Bradley G. Green

Nullus Intellectus Sine Cruce

 

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Bradley G. Green
Althusius on Political Order PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brad Green   
Friday, 17 April 2015 08:00


We had a fascinating discussion in my Contemporary Christian Life and Practice class the other day. Eventually the conversation moved into questions of political order.  One way of understanding where we find ourselves is to think of two major tendencies in the modern era: a radical individualist tendency and a radical collectivists tendency.  So you might have (1) those who affirm a radical individualism (where persons are fundamentally/essentially non-social beings--and where social arrangements are simply artificial and non-essential to who we are), and you might have (2) a collectivist tendency (various forms of communism or socialism), where the fundamental reality is the centralized state which controls virtually all of reality (and the individual is swallowed up by this central power).

I was trying to illustrate for students that there are older models which have been largely eclipsed in the modern era.  Models which affirm multiple smaller and overlapping (and non-totalitarian) authorities or governments.  I had in mind the work of Johannes Althusius.  For Althusius there are these numerous  and overlapping authorities or "governments," none of which are absolute.  And particularly important, the most fundamental "sovereignty" lies at the lower levels of organization.  This kind of thinking is somewhat lost today (in a sense), but it may be that only in these older models of thinking are we going to be able to find more stable and sane thinking on the nature of political order and association.  Attached is a short piece I have written on Althusius, published in the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine.
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Download this file (Althusius.Green.Oxford Guide Essay.pdf)Althusius.Green.Oxford Guide Essay.pdf[Johannes Althusius]156 Kb


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Last Updated ( Friday, 17 April 2015 08:08 )
 
Doug Wilson on Reforming Marriage PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brad Green   
Friday, 17 April 2015 07:38

Chapter One from Doug Wilson's Reforming Marriage.

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Bauckham on Retrieving the Past for the Sake of the Future PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brad Green   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 12:16

For those of us who have an interest in an older conservativism--of the Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and Edmund Burke variety, an essay I have been reading by Richard Bauckham is fascinating.  Bauckham's essay is "Tradition in Relation to Scripture and Reason."  About p. 134 Bauckham begins to discuss the way in which a traditional Christian might draw upon the theological past (in this instance, Scripture).  The question is: how is one to draw upon the theological past/Scripture in a culture which has--in principle--left behind any sort of interest in, and adherence to, the Christian tradition (including its charter documents, Scripture).

Bauckham seeks to avoid two twin errors: (1) a "catch-up mentality in theology" (seeing how fast you can discard the past in favor of the latest fad); and (2) "mere conservative traditionalism" (essentially, living in the past).

Some of Bauckham's insights are wonderful (pp. 135 and following) . . .

"In such a context [i.e., traditional Christianity existing amidst a culture which has in principle left it behind] the place of Christianity is that of a 'productive non-contemporaneity.'  By drawing on the resources of a tradition outside the parameters of contemporary thought, it can offer alternatives which are not available from within the historically limited world of the present.  It shows up the historicity of modernity [emphasis mine]."

"If, as a tradition superseded by modernity, it must allow that modernity has rendered it questionable, no longer to be accepted simply as given, it may also, as a past tradition which can prove itself to be not simply used-up, but as productive past, render modernity questionable, not to be accepted simply as given."

"The dismissal and suppression of questions of transcendent meaning--by Enlightenment rationality and its 'postmodern' succesors alike--can be rendered questionable not simply by listening to a tradition of attempted 'answers' to such questions, but discovering, first by observation and then by experience, how the appropriation of such a tradition enhances human life and opens up prospects for meaningful living beyond the increasingly closed options of modernity."

Finally: "The point to be maintained is that 'producitve non-contemporaneity' [i.e., Christianity's situation vis-a-vis contemporary secular culture] is not backward-looking.  Its resort to the tradition is not in order to reproduce the past, but to find future in the past, the possibilities which have been left behind but can be taken up in a creative way.  Not that the tradition is merely to be plundered for what, judged from the standpoint of modernity, seems useful.  It must be listened to attentively in its deepest dissent from modernity for precisely that may be its relevance."

Henri Blocher once called this essay the finest he had read on the question at hand.  Now I see why.



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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:25 )
 
Richard Bauckham on Christianity and Culture PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brad Green   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:43

For some writing I am doing I am reading Richard Bauckham's essay, "Tradition in Relation to Scripture and Tradition," in a book he and Benjamin Drewery edited, Scripture, Tradition and Reason: A Study in the Criteria of Christian Doctrine.  He has an insightful comment on the role of traditional/historic Christianity in modern culture: "The real problem of the relation between the Christian tradition and secular rationality for the Christian in the modern West is therefore not in the realm of particular criticisms levelled at particular aspects of Christian belief or practice, but the problem of the sense it makes for a participant in modern culture to appropriate a tradition which that culture has deliberately left behind" (p. 134).

I suspect grasping this "dilemma" could help contemporary Christians to understand why so many moderns are quite happy to use the law and the force of the state to marginalize, criminalize, punish, etc., those persons (traditional Christians) who continue to affirm traditional biblical notions of human sexuality and marriage.  For some secular modern folks, it must be extremely difficult to make sense of the fact that some of us even think or believe the way we do.  And the more difficult it is for such secular modern folks to make sense of those who embrace older moral norms, the easier it will likely be for such secular moderns to continue to use the power of the state to arrest and punish this odd relic of the past.



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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:58 )
 
Christianity and Culture--Hegeman PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brad Green   
Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:33

Hegeman on Christianity and culture.

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