02 June 2005

A Red Tory

While looking for an explanation of the Hartz-Horowitz thesis the other day, I came across a series of webpages belonging to one Ron Dart, who teaches politics and religion at the University College of the Fraser Valley in BC and is a self-described Red Tory. In fact, he even publishes a journal called The Friend: The Red Tory Review. Among other things, he is an aficionado of the late George Grant and looks to be a high-church Anglican to boot. Interesting fellow.

When I saw his name, I thought it looked familiar. Then I recalled he had written a severely critical review of Paul Marshall's Their Blood Cries Out in Sojourners, to which Marshall himself responded a few months later. Something of Dart's approach can be seen in this article, "Clark Pinnock: Canadian Theologian of the Empire." Pinnock is, of course, the controversial theologian now retired from McMaster Divinity College, just down the hill from Redeemer here in Hamilton. Dart argues that, although Pinnock's Wesleyanism is poles apart theologically from J. I. Packer's Calvinism, both are apologists for the American empire and have effectively betrayed "the Canadian High Tory and Conservative way." As such they are "theological compradors."

Of course, the defence of one's own is certainly a hallmark of virtually any conservatism worth its salt. On the other hand, simply to argue that Pinnock and Packer are flirting with American "republican" ideas ostensibly foreign to Canada does nothing in itself to tell us whether they are right or wrong in so doing. Yet if Dart were to attempt to address this issue, he would have to reach beyond his vaunted high tory conservatism and embrace some sort of general normative framework in which questions of right and wrong could more easily find a context. Perhaps it's time for him to investigate neothomism or neocalvinism, both of which claim to offer such a framework.

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