McAtee Disagrees and Agrees with C. J. Engel on the Problem with Theonomist Social Theory

“Stephen Wolfe’s disagreement with James White and Wilson (and Joe Boot too) reflects precisely what I’ve been talking about for years: the inability of modern political theologies to properly understand the function of the Political within the paradigm of civil society.

People thought it odd that I would draw parallels between theonomic thinking and liberalism; but I have always emphasized that both of these models adopt the modern view that society springs forth out of the heart of man: the soul must be converted and the integrity of the political order at large is downstream from the conversion of souls. Liberalism of course is a secularized version of such things but the fact remains that for them, politics reflects culture.

This neglects the role of hegemony in society and the fact that society always reflects the vision and ethos of its elites. This is especially true and unavoidable in the post-Managerial revolution where culture is a product of political calculus and flows out from the plans of social engineers. The fact of the matter is that the Political serves the role within civil society of “Society making.” It mediates and facilitates the soul of the people, the ethos that will be adopted by that people; a nation reflects its rulers.

Read: the magisterial reformers (Turretin, Hooker, Vermigli, etc), Paul Gottfried, de Jouvenal, Carl Schmitt, James Burnham, the Paleoconservatives, and even people like Edmund Burke, the counter-revolutionaries, and the Federalists. They understand Power and it’s function to craft the souls of men and societies far better than most moderns.”

C. Jay Engel
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1.) First, I think it profitable to emphasize the proper definition of culture here since Engel posits that theonomists and liberals posit that politics reflects culture. If we understand that culture is the outward manifestation of a people’s inward beliefs or, more succinctly put, culture is theology externalized, then we have to understand that it is indeed the case that politics reflects culture.

2.) Now, we must note that while Engel may indeed be correct observing “the fact that society always reflects the vision and ethos of its elites.” However, it is simply the case that the vision and ethos of the elites is itself a result of their theology being externalized into the political order. So, the theonomist would argue that if one wants to see change in a given culture it is not so much mass conversions that are required but rather conversions of a people’s elites. This fits well with the accounts of early Christian mission efforts where we read that the early Christian missionaries would go to the King, Shaman, or tribal wise man knowing that if conversion could be made among these then the whole people would follow.

So, despite Engel’s denial “that society springs forth out of the heart of man:” it remains the case. The difference between myself and chaps like White, Wilson, and Boot is that I am insisting that it is not the heart of mass man out of which society springs, but rather society springs out of the heart of the ruling elites or even in some cases one ruling elite in the case of someone like King Alfred or Oliver Cromwell.

3.) So it remains true, despite Engel’s denial that “the integrity of the political order at large is downstream from the conversion of souls.” Our difference is on whose soul’s conversion are necessary in order to have the integrity of political order. Engel rightly protests that the likes of Wilson, White, and Boot who think that there needs be mass conversions in order to effect this change. I enter the same protest but without denying that politics reflects culture — the culture of the elites and so society at the same time reflects the culture of its rulers.

4.) I quite agree with Engel that the “Political serves the role within civil society of ‘Society making.’” However, I insist that theology/religion serves the role within civil society of ‘Elite Making.’ This is a Theonomic observation and demonstrates that Theonomy remains the only model that can consistently provide relief.

5.) Having read many of Engel’s recommendation, I remain on solid ground.

Redemption Aimed At In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?”

An article by Marvin Olaskey got me thinking about this and pushed me to come up with my own slightly different take.


In the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” film-maker John Ford demonstrates in the villain’s name and character (played by Lee Marvin) that Liberty expressed as malevolence (Hence the name Valance?) is the worst kind of license.

The character played by Jimmy Stewart is named “Ransom Stoddard.” In the film Ransom is willing to surrender his life (as a ransom) in an attempt to rid the town of the malevolence of the license brought by “Liberty Valance.” And that is what everybody thinks happened as Ranse is universally thought of as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

The town Sheriff is aptly named “Sheriff Appleyard” (played by Andy Devine). Appleyard is a bumbling but lovable fool with no real authority in the town. Devine was Barney Fife before Barney Fife was Barney Fife. The Sheriff’s last name is interesting though if only because man showed himself a fallen fool as happening in a “Appleyard.” No real help against the license of Liberty Valance is going to come from the fallen Sheriff Appleyard.

In the climax of the film, everyone has abandoned Ranse as he faces down Liberty Valance in a gun fight wherein Ranse is clearly overmatched. It is dark out. Here we see themes of Jesus being abandoned by all while all is still dark. Ranse is rescued by Tom Doniphon’s (played by John Wayne) surreptitious gunslinging thus providing a ransom for Ransom.
Because of Doniphon’s heroics he loses the girl (played by Vera Miles) to Ranse Stoddard. Could it be that the name Hallie in the film is short for Hallelujah?

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” is indeed a tale about Liberty and how liberty can easily turn into license. It’s also a tale about how true liberty has to put down false liberty in order for all people to enjoy true liberty, but it’s also a tale about how a town is ransomed so that everyone can say “Hallelujah.” Finally, it might be taken as a tale that teaches that the true hero who provides the real ransom sometimes is not recognized by those whom he provided the ransom.

The FEDS Pursuit of Divinity

Proof that the FEDS desire to be as God

1.) Passed the FISA act thus reaching for omnipresence.

2.) Womb to the tomb care thus reaching for total providence.

3.) Knows all your correspondence & purchases thus reaching for omniscience.

4.) Bureaucracy that can’t be fired thus reaching for immutability.

5.) Desire to control movement of citizens and present denial of freedom of association thus reaching for omnipotence.

6.) Embrace of anarcho-tyranny thus reaching to own the wrath of God.

7.) Embrace of all different peoples (illegal immigration) as under their umbrella thus reaching for the Unity of the Godhead since the FEDS are the expression of all peoples.

From the Mailbag; Rachel Challenges Pastor Bret On His Hot Take On Carlson Interviewing Wilson

Rachel J. Hill writes,

If the link above works, it will take you to a direct link to the full interview on Spotify. I understand you were reacting to the short trailer video but I would be curious to know if any of your critiques change after hearing the entire thing.

I personally completely agree with you on the ethnic nationalism issue. But it’s a moot point because of the way America is already compromised of so many different kinds of ethnic groups. Short of kicking people out, there’s no way you’re going to narrow the gene pool. Not only that, but the very idea of narrowing the gene pool as a proposition to achieve national unity is absurd because sinful nature still exists in every ethnicity. That’s why I am not opposed to the nationalism Wilson defined, when contrasted with the parallel options of tribalism or globalism.

I understand that there are people who only follow Wilson because of his snark and sarcastic language. He’s an “edgy” Christian who draws people who are tired of the weak ecclesiastical response to sensitive cultural issues. But as of yet, I have not found any of his videos on his blog to be contrary to the Gospel. Rather, they’re some of the most intentionally laid out guides to application for Christian living that come across.

Bret Responds,

Hello Rachel

You’ll not be surprised to find me disagreeing with you once again. I’ll respond to you point by point.

1.) I’ll try to view the whole interview you have linked.

2.) Not a moot point. Look up Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback.”

3.) Narrowing the gene pool is no more absurd than expanding the gene pool. Have you ever heard of Rudyard Kipling? Kipling makes my point for me on the advantages of a narrower gene pool. Sinful nature indeed exist in every ethnicity but that sinful nature in the way it expresses itself is going to be unique and distinct in every ethnicity. This is why Kipling could write;

The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk–
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock,
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy or sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control–
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock,
Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father’s belief
And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf–
And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children’s teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.

4.) Wilson’s propositional nationalism is NOT nationalism. Wilson is NOT a Nationalist. He is for Empire. Now it may be a domestic Empire but it is still Empire. If you read the book “Bowling Alone,” you might understand the problem better.

5.) I don’t find Wilson edgy anymore. There was a time I used to but now the man is just off the Christian Nationalist reservation with his propositional nationhood, love for lab grown meat. dalliance with Federal Vision, and warfare against those who are for ethno-nationalism. (OH, and lets not forget his advocacy for a paedo to marry a virtuous young woman as if marriage could fix sexual perversity.) Wilson is merely trying to revive the classical liberal world and life view but he will fair here. That world and life view is never coming back. Too many different moving pieces in religion and ethnicity for that to ever work again.

6.) In terms of Christian living… I will concede that Doug has been helpful with some of those issues, but I prefer sticking with the original (i.e. –Rushdoony) as opposed to going for someone who has said he was trying to be “Rushdoony 0.5.” I’m not a big pale ale fan.

Thanks for the conversation Rachel. Tell Doug I said “Hey.”

Pointing Out The Errors of Leithart On Nationalism

“Conservatives often present the nation as a throwback to pre-modern forms of political order, a restoration of natural, organic bonds in place of anemic cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism or the purely functional relations of the market. Nationalism promotes Gemeinschaft against the prevailing Gesellschaft. While nations existed in the pre-modern world, national-ism is arguably a product of post-Enlightenment political thought.”

Peter Leithart
On The “Nation” of Christian Nationalism
First Things
President of the Heretical “Theopolis Institute”
Don’t miss the word “arguably” in the quote above. It is our clue that Leithart knows that this point is traversing thin ice. The whole point is arguable because long before “post-enlightenment” one finds OT Israel practicing a unmistakable Nationalism. Strangers couldn’t join the worship cult in Israel for three, or 10 generations, while some strangers never were to be welcomed in. Boundaries for each tribe belonging to the nation were strictly set. The genealogies of the OT demonstrate that Israel was very specific about marrying within the lineage lines of the nation. This all sounds like Nationalism to me. To suggest that Israel in the OT didn’t practice nationalism is just insane, and thus so is Leithart’s “arguable” statement.Dan Brannan offers that Leithart’s error is magnificent;

“The idea that nations never had a concept of sustaining themselves prior to the Enlightenment isn’t just wrong, but precisely the opposite of the case. It was the Enlightenment which proposed the abnegation of both local provinces and nations as a great good. Leithart is a buffoon.”

Despite these observations some will still argue, that “of course, Leithart does have a point. The modern nation state is a post French Revolution phenomenon. Lincoln ushered it in here, unfortunately.”

In response to that line of reasoning we note;

1.) This is a severe misreading of history as one could just as easily argue that the modern nation state arose with the Reformation but that was 275 years prior to the French Revolution and of course was being driven by a completely different set of ideas then those ideas which drove the French Revolution.

2.) Lincoln ushered in a Consolidated Nation State here but that doesn’t mean that Americans before Lincoln didn’t have a sense of unity in their diversity, thus having a kind of Nationalism.

We see Nationalism prior to the Enlightenment in the works of Wm. Shakespeare (1564-1616) who was often referred to as “England’s national poet.” Sounds like English nationalism to me in Richard II;

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,

And again later we hear Christian nationalism with a whiff of antisemitism from the Bard;

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,

Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,

Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son,

As Darrell Dow notes;

“Peter Leithart looks to his right and sees a political movement and proceeds to pick it apart –to deconstruct. The goal is to suppress action. As such he is a Regime Theologian.”

This is not the first time that Leithart has inveighed against Nationalism. He seems to have no problem with Christianity being the faith of the land but the notion of Nationalism leaves him with a case of the hives. This is true of many in the CREC as well. These folks salute the flag of “propositional nationalism,” believing that as long as people from all over the globe, who are migrating here, regardless of their third world status, are “Christian” then everyone is going to get along just fine. This theory though, is just a Christian version of NWO Globalism. It is our current Evangelical/Reformed leadership’s impersonation of Saruman to the Sauron played by the globalists like Schwaab, Gates, and the World Economic forum types. In order for a nation to be cohesive it must have not only a common faith, but it also must have a common genetic heritage. Heterogeneity in either faith or genetic heritage is sure to find people living in the same geographic area at one another’s throats.

Christian Nationalism is the only way forward because the only option in lieu of that is Pagan Nationalism or Pagan Internationalism. There will be no such thing as Christian Internationalism until Christ returns in order to rule over the confederated Christian Nations that are each pledging fidelity to Him in their own nations.