David French has a dangerous political theology. A political theology that if practiced would jeopardize our liberties and open Christians to persecution. At root is a trust in pluralism that is unwarranted and patently dangerous. The Left wants to marginalize and eliminate Christians. Doubt that? Check out the Equality Act. French doesn’t recognize the stakes, and naïvely trusts liberal institutions and constitutional norms to protect Christians.
French writes, “My political opponents are my fellow citizens. When I wore the uniform of my country, I was willing to die for them. Why would I think I’m at war with them now?”
Because we are at war. Politics is war by other means. As French notes, America is a society of competing worldviews. These worldviews are at war. A war where if the Left wins, Christians will be pushed to the fringes. Eliminated from universities, social media platforms and good paying jobs if they practice their faith. The Equality Act proves what the Left wants for Christians. Marginalized and ultimately eliminated.
The attack on Christians undermines any attempt to rely on pluralism as a defense. Yet, that is what French expects his enemies to grant.
French writes, “The Valyrian steel that stops the cultural white walker is pluralism buttressed by classical liberalism, not a kind of Christian statism of undetermined nature, strength, power, or endurance.”
This is a naïve view of the state and pluralism. Classical liberalism and pluralism has Christianity in retreat. It is excluded from polite society because it is viewed as bigoted. Increasingly, Christians are attacked at universities, on social media and in the public square. Society is not and never can be neutral. It is either for Christ or against Christ and His people. While there are varying degrees of how much society wars on the Church (China is different than Canada for example), we must never doubt that if given the chance, evil men will do evil. It is their nature.
How would French respond to John Calvin’s view of the role of the state, “On the other hand, the sacred history sets down anarchy among the vices, when it states that there was no king in Israel, and, therefore, everyone did as he pleased (Judges 21:25). This rebukes the folly of those who would neglect the care of divine things, and devote themselves merely to the administration of justice among men.”
It doesn’t seem the state has any room for the anarchy of everyone doing what is right in his own eyes. Anarchy is not God’s plan for the state. The New Testament in the commands of Peter and Paul affirm this. The Apostles clarify the state should punish evil and reward good. If Calvin is right, the state must at some level restrain man’s impulses. This doesn’t seem like a recipe for pluralism.
One serious problem French’s political theology presents is the confusion of how Christians must act when involved in politics. Must it always be meek and longsuffering of evil?
“I firmly believe that the defense of these political and cultural values must be conducted in accordance with scriptural admonitions to love your enemies, to bless those who persecute you, with full knowledge that the ‘Lord’s servant’ must be ‘kind to everyone, able to teach, and patiently endure evil.’”
“I’m a deeply flawed person in daily (or even hourly) need of God’s grace, so I don’t always live up to those ideals. But I see them for what they are: commands to God’s people, not tactics to try until they fail. Ahmari does not wrestle with these dictates in his essay. He should have.”
In contrast, note Calvin’s view of the distinction when a Christian acts in a governmental capacity. The great Reformer writes, “If all Christians are forbidden to kill, and the prophet predicts concerning the holy mountain of the Lord, that is, the Church, ‘They shall not hurt or destroy,’ how can magistrates be at once pious and yet shedders of blood? But if we understand that the magistrate, in inflicting punishment, acts not of himself, but executes the very judgments of God, we shall be disencumbered of every doubt.”
The personal is put aside for the political act. The magistrate does not forgive nor bear the responsibility for mercy. He could be merciful, but is not under the obligation to do so—in contrast to how a Christian must act in their personal life.
Is it any different when a citizen-king (as Dr. Tom Ascol likes to call citizens of a democratic republic) acts in his political capacity? A Christian’s methods must conform to the function of the Christian’s vocation. A man acts differently when functioning as a son than when he acts as a father and still differently when a man functions as a husband. When acting politically, God expects us to act differently than in our personal encounters. The goal is to find the right God-given command for each role.
French wants Christians to behave in politics under commands never intended for the political realm. This is because he has confused the kingdoms. He wants Caesar to act according to Christian virtues. Unfortunately, that only harms the church and the state. The better way is for Caesar to be Caesar and do so as God ordained for the state to act.
What’s the ultimate goal? The restraint of chaos. Or, as C.E.B. Cranfield said, “It is God’s purpose that the state should, by restraining chaotic tendencies of human beings’ self-assertion, maintain those outward conditions under which the gospel may be preached to all and sundry without hindrance.”
That is the purpose of the state. In what version of the state will the Gospel be most effectively preached? Clearly, not the Leftist controlled version with the Equality Act.