Editor’s Note: These comments are transcribed from a personal video message from Mark Tooley to readers ahead of the Providence’s inaugural issue. To attend the official Providence Launch Event on November 6, 2015, simply RSVP online.
We’re very excited about the launch of our new magazine and initiative, Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy, which aims to create a new community of Evangelical and Protestant thinkers addressing issues of national security and international affairs with a strong emphasis on understanding the divinely appointed vocation of the state; of understanding from a Christian perspective human rights, and especially religious liberty; and of course to understand through the prism of Christian thought exactly or approximately: When is legal force morally acceptable and even required in the affairs of the world?
This project first came to mind a few years ago when several of us observed that the strong thinking and writing on these issues tended to come from Catholic and Jewish friends, and it seemed as though there weren’t very many Evangelical and Protestant thinkers addressing, specifically, issues of global statecraft.
And we were disturbed about this situation because we thought Protestants and Evangelicals still comprise at least half, if not more, of the American population and yet are not carrying their weight on these very important issues, partly because of the implosion of the mainline Protestant world over the last fifty and sixty years and the fact that Evangelicalism – for all of its great accomplishments – is not often very connected or appreciative of the traditions of Protestantism, much less universal Christianity and all the ethical resources available from those traditions.
So Providence aims to rediscover the Protestant tradition and to unearth some of those resources as they relate to international affairs and the vocation of the state and how we would counsel America as a great power to perform on the world stage.
Our magazine recalls another publication founded seventy-four years ago by the great Protestant thinker Reinhold Niebuhr, who had been a pacifist and a socialist and a strong believer in the social gospel. Yet with the advent of Hitler’s National Socialism and Japanese militarism, with the world engulfed in flames in the late 1930s, Niebuhr renounced his pacifism and founded a new magazine called Christianity in Crisis in early 1941, specifically to appeal and to summon literally to arms the Protestant clergy and the Protestant churches of America, many if not most of which had to come to pacifism starting after World War I and accelerating throughout the 1930s.
And Niebuhr was making the case that if a Protestant civilization were to survive, or just about any kind of decent civilization were just survive, there had to be the moral case made for armed resistance against Hitler’s Germany and militarist Japan. And so Niebuhr founded that the publication only some months before Pearl Harbor, continued it through World War II, and through the early years of the Cold War; again, making the case that Christians have a moral duty to examine and to make the arguments for resistance to totalitarianism and she was all systems that assault human dignity around the world.
We face somewhat a similar situation in the world today, perhaps not as dramatic as early 1941, but the challenges are somewhat the same in that much of American Protestantism and even large swathes of American Evangelicalism are inclined towards various forms of passivism or isolationism, utopianism, and confusion or silence about what our government’s duties and responsibilities are on the world stage today.
So Providence aims to hopefully correct that situation and to create a new community of thought to give leadership and counsel to today’s Evangelical and Protestants and to the rising generation. So we invite you to join us in this project ahead in this great adventure. We expect controversy and exciting days ahead but we pray and hope that the Lord is in this project. So stay with us and we’ll be keeping you informed.