Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Anthony Bradley - Ideological Tribalism: How Evangelicals Go About Social Ethics

I recently had an exchange with a Duke Divinity School student regarding many of things I’ve written at the Acton Institute over the past 12 years. The student said this about me:

 When it comes to speaking comfort to power and castigating the most vulnerable in our society, there is perhaps no public theological voice more eager than that of Anthony Bradley’s. His body of work is a textbook in blaming the victim and reducing problems to pathology. Not only had the student actually not read most of the things that I have written but the comment exposes something that Jonathan Haidt explains well that I’ve talked about before: ideological “tribalism.” 

Evangelicals generally develop perspectives on justice down tribal ideological and political lines because they normatively do not source the Christian social thought tradition when constructing perspectives on justice. It turns out, that I was simply being critiqued by a card-carrying, bona fide political progressive who is be also Christian. In this light, I was not surprised by the content of the critique. I do not hold the same presuppositions about creation, the implications of the fall, natural law, human dignity, the role of the state, the authority of Scripture and so on, as progressives do so naturally progressives are going to see calls to personal moral virtue and challenges to the patriarchy, soft bigotry, and historic tendency for coercive government to make things worse off for those on margins through the welfare state as “speaking comfort to power and castigating the most vulnerable.” The exchange provides a clear example of how evangelicals, ignorant of the Christian social thought tradition, go about the business of addressing social issues. It goes something like this:

 Read complete article here