Monday, April 28, 2008

Much in what she says ...

...`Language a Ploughman Can Understand'.

I agree with what Marilynne Robinson says about "doctrines that constrict the sense of God with definitions and conditions," but I have a problem with the connection between personal holiness one the one hand and politics and economics on the other - though I suppose she's right that they have everything to do with liberal Protestantism. The problem I have is that I don't think caritas is best expressed through a political program. I certainly think one's faith should have a bearing on one's political choices, but I don't think much holiness accrues from how one votes in an election.

(Thanks to Dave Lull, who sent me a copy of Marilynne Robinson's essay "Onward Christian Liberals" even as I was writing the foregoing words, I see that Robinson wasn't exactly doing what I have a problem with. Instead, she shows how Protestantism, which began by rejecting the Catholic doctrine of salvation by faith and good works in favor of a doctrine of salvation by faith alone, came to accept the importance of good works after all. In some cases, it often seems to me to have jettisoned the faith aspect altogether in favor of good works and to have seen government as the the principal agent for achieving those works. My own view is the same as that of Saint James - that the works grow out of the faith, are a manifestation of it, not a substitute for it. I do not think religion can be reduced to social work or a political platform.)

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