In many ways, Abraham Lincoln has almost loomed entirely too largely in our national consciousness, since it has now become difficult to get around the acknowledgment of his greatness to discover just what it was that made him great. Jon Schaff’s new book is an attempt to do just that.
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A new book systematically defends the American Founding against those who believe it was destined to end in nihilism.
In some respects, Alasdair MacIntyre offers strong arguments in favor of political liberalism. At the same time, he offers critiques for both liberalism’s proponents and opponents.
Liberal doctrines necessarily require disenfranchising and punishing those who hold rival beliefs. Liberal ideology is jealous, and will have no other gods before it. American conservatives should reject this revolutionary liberalism and the attempts to make it the central principle of our national heritage. We need not deny that liberal ideas influenced the Founding, but we ought to follow our forefathers in tempering them.
An oddity about our current debates over liberalism and America is that both sides view the American Founding, and thus America, as fundamentally influenced by classical liberal ideology. They only disagree over whether classical liberalism is good or bad. But the historical record shows that liberal ideology was one influence among many, not that it was the definitive one.
While the post-liberal right often asks good questions, many of its answers are flawed, grounded on mistaken premises, and deeply misleading.
Faith and Reason, Saint John Henry Newman argues, are not opposed mental actions, but a similar intellectual act operating on different grounds. Faith reasons not from direct empirical evidence placed before us, nor from principles that the intellect has grasped on its own, but from grounds of trust or probability based on inclinations and dispositions of the heart.
Christians should be wary of the substitution of the nation for the church. Instead, they should seek a vibrant localism allows people to find meaning in their local communities—especially religious communities—and impart that sense of purpose and belonging that nationalists rightly perceive is missing for many citizens.
David French, Sohrab Ahmari, and others who are debating the future of conservatism are right to think that the challenges facing our nation are grave. Still, we need not feel forced into cheering for one side or the other, into viewing this as a matter of “teams.” We conservatives need to keep the main focus on ideas, not personalities, and engage each other both robustly and charitably. We need to think prudently about practical steps we should take—here and now, given all the givens—that will promote the common good.
In response to the temptations of liberalism in religion, Newman articulated a profound vision of conscience as a natural mode of hearing God’s voice. Newman’s insights remain important resources today for resisting the notion of conscience as “the right of self-will.”
In eighteenth-century political reasoning and rhetoric, ministers and statesmen were not obliged to choose between pragmatism or piety, orthodoxy or heterodoxy, reason or revelation. As we grapple with the role of religion in the American Revolution, we should not impose false dichotomies routinely used by modern scholars but were unknown to their subjects.
Helena Rosenblatt’s The Lost History of Liberalism correctly identifies liberalism’s need for moral virtue, but does not draw the further conclusion that her book suggests: liberalism is failing because it has rejected orthodox Christianity.
In the wake of last month’s decision, the only remedy left to the people of Kansas is to pass a constitutional amendment to declare that there is no “fundamental right to abortion” in the state’s constitution and to allow the legislature to make reasonable laws about abortion.
Robert Wilken’s new book convincingly demonstrates that the concept of religious freedom has its origins in Christianity. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, that may actually be viewed as an argument against religious freedom.
The early Church saw challenges to truths about God, the Reformation-era Church saw challenges to truths about the Church herself, and today’s Church is confronted by challenges to truths about man—the being made in the image and likeness of God whom the Church is tasked with protecting. This essay is based on Ryan T. Anderson’s inaugural lecture as the St. John Paul II Teaching Fellow at The University of Dallas.
St. Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of the question of the just price is often misunderstood by both Catholic integralists and classical liberals. These misunderstandings deprive us of lessons that could otherwise help us combine the goods of freedom and virtue as individuals and in society.
Can we hold to the truths of the Declaration of Independence—that we are endowed by our Creator with natural rights and that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed—without undermining respect for those natural duties and natural relationships that do not depend on our consent?
The political theory of the American founding is not quite the “cure for what ails us,” but, as Thomas G. West’s books demonstrate, it can serve as a kind of preventive medicine against the psychological sickness of radical individualism.
States that do not recognize both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching.
The problem with modernity’s conquest of nature is that it works toward obliterating the distinction between creature and creator, a distinction that is essential for maintaining a humane and non-totalitarian politics.
As the late Justice Scalia was fond of pointing out, the views of individual lawmakers in the midst of debate are not themselves the law we must interpret. Neither are the votes taken in a deliberative body rightly viewed as votes on anyone’s interpretation of the text under discussion. The text that they passed, not what they said about what they passed, is the law.
The pardon power is the most significant and strongest power of the president, and the Constitution places almost no limits on it. In using it, the president can unilaterally nullify the legitimate authority of the legislative and judicial branches.
Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed is a provocative attempt to explain what’s wrong with our culture, how this came to be, and what might be done about it. Although his historical account of liberalism is unpersuasive, he offers a prescient analysis of the current moment and insightful prescriptions for constructive action.
Religious freedom in America is caught between opponents on the left and the right. The second in a two-part series.
Because he accepts a Straussian framework that sees modernity rather than Christianity as the major turning point of Western history, Rod Dreher underestimates the influence of Christian and classical thought on the American founding.