20 May 2013

The Ironic Ambivalence of a One-Kingdom Guy

One might think that with three 24-hours cable news outlets in American we would hear all the news, not simple incessant rehashes of the same few stories. For a story unnoticed by any in the American media world go here to read a piece by a deeply conflicted David Koyzis of the Center for Public Justice. The CPJ is a long-standing Christian and nonpartisan political and public policy think-tank. I've linked to an earlier piece posted by the CPJ here.

In any event, the CPJ operates firmly from within the one-kingdom perspective of Christ's mediatorial kingship. This distinguishes the CPJ from, say, D.G. Hart who is a firm two-kingdoms guy. But Koyzis shows some warranted discomfort with the new constitution of the nation of Hungary. Why? Not because it provides that “the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood” nor because it honors its historic king, St. Stephen, who “built the Hungarian State on solid ground and made our country a part of Christian Europe one thousand years ago.” And certainly not becuase it acknowledges the role of the family in the nation, recognizes marriage as a union of a man and a woman, and claims to defend human life from conception.

Given that Koyzis believes each of these provision is largely correct from an historical and public justice perspective, what fault does he find? That the new constitution was not drafted by an all-party political conference but instead solely by Hungary's legislature under the domination of a single political party (which happens to have a two-thirds majority in both houses).

Koyzis contrasts Hungary's new constitutional ordering with America's where all political parties acknowledge the validity of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, the U.S. Constitution, Koyzis implies, is supra-political, above the sordid fray of party politics.

Two comments. First, the Constitution only appears supra-political from a perspective of 200 years after the fact. It was most decidedly the output of only a part of what was then America's relatively small political elite and was fiercely opposed by many frozen out of the drafting process. It appears today to be politically benign given over 200 years of structural domination reinforced by the results of the bloodiest war in America's history.

Second, and here Koyzis's ambivalence is barely detectible, Hungary's constitution can be perceived as insufficiently secular. I've posted here and here about the virtues of secularity in contrast with secularism. It's not at all clear that the new constitution does not provide free public space for those who reject the persisting significance of the facts recited in the constitution's preamble. As he admits, "a reading of an English translation of the [Hungarian constitution] reveals nothing particularly offensive to democratic institutions." Thus one cannot help but be bemused by the ironic efforts of one like Koyzis who is  committed to the truth of Christ's universal kingship as he finds a thin reed on which to disavow a constitutional structure that expresses his very point of view.

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