Many thanks to Rod Dreher for taking the time to interact with some of my arguments on the Kim Davis case. Our theological differences notwithstanding, I have appreciated having his voice as part of our public debates, especially now that the welter of voices is trying to drown out the few remaining sane ones like Dreher’s. I appreciated his questions, in other words.
Rod poses a number of questions/scenarios concerning the Kim Davis knock-offs. These what-ifs basically seek to apply the golden rule to what Davis is doing. What if it were our ox that some secular county clerk in question was goring? How would we like that? Well, of course, we wouldn’t like it at all.
But that, though a nice statement of the problem, does not answer the problem. We need a solution to the impasse created by political polytheism, which is what under-girds our incoherent system of pluralism and diversity. Schizophrenia doesn’t work for cultures any more than it does for individuals.
So all these questions can be answered, I believe, by emphasizing something that all politically-engaged Christians should get tattooed on their frontal lobes — facing in, so that they can see it all the time.
Political process is not neutral. Administrative process is not neutral. Procedures are not neutral. Constitutional law is not neutral. Nothing is neutral. Everything we do corporately in the body politic is an expression of our foundational faith. That faith will either be the true faith — what I have been calling mere Christendom — or it will be an attempt to build a great skyscraper civilization on the foundation of our watered-down secular concrete.
The “rule of law” is not some “pure neutrality,” an ethereal gas that enables a bunch of members of different faiths and religions to bond together in the same society. The rule of law is actually a codified expression of certain aspects of our Christian inheritance. It is part of our legacy and heritage for a reason. It came from somewhere. It grew and developed in some countries and not in others for profound religious reasons. The rule of law has no evident authority apart from the authority of a transcendent God.
Once the Christian faith has been successfully banished from public life, and Rod Dreher and I are both gathering raspberries in Montana to help keep our small communities alive — his Benedict Option, and my Beza option — the rule of law will be as gone as two years before yesterday. When the tree falls, so do the branches.
This is why the questions Dreher poses don’t really matter. If we want rule of law and even-handedness in our county courthouses, we need Christ there. We cannot postulate a situation where Christ is banished, but we believers can still somehow come to the county seat with an expectation of finding any justice there.
Van Til used to talk about epistemological self-consciousness — where the foundational religious assumptions and the ethical agenda line up. Over the last several decades, I have seen much more of it from the pagans than from the Christians. They know what they are doing. They know what they are tearing down. They know why we are thoroughly confused, and they are running quite an exquisite and elegant game of lies to keep it that way.
That lie is this — that salvation is something you can have without a Savior. You can be lying on the bottom of the pool for an hour, and then suddenly you are wrapped in a towel, sitting in the sun, and no lifeguard that you need to thank. Thanking the lifeguard might land you in court. Some people don’t believe in lifeguards, and it hurts them that you do.
Traditional believers have mysteriously come to believe that is somehow possible for America to saved without her humbling herself and calling upon the Lord. And when I say Lord, I am not referring to some generic sky god, but rather to the Lord Jesus, the one who was born of a virgin and who rose from the dead.
He rose from the dead so that Americans might learn that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t climb a mountain and climb into a hole at the same time, even if you call it principled pluralism. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).