A Must-Read Piece Featuring a Number of My Favorite Writers

I read pretty much everything Alan Jacobs writes. This piece is at the top of the list of must-reads. It’s his assessment of the major storm between two conservatives: Sohrab Ahmari and David French.

Let me try to spin Jacobs’ basic argument into the way I would put it.

Insofar as liberal proceduralism is indeed on the rocks, and is serving mainly as an impolite fiction, a fig leaf covering progressive illiberalism, it’s bad and should be rejected along the Stanley Fishian why-we-can’t-all-just-get-along lines I’ve described on this blog many times before. (I loved Jacobs’ description of the backstory to one of the greatest essays in the history of the form—and the paragraph he quoted is the one I have practically memorized, I’ve repeated it to myself so often.)

Insofar as liberal proceduralism is the result of specifically Christian convictions about the inviolability of the conscience, and maybe even Reformed convictions about the necessity of the Holy Spirit in conversion; and certainly many biblical commands about gracious speech, love of neighbor, impartiality, and the Golden Rule; then liberal proceduralism should live on.

Don’t miss Jacobs’ follow-up post, either. I thank God for Jacobs and for French (I had not till now known of Ahmari). Over and over I have found them to be helpful assessors of contemporary arguments. Ross Douthat is the only other person I could put in their category. David Brooks is close.

Update: sure enough, Douthat weighed in helpfully. He sees issues beyond those I’ve mentioned, which is appropriate to his height above me on the pundit pole.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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