Sunday, February 07, 2021

Christians and Politics

I will likely have some things to say after reading and thinking some more.  In the meantime, there is a newish book about CS Lewis and politics, which you can read about at the CS Lewis site. The short version is that Lewis connected his politics deeply to Natural Law, and wrote of the general, abstract ideas that should underlie governance. He did not write much about the issues of the moment, but of the great sweeping trends he saw emerging.  He was remarkably prescient. He was deeply suspicious of governments and causes, as we can see in That Hideous Strength and "Meditations on the Third Commandment," but also quite vivid in his descriptions of how Christians, especially rulers, should be concerned with justice, as in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Till We Have Faces

Taken by themselves, these considerations might seem to invite a relaxation of our efforts for the good of posterity: but if we remember that what may be upon us at any moment is not merely an End but a Judgment, they should have no such result. They may, and should, correct the tendency of some moderns to talk as though duties to posterity were the only duties we had.

I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices* inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment now reveals to him, were never going to exist. Then he will see the massacres, the faked trials, the deportations, to be all ineffaceably real, an essential part, his part, in the drama that has just ended: while the future Utopia had never been anything but a fantasy. ("The World's Last Night" Emphasis mine)

Also of interest is this by Dallas Willard, sent along by a long-term reader who is a great admirer of his thought:

The revolution of Jesus is in the first place and continuously a revolution of the human heart or spirit. It did not and does not proceed by means of the formation of social institutions and laws, the outer forms of our existence, intending that these would then impose a good order of life upon people who come under their power. Rather, his is a revolution of character, which proceeds by changing people from the inside through ongoing personal relationship to God in Christ and to one another.(Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ )

*Lewis is writing mid-century and thus of course thinking of the brutal and cruel regimes of Germany and Russia. (Japan and China did not much enter into his writing that I can find.) But we needn't dismiss the idea as not pertinent to us merely because we are not facing - and pray we never will - such violent and thoroughgoing oppression. Nearly everything government asks of is involves the people of the present forgoing things for the sake of some cause, with those of the future being the beneficiaries. Not all of this is evil, but it all should be examined in such a light nonetheless.

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