David Armstrong commented on The Way of Masculinity: Tradition, Ferocity & Quest 2016-10-19 10:35:27 -0500Mrd,
I’m not sure if Donovan is necessarily drawing on Genesis 3:16. Donovan’s an atheist with a respectful attitude towards a plurality of religious traditions, including Christianity, but his atheism and zero-sum approach to masculinity and, well, the world in general makes him an avowed sexist. For Donovan, the whole world is locked into an entropic repetition whereby the achievements of truly masculine men end up becoming imperial super-complexes that then have to be torn down so that the process can repeat. Donovan is a tribalist and an anti-imperialist, and that’s the context within which to understand his comments about women: women lure men away from the qualities and activities that make them men and, hence, that build up the tribe. To some extent for Donovan, that’s their job: they are there to soften and tame men, because the rules of the margin don’t apply in the camp. The margin and its rules exist to protect and provide for the camp, but the camp operates according to a different mode of existence.
So, in that sense, I think Donovan’s right, but I don’t think that a faithful Jew or Christian could embrace his sexism, since for us humanity is created in the image of God male and female and, thus, the way of masculinity and the way of femininity are both authentic ways of human being and becoming. As a Christian, I don’t think it’s possible to fully embrace Donovan’s vision. Christians affirm Yeshua of Nazareth as the heir to the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33), and look forward to his future imperial rule of all of the nations and the ends of the earth, as is promised to the Davidic monarch (e.g., Psalm 2:7-9). His emphasis on tribalism is good as far as it goes—we do need to form tightly knit communities within which brotherhoods of men flourish and play a guiding role in shaping the life of the community, as husbands, fathers, defenders, and providers. And, typically, tribalism wins out over globalism. All agreed. But we need to remember that the end game for us Christians is a global empire centered in the person of Christ, which includes and encompasses all of the nations and tribes of the earth AS nations and tribes, but which also harmonizes them and ends the conflicts between them, such that their individual identities are no longer the source of competition but rather a cause for mutual celebration.
David Armstrong commented on Heaven Favors the Crown: An Apology for Monarchy 2016-02-25 11:12:23 -0600Jim,
I confess that I find your take on history somewhat revisionist. What criteria, for example, enable us to find in “the basics of human history” an argument for democracy or republicanism, that does not begin from the assumption that those forms of government are best? It’s difficult even to point to the American experiment as a good example of either democracy or republicanism since initially the most immediate model the Founders had for our society was the limited monarchy in the UK. There’s a letter from Col. Lewis Nicola to George Washington in the 1780s acknowledging that the Executive position is essentially a monarchical office and that, while the language of kingship might have negative connotations for those who have fought in the Revolution, it remains the best description and ought to be used.
Moreover, I don’t understand your logic that the classical and biblical sources here reflect more their own stage in history than an actual support for monarchy. The ancient world knew of alternatives to monarchy, especially in Greece and Rome, and we possess actual arguments for and against the various ways to run a State. Plato’s Rebublic is perhaps the most famous. But my argument takes account not only of the fact that most of the ancient authors seem to prefer and praise some kind of monarchy, but also that the ancient examples of democracy and republicanism were more often than not the playthings of oligarchy, as our own system is today.
As for the specifically biblical material, I suppose it comes down to a hermeneutical issue. 1 Samuel 8 cannot be isolated from the breadth of Deuteronomistic material that praises monarchy (and, specifically, the Davidic monarchy) and from the wider Old Testament material that assumes the integrity of monarchy to the way that God has made the world. It is true that Israel’s request for a monarchy comes from a sinful rejection of God’s desire that the people should live directly under the rule of divine kingship, but it ought to strike us that the next best thing to that, in the mind of the biblical author, is a king who has God’s own heart. I think Christology is really the lynchpin here, where the heart of all Christology—even the highest Christology in the Scriptures and that with which the Fathers concern themselves most, a Logos Christology that understands Christ to be the coeternal and consubstantial Logos of the Father through whom he created, sustains, and is revealed to the cosmos—is royal messianism, the prophetic and apocalyptic traditions that the ultimate establishment of divine kingship in the world over the enemies of God will be through the installation of a Davidic monarch. In other words, “Christ” means “Messiah,” Israel’s Anointed King, and when we confess faith in “one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things came into being,” we must understand that we are in fact confessing these things about the Messiah of Israel, the royal heir to the Davidic dynasty and the imperial lord of all the nations.
The central confession of our faith is impossible without a recognition and pledge of allegiance to an ancient near Eastern theocratic monarchy. That is deeply offensive to modern sensibility and Western secular political and religious theory, but the biblical worldview not only assumes the legitimacy of such a construct, but is everywhere saturated with references to it, especially in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers where the primary lens for understanding and proclaiming Christ is easily as Davidic Savior and King.
That’s the bulk of my argument: the apology for an earthly, interim monarchy that acts as vassal-leadership on behalf of Jesus Christ as Son of David and Son of God (and hence, “firstborn of the kings of the earth,” per LXX Ps. 88:27, Rev. 1:5) is, to my mind, possible on the basis of a royal-messianic Christology and demonstrated in Christian history as a real possibility. It does not mean that Christian monarchs are perfect or that their kingdoms are the Kingdom, but merely that there have indeed been godly kings since the coming of Christ. My argument is not even so much that American Christians ought to push for a Christian monarchy in the States (glorious though such a thing could be), but more so that we need to come to terms with the radical discontinuity between the political culture in which we live and the political theology implied by our faith.
Part of the mission of Eighth Day, as I understand it, is to cultivate a culture of exile among American Christians—that is, to form what Michael Gorman calls “colonies of cruciformity,” pockets of the life of the Kingdom in the midst of an empire in decline. A Royal Christology assists that project, because it reorients our worldview. That’s what I think, anyway.
David Armstrong commented on contact Us 2015-07-08 00:15:20 -0500It’s my great regret that I won’t be joining the Inkling Festival, and even more so that I don’t myself live in Wichita to enjoy the Silmarillic gem of the Eighth Day Institute and its attendant ministries more closely. Please, oh please—every chance to be involved, let me know. Any guidelines for planting similar community where I am, let me know.
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