Michelle Deardorff’s Writing Makes Me Wonder About Many Other Questions

Keywords to note that appear in this reading: paradigm, communitarian, and Christian. A paradigm refers to a pattern or model. Communitarian refers to the philosophical idea that there is an important connection between individuals and the community, even emphasising community over individualism.

A Christian is a person who follows the Christian faith, which has many branches and denominations with varying practices and beliefs. The three key beliefs though that define are a Christian are: the belief that Jesus is the son of God, that Jesus’s birth was evangelical (an act of God), and that Jesus was crucified and resurrected for humanity’s sins so that they could be absolved.

Michelle Deardorff in her writing the 21st Century Political Science: A Reference Handbook on Christian Political Thought argues that the model early Christian philosophers used to think about political thought is different from later philosophical eras. This because the former emphasises the connection between an individual and the community with regards to the state and its link to ethics and morality, while the later uses a liberal paradigm that prioritises individual rights over communitarian needs. I believe that Deardorff’s argument is persuasive because she clearly sets up subheadings for her evidences of varied Christian thinkers to discuss their ideas and actions to showcase how either:

1. The state protects economical values, and therefore community is more important to the state to protect and therefore the state and Church cannot properly be unified.
2. The state and Church can be unified is the government is moral and correctly follows God’s will and teachings.

Deardoff proves her argument by discusses the likes of Augustine, who believed that physical membership to a Church is not an accurate representation of if someone is a ‘true citizen,’ Aquinas, who believed that if you fulfil societal roles under a moral leader justice will exist, and Jean Bodin, who argued that the duty of the state has always been to protect property.

I liked that this reading about subheadings for each of the political thinkers and figures that Deardorff referred to in the reading. It makes everything so much easier to read and understand when each idea is clearly structured. I vote that all pieces of non-fiction should be chaptered or sub-headed (depending obviously upon their length)!

A question I did have though after finishing this reading is: if Christian political thought believed that the state needs to be religious to fully develop an individual, and that the state therefore enforces laws that help people become virtuous via habits, why did they allow so much corruption to breed within government that affects the community from an ideological viewpoint?

For example, they believed that morals override the authority of positive law and the claims of the state, so when corruption is breeding and virtues and believed to be needed to maintain social order, how did it become such a widespread issue?

What do you think?