Sunday, July 24, 2011

Progressivism: Distortion of the gospel and the roots of social justice

When I hear/see someone like this start talking about things like 'biblical justice' and 'social justice'; Quote:

We have to be very clear about this. Voluntary, faith-based initiatives with no resources, no resources to make any serious difference in poverty reduction, is not adequate. That's a charity that falls far short of Biblical justice.

The first thing I wonder is where did an idea such as this ever start? Well, the true genesis may not be something any of us could ever uncover, it probably started over in europe somewhere, but here in america, in the progressive era, there is an answer to that.

I'm sure many of you out there know of Father Coughlin's use of social justice for big government ends, which is where I considered looking first. But once I came across the term 'social gospel', I realized that it went back further.

Sometimes small ideas are born in small places and grow large, it's hard to say. But at the very least, I can pin it to one of among the first major voices. Richard Ely, a man who may be the closest thing there is to a founding father of american progressivism, has these things to say:

Introduction to Political Economy. (1889)

Public and Private Responsibilities.— It is seen in general that there is no limit to the right of the State, the sovereign power, save its ability to do good. Duty, function, is co-extensive with power. The State is a moral person. It may be further said in general that the fundamental principle, the basis of the economic life of modem nations, is individual responsibility. It is designed that each grown person should feel that the welfare of himself and of his family, if he has one, rests upon himself. The State enters where his powers are insufficient, or we may express it better in this way : for the attainment of certain ends he finds it advantageous to co-operate with his fellows through town, city. State, federal government, and the performance of public duties as well as private duties is helpful in the development of the individual and of the race.

Social Aspects of Christianity, and Other Essays‎. (1889)

I take this as my thesis : Christianity is primarily concerned with this world, and it is the mission of Christianity to bring to pass here a kingdom of righteousness and to rescue from the evil one and redeem all our social relations.

The Social Law of Service. (1896)

Family, Church, and State are frequently mentioned together as the three pre-eminently divine institutions known to man. It is claimed by some that the State is the chief institution of these three, and that if we select one institution as above all others divine it must be the State. Such a comparison manifestly cannot be understood too literally. If several institutions are established by God, it can hardly be strictly true that one is more divine than another. What is meant is this : That God works through the State in carrying out His purposes more universally than through any other institution ; that it takes the first place among His instrumentalities.

And there you have it. Classic statist. Doesn't sound all to different from Wallis to me. The state imposes, where humanity's efforts just aren't enough. Back in Ely's day, their key phrase was 'social gospel' instead of 'social justice', but that's how the progressives always do it, isn't it? Once the old calling card wears out, just issue a new one and keep the same old ideas. And why does it keep working? How many of us know our history? I'm certainly not interested in being anybody's oracle here, my opinion can't be 100% correct all the time any more than yours or anybody elses can be. That's not why I do this. If anything, getting a handful of things wrong might be advantageous, as it may get modern progressives to become defensive.

I want to show you some places were to look, that most of us haven't considered. I want to show you what they've said, where they said it, and let you pick and choose what to read for yourself. Hopefully, one day, we'll all openly discuss the progressives' own history, which is the last thing they'd ever want to happen.

Further reading:

Richard Ely and the Ugly Side of the Progressive Era

The Four Horsemen of Progressivism

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