Rose, Matthew. A World after Liberalism: Philosophers of the Radical Right. Yale University Press, 2021.
Rose treats the philosophers of the radical right with seriousness, not dismissing them out of hand or claiming that they are wrong in every respect. He also recognizes that liberalism contains serious flaws. Nonetheless, his account makes abundantly clear that the radical right is hostile to Christianity. Furthermore, he elucidates how much of what the radical right is reacting against in contemporary liberal culture are perversions of Christianity. The radical right seeks not merely to undo these perversions but to attack their Christian roots.
The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Johnson edits a website that publishes footnoted essays on topics that range from H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger, where a common feature is its subject’s criticisms of Christian doctrine. “Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”
Alt-right thinkers are overwhelmingly atheists, but their worldview is not rooted in the secular Enlightenment, nor is it irreligious. Far from it. Read deeply in their sources—and make no mistake, the alt-right has an intellectual tradition—and you will discover a movement that takes Christian thought and culture seriously. It is a conflicted tribute paid to their chief adversary. Against Christianity it makes two related charges. Beginning with the claim that Europe effectively created Christianity—not the other way around—it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West. A major work of alt-right history opens with a widely echoed claim: “The introduction of Christianity has to count as the single greatest ideological catastrophe to ever strike Europe.”The Anti-Christian Alt-Right by Matthew Rose | Articles | First Things
Rose’s contribution is vitally important because many Christian ministries are now focused threats to the Christian faith from the left. These are real threats, and Christians must address them. These threats are culturally influential, and Christians unprepared to meet these threats will simply absorb unbiblical ideas from the culture.
On the other hand, many of these ministries seem averse to any criticism of the right. At the least damaging, they critique Democrats while never mentioning the problems of their political allies. For instance, the most recent “Christ Over All” podcast critiqued Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for espousing the sexual revolution. But there was no mention that Donald Trump had done the same—not only in his personal life but also in the policies of his administration (see here and here). More seriously, some critics of the left have embraced some of the ideas from the radical right (e.g., Stephen Wolfe’s The Case for Christian Nationalism; cf. page 7 of Kevin DeYoung’s “The Rise of Right-Wing Wokeism“).
Faithful Christians must be aware of threats to the faith from both the political right and the left. Some will charge this concern as a compromising third wayism. To be sure, when one way is true and the other false, proposing a third way is to compromise. But if there are two false options on the table, the Christian must argue for a third way, a biblical way.
In all this, Scripture must be the standard and guide—not just in rhetoric but in truth. Otherwise, Christians run the risk of fleeing from one error into the arms of another error.
Excerpts from Rose’s book are available on the First Things website:
The Outsider (on Samuel Francis)