Sunday, August 22, 2010

Soteriology, Political Theory, and the Manegoldian Missing Link of Relevance


A Plea for Clarity as to the Relevance of Asking if George Washington Took Communion or Not, and Other Similar Soteriological Questions About the Founders, In Regards to the Study of the Political Theology that Helped Shape Early America

I responded to Jon Rowe's post about Gregg Frazer and Governor Morris's supposed theistic rationalism with the following comment: 

"What does his behavior have to do with Frazer's dispassionate 10 point theory? This is where his beliefs run into his history. It would have been more credible to leave this out in that it has absolutely nothing to do with Frazer's thesis.
Not that it really matters because you have failed, after repeated requests by Tom, to produce the link between the sotierology and political theology.
Without that link, at best, all you can do is prove some facts from Barton wrong and be a pest to the Religious Right. The more intellectual arguments for Christian Influence on America remain untouched at this blog and elsewhere.
It is a shame because I think when you look back you will find that there was a libertarian stream of thought not that dissimilar to yours. Yes, some kinks were there in regards to freedom of worship at times but overall the more rational branches seem to opposeat least some of the premises of the modern religious right.
The Culture Wars go on..."

Now I can be a little overzealous and come on strong.  I also have a hard time of letting things go when it is time to move on.  I understand that and realize that sometimes people do not respond to my arguments because it would take more time than they have.  Understood.  But I have never heard you state that about Tom who has essentially made the same critique and was the first person to ask you for the link of relevance. First your words italicized then his response:

"The folks I see as NOT being able to claim the political theology of the American Founding are the orthodox Christians, those who believe Jesus was 2nd Person in the Trinity, an Incarnate God.
Clearly an old piece of yours, Jon, since it's now clear you must show a necessary link between Christian political theology and its soteriology, and there is no link. You can believe Jesus is God [Samuel Adams] or not [John Adams], and the political theology comes out the same."

Here is a comment I left on a post of mine recently that I think lays out some of the context and points to the dangers of bringing sotierological assumptions and conclusions into a discussion of the history of political theory:

"The Kopel thing is powerful. It traces the entire story of the development of Scholasticism all the way to the Revolution. Seems Cicerro, Aristotle and Emperor Justian were instrumental. The latter seems to have kicked it all off and the other two gradually became more prominent.
Though he states that Aristotle was probably the most prominent in the end because Aquinas used him and Scholastic education was Catholic Education until the early 20th Century.
This goes through the whole Investiture Controversy and the power that the Holy Roman Emperors had over the Popes. Many people forget that Hitler was trying to establish a Third Reich. Which was the Third rise of the Holy Roman Empire. The first was pre-Investiture and the second was with Charles the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella.
He also goes into how the thought of Justin, Ciccero, and Aristotle as synthesized with Christian thought became Canon Law and how Canon Law influenced secular law like Common Law.
The Magna Carta was a part of this process.
I think I am going to start with him to outline the arguments and then we can get to the sources, if we can find them, and check him.
Amos overstates his case just like Manegold in reference to the dangers of pagan philosophy. The Greeks and Romans need to be given more credit than most Christians give them as far as political theory.
There is a balance and I think Amos and Manegold miss it. I think Kopel nails it.
At least at first glance that is. I think, despite the fact that he does a better job than most on this issue, Amos's soteriology clouds his political theory as well.
It is just as bad to label Greek thought as exclusively Christian as it is to label Christian or Christian/Greek thought as exclusively Enlightenment.
I think Christianity added some unique things but natural law and the wisdom of the ages did as well.
Amos kind of does the same thing Frazer does (though not near as egregiously) just from the other side in that he mixes Greek soteriology with political theory when one does not have to and labels things as not compatible that are. How Manegoldian of him  :)


Or is it?  Ball is in your court Jon.  Tom(though I hesitate to speak for him) and I have laid out our case.  It is essentially the case of David Kopel. (More from him in the coming months) It seems that Frazer and Amos are in a pissing contest for the heart of modern Evangelical political theory. With all do respect to John Mac Arthur and Peter Lillback,  let's leave that to them and broaden the discussion.  Unless,  that is,  you can find the the Manegoldian Missing Link and give us all a reason as to why this intramural Evangelical matter needs to play such a prominent role in these discussions.  And yes, I am moving the goal posts but only because they urgently need to be moved.

HT to JRB who has hounded me about not minimizing the role of Greek and Roman thought and TVD who warned me about some of the pitfalls inherent in remaining in Mc Arthur/Lillback Land more than a few timesMaybe it is not harder to convince me of things that it would have been for the Pope to have convinced Luther. Though I do not think I have Luther beat by much sometimes.  :) 

1 comment:

King of Ireland said...

Just to be clear Amos does have a lot of good points about the incompatibility of some Greek and Roman thought with Christianity even in political theory and Manegold is right that is should not be received uncritically.

But I still think that Kopel hits a better balance.