Now, the liberal state never explicitly affirms “we are God,” for in its official agnosticism, it does not even explicitly deny or affirm the possible or actual existence of a transcendent being. Moreover, it insists that it leaves open the possibility of some such being’s revealing or having revealed himself and his will to man. Secular liberalism, that is, the purportedly non-theocratic state, simply does not deem it necessary to recognize any such being and revelation for the purposes of either political philosophy or political practice. It claims public ignorance about, but does not deny outright the possibility of, an authoritative revelation demanding personal recognition.
Yet, the believer in a being who has clearly and publicly revealed to man his will for the political order could argue that a studied ignorance regarding the existence of such a publicly accessible divine revelation is intellectually unjustified and politically unjust. For a Roman Catholic, for example, the Church exists as a public institution claiming to be the embodiment and spokesman of a publicly authoritative divine revelation bearing directly on morality and politics. Therefore, the Church is at least a possible candidate for a publicly authoritative social institution. Even if one prescinds from the question of the truth of this revelation, the Church’s claim about itself to be the authoritative spokesman for this truth is still an objective, intelligible fact within societies, and while a political philosopher can deny the truth of this claim, it cannot plead ignorance to the fact of the claim itself. Thus, in articulating any ideal political order, the political philosopher must deal in some way with the Church’s claim to have the authority to define the ultimate meaning of goodness and politics, by either recognizing or denying the Church’s public authority to do so. Practical agnosticism to the very possibility of such an authority is, in effect, an implicit moral judgment of the injustice of its ever becoming an actual, living authority, and therefore an implicit theological denial of the authority it indeed has (from the Catholic perspective).
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Tradition-Constituted Theological Rationality and the Possibility of the Non-Theocratic Regime by Thaddeus Kozinski