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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For January 25, 2017

Jan 17

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that opposes a state church. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

I fully agree that there should be no state church and that God's people are the elect from every nation who believe in Jesus Christ. But we would be fooling ourselves if we believed that there is no Christian meddling or privilege in the state outside of some kind of theocracy or Christendom.  That is because Christian control over and privilege in the state exists on a continuum where control over and privilege can still exist outside of a state church. I call one form of Christian control over and privilege in the state Christian Paternalism where there is a  broader mix of laws based on secular values and Christian values. Indeed, the controversy over same-sex marriage (SSM) brought this to light as many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians tried to draw a line in the sand justifying their opposition to SSM on natural law or on what is best for human flourishing. The problem with those justifications was that we see homosexuality in 1,500 species in nature on the one hand and the flourishing argument  allowed for law to be based on what is the best case scenario while ignoring what is an acceptable scenario.  Of course there were those who used the what is happening to the property values because of who is moving into the neighborhood argument.

In the end, opposition to SSM ignored the religious rights of those whose religion allowed for homosexuality whose view of natural law includes what is observed in nature. So though the previous state prohibition against SSM was not Christendom, it was due to Church control over the state and thus there existed a privileged place for Christians in society in determining certain laws. Here we should note that the opposition to SSM is just one example of an attempt to establish Christian Paternalism over our society.

BTW, it is ironic that Clark should be citing Calvin here because of how the religious persecution that existed in Geneva under his influence resulted in heretics and witches being put to death for religious reasons. And we certainly could not bring Luther in as an example either seeing how he called on German society and princes to punish the Jews for their unbelief lest they be complicit in that unbelief.

The concern for the freedom of the Church and the definition of who God's people are expressed in the article above are very sound and they serve as good reasons to reject not just Christendom and state churches, but Christian Paternalism as well. But in addition, we should note another reason why we should reject state churches and any form of Christian Paternalism.  That reason has to do with determining how we should share society with unbelievers. If we don't share society with unbelievers as equals, then we need to take into account the blowback to our Christian witness. That any form of Christian control over society can result in people not wanting to hear the Gospel not because of the content of the Gospel but because of the offense some unbelievers have taken to having their lives governed by Christian control over society.


The following comment is still awaiting moderation though it has been over a week since it was posted and the author of the blogpost has posted another article. Please visit the blogpost by clicking its link to see if the status of this comment has been changed.

To Justin Taylor and his blogpost republishing Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from a Birmingham jail. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Just as racism was not King’s only core concern, neither is the letter from a Birmingham jail the only document one should read when remembering King. Two other documents that are as equally important are his speech against the Vietnam War (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm ) and his last speech given in support of the striking garbage collectors in Memphis (see http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkivebeentothemountaintop.htm ).


Jan 20

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of Romans 13, a passage that tells us to both obey the civil authorities and to love one’s neighbors. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Martin Luther King Jr had to ask the inconvenient question of what happens when loving one's neighbor comes into conflict with following unjust laws? Another question before us is how should one implement Romans 13 in a vastly different historical context than what existed in the First Century.

It seems that when celebrating the American Revolution, citations of Romans 13 are not in sight. But when regarding a government that is controlled by the political party that is most favored by religiously conservative Christians and their leaders, we quote Romans 13 implying how it should be carried out.


Jan 24

To Matt Carter and his talk  on how his church started to practice “social justice” by how it learned how to help the vulnerable in his city. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

On one hand, Carter is talking about very admirable actions taken by his church and those actions are done in humility. Other churches should pay attention to what Carter's church is doing.

On the other hand, Carter is missing a foundational part of social justice that was practiced by both the OT prophets and the Apostle James. According to model of though Carter's employing, they also preached 'against the city.' In other words they cited others, especially those with wealth and power, for their sins of oppression against the vulnerable. Without this part of social justice, then one of Vladimir Lenin's criticisms of Christianity rings true. That criticism was that Christianity provided a cheap form of grace for those with wealth and power who were oppressing the vulnerable. It was cheap because those who oppressed only had to add to their repertoire acts of kindness and charity toward those they were exploiting. They were not required to change from exploiting others. In a sense, it is as if Lenin viewed those acts of charity without repenting from exploiting others as indulgences (see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/dec/03.htm ).

In The Crisis Of Democracy the complaint was made that the Church had failed to fulfill its role as an institution of indoctrination during the 1960s. How was the Church to function as such an institution? It, along with educational institutions, the military, and the family, was to teach its people how to fit into society and respect the authority those elites from both the public and private sectors. However, we should note that the 1960s saw a great rebellion against injustice. Instances of injustice were seen in the immoral war in Vietnam as well as the Jim Crow society we had constructed. It could also been in the inequitable treatment of women. If the Church had fulfilled its role of indoctrinating the young rather than failing in that role, then those injustices would have been accepted rather than challenged.

Again, what Carter speaks about churches coming alongside of those who were there to help the vulnerable in the city is very admirable and should be highly valued. Other churches would do well to imitate what his church has done. But social justice isn't putting bandaids on wounds, it consists of challenging those institutions and those with wealth and power to repent from exploiting and oppressing others. Instead of talking about the Church and Social Justice, Carter would have been better to talk about the Church and the Social Gospel of which helping others is an indispensable part. But we should note that Social Justice is the calling of institutions and those with wealth and power to repent from harming others (see http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2013/05/is-social-gospel-biblical-enough-for.html ).


To Pat Buchanan and his blogpost commending Trump’s ‘America First’ inaugural address. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

'America First!' without any mention of moral obligations to those in and out of America gives an eerie reminder of what was promised in Germany in the early 1930s. And for all nations to take this our nation first attitude without reference to any universal moral standards by which nations would restrain their behavior can serve as an invitation to a giant king-of-the-hill battle where the rule of force by the strongest nations reigns.

Certainly America has tried two basic approaches in responding to the world around it. It has tried isolationism, such as just prior to WW I, and imperialism. And both have failed. While isolationism inevitably draws us into conflicts because other nations are vying for more wealth and power, imperialism has proved to be neither feasible nor moral.

There is another approach. It was an approach that was promised by the creation of the UN but never carried out because the most powerful nations would have nothing to do with being restrained. And the worst culprit at refusing international restraint is the US because it was seeking an 'America First' foreign policy through the creation of empire. The UN offered a hope for alternate ways at resolving conflicts because it allowed for some measure of democracy to be used in forming resolutions. However, the existence of the Security Council ensured that only the weaker nations that were not supported by the most powerful would be subject to international law. And as for as long as we practice either isolationism or imperialism, we continue in rejecting  international law from controlling our actions and we head for the cliff of self-destruction.

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