Thursday 3 October 2013

What is 'a Christian society'? - the example of a supreme court


I get the feeling that those on the secular Right see 'a Christian society' as one which makes everybody go to church and recite oaths in which they don't believe - sets fire to heretics...  that kind of stuff.

Well, that is not what I mean.

A quick explanation could be seen from an example of a ruling coming up to the supreme court - the court has to decide whether to support the ruling of a lower court, or overturn it.

How do they decide?

Well, supposedly they consider the coherence of the whole body of law and which ruling bests sustains it. However, that is clearly untrue, because supreme courts again and again make decisions which - over time - re-make the whole body of law and either move it towards a new kind of coherence, or else render it just plain incoherent.

(For example 'hate crime' laws are simply nonsense, in a legal sense, and eat away at the rest of the legal system like cancers.)

So how do supreme courts decide?

Well a Christian supreme court would look at the alternatives from the Christian perspective - in other words they would ask 'which ruling is best to sustain the Christian life?'

A non-Christian supreme court would not take this into account, but would use some other criterion for deciding.

And THAT is an example of a Christian society - when the primary and ultimate social decisions are made from a primarily Christian system of evaluation.



Luqman said...

Let us extend this. In the absence of an encompassing coherence to secular law, what principle, goal or ideology can be used to make it consistent (or at least not random)? Racial nationalism is one, what is best for the race? Then there is humanism, perhaps the strict opposite, what is best for everyone in the world? In practice this translates as what is best for the other. Nihilism is discarded prima facie.

Immediately a problem stands out; how do you decide what is best even within these frameworks? Is the overriding goal to reduce harm as much as possible? To make the most amount of people happy? To ensure genetic hygiene? To keep the community as stable as possible? Every philosophical solution to these questions ends up dealing in absolutes. They have absolutely no flexibility and as a result suffer in practice.

The only answer is religion, it is the only thing that offers stability at the top, under which pragmatism can be exercised. An irreligious society can simply not work, it will eventually collapse under the weight of its contradictions. The sacred can exist and function despite contradiction. It functions organically, whereas secular structures are mechanical.

Agellius said...

I have arrived at what I believe is almost the same conclusion. When I say that Christians should want the government to be subject to God, even other Christians say that's a bad idea because having the Church mixed up in government inevitably corrupts the Church.

But the Church doesn't have to run the government. The Church has always believed that Church and civil government are two different spheres of governance. But at the very least, a Christian should want the government to be subject to the Church in the sense of the Church being empowerd to tell the government when a law, in principle (not necessarily in outcome), violates Christian morality.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ag - Hey, we agree! Must be true...