Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis?

"The crux is the necessity of authority, which is a 'functional prerequisite' of social organisation, let alone civility, and includes a settled claim to power and the legitimate use of violence.  Whatever the contemporary decline in deference and respect, and the proper fear of authoritarianism, authority is a key to everything worthwhile, indeed the key to any reform.  Just think of all the Christian experiments throughout history and it is clear that fraternity depends on discipline, on fathers-in-God as well as brothers, otherwise the wolf of chaos destroys the fold."

"My research on Pentecostalism reminded me of my grandfathers, who preferred standing up as 'speaking men' in the street or the chapel to taking a back seat while the military and the squirearchy read the lessons."

Pentecostalism is "a movement of Christian revival comparable to Islamic revival.  Yet when it comes to Pentecostalism, there isn't even a margin of violence.  One has to ask why people in Latin America, Africa and the Far East with much more to motivate hostility to 'the West' than the Middle East are so resolutely peaceful and anxious simply to work  hard to improve their own circumstances by the classic path of individual and group mobility.  Pentecostalism had an autobiographical resonance for me because I saw it as the kind of religious mobilisation of the poor seeking 'respectability'.  By that I mean the self-respect and the respect of others, through the respect shown them by the grace of God that had moved my own parents.  It is why I revived the theory of Hal√©vy about Methodism and the entry of England into modernity. . . ."

David Martin as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 156, 170, 169.

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