Book Review: The Unholy Trinity
An evangelical’s favorite Roman Catholic probably depends upon their political orientation. The Marxists have Pope Francis. Conservatives have our underdog mascot on the right, Matt Walsh. The latter has recently authored a book, The Unholy Trinity, and it’s every bit as colorful as it is insightful.
The Unholy Trinity: Blocking the Left’s Assault on Life, Marriage and Gender is an entertaining polemic on compromise in the culture war, and is written with the colorful flare of which readers of Matt Walsh are accustomed. Walsh, a regular contributor and “political incendiary” at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, is called a “firebrand extremist,” which is synonymously defined as a “stalwart, traditional conservative.”
The reason I read The Unholy Trinity isn’t only because I have a penchant for the writing style of Walsh, but because I was particularly interested in the worldview of a conservative Roman Catholic, after having just finished reading the views of pseudo-Marxist leftist Roman Catholic, Rod Dreher. Dreher is author of The Benedict Option, which is widely heralded as the latest in-thing by evangelicals (many of whom we would respect) like Russell Moore, Albert Mohler, and Carl Trueman (Dreher has absconded Roman Catholicism for Greek Orthodoxy, but more because of the pedophile cover-up controversy than a doctrinal shift). Reading The Unholy Trinity back-to-back with The Benedict Option provided a startling contrast between two polar opposite worldviews written by men of ostensibly the same religion.
The Benedict Option is high-brow, intellectual puff-n-fluff. At times, the reader is altogether unsure what Rod Dreher is saying in the book, other than it sounds smart and it’s awfully Catholicky. For some reason, the Evangelical Intelligentsia have fallen in love with the treatise that advocates for a Monastic-brand of retreatism. America’s evangelicals are looking for anyway out of metaphoric (or maybe not) martyrdom in the culture wars, and Dreher provides them a door to do just that, and allows them to exit the battlefield under the guise of a strategic retreat rather than the shame of clear cowardice.
On the other hand, The Unholy Trinity is clear, concise and cutting. Whereas Dreher provides his propositions with seven layers of nuance wrapped in a cloak of unclarity, Walsh’s book is absolutely devoid of pretension; there is no doubt as to where Walsh stands or what he means. Perhaps that’s why the Evangelical Intelligentsia, which is growing increasingly liberal, gravitates more toward Dreher than Walsh.
If Dreher’s The Benedict Option is the bourgeoise, Walsh’s The Unholy Trinity is the proletariat. Dreher draws from Roman Catholic monastic tradition to venerate Christian isolationism. Walsh draws from a traditional Roman Catholic social conservatism to plead with Christians to charge the encroaching army and die on the battlefield. If Rod Dreher is Mr. Peanut with a monocle and top hat, Matt Walsh is the shade-tree philosopher waxing poetic at the trailer park. And frankly, I’d take the clear populist over the nuanced elitist any day.
Before I give a review of The Unholy Trinity, I have to be about the unpleasant business of a protesting Protestant and point out that Walsh, like the aforementioned Dreher, is a papist who denies Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. While I have positive things to say about Walsh, I have to iterate that being a Christian is more than worldview and it’s more than a correct ontology of the Divine. One cannot be a Christian – regardless of their acceptance of a historic creed or two or whether or not their worldview is biblical – unless they are born again, having been justified by faith alone. This even goes for Roman Catholics we like, as well as those we don’t. There is no salvation and no Christianity outside of Justification by faith alone. We would pray that Walsh abandon the Romanist position and come toward Protestant (the only kind) of Christianity. No offense to Walsh, I don’t think he’s a Christian in the sense of eternal salvation, because I define that word, Christian, differently than do Roman Catholics, and I know Matt Walsh can take that because he’s not a soft bag of feelings and melted snowflake drippings.
That being said…
It is hard to pinpoint anyone with a better, more Biblical perspective on the political realm than Matt Walsh. Second to Walsh in admirability for true social conservatism would perhaps be Ben Shapiro, and he’s a Jew. One wonders where evangelical social conservatives have gone to, but then we read The Gospel Coalition and figure out they’re at a Black Lives Matter rally with Thabiti Anyabwile or perhaps busy decreeing and declaring salvation over Donald Trump by the testimony of the latest charismatic prophetess who claims she led him to Christ. Evangelicals have become evanjellyfish as of late, and our fearless leaders have been supplanted with limp-wristed, effeminate debutants with deep southern drawls and yellow-dog democrat sentimentalities, dining on steamed cauliflower at animal rights fundraisers. They’ve been too busy making lists of all the social justice causes that are new “gospel issues” to seriously contend for anything that’s actually conservative. Walsh, on the other hand, has no problem siding with the right and writing accordingly. While Russell Moore, the chief ethicist and public relations guru of the Southern Baptist Convention, has give us the thumbs-up to go to gay wedding celebrations, the Roman Catholic, Matt Walsh, has been calling the very idea of such a thing, profane.
The Unholy Trinity is 234 pages of pure, enjoyable word-candy (again, my perspective might be skewed by having just finished The Benedict Option, where readability and enjoyability in reading went to die). In eleven chapters, Walsh provides his commentary on three primary issues; life, marriage and gender. The point of The Unholy Trinity could not be more clear…Walsh wants professing Christians to stop being sniveling, whiney cry-brats and play the man, routing the leftists or die trying. There’s something about that the evangelical white-shirts find vulgar and the rest of us rejoice in.
Perhaps the best way to give you a taste of The Unholy Trinity is to provide some quotations from the book, which I highlighted as I went.
On the Liberal/Leftist
“The first liberal was named Lucifer” – this was the first sentence in the book. And no, he wasn’t joking. – pg 2
“This philosophy [liberalism] has propelled all the great villains throughout history. It is the philosophy of Judas, of Nero, of Genghis Kahn, of Adolph Hitler, of Hillary Clinton…What we call “liberalism” in public discourse today is really just the worship of self.” pg 2
“They aren’t asking that we tolerate and accept everything – even they believe some things are still intolerable and unacceptable, such as Nazism and Orthodox Christianity.” – pg 4
“The legalization and cultural acceptance of mass infanticide is, to this day, liberalism’s crowning achievement…Liberals venerate it for the same reason Catholics venerate the Eucharist and Muslims the Koran – because it is the centerpiece of their worship, the core, the soul of the thing.” – pg 15
“Every era seems to have its own collection of creepts insisting that an unfortunate segment of the human race isn’t quite as human as the others. In this era we call them “pro-choicers;” in previous eras they were Nazis or slave owners.” – pg 19
“Because of abortion, the idea that black lives don’t matter settles into the minds of many, especially the mothers who are much more likely to have their children exterminated.” – pg 26
“However you put it, it’s clear that you cannot support abortion without sacrificing your femininity and masculinity…It is, after all, impossible for a woman to be a fountain of feminine grace and mercy while condoning the murder of children. A man, likewise, must be vacated of his instinct and passion for justice, his urge to protect the innocent, and his desire to provide moral leadership if he is going to be an effective apologist for infanticide.” – pg 40
“The fact of the matter is this: either a living human is a person regardless of physical features and development and medical needs, or we should petition the government to turn the murder of midgets and the severley handicapped and the deadbeat college graduates into a misdemeanor offense.” – pg 51.
Note: What is particularly interesting about Walsh, is that his is not at all interested in support his ethics outside of theism and, in particular, Christianity. While many evangelicals insist on promoting their ethical positions by refusing to appeal to God, Walsh – the Roman Catholic – is not shy to invoke God in his positions. On page 74, Walsh writes “Well, if there is no God, then, I admit, suicide should be entirely your decision, and it doesn’t really matter one way or another.” The typical evangelical apologist would probably give slippery slope arguments and talk about “human flourishing.” Walsh simply appeals to God.
On Human Sexuality and Marriage
“Liberals using this kind of precedent [so-called “gay marriage in Rome] to prove the legitimacy of gay marriage is like using homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom to prove the legitimacy of gay sex. Do we really want to make goats and dogs the arbiters of sexual morality?” – pg 86
“[Regarding the birth control pill] “Odd that these days, we won’t even eat an avocado if we find out any aspect of its harvesting and cultivation involved something inorganic, yet we rarely apply those convictions to the highly potent mix of synthetic hormones many women consume on a near-daily basis for years and years of their lives.” – pg 99
“Gay couples, on the other hand, do not have a right to be parents, because kids are not property or fashion statements. Kids have rights. And among them is the right not to be tossed into the middle of a social experiment…” – pg 120
“If [someone] does have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, then they must have the right to discriminate…so the right to the free exercise of religion, if it exists at all, does absolutely guarantee ‘the right to discriminate’.” – pg 143
“Those of us who will protest increasingly feel like the child in the famous parable, shouting that the emperor has no clothes. Only, in this instance, I suppose the emperor is wearing clothes – it’s just that he bought them in the women’s section.” – pg 152
“I submit that it is much more dangerous to live in a culture in which kids are not laughing at a boy dressed in girl’s clothes. After all, there are only two reasons why a kid would refrain from pointing and giggling at a cross-dresser. One, perhaps the kid is very mature, very gentle, very kind and very well behave. This is a good reason. And if that’s why they don’t “bully,” I say that’s wonderful. And that, of course, is how we should train our kids. When my kids point or laugh at anyone, for any reason, I discipline them…But, if kids are not openly treating a bizarre and unnatural thing as bizarre and unnatural, it’s likely not because they are mature but because they do not recognize it as bizarre and unnatural.” – pg 158
“Soon a man will say he identifies as a legless female Siberian moose with dwarfish and we will be expected to applaud him and promptly provide public accommodations befitting a disabled moose.” – pg 165
“But progressives defeat their own point by next telling us that when a man acts like a woman, he actually is one, which is odd considering they just got through telling us there’s no such thing as ‘acting like a woman’…Meanwhile, feminists regularly insist that the absence of a uteerous and a vagina excludes men from having an opinion about things like abortion. So a man can’t have ideas about women’s issues because he lacks the correct anatomy, but he can actually be a woman despite lacking the correct anatomy? – pg 166.
“Transgenderism is the most anti-feminist phenomenon in history, even more so than Puritanism or Islam or Larry Flynt.” – pg 176
“The feminist loathes her own nature. She wants to be as men are, and wants men to stop being as they are and become as she is. Feminism presents masculinity as the ideal while also tearing it down. It hates men because they’re men, and women because they aren’t. It is, in short, an insane and delusion philosophy.” – pg 196
A Good Summary
A good summary of the heart of The Unholy Trinity, as well as a good summary of its differences from The Benedict Option, is found on page 175…
“We either draw a line here and make a final stand for objective truth – declaring without equivocation that some things, like our sex, are real and absolute – or else we give up and play along and tell ourselves that truth never mattered all that much anyway. I have no real confidence that, as a culture, we’ll choose truth. But if it’s ever going to happen, now’s the time. Liberals have made it clear that they intend to finally and categorically reject and outlaw reality itself. Now the question is: Will the rest of us stand up and do anything about it?” – pg 175.
Walsh says fight. Dreher says retreat.
A Last Disclaimer
In that Walsh denies Sola Fide, you must be careful to distinguish between works and grace, because he will not always do it for you. He writes on pg 198, “If you believe that women possess an inherent worth and dignity equal to that of men – great. I agree with you. That belief makes you a Christian, or at least brings you closer to becoming one.” Of course, we Protestants hold that what makes us Christian is not our worldview, but our trust in the accomplished work of Christ alone for our salvation.
Over all, The Unholy Trinity was a fascinating read and edifying at that. Unless the topic was soteriology, I didn’t find myself disagreeing with Walsh at any point.
Evangelicals have a choice to make. Will we follow Rod Dreher back into the caves in seclusion and retreat, or will we fight until the very end, as Walsh pleads with us to do?
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