Here we have what various artists imagined the meeting between Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate might have looked like. The pictures are from here.

In WHAT IS TRUTH, we considered the fact that Jesus Christ is the Truth. We ended that post with this observation.

So what is the Truth? Why do we need an answer? If we do not stand for anything, what won’t we do? Until we stand for something, will we not fall for anything? Won’t we will be like Pilate? Won’t we will do evil because we do not know and revere the Truth?

Why wouldn’t we want to know and revere the Truth? Consider this post, we live in both dark and light by Julie (aka Cookie). Consider this excerpt.

(prematurely fallen muscadine / Julie Cook / 2019)

See the picture above?

Look closely.

At first glance, you see some sort of greenish greyish orb perched in the middle,
amongst the debris of what must be some sort of woodsy ground.

However, upon further inspection, you will note that the right half of the green orb,
or rather a prematurely fallen muscadine, is the side with actual color,
as is the surrounding area.
The color of life and growth.

The left side appears to be rotting or rotten while the surrounding debris around the
muscadine is equally ashen and grey…as in decaying, rotting and dark.

It is a prime example of contrasting imagery between light and dark, life and death…
With the poor muscadine being caught in the middle.

And if the truth be told, that muscadine, my friends, is more representational of both you
and I then either of us can even begin to imagine.

Light vs dark…
life vs death…
While we are constantly suspended between the two.

It’s as if each one vies for our very being.
The endless struggle for mankind.

That struggle is much more active and much more real than most of us care to admit,
let alone contemplate…as the forces of both light and dark, life and death, continuously
wage battle over our very existence.

Metaphors, yes…yet also very much a reality.

What is the Light? God. What is the dark? The absence of God.

What keeps us from God? Pride.  Instead of The Truth, we want our own truth. When we turn from God, we rot.

How do we obtain our own Truth. We turn parts of Creation into idols, things like knowledge of science, the pleasure of sex, the stuff we own, the power of the state, and the capabilities of our self. We corrupt these things in order to force our own Truth upon others.

In What to Do While You Wait, Necessary and Proper has some suggestions, things we can do while we wait for the return of political sanity. He begins with the suggestion that we learn.

1.  Learn. You are 1 out of about 109 billion homo sapiens that have ever lived on Earth.  What are the chances that you know something better than all of them?  If you think the chances are pretty high because most of them are dead, did you know that about 7% of all people who have ever lived are alive today?  Don’t just sit down in the middle of the road of life.  Read.  Watch.  Listen.  Connect the dots.  Put things in context.  Then, privately or publicly, write about what you learn – it cements it more firmly in your mind.

Will there be a return to political sanity? Who knows? Was there ever a time of political sanity? All I know is that discovering The Truth requires study. God rewards effort, sloth not so much. God also rewards humility.

James 4:4-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

When we humble ourselves before God, when we strive to see ourselves as He sees us, when we obey His command to love our neighbors, then we start trying to learn The Truth instead of making our own truth. We learn that if want to change the world, we have to begin with our self. To change ourselves, we must let the grace of God change us.

62 thoughts on “WHAT IS TRUTH? A SEQUEL

  1. I like this question you posed: — “So what is the Truth?”

    You also stated — “What is the Light? God. What is the dark? The absence of God.”

    What the Bible says:

    Psalm 139:12
    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

  2. IB,

    You beat me to it. What era shines as the bright spot of political sanity and reverence for truth?


    “Make America Great Again” (or Trump’s more recent “Keep America Great” … Again?) presumes some lost greatness to be recovered. When was that? What was “great” about it? Is it when we have American military and economic hegemony? (Now?). Was it some lost moment of homogenous cultural purity? Or was it when we were the most open and accepting of diversity?

    There was this one short moment when our elite, white, male leaders feared the loss of their privileged status as British citizens and wrote a manifesto of grievances premised on a polemic argument that certain mysterious truths had apparently only recently become “self evident”. If this was our moment of common sanity and greatness, then it evaporated before the ink dried because we immediately started fighting over what those supposedly self evident truths were and who they applied to.

    Tom, if you are going to claim to be on the island of political sanity (with Dear Leader Trump as your defender of integrity and voracity?) but surrounded by our national insane asylum, then I’m curious – when was this Utopia of perfect rationalism?

    1. @tsalmon

      Did you read my reply to IB?

      I have not claimed any knowledge except some appreciation of my ignorance. Because I am not qualified to run other people’s lives, I am reluctant to vote for politicians who want to make everyone’s choices for them. Just strikes me as absurdly unnecessary and arrogant.

      Yet here you are accusing me of what exactly?

      1. “I have not claimed any knowledge except some appreciation of my ignorance. Because I am not qualified to run other people’s lives, I am reluctant to vote for politicians who want to make everyone’s choices for them. Just strikes me as absurdly unnecessary and arrogant.”

        Yes, I know. You seem to have mentioned this at least once before, but your post implies a return to some former sanity. Trump’s campaign slogan and major reoccurring theme promises also a return to some lost greatness. Is this just demagoguery, and if not, can you explain when the leader of your Party thinks this greatness was and what made us greater then than we are now?

        1. @tsalmon

          America is certainly being better run by Donald Trump than it was by Barack Obama. Trump made promises he could keep, should keep, and has been trying to keep. So I am happy with my MAGA hat.

          Still, I wonder if you read my reply to IB. Did you read the last verse of the Book of Judges? IB would have understood it, but the meaning of the verse is not obvious. So here it is.

          Judges 21:25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
          25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

          Our king should be God. When we do what seems right in our own eyes, we are easily lead astray. Like sheep we stupidly wander. So we need a Good Shepherd.

          Is love the solution? No. Think about 1 Corinthians 13. Read it.

          Is love enough? No. When we are in Heaven, we will be in God’s presence. Because He will be undeniable, we won’t need to hope in Him or to have faith in Him. We will just need to love Him and obey Him.

          But now we are here. So in addition to love, we need to have hope and faith. To know His will — what is right in His eyes — we also need to study His Word.

          1. So basically you are saying that MAGA is a conceit, a lie, and that you know it is a lie, and yet you promote the false propaganda anyway because you the Bible told you so, and I am supposed to trust that you are a great Biblical scholar? Sure….

          2. @tsalmon

            I think lots people believe America’s values were superior fifty years ago. There were changes during the 60’s, for example, that many point to with regret. The Civil Rights Movement was generally positive, but the Sexual Revolution was a disaster.

            However, I did not give Trump’s opinion. I gave mine, and I pointed you to that last verse in the Book of Judges. Since Adam and Eve sinned mankind, you and me and everyone else, has for the most part done what seems right in our own eyes.

            Sometimes men have remembered to obey God. Sometimes in desperation men have turned to Him, and I think that happened at the founding of this nation. I think Trump has something more recent in mind, but slogans are never precise.

            You want to call all slogans lies? Why don’t you start with “change we can believe in”?

          3. Also, I’m a little confused as to what promises Trump has kept.

            Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare with something more universal, cheaper and better than ever. It would be easy! But Obamacare hasn’t been repealed, the operative exchange system is doing well in the states that embraced it, it’s protections are more popular than ever, and no Republican, including Trump, has ever proposed any grand replacement.

            Trump said he would drain the DC swamp, but instead he filled it with alligators.

            Trump’s signature promise was a great big beautiful Wall, which turned into a bit of fence here and there, and soon, as Pelosi quipped, it will be a beaded curtain. Even Republicans only give lip service to this wasteful monument to demagoguery, but they will never tax their donors (you know, the ones who financially benefit from the borders being just porous enough) to pay for it.

            Trump promised grand reform of the tax system. If reforming banking means legalizing bank robbery by the bankers, then I guess this was a grand reform.

            I could talk about Trump’s self vaunted foreign policy genius, but all I’ve seen is his legitimizing of the status quo. He has played his madman brinksmanship game of geopolitical negotiations enough times to queer the ploy.

            But why would you believe Trump on anything, much less his promises? He lies and flip flops constantly. Last count, we were over 10,000 verifiable conceits, exaggerations, and whoppers. The attraction of this man is more cult like devotion than anything ration, and you want to claim the Bible tells you to follow him?

          4. @tsalmon

            I think you have your feelings confused with facts. Since I don’t have the time to disabuse of all the lies the mainstream media has told, I won’t try. I will just point out two things:
            1. I had a choice between Clinton and Trump. I chose Trump. I still cannot figure out what possessed you to vote for Clinton, but you know why I voted for Trump.
            2. Beginning with “intelligence” fabricated by the Clinton campaign, the Obama administration used the NSA, CIA, FBI, and foreign intelligence agencies, including Russians, to “investigate” the Trump campaign and later the Trump administration. Even Robert Mueller with 10’s of millions and plenty of investigators could not find anything to pin on Trump.

            So you can say all the nasty things you want about Trump, but it says more about you than it does him.

          5. “You want to call all slogans lies? Why don’t you start with ‘change we can believe in’?”

            If you think a belief in hope and change is a lie, then maybe you picked the wrong religion.

          6. The Russians won the election for Trump and yet you think that he was the the victim of OUR government? Talk about making up your own reality. I guess you also think that the parents were the perpetrators and guns were the actual victims at Sandy Hook. 🙄

          7. @tsalmon

            Rosenstein said the Russians did not affect the election. He is the fellow who appointed Mueller to conduct the investigation of Russian interference.

            What do you think the Russians did, anyway? Murdered a bunch of children at Sandy Hook?

          8. “1. I had a choice between Clinton and Trump. I chose Trump. I still cannot figure out what possessed you to vote for Clinton, but you know why I voted for Trump.”

            It does not sound like you actually know why you voted “for” anyone. What was your reason for voting “for” Trump other than that he was not Clinton?

            Was it because of his impressive business acumen at running casinos (veritable cash machines) into bankruptcy? Was it because you went to his failed Trump University where he defrauded his “students” out of their money? Or perhaps you fell under the spell of Trump’s libertine playboy image and thought “A man who cheats on all three of his wives; now there’s the guy that I want for president”? Or maybe it was his political record as a lifelong, pro-abortion Democrat that he conveniently flipped when he figured only Republicans would be gullible enough to take him seriously for running for dog catcher, much less President? Or maybe you thought it real presidential material to brag about sexually assaulting women? Or perhaps you just loved the way he gave the rest of the Republican field childish and demeaning nick names and made up false stories about them and their families? Perhaps it really was that Trump’s conspiracies about Obama’s birthplace made you think that a lying, racist conspiracy theorist, that’s just the man you wanted as leader of the free world? Or perhaps it was actually Melania experience as as a soft porn model that would really dignify her in the role of First Lady? Perhaps it was all these wonderful qualifications that made you vote “for” Trump?

            On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, was perhaps the best qualified candidate to run for President ever, but why would that matter?

          9. @tsalmon

            No defense of your choice, again. Just the usual BS. Clinton was sooooo smart she had to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders, a commie sympathezer, and she couldn’t beat Trump even with the mainstream news media campaigning for her.

            Read this post again. => https://citizentom.com/2016/08/07/why-i-support-donald-trump/. Then keep in mind that I am quite happy with my choice. Trump is not perfect, but he has courageously stood up to some very crooked people, and he has worked hard to keep his promises.

          10. I forgot how you must have been really impressed with how Cadet Bone Spur would be a great pick for Commander-in-Chief. 🙃

          11. “Rosenstein said the Russians did not affect the election.”

            This cannot be stated with absolute certainty either way, but instead only in terms of probability based upon statistical data, information and expertise.

            Trump lost the popular vote by more than three million votes. He won the electoral college by winning three states by a hair’s breadth, less than 80 thousand votes. Probably with the help of Republican proprietary polling information provided to them by Trump’s currently jailed, former Campaign Chairman, the Russian government targeted those three key states with social media propaganda that we know spread like wildfire. At Trump’s behest, the Russians also hacked Democratic email files, stole and illegally released emails that chilled the Democrats’ enthusiasm to go to the polls, especially Bernie Sander’s supporters. Given that Republicans had just spent the last several years trumping up nonsense charges about Clinton’s emails (doesn’t this tempest in a teapot seem charming now that we are exposed to the Trump administration’s daily scandals?) so that anything that had to do with the word “email” was damaging for Clinton and benefited Trump, even though Clinton was not directly involved.

            Given all this and more, I find it highly probable that the Russians elected Trump, and we already know that Trump and his campaign actively encouraged our foreign adversary in this effort. Trump is proud of this fact and has said he will do it again.

            Trump struts around on stage like Mussolini at his rallies (and uses the military services he avoided as a prop) encouraging a cult of personality that exempts him from scandal, basic decency and any semblance of Christian civility or humility, and yet you love him for it. He’s now your god Tom and you’ve somehow imagined all his sins are sacred or excusable as long as he trolls the libs with enough hatred. Whether he lies, cheats or steals and destroy every democratic institution is not as important to his followers as whether Trump beats the other tribe.

          12. @tsalmon

            What a bunch of BS! You do realize the Democrats never let the FBI touch their servers? We don’t know who hacked the DNC. We just know Democrats practice horrible computer security. You voted for a someone who had an unsecured computer with classified emails in her basement.

          13. “No defense of your choice, again.”


            You have this strange Utopian ideology about the role of government that does not comport with the reality of our current republic or anything else in history. Your sacralize what is just basically a political ideology with what seems to me to be a very Pharisaic scriptural interpretation. But then you burn up your whole moral argument when you sacrifice every common Christian concept of moral virtue at the altar of your dear leader in vice, Donald Trump.

            You don’t even try to dispute that Trump is a completely self serving liar and a cheat. You can’t. The facts constantly stare you in the face. So instead, you deflect to President Hillary Clinton, as if that nonevent is somehow relevant to your current predicament of claiming that your God sanctioned civic struggle is lead by one of the leading promoters of selfish vice.

            Imagine if Trump had run as a Democrat and had won. What kind of a moral field day would you be having at the Democrats’ expense for Trump’s crude pompousness, his pathological lying and his proud disregard for any moral compasses? And you’d be right.

            Ignoring a lifetime of actual experience in service to her country, you demonize a few Clinton’s minor mistakes while you serve a leader who prides himself on his immorality and happily promotes it to the innocent, yet you can’t even see how this undermines your supposed Christian Political Crusade. And you want to preach to me about truth? Come on! As Christians we stand for something so much bigger than this petty political nonsense. God is not a Democrat and He sure as Hell ain’t no Trump Republican. 🙄

          14. @tsalmon

            Do you understand the meaning of Utopia? Have you ever read the book?

            You don’t seem to, but perhaps you don’t understand the purpose of words. We are suppose to use words to communicate, to glorify our Lord, not to slander and libel each other. Yet slander and libel is what most of the news media does. Listen to a press conference. If the news media questions a Democrat, it is all soft balls. If the news media questions a Republican, he is a hostile witness. The facts don’t matter. That is especially true of Conservatives. If the witness is a Conservative, proving guilt is the job of the press.

            So do I want some kind of Utopia? No. I don’t expect government to perfect man. That is not government’s job. That is what God does for us. So I am not about to vote for some jerk who promises to transform America.

            Have I defended Trump? Seriously? Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to defend Trump from all the lies that the news media peddles. I investigated some of them, and I have proved to my satisfaction that some news organizations are just lying propagandists. That is something you need to figure out for yourself. I don’t have any interest in thinking for you. I have enough trouble doing my own.

            I will repeat a suggestion. I suggest you start with the obvious. If there was any collusion with the Russians, the Clinton campaign was guilty of it. It is not even hard to show that the Clintons accepted lots of money from rich Russians, which as a practical matter means they are friends of Putin.

          15. “What a bunch of BS! You do realize the Democrats never let the FBI touch their servers? We don’t know who hacked the DNC. We just know Democrats practice horrible computer security. You voted for a someone who had an unsecured computer with classified emails in her basement.”


            It’s not me. It’s Trump’s own intelligence chiefs, including his head of the FBI and his DNI that say that Russians hacked the Dems, worked with Wikileaks and interfered on Trump’s behalf on Social media. But I’m sure the altright Republican press has given you lots of crackpot conspiracy theories.😆

            As for Clinton, she regrets the server, but it was never hacked, nor was her doing so unusual. Ironically, Trump’s (the guy our closest allies are afraid to trust with secrets) son-in-law and daughter (who the FBI did not want to grant clearances to) have only recently done the same mixing of public and private emails. Trump talks on unsecured phones.

            At this point, a Trump supporter trying to criticize Hillary for lax security is the height of hypocrisy, don’t you think? And anyway, she’s not president.

          16. @tsalmon

            The Russians did not do anymore in the 2016 election than they have been doing for years.

            H. Clinton should be in jail, but I am sick of arguing about. You make unsupported assertions, and I am suppose dig up stuff to prove you don’t know what you are talking about? Nope!

            Here is something you should know about if you listen to something besides CNN and MSNBC. When Comey did not charge Clinton, he made why plain enough. She was a presidential candidate. Time has shown Clinton was Comey’s preferred presidential candidate.

          17. “Do you understand the meaning of Utopia? Have you ever read the book?”

            So you want to lecture an English major on the use of words. If you actually look up the definition of the word “utopia”, you will find that it has a more generic modern connotation. In fact, Alexander Hamilton specifically used the word utopia to describe the dream of a more ungoverned society of the type that you promote here.

            Rather than deal with the reality of common usage, you prefer to accept alternative facts that simply lack evidence, but suit the truth you wish were real. This kind of personal and subjective emotivism on the extremes of both sides kind of says it all these days. You rightfully criticize this “everyone gets their own truth” when the left does it but you ignore it when the altright has the opposite illusion. This unreal “Utopianism” on both sides drives the debates, but does not realistically match what moderates and independents find in the real world, a reality that actually precariously balances itself between the Utopia that both extremes sides claim is possible and the dystopia that they see happening if their sick dreams are not carried out.

          18. @tsalmon

            Here is the etymology => https://www.etymonline.com/word/utopia#etymonline_v_4583.

            The primary point of the word “Utopia” is that the place can’t exist. Can we idealize the past and want a return to something that never was? Of course, and that is the Utopia you keep accusing me of wanting. It is also why you keep trying to prove me guilty of deifying the Founders. Not guilty! Still, unless we strive for some sort of ideal, we never achieve what we could achieve. So I point to what the Founders were trying to accomplish.

            What the founders focused on was trying to fashion a government that would inhibit our tendency to violate each others rights.To accomplish their ends, they created a managerial monstrosity. Three – four independent levels of government. Checks and balances. An electoral college. And so forth. Their whole scheme depended upon what? A people moral enough that they actively sought to obey the law. Anywhere else in the world they would have been nuts to try such a thing, and they knew it.

            Where did the American People’s morality come from? Government? Nobody has ever succeeded in using government force to make a moral people, people who will strive to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Jesus, however, has persuaded untold numbers to love Him and obey His command to love their neighbors.

            That’s why I don’t believe in Socialism. Government, especially a secular government has no effective way to instill love of neighbor into people. Socialism is just a fraud that makes a dependent People.

            To rebuild the moral character of the American people, what do I want to see? I want parents given the opportunity — allowed to exercise the right — to choose who educates their children and how their children will be educated. Because parents love their children, parents will seek the best for them. Government officials won’t do that. That’s why we should have as little government interference as possible.

            Consider that we are easily tempted to use the government to impose our personal agendas. So if we want to be a free people, we must strive for as little government involvement in each others lives as possible. If it doesn’t help protect our Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness more than it jeopardizes those Rights, the government doesn’t need to do it.

            Is there a magic formula we should use determine how much government is needed? Yes. Read the Bible and pray. Ask God to help us decide when we are trying to replace the Rights He gave us with government-given rights.

          19. The reason why your scheme on government is utopian is because your underlying premise that government only exists to protect our God given rrights (which God apparently never defined for us, but which you presume to define for God) is a reductionist scheme just as utopian as other absolutist pipe dreams such as communism, fascism, utilitarianism and socialism. Like these other closed loop ideologies, pretty soon the exceptions overwhelm the simplistic rules to the point where the everyone can see the corruption in the system and no one believes the ideology anymore.

            No one is saying that morality equals government or that God equals government. These too would be reductionist statements. But it would be equally erroneous to say that government does not both affect and effect a community’s moral standards. Communities with various forms of government were using government to punish thieves and murderers to a more or less imperfect degree of morality even before we had monotheistic religion, much less the Bible. The centuries long writing of the Bible did not effectuate some perfect or separate-from-government religious moral consensus, much less did Scripture effectuate any perfect consensus on how government, through its laws and actions, normatively should or should not exert moral suasion.

            Certainly, no where in the Bible does it say anything about “God given rights” or that protecting these supposed rights is the sole purpose of government. This concept was an invention of the enlightenment philosophers (mainly Locke) and most of the Founders either would not have agreed with it or would have only given it idealistic lip service for its war propaganda value. The whole concept of God given rights (as opposed to God given responsibilities) would have been alien to the Apostles and the idea that the only purpose of government is to protect these supposed divine rights would have been ludicrous to the people who knew Jesus best.

            For example, we have no “God given right” to life in this material world that we can assert against others. We lost that privilege with the fall. We deserve death. In contrast, eternal life is an undeserved grace from God that mysteriously can’t be earned and it can’t be taken away by other mortals, but it can be lost by disrespecting the gift. Essentially the same is true of material liberty and material pursuits of happiness.

            God given liberty is spiritual free will, not our actual material freedom. God given happiness is the spiritual peace with which Jesus greeted and graced his faithful Apostles and potentially every faithful Christian. A slave can be graced by God with more spiritual freedom than a king. A slave can be graced by God with more spiritual happiness than the greatest philosopher. These spiritual gifts from God are not material worldly “rights”, even though enlightenment rationalists conflated these spiritual gifts with supposedly “inalienable” material rights:

            Government certainly can invent, define, protect or take away material rights, including our lives, and our Christian responsibilities give us good reason for our constantly inventing a more moral government that lives up to our God given responsibilities to afford as many rights as our God given responsibilities to love makes practical. However, any reading of a Gospel philosophy that pretends that government can create, protect or even deny God’s gift of eternal life, the God granted spiritual liberty of voluntary human free will or the pursuit of the ultimate joy (happiness) that is the peace Christ affords those who seek Him with humility, is simply confusing the eternal Kingdom of God with this fallen world’s kingdoms of men.

            A more perfect government in an imperfect world would do the least that it can do to discourage the efforts of its citizens to seek God given eternal life, the voluntary free will to choose God or the genuine joy we receive when pursue loving as Jesus commanded us to love. However, that would be only one of many imperfect expressions of effectuating our God given spiritual responsibilities through the material tool of government.

            Government may or may not be the more moral or more practical tool in any given situation within a changing world with endless possibilities, finite human understanding and endless dilemmas of often conflicting goods and evils. The best we can hope for in our own selves, as in how our government is our collective moral reflection, is a tenuous progress towards the morally better, but never some reductionist utopia of absolutes, such as you and ideologies at either end of the spectrum contrive as you sit in your sandboxes and pretend to play god.

          20. @tsalmon

            The Bible doesn’t say anything about God-given rights, but it tells us all about God-given responsibilities? And it gives government the power to force us to fulfill our God-given responsibilities by enforcing our government-given rights? You cannot see contradiction in that?

            We are material creatures with souls. When the Bible condemn murder, it condemns the destruction of man’s material body, not his soul. So stop spiritualizing the Bible so much you can make any sense of it.

            Also, stop trying to use the Bible to justify the social justice warrior ideology (see https://www.christianpost.com/voice/what-is-biblical-social-justice.html). The social justice warrior ideology is innately secular and stems from Marxism, not Christianity.

            The Bible has much to say about how we are suppose to treat each other. It both describes how we should help each other and avoid harming each other (see https://www.gotquestions.org/human-rights.html and https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/life-liberty-and-the-pursuit-of-happiness). We tend to speak of both aspects, both not harming and helping each other, as rights, but the Bible speaks of charity, acting in love, as voluntary. The Bible acknowledges the role of government only with respect to preventing us from harming each other.

            Here is a Catholic take on this subject => https://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=43639.

            Anyway, we have a choice. We can call upon our leaders to protect our God-given rights or we can trust our most wise and dear leaders to give us our “rights”, whatever our most wise and dear leaders think those rights may be. Since you think the folks who crafted our government were liars of the first order — that they did not believe our rights come from God (not even when they signed the Declaration of Independence at the risk of their lives) — you obvious support government-given rights, but I wonder what possesses you to believe our most wise and dear leaders can be trusted to give us any rights. History has shown repeated that men with unrestrained power shear and butcher those they rule like sheep.

            Consider. You sure don’t trust President Trump. Yet he now has the power to rule the way Obama ruled, and Obama wanted more power, and you were willing to give it to him.

          21. Tom,

            The Declaration of Independence served a different purpose than the Constitution. The Declaration acted as a polemic rational and list of grievances for asserting “independence” from England. It was not ratified by the states, nor was it drafted by all the same persons as the Constitution. The Constitution, by comparison, definesboth the structure and purpose of government. Both documents were written by white men, not God. Unlike the Declaration, in the Constitution, men specifically listed certain rights (God is not mentioned). Those original enumerated constitutional rights almost exclusively are rights to be asserted against the federal government, not a protection by which individuals assert government protection against their fellow citizens. After the Civil War our government (not God) added Amendments that drastically expanded rights, protections and the federal government’s dominance as right protector against the states’ infringement. However, it was all still just men, not God, defining rights and provided institutional protection of those rights by a government of men, mostly from their infringement by governments of men. The government cannot infringe upon your right to free speech at a private Trump rally, but Trump’s private security guards sure can. The government can’t grant you a right to eternal life, only God can give that.

            In summary, constitutional rights are man made and the Constitution makes no pretense of being written by God or of divine function. Scripture asserts no material rights from God, only spiritual gifts from God. If we love as God requires, then WE act in all ways, including government, to balance, define, arbitrate and enforce each other’s material rights, including life, liberty and property, but that is all only humans.

          22. @tsalmon

            The Declaration of Independence served a different purpose than the Constitution? Who would have guessed?

            You are quibbling. The Continental Congress approved the Declaration. That Congress represented the states. Ever heard of Benjamin Franklin? He was on the committee that drafted the Declaration, and he was at the Constitutional Convention.

            I could say more, but what is the point? You are just being stubborn, and you using love as excuse for it.

          23. “The Bible doesn’t say anything about God-given rights, but it tells us all about God-given responsibilities? And it gives government the power to force us to fulfill our God-given responsibilities by enforcing our government-given rights? You cannot see contradiction in that?”

            Life is full of contradictions, but essentially what you are asking is contradictory to the current constitutional system.

            For example, you assert a God given right to property, apparently some eternally God granted fiat to material stuff which you propose the only purpose of government is to divine and then protect against all others. However, you cannot present an example where such a right exists in practical reality where God comes down and defines the right, much less arbitrates and enforces any specific property right. At law, a government of men specifically defines, arbitrates and enforces a bundle of certain human specified rights and responsibilities to use and exclude others from use of various imperfect, dynamically changing and constantly expanding tangible and intangible types of property.

            Even if a God given right to property does exist, do you really want to give mere men the right to pretend to know which intellectual property rights (and responsibilities) should be sacralized and magically are to be made holy and eternally set in stone. It’s one thing to give government practical powers and to accept that these powers, like all man made creations, are imperfect, changing and subject to reform as our knowledge changes. It is quite another thing to say that government is in the business of enforcing something a religion pretends is immutable, perfect and divinely afforded. You claim to want limited government and yet you want sacralize human government with that supposed divinely granted authority? And you don’t see a contradiction in this?

            You want government to play God’s enforcer, and you claim that to know which rights are God given and which are not, but you can’t point to a single scriptural reference where Jesus told us we have such God given material rights to property, much less any other material right.

            Obama used his executive authority to do certain things. If he exceeded his human granted constitutional authority, then human made checks and balances imperfectly reigned him in. This imperfect system of human government mostly works better than it doesn’t. It is a human game with human rules that we either play more fairly or we don’t. That fairness can be judged and inspired by our God given responsibilities to more perfectly love one another or not, but either way it is imperfect people imperfectly carrying out what they imperfectly conceive as God’s eternal Will. However, don’t you see that investing a power mad, unabashedly selfish person like Trump with authority to inflict on us through government what some of us consider divine and some of don’t is insane?

          24. @tsalmon

            The Ten Commandments includes a prohibition against stealing, and I have to defend a God-given right to property? 😕😟😒

            When you insist the Declaration was just written for its propaganda value, doesn’t that put a bad taste in your mouth? Similarly, spouting this nonsense about the right to property should feel akin to vomiting. Surely your words have topped any of the BS for which you have condemned Trump.

            Even if we had no government, we would know 99 times out of a 100 when someone had robbed our neighbor. Yet because 1 time out of a 100 we might be a bit uncertain. So there is no natural right to property? You are a lawyer. You have to know that is BS.

            In order to honorably enforce the law and to exclude ignorance as an excuse for those looking for such excuses, we codify the law, but the knowledge of good and evil dates back to Adam and Eve.

            Even if a God given right to property does exist, do you really want to give mere men the right to pretend to know which intellectual property rights (and responsibilities) should be sacralized and magically are to be made holy and eternally set in stone.

            Since we cannot set anything eternally in stone, not even our own damnation, that is not worth worrying about. Even when we are born again, the only reason we can hope for salvation is that Jesus refuses to give up any of His flock.

            So consider. Which is worse? Electing representatives who are humbly trying to discern God’s will, or electing men who think they are gods, men who busily contrive to force us to obey their will?

          25. “You are quibbling. The Continental Congress approved the Declaration. That Congress represented the states. Ever heard of Benjamin Franklin? He was on the committee that drafted the Declaration, and he was at the Constitutional Convention.”

            over legal distinctions, particularly over what precedents are controlling, is how our system works. As to the issue of rights, the Constitution is controlling, and how the Constitution was drafted and adopted gives those legal grounds the controlling authority on which they stand. Arguably, the delegates at the Declaration’s drafting did not even have authority to declare independence, and the fact that many of the most influential drafters of the Declaration were not at the Constitutional Convention and vice versa gives powerful evidence of the intentions of those Framers and Founders, particularly as these those men in each case had profoundly different views as to their philosophies of government.

            As historically important as it was for its purpose at the time, the Declaration has far less authority on the issue of rights, including which rights are protected and where those rights come from. As I said, the Constitution enumerates certain rights and implies others, but it specifically and intentionally does not grant those mere human intentions any claim of divine authority beyond the four corners of those granted and implied Constitution, nor does the Constitution adopt the Declaration in any way as controlling over its interpretation.

            Your construing the Declaration in this way is like using a musket to plow your fields. Muskets are great for what they do but a plow is what you need.

          26. @tsalmon

            We have seen a long, absurd string of decisions from Obama appointed judge here of late. So I know exactly what you mean. Instead of trying to figure out what the people who wrote our laws had in mind when they wrote them, we should discard all that as useless originalism, except, of course, when it suits our purposes to deliberately misinterpret the original intent.

            My “favorite” deliberate misinterpretation is relates to something else Jefferson wrote. It is what the Supremes did to Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. The fallacy of that wall of separation between church and state.

            For the most part Liberal judges have just ignored the Declaration, spouting nonsense such as yours. Heaven help us when they finally figure out how they can away with deliberately misconstruing Declaration. How willfully ignorant of our history will the people we elect be then?

          27. “I could say more, but what is the point? You are just being stubborn….”

            Pot says what to his brother, the kettle?😉

          28. @tsalmon

            Wrong analogy. What is the right one? I don’t know, but our discussion reminds me of the trouble Jacob had with Laban.

            Laban busied himself scheming to take advantage of Jacob, his son-in-law. Eventually, Jacob had to run off with Rachel and Leah in order to have any peace. Thus, Laban lost the company of his daughters and his grandchildren.

            When we have a government that is obsessed with interfering with the choices of the people (for their own good, of course), none of us gain anything, but that does not stop us from making what is evil sound clever.

            Nevertheless, as Romans 8:28 makes clear, for those who love Him God turns all things, even evil, to good. Jacob eventually realized that what Laban had done to him he had done and was doing to others.

          29. “We have seen a long, absurd string of decisions from Obama appointed judge here of late. So I know exactly what you mean. Instead of trying to figure out what the people who wrote our laws had in mind when they wrote them, we should discard all that as useless originalism, except, of course, when it suits our purposes to deliberately misinterpret the original intent.
            My “favorite” deliberate misinterpretation is relates to something else Jefferson wrote. It is what the Supremes did to Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. The fallacy of that wall of separation between church and state.
            For the most part Liberal judges have just ignored the Declaration, spouting nonsense such as yours. Heaven help us when they finally figure out how they can away with deliberately misconstruing Declaration. How willfully ignorant of our history will the people we elect be then?”

            Hum… I feel your pain. Some people only make emotional harangues, don’t know very much about constitutional law, can’t actually make or rebut a legal argument, launch unsubstantiated accusations and just say silly stuff.

          30. Democrats do tell us “I feel your pain.” That was one of Bill Clinton’s lines. Instead of using it sarcastically on Republicans, Clinton used it on fellow Democrats, but he meant it with just about as much sincerity as you.

            The sincerity of Democrats. How they do love us, at least our wallets.

          31. “The Ten Commandments includes a prohibition against stealing, and I have to defend a God-given right to property? 😕😟😒”

            Yes, because your logic sacralizes so many unsubstantiated assumptions.

            You must know that your logic here has the cart pushing the horse. Essentially you are saying that the theft defines the property right, rather than the other way around. This can be very confusing for those of us that are less omniscient than you claim to be.

            For example, during Jesus’ time a slave’s master could reasonably feel that his property in the form of his slave’s labor had been stolen if the slave runs away, and if the slave were caught, the master would certainly then have legal recourse against the slave for that theft. If people at that time were the same as they are now, can you see how with the demagogic value of what you propose, they would have claimed a sacred, inalienable, eternal and immutable God given right to own other people, to possess those people’s labor, and they would actually have a much better Scriptural argument for that logical and theological fallacy than the divine fallacies you propose?

            Forget the ancient slave holder – does the capitalist have any “responsibility” to pay his workers a fair share of what they produce by their labor, or is the capitalist’s right his property also divinely ordained by the theft itself?

          32. @tsalmon

            Because some governments declared somepeople can be the property, we have no right to property?

            How do you know slavery is wrong if the U. S. Government says it is okay? If you love your slaves and take good care of them, why isn’t okay to own them? After all, you know what is best for them.

            Am I claiming to be omniscient or you? I am just reading the word of God and using His Truth for guidance. The Bible clearly condemns slavery. What is your source of right and wrong, what FEELS right? Where do you think slavery came from?

          33. “Democrats do tell us “I feel your pain.” That was one of Bill Clinton’s lines.”

            You figured that out huh?

          34. Check out => https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139&version=NASB.

            We can speak of love, but what if the Word of God never enters our thoughts? What is love if we define what it means to love, not God?

            God gave the Hebrews the Law so they would know when they sinned. The Hebrews could love, but they still sinned.

            God gave us the Holy Spirit so we could learn to live without sinning. We still need to know the Law. We still need to love, but we need God to keep us from sin. Accepting God’s help requires humility.

          35. “Because some governments declared somepeople can be the property, we have no right to property?”


            How do all these non sequiturs explain your proposition that the theft defines the right?

            I agree that the Bible condemns slavery, but not because there is any well defined negative scriptural rule against it, but instead because there is an affirmative call to voluntarily love God and each other. Lovers don’t own each other. Lovers don’t steal from one another. Lovers don’t murder one another, and so on. Citizens who have a Christian morality guided by Christian love will attempt to maintain every aspect of their lives, every institution they support, including all the government laws that they write, with God’s imperative to love in mind.

            The justice or injustice of some intricate bundle of property rights (and responsibilities) isn’t defined by a pharisaic biblical knowledge of Scripture’s in-depth take on, for example, patent theft – that’s absurd. There is no positive God given right to material property simply because God told us that lovers don’t steal from each other. That turns what Jesus actually told us up side down. It’s like saying that because the Bible says not to eat pork, I have an affirmative God given right to all the mutton that I want.

            For Christians to attempt to respect each others’ property out of their affirmative love for God and each other often does not serve up a black and white answer for every situation in a changing world. More often it serves only as a guide for imperfectly balancing difficult moral and practical justices and injustices. However, don’t you see how defining and sacralizing our laws based on divining from the Bible the arcane customs, laws and prohibitions of 2000 years ago will lead to a government that only the Taliban would appreciate?

          36. @tsalmon

            You love that word “sacralizing”, don’t you? Have you thought it through? I don’t think so. When we make a law and someone breaks it, we punish that person, right? We can even execute them. If the law isn’t sacred, then what is our excuse?

            You know? Well, it is great to know I have been chatting with the holder of all those ultimate truths, the guy who loves everyone so much that love is all he needs. Still, I think I prefer Biblical truth, as difficult as it can be to discern, to the wisdom of any man.
            1 Corinthians 1:18-31

            1 Corinthians 1:18-31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
            The Wisdom of God

            18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who [a]are perishing, but to us who [b]are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
            And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
            20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the [c]message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for [d]signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach [e]Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
            26 For [f]consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to [g]the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no [h]man may boast before God. 30 But [i]by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, [j]and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

            Why don’t you read the Bible? It is obvious you have not. It is not that obscure. It has just been obscured by those who really don’t like it.

          37. More non sequiturs.

            You keep dancing around the issue by deflecting to silly semantic objections, completely unrelated topics and biblical quotes that, while interesting, don’t really help address your main argument or refute mine. In fact, your latest biblical quote appears to me to counter exactly your kind of letter-of-the-law pharisaic wisdom and your way-too-clever rationalizing that Jesus found hypocritical and that Paul said should instead be interpreted through the spirit-of-the-law grace of God manifest in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. Paul is specifically disdaining the emphasis on false material wisdom that you are arguing here when you fabricate some divine, but obscure, property rights out of the commandment not to steal.

            The reason that I don’t steal your material stuff is not because God granted you some divine fiat to material property. I don’t steal your stuff because I strive to love you as God loves, as Jesus showed us to love. Becoming wise in Christ is the learning the wisdom to build up eternal spiritual goods in heaven through love, not by sacralizing (yes, it’s a good word for it) the fleeting things of this Earth.

            The spiritual and the material are not unrelated. Although we are spiritual beings created in God’s image for the eternal, we still inhabit the fallen material world, and our spiritual holiness is spiritually reflected by our actions in the material realm. For example, by acting in the material world with sacrificial love, with the grace of God, we become spiritually more holy. This is what is given by God, not material rights.

            If I’m so wrong in these common Christian beliefs, then it should not be hard for you to come up with a direct argument as to why. So why don’t you do that?

          38. @tsalmon

            However, don’t you see how defining and sacralizing our laws based on divining from the Bible the arcane customs, laws and prohibitions of 2000 years ago will lead to a government that only the Taliban would appreciate?

            When you say stuff like that, it means you don’t know what you don’t know what you are talking about, you are not being upfront about your agenda, or both. I suspect it is both.

            We live in a Christian society. We were raised in a Christian home. We were taught to aspire to Christian values. Nothing arcane about it. And that is why you don’t steal. If love was the only thing stopping you, then you would steal from people you don’t love. That is in fact what people have done for ages, when they could get away with it, but the Bible says we are all made in God’s image, all brothers and sisters. In doing so, the Bible elevates God’s wisdom over man’s.

            Until Jesus, the elites reserved to themselves or the emperor the right to claim to be made in God’s image. Since Jesus’ resurrection, we now have no excuse for claiming someone is not our brother or sister.

            However, if you insist upon a God that obeys your own whims instead of holding His teachings as sacred, then you have to slander and libel the Bible to satisfy your conscience. Consider an obvious example. The Bible says same-sex marriage is not marriage. That is the sort of thing you consider arcane. Yet same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. I should not even have to explain what is wrong with it, but homosexuals become hurt and angry when people refuse to accept their truth in place of the truth.

            Arguments over the truth divide us. The government you vote for is not based upon love; it is based upon force, transforming people whether they wish to be transformed or not.

            What is the significance of 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 in this context? We should rely upon God’s wisdom, not our own.

            Have I called for a some kind of Christian theocracy? It is the people you vote for who seek radical transformation. It is the people you vote for who insist upon politicizing every damned thing they want. Yet you call me extreme because that is what the news media tells you to do. At the same time I am supposed to be the one who is brainwashed?

          39. “When we make a law and someone breaks it, we punish that person, right? We can even execute them. If the law isn’t sacred, then what is our excuse?”

            The Soviets punished thieves with nearly identical laws. Were those atheist totalitarian socialists laws also sacred? What religion sacralized them?

            No manmade law is actually sacred. No manmade government is actually sacred. God makes something sacred, not men. When you make an argument like the one above, you do what in the breath before, you rightly claimed that you don’t want – you make a manmade thing, a government and its laws into your God by pretending that human creation can somehow make itself divine. Government of men and their laws, even and perhaps especially theocracies, can never be seen as that holy. It’s a dangerous idolatry. A “punishment” that is done only for the sake of law, but not for Christian love, is simply not going to be as just, but either way it’s not a sacred thing. Saying that our government has a sacred Christian duty to punish a criminal of any crime with death, in my humble opinion, is not only a blasphemy against Jesus and His death, it would lead to all sorts of outrageous government actions claimed to be in the name of Jesus. This was the main reason that the Founders and Framers left God out of the Constitution and wrote the 1st Amendment’s religious clauses. They and their forefathers has been the victims of such unchristian idolatry of the Law done in the name of Christ.

          40. @tsalmon

            You attack me, but you cannot explain yourself. If the law is not sacred, then the only reason to obey it is fear of the government. Stalin’s government put people in jail on a whim. The political prisoners, which were quite numerous, were much worse off than common criminals. The political prisoners threatened the government, but criminals only threatened the People.

            The Bible is not manmade. Therefore, when we use it as citizens, not the government, to decide what kinds of laws we want, those laws become sacred to us Because we use these laws to protect our families, friends, and neighbors as God requires us, good government is an act of worship, not idolatry. As Romans 13:1-7 indicates, Christians respect the government as a necessary source of order. God determines our leadership. Nothing is random.
            When do we rebel? We rebel in only desperation when supporting the government is more harmful than opposing it. That was the point of the Declaration.

            Anyway, go back and reread the inventive crap you wrote. Blasphemy? What a hoot!

            You are debating what you want to think I believe, not anything real. That comes from listening to so much propaganda.

            You call yourself a Christian, but you don’t believe the Bible. What are you using to determine what you believe?

          41. “You call yourself a Christian, but you don’t believe the Bible. What are you using to determine what you believe?”

            Lots of folks through the ages since Jesus lived have read the Bible and believed what they wanted to believe to suit their political ideology. The governments that sought His death and that actually crucified Jesus thought they were following sacred laws as well.

            You accuse me of being stupid about my faith. I have been studying what it means to practice my faith my whole life. I am constantly learning and changing, but my infinite ignorance of God still very much humbles me. If you want to inflate your ego by pretending to be greater scholar of our mutual religion than I and dismiss me as ignorant, I’ll gladly let you win. Given all the unchristian things that people have said and done who claimed greater knowledge of scripture than either of us, I fear too much pride in that regard may be dangerous anyway.

            Faith in Christ and trying to practice the love that Jesus preached is what makes us Christians. God’s grace given to the faithful is what makes the meekest Christian wise in God’s Will,, not our scholarly pride.

            In some ways I think we are saying the same thing and driving at it from different directions, but just circling the real issue. The writers of the Declaration invoked God as approving their plan to rebel against their supposedly God anointed ruler, and yet the writers of the Constitution specifically did not, and instead designed a federal government that was as religiously neutral as possible. They purposely did not give our foundational laws and institutions a sacred moral bedrock, but rather made it secular. Why?

            Were the Founders, Framers and Ratifiers just stupid? I don’t think so. Did they just not study the Bible enough? As some of the most adamant proponents of religious neutrality at the time were religious scholars, I don’t think that that was the case either. Did they just take God’s approval for granted? No again, many of the Founders wrote a great deal on this issue before and after the Constitutional Convention and it is clear that just the opposite is true.

            Why did the drafters of the Constitution not cram any one interpretation of the Bible or even any one religion at all down the throats of the country in constructing the government that we have today? Why did they not attempt to sacralize laws that you say must be sacred things?Perhaps the often quite passionate debate we are having right now answers that question don’t you think? 😇

          42. @tsalmon

            I have said you don’t know what the Bible says. That’s ignorance, not stupidity.

            Have people come up with varying interpretations of the Bible? Kind of to be expected, but most variances depend upon whether we believe the Bible. The prophecies are confusing, but the moral teachings are straightforward.

            What does humility involve? I have two quotes I think are important. C. S. Lewis first.

            Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

            Next the Bible (Save the best for last.).

            Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
            5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
            And lean not on your own understanding;
            6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
            And He shall [a]direct your paths.

            We are God’s servants. When we think too much of ourselves, we forget to be wise requires us to think of Him first.

            Did the signers of the Declaration claim God was on their side? Read it again.

            Have I argued for imposing Christian beliefs on anyone? With a demand for limited government?

            In the name of love, the supposedly secular version, your Democrats want to impose their moral beliefs by the boatload, and then you have the gall to complain about the religious nature of my complaints, even making accusations of blasphemy.

            The point is that we cannot have a religiously neutral government if we use the government take away everyone’s choices and run everything.

          43. “Did the signers of the Declaration claim God was on their side?”

            Well, yes. Isn’t it obvious? You just a few comments ago explained quite eloquently the Declaration drafting committee’s problem with conventional biblical interpretation. The drafters had to overcome the divine right of kings to rule over their subjects, or in other words, the conventional biblical interpretation that God is on the side of the ruler. In drafting the Declaration, Jefferson turned to John Locke and pretty much plagiarized Locke’s new and highly subversive philosophy that in certain situations God is on the side of rebellion against despits, especially when the God anointed ruler is trying to take away certain newly invented “God given rights”.

            I know you’ll come up with some nonsense assertion that the Declaration’s drafters were trying to place themselves on God’s side and not the other way around (a distinction without much of a difference in this case), but seriously, isn’t your whole claim of certain vague, supposed God given, fiats just a simple assertion that God is essentially on your side in this regard? Because this is a peculiarly religious argument about something you claim that the Almighty gave you, by making this assertion with regard to government, aren’t you attempting to use government to impose one religious interpretation on the rest of us.

            And you don’t stop there. You wish to impose your interpretations Biblical law on all government law, from who we can marry and to limit what rights we can afford each other to how and why we punish people.

            I believe, as Christians, we have a responsibility to try to practice the love of Christ in all aspects of our lives, including as citizens in a republic. I can’t even believe you’re arguing with that most basic of Christian premises, but the concept is also the most universal of all moral premises. It is the basis of every other common virtue, virtues that exist in every culture and that existed before Christianity.

            Does a Christian philosophy of love provide perfect religious answers to every issue of life and government? No. Just the opposite. The loving thing to do is to weigh and balance often conflicting rights and responsibilities. For example, you keep implying that, because I believe in Christian love, I want to force selfish people to just give their property to other selfish people. However, I believe that, if the welfare handouts of the Great Society years proved anything, it is that just handing out money enabled more selfishness, not less, and it enables a dependency that keeps.people trapped in poverty. That’s not the loving thing to do. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to the country that gave us so many opportunities to make sure we pay it forward, to provide our commerce with fair and competitive laws and infrastructure, to give people a leg up when they are down. I’m open to any mix of government or charity or regulated private capitalism that practically works best because their is nothing particularly loving about doing things that don’t actually work to encourage our enlightened incentives to self interest. By its nature, love must be voluntary, but as you’ve already lauded, even the most selfish person can be coerced by the law to meet their most basic responsibilities to the common and their neighbors.

          44. @tsalmon

            Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. — Abraham Lincoln

            The distinction is important, and you know It. It is the difference between pride and humility. The prideful insist God is on their side. The humble pray they have chosen correctly.

            “We” don”t have a responsibility, not if we have freedom of religion. We each have a choice to obey God, to be on “God’s side”, as best we can. I have my way of trying to be on God’s side. You have yours. In society that permits freedom of religion, we each have the right to try to be on God’s side — to pursue happiness — as we see fit. Problems arise when a large faction starts employing the government to force everyone to be on “God’s side,” or else.

            With a limited government, forcing everyone to be on “God’s side” is difficult, to say the least. Where Socialism is implemented, it is a daily challenge to avoid being forced to be on “God’s side” when you don’t see that as God’s side.

            By its nature, love must be voluntary, but as you’ve already lauded, even the most selfish person can be coerced by the law to meet their most basic responsibilities to the common and their neighbors.

            Lauded? Nope! I am against this because it just corrupts everyone involved because it is stealing. So long as you are voting Democrat, you are voting for politicians that steal and use that loot to buy people’s votes.

          45. See, I said that you’d try to come up with some nonsense to rationalize how claiming a fiat from God is not obviously claim that God is on your side. As to the Declaration specifically, the King was claiming to have the divine “right” of Kings and the Declaration writers were countering that they had a divine “right” to rebel. Claiming divine “right” is a claim that God is on your side whereas an assertion of divine responsibility is a hope that you are doing what God wants. There’s your distinction.

            I meant “eluded” but got autocorrected to “lauded” as in you eluded that many people don’t steal, not because it’s selfish, but only because they fear getting caught and prosecuted. The government coerces people to do the right thing all the time. I don’t see paying their fair share of taxes toward public goods and services that they enjoy the benefit of as any different.

          46. @tsalmon

            Divine right of kings? I think you have the Declaration confused with Thomas Paine’s “Commonsense”.

            When you said the signers of the Declaration were claiming that God was on their side, you were just speaking from your prejudices. We all do that, unfortunately. At this point, I think sufficient more than sufficient to let the Declaration speak for itself. There is not much point in a pussycat, little me, defending a lion.

            I agree that government force can be effective; however, if the people don’t want to obey the government voluntarily, because they see the government as representative of their beliefs, then government force must of necessity be great and costly. Government must then enslave the people, and slavery is grossly ineffective and inefficient, to say the least.

            Because government by the People, of the People, and for the People by definition implements the shared will of the People, the People must share a similar vision of what good government looks like. We don’t, not anymore. Any idea why?

          47. I love the Declaration. An important moment that lead to now. I like now. A nation worth celebrating that gave me more that I can ever repay. But I, like you, have taken oaths to defend and support the Constitution.

            I don’t really care for either the divine right of kings or the divine right to rebel. I’m not sure that God blesses either scheme. We flatter ourselves too much to think so.

            As for your last question, I don’t think that it is any one thing. We are a complex species and don’t always know why we do what we do. We bind together in great numbers as much as we are are fractious fighting creatures. There is even the release of certain hormones that inspire us to do both.

            It seems to me, however, that since the beginning of our experiment when we do not have a common enemy, we split along regional lines. Rural against urban, South against North, agrarian common sense against costal intellectual elites, comfort with diversity versus a longing for cultural homogeneity. Modernity’s atomization of us away from family and community may also be sparking some societal neuroses.

            If you look at a map of red and blue states, it kind of shows all that. I’m sure that that is only just a small window into the issue though. We like to pretend the political camps define some kind of ideological polar opposites, but I think that both parties have a broader spectrum of political views than either side would like to admit. (I’m sure not the soulless communist that you would paint me to be). If you would have asked me ten years ago that evangelicals were going to crawl into bed with a well known, scandal ridden libertine like Donald Trump, I would have said you were insane. Also, those who say that they are moderate or independent are as large as either Party.

            Ultimately, I think that who most of us vote for, even supposed intellectuals like you and I, is more emotional than rational, more “Duck Dynasty” than “Frontline”. Those prejudices you talk about infect us all. How else could we end up with a reality TV President. You may gloat now, but Donald Trump is just an savant opportunist who jumped on this new bandwagon for a buck or two – AOC is a true ideologue who was bread into this game. God help us all brother.

            Later. Enjoyed it.

  3. What a great topic Tom and thanks for pointing the way towards Julie’s post. Seems truth these days is commonly derived on how people feel about things than as opposed to reality. I’m not sure if we ever were at a time of political sanity but I do think we are in unchartered waters with this “my truth is my reality” concept.

    1. @Tricia

      Thank you.

      Are we in uncharted waters? That is something I guess we all wonder about, mostly because of technical innovation.

      I don’t have a crisp, clear, answer. I don’t think people have changed, but I do think our technology and the social structure of our societies have changed in ways that severely undermine our relationships. Since we depend upon each other for accountably, that means we can more easily confuse feelings with reality without being held accountable. Still, I don’t know if we are any more guilty of confusing “my truth with my reality.” It is difficult to top the insanity of believing a wood, stone, or metal statue is a god. Yet people once did, and they sacrificed even their own children to such idols.

      Our sin is that we still sacrifice others to our idols, science, sex, stuff, state, and self. We treat these things as gods, put them before God, but we rationalize our behavior, pretending we have some sort of moral justification.

      1. Those are good points Tom. Technology for sure has played a large role in this, as anyone, anywhere can become and instant media star without producing a thing and suddenly whatever they say ad do is taken as gospel by some.

  4. Interesting, Tom! I’m always fascinated by cultural narratives. One narrative in the Western world really pins the blame on Pilate as if he crucified Christ. But if you read the gospels, they are much more sympathetic towards Pilate. He answers “what is truth” with, “I find no fault in this man.”

    In the modern West, everybody hates the Roman authorities, but we often forget it was actually the religious leadership of the day who played Pilate and orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. He didn’t go to the cross because of government tyranny, but rather because of religious persecution at the hands of His own people.

    I find these narratives about a return to political sanity really interesting. I mean, what lost kingdom are we lamenting? And where is this alleged place of political sanity we long for? 🙂

    1. @IB

      Well, that question is more interesting than my post.

      I can’t tell you where, that is, the place political sanity can be found. I only have some idea about what causes political insanity. Read the last verse in the scariest book in the Bible, the Book of Judges.

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