Acton Institute Powerblog

Radio Free Acton: Concealing Christian Identity

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Radio Free Acton hits the web once again today, this time featuring an exchange between Hunter Baker, author of The End of Secularism, and Jonathan Malesic, author of Secret Faith in the Public Square: An Argument for the Concealment of Christian Identity. Their conversation continues an exchange begun in the Controversy section of the latest issue of Acton’s Journal of Markets & Morality. Should Christians be overt about their faith when operating in the public square, or should Christian identity remain concealed in order to protect the faith from being drained of any real meaning? Baker and Malesic provide some thought-provoking perspectives on this vital question. [Ed. note: As an exclusive for PowerBlog readers, you can read the Malesic/Baker controversy in the Journal of Markets & Morality here.]

Additionally, we’re pleased to bring you an interview with Rev. John Armstrong recorded after his December 1st Acton On Tap event on Ecumenism and Ideology, in which we discuss what authentic ecumenism really is, as opposed to ideology.

To listen, use the audio player below:

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Marc Vander Maas


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  • sdf

    Can we get a talk on what authentic freedom is as opposed to the ideology you all are bound by?

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  • Roger McKinney

    sdf, could you clarify? I’m not aware of anyone on this site being directed by ideology.

  • Hunter Baker

    sdf, I didn’t understand the question, either. We need more in order to respond meaningfully.

  • sdf

    I was snarking at Rev. Armstrong’s talk. I just found the irony rich that such an argument would be made on a website whose primary purpose is to put a Christian gloss on–and to indoctrinate the unwary among the Christian community into–Enlightenment and utterly secular ideologies of “freedom.”

  • Marc Vander Maas

    sdf – would you be so kind as to enlighten us to the true definition of freedom?

  • sdf says the Acton site exists to “put a Christian gloss on–and to indoctrinate the unwary among the Christian community into–Enlightenment and utterly secular ideologies of “freedom.””

    Would you be kind enough, sdf, to back up this assertion with examples from the Acton site? You need to do more than simply spew out these charges if you expect to be treated seriously here.

  • sdf

    You’re the “Christian” franchise of the Atlas Network, the mission of which is precisely the inculcation of classical Liberal/libertarian ideas in various sub-groups of society. The only difference between the thought of the Acton Foundation and that of the other member organizations is, well, a Christian gloss on the shared ideology.

    Come out from among them! Freedom to the Christian is not the slavery to passions and lack of obligation preached by Rand, Hayek, Friedman, and the rest of the guiding lights of your ideology!

  • Marc Vander Maas

    I was unaware that I had been promoting “slavery to passions and lack of obligation.” Might I ask which passions I’m enslaved to? Also, if you could point out what you mean by “lack of obligation,” that’d be swell too. Otherwise, I might be inclined to simply dismiss you as a thoughtless troll.

  • sdf

    A troll, perhaps–or a prophet–but not thoughtless. The “freedom” your site propagandizes is a negative one and individualistic. It is utterly secular. It denies both a common telos (other than “freedom” itself) and (unchosen) communal obligation. It is incompatible with Christian faith and anthropology (the less deluded of your fellow-ideologues who have no need to reconcile their ideology with a Christian identity openly acknowledge this). Propagating your ideology is your right. It may even be the best course for public policy. But please stop trying to distort Christian faith to make it compatible with this worldly ideology.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    If you are contending that I believe that freedom is an end in itself, or that human beings can live completely autonomous lives and bear no responsibility for the well-being of their fellow man, you’re simply wrong. I note that you’ve given no examples of our wrong-headedness and offered no counter-arguments other than to simply assert that we are wrong, distorting Christian faith, and “deluded.” If you have a problem with something specific that was said in a segment of the podcast or anywhere else on the blog, then cite it and explain your problem. But if all you have to contribute is general bomb-throwing and insults, then you’re pretty much wasting our time and yours.

  • sdf: Your mindless assertions are no substitute for an argument competently constructed in defense of your position, such as it is. Your approach is lazy and insulting. Even lacking in civility, you might say. You haven’t taken the trouble to learn anything about the Acton Institute (you can’t even get the name right — look at the header on the web site). As for Christian anthropology, it’s obvious that you have not the faintest idea of what that means. What’s more, dressing up your rant with cheap theological references like “telos” doesn’t put you on any firmer ground. I suggest you take your emotional venting elsewhere unless you can somehow get a surer grip on what’s going on here.

  • sdf

    I’m familiar with your program John. I enthusiastically attended one of your educational weekends about a decade ago. Thankfully, I was well catechized and looked at the program through the eyes of faith. I recognized the ideology for what it is and the weekend forever turned my head from what I had been erroneously raised to believe was the conservative and Christian economic and social outlook. Thanks for that at least.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    One more time, and I’m done: assuming that you are, in fact, very well catechized and have been able to discern the glaring flaws in Acton’s approach to economics and society, would you be so kind as to explain what those flaws are in terms more specific than a vague reference to “ideology” or “telos” followed by an insulting blanket dismissal of Acton folks as “delusional”? Or are we so deluded that we’re beneath any attempt on your part to straighten us out? Or perhaps I’ve deluded myself into thinking that it’s possible to reason with a troll on a blog.