Saturday, February 24, 2024

Richard Beck - Liberal Democracy Does Not Work (2)

Richard Beck explains that Liberal Democracy works against the gospel. It cannot be used to advance the Kingdom of God, as many Christians assume.

Witnessing these impacts of liberalism upon our pursuit of the common good and the church, many on the Christian right demand that the church "take back" the nation... The crudest versions of this are illiberal calls for "Christian nationalism"... More sophisticated political theologians on the Christian right, horrified by the specter of illiberalism, attempt to articulate visions where faithful Christians can influence, shape, and direct the liberal nation state...

And yet, even the most sophisticated political theology cannot alleviate the inherent tensions here. Liberalism is connected to democracy. Consequently, any policy a political theologian might recommend, or a Christian voting block might pass, will face another Election Day, over and over again. Democratic politics will persistently destabilize any Christian-informed vision of the good.

Which is why you have to give Christian nationalists some credit for their honesty. Christian nationalists know illiberalism is the only way to move a nation state consistently toward a value-laden vision of the good. That good has to be imposed upon the people. Otherwise, they'll vote you out of office or overturn your policy at the ballot box. Liberalism will always dilute every robust Christian political project.

Liberalism is corrosive to religious faith and a Christian-informed vision of the common good. And yet, the only way to redress these effects is illiberalism, imposing religious values upon an unwilling populous. Christianity and liberal democracy don't exist comfortably side by side. The relationship between them is tense and conflictual.

Simply put, a Christian nation will be an illiberal nation. And a liberal nation will never be a Christian nation. So pick your poison.

Fortunately, there is a third alternative. The Kingdom of God will not be established by political power, but by people moved by the Holy Spirit freely choosing to obey God. I explain how this works in my book called Government of God.

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