Today is the last installment of Mere Orthodoxy’s interview with Dr. Craig Carter. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series and will venture over to his blog. Personally speaking, Dr. Carter’s blog represents the epitome of evangelical reflection upon the political and cultural sphere from a conservative orientation.

Check back at MereOrthodoxy.com in the near future as it is our intention to unveil interviews like this one with various other cultural, political, and theological innovators.

MO: There’s been a lot of talk about young evangelicals no longer being Republican/Conservative.  Do you see concern about that within the Republican leadership?

CC: The old guard of the Republican Party is simultaneously thankful for and terrified of social conservatives in general and Evangelicals in particular. This old guard needs to be changed and the Tea Party is doing it.  The long term goal should be to move the political center a few degrees rightward and to make the Democratic Party utterly unelectable as long as it is dominated by the New Left as it is now.  In order for this to happen, the center of the Republican Party needs to be moved rightward and this means getting rid of some RINOs, which is now happening. (David Frum is a good example of such a RINO.)  Angelo Codevilla’s recent article and book entitled The Ruling Class is an analysis of the American voting public that has been confirmed by a number of polls and by Arthur Brooks in his recent book, The Battle.  Essentially, America is divided into two classes: The Country Class (70%) and the Ruling Class (30%).  The Country Class is strongest in “fly over country” and its institutional base is the Churches and the Military.  The Ruling Class is concentrated in the cities and on the coasts and its institutional base is the media and the universities.  The Republican Party needs to be convinced that it can have a permanent governing majority by ignoring the Ruling Class and concentrating on representing the Country Class.  If it does so, then the longer term cultural goal should be to make inroads into the universities and to continue to do what Fox already is doing in the media: being unabashedly conservative and thus winning the ratings war.  America need not slide into socialism and atheism; it is a center-right, mainly Christian country.  But will the Republican leadership be willing to risk not being invited to certain cocktail parties in Washington and New York?

MO: Do you have any favourite candidates for 2012?  Who and why?

CC: I think that Obama would love to run against Mitt Romney because Obamacare will be a big issue and Romney introduced a health care plan as governor of Massachusetts that it similar enough to Obamacare that Obama could tie Romney up in knots on it.  So scratch him off the list.

Mike Huckabee is a good guy but I wish he had run for the Senate against Blanche Lincoln.  (It might have been the first 100% to zero win in history!)  But I don’t see him as “presidential timber.”

Tim Pawlenty is a fine man and stands for a lot of good things.  Charisma is not his strong suit, however, and I’m not sure he can light a fire under the Tea Party folks.  If he had the right VP nominee, however, it might work. He would need Palin or Rubio to bring out the conservative vote and such a possibility should not be ruled out.

I really like a lot of what Newt Gingrich says although his personal life makes me queasy.  I’m not sure he can win the nomination although I think he would beat Obama if he did.

Mitch Daniels shot himself in the foot with his ill-conceived comments about a truce on social issues.  What basis does he have for thinking the other side would observe any kind of truce?  I think he is a good governor but he would have to do a lot of talking to convince the social conservatives now.

Rich Santorum is a good possibility.  He has integrity, good policy positions and experience.  I like him a lot.

Paul Ryan is probably more suited to chairing the crucial House Budget Committee in the next Congress but is a possibility for next time around or for the VP slot if a charismatic top of the ticket person needs a policy wonk to balance it out (like Palin for instance).

Marco Rubio would make a terrific vice presidential nominee or a strong possibility for next time.  But I wouldn’t rule him out for this time either.  He has sincerity, principles and a compelling personal story.  Being the son of immigrants doesn’t hurt and he is not starry-eyed about socialism.

Chris Christie in New Jersey is a terrific governor and is doing exactly what needs to be done in states like NJ, NY, CA, IL and the list goes on.  I think 2012 is too soon for him, but he is young.  He is a YouTube superstar.

Sarah Palin is a major player in this election cycle; she may not be the nominee although I would not rule it out yet.  Even if she is not the nominee, her endorsement may be crucial for whoever is (eg. Rubio or Santorum or someone else).

I think the eventual nominee may not be on the radar yet.  But if I had to vote today, I’d go for Palin/Ryan or Santorum/Rubio.  I think there are a half dozen candidates who could defeat Obama; the challenge is to find one who would be able to inspire the Tea Party movement, unify conservatives and move the whole country in a more conservative direction.

MO: Would you be willing to share any thoughts you may have regarding the proposed mosque being built near Ground Zero?

CC: I’m against it.  I wondered if my views were too extreme, so I looked up a friend who was born in Egypt, speaks Arabic, has degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.  He teaches missions and is involved in missionary outreach in the Arab world.  I said to him that I thought the GZM is deliberately provocative and would be understood in the Muslim world as a symbol of a great Islamic victory.  I said that I believed that the Imam behind it was no moderate and that the liberal media were not facing reality.  Then I asked him if he thought my views were too extreme.   To my surprise he agreed completely and was even more strongly opposed than I am (if that is possible).  The liberal media is following the intellectual class in Europe which is blindly leading that continent to either civil war or Islamic domination and maybe both.

CC: As a Christian, why not Marx?

MO: Well, none of Marx’s major predictions have come true.  His major doctrines contradict core doctrines of Christianity.  And everywhere Marxist ideas have been implemented so far the results have been tyranny, increased poverty and the increase of atheism.  I fail to see anything Christians can learn from Marx and I consider his ideas to be the most dangerous alternative to Christianity in the Western world.

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Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

8 Comments

  1. Christopher Benson October 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Hmph! This interview was going so well until Part 3.

    (1) “The Republican Party needs to be convinced that it can have a permanent governing majority by ignoring the Ruling Class and concentrating on representing the Country Class.” This claim runs counter to James Davison Hunter’s contention that cultural (and presumably political) power is to be found at the center and not periphery.

    (2) “Sarah Palin is a major player in this election cycle; she may not be the nominee although I would not rule it out yet. Even if she is not the nominee, her endorsement may be crucial for whoever is.” How can anyone take Sarah Palin, a bare-knuckled opportunist, seriously? What kind of public servant quits her elected post in order to make money on a book tour and as a FOX News contributor? Her upcoming reality television show on TLC, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” should be the final nail in the coffin. The GOP must rid itself of her vulgar populism.

    (3) What about Mike Pence (R-Indiana) in 2012?

    (4) Is it fair to judge Newt Gingrich by the failings of his past? As far as I can tell, his Christian faith is renewed and rigorous. And his current marriage is healthy, faithful, and loving.

    (5) Yes, some of Marx’s “doctrines contradict core doctrines of Christianity.” Yes, “everywhere Marxist ideas have been implemented so far the results have been tyranny, increased poverty and the increase of atheism.” The problem arises from this simplistic rejection: “I fail to see anything Christians can learn from Marx and I consider his ideas to be the most dangerous alternative to Christianity in the Western world.” The professor should read Merold Westphal’s book, Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism, in which the author, a Christian philosopher in the Reformed tradition, finds “some legitimate, even beneficial, uses for atheist critiques of religion” in Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. He convincingly argues “their ‘atheism of suspicion’ makes a much-needed contribution to Christian self-understanding.”

    Reply

  2. He doesn’t see Huckabee as “presidential timber”, but he sees Palin as such? If youve seen “Idiocracy” you can where this country is heading if someone like Palin ever became president.
    I agree this interview was going pretty well until this installment

    Reply

  3. I’d just like to make a clarification in light of the two comments above. I didn’t mean to imply that I think Sarah Palin should be president, only that she represents a base that is an essential part of any winning conservative coalition. That is why I said that no one wins without her endorsement, which should be read in light of the fact that there likely are Republicans she might not endorse or would endorse only tepidly. If there is any sense that she is sitting on her hands or open to a third party or independent candidacy, it is curtains for the Republican nominee. So she might be the nominee or she might be the king (or queen) maker. But she matters whether anyone particularly likes it or not. Santorum or Rubio could (a) earn her endorsement and (b) mobilize her supporters. Could Romnney? I’m doubtful.

    Also, I should not have left out Mike Pence and Bobby Jindal. Either of them could defeat Obama too.

    As for Marx, I stand by what I wrote and I deny hotly that my dismissal is in any way “simplistic.” I think attempts to partially sanitize this madman are exercises in refusing to face up to reality.

    As for the Hunter comment, I will have more to say about this on my blog. But I respectfully disagree with him.

    Reply

  4. I’m sorry but Glenn Beck and others alike are bad for Christianity — http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/

    No to Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee has pardon criminals, spent like a sailor, etc so a bad choice.

    I’m saying this as a political moderate leaning conservative. Hopefully after the ”emergent movement” dies out (Religious Left) so will the Religious Right and all of it’s heresies.

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  5. Christian Lawyer October 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve read the interviews, and checked out Dr. Carter’s blogs, and I have to say, as a progressive who often reads the writings of smart people with whom I disagree (which is why I read Mere O), it’s hard to put much stock in Dr. Carter’s analyses when his own readling list is so insular. Seriously, he can’t even deal with Tom Friedman?? I think Maureen Dowd is the queen of snark, but when Dr. Carter writes “Alan Grayson Gets His Little Feelings Hurt,” is that any better? Or any more sophisticated?

    I can’t quibble with his theological writings because I’m not trained in theology, but, he writes about American legal issues without having even the most basic understanding of the history of American law. It’s like trying to have a discussion about aircraft engineering without understanding that the law of gravity even exists.

    For example, he writes about the constitution and abortion:

    “The problem is that progressives – social engineers and elitists at heart – don’t like the fuss and bother of going through the amendment process. … If the Ruling Class wanted abortion on demand all they had to do is get an amendment to the constitution exempting unborn babies from the class of humans whose right to life is protected. But they didn’t do that because they couldn’t do it. The majority stood in their way. And that is why abortion must one day end in America – because it is a deeply un-American practice that is at odds with the American Founding just like slavery.”

    Actually, when the Constitution was written, an unborn baby was NOT considered to be a “human being,” for example, for purposes of “murder.” “Murder” was then (and generally still is) defined as the killing of a human being by another human being with malice aforethought. But, under the “born alive” doctrine, a baby was not a “human being” unless it was born alive. See Edward Coke, Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628, 1644. In other words, the killing of a pregnant woman was just ONE murder, not two. The baby did NOT count as a human being. (This has changed only recently, and the fact that it was changed legislatively demonstrates pretty definitively that the law used to be different.) While one could write a treatise analyzing this issue, and certainly scholars can differ on what this all means, it is just flatly incorrect (and exactly backwards) for Dr. Carter to write, without any caveat, that unborn babies were part of the class of “persons” whose life the Constitution was meant to protect.

    And, how exactly, was “slavery” “at odds with the American Founding” when many of our Founding Fathers were slaveholders and it took another century and a bloody civil war, not to mention an amendment to the Constitution, to give former slaves “personhood”?

    His political analysis is no more insightful. While he criticizes Jack Conway for running an ad questioning Rand Paul’s faith, he himself writes a post titled “Is Obama a Christian?” in which he ends with this: “Seldom has a leader embodied the Leftist-Muslim link in his own person quite like Obama. It’s no wonder people have a hard time believing he is a Christian.”

    Time and again he conflates Progressives with Marxists, communists, and totalitarians. He writes “Is is Fair to Call Obama a Socialist When He is Clearly a Progressive?” His answer: “Yes.” Then he complains that “the Left” “is hypocritically eager to label everyone to the right of center a ‘fascist’ or ‘Nazi.'” How is his writing any different from the Leftists he decries?

    Today he writes: “A vote for the Democrats in this election is literally a vote against democracy.” Oh good grief! Mere O is touting this as “the epitome of evangelical reflection upon the political and cultural sphere from a conservative orientation”? Seriously?

    Reply

    1. Professor Carter and I continued our conversation on Marx at his blog. See his post, “Is My Rejection of Marx ‘Extreme’?

      Here are my last remarks:

      (1) Yes, Marx is attacking my religion as evil and me as a culpable dupe. While his attack may not be true of Christianity all of the time, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true some of the time. Marx, then, is an impetus to corporate self-reflection. Given the deception of the human heart (Jer. 17:9), it’s possible that I’m duped by ideological uses of Christianity. So Marx is also an impetus to personal self-reflection.

      (2) Yes, Marx is attacking the public role of Christianity. He’s wrong to say that Christianity shouldn’t have any influence on public attitudes. But he may help us to see more clearly where that influence is ideological rather than biblical (See James Davison Hunter’s critique of the Christian Right and Christian Left in “To Change the World’.)

      (3) You repeatedly conflate Marx with Marxism, a rhetorical strategy that the critics of postmodern thought use when they conflate Derrida with the irresponsible deconstruction of wayward disciples like Mark C. Taylor. You and I both detest the “tyrannical and oppressive” experiments with Marxism in the 20th century, but let’s carefully distinguish the ideas of Marx from the practices of Marxists.

      (4) Yes, Marx is an enemy of the Gospel. But rather than denounce him as a “madman,” shouldn’t we try following Jesus’ teaching to love our enemy? That entails a hermeneutics of charity, where we try to learn what we can learn from him, rather than a hermeneutics of suspicion, where we claim nothing can be learned from him because he is soooooo “dangerous.”

      Christopher

      Reply

  6. […] A Post-Christendom Perspective, was recently interviewed by Andrew Walker at Mere Orthodoxy. In the final installment of the interview, he was asked an interesting question: “As a Christian, why not Marx?” […]

    Reply

  7. Christopher Benson November 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve written a post in response to Dr. Carter’s claim that Christians can learn nothing from Marx:

    http://bensonian.org/2010/11/01/what-christians-can-learn-from-marx/

    Reply

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