Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revolutionary Christianity:

[What follows is a modified version of an email I sent to an historian.]

Whether a revolutionary mentality is compatible at all with social conservatism and traditional Christianity is seriously disputed. I don't think the Tea Party types are aware, however.

Revolutionary thought did present itself under the auspices of Christianity. But it's not clear whether the Right or (social gospel) Left wing liberation theologians are true heirs to revolutionary Christianity. Lino Graglia once cynically remarked:

"What [the Declaration of Independence] is, of course, is a document meant to justify revolution -- that is, illegal action. Having no human law to rely on -- being in defiance of authority -- revolutionaries necessarily come to rely on the law of God, who, happily, rarely issues a protest."

There is a profound truth here. Marx's atheism can't rally the poor and working class to economic revolution. Paul E. Sigmund, Prof. Emeritus at Princeton, is one of the foremost Locke scholars AND scholar of Latin American liberation theology. I'm pretty sure he's a liberal Christian who supports the social Gospel cause (I've informally chatted with him on a number of occasions at Princeton). He's friendly with Robert P. George's conservative bunch and Sigmund seems pretty anti-atheist in his sentiments because he realizes you need God to support his politics. Those Marxist Latin American revolutionaries are/were theists who call themselves Christians.

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