Thursday, September 29, 2016

Should Social Conservatives Be Concerned?: Encouraging Words From Levin

In light of the continued onslaught on traditional values currently being waged by the totalitarian left, should social conservatives be concerned? Certainly if left unrestrained by cultural forces, political realities, and the American people, no doubt the left will make social conservatives in general and orthodox Christians in particular persona non grata and the American experiment will prove to be a failure. Yet in his book Fractured Republic, author Yuval Levin offers a number of reasons why social conservatives should not fear the near future.

First, as is typical when either side feels the wind is at their backs, the left is overreaching. Inevitably this will likely lead to some backlash. On the surface, I must confess, I believe Levin is right but I am not as confident as he. Progressivism has been marching forward gaining speed for a century and a half in a America and one is hard pressed to find an entire generation that was not radically changed by it. Progressivism might be slowed, but it has not been stopped even when it overplays its hands.

Nevertheless, Levin's point may prove to be, at least in the short-term, a valid one. The left smells blood in water and are out to seek and destroy the right including bakers and photographers with a conscience. One would think, or at least hope, that parading such law-abiding tax payers around as public enemy #1 will backfire especially in an age of cyber warfare and terrorism.

Secondly, Levin offers the following:
The notion that living models of practical orthodoxy could appeal to modern Americans may seem implausible. But observers of modern democracy at least since Alexis de Tovqueville have noted that in democratic times, and especially in eras dominated by individualism, it is precisely the moral and religious institutions that hold firm to orthodoxy that have proven most attractive - thanks in no small part to their countercultural character. In our time, no less than any other, traditionalists should live out their faiths and their ways in the world, confident that their instruction and example will make that world better and that people will be drawn to the spark. Without dominant institutions of mass conformity and uniformity, we are more than ever in need of institutions of interpersonal moral formation, and these will inevitably be institutions that address us at the level of an eye-to-eye community. (179)
Levin's argument reminds one why liberal religion is ineffective in winning the lost. Orthodoxy draws converts and makes disciples; diluted religion is bound to evaporate.

In the end, Levin's exhortation that orthodox believers should "live out their faiths" is what matters. If we want to regain ground clearly lost, it will come throughout faithfulness not campaigns. Politics is downstream from culture; culture is downstream from theology.

We have work to do.


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