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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Comments Which Conservative Block From Their Blogs For March 16, 2016

March 2

To Joe Carter and his blogpost whether Christians should vote when we have factions in our political system. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

A few comments here. The Constitution allows for geographical factions to be represented in government. But since the vocation of a very large majority of our representatives are either public servants (politicians with no other skills), lawyers, or business people the vast majority of us go underrepresented or even unrepresented in government when we consider our vocational interests. Such a representation would have occurred in the USSR if Lenin had not dismantled the soviets because his lust for power and his paranoia.  Soviets were workers' councils where the members are voted into the position by their peers and they used democratic processes to make decisions.

Second, yes the President is in charge of the military so that the gov't can provide the nation with security.  But the President can cause the nation to be at risk in other ways than to not employ the military for our defense. When the President employs the military to intervene in other nations and control or even remove other governments, the President has placed us at risk for retaliation. That retaliation  came true on 9-11. And the atrocities of 9-11 were a response for past American atrocities or our enabling of atrocities by others.

Finally, if we are going to make democracy work, we have to be able to escape many of the factions that separate us from others who are different. Otherwise, our factionalism becomes nothing more than tribalism and we, in various situations, adopt a gang warfare mentality that says what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom.


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To Don Carson and his blogpost on whether we should call for justice. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Anyone who has a sufficient understanding of their sins and their place before God, modifies how they call for justice. It is not necessary for such people to want vindication. In fact, such peope who call for justice are concerned with two things: the cessation of injustice and reconciliation. 

Wanting reconciliation instead of vindication allows us to be more consistent in our call for justice. And our call for justice is important for two reasons. First the obtaining of justice ends the unrighteous suffering of ourselves and others. Second, to call for justice is not just to try to help the victim, it is an effort to call the victimizers to repentance.

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March 5

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost vide on the job of government but is really about exalting the conservative view of American Exceptionalism. This appeared in Heidelblog

What I've noticed about American Conservatives is that there an obsession and compulsion to praise themselves. This is most evident here in the praising of The Constitution and its writers. And writers are often described mythologially as a monolith even though they were neither mythical nor a monolith. And surprisingly enough, such an approach to The Constitution and its writers is an authoritarian approach.  It's authoritarian in that only those who hold to the Conservative mythological view of our founders and The Constitution are counted as valid interpreters of The Constitution while others can be ignored, at the least, or even counted as a saboteur and enemy of the state. So the exceptionalism that is being preached here is not just American Exceptionalism, it is the exceptionalism of conservatism.

We should note what prompted the writing of The Constitution: widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion. Don't believe me? All one has to do to perhaps see my point is to  list all of the references to the militia that are in The Constitution and then add the 2nd Amendment. For the 2nd Amendment couches the right to bear arms in the context of the need for a militia. And, according to The Constitution, the militia was to be armed and supported by Congress, was under the leadership of the President, and its jobs were to repel invasions and put down insurrections.

The Constitutional debates yield even more information. For there was a new kind of aristocracy that was to be supported by The Constitution. This new kind of aristocracy was not based on the privileges provided by one's birth. Rather it was based on one's economic class. And what the writers of The Constitution wanted to do with its document was to preserve the status quo for the benefit of the landed interests. Here we should note that for all of the bragging of the exceptional nature of our founding fathers and The Constitution, the majority were slaveholders who wanted to expand westward regardless of the fact that such would mean the continued displacement of Native Americans.  Now if we add to that that only 5% of the population could vote after the ratification of The Constitution and that 55 consisted of landowners, one has to wonder how any group could put our founding fathers on the pedestal that the Conservatives have when they engaged in ethnic cleansing, holding slaves, and restricting the right to vote. In fact, It was Madison who expressed fear at the thought of elections being opened up to all classes of people in England. He expressed that fear during the Constitutional debates.

Those who have embraced the exceptionalism of conservatism, because of conservatism's constant practice of self-exaltation have most probably joined a cult. And those Christians who have joined this cult can now be considered to be polytheists.

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March 14

To Joe Carter and his blogpost criticizing the Georgia governor’s attempt to use the scriptures to show that Christian businesses should be allowed to refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex marriages. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website. 

With the line of thought employed by Carter here, then Christians opposing integration during Jim Crow for religious reasons had their consciences wrongfully infringed on when the gov't worked to end Jim Crow. 

We have to realize that in society, the conscience has only a sphere of sovereignty, it is not autonomous. And what is and is not included in that sphere of the conscience should be determined on a case by case basis. Certainly, religion should not be used to violate the legitimate rights of others. Some would point out the abortion issue and a women's right to choose as an objection to that line of thinking. The problem there is that such an objection assumes that the unborn have no rights. And thus once recognizing that the legitimate rights of the unborn, then the state should have the right to protect those rights against the individual choices based on conscience made by those seeking abortion. 

It is one thing if the state was protecting religious institutions from having to provide public services to those functions that it could not participate in in good conscience. But that isn't the case here. The issue here is whether Christians business owners have the right to deny goods and services to same-sex marriages, not just weddings, in a Capitalist economy? Here, Christian business owners need to adequately explain why such participation is a true violation of conscience and not an attempt to marginalize the LGBT community in society. So far, I have not heard any legitimate explanations that show it is a true violation.

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March 15

To Denny Burk and his blogpost citing Russell Moore’s voting philosophy which consisted of voting for 3rd party candidates when the candidates from the 2 major parties offer no legitimate moral option. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

Though I don't fully agree with Moore's approach,I respect it for it shows independence and conviction. And we need more truely independent voters like Moore.

Though I am pro-life, I no longer use a stand on abortion litmus test in voting. Why? Because tthere are multiple issues that should be associated with pro-life that are not. With some of these issues,  at least one of the alternatives would move us closer to destroying the world. And to me, if we wreck the world by waging war or destoying the environment, abortion becomes a moot issue. So unless candidates become more consistently pro-life, I can't use the aborition litmus test in voting.

In addition, to make the judgement seat of Christ our #1 concern in voting turns our vision inwards. What will happen to me if I vote for candidate x or candidate y. I think we need to turn our vision outward to see how candidates x or y's election will hurt or help people, especially the multiple varieties of vulnerable people, should determine how we should vote and resign ourselves to whatever judgment God gives..

Finally, the word on my street is that conservative voters have no credibility when it comes to speaking about opposing abortion with pro-choice advocates. The reason for that is consistency. So perhaps it is necessary in order to effectively bring an anti-elective abortion message to more people that we put it on the backburner for now and wait until we show more consistency in our pro-life convictions before making abortion an election issue again.

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To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost citing an article that says all forms of socialism end up with the same tyrannical result as was seen in Stalin’s Russia. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.


Dr. Clark,
To treat socialism as a monolith, as the article you referenced does, is ignorance for some, but not for all. To ignore the criticisms that socialists had of Lenin's model of government in order to group all socialists together so one can conclude that Stalin's gov't is the destination of all forms of socialism is to deliberately ignore the different forms of Socialism that has been tried and discussed. And limiting one's sources on Socialism to just its antagonists is simply intellectually dishonest.

Yes, there have been forms of socialism that have led to tyranny. For example, when Iran's (1953) democratically elected leader Mossadeg moved to nationalize oil resources, both England and the US orchestrated a coup that replaced Mossadeg with a brutal tyrant, the Shah. When Chile's(1973) democratically elected leader moved to nationalize certain industries, the US orchestrated a military coup to install the tyrant General Pinochet as its leader. Pinochet would later be indicted for crimes against humanity but died before he could be tried. When Guatemala's (1954) democratically elected leader Jacobo Arbenz pushed land reform, the US orchestrated a coup that installed the military dictator Carlos Armos. When it was possible that Greece's 1967 election could have produced a left-leaning government, Colonel Papadopoulos used a NATO plan designed to keep Greece from falling to communism to orchestrate a coup prior to the election so that a military junta would rule Greece. BTW, one should read the LBJ quote that was part of the conversation between the Greek PM who was in power before the coup  (see http://www.ahistoryofgreece.com/junta.htm   ). 

Of course anti-Capitalists experiments like the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution serve as stark counterexamples to the claim that Socialism always leads to a Stalin type tyrannical regime. So do certain forms of Socialism such as Libertarian Socialism. Libertarian Socialism does not support a central state government.

But what is even more disengenous than what was written in the article referenced is that Sanders has carefully equated his idea of Socialism with FDR's New Deal. If FDR's presidency could be called Socialist, then the result of FDR's programs contradict the basic claim made by the article referenced. But what we have seen instead is a more gradual approach to the trend established above. We are now classified as a oligarchy, not a democracy. And part of that oligarchy has been a move away from FDR's programs to what existed before (see  http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746  ) because such programs interfere with state Capitalism--something Eisenhower warned us against when he spoke against the Military Industrial Complex.

At Westminster, we were constantly challenged to go to the original sources to learn about what was being taught. But such a principle doesn't apply on this board when talking about Socialism. And the information is easily available. One could read Rosa Luxembourg, Anton Pannekoek, Noam Chomsky, and others to see what Socialists are saying for themselves. The road chosen by this board is to remain insular and only read Socialism's antagonists to learn about Socialism. Of course, doing so is like investigating Christianity by only talking with Bill Maher. 

Quite simply, the article this post referenced is intellectually dishonest. And if I was a nonChristian, it would give me grounds for not believing any gospel preached by you since you refuse to go to original sources to see what Socialists say for themselves. If you were to do that, you will find a variety of views of Socialism.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on how increasing economic freedom can reduce human trafficking. This appeared in the Acton blog.

There is no doubt that greater financial opportunities can lead to less human trafficking. On the other hand, greater economic freedom isn't always used to increase the flourishing of all people. Some economic freedom, such as a relaxation of labor or environmental laws, allows the beneficiaries of economic freedom to exploit others. Allowing employers to pay employees poverty wages is an economic freedom for the employer which does not help the employee. Allowing owners to offshore jobs can bring economic freedom to owners but that freedom  is used to take advantage of places with inadequate regulations and laws. In addition, allowing economic freedom for some can also mean excusing owners who benefit the most from infrastructure from paying taxes to maintain that infrastructure. We should also note that some who have become victims of trafficking were lured into captivity by the promise of economic opportunity.

IN short, to talk about economic freedom in general as a tool to help people escape dire circumstances is very similar to talking about reducing regulations to help businesses. The general concept is too ambiguous to be meaningful and thus what is needed is not talk about increasing economic freedom in general, but talk about whose economic freedom is being created and what specific freedoms are being afforded.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing a video presentation by William Voegeli on Government growing too big by trying to provide too much for its people. This appeared in the Acton Blog

This presentation is rather intellectually dishonest in a couple of ways. When talking about the government intended by our founders, we need to realize that since The Constitution was written in response to widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion, it was written to strengthen the Federal government by increasing its ability to respond to future rebellions that were challenging the status quo. One only needs to read all of the references to the militia made in The Constitution to see substantial evidence that would support that interpretation.

In addition, while the presentation talks about the growth in the government outlay for social benefits, the two largest social outlays are self-funded: Social Security and Medicare. In fact, Social Security is the biggest holder of our National Debt. And cutting Medicare expenses has been hampered by Federal law that prohibits the from negotiating on pharmaceutical products. The prices of our drugs cannot be explained by R&D costs since bulk of those costs are paid for by taxes that fund the research performed by the NIH. Rather, the pharmaceutical prices are there to allow pharmaceutical companies to provide an ever growing ROI for its shareholders. This is what the price gouging of opportunists like Martin Shkreli points out.

In addition, what is not mentioned at all in terms of the growing percentage of government spending in relation to our GDP is the prosecution of unfunded wars such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, Chalmers Johnson pointed out in around 2008 that the total US spending on defense, which is well distributed among several federal budges such as the DOD, Treasury, and the Atomic Energy Agency to name a few totals over $1 trillion. Why was that never mentioned? And another omission is how our Federal gov't continues to support our financial institutions in ways that allow these institutions to significantly increase profits.

It seems that the conservative approach to discussing big government is to lay the blame for such government at the hands of the vulnerable with many of those vulnerable having been victims of our economic system. Such is morally wrong and the way it is discussed is intellectually dishonest.

Finally, we should note that government is like love in one way: size doesn't matter, fidelity does. A small impotent government is has harmful to the population as a large government whose first love consists of certain private sector elites--this is commonly called Crony Capitalism. Government should be big enough to protect the people from both internal and external threats to justice. And people living in poverty provide examples of injustice especially when that poverty is caused by exploitation and the hoarding of wealth.

We should note that here in America, the Conservative Church is coming alongside of those with wealth and power just as the Roman Church did in France and Spain prior to their Revolutions and the Orthodox Church did in Russia prior to its Revolution. The protection of wealth and power by the Church caused the Church and its Gospel to be despised by those seeking revolution. Will the Conservative Church repeat an ugly part of Church history? Only time will tell though we should note that with time running out, it looks like it will.




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