Category: Publications

Makers Front Cover 10_19_16This year marks the 125th anniversary of two key documents in the development of modern Christian social thought: the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII and the speech “The Social Question and the Christian Religion” by Abraham Kuyper. To mark this anniversary and to commend these works to readers today, Acton Institute has recently released Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought: Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper on the Social Question.

This volume consists of the texts of these two key sources, along with an introduction that provides some background on the social question in the nineteenth century as well as the thematic similarities and convergences between the two works. There is also some additional bibliography for further reading and research, making this volume an ideal resource for students and others interested exploring the foundations of modern Christian social thought in Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions.

One of the essential features of this edition is its inclusion of the full text of Kuyper’s published speech, complete with its extensive reference apparatus. Earlier editions have appeared in English and have served well to make Kuyper’s insights accessible and readable. These earlier versions sometimes omitted or elided Kuyper’s notes, however, which can obscure the depth and detail of Kuyper’s insights and his engagement with the literature of his time.
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Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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Statua chrystus królCourtesy Adrian Vermeule at Mirror of Justice, I ran across a word new to me: Kyriarchy. Given the context and my admittedly limited Greek-language skills, I was able to work out the gist of the idea. As Vermeule puts it, “On November 20, the Feast of Christ the King, a coronation ceremony took place at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow. The President of Poland and the Catholic Bishops officially crowned Jesus Christ the King of Poland.”

Vermeule goes on to wonder what impact, if any, this might have for Poland’s constitutional order: “Is Poland now to be classified as an authoritarian regime? What is Poland’s small-c constitution, if it still has one?”

Off the top of my head, I would point to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament as a precedent, which is perhaps best understood as a constitutional monarchy, first with Yahweh as the heavenly monarch with judges as the main earthly authorities, and later with a human monarchy subsumed and accountable to that divine rule. Torah was the national constitution, and there was a whole apparatus in place holding various institutions and authorities responsible for various duties.

I don’t think it would be right to call such divine lordship merely “symbolic.” And I don’t see why mutatis mutandis something like that couldn’t also be coherently put in place today.

The Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper had a lot to say about something that might be understood as Kyriarchy in a broader sense, at least. For that, I recommend his three-volume treatment of the lordship of Christ Pro Rege, the first of which is now available in English translation.

It is, of course, one thing to affirm the lordship of Christ over everything, including particular nation-states, and quite another to work out the particular ways that ought to be reflected in a particular political order. As Vermeule rightly notes, this isn’t merely a technical issue of polity, but a more substantive question of political, and even public, theology.

fre-sonneveld-powerlinesThe final issue of Religion & Liberty for 2016 is now available online. It will explore a breadth and depth of topics, including the “ten dollar founding father,” why we need those dollars, the danger of a utopian dream and more.

For the main feature, Victor Claar interviews Vernon Smith, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2002. He describes the relationships among many things we might not think are connected, especially the interplay between economics, science and religion.

Bruce Edward Walker revisits the 1941 book Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. He was intimately familiar with the lies and horrors of totalitarianism, as he faced political prison in Spain and a French concentration camp. Walker implores the current generation to read Koestler and reject the creeping norm of socialism. (more…)

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Vernon L. Smith speaks to Samuel Gregg at Acton University.

UPDATE: The full interview is now available online.

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In June, Nobel economist Vernon L. Smith gave an Acton University speech titled “Faith and the Compatibility of Science and Religion.” While he was in Grand Rapids, he sat down with Victor V. Claar and went into some of the specifics of his lecture, as well as his vast experience in economics, including experimental economics. Their conversation was recorded as the cover feature for the Fall issue of Religion & Liberty. As a preview for this publication — which will be available soon — enjoy part of the conversation between these two esteemed economists:

Victor Claar: How did you first become interested in economics?

Vernon Smith: Well, I was an undergraduate at Cal Tech. I didn’t even know that economics existed. I was studying physics, chemistry, and mathematics. As a senior, we had a course, Principles of Economics. I was just fascinated by economics. By then, I pretty much decided I probably wouldn’t continue in science or engineering. I hadn’t decided what to do instead. But I took that course, and then I knew what I wanted to do next, which was to go back home: to the University of Kansas. I chose Kansas because that’s where I was from and, being entirely self-supporting, I could take advantage of their low in-state tuition. So I got a master’s degree there in economics. (more…)

Blog author: d.menjivar
Monday, October 31, 2016
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“The attachment of Luther’s 95 Theses” by Julius Hübne

Today is a momentous day in Western history, the beginning of what would be known as the Protestant Reformation. With Martin Luther’s pinning of the ninety-five thesis in Wittenberg, Germany, he would light a candle that would change theology, philosophy, and the political landscape of Europe and beyond. With a focus on the individual and his or her relation with the Almighty, Luther’s reforms reinvigorated the spiritual aspect a person’s daily work and striving. Luther and his idea of vocation, that one’s calling is not only a spiritual command for the priesthood, but a spiritual command to excellence in a person’s everyday duties would invigorate and create a thriving Western Europe. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Monday, October 31, 2016
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Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder

Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder

Questions about what makes a good or a bad leader dominate many conversations as we approach the 2016 presidential election. Real leadership happens all around us, not just in the Oval Office. As we pulled together the various pieces for this Summer 2016 issue of Religion & Liberty, the informal theme of leadership seemed to connect all the content. For the interview, I was able to sit down with the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Cheryl Bachelder, to discuss her unique approach to leading the casual fried chicken corporation. Rev. Robert Sirico also addresses leadership in his column as he asks the question, Where are the leaders? He reflects on the legacies of Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II, and contemplates the qualities that make for a truly great leader. (more…)