The European Conservatives Standing Athwart

Published April 8, 2022

WORLD Opinions

Last month, a congress of conservative scholars, writers, lawyers, and political leaders from all across the Continent gathered in Brussels to discuss “The Future of the Nation-State in Europe.” This future has seemed increasingly under threat as a hyperprogressive European Union has increasingly amassed to itself decision-making authority for the Continent as a whole, often without or against popular consent. What was most startling about the meeting, however, was the bold religious vision and calm confidence of the speakers, which offered important lessons to the American conservative movement.

Americans are apt to think of Europe as a godless land, haunted by empty churches and stalked by atheistic academics—and there is much truth to this picture. How puzzling, then, that “God” may have been the most mentioned name at the entire conference (except perhaps “Ukraine”). Many of the speakers were unabashed in their insistence that the only viable future for European civilization lay in recovering the Christian faith that had shaped their cultures and political institutions. Rod Dreher put it unapologetically: “We have a continent to reclaim for Jesus of Nazareth,” while the Dutch writer Eva Vlaardingerbroek asserted, “The very reason we are losing some of the most important battles right now is precisely because we have lost track and sight of God.” Too often, she said, conservatives couch their arguments in vague and generic terms, afraid to mention “God” for fear of offending people or losing the argument, but if He is the source of the goods we are fighting to protect, we can’t win by trying to hide His fingerprints.

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Brad Littlejohn (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the founder and president of the Davenant Institute. He also works as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and has taught for several institutions, including Moody Bible Institute–Spokane, Bethlehem College and Seminary, and Patrick Henry College. He is recognized as a leading scholar of the English theologian Richard Hooker and has published and lectured extensively in the fields of Reformation history, Christian ethics, and political theology. He lives in Landrum, S.C., with his wife, Rachel, and four children.

Photo by Alexandre Bury on Unsplash

Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.

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