ARE YOU A CHEERFUL TAXPAYER?

taxes.pngAre you a cheerful taxpayer? I am not, but I guess some people are. My last post, GOVERNMENT, LOVE, AND CHARITY, sparked a furious debate. Stephen is quite upset with my views, and Philip Augustine added his two cents. This comment from sort of surprised me.

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. (from here)

When someone disagrees with us, we all have a tendency to see that disagreement as a sign that the person who disagrees with us is somehow defective.  That, of course, should remind us that we are all sinners, that we need to focus on the issue, not the person.

What is the issue? Should government be in the wealth redistribution business? Various people say yes, and many, such as myself, say no. People of diverse religious persuasions are on both sides of the issue. Since I am a Christian, I, however, approach the ethical aspects of this issue from a Biblical perspective.  Unlike and , I see where the Bible charges us to be personally charitable, but I don’t see support for government charity.

tried to make the case. He cited various scriptures (here), but I think his vision tends to be selective.  Consider that he cited Proverbs 3:27-28, OJB, but he only quotes the first of the two verses. Here are both verses in a more readable translation.

Proverbs 3:27-28 English Standard Version (ESV)

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to do it.

28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

None of verses cited are anything except calls for personal charity or impartial judgement by judges.  Yet insists government must be charitable in our name. In fact, instead of saying God is love, says “God is charity”. Since charity and love do not mean the same things in our day, that’s flawed.  That is why modern translations say God is love.

Here is a verse that cited that I think we need to consider further.

1 Corinthians 10:24 English Standard Version (ESV)

24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

What is good for our neighbor? Should we try to run our neighbor’s life for him, because we know what is good for him? Isn’t that the objective of the welfare state? Are you willing, supposedly for the sake of your neighbor, to let politicians run your life? Count the cost first.

1 Samuel 8 tells the story of how Israel saddled itself with a king. Through the prophet Samuel, God told them it was an awful idea. So God had Samuel appoint a couple of kings for them. First, to show them the difference between seeing a man as he appears and seeing a man’s heart, God had Samuel anoint Saul and then David as king. Still, even with David, Israel suffered.  Every man is subject to the temptations of great power. David was. Even Solomon, the wisest of men, gave into many temptations. Perhaps the worst is that he led his people to worship vile idols.

Because of our history, we don’t truly know what it means to concentrate power in government. So let’s consider what most sermons on the most popular story about Solomon’s wisdom fail to mention.

Read the passage below. Imagine that you are the one the king has ordered to divide that child in two with a sword.

1 Kings 3:16-28 New King James Version (NKJV)

Solomon’s Wise Judgment

16 Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17 And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18 Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21 And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”

22 Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.”

And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.”

Thus they spoke before the king.

23 And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” 24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”

26 Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!”

But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.

27 So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”

28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

Was Solomon wise? Yes, but his trick to reveal which woman was the true mother worked only because those two women believed that the man Solomon had ordered to divide the child with a sword would obey the order.

Consider what Solomon advised with respect to obeying the king.

Ecclesiastes 8:2-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Obedience to the King

Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.

Of course, if we are wise we avoid putting ourselves in a situation where we might be ordered to cut a baby in half. Yet those called to serve a king often have little choice in the matter.

Does the Bible say we should obey the king no matter what he orders? No. As Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, we must obey God’s commands above all. Sometime we must even become martyrs.

Consider how the power of government is expanding in our day.  Because of the welfare state, government provides for our health, education and welfare. Government decides who is treated, and who is not. Government decides what we learn. Government decides how much we earn. Because of government power, many unchristian notions that would have been immediately rejected just decades ago have become acceptable.

Imagine again. Once people accepted the idea that just because the king said so, a man had to cut a baby in half.  Is that the choice you would leave your children. What if a decade from now the law requires your child, a doctor or nurse, to participate in an abortion?

insanitybytes22 has a post that speaks about the nature of God’s justice, Riding Puking Bulls at the Alamo. Because we need the justice God has provided for us so much, ‘s post is well worth reading. It is worth considering. Is man capable of justice of that sort?

When a man has great power, when a man is a king, we hope the justice he provides will look like God’s justice. Yet no man is God. No man save Jesus ever saw what is in the heart of another. Hence, even King Solomon had to engage in trickery, trickery that left some poor fellow relieved he would not have to carry the memory of a baby he had cut in half with him for the rest of his days.

Because we are not God, we have different levels of justice. God works His perfect justice full of grace and mercy; He saves our souls. Our government, when we choose able rulers, works imperfect justice. Government maintains order by providing plain, ordinary justice. As individuals we do not provide justice in any legal sense. The best we can do is show our love for each other with grace and mercy. Even at the cost us our lives, the best we can do is just try to do what our Lord would have us do. Hence, when a king tells us to cut a baby in half, we must refuse.

44 thoughts on “ARE YOU A CHEERFUL TAXPAYER?

  1. Lol! Well said, Tom. I am not a cheerful tax payer at all, but contrast that to charity. I want to give, giving is such a privilege. Lord, supply my need so I might have the opportunity to give even more. Our whole life revolves around finding ways to give, time, money, resources. Taxes, uh, not so much. Totally different mindset.

    I tend to believe that taxes and gov charity came into existence because we as Christians dropped the ball on charity. Nancy Pelosi really drove that home the other day when she said something about how if we repeal healthcare, you’re going to have grandma living in your home! I thought, poor grandma, she’s so unwanted, but isn’t that what lurks behind much of our gov charity? We don’t want to get our own hands dirty, so let’s get someone else’s money and the gov to handle our obligations.

    Heaven forbid I ever agree with Pelosi, but her words really revealed a hardness of heart that has contributed to the mess we are in. Pelosi, with her great wealth, scaring us all with tales about having to look after our own grandmas. Sheesh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heaven forbid IB that you start agreeing with Nancy Pelosi, I may have to stop following your blog, lol!

      You bring up good point about hardened hearts leaving it up to the government to provide charity. I believe this is a serious problem, but I concur that a major contributor to this is the government crowding out private charity in the first place.

      Over the years (especially the last 8) there has been a consistent and growing effort by the government to take the place of the church in providing for the poor. Some think this is a good thing, I think it encourages individuals to absolve their responsibility of caring for others.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. ” I believe this is a serious problem, but I concur that a major contributor to this is the government crowding out private charity in the first place.” And yet the “reformation” of the programs and agencies are almost always slashing the grants private charities receive to do charitable work. So in cutting these programs, a much wider rent is made in the over all social web in both public and private sectors.

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        1. @ Stephen….I was speaking more to the enormous growth of programs like welfare, food assistance disability and the myriad of agencies beneath them that have gone way beyond their initial intent of helping the poor, to becoming an entrenched part of their daily lives, enabling dependency for them and the generations that follow.

          The partnership of government to religious charities is another topic all together, one ripe for a separate post. I’m not reflexively opposed to this quasi public/private arrangement, but serious considerations have to be made on whether this warps the central purpose of said charities from spreading the gospel and transforming lives, in to a grant seeking entities whose acceptance of such funds comes with many federal restrictions that directly oppose their religious mission.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Both of your considerations I agree with and yet offering the solution that such programs must be integrated with private efforts and recognize the transcendental nature of man apparently makes me a totalitarian socialist.

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      2. @Tricia

        Some think this is a good thing, I think it encourages individuals to absolve their responsibility of caring for others.

        It is actually easier to find Bible passages that actually underscore your observation than it is to find any Bible passage that can be twisted to support government-run charity.

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    2. You are absolutely right. By refusing to acknowledge or simply ignoring the transcendental nature of man, they commit grave social injustices. If we are to affect true social justice, man as he is must be made the center of the endeavors or else his dignity will be violated and ignored.

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    3. @insanitybytes22

      Great comment!

      Instead of arguing on the merits of what they want to do, the big government advocates constantly call the small government advocates selfish. They heap piles of guilt on us. However, as your observations indicate, there is an excellent argument for the case that the reverse is true. Thank you for so ably pointing that out.

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    1. The widow who payed her pennies to the temple was not said to have complained. Is it not written that all things must be done joyfully, even suffering?

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      1. Stephen,

        The widow donating her meager wealth at the Temple isn’t the same as being obliged by the Empire to pay taxes or else.

        I don’t understand way leftist can’t see the difference between charity and extortion.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. On the contrary, it is precisely the same. Wrongly calling it a “donation” only serves to undermine your argument and show the political bias you are applying to the Scripture.

          The temple tax was a levy placed by God on the Israelites in the desert. If it is lawful for the Divine Lawgiver to levy a tax, how is it unlawful for man to do the same? Apart from specific punishments to the wicked, no proscription God gives the Israelites can be construed as anything other than the Natural Law. The Natural Law, unsullied by the atheism of Liberalism, has taxation.

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        2. @Stephen

          You are comparing an obligation levied by God, charity that is surely for our own good, to a tax levied by mere men. Moreover, you are ignoring the fact that the widow paid the tax to the temple without any arm twisting.

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        3. Are you saying, then, that prohibitions against livestock that are wont to gore should be left out of the civil law books simply because God made the same proscriptions?

          Should the widow fail to pay the Temple tax, Exodus 30:12 states that the tax is a ransom for the lives of the Israelites. Were she not to pay it, the punishment would likely have been severe, hence why the Jews sought to find whether Jesus paid the tax. Not paying the tax meant that you had not paid for your atonement and therefore, as it is written, the evil that you are is to be purged from the assembly. Whatever meager support the widow received would likely have been cut off, the pious people seeing that she was sinful and unclean. So, total social stigmatization when your main source of support is a zealous religious community is not any sort of arm twisting?

          I am saying that no law that God gave the Israelites can be said to be unlawful. Christ was clearly not opposed to taxation. Some proscriptions were fulfilled by Christ, some were given to them out of the hardness of their hearts, and some were purely cultural norms without the light of full Divine Revelation. To say that the civil power has no right to levy taxes for the good of the community either says that God legislates laws we’re are not meant to imitate–which is absurd–or that God legislated a bad law–which is also absurd.

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        4. @Stephen

          Interesting. You are reading the widow’s motives more clearly than did Jesus. That’s sarcasm, BTW.

          I will just let folks judge for themselves.

          Mark 12:41-44New King James Version (NKJV)
          The Widow’s Two Mites

          41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites,which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

          Nobody’s has opposed taxation. The only thing anyone has opposed is redistribution of the wealth, which is an abuse of the power of taxation.

          Does our Lord expect Christians to be charitable to the needy and to support the mission of His church? Yes. Does He expect us to pay taxes? Yes. Does He expect us to pay taxes so that our government can redistribute our wealth. I don’t think so.

          In this comment (=> https://citizentom.com/2017/01/05/are-you-a-cheerful-taxpayer/#comment-71886) I challenged you to explain where you (or the American Solidarity Party) would find the wisdom to make Socialism work any better than the Democratic Party has made it work. So far, all the Democrats have accomplished is to promote moral decadence. You, on the other hand, have suggested your party will bring the average man and woman a wisdom that exceeds that of King Solomon. If I seem skeptical, it because God, not you or me, decides who will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

          Recall that Judas Iscariot served as one of Jesus’ disciples for several years, and Judas had the job of keeping the money box (John 12:6). Jesus knew the character of Judas, but Judas’ fellow disciples did not.

          Even if we had the wisdom to judge each other appropriately, we still would not know each others hearts. Hence, we still would not have access to the information we need to keep characters like Judas out of our government. Therefore, it is an extremely bad idea to make our government responsible for redistributing the wealth. It makes the same officials responsible for protecting our property rights responsible for taking some of our property and giving it to someone else. That is a huge conflict of interest, and it is obvious that government officials are already using their power to redistribute the wealth to buy votes.

          Of course, you claim to have this problem solved. So what is your solution?

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        5. On the contrary, the widow paying two leptons for the temple tax demanding half a shekel is significant for the reasons I stated and makes Christ adulation of the deed even more striking. A lepton or mite as the KJV adds with all the arrogance of Anglo-Saxon prose, is not at all the equivalent of a half shekel. Technically, she has not paid the tax. This woman, were she alive today, would be roughly equivalent to the people on welfare, paying little in tx due to the earned income tax credit and other relief. She is what Rand scorns as a widow would have no produce to give to society but would be a “drain” on her relations. Her offering is meaningless to all around her.

          Except Christ of course. She knows she cannot pay the full tax BUT she pays what she can and the Lord blesses her for it. The widow is an example of a cheerful taxpayer.

          I know you offered that challenge. I ignored it because, yet again, you have lashed out with the binary beliefs of liberalism that anyone who deviates from your political orthodoxy must be “the enemy.” We don’t have a plan for making socialism work because we don’t believe in socialism. I have treated with that issue multiple times and I am sorry that another long and detailed exposition of the errors of socialism and its true solution will likely do no more good than the three or more others I have done already.

          “You, on the other hand, have suggested your party will bring the average man and woman a wisdom that exceeds that of King Solomon.” I never said such a thing. I now truly do wonder whether you actually read anything I write.

          “If I seem skeptical, it because God, not you or me, decides who will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.” Nothing could be more obvious. That is not the issue. The issue is whether the proscriptions incumbent on mankind due to the establishment of the New Covenant extend beyond the living rooms and meeting halls of cowardly Christians who prefer to keep Charity under the bushel basket of Liberalism.

          Now, I have talked at considerable length about the the plan of decentralization and integration of private and public assistance programs. My colleagues have also talked at length about it. Distributist Review offers numerous articles about how a return to Western Civilization and a rejection of Liberalism would be brought about and what it would look like.

          But all of those considerations are, as I and my colleagues have said at length, are secondary to the central problem presented by Liberalism i.e. a denial or ignorance of man’s transcendental nature and his dignity thereof.

          Liked by 2 people

        6. @Stephen

          Given the way the story of the Widow’s Offering is told, we cannot be absolutely certain whether she gave a free-willed offering or a “tax”. Receptacles were available for both. You can read commentaries to your heart’s content. => http://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/12-41.htm

          I just think it silly to believe Jesus would have made the same observation about a tax. I also doubt that rich men would have paid a tax more generously than necessary.

          You say you did not say we could all be wiser than Solomon? Well, here is what you said.

          And yet, are we not better off than Solomon? Solomon was granted one boon; we are granted God Himself. Indeed, it must be said that a man who follows Christ will be as wise if not more wise than Solomon, carrying upon him the mark of the crucified. In fact, we are actually BETTER suited to render God’s justice than Solomon, for Solomon could only judge in wisdom according to the law whereas we see things more fully than even Solomon did. (from => https://citizentom.com/2017/01/05/are-you-a-cheerful-taxpayer/#comment-71875)

          My problem with your welfare proposals is that they differ little from the mess we currently have. What you propose is different in form but not substance. What you want is government-run, and the problem with government-run health, education, and welfare systems is that they allow politicians to bribe voters with other people’s money. Have you pointed to anything that solves that problem? No. Instead, we are suppose to delve into your website and discover all the glories of the American Solidarity Party.

          If you cannot explain clearly what the American Solidarity Party is about (and you have certainly written enough to do so), it ain’t worth that much trouble.

          Frankly, American Solidarity Party seems to be a fringe movement that has little chance of growing. Since the folks who glory in the welfare state will vote for the biggest spenders, they are going to vote Democrat, not for the American Solidarity Party.

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        7. “And neither does God.” Oh? Is it not written, “Vengeance is mine; I shall repay?”

          If we dispense with the error that taxation is somehow an objective moral evil–based solely on the sentiment that people should enjoy all the benefits of a government with none of the cost–then we actually find that providing according to one’s means the material support of the community has its roots in the earliest human societies and serves as one of the foundations of specifically Christian societies. In Medieval times, taxation was a matter of relationships. Peasant and lord had equal need of the other and, unless you are a Marxist, you have to admit that a system that admits the co-dependency of mankind–denying such a thing, as liberals are wont to do, is in direct contradiction with Genesis whereat God specifically creates Adam with the necessity of Eve, thereby establishing a co-dependent society among humans–is more in line with Natural Law than one that supposes wrongly that each individual man is somehow sufficient on his own and can affect happiness in his life without the intervention or aid of another. In this way, liberalism denies the very basic fabric of humanity and human society.

          Liked by 1 person

        8. You have a lot of ad hominum, but no substantive arguments. I know it is the recourse of liberals to, when their knowledge of a topic falls short, to hurl opinions such as this without anything other than their revulsion of things like logic to back it up. You will find I am quite unmoved by your rather ill-mannered and poor assessment of my exegesis. Instead, I find your reply quite humorous if solely for the almost certain knowledge that you will walk away thinking you said something rather profound and intelligent.

          How’s this for the bard? “The measure of mercy is not strained.” I know you would like the be the Shylock of everyday life, but there is more to life than ducats.

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        9. Stephen,

          My claim that your comments are pure gibberish is clearly not ad hominin.

          As clear is that your understanding logic as nonexistent as your understanding of the Bible.

          I do not understand the atheist compulsion to lie about the Bible.

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  2. What is a more troubling conundrum to judge?

    To order a baby to be cut in half to solve a troubling issue brought about by another’s personal conduct.

    Or

    To abort a baby to solve a troubling issue brought about by two peoples personal conduct?
    Or

    To cheerfully pay taxes to abort a baby brought about by other people’s personal conduct?

    Unfortunately, none of these choices can be satisfactory cut in half, or other segments, to solve the conundrum in whole.

    Once a baby is conceived, it is the baby who becomes the victim rather than the perpetrator’s of foolish conduct.

    Taxes will not solve the conundrum or be the wisest solution to solve problems that occur because of issues of personal conduct, in my opinion. Taxes in this instance only serve to perpetuate folly of issues of personal conduct.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Upset? You give yourself too much credit.

    This seems to be an argument on Biblical exegesis which isn’t really going in your favor. You claim the verses I cited don’t refer to this or that, but you make no argument for your interpretation. You just say it. That is all well and good for a liberal philosopher making up metaphysics, but if you aren’t going to offer any more commentary than “you are wrong and I am right because I said so” then I am afraid the discussion has broken down. I have given numerous, lengthy arguments employing formal logic, grammatical exposition, and the testimony of the Fathers.

    Case in point was your quibble over the interchanging of the word love. Since my employment of such an change is consistent with the teaching of the Fathers, I find myself on solid ground. But for further proof, I offer the following. John uses the word agape in the verse I cited, which is the same as the one he has Christ using in John 15:9 when he tells the Apostles to abide in his love.

    Now, χάρις is often translated as grace or the favor of God. Compare it to the Angelic Salutation in Luke where Gabriel utter the hapex legomenon κεχαριτωμένη, often rendered “full of grace” or “highly favored one.”

    The Fathers do not make a distinction between the agape or love of God and his favor. Indeed, their testimony is almost universal in that one who has the love of God had his favor and his love and favor are God Himself, the two things never being separated from him. It is by this that Paul is able to say, “Not I but Christ through me” for by exhibiting and abiding in the love Christ, Paul shows that he has the favor of God.

    Augustine actually says more eloquently, as he often does, what I have been saying on this passage from John’s epistle. “Once for all, then, a short precept is given you: Love, and do what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct, through love correct; whether you spare, through love do you spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.” Homily 7 on the First Epistle of John

    The current social programs fail because they are lacking in Charity, Love, agape, or what have you. It is my belief, and the belief of the ASP, that any social justice project that does not accept as a FOUNDATION the transcendental nature of man and acts according to the love due to human dignity, they will always fall much shorter than the intention. Similarly, schemes to remove current supports for nothing more than firm disbelief in man’s transcendent nature through the exaltation of individualism and self-interest will equally fail. Neither are justice and neither are social.

    Hence, your allusion to a welfare state is misapplied since a welfare state seeks man’s dependency, which cannot be his good. You allude that we should not presume to tell someone what is good for them and yet I am certain you support laws banning suicide and abortion and even gay marriage. Why you are content with telling others what is good in some cases and not others is just a product of liberalism and the inherent hypocrisy in it.

    The story of Solomon was not a cautionary tale of how governments go bad. It actually misses the point if you think that. Solomon instead follows the letter of the law: where there are two claimants to property and it cannot be rightly decided who owns it in full, it shall be divided between them. The woman who was not the mother of the child treated the child as property to be won is suit; the mother treated it as her own child. In this, we see the love of God reflected in the love of a mother to her child and it was that love that Solomon sought for it is the same love that granted him wisdom.

    And yet, are we not better off than Solomon? Solomon was granted one boon; we are granted God Himself. Indeed, it must be said that a man who follows Christ will be as wise if not more wise than Solomon, carrying upon him the mark of the crucified. In fact, we are actually BETTER suited to render God’s justice than Solomon, for Solomon could only judge in wisdom according to the law whereas we see things more fully than even Solomon did.

    You say that God works his justice but you do not say how. Seeing as there is a distinct lack of manna on the starving people of the world, it would seem God has done very little justice unless there is some sin these people have committed, but I have never been one to accept the fallacy that some are doomed to suffer here. If there is a lack in the world, as St. Basil says, it is not because God does not grace the earth, it is because to whom it is given have squandered or currently waste it. No person who reads Genesis and finds that God intended that all men enjoy in equally satisfying measure the fruits of the earth can look at the current distribution of material goods and find it to be good if only for the sole reason that it deviates from the Divine Creator’s expressed design. I find it comical that you will decry gay marriage as a deviation from God’s plan but seem to think poverty and want are exactly what he intended.

    Now, if a man is a Christian, paying taxes is a pitiful thing to groan about. If losing material possessions distresses you so greatly, then I wonder sincerely at your desire for immaterial ones. For if I could order the world, I would cause all to have the most basic necessities of life–food, clothing, shelter, health care, fellowship, proper burial, education, counsel, correction, patience, forgiveness, consolation–and content myself to the same life. For what person could really be dissatisfied with a life that contains such things? Only the most self-interested, greedy, and envious of people i.e. liberals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Stephen

      The current social programs fail because they are lacking in Charity, Love, agape, or what have you. It is my belief, and the belief of the ASP, that any social justice project that does not accept as a FOUNDATION the transcendental nature of man and acts according to the love due to human dignity, they will always fall much shorter than the intention. Similarly, schemes to remove current supports for nothing more than firm disbelief in man’s transcendent nature through the exaltation of individualism and self-interest will equally fail. Neither are justice and neither are social.

      For the most part I agree with your assessment. Where do we differ? You say we have an advantage over King Solomon, that we can be more wise. Yet our advantage still falls short of the advantage Adam and Eve once held. Still they failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

      Love — agape — must exist within us before we can be charitable. You can tax people all you want and give their money to other people, but that will not make politicians love the people who elected them. It will not make social workers love their clients. We simply have no way to force people to love God as they should, and it seems God would not have it otherwise. We each must choose to love Him.

      When people as private citizens start charities, with their examples they inspire others. That’s because what they do is voluntary. That is why Jesus gave us an example (John 13:1-17).

      You speak of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a source of wisdom, and that it is. Yet only God can infuse someone with the Holy Spirit, and before that happens the one receiving the Holy Spirit must choose to be born again. Before anyone will obey Jesus, they must choose to love Him (John 14:19-24). If you had any way to cause everyone to do that, we would not be debating this. Health, education, and welfare programs would obviously be unnecessary.

      Consider again that story about Solomon, two harlots, and a baby. Can you detect love? Do you know which politicians truly love the People? Do you know which social workers will love their clients? Can you do what Solomon could not do? No, of course you cannot. You can proclaim what should be, insist what should be should be, and rave against those who refuse to believe you have the wisdom to remake the world.

      Now, if a man is a Christian, paying taxes is a pitiful thing to groan about. If losing material possessions distresses you so greatly, then I wonder sincerely at your desire for immaterial ones. For if I could order the world, I would cause all to have the most basic necessities of life–food, clothing, shelter, health care, fellowship, proper burial, education, counsel, correction, patience, forgiveness, consolation–and content myself to the same life. For what person could really be dissatisfied with a life that contains such things? Only the most self-interested, greedy, and envious of people i.e. liberals.

      So you say, but if you could order the world as you wish, you would merely number among the innumerable tyrants who have gone before you.

      Only Jesus has the wisdom to remake the world as it was meant to be. That’s why we await His Second Coming. Meanwhile, if we love Him, we will strive to obey His commands and follow His example as best we can. His charity came from the heart. He even inspired the hearts of tax collectors.

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      1. “Yet our advantage still falls short of the advantage Adam and Eve once held.” Again, that cannot be true unless you count the preternatural grace man had in the beginning to be greater than the supernatural grace he attains through Christ. While our first parents walked with God, we have God dwell in our very being. I cannot believe that anyone would count Adam and Eve superior except in their first perfection, the preternatural graces. Yet, when all is said and done, I would rather have the supernatural grace of the God-Man than the preternatural graces of the first men.

        You are missing my point. I am accepting as a common notion that charity exists in a person. That person must, according to the demands of Christ therefore, order all his actions, including his political ones, towards charity. In short, if the government is the consent of the governed, and the governed are ruled by charity, then the actions of the government would also be so ruled and affect charity in its own actions. That is, if you actually believe in government of the people. If you do not believe that the government is the instrument of the people’s will, then of course your argument would have some sense. But since you do believe, as I do, that the government is the instrument of the governed, you cannot in good conscience deny that a people ruled by charity would necessarily cause the rule of law be ordered in such a way. Neither can you in good conscience say that such a thing is a bad thing. We may not be Christ, but that does not stop us from imitating him according to our own lives and customs.

        A government is characterized by causing men to do what they ought either through the fear of punishment or reverence for the law and society. Government is the godly answer to the reply of Cain “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The short answer is yes, we are. If a government establishes through law what men ought do, is it not the object of the government to uphold virtue and punish vice? If Charity is a virtue and indeed the chief virtue, how is the government to uphold it? You claim it has no business doing so. If that were so, then the government has no business upholding any virtue, right, or privileged. It is then to be the instrument of the strong to direct their appetites on the weak. Our present circumstances are ample evidence for that.

        By your same argument, the man born again would also be disinclined to murder. Shall we legislate that murder, suicide, abortion, and other moral evils be only applied to those who are born again? This is the perniciousness of liberalism.

        You ask if I have the wisdom to find persons of quality for key positions. The Lord has, after all, already given us this wisdom, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” If I am so blind as to not see what the Lord has plainly laid out, I would be a poor Christian, wouldn’t I.

        What is so tyrannical about it? It is less than what Christ demands as I do not demand worship. It is written that every knee shall bend to him. Is he, then, a tyrant? According to liberalism, he is. He is the very epitome of a tyrant to the liberal, a man who desires to order his life according to his own will. I confess readily and happily that it is not in my power nor will ever be in my power to order the world such. But one is coming who will and even the liberals will bend then, that stiff necked people, and their delusions of graduate put to shame. Then will all have food, clothing, shelter, health care, fellowship, proper burial, education, counsel, correction, patience, forgiveness, consolation and then there will be justice. Not the justice of liberalism, according to whatever new moral principle they claim is now ancient. True justice, after all, is as ancient as God Himself and it was demonstrated one Friday when the sky turned black and creation shook at the sight of the Lord of All pouring out himself for the salvation of the whole world.

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        1. @Stephen

          When we are born again, that is the beginning, not the end of our transformation into children of God.

          Philippians 1:3-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

          Thankfulness and Prayer

          3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

          9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

          The Apostle Paul did not run around forcing people to become Christians. He did promise anyone instant wisdom. He told them God loves them, that with His sacrifice Jesus had saved them. He told them that with His resurrection Christ Jesus had proven He was God in the flesh. Hence Paul told those he discipled to be thankful and pray, not to conquer their neighbors for God.

          Hence, even though you may be born again and saved for all I know, I see few signs you possess a wisdom greater than that of King Solomon. Instead, I perceive an absence of self-restraint. Consider.

          What is so tyrannical about it? It is less than what Christ demands as I do not demand worship. It is written that every knee shall bend to him. Is he, then, a tyrant? According to liberalism, he is. He is the very epitome of a tyrant to the liberal, a man who desires to order his life according to his own will.

          Neither you nor I are God. We belong to Him, Jesus who is God, not each other.

          When Cain sarcastically asked God if he was Abel’s keeper, he tried to hide his sin in sarcasm. A keeper is a warden, a jailer, a custodian, or a guardian. Abel needed none of those, but we all need to care about and love our brothers and sisters. Cain’s sin was that he hated his brother, not that he refused to be his brother’s keeper.

          Do we need our government to be our keeper, an instrument whereby we impose Christian virtues on the unwilling? No. Not even Jesus will attempt that. He will only rule those who love Him enough to obey Him. Otherwise, He will protect those who love Him from those who do not by consigning those who will not love to a Hell of their own making.

          Meanwhile, until Jesus comes again, we should seek the freedom to spread His Gospel. What you seek instead is something contrary to liberty. You would use the force of government to make people imitate Christ Jesus, something Jesus gave us no authority to do in His name.

          What is the primary difference between liberty and tyranny? In a free state, government officials can only do what the law permits them to do, and citizens can do anything the law does not prohibit. In a tyrannical state, government officials can do anything the law does not prohibit them from doing, and citizens can only do what the law permits them to do.

          To force Christian virtues upon the unwilling, you will require a tyrannical state, an evil greater than anything we could justify.

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  4. Silenceofmind,

    Seeing as you base it on nothing but your own ire with my arguments that you have not addressed in any substantial way, it is an ad hominum.

    Also, seeing as I have employed the most basic Aristotelian logic in my arguments so as to ease your comprehension of them, that is also an ad hominum.

    Your final charge of my being an atheist is so incredibly ridiculous, I can only assume you have arrived at the typical liberal phase of hurling nonsensical insults while thinking yourself the wisest in the land.

    From what I know of Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Anglican exegesis, your pithy comments on the Scripture departs from nearly every traditional exposition on the subject. I can find nothing in Spurgeon, Newman and the Oxford Movement, the Church Fathers, or any other writer to support your interpretation beside the agnostic, deist, or even atheist treatises on Scripture. By all accounts, your exegesis is derived from atheists, so to call me one is not only untrue, but immensely hypocritical. If I have lied, testify to the lie; don’t reveal your ignorance on the subject.

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  5. Tom,

    “Neither you nor I are God.” Seeing as I admitted that point, I sincerely wonder whether we are having the same discussion. It seems you are arguing with someone else entirely.

    The response of Cain is the response of the Lockean or the Hobbesian. Indeed a jovial reading of the passage reveals that Cain was the first liberal in that he exhibits the self-interest and self-satisfied individualism that not even his parents dared to reach for. When confronted with their sin, Adam and Eve tried shifting blame; they didn’t try to hide what they had done under the guise of some lack of concern for their fellow man, let alone his own brother. Cain merely acts in his own self-interest; how can a liberal fault him for it?

    Yet, the object of the early liberals was some secular unity of the human race. Indeed, have you not advocated that smaller government i.e. less “intrusion” into the personal affairs of individuals will bring greater harmony in civil society than any other course of action? Have you not advocated that man can figure things out on his own? Well, Cain is the natural result of such thinking. Indeed, all the stories of Genesis prior to the Mosaic Law are the destiny of liberalism. Men doing as they please, doing what they think is best, and only restrained by the thinnest bonds of ever shifting law and morals. Yet, what you have consistently ignored and failed to address is the simple fact that, if things were your way, the manifold wickedness that would envelope human society would be astronomical. If each man does what he thinks is right, then Cain should be exulted as the model of liberal thinking as he acted according to his own orthodoxy and, after all, is not every man orthodox unto himself? That is one of the doctrines of the liberal religion, is it not? Would that Cain were alive today. His fratricide would be praised as the greatest act of human freedom. You will say this is ridiculous, but not if Abel had been in the womb.

    The spirit of Cain pervades liberalism as its soul and impetus. His reply is not sarcasm; it is an accusation? He is turning around on God the duty God had to protect Abel. If God favored Abel so much, why was Cain able to kill him? In short, he is doubting the power of God, a thing quite natural to liberals. How often I am regaled with how this system or that program or these people or that person will help/destroy/save/etc this or that thing. Liberalism, like Cain, does not take Divine Providence into account except in rare cases, and more often when it wants to justify genocide or some other radical action.

    I am not alone in my assessment of Cain. St. Ambrose, eminent scholar of the Scriptures as he is, has this to say in his book On Cain and Abel.

    “Consider the parricide’s reply: ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Although this reply savors of insolence, there is still the implication that, considering the goodness of his brother, Cain should by his actions make known his loyalty to him. Who is there to whom he is more bound by necessity to offer protection? But how could that person who did not recognize the influence of family bonds have been expected to observe what is expedient in relations of brotherly love? Or how was it possible for him to comply with the laws of nature when he did not show reverence even to God? The existence of God is denied, as if He were unaware of Cain’s act. Cain shirks his duty to be his brother’s keeper, as if this were beyond the bounds of nature’s laws. He steers away from judgment, as if he were above judgment. Why do you feel astonishment at the fact that he did not acknowledge his loyalty to his brother, if he did not even recognize his own Creator? From these incidents in Scripture we learn the lesson that faith is the root of all virtues. Wherefore the Apostle says: ‘Our foundation is Christ’ and whatever you build on this foundation is uniquely profitable and conducive to reward for virtuous acts.”

    You questioned my wisdom. I honestly wonder at it since the wisdom is not my own; I am not that arrogant. What I have said is merely the product of what other people have said, a sort of “democracy of the dead” as Chesterton says. If you want to contend with the Church Fathers, men of more eminent and detailed scholarship to the Sacred Scriptures than you or I, then I sincerely wish you the best of luck tilting at those windmills.

    “Do we need our government to be our keeper, an instrument whereby we impose Christian virtues on the unwilling?” Then why do you oppose abortion if not for Christian virtue and a concept of the natural law based on the same? I know that liberalism tends one to be contradictory, but this is probably the most striking example I have seen.

    “No. Not even Jesus will attempt that.” So not every knee shall bend and not every voice shall proclaim him Lord? He shall not set up his kingdom and THEN judge the nations? Unless I have seriously lost my wits or Sts. Paul and John lied, I would have thought the Scriptures were quite clear on the point that the establishment of the kingdom and the 1000 year reign were to come before the judgement of the wicked; I cannot suppose that a liberal such as yourself could be wrong, could you? Also, God DOES impose his laws on all men because it is written that all men shall be judged according to his deeds. But then, since you are a liberal, then I and the plain words of Jesus Christ must be mistaken.

    “What you seek instead is something contrary to liberty.” This sentence makes clear that you have not paid attention to a word I have said. Indeed, you are arguing someone else entirely. I wish it was not the habit of liberals to only argue against one type of person and argue against anyone who disagrees with them by making the same argument over and over again even when it has not the slightest bearing on the actual position of the person in question. I will make myself VERY clear: If Christians are Christ-like, and the government is made up of Christians, then the laws and virtues upheld by the law should be Christ-like. If they are not, if some separation is created by Christians such that their government actions do not conform to the general principles of the Divine Law, then they are not Christian. In other words, if Christians believe there is some sort of human instrument that cannot be influenced by Christian virtue, then they, like Cain, have denied the efficacy of God.

    “In a free state, government officials can only do what the law permits them to do, and citizens can do anything the law does not prohibit.” Like slaughter the unborn by the thousands? You must have rejoiced that Gov. McAuliffe decided he would veto the 20 week ban for “commercial” reasons. Who cares how many lives are sacrificed to Moloch and Mammon so long as the law allows them and it helps Capitalism, right? Only in the tyranny of liberalism, where men are shackled to their brutish desires like Cain, could anyone call such a state free. Furthermore, you have placed the laws of men above the laws of God and the laws of Nature. The law allows the murder of innocent children; is it a good law? Well, it must be since it is the law, right? Do you not see the error in this liberal thinking? Manifold evils happen BECAUSE of the law. Laws devised by liberals according to their notion that man can decide what is good for himself. That is not law at all. That is lawlessness because law, proper law is derived from the Lawgiver and no law that is contrary to his may be properly called law. Unless, of course, you are liberal and whatever God says can be overlooked so long as your taxes are low, defense spending is up, and there are fewer Hispanics in your neighborhood, right?

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  6. What a wonderful discussion!

    Tom, you and Steven are delving at the source of divergence on Christian philosophy that began with Cartesian philosophy and continues today. Put all too simply, up until that fateful split from the early fathers of the church, Christian metaphysics would say that God proves reason, and then, in their hubris the philosophical founders of the rift decided instead that reason alone could somehow prove God. The logical result of this new worshiping at the golden calf of an idolized reason has branched philosophy out along two liberal currents: the barren rationalist liberalism of Locke, Kant and modern day mostly Protestant Christian apologists and the atheistitic liberalism of Hume, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre and the modern humanists.

    Steven, you are being so eloquent here in presenting a wonderful case for a return to the basic Christian virtues first propounded by the early church fathers, by Aristotle and by Aquinas – a metaphysical philosophy which utilizes reason as a tool, but puts God and God’s law of love, rather than just reason, at its fundamental source. Tom and others would be wise to actually listen to the excellent argument that you are making here on the trap of modern liberalism that they risk falling into by inconsistently divorcing God from government on some things but not in others. Steven would be wise to listen to Tom’s essential argument that Christian determinism is just as inherently flawed as Marxist determinism or Fascist determinism when it comes to unwilling application of simplistic, dogmatic rules onto all the changing unique and multifarious dilemmas of law and governing. Religious tyranny can be just as totalitarian and harmful to the internal individual battle toward virtue if it lacks empathy, love and tolerance. However, as Steven points out, Tom, could be more consistent in applying his tolerance argument to all aspects of governing, rather than just the ones that don’t fit his rigid ideology.

    I am awed at the grasp of scripture that both of you are showing here and at how well you are both making your arguments (when you actually do address each other’s arguments). Please continue this, and I will just go back to lurking and learning from the discourse between you two scholars.

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    1. As I have said before, my arguments are not mine but I am grateful for the compliment.

      As for the admonishment against Christian determinism, I confess I had to look it up and found the description to be inadequate to what I am saying. Rejecting Hume’s idea that you can’t get an ought from an is, I plainly say that the necessary consequence of a popular government such as ours ie one ruled by the consent of the governed would, were it ruled by a majority of Christians, would order its acts and constitution towards Christian principles. If such a thing is not done, it is the defect of the Christianity of the persons, not of the alleged incompatibility of Christianity and democracy or government in general. In other words, for the Christian, all human action is to be ordered according to the Gospel and since the highest secular human action is politics, then the Christian must work to have politics imbibed with the Gospel. How that would be brought about practically is another subject.

      It is the consistent testimony of the Scriptures and the Fathers that all actions on earth, every historical event, is guided by the hand of Divine Providence. Far from taking a Calvinistic and therefore Marxist approach that every historical event was preordained in an irrevocably way such that human freedom is either none existence or subject to the wheel of history, I merely accept what had always been accepted, namely that all human life was directed towards one thing and one end: God. Deviance from this end is, of course, not life, not freedom, not anything. It is the stark horror of death that we were meant to be liberated from. There is an ed to all things and, ultimately in the Thomistic sense, it is God.

      So why deny it?

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      1. Stephen,

        What I mean by Christian deteriminism is the concept that one can divine from the gospels and from all of scripture some rational formula that, as Karl Marx believed his formula for communism would do, inexorably must lead us individually and as a society toward some rational social or divinely natural inevitability, Aside from the fact that there are too many varibles, unknowns and dilemmas without perfect answers to rely on such a formula for every situation, we simply do not know ourselves well enough as individuals and as humans interacting socially to even always recognize when we are acting out of God’s natural will or just for the sake of our own egos. Perhaps the worst sort of egoism is when pretend to corner the market on knowedge of God’s own plan and then we hold it up over us as our own golden trophy just to bash anyone who disagrees with us over the head with it. I am often guilty of such egoism, but I know in my heart that a true surrender to that spark of the infinite and universal in all our souls should be a thing of reverence, humility and joy more than it is one of prideful disdain at all those sinners who have not seen the exclusive light that I have.

        In the most transcendental sense, we are all made in God’s image. We therefore cannot help but be unhappy as we strain away from His infinity. We sense in ourselves what C.S. Lewis called “an eternal objective order”, and each soul seeks that infinity In ourselves like a moth to an eternal flame. However, the ambiguous and multifarious nature of human impulse toward sin is such that we are constantly deceiving ourselves into thinking something wrong is right, and vice versa. Our selfish compulsions and our sacred compulsions often conflict and both spring up unknown from a vast sea mostly beneath where we are most conscious about ourselves and this ambiguity about our own motives defies perfect deterministic rational formulaic ordering. It is hubris to think that we even know ourselves well enough to always divine our own will in every situation. It seems to me that it must be an infinitely even greater hubris to think we that we can somehow perfectly divine God’s will like it is some sort of exegesis homework project or a complex puzzle to be perfectly deciphered from secret codes encrypted in scripture. God’s will cannot just be something to be conjured from a magic spell book or the rendering some long abstract scientific formula. To try to live God’s will is an epic struggle to imperfectly balance vice against virtue.

        When I read about holy people and saints like Augustus who ultimately have given themselves over to God, it doesn’t seemed to me that their conversion and resulting wisdom was based upon rationalizing God’s will into a deterministic formula or a set of dogmatic rules. Instead, my understanding is that the saint’s effort toward salvation was an ongoing and imperfect battle with conscience, more like the of an athlete attaining more perfect strength through dogged hard exercise than that of the rationalist scholar formalizing a testable scientific theory. These saints did not so much give themselves over to a rational set of rules as they each sacrificed their own selfish egos for one universal rule, namely God’s rule to love and to act out of love. It seems to me that their sacrificial motivation in this regard counts far more than their knowledge and reason, and in fact, in the case of St. Augustine, he admitted that his extensive intellect may just have made it more difficult – smart people can always rationalize their way out of the worst sort of sins and hatred, and even call them sacred. Just before his death, Aquinas may have had just such an epiphany when he said: “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”

        Finally, even the saints who are accepted as having sacrificed their own will most completely to God’s law of unselfish love still made plenty of dumb mistakes. They still got things terribly wrong on occasion. Only Jesus serves as exemplar of a perfect love sacrifice. The rest of us must start from His example of humility and it seems to me that that humility should begin with the the admission that we don’t know and will never know all the answers to every tough and complex social question, that even our best imperfect solutions must first start with some introspection about our own impulses and whether those solutions are more motivated by our own desire to show that we self righteously have studied the scriptural rules and know better than everyone else what everyone else should and should not do in every complex dilemma. Or instead, whether we are just doing the best we can for each other in an ambiguous and imperfect world out of love more than ego. If we are acting out of love, why on earth would we ideologically exclude institutional government from imperfect materialistic solutions to problems of human suffering and human need, but we don’t exclude the imperfect materialistic market institutions or charitable institutions or corporate institutions?

        In this way Stephen, what you have said that sings true in my heart at least is that government can in many cases be used by Christians (or for that matter by moral, loving and virtuous people of any religious persuasion) as an imperfect tool, but often the best and only tool, out of love to provide the public goods that ease suffering and advance the transcendent dignity of our fellow citizens. The questions we should ask ourselves when looking for governmental solutions are (1) Are we approaching the problem with the humility that we don’t always know God’s will in every complex situation (our even our own motivations) as well as we self righteously may think we do, and (2) Is our motivation as individuals and as a society of Christians to sacrifice each our own individual ego for the sake of God and for the sake of each other? If we are doing both, don’t you think we may look quite differently upon any imperfect governmental solutions to complex and conflicting human situations, situations such as whether and when it is always right to criminalize a woman’s choice to abort a potential human from her own body or whether it is unnaturally against God’s will to have homosexual sex, or even to have heterosexual sex while using birth control? Do you think that the wise person is the one who seems to know everything, or is wisdom rather in the one who recognizes his own battle with hidden invidious selfish motivations and who recognizes his own limitations of perfect understanding God’s Infinite’s plan? If you recognize the latter as wisdom then wouldn’t such wisdom also cause us to show reluctance to legally condemn and coerce and also to be willing to find the most compromising and incremental approach? The key is what is our motivation for providing governmental goods, and if it is love first, last and foremost, the only question is whether government is the best imperfect institution or whether some other approach might be more efficient.

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      2. @Stephen

        Here is the post I promised. => https://citizentom.com/2017/01/15/what-is-the-point-of-limited-and-secular-government/

        In other words, for the Christian, all human action is to be ordered according to the Gospel and since the highest secular human action is politics, then the Christian must work to have politics imbibed with the Gospel. How that would be brought about practically is another subject.

        Another subject? Seriously?

        There is a point when we must admit that we need Christ Jesus. We don’t have the capacity to perfect ourselves, and we will not be perfect until He chooses to make it so.

        Are you perfect Stephen? To what idol are you susceptible? Power? How much power would it take to corrupt you?

        Satan tempted Jesus, and Jesus passed that test, but none of us could do so.

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        1. Yes. Another subject. I assumed you knew the difference between theoretical and practical discussions. The theoretical discussion establishes the basis for the practical. For example, the discussion as to whether a person ought to be put to death precedes the discussion on how it is to be carried out.

          “There is a point when we must admit that we need Christ Jesus.” I agree and if you had given more attention to my comments, you would have seen where I am essentially arguing that we need his principles more than liberalism allows, specifically how you have expressed liberalism. Again, if a Christian is a Christian, then there is no barrier anywhere. Far from establishing a religion, if he does not seek to establish the basics of Christian principles concerning virtue in the popular government to which he belongs, then he is not acting as a Christian should.

          “Power? How much power would it take to corrupt you?” What fantastic judgments you create to put down disagreements! First, it would take a lot of political spin to construe what I have said as some greedy power grab. Second, it is hilarious considering my own temperament. I find it rather comical actually that you will extol individualism and self-determination while at the same time telling everyone that they are sinners and will always do the wrong thing. Don’t you think that the latter statement would render the former insane? Why would you give a criminal the liberty to commit crimes? If we are all as sinful as you say, then NO ONE should have liberty!

          Satan did tempt Jesus, but the Cross would be for nothing if I, by his grace, could not do the same.

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  7. Tom –

    Notwithstanding 1st Amendment principles that government should not establish a particular religion, why shouldn’t our politics reflect our universal moral values?

    At it’s heart, turning one’s life over to God is turning one’s life over to love. As undeserving as we all are of such mercy, it is accepting God’s gift of love and then giving our love back to God in grateful return. Such giving of one’s life over to God has also always meant compassionately sharing that merciful and compassionate love with each other, even with our enemies.

    Although Christ is our example, the virtues that come from these core principles seem to be universal throughout time and culture, from the pagan Greek philosophers to St. Augustine to most of today’s secular humanists. As you yourself have said, the universality of these virtues in the hearts of all people of all times in all places stands as some proof that God planted those laws there in all human hearts. As Christians we practice a religion that demands that we alleviate suffering and treat each other, especially the stranger and the least among us, with a transcendental dignity that honors the spark of God and God’s mercy and love that is there in every soul. However, despite Jesus’ perfect love sacrifice being the foundation of our everyday practice of virtue and justice (including our political practice), because the same universal concepts of virtue and justice can and do derive from more or less perfect religious and philosophical sources, our government can remain secularly neutral without also necessary being completely irreligious and amoral.

    The fatal inconsistency in your argument that Stephen has pointed out repeatedly is that you think that government should follow these universal Christian values of justice and virtue in some areas (for example, in criminalizing abortion), but you expect government to be ammoral in others (for example, in preventing private discrimination and in ensuring a “fairer” distribution of the wealth of production, especially to the poor).

    Government is perhaps one of the most impactful ways that we institutionally implement our commonly held concepts of virtue and justice. The world shrinking practicalities of modernity has made the institutional import of government increasingly more important. The issue is why should not a Christian act to glorify God by loving as God commanded in every aspect of community, including government. While recognizing that there are practical concerns about human vices that will never make any human institutional invention, neither a church nor a state, perfect and will always make any institution subject to corruption, shouldn’t the structure and powers that a free and democratic people give to our institutions of government also reflect our universal Christian values and virtues in every way possible? Shouldn’t Christians wish every human institutional invention, whether it be the church or the corporation or the local city government, work to reflect our commonly held values as much as is practical? Even though we may have different foundations for our religious and philosophical beliefs, why would a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, or even a Aethist secular humanist object to a government empowered by us all to help people in suffering and need, that provides common goods and services, and that must treat every citizen with dignity? Tolerance requires us not to legal force our foundational Christian reasons for believing in virtue and justice on nonbelievers, but tolerance doesn’t mean that we can’t enforce such commonly and consually held American values and virtues on anyone who wants to be an American and live in an American community under an American form of government. (And let us set the constitutional powers question aside for at least a minute to deal with the underlying issue because, even if we were to concede that the federal government did not have the power to help the poor and deal with fairer wealth distribution, the Constitution certainly does not forbid the states that power as long as it is done in compliance with the 14th Amendment).

    From what I have read about the history of Christian activists in this country from the great abolitionists to MLK to Dorothy Day, it seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon that government should be amoral and positively Darwinian when it comes to economic justice and yet Calvinist to an unmerciful extreme when it comes to judging individual vice. Stephen’s argument seems more consistent with actual Christian theology all the way back to St. Augustus and St. Thomas Aquinas.

    You two are the scriptural scholars, but it is hard for me to understand why, if St. Paul had been allowed to set up his own government, he would not have set up one that showed as much mercy as practically possible for human vice and as much compassion and sharing as possible of material goods. And as Stephen has pointed out, this kind of government sounds more like the one scripture predicts that Jesus will someday more perfectly create. Even given the impossibility of such perfection before then, why would we not try to model our government as much as humanly possible along that divine direction and model?

    Your hyperbolic answer that somehow everything that government does is “stealing” is an old refrain. I’m sorry, but I humbly fail to see how it is responsive to the basic issue, but I’m not as bright as you so maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps, if you can more rationally elaborate why this stealing is true about government in some areas rather than others instead of just saying this statement over and over again, then perhaps my simple mind will finally get past the apparent fallacy of it. Until then, respectfully brother, I think Stephen’s just got the better argument here.

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Musings Of An Imaginary Billionaire

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Way Online

Christian Insight Through God's Word

Conservative Government

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Night Wind

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Reclaim Our Republic

Knowledge Is Power

John Branyan

something funny is occurring

In Saner Thought

"It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error"..Thomas Paine

Christians in Motion

Christians in Motion

SGM

Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God. – Rick Warren

Communio

"Behold, I have come to do your will, O God." Heb. 10:7

All Along the Watchtower

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34

The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Bull Elephant

Conservative and libertarian news, analysis, and entertainment

Always On Watch: Semper Vigilans

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Family Foundation Blog - The Family Foundation

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Cry and Howl

Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off. I Kings 20:11

Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Professor Of Communication

praythroughhistory

Heal the past. Free the present. Bless the future.

Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Deliberate Joy

Lillie-Put

The place where you can find out what Lillie thinks

He Hath Said

is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort; let it dwell in you richly, as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life

partneringwitheagles

WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT...

PUMABydesign001's Blog

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” Ronald Reagan.

nebraskaenergyobserver

The view from the Anglosphere

Freedom Through Empowerment

Taking ownership of your life brings power to make needed changes. True freedom begins with reliance on God to guide this process and provide what you need.

bluebird of bitterness

The opinions expressed are those of the author. You go get your own opinions.

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Life: the time God gives you to determine how you spend eternity

altruistico

People Healing People

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Silence of Mind

Where God Speaks and Creation Listens

My Daily Musing

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample our enemies. Psalms 109:13

atimetoshare.me

My Walk, His Way - daily inspiration

Nickel Boy Graphics

Comic Strips (Some Funny, Some Serious)

Rudy u Martinka

What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Kingdom Pastor

Living Freely In God's Kingdom

The Life Project

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

In My Father's House

"...that where I am you may be also." Jn.14:3

cookiecrumbstoliveby

Life through the eyes of "cookie"

The Lions Den

"Blending the colorful issues of life with the unapologetic truth of scripture." ColorStorm

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