The Political Theory of Christ
Does Christ teach a political theory?
Virtually all Christians agree that Christ teaches about the proper relationship of the believer to politics. However, almost no Christians believe that this teaching contains a theory of politics.
However, it is the argument of this book that Christ’s political teaching entails a full theory of politics. This theory is found both within the teaching itself and in the radical impact of that teaching upon the political history of the West.
For Christ establishes a radical distinction between the authority of Caesar and the authority of God. Christ teaches that the authority of the state, although under God’s ultimate judgment, is an independent power within God’s design for history. And it is by His resurrection that Christ ensured that this “separation of powers” between the spiritual and the political would become the political basis of Western society.
To begin with, every believer would now live a life that was spiritually independent of the power of the state. Indeed, this was reason why pagan Rome could not tolerate Christian belief, because Rome was a spiritual authority that subordinated every “private religion” to itself. And it was the Christian refusal of that spiritual subordination that made a war to the death between the church and the Roman state inevitable.
This is also why, for a thousand years after the fall of the Rome, that the primary political conflict in Western society would be between the church and the state. During this long era, a permanent “separation of powers” was created between the church and the state that became the West’s primary political reality. Decentralized institutions of competing authorities emerged, not only between the church and the state, but within both the church and the state. The Protestant Reformation merely energized this deepening separation of powers.
The rise of modern constitutional government marked the pinnacle of this political process. The American Constitution, in particular, not only created a separation of powers among the three branches of government, but a separation of powers between the national and state governments. Even more radically, the American understanding of religious freedom created a separation of powers in which the individual as such became the only legitimate religious authority.
Here was the most radical separation of powers of them all, since it meant that American society would be organized according to individual beliefs. In the nineteenth century, private associations of individuals organized American society as a whole. This was something new in history, which had only seen kings and aristocrats organize society.
However, in the twentieth century, the American political experiment went into radical decline. After 1932, the separation of powers between the national and state governments was, in essence, abolished. The separation of powers among the three branches of the national government was also. A unitary national state arose that combined all of these previously separated powers. The administrative bureaucracies now created their own laws, enforced their own laws, and adjudicated their own laws in defiance of any constitutional separations of power.
Even more decisively, the American understanding of religious freedom was now abolished. The national courts declared that America was a “secular society,” meaning that it was a “non-religious” society, and that this was the true meaning of religious freedom. But since there can be no such thing as a “non-religious” society, what this really meant was that the political and religious cult called progressivism would now become America’s established religion.
The organization of American society by associations of private individuals now gave way to a unitary social control by progressives.
The Political Theory of Christ represents the first real analytical attempt to understand Christ’s political teaching as a complete theory of politics. It provides an overview of how that Christ’s political teaching has decisively shaped Western politics. This analysis concludes by predicting the coming collapse of progressivism and the creation of a radically new kind of political order based upon an even deeper separation of powers.