Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Christian Foundations of the Social Order

Brain Mattson has a great essay over at First Things entitled "Why Conservatism Needs the Religious Right."  Here are few quotations to whet the appetite:
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat likewise observes that secularism hasn’t given up on religious ideology at all. It relies on metaphysical notions bequeathed by earlier generations. “The more purely secular liberalism has become,” he concludes, “the more it has spent down its Christian inheritance.” Elsewhere, he elaborates:

I don’t think that many humanists actually do have strong reasons for their hopes regarding human dignity and human rights. I think that they have prejudices and assumptions and biases, handed down as an inheritance from two millennia of Christian culture, which retain a certain amount of force even though given purely materialistic premises about mankind and the universe they don’t actually make much sense at all.

Italian philosopher and statesman Marcello Pera argues similarly in his book, Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies. Classical liberalism, he concludes, is ideologically underwritten by Christian ideas about human dignity and purpose. The purportedly secular public square has succeeded for so long because it has a presupposed ideological consensus about those ideas, even if we have naively papered over their Christian origins. Religion—deeply held, pre-critical normative convictions—is not optional. It is inescapable.
For those familiar with the thought of Cornelius Van Til, Mattson's essay will be familiar territory.