I’ve argued that contemporary liberalism is the flowering and not the corruption of classical liberalism. Once people accept the primacy of freedom, the basic principle of classical liberalism, what we have now naturally follows.
How far can that line of thought be taken? Liberalism, with its emphasis on the freedom and dignity of the individual, is evidently an outgrowth of Christianity, and many have argued that the same is true of modern natural science and therefore of modern rationalistic secularism. So are those things the natural consequence of Christianity? The European New Right, after all, claims that Christian monotheism leads naturally to imperialistic and intolerant liberal universalism and no doubt other bad things.
It seems to me the ENR position is wrong. The result of rejecting a fundamental principle of a way of life and thought is not its flowering but its transformation into something different. At all times liberalism has viewed liberty as its highest principle and been unwilling to give any substantive good priority. The consequences of taking human will as the measure of all good, and rational equal satisfaction of desire as the highest law, may therefore be attributed to liberalism. Those consequences include the managerial liberal state.
Christianity, in contrast, is explicitly based on both monotheism and the Trinity, on God-made-man (which by itself might lead to radical individualism and secularism) and God’s ineffability and transcendence, on universality and on the particularity required by the notion of incarnation. It can’t be converted into anything like liberalism or scientism without ripping out the greater part of the doctrines that have always explicitly and emphatically been treated as fundamental. To all appearances, the reduction of Christianity to this-worldly rationalizing hedonism wasn’t required by anything basic in Christianity, but by rebellion against Christianity—the desire to reduce it to something that could be managed and controlled—and by the pragmatic success of scientific rationalism.