McAtee Defends Stephen Wolfe Against Ehrett

“It would seem that antique paganism does a better job of underpinning his (Wolfe’s) political theory than does Christianity itself. Considered abstractly, what belief system could better reinforce one’s natural love of home and family and kin than a religion grounded in that natural love, a religion forming overlapping chains of unbroken continuity back through the generations of one’s particular family and polis, a religion with father-rule at its very core? In view of Wolfe’s claim that the Western mind has a “universalizing tendency” which it ought to reject, coupled with the fairly clear historical datum that this ‘universalizing tendency’ has its roots in Christianity, paganism seems to have some crucial advantages here.”

John Ehrett
Critiquing Stephen Wolfe’s book on Nationalism

Now, I’m no fan of Wolfe’s recent book on nationalism and I don’t know John Ehrett from Adam, but this critique by Ehrett is mind-boggling dense.

Ehrett tells us, in this critique that ancient paganism, with its ancestor worship, better reinforced one’s natural love of home, family, and kin because it was a religion grounded in natural love. First, understand that when paganism had this kind of religion the natural love that Ehrett speaks of instantly became natural love in service of idolatry. The ancient pagans who worshiped the family were guilty of familolatry. As such, whatever natural love that was present in the end was not love at all. Any love that is owned that does not find its meaning in love for God and in submission to God is no love at all. Because the kind of pagans the Ehrett speaks of practiced familolatry therefore it was not possible for pagan religion to be superior to Christianity when it came to love of kith, kin, and place. Second, is Ehrett not familiar with some of the kinds of antique paganism who had this superior natural love for family above that of Christianity? Is Ehrett not familiar that many indigenous peoples across Mesoamerica had altars in their houses or patios and these were used, in part, to communicate with the ancestors? Is this the kind of superiority over Christianity in the matter of kith, kin, and place, that Ehrett speaks of? Has Ehrett ever considered the Mexican holiday of the “Day of the Dead” which stretches back centuries and which is closely connected to the pagan respect for kith, kin, and place? Does he really want to argue that the Day of the Dead is superior to Wolfe’s proper insistence that Christianity is a religion that is better at reinforcing love for kith, kin, and family than paganism?

In making this critique I have to wonder if Ehrett has ever heard of covenant theology with its promise from God that “I will be your God and you shall be my people?” Does Ehrett realize that the Scriptures are all about Father rule so that Christians are constantly accused of that dreaded thing called patriarchy? Has Ehrett ever considered the idea of a promised land. Has Ehrett Revelation 21 where the Nations as Nations are filing into the New Jerusalem? How about Micah 4 or Isaiah 2 where all the nations as nations are streaming to the Mountain of the Lord?

Is Ehrett actually arguing that Paganism gives a better foundation for the idea of family, polis, place, and Father rule than Christianity?

As to the matter of Ehrett’s support for what he believes is Christianity’s “universalizing tendency,” let us keep in mind that a “universalizing tendency” can come in a couple of varieties. The first variety seems to be what Ehrett is pushing. It is the variety that has Christianity working to be a faith that he imagines results in no countries and where all colors bleed into one. This kind of Christianity that Ehrett envisions is one where the universalizing tendency has swallowed whole the particularity that Christianity also embraces with its doctrine of “The One and the Many.” The second variety of a Christianity with a healthy “universalizing tendency” is the kind of universalizing tendency that bespeaks confederation. This kind of universalizing tendency allows for unity in the faith while embracing particularity in peoples and places. This kind of Christian universalizing tendency allows for every tribe, tongue and nation, in their tribes, tongues, and nations, to come around the throne of the lamb to give glory and honor and praise.

Christianity has through the centuries embraced both the idea of a universalizing tendency and of a particularizing tendency when it comes to peoples. Listen to Charles Hodge on the particularizing tendency of Christianity;

“It is moreover a historical fact universally admitted, that character, within certain limits is transmissible from parents to children. Every nation, separate tribe, and even every extended family of men, has its physical, mental, social, and moral peculiarities which are propagated from generation to generation. No process of discipline of culture can transmute a Tartar into a Englishman, or an Irishman into a Frenchman. The Bourbons, the Hapsburgs, and other historical families, have retained and transmitted their peculiarities for ages. We may be unable to explain thus, but we cannot deny it. No one is born an absolute man, with nothing but generic humanity belonging to him. Everyone is born a man a man in a definite state, with all those characteristics physical, mental, and moral, which make up his individuality. There is nothing therefore in the doctrine of hereditary depravity out of analogy within providential facts.”

Charles Hodge

Systematic Theology

And listen to Abraham Kuyper on how particularity can exist within the universal;

“The Javanese are a different race than us; they live in a different region; they stand on a wholly different level of development; they are created differently in their inner life; they have a wholly different past behind them; and they have grown up in wholly different ideas. To expect of them that they should find the fitting expression of their faith in our Confession and in our Catechism is therefore absurd.

Now this is not something special for the Javanese, but stems from a general rule. The men are not all alike among whom the Church occurs. They differ according to origin, race, country, region, history, construction, mood and soul, and they do not always remain the same, but undergo various stages of development. Now the Gospel will not objectively remain outside their reach, but subjectively be appropriated by them, and the fruit thereof will come to confession and expression, the result may not be the same for all nations and times. The objective truth remains the same, but the matter in appropriation, application and confession must be different, as the color of the light varies according to the glass in which it is collected. He who has traveled and came into contact with Christians in different parts of the world of distinct races, countries and traditions cannot be blind for the sober fact of this reality. It is evident to him. He observes it everywhere.”……

Abraham Kuyper:
Common Grace (1902–1905)

And so, we must conclude that this critique of Ehrett’s insisting on the idea that Christianity is a faith that levels all previous cultural distinctions so that men from different cultures and races, once becoming Christian can all live in harmony in the same social order just because they are all Christian is just not accurate.


Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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