Evangelicals, Globalization, and Papal Encyclicals

Take it from me, sitting in the belly of the beast, when Evangelicals ask you for a “serious dialogue” about “new models of global governance,” reach for your gun.  Or your rosary.

Cabel Stegall, here, commenting on sixty-eight evangelicals’ response to Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

N.B. I don’t reproduce this simply to hate on evangelicals; it’s just that sometimes I grow weary of my tribe’s penchant for middle-ground—and hence often middling—positions in public discourse (so often frustratingly and even self-referentially on display here), especially in relation to globalism. Why is it so scary to be radical? I suppose there are two reasons: first, our emphasis on evangelism leads us to “be a light” to the broadest number of people—i.e., fewer extremes, fewer alienated potential believers—and second, our penance (or is it just embarrassment?) for our (now-crumbling) association with the Republican Party since Reagan. I mean this in the least snarky and most objectively observant way possible.

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2 comments so far

  1. Josh on

    Just out of curiosity, what is your response to CiV (as Bene xvi and I affectionately call it over pints of Guinness while we watch curling)? What would you like to see from Evangelicals? Nothing? A more radical position? Ten Hail Marys and a mass conversion? Again, just curious.

  2. chad on

    Well, Jeff, you’ve managed to elicit a response from me. And here we go.

    I’ll cut to the chase. An important connection is lost in this blog post, both yours and Mr. Stegall’s. As you might have noticed, Mr. Stegall points not only to evangelicals, but to neoconservatives, as well. Neo-cons, for short, Catholics in the mold of Micheal Novak, George Weigel, and the late Fr. Neuhaus. Although Mr. Stegall somehow reasons that the neo-cons constitute a different argument, I beg to differ. But one thing is for sure, evidently the criticism over the encyclical is not an evangelical criticism alone. See Catholic Weigel’s criticism here (http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTdkYjU3MDE2YTdhZTE4NWIyN2FkY2U5YTFkM2ZiMmE=&w=MA==). Let me be clear: I’m not coming out either way. I don’t know enough yet. But I will say that Mr. Segall’s quip regarding a connection between lacking a magisterium and criticizing the encyclical is a typical Catholic apologetical move when engaging those outside the Catholic Church. If you experience Catholicism from the inside, however, you realize that it’s not so neat and tidy. Nevertheless, the blogger’s inclusion of neo-cons shows that we are having a certain political discussion (political philosophy, perhaps) between Christians, and it would be somewhat of a distortion to try and characterize the thought of groups like “Evangelicals” as something implicit to their Christianity, at least without serious nuance (esp. given the stances of Catholics. Ave Maria, for info sake, is hosting a conference in Feb entitled, “Catholicism in America”). Keeping in mind that we are in the realm of political philosophy, given that we have only two parties to choose from, and given what each part advocates, it is not unreasonable in my opinion that many evangelicals and Catholics (!) would align themselves with Republicans. Of course, one might say that this alliance is often too uncritical. True, but this criticism can be leveled on all sides, as to those who’s vote in 2008 stemmed from a too uncritical enthrallment with the fantasy of Barak Obama, a vote they later regretted (I won’t name names). But to uncritically criticize Evangelicals (and I assume certain Catholics, as well) for their favoratism to Republicans only demonstrates that the nature of that debate is being blurred, especially when you think an appeal to the magisterium solves your problems.


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