New Warhorn Media post by Nathan Alberson:
Wolfe is pretty clear that he uses 16th and 17th Century theologians
“But since I pull mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries, in which Reformed theology was very Thomistic and catholic”
The footnote right after this statement says
“By “Thomistic,” I mean that Reformed theologians in these centuries were heavily influenced by Thomas Aquinas. This is less evident in Calvin’s work, though clear in the work of Peter Martyr Vermigli in the 16th century and many in the 17th century (e.g., Franciscus Junius and Francis Turretin). I use “catholic” as the Reformers used it—referring to the fundamental articles of faith taught by and since the Church Fathers. See, for example, A Reformed Catholic (1597) by William Perkins.”
Certain elements aren’t present in Calvin’s theology that are pretty crucial to reformed theology, like the covenant of works. Seeds might be there and people have speculated as such. So I think you misrepresent what Wolfe was trying to say.
I don’t know why a political work would need to deal with “neither Jew nor Greek” in the way you demand.
Here’s what Calvin said.
“Regarding our eternal salvation it is true that one must not distinguish between man and woman, or between king and a shepherd, or between a German and a Frenchman. Regarding policy however, we have what St. Paul declares here; for our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to mix up nature, or to abolish what belongs to the preservation of decency and peace among us…Regarding the kingdom of God (which is spiritual) there is no distinction or difference between man and woman, servant and master, poor and rich, great and small. Nevertheless, there does have to be some order among us, and Jesus Christ did not mean to eliminate it, as some flighty and scatterbrained dreamers believe.” Calvin, sermon on 1 Cor. 11:2-3"
“Difference of nations [gentium] or condition or sex is indeed taken away by the unity of faith, but it remains in the conduct (or manner) of mortal life, and this order must be preserved in the journey of this life.” Augustine, Epistle to the Galatians (on 3:28,29)"
I listened to Wolfe’s podcast for probably a year prior to him publishing this book and it actually solidified my position on the need to us to submit to authorities on things like masks. I think you misrepresent his position on Civil Disobedience.
“Laws that oppose libel and slander are righteous, according to the 9th Commandment, as a means to protect reputations and to encourage honesty. But if these laws permit the adjudication of any perceived slight, the law itself would likely promote a litigious society and do harm. Consider also a law that permits unlicensed fishing on government land. It is intrinsically righteous and it may be good as well, if the fisherman are few and do not exploit the lack of regulation. But if the number of fishermen increases or abuses arise, this law can result in harm. Junius said that “there is a place in which a good or indifferent thing is rendered evil because it is out of place. Thus, all righteous laws are only potentially just. They must also be good laws. That is, they must suit the circumstances and conduce concretely to the common good.”
From this article:
I have used that quote to anger many of the Covid belligerators.
This best part of your review was quibbling over the term Christian Nationalism. I didn’t find the rest of the review as balanced as it could have been.
Your analogy about the general was good, and Wolfe didn’t even see that his podcast cohost had some pretty radical views. So I think it is legitimate to question the ambiguity of some of his claims on the nation and ethnicity. I don’t think Wolfe supports Kinism personally, but a lot of Kinists could be fine with his positions and I don’t like that.
I do hope someone comes along and writes a better and more clear book that Wolfe did. I find myself annoyed at how many people seem to completely ignore anything after Calvin though in terms of political thought unless its Kuyper.
A magistrate that is a terror to good works acts outside his authority. With regard to those specific unjust commands, he ought to be resisted. This is not controversial, for we should “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
The most important question is whether Romans 13 denies the right of the people to forcibly reclaim civil power from their civil rulers. The question boils down to whether these two statements are contrary to each other: you shall not resist powers ordained of God and you may conduct revolution against tyrannical civil rulers. The common assumption today is that revolution necessarily resists the powers ordained of God, and thus the two statements cannot both be true. But I affirm both and deny that they are contraries. In conducting just revolution, a people are fighting a defensive war against the person holding civil office, not against the office itself, ie., not against the civil ruler as ruler. In resisting a tyrant, a people are not resisting the powers ordained of God, for a power for tyranny is not ordained of God. Thus, a people can conduct revolution against tyrannical civil rulers and, in so doing, not resist the powers ordained of God.
Many point to the tyrannical character of the Roman emperors around the time that Paul wrote Romans. Paul instructs us to obey rulers like Nero, a ruler who was clearly a tyrant.
But my argument has made clear that a tyr-ant, even one as degenerate as Nero, has not lost his office; he still wields true civil power of God; he is still at least formally God’s deputy for our good. A civil ruler who becomes tyrannical has not thereby lost his office. Now, even tyrants can command what is just, for while his commands considered as a whole are tyrannical, not every part or every specific command is tyrannical. Though Nero was indeed a tyrant, worthy of violent removal, he still had true authority to command what is just, and many civil commands of the Roman empire were indeed just. Paul instructs us to obey these commands, for they are ordinances of God commanded mediately through God’s deputy. Therefore, Paul’s instruction to obey civil rulers (even those who are tyrants) does not entail that the people lack the right to forcibly reclaim civil power from tyrants.
I remain deeply uncomfortable with the kind of simple binary presented in a passage such as this one. It gives every man an excuse to do what is right in his own eyes. I don’t really care how much or whether Wolfe nuances it in other places. I know he does. But this basic framework is dangerous. I think that’s the main point we wanted to make in the podcast. That and that his pre-fall continuity stuff is ridiculously speculative. And his use of quotes from at least one great reformer felt cherry-picked at best.
Seeing things that sloppy in the first major popular work on the subject made me annoyed, but not at Wolfe. He seems like a cool guy from the little I’ve seen and I think he has a lot of good points and observations. I can imagine myself making a lot of the mistakes he does in the flush of excitement and discovery. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending. I really mean it. It felt to me as if his friends and his publisher weren’t helping him refine his ideas and reduce his argument to something manageable. That’s really too bad.
I haven’t read the book or listened to this episode, but I think this claim on his part is very suspect. For Wolfe to claim he didn’t know seems almost as impossible to believe as his cohost’s claim (now acknowledged to be a lie) that it was somebody else saying those things. Wolfe “liked” posts from that account where his cohost said he was moving back to that account. I am having trouble thinking of any context where that happens apart from knowledge of who you are following.
that’s besides the point I was trying to make. The point was that when your podcast cohost had those views, It shouldn’t be surprising that you might attract a lot of radicals and should be more clear you are against those radical positions.
I have no idea how you come to the conclusion this quote is binary and gives every man an excuse to do what is right in his own eyes.
The American Revolution was for example was not every man doing what was right in his own eyes. John Witherspoon even condemns belligerent attitudes to the king in his sermon leading up to war for independence.
Here’s an extended review from Kevin de Young of the Gospel Coalition (sorry). I don’t exactly have a dog in this fight, living where I do in the world, but the review does, for me, explain the appeal of what Wolfe is on about.
Do you think Canon’s publishing this book has to do with their postmil drive? It seems like most things they do from ACCS to this book is all about having that eschatology. Maybe that’s a hasty generalization though.
Wolfe is amil as far as I know. Historically both amils and postmils have been pro-Establishment. “Christendom” was majority amil; postmil wasn’t really popularized until the later Reformers.
Listened to the podcast. Loved it. Glad you all spent the time to do it. I’ve been hearing about this book a lot.
That Canon Press published this book in its current form does not reflect well on them. This is putting it very mildly. Was there no editing? No critical feedback or review of the ideas? No telling Wolfe to take this or that back to the drawing board?
I’ll put it this way: if Warhorn were to publish a book like this, it would damage my opinion of Warhorn. Christian publishers have responsibilities both to authors and readers. Canon dropped the ball here.
I think the issue is that Canon and Wolfe aren’t operating on the same traditions.
Canon being more Kuyperian 1K and Wolfe being more Classical Two Kingdom.
Canon didn’t represent the arguements in Lex Rex accurately either when they tried to use it to support Covid belligerating
I’m not against Christian publishers selling books by men outside their traditions. If I believed that, I would have to condemn Warhorn for publishing Stephen Clark.
I’m talking about speculative theology, added to misrepresenting Calvin, and outright errors in quoting classical sources. Read Mrs. Susannah Roberts’ review at Theopolis. This is just embarrassing and sloppy. Leave the actual theology or politics out of it.
Clark’s book had been previously published prior to our involvement so I don’t think that’s the same thing.
I agree that he misused Cicero. Wolfe assumes the reformed tradition but there were differences among reformers, I think that’s the problem.
Because it sounds like he’s making one autoritative position of them all.
Pastor DeYoung’s review sounds a lot like pleading, especially considering he published it on TGC. They have been trying to freeze the Overton Window at the status quo and gate keep against “radical” political theories for some years now; search the archives for Michael Horton’s pieces about “Christian Nationalism” leading up to the 2020 election.
Pastor DeYoung really betrays his presuppositions at the end of his review, which inform us how we should read his critique as a whole (emphasis mine):
But the epilogue gives the whole book a different feel. Wolfe’s epilogue purports to answer the question “Now what?”—but the chapter consists of a string of loosely connected topics that can fairly be described as a 38-part rant. Several examples will suffice to justify this conclusion.
On the problem with progress:
Every step of progress is overcoming you. Ask yourself, “What sort of villain does each event of progress have in common?” The straight white male. That is the chief out-group of New America, the embodiment of regression and oppression. (436)
On living under a gynocracy:
We live under a gynocracy—a rule by women. This may not be apparent on the surface, since men still run many things. But the governing virtues of America are feminine vices, associated with certain feminine virtues, such as empathy, fairness, and equality. (448)
On the many problems with gynocracy:
Are you a minority and have a grievance? Signal displeasure to white women, even blame them for your pain, and women will shower you with money and retweets. . . . Consider also child transgenderism, which seems to be facilitated in large part by over-empathetic and sometimes deranged mothers. The most insane and damaging sociological trends of our modern society are female-driven. The gynocracy is self-destructive and breeds social disorder. (451)
On women and credentialism:
As academic institutions cater to and graduate more and more women, credentialism is on the rise. . . . This is why women place their credentials—“Dr.” or “PhD” or “Professor,” or even “MA in theology”—in their social media name. (453)
On the ruling class:
There is no robust common ground here. There is no credibility we can establish with them. Unavoidably, we are threats to their regime. Christian nationalism is an existential threat to the secularist regime. They are enemies of the church and, as such, enemies of the human race. (456)
On the need to resist modern life:
I’m not going to tell you how far to go in this, but it is both good for you and your family and it prepares for a better future. I expect that most committed Christian nationalists will be farmers, homesteaders, and ranchers. (461)
On choosing a career:
I say now [to my kids]: “Find a career that maximizes your autonomy from the forces of the secularist ruling class.” If you are a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered male, then the world will not offer you any favors. Indeed, your career advancement depends on sacrificing your self-respect by praising and pandering to your inferiors who rule over you. Even the CEOs, in the end, are dominated by woke scolds. (464)
On the embarrassment of low testosterone:
Christian nationalism should have a strong and austere aesthetic. I was dismayed when I saw the attendees of a recent PCA General Assembly—men in wrinkled, short-sleeve, golf shirts, sitting plump in their seats. We have to do better. Pursue your potential. Lift weights, eat right, and lose the dad bod. We don’t all have to become bodybuilders, but we ought to be men of power and endurance. We cannot achieve our goals with such a flabby aesthetic vision and under the control of modern nutrition. Sneering at this aesthetic vision, which I fully expect to happen, is pure cope. Grace does not destroy T-levels; grace does not perfect testosterone into estrogen. If our opponents want to be fat, have low testosterone, and chug vegetable oil, let them. It won’t be us. (469–70)
That Wolfe thinks all this is concerning. That he wrote it down is extra troubling. That he and his editors thought it a good idea to end the book with a series of vituperative harangues is baffling. Is this the civilizational answer we’ve been looking for—living off the grid, complaining about women, complaining about the regime, complaining about how hard it is to be a white male, warning about the globalists, calling out the dangers of vegetable oil, and chastising Presbyterians with dad bods?
Not only does Pastor DeYoung apparently deny white straight men are vilified by the culture, that we live in a gynocracy, that a secularist regime is actively opposed to Christianity, that credentialism is an idol, that career choice is increasingly becoming a matter of intentionality for Christians, and that obesity and low testosterone are problems that plague modern men, to so much as bring these issues up and propose a general path forward is “concerning” and “troubling.”
I understand and agree with concerns about belligeration. I thought getting up in arms about masks was LARPing and think that “Let’s Go Brandon” rhetoric is wicked. Certainly some men have overcorrected on trying to remedy some of what Wolfe raised, and it is important for pastors to shepherd such men accordingly.
But I am not sure Pastor DeYoung and I live on the same planet, much less is he someone I think has a firm enough grasp on the realities the Church is facing to offer a conscientious objection to much of what Wolfe wrote. He knows exactly who his large audience is (mainstream Reformed evangelicals) and has written exactly what they expect him to write.
I have debated both proponents and skeptics of Wolfe’s book. I do not appreciate his ambiguity about ethnicity and what constitutes a nation. We cannot just quote mine from Aquinas, Zanchi, and Turretin and try to copy-paste their exact philosophy into an American context because these men were pro-American chattel slavery which as @jacobgonzales pointed out a while back has altered how Americans do and ought to handle racial dynamics permanently.
At the same time, I do not see how one can take much issue with Wolfe’s broader paradigm and not take issue with Chapter 23 of the original WCF, which most of our heroes held to. It is Establishmentarian and Two-Kingdom, and it is refreshing to see a movement trying to revive something closer to a historic political theory than Theonomy/Reconstructionism, Neo-Calvinism, or a Radical Two-Kingdom framework.
I am glad to see this topic being discussed here.
I read some of the book, and listened to an interview that Mr. Longshore did with Mr. Wolfe.
One of the things that caught my attention very early is that so much of his paradigm is based upon speculation about what the world should have been like had mankind remained in the prelapsarian state. Wolfe acknowledged in the interview that Luther and Augustine would have disagreed with his paradigm from the ground up.
The notion that the church should be working toward moving the world back to some sort of prelapsarian state doesn’t really resonate with any brand of amil or Two Kingdom theology that I’m familiar with, though I am not as well read as many of you. Whatever this is, even if it’s not explicitly theonomistic, it’s no surprise that the theonomists would eat it up.
Speculative theology. It never sticks. This whole Christian Nationalism mantra will be a flash in the pan for a brief moment, but when the sizzle is gone, we’ll be left with our Bibles, still surrounded by a bunch of sinners who still all need Jesus. The gospel mission won’t change.
Well, if we deny the civil magistrate was a pre-Fall reality (i.e. Adam was not “King” just “Prophet and Priest”), that not only negatively impacts how we view civil authority but does damage to Adam as a type of Christ. Amil or postmil doesn’t have much to do with this if anything.
I agree his stance on nations existing pre-Fall is more speculative and should be evaluated as such.
The self-described Theonomists who actually understand both Theonomy and Wolfe’s position are actually not inclined eat it up. Andrew Sandlin is a perfect example. Theonomy is a one-kingdom paradigm that limits civil authority to the letter of Mosaic Law (except for when different camps of Theonomy just so happen to decide different portions don’t apply today). Though they would of course deny this, ultimately Theonomists seek to neuter the state’s authority to less than what the Bible requires. Wolfe actually wants to increase the state’s authority from what is outlined in the Constitution; he just wants the state to be moral. I agree with Wolfe on this point.
Theonomists are also very skeptical of natural law and almost universally opposed to more granular aspects of Thomism which are essential to Wolfe’s framework. In practice, Theonomists are libertarians; Wolfe is a monarchist. The two systems aren’t compatible.
I don’t like faddish movements, and I really hope that isn’t what Christian Nationalism morphs into because it leads to shallowness and dilution. That being said, it does not make sense for Christians spend time critiquing everyone else’s political theology while simultaneously saying “this subject is not that important; we just need to focus on the Great Commission.” Critiquing political theology is focusing on it. Why don’t we spend some of that energy offering positive solutions also?
I really like Wolfe’s suggestions for having men-only magistrates. He seems more kuyperian in this regard to many modern theonomists!
At some point, Christian nationalists must sober up and face their electorate. Regardless of whom we blame for the moral condition of the post-Christendom world we inhabit, the way forward is the preaching of the Gospel, starting with God’s Moral Law. That no one sees or talks about this fundamental failure of God’s Church today is what must become our focus. Absent this repentance, any discussion of political theory is inane. Stolypin was godly, but he failed and was assassinated. Love,
When I read that Wolfe intentionally was not basing his argument off of scripture, but instead off theologians, I lost all interest in the book. I can see a place for books on theological-adjacent topics, but I don’t want to be basing my view of proper Christian government and political action on philosophy that is detached from the scriptures.
I’d be careful quoting someone associated with MereO or Theopolis. They’ve been known to be soft on the malakoi issue. MereO I believe platforms lesbians.
Wolfe’s book is certainly causing a stir and I personally don’t care about the political nature of it, I’m only happy to see someone pushing gender roles in the right direction.