Greg Thornbury, President of King’s College, nails it in this interview with Forbes. Commenting on how Christians can be relevant to our culture, Thornbury says of the post WW2 situation:
‘Those who looked in the face of totalitarianism and fascism and a century of holocaust and said, “What are the ideas that keep people free?” The point that I was making was that Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom was a bestseller. It was pulp nonfiction. They were selling it at supermarkets in the middle of the war; it went through fifteen pressings in the UK. In other words, it answered a fundamental question: what is going to get you through the blitzkrieg? What do you want to have in your hands when you come out of the underground by dawn’s early light? What’s going to steel you in courage to think that, “We’re going to get through this!” It is this notion that after this is over we are going to be able to reboot society on the basis of liberty, and consecrated self-direction, and the kinds of things that lift people out of the bog of collectivist notions that led, certainly, Germany and Italy to the most gruesome and bloody century ever known to man. I see my role as the president of The King’s College as re-enchanting a new generation with those animating ideals that once made Western civilization great in general, and American society distinctive in particular.’
Amen. In the introduction to God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology, I quote Vanhoozer on the point that “the fate of hermeneutics and humanity alike stand or fall together” (39). My attempt to demonstrate the unity of the Bible is my humble contribution to the broader effort to save the west that Thornbury articulates so well. The Bible is the foundation for meaning in this world. Destroy its unity and chaos results. Its coherence, however, stands against all the slanders made against it.
Then Thornbury is asked: “Should a Christian be a Hayekian? Do you see overlap there?” He replies:
‘I definitely see overlap for this reason: I think that when you study the texts of particularly the New Testament, although it has its origins in the Mosaic Law, I think what you see there is the seedbed of freedom of conscience. You see democratic religion in the pages of the New Testament. So whereas some people in Acts chapter 5 see some kind of nascent socialism, actually what you’re seeing is free people electing to gather together in solidarity around key principles and ideals and goals, and the people who joined in that were people like Lydia. There was a mercantile aspect to the early Christian movement. When I read Hayek and I see his argument for the link between private property and freedom, I see a direct line going all the way back to those pages of the New Testament, because what the Apostle Paul and others were representing was an alternative to totalitarianism. When you look at the Apostle John – and whatever else you think the Book of Revelation says about the future—what it definitely was, was the greatest political protest letter ever penned in the history of the world, because he was saying, “The state has no business telling us how we should govern our own life together.” And when I say “society” or “culture”, here’s how I’m defining that, Jerry: I take a nineteenth century definition by Johann Herder, who many recognize as the founding father of modern sociology. He said, “Culture is the lifeblood of a civilization. It’s the flow of moral energy that keeps a society intact.” So, when I see Hayek talking about making sure that we stay free of tyranny, I see the entailments of that going all the way back to the emperor and Domitian and the Apostle John.’
Indeed. This is exactly what you see poignantly in Revelation 13 and other places. More here.
The rest of the interview is available.
Pray for Dr. Thornbury. He’s living out Daniel 11:32, “those who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Join him in it.