Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strauss and Reason vs. Revelation

There has been a lot of discussion about Leo Strauss lately in the comments section of this blog so I decided to do a post on a part of this University of Chicago Press excerpt of the book Reading Leo Strauss by Steven B. Smith. The following jumped out to me because it focuses on the reason vs. revelation debate that is very famililar to this blog:

"The great theme of Strauss’s life work—what he himself referred to as “the theme of my investigations”—is the theologico-political problem, a term he drew from his early studies of Spinoza. At the center of the theologico-political problem is a choice or conflict between two comprehensive and apparently irreconcilable alternatives: revelation and reason, or as he refers to them metaphorically, Jerusalem and Athens. The difference between Jerusalem and Athens is not simply a philosophical or theological problem; it is at heart a political one. It is a matter of authority and who holds ultimate authority. Does final authority rest with the claims of revelation and all that it implies or with one’s autonomous human reason as the most fundamental guide to life?

Kraynak: Christianity vs. Modernity II

By Robert P. Hunt

The following is a short excerpt of this essay:

"In Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, Robert P. Kraynak challenges many of the assumptions made by both liberal secularists and committed Christians regarding the proper intellectual and moral foundations for constitutional government. He rejects the liberal assumption that some variant of "moral autonomy" can serve as a foundation for contemporary "rights talk," and, more broadly, questions whether the liberal intellectual tradition contains within itself the resources to sustain its own commitment to democratic self-government. Less persuasive is his argument regarding the inherent conflict between Christianity and democracy--especially to someone who, like myself, shares with Kraynak a commitment to the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism but who, I suspect, parts company with him regarding the intellectual vision and categories that might best inform the effort to sustain a Christian view of man and society.

Kraynak: Modernity vs. Christianity

By Robert P. Hunt

The following is a small excerpt from this essay:

"Nowhere is Kraynak’s effort to baptize classical political philosophy more evident than in his treatment of Plato's and Cicero’s defense of a "mixed regime." The ancients understood "the advantages of a mixed regime in promoting a stable and balanced order that combines freedom and virtue in the citizen body with feelings of filial affection and piety for the foremost ruler" (Kraynak, 236). "The only point [at which a worldview inspired by the New Testament supplied an "important amendment"] that is missing in the classical philosophers is a proper distinction between the spiritual and temporal realms that the Greeks and Romans (and non-Christian cultures in general) were unable to grasp in all its implications" (Kraynak, 236-37).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Does it Really Matter If George Washington Took Communion or Not? II

For many months now Jon Rowe, Tom Van Dyke, and I have been discussing Jon's claim, via Dr. Gregg Frazer, that founding era Christians had to come up with new and creative ways to interpret the Bible to justify their resistance to what they perceived was tyranny. In short, Jon seems to think that these were "dissident" and "revisionist" views that were heavily influence by Enlightenment thinking. Tom Van Dyke and I point to the fact that resistance theory has a long tradition in both Catholic and Protestant political theology that, by far, pre-dates the Enlightenment.

This topic came up again in the comments section of Jon's post that references D.G. Hart's response to Peter Lillback. The discussion starts on the topic of whether there was a Hebrew Republic and gradually shifts to resistance theory and what is orthodox Christian political thought or not? Here is Tom Van Dyke setting the stage: