29 October 2020

Why do white Christians vote Republican and black Christians vote Democrat?

Here's a fascinating historical analysis of the different voting patterns of two groups of American Christians. And, yes, this is the same Phil Vischer who created VeggieTales.



28 October 2020

Dooyeweerd on racial ideology in the churches

Here is a great quotation from philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) chastising the German churches for allowing themselves to be co-opted by the racial ideology of the new National Socialist government:

The Church has already expunged its inviolable boundaries opposite the state, it has already accepted a violation in principle of its essential character by tying itself, albeit under the protest of a significant minority [perhaps a reference to those who would sign the Barmen Declaration the following year], to the racial foundation of the new German political order. . . . But the Christian church cannot accept being tied to a 'racial theory.' It cannot without committing spiritual suicide, depart from the teaching of the Gospel that in Christ there can be no distinction between the Greek and the Jew. Certainly this equality in Christ does not exclude any and every temporary inequality in social life. Yet the church is the congregation of Christ and not a state writ small. A fundamental principle of the new political order is that the Church may not participate in politics! Well then, let the Church not follow the 'racial politics' of the new political order. Let it maintain without compromise its 'sphere-sovereignty' in its own spiritual fundamental structure, a 'sphere-sovereignty' that it does not derive from the state but from the grace of God!
-- Herman Dooyeweerd, "De grondwet van de nieuwe Duitsche Evangelische Kerk en de positie der gereformeerden in de 'Landskerken'" (1933)

27 October 2020

All Things & Solid Rock: McMaster & Mohawk

At the invitation of Michael Fallon, the Christian Reformed Church in North America's chaplain at McMaster University and Mohawk College, I was privileged last week to speak and converse online with his two student groups, All Things and Solid Rock, on the subject of "Unmasking Our Political Illusions." One day, after the current pandemic has passed, it would be wonderful to spend time in person with this and similar groups. May God hasten the day!

25 October 2020

Sermon mention

This morning at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio, Pastor Dan Schillero preached a sermon on James, chapter 1. Towards the end he mentioned my book, Political Visions and Illusions. I've set it so it begins at this point, but do go back and listen to the entire sermon, which is worthwhile.

 

24 October 2020

Introdução a Dooyeweerd

Acabo de postar uma tradução do meu ensaio introdutório ao pensamento político de Herman Dooyeweerd nas páginas do meu blog. Agradeço a Matheus Thiago C. Mendonça e Lucas Oliveira Vianna pelo empenho.

I have just posted a Portuguese translation of my Introductory Essay to Herman Dooyeweerd's Political Thought on my blog. Thanks are due to Matheus Thiago C. Mendonça and Lucas Oliveira Vianna for their efforts.


21 October 2020

Preparing for leadership

Recent correspondence with a colleague prompted me to revisit an article I wrote back in 2007: Making the Most of College: Preparing for Leadership. An excerpt:

So how should you, as an undergraduate student, go about preparing for focused political service or, more modestly, for responsible citizenship? First and foremost, take advantage of the academic resources available where you are. Attend classes, not merely to fulfil requirements, but to enter into an ongoing conversation transcending the course you are in at the moment. Plato's celebrated dialogue, The Republic, tells the story of what must have been an all-night exchange between Socrates and several friends over the nature of justice. Of course, the dialogue eventually comes to an end, but the larger conversation it sparked has continued in some fashion and in many settings for two-and-a-half millennia. We are still arguing and debating about justice, and we are unlikely to give it up this side of the Second Advent . . . .

No matter what sort of university you are enrolled in: Read! Read everything you can get your hands on, especially works addressing the larger questions of political life. Start with Plato and Aristotle. Read the Bible on justice and political authority. Grapple with Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Wrestle with Machiavelli and Hobbes. Enter into the worlds of Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx. And, although you may not find such writings in a "Great Books" programme, read Christian political thinkers like Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, James W. Skillen, Paul Marshall, and Bob Goudzwaard to acquire a firm grounding in a biblical approach to politics.

Common Good conversation, version 2.0

Yesterday I was interviewed once again by Ian Simkins and Brian From on "the Common Good" over Chicago radio station WYLL, AM 1160. Here is the link to what I found to be a thoroughly enjoyable conversation: Guest: Dr. David Koyzis, Author and Political Scientist - Political Ideologies - October 20, 2020.



19 October 2020

The Perception Gap

Those concerned about political polarization in the United States will want to take a look at this study: The Perception Gap, sponsored by More in Common as the third of their Hidden Tribes of America studies. From the findings:

To learn how well Americans understand each other, we partnered with global research firm YouGov to survey 2,100 Americans. On issues including climate change, patriotism, sexual assault, police conduct and more, we asked Americans what they themselves believed and what they estimated people on the other side believed. We were then able to calculate the difference between the predictions and reality.

The conclusion? Americans have a deeply distorted understanding of each other. We call this America’s “Perception Gap”. Overall, Democrats and Republicans imagine almost twice as many of their political opponents as reality hold views they consider “extreme”. Even on the most controversial issues in our national debates, Americans are less divided than most of us think. This is good news for those worried about the character of this country. The majority of Americans hold views that may not be so different from your own.

16 October 2020

Americans to the Polls

My latest column appears this week in the new issue of Christian Courier: Americans to the Polls, subtitled, "A party system that is broken and a constitutional tradition whose edges are beginning to unravel." An excerpt:

Next month Americans return to the polls to elect a president and vice-president, members of Congress, and host of state- and county-level officials. They do so at a time of unprecedented crisis for the country. What happens on 3 November will have an impact on its future as we enter the third decade of this century. The issues range from the government’s inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy crippled by months of quarantine, the consequent spike in unemployment rates, racial division, unrest in the streets of several major cities, and a vacuum in effective leadership at the top. But above all, the United States will have to deal with a party system that is broken and a constitutional tradition whose edges are beginning to unravel.

Read the entire column here.

15 October 2020

Dooyeweerd introduction

I have just posted my Introductory Essay to Herman Dooyeweerd's Thought on my blogger pages. An earlier version of this appeared in an edited volume of Dooyeweerd's political writings in 2004, as indicated at the bottom of the text. Here is an excerpt:

The difficulty with engaging one of these [modal] reductionisms in dialogue is due, not to the supposed irrationality of the reductionist, but to the fact that her enterprise accounts for all the evidence in a way that seems to be complete but is nevertheless missing something rather crucial. The convinced materialist can easily explain such complex phenomena as anger or even romantic affection by pointing to the movement of electrical impulses through the brain . . . . In this respect, the materialist is similar to G.K. Chesterton’s “madman,” who reasons in a way that combines logical completeness with spiritual contraction. If the madman argues that there is a universal conspiracy against him, and if you point out that everyone denies it, he is likely to reply that denial is exactly what one can expect from conspirators. “His explanation covers the facts as much as yours.” As Chesterton memorably concludes, the madman is not the one who has lost his reason, but the one “who has lost everything except his reason.” Dooyeweerd would put the matter less colourfully perhaps, but he would agree that the materialist, who sees the entire cosmos through the narrow lenses of only one or two modal aspects, has missed the fulness of human life, if not experientially, at least theoretically.

Dooyeweerd is best known for his account of the modal aspects of reality. Read this essay to find out what they are.

(Re)integrate podcast

I was recently interviewed by Bob Robinson and Brendan Romigh on the (re)integrate podcast. Click here to listen: Political Ideologies That Become Idolatries – with David Koyzis.

 


14 October 2020

Who's oppressing whom?

 

The Cateclesia Institute has published my article, Who's Oppressing Whom? Sin, Oppression, and Forgiveness. An excerpt:

In the real world, as we relate to each other on a daily basis, we will quickly discover that the title oppressor cannot be easily assigned to a particular group of people, primarily because this status will not hold still. As soon as we think we have identified and labelled the oppressors, something happens to upend our conclusions. Those victimized in the past turn right around and victimize others. Once the party claiming to represent the working class has overturned its capitalist overlords, it begins to persecute dissidents and those it deems to be obstructing the new order’s arrival, irrespective of what they have actually done. In their efforts to build a better world, revolutionaries typically end up turning on their own followers, creating a society more oppressive than the one they overturned.
Read the entire article here.

Note: the map above is of the routes taken by the aboriginal Americans westwards to their new homes in what is now Oklahoma.

Conversation with University of Ottawa students

Last evening I was the guest of Chaplain Sid Ypma at his online student group at the University of Ottawa.

13 October 2020

Veritas Forum interview

 

This afternoon I took part in a conversation with Erin Dienst of Veritas Forum on my Political Visions and Illusions. Click on this link to view it.

09 October 2020

Video review of Political Visions and Illusions

It's always good to get a positive review of one's books. Here's one by a certain Joel Wentz on the second edition of Political Visions and Illusions

 

08 October 2020

David Brooks on America's current plight

New York Times columnist David Brooks has written a remarkable article for The Atlantic: America Is Having a Moral Convulsion. Here is what the author does in this article, which I strongly recommend:

This essay is an account of the convulsion that brought us to this fateful moment. Its central focus is social trust. Social trust is a measure of the moral quality of a society—of whether the people and institutions in it are trustworthy, whether they keep their promises and work for the common good. When people in a church lose faith or trust in God, the church collapses. When people in a society lose faith or trust in their institutions and in each other, the nation collapses.

This is an account of how, over the past few decades, America became a more untrustworthy society. It is an account of how, under the stresses of 2020, American institutions and the American social order crumbled and were revealed as more untrustworthy still. We had a chance, in crisis, to pull together as a nation and build trust. We did not. That has left us a broken, alienated society caught in a distrust doom loop.
The Atlantic gives visitors three free articles per month. This should definitely be one of the three.

07 October 2020

The American Political Parties: History, Problems, and Prospects


The Gospel Coalition recently published my article titled, The American Political Parties: History, Problems, and Prospects. Here is an excerpt:

With the demise of the Democratic South, the Democrats became home to a certain brand of progressives—to those wishing to expand the individual right to choose, full stop. Under the choice-enhancement state, the apparatus of government continually expands to enable individual choice, but at the expense of non-state communities with more traditional standards of life and behavior . . . . The Republicans have similarly taken the libertarian element to the nth degree, focusing especially on economic life and the market. Generally skeptical of government regulations, many people in the party seek to unleash what they see as the economic dynamism of the American people, liberated from the heavy hand of government bureaucracy. They’re not departing from the liberal tradition, but they’re attempting to turn back the clock in its development, embracing either the night-watchman state or a modest form of the regulatory state.

Read the entire article here.

05 October 2020

Ashford interview with yours truly

Bruce Ashford, my occasional host at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, has posted an interview with me on the subject of the forthcoming American election: Political Scientist David Koyzis on the 2020 Election Cycle. An excerpt:

What advice would you give Christians in America as they go to the polls?

To those Americans who believe that voting for one party over the other will solve the nation’s problems, I would advise them to lower their expectations. It simply won’t happen. Whichever party wins in November will bring its own considerable flaws to the policy process. However, I suspect that many more Americans recognize that the election presents them with weak options. Their expectations are now so low that they will vote for the party they believe will do less harm to the common welfare. Still others will cast their vote for a third party, such as the American Solidarity Party, which is trying to bring something of the wisdom of the European Christian Democratic experience into the American political landscape. This third option is one I personally find very attractive.

My advice? Cast your vote. Hold your nose if you must. And pray that, whichever candidate makes it to the White House, God will magnify his strengths and diminish the effects of his failings.

Read the rest of the interview here.

03 October 2020

The impact of ideologies on Europe

 


This week I received a package from Germany containing two copies of this book, Europa, wie hältst du's mit der Religion? (Europe, how do you feel about religion?) My own chapter in this collection is titled, "The religious roots of political ideologies and their impact on Europe." I presented this at a conference in 2018 at the Internationale Hochschule Libenzell, Bad Libenzell, Germany. My contribution is the only one in English in this volume.

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