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
X Post

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.

Immanentizing the Eschaton … A Brief Engagement with Stephen Wolfe

In a 31 minute video Stephen Wolfe says he does not want to immanentize the Eschaton while at the same time saying he wants to order the temporal things after the eternal. This is doublespeak. If one orders the temporal things after the eternal then one is immanentizing the eschaton to some degree.

I do agree that there is a danger with a philosophy that goes overboard in trying to immanentize the eschaton for the reason that such a project, when not constrained, denies the fallenness of man and original sin. When not constrained, immanentizing the eschaton, does not understand that in this life we never get all the glory now.

Having said that, immanentizing the eschaton is an inescapable category. All men will seek to build the present based on their idealized future. It would be insane not to pursue that. Of course, our problem is, is that those outside of Christ have a very different vision of the idealized future.

On this matter consider that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now if we, as God’s people, not only pray that but also live in terms of that prayer then we will be working, to some degree or another, on immanentizing the eschaton.

Finally, do keep in mind, that the dangers occurring from seeking to immanentize the eschaton have chiefly come from the Christ haters seeking to immanentize their humanistic vision of the eschaton. It is the Stalins and the Maos and the Pol Pots, and the Bela Kuns who have been those who bloodied the planet with their attempt to build humanist Utopias that were reflections of their Christless vision of the immanentized eschaton.

Heidi Complains That Christian Nationalists Believe Rights Come From God

“The thing that unites them as Christian nationalists, (not Christians because Christian nationalists are very different), is that they believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any Earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God,”

Heidi Przybyl
Guest on Talking Head MSNBC Show

Imagine my effrontery to believe that I am endowed by my Creator with certain inalienable rights, and as such do not have to wait, hat in hand, for some government, steeped in humanism and owning allegiance to Man as God said loudly, to determine for me what “rights” they will piece meal out to me.

The stupidity of this woman is a new low but it is revelatory of the mindset of our enemies. These people really do believe that “in the state we live and move and have our being.” These people really do embrace that since we have no god over us, the State is therefore god.

Of course, she really doesn’t believe that it is a problem for people not to believe rights come from the State. If the state took away the right to abortion, for example, can you imagine how loud Heidi’s screeching would be that “the Government has no right to do that?” Would Heidi, at that point, suddenly become a Christian because she would be acting in a way as to demonstrate her belief that “rights come from something higher than the state.”

Now, keep in mind in all this that R2K agrees with Heidi that rights don’t come from God — at least not directly. R2K believes that all rights come from Natural Law. So, Heidi and David Van Drunen have in common that Christians should not be appealing directly to God but to some other agency for human “rights.” Heidi believes the appeal should be made to the State. David Van Drunen believes the appeal should be made to Natural Law.

Leithart’s Analysis On The Reasons For Trump Support Are Wrong

Peter Leithart is one of those “dumbest smart people who have ever lived” types. Over here he moves in the opposite direction of Occam’s razor seeking to complicate what is profoundly simple, trying to explain why Trump remains so popular among elements of the Christian community.

Trump remains popular among middle class, rural, blue-collar, white Christians because those middle class, rural, blue-collar, white Christians for primarily one reason and that reason is because the middle class, rural, blue-collar, white Christians believe (rightly or wrongly) that Trump is the man who is going to keep them from continuing to be vomited upon by the Uni-party globalists that now occupy Washington. This voting bloc is supporting Trump because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that he is the embodiment for who they are. This voting bloc believes (rightly or wrongly) that Trump is the vehicle through which the Christian values of Nationalism, particularity, opposition to crime, and the requirement to be armed,  will be returned to and sustained.

Instead of realizing this simple reality Leithart goes on and on with the “scapegoat who refuses to be the scapegoat” metaphor. He waxes eloquent citing French scholar Renee’ Girard.

Trump is also being supported because the establishment DC uni-party hates him so thoroughly. This voting bloc supporting Trump can smell and feel the vitriol and animus glowing from the Trotskyite Republicans and Stalinesque Democrats and because this voting bloc has the same feelings towards the Trotskyite Republican party and the Stalinesque Democratic party the best way to show their animus is by wildly supporting Trump. This wild support of Trump is animal defiance to the uni-party coming from the voting bloc of which we are speaking.

One doesn’t have to reach for Girard or scapegoats to explain the wild support for Trump among Christians.

Leithart writes errantly,

“American society is at a critical moment. It’s not exactly a war of all against all, but a war of faction against faction against faction against faction. And, just as the script prescribes, one faction trots out an orange-haired scapegoat, President Donald Trump. For many of our elites, Trump is a mortal threat to democracy, the chief source of disorder, the mobilizer of the deplorables. Remove him, and peace will flow like a river. One man must be destroyed to save the polity.”

The error in the above is found in Leithart’s belief that “for many of our elites, Trump is a mortal threat to democracy.” I do not believe that is true. What many of the elites are afraid of in point of fact is that their own threat to Republican form of government is threatened by Trump. It is true that  many of our elites say that they believe that Trump is a threat to Democracy but we need to keep in mind here of the old Alinsky principle that holds to accuse your enemy of what you yourself are guilty.  It is the elites who are a threat to our Constitutional Republican form of government but what better way to mask that then to blame Trump of the same thing. The elites are afraid that somehow Trump is an end to their desire to absolutely control American society. Our elites desire to implement a social credit control system on America such as is found in China. Trump is a threat to that program.

So, Leithart’s analysis is just in error because he over complicates the painfully obvious. Christians are wildly supporting Trump because they believe the uni-party desires to destroy them and, rightly or wrongly, the voting bloc we are talking about wildly supports Trump.

I write all of this as one who has never voted for Trump, nor ever will vote for Trump because I do not believe about Trump what many of those Christians who wildly support Trump believe about him. I do not agree with their wild support but I understand it and sympathize with their support. After all, who wants to die when a possible champion might take up your cause against a powerful enemy?

And make no mistake about it… the uni-party in DC desires to snuff out the MAGA crowd, and especially all those Christians who are wildly supporting Trump.

Should Theology be in the Domain of Politics? — McAtee Undresses Wolfe

Over on X Stephen Wolfe offers a typical Natural Law kind of statement by posting;

“Christians need fewer theologian writing about politics. Politics, for Christians, should mainly be a discipline of non-theologians.”

Stephen Wolfe

From here Wolfe quotes from Francis Junius, a man who was trained to be a minister but left disgusted with the politics in the Church and his native country surrounding the controversy between Arminius and the supporters (including his own Uncle) who supported Calvinism.

“If any theologian labors concerning the matters relating to the ordering of human society, he wastes himself, and does the most serious injury to the God who calls him, to the Church for whose sake he has been called, and to her calling by being a busybody and meddling in others’ business which is insatiable ambition.”

Francis Junius
The Mosaic Polity — pg. 20

A few observations here.

1.) Wolfe’s position here, amazingly enough, apes the position of Radical Two Kingdom Theology (R2K). R2K, like Wolfe here, insists that ministers should stay away from politics. Don’t talk about abortion from the pulpit. Don’t talk about sodomy from the pulpit. Don’t advocate for sabbath laws in the social order from the pulpit. Don’t give reasons from the Bible as to why magistrates are in sin for pursuing an immigration policy that dilutes both the religion of the people and the original stock. Wolfe wants all this to himself and others like him. Wolfe desires for the elimination of “thus sayeth the Lord,” ringing from the Church. This is the same exact position of David Van Drunen –he of R2K fame.

2.) Wolfe being a Thomist and following the Natural Law school basically advocates here for the same kind of philosophy/ideology/theology that emanated from the pagan Enlightenment. Wolfe doesn’t need any stinking theology in order to arrive at his politics. Indeed, per Wolfe, politics should belong to non-Theologians (as if that were even possible). Wolfe is echoing the Endarkenment project and is advocating that man — starting from himself, by the use of right reason and natural law– can come to truth without any Scriptural revelation.

3.) Allow me to say, once again, that there are exactly zero academic disciplines that can be pursued apart from theology. Whether one is talking about sociology, education, judicial realm, arts, philosophy, politics, history etc. etc. etc. theology is inescapable and is the beginning point for all disciplines. There is no pursuing any discipline without theological a-prioris. This includes the Natural Law Thomists types who hide from themselves the theology that they are working from while insisting that they are not doing theology. Wolfe does this in his book, insisting in his book that he is not doing theology. I promise you… all any of us do, all the time (including Dr. Wolfe) is theology. It’s just either purposeful disingenuousness or a blindness of epic proportions to deny this.

4.) There are whole books out there connecting theology to politics. Martin Foulner’s “Theonomy & the Westminster Confession” is one such book. Dr. Glenn R. Martin’s “Prevailing Worldviews of Western Society Since 1500,” is another. R. J. Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer, Gary North, and C. Greg Singer all connected what they wrote on politics to theology. Pray tell,  what does Wolfe do with the Black Robed Regiment in the American colonies during the run up to the War for American Independence?

Now Wolfe, hating the presuppositional school as being a Natural Law theologian (and I feel the same way about his philosophy as he does about my theology,) like his R2K bedfellows doesn’t want the presuppositionalists swimming in a pool (politics) he thinks should be exclusive to him and his R2K pool buddies but I’m here to tell you that he’s in over his head and is drowning.

5.) I understand how frustrated Wolfe is by so many clergy who are absolute dorks who are resisting him. However, the problem with these dorks is not limited to politics. These dorks rot at politics because they rot at theology. They shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a pulpit. Frankly, I’m surprised that God has struck many of them dead where they stand in their pulpits for resisting the Lordship of Jesus Christ over nations. However, the conclusion here isn’t to restrict a theology that touches every area of life (including politics) from the bailiwick of the pulpit.

6.) I have liked some of the conclusions that Wolfe has arrived at but I absolutely loath … despise … hate the man’s Natural Law methodology. We see the instability of it again in Wolfe’s echoing of the R2K school in his desire to eliminating theology from politics. Here we have R2K who insists that they are the voice of God’s Natural Law, and Wolfe who insists he is the voice of Gods’ Natural Law, and these two are at each other’s throats as to what Natural Law teaches. If the R2K Thomists, and the Wolfe crowd Thomists can’t agree on what Natural Law teaches how is anybody else going to read the tea leaves of Natural Law rightly.

Natural Law went the way of the Dodo bird because men began to see that it was clearly a thin and weak reed to lean on. Natural Law was eclipsed because it sucked wind as a theology/philosophy that could provide stability for a social order. The reason then, and the reason now, Natural law sucks so badly as a epistemological foundation is that it is completely subjective to whomever is reading Natural Law. This is proven, in spades, by the fact that the R2K fanboys, and the Wolfe fanboys, who both love them some Natural Law can’t stand to be in each other’s presence when it comes to working out what Natural Law really means.