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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For October 19, 2016

Oct 5

To Jordan Ballor and his blogpost claim that Christianity is the friend of liberalism. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Two observations must be used to assess the analysis in the article above. The first observation seems to challenge Siedentop's view that the modernity emerged from the battles between the popes and  kings. And so when Siedentop writes:

The conception of society as founded on ‘natural inequality’ was giving way to a conception of society as founded on ‘moral equality,’ as an association of individuals rather than an association of families.

we should note that the emergence Rome over and apart from European kingdoms did not bring in a moral equality, it ushered in a new basis for inequality. So what replaced the 'natural inequality' was a spiritual inequality or a spiritual association rather than an association of families. Much of Western history shows an assumption of supremacy and thus rule is based on the faith of a predominant group. Persecution of those from the different branches of the Church, let alone persecution and conquest over those from other faiths, give ample evidence against the idea that the emergence of any subset of the Church from kingdoms introduced a moral equality. In addition, other associations were also in play such as association of race and economic class. We really never have achieved a true moral equality either here or in other Western nations.

As for the relationship between Christianity and liberalism, the Church's intramural wars between Protestants and Catholics or between different branches of Protestantism were not cured, for the most part, by leaving the Church to its own devices. Rather, secular liberalism and, in some places, the necessity of the times caused the introduction of moral equality in the Church. Without liberalism and, to a lesser extent, necessity, we might still resemble what we see in warring factions of Islam today.

All too often, we take for granted what people say they want for all without judging it by how they treat those who are different. And it seems that this article is merely another attempt to establish Christianity's supremacy in the West perhaps in an effort to preserve as much of the old status quo as possible. We should note that one cannot believe in such a supremacy and moral equality at the same time.

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Oct 14

To Bruce Ashford and his blogpost on how Christians should respond to our loss of privilege and power in society. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

It seems that Ashford prefers that force our ways onto people through a tyranny of the majority rather than through a strong-arm tyrant. And that is our problem. We are looking to rule over others rather than to share power with them. And thus, we make it more and more difficult to see why more and more people are rejecting Christianity. Are they rejecting it because of the Gospel message or is it because we are attempting to lord it over others?

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To Joe Carter and the Dennis Prager video that was part of his blogpost on the size of government being used to define the Left and the Right. This appeared in the Acton blog.

It seems that in explaining the differences between the left and the right, there seems to be no limit on over simplification for some. And that is what we have in the above video. There are only two ideological positions, according to the video, and all results can be deductively arrived at by using single criteria definitions to define the two positions. In one corner, the Right believes in the most limited government possible while the Left believes in an ever increasing growth in government size and power. And never the twain shall meet.

But history begs to differ and that is always the problem for those who want to define reality exclusively by deductive reasoning. For example, Socialism is always categorized by those on the Right as being the same as big government. But Libertarian Socialism does not believe in the state. So where is Libertarian Socialism in the model of thought presented in the video? Where is anarchism, which is also on the side of the Left, in the model of thought presented by the video?

In addition, the difference between liberalism and the much of the Socialism from the Left is not over the size of government, but who has power both in the government and in the workplace. Liberalism promotes elite-centered rule where elites dictate what is good for the rest. In much of Socialism from the Left, especially from the Marxist viewpoint, it is the workers who should have the bulk of power both in the government and the workplace. And thus, big government alone does not constitute the Left. We can have both small or big government under the Left. But control over that government must be more in the hands of the workers than under the control of elites.

IN addition, an error that is suggested, if not implied, by what was said in the video above is that power and government authority are one and the same. Anyone who has studied power in the business or government setting knows that having power is not the same has having authority. Martin Luther King Jr. had a tremendous amount of political power while he was focusing on racial inequality while holding no governmental position. In addition, we could consult the labor history in the US to note how private businesses and their owners had tremendous power and could harm a great number of people without government assistance. In fact, it was the combination of workers protesting and government finally listening that curtailed many of the abuses that occurred in and out of the workplace.

Yes, the government has the power of force through either local and federal law enforcement or the military; but such was established by God according to the Scriptures (Romans 13). So why would Christians, like myself or many who are associated with the Acton Institute, want to side with him on this point?

In addition, since the military is part of the government, the bigger our military, the bigger our government--or so the above logic would state. But there is a disconnect for Prager here. Big government must be opposed only when the non military side of the government grows. Why? Because the size of our military depends on the number of our enemies. But why doesn't that logic apply to the other parts of our government? After all, isn't it true that some businesses can act as enemies of the people as part of their pursuit of profits? Applying the same logic that is used to determine the size of our military, shouldn't the government be big enough to handle any businesses that would act as a threat to the people?

In addition, what if those from the private sector, like churches, private charities, communities, and families do not want to take adequate care of those in need? Shouldn't the size of the government depend on how many people are in need? In addition, shouldn't the government represent those who are in need as much as it represents business people and others? Therefore, shouldn't the amount of help offered by the government reflect that representation?

Government is like love, size doesn't matter, fidelity does. A small, impotent government provides as much protection for its people as a large, corrupt government. That is because the power that is absent in a small government does not disappear, it finds its resting place in the private sector. And thus, the question becomes this: do we want private sector elites to possess the power that is absent in a small government or do we want to distribute power democratically by having workers and others share power with elite-wannabes? History shows that the consolidation of power is dangerous. That is a truism whether that consolidation occurs in the private or public sectors. The video above states that the consolidation of power is dangerous only when the government has it.


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Oct 15

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost video featuring D.G. Hart’s interview on C-Span’s Book TV. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Link to Hart’s interview
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?414716-3/billy-graham-sarah-palin&start=470


There is some very interesting and useful historical information given by Hart here, but he also demonstrated how one's answers to questions can sometimes be greatly determined by what one wants to emphasize.

The definition of what is an evangelical and whether Hart considers himself to be on provides an example of emphasis determining definition and categorization. He defines Evangelicals as though who believe in having a personal relationship with Jesus and having undergone some kind of born again experience. These criteria are rather ambiguous in nature. For if we define these references by saying that an Evangelical is one who believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of one's sins and that one must have personally come to faith in Jesus, then Hart must consider himself to be an Evangelical. My feeling is that Hart doesn't consider himself to be an evangelical because of how his family background stands in contrast with  his current reliance on a confessional faith. But here we should note that the definition of what is an Evangelical is broader than he would like to admit.

I found his distinction between conservatives and Evangelicals to be partially problematic. My conversations with Evangelicals is that they believe that they emphasize The Constitution and the intentions of our nation's founding fathers  as much as they emphasize morality. Part of the problem here lies in the fact that Evangelicals have a religiously inspired mythical view of both The Constitution and the  founding fathers which revolves around an over emphasis on the role of the Christian faith in both the writing of The Constitution and in the lives of the founding fathers.  We should note that non-evangelical political conservatives also seem to hold to a mythical view of The Constitution and its emphasis on individual liberty. For what is missing in the interpretation of many conservatives of the The Constitution is its historical context. That The Constitution was written in response to widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion and its purpose was to create a stronger Federal government that could better respond to insurrections and populism in an effort to protect a status quo that benefited the new American elites, many of whom were involved in writing The Constitution.

Finally, in discussing Evangelicals and politics, I was surprised  by how little significance Hart attributed to the abortion issue. My understanding is that today's Republican Party has, for the most part, taken Evangelicals for granted over the abortion issue.

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Oct 17

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on why evangelicals are so split on whether to vote for Trump. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.

Certainly, Carter's model of thought has merit. But it isn't the only model of thought we should employ. For without Trump, we still have this nagging binary approach to voting. And though the nomination of Trump has caused great strain on that approach, one of the main reasons for voting for the Republican nominee is the one of the main reasons why many Americans vote for the  Democratic candidates they vote for : they are selecting the not-them candidate. In other words, the reason why many conservatives vote for Republican candidates is because they are not Democratic candidates and vice-versa for nonconservatives. Thus, both evangelicals and many other Americans are voting for the same reason.

Why do we stay fixed on the this binary approach to voting? One reason is that, for multiple reasons, we don't want to or cannot change.  Change requires more energy than normal. In fact, nothing requires energy like change does. And for many, they don't have the energy to put into changing because of multiple reasons.

Another reason for maintaining our voting pattern is because we tend to prefer authoritarianism. And with authoritarianism, sticking to tradition is a primary reason for resisting change. In fact, with authoritarianism, there is a great deal of sensitivity to even hearing about challenges to tradition. That sensitivity causes people to respond with anger and/or in attempts to bully those who are considering breaking with tradition.

Now that authoritarianism can come in two different packages. One package is tailored for individual figures. The other package is made for the group. And the one that is made for the group is a part of tribalism. Tribalism occurs when group loyalty becomes high. Tribalism occurs when group loyalty trumps commitment to principles and morals. And the result of tribalism is the embracing of a moral relativity that says what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. That is why many Democrats can criticize Trump for his indiscretions while refusing to hold Bill Clinton to the same standards and vice-versa for many Republicans. With tribalism comes the authoritarianism of the group. The group must not be questioned or there will be wrath and/or bullying to keep people in line.


Those evangelicals who are breaking with Trump to vote for Clinton are still engaging in the same voter approach as many evangelicals, as well as others, who are voting to Trump: they are voting for the lesser of two evils. In fact, evangelicals are no different than many other Americans. They either will not or cannot change from voting for the lesser of two evils, for the not-them candidate. That is the voting tradition that we seem either unwilling or unable to break. And for as long as we continue voting that way, we will be presented with the kind of choices that we have this election year.

Our major political parties know all of this. And so they do not select candidates who are looking to improve things as much as they nominate candidates who qualify as not-them candidates. They give us candidates who are merely different from the candidates from the other party. And such an approach continually sets the bar for the quality of our candidates at a lower and lower level.

In short, we evangelicals are not that different from other Americans in how we vote And it is our inability or refusal to adapt to the new conditions of having a continual choice of horrible candidates provided by our two-party/binary system that is causing our demise. And it is our embracing of authoritarianism, either individual authoritarianism or that which comes with tribalism, that not only prevents us from changing, it makes us see our self-destructive binary approach to voting as a duty to continue. Who would have thought that the land of the free and the home of the brave are actually serving inner tyrants?






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