ERLC is part of Southern Baptist Convention.
ERLC fellow praises modern, secular America; attacks idea of Christian America.
ERLC fellow says ethnic minorities and women have it better in modern America (but does this better America include all the minorities and women aborted?)
A research fellow with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission attacked the idea of “Conservative Democracy” as a bulwark against modern, secular decadence culture and rejected the idea of America as a Christian nation in an essay published by Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy. Dr. Paul D. Miller also attacked the idea that things were worse in America today than in the past because minorities enjoy a better life.
Dr. Paul D. Miller is a professor at Georgetown and a fellow with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Miller attempts to defend the classical liberal order from modern conservative criticism. He does so with an attack on the conservative view of the past being, well, naïve at best and racist at worst.
He writes, “Like all social conservatives, Hazony’s tale of decline and fall is selective, biased, and misleading—and it reveals the bias in favor of majority groups inherent in nationalism.” And a bit later, he declares, “To ethnic and religious minorities, it is blindingly obvious that the conservative fetish for preserving old ways functions as a convenient way for powerful people to entrench their power.”
Get that? The past was really only great for white, Christian men here in America. But, today is much better for just about everyone. Specifically, life is better for minorities and women, according to Dr. Miller.
“American culture has improved by leaps and bounds for pretty much every other group aside from Christian men of European descent. Twenty Nineteen is the best year to be alive and black in American history (that’s an easy call because it’s a low bar), and the same is pretty much true for American women as well,” Miller asserts.
That’s demonstrably true. Well, for the blacks and females not aborted.
How is modern, secular America working out for them?
Not so well.
They don’t get to experience anything in this temporal realm because of the godless, antichrist spirit of the age. A spirit encouraged by the unrestrained moral decadence enabled by classical liberalism’s push of Christianity out of the public square.
But, well, Miller ignores that rather glaring problem. There are more black babies aborted than born in New York City, according to reports.
That is evil.
But things are pretty OK for the ones not murdered.
What of a Christian America?
Dr. Miller argues that the idea of a Christian America is un-Baptist and un-Christian.
“But as a political program, advocating for a Christian America is a deeply un-American and un-Christian idea. Politics should be about flourishing for all and about the common good, not about perks and privileges for our tribe,” he writes. Also, “The disestablishment of religion is important not because John Locke said so, but because it is an essential biblical doctrine deeply rooted in the Baptist tradition and, from it, the American tradition.”
A Christian America isn’t a perk, but a necessity.
A Christian worldview is the moral grounding necessary to make the concepts of individual rights reasonable. Is a human life worth anything if not for the Imago Dei? No. Without this worldview, humanity creates its own moral code.
What is the result? The chaos of everyone doing what is right in his own eyes.
And that is the fundamental problem of liberal democracy—without a shared grounding and moral code, there can only be chaos. The unfailing commitment to personal autonomy yields real oppression. And what is a greater oppression than the murder of the weakest just so the living can have reckless sex and enjoy a higher standard of living?
And what of a Baptist political theology?
The great Southern Baptist pastor, theologian and former SBC president took a different view from Dr. Miller.
Dr. W. A. Criswell said,
“To my great sorrow, and yours, we have lost our nation to the liberal, and the secularist, and the humanist, which finally means to the atheist and the infidel. America used to be known as a Christian nation. It is no longer. America is a secular nation. Our forefathers who came on the Mayflower founded here a new republic, a new nation, and it was Christian. Our Baptist forefathers founded a state, and it was Christian. When I was a youth growing up, the name of God and the Christian faith was a part of the civic and national life of our people. It is not anymore.
“By law and by legislation and by court decision, we bow at no altar and we call on the name of no God. The forefathers who placed in our Constitution the First Amendment did so for the sole purpose of interdicting a state-established church. But we have taken that First Amendment to read out of our national life, and out of our public life, the presence of Almighty God. No longer can we pray in our public schools. No longer can we read God’s word in our public schools. No longer can we have chapel services in our public schools. No longer are we permitted to place a nativity scene on a courthouse lawn. No longer can we place a star in a public building. We have become a secular nation.”
Dr. Criswell saw a different America. An America on the path of decline for everyone because it rejected God as the foundation.
What Criswell noted, and so many scholars neglect, is that the United States wasn’t culturally neutral toward Christianity. Rather, it was neutral toward any particular denomination. It recognized the debt it owed to Christendom.
Prayer was regular and public. The Bible was read and welcomed in schools.
Disestablishment of religion inevitably led to hostility. The historical record is clear on this matter. I’m open to Miller’s important distinction between classical liberalism and progressivism. I think he is right—there is a huge difference. However, both systems make man the measure. Man is a jealous god and will brook no competition from silly, ancient moral codes.
But returning to Miller’s view that establishing a Christian America is “un-Christian,” such an assumption appears ludicrous. While the state and church represent different kingdoms, both exist under Charter by God and are accountable to Him. Both exist for the moral instruction and care of humanity. One might rightly separate church and state, but both are under God. Recognizing the Christian God is a reasonable duty of the state and people.
If the state rejects this, it will find itself try to fill the godless void by seeking greater authority over its subjects. It and its leaders will attempt to fill the moral vacuum with its own warped religion.
That’s what the cultural elites are doing today. They’ve established a new religion. They will accept no deviance from their orthodoxy (see the Equality Act for how they establish supremacy over all things). Abortion is its highest sacrament—an act of the great triumph of personal autonomy over the Imago Dei, where the gift of God is sacrificed daily.
Yeah, America sure is great today. Air conditioning, iPhones and 4K Ultra High Definition televisions are fun, but our great modern life is morally bankrupt.
God ordained the state to restrain the chaotic tendencies of man. It isn’t doing a good job today. As Dr. Criswell said, “We have lost our nation to the liberal, and the secularist, and the humanist, which finally means to the atheist and the infidel.”
Classical liberalism is coming under rightful examination and critique.