GOVERNMENT, LOVE, AND CHARITY

Charity without love is not charitable.
Charity without love is not charitable.

When I got this comment, I got sort of irked. He should know better.

Stephen
I see the irony was lost on you. I am of the opinion that “toughness” is only valued if it comes from your own side and “straight talk” is only applauded by liberals when it conforms to their orthodoxy. As such, whenever I point out to red progressives such as yourself that the ultimate example of human excellence was a submission and not some Alamo, then it is usually met with the criticism that I do not understand something. How ‘tough leadership’ such as shutting down government services for a period of time to make a petulant point at the expense of impoverished families can be synonymous with or derived from wisdom is frankly an insult to the cross. For example, when God stood in the congregation of the gods, he did not say, “Cut taxes because it will eventually help the poor.” Instead he said, “Judge for the poor man and the needy; do just to the humble and the pauper.”
January 2, 2017 at 10:45 am

I can handle disagreements, but I don’t see much point in tolerating foolish misrepresentations of the Bible. ‘s application of “Judge for the poor man and the needy; do just to the humble and the pauper” is just plain wrong.  I am not certain which translation he is using, but the verse comes from here.

Psalm 82 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Unjust Judgments Rebuked. A Psalm of Asaph.

82 God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
How long will you judge unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah.
Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

They do not know nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are sons of the Most High.
“Nevertheless you will die like men
And fall like any one of the princes.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth!
For it is You who possesses all the nations.

picked out portions of verses 3 and 4.  He ignored the fact that Psalm 82 speaks to the responsibility that rulers have to impartially judge disputes. No where does the Bible make government responsible for charity. Why? Government is responsible for justice. Even if government-run programs for redistributing the wealth were just, putting the government in charge of redistributing our wealth is not compatible with its responsibility to protect our property rights.  Hence We the People must be responsible for loving each other and for charity.

So why are people so easily confused about this? Well, take a gander at 1 Corinthians 13, perhaps the Bible’s most famous passage about love.  Whereas older translations of the Bible (GNV, KJV, AKJV, DRA, and WYC) use the word charity, more recent translations (NASB, NKJV, MSG, NIV and NRSV) use the word love instead of charity.

Here is the reason why.

charity (n.)Look up charity at Dictionary.commid-12c., “benevolence for the poor,” from Old French charité “(Christian) charity, mercy, compassion; alms; charitable foundation” (12c., Old North French carité), from Latin caritatem (nominative caritas) “costliness, esteem, affection” (in Vulgate often used as translation of Greek agape “love” — especially Christian love of fellow man — perhaps to avoid the sexual suggestion of Latin amor), from carus “dear, valued,” from PIE *karo-, from root *ka- “to like, desire” (see whore (n.)).

Vulgate also sometimes translated agape by Latin dilectio, noun of action from diligere “to esteem highly, to love” (see diligence).

Wyclif and the Rhemish version regularly rendered the Vulgate dilectio by ‘love,’ caritas by ‘charity.’ But the 16th c. Eng. versions from Tindale to 1611, while rendering agape sometimes ‘love,’ sometimes ‘charity,’ did not follow the dilectio and caritas of the Vulgate, but used ‘love’ more often (about 86 times), confining ‘charity’ to 26 passages in the Pauline and certain of the Catholic Epistles (not in I John), and the Apocalypse …. In the Revised Version 1881, ‘love’ has been substituted in all these instances, so that it now stands as the uniform rendering of agape. [OED]

Sense of “charitable foundation or institution” in English attested by 1690s.

Because words change their meaning over time, we have to be careful of their usage. As noted, “agape” is from Greek, and it is the most noble form of love. Perhaps it is the best word we have to describe how Jesus loves us. Any notion that the government might love us that way is just absurd.

Because charity without love is a bribe, that is why charity without love is not charitable.  That is why those who can cheerfully give what we today call charity must love the poor and needy enough to part with both their time and their money.

39 thoughts on “GOVERNMENT, LOVE, AND CHARITY

  1. “That is why those who can cheerfully give what we today call charity must love the poor and needy enough to part with both their time and their money.”

    This is a really good point, Tom. Besides the tendency Gov has to waste excessive amounts of money that never makes it into the hands of the poor, Gov is cold and impersonal. We treat people like a number. The less loved you are, the less likely you are to be able to pull yourself up.

    I have to agree with Stephan here though, “the ultimate example of human excellence was a submission and not some Alamo….” Gah, the bane of my existence is trying to bridge the gap between liberal and conservative perceptions of faith and the world around us, so we can get about the business of loving people wisely.

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    1. @insanitybytes22

      Thanks for your comment and the link.

      Your observation about Stephen’s comment is a good one, as is the post you have that is related to it. I will have to think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good stuff again Tom. It irks me to no end when people equate government spending with compassion. In some cases does it help? Yes, but in many others the government employees wastes the money they have forcibly taken from others by spending it on themselves and various pet projects. The much reduced amount that finally makes its way to those it was originally intended for comes in the form of poorly run programs and subsidies that end up enslaving an already vulnerable population.

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    1. @Tricia

      People look at the benefits, but they don’t see or they refuse to consider the costs, particularly the opportunity costs. Whenever the government grabs our money, it keeps us from spending it some other way, often a way that would have been of more benefit to everyone.

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  3. “Because charity without love is a bribe, that is why charity without love is not charitable.”

    In my opinion, we need to also insert wisdom into this conversation.

    King Solomon

    However, some are poor because they are either fools or lazy.”

    “While both fools and the poor need help in a perfect community, wisdom teaches us not to become a burden or liability to our friends and benefactors. A true friend will help another friend in time of need. However, if the poor friend later will not work nor does nothing to help him or herself, a smoldering resentment will build up. Their relationship will turn from love to hate in time because the heavy liability demands will become burdens that will feel like a millstone tied around a neck of the helpful friend or community. A rich man has more friends than a poor man because the friendships make no demands, and both stand to gain from each other without any liability.”

    A poor man is hated even by his friend, but a rich man’s friends are numerous. (Proverb 14:20)

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  4. People can use the Bible to justify about anything, even homosexuality and gay marriage.

    But as the Founding Fathers pointed out in the Declaration of Independence and their stupendous design of a truly just government in the Constitution, justice is based on “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

    That means it is immoral for government to extort (rob) the earning of one group of citizens in order to give them to another group of citizens.

    Justice means treating everyone equally before the law.

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    1. “People can use the Bible to justify about anything, even homosexuality and gay marriage.” No, just liberals like you and Tom.

      It is immoral because the Founding Fathers said so? Where? Is Thomas Paine a Founding Father? He didn’t think so. He was the first American to propose a social safety net.

      If it is truly based on the laws of Nature and Nature’s God, then let us ask actual experts on the subject, not American political theorists with Liberal theology.

      Justice, being the subject of the Republic by Plato and not some political manifesto as your Liberal friend Mr. Levin surmised, cannot merely be equal treatment under law. For if that is justice, then how can a law be said to be unjust if justice means equal treatment under law. In your definition, the law is superior to justice and therefore justice cannot be said to diminish the law by declaring it unjust.

      According to St. Basil, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

      Thus, prior the great Liberal muddling everyone seems to call “Enlightenment” the Christian philosophical tradition consider Justice to be something much greater. Justice was an imperative rather than some passive review of events. Man was compelled by God and Nature to DO justice. Hence the language of the Psalmist indicates a command to act.

      Justice is instead the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Thus, the end of justice is towards God and man, not to positive laws. True social justice would then recognize the transcendent nature of man and place man and his dignity at the center of all efforts to affect it.

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        1. But who’s common sense? Let’s just take the notions from Liberal philosophers. John Locke has a radically different concept of the Natural Law than Jean Rousseau and they differ from both Kant and Hume.

          In typical liberal fashion, you call Natural Law a theory, implying that more than one concept of it can be correct or partially correct. This is a far cry from the patrimony of Western Civilization–a patrimony Liberalism openly rejects–which has always held that the Natural Law is something outside of ourselves, objective, and a product of the divine lawgiver.

          And yet it seems to liberals that theft is whatever loss of property they do not currently agree with. Why have a tax policy at all if you think all taxes are theft? Yet liberalism is full of such contradictions. Not paradoxes, mind you, contradictions. Paradoxes are the result of two things being true that appear to conflict like the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union. The tax policies of liberals such as yourself appear to regard taxation with disdain, but loudly advance tax policies of your own. One liberal may get around this problem by trying to rationalize that taxation is only good if it is put a certain use. But then those uses are arbitrary, depend on the liberal enumerating them, and never make any actual, metaphysical sense. Because, and every liberal is loathe to admit this, the question of how much should be taken in tax and what it should be spent on requires one to inquire into the nature of man, his place in civil society, and the purpose of civil society. Since the liberal bases everything regarding government on self interest with some slight warm feelings of pretended unity, the result is the mass of incomprehensible policies that help no one and don’t address the underlying metaphysical questions. Naturally, liberals will always fail when it comes to governance because governance requires more submission to the authority of principles outside their definition and subjugation. Since this is intolerable to the liberal spirit, a liberal will never answer these questions.

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        2. Stephen,

          The Enlightenment philosophers did not have a radically different understanding of natural law theory.

          They had differences of opinions as to the basic nature of man.

          Stealing is stealing and killing is killing.

          You are moving the goal post (a logical fallacy) by introducing the topic of the basic nature of man.

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        3. Did not have radically different understandings? Are you serious? This HAS to be a joke. No, such a comment must be a joke because if it were not considered a joke, then it must be concluded you have never read anything from the Enlightenment and have not the slightest idea what you are talking about. The very fact that Kant wrote the massive and complex volume “The Critique of Pure Reason” for the sole purpose of refuting the ideas of his rival Hume makes such an assertion not just comical, but farcical.

          Furthermore, to divorce the Natural Law from the nature of man is equally absurd. Man, being a part of Nature, finds his own nature bound to the Natural Law. Honestly, it is as if you are just making jokes with the intent of making me inhale my coffee and suffocate to death rather than argue. Can a soccer player complain of running into a goal post he clearly had no idea was there to begin with? No, and neither can you honestly accuse me of moving a goal post that is so transfixed to the first one that it would be embarrassing if you were serious. Mostly because of your invocation of the Declaration’s passage concerning rights of man derived from Nature. Rights derived from Nature necessarily come from man’s nature and the natural law governing him. I mean, this is so obvious and you seemed so sure of yourself. These HAVE to be jokes.

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        4. Kant rejected what? Clearly you haven’t read Metaphysics of Morals.

          I daresay he is, but he is still a liberal and he was still part of the Enlightenment. Is this your way of historical revisionism? I understand that is quite popular among liberals, Gibbons being such a great model for you.

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  5. Your exegesis sounds more Randian than Alexandrian.

    First, the idea that the Psalmist is saying there must be impartiality in disputes is not found in the text. Neither grammar, nor the testimony of the Fathers supports such a reading. Indeed, both St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom argue that the civil powers should be MORE favorable to the poor since they have less support than the rich. Hence, the Pslamist writes, “Defend the poor and yatom; do justice to the oni and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the yad resha’im.” The clear sense from the grammar is that of a command to defend the weak against the strong.

    second, your understanding of Charity is also quite Randian. When St. Paul said, “Not I but Christ through me” you don’t suppose that what he was talking about was that Christ was through us for our own benefit, do you? Indeed, that would contradict the very nature of Christ’s mission and sacrifice. The redemption of the human race is individual to be sure, but is also universal. This is important when considering that if the ideal of Christian life is to have no more of yourself but Christ through you then the actions stemming from such and ideal would be inherently selfless. Such a proposition is inconceivable to liberal philosophy and yet is hypocritically held by most liberals.

    The most confounding thing I have found about liberals that have such a duality of nigh irreconcilable beliefs is that they will freely admit that the government is the instrument of the people’s will but that the virtue of Charity is not something a government can or should have. The usual argument are about greed and avarice. Rather disingenuous arguments to be sure as Charity, they must admit, is devoid of such considerations. But what is most striking is that they immediately divorce the people from government as soon as Charity is mentioned, saying then that evil men in government tyrannize everyone under the auspices of Charity. If that were true and the previous notion that the government is the instrument and reflection of the people’s will, then it follows that Charity is divorced from “We the People,” that “We the People” can only pervert Charity into tyranny, and that “We the People” would do better to be checked and balanced by a government that is…oh wait, the logic has become circular. I expect some comment now about how governments are unnecessary if men were angels. Another pointless and false argument as there was government even in the Garden. Man, after all, was given dominion and dominion implies rule of a certain order. Hence, these appeals to the fallacy and frankly heresy of the state of nature contrary to that plainly laid out in Genesis and testified by the fathers. Furthermore, it minimizes the call to holiness plainly laid out in the Gospels. We are not called to be angels, but greater than angels. No savior was promised to the demons; a savior was promised to man.

    One of the more subtle and comical ironies is that the author decries the evils of social programs while bearing the image of the first American to propose such an idea to America.

    It is either a product of the darkness that liberalism places over the intellect or the habit of liberals to live with contradictions, but I cannot help but observe that this all stemmed from a criticism of “strong leadership”–characterized by nothing but the slashing of the supports of the poor with little or no consideration of the effects apart from their swelling of popularity from donor bases and the opportunity to brag that a budget was “balanced”–with wisdom. Such a comparison is an affront to dear Sophia. My position on the necessity of welfare reform is well known and often characterized wrongly as being a tyrannical power grab, so I do not deny that the current system is intolerable. But to say that cutting most if not all the imperfect support there is currently with no clear plan of replacement beyond the vague promise that somehow an economy that has not favored them so far will somehow benefit them is wisdom itself is frankly an insult to the sacrificial nature of the cross and the sacrificial nature of Christian life. Yet, liberalism focuses on the necessity of willingness while conveniently forgetting that even Christ asked for another option if it was possible.

    I stand by what I said. The ultimate example of “tough leadership” and wisdom was giving up one’s life. No greater love is there than this, right? Or does cutting social programs and corporate taxes trump it? If my interpretations of the Bible are “foolish” then I am not surprised. Is it not the epitome of “Enlightened” Liberalism to scorn the wisdom of the ancients? So when I have simply reproduced what the Fathers have written much more eloquently and am called foolish by a liberal, it stands to reason that the scorn is more directed at the pernicious truth found in long dead men who happened to have known more than us. Such a proposition, according to liberals, is as intolerable as the Intolerable Acts.

    It is my experience from Liberalism, having been one for most of my life, that a liberals detests anyone knowing something more than him, especially if that person is dead and had long veneration. Indeed, the only way for Liberalism to function is to decry as false the wisdom of the ancients while re-branding it like Coca-Cola with their new, ergonomic bottle that actually contains less soda for a higher price. What have we to praise Liberalism for besides the defamation of religion and the devaluing of human life, especially in the womb?

    In typical red liberal style, you will deny such things but are you not here advocating a separation of church and state? Indeed, I think it is a much more dangerous and greater separation than the pitiful squabbles over prayer in schools and saying Merry Christmas. If Charity, as you say, cannot be exercised by a government directed by “We the People,” then you are effectively cutting God out of the most important function of human life. If, as Aristotle says, man is a political animal, then you are denying that the very essence of God himself has no place in the defining principle of man’s existence as an animal. Metaphysically speaking, you are demanding man be virtuous–or at least complaining when he is not–when the very principle of virtue is denied him through false equivocation and arbitrary limitation. You have, in fact, declared that Charity has no place in governance. If that is so, who can judge rightly? If that is so, then what can government EVER be if not tyranny? Either good governance is possible without God and you are now an atheist OR no government can ever be good and you are now an anarchist.

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    1. @Stephen

      It is late, a long day. So I will be brief.

      By Randian I assume you mean Ayn Rand. I suppose I am suppose to be insulted, but I think she was a thoughtful person who made important contributions. In the sense that neither Rand or I believe the government has any business redistributing the wealth I suppose I share her views. Otherwise, your caricature of my views is sort of silly.

      This is verse two from the palm above.

      How long will you judge unjustly
      And show partiality to the wicked?

      Whenever the Bible mentions the poor and justice, the verses are usually related to judicial favoritism at the expense of the poor. When the Bible speaks of charity, on the other hand, it speaks of individual giving or of God’s generosity.

      You want to cite some passages that back your interpretations, go ahead, but Psalm 82 doesn’t.

      I will try to put together a post on justice this weekend. Social justice, however, is not justice. So I won’t be speaking of it.

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      1. Rand’s contributions to society were nothing more than the continuation of the Culture of Death by supposing that some people were somehow, due to their material prowess, more valuable than another. Indeed, if there is any modern philosophy that can be considered truly Anti-Christ, it is her’s. It denies the universal salvation of man, the universal dignity of man, and grants the materialistic arguments of Marxism which, in my opinion, is both stupid and self-destructive if you want capitalism to thrive without admitting an oligarchy in the market and proving the “American Dream” to be the pitiful fantasy of the rich to give hope to the poor.

        Rand’s arguments are, perhaps, more extreme than your own, but her utter contempt for those who do not produce are similar though not exact to your own criticisms of so-called welfare loafers. Her solution is, however, identical to yours: make them fend for themselves on whatever charity someone decides to give them and their own ingenuity. Regardless of the motive, the end result is the same and equally contrary to the sacrificial nature of the Gospel. Have you considered the fact that every Christian nation prior to the Enlightenment had some form of social safety net? It was, ironically, only after the emergence of the Liberalism you say has done some much good that the supports to the poor were abandoned or cut.

        But back to the Scriptures. “Withhold not tov from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine yad to do it.” Proverbs 3:27-28, OJB

        When you consider that the Good Samaritan gave the innkeeper two full days wages for the man he found at the side of the road, then you get a sense of the Charity Christ was talking about. The amount is largely irrelevant though I am sure you will fixate on money. It seems to be habit of liberalism to think in such material terms when the solution to so many of the ills they complain cannot be solved by a different or lower tax. Charity, despite your equivocation to monetary support, extends beyond the material. When I say that Charity must permeate government the same as it permeates all human beings, to limit it to simple money relations is surprisingly Marxist of you.

        When one considers that the Good Samaritan was an example to Christ’s Jewish contemporaries of what perfect Charity would look like, it is curious that liberals try to hyper-individualize the message as if it were not a universal calling. What is further astonishing is the apparent break in logic as I described before i.e. that a man is supposed to be Charitable in all things EXCEPT governance. The result, again, is always tyranny whether taxes are low or not.

        Now, in the verse of Psalm 82 that you cite here, we see the beginning of the admonishment and it is clear that it is not partiality of justice, but the neglect of the poor. The man the Samaritan helped was poor; he had just been robbed. The eminent men, those with the means and the station and the kinship to help him, passed over him. Their judgment was not for the poor but for themselves. Consider the wicked judge who was pestered by the poor woman until he relented. He was said to have refused justice to the poor widow. By neither fearing God or man, it is meant that he was unjust in his judgments and his treatment of the widow shows that he has ignored the poor before. Thus, the Psalmist makes clear what the Proverb outlines, namely that the cause of the poor is a good cause and it is to be taken up. After all, is it not the Lord’s cause? Does not God say he will sustain the widow and the orphan? By what method does he do so if not through each and EVERY person? The aforemention quote from Proverbs is supported by Basil the Great. “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.” Both the Scriptures and the Fathers testify that there is an obligation and a societal one. With the coming of Christ, the national instruction to care for the needs of the poor was, like all proscriptions of the law that did not pass away, became universal again. I say again because such an obligation existed when the first man began to want of the fruits of the earth that God, in the preternatural bliss of the garden, gave for all men to enjoy equally. The “gods” of Psalm 82 are those with the power to give justice to the poor and needy and to defend the rights, as it says in Proverbs 31:8-9, Micah 6:8, James 2:15-16, and countless others. Yet, the verse that strikes the keenest blow against liberalism and its central and most necessary principle of encouraging self interest is in 1 Corinthians 10:24.

        When the Bible speaks of Charity, it says, “God is Charity.” Thus, if one were to say that God were individual, then one would have to deny that God came to grant himself upon the whole human race and only each one singly. This is absurd as there are numerous passages detailing that God did come and grant his grace upon all mankind for their salvation. God, and therefore Charity, is not, as you say, individual. It cannot be if God came for the whole human race. So to individualize Charity is to individualize God. Such a notion is as heretical as it is absurd.

        In true liberal fashion, you take one popular conception of a term and apply it as some universally understood and accepted principle with regard to Social Justice. It was Social Justice that saw the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the Emancipation Proclamation, and others. I do not overlook that you had nothing to say about the definition of it, only the use of the word. I have to admit that I find the liberal propensity to be so nominalist in every argument exceedingly tiresome. The fact that I can give a definition which you cannot, as a Christian, object to, but labor at defaming the terminology however precise and accurate it may be. If I could count the number of arguments I have had with liberals concerning simply the words I used rather than the arguments I presented, I would think more of my memory than I do now. As such, the events have been so numerous and so identical so as to have blended each experience together.

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    2. BTW – It would help if you used plain language. I guess it doesn’t make an difference anyway, but I have no idea what a red liberal might be. Sounds like a movement in Latin America which would have nothing to do with me.

      Note also that your understanding of the separation of church and state is the same as the Democratic Party’s.

      What the Constitution prohibits is the Federal Government from establishing a religion or interfering with the free exercise of religion. So government has no business bossing around the church, and no particular church has no business bossing around the government. Nevertheless, it is perfectly appropriate for individual citizens to vote their beliefs, including those related to what they believe about God. And I see no reason why church leaders should not be allowed to advise their members.

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        1. It is to mean what you may call a “conservative,” inspired by Chesterton’s critique of them. Liberal, progressive, conservative, all are the same in modern American political discourses as the quote below will outline. The only “conservatives” who actually seem truly conservative these days are the folks over at Imaginative Conservative and a few other publication.

          “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

          The meaning is plain enough once you cut through the sardonic wit. Progressives go about making mistakes while Conservatives go about preventing anyone from the mistakes made by the previous generation of progressives by billing them as immemorial custom or what the founders wanted or whatever other imagery of false antiquity they can conjure.

          An excellent example of this was the progression of the GOP from berating Mitt Romney for not being pro-life enough to joyfully accepting Trump as the savior of the movement when his positions on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are unknown to this day, he is only nominally against abortion, showed support, at least through his daughter and other RNC speakers, for gay marriage, and favors torture. Compare the position of Romney, with limited abortions allowed that has become the GOP gold standard of being pro-life, with that of Bush 1.0 and 2.0. Both were wholly against abortion. Bush 2.0 was only 15 years ago and now the GOP has the same position the Democrats had 15 years ago while the Democrats now are moving towards abortion on demand. And thus, Chesterton’s criticism proves true in our very own age.

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      1. I have explained before that red liberal or red progressive describes the “conservatives” of modern liberalism. There is nothing conservative about them, only defending progressive policies that were popular 15 years ago.

        My understanding of the separation of Church and State are entirely different than what you suppose. No democrat would say that the state should be influenced at all by the Church. I, however, believe that, if the Church is doing its job of making good Christians, then the state would be a reflection of the virtues instilled by the Church. But you have said that the chief virtue, Charity, is not to be a function of the state. If that is the case, then you are saying that God has no place in our government since God and Charity are one in the same. In fact, this has made you worse than the democrats you despise as godless for you would deprive governance of the one virtue it needs the most and deny the creator a place in our most important civil assemblies…well, not entirely. You do not want there to be prayers. But what are vain repetitions if Charity is absent? Gongs and cymbals are all that are produced and even the greeting of Merry Christmas–which I hear will be required of every person to give to one another, or so the demagogues say–is nothing but a meaningless platitude.

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      2. @ Stephen….Thanks for the clarification, I had never heard that term before and it’s interesting to see where it stems from. I think you’re making a mistake however in defining “conservatism” by saying there is no difference between today’s Liberals and Conservatives. Many Republicans who describe themselves as such in reality do the word injustice, as their actions towards growing the State betray any notion towards empowering individuals over government influence, a staple of today’s American conservatism.

        Your comparison of Bush/Romney to Trump holds some truth but only in that the American voter is motivated by many things, the least of which has to do with being pro conservative. Trump was elected not with the help of conservatives, many of which (myself included) were/are fearful of him abusing government power and growing it further, but because of moderate Democrats and Independents.

        G.K. Chesterton was a brilliant man and strong Catholic and his pro distribution views are worth some study. I don’t think his statement on Liberals and Conservatives being essentially the same hold much merit by today’s definition though.

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        1. “I think you’re making a mistake however in defining “conservatism” by saying there is no difference between today’s Liberals and Conservatives.” There is no mistake. If two geometrists are debating how to find the circle on the side of an isosceles triangle, while both will make use of Pythagoras’ theorem, they will never arrive at the answer for the obvious reason that the foundations of the argumentation, while based on some truths like the existence of circles, triangles and the reliability of the theorem, are clearly wrong since there are no circles to be made on the sides of squares and the theorem does not make use of them. In the same way, Conservatives fight for what Liberals abandoned as unfashionable and Liberals fight for the inevitable consequences of liberal thinking.

          Consider the example of abortion. Conservatives believe it should be banned to protect the child’s freedom. Liberals believe it should be preserved to protect the woman’s freedom. In order to limit abortion, Conservatives grow the power of the state. In order to protect abortion, Liberals shrink the power of the state. The push and pull of legislation, regulation, and adjudication continues ad infinitum. If you look at history, modern conservatives have no connection to the conservatives of yore. Indeed, when Chesterton talks about taxation, he never talks about whether taxation per se is immoral. Liberals, however, have been debating that point since their ill-begotten conception in the arrogant mind of man. Indeed, the “size” of government is not so much the problem to the conservatives of yore but its ordering.

          As for Chesterton’s statement, it hold quite true still. Abortion is one example. Trade is another. You would think this was JFK all over again. My point was actually that the GOP voters as a whole gave up on issues they held firm on and became democrats 15 years ago. Why else would Democrats and Independents, who favor abortion, vote for Trump if he did not show signs that he was not a serious pro-life candidate? The compromises over the last 15 years have been too striking and yes, they come from those deemed the most “conservative.”

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        2. You keep trying to square the same circle with the same points. To pick one, abortion, you must know that there many conservatives who are against it but don’t feel it’s the government’s job to prohibit it. There are also more than a few who don’t have a problem with it.

          On the flip side, you say conservatives that DO want the government to step in are pro statism. This is illogical, like saying someone who believes murder should be outlawed can’t be for smaller government because of the police, jails and courts that will be required to enforce it.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. They they simply are not conservatives. They are merely liberals too drunk on their belief in some fictious autonomy to realize that, yes, sometimes man needs to be restrained and, yes, governments do that. If they accept that abortion is murder but have no inclination to have the government ban it as such, then they lack either the courage to abandon their diseased principle of governmental non-intervention at all costs or are just a few steps from their progressive brothers.

          My point is that they have conserved nothing, their positions change with the political winds, and therefore will always be at the coat tails of their progressive relations since that is where the popular vote is said to be. A conservative has principles that grow and evolve with the times and don’t undergo the various revolutions that conservatives have, such as Reagan or Gingrich or Bush or now Trump. For these liberal conservatives, first principles shift with the times and the demagogue that gets them into office. A true conservative believes there is an objective moral order that governs everything and should govern everything, from the global associations to the individual soul.

          I say they are pro-statism by their own definitions, not mine. I believe governments were set up to provide for the good of the community. A conservative believes in the false notion that it is meant to keep us in our respective corners like children placed in time out.

          I agree that it is illogical but liberalism has no qualms with entertaining two entirely contradictory principles as being entirely true at once and doing entirely contradictory things to accomplish them.

          A person who believes it is an intrusion of the state to regulate health care but then works to regulate a certain procedure so that it is not classified as such is exactly what I am describing and describes the conservative heroes like Cruz and the like, as well as those of the past 30 years.

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  6. Tom, I probably won’t be brief with my remarks, I have put forth Stephen’s assertions at times, they’re assertions that I’ve heard made by a great many of my Orthodox brothers in Christ. So from these thoughts put forth from Stephen, I gather that Stephen is either Orthodox or a Traditionalist Catholic. I also see that by clicking his name one is led to the American Solidarity Party.

    I, of course, am a Catholic, which makes me greatly sympathetic to Stephen’s message. An issue that I have with my Protestant brother’s in Christ is a beam that I use to have in my own eye. Those in favor of originalism of the Constitution, Enlightenment philosophers, and the natural law that speak have created idols out of the founding documents, the men that created them, and the supposed “rights” which out of the Enlightenment as promoted the ideology of self-idolization in the form of “Individualism.” Of course, one can make the argument that relativism was birthed from the Protestant Reformation, given a pedestal during the Enlightenment, and now has led to secular atheism of Western Civilization as it’s logical conclusion. No doubt, my friend you will certainly disagree, but the statement must be stated regardless.

    We could certainly look to Locke’s anti-Catholicism or Paine’s flirtation with Atheism or pantheism at best, but instead, let’s look at Rousseau for the moment. This “enlightened” philosopher I’ve heard said by academic to be the most influential critic of Christianity at the time, who promoted the misguided philosophy of individualism. Rousseau’s basic argument was one can have “spiritualism without religion,” and it’s argument that is constantly being put forth in our current times. However, a parish priest by the name of Nicholas Bergier, challenged Rousseau by writing a book named Deism Refuted by Itself. In the Book Bergier made clear that Enlightenment philosophers do not believe in a Biblical God but in an impersonal “nature”–hence pantheism. In the book, Fr. Bergier articulates that man cannot have just a private relationship with God outside of Government or the community in which they live because of God and later’s Christ’s covenant with mankind.

    In the 13th century, prior to the Enlightenment, St. Thomas Aquinas challenges proto-enlightenment philosophers thoughts by arguably originating the concepts “natural law theory.” The problem with Enlightenment philosophers is that they look at government, natural law, and justice as a negative principle. We cannot take away from our neighbors right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness without paying the penalty of the law. However, Christ exclaimed not a negative principle of justice, but a positive one, “love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” In this regard, according to Aquinas, Justice and the law–must be fully connected with Charity.

    The issue with Enlightenment philosophy is that it is a philosophy of individualism, which can promote self-idolization as it seeks only to not hurt our neighbor, but fails to help them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Or, as I was told, “compulsory charity is not charity.” Jesus said we should take care of the unfortunate because it’s the right thing to do. No where did He say “give your money to the government and let them figure it out.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let government figure it out. Well, that is what we are doing, and the results have been what we should have a expected.

      One of my favorite jokes goes like this.
      Question: What’s a camel?
      Answer: A horse designed by a committee.

      The camel makes far more sense than what that committee we call government has done for the unfortunate.

      Liked by 1 person

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