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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For January 6, 2016

Dec 22

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quoting Aquinas on Mohammad and Islam. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

If, Aquinas wrote, Mohammad did the following:

He seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us.

What is the difference between what Mohammad did and Capitalism? For Capitalism also promises carnal pleasures.

Certainly, no Christian could follow Mohammad for a number of reasons. But what should be noted is that Mohammad and his followers have many times recognized and opposed injustice in the world. And many times, that injustice has been practiced by those from the West. It has been practiced by Christians. Because of that, as correct as we are in doctrine, we cannot afford to act as the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. For our Christian supported American government has not only replaced democracies with brutal dictatorships, it has supported and even allied itself with terrorists in overthrowing other governments. And what can be more brutal than to drop an atomic bomb on a city? We did that twice.

While on the other hand, many of the Muslims I've known or been acquainted with are gentle people.

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Dec 28

To Denny Burk and his blogpost on the Transgendered Revolution and the rules passed by the New York City Commission on Human Rights regarding the transgendered. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.

I would hardly call what we see today regarding transgenderism a revolution. Heck, even more established groups like homosexuals have no legal protection regarding their jobs in 29 out of 50 states. So now we are going to say that the rules created by New York City's Human Rights Commission is the result of a "revolution."

Certainly, the commission is overreacting and erring on the side of those who are transgendered.  Such is not unusual when the rights of a previously marginalized group are legalized. Hopefully, time will correct the overreaction. But to call this movement a "revolution" is as much an overstatement as some of the decisions made by the commission are overreactions. We should note here that the transgendered population of New York City do not even constitute at least 1% of the adult population of the city.

What we need to do is to look at how we can show respect to those who are transgendered while remaining faithful to the Scriptures. 

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Dec 29

To Brett McCracken and his blogpost calling on Christians to be Countercultural. The article is mistitled. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Why is it that when we religiously conservative Christians talk about being countercultural, we exclude the same certain sins we see in society? For example, the above excluded having apathy toward those who live in poverty and support for an economic system that relies on exploitation for success--that economic system also greatly relies on individualism. It also excluded support for wars and militarism fueled by patriotism.

However,, to its credit the above article does challenge some sacred cows that some conservatives uncritically hold on to such as consumerism, absolute gun rights and the freedom to pollute. But in challenging these things in society, what is being proposed as a solution? For example self-autonomy enabled freedom is to be opposed by Christians by being countercultural, are Christians called to insist on laws that take away religious and other liberties from people who follow a different religion or from those who are atheistic? In some cases, curtailing freedom might be necessary, but how do we do so without marginalizing certain groups? And isn't there some degree of freedom and autonomy that is spoken favorably by the new Testament Scriptures?

Along with our personal relationship with God and our position in the Church, we still have to address the issue of how we will share society with unbelievers. And we have to decide whether we are called to share society with others as equals or as being privileged over them. Those who favor sharing society as equals will put more stress on evangelism as well as a civic morality or religion while those who favor privilege will place more stress on politics and civil law.

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To James K. Hoffmeier and his blogpost criticizing the decision of the Wheaton professor who decided to wear a hijab while not showing solidarity with Christians who are persecuted in the Middle East. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Let's turn the tables here to ensure fair play. How do Western Muslims feel about Western support for tyranical governments in the Middle East? Of course, one of the first gov'ts that come to mind is Saudi Arabia. Another is Israel in terms of how they treat the Palestinians. Another is Egypt. Of course, if we were to include the past, people like the Shah and Saddam Hussein would have to be added to the list of oppressive gov'ts that the West has supported.

And while talking about Egypt, what we see among Christians is a similar trait we see in Syrian Christians. That is a significant numher of them have supported an oppressive government because that government promises them protection while it oppresses others.

We need to be honest about the cause of the horrible persecution of Christians in the Orient. A major cause for the persecution is due to picking the wrong political horse to bet on whether that bet comes from the association between Christianity and Western interventions in the Middle East or from Middle East Christians supporting tyrants because they offer protection. Such has  caused disenfranchised Muslims to feel that Mohammad's circumstances when he fought against injustice are also theirs.

The above is what we need to keep in mind before criticizing the Wheaton professor for wearing a hijab in order to show support for Muslims being persecuted here.

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Jan 1

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote claiming that the Wheaton professor who insisted on wearing a hijab in order to show solidarity with Muslims has identified with the oppressor. This appeared in Heidelblog.

The Wheaton professor in question identified with the oppressor if ISIS and Boko Haram are Islam. But before talking about Hawkins, we should look in the mirror first. Have we supported the foreign policies of our own nation which have oppressed others? If so, then before determining whether Hawkins has identified with the oppressor, we need to take out the log that is in our own eye.

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Jan 2

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of de Tocqueville which describes socialism both negatively and as a monolith. This appeared in Heidelblog

So all forms of socialism that followed de Tocqueville could still be summed up by his statement? Did de Tocqueville ever mention how Capitalism's emphasis on the individual allows elites from the private sector to do what he accused the socialist state of doing?

The answer to both questions is no. First, if you take socialism from a Marxist perspective, socialism isn't defined by some set degree of state control alone. Rather, it is who is in control of the state that also matters. In our nation, it is the rich who are in control of the state. Don't believe me? Check the the article linked to below and compare what is written there with what we see in our nation:

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

At the same time, we might want to check Martin Luther King's following comparison of the USSR's communism vs the West's capitalism (for one source, see   http://rajpatel.org/2010/01/18/martin-luther-king-we-are-not-interested-in-being-integrated-into-this-value-structure/   ):

Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.

The above quote from de Tocqueville simply takes an all-or-nothing approach to both Capitalism and what he knew of socialism. And it does so while trying to apply what de Tocqueville understood about the socialism he knew to all forms of socialism including those that followed him in time. In fact, if one studied Libertarian Socialism, one would immediately see that de Tocqueville was wrong since that form of Socialism rejects state control and even existence all together.  IN addition, what de Tocqueville seemed to miss with Marx is the emphasis on workers control. de Tocqueville, as indicated by his writings, was enamored by elite control of society provided that the right elites were in control. And whatever individual liberty he cherished was meant to provide those elites to society. And thus what is missed in the above quote is how elites from the private sector can stifle the individual liberty of the rest of us. And for the above quote to be stated on a Christian website is nothing more than an attempt of one person to link the systems in which the he grew up in with Christianity. This becomes nothing more than an attempt at cultural self-flattery. And all of that is ironic considering how Reformed Theology, Clark is a Reformed Theologian, has always spoken negatively of human autonomy's individualism. 

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Jan 4

To Joseph Sunde and his complaint that Bernie Sanders and his economic agenda ignores economic freedom. This appeared in the Acton blog.

One problem I see with this article is the separation between Capitalism and Crony Capitalism. The basic engine of Capitalism, greed and competition, its basic ethics, maximize personal profit, and its moral apologetic, economic freedom, result in Crony Capitalism. For its economic freedom demands that businesses use competition to self-regulate.  But greed and the ethic to maximize personal profits causes a conflict of interest when it comes time to self-regulate.  And if we go to just our own history, we will see Crony Capitalism throughout our whole history. In the meantime, the apologetic of economic freedom is used as much as an absolute as the right to bear arms is used. Both are used to oppose any regulations most if not all regulations so that the freedom and right involved here it is never allowed to be mitigated by other concerns, even democratic ones. We should also note that one's economic freedom really relies on one's economic resources. So that the call for economic freedom, in the end, is a call that defends those who most enthusiastically promote Crony Capitalism.

Another problem I see is that the problem with Sanders' position is overlooked. For while Sanders rightly complains about the 1%, in actuality, no group should be allowed  to exercise the degree of greed seen displayed by the 1%. Thus, Sanders' speeches against the 1% make the 1% into scapegoats allowing people to overlook their own sins of greed.

Another problem is the correlation of size of government and economic freedom. For gov't is like sex, size doesn't matter, fidelity does. When gov't is unfaithful to the people, the size of the gov't doesn't matter because such will allow elites, from either the private or public sector, to accumulate more power. And that is what those whose battlecry is 'economic freedom' seem to overlook on a consistent basis despite their opposition to Crony Capitalism. Thus, waiting for Capitalism to occur in contrast to our current form of Crony Capitalism is on par with waiting for Godot.

Finally, Sanders is no proponent of Democratic Socialism. Though he might support unions, unions have been relegated to the role of merely getting the most money per unit of work for the workers. The divide between workers and management/employer is still remains untouched. In addition, workers of all types remain unrepresented in a gov't consisting of lawyers, business elites, and professional politicians.  Thus, Sanders is really in favor of maintaining the status quo with the exception of changing the set of elites who are in control.

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To Sarah Stanley and his blogpost claiming how Tocqueville’s writings on Socialism show Bernie Sanders’ ideology to be wrong. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Using Tocqueville to counter Socialism seems to forget that some forms of Socialism came into being after Tocqueville wrote about it. So how is it that Tocqueville could write so comprehensively on it? And this is especially true when Libertarian Socialism doesn't even believe in the State, something Tocqueville claims is a part of Socialism.

The problem with the "schooling" that Tocqueville gave Sanders is that Socialism's concern about private property is not in the existence of private property alone, but in the positive correlation that exists between the amount of private property one owns and priviege in society which translates into power. Thus, Socialism wants private property to be under the supervision of a democracy. And here, we should note that democracy is an exercise in societal self-rule and thus group freedom--a freedom whose existence is denied by those who make private property rights absolute.

The above mentioned privilege translated into power would not be opposed by Tocqueville considering that he viewed British society, despite the abuses of its empire on nonWhites, to be the superior society in the world. On the other hand, he called Native Americans savages though he acknowledged that they could improve their status by imitating White men. 

Finally, Sanders does not really oppose the systems that make up the status quo. Sanders merely wants different elites to manage these systems. Thus, Sanders himself is not really considered to be a Socialist by most definitions of the word or even by himself. For he compares his agenda with FDR's. And FDR's agenda, according to many Socialists, was seen as saving Capitalism from its abuses of others and thus its own eventual demise rather than as having promoted socialism.

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To Kenneth Stewart and his blogpost reviewing a book by Greg Peters on Monasticism. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I wouldn't call what Bonhoeffer created at Finkenwald any deliberate attempt at creating some kind of monstic life. The similarities between seminary, even underground ones like Finkenwald, and past monasteries are more-less coincidental. I believe one of Bonhoeffer's criciticisms of Monasticism was that it was an attempt to create a world one could love rather than to live out one's faith in a world that exists. If we were to follow with some form of monasticism because of the changing culture and societal mores, the message we would be communicating to the world is that as long as we have some minimum measure of control over society, we will be fully present in it. Otherwise, it is 'exit stage left' for us. Such is not a good message to convey when one desires to do one's part in carrying out the Great Commission. 

Finally, the Conservative Christian community can be rightfully criticized in terms of being insular already. How much more will that criticism apply if we follow some kind of new monasticism. 

Studying monasticism can be important and that is where the book reviewed above can be helpful. Studying the past is never a waste. But which lessons we wish to apply from the past to today are critical to how we witness for Christ in the world. And that is what we need to be careful with when studying monasticism.

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Jan 5

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on why millennials consider the Church to be a negative influence on society. This appeared in  the Gospel Coalition website.

Perhaps another question raised by this article is why couldn't the evangelical church adapt to the changing view on SSM? Was it because of some unnecessary beliefs or did society's changing views of SSM spell certain conflict because of beliefs that could not be compromised? The answers to these questions will help the evangelical church better react to future challenges.





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