Who are the most consistent traditional conservatives? Protestants or Catholics?

1 Jul

For some Roman Catholic social theorists, modern secular liberalism all started with the Protestant Reformation.  Detaching church from its institutional check on the state, sanctifying and then secularizing ordinary life, dissolving earthly authority, all ended in the destruction of any moral foundation for society and so here we are.  But church historian Daryl Hart offers quite a different take.  Paleo-conservatism, the kind you find in Edmund Burke, Wilhelm Ropke, over at the Front Porch Republic, and other social and political theorists committed to localism fits historic protestantism like a glove.  He first restates the argument that some make about Protestantism:

Protestantism ruined the West by introducing notions like private opinions, state churches, unfettered markets, and culturally accommodated Christianity.

Given this emerging conservative consensus on Protestantism, it may be time (and where better to do it than on the Front Porch with Jason pouring Daiquiris?) to raise a few questions before the cement dries. Do traditional conservatives really want to make religious orthodoxy a test for membership? Do Christian conservatives really want to identify their faith with a particular geographical landmass (as if Jesus only died for the West, a thought that surely would have surprised the Jewish-Christian apostles)? Do intellectual conservatives really want the magisterium to decide who makes it into the conservative canon (as if folks like Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, or Leon Kass need to be inspected by the local bishop before receiving two conservative thumbs up)?

One place to start the conversation is to consider the origins of Protestantism itself in a European setting that was hardly as unified as the romantic notions of Christendom allege (the English and French were not wild about papal supremacy, not to mention the nastiness that attended the Investiture Controversy). Someone could plausibly argue that Protestantism arose in response not simply to the brazen sinfulness of various Renaissance popes, but also as a correction to the Vatican’s grasp on political (as in temporal) power. Can someone say, conciliarism? Aside from the question of whether or not Christ had Unam Sanctam in view when he said his kingdom was not of this world, Francis Oakley’s current trilogy on medieval political theology shows that aspirations for papal supremacy (and infallibility) drew more upon ancient (and pagan) notions of sacral kingship than they did on Christian reflection:

. . . while the Gregorian reformers and their successors had certainly intended to deprive of any sacred aura the kingship of the German emperors, they were not themselves totally unresponsive to the allure of sacral kingship itself. That ancient complex of notions cast a very long shadow across their own ambitions for supremacy in Christian society. Had it not done so, it would be hard to explain how the popes of the High Middle Ages permitted themselves to emerge as full-fledged sacred monarchs in their own right . . . . [O]ver the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of Rome moved authoritatively to the forefront as the true (or most convincing) successors to the erstwhile Roman emperors.

Then later:

Long, then, before James of Viterbo came to explore during the great standoff between Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, the full ramifications of understanding the church or Christian commonwealth as a kingdom with the pope as its early king and in matter temporal no less than spiritual, the thirteenth-century popes had begun to close in on something approximating that mode of thinking. Despite the ideological ground yielded earlier on to the Gregorian onslaught, we have seen that a stubborn aura of sacrality continued in subsequent centuries to cling to the temporal monarchs of Europe. By the end of the thirteenth century, however, it had come to be dimmed by the astonishing degree to which the papacy itself, once the great enemy of sacral kingship, had come to conform itself to the lineaments of that archaic phenomenon and to appropriate it for itself so many of the appurtenances attaching to it. (Francis Oakley, The Mortgage of the Past, 171, 184)

Where the contested nature of monarchy (spiritual and temporal) becomes particularly dicey for American conservatives is that we are folks (I thought) who prize limited power and are suspicious of centralized and consolidated authority. Whether I need to be as provocative as to suggest that Protestantism was the outworking in the religious sphere of the doctrine of subsidiarity – that is, let local churches (at least outside Italy) oversee their own affairs rather than being regulated by a foreign pontiff – American conservatives (especially FroPos) do esteem localism, diversity, and freedom in ways that do not exactly accord with older papal claims about universality and singularity. In fact, the tension between the Vatican and the U.S. Roman Catholic church throughout the nineteenth-century that resulted in Americanism being condemned as a heresy by Leo XIII demonstrates that reconciling the politics of a federated republic and the Vatican’s form of government and oversight of Christendom was not so easily accomplished. To be sure, Roman Catholicism received a make-over at Vatican II thanks to the reflections of John Courtney Murray. But I hear that Murray’s reconciliation of the American founders and neo-Thomism is increasingly debatable in certain Roman Catholic sectors.

None of this is to suggest that Protestantism is the consistent outworking of conservatism, or that Protestants and Roman Catholics can’t live together under the intellectual conservative tent (or hang out at the Porch). It is, though, a caution about assumptions that conservatives increasingly make about the faith that binds them and the West together. Is it quite so faithful or so binding?

Protestantism ruined the West by introducing notions like private opinions, state churches, unfettered markets, and culturally accommodated Christianity.

Given this emerging conservative consensus on Protestantism, it may be time (and where better to do it than on the Front Porch with Jason pouring Daiquiris?) to raise a few questions before the cement dries. Do traditional conservatives really want to make religious orthodoxy a test for membership? Do Christian conservatives really want to identify their faith with a particular geographical landmass (as if Jesus only died for the West, a thought that surely would have surprised the Jewish-Christian apostles)? Do intellectual conservatives really want the magisterium to decide who makes it into the conservative canon (as if folks like Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, or Leon Kass need to be inspected by the local bishop before receiving two conservative thumbs up)?

One place to start the conversation is to consider the origins of Protestantism itself in a European setting that was hardly as unified as the romantic notions of Christendom allege (the English and French were not wild about papal supremacy, not to mention the nastiness that attended the Investiture Controversy). Someone could plausibly argue that Protestantism arose in response not simply to the brazen sinfulness of various Renaissance popes, but also as a correction to the Vatican’s grasp on political (as in temporal) power. Can someone say, conciliarism? Aside from the question of whether or not Christ had Unam Sanctam in view when he said his kingdom was not of this world, Francis Oakley’s current trilogy on medieval political theology shows that aspirations for papal supremacy (and infallibility) drew more upon ancient (and pagan) notions of sacral kingship than they did on Christian reflection:

. . . while the Gregorian reformers and their successors had certainly intended to deprive of any sacred aura the kingship of the German emperors, they were not themselves totally unresponsive to the allure of sacral kingship itself. That ancient complex of notions cast a very long shadow across their own ambitions for supremacy in Christian society. Had it not done so, it would be hard to explain how the popes of the High Middle Ages permitted themselves to emerge as full-fledged sacred monarchs in their own right . . . . [O]ver the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of Rome moved authoritatively to the forefront as the true (or most convincing) successors to the erstwhile Roman emperors.

Then later:

Long, then, before James of Viterbo came to explore during the great standoff between Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, the full ramifications of understanding the church or Christian commonwealth as a kingdom with the pope as its early king and in matter temporal no less than spiritual, the thirteenth-century popes had begun to close in on something approximating that mode of thinking. Despite the ideological ground yielded earlier on to the Gregorian onslaught, we have seen that a stubborn aura of sacrality continued in subsequent centuries to cling to the temporal monarchs of Europe. By the end of the thirteenth century, however, it had come to be dimmed by the astonishing degree to which the papacy itself, once the great enemy of sacral kingship, had come to conform itself to the lineaments of that archaic phenomenon and to appropriate it for itself so many of the appurtenances attaching to it. (Francis Oakley, The Mortgage of the Past, 171, 184)

Where the contested nature of monarchy (spiritual and temporal) becomes particularly dicey for American conservatives is that we are folks (I thought) who prize limited power and are suspicious of centralized and consolidated authority. Whether I need to be as provocative as to suggest that Protestantism was the outworking in the religious sphere of the doctrine of subsidiarity – that is, let local churches (at least outside Italy) oversee their own affairs rather than being regulated by a foreign pontiff – American conservatives (especially FroPos) do esteem localism, diversity, and freedom in ways that do not exactly accord with older papal claims about universality and singularity. In fact, the tension between the Vatican and the U.S. Roman Catholic church throughout the nineteenth-century that resulted in Americanism being condemned as a heresy by Leo XIII demonstrates that reconciling the politics of a federated republic and the Vatican’s form of government and oversight of Christendom was not so easily accomplished. To be sure, Roman Catholicism received a make-over at Vatican II thanks to the reflections of John Courtney Murray. But I hear that Murray’s reconciliation of the American founders and neo-Thomism is increasingly debatable in certain Roman Catholic sectors.

None of this is to suggest that Protestantism is the consistent outworking of conservatism, or that Protestants and Roman Catholics can’t live together under the intellectual conservative tent (or hang out at the Porch). It is, though, a caution about assumptions that conservatives increasingly make about the faith that binds them and the West together. Is it quite so faithful or so binding?

– See more at: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/06/do-protestants-belong/?utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer3aecf#sthash.q7SiZC2o.dpuf

Protestantism ruined the West by introducing notions like private opinions, state churches, unfettered markets, and culturally accommodated Christianity.

Given this emerging conservative consensus on Protestantism, it may be time (and where better to do it than on the Front Porch with Jason pouring Daiquiris?) to raise a few questions before the cement dries. Do traditional conservatives really want to make religious orthodoxy a test for membership? Do Christian conservatives really want to identify their faith with a particular geographical landmass (as if Jesus only died for the West, a thought that surely would have surprised the Jewish-Christian apostles)? Do intellectual conservatives really want the magisterium to decide who makes it into the conservative canon (as if folks like Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, or Leon Kass need to be inspected by the local bishop before receiving two conservative thumbs up)?

One place to start the conversation is to consider the origins of Protestantism itself in a European setting that was hardly as unified as the romantic notions of Christendom allege (the English and French were not wild about papal supremacy, not to mention the nastiness that attended the Investiture Controversy). Someone could plausibly argue that Protestantism arose in response not simply to the brazen sinfulness of various Renaissance popes, but also as a correction to the Vatican’s grasp on political (as in temporal) power. Can someone say, conciliarism? Aside from the question of whether or not Christ had Unam Sanctam in view when he said his kingdom was not of this world, Francis Oakley’s current trilogy on medieval political theology shows that aspirations for papal supremacy (and infallibility) drew more upon ancient (and pagan) notions of sacral kingship than they did on Christian reflection:

. . . while the Gregorian reformers and their successors had certainly intended to deprive of any sacred aura the kingship of the German emperors, they were not themselves totally unresponsive to the allure of sacral kingship itself. That ancient complex of notions cast a very long shadow across their own ambitions for supremacy in Christian society. Had it not done so, it would be hard to explain how the popes of the High Middle Ages permitted themselves to emerge as full-fledged sacred monarchs in their own right . . . . [O]ver the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of Rome moved authoritatively to the forefront as the true (or most convincing) successors to the erstwhile Roman emperors.

Then later:

Long, then, before James of Viterbo came to explore during the great standoff between Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, the full ramifications of understanding the church or Christian commonwealth as a kingdom with the pope as its early king and in matter temporal no less than spiritual, the thirteenth-century popes had begun to close in on something approximating that mode of thinking. Despite the ideological ground yielded earlier on to the Gregorian onslaught, we have seen that a stubborn aura of sacrality continued in subsequent centuries to cling to the temporal monarchs of Europe. By the end of the thirteenth century, however, it had come to be dimmed by the astonishing degree to which the papacy itself, once the great enemy of sacral kingship, had come to conform itself to the lineaments of that archaic phenomenon and to appropriate it for itself so many of the appurtenances attaching to it. (Francis Oakley, The Mortgage of the Past, 171, 184)

Where the contested nature of monarchy (spiritual and temporal) becomes particularly dicey for American conservatives is that we are folks (I thought) who prize limited power and are suspicious of centralized and consolidated authority. Whether I need to be as provocative as to suggest that Protestantism was the outworking in the religious sphere of the doctrine of subsidiarity – that is, let local churches (at least outside Italy) oversee their own affairs rather than being regulated by a foreign pontiff – American conservatives (especially FroPos) do esteem localism, diversity, and freedom in ways that do not exactly accord with older papal claims about universality and singularity. In fact, the tension between the Vatican and the U.S. Roman Catholic church throughout the nineteenth-century that resulted in Americanism being condemned as a heresy by Leo XIII demonstrates that reconciling the politics of a federated republic and the Vatican’s form of government and oversight of Christendom was not so easily accomplished. To be sure, Roman Catholicism received a make-over at Vatican II thanks to the reflections of John Courtney Murray. But I hear that Murray’s reconciliation of the American founders and neo-Thomism is increasingly debatable in certain Roman Catholic sectors.

None of this is to suggest that Protestantism is the consistent outworking of conservatism, or that Protestants and Roman Catholics can’t live together under the intellectual conservative tent (or hang out at the Porch). It is, though, a caution about assumptions that conservatives increasingly make about the faith that binds them and the West together. Is it quite so faithful or so binding?

– See more at: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/06/do-protestants-belong/?utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer3aecf#sthash.q7SiZC2o.dpuf

Protestantism ruined the West by introducing notions like private opinions, state churches, unfettered markets, and culturally accommodated Christianity.

Given this emerging conservative consensus on Protestantism, it may be time (and where better to do it than on the Front Porch with Jason pouring Daiquiris?) to raise a few questions before the cement dries. Do traditional conservatives really want to make religious orthodoxy a test for membership? Do Christian conservatives really want to identify their faith with a particular geographical landmass (as if Jesus only died for the West, a thought that surely would have surprised the Jewish-Christian apostles)? Do intellectual conservatives really want the magisterium to decide who makes it into the conservative canon (as if folks like Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, or Leon Kass need to be inspected by the local bishop before receiving two conservative thumbs up)?

One place to start the conversation is to consider the origins of Protestantism itself in a European setting that was hardly as unified as the romantic notions of Christendom allege (the English and French were not wild about papal supremacy, not to mention the nastiness that attended the Investiture Controversy). Someone could plausibly argue that Protestantism arose in response not simply to the brazen sinfulness of various Renaissance popes, but also as a correction to the Vatican’s grasp on political (as in temporal) power. Can someone say, conciliarism? Aside from the question of whether or not Christ had Unam Sanctam in view when he said his kingdom was not of this world, Francis Oakley’s current trilogy on medieval political theology shows that aspirations for papal supremacy (and infallibility) drew more upon ancient (and pagan) notions of sacral kingship than they did on Christian reflection:

. . . while the Gregorian reformers and their successors had certainly intended to deprive of any sacred aura the kingship of the German emperors, they were not themselves totally unresponsive to the allure of sacral kingship itself. That ancient complex of notions cast a very long shadow across their own ambitions for supremacy in Christian society. Had it not done so, it would be hard to explain how the popes of the High Middle Ages permitted themselves to emerge as full-fledged sacred monarchs in their own right . . . . [O]ver the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of Rome moved authoritatively to the forefront as the true (or most convincing) successors to the erstwhile Roman emperors.

Then later:

Long, then, before James of Viterbo came to explore during the great standoff between Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, the full ramifications of understanding the church or Christian commonwealth as a kingdom with the pope as its early king and in matter temporal no less than spiritual, the thirteenth-century popes had begun to close in on something approximating that mode of thinking. Despite the ideological ground yielded earlier on to the Gregorian onslaught, we have seen that a stubborn aura of sacrality continued in subsequent centuries to cling to the temporal monarchs of Europe. By the end of the thirteenth century, however, it had come to be dimmed by the astonishing degree to which the papacy itself, once the great enemy of sacral kingship, had come to conform itself to the lineaments of that archaic phenomenon and to appropriate it for itself so many of the appurtenances attaching to it. (Francis Oakley, The Mortgage of the Past, 171, 184)

Where the contested nature of monarchy (spiritual and temporal) becomes particularly dicey for American conservatives is that we are folks (I thought) who prize limited power and are suspicious of centralized and consolidated authority. Whether I need to be as provocative as to suggest that Protestantism was the outworking in the religious sphere of the doctrine of subsidiarity – that is, let local churches (at least outside Italy) oversee their own affairs rather than being regulated by a foreign pontiff – American conservatives (especially FroPos) do esteem localism, diversity, and freedom in ways that do not exactly accord with older papal claims about universality and singularity. In fact, the tension between the Vatican and the U.S. Roman Catholic church throughout the nineteenth-century that resulted in Americanism being condemned as a heresy by Leo XIII demonstrates that reconciling the politics of a federated republic and the Vatican’s form of government and oversight of Christendom was not so easily accomplished. To be sure, Roman Catholicism received a make-over at Vatican II thanks to the reflections of John Courtney Murray. But I hear that Murray’s reconciliation of the American founders and neo-Thomism is increasingly debatable in certain Roman Catholic sectors.

None of this is to suggest that Protestantism is the consistent outworking of conservatism, or that Protestants and Roman Catholics can’t live together under the intellectual conservative tent (or hang out at the Porch). It is, though, a caution about assumptions that conservatives increasingly make about the faith that binds them and the West together. Is it quite so faithful or so binding?

– See more at: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/06/do-protestants-belong/?utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer3aecf#sthash.q7SiZC2o.dpuf

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: