Book - The Political Theory of Christ

The Political Theory of Christ
And Its Creation of Our World

By Jefferson White
382pp, 2015

 

Does Christ teach a theory of politics?

Everyone agrees that Christ teaches about the relationship of the believer to politics. But almost no one believes that this teaching implies a theory of politics.

However, it is the argument of this book that Christ’s political teaching implies a complete theory of politics. This theory can be found both within the teaching itself and in the radical impact of that teaching upon the political history of the West. 

The radical distinction that Christ established between the authority of God and the authority of Caesar reveals that God’s authority is completely independent of the authority of the state. By His resurrection, Christ introduced that radical “separation of powers” into the Western world. All believers in Christ would now live a spiritual life that would be completely independent of the power of the state. Indeed, this is why pagan Rome could not tolerate the Church, since Rome claimed a spiritual authority that subordinated all “private religions” to the state religion of Romanitas. It was the Christian refusal of that spiritual subordination that caused the Church to be outlawed.

It was that refusal which made a spiritual, and political, war between Rome and the church inevitable. That spiritual war ended with the political triumph of the Christian faith.

And for a thousand years after the fall of the Western Empire, the primary political conflict in Western Europe would continue to be between the church and the state. During this long era, the radical separation of powers created by Christ’s teaching became the primary political reality of the West. Multiple, de-centralized institutions of authority were created, not just between the church and the state, but within the church and the state. The Reformation only energized this already deepening separation of powers, which came to constitute the primary political reality of the West.

The rise of modern constitutionalism marked the secularization of this process. This secular constitutional revolution reached its pinnacle in the creation of the American Constitution. For the American Constitution established, not just a separation of powers among the three branches of government, but a separation of powers between the national and state governments. More radically, the American conception of religious freedom then created a separation of powers among persons, since the individual as such now became the only religious authority.

This was the most radical separation of powers created by the American experiment, since it meant that America’s society would now become organized from the religious beliefs of the individual outward. During the nineteenth century, a uniquely American social order was created that was primarily organized by private associations of Americans based upon their individual religious beliefs. Because all religious belief was now personal, all American social organization became voluntary and consensual, and was based upon personal belief.

However, in the twentieth century, the American political experiment went into a radical decline. After the political revolution of 1932, the separation of powers between the national and state governments was abolished. The separation of powers among the three branches of the government was also abolished. A national administrative state now arose which united all three of the formerly separated powers. This multitude of bureaucracies were now licensed by the national government to create their own laws, to enforce their own laws, and to adjudicate their own laws thus effectively re-uniting the political powers that had been separated by the Constitution.

The American understanding of religious freedom was also abolished. The national courts now declared that America was a “non-religious” society and that this was the real meaning of religious freedom. But because there are no societies that are “non-religious,” what this actually meant was that there was now to be an established religion enforced through the state. Progressivism became America’s crypto-theocracy.

 The Political Theory of Christ is the first book to attempt to understand Christ’s political teaching as a complete theory of politics.  It reveals the nature of that theory by demonstrating the radical effects of Christ’s teaching on the political history of the West and, in particular, upon American political history. The historical focus, throughout the narrative, is on the story of how Christ’s political teaching became the forcing-bed of Western political history.

The book ends on an optimistic note by predicting the coming overthrow of progressivism through the creation of an even deeper separation of powers.