Response to Jason

I appreciate Jason’s thoughts (as always). He is always very thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think some clarifications on my part will (hopefully!) result in showing that we have more common ground in politics than is currently visible.

First of all, what did I mean when I said “cut spending?” First of all, what I meant was pork-barrel spending. Special projects that the government really shouldn’t be involved in, like all of these earmarked for 2008.
That’s a lot of money to be spending in a bad economy that has no relevance to the government of this country and the necessary infrastructures.

As to programs that benefit the poor, now is not really the time to address such issues, in my opinion. They should rather be addressed when the economy is on sounder footing.

That being said, it is very questionable whether such programs benefit the poor in the long run. Everyone should be able to admit that Social Security and welfare benefit the poor in the short run. However, welfare comes with the inherent temptation to avoid seeking work, and simply to filch off the rest of the incomes of America. This kind of thing is far better done by the churches (which have really dropped the ball on this one, in my opinion), which can also keep welfare recipients accountable to turn them around (when possible) to becoming profitable members of society. At the present rate, it is quite easy simply to live on welfare one’s whole life while being perfectly able-bodied. This should not be the case.

That being said, I do not think that the military should be in Iraq. I used to think that Bush had done a good thing, but now I am on the other side of the issue. The reason is that America simply cannot be the world’s police force. We need rather to concentrate on our own borders, which will be just as effective at keeping out terrorism, and much cheaper as well. If we don’t have to be the world’s police force, then the military will not need so much money either, while still being able to be the best of the best (which is still the best deterrent to invasion).

When I say that the church needs to speak prophetically, I admit that I was not clear as what aspects of the government need to be clearly critiqued. However, over-taxation is a no-brainer. The government currently requires more of our income than a tithe. Is the government more important than God? I have a hard time believing that, for some strange reason. God requires no set amount (not even 10%, although I think that is a good goal, or even starting point), although He did in the Old Testament. However, 10% is a generally recognized amount as corresponding to good stewardship. If the government needs more than that, then they are simply doing too much. The government is not the salvation of people. Neither is it the answer to our societal ills.

My question for Jason is this: when we see government not only allowing, but encouraging the murder of millions of innocent lives in abortion, are we supposed to retreat behind our Word and Sacrament, and not excoriate the government for such tyranny? What would Isaiah have said? What would Jeremiah have said? Of course, I realize that our government is secular. However, all the Old Testament prophets railed against secular governments almost as much as against their own governments. I think Jason is more than competent to speak out against the murder of the unborn.

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34 Comments

  1. June 25, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Lane,

    I only have time for a quick response (off to Disneyland with the family).

    As far as I recall, this is the first mention of abortion; until now, the things we were supposed to be prophesying to the state about included cutting funds for welfare, social security, and public schooling.

    My point to you is that the church has no business speaking officially about things the Bible doesn’t address in any detail. I mean, what happens when you “prophesy” one thing and I another, all in the name of Jesus?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Do you think that government theft of citizens’ property is something about which the church can have no voice? My point in bringing up abortion was that life is also something that belongs to us, by the gift of God (as are the possessions we own). Taking life and taking property are therefore parallel.

  3. June 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I’ll answer your question with a question (people love this): In the spirit of condemning the culture for murder, do I have, as a minister of the Word, the right to officially condemn the Iraq War? Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed there, too, even though they’re outside the womb.

    And calling taxation theft is just silly. We’re to pay taxes to whom taxes are due. I, for one, would love for my tax dollars to go to some public service that actually benefits people rather than to enrich the moguls at Bechtel, Halliburton, and CH2M Hill.

    But the specifics are beside the point. Should the church speak officially to murky issues like these, and if so, how do we not compromise our REAL prophetic message (you know, th eone about the cross and empty tomb)?

  4. jeffhutchinson said,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I think it is interesting that your post on “How to Avoid a Recession” was the first political post here in over a year and a half (i.e. the first one you yourself tagged as “PH-politics”)! That has been one of the great strengths of this blog, is its ratio of theological to political posts being something like a zillion:one.

  5. Mark said,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

    “My point to you is that the church has no business speaking officially about things the Bible doesn’t address in any detail.”

    I think this is a fair point on specifics and trying to micromanage the decisions of Congress etc.

    However, the Bible says more than I would be prone to expect about being frugal, living within means, and not gong into debt. (Where my expectations come from, I have no idea. Just reporting what they are.) So I have a hard time thinking that we can entirely rule this area off limits to some Biblical criticism.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, Jeff. Politics is simply not something that I take a huge interest in overall.

    Mark, I totally agree.

  7. markhorne said,

    June 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Jason also wrote:

    “Now, when libertarian-type arguments begin to take this form, what is almost always meant by “cutting spending” is “cutting spending on programs that the poor benefit from.” Characteristically Lane, like many Reformed limited-government advocates, lists such programs as public schooling, Social Security, and welfare as among those areas in which Big Brother has no business sticking his nose.”

    First of all, I’ll observe that Lane mentioned especially “pork barrel” spending. Furthermore, Social Security which applies to all Americans regardless of income. As for public schooling, maybe the relative poor who can afford the housing prices associated with a wealthy neighborhood benefit from federal programs in those schools, but the empirical reality is that, for most poor, school functions as a temporary holding sell to keep juveniles off the streets either 1) committing crimes or 2) competing for wages with older adults. The public school systems economic purpose is to provide higher-than-market-paying jobs for school teachers. It is another middle class subsidy.

    So, on the one hand, I think Jason’s characterizations are placed there to protect his ideology from reality.

    Except that I am more and more prone to agree with him. Precisely because I’m seeing how middle and upper economic groups are being benefited from government wealth redistribution, I’m wondering why libertarian types like myself have wasted so much energy objecting to welfare for the poor. Maybe Lane didn’t do this, but I have. Many times.

    I noticed in a recent trip to Montana that you can’t drive an hour without seeing a billboard celebrating how great ethanol is to the local economy. So it all gets mixed up. Billion-dollar corporations get corporate welfare for idiotic projects that are much less efficient than oil and that drive up the price of food overnight, and they pass a piece of this to struggling local poor farmers and make it so that anyone who objects to ethanol is attacking the poor farmers. The NEA does this for the poor in public schools.

    But it is all a game. What we have are powerful interest groups that already have money making sure they get more. The poor are a pawn in this, not the player. There is always a sponsor class that will do real well doing good.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Jason, I’m not calling taxation theft. I’m calling over-taxation theft. I don’t think it is silly, since it was one of the principles that led to the American Revolution.

    As to the Iraq war, it comes down to whether one believes in a just war theory, and whether (if one believes that there is such a theory) the Iraq war qualifies. I haven’t come to a decision on that issue. I don’t think Americans targeted civilians in the Iraq war. I think that if a minister has worked out these ethical issues, he could teach about it, and yes, be prophetic about it.

  9. June 25, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Mark wrote:

    “However, the Bible says more than I would be prone to expect about being frugal, living within means, and not gong into debt. (Where my expectations come from, I have no idea. Just reporting what they are.) So I have a hard time thinking that we can entirely rule this area off limits to some Biblical criticism.”

    The difficulty, I think, is in the fact that the Bible says a whole lot about a whole lot, while still stopping way short of providing a manual for economic- or foreign policy.

    My frustration with the whole “speak prophetically” stuff is that the Reformed (and often libertarian) approach is to select the sins that we all agree with a wink and a nod are repugnant.

    For the record, I think abortion is repugnant. But so are a lot of things that believers do or support, but as long as they fit nicely within the acceptable political parameters, we don’t see the need to “speak prophetically” about them.

    The fact is that if my people ever convince me to speak prophetically to the culture, the moment I do they may wish I hadn’t. I mean, calling the culture to repentance for abortion is one thing, while calling it to repentance for its greed masked as ambition is another altogether.

    What hits closer to home, the unborn child murdered in the womb, or the already-born child at home that I hardly see because I’m working 60+ hours a week?

  10. June 25, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Lane,

    I’d like to respond to your last comment as best I can.

    “Jason, I’m not calling taxation theft. I’m calling over-taxation theft.”

    And who gets to decide what qualifies as “over-taxation”? You? Me? Rush? It seems to me that Caesar gets to determine what is Caesar’s, and then we “render it unto him.” With many Reformed libertarians, over-taxation happens when I am made to pay for services for the poor (gasp!).

    “[Taxation] was one of the principles that led to the American Revolution.” Yes, and we did specifically what our Westminster Confession prohibits: we used our spiritual liberty as a cloak to disobey lawful power.

    “As to the Iraq war, it comes down to whether one believes in a just war theory, and whether (if one believes that there is such a theory) the Iraq war qualifies…. I think that if a minister has worked out these ethical issues, he could teach about it, and yes, be prophetic about it.”

    I guess I just fail to see how I have any right to use my pulpit as a megaphone to voice my cultural or social grievances, regardless of how personally convinced of them I may be (and my opinions are really good, don’t get me wrong). The minister is called to preach law and gospel, not to decry markets or wars. Let the cross offend the people, not my personal politics.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

    So, why do you live in a country that was started illegitimately, Jason?

  12. Zrim said,

    June 26, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Forget recession and Roe, I guess I’d like to know where the religious outrage is for fideism:

    Referring to new vanity plates being made avaliable in Alabama, Sen. Hank Erwin of Montevallo said, “It would send a message that the government in Alabama believes in faith and family.”

    http://www.al.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-36/1213384777135490.xml&storylist=alabamanews

    I know it’s not nearly as exciting to those who may think the church is to be relevant on the world’s terms instead of God’s, but if we can’t tolerate Caesar on taxes and abortion why in the world do we let him get away with promoting something eternally damning? Nevertheless, for my part, silence and obedience are way under-rated. I am not sure why, they were qualities that attended our salvation after all. NT ethics seem to have a lot more to say about obeying Caesar than slapping his wrists. Do we have a high view of authority, or do we confess as much with fingers crossed?

    And I don’t know about Stellman, but I live in a country that has dubious beginnings because the Host of heaven gave it to me. He gave me a lot of things I don’t understand though. A lot. It’s complicated.

  13. Mark said,

    June 26, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Lane, what’s your point in #11? We are born where we are born. There is no Biblical obligation to relocate to the rightly constituted government.

    Jason, #9

    The difficulty, I think, is in the fact that the Bible says a whole lot about a whole lot, while still stopping way short of providing a manual for economic- or foreign policy.

    True in terms of what you deny. FWIW, I just taught a Sunday School knocking down the idea of “Biblical Blueprints.” However, debt drives our economy and the Bible has a lot to say about it.

    And you don’t seem as silent as you say you are on these issues anyway. I’ve read you discussing corporations and other things that sound more prophetic than you’re letting on.

    I realize that it gets us in a labyrinth of difficulty, but I think we have no choice but to bite the bullet and speak from the Bible and hope, in speaking to one another, the Spirit of God reveals the truth to us (subjectively speaking). The real difficulties don’t eliminate the responsibility and your own utterances raise the possibility that it is literally impossible to do otherwise.

  14. June 26, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Lane,

    Wow. So is it “America: Love it or Leave it” with you?!

    I stand by my claim that it is wrong to take up arms and use violence as a means of lowering taxes, especially when this violence is couched in biblical language about being “set free.”

    And you didn’t deal with my argument (kind of hard to in a one-sentence response). So leaving aside what our Confession says about not disobeying lawful power under the guise of Christian liberty, what would you do if I preached in your church at your invitation and used the opportunity to speak against some cultural institution that you and your congregation have little problem with? Like insurance companies, or Nike, or the military-industrial complex?

  15. June 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Mark,

    True, I may not be as silent as I let on. But in my own defense, most of the quote-unquote political things I say are in the context of trying to convince my opponent not to be political. So when someone says, “The church should be more politically active!” I will often respond by saying, “Sure! If only we’d been at the Seattle march against the IMF and World Bank.”

    My point is usually to watch them hem and haw about how it wasn’t that kind of activism they were talking about.

    But in the context of my actual ministry, I stick to what I’m called and trained to talk about.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

    My real question, Jason, is whether you think we ought to have revolted against Britain. Why not move to England? I’m not saying “love it or leave it.” But are you really saying that there was no reason for America to have started in the first place? Let’s go a step further: is there any reason ever for Christians to revolt? By the way, I do not advocate disobedience of lawful power under the guise of Christian liberty. But if the government told me to stop preaching, I would most certainly disobey. Now, of course, that is not the same category as taxes. But then, I am not advocating stopping paying taxes, even if I also think the government is taking too much. Instead, I think American Christians, as responsible citizens of BOTH heaven AND America, have the duty to follow due process in election, etc., to vote to change things. And I still do not think it is unbiblical to prophecy against secular governments for oppression of the poor, as the Old Testament prophets did. You have not answered that argument yet.

  17. Matt said,

    June 26, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Lane,

    The question of country origins is getting off point. After all, what country country doesn’t have rather dubious origins? Church planting in Greenland anyone….but I digress.

    Jason and I don’t share the same assessment of libertarian government, but I think we share the basic concern as to how the church qua church is to relate to any government (e.g., socialist, totalitarian, democratic).

    What needs to be clearly defined is what you (and others) mean by ‘speak prophetically’ and ‘speak out’! Are we talking about referencing abortion when preaching on the 6th ‘word’? If so, I don’t think Jason would say you can’t mention abortion when talking about ‘murder’ in the Bible. Or are we talking about a 5 part sermon series on ‘Abortion’ as the great American evil of the last 40 years? Both are ‘speaking’ (in some sense)….but there’s a big difference here.

    Part of what concerns us is how these issues are being dictated more by the ‘conservative culture wars’….and not a careful exposition of the text. Turning the OT prophets into government reformers (even as a secondary function or application) becomes incredibly selective, similar to Theonomy’s attempt to apply the Mosaic law to modern government (somethiing I know you personally reject). But either way, you still end up (though unintentional, I grant) taking what ‘works’ and discarding what doesn’t. But exegesis in the OT doesn’t work that way.

    And it’s ‘selective’ in other ways — how much do I need to be actively opposing these sins in the culture? I recall one individual that didn’t think it was even enough to preach against abortion. She felt the minster needed to attend every local anti-abortion rally, group, march, etc. And if he didn’t do all of this….well, then he must be pro-abortion.

    But what minister has time (in his official calling!) to do all of this? And who gets to decide how much is required of him? Just about every minister I know could easily put in 80 hours a week or more just covering the 3-marks of the church? How much *more* does he need to be doing?

    I continually find Paul’s extensive treatments of sexual immorality in Corinth to be highly instructive for us. Corinth would make Vegas seem like a trip to Disneyland. And yet no where can I find even a hint of Paul directing the Corinthian church to condemn *the culture* around them (and it would be hard to find a better place appropriate than here in the NT!). What he does condemn is the *the church* for tolerating that sin in its midst, as well as *the man* for acting as such (cf. 1 Cor 5).

    But he goes even farther in vs. 12 — ” For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” Don’t let the rhetorical question elude the crystal-clear point he’s making — the Corinthian church should NOT be judging those outside!

    Too much of what I think constitutes ‘speaking out’ against the culture really amounts to backdoor way of seeking to ‘judge’ them. And in the semi-eschatological arena we find ourselves today, it really does amount to jumping the eschatological gun!

  18. Mark said,

    June 26, 2008 at 11:26 am

    “The church should be more politically active!” I will often respond by saying, “Sure! If only we’d been at the Seattle march against the IMF and World Bank.”

    My point is usually to watch them hem and haw about how it wasn’t that kind of activism they were talking about.

    1. That won’t exactly work with me since I hate IMF and World Bank.

    2. Not sure “marching” does much anyway. Those who visibly succeed at it are already gaining power by other means.

    3. I’ll let you have the last word on why you do it, but I’m not convinced, FW(L)IW.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Those are good questions and issues, Matt. But it would seem by your argument that the church cannot speak at all on government practices. Why speak out on abortion, even? Why is life itself somehow more biblical to talk about than property? I’m not seeing why government theft is not to be descried, and yet abortion can be. Of course there are difficulties in speaking prophetically to culture. Of course it is complicated. But merely pointing out its complexity is no argument against speaking out. The Gospel has social implications, and implications for government, even if that is not its central point.

  20. June 26, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Lane,

    I agree with Matt that the issue of our country’s origins is getting off-topic (though I respect that this is your blog and not mine).

    Would you agree that the U.S. actively supports policies that “oppress the poor,” and should, therefore, be condemned from the pulpit? Most believers don’t. How would they feel if I stood up on the Lord’s Day and yelled and screamed about NAFTA or the so-called reconstruction of Iraq?

    My point is simple: Let’s talk about earth all we want, but let’s talk about it while we’re functioning as a citizen of it. And as far as I’m concerned, when Jesus has summoned his people to the foot of Mount Zion through my calling them to worship, our earthly grievances should be the last thing on our minds.

    Buy me a pint on Monday, though, and I’ll talk earth until the last call.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I think you are missing my point, Jason. My point is that you can give counter examples of lots of things that may or may not need to be talked about from the pulpit. But that is not the issue. We are talking about whether the church should speak on government evils at all. In all honesty, I very rarely discuss politics from the pulpit. However, I think that pulpits can do that. And you have still not answered my argument as to why abortion can be descried but not government theft, when theft is as much of a problemin our government as lack of protection of life. Liberals laughed at conservatives when the conservatives started worrying about whether the tax would ever have to be as high as 5%. I think we’ve seen that camel’s nose more than enter the tent. The camel is completely inside, now.

  22. June 26, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Lane,

    Ah, it always comes back to death and taxes.

    The difference between abortion and taxation is that the former involves the unjustified homicide of a human person, while the latter is a legitimate function of any government, and one with which Christians are commanded to comply, full stop.

    I’m no fan of taxes, especially when they get transformed in to welfare for the rich. So I can vote against regressive tax policies and even blog about them, but I can’t bring myself to use my ordained office to do it. Worship on the Lord’s Day is supposed to provide people something unique, the one place they can go to hear the one thing you can’t get anywhere else.

    They can read Rush, Chomsky, or O’Reilly on their own time.

  23. Jesse P. said,

    June 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Jason,

    I think you exposed your intentions right about here,

    “Buy me a pint on Monday, though, and I’ll talk earth until the last call.”

    No wonder you wont preach against unjust taxation, your looking for handouts yourself! Are there any new propositions that subsidize pints, if so I think it would be safe to say you’d preach on that!

  24. June 26, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I think ministers should get free beer anywhere they go, but that may a bit too “theology of glory” for this amillennialist, the benefit to me notwithstanding.

    Still, free beer laws may be enough to cause me to jettison my rabid two kingdoms theology….

  25. Zrim said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:43 am

    lane wondered, “I’m not seeing why government theft is not to be descried, and yet abortion can be.”

    Jason said, “The difference between abortion and taxation is that the former involves the unjustified homicide of a human person, while the latter is a legitimate function of any government, and one with which Christians are commanded to comply, full stop.”

    Jason, you know you have my sympathies in general, but this is some sleight of hand (and I won’t mention how your sympathies for activism in general that relies on disobedience don’t comport well with your general arguments. Oops, did I say that out loud again?). If the church can speak to abortion as a socio-political issue with a clear conclusion then she may speak to issues surrounding taxation in the same way, regardless of whether you happen to like what is being said. I fail to understand why taxation gets a pass and deciding what Jane may or mayn’t do with that lump in her belly–or better, who gets to decide what she may or mayn’t do–doesn’t. Caesar has a lot on his plate, and taxes are just some of it. The church has every right and duty to tell Jane’s what she may or mayn’t do with her body, but she has no jurisdiction to tell Jane how to vote or make social policy, either explicitly or implicitly. I know many of us cheer when it is suggested that Kerry or Pelosi face discipline for their statecraft, but since when did Reformed theology have sympaties for Roman eccelesiology?

    Lane suggested that, “The Gospel has social implications, and implications for government, even if that is not its central point.”

    Yeow. I am not in the habit of using the L-word very often, but that sure sounds like it came from the laboratories of 20th century Liberalism. Since when did Reformed theology include a Methodist ecclesiology? The Gospel should stick with its central point, Lane. That’s just common, Reformed sense, the lack of which is why American religion needs a spanking.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Zrim, how are we supposed to preach the Old Testament prophets redemptive-historically without touching on social issues? Just because I said the Gospel has social implications does not mean that I am saying that that is all it means (which is the liberalism platform). Salvation, which is a vertical thing, has horizontal implications. For the record, I do not speak about social issues very often from the pulpit precisely because it is not central. Then again, I have not preached through the Old Testament prophets either (for whom social issues were present, though not central even there).

  27. Zrim said,

    June 27, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Lane,

    Very carefully, it seems to me, that’s how.

    Doesn’t saying that “all the Gospel has is social implications” begin with saying that is has social implications, however minimal? Isn’t how all of this starts, a little here and a bit there? Isn’t that how voters’ guides in the narthex show up? Isn’t that why all the “separation of church and state” mantras sound so awfully flimsy coming out the mouths of religionsists?

    I’m strapping on my firesuit now, but speaking this way, Lane, sure sounds a lot like all this “living the Gospel” stuff. I thought the Gospel was to be believed and lived in light of, not lived. Usually I get told that is a torturous dictinction worthy of scorn, but it seems to be somewhere near the heart of this present controversy which shall remain unnamed.

    If social issues are fair game, why would you limit your treatment of them from the pulpit? And why do ministers seem to think that ordained office begins and ends “in the pulpit”? That always seems like a rather covenient way to circumvent relatively reckless speech M-Sat. Doesn’t such a special ordination actually follow you to the store and gym and party and porch?

    Call it hopelessly conservative, but I think the rules not only need to be written better but played by better as well. I give my fellow conservative religionists a D grade in all of this, but only because I am a softie.

  28. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Zrim, why would you get the impression that I am limiting my involvement of social issues to the pulpit? Where have I implied that?

    On the other hand, the slippery slope argument simply doesn’t work here. It is the church’s job to take care of the orphan and the widow (this is so important that, at one time, James calls it true religion, 1:27). That is a social issue as well as a church issue. I am no advocate of the welfare state, as I have made clear. However, the welfare state has arisen because we as the church have not taken care of the poor and the orphan. So, criticism is surely due to the church for having dropped such a monumental ball.

  29. June 27, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Zrim,

    You said: “If the church can speak to abortion as a socio-political issue with a clear conclusion then she may speak to issues surrounding taxation in the same way….”

    No one said anything about coming up with clear conclusions. Lane was drawing a direct parallel between condemning abortion and condemning taxation. I simply replied that the two are different in that one involves murder, while the other we’re told to obey.

    For the record, I draw a very clear line between a thing, and the application of that thing. So the death penalty is biblical, but I would vote for someone who opposed it because I think the application of the death penalty in our justice system is flawed.

    Same with abortion. I make no claim to know what the solution to the problem is, nor do I issue jeremiads against “Pagan Jane” who gets one. But if someone in my church were considering it, I would everything in my power to persuade her otherwise.

  30. David Gadbois said,

    June 27, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Lane, I think I’d be more comfortable saying that the *Law* has social implications. Not the Gospel. If we are teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God, it must include law, including natural law.

  31. Zrim said,

    June 27, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Lane,

    Sorry, I can see where that got lost in translation. What I meant by limiting wasn’t that I hear you saying that you limit it to the pulpit, rather I meant that when it comes to the pulpit you seem to be suggesting the Gospel can move over a skosh so that social issues can come to the fore. My question is: if you give a “square inch” why not a whole mile, so to speak?

    Re the poor and orphaned, the question seems to be whose poor and orphaned? I have nothing against James’ true religion (Luther’s “epsitle of straw” rhetoric is plain fubar). And I have nothing against charity. But when we move from taking care of our own to taking care of others it easily becomes a charity moving toward a glorified welfare state. Faith-based iniatives, while brilliant politics, are really bad ecclesiology. No wonder Methodists loved it. For my part, I don’t care who takes care of the world’s poor, so long as it isn’t those who have neither the jurisdiction nor the bench-strength (i.e. the Church). How it happens is for Caesar to figure out. Leave it to Methodists to have the wool pulled over their heads and believe Karl, Kuo and Dubya when they try to foist that duty onto the Church.

    Jason J. Stellman,

    No one has to. I assumed the clear conclusion part because that is always a part of the discussion here, explicit or not. When “we” say abortion everyone knows “we” mean “Roe V. Wade and that it should be overturned and made illegal by the Fed instead of turned over the the states.” It may not be what you intended, but your reply–that abortion is the unjustified murder of a human being–sure seemed to imply that you have no problem with the conventional rhetoric. I’ll grant that perhaps I am mis-reading you to some extent, but my main point is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, there is no difference between issues of taxation or reproductive non/rights…the Church is to be silent whether Caesar asks or not.

    I quite agree that if you have nothing to say to Caesar then you certainly have no jurisdiction over Pagan Jane. The question does seem to become, What do you do with Christian Jane when your powers of persuasion fail? Realizing it’s complicated, of course, I don’t think it’s unclear: she has qualified herself for discipline. You have jurisdiction over what she does in her soul and body, but not over her voting booth. I don’t think we fully understand often times the difference.

    David helps make my point about the finer distinctions (“living the Gospel”). Moreover, the implications of said Law are for US, not the pagans and not the world’s institutions, etc. The Decalogue was given to Israel, after all, not Egypt.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    The Gospel can never move over one skosh (love that word!) for social issues. It is not an issue of social concerns replacing the Gospel, but rather of how the Gospel itself addresses social concerns. It would an application of the Gospel.

  33. Zrim said,

    June 27, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Lane,

    We can likely agree in principle (even though I will again hold out that the Gospel is to be believed, not lived), but when it comes to application is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. What does said “application of the Gospel” mean or look like exactly? From what you have said so far it seems to translate into, “We need to be telling the government its spending too much.” That isn’t perfectly obvious to me; that’s like telling my children, Because you belong to me I want you to join me in telling the shopkeeper his hours of operation are unjust. Huh? Aren’t the indicatives and imperatives with regard to whatthey are and to whom they are addressed a bit haywire here?

    Charging those who have embraced the Gospel to live quietly, work with their hands and mind their own affairs as covenant-keepers, now, that I can locate in the Bible.

    Yeah, “skosh,” it makes me want to pop a pinch between my cheek and gum and I don’t even do that.

  34. June 27, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    That has been my point all along, Zrim. If Sola Scriptura means anything, it means that a “thus saith the Lord” better be heeded. But when the Lord saith that funding programs for the poor is theft, and the Lord saith that justification is by faith alone from the same minister from the same pulpit, rather than the former being elevated to the importance of the latter, what ends up happening is that both are reduced to some interesting advice from Pastor Jason.

    First, while Paul can get away with a “So says Paul and not the Lord,” I am not Paul. And second, don’t ever call me Pastor Jason.


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