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Ars Politica - Ep12: Christian Nationalism, part 2

Published on: 10th January, 2021

Clifford Humphrey of Thales College joins us for another discussion on Christian Nationalism.

  1. Nature is understood in two senses, both as tendency and as telos
  2. It’s true people have always gathered in groups, ethnei, but those are smaller than nation states. Nation states are relatively new. Can we say they are natural?
  3. Aristotle writes that people gather into cities first for protection, to preserve mere life, but they stay for the sake of the good life, which has something to do with the capacity to talk and deliberate about the common good. 
  4. Likewise, we could say people gather in nation states for the sake of safety, but they preserve nation states for the sake of happiness, the good life. 
  5. Christian nationalism in the American context must recognize three things:
  6. The problem posed by universal monotheism, settled imperfectly in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), but remained a problem in monarchic regimes before American founding
  7. A limited national government (First Amendment)
  8. (Originally) Near plenary police power in the states through federalism. This allowed states to make decency laws based on the mores of the people of each state, to discriminate who could vote and who could hold office based on religious tests each state could come up with.


1778 Constitution of South Carolina:

XXXVIII. That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this State. That all denominations of Christian Protestants in this State, demeaning themselves peaceably and faithfully, shall enjoy equal religious and civil privileges. ...That every society of Christians so formed shall give themselves a name or denomination by which they shall be called and known in law.... each society so petitioning shall have agreed to and subscribed in a book the following five articles, without which no agreement fir union of men upon presence of religion shall entitle them to be incorporated and esteemed as a church of the established religion of this State:

1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.

3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion

4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.

5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.

 

1776 Constitution of Delaware:

ART. 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, to wit:

" I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."


Lincoln’s “Lyceum Address” (context is increase in mob violence and mob justice in the form of lynching) - picking up the problem the ancient solved of how you get people to be attached to the laws (religion = to bind together)


  • People will respect the law only if they feel attached to the regime


  • The generation of the American Revolution was attached to the regime from passion that flowed naturally from the excitement of those times, but that generation is gone.


“They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.--Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.”


  • The only way Americans will continue to feel attached to the regime going forward is through “cold, calculating reason”



“The question recurs, "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;--let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap--let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;--let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.”



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About the Podcast

Ars Politica
Politics, Culture, and Theology
A podcast on political life, culture, and Christian political theory that seeks to revitalize the Christian West and restore the strength, dignity, and self-respect of European civilization among its remnant.

About your hosts

Stephen Wolfe

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Stephen Wolfe lives in Louisiana with his wife and four children. He has a PhD in political theory and writes on Reformed political theory and early American political thought.

Thomas Achord

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Thomas Achord lives in the rural South with his wife and four children. He has an M.Div. from Southern Seminary and is the headmaster of a Christian Classical school. He has published “The Soul And The City”, an anthology on political and moral thought.