This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Protestantism and secularism

“If the human race were not condemned to see things reversely, it would select for its counsellors theologians amongst the generality of men, and the mystics among theologians, and amongst the mystics, those who have lived a life most apart from business and the world. Among the persons whom I know, and I know many, the only ones in whom I have recognised an unshaken common sense, and a prodigious sagacity, and an amazing aptitude to give a practical and prudent solution to the most difficult problems, and to discover a means of escape in the most trying circumstances, are those who have lived a contemplative and retired life; and, on the contrary, I have not yet discovered, and I do not expect ever to discover, one of those who are called men of business, despisers of all spiritual, and, above all, divine speculations, who would be capable of understanding any business.”

~ Juan Donoso Cortes[1]

Take the words of Cortes, which represent the old view of knowledge which taught that those men closest to the absolute would obviously be the most discerning in any order, and compare this with Luther’s view:

…you have people under you and you wish to know what to do. It is not Christ you are to question concerning the matter but the law of your country…Between the Christian and the ruler, a profound separation must be made…Assuredly, a prince can be a Christian, but it is not as a Christian that he ought to govern. As a ruler, he is not called a Christian, but a prince. The man is a Christian, but his function does not concern his religion…Though they are found in the man, the two states or functions are perfectly marked off, one from the other, and really opposed.[2]

And so, in the fashion of Luther, men like Jefferson could learn to see any priest who walked outside the church doors as a trespasser, useless in everything except the administration of the sacraments. And because no right-thinking clergymen would ever accept this absurd limitation, anti-clericalism was the result, and Jefferson, along with his comrades, would have to see priests as enemies of thought and freedom:

In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.[3]

Thus, the notion of a beneficial “wall of separation between church and state” has its roots in liberal philosophy, and in fact this idea follows very naturally from its basic premises. So inevitable was this conclusion that we find it rearing its head not only in the political philosophies of John Locke and J.S. Mill, but even from religious reformers such as Martin Luther, whose advice we have cited above.

And while the Catholic Church had warned kings that “through this crown, you become a sharer in our ministry,” the secularism of Luther was to become the unconscious status quo in all the later liberal-democratic regimes with which Protestantism would form an unhealthy union. In nations built on this philosophy, even those Catholics who wished to participate in public life would have to sacrifice their principles to the liberal altar. Consider the following statements of the Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, which we have mentioned elsewhere but which are worth citing again, and consider how perfectly they mirror the thinking of Luther, while at the same time flatly contradicting the teachings of Kennedy’s own Church:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute… I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me…Whatever issue may come before me as president—on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject—I will make my decision…in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates.[4]

[1] Juan Donoso Cortes, Essays, 61.

[2] Luther’s Works (Wiemar Edition) XXXII, pp. 391, 439, 440.

[3] Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, 17 March 1814.

[4] Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association delivered Sept. 12, 1960.

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