Bryan McGraw delivers a great history lesson about Christian political parties in Europe and the promise such a party might hold for us in America. I’d love to see him discuss the American Solidarity Party in a follow-up, since that’s the main party that is trying to take up the mantle here in America.
And so Christians who live in liberal orders like ours have the sometimes difficult task of parsing out just how we might negotiate our way forward in a social world that is neither simply incompatible with our commitments nor simply reflective of them. Windthorst and the other architects of Europe’s nineteenth-century Christian parties help us see something of a different, and possibly better, way forward than our current choices. Though there were certainly new philosophical and theological ideas in the air, the parties emerged mostly as a practical response to the pressures brought to bear by their respective newly ascendant—and mostly secularized—elites. The parties were but a part of a broader effort to construct distinctive subcultures organized around common religious identities that included churches, devotional associations, trade unions, youth leagues, newspapers, and the like. The idea was, as both Catholics and Calvinists argued, to give effect to the idea that the dogmatics of the faith mattered to all the parts of their increasingly complex modern societies.