I Demand That You Read This Essay

by Jan 29, 2014Culture

I’m writing in a secret BJU Press project about the particular form of dualism Francis Schaeffer called the “two-story view.” During my research today, I went back again to one of the two essays I have read most often in my life (the other is this), Stanley Fish’s “Why We Can’t All Just Get Along.” If you still read this blog and haven’t succumbed to my demands that you read this Fish essay, I implore you to do it. It’s unbelievable, it really is. As I read it again I just kept shaking my head and laughing, marveling at the insights. I’ve even made a PDF version with highlights for those of you whose brains have been decimated by the Internet. Skip from yellow to yellow and you’ll still get something good. Click here to download. If even that is too much for you, at the very least promise me you’ll read this paragraph:

If you persuade liberalism that its dismissive marginalizing of religious discourse is a violation of its own chief principle, all you will gain is the right to sit down at liberalism’s table where before you were denied an invitation; but it will still be liberalism’s table that you are sitting at, and the etiquette of the conversation will still be hers. That is, someone will now turn and ask, “Well, what does religion have to say about this question?” And when, as often will be the case, religion’s answer is doctrinaire (what else could it be?), the moderator (a title deeply revealing) will nod politely and turn to someone who is presumed to be more reasonable. To put the matter baldly, a person of religious conviction should not want to enter the marketplace of ideas but to shut it down, at least insofar as it presumes to determine matters that he believes have been determined by God and faith. The religious person should not seek an accommodation with liberalism; he should seek to rout it from the field, to extirpate it, root and branch.

Insofar as liberalism (and here Fish speaks broadly in such a way that Republicans and Democrats are both included) embodies a recognition that Christ’s kingdom doesn’t advance by the sword in this age, I’m eager to forswear physical force in my extirpation efforts. But with all the effort of my intellect, Internet-decimated though it may be, I am working to see this rival claimant to Christ’s throne routed—and I believe it can be. I’m eager to live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, and there’s no denying that liberalism has, for now, helped provide such a life—in America, at least. But that stability appears tenuous at the moment. It’s hard for me to imagine that it will still exist when I die. I do not, repeat, do not wish for a theocratic kingdom in this age. It won’t happen. But neither, along with Fish, can I accept liberalism’s specious claims to neutrality.

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