Dear Herbert Goforth Marcuse,
Let’s start with a definition of culture.
Culture is the outward manifestation of a people’s inward beliefs.
Culture thus reflects and incarnates the God and the theology that it worships. As such culture is hopelessly theological and while in itself not redemptive it does reflect some kind of theology. The R2kt insists not only that culture is not in and of itself redemptive (something all Reformed Christians agree with) but goes on to insist that it isn’t theologically rooted and imbued, as if it is a-theological. This is more than unfortunate.
Your letter seemed to affirm the idea of a ‘wall of separation between Church and State. The Puritans never agreed with the pagan idea of a wall between church and state. The puritans believed that there were two distinct realms, (one responsible for ministering grace while the other was responsible for ministering justice) but that the realms were complimentary and interdependent. The Puritans never held that the Church should have a wall between itself and the State and later protestants wanted a wall only in order to keep the State from meddling in the affairs of the Church, not to keep the Church from influencing the State. Frankly, the idea of a ‘wall between Church and State’ is a pagan idea and one that isn’t possible anyway as the current arrangement in this country reveals where the Church is located in the government schools and serves as the State Church.
The idea that ‘by looking for religious significance not in this world but in the world to come, liturgical Protestantism lowers the stakes for public life while still affirming politics’ divinely ordained purpose’ is an idea that creates a kind of platonic dualism with religious significance, including what happens in Church, being placed in the upper story while the ‘common realm,’ including what happens everywhere but what happens in Church, is located in the lower story. This is why it is often accused of gnosticism. This argument completely divorces nature from grace seeing them as two completely different and irreconcilable realities. Now, to be sure, there is always the danger of over identifying nature with grace not making the necessary distinctions between the two but the danger of one extreme doesn’t justify embracing the danger of R2kt virus. The danger of immanentizing the eschaton isn’t solved by making the eschaton so transcendent that it touches only the cultus.
Second, you quote somebody who talks about politics as the divinely appointed means for restraining evil but ‘evil’ is a theological category. In order to know what evil is we need Christian theology to inform the magistrate as to what evil is. As one example of the problem here, Natural law, in a community of homosexuals, is not going to restrain the evil of sexual license. So, even your quote above advocating R2Kt virus must presuppose my position in order to deny my position.
Third, since Theocracy is an inescapable category and since we are living under one even now, I see nothing un-Biblical in desiring a Theocracy that is increasingly reflective of Biblical categories then one that is increasingly reflective of the values of Marx, De Sade, and Freud. I am amazed at your disparaging attitude that Christians should desire the Kingship of Jesus in the communities in which they live.
Fourth, Woodrow Wilson had divorced Christian anthropology and soteriology from His eschatology and as such he was a defacto operating humanist. Accusations against him don’t lay a glove on post-millennialism. In a biblical post-millennial theology it is Christ who is bringing His Kingdom to earth and not in your words, ‘his followers who are trying with their human effort to build utopia.’ Therefore your criticism on that count doesn’t stand either, though as a functional a-millennialist I am not surprised that you would accuse post-millennialism of being just another brand of Oneida type utopianism.
Fifth, it is true that the R2Kt virus does define morality but only on an individual and personal level. They may say that murder is wrong but they dare not, if they are consistent, proclaim from the pulpit during the preaching of the Word, that killing Jews is wrong for that is something that belongs to the political realm and so not something that the Church should speak to since the Church’s responsibility is to proclaim personal salvation as found in Christ. As such, Church members are free to advocate killing Babies or not killing Babies in the public square and if R2kt virus types are consistent they will not be disciplined. Now, it may be that they will be inconsistent and speak to the issue but given their position if they are consistent they will follow their own theology and recognize that the Church as the Church has no voice on these matters.
You may indeed voice your concerns as a Christian in the public square on a host of issues. You may even contend that your position is THE Christian position proving it from scripture. BUT theoretically it is the case that a person who shares membership with you at the local R2kt Church can voice just the opposite view as yours, likewise proving it from Scripture and likewise insisting that theirs is the truly Biblical position. And since the Church as the Church can’t speak to such issues believers are left without a Word from the Lord and with each man doing what is right in his own eyes.
Give my best to the family,