Friday, February 23, 2024

Richard Beck - Liberal Democracy Does Not Work (1)

Richard Beck explains something important that few Christians understand. Christianity and liberal democracy cant exist comfortably side by side. The Kingdom of God cannot be established by democratic processes.

Liberal democracy adopts a neutral posture toward values, beliefs, and lifeways. In liberal democracy, so long as you don't harm your neighbor, you are free to believe anything you want and pursue happiness as you think best. In America the most visible example of this is the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

In light of this posture, political theologians on the religious right have made strong and cogent arguments that liberal democracy has pernicious and corrosive effects upon religious belief. To be sure, freedom of religion is lauded, but faith is hard to grow in the soil of liberalism...

Specifically, the pursuit of flourishing for a nation, and among those within a nation, demands a teleological vision of the good. What determines a good human life? What makes for a good business? What is our vision of the common good? We need to ask and answer teleological questions about a host of pressing social issues. For example, are marriages good? Are families good? If so, should the state protect, promote and support these goods over against alternative lifeways?

Liberalism can't answer any of these questions. The state is neutral toward questions of "the good," leaving that up to its citizens to work out for themselves.

Basically, liberalism just creates "liberty." Which is a great and glorious good. And yet, without any shared vision of the common good, liberal democracies can't collectively "go anywhere" when it comes to human flourishing beyond maximizing liberty and increasing material prosperity...

These are the only two metrics of "progress" available to a liberal democracy. Neutral toward the values and virtues entailed in a teleological account of human flourishing, liberal democracy is constitutionally... unable to pursue any goods that fall outside of liberty and wealth. This evacuates the word "progress" of any moral or value-laden content. Our only "good" is freedom and money...

Further, this space created by liberal democracy has deleterious effects upon the spiritual formation of Christian believers.

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