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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 20, 2015


May 14

To Denny Burk and his blogpost on how it is Christian business owners who are counted as the "least of these" in Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.

What is at odds with Burk's application is the listing of those who are being helped. The least of these are those shunned by society and who can offer no incentive for us to help them. Does that sound like successful business owners? Or does this show a less restrictive definition for the word 'brother' in this particular passage? Here we should note James 2 in talking about who is poor and the transition in reference made in that chapter.

That words can have multiple meanings is an observable fact when one reads the scriptures. That context helps determine the meaning words will have is also an observable fact. What is also observable is how too many of us religiously conservative Christians have made the same-sex marriage issue all about us forgetting how we have tried to marginalize the LGBT community in society. So if we are persecuted for having first persecuted others, can we be counted as the least of these? And isn't this claim to be the least of these just another way to rally fellow Christians around making everything about us?

Perhaps we need to talk to those we have marginalized in society to learn about their experiences and perspectives. Again, how is it that the least of these refers to those who have been victimizing others?

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Please note that the reason why the next 2 responses were blocked. It was to limit the conversation on a moderated board. Limiting the number of exchanges is a reasonable practice. Other comments were allowed.

May 15

To Jim Heetderks and his May 15 response justifying corporations paying as little taxes as they can. This appeared in the blogpost about churches paying taxes in Heidelblog. 

Jim,
I have to disagree over everybody keeping one’s taxes at a minimum. Such a view is one that puts self first over the needs of the community. Such a view follows the maximize one’s profits way of life. And we should note that when everybody is maximizing their own profits, the only ethic that remains is don’t get caught. And what most who live by the maximizing of one’s own profits maxim have difficulty with is understanding how when too many people live that way, our way of life becomes not just unsustainable, it becomes self-sabotaging. For eventually, the unpaid bills do catch up. Our problems with an uncontrolled national debt and a crumbling infrastructure along with diminishing safety nets illustrate that point. And my point is also proved by more than one historical example.

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To R. Scott Clark's May 15 response defending churches  not paying taxes because their members are already taxed as individuals. This was part of the discussion on the blogpost about churches paying taxes in Heidelblog.

R. Scott Clark,
And the Church enjoys gov’t provided services, which is my point in the first place. And please realize that there is plenty profit in certain churches. And some of those services are required because people have joined together in the Church corporate body. So if the Church is not to be taxed, should church employees be taxed?

As for businesses, can business owners claim the same double taxation that Churches do. After all, don’t businesses contribute to the tax base by the taxes they withhold from their employees? And since businesses provide such tax revenue, some reason that these businesses have already paid their dues.

I understand the tax issue, the sensitivity over it, and how much of our money goes to taxes. At the same time, perhaps our feelings about taxes would be somewhat mitigated if we had more control over how our tax revenues are spent. Whether one is on the political right or the socialist left, note that liberals are left out of the mix here, there is a consensus, for different reasons, that our gov’t is out of control.

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This Comment to David Robertson's blogpost calling on God  to bless America was finally published and thus is not blocked.

May 16

To David Robertson and his blogpost calling on God to bless America. This appeared in the Wee Flea blog

Being an American, an anti-capitalist leftist, and one who comes from the Reformed theological position, I have a different take on the points being made here. 

Point #1: God has blessed America.  But the same can be said of every nation. Every nation has come into existence because of God's allowance and blessing. But we should challenge something said in this point. We should question whether America has been a bastion of freedom and liberty. America is not just a nation, it also currently controls the largest empire. And whether America is that vast bastion of freedom  must be tested both within its national borders as well as within the borders of its empire. And when people of color still struggle to gain liberty and freedom here, and where those from the LGBT community can still be harassed and fired from their jobs within the US national border, we should look apprehensively at the freedoms afforded to all within the confines of our empire to see if we are that bastion of freedom and liberty we claim to be. And when measuring the freedoms and liberty within the confines of our empire, we should remember that liberty - equality = privilege. And the existence of privilege is no indicator of the presence of liberty and freedom.

Point #2: God Continues To Bless America. But the same can be said of every nation. And we have to ask whether His blessing is more apparent in the plethora of environments and teachers in a nation that has religious freedom than in a nation that still has believers despite varying degrees of persecution. In addition, we have to ask what kind of blessing it is when God's people seek to marginalize those in the LGBT community rather that to rely solely on evangelism to address sexually immoral behaviors. This attempt at marginalization is part of a larger effort made by Christians to exercise varying degrees of control over society.

Point #3: God Bless America because 'all is not well' here. Can fully agree with that but the diagnosis will forever be true of America and every nation. In addition, we should note why God should bless America. It can only be because He has chosen to show mercy to it for we, like all other nations, certainly do not deserve His blessing.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost repeating Denny Burk's contention that Jesus' reference to the least of these from the parable of the sheep and the goats. This appeared in the Acton blog.

When one reads the parable of the sheep and the goats, one has to question Burk's interpretation and application. For while Jesus talks about the sheep as those who have helped the most marginalized in society who have no way of repaying those showing the kindness, at least some of whom Burk regards as the least of these have been involved in the marginalization of others.

We might also want to see with Burk's interpretation whether we are called to only fellow believers who are marginalized. Is that what Jesus taught? Is that what the apostles taught.

A final point to be made is that Burk's interpretation of who the least of these are continues a Christian reaction to make the issue of how should society react to same-sex marriage and other issues involving those from the LGBT community solely about Christians and the travails they will face if full equality is extended to those in the LGBT community. This degree of self-absorption by my fellow Christians does not seem to  neatly fit into any of the parables Jesus taught.

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To Elise Hilton and  her blogpost on big government, free markets and how the American dream can turn into a nightmare. This appeared in the Acton blog.

This reference to 'Big Government' seems to be a knee-jerk reaction. The same can be said of the reaction to 'free markets.' For regardless of the ethics practiced by big government, the size of the government determines its moral status. Big government, by virtue of its size, is bad.

Similarly, regardless of the behavior of free markets, these markets are deemed good because they are free. Such a view of markets does not consider the plight of all the stakeholders involved when these markets operate. One only needs to know that free markets are good, regardless of how they affect all of their stakeholders.

And here is the problem. Behavior is no longer the measure of the moral status of either markets or government. In addition, as amorphous a description that the word big provides for governments, such governments are spoken of as if they were a monolith. Reducing the value of government to one measurement, that is size, leads us to engage in all-or-nothing thinking patterns that, intellectually speaking, are not challenging. In fact, once we know the size of government, without knowing anything else, we know to condemn it. This is why the reaction to big government at the beginning of this comment is called a knee-jerk reaction. In addition, such a mentality takes for granted all of the government's work to provide an adequate infrastructure in which the free markets operate.

And as for the American dream, the more this dream is thing-oriented, then, according to Martin Luther King Jr, the longer we will have to tolerate racism, economic exploitation, and war. And that is our problem. We are a think-orieted society. And that is driven by the American Dream.




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