of philosophical compromise. Baptized humanism has produced muddled thinking and worn-out, discarded humanist solutions to major social problems. It is time for a change. Let us pray that this change will be in time (Political Polytheism (1989 pp.6,7).
This was written in 1989, when the political pendulum was swinging to the right. That swing has now completed and the Christian humanist pendulum is swing back to the left. We are still seeing the worn out discarded humanist solutions to major social problems. I do not see much sign of the Christian books of strategies and solutions that we really need.


Michael Bindner said...

You might try my book, Musings from the Christian Left..

Steve Scott said...

Ron, I'm planning on writing those books as soon as I'm done with this blasted kitchen remodel.