Noted Insurrectionist Josh Hawley Punches Down at Pelagius

Credit: Francis Chung/AP (well, half of it)

Lost amidst all the rebellion of the past few weeks was a charming theological nugget that resurfaced from well over a year ago. We almost missed it ourselves! Josh Hawley, last seen avoiding Mittens’ gaze, wrote a lovely little tome back in the good, pre-pandemic times, blaming all of America’s liberal failures on Pelagius, the mortal nemesis of none other than St. Augustine. When he got caught up in the most recent shenanigans, the NYT decided to revisit his theology in a profile linking him to Bill Barr and the other greats of Christian Nationalism.

Pelagius, for the laity, was the great patristic pitchman of human freedom. For him, free will was a gift of Grace, and human beings ought to make full use of it- with God’s help and Christ’s guidance of course! Admittedly, Augustine was a bit overzealous in the takedown of the man; his polemics are why some folks today wrongly assume Pelagius believed that human beings were capable of perfection completely on their own. Really, Pelagius’ biggest sin was underestimating sin itself, as he did not agree with Ol’ Hippo’s understanding of the Fall. But to be completely fair to the poor Irishman, Original Sin was not yet doctrine at the time.

Now we certainly know better today, but any good Catholic will tell you that the inherent sinfulness of man is no reason to poo-poo the good works of free will, even if it needs a touch o’ Grace to set in the right direction. Nor is it any reason to blame Pelagius for his wrong ideas, especially since no one friggin’ knows who he is. Well, outside patristics nerds – they certainly had a good day on Twitter:

If Hawley wants a real antagonist, he should look closer to home. The dear Senator was apparently raised Methodist, where he was undoubtedly was exposed to the *gasp* horrors of John Wesley and his Arminian notions of sanctification. Indeed, Jacobus Arminius is the greater, more relavent instigator of human freedom in faith. Perhaps that’s why poor young Joshua had to flee to the safety of the Evangelicalisms…which are premised the fundamental choice of accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior or not. Whoops.

Pelagius was just a straw man for Augustine’s theology, just as he is a straw man for Hawley’s social conservatism-cum-White Christian nationalism. Hawley’s theology makes zero sense. For all their faults, neither Pelagian nor Arminian freedom necessarily led to moral relativism. Our free choices are always meant to be guided by a principle of goodness! What Hawley really has a problem with is that other people – and other Christians – have different understandings of the “good life,” and they choose to live accordingly. Hey, we totally sympathize, Joshua! We’ve been dealing with Christian pluralism since 1517.

So Who Will Be the Evangelical Messiah Now?

Guys, it’s over. None of us wanted to believe it at first. The results had come in. He was winning in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, in Michigan – everywhere that mattered! But then “the mail” started trickling in, and our Man’s lead eroded away like this country’s family values. And then he lost Georgia, GEORGIA! Home of Newt! Home of S. Truitt! No, our Deliverer certainly didn’t give up! His lawyers, gentile and semite alike, toiled and sweated. But despite the many good Christian judges he put into the courts, his case were unfairly thrown out by the bad Christian judges he put in the courts. 

Folks, we can laugh about it all we want, but God’s Annointed has well and truly lost. And so has America.

But press on we must! The lingering question for all Christians (except the liberal ones) is quite simple: just who will be our savior now? Let us remember that we’ve never really had one like Donald Trump. He was never who we expected, but neither was Christ. God works through who He will!

And this is a Truth that had eluded conservative-evangelicals. We thought the Spirit could only truly and fully coelesce in someone whose righteousness was outward and clear. But pastors and the other public Christians we looked up to were simply too pure in spirit to dirty their hands in politics, so we turned to the Christian-aligned political class. Yet it has become clear that this indirect approach to power and influence is too limited and our donees too spineless. That is why Donald was so impactful. While not the most…er… reverant soul, he was assertive, spoke his mind and kept his promises. Well, his promises to us, at least; we actually care very little about economic matters, but we care about conservative judges, embassies in Jerusalem, and policy-apparati that defend non-Muslim religious freedom. And these items he most deftly delivered, Hallelujah! And we’ve since come to realize that Trump represents something all of us have secretly desired: a lib-owning patriarchal worldview that returns us to the Biblical principles of masculinity our pastors have told us definitely exist.

But, that period is over now. So who can take the reigns and solidify these gains? Well, consider these options:

  1. Donald Trump Jr. Let’s just the obvious one out of the way right now. First, unlike the other heirs, he has most dominant personality akin to his father’s, and is as like to speak power-to-truth just as much as he did. Second, he’s the most popular son, and a frontrunner for 2024. One small problem is Donald ben-Donald’s quite obvious coke habit. His father’s sobriety was always a good Christian pivot away from all the sexiness, but Jr. could use some reconditioning.
  2. Congresswomen-elect Majorie Taylor-Green is one possible next evolution (in the non-Devil’s trick sense) of Trumpism. While her Christian bonifides are not that well-established, she’s already shown the evangelical skill of distinguishing good Jews from bad Jews. While I am a bit wary of this conspiracy business, at lot of people in my congregation are “down with the Q”, so whatever. On the other hand, as a brand-new Congresswoman, she still doesn’t have quite the profile.
  3. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Noem has the personality and boldness to rebuild the Trump coalition and win the Presidency. She’s already proven her faith and dedication by killing off much of her state.
  4. A mainstream Republican politician. Haha no, just kidding. None of those quislings will do.
  5. Donald Trump. Honestly, why is this even necessary? First, no one can replace the Man. Second, he isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be the same age as our current Papist-elect in 2024, so why no run again? 

Frankly, this is all just pointless speculation when the obvious answer is #5. If anything, Trump has taught C-E’s to be more pragmatic in trying to get what they want. So let’s rejoice in the fact that DT will be our leader until the day he gets cryogenically frozen.