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THE CITY From Life Together, published in 1939, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written while teaching at an underground seminary in Finkenwalde, Germany. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of His enemies. At the end all His disciples deserted Him. On the Cross He was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause He had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is His commission, His work. Martin Luther: “The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O yo u blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing w ho would ever have been spared” | It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their lon eliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sin ner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! | Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.

A publication of Houston Baptist University

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THE CITY Publisher Robert Sloan Advisory Editors Franc is J. Beckwith Adam Bellow Paul J. Bonicelli Joseph Bottum Wilfred Mc Clay John Mark Reynol ds Editor in Chief Benjam in Domenech Books Editor Micah Mattix Writer at Large Hunter Baker Contributing Editors Matthew Lee Anderson Ryan T. Anderson Matthew Boyleston David Capes Victoria Gardner Coates Christopher Hammons Anthony Joseph Joseph M. Knippenberg Louis Markos Peter Meilaender Dan McLaughl in Paul D. Miller Matthew J. Mill iner Russell Moore Robert Stac ey Joshua Trevino THE CITY Volume VI, Issue 1 Copyright 2013 Houston Baptist University. All rights reserved by original authors except as noted. Letters and submissions to this journal are welcomed. Cover photo by Louis Vest. Email us at thecity@hbu.edu, and visit us online at civitate.org.


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M ar ria ge & Reli giou s L ib er ty Ryan T. Anderson on Twelve Theses Susan McWilliams on the Missing Debate Fred Sanders on Wendell Berry W avering Paul D. Miller on Sex & Modesty Andrew Walker on Why Neutrality is Not an Option

4 21 27 33 41

F ea tu r es A Conversation with Eric Metaxas Louis Markos presents A-Z with C.S. Lewis

46 58

Boo k s & Cu l tur e John Wilson on Ross MacDonald Geoffrey Fulkerson on Carl F.H. Henry Wesley Gant on Purpose & Prosperity Christopher Hammons on the Forgotten Founder

79 84 89 94

A R epub li c of L etter s Hunter Baker

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Poetry by Robert Rehder

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The Word by William Tyndale

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Ryan T. Anderson

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t the heart of the current debates about same-sex marriage are three crucial questions: What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what would be the consequences of redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementarity?

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father. Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes. This is why 41 states, with good reason, affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government right4


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ly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing. Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else. In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. This reduces marriage to a system to approve emotional bonds or distribute legal privileges. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is the culmination of this revisionism, and it would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and would deny, as a matter of policy, the ideal that a child needs both a mom and a dad. Decades of social science, including the latest studies using large samples and robust research methods, show that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and expand welfare programs. Redefining marriage would legislate a new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage. It rejects the anthropological truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage to abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity would also make other essential characteristics—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. Marriage cannot do the work that society needs it to do if these norms are further weakened. Redefining marriage is also a direct and demonstrable threat to religious freedom because it marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This is already evident in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., among other locations. Concern for the common good requires protecting and strengthening the marriage culture by promoting the truth about marriage. 5


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1. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.

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t its most basic level, marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union produces. When a baby is born, there is always a mother nearby: That is a fact of reproductive biology. The question is whether a father will be involved in the life of that child and, if so, for how long. Marriage increases the odds that a man will be committed to both the children that he helps create and to the woman with whom he does so. Marriage connects people and goods that otherwise tend to fragment. It helps to connect sex with love, men with women, sex with babies, and babies with moms and dads. Social, cultural, and legal signals and pressures can support or detract from the role of marriage in this regard. Maggie Gallagher captures this insight with a pithy phrase: “[S]ex makes babies, society needs babies, and children need mothers and fathers.” Connecting sex, babies, and moms and dads is the social function of marriage and helps explain why the government rightly recognizes and addresses this aspect of our social lives. Gallagher develops this idea in Debating Same Sex Marriage: The critical public or “civil” task of marriage is to regulate sexual relationships between men and women in order to reduce the likelihood that children (and their mothers, and society) will face the burdens of fatherlessness, and increase the likelihood that there will be a next generation that will be raised by their mothers and fathers in one family, where both parents are committed to each other and to their children.

2. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father.

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arriage is a uniquely comprehensive union. It involves a union of hearts and minds, but also—and distinctively—a bodily union made possible by sexual complementarity. As the act by which a husband and wife make marital love also makes new life, so marriage itself is inherently extended and enriched by family life and calls for all-encompassing commitment that is perma6


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nent and exclusive. In short, marriage unites a man and a woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life. Just as the complementarity of a man and a woman is important for the type of union they can form, so too is it important for how they raise children. There is no such thing as “parenting.” There is mothering, and there is fathering, and children do best with both. While men and women are each capable of providing their children with a good upbringing, there are, on average, differences in the ways that mothers and fathers interact with their children and the functional roles that they play. Dads play particularly important roles in the formation of both their sons and their daughters. As Rutgers University sociologist David Popenoe explains, “The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.” Popenoe concludes: We should disavow the notion that “mommies can make good daddies,” just as we should disavow the popular notion…that “daddies can make good mommies.”… The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.

3. Marriage as the union of man and woman is true across cultures, religions, and time. The government recognizes but does not create marriage.

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arriage is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. The government does not create marriage. Marriage is a natural institution that predates government. Society as a whole, not merely any given set of spouses, benefits from marriage. This is because marriage helps to channel procreative love into a stable institution that provides for the orderly bearing and rearing of the next generation. This understanding of marriage as the union of man and woman is shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by both common and civil law and by ancient Greek and Roman law. Far from having been intended to exclude same-sex relationships, marriage as the union of 7


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husband and wife arose in many places, over several centuries, in which same-sex marriage was nowhere on the radar. Indeed, it arose in cultures that had no concept of sexual orientation and in some that fully accepted homoeroticism and even took it for granted. As with other public policy issues, religious voices on marriage should be welcomed in the public square. Yet one need not appeal to distinctively religious arguments to understand why marriage—as a natural institution—is the union of man and woman. 4. Marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view of marriage that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs.

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n recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view of marriage that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. This view reduces marriage primarily to emotional bonds or legal privileges. Redefining marriage represents the culmination of this revisionism and would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds. However, if marriage were just intense emotional regard, marital norms would make no sense as a principled matter. There is no principle that requires an emotional union to be permanent. Or limited to two persons. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive (as opposed to “open”). Or inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands. Couples might live out these norms where temperament or taste motivated them, but there would be no reason of principle for them to do so and no basis for the law to encourage them to do so. In other words, if sexual complementarity is optional for marriage, present only where preferred, then almost every other norm that sets marriage apart is optional. Although some supporters of same-sex marriage would disagree, this point can be established by reason and, as documented below, is increasingly confirmed by the rhetoric and arguments used in the campaign to redefine marriage and by the policies that many of its leaders increasingly embrace. 5. Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does.

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irtually every political community has regulated male– female sexual relationships. This is not because government cares about romance as such. Government recognizes male– 8


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female sexual relationships because these alone produce new human beings. For highly dependent infants, there is no path to physical, moral, and cultural maturity—no path to personal responsibility— without a long and delicate process of ongoing care and supervision to which mothers and fathers bring unique gifts. This impacts government and the nation as a whole. Unless children mature, they never will become healthy, upright, productive members of society. Marriage exists to make men and women responsible to each other and to any children that they might have. Marriage is thus a personal relationship that serves a public purpose in a political community. As the late sociologist James Q. Wilson wrote, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.” 6. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Marital breakdown weakens civil society and limited government.

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arriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Government recognition of marriage protects children by incentivizing men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. Social science confirms the importance of marriage for children. According to the best available sociological evidence, children fare best on virtually every examined indicator when reared by their wedded biological parents. Studies that control for other factors, including poverty and even genetics, suggest that children reared in intact homes do best on educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and delinquency and incarceration A study published by the left-leaning research institution Child Trends concluded: “[I]t is not simply the presence of two parents…but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.” According to another study, “[t]he advantage of marriage appears to exist primarily when the child is the biological offspring of both parents.” Recent literature reviews conducted by the Brookings Institution, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the Institute for American Values corroborate the importance of intact households for children. 9


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These statistics have penetrated American life to such a great extent that even President Barack Obama refers to them as well known: We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it. Fathers matter, and marriage helps to connect fathers to mothers and children. Social science claiming to show that there are “no differences” in outcomes for children raised in same-sex households does not change this reality. In fact, the most recent, sophisticated studies suggest that prior research is inadequate to support the assertion that it makes “no difference” whether a child was raised by same-sex parents. A survey of 59 of the most prominent studies often cited for this claim shows that they drew primarily from small convenience samples that are not appropriate for generalizations to the whole population. Meanwhile, recent studies using rigorous methods and robust samples confirm that children do better when raised by a married mother and father. These include the New Family Structures Study by Professor Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas–Austin and a report based on Census data recently released in the highly respected journal Demography. Still, the social science on same-sex parenting is a matter of significant ongoing debate, and it should not dictate choices about marriage. Recent studies using robust methods suggest that there is a lot more to learn about how changing family forms affects children and that social science evidence offers an insufficient basis for redefining marriage. 7. Marital breakdown costs taxpayers.

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arriage benefits everyone because separating childbearing and childrearing from marriage burdens innocent bystanders: not just children, but the whole community. Often, the community must step in to provide (more or less directly) for their well-being and upbringing. Thus, by encouraging the marriage

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norms of monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence, the state is strengthening civil society and reducing its own role. By recognizing marriage, the government supports economic wellbeing. The benefits of marriage led Professor W. Bradford Wilcox to summarize a study he led as part of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project in this way: “The core message…is that the wealth of nations depends in no small part on the health of the family.” The same study suggests marriage and fertility trends “play an underappreciated and important role in fostering long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the health of large sectors of the modern economy.” Given its economic benefits, it is no surprise that the decline of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. For example, a recent Heritage Foundation report by Robert Rector points out: “Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 82 percent.” The erosion of marriage harms not only the immediate victims, but also society as a whole. Civil recognition of the marriage union of a man and a woman serves the ends of limited government more effectively, less intrusively, and at less cost than does picking up the pieces from a shattered marriage culture. 8. Government can treat people equally—and leave them free to live and love as they choose—without redefining marriage.

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hile respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing. Adults are free to make choices about their relationships without redefining marriage and do not need government sanction or license to do so. Government is not in the business of affirming our love. Rather, it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose. Contrary to what some say, there is no ban on same-sex marriage. Nothing about it is illegal. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex may choose to live together, choose to join a religious community that blesses their relationship, and choose a workplace offering joint benefits. There is nothing illegal about this. 11


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What is at issue is whether the government will recognize such relationships as marriages—and then force every citizen, house of worship, and business to do so as well. At issue is whether policy will coerce and compel others to recognize and affirm same-sex relationships as marriages. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else. Appeals to “marriage equality” are good sloganeering, but they exhibit sloppy reasoning. Every law makes distinctions. Equality before the law protects citizens from arbitrary distinctions, from laws that treat them differently for no good reason. To know whether a law makes the right distinctions—whether the lines it draws are justified—one has to know the public purpose of the law and the nature of the good being advanced or protected. If the law recognized same-sex couples as spouses, would some argue that it fails to respect the equality of citizens in multiple-partner relationships? Are those inclined to such relationships being treated unjustly when their consensual romantic bonds go unrecognized, their children “stigmatized” and their tax filings unprivileged? This is not hypothetical. In 2009, Newsweek reported that there were over 500,000 polyamorous households in America. Prominent scholars and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) activists have called for “marriage equality” for multipartner relationships since at least 2006. If sexual complementarity is eliminated as an essential characteristic of marriage, then no principle limits civil marriage to monogamous couples. A 2012 article in New York Magazine introduced Americans to “throuple,” a new term akin to a “couple”: [T]hrouplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship. Except that there are three of them. Supporters of redefinition use the following analogy: Laws defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman are unjust—fail to treat people equally—exactly like laws that prevented interracial marriage. Yet such appeals raise the question of what is essential to marriage. They assume what is in dispute: that gender is as irrelevant as race in state recognition of marriage. However, race has nothing to with marriage, and racist laws kept the races apart. Marriage has everything to do with men and women, husbands and wives, moth12


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ers and fathers and children, and that is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Marriage must be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. The color of two people’s skin has nothing to do with what kind of marital bond they have. However, the sexual difference between a man and a woman is central to what marriage is. Men and women regardless of their race can unite in marriage, and children regardless of their race need moms and dads. To acknowledge such facts requires an understanding of what, at an essential level, makes a marriage. 9. We reap the civil society benefits of marriage only if policy gets marriage right.

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he state has an interest in marriage and marital norms because they serve the public good by protecting child well-being, civil society, and limited government. Marriage laws work by embodying and promoting a true vision of marriage, which makes sense of those norms as a coherent whole. There is nothing magical about the word “marriage.� It is not just the legal title of marriage that encourages adherence to marital norms. What does the work are the social reality of marriage and the intelligibility of its norms. These help to channel behavior. Law affects culture. Culture affects beliefs. Beliefs affect actions. The law teaches, and it will shape not just a handful of marriages, but the public understanding of what marriage is. Government promotes marriage to make men and women responsible to each other and to any children they might have. Promoting marital norms serves these same ends. The norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity encourage childbearing within a context that makes it most likely that children will be raised by their mother and father. These norms also help to ensure shared responsibility and commitment between spouses, provide sufficient attention from both a mother and a father to their children, and avoid the sexual and kinship jealousy that might otherwise be present. The norm of permanency ensures that children will at least be cared for by their mother and father until they reach maturity. It also provides kinship structure for interaction across generations as elderly parents are cared for by their adult children and as grandparents help to care for their grandchildren without the complications of fragmented stepfamilies. 13


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If the law taught a falsehood about marriage, it would make it harder for people to live out the norms of marriage because marital norms make no sense, as matters of principle, if marriage is just intense emotional feeling. No reason of principle requires an emotional union to be permanent or limited to two persons, much less sexually exclusive. Nor should it be inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands. Legally enshrining this alternate view of marriage would undermine the norms whose link to the common good is the basis for state recognition of marriage in the first place. Insofar as society weakens the rational foundation for marriage norms, fewer people would live them out, and fewer people would reap the benefits of the marriage institution. This would affect not only spouses, but also the well-being of their children. The concern is not so much that a handful of gay or lesbian couples would be raising children, but that it would be very difficult for the law to send a message that fathers matter when it has redefined marriage to make fathers optional. This highlights the link between the central questions in this debate: What is marriage, and why does the state promote it? It is not that the state should not achieve its basic purpose while obscuring what marriage is. Rather, it cannot. Only when policy gets the nature of marriage right can a political community reap the civil society benefits of recognizing it. Finally, support for marriage between a man and a woman is no excuse for animus against those with same-sex attractions or for ignoring the needs of individuals who, for whatever reason, may never marry. They are no less worthy than others of concern and respect. Yet this same diligent concern for the common good requires protecting and strengthening the marriage culture by promoting the truth about marriage. 10. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and deny the importance of mothers and fathers.

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edefining marriage would further disconnect childbearing from marriage. That would hurt children, especially the most vulnerable. It would deny the ideal that children need a mother and a father, reinforced by traditional marriage laws, and that such a union is the most appropriate environment for rearing children, as the best available social science suggests. 14


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Recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages would legally abolish that ideal. It would deny the significance of both mothering and fathering to children: that boys and girls tend to benefit from fathers and mothers in different ways. Indeed, the law, public schools, and media would teach that mothers and fathers are fully interchangeable and that thinking otherwise is bigoted. Redefining marriage would diminish the social pressures and incentives for husbands to remain with their wives and biological children and for men and women to marry before having children. Yet the resulting arrangements—parenting by single parents, divorced parents, remarried parents, cohabiting couples, and fragmented families of any kind—are demonstrably worse for children. Redefining marriage would destabilize marriage in ways that are known to hurt children. Leading LGBT advocates admit that redefining marriage changes its meaning. E. J. Graff celebrates the fact that redefining marriage would change the “institution’s message” so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.” Enacting same-sex marriage, she argues, “does more than just fit; it announces that marriage has changed shape.” Andrew Sullivan says that marriage has become “primarily a way in which two adults affirm their emotional commitment to one another.” Government exists to create the conditions under which individuals and freely formed communities can thrive. The most important free community—the one on which all others depend—is the marriage-based family. The conditions for its thriving include the accommodations and pressures that marriage law provides for couples to stay together. Redefining marriage would further erode marital norms, thrusting government further into leading roles for which it is poorly suited: parent and discipliner to the orphaned; provider to the neglected; and arbiter of disputes over custody, paternity, and visitation. As the family weakened, welfare programs and correctional bureaucracies would grow. 11. Redefining marriage would put into the law the new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is, weakening the importance of monogamy and exclusivity.

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edefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage. It rejects the truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the bio15


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logical fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is not ultimately about expanding the pool of people who are eligible to marry. Redefining marriage is about cementing a new idea of marriage in the law—an idea whose baleful effects conservatives have fought for years. The idea that romantic-emotional union is all that makes a marriage cannot explain or support the stabilizing norms that make marriage fitting for family life. It can only undermine those norms. Indeed, that undermining already has begun. Disastrous policies such as “no-fault” divorce were also motivated by the idea that a marriage is made by romantic attachment and satisfaction—and comes undone when these fade. Same-sex marriage would require a more formal and final redefinition of marriage as simple romantic companionship, obliterating the meaning that the marriage movement had sought to restore to the institution. Government needs to get marriage policy right because it shapes the norms associated with this most fundamental relationship. Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male–female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics of marriage—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. Weakening marital norms and severing the connection of marriage with responsible procreation are the admitted goals of many prominent advocates of redefining marriage. New York University Professor Judith Stacey has expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek…small group marriages.” In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners. University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires using legal recognition to “denormalize[] heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and “rectif[y] past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.” She supports “minimal marriage,” in which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person”. Some advocates of redefining marriage embrace the goal of weakening the institution of 16


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marriage in these very terms. “[Former President George W.] Bush is correct,” says Victoria Brownworth, “when he states that allowing same-sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage…. It most certainly will do so, and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.” Professor Ellen Willis celebrates the fact that “conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart.” Michelangelo Signorile urges same-sex couples to “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.” It is no surprise that there is already evidence of this occurring. A bill that would allow a child to have three legal parents passed both houses of the California state legislature in 2012 before it was vetoed by the governor, who claimed he wanted “to take more time to consider all of the implications of this change.” The impetus for the bill was a lesbian same-sex relationship in which one partner was impregnated by a man. The child possessed a biological mother and father, but the law recognized the biological mother and her samesex spouse, a “presumed mother,” as the child’s parents. Those who believe in monogamy and exclusivity—and the benefits that these bring to orderly procreation and child well-being—should take note. 12. Redefining marriage threatens religious liberty.

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edefining marriage marginalizes those with traditional views and leads to the erosion of religious liberty. The law and culture will seek to eradicate such views through economic, social, and legal pressure. If marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—a union of a man and woman ordered to procreation and family life—would be seen increasingly as a malicious prejudice to be driven to the margins of culture. The consequences for religious believers are becoming apparent. The administrative state may require those who contract with the government, receive governmental monies, or work directly for the state to embrace and promote same-sex marriage even if it violates their religious beliefs. Nondiscrimination law may make even private actors with no legal or financial ties to the government—including 17


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businesses and religious organizations—liable to civil suits for refusing to treat same-sex relationships as marriages. Finally, private actors in a culture that is now hostile to traditional views of marriage may discipline, fire, or deny professional certification to those who express support for traditional marriage. In fact, much of this is already occurring. If marriage is redefined to include same-sex relationships, then those who continue to believe the truth about marriage—that it is by nature a union of a man and a woman—would face three different types of threats to their liberty: the administrative state, nondiscrimination law, and private actors in a culture that is now hostile to traditional views. After Massachusetts redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to discontinue its adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples against its principles. Massachusetts public schools began teaching grade-school students about same-sex marriage, defending their decision because they are “committed to teaching about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.” A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that parents have no right to exempt their children from these classes. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” Doctors in California were successfully sued for declining to perform an artificial insemination on a woman in a same-sex relationship. Owners of a bed and breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law. A Georgia counselor was fired after she referred someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor. In fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.” The Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois, explains how a bill offered in that state’s 2013 legislative session to redefine marriage while claiming to protect religious liberty was unable to offer meaningful protections: [It] would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex “weddings.” It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally 18


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“married” to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so “married” from senior leadership positions…. This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois. In fact, the lack of religious liberty protection seems to be a feature of such bills: There is no possible way—none whatsoever—for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an “unfair” view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry—which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment. Indeed, for many supporters of redefining marriage, such infringements on religious liberty are not flaws but virtues of the movement.

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ong before the debate about same-sex marriage, there was a debate about marriage. It launched a “marriage movement” to explain why marriage was good both for the men and women who were faithful to its responsibilities and for the children they reared. Over the past decade, a new question emerged: What does society have to lose by redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementarity? Many citizens are increasingly tempted to think that marriage is simply an intense emotional union, whatever sort of interpersonal relationship consenting adults, whether two or 10 in number, want it to be—sexual or platonic, sexually exclusive or open, temporary or permanent. This leaves marriage with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality. It is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be. Yet if marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, how will society protect the needs of children—the prime victim of our non-marital sexual culture—without government growing more intrusive and more expensive? Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produc19


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es. Marriage benefits everyone because separating the bearing and rearing of children from marriage burdens innocent bystanders: not just children, but the whole community. Without healthy marriages, the community often must step in to provide (more or less directly) for their well-being and upbringing. Thus, by encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. Government recognizes traditional marriage because it benefits society in a way that no other relationship or institution does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage, and the future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage. Some might appeal to historical inevitability as a reason to avoid answering the question of what marriage is—as if it were an already moot question. However, changes in public opinion are driven by human choice, not by blind historical forces. The question is not what will happen, but what we should do.

Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. 20


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Susan McWilliams What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense , by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George . Encounter Books, 2013.

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funny thing happened after I agreed to review What Is Marriage? for this journal: a number of people told me I was foolish to do it. The friends and colleagues who so advised me, I gather, regard contemporary debates about marriage—read: debates about samesex marriage—as either toxic or irrelevant or both. These debates seem to them toxic because of the passion and fury they inspire; the ideas and institutions at stake are so personal to us all that we have trouble talking about them civilly. These debates seem to them irrelevant, either because they understand the courts to be moving toward an acceptance of same-sex marriage, no matter what professors and pundits have to say about it, or because they understand most people’s thoughts on same-sex marriage to be fairly settled at this point, no matter what professors and pundits have to say about it. There is a lot of truth to all of these claims. What Is Marriage?, a defense of marriage as a specific kind of one-man-one-woman relationship, is unlikely to persuade people already committed to a more expansive vision. It is also hard to imagine the most foundational argument in What Is Marriage?—that heterosexual sex involves a “comprehensive bodily union” that homosexual sex does not—being marshaled successfully in the federal courts. And some of what gets said in What Is Marriage? would make many people seethe with rage. 21


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None of these objections, though, discount the fact that What Is Marriage? is a serious book by serious thinkers, worth considering even if not worth embracing.

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he book trades on a distinction between what the authors call“conjugal” and the “revisionist” views of marriage. The former, as they describe it, sees marriage as a comprehensive union that is “completed in the acts of bodily union by which new life is made.” Marriage requires a sharing of domestic and family life and demands an “all-encompassing commitment” that is “permanent and exclusive.” This comprehensiveness is valuable in itself, the authors say, but “its link to children’s welfare makes marriage a public good that the state should recognize and support.” Because of the particular understanding of bodily union involved in it, the conjugal view supports limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The “revisionist” view of marriage, by contrast, treats marriage as a primarily romantic union that need not aim at procreation, aspire to permanence and exclusivity, nor be realized in a particular kind of sexual intercourse. The state recognizes marriage, in this view, because it has an interest in relational stability. Nothing in this understanding would lead to the conclusion that marriage should be limited to relationships between one man and one woman. Having made this differentiation, the authors of What Is Marriage? make three kinds of claims: First, they contend that, elite opinion aside, there is broad support in contemporary American culture for the conjugal view of marriage. Second, they suggest that the conjugal view has been prominent in human civilization and has support from the greatest minds in the Western tradition. Third, and most importantly, they want to argue that this conjugal view is simply the better (and probably the best) view of marriage on philosophical and sociological rather than theological grounds. It’s hard to look at contemporary America and accede to the authors’ first claim: that, as they have written elsewhere, “the conjugal view best fits our social practices and judgments about what marriage is.” Even if one were to accept their contention that we should see conjugalism affirmed in voters’ broad support for measures limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, there is copious evidence that Americans aren’t really wedded to the authors’ preferred, conjugal view. It’s hard to imagine that there would be much popular support 22


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for the repeal of no-fault divorce laws. The divorce rate itself suggests social practices and understandings that are deeply at odds with a view of marriage as permanent and exclusive. In every Gallup poll I can find from the last two decades, the number of Americans saying it is “morally acceptable” to have a baby outside of marriage outnumber those who find out-of-wedlock births objectionable. And so on.

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mericans, I think it appropriate to say, stand somewhere between the two views of marriage that Girgis, Anderson, and George describe. Even as we pledge to marry till death do us part, we do not wring our hands much when we (or others) fail to live up to those words. Even as we are uncomfortable about the idea of certain sexual arrangements (like, say, polyamory), we are comfortable with the proposition that “the government should stay out of the bedroom.” When it comes to marriage, Americans are attracted to elements of both the conjugal and revisionist views. The American idea of marriage is a perplexed one. Recent developments in medical technology—which make it easy for people to have sex without having babies and to have babies without having sex—only confuse our already confused selves more. In word and in deed, there is evidently much more ambivalence and uncertainty about the nature of marriage in contemporary America than the authors of What Is Marriage? allow. Given that the American republic finds much of its footing in the philosophy of modern liberalism, this ambivalence and uncertainty about the conjugal view of marriage probably shouldn’t be a surprise. The great exponents of modern liberal theory tend to devote little attention to marriage, suggesting that it is not an important matter of state. More tellingly, where they do talk about marriage, modern liberal thinkers tend to sound like what the authors of What Is Marriage? would call revisionists (which is perhaps why none of them appear in its pages). Thomas Hobbes, for instance, says that “it is of the essence of marriage to be a legal contract,” which means that the definition of marriage is whatever the laws and the sovereign say that it is. Hobbes is also clear that childrearing need not be tied to a marriage contract; a man and a woman, in his account, can either “make a contract to live 23


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together” or “only agree to concubinage,” with there being no inherent moral, social, or political advantage to the former arrangement. Montesquieu, even more starkly, calls divorce appropriate for any “who feel the inconveniences of marriage,” and John Stuart Mill follows his lead, saying that if a marriage is unsatisfying for any reason, “it should require nothing more than the declared will of either party to dissolve it.” And although John Locke, that undisputed influence on the American framing, does say that marriage is naturally oriented toward procreation and child-rearing, he also says that on those terms marriages can rightly be ended as soon as the children have reached an age of independence (or presumably, if no children have issued from the union, anytime). Modern liberalism, with its emphasis on individual rights and contractual agreement, has steeped us all in a mode of thinking that supports a pretty loosey-goosey kind of marriage. In a modern liberal regime, the revisionist view is just going to sound right to people. I wish that this book better acknowledged the ambivalence about marriage that is evident both in contemporary American practice and in our many-threaded intellectual history. An account that acknowledged our pervasive cultural ambivalence—especially if it came from the versatile minds of these authors—might help us to better understand, wrestle with, and work through that ambivalence, especially in this age of ever-expanding reproductive technology. To the extent that Americans have inherited a more demanding understanding of the marital relationship, it’s almost certain that we inherited it from religion. In the early republic, a largely Protestant culture saw marriage as the fulfillment of a sacred obligation to be fruitful and multiply. Marriage, in the words of jurist Joseph Story, was thus “more than a mere contract” that aimed not just at childrearing, civil order and moral instruction but also spiritual uplift and even salvation. And while the authors of What Is Marriage? are right that ancient thinkers outside the influence of Judaism or Christianity—Socrates and his students foremost among them—might be said to articulate a conjugal view of marriage, such thinkers had only an indirect influence on American framing. It’s hard to see Socrates, who took male lovers and wanted his buddies rather than his wife at his deathbed, as a spokesman for marital comprehensiveness and exclusivity. 24


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hough the sympathies between the conjugal view and the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage are evident, the authors of this volume are at pains to avoid anything that smacks of religiosity or transcendence. This is a shame, since it makes their account of marriage sound hollow and often clunky. Their description of marriage feels to me incomplete, more corporeal and instrumental and worldly, than a description of marriage that trades heavily on the word “comprehensive” should be. To be sure, the authors have good political reason to avoid the taint of theology. Were their account to exude religiosity, it would play right into the hands of those who would privatize marriage (by relegating its jurisdiction to religious communities) and replace it in public with what the political theorist Tamara Metz calls “intimate caregiving unions” that could be formed among any pair or group of consenting adults. Indeed, given that the authors of What Is Marriage? say they have no principled objection to “sex neutral” civil unions, the major thing separating their argument from the contemporary case for disestablishment is their insistence that the state has a significant interest in preserving a unique category of recognition for monogamous, heterosexual sex because such sex has an organic connection to childrearing that other forms of sexual intercourse do not. The authors make about as serviceable a case as I can imagine on behalf of that proposition, but in the end it’s simply a tough one to make. They have to acknowledge that, even if only the combination of male and female parts is necessary for having a child, that same combination is not necessary for raising a child, and so they have to make a case that it is better for children to be raised by one man and one woman. To make that case, they marshal social-scientific data that—as George Will recently argued in the Washington Post, and as the authors here at times admit—are uneven and often unreliable. I also wanted the authors, once they started leaning on social science, to address the problem that other research shows, perhaps more conclusively than any data mentioned in this book, that it is best for children to be raised in multigenerational or extended kinship networks in which marriage need not be at the center. I could not agree with the authors more that the state—that we all—need to make childrearing more of a priority in our political 25


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thinking, But for me, the odd effect of reading What Is Marriage? was to get me to think beyond marriage, to the myriad ways in which our laws fail to do well—and could do better—by our children. Why do we have such minimal family-leave policies? Why don’t we offer more support to parents who stay at home to raise their children? Why are we devaluing the importance of education? If we’re not promoting a public conversation about these and other questions like them, it’s hard to think that any version of marriage in contemporary America—whether it includes or excludes same-sex couples—could do enough for our children to do full justice to them.

Susan McWilliams teaches in the politics department at Pomona College. She is the author of Traveling Back: Political Theory in an Age of Globalization (Oxford University Press ). 26


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Fred Sanders

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t was hard to tell whether Wendell Berry was mainly talking about poetry or mainly talking about marriage. In his 1982 essay “Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms,” he used the two as images of each other. They were mutually illuminating. Berry moved his analogical eye back and forth between these two things in order to evoke from them a deeper reality that is always very hard to speak about: the reality of form. Poetry and marriage, said Berry, are both caught up in the paradox of form, the paradox in which strict limits are imposed, and somehow simultaneously a great possibility is established. Entering into a form, Berry pointed out, jealously defines a way and—in the very same movement—generously invites a great good. It closes as it opens. Poetry and marriage are analogous to each other. Berry admitted that “there is some danger of becoming cute or precious in carrying this analogy out to such length, and yet I am working on the assumption that the analogy is valid.” Berry worked the analogy for fourteen brilliant pages, by turns bringing clarity or evoking mystery (some of my favorite sentences in the essay are the ones I still don’t fully grasp). He tried to solve a few vexed issues with the analogy, such as how to think rightly about those less formal poetic genres (clue: free 27


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verse is like courtship). But if the thought project was to work at all, he insisted, the analogy… is most readily apparent if we think of marriage and poetic forms as set forms –that is, forms that in a sense precede the content, that are in a sense prescriptive. These set forms are indispensable, I believe, because they accommodate and serve that part of our life which is cyclic, drawing minds and lives back repeatedly through the same patterns, as each year moves through the same four seasons in the same order. There was a season back in the 1980s when Wendell Berry was writing a lot about the nature of poetry. Most of the essays collected in the volume Standing by Words (including this essay on “Poetry and Marriage”) were on that topic. It is a theme to which he occasionally returns. Marriage, on the other hand, is a constant theme for him. It is one of about half a dozen such themes in Berry’s writing; almost no Berry book, fiction or non-fiction, prose or verse, can avoid the topic for long. He relates marriage to the land, to the cycling of the seasons, to civic membership, to the intergenerational bond of human community, to the nature of humanity, to life under God, to everything in his thought-world.

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ne of the things Berry has been consistently most vocally opposed to is divorce, or more generally, to the cultural declension that has made divorce seem like the ever-present option, an option that is equal to, though opposite from, marriage. In that 1982 essay on poetry and marriage, Berry made it clear that divorce had no such standing. Marriage is a form entered into, a form which has its own built-in conclusion and fulfillment: death. A marriage is a formal vow, Berry argued, and as such it can be seen to stand opposite not-vowing. Until the wedding vows are said, the argument that one might find a better spouse has standing because there is no argument or evidence that can be produced against it; statistical probability would seem to support it: given the great number of theoretically possible choices, one might make a better choice. The vows answer that argument simply by cloture: the marriage now exists beyond all possibility of objection.

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Beyond all possibility? Yes, that was Berry’s relentless point. The power to break the vow is not parallel to the power to make it. “Undoubtedly,” he admitted, thinking of Jephthah and Agamemnon, “some vows ought to be broken. Undoubtedly, some marriages are wrong, some divorces right.” But in all cases, he argued, “the possibility of breaking a vow can tell us nothing of what is meant by making and keeping one. Divorce is the contradiction of marriage, not one of its proposed results.” Berry invoked two Muses who are at work in both poetry and marriage alike: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form…. It is the willingness to hear the second muse that keeps us cheerful in our work. To hear only the first is to live the bitterness of disappointment. Constancy was Berry’s constant theme: vowing, staying, keeping form, enforcing freedom, remaining open to new possibility within the given, and to unexpected gifts. The most forceful passages in Berry’s essay, if they are not the passages rejecting divorce, are the ones confessing the difficulty of staying within the form of poetry or marriage. “Properly used, a verse form, like a marriage, creates impasses, which the will and present understanding can solve only arbitrarily and superficially.” Because he knew that the blessings flowed precisely from the restriction (remember the paradox of form, which simultaneously closes and opens, is jealous to be generous), he leaned into the limitations. “These halts and difficulties do not ask for immediate remedy; we fail them by making emergencies of them. They ask, rather, for patience, forbearance, inspiration– the gifts and graces of time, circumstance, and faith.” And he added, I think changing the register of his speaking: “They are, perhaps, the true occasions of the poem: occasions for surpassing what we know or have reason to expect.” “It may be,” wrote Berry near the end of the essay, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know 29


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which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings. Artists love limits. As the great formophile William Wordsworth said, they “scorn not the sonnet” with its ancient, fixed rules, just as “nuns fret not” at the convent door. Likewise, when Auguste Rodin bloviated that “no truly great man has ever confined his love to only one woman,” lovers know that Rodin should have talked less and sculpted more, for he sculpted like a demigod but spake as a fool.

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have written this appreciation of Berry’s 1982 essay “Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms” in the past tense because it is more than 30 years old. I could have written it in the present tense because Wendell Berry is very much alive and still writing, and some of his recent work is some of his best (don’t miss his short novel Andy Catlett: Early Travels from 2007, which is among my favorites). I could also have written it in the present tense because that’s how you write about old books: author says this, author argues that. But recently Berry went out of his way to make a public statement about marriage and homosexuality, or to “expound on gay marriage” as the Associated Baptist Press story had it. I know Berry was speaking aloud and not crafting a careful or considered essay, and I can also tell that his main job that day was to declare whose religiopolitical program he abominates most, which he did with some gusto, roundly condemning and shaming his opponents. And I always think of Wendell Berry as getting a sort of free pass on actual political issues, since his overall position is wonderfully and unmappably cattywompus from available electoral options (though I expect party leaders can count on him to vote Democrat when push comes to shove). I write in the past tense because Berry’s recent remarks make a definitional move that his older essay neither predicted nor hinted at. It is a nice question whether his previous essays on marriage even make sense now. Berry’s 2012 statement put a hasty question mark after many of his earlier and more careful statements. He has retroactively obfuscated his point about limits and definitions. In his recent remarks, Berry mocks the idea that “homosexual marriage is opposed to and a threat to heterosexual marriage, as if the marriage market is about to be cornered and monopolized by homo30


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sexuals.” He goes on to make the excellent point, which is exactly in line with his decades-long argument, that infidelity, divorce, and promiscuity without any regard for marriage are the real problem. Marriage as an institution is breaking down around us because it’s being done so badly. “Heterosexual marriage does not need defending… It only needs to be practiced, which is pretty hard to do just now.” He has a good point, perhaps even the main point, and only a foolish reader would expect to catch Wendell Berry cheerleading for the culture of sexual self-expression and self-fulfillment. But he does apparently move to include homosexual relationships in the category of marriage (I assume he is thinking of that status of permanent, lifelong commitments between two and only two homosexual partners). That is hard to square with the language and the direction of his classic essay on the “Use of Old Forms.” On the second page of that essay he offered this brief account of marriage: Marriage is the mutual promise of a man and a woman to live together, to love and help each other, in mutual fidelity, until death. It is understood that these definitions cannot be altered to suit convenience or circumstance, any more than we can call a rabbit a squirrel because we preferred to see a squirrel. Poetry of the traditionally formed sort, for instance, does not propose that its difficulties should be solved by skipping or forcing a rhyme or by mutilating syntax or by writing prose. Marriage does not invite one to solve one’s quarrel with one’s wife by marrying a more compliant woman. Certain limits, in short, are prescribed—imposed before the beginning. And, as rehearsed above, he spends several thousand words exploring the way our loves fit into that ancient form that we are not free to alter. Thirty years later the “man and woman” part of his description needs to be extended and expanded if not deleted altogether. It looked like an essential limitation but apparently was not. It does not belong to the definition proper, apparently, so it is not subject to the restriction that it not “be altered to suit… circumstance.” Some of us who have learned from Wendell Berry over the years are wondering what it is we’ve learned. Berry has written so much about marriage: its exclusivity, its limitations, its ancient form, its permanence, its fecundity, its harmony with the rhythms of the natural world, its cultural importance, its power to hold communities together, and the way its benefits spill over into the lives of the un31


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married, indeed, to all within the membership of any locale. But an important thread, never previously questioned in decades of his writing, has now been plucked out and identified as irrelevant after all. It is not a slippery slope argument, but a request for definition, to ask what other terms in Berry’s notion of marriage are equally nonessential. Obviously the vow must be essential, and the life-long character of it (“until death�). But what else is essential? What are the boundaries, the limits, the restrictions that he wrote so eloquently about remaining within? Apparently what is essential is the vow alone. I had assumed so much more. I suspect Wendell Berry had as well.

Fred Sanders is an associate professor of theology at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University . 32


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Paul D. Miller

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y daughter turned three in April. She is gorgeous. A few months ago a fellow dad looked at her and said to me, “You know, your daughter is really pretty.” I felt proud, but also defensive—it was the first time a man had noticed my girl’s good looks. My friend meant it as a perfectly innocent and genuine compliment, but it reminded me of the unsettling truth of what my girl will go through as she grows up and begins to understand how the world perceives beauty. It made me realize how rare it is, in our sexualized culture, to distinguish beauty from sex. Complimenting a girl on her beauty is often taken as an expression of sexual attraction. Tell a woman you like her dress, and she might suspect that you want to take it off. I contemplate this hyper-sexualized atmosphere with growing horror each day my daughter steps closer to adulthood. It seems almost hopeless: the world will teach her that her body is an object for men’s lust. She can accept this fact and dress and act in a way to manipulate men, but only at the cost of being manipulated and used in turn. Or she can try to reject it, and become some category of discarded other—tomboy, prude, or worse. These are the choices for young women created by men who manage the entertainment industries, who manufacture the images we consume and admire. She can wear a miniskirt or a burqa. In the face of their trillion dollar empire, what can I do? What can a daddy teach his little girl about her feminine beauty so that she 33


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values, treasures, and cultivates it, but does not think it is the most important thing about her or that it is something to flaunt in men’s faces? How do I get her to embrace and delight in her God-given femininity—but to ensure that it is a strong, confident femininity capable of resisting men’s sexual manipulation?

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he first thing I want to teach her is that God made beauty, and he delights in it. He made the world and everything in it and called it “very good.” “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He made women’s bodies, and called them “very good.” I have even heard the claim that the seven days of creation show an ascending order of complexity and beauty: light, sky, land, stars, fish, animals, man—and then woman. Humanity is the pinnacle of creation, among whom women show an even greater degree of beauty than men. That means it is good to cultivate and delight in beauty. Isaiah 62 sings of the redeemed people of God that: “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Beauty is one of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s redeemed people in his eternal kingdom. Note that beauty is closely tied to righteousness, which tells us that beauty is not only, or most importantly, physical; but, on the other hand, there is no reason to think that beauty in heaven is purely immaterial. The resurrection is physical; Jesus had a physical body after he rose. And God designed earthly and physical realities to teach us about spiritual ones (marriage teaches about how Christ loves the church; fatherhood teaches about how God cares for his children, etc.). Physical beauty may be a symbol pointing towards the beauty that we should look forward to in the new creation. As a sign, it is important: it would be silly—even disrespectful—to neglect physical beauty in the name of treasuring spiritual beauty, like claiming to be patriotic while burning the flag. Symbols are important because of what they symbolize. Similarly, the Psalmist sings, “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him,” (Psalm 45:10-11). At one level, this is a wedding psalm that rejoices in 34


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the desire a kingly husband has for his bride’s beauty. At another, this is a messianic psalm that tells the amazing truth that God desires the beauty of his church. On both levels, we see that beauty—again, both inner and outer—is a good thing, the cultivation and enjoyment of which is literally part of paradise. And that is why beauty is an important part of marriage, God’s great symbol of his covenant with his people. The Song of Solomon is one long exchange between a husband and wife who rejoice in each other’s beauty (“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves,” (Song of Solomon 1:15) is just a sample of dozens of similar passages). And Paul tells the church that “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does,” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). This passage is most directly about sex, but I think it is fair to infer a lesson about beauty as well. Husbands and wives do not own their own bodies; therefore, it is appropriate to cultivate a pleasing appearance to the other. Doing so is one small way of honoring each other, of showing the deference and love we owe to each other, of continuing to woo one another throughout the marriage. Modesty is a virtue but, because beauty is intrinsically good, prudishness is not. Prudishness is simply another form of vanity—it stems from an excessive concern for one’s appearance. Like vanity, it is ultimately rooted in a fear of what people will think about how I look. Jesus tells us not to worry about how we dress because God has made even the lilies of the field beautiful, “yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30-31). Prudishness is one giant exercise in missing the point. It’s like going to a huge party and spending the whole time worrying that someone might overeat. It is a denial of the truth that God made a good creation and delights in it. It is a deliberate effort to take some of the permissible fun out of life.

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he second thing I want to teach my daughter is that beauty is not important. That may seem contradictory to the first lesson—that beauty is part of God’s good creation. But the world 35


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does not treat beauty part of God’s creation. It treats beauty as a goddess worthy of worship. This is such a great danger that many Christian parents spend all their time teaching their children that it doesn’t matter what they look like to fight the world’s conception of beauty. I understand the motivation—it seems so much more likely that my children will err by valuing beauty too much rather than too little. But we should not counter an error in one direction by teaching the opposite error. A proper Biblical theology needs to start with a Biblical appreciation for the goodness of beauty. But after that, we need to lay on the other lesson as heavily as possible. Inner character is infinitely more important that outward looks. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” (Proverbs 31:30). “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious,” (1 Peter 3:3-4). “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works,” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Taken literally, these verses seem to actually prohibit braided hair and jewelry, which I think is the wrong way to read them. I think the principle here is that my daughter should not spend excessive time or money on her appearance (it can take a long time to braid hair), especially compared to the lifetime of devotion she should spend cultivating a godly character. And that is because our worth does not depend on our looks. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7). A pretty girl is not closer to God than a plain one. And because this is also how a man should look for a wife (not for the one with the best looks, but the best character), a young woman seeking to attract a godly husband should trust that cultivating her character will ultimately be more successful than showing some leg. Showing leg will undoubtedly succeed in attracting attention, but not the kind of attention, or from the kind of man, she wants. “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion,” (Proverbs 11:22).

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he third thing I want to teach my daughter is that her beauty can be an occasion for sin—not just men’s lust, but women’s pride. The fact that beauty can be an occasion for lust should be blindingly obvious to anyone reading this, but as a dad I will have to remember that it will be a new and possibly difficult lesson for my daughter. Having lived with my adult male sensibilities for my whole life, I intuitively understand that men are pigs, everything is about sex, platonic friendship between single men and single women is pretty well impossible, this culture’s saturation in hyper-sexualized imagery is an aberrant disorder, not a model to follow, and that the world is full of horrible predators. Adult women probably have an inkling of these truths as well. But my little girl has absolutely no clue, and may resist these ideas until she begins to see them for herself. I pray that Proverbs 2-7 will help her understand the power and danger of women’s beauty for young men. But beauty can be a temptation to sin not only to those who behold it but to those who have it, because it can be an entry gate for arrogance, pride, and adultery. For example, Ezekiel pictured Israel as abandoned girl whom God had rescued, “made flourish,” clothed, and showered with gifts, and to whom he had bound himself in a covenant. “And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.” But Israel’s beauty became an occasion for her own sin. Ezekiel sums up Israel’s sin this way: “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his,” (Ezekiel 16:14-15). While this has deeper spiritual meanings, it is also the biblical version of the high school truth that the cute girls are always the mean ones because they don’t need to be nice to get attention. Beauty makes the heart proud and leads the beautiful person to have contempt for her admirers and and competitors. Beauty is God’s gift to his people, but like all gifts it can supplant the giver in the hearts of the recipient and become an enslaving false goddess. This is so dangerous that it apparently is the sin that drove Satan himself to rebel against God. Ezekiel’s lament against Tyre and its prince (Ezekiel 27-28) is widely interpreted to be about Satan. Ezekiel condemns the city for believing that it is “perfect in beauty” (27:3) and the prince for claiming divinity (28:1-2) even while Ezekiel 37


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acknowledged that he was in the Garden of Eden (28:13) and on the “Mountain of God” (28:14). These are not attributes of a human ruler, but of the prince of this world. And what sin does Satan commit? He was the most beautiful creature God ever made. “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” (28:12), which is a good thing, but “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor,” and grew violent. Therefore “I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you,” (Ezekiel 28:17). Beauty is powerful, seductive, and dangerous—not only for those who behold it, but those who have it. Jesus warned that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. The same is true of the beautiful, because beauty is another form of worldly riches. It tempts those who have it to be self-reliant, to bask in the praise and admiration of the world, to “trust in your beauty.” The solution, Jesus says, is to become “poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Like the rich (and the intelligent, the successful, and the powerful), the beautiful may find their beauty is a barrier to humility before God.

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an I whittle these principles down to a set of rules about what my daughter can and cannot wear? No, I don’t think so. My wife taught at a Christian school which banned skirts shorter than two inches above the knee. The unwritten (and ever-changing) secular workplace dress code seems to tolerate four inches, but zero cleavage—while the fashion at undergraduate campuses is far more permissive. It even varies by city: I’m always surprised during business trips to New York how different women’s work fashion is there. Liberty University’s dress code prescribes: Dresses and skirts should be no shorter than the top of the knee (sitting or standing). Skirt slits should be modest; open slits should be no higher than the top of the knee, closed slits should be no higher than two inches from the top of the knee. Shoulder straps should be no less than two inches wide. Anything tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff (in any position) is immodest and unacceptable. I am skeptical of Christians’ many attempts at formulating rules of thumb. Standards of modesty change from place to place and from 38


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time to time. Nineteenth Century high fashion, supposedly more modest than ours, covered women to the ankles but featured plunging necklines (recall, for example, the costumes in the BBC’s excellent 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice). Clothing in the American South is generally more permissive simply because it is so hot down there. An edgy cocktail dress in Washington, D.C., might be downright prudish in Paris. What you wear to the beach would be inappropriate in the workplace, which in turn is different than what you’d wear on a date, at the gym, or to church. There simply isn’t one rule about how much flesh you can show, or what kind of outfit you can wear, that applies everywhere, all the time, across cultures. In other words, modesty is largely context-dependent—which makes sense, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Different outfits—even different parts of the body—are perceived to be attractive and erotic to different people and in different cultures. I want to teach my daughter how to understand how to read the context and respond with wisdom. A good rule of thumb is to ask if you’re dressed more modestly than half—but only half—of the women in the room. That doesn’t mean modesty is purely relative (public nudity is immodest everywhere, for example). Nor does it suggest that we can indulge in getting away with as much as possible so long as “the cultural context” allows: that would be to use living in a pornographic culture like ours as an excuse for license. Paul repeatedly warns against abusing our Christian freedom that way. Rather, I pray my daughter rejoices in her feminine beauty but does not become proud about it, seeks to understand her culture but not conform herself to it, and desires to present herself in a way that is beautiful but modest, attractive but not a stumbling block. It is a difficult balance, but not impossible.

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he last thing I want to teach my daughter is that God himself is beautiful. Jesus, in his humanity, was not: Isaiah wrote that “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him,“ (Isaiah 53:2; but Isaiah 4:2 suggests the Messiah will be beautiful in his triumph). I suspect that Jesus, in his first advent, deliberately hid his beauty as part of having “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7) and hid his glory. He did so as an example of humility—a good example that should help my beautiful 39


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daughter avoid pride in her appearance—but perhaps also to avoid overwhelming us with the beauty of his divinity. David writes in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” On the Day of the Lord, “the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of his people,” (Isaiah 28:5). One of the great Messianic promises is that God’s people “will behold the king in his beauty,” (Isaiah 33:17). Heaven is a place of beauty: the Psalmist sings (96:6) “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” And because “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup,” I know that “I have a beautiful inheritance,” (Psalm 16:5-6). The beauty of God is a great and terrible truth: terrible because we are not worthy to behold God in his beauty, because one sight of his beauty would kill us. But it is a great truth, because in heaven God will give us eyes to see him face to face, and we will gaze upon Beauty himself. Our fuss over our own beauty should pale in comparison to what we have to look forward to. I pray my daughter, when she is tempted to trust in her beauty, to be vain or insecure, to manipulate men with her beauty, to desire to be more beautiful or to feel shame for a lack of beauty, will simply dwell for a moment on the beauty of God and the sight we will enjoy in heaven, and relax.

Paul D. Miller is an assistant professor of internatio nalsecurity studies at the National Defens e University . The views expressed here are his alone. 40


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Andrew Walker

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artisanship has fallen on hard times in America. Left and Right both decry partisanship. The “No Labels” movement spearheaded by the sometime-conservatives David Frum and Mark McKinnon is an example of Beltway pundits attempting to escape the challenge of “taking sides.” Similar trends are at work within American Christianity. Parroting broader culture, the Christian publishing industry has expended no small energy marketing “post-partisan” Christianity and post-mortems on the Religious Right. Sojourner’s CEO and Obama spiritual advisor Jim Wallis captures the spirit of the trend with his bromide: “Don’t go Left, Don’t go Right: Go Deeper.” The longing for post-partisanship may sound noble, but it is naïve. As George Will of The Washington Post said of the “No Labels” movement, it is a “political fantasy land,” and its “premise is preposterous and its pretense is cloying.” A world free of political discontent is a utopian fiction at odds with what the Bible tells us about life on this earth. In some quarters, the quest to appear post-partisan has tinged evangelicalism with such surrealism. Detached avoidance towards the fundamentals underlying public engagement has become more important than pricking someone’s conscience. This has become acceptable even in conservative circles. Preaching “worldview” goes only as far as affiliating with any one political party doesn’t taint 41


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“worldview.” Such an approach fails to grasp the moral principles lurking beneath every system. Proponents of an evangelical post-partisan mentality insist that Christians shouldn’t be the handmaidens of any one party. This is certainly true. The rhetoric of post-partisanship, however, desensitizes the Christian’s responsibility in the public square. Calling for political de-escalation and cynical towards current evangelical politics, post-partisan evangelicals are unwavering in their commitment to overcome the enmity they perceive in the culture war. The rallying cry is civility for civility’s sake. But long before there were political platforms and party affiliations to accuse Christians of over-identifying with, God had established His immovable, perfect law in the heart of man. When the laws of man conflict with the laws of God, expect there to be repercussion in how Christians respond.

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he Christian moral tradition, which undergirds entry into the public square and politics, is redemptive, sacrificial, but also confrontational. In contrast, post-partisans are cagy about today’s most divisive cultural divisive issues. On controversial issues like life, marriage, and religious liberty, post-partisanship lists toward détente. Fearing political entanglement, it too often sets aside the strong, clear moral witness that represents the best of Christian history for a kindler, gentler Christian cultural engagement. The courage of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce, and Charles Colson is exchanged for cultural approbation. When they leave impressions of moral equivalence and relativize the Christian political task, post-partisans damage Christian ethics and render a disservice to an already flaccid evangelical social ethic. The fact is, Christ does not leave our politics unscathed. To confess Christ disrupted and reordered the apostles’ political allegiances. The same is true for us. When the apostles declared, “We must obey God rather than man,” they weren’t retreating to Anabaptist enclaves; they were instead thrusting their allegiance to God and his commands before the commands of the nation state. When we speak as Christians—even in the public square—we speak as people under a reign or a rule; a reign with its own set of law and ethics. Christian faith imposes upon us sets of ethics that can’t merely be private beliefs. Our ethics are public truths with political implica42


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tions. Aristotle famously observed that politics is about the ordering of our common lives. When we discuss what policies or moral principles best order our American context, discussion will inevitably bring with it the potential for strife or debate. In light of our responsibility to our fellow man, we have a duty to remain true to our confession in the public square. Some have cast a negative light on Christians taking a stand about how best to order our lives, labeling it partisan with pejorative intent. We should repudiate such a view and clearly articulate what it means to be rightly partisan. Partisanship is not first a political species. Partisanship is presenting any particular belief for public consideration. Partisanship is not Republican, nor Democrat, nor does partisanship stem from factionalism. Partisanship isn’t reflexive incivility. Of course partisanship may degenerate into hackery or demagoguery, but that is all the more reason for Christians to exhibit in the public square what it means to be rightly partisan. Partisanship is an act of public confession. While post-partisans may believe partisanship is an optional course, or even a temptation to be avoided, taking proper measure of partisanship is to view it as an inevitable reality as we debate and discuss how our lives are to be ordered. Real partisanship is about deciphering and discussing the differences in competing cultural narratives and worldviews to seek the course that leads to human flourishing. Partisanship in this sense is not about besting a political opponent. It is rather an attempt to build consensus about an objective reality that reflects God’s standard for society and human flourishing.

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s Christians within a nation, we are to be a people within a people that love the right things in the right way; pointing toward the elements of society that cause all to flourish—not merely toward a vague conception of the “common good,” but ultimately towards a telos consistent with the way that God designed the world. Christian confession in the public square is about the common good. We want to be a people who are beckoning other people to love the right things rightly. And this can spark debate in the political arena. A well-functioning republic is one in which debate is welcome and disagreement isn’t shunned. Self-governing society is predicated upon social consensus. The prerequisite of consensus is persuasion. 43


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Persuasion is rooted in opinion. Opinions are rooted in belief. Christians beliefs’ are rooted in transcendent truth. Christians arguing for marriage and life seek to gain a consensus on these most pivotal and fundamental aspects of the created order. Believing our convictions to be more persuasive than others’, we must also seek to present them in a way that will be most compelling to the unconvinced, while doing so Christianly. When we defend such principles, we do so first from the pulpit, before we confer with Washington. To use a phrase by Anglican ethicist Oliver O’Donovan, society consists of “deep social agreements” around moral and ethical issues. Where moral agreement cannot be reached, debate ensues—that is to say, partisanship ensues. As Christians, we should welcome and engage this opportunity to shape discourse about the objects of cultural affection through which a nation’s character is discerned. Christian partisanship is an exercise in developing the moral imagination to embrace what Russell Kirk called “The Permanent Things.” Christians believe political responsibility is not first about who is up or down in the polls, but about what is true. In its most fundamental sense, partisanship is laying bare our witness of the good confession in all its intricate and culture-confronting reality. Witness is a willingness to profess, to speak truthfully and faithfully, to recognize that witnessing to the truth of God's Kingdom entails confronting our political climate, not being changed by it. Right partisanship also chooses to cooperate with political process; it accepts the reality of political mechanics and works through such channels to build consensus. After all, political parties are themselves vehicles for establishing consensus about the common good. Christian partisanship—that is, commitment to first principles—looks for opportunity to express itself through political partisanship. If this yields lopsided results, so be it. In 1947, Carl Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism awoke evangelicalism from political slumber. Criticizing evangelicalism for its lack of involvement in the affairs of man, Henry’s book birthed a more politically engaged evangelicalism, one that can hardly be accused of favoring any one political party. Henry’s manifesto merely pricked the conscience of a dormant evangelicalism. Today’s uneasy conscience is an evangelicalism that plays it cool by cynically devaluing the role of Christians in the political. We shouldn’t go down this path. Members of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ have 44


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particular insight about human flourishing and responsibility to participate in public debate. As Henry remarked, “Christians venture into politics not simply to serve a political party, but first of all to serve God and their fellow men.” Seeking the welfare of our cities can never be separate from our calling to love our neighbor. To love our neighbor requires entering and ennobling the political arena. To address the great public issues of our day, the church must take seriously its calling to form the consciences of believers around issues which confront the body politic. Silence in this instance is disobedience.

Andrew Walker (M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theolog ical Seminary) serves as a policy analyst with T he Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society. He is currently pursuing a Master of Th eology in Ethics from Southern Seminary, focusing his stu dies on political ethics. This essay is an adaptation from a present ation at this year’s Values Voters Summit. 45


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A Conversation with Eric Metaxas Eric Metaxas is best known as the author of the New York Times bestseller BONHOEFFER: PASTOR, MARTYR, PROPHET, SPY (Thomas Nelson, 2011), an award-winning biography which was named Book of the Year by multiple entities and reviewers. He spoke to THE CITY in an interview focused on his perspective on religious liberty in the United States. You are approaching the close of a whirlwind tour around the country talking to thousands of different people about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, about what his life and what his story has to tell us about this century, about where we are today. What are some of the things that you are sharing with them, and what are some of the things that you’ve heard back from people about what Bonhoeffer’s story means to them? Almost everywhere I go talking about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, inevitably I get a number of questions over and over. One of them that I get the most has to do with the idea that people are seeing parallels between our own day in America and what was happening in Germany in the early 1930s. And I’m as interested in why people say that as in what I would try to say about that. But it inevitably revolves around this issue of religious freedom. 46


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It’s very easy for us to leap ahead. Whenever you bring up Germany in the 1930s, people leap ahead to the Holocaust and World War II. And we forget that those things were hardly a gleam in the eye of Adolf Hitler and his top lieutenants in the early 1930s. Whatever he wrote in Mein Kampf, it’s pretty clear that the so-called “final solution” was not something that was seriously discussed and undertaken until they were well into the Second World War a decade later. But there were things happening, so to leap to that I think can kill the whole conversation. There is nonetheless a conversation to be had about what kind of a country Germany was when Hitler took power, and what kind of a country we are now. Questions like: where was the German church at that time and where is the American church now? And so these kinds of things are brought up routinely now. In writing the book on Bonhoeffer I really went out of my way not to underscore these parallels, because I didn’t discover them until I was writing the book, or at least they didn’t occur to me until I am writing the story. I didn’t want this to be heavy handed or dated. I just wanted to tell the story. Nonetheless, people keep asking these questions. The main parallel that keeps coming up is this idea that somehow there are parallels among the American church and the German church. And what that has to do with is twofold. First of all, it has to do with the nature of that church itself. I think that what most of us do not know about Germany and the German church—and the reason we don’t know it is because the Nazi’s effectively obliterated this for many decades such that even I, who am half German hardly know of the glories of German history and of the great German church—what I didn’t know, and what I know now, is that Germany was in many ways a seriously Christian country. It was at least very culturally Christian. Most Germans thought of themselves of course as good Lutherans, and so on one level it was just at the level of near religion, dead religion. But in many places it was much more than that. It was a church that took itself very seriously. It was a church that had great national pride. Their thinking of course was “hey, Luther was German. We gave the world Luther, we invented Protestantism, and we’re German, and so you can’t do much better than that.” And of course that leads to a good kind of pride and a bad kind of pride. And the bad kind of pride leads to complacency. 47


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I think the picture you get of the church in Germany is this pride that they have been a profoundly Christian nation and Christian culture, and they are aware of that history, but it leads them to a kind of a complacency which, to some extent, promoted Bonhoeffer to write about this idea of “cheap grace”. He saw in Germany the idea that “Luther said it’s about grace, we get that, so we don’t really need to do anything”. The result was a very shallow church in a way—a proud church, but a complacent church, a church that thinks of itself as invincible, but that is really ripe for trouble. And so the second piece, in terms of the parallels, is the encroachment of the state under the Nazis upon the sphere of the church. Because the Germans didn’t have a history, a tradition, an understanding of the separation of church and state, they were really unprepared to deal with the idea of where does the state end and the church begin. The two have always been intermingled in such a way that they never had to seriously look at those questions, nor did they know how to look at them once it was necessary for them to do so. When the Nazis took power, of course, they very aggressively pushed to take over the church, to blur the line between church and state, and to take advantage of the blurring that was already there. And that’s when the trouble started. So I think a lot of people, and I’m certainly among them, see parallels with the American church because we have this great history of which we can certainly and rightly be proud. We have sent more missionaries around the world than anyone, and we have had a tremendous history of religious freedom. But I think for us now, that has also lead us to a kind of complacency where we have enjoyed the privileges of religious freedom and of a healthy and robust church for so long that we have come, to some extent, to take it for granted. And to hardly know what persecution is and to not know that around the world people have paid a great price for religious freedom or for their faith. Historically people have paid a great price for religious freedom or for their faith, and what we have is not free—a price needs to be paid. I think we, like the German Church, have lost sight of that. And people, as I say, keep coming up with this without my prodding them to do so, or leading them in that direction.

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People see these conflicts emerging across the country in different ways. We see them in the form of the contraception mandate, with different lawsuits being filed, including lawsuits from evangelicals and from institutions such as our own. Then we also see it on the marriage front. The State of Illinois is currently considering, as you know, a same-sex marriage law that would essentially require any church that does not allow ceremonies within their building to essentially shut their doors and not allow any non-profits, any soup kitchens, or any other outside groups inside their halls. They will be subject to all these restrictions on how they can interact with the community. I have more questions to ask about this, but first, given the direction we see things moving, how accurate do you think that assessment of the parallels with the German Church really is? And what lessons should we take from how they failed to respond to the encroachment of the State? Well again, the first caution is to say that just because these things might not be leading us to the Holocaust doesn’t mean that they cannot be leading us in any number of very dangerous and destructive directions. That needs to be said. We don’t know exactly which directions, but it doesn’t matter. What we know is that at the heart of the American experiment, undeniably, is the idea of freedom of conscious and freedom of religion. If we don’t have that freedom in place, and if we don’t vigorously defend that freedom, we will lose all of our freedoms and the American experiment will gradually peter and fall. There can be no doubt. It’s like a math problem. You cannot have the ordered liberty bequeathed to us by the founders without a robust religious freedom and freedom of conscious at the heart of it. It’s a fact that way, it’s like physics. You cannot have one plus one equals 2.3 in the equation, because even if you don’t notice it at first, somewhere down the line the whole thing is going to break down. And according to the Founders, you cannot have the ordered liberty they have given us without this, it just won’t stand. Right now, because we are so used to religious freedom, we are not really awake to these threats. They seem small to us, but it’s an issue of principle. If you allow any minority to be bullied by the state, you cease to be the United States of America. And if that is some Catholics who take contraception very seriously and say we will not fund insurance that pays for contraception, unless you protect them for something with which you might disagree or even disagree violently, 49


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but if you don’t protect that you are setting the stage where that principle is thrown out. Effectively, any minority—and everyone will at some point be a member of some minority—can be persecuted by the state, which will create its own orthodoxy. And any departure from that orthodoxy will be regarded as an affront to the state. That’s what we’re seeing right now with the things you just mentioned. This idea that we’re packaging abortifacient drugs as somehow women’s rights, or women’s health—it’s a dodge. This is something that you can pull off now because the cultural climate is such that people hear things and these clichés about women’s rights, and if you’re against such a mandate that you’re an enemy of women. That’s a total lie. It’s ridiculous. But if you hear it enough people begin to associate free contraception paid for with tax dollars, free abortifacient drugs paid for with tax dollars, as part and parcel of who we are as Americans and what we are now calling freedom. The same thing can be said about legally redefining marriage. It really has very little to do with one’s view of sexuality. What it has to do with is the idea of religious liberty. Because if you write this into law in this expansive sweeping way, as the Supreme Court could, it is tremendously unprecedented. We can hardly underscore how unprecedented it would be for us to legally in such a short period of time, make this decision that we can define marriage so cavalierly without having any kind of serious national debate about it. As soon as you do that you create a religious minority of people who will be persecuted for believing in the idea of traditional marriage. And any time they stand against that they will be persecuted. Now, persecution can take any form, but when the government in a previously free country like America is forcing people to run their business a certain way, or even much worse, forcing churches to do certain things, this is an abdication of the most basic right that we have as Americans, which is religious freedom. Most Americans are not awake to this challenge yet. This is a principle which is so fundamental that if we do not stand against this, the whole thing will eventually unravel. Because we are so used to having these religious freedoms we hardly even know what they are. It’s like talking to the fish about wetness and water. We have just been swimming in so much religious freedom that we don’t even think about it, and we can’t even imagine that this thing could be challenged or threatened. But the 50


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administration’s contraception mandate and the legal redefinition of marriage are two things which very seriously threaten something that is so foundational to who we are as a people, and as a nation, that we need to take them much more seriously than we have been taking them. And I do think that people around the country are picking up on this. They are beginning to see that there is a challenge that is not being met appropriately, that could have significant and unexpected results, and they are concerned. Let’s consider two aspects of this. First on the contraception front: the argument that I’ve heard essentially is that this is the sad state of women in today’s post-feminist reality, in terms of expecting something from government that they know that men won’t provide for them or that they don’t want to have to provide for themselves. On the marriage front: it seems that for all the talk of potential for compromise of “getting government out of the business of marriage”, which is what a lot of younger people seem to talk about. In both of these senses it seems like what’s really wanted by the people who are calling for them is an endorsement from government, from the populace by extension, for the type of lifestyle that they want to have. And anything less than that endorsement is deemed insufficient, even bigotry. What do you think of that? There’s no doubt about that. There’s no doubt that that’s exactly what it is. This is what people don’t understand yet. The freedoms that we have, there are boundaries for them. Every freedom at some point bumps up against another freedom. So, if I say well, I’m free to play music. Well, how loud and where? If I’m playing music in my car so loud that everybody on the street is turning and being disturbed by it… there will be ramifications. There are boundaries to everything that we do. And that’s part of the genius of the United States is our ability to sort of have the air traffic controllers that try to look out for everybody so that we can balance all of these different freedoms without hurting each other. The thing about this freedom—about this idea of people redefining themselves as they like in any kind of sexual way—like everything else it bumps up against things. Because I don’t think it’s too much for people to see that if you look at this logically to ask the culture to write into law, to ask the nation to write into law, a redefinition of 51


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marriage, you are really impacting far more than just that union. By doing that you are impacting traditional marriage. You’re altering people’s perception of what the bond is between two people. Things that we have, that have largely been unspoken that we’ve taken for granted—the idea that a man and a woman come together and create a family, the idea that the bond between a man and a woman affects their whole community, affects the children, that there’s something special there—all of that is wound up in the definition of marriage. We’ve taken this for granted for so long, again, that we’re hardly aware of what it is and we can’t articulate it very well, because we’ve taken it for granted. But once you say that this idea or definition is passé and that we’re going to radically rearrange things, you really do change everything. Because you don’t have the idea that man and a woman are created by God to be together in an institution God created, in order to create life. We’ve suddenly divorced marriage from that idea. Now, this is something that’s been kind of happening because we have, through the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce, we have already begun to strip away this idea. This is just the next step. Marriage becomes more about self-fulfillment. The 20th century Freudian model sexuality is about self-expression. It’s about not being repressed. Now that we’ve bought into all these new models, the chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak. Because if you define people’s relationships that way, what does that lead to? People today who are advocates of legally redefining marriage would have us believe that all it’s doing is extending this idea to same-sex couples. But in fact, logically, that doesn’t make sense. What it does is it abrogates the whole idea of marriage that we’ve had; it redefines it so radically that it becomes meaningless. But they don’t want to be explicit about that, because to be explicit about that would be bad for redefining marriage so that we could have same sex marriage. So, they’re not saying that. But of course, even to say that we’re going to change it from a man and a woman to a woman and a woman or a man and a man, you have to say “what is it about the number two, what is it about two people coming together that’s so special?” That itself can seem a bigoted idea. What if I say “well, I want a relationship with two people, or I want a relationship with five people, who are you to tell me that marriage must be confined to two peo52


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ple? That is your idea. It’s a social construct. It offends me and I want that law to be rewritten.” Now, as soon as you say that people laugh and they say well, of course, that’s never going to happen. But it is only a matter of time. Again, if you do the math, it leads to a concept of marriage which because it’s not founded on the shared understanding that I was mentioning a few minutes ago, what is it founded on at all? These are the kinds of questions we’re not asking, we’re not prepared to ask. We don’t even really have the vocabulary to talk about it. And so we just kind of assume “oh, it’s a small change, it doesn’t affect me”. But it’s not a small change. It’s a foundational principal that has ordered society for millennia and to pretend that it’s not is silly because it is a foundational concept. So yes, there is a radical aspect to this which we are not talking about. Part of it stems from advocates of same sex marriage wanting a societal approval. It’s not just that they want some legal protections and things because you can get that in a civil arrangement. It’s something bigger than that, and I hardly think that they themselves are aware of where they are taking the culture. Some of them are, but most of them aren’t. When it comes to the relationship that younger Christians have, people who are in college today, people who are starting their families with the Church and with the broader society as a whole, how should they think about these challenges and how should they talk to both their fellow Christians and non-Christians about these challenges in a way that can maybe highlight some of the shifts that are going on, in a way to maybe stem some of the tides that are rising? I don’t think there’s any doubt that the main issue here, going forward, is religious freedom. And because people don’t know about that it’s hard to make the case. But the onus should be on those who want to create these mandates, on those who want to bring about a legal redefinition of marriage. The onus ought to be on them to guarantee explicitly that the religious freedom of those who differ with this will in no way be taken away. I don’t believe they can do that. And if they are challenged to do that it will at least lead to a robust conversation. But right now in the culture on any TV program that you watch on any network, cable or otherwise, you are not hear53


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ing this conversation. There is no conversation on this issue in the public square. It’s not about sexuality. It’s not about equality. Let’s talk about religious freedom. Can you guarantee religious freedom? What is religious freedom? And is it worth jettisoning? This is the lynchpin to the whole American experiment—it deserves deeper consideration. People don’t understand that they’re pulling up the lynchpin and that the whole thing is going to come apart. They don’t get that. And we need to have that conversation. Just to give it an illustration: the idea that those who are advocating for the traditional definition of marriage will be muzzled in the future in a variety of ways—that is something we, as a nation begun by those who fled religious persecution, need to unpack. We need to understand what will happen. This is just the beginning because we don’t even know what’s coming next, we’re just not awake to this. If there’s no conversation, then it’s just going to move forward without any second thoughts. It’s not going to happen all at once. It’s going to happen piecemeal. And before long it will be really too late to do anything about it, with that issue. What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer say to Christians who are struggling with how to react to these pressures right now? Once per interview I get the cheap author’s answer—to say, you have to read my book. And in this case, I think that’s more true than not because there is a lot more to it. People often say to me “how has writing this book affected you?” And I would say what writing about Bonhoeffer has said to me as an individual is that it’s made me realize that the time is short and I need to speak up now. In courage, in boldness, and in humility and love simultaneously, because I don’t want to be selling something that’s to protect me. This is something that I think is a blessing and a benefit to everyone, to civil society itself. We need to speak up boldly. I think because of our character as Americans, and more particularly as evangelicals, we’re very shy about being confrontational or about arguing and so we really avoid that confrontation. Bonhoeffer tells us, this is a famous quote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” So if we think we can sit this one out, God will judge us. 54


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So we’re going to have to pray and ask Him to give us the strength and the courage to say sometimes the unpopular thing, but the right thing—the truth. And, what’s more, to not just say it, but act it out— boldly but in love. We’ve shrunk from that, and Bonhoeffer, just as he was saying to the church in Germany in the early 1930s, would say to us today, the church needs to wake up and be the church. All the same arguments you’re hearing today you were hearing in the 1930s. I don’t want to be political. Bonhoeffer is not saying God is asking you to be political after the flesh. He’s asking you to be political in the right way, to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, to do the right thing, to preserve this great nation. I think that is the simple version of what he would say to us. And I think a great deal about the future depends on if we listen.

Eric Metaxas is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Thomas Nelson, 2011), Amazing Grace: Wi lliam Wilberforce & the Heroic Ca mpaign to End Slavery (HarperCollins, 2009), and Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness (Thomas Nelson, 2013). He is currently the voice of BreakPoint, a radio commentary broadcast on 1,400 radio outlets with an audience of 8 million. He is the founder and host of So crates in the City: Conve rsations on the Examined Life, He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. Benjamin Domenech is Editor in Chief of T HE C IT Y . 55


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Robert Rehder When Katherine buys packages of carrots To feed the horses,

I don't say a thing. I've learned my lesson, or at least that one.

I want to explain, To give her the benefit of my wisdom,

But I don't, Except it's a constant struggle,

As if I'm sliding irresistibly Down a steep slope.

And I know she's right. Thermopylae was not so hard-fought,

Nor Wounded Knee. I want to say don't give them to them all at once.

And if you break them in half, They will go farther. 56


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Or even better, divide the big ones Into three or four pieces

So they last even longer. Use them only for special occasions.

Save your money (and mine) For something you really want—

What she really wants is carrots— And then don't spend it.

Save, and then save some more. One carrot—o.k., two—yes, all right three,

But not a whole bag. Remember the rain forests.

Never surrender. Be careful. Think of the future,

Don't give yourself away— As I do here.

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Louis Markos Professor, apologist, novelist, literary critic, fantasy writer, philosopher, theologian, and ethicist, C.S. Lewis has exerted a profound influence on the way millions of people read literature, make moral choices, think about God, and live out the Christian faith. By means of a genial blend of reason and imagination, logic and fantasy, profound academic insight and good old common sense, Lewis has challenged the modern world to re-examine the claims of Christ, the Bible, and the Church, re-experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of literature, and re-expand its vision of God, man, and the universe. Louis Markos takes us through an alphabet of Lewis’s work, concluding with letters N through Z.

N

is for Niceness. If you ever watch a movie in which a nonChristian actor plays a Christian character, you will often notice that he will convey his character’s faith by means of a friendly, if oafish-looking grin. Though it is possible that unbelieving actors do this to parody believers, I would suggest that the real reason is rooted in a characteristically American misunderstanding of the nature of that glorious new life that Christ promises his followers. There exists in our country a widespread belief that Christians are—or at least should be—“nice” people who spend most of their day smiling. Though it is, in most cases, a good thing to smile, to be thankful, and to takes things lightly, niceness is hardly the central virtue of the Christian faith. Christ’s goal is to transform us into saints, not improve our personality. In Mere Christianity, Lewis argues that the reason God tells us not to judge is that we do not know the raw material that other people are struggling with. The world expects all Christians to act equally hap58


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py and outgoing, but the fact is that it may be a greater victory for Christian A (who has been strapped with a weight of inner demons and psychological complexes) to smile than for Christian B (who has been blessed from birth with a loving family, a healthy body, and sound finances) to donate $5000 to charity. As a patriotic American of conservative convictions, I am no fan of the young men who avoided the draft in the 1970’s by running off to Vietnam, but I consciously avoid casting judgment upon them. The reason for this is simple. Since I was born too late to have been eligible for the draft, I have no way of knowing how I would have reacted in their place. To take a more difficult case, I cannot in good conscience judge the Germans who remained silent during the holocaust. Of course I would like to believe that had I been in their place, I would have risked imprisonment to shelter fugitive Jews in my attic. But how do I know if I would have had the courage to do so. The point of this exercise is not to turn morality into something that is relative to the times: sin and cowardice are the same in any age or culture. The point is none of us can ever really know the struggles that go on within the hearts and minds of our fellow human beings. And that takes us back to niceness. The reason it is wrong for the world (and the church) to make a smiling face and a friendly demeanor the defining mark of the Christian is that the Body of Christ is made up of people whose personality types are as diverse and unique as the wavy lines of a fingerprint. If every Christian in America were the smiling, friendly type, then that would mean that God only loves (and saves) smiling, friendly people. In fact, God is no respecter of persons, and his church is therefore filled with people who are grumpy, cantankerous, depressed, irritable, and painfully shy. Two of the greatest heroes of Narnia are the crotchety, suspicious Trumpkin and the perpetually gloomy, infuriatingly pessimistic Puddleglum. Yet from their seemingly intractable raw material, Aslan molds two of the bravest and most loyal warriors in the realm. The power of Christ lies not in his ability to make us nice, but in his capacity for transforming our hurt, our pain, and even our sin into tools and weapons for bringing his kingdoms to earth.

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O

is for Obedience. There are very few citizens of the western world who do not know the story of the Garden of Eden. Even those who have never picked up a Bible or seen the inside of a church are aware that a great deal of trouble was caused when two people named Adam and Eve ate an apple they were not supposed to eat. Unfortunately, many who know the story think of it only in magical terms: a cursed fruit is plucked and eaten and a sinister enchantment brings suffering into the world. In fact, as Lewis argues in at least three of his works (The Problem of Pain, A Preface to Paradise Lost, and Perelandra), the apple in and of itself was not that important. The vital part of the story is that in tasting of the apple the first man and woman disobeyed the direct command of their creator. It was their disobedience, not some dark magic locked up in the fruit, that caused us to Fall from our original state of perfection. God, writes Lewis the English professor, intended for us to be adjectives, but we, in our rebelliousness and pride, insisted on being nouns. We were made to modify God, not to stand on our own in lonely defiance; to give him glory and honor, not to steal it for ourselves. Before the Fall, our entire being was oriented toward obedience to God. As long as our soul obeyed God, our body obeyed our soul. Indeed, Lewis theorizes that pre-fallen Adam could (like certain modern gurus in Tibet) control his autonomic functions by sheer willpower. Better yet, as long as we remained in a state of innocence, our obedience to God came naturally, almost effortlessly. True, it did call for an act of will, but our yielding to God was as easy and pleasant as the yielding that lovers make to each other on their honeymoon. Sadly, after the Fall, our obedience to God became a hard and bitter thing. No longer easy and pleasant, the choice to surrender our will to God now strikes all of us (young and old, male and female alike) as a kind of little death. At times, we all succumb to what Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, calls “the black, Satanic wish to kill or die rather than give in.� Yet still God calls us to obey him: not just for his good, but for ours as well. For we cannot fulfill our purpose as creatures when we are in rebellion against our creator. That is why the devil will do all that he can to provoke and enflame in us a spirit of disobedience. 60


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In The Screwtape Letters (#8), a senior devil warns his nephew of the dangers of obedience. At all costs, humans must be prodded to forsake the will of God (whom Screwtape calls the Enemy) and insist on choosing their own path and making their own decisions free from divine control. To drive home his point, Screwtape creates a scenario which fills him with dread and horror: Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys. There can be no greater victory in the Christian life than this: to obey God when we are confused and frightened and in despair. To obey God, not because we want to, but because God is worthy of our obedience. To obey, and by obeying, trust and love, the God who made us in his image.

P

is for Pain. God, Christians declare, is all-powerful and allloving. And yet, the pain and suffering in our world suggests that God is either too weak to eliminate it or too apathetic to care to do so. That, in a nutshell, is the problem of pain, and it is has stood for centuries as one of the crowning arguments against the existence of the God of the Bible. Skeptics from Hume to Richard Dawkins have offered the problem of pain as incontestable proof that our universe is not run by a benevolent personal God who works miracles and involves himself in human history. As an apologist, Lewis knew that he could not hope to challenge the skeptics of his own day if he did not make some attempt to address this problem in his writing. Accordingly, Lewis’s first fullfledged apologetic work was not Mere Christianity or Miracles, but The Problem of Pain. In Chapters 2 and 3 of that book, Lewis argues that pain is the upshot of God’s free-will experiment. In asserting the existence and necessity of human free will, Lewis does not mean to imply that we are free to do anything we want or that God is not sovereign. Rather, he reminds us that as creatures made in God’s image, we possess con61


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sciousness, rationality, and will. God did not intend to create a race of puppets, but of moral beings who think and choose and create. Though the vast majority of Christians would agree with Lewis on this point, few take the time to draw out the implications of God’s choosing to give us a will distinct from his own. God cannot give us choice and take it away in the same breath; that would be a contradiction, and God, Lewis boldly asserts, does not violate the law of non-contradiction. If God truly meant for us to be moral agents, Lewis theorizes, then he would have to create a playing field where we could act out our choices. However, to ensure that we could not manipulate that playing field to suit our own whims (and thus impinge unfairly upon the choices of other moral agents), he would have to make the field both fixed and stable. Unfortunately, for the field to be fixed and stable, God would have to leave open the possibility that his creatures would collide with it, causing discomfort and even pain. Our world, Lewis suggests, may not be the best of all possible worlds, but it may be the only possible kind of world God could have created to allow us to engage in his free-will experiment. Of course, a critic will be quick to point out that God could turn rocks into pillows every time one of us fell down, so that we would not bruise our head. Well, Lewis admits, God does sometimes do just that when he performs a miracle, but if God were to change nature every time someone was in danger of being hurt, the game, as a game, would not be playable. So the fixed nature of our world—necessary if we are to enact our free will—makes pain an ever-present possibility. But that is only part of the story. Too often Christians, especially American Christians, believe that God created us to have a good time. But that was never his intent. He created us to grow into something greater, even if that process of growth involves pain and suffering. Yes, Lewis concludes, God may at times treat us harshly, but he has never treated us with contempt. To the contrary, he pays us the “intolerable compliment” of loving us fully and irrevocably. And that love demands that we grow into the creatures he created us to be, no matter the cost. It is the beloved son, not the servant, whom the father disciplines.

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Q

is for Quest. In the western world, the most famous quest is that for the Holy Grail. But every nation, every culture, every religion has its great quest story. Something deep within our psyche compels us to go on pilgrimage, to leave our home and take to the road. The inner call that sends us forth promises to provide us with adventure and mystery but with something else as well— something less tangible. At the end of the quest lies the promise of meaning, purpose, fulfillment. The Greeks used the beautiful word “telos” to refer to that purposeful end that we spend our lives in search of, but in English we have a similar word that rivals the Greek in its beauty and power. At various stages in our lives, we who speak the tongue of Shakespeare and Milton seek after a consummation (from two Latin roots that mean “all together”). Like “telos,” consummation connotes the achievement of a final goal or end, whether in business, in art, or in life itself: the “consummation devoutly to be wished” that Hamlet seeks in his “To be or not to be speech” is death. But it is also used to refer to that physical and spiritual moment when a new husband and wife join themselves sexually and become one flesh. To find consummation is to achieve a happiness that is really a kind of completion. In the moment of consummation, we know who we are, why we are here, and how we fit in to the greater plan. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis reprises a character he created in Prince Caspian: Reepicheep, king of the talking mice. Whereas Reepicheep plays the role of a simple, if chivalrous knight in Prince Caspian, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he develops into something grander and more wonderful. If he is a little like Lancelot (the bravest of the knights) in the former tale, then he is a great deal like Gawain (the finder of the Grail) in the latter. Still fearless and a bit reckless, Gawain-Reepicheep turns his talents and energy toward a magnificent, never-before-attempted quest: to set his foot upon the shore of Aslan’s Country. Since Aslan’s Country is heaven, Reepicheep’s quest can only end with that consummation that we call death. But that does not dissuade the courageous mouse from taking up the challenge. He will sail east, to the place where the sun rises, and he will not stop until he has found the true home of the Risen Lion King of Narnia. 63


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What will he do, what will he risk, what will he sacrifice to achieve that goal? Reepicheep himself gives the answer: “‘My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia.’” When my kids were younger, they spent many hours watching the Disney channel. At first, I was pleased to see how many characters in the shows they watched spoke with passion about following their dream. That is, until I realized that all their talk about following their dream had little to do with consummation: it was mostly about being a pop star. Thankfully, children who read Reepicheep’s story will learn of a greater dream: one that calls for true courage and sacrifice; one that will reveal to us, in the end, the very purpose for which we were born.

R

is for Reason. John Paul II’s papal encyclical, “On the Relationship between Faith and Reason” (Fides et Ratio) is an important work that should be read by all thinking Catholics and Protestants who care about the life of the mind. And yet, though I am a great proponent of the encyclical, I feel a great sadness that it had to be written in the first place! In the centuries before the Enlightenment seized control of our wisest and best educated scholars, no one would have been surprised to see the words “faith” and “reason” placed side by side. After all, the Catholic Church invented the university, and the Christian worldview shaped some of the finest minds in history: Augustine, Dante, Aquinas, Luther, and Pascal, to name but a few. Likewise, the scientific achievements of such men as Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, Francis Bacon, Kepler, and Newton were all underwritten by their faith in a super-natural Creator. Had C. S. Lewis grown up in the medieval or renaissance periods, his training in logic and rhetoric would have been carried out in direct conversation with the doctrines of Christianity. As a citizen of the modern world, he was trained instead by an atheistic tutor named Kirkpatrick who used reason to inoculate Lewis’s mind against religious “superstitions.” 64


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But life has its little ironies. When Lewis became a Christian, he did not forget Kirkpatrick’s teachings. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, Lewis marshaled the full weight of logic and reason to defend the faith from its modern detractors. With great boldness, Lewis restored a great truth that had been forgotten: namely, that reason is on the side of the angels. In Miracles, for example, Lewis argues that naturalism (the belief that nature is all that there is and that nothing super-natural exists) is self-refuting. If we are merely products of evolutionary forces guided (or “un-guided”) by time and chance, then we have no reason to trust our senses or our powers of logic to arrive at the truth. In fact, if naturalism is true, then truth itself becomes impossible—for truth stands outside nature, but the naturalist says nothing stands outside nature. The modern naturalist too often overlooks the fact that the laws of naturalism rest on abstract principles that lie outside the supposedly closed system of nature. To formulate such principles we must step outside the flow of nature to achieve a perspective that is, quite literally, super-natural. But if naturalism is true, then we cannot do that. If the naturalists are right and nature is a vast, impersonal, unguided mechanism, then how can we have any knowledge of that mechanism? Surely an objective judge who is not pre-committed to a naturalistic worldview would conclude that our knowledge and understanding of nature cannot be a part of nature. So Lewis explains it in Miracles, but it is in his Screwtape Letters that he drives the message home with a bracing wit that is not soon forgotten. Again and again, senior devil Screwtape advises his nephew to do whatever he can to prevent his patient from engaging his reason. The job of the devil is not to make us think but to fuddle our minds—to keep us endlessly fixed on the daily stream of life. God, in contrast, would fix our attention on things we cannot see, on laws and theorems and principles that transcend the stream. It was God, Screwtape concedes, who created reason and logic; against it, the devils can only offer propaganda, jargon, and spin.

S

is for the Sexes. Young people are taught many damaging things in our great secular universities. From Marxism to Freudianism, moral relativism to postmodern deconstruction,

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their heads are filled with insidious, anti-humanistic theories that, when carried out to their logical conclusion, cause chaos, confusion, and despair on both the social and personal level. And yet, I would argue that the most damaging thing they are taught slips under the radar of most attentive parents. In thousands of sociology and psychology classrooms across our nation, students are taught that there is no such thing as masculinity and femininity. That our sexual natures are not innate and God-given. That the only reason boys and girls are different is that we give boys trucks to play with and girls dolls to play with. Though any free-thinking, open-minded parent who has raised a boy and a girl knows that this is patent nonsense—that boys and girls manifest their inborn, hard-wired masculinity and femininity from a very early age—this absurd and poisonous theory of the sexes is taught as gospel truth throughout the western world. Indeed, as a way of advancing their false view of the sexes, feminists insisted on doing away altogether with the word “sexes.” Rather than speak, as people have spoken for centuries, about the male and female sex, they have forced academia and the media to speak of the male and female gender. They don’t like the word “sex” because it connotes an essential link between the masculine/feminine body and the masculine/feminine soul—and that is a reality they are desperate to obscure. Gender carries with it no such connotation. Gender is not something we were created with but a social construct that is reinforced by cultural mores and behavioral expectations. As a Christian who not only believed the clear and simple teachings of the Bible (namely, that God created us male and female) but who possessed an intimate understanding of human nature, C. S. Lewis never succumbed to the feminist attack on masculinity and femininity. He knew and celebrated the essential differences between the sexes: a celebration that is beautifully expressed in Prince Caspian. Narnia, held captive by the “post-Christian” Telmarines, cannot be rescued and renewed until Peter and Edmund exercise their masculine gifts to defeat the Telmarine army while Susan and Lucy exercise their feminine gifts to wake up the trees from their deep slumber. However, Lewis’s crowning statement of the distinct but complementary natures of masculinity and femininity comes in Perelandra. Near the end of the novel, Lewis allows us to gaze on the angelic guardians of Perelandra (Venus) and Malacandra (Mars). In keeping 66


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with the ancient association of Venus with the female principle and Mars with the male, Lewis discovers in them a masculinity and femininity that reaches deeper than society or biology or language can fathom. Although the two angels are not physically male and female, they embody the essence of masculinity and femininity. Thus, whereas Malacandra has “the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance,” Perelandra’s eyes open “inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs.” For, Lewis both forms of seeing are necessary; together, they bring wholeness.

T

is for Tao. Mere Christianity is Lewis’s best known and most complete work of apologetics. In it he begins with a general argument for theism (the existence of God) and then expands that argument into a specific defense of the Christian gospel. From there, he goes on to explain and support the central moral and theological principles of Christianity. Although Lewis believed firmly in the authority of scripture, he knew that many of his modern readers did not share his belief. Accordingly, Lewis carefully builds his apologetical arguments on common ground: on facts and observations about our world and ourselves that all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, can see, understand, and acknowledge. That is why he begins Mere Christianity with an unexpected statement that seems, on the surface, to have little to do with a defense of the Christian faith. Did you ever notice, Lewis writes, that when two people disagree about something, they argue about it rather than fight? Though most of us likely did not notice this phenomenon before, the moment we read Lewis’s statement, the truth of it becomes apparent. Of course we argue instead of fight! And that’s when Lewis hooks us. Whether we realize it or not, two people cannot argue about something unless they agree (often unconsciously) to a fixed standard that transcends them both. When we argue, we take that standard for granted and then make a case (sometimes rationally, sometimes irrationally) that our side of the argument better approximates that standard. In a case where two former business partners are suing each other for fraud, neither party says: “yes, I swindled my partner, and I was 67


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right to do so.” If he did, he would not be sent to jail; he would be sent to an asylum. Now, one party might partially confess to fraud, but then he would follow the confession by offering mitigating circumstances to show that the “fraud” was actually justified. In other words, he still holds to the accepted standard that fraud is wrong. On the basis of our shared experience of such ethical debates, Lewis posits that a universal, cross-cultural moral code exists and is binding. In The Abolition of Man, he gives that law code a name: the Tao. Many Christians are confused by this: why should Lewis borrow a word from Taoism (a branch of Buddhism) to bolster his case for the Christian faith? The answer is simple: to show that all people (east and west) recognize the Tao, even though they continually break it. Many relativists will balk against Lewis’s assertion of the Tao, claiming that morality veers wildly from culture to culture and is a man-made (rather than a divinely-given) thing that alters from age to age. But those same so-called relativists will quickly change their tune if someone robs them. “It was wrong of you to do that,” they will say, and if the person who robbed them says, “in my culture it is OK for me to steal,” the relativist will not accept the excuse. The fact is everyone knows the Tao exists, for whatever our own personal ideology, we expect other people to treat us in accordance with the Tao. Indeed, if there were no Tao, then no court could have tried the Nazis or Saddam Hussein or the perpetrators of apartheid. The Tao does exist, but if it exists, then it makes necessary a director of the Tao who transcends all times and cultures. It requires, in short, a super-natural Creator who inscribed the Tao into our conscience.

U

is for Universalism. Near the end of The Last Battle, a noble Calormene soldier named Emeth dies and comes before Aslan, the Christ of Narnia. Although Emeth hails from a distant land that worships a false god named Tash (rather than the true Aslan), and although Emeth has served Tash all his life, when he meets Aslan, he is welcomed by the Great Lion and invited into heaven. Of all the passages in the voluminous writings of C. S. Lewis, none has caused more controversy and confusion than this suggestion by the orthodox Christian Lewis that salvation can be attained outside of Christ. Indeed, when I speak about Lewis, the most common question that I am asked is whether or not the episode with Emeth reveals 68


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Lewis to be a Universalist in disguise: that is, someone who believes that all who practice their religion faithfully—whether they be Christians or Jews, Muslims or Hindus—will be saved. It does not. Had Emeth come before Aslan and requested directions to the Tash part of heaven, and had Aslan obliged, then Lewis would be a Universalist. But that is not what happens in the episode. Quite to the contrary, when Emeth stands before Aslan, he realizes and accepts that Tash is false and Aslan true, and that the deep spiritual desire he has followed all his life has found its fulfillment in Aslan. He proves this by falling to his knees in worship. Like the Magi of the Christmas story, he recognizes that Aslan (not Tash) is the end of his journey. In response, Aslan assures him: “‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.’” Now, it must be admitted that though this is not universalism, it does border on a concept that the vast majority of believers would reject (rightly) as unbiblical: post-mortem (“after death”) salvation. Orthodox Christian teaching states that all decisions for or against Christ must be made before we die. Once we pass to the other side, all bets are off. Though many Protestants think that the Catholic belief in purgatory allows for a second chance at salvation, it does not. In Catholicism, those who reach purgatory are already saved; they just need to be sanctified. So is Lewis an advocate of post-mortem salvation? This time I must be a bit more nuanced with my answer. Yes, Emeth is technically dead when he accepts Aslan’s offer of salvation, but that does not mean he is being given a “second chance.” As Lewis explains in a number of his works, God lives in eternity, not in time. Too often, people think that eternity means time going on forever, when what it really means is that time itself does not exist. The closest we come to a perception of eternity, Lewis writes, is our experience of the present moment—for the present is the point where time touches eternity. The moment Emeth dies is an eternal moment—and that eternal moment contains all the other moments of his life. He accepts Aslan (Christ) in that eternal moment, because all of the other moments have been building up to that acceptance. And once he does, all the other moments become reoriented around that moment of decision. That is why, in The Great Divorce, Lewis says heaven and hell work 69


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backwards. For those who accept Christ in that eternal moment, it will seem, not that they have just entered heaven, but that they have always been there.

V

is for Virtue. It is a sad thing that our modern world has redefined virtue in negative terms. Rather than define a virtuous man as someone who actively practices the positive virtues of prudence, courage, justice, and temperance, we turn things on their head and celebrate the goodness of those who don’t succumb to folly, don’t betray an excessive amount of cowardice, don’t violate anyone’s rights, and don’t drink or smoke. Such is the case with the four classical virtues, but it is even more so with the three theological ones. We celebrate those who stay true to the course, who press on, who don’t give up, not those who have put their faith in an unseen Creator and their hope in his promises. Even when we do praise faith and hope, it is generally a vague, noncreedal faith in humanity or fate or the universe and a hazy, contentless hope in, well, something or other. As for love, Lewis was fond of critiquing his age for replacing the positive love (caritas, agape) of the Bible with a negative form of unselfishness. Although the highest pagans (Aristotle) and the great Christian ethicists (Aquinas) taught that virtue is a habit gained by practicing virtuous actions, we of a more “enlightened” age have embraced a distinctly “hands off” ethos. Rather than actively love our neighbor, we unselfishly allow him to live whatever way he wants to, even if his life choices are selfdestructive. Had Lewis lived today, I think he would have said that the reigning virtue is not unselfishness but tolerance—a pseudovirtue that also manifests itself, not in active charity, but in a negative acquiescence to the “rights” of others. In Screwtape Letters (#26), junior tempter Wormwood is counseled by his more experienced uncle to teach his human patient “to surrender benefits not that others may be happy in having them but that he may be unselfish in forgoing them.” Though this strategy of replacing love with unselfishness may look the same on the outside, it has a very different effect on the soul of the one surrendering the benefits. Far from moving out of himself toward the other (which is what love calls us to do), the practitioner of the negative virtue of 70


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unselfishness uses the other person as a way of bolstering his own sense of piety and self-righteousness. Actually, if truth be told, love and unselfishness are also received in a radically different way by the object of the proffered charity. In the former case, the recipient is assured that another human being cares deeply about him; in the latter, he feel manipulated and used. G.K. Chesterton once defined a humanitarian as someone who loves humanity but hates human beings. The person who is on the receiving end of unselfishness knows instinctively, to paraphrase a line from Letter 26, that he is being treated as a sort of lay figure upon which the would-be humanitarian exercises his petty, selfcentered altruisms. When the virtues are enacted in a positive, healthy spirit, they draw us closer to God and our neighbor. But when they are turned back upon themselves as a method for bolstering our ego and self esteem, they ensnare and isolate us. The false humanitarian ends up feeling contempt for his fellow man because he cannot move outside his own desperate need to feel good about himself. But the virtuous man who practices true love comes to truly love the people he serves.

W

is for War. The eighteen-year-old C. S. Lewis was hardly what one would call an athletic young man. He was a failure at sports and spent his school days avoiding the company of upper-class athletes. And yet, in 1917, the bookish Lewis chose to enlist in the First World War. I say chose because Lewis, as an Irish citizen (he grew up in Belfast), was not subjected to the draft. Nevertheless, he served and fought in the trenches, returning to England a year later as a wounded veteran. Though he was too old to fight in WWII, he supported the war effort in every way he could, including speaking over the BBC radio and giving live talks to the RAF. In 1940, he even addressed a pacifist society in Oxford on the reasons why he was not a pacifist (his speech is anthologized in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses). In his talk, Lewis respectfully reminds his audience that when Christ instructed his followers to turn the other cheek, he likely meant the command to refer to personal situations between people and their neighbors. There is no indication that the command was meant to apply to all situations at all times. Surely, Lewis argues, 71


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“turn the other cheek” does not forbid me from coming to the rescue of someone who is being chased down by a maniac with a knife! Christ calls upon us not to harbor a spirit of self-righteous hatred and retaliation toward those who have injured us. But that does not mean that magistrates, parents, teachers, and soldiers should suffer themselves to be struck by citizens, children, students, or enemy combatants. Besides, Christ himself showered his greatest praise upon a Roman military officer (Luke 7:9). Likewise, when John the Baptist was approached by soldiers in search of spiritual advice, he did not tell them to quit their jobs—he merely told them not to extort money or accuse people falsely (Luke 3:14). Both Peter (1 Peter 2:14) and Paul (Romans 13:4) called upon the early church to obey magistrates, who do not bear the sword in vain. In Mere Christianity, Lewis makes some of the same arguments, though this time he calls on his readers to examine their own hearts carefully. All killing, Lewis insists, is not murder: a proper translation of the Ten Commandments would read “Thou shalt not murder,” not “Thou shalt not kill.” Still, if we ourselves hear about the death of enemy soldiers or the execution of a criminal and rejoice in the loss of life, then we have fallen outside the high call of Christ. Lewis writes: We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed. Yes, Lewis knew and felt that war was a dreadful thing. No one who fought in the killing fields of WWI could doubt that. Still, Lewis believed that if we could remove the hatred and resentment from our soul, if we could free ourselves from brooding on revenge, that war could be approached courageously with “a kind of gaiety and wholeheartedness.” Lewis was no fan of war, but he was unashamed to champion the beauty of the knight, of the medieval Crusader, of the “Christian in arms for the defense of a good cause.”

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X

is for X-Ray. Of all the books that Lewis wrote, the most difficult and obscure must surely be The Pilgrim’s Regress. In this strange, esoteric allegory of his journey to faith, Lewis introduces us to an everyman character named John who grows up in the legalistic, pharisaical land of Puritania, where everyone wears masks and the people are burdened by laws they cannot follow. One day, however, John catches a glimpse of a distant island populated by bearded enchanters in a deep state of meditation. The vision provokes in John a sweet desire for goodness, truth, and beauty, and he sets off on a pilgrimage to find the source of that desire. Sadly, in seeking out the source of his joy, John continually takes wrong turns and falls off the true path. As in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, each of the temptations that John faces along the way is allegorized as a person or place. The difference between Bunyan and Lewis’s versions of the road to faith— and the thing that makes the former infinitely easier to comprehend than the latter—is that whereas Bunyan’s pilgrim faces such spiritual traps as sloth, despair, and vanity, Lewis’s pilgrim faces a score of intellectual dead ends (stoicism, idealism, materialism, aestheticism, scientism, and so forth) that lie outside the experience of the average reader. Indeed, what makes Lewis’s work particularly challenging is that many of the “isms” he critiques have been abandoned, even by the secular humanists who once championed them. Generally speaking, John faces two types of dangers—a cold rationalism (identified with the north) that kills joy and desire, and a hot hedonism (identified with the south) that causes joy to sicken and desire to grow perverse. In his journeys through the north, John is taken into custody by Sigismund Enlightenment, who, in the manner of Sigmund Freud, tries to convince him that his desire for the island is an illusion, an adolescent form of wish fulfillment. John is then thrown into a dungeon where he must face a giant whose eyes pierce through him like a merciless x-ray machine. The giant’s eyes, writes Lewis, “had this property, that whatever they looked on became transparent. Consequently, when John looked round in to the dungeon, he retreated from his fellow prisoners in terror, for the place seemed to be thronged with demons. A woman was seated near him, but he did not know it was a woman, because, through the face, he saw the skull, and through that the brains and the passage of the nose.” 73


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Lewis shows great insight in comparing the giant to an x-ray, for the enlightenment theories of Freud, Marx, and Darwin have had just that effect on modern man. Though the writings of these founding fathers of modernism vary widely, they are alike in being, at their core, reductive. By reducing human love, joy, religion, and art to a product of unconscious urges, or economic forces, or the struggle for survival and reproduction, the theories of Freud, Marx, and Darwin have emptied humanity of its freedom, its dignity, and its purpose. Meditating on the destructive force of the Enlightenment X-ray, Lewis closes his book, The Abolition of Man, with these prophetic words: “You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away... If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see.”

Y

is for Youth. C. S. Lewis dedicated the first of his Narnian fairy tales, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to Lucy Barfield, the daughter of his good friend, Owen. In the dedication he offers this sage advice: “My dear Lucy, I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are probably already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” Near the end of That Hideous Strength (a novel to which Lewis added the wonderful subtitle, “A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups”), the male hero, Mark Studdock, comes within inches of selling his soul to a demon-run secret society with plans to take over the world. As part of the initiation rite, he is thrown into a lop-sided room which is intended to destroy within him any last vestige of his belief in goodness, truth, and beauty. Mark almost gives in, but then a still small voice within him rises up and asserts the existence of something normal and right and whole, of which the lop-sided room represents the perversion. Saved by that sudden illumination, Mark runs for his life. In his flight, he hides out in a small country hotel, where he rests for a moment in a quiet sitting room. In the room, Mark notices two shelves filled with bound copies of a periodical known as The Strand. 74


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In one of these he found a serial children’s story which he had begun to read as a child but abandoned because his tenth birthday came when he was half way through it and he was ashamed to read it after that. Now, he chased it from volume to volume till he had finished it. It was good. The grown-up stories to which, after his tenth birthday, he had turned instead of it, now seemed to him, expect for Sherlock Holmes, to be rubbish. Most modern academics who read the above paragraph would criticize, if not ridicule, Lewis for his “puerile sentimentality.” They would, of course, be wrong to do so. Lewis was unique in the academia of his day for championing (along with his good friend, J. R. R. Tolkien) children’s literature and fantasy novels as serious genres deserving serious consideration. Rather than dismiss youthful innocence and joy as immature emotions to be cast off on the road to adulthood, Lewis treasured (as did Jesus!) that child-like view of the world that opens itself to faith and hope and that can discern magic and wonder in even the most mundane of things. Lewis found nothing wise or mature or even realistic in the cynicism and skepticism of his academic colleagues. Indeed, because he was not too proud to look for them there, Lewis discovered great insights in Aesop’s Fables, The Wind in the Willows, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and the children’s stories of George MacDonald and E. Nesbitt. In fact, though it is not well known, we have Lewis and Tolkien to thank for the post-1950’s resurgence of children’s literature and fairy tales. Both genres, which were strong and healthy during the late Victorian Age, had fallen out of favor in the first half of the 20th century. The success of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings helped restore the reputation of these discredited genres, thus enabling moderns to draw on their innocent wisdom.

Z

is for Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is a German word that means “spirit of the age.” The zeitgeist of Periclean Athens was selfknowledge (supremely embodied in the thought of Socrates), while that of the Middle Ages and Victorianism was hierarchy (Dante) and progress (Tennyson), respectively. As for the darker zeitgeist of modernism, marked by relativism and subjectivism, though Lewis 75


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did not embody it, he understood it better than many of its most ardent supporters. In a sense, all of Lewis’s books offer a critique of modernism, but the one that does so with the deepest insight and the greatest prophetic power is The Abolition of Man. In this brief book, which bears the rather intimidating subtitle of “Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of School.” Lewis predicts (with woeful accuracy) what the outcome will be for a society that trains its youth in accordance with the principles of aesthetic subjectivism and moral and ethical relativism. At the core of the modern zeitgeist, Lewis locates a refusal to abide by any fixed, transcendent standards of the Good, the True, or the Beautiful. Everything now is subjective. The old verities are up for grabs. No longer do our beliefs point back to a divine law code or an essential, in-built sense of good and evil; they exist only and solely in the eye of the beholder. Lewis begins his analysis of this deeply-entrenched relativistic zeitgeist by highlighting an elementary textbook that teaches children that the so-called sublimity of a waterfall does not rest in the waterfall itself but in the perceptions of the one looking at it. Though this distinction may seem unimportant, Lewis shows how such a subjective view of the power of a waterfall leads in time to a subjective view of all judgments of value. What happened in the 20th century is that we went from relativizing all matters of beauty and sublimity (not only in nature but in the arts as well) to relativizing all matters of right and wrong. Thus, whereas modern schools revel in scientific facts and sociological statistics, they ridicule “old fashioned” notions of courage, patriotism, and honor. And yet, ironically, at the very moment we have thrown out traditional values, and the super-natural standards on which they rest, we cry out desperately for the very duty and self-sacrifice that such values make possible. Lewis warns: In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

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For thousands of years, parents and teachers have ensured the maintenance of civilized life by training their children and students not only to understand and obey the God-given, conscienceapproving standards of right and wrong, but to nurture proper feelings vis-Ă -vis those standards. Thus, we teach young people to feel an inner sense of pride and self-respect when they perform a virtuous action and an inner sense of shame and disgust when they chose instead the way of vice. The sign that our society is disintegrating is not to be found in the wildness of teenagers (that has always been with us), but in the fact that when those teens commit immoral actions, they feel neither guilt nor remorse. Such chest-less young people are the vanguard of a new Dark Age.

Louis Markos (www.Loumarkos.com), Professor in En glish and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist Univers ity, holds the Robert H. Ray Cha ir in Humanities . His books include From Achilles to Christ (IVP), Apologetics for the 21st Century (Crossway), and Literature: A Student ’s Guide (Crossway) . His most recent book, On the Shoulders of Ho bbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis was published by Moody in October 2012. 77


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John Wilson

T

here are eighteen Lew Archer novels, beginning with The Moving Target (1949) and ending with The Blue Hammer (1976), but there’s only one ever-ramifying case, and we’re all caught up in it. In civilian life, Lew Archer’s creator was Kenneth Millar (pronounced like Miller). Born in Los Gatos, California in 1915, he grew up in Canada, sent from one household to another after his father deserted the family when Millar was three years old. He returned to the United States for graduate study in English at the University of Michigan (where W. H. Auden was one of his mentors), then served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946 as a lieutenant on an escort carrier. After his discharge, he settled in Santa Barbara with his wife, the mystery writer Margaret Millar, and their daughter and only child, Linda. In 1952, he received his PhD, with a dissertation on Coleridge’s psychological criticism; in the same year, The Ivory Grin was published: the fourth Archer book and his eighth novel overall. “Ross Macdonald” was the pen name he settled on after several others, and that’s the way he’s known to his readers. In a much-quoted front-page review of The Goodbye Look (1969) in the New York Times Book Review, novelist and screenwriter William Goldman described the Archer books as “the finest series of detective novels ever written by an American.” That was true when Goldman said it, and it remains true more than forty years later, even if the Library of America still hasn’t gotten the news. If you want to test this judgment for yourself, read The Zebra-Striped Hearse (1962) or The

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Chill (1964). Then I suspect you will want to go back to the start and read the whole series. A lot of pontification has been devoted to so-called genre fiction and to crime fiction in particular. Much of this talk has been deeply confused, whether in sneering dismissal or well-meant but misplaced praise, as when a critic said that “Macdonald is one of a handful of writers in the genre whose worth and quality surpass the limitations of the form.” Without the limitations of the form, there would be no Archer novels. As Hugh Kenner observes in his book on the animator Chuck Jones, “art is largely an affair of limits. When the Medici asked for a panel of a certain dimension to adorn, as it were, their summer cottage, that was when they got Botticelli’s Venus.” Macdonald traced the antecedents and evolution of Lew Archer in a 1965 essay, “The Writer as Detective Hero,” which is the best concise account of the modern detective story I’ve seen anywhere, starting from its origins with Edgar Allan Poe. In particular, Macdonald pays tribute to his predecessors Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, showing how Chandler’s Philip Marlowe influenced the conception of Lew Archer but also how Macdonald departed from Chandler’s example. “There is pathos... in the idea that a man who can write like a fallen angel should be a mere private eye,” Macdonald observes, after quoting from the beginning of The Big Sleep. The same could be said of Lew Archer, whose first-person narrative has the swagger and poetry of Marlowe’s “overheard democratic prose.” “It was clear late twilight when the jet dropped down over the Peninsula”: this is Archer’s voice at the start of a chapter early in The Zebra-Striped Hearse. “The lights of its cities were scattered like a broken necklace along the dark rim of the Bay. At its tip stood San Francisco, remote and brilliant as a city of the mind, hawsered to reality by her two great bridges—if Marin and Berkeley were reality.” And yet, Macdonald noted, Archer is finally quite different from Marlowe. He is not a romantic hero beneath a hard-boiled veneer; he is not even “the emotional center” of the stories he tells: “He can be self-forgetful, almost transparent at times, and concentrate as good detectives (and good writers) do, on the people whose problems he is investigating. These other people are for me the main thing: they are often more intimately related to me and my life than Lew Archer is. He is the obvious self-projection which holds the eye (my eye as well 80


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as the reader’s) while more secret selves creep out of the woodwork behind the locked door.” One obvious consequence is that Archer differs sharply not only from Marlowe but also from most protagonists of the leading contemporary crime-fiction series, the work of writers who came after Macdonald. Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawksi, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Ian Rankin’s John Rebus and their many peers, different as they may be from one another, are similar in that they are known for their quirks, their idiosyncrasies—even their taste in music. That is a significant aspect of their considerable appeal. (In this, of course, they resemble Sherlock Holmes.) By contrast, Archer is not given any of these identifying marks, nor do we get more than the briefest glimpses of his earlier life or his life in the present outside the investigations he relentlessly pursues. Even so, everything that happens in the Archer books comes to us through his sensibility, which is Macdonald’s. “While he is a man of action,” Macdonald writes of Archer, “his actions are largely directed to putting together the stories of other people’s lives and discovering their significance. He is less a doer than a questioner, a consciousness in which the meanings of other lives emerge. This gradually developed conception of the detective hero as the mind of the novel is not wholly new, but it is probably my main contribution to this special branch of fiction.” That’s a wonderful description, but in his reticence Macdonald leaves out—or rather leaves unsaid—what drives this quest (Archer’s, and his own) to discover the significance of other people’s lives. It is love, a fierce love so mingled with pain that the two can’t be untangled. Not a simulacrum of love, which works by seeing only what you want to see. Much of the tragic action in the Archer books—lives stunted, twisted, cut short—derives from the consequences of such false love. Genuine love entails seeing things as they are, insofar as fallible human beings can ever do that, and still loving, as God loves us.

M

acdonald kept his distance from the church. He specified that when he died, there should be no service of any kind—his ashes were scattered in the ocean, as he requested. He professed no religious belief. As a boy in Canada, he was ex81


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posed to a harsh Calvinism associated with rigid propriety and deference to a social order in which he was a non-entity. Among the strongest of his passions throughout his life was a loathing for privilege and snobbery, for unthinking acceptance of distinctions based on wealth, class, and race. Again and again in the Archer books, we encounter figures representing a narrow, self-righteous Christianity. Most of them are women, with mottos on their living-room walls (“He Is the Unseen Guest in Every Conversation”), desperately afraid of losing face. But there’s also the brutal old godfearing Idaho farmer in The Far Side of the Dollar (1965), who brandishes a pitchfork at Archer and calls him a cohort of the devil. In the whole run of the Archer series, there are hardly any characters who are seen to act from Christian conviction in a good way. Yet Archer himself is a kind of whiskey priest—examining lives, taking confessions, offering a semblance of grace. He sees all, he hears all, and he forgives. On what basis? It’s very well to evoke, as Macdonald brilliantly does, the intricate patterns of meaning in our lives: “Everything is connected with everything,” Archer says in The Far Side of the Dollar, stating his credo. “The problem is to find the connections.” He is the private detective as reality therapist, enabling people to better understand their own lives. But what do all these “connections” add up to?

T

his question is dramatized in a scene near the end of Sleeping Beauty (1973), in which Archer is once again tracing the connections in a series of murders. “She gave me a look of satisfaction,” Archer tells us, “like a mathematician who had solved an equation. Then her face darkened, as if the product of the equation had saddened or frightened her.” The conversation continues, with the woman recounting what happened many years earlier. Then: “She stood in silence, swaying a little, listening to the flat echoes of the story. But her eyes remained uncomprehending. She wasn’t a mathematician after all: more like an idiot savant who remembered the details of her own and her [murdered] sister’s life but couldn’t detect any over-all meaning in them.” But finding meaning in the details of our interconnected lives—and being granted forgiveness—isn’t finally like solving equations. Love is required, from a source that transcends our lives. This is a largely 82


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unexamined tension that runs through the series. Archer isn’t simply finding patterns of meaning. He’s helping people. He’s loving them. He’s drawn especially to young people—teenagers, children— because they are particularly vulnerable, and because they represent hope. There’s no contradiction between this love and Archer’s worldweary knowledge of the human heart. On the contrary—now and then, fleetingly, Macdonald seemed to acknowledge that Archer’s passion for other people’s lives required a warrant that’s nowhere made explicit in his chronicles. In The Wycherly Woman (1961), Archer is talking with a college student who believes her friend has been murdered. “I gave up praying when I was a kid,” the young woman says. “I took it up again last November. I prayed every night for two months. And Phoebe is dead anyway. There is no God.” “I said she could be right, she could be wrong,” Archer tells us. “If there was a God, I said, He worked in mysterious ways. Like people.” Just before he leaves, surprisingly, he adds this: “But don’t stop praying.” She wonders what use it might be. “It keeps the circuits open,” Archer says. “Just in case there’s ever anybody on the other end of the line.” Pretty thin gruel, alas. And yet what’s hinted at, here and elsewhere, is Macdonald’s own hope.

John Wilson is editor of Books & Culture . 83


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Geoffrey H. Fulkerson Recovering Classical Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F.H. Henry , by Gregory Thornbury. Crossway, 2013.

T

here was a day, Gregory Thornbury tells us, when Evangelical giants roamed the land. “Like all travelers who sojourn to magical places,” he writes, “I long for myself and my fellow evangelicals to return to the world of [Carl] Henry–where the promise and power of evangelicalism seemed to be just within reach.” The memory of such a bygone era seems to be slipping into myth and the lines between naïve nostalgia and historical recollection increasingly confused. At this moment in Evangelical historiography, where “the primary mode of discourse is lament” and where this magical land, like the garden of Eden, seems beyond return, Thornbury hopes that his new book, Recovering Classical Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry, can “reset the relevance of the legacy of Carl F. H. Henry for the current situation,” to “make Carl Henry cool again,” because Thornbury believes that this intellectual giant, who was “a key to evangelicalism’s past, may in fact be a cipher to its future.” While Carl Henry may be the guide able to lead us out of our modern labyrinth, this book is “simultaneously about and not about Carl F. H. Henry,” as his position in the subtitle makes clear. More than about Henry, this book is about “the cherished subject of his career”– evangelicalism–and about recovering a confident, revelationdirected, theological orientation to the world. Rather than carefully documenting Henry’s vision of Evangelicalism, its historical developments and derailments, this book presents Henry more as a perso84


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na that represents what is best and right and honorable about evangelical Protestantism, and the philosophical and theological convictions that once grounded it and (Thornbury hopes) can do so again. In a creative synthesis like nothing I have read—this book defies easy genre categorization—Thornbury expounds Henry’s core theological works (albeit in a rather introductory fashion) in a way that both places his theological “wisdom and vision” within its sociopolitical, philosophical and theological landscape and contests contemporary characterizations of Henry’s work. Thornbury’s argument, while intertwining several threads throughout the book, develops over four central chapters: “Epistemology Matters”, “Theology Matters”, “Inerrancy Matters”, and “Culture Matters”. To say that “Epistemology Matters” (chapter 2) is tantamount for Thornbury to affirming that Christian theology is necessarily concerned with issues of reality, truth, knowledge, not merely as it relates to faith and salvation, but also reason, science and history (as if these were so easily separable). Evangelicals have “lost their way, both philosophically and theologically,” says Thornbury, by either explicitly turning to a neo-orthodox postmodern epistemology (which too willingly concedes theology to the subjective), or principally affirming the Protestant outlook advocated by Henry and others but failing to engage the philosophical issues that ground it and are logically entailed from it. In either case, new generations of evangelicals are denied “the resources of their own intellectual tradition.”

A

gainst this backdrop, Thornbury presents Henry as the “Heir of Reformation Epistemology,” who did not merely repeat a half-millennial old philosophical structure, but also “faithfully applied it to the challenges of modernity.” In presenting Henry thus, moreover, Thornbury attempts to dissociate him from the caricature of a “trenchant Modernist” and restore him as the passionate theist that he was. To fail to see Henry’s “epistemological engine,” argues Thornbury, is to lose “something important about Henry’s disposition toward theology.” His theology (and theory) was not merely founded upon any rational schema, but rather on the unity of God. “[R]evelation both coheres and corresponds to reality because God is one.” Epistemology matters because, without it, we risk reducing theology to a marginal discipline disassociated from the foundational matters of truth, goodness and beauty. 85


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Thornbury unsurprisingly follows this claim with another: “Theology Matters” (chapter 3)–specifically, cognitive propositional theology. Expounding Theses 1-7 of God, Revelation and Authority (GRA), Thornbury presents Henry’s doctrine of revelation, focusing on his personalist theology on the one hand, and illuminating his primary concern about modern encroachment on the other. “[V]olume 2 of GRA is nothing less than a magisterial explication of what makes evangelicals evangelical and what keeps them that way: the doctrine of divine revelation.” Within the context of Henry’s doctrine of revelation, Thornbury questions the legitimacy of narrative theology, as advocated by Hans Frei and Postliberal theology, and as appropriated by Postfounational evangelical theologians. Kevin Vanhoozer is singled out for special criticism. To say that theology matters, for Thornbury, is to say that propositions matter, and are more than a product of rationalism. To affirm that “Inerrancy Matters” is not only to explicate what Thornbury describes as the “most defining aspect of [Henry’s] distinguished literary output” and the “most magisterial and arguably definitive understanding of inerrancy ever mounted,” but also to scrutinize Evangelicalism’s “Bad Faith,” the ease by which it has shed this dogmatic conviction. Expounding theses 11 and 12 of GRA, Thornbury presents Henry’s argument for biblical inerrancy as grounded in the issue of authority. (Inerrancy is a logical entailment of inspiration, which is itself a logical entailment of authority.) Far from one aspect of Evangelical theology, “[w]ithout inerrancy and its logically antecedent concepts of authority and inspiration, the entire enterprise of historic Christianity begins to crumble.” Forsaking inerrancy is the first step along the path of irrelevance, which Henry saw evidenced in both Liberal and Neo-orthodox theology. In Thornbury’s final substantive chapter, arguing that “Culture Matters”, he surprisingly dedicates a significant portion to the question of possible rapprochement between Catholic natural law theology and evangelical “revelational theology” but is silent about the fracturing of Evangelicalism over the issue of socio-political engagement. Yet, following Thornbury’s concern for revealed theology, this makes sense. He is less interested in the question of whether culture matters (it is assumed that it does by the comprehensiveness of Christian theology) than in the question of whether revelation-based theology can speak regarding matters of culture. Expounding Henry’s most famous text, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamental86


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ism, he argues that “evangelicals have a conviction of absoluteness concerning their message, and not to proclaim it, in the assault on social evils, is a dereliction of duty.” For Thornbury, a proper Christian cultural engagement follows from the conviction that Christian truth is the truth and theology is more than a merely religious enterprise—where religion is reductionistically defined as a inter/subjective realm separate from the objective truth of the world. “Metaphysics,” in short, “is still philosophically and theologically viable.” From this vantage, it becomes clear why “Henry envisions a seamless garment linking biblical verities to social responsibilities.” In Thornbury’s final proclamation that “Evangelicalism Matters” (chap. 6), he says precisely this: Evangelicalism will never rise above the strength of its epistemological outlook, its confidence in an inerrant Bible, and in the promise that through the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth one can “rediscover reality.” If it is the case that the Scriptures take us beyond the confines of human experience and usher us into a real world of transcendence—a world of Word and Spirit—then we can have faith in a gospel that that divine Word breaking into the stream of human history and culture can bring hope to the nations and world community. A new Carl F. H. Henry indeed!

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hornbury offers a well-written, creatively composed, and persuasive argument about Carl Henry’s enduring vision for a brighter Evangelical future. I deeply resonate with, and have been inspired by, this thesis. The book is cumulatively stronger than the sum of its parts. While a great theological introduction to Carl Henry (and thus compelling exhortation to read), there is no mention of his theological shortcomings. Similarly, philosophical issues surrounding propositionalism and the language-turn are far more complex than Thornbury suggests to the reader (a point revisited below). The same could be said about his definition of Evangelicalism, the issues involved in the rise of narrative theology, and the renewed openness to Karl Barth, among other topics approached in the book. Thornbury is resoundingly successful in what seems to be his primary concern: turning our contemporary Evangelical dirge (a product of our “theological patricide”) into a bold, if humble swagger, which is to say “recovering classical evangelicalism.” 87


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One topic that could use clarification, however, is whether we can affirm Henry’s theistic zeal and evangelical swagger without also embracing his foundationalist epistemology and correspondence theory of truth? In other words, how tightly bound are his theology and philosophy? And if there are philosophical problems with Henry’s understanding of truth, knowledge and language (and certainly Evangelicals like McGrath, Vanhoozer and Horton think there are, to say nothing of Postfoundationalists), is Henry still deserving of careful study? (I presume that he is, but I’m unsure how this would affect Thornbury’s appeal.) Does “classical evangelicalism” and the “Henryian” theology that Thornbury wishes us to recover lie more with a certain protestant swagger about the ultimacy of revelation for truth, goodness and beauty, or is Henry’s vision inseparable from a commitment to propositionalism and a correspondence theory of truth? That Thornbury had originally intended to title the book Lost Propositions seems to suggest that he is reluctant to separate the two. But then, I can’t but wonder if the contemporary criticism of Henry isn’t entirely unjustified, and his theology now somewhat dated (even if representative of what was best for an older generation of Evangelicals). Thornbury is certainly at best indifferent to the question. Whereas he rightly (and convincingly) goes out of his way to show Henry’s deeply theistic commitments and to undo the popular caricature of him, there is not the same clarity of exposition and argument about language, truth, and knowledge. However personal Henry’s God may be (and Thornbury’s account convincingly demonstrates this), it does not necessarily follow that revelation is primarily “a communication of truth claims” or “reliable theological affirmations,” though it is certainly both of these things. In fairness to Thornbury, I don’t expect him to illuminate the complexity of these philosophical issues in a book such as this, but these issues figure so prominently in his argument that greater clarification is needed. In short, can one be a “Henyrian” and a Postpropositional (in the Vanhoozer sense of post) or must one choose sides? The success of Thornbury’s argument (and Henry’s continuing relevance) may very well rest on this.

Geoffrey H. Fulkerson is the Managing Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical D ivinity School. 88


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Wesley Gant Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business , by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia. Harvard Business Review Press, 2013.

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any corporations engage in philanthropy. At Whole Foods Market, it is an intrinsic part of the business model, and co-Founder John Mackey suggests that the same should be true for every company. His recent book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, co-written with Raj Sisodia, is both an inspiring defense of free enterprise and an exceptional guide to best practices in organizational leadership. Yet, if one senses its much larger aim, it can be described as a treatise for a cultural revolution. The notion of purpose features strong in this book, and Mackey's purpose—aside from changing the way the world eats—is to change our understanding of the practices and possibilities of good business. The modern world, Mackey argues, has not yet seen the full potential of capitalism for social change, the essence of which is captured in his "Conscious Capitalism Credo": We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.

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This highly accessible work is most relevant to entrepreneurs and executives, but with its emphasis on meaningful vocation, social responsibility and building business through cooperative relationships, Conscious Capitalism carries broad appeal. Its unique blend of ideas will resonate with readers across social spectra, while challenging their existing views.

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ackey places much of the blame for capitalism's tarnished reputation squarely on the business community itself. One of its greatest offenses is failing to condemn “crony capitalism� in word and deed. The public has well-founded reason to mistrust the conjoining of wealth and market influence with political power. When companies seek regulatory favors, the free and fair market becomes void; in its place evolves a rigged system in which opportunity is a mirage. Secondly, the business community has embraced a philosophy at odds with human dignity. Mackey rejects the view that the purpose of business is profit and decries the practice of channeling the largest rewards to top executives and investors. While profits, competitive salaries and sufficient returns are necessary, they should be seen as components of an elevated strategy toward an organization’s higher purpose, which involves all stakeholders in a long-term view of growth and success. The underlying thesis of the book is that "conscious" businesses and leaders are purpose-driven and people-centered. This approach capitalizes on the true nature of markets as institutions of cooperation that create physical and spiritual fulfillment for all involved. Drawing on the experiences of transformational companies such as Google, Amazon, Starbucks and many others, Mackey illuminates the true power of free enterprise in its ability to cultivate and channel a spirit of service to one another, which unites, motivates and empowers people to live a more fulfilled life. From this premise, Conscious Capitalism calls for a paradigm shift in the way we think about every aspect of business. The book outlines "four tenets" of conscious capitalism: 1) Higher purpose and core values; 2) Stakeholder integration; 3) Conscious leadership; 4) Conscious culture and management. The starting point for any company is to articulate a purpose that inspires. Entrepreneurs "dream about how the world could be, and 90


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create a business to realize that dream." For Whole Foods, the dream is helping people enrich their lives through healthier food choices. For Southwest Airlines, it is democratizing global travel. For Google, it is organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible. Having a clear purpose that connects business activity to the lives of real people provides a rallying point for the entire organization. It also provides a guide for company decisions. Many existing businesses are in need of re-envisioning what they are really about. Mackey tells the story of Waste Management, which found new purpose in extracting resources from garbage, rather than simply disposing of it. This transition has re-energized the company and led to explosive growth and technological innovation. Companies should see their operations as an ecosystem of voluntary and beneficial cooperation involving many different stakeholders. They should also recognize that value does not necessarily take the form of money. Such intangible benefits as loyalty, community, respect and recognition are important to everyone. Conscious companies are therefore attentive to the different kinds of value created through the synergy of win-win solutions with investors, employees, vendors, suppliers and communities. The authors even include the environment as a stakeholder, which should not be written off as a political position. The biblical notion of stewardship demands accountability for how we treat all of creation.

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onscious leaders integrate interests, decentralize decisions, and always operate with a heart of service. Mackey contrasts this approach with the traditional, command-and-control model, which is not only less effective but also robs employees of making unique contributions to the success of the organization. A manager seeks to control employees only if he does not value their judgment. One can sense a distinct Hayekian flavor in this approach. Upon entering Whole Foods Market, one cannot help but notice that it is much more than a grocery store. The vibe is contagious, because every “partner� is aligned with a single purpose, supported by common values. They find meaning in their daily tasks, and the company culture intentionally reinforces the value of their contribution. In such a setting, employees are eager to find ways to add value instead of just receiving a paycheck, and work becomes an opportunity instead of an exchange. 91


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The context in which Mackey advances his argument is a contentious one. Many today—including an increasing number of young Christians—see government as a glorified non-profit, doing the job that greedy businesses just won’t do. Despite the incredible opportunities brought to the world through private enterprise, the dominant cultural worldview misunderstands businesses as built upon a winlose, or “zero-sum” game, in which gains for one are only possible through an equal loss to another. Thus, the private sector is where businesses, workers and consumers engage in a vicious struggle, while the public sector works toward the greater good. This formulation places an alarming degree of trust in political power and leaves no room for the radical supposition that private interests can lead to public benefits. The result has been the steady transfer of roles performed by family, church and market to the benevolent care of the State. And in the wake of failure, the public’s response has been to prescribe a higher dose of the same medicine. This sober trajectory has provoked a response from many organizations to highlight both the effectiveness and inherent morality of capitalism. The American Enterprise Institute’s Values & Capitalism project and the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics were founded in 2009 and 2011 respectively, to engage evangelicals in a dialogue on markets and vocation. The Acton Institute, a leading ecumenical think tank for religion and liberty, has dramatically expanded its footprint. But Mackey himself is uniquely positioned to connect with audiences that most conservative organizations struggle to reach. He has established himself as a hero of sorts among the traditionally leftleaning organic food and environmentalist cohort, and was himself guided by socialistic views when he began his career. His approach is sensible and sympathetic even to the most ardent critic, and seeks to connect values to practical solutions. Conscious Capitalism is compelling for its demonstrably potent thesis. Mackey skips through the mechanics of capitalism and pierces straight to its heart: markets are about people helping people. His company is just one of many that are showing us how to capture this spirit more effectively. The success of Whole Foods as an industrychanging corporation whose impact has been felt in communities across the globe shows this is more than theory. 92


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It is this connection that should demand the attention of the church. Despite a pronounced dose of secular humanism—the title itself refers to being guided by enlightened consciousness—the book points to central Christian themes such as purpose and natural harmony in the created order, as well as an emphasis on stewardship, service and human dignity. Mackey recognizes a spiritual force at work, which, when tapped, produces a wellspring of loyalty, innovation and personal fulfillment. These, in turn, lead to greater profits, improved social capital and a healthier society. He struggles to put a name to that force, but the church struggles to apply it. Too often, Christians compartmentalize their lives into secular and sacred, going to work Monday through Friday to pay the bills, but doing “the Lord’s work” on Sunday mornings. Conscious Capitalism points to a path through which we live out our faith through business, because it is our primary means of serving and restoring one another in body, mind and spirit. God grants us talent that we may be co-creators, and it is by this that we find both purpose and prosperity. The difference between a “Conscious” business model and a “Christian” business model is semantic. Mackey’s purpose-driven, people-centered approach is therefore theologically rich and instructive by happenstance, clearing avenues for further development by future Christian authors and entrepreneurs.

Wesley Gant is Art Director and Brand Strategist at Houston Baptist University and is a regular contributor at American Enterprise Institute’s ValuesandCapitalism.com. 93


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Christopher Hammons Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic , by David Hall. Oxford University Press, 2012.

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n the highest peaks of Mount Olympus, the Ancient Greeks enshrined their most powerful and venerated gods. Among them you could find Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Ares, and Athena. Mount Olympus was also host to lesser gods who never quite received the same reverence. In America’s mythology, Roger Sherman (17211793), the American founder from Connecticut, is one of these lesser gods, and in Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, Professor Mark David Hall would like to promote Sherman to the ranks of the greater Olympians. There is a strong case to be made here. Sherman is the only Founder to help draft and sign the Declaration and Resolves, the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. He later helped debate and pass the Bill of Rights. No other Founder has such a track record. Sherman was an active and influential member of Connecticut’s state legislature and Superior Court. Later in life he served as a representative and senator from his home state. He was, by all contemporary accounts, held in high esteem by his colleagues. Moreover, during the debates leading to independence in 1776, Sherman held fast to the belief that Parliament had no authority over 94


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the colonies, as “no laws bind the people but such as they consent to be governed by.” John Adams was impressed by Sherman’s conviction, calling him a “solid, sensible man.” Hall argues that Sherman’s conviction was a product of his Puritan heritage which, since the Pilgrims hit the shores of New England, had always been understandably resistant to British meddling in internal matters of governance. Connecticut in particular had operated with almost complete autonomy for much of its history, a fact that influenced Sherman’s belief in self-government. At the constitutional convention of 1787 Sherman was the second oldest delegate in attendance, surpassed only by Ben Franklin, and quite an active participant. Only three other delegates spoke more frequently than Sherman (Hall notes that Sherman was gone for a week in July, and had he not missed would have “probably been the most loquacious of all the delegates”). He was an ardent spokesman for states’ rights, believing that state governments were the best means of protecting individual liberty. Suspicious of anything that undermined state autonomy, Sherman championed a limited national government with enumerated powers. In this capacity he provided a strong vocal counterpoint to James Madison, who preferred a more robust national government with greater authority. So influential was Sherman in holding back Madison’s plans that some scholars contend there is “as much Sherman as there is Madison” in our federal Constitution. Given all of this, which Hall details with fluidity and careful scholarship, why is Sherman so overlooked? Hall argues that Sherman’s age is a factor. Though he was present during all the critical stages of the American Founding, he died in 1793. Since he didn’t live much past the Founding he never received the veneration and accolades from the next generation—a generation that looked to the living Founders as icons—as Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. Related to his early demise, Sherman never served as President and hence never drew the singular attention that comes with the office. This is not to say that Sherman would have sought the presidency anyway. He much preferred and believed in the supremacy of the legislative branch. Finally, Sherman simply wasn’t a prolific writer, or a great political thinker, like many of the Founding Fathers. He lacked a formal education and tended to make arguments based on practicality and empirical observation rather than on philosophy or theory. 95


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Not much of his written work survives, and if it did, it would probably lack the intellectual gravitas of that passed down by Adams, Jefferson, and Madison.

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secondary argument of the volume is that Sherman was strongly influenced by his Calvinist views and that such views were influential in the American Founding. This, alas, is less convincing. Hall makes a good effort to highlight instances where Sherman’s writings coincide with his political decisions. Since little of what Sherman wrote survives, the instances of a direct connection between a letter or speech and a decision or action are sparse. Many of the connections are circumstantial, with Hall examining an historical event and then exploring what Sherman “probably” or “most likely” or “certainly” believed and how it guided his actions. Hall sometimes admits the writings “only indirectly reflect his [Sherman’s] commitment to Reformed political theory.” The end result is that while Hall is almost certainly right about Sherman’s intellectual positions, the evidence used to support his actions aren’t always apparent. It sometimes feels like a leap, though a faithful one. Hall’s concern that American scholars frequently dismiss the influence of Calvinism on the American Founding is true, but Hall implies that it’s a product of academic bias, particularly against religion. One of the difficulties here is that tenets of Calvinism that are critical to the Founding Era—belief in natural law, limited government, the right to revolution—aren’t unique to Calvinism. Hall is aware of this and admits that Calvinism isn’t the singular source for these arguments. Rather than bias, the problem for historians may be separating Calvinist beliefs from general Enlightenment rhetoric. Hall makes a good effort here, stating that many of the key arguments in favor of Independence were found in Reformed theology before the Enlightenment rhetoric really took hold in America. This may be the case, but it overlooks other sources of those same ideals that would have also influenced the Founders. Thomas Aquinas’ On Kingship is a prime example of a text that is neither Calvinist nor a product of the Enlightenment, but contains all the same arguments in support of revolution. In this sense, when Hall argues that Calvinism was a “very important influence that needs to be taken more seriously,” he sidesteps the reality that the political ideas found in Reformed Theology aren’t unique. If that’s the case, then maybe the reason scholars tend to overlook the influences of Calvinism is that there 96


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isn’t anything novel to it, other than its geographic concentration in New England. But maybe that’s the point. Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic is a useful book for those wanting to learn more about the intellectual contributions of Roger Sherman. It is not really a biography, but a book about Sherman’s ideals. What is clear is that Sherman was a greater force in the American Founding than most scholars acknowledge. Professor Hall’s contribution may help elevate Sherman from one of the lesser gods of the American Founding to something more akin to the status held by Heracles– not quite the same caliber as the Olympians, but through action and deed, still worthy of a seat on Mount Olympus.

Christopher Hammons is Associate Professor of Gover nment and Dean of the School of Humanities at Houston Baptist University. 97


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Robert Rehder The deer was motionless when we saw it, Every sense at full stretch, And bounded away faster than memory Before anyone could speak, Extinguishing our words— Half a dozen brush strokes By a Chinese master, Rapid signature endorsing the silence, Demotic imperative, fireworks, A shower of meteorites That never reached the earth.

Robert Rehder was born and grew up in Iowa and was e ducated at Princeton University. A Professor of English and American literature at the University of Fribourg in Swi tzerland, his two poetry collections are Compromises Will Be Different (1995) and First Things When (January 2009). He died in 2009. 98


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Hunter Baker

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ot all that long ago, my wife and I met with an old female friend who is a Christian and who has lived a gay lifestyle for many years. I am a diplomatic person and tried to be very gentle in our conversation. She surprised me with her feelings. They were brave and articulate. As a result, I asked her to write them up as a letter. Below, you can see what she wrote. It is important that you make it to the third paragraph in order to fully understand what she is saying: To the churches concerning homosexuals and lesbians: Many of you believe that we do not exist within your walls, your schools, your neighborhoods. You believe that we are few and easily recognized. I tell you we are many. We are your teachers, doctors, accountants, high school athletes. We are all colors, shapes, sizes. We are single, married, mothers, fathers. We are your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. We are in your Sunday School classes, pews, choirs, and pulpits. You choose not to see us out of ignorance or because it might upset your congregation. We ARE your congregation. We enter your doors weekly seeking guidance and some glimmer of hope that we can change. Like you, we have invited Jesus into our hearts. Like you, we want to be all that Christ wants us to be. Like you, we pray daily for guidance. Like you, we often fail. When the word “homosexual� is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed 99


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with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs? Do you see the sin of pride, that you are better than or more acceptable to Jesus than we are? Have you been Christ-like in your relationships with us? Would you meet us at the well, or restaurant, for a cup of water, or coffee? Would you touch us even if we showed signs of leprosy, or aids? Would you call us down from our trees, as Christ did Zacchaeus, and invite yourself to be our guest? Would you allow us to sit at your table and break bread? Can you love us unconditionally and support us as Christ works in our lives, as He works in yours, to help us all to overcome? To those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. To those of us who know God’s word and will not dilute it to fit our desires, we ask you to read John’s letter to the church in Pergamum. “I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home. A Sister in Christ

Several years ago my wife and I were at a park playing with our son (then just a toddler). We noticed a younger couple having a wonderful good time playing with their child around the swings. 100


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Somehow it happened that the two wives starting talking together as did the two husbands. I discovered that the young man was a Lutheran seminarian or pastor in training. At that moment I was worrying about gay marriage (this was well ahead of the controversy we are embroiled in today). The young pastor asked me, “Why are you so concerned about that? Isn’t it evident enough that men are made for women and women for men? Hasn’t God made it clear in His creation?” At the time I was annoyed, but the message has remained with me. Why should I struggle and worry about the nature of marriage? God has made it more than clear in his design. Today, I find myself frequently remembering what he said to me. Marriage is changing rapidly. Though the democratic results have largely been in favor of traditional marriage, all of us can feel the massive change that has occurred among elites and the young. It is coming. Marriage may well be altered for a long time to come. And yet I remember that God has made the matter evident. If we make this change, it will be on us and on the way we have chosen to alter our minds. When I ponder what the young pastor said, I sometimes think that I should give up on any concept of culture war. Why insist on something when great masses of people seem bent on going a different way? But I can turn that thinking around to twist myself in a knot. There have been times when great masses of people were convinced that dark men were not men. And yet had not God made it evident that they were men? Indeed, he had. Anyone could see that the black man was a man and not a beast of burden. We experienced judgment in the form of a terrible war and the subsequent malformation of our politics and culture which continues to this day. I think we must be faithful by reasoning in the public square and by championing the truth as we have light to see it. That is the task before us whether we prevail or not. But fundamentally, the most important war is the one being fought by the young pastor. That is the war of the spirit. When our spirits are submitted to God, he will show us the way. The question is whether we will be interested in knowing Him.

After publication of the Fall 2012 issue, our editor received the following letter from one of our readers and felt it was both articulate 101


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and worthy of a response. In a spirit of engagement and iron sharpening iron, I am happy to do so. First, the letter: Dear Editor: I want to express some concerns about Hunter Baker’s “A Republic of Letters” in the Fall 2012 issue of THE CITY. I found myself deeply disturbed by Baker’s critique of President Obama’s recent comments about people who start small businesses. The lengthy description of Bob Brunton, a hard-working and generous businessman, is moving. But Bob Brunton strikes me as a rather unusual person who doesn’t necessarily represent all or even most small businessmen. Baker’s interpretation of Obama’s comments are further grossly distorting. Surely there is something very right about Obama’s warning against individuals and small businesses taking too much credit for what they are able to accomplish. Individuals cannot take full credit for their intelligence. It is a gift from God. The entrepreneur cannot take full credit for his creative abilities. It is a gift from God. We can’t take full credit for our family of birth and for living in a country of opportunity. We could just as well have been born in the slums of Calcutta. The businessman cannot take full credit for the vast infra-structure which makes it possible for him to do his business. Society and the state have made a significant contribution to his success. Wealth and success are also not always correlated with being smart and hardworking. Often it is just plain luck. Perhaps even the outworking of a divine lottery. All this and much more surely underlie Obama’s comments, and to fail to acknowledge this is a failure both in logic (Fallacy of Straw Man) and Christian charity. If only the problems in this essay would end here. But Baker goes on to describe the president’s appeal as “a demagogic appeal to the masses.” What an insult to the masses. Surely the masses are as intelligent as Baker and his fellow Republicans. Sadly, Baker also fails to demonstrate the Christian virtue of humility. Baker’s emotional rhetoric continues. He objects to businessmen being viewed “as some kind of honeypot from which we can extract revenues for income redistribution.” What a loaded description of taxation! There are other more positive ways to describe taxation. Surely a business man should contribute something to the 102


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vast infrastructure that makes it possible for him to do business. It is a way of saying thank-you. Baker goes on to describe people who have built businesses: “They should be honored, encouraged, and protected from excessive taxation and regulation.” But this begs the question as to what is excessive taxation and regulation. And then this emotional appeal: “If we kill the drive they have to build something from the ground up, we’ll kill our country.” Taxation isn’t a form of murder! Taxation and regulation don’t in and of themselves kill the drive of people to work hard or to be creative. Individual drive isn’t just motivated by making more and more money. And what is it that is killing your country? This is surely not an easy question to answer in light of the recent mass killing of children in Connecticut. Perhaps it is time for Americans, and especially Republicans, to critically examine their blind adherence to the ideology of unbridled individual freedom. I appreciate receiving each issue of THE CITY, which I usually read from cover to cover, but the right-wing bias in some of the essays you carry is sometimes hard to stomach for this Canadian Christian. Elmer J. Thiessen, Ph.D. Waterloo, ON Author of The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defence of Proselytizing and Persuasion (Paternoster, UK; IVP Academic, USA). And now the response. I would like to thank Dr. Thiessen for taking the time to respond to one of the items I included in A Republic of Letters. The piece on the president’s comments regarding small business owners also ran on Real Clear Politics and generated quite a bit of discussion. I will try to take the essential points in order. To begin, Dr. Thiessen is disturbed by my paean to Bob Brunton, the pharmacist for whom I worked years ago, because I seem to have attributed too much credit to him as an individual. He points out that Mr. Brunton’s intelligence is a gift from God. In addition, Brunton, like other small business owners, has benefitted from the “vast infrastructure” which exists in our country. I do not dispute that Bob Brunton received native gifts from God, but neither would I be quick to dismiss any credit he deserved for 103


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having developed as a spiritual and moral person during his lifetime. In the course of succeeding as a small businessman, Bob Brunton demonstrated virtues of hard work, perseverance, and generosity in addition to the intelligence he possessed. But whether his success was a result of a gift from God or not, I would be very hesitant to follow where Dr. Thiessen’s reasoning could lead, which is to a conclusion that God-given gifts belong to the state in some way for it to direct or tax as its leaders see fit. With regard to the question of success springing from infrastructure, it is certainly true that even a neighborhood store like Mr. Brunton’s benefitted from modern transportation which made it possible for products to be efficiently shipped to his establishment. But I wonder whether infrastructure and small business have something like a chicken and egg relationship. Going further, maybe it is actually somewhat obvious that small business is prior to infrastructure. The United States did not build its great system of roads and bridges and then say, “Come one and all business persons, we are open for business!!!” Rather, the government responded to real commercial demands made obvious by the growth of industry within its borders. Activities of risk taking and hard work generated the need for the infrastructure. One might well argue that the government would never have come to command such great resources had not business succeeded first. Dr. Thiessen is offended at my use of the description “a demagogic appeal to the masses” to describe the president’s statements about small business owners. “What an insult to the masses,” he notes. My defense here is simple. The activity of demagoguery is as old as politics, itself. We can see Plato complaining about the same. Would Dr. Thiessen be so quick to denigrate a charge of demagoguery if it were leveled at a nativist making an appeal against immigrants to a home crowd? I think he would rightly recognize demagoguery in such an instance. Just as there is such a thing as racial or nationalist demagoguery, so too does economic demagoguery exist. For that matter, as he criticizes my discussion of the politics of mass manipulation, has Dr. Thiessen never complained about the lack of taste exhibited by people who make a particular low-brow film or television program into a huge hit? I have to suspect he has occasionally thought poorly of the public’s judgement in various areas. 104


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Thiessen points out that I objected to a view of businessmen (and women) as “some kind of honeypot from which we can extract revenues for income redistribution,” upon which he adds “What a loaded description of taxation!” My description was not intended to serve as a generic way of looking at all taxation. Nor did I make such a claim. Not all taxation is necessarily redistributive for example. And some taxation is less redistributive than others. A toll on a road which applies equally to all who use it is not redistributive at all. It taxes those who use the road and leaves others alone. The burden falls precisely upon those who utilize the service. While I do not object to the idea of some redistribution in the tax system (which occurs even with a flat tax on incomes or consumption), I do object to a political rhetoric which aims explicitly to encourage the public to look to the incomes of “millionaires and billionaires” or “fat cats” or whatever name one prefers as a national resource which must be tapped in order to achieve political goals. The logic of redistribution requires constant reining in lest it morph into class warfare and confiscation. Finally, Dr. Thiessen offers the idea that taxation and regulation do not kill the drive to work hard and be creative. The first question is whether he has tried to start a business of some kind and has ever dealt with significant taxes and regulations on such an effort. My awe of the small businessman results in part from never having fought those battles personally. In other words, I know what I don’t know. Senator George McGovern (most definitely a man of the left) got into business with an inn later in life and ended up writing a piece for Reader’s Digest complaining of how burdensome the rules for doing business were. We might also look into whether Dr. Thiessen has inquired into the recent prosperity of his own Canada. Our neighbors to the north have cut corporate taxes substantially and have balanced their budgets. I would be very happy to follow Canada’s enlightened example in this regard. Thank you to Dr. Thiessen for a stimulating exercise. It is often good to be challenged and to have to give a further account of one’s thinking.

I wanted to stand up and cheer after reading this exchange in the Wall Street Journal between an interviewer and Lauralee Martin, chief of Americas at the commercial real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle: 105


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WSJ: Real-estate brokerage traditionally has been a male-dominated business. How do you think you could help other women at JLL succeed as you have? Ms. Martin: I will have to say that I haven’t personally spent a lot of time thinking about gender, and maybe that is why I have done well. Bravissimo, Ms. Martin!

I’ve been tapped for jury duty in Madison County, Tennessee. Recently, I joined 70-80 other citizens in a courtroom. We were oriented by a polite judge who explained that for the next two months the state of Tennessee would have first claim on our time. Each night we are to call a number which will reveal whether our services will be needed the next day. After the orientation, the judge met with many individuals, including me, who petitioned for particular days off during the two months because of plans already made. When it was my turn to speak to the judge, he treated me with respect and granted my request. I walked out of the courtroom, down the stairs, and got into my car. By the time I sat down and grabbed the steering wheel, my hands were shaking. I had a fairly smooth experience. So why the apparently excessive reaction? The answer is simple. For the first time in my life, I personally had to ask an officer of the government whether I would be allowed to spend certain days in certain places. It was completely in the power of the judge to prevent me from leaving town in order to serve on juries yet to be empaneled. There was something about that fact that shook me to the core. Is it outrageous that a judge should be able to corral citizens for a period of about two months and call upon them as needed for jury service? I don’t know. Certainly, it seems that something like that power is necessary for us to offer trial by juries. The point of this brief deliberation is not to call for an end to jury duty. Instead, I think there is a lesson to be learned. Government power is an awesome power. Citizens who have committed no wrong of any kind can be taken by the shoulder and compelled to pay taxes, serve on juries, or even leave home and fight in a war. 106


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An instrument of this type must not be overused. That essentially libertarian insight is difficult to overstate. Because government is the simplest way to make something happen—coercion by raw force is often the simplest—those who would bring about a better order will always be tempted to employ its power. Every time we increase the power of Leviathan we should shudder a little and take comfort in knowing that we only did so after the most agonizing and careful deliberation.

If I Were President for a Day by Andrew Baker (age 10): “If I were president, I would start off by making my sister first lady. I’d choose Connor to be my vice-president. Soon, I would familiarize myself with the White House. Of course, I’d bring my cat Felix with me. “Next, I’d pass the Anti-Crime Act, which would prevent anyone from doing anything evil. In order to reinforce that law, I’d build a crime detector. The crime detector would locate crime instantly and transmit that news to a nearby police station. That way, people could live peaceful lives. “Then, I’d make machines that could make people’s lives easier and better. For example, a machine that heals broken bones, or a gadget that would defy gravity. Even a teleporter that sends mail! “Later, I would send astronauts into space to locate another planet capable of supporting life. Then, we could make an alliance with that planet. That way we might someday be able to explore much more of space. Who knows what kind of new things we could discover! “Lastly, I would give a speech. It would be about how much good I’ve done. After the speech, I’d retire. After all, I can’t lead the USA forever, can I? It would also make a world record of the shortest time as president ever. And that would be one day.”

My wife and I enjoy watching the genre of television programs in which various consultants go in and try to save failing businesses. Gordon Ramsay may have invented the basic model with his Kitchen Nightmares. It has been replicated with shows about restaurants, hotels, bars, car lots, salons, and other businesses. 107


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If you watch the programs, one thing becomes clear immediately. The worst workers in virtually any business are the people who are obsessed with the question of whether they are being disrespected. I happen to be in a good position to deliver this news, because exactly this issue came up in one of my first professional positions. Once, I sat (as a very junior person) in a high level meeting and casually doodled on my copy of the meeting agenda. The notes I was making illustrated my disdain for the process we were going through. One of my superiors was in the meeting and later expressed his disapproval of what I’d been doing. He had seen what I was writing. My reaction? Contrition? Personal re-examination? A desire to make things better? None of the above. Instead, I became so angry with this man with whom I worked that I was unable to enter the building the following morning. I was ready to come to blows because I had convinced myself that he had disrespected me. What business was it of his what I wrote on a piece of paper, anyway? Today, at age 42 it is easy to see how wrong I was. But back then, I was blind. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it took me several years to learn some of the important lessons required to become a more successful person. Instead of struggling through the problems that come from assuming you deserve boundless respect when you have done little to earn it, consider letting someone else’s mistakes (like mine) be a placeholder for your own. If you do good work and conduct yourself in a way that earns respect from others, you will receive it. Paradoxically, if you run around kicking against the goads and carrying on about the respect you deserve, you will receive far less of it and will likely be thought a fool.

Immigration is heating up again as a political issue with the second term president and others discussing possible answers to the low level chaos which currently characterizes the movement of workers between Mexico and the United States. The basic outlines of plans to address the problem shift to fit familiar lines of argument. I would like to suggest a novel approach. 108


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To state the matter very succinctly, we should deal with immigration in the context of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA provided for the free movement of goods across the border. The best way to handle the immigration problem is to provide for the free movement of workers across the border, as well. We could accomplish this goal by negotiating a worker addendum to the agreement in existence. How would it operate? Citizens from the countries involved in the agreement would be free to enter the member states to work. All they would need to do is to register as a foreign worker, obtain a proxy for a social security number which would allow for simple payment of taxes, and find employment. This solution would simplify matters significantly. Workers would not need amnesty as they would not be in the country illegally. They would not need to fear reporting crimes or traffic accidents because they need not fear deportation. American states could provide things like driver’s licenses without fear of creating some presumption of citizenship. There would still be the matter of children of registered workers being born in the United States with birthright citizenship. However, those children would no longer be tied to parents living in the United States in a quasi-criminal, illegitimate way. Rather than giving amnesty to the many illegals in the United States today and setting yet another bad precedent to encourage future law breaking, we can offer current illegals a simple path to living legitimately in the U.S. as a NAFTA registered worker. Capital moves freely. Goods move freely. Why not let the workers move freely? We can protect the value of American citizenship, while simultaneously ending the problem of having a large population of illegals within our borders.

James Q. Wilson’s terrific book Bureaucracy has an interesting story about Donald Trump and New York mayor Ed Koch. The year was 1986. The city of New York had spent six years and $13 million failing to build an ice skating rink in Central Park. In early summer that year, Trump proposed to Koch that he take over the project for $3 million and promised to cover any excess amounts himself rather 109


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than go back to the city. By late October the project was finished and was three quarters of a million dollars under budget. How do you explain this story? Why was the city of New York so inept that it could not do in six years and with five times the money what Donald Trump was able to achieve in a few months? There are several reasons why the city failed so miserably, but ultimately, the answer is that when government tries to do something, everything is infected by politics. For example, when the city planned to build the rink, the type of fuel used for refrigeration was a political matter. When Trump built the rink, he only worried about getting a reliable refrigeration unit. The city also had to abide by standards for equitable bidding of the project. Trump only had to give the contract to someone he knew could get the job done. Most important, when the city had the project there wasn’t much incentive to contain cost. No member of the government would personally have to cover cost overruns. Trump, on the other hand, accepted responsibility for coming in at or under the budget as the only way he could come out ahead. As we continue to expand our government, we need to be thinking about what we really want. Bureaucracy gives us all kinds of things that we emphasize in our politics such as politically correct energy, equity and diversity in bidding, protection of union members, and providing jobs for government workers. On the other hand, sometimes you just want your skating rink by December.

I just saw a headline that says 22 military vets commit suicide each day. Here’s the question: Does that information, alone, tell you what you need to know so that you can judge the significance of the statement? The answer is no. The intent of the headline would lead you to believe that having served in the military somehow makes a person more likely to commit suicide. In order to judge whether there is any significance here, we would need to know the rate of suicide among people who have never served. If the rate is significantly greater, then fine, you may have something. But the rate may well be the same or even less, in which case the headline would indicate the opposite of 110


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what the reporter probably intended. It would indicate veterans are actually more mentally composed than other people. The point? Don’t consume social statistics without thinking about the context necessary to make the numbers mean something.

The great thing about federalism is that it holds states up to the competitive test. If you become fed up with the failed policies of California or Illinois, you can head for Indiana or Texas. If the central government in Washington, D.C. blows it, on the other hand, you have a bigger problem. Nevertheless, the days when you can lock up your citizens (like the old Soviets did) are just about over. If a nation’s leadership proves itself incompetent, it will have to add a mass exodus to its list of problems. Folks have options. Especially the folks you might most like to keep on your team.

One of Karl Marx’s major critiques of capitalism was that industrialists create “surplus value” using the labor of workers and then reserve that value for their own enrichment. The workers, then, receive nothing more than subsistence while the capitalist builds a massive fortune. He thought that if the workers could remove the capitalist from the picture, they could appropriate the surplus value created by their own labor for themselves and thus gain a combination of greater income and leisure. Now, there are a number of problems with Marx’s presentation of the situation. The most obvious is that he attributes no value to the capitalist who may have invented the business that creates the value and certainly took significant risks to fund the enterprise. Another problem is that labor is not merely awarded with subsistence pay. In a free market situation, more productive labor commands a premium. Thus, workers are able to bargain for a portion of the surplus value based on the differential value of their contribution. But all of that is slightly beside the point. One of Marx’s dreams was that the overthrow of the capitalist would create substantial lei111


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sure time which would allow men and women to pursue their interests, such as poetry, the study of music, astronomy, or whatever else one might imagine. It is an interesting irony of history that capitalism has provided the leisure time Marx hoped would become available to the working man. All one need do to see it is to review the vast number of special interest blogs, associations, publications, and other indicators of a massive hobby class devoted to avocations too extensive to estimate. Not only has capitalism provided conditions for the worker to enjoy much leisure time, it has also generated riches sufficient (or maybe just short of sufficient as evidenced by our annual deficits) to fund long retirements and periods of unemployment and disability that run into years. The socialist dream has become a capitalist reality.

Proverbs 5 advises a man to “rejoice in the wife of your youth.” As I age, I find that those words penetrate deep into my soul. I married at the age of 24. Much is made of the first year of marriage. People talk and act as though the first year is by far the sweetest, while the rest is a long slide downhill. I haven’t found that belief to be true. The wife of my youth was exciting and often intoxicating when I was young. When we dated, I can remember that spending any time away from her was almost intolerable. Our time as a young married couple was wonderful. I loved meeting her at our apartment after work. We went out to eat and I stared at her happily as she recounted the events of her day. In the mornings, we would sit at our folding card table (the only kitchen table we had) which shook and spilled my sweet wife’s overfilled coffee each time she crossed her legs. We played endless rounds of double solitaire at that same table in the evenings. Now, I am 42 years old. We have been married almost 18 years. The worldly narrative is that I would be climbing the walls, tired of the same old woman after nearly two decades. Weary of her quirks and her stories, bored with her now familiar charms. But I will tell you something. None of that is true. I am far from sick of the wife of my youth. After nearly 20 years together and two 112


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children, I still love to hear her talk about her day. Instead of a loss of things like novelty and excitement, I have mostly marked a process of addition. For example, I have been touched by her care for our children and the powerful drive she has to make their lives special. On another front, she has been with me through so many struggles and anxieties largely unknown to the world outside our home. She knows how I think and feel about more things in life than anyone else. When I look for a word to describe what she means to me, the one that comes most readily to mind is “irreplaceable.” She is irreplaceable in my life. I wish the same for anyone who happens to read this short reflection. May God lead you to a spouse you can rejoice in as you age. And may he grant you the wisdom to work through the challenges so you can stack years like bricks in a strong house. We have been building for a long time together. I like this home we’ve constructed. I have no desire to switch it out for a fashionable apartment with a short lease somewhere else in town.

Hunter Baker serves as Dean of Instruction and a ssociate professor of political science at Union University . He is the author of two books, The End of Sec ularism and Political Thought: A Student ’s Guide. You can read more at his website, endofsecularism.com . 113


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William Tyndale In each volume of T H E C I TY , we reprint a passage from great leaders of the faith. In 1528, while at work on his English language translation of the Bible, William Tyndale wrote “ The Obedience of a Christen man, and how Christen rulers ought to govern ”, published in Antwerp , excerpted in this edition . It is considered the first instance in the English language of an argument for a scriptural basis for the divine right of kings, and ultimately sparked Henry VIII to assert his role as the head of the Church of England in 1534. But for all his arguments here about the importance of obedi ence to leaders, Tyndale’s strident opposition to Henry’s divorce proved his undoing, and he was ultimately betrayed and executed in 1536 – his last words from the stake being a shout: “ Lord! Open the King of England's eyes.”

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ecause our holy prelates and spiritually religious, who ought to defend God’s word, speak evil of it instead, and shame it all they can, and rail on it; and bear their captives in hand, so that it causes insurrection and teaches the people to disobey their heads and governors, and moves them to rise against their princes, and to make everything common, and to make havoc of other men’s goods: therefore have I made this little treatise that follows, containing all obedience that is of God. Whoever reads it will easily perceive not only their contrary teachings – that they lie – but also the very cause of such blasphemy, and what stirs them to so furiously rage and to belie the truth. However, it is nothing new to the word of God to be railed upon. Nor is this the first time that hypocrites have ascribed to God’s word the vengeance of which they themselves were ever the cause. For the hypocrites, with their false doctrine and idolatry, have evermore led the wrath and vengeance of God upon the people, so sorely, that God could no longer forbear or defer his punishment. Yet God, who is always merciful, before he would take vengeance, has always sent his true prophets and true preachers to warn the people so that they might repent. But the people for the most part, and namely the heads and rulers, through the comfort and persuading of the hypocrites, have waxed ever more hard-hearted than before; they have persecuted the word of God and his prophets. Then 115


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God, who is also righteous, has always poured his plagues upon them without delay. The hypocrites ascribe these plagues to God’s wo rd, saying, ‘See what mischief has come upon us since this new learning came up, and this new sect, and this new doctrine.’ You see this in Jeremiah 44.18, where the people cried to go back to their old idolatry, saying, “Since we left it, we have been in need, and have been consumed with war and hunger.”But the prophet answered them that their idolatry went to the heart of God, so that he could no longer allow the maliciousness of their own imaginations or inventions; and that the cause of all such mischiefs was because they would not hear the voice of the Lord, and walk in his law, ordinances, and testimonies. The scribes and the Pharisees also laid to Christ’s charge, in Luke 23.2-5, that he moved the people to sedition. They said to Pilate, “We have found this fellow perverting the people, and forbidding them to pay tribute to Caesar, and he says that he is Christ, a king.” And again in the same chapter, “He moves the people,” they said, “teaching throughout Jewry, and he began at Galilee even to this place.” They laid the same thing to the apostles’ charge, as you may see in the Acts. St. Cyprian also, and St. Augustine, and many others, wrote works in defense of the word of God against such blasphemies. So you see how it is nothing new, but an old and customary thing with hypocrites, to blame God’s word and true preachers for all the mischief which their lying doctrine is the very cause of. Nevertheless indeed, after the preaching of God’s word, because it is not truly received, God sends great trouble into the world. He does this partly to avenge himself of the tyrants and persecutors of his word, and partly to destroy those worldly people who make of God’s word nothing but a cloak for their fleshly liberty. They are not all good that follow the gospel. Christ (Mat 13.47) likens the kingdom of heaven to a net cast into the sea, that catches fishes both good and bad. The kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the gospel, to which come both good and bad. But the good are few. Christ therefore calls them a “little flock,” Luke 12.32. For they are ever few that come to the gospel from a true intent, seeking nothing in it but the glory and praise of God, and offering themselves freely and willingly to receive adversity with Christ for the gospel’s sake, and to bear witness to the truth, so that all men may hear it. The great number come, and ever came, and followed even Christ himself, for a worldly purpose. You may well see this in John 6, where 116


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almost five thousand followed Christ, and they would also have made him a king, because he had fed them well. He rebuked them, saying, “You do not seek me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the bread and were filled;” he drove them away from him with hard preaching. Even so, now as ever, most seek liberty. They are glad when they hear that the insatiable covetousness of the clergy is rebuked; when they hear their falsehood and wiles spoken about; when tyranny and oppression are preached against; when they hear how kings and all officers should rule in a Christian and brotherly way, and seek nothing else than to save the wealth of their subjects. But then they hear that the clergy have no authority from God to pill and poll as they do, and to raise taxes and gatherings to maintain their fantasies, and to make war for some unknown reason. Therefore, because the heads will not rule in this way, the people will no longer obey. Instead, they resist and rise up against their evil heads; one wicked man destroys another. Yet, God’s word is not the cause of this, nor yet the preachers. For Christ himself taught all obedience, how it is not lawful to resist wrong; it is for the officer appointed to that duty. A man must love his enemy, and pray for those who persecute him, and bless those who curse him. All vengeance must be remitted to God. A man must forgive if he would be forgiven by God; yet the people for the most part did not receive it. They were ever ready to rise and to fight. For whenever the scribes and Pharisees went to take Christ, they were afraid of the people. “Not on the holy day,” they said, Matthew 26.5, “lest an uproar arise among the people.” Matthew 21.46, “They would have taken him but they feared the people.” And Luke 20.4044, Christ asked the Pharisees a question to which they dared not answer, for the people might stone them. Last of all, the very disciples and apostles of Christ, after hearing for so long of Christ’s doctrine, were still ready to fight for Christ, completely against Christ’s teaching. Peter drew his sword, but he was rebuked; and Luke 9.54, James and John would have had fire rain down from heaven to consume the Samaritans, and to avenge the injury of Christ, but they were likewise rebuked. If Christ’s disciples were carnal for so long, is it any wonder that we are not all perfect the first day? Indeed, this is what we are taught (even babes!): to kill a Turk, to slay a Jew, to burn a heretic, to fight for the liberties 117


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and rights of the church (as they call it). Indeed, we are brought to believe that if we shed even the blood of a Christian, or if a son sheds the blood of his father, for the defense not only of the pope’s godhead, but also for whatever cause it may be (indeed, even if it is for no cause), just because his holiness commands it – that we deserve as much as Christ deserved for us, when he died on the cross. Or if we are slain in the pope’s battle, that our souls go – no, fly – to heaven, and they are there before our blood is cold. Inasmuch, I say, as we have sucked such bloody imaginations into the bottom of our hearts, even with our mother’s milk, and have been hardened in it for so long, is it any wonder that if, while we are still young in Christ, we think it would be lawful to fight for the true word of God? Yes, a man might be thoroughly persuaded that it is not lawful to resist his king, even if the king were to wrongfully take away his life and goods; yet might he think that it is lawful to resist the hypocrites, and to rise up, not against his king but with his king, to deliver his king out of the bondage and captivity in which the hypocrites hold hi m with their wiles and falsehood, so that no man may be allowed to come to his king, to tell him the truth. Where the peaceable doctrine of Christ teaches to obey and to suffer for the word of God, and to remit the vengeance and the defense of the word to God, who is mighty and able to defend it; and who, as soon as the word is openly preached, and testified, or witnessed to the world, and when he has given them a season to repent, is ready at once to take vengeance upon his enemies, He shoots arrows with heads dipped in deadly poison at them; and pours his plagues from heaven down upon them; and sends the murrain and pestilence among them; and sinks their cities; and makes the earth swallow them; and encompasses them in their wiles; and takes them in their own traps and snares, and casts them into the pits which they dug for others; and makes them dazed in the head; and utterly destroys them with their own subtle counsel.

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et every soul submit himself to the authority of the higher powers. There is no power except from God: the powers that be are ordained by God. Whoever therefore resists that power, resists the ordinance of God. Those who resist will receive damnation for themselves. For rulers are not to be feared for good works, but for 118


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evil. Do you want to be without fear of that power? Then do well, and so you shall be praised by him; for he is the minister of God for your good. But if you do evil, then fear: for he does not bear a sword for nothing; for he is the minister of God to take vengeance on those who do evil. Therefore you must obey; not for fear of vengeance only, but also because of conscience. It is for this reason that you pay tribute: for they are God’s ministers serving for that purpose. Give to every man therefore his duty: tribute to whom tribute belongs; custom to whom custom is due; fear to whom fear belongs; honour to whom honour pertains. Owe nothing to any man; but to love one another: for he that loves another fulfills the law. For these commandments, you shall not commit adultery , you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there are any other commandments, they are all comprehended in this saying, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself .’ Love does no harm to a neighbor: therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” A father is both lord and judge over his children, forbidding one brother to avenge himself on another; if any cause of strife is between them, he will have it brought to himself or his assigns, to be judged and corrected. So God forbids all men to avenge themselves, and takes the authority and office of avenging to himself; saying, “Vengeance is mine, and I will reward,” Deut 32.35. Paul repeats this text in Romans 12.19; for it is impossible for a man to be a righteous, equitable, and indifferent judge in his own cause – lusts and appetites so blind us. Moreover, when you avenge yourself, you do not make peace; rather, you stir up more debate. God has therefore given laws to all nations, and in all lands he has put kings, governors, and rulers in his place, to rule the world through them… Whoever therefore resists them, resists God, for they are in the place of God; and those who resist shall receive damnation. Such obedience to father and mother, master, husband, emperor, king, lords and rulers, requires a God of all nations, indeed, even of the Turks and infidels. The blessing and reward of those that keep them is the life of this world; as you read, “Keep my ordinances and laws; which if a man keeps them, he shall live by them.” (Lev 18.5) Paul repeats this text in Romans 10.5, proving thereby that the righteousness of the law is but worldly, and the reward for it is the life of 119


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this world; but the curse of those who break the law is the loss of this life; as you see by the punishment appointed for them. Whoever keeps the law (whether for fear, vainglory, or profit), though no man rewards him, yet God will bless him abundantly, and send him worldly prosperity; you read in Deuteronomy 28 what good blessings accompany the keeping of the law. We see that the Turks far exceed us Christian men in worldly prosperity, for justly keeping their temporal laws. Likewise, even if no man punishes lawbreakers, God will send his curses upon them till they are utterly brought to nothing, as you read most terribly in the same passage. Nor may the inferior person avenge himself on the superior, or violently resist him, for whatever wrong it may be. If he does, he is condemned in doing the deed; it is as if he took for himself what belongs to God alone, who says, “Vengeance is mine, and I will reward.” Deut 32.35. And Christ says, Matthew 26.52, “All that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” Do you take a sword to avenge yourself? If so, then you give God no opportunity to avenge you; instead, you rob him of his most high honor, by not letting him be judge over you… No person, or any degree of person, is exempt from this ordinance of God. Nor can the profession of monks and friars, or anything that the pope or bishops can lay out for themselves, exempt them from the sword of the emperor or kings, if they break the laws. For it is written, “Let every soul submit himself to the authority of the higher powers.” Here no man is excepted; all souls must obey. The higher powers are the temporal kings and princes to whom God has given the sword to punish whoever sins. God has not given them swords to punish one, and let another go free, or let sin go unpunished. Moreover, with what face did the clergy, which ought to be the light and an example of good living to all others, dare to sin unpunished, or to be excepted from tribute, toll, or custom, or not bear the pain of their brothers in the maintenance of kings and ot hers, whom God ordained to punish sin? Remember: “There is no power but of God.”

We encourage you to visit T H E C I TY online at C I VI TAT E . OR G . 120


The City Summer 2013  

The City Summer 2013 edition, a publication of Houston Baptist University.

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