Capitalism is Secularism

In this article, we have a great reminder by Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart of just how alien first Century Christianity was to our contemporary culture. What is and is not taken literally, or seriously, in the New Testament; or what is, or is not, read back into early Christianity often depends on the cultural and ideological framework of the reader. As Hart points out this is obviously apparent when it comes to the issue of wealth.

Modern liberal/capitalist ideology insists that property, wealth, and the maximization of profit are simply eternal laws of nature, period. The laws of the market are prior to all other law, even moral law; so when someone steeped in that ideology encounters the New Testament text, there is somewhat a dilemma. Hart puts it this way:

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Capitalism is Secularism

When Religious Pluralism gets Silly

Interfaith Dialogue is a bizarre phenomenon; I never know exactly what the point is. Is it just to find one what various traditions agree on? If so what’s the point? Where is the dialogue? Is it to compare doctrines? To what end? Also, dialogue on what basis, addressing what questions? Different religions address different questions with different assumptions. John Milbank puts it right in his essay “The end of Dialogue”:

The Event of dialogue, since its Socratic beginnings, assumes a commonly recognized subject matter and certain truths that can be agreed about this subject matter by both (or all) participants)

And then at the end of the Essay:

In the course of such a conversation, we should indeed expect to constantly receive Christ again, from the unique spiritual responses of other cultures. But I do not pretend that this proposal means anything other than continuing the work of conversion.

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When Religious Pluralism gets Silly

Saint Augustine and Liberal Hermeneutics

Saint Augustine is one of the most influential theologians in history; he’s almost synonymous with western Christianity. In my opinion, all theology needs to start with biblical hermeneutics, what do the scriptures tell us? How are we to read them? What is and is not authoritative? How can they be interpreted? These are the questions that are going to have to come first in theology. Saint Augustine wrote many interpretive works, most famously “the literal meaning of Genesis.” But in his work “on Christian Doctrine” he lays out some general hermeneutical principles, given his influence, I’m going to go over two that I find interesting and pertinent to modern theology.

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Saint Augustine and Liberal Hermeneutics

Chris Hedges and Mainline Protestantism

The mainline protestant Churches in the United States are in decline, this is news to no one who are paying attention. Some people have bemoaned the decline, some people have delighted in it, most people simply are ambivalent to it, to be honest I don’t know what I feel about it, culturally I think it’s a sad thing to lose, theologically I think they don’t have a leg to stand on. Chris Hedges, liberal Christian activist, has recently put out an article on his take on the liberal mainline decline. As one would expect Christ Hedges doesn’t link their decline to the mainline Church’s theological un-seriousness, their more or less complete secularization or their complete abandonment of the Christian message of the sovereignty of God over all creation. Rather he puts the blame on the idea that the mainline Churches aren’t political enough, that they aren’t focusing on Social issues enough, he says:

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Chris Hedges and Mainline Protestantism

John Locke was wrong – Part 2

In the previous post I introduced John Locke’s theory of the state of nature, and his defence of property, and I began to critique it, if you haven’t yet read the previous post, I suggest you do, as it might be difficult to follow this one otherwise. Let’s Leave the economic realm let’s talk about the Lockean philosophy and how it applies to relations between the sexes. What is the logic of the one nightstand? Or of the feminist idea of harassment? The one nightstand takes the idea of sex as an individual and autonomous act between two individuals. Reciprocal exchange is the norm here, Person A meets person B, they find each other physically attractive, and they contract a sexual encounter, which is mutually pleasurable (hopefully), and then the contract is over, no rights have been violated, autonomy is maintained. It seems to fit perfectly with John Locks idea of the state of nature and humans rights he says:

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John Locke was wrong – Part 2

John Locke was wrong – Part 1

John Locke is probable the most important enlightenment thinker when it comes to modern Anglo-American Liberalism, which has come to dominate the world. The second book of his “treatises of government” is one of the seminal works of Liberalism, creating a philosophical framework on which both Democracy, Capitalism, and Liberalism have built upon. John Locke is, in my opinion, hugely mistaken when it comes to the nature of man and the nature of rights (especially property), this mistake shakes the entire foundation of John Locke’s Liberalism and I think it is unfortunate that modern ideology more or less takes John Locke’s political philosophy as axiomatic, despite it being extremely problematic when examined. Anyone interested in modern Liberal ideology should examine John Locke’s “two treatises of government,” since it is so important to the development of Liberal ideology. In this post, I’ll be critiquing what I find problematic in his political theory found in “Two Treatises of Government – Book 2”, specifically on the nature of man and rights.

To start with let’s take a look at his concept of a “state of Nature,” he says in Chapter 2:

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John Locke was wrong – Part 1

Why a secular liberal critique of Capitalism is impossible

It seems that today there are two options when it comes to Capitalism, either accept Capitalism (fully or with some social-democratic counterweight) or join the with the anti-Capitalist left, generally fully secular, and fully liberal. Most critique of Capitalism in the west has been either from a Marxist or a Liberal perspective, which is the enlightenment on steroids, completely secular.

I think this critique of Capitalism is doomed to failure; it simply cannot stand up to Capitalism on its own. A Secular/Liberal opposition to Capitalism is impossible; it will fail anytime it rises. Great contemporary Anglican Theologian John Milbank more or less agrees with me, in his essay “On Baseless Suspicion – Christianity and the Crisis of Socialism” he sums up the major problem, or contradiction of the secular/liberal left in one damning statement:

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Why a secular liberal critique of Capitalism is impossible