“THEY” ARE NOT ON OUR SIDE — PART 1

“They” are the great enemy. “They” are not one of “us.” At least, that is the usual theory, and I suppose that that theory has some sort of validity. To the Allies the Axis powers were deadly and readily identifiable. To blacks, their slave masters were constant oppressors. To the early Christians, the Roman Empire was a source of erratic persecution that could only be defeated by being saved. Some people do have very odd ideas about warfare.

So who is “they” today? How are we divided? Are we divided? Yes and no. We are engaged in considerable feuding, but our differences are more apparent than substantial and real. Consider this passage from the Book of James.

James 4:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Note how James identifies the source of strife. Instead of obeying God and loving our neighbors, we seek the things of this world.

Imagine living in Nazi Germany. Were the Nazis “they” to the Germans. No. The Nazis were their rulers. The Nazis were the people who promised to put “they” in their place.

Imagine living in the Old South. Were the slave masters “they” to the people of the South. No. The slave masters were just “successful.” Even freed blacks, if they were “successful”, owned slaves. To the people of the Old South, “they” were the Abolitionists, people who opposed slavery.

Imagine being a Christian in the Roman Empire. Were the people of the Roman Empire “they”? Sort of. Christians wanted everyone to become Christians. Unfortunately, the people of the Roman Empire were not too happy with those weird, unpatriotic, atheistic Christians. To the people of the Roman Empire, those early Christians were “they”.

So what about us? Why do we Americans seem so divided? James would say the reason we are so divided is that we are so united in our purpose, friendship with the world. Most of us are too busy pridefully seizing and striving to control whatever and whoever we want.

When we vote, for what do we vote? Do we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, or do we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks? If we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, then politicians cannot bribe us to buy our votes with other people’s money. On the other hand, if we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks, then we are voting for unscrupulous leaders who can be easily bribed. That has consequences.

So does Jesus divide us? He would have said He does.

Matthew 10:34-39 English Standard Version (ESV)
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

When we have friendship with the world, we have enmity with God. Instead of loving God, we love our self. Then we are truly against everyone because we exist only for our self.

Hence Jesus divides the world into two camps: those who have accepted His offer of salvation and those who have not, the saved and the unsaved.

To become brothers and sisters, we must first choose to humble ourselves, become as children. We must accept adoption by our Father in Heaven. We must become His children.

To Be Continued

39 thoughts on ““THEY” ARE NOT ON OUR SIDE — PART 1

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  1. The “thems” in the USA are basically those who will not obey Gods or Nations laws.and percentage wise, are perhaps less than five percent of the population.

    While there is verbal disagreement or debate on religious issues, the sword is not relevant for the majority in the USA.

    Faith believers believe in an afterlife judgement when they die.

    What to do in this life with the thems who have no fear is the problem the USA in my opinion.

    Since there is no fear oF judgement in the USA for breaking laws, the use of a sword, is the same as King Solomon stated that fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom in the USA

    We need to wise up to instill fear for the lawbreaker to instill faith of judgement in this life.

    Regards and goodwill blogging

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  2. Reading Romans 7 yesterday, three times, then writing a blog post on it, I was reminded once again that sin cannot be “conquered” by our human efforts. Not even Paul could conquer the power of sin, even as focused on the “most spiritual, the most loving, the most virtuous answer” as he was. But praise God, once we have accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection for our own, God does not see our sin, He sees Jesus advocating for us. That’s our only hope. Human efforts are wonderful, and ultimately futile.

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  3. “When we vote, for what do we vote? Do we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, or do we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks? If we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, then politicians cannot bribe us to buy our votes with other people’s money. On the other hand, if we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks, then we are voting for unscrupulous leaders who can be easily bribed. That has consequences.”

    Tom,

    You have given two false materialistic choices here, and have implied a supposedly better third materialistic choice, but they are all materialistic choices.

    At the end of your post, you again return to the real choice Christianity presents (and no, it’s not one that divides us into warring tribes of those saved and those not saved – being saved by the sacrificial blood of Christ is the opposite of some new form of tribal exclusion). The real choice is a matter of emphasis and focus on the eternal and the spiritual rather than the material and the transient.

    When we focus on the spiritual, it does not mean we suddenly know all the black and white, right and wrong answers to every material dilemma in a finite and fallen world. Rather it means that we humbly focus our efforts on finding the most spiritual, the most loving, the most virtuous answer often in situations where we only have often ambiguous and complex choices among competing goods and competing evils.

    The “best interest” materially is more often only the “better interest”. On the other hand, if our actual “interest” is loving and spiritual, then we are already, in Christ, rising above the material fray to what is really important, regardless of which imperfect answer we choose.

    When Jesus said to render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s, I do not believe He was making a statement on Godly government or unGodly taxation or Holy monetary policy, or anything material. Jesus wasn’t telling us how to get our politics right – He was telling us to get our hearts right.

    Perhaps we agree, and I’ve just misunderstood where you are headed with this. If so, I’m happy to have misunderstood you.

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    1. @tsalmon

      I don’t know what that implied supposedly better third “materialistic” choice might be. I differentiated between the materialistic and the spiritual choice..

      James 2:14-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

      14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

      The Bible speaks of the flesh and the spirit. When we make a decision based upon the flesh, we use our wealth selfishly. When we make a decision based upon the spirit, we use our wealth to demonstrate our love.

      When we vote for best interests of our country and countrymen, we protect each others right to make our own choices. What makes this a spiritual choice? Instead of fulfilling a material objective, an increase in personal wealth, we act in love for our fellow human beings.

      When we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks, we try to get what we can from our government for our self. This is a choice from the flesh. Here we vote to increase our wealth even if our Congressman and Senators have to take that wealth from someone else.

      What did it mean when Jesus said to render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s? Remember that Jesus asked for a coin, and He asked whose image was on the coin. The Pharisees said Caesar’s. God’s image is on us. When we remember we are only stewards of the things He has given us — when we use what we have in service to serve Him — that is spiritual. Paying taxes is not spiritual.

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        1. @tsalmon

          If you think making the “rich” pay their “fair share” is spiritual, I think you are missing the point.

          2 Corinthians 9:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
          7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

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          1. Actually, I wasn’t referring to anything in particular. I was referring to a dynamic obligation to God where, with His grace, we give Him priority in our imperfect attempts to manifest His virtue, His Love, His Spirit in every aspect of our lives, including how we work, how we play, how we pray, our responsibilities to our community and in a democratic republic, even how we structure taxes and with what enthusiasm we pay them.

            The quote you give is specific to charity. It is particularly appropriate to that aspect of our lives in Christ, but it also gives us a good notion of how we should approach a spiritual attitude in everything else.

            Is a progressive tax structure where those who most enjoy the benefits of our society also pay their “fair share” toward it “spiritual”? I don’t claim God’s infallibility on everything, but just the way that you describe it as “fair share” carries the seeds of a moral, Christian, spiritual argument in its favor. On the other hand if, as you imply, our purpose in taxation, unlike everything else, cannot somehow by definition be spiritual, why should we as Christians care one way or another?

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          2. @tsalmon

            On the other hand if, as you imply, our purpose in taxation, unlike everything else, cannot somehow by definition be spiritual, why should we as Christians care one way or another?

            When we hug the people we love, we hug flesh and blood.

            Part of being spiritual is avoiding temptations. We have set up a government that tempt both our leaders and the electorate to do thing we shouldn’t be doing. This is why we cannot balance our budget.

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          3. Power certainly can corrupt. As Hamilton pointed out, however, government must at least have the means to carry out its appointed ends. Checks and balances are meant curb too much abuse of power. Regardless of how much government is too much government, however, as the world gets technologically and economically smaller, the need for government necessarily grows. We will either have government (hopefully good government) or anarchy.

            What I don’t understand here is this sense that there is something inherently corrupting about government that requires a Christian to suppress temptation by suppressing government rather than confronting the temptation and overcoming it joyfully and enthusiastically through God’s love as we do in every other area of our lives. It’s this strange ahistorical paranoia that Christianity somehow dies as government grows, as if true message of Jesus is too weak to withstand the power of tyranny. This is just not true, either historically or in the present, but everything that you write here seems to respond to this cynical, hopeless and irrational fear.

            Just to be clear. I’m not calling for a “Christian government”. Christianity by its nature is antithetical to theocracy – history demonstrates that theocracy corrupts both the government and the religion. What I am saying is something that should be obvious to anyone who has truly been saved by Christ. That is that we can and should act in service as much as humanly possible to the Love, the Joy and the Virtue that is given to us by God, and do so in every aspect of our lives, including as citizens and as leaders in a democratic republic.

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          4. @tsalmon

            As our population and economy grows, government has to get bigger, but it doesn’t have to make us dependent upon a bunch of so-called positive rights.

            You want an example of power corrupting?Look at the way people are interpreting the Constitution. We have people finding stuff in it that obviously is not there. Trump agenda has been repeatedly stalled and thwarted by judges abusing their power.

            Politicians gain power and influence by making laws and by spending other people’s money. The more control we give them the less control we have over them. It is fairly obvious that lots of Democrats think we are at some kind of threshold. What kind of threshold? I suggest you think about that.

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          5. Where did I say power does not have the possibility to corrupt?

            Positive versus negative rights has to do with what? What is property itself except a positive material right to something? Whether a right is positive or negative is a material semantic question, not a spiritual issue.

            You don’t know much about constitutional interpretation, but I still can’t figure out what this has to do with the material versus spiritual issues you raised in this post. We can agree or disagree in our interpretation of constitutional powers and still both be aiming at the most virtuous, most loving, most spiritual system, or instead one or both of us could could only be ignoring what Jesus taught and be solely focused on material matters.

            “Politicians gain power and influence by making laws and by spending other people’s money. The more control we give them the less control we have over them. It is fairly obvious that lots of Democrats think we are at some kind of threshold. What kind of threshold? I suggest you think about that.“

            Once again, without explanation you act like there is something inherently material and corrupting about government and the leaders who work in it that is different from being a soldier or a businessman or an airline pilot or a preacher. This defies the whole Protestant concept of a “Calling”, the idea that one can work in a material world while at the same time focusing his or her aims at the spiritual greater glory of serving the Master in love, appreciation and joy. In fact, leadership in government should be one of the highest spiritual “Callings” because of the greater opportunity to honor God spiritually by serving to help create a more just, more loving and more caring material system.

            As for your “threshold”, I seem to be out of the conspiracy loop on that one so you’ll have to be more specific. I voted for a wonderful Republican friend today so they may have taken away my secret Democratic conspiracy decoder ring.😏

            All the scriptural quotes you gave for this post ask us to turn away from material obsessions and instead towards the greater eternal treasures that come from things of the Spirit in God’s love. And yet all your own arguments seem to about material grievances. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get what any of this hating of Democrats, politicians and government in general has to do with being filled with the Spirit of God and serving every day in every way for the sacrificial Love of Jesus that saved us. I don’t claim to have come anywhere near perfecting this nor do I always know the best, most loving and spiritual answer to every complex and ambiguous dilemma, but all this just seems to be missing the clear “aspirational” objective completely while getting lost in material grievances and rights left and right. How am I wrong? Can you explain it without bringing up some new material grievance about taxes or someone else’s positive right?

            Jesus was clear on this. Jesus care about our material grievances against Caesar or anyone else. Jesus cares about getting some return on the substantial spiritual investment He made in all of us.

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          6. @tsalmon

            A stable society depends upon shared beliefs. We are brothers. We were raised together. We both served in the military. Still, we see some very important things very differently.

            I see arresting a mugger, putting that mugger on trial, and punishing that mugger for his crimes as fundamentally different from Social Security. One is a necessary and virtuous function of government. The other is a flagrant vote buying scheme, the third rail of politics.

            When activists first started demanding a right to healthcare, I scratched my head. Who was stopping them from paying a doctor to treat them? Then I realized they wanted “free” healthcare. They demanded the “right” to force everyone else pay for their healthcare.

            We have the right to own property because we have the right to the fruits of our labors. This right is what ultimately distinguishes a slave from a free man. When government can redistribute the wealth, we all become the slaves of those who govern.

            When everything is owned by everyone, everyone becomes the slave of those who control everything. We stand at the threshold of slavery. I trust you will find such servitude a spiritual experience.

            Do a word search on the Bible. Look up the word “widow”. The first hits will be screwy, but it eventually becomes clear that God wants us to take care of both the material and spiritual needs of the poor, not just buy their votes.

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          7. There is nothing “free” about Medicare. I’ve been paying into it my whole life. That said, it still sounds like your grievances against Caesar’s supposed thievery from the rich and generosity to the poor all focus on the material, and have nothing to do with joyful, loving, spiritual heart.

            Do you think Jesus really just died so that we judge others?

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          8. @tsalmon

            When we arrest a mugger and put him on trial, we don’t judge him. We determine whether he committed a crime. Do you really think Jesus has a problem with putting thieves in jail?

            Similarly, when we debate whether Socialism is ethical, I am not judging you or anyone else. I am pointing out the fact Socialism is wrong. If it bothers your conscience to support it, that is good. Jesus sure didn’t die for government giveaway programs, and both Medicare and Social Security already qualify as such.

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          9. Tom,

            Where did you get the idea that I have any problem supporting the Medicare and Social Security insurance programs? I was just objecting to your assertion that they were “free medical care”. They are not free. They are mandatory risk spreading insurance programs that we all pay into.

            These insurance programs are not perfect, but personally and at a spiritual level, I think that these wonderful programs do God’s work. I pay those taxes happily even though I will likely never get out of either program what I paid into them. Does that make me and everyone else who share the belief that these programs are at heart altruistic and spiritually good actually your evil thieves that you get to judge for Jesus and send us off to jail? 🙄

            These programs keep something close to 50 percent of elderly Americans out of poverty. But you presume to judge for Jesus that the Americans that set up and support these insurance programs are just evil thieves? Seriously, are you so lost in your grievance mentality that you believe that everyone who disagrees with you must be somewhere in there dark hearts completely self serving? Do you honestly believe that this nonsense castigation of the motives of everyone who simply disagrees with you on government policy is the loving spiritual heart Jesus wants? Sorry, I’m just not seeing it. I don’t see God caring for any of this.

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          10. @tsalmon

            Where did you get the idea that I have any problem supporting the Medicare and Social Security insurance programs?

            When someone points out to another person that they are doing something wrong, the wrongdoer often responds with hostility.

            Social Security and Medicare are Ponzi schemes. No private company would get away with operating these programs the way the government does and for good reason.

            The money you and I put into these programs has already been spent. So now we tax our children to pay for our retirement and healthcare. That is not right.

            In fact, when you start in about altruism and poverty, you have implicitly admitted that Social Security and Medicare are government “charity”. So you are trying to have it both ways. It is ridiculous! I am both wrong about Social Security and Medicare being insurance programs and a selfish Grinch?

            Does the Bible say that children have an obligation to take care of their elderly parents? Yes, but there is nothing in the Bible that speaks of government coercion. Where coercion is involved, charity is not.

            Stealing is not God’s work. Southern slave masters tried to use the Bible to justify slavery. That was nonsense. Other than babbling about love, you cannot even cite a verse to support your nonsense.

            In the life to come Jesus will be our King, and for all I know we will all be Socialists. Here and now Socialism is stealing. We can’t make it work because it is immoral. All we are doing is bankrupting our nation.

            Do you and other members of the spend other people’s money crowd have good intentions? Do some thieves have good intentions? I suppose so. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That is why love without wisdom is problematic.

            Question: If Social Security and Medicare did not exist, are you certain 50 percent of elderly Americans would have been so foolish as to not have provided for their own retirement? What if government did not run our Socialist education system? Is it possible people could be better taught, use their brains, and provide for their own retirement? You don’t know because some people used the government to force us down the path we are on.

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          11. Tom,

            I’m amazed that you can be so confused about something so simple to being a Christian. All of your own scriptural quotes defy your own material grievances. I don’t need to point out anything new.

            What is “stealing”? Why is it wrong? As a legal material matter, stealing is defined, arbitrated and enforced by the government based on property laws that are defined, arbitrated and enforced by the government in ways that may be moral or immoral or some combination of the two. As a spiritual matter, stealing, like all sin, is immoral for a reason that is simple to understand spiritually and near impossible to implement materially in a finite and fallen world. As a spiritual matter stealing is immoral because it defies our spiritual obligation to God to love God and to share His love with one another. Jesus was sky clear on this but you are so wrapped up in your partisan bitterness, you refuse to see what is constant and unambiguous in scripture.

            When we bitterly judge and hate out of some material grievance (“Whaa Lord! Caesar is stealing from me”), Jesus says we are focusing on the fleeting, the vapid, the meaningless. When we instead focus on the spiritual (on love), Jesus says we are right minded and right hearted toward the truest holy, the most meaningful and the eternal.

            How does this “Calling” by God to be right hearted play out in a complex, ambiguous, finite and fallen world?Mostly imperfectly because we are not perfect and neither is the world.

            Socialistic programs are neither spiritually perfect nor are they spiritually bankrupt any more than capitalism is spiritually perfect or morally bankrupt. (Indeed, I could come up with a hundred reasons why unfettered capitalism is both impractical and a government approved stealing program, but then I would, like you, be wrongly focused).

            Jesus asks us to make our intention, our focus spiritual (loving) in everything, but even the best, most spiritual intentions do not mean either perfectly moral outcomes or perfectly practical outcomes. In this world, as Christians we balance competing goods and competing evils to do the best we can. And the situation is dynamic.

            Are public schools or public roads or a common national defense or national insurance programs perfect? No. Do they do more good than bad? I think so, but, unlike you, I don’t claim my mere opinions as God given moral absolutes. Are there better alternatives? A Christian heart with a “Calling” to do God’s work as a citizen or a leader should always be in a state of reform to respond spiritually to dynamic change.

            Ultimately, as much as you may crave material absolutes in everything, you are missing the point. The eternal good exists in our individual and collective more perfect, more love centered “aspirations”. If you are focusing on perfect material fairness in this world, you are deluding yourself, and barking up the wrong tree in the Garden, the tree that Jesus specifically and repeatedly told us not to focus on. You are looking for reasons to judge the good and evil in others rather than just being as loving as possible and making the most loving choices out of imperfect alternatives.

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          12. @tsalmon

            Consider these two verses.

            Matthew 10:38-39
            38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

            We each must take up our own cross. The government cannot take it up for you.

            Here are the Ten Commandments.
            You shall have no other gods before Me.
            You shall make no idols.
            You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
            Keep the Sabbath day holy.
            Honor your father and your mother.
            You shall not murder.
            You shall not commit adultery.
            You shall not steal.
            You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
            You shall not covet.

            These are commands to each of us as individuals, not some entity called government. Jesus referred to most of the Ten Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. His point? Well, we don’t have the capacity to obey the law perfectly, but He also said that if we love Him we will obey Him. So we need to figure out what each of those commands requires of us, including the command against stealing. Government cannot do that for us. We are required to obey God even when the government thinks differently.

            That’s the problem with Socialism. The bigger the government gets the more it pressures us to obey it instead of God.

            Look at what is going on. Consider the source of virtue. It is not government. Good government depends upon the virtue of the citizenry, not the other way around. It never works the other way around.

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          13. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

            I think that you are confused by false choices. God’s love is the source of all virtue. Virtuous government, virtuous industry, virtuous charity, virtuous community, virtuous worship, virtuous family life, virtuous anything depends upon our voluntary engagement in an imperfect, dying, ambiguous and complex material world with our constant spiritual focus toward this perfect, eternal, infinite Source. The Commandments themselves “hang” upon Love, and so we judge whether or not we have followed or broken a Commandment based upon whether or not our words, our actions and our inactions demonstrate God’s obligation upon us to love.

            Taking up the cross and following Jesus in order to make us worthy of Him, of His sacrifice, literally means demonstrating His sacrificial love in every aspect of our lives. Our participation or non-participation in government is no exception. Just the opposite – because, as citizens and leaders, we are fortunate enough to have greater say in government, our obligation is greater, not less because, to those who are given much, much more is demanded.

            Material Socialism versus Material Capitalism is a false choice. Love is the choice. If we unselfishly and in God’s Love use whatever material tools are at hand and most practical in the situation to try to build a spiritual place in the Kingdom of God, then we are on the road of the Cross.

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          14. @tsalmon

            You take one passage and ignore the rest of the Bible. You have constructed an excuse for the legalism that is Socialism.

            Socialism is not voluntary. It exists by the force of government.

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          15. “You take one passage and ignore the rest of the Bible.”

            That’s not true. I’m saying that in in Jesus’ own words every law in the Bible and every word from the prophets depends upon our obligation to take up the cross and share God’s sacrificial love. You keep bringing up scriptural passages. I don’t “ignore” them. I embrace them and show how they fit into this universal theme that gives the Word all its context and meaning.

            ”You have constructed an excuse for the legalism that is Socialism.”

            I’m neither defending or criticizing Socialism or Capitalism here as such. Both are impractical in some uses and practical in others. Both are moral in some uses and immoral in others. Both are impractical and immoral in the extremes. Neither are exclusive in that one can only have ALL of one or ALL of another, or that there cannot be a myriad of other alternatives and combinations that you seem to want to ignore. Neither system is inherently evil or good, but some combination may or may not be more virtuous and more practical than another. You, however, would like to imagine some simplistically perfect dualistic false choice that has no actual practical or moral application existential in the best modern states and no rational prospect even in theory.

            I’m not defending either extreme side of such perfect materialistic dualism. I’m claiming that whatever choices we make in this world will be complex, changing, conflicting, imperfect and fraught with unintended negative consequences, even if our intentions are loving and altruistic. I’m saying that material progress is possible just as material regression is possible – nothing is deterministic. No matter what we do in this material world we will die in this material world. Meaning and eternal life comes from how we, with joy and love, do that dying for God and each other.

            This finite fallen world resulted from our desire to see everything in dualistic terms of perfect good and perfect evil that our eating from the Tree of Knowledge represents. That is the way of endless death. Jesus afforded us the eternal way that sees through this endlessly dividing and meaningless dualism toward the universal. This is the path of Love that you scoff at, but that every word of scripture aims you at. This is the opposite of legalism because it provides no easy black and white legalistic answers. It is a rugged ambiguous path where we only know if we are heading in the right direction if we keep our eyes focused on the eternal light Jesus sends to guide us, the light of His love.

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          16. @tsalmon

            Love is not an excuse; it is a motivation.

            Socialism is inherently bad. If you don’t think so, that is because you cannot define stealing.

            Capitalism is just an economic system based on the idea of accumulating capital or property. Government’s role is one of regulation.

            Is Capitalism good or bad? That depends upon the individual. Do “I” accumulate property for the love of wealth or to glorify God?

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          17. “Socialism is not voluntary. It exists by the force of government.”

            Capitalism is not “voluntary” either. It too exists or ceases to exist by the pure force of government. I’m not saying that the voluntary nature of virtue isn’t important. It is, but it is simply not always an either/or choice.

            Gravity is not voluntary. It binds us to the earth, but that doesn’t mean we have to crawl in the mud and slime. We always have choices. Jesus and Paul made it clear that even slaves forced to grovel in the mud have spiritual choices. Because we are free, does that not afford us a greater responsibility?

            As important as it is to be free to even make bad material choices, particularly when it comes to government, this is not an either/or dualistic possibility. The better, though often imperfect, option often exists between responsibilities and freedoms.

            We have responsibilities to our neighbors, our community, our nation and our world. We have a right to be left alone to make our own choices. At the coercive level of government these responsibilities and rights often exist in conflict with one another. In fact, in the history of humans, the recognition the government should even protect rights is an amazing and positive freakish (and perhaps fragile) phenomenon. The authors of the Scriptures would be astounded by it. In fact, this new emphasis on rights over responsibilities could be endangered as much by our exaggerating rights into a chaos of anarchy as by our failure to protect rights from tyranny. Like most virtues, the virtue of rights versus the virtue of responsibilities exists in a precarious, imperfect, conflicting and changing balance between the extremes.

            In so far as you are defining (and dumbing) down the term “Socialism” to anything where a democratic republican government forces its citizens to meet any responsibility, then I think you may be making a silly false and simplistic choice that just does not reflect current reality. This is not a defense against the impracticality or the inherent corruptibility of extreme Socialism. I’m just saying that you have made up perfectly evil boogeymen everywhere as a substitute for making difficult, ambiguous and complex choices.

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          18. “Love is not an excuse; it is a motivation.”

            Exactly. So quit making up excuses.

            “Socialism is inherently bad. If you don’t think so, that is because you cannot define stealing.”

            I have defined stealing as Jesus defined the premise for the following or breaking of every Commandment – that is by following or breaking our difficult and universal obligation to God to love as God bids us to love.

            I don’t know if pure “Socialism” (government ownership of all the means of production of all goods and services) is inherently evil, but I think we can agree that it has proven impractical, and that impracticality itself may engender it’s own evil.. But you’ve dumbed down “Socialism” to a demagogic boogeyman that only exists in your own terrified imagination. You seem to need to do this in order to create a materialistic good versus evil “us” versus “they” mentality between normal imperfect people of basic good will who are just trying to find the most practical and moral balance between freedom and responsibity. It’s a slogan, a jeer, a jingoistism, not a moral or practical argument anymore Tom.

            “Capitalism is just an economic system based on the idea of accumulating capital or property. Government’s role is one of regulation.
            Is Capitalism good or bad? That depends upon the individual. Do “I” accumulate property for the love of wealth or to glorify God?”

            Yep. I wish I said that. Wait, I think I did. 😊

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          19. You know. Some of the confusion here may be that most of us realize that the provision of certain necessary goods and services do not lend themselves morally and/or practically to perfect market systems. National defense is one we might agree upon. Police and fire services may be another. We might agree or disagree on the others like prisons, roads and schools. We might find that some combination or public/private works most morally and efficiently for others.

            The problem is calling everything the government does “socialism” when these actual systems are far more complex economically and morally than than the blanket (often negative) use of this term implies. Doug uses “socialistic”. That too is mushy, but for convenience sake let’s just say that balancing morality and efficiency, we all believe in some “socialism” (public owned goods and services) in some areas, and most of us agree that private systems are better for others. Still others may work to balance morality and efficiency with any number of blends and combinations. The actual combinations and possibilities are almost endless. But ideologues and demagogues like to argue only in superlatives, don’t they?

            Considering how new in human experience both socialism and capitalism are, we should keep in mind that there may come other possibilities, other regressive tyrannies or other progressive improvements, that we haven’t even thought of. We may be slayibg dead or dying dragons…but that is another discussion.

            Like

          20. @tsalmon

            I don’t call everything government does Socialism.

            Does government make Capitalism work? When people live together, there has to be rules and the means for enforcement. Government is what we call the people who make and enforce those rules.

            So how does that relate to Capitalism? Consider some questions. If something is legal, does the fact it is legal make it ethical. If something is illegal, does the fact it is illegal actually make it wrong. What if it wasn’t illegal.

            How do we know if a law is moral? Is it because the government says so?

            Like

          21. “How do we know if a law is moral? Is it because the government says so?”

            I think that Jesus answered this question:

            “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

            Like

          22. @tsalmon

            This would probably make more sense if you read the whole chapter, but here is the key part.

            Romans 2:12-16 Good News Translation (GNT)
            12 The Gentiles do not have the Law of Moses; they sin and are lost apart from the Law. The Jews have the Law; they sin and are judged by the Law. 13 For it is not by hearing the Law that people are put right with God, but by doing what the Law commands. 14 The Gentiles do not have the Law; but whenever they do by instinct what the Law commands, they are their own law, even though they do not have the Law. 15 Their conduct shows that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them. 16 And so, according to the Good News I preach, this is how it will be on that Day when God through Jesus Christ will judge the secret thoughts of all.

            Does love have something to do with it? Yes, but people abuse each other. We have that moral law written upon our hearts, but we need the Holy Spirit’s help to obey it. We need to love each other in order to care enough to obey the Spirit. And we don’t love each other, certainly not strangers, as we love our self.

            Government is not a substitute for the Holy Spirit. Bureaucracies tend to loose focus when they lack competition because they don’t love their customers.

            Consider. You say love is the answer? So you put Socialist institutions instead of parents in charge of the education of children? Where is the love? In the parents or the Socialist institutions?

            Like

          23. “Consider. You say love is the answer? So you put Socialist institutions instead of parents in charge of the education of children?”

            I did that? That was my decision?Where? Damn I must be both benevolent AND powerful.😉

            “Where is the love? In the parents or the Socialist institutions?”

            God’s love, in so far as it imperfectly appears in any material human institution, even the institution of s family, is a mere reflection of God, not the superiority or inferiority of that institution. The family is not God, any more than government is God. Let’s not create idols of either.

            Some families suck at teaching their children a moral basis in God’s spiritual love. Some families suck so bad that they get their kids taken away for abusing and neglecting their children by the supposedly heartless government that you demonize so much. In their lives as teachers, parents and administrators, some public schools and their loving teachers and parents excel at manifesting God’s love every day. At least that is my experience as lawyer who once did domestics law involving abused children and a parent who also once had children in some excellent public schools.

            God is love and all real love wherever it is found anywhere in the world in whatever form is of God. You need to focus toward perfect foundational premises and toward eternal spiritual goals, and quit expecting perfection in any human institution. Any human institution is made more moral, more perfect in so far as it more perfectly manifests God’s love. None will ever actually be perfect – not families, not churches, not religions, and certainly not governmental institutions.

            You asked me to put how we deal with the intersection between spiritual love and the morality of our material lives into a nutshell. I can’t do that, but Jesus did in words and actions. We could spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out exactly what that means and then at the same time implementing what God’s call to love means in specific circumstances and practices, including government. This is a worthwhile mission for us, in fact it’s the only worthwhile mission in life in that it is the only mission that makes life worthwhile. However, we always must come back to the source of all morality to find both the more perfect meaning and the more perfect application. That source, the source of all morality is God’s sacrificial love. If we start there and aim there, and with the grace of God, we are doing the best that we can.

            For most Jews in Jesus’ time the legalistic laws in Scripture literally were the same as the governmental laws. Jesus could have let them legally stone a woman for adultery, but he didn’t even though it was literally the letter of the law. Why? It was the letter of the law, but did Jesus think stoning her complied with His divine spirit in the Law?

            The letter of the law was not enough. It obviously was not enough for the Jews, even the Pharisees, to keep them from sinning. The Gentiles, even converts, didn’t have the Scriptural laws at all, but that neither helped them nor stopped them from living by or rejecting God’s universal law of Love that they knew in their hearts. As your scripture quote readily confirms, a legalistic interpretation of the law, whether institutional or Scriptural, can only be morally more correct in so far as it more perfectly comports with the spiritual source of all moral law – God’s merciful, unselfish, compassionate and perfect sacrificial love.

            What were we arguing about?

            Like

          24. @tsalmon

            You vote for our Socialist education system, and you just defended voting for it because it makes you feel both benevolent AND powerful. Pride is a dangerous thing.

            When you argue for Socialism (When you defend our Socialist education system you are doing just that.), you impose an indeterminate value system (impose religious beliefs) upon other people’s children. Why indeterminate? We know Socialist politicians will tend to be self-serving and power seeking, but we can only guess what they will do. If anyone had told either of us 40 – 50 years ago that we would be arguing about sex education that includes the affirmation of same-sex marriage, we would not have known what they were talking about. Yet LGBTQ “rights” are apparently part of your idea of God’s love. Frankly, I consider teaching such nonsense to children child abuse, and I can point to the scripture that says it is wrong.

            What you call God’s love sounds altogether too much like approval of whatever tsalmon wants, not what God has commanded of us. Here you give the example of the adulterous woman, trying to make God seem like He will forgive anything in the name of love. You make two errors.
            1. Scripture is not legalistic. We are. To make it say what they wanted, the Pharisees ignore the spirit of the law.
            2. Had the Pharisees complied with the spirit of law, Jesus would have supported the stoning of the adulterous woman. However, they had just entrapped that poor woman to score points. They did not love God or care about His Law. They were just using that poor woman to entrap Jesus.

            From the perspective of the Pharisees, the Law is unforgiving because God is unforgiving. Therefore, when Jesus represented a loving and forgiving God to the people, He lied.

            What the Pharisees ignored is the point of the sacrificial system (See Leviticus). God knew we could not obey the Law. Jesus is the only one who ever has. So He gave us the opportunity to repent of our sins and trust in His Son. Such faith is what God wants of us, and the Pharisees should have known that, but they were just as dumb as us.

            Genesis 15:1-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
            Abram Promised a Son
            15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,
            “Do not fear, Abram,
            I am a shield to you;
            Your reward shall be very great.”
            2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

            What is the key to salvation? Believing God. Abraham, an elder childless man believed he would have many children. He believed God. Just as Abraham did, we too can prove we believe God by personally obeying Him.

            Socialism is trying to make your neighbors obey your will. That’s an idol. That is not obey God.

            Like

          25. “You vote for our Socialist education system, and you just defended voting for it because it makes you feel both benevolent AND powerful. Pride is a dangerous thing.”

            Ha! And one sure sign of too much pride is the absence of a sense of humor. 😁

            Oddly, we just seem to be parroting back the same things to each from a theological standpoint. However, you seem obsessed with exaggerating the evils of one, not even exclusively governmental, human institution, an institution that has been around over a hundred years, that the vast majority of Americans, even Republicans, just want to improve, and that both of us enjoyed the benefits of graduating from.

            I didn’t invent public schools. To my knowledge, I have never voted for politicians that invented public schools. Finally, I never voted for or against a politician that campaigned to get rid of them. These politicians must be scarcer than Donald Trump’s virtues.

            I don’t have your passion one way or another about this Tom, just as I lack your passion to bash people because of their sexual preferences. As far as human cruelties go, a community and a country’s efforts to provide as equal an opportunity for the education of all children doesn’t seem like one of the worst things to worry about. I know that you judge me and all the other citizens as a special kind of evil, very many of us Christians, for simply wanting to improve the quality of public education, if we think of it much at all, but have you considered that your strange obsession with this may say more about the focus of your Christian motivations than ours?

            Certainly one can argue that the PAX Romana of the Empire was some kind of improvement over the tyrannies of the past or the many other cruel governmental tyrannies existent then and to come, but, as much as the Jews wanted Him to, Jesus did not spend much time blaming governments for sin or letting people off the hook because they were either occupied or enslaved by government. At best I think Jesus would sadly smile on your obsession with perhaps one of the most benevolent supposed governmental tyrannies in the history of governmental tyrannies, but what do I know? I guess everyone needs a hobby. 😏

            Like

          26. @tsalmon

            I don’t have your passion one way or another about this Tom, just as I lack your passion to bash people because of their sexual preferences.

            Can’t handle disagreement? How much bashing have each of us actually done? Is it bashing to call what is wrong wrong?

            Jesus had little to say about government directly. That is true. He is only our King. He only debated the Law with Jewish scholars, including members of the Sanhedrin. He only told Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who had Him beaten, whipped, and then crucified, the Truth. He was only executed by the government. But. I suppose Jesus did not say much about our government. Instead, He spoke of His Kingdom.

            Jesus’ Bible has much to say about government, even the government of man by man. It is silly to say otherwise, but why let that stop you?

            You have as much admitted you don’t know how to run other people’s lives, and you play this stupid game where you deny any responsibility. Yet you vote for increasing government power. You also defend it. So why are you offended when I point this out? 😕

            Why attack me? Am I perfect? No. Can you find fault in me? Yes. Do I feel I should defend myself by attacking you personally? Not particularly. Does not accomplish anything useful. You are just less likely to accept persuasion.

            You asked “What were we arguing about?” I guess it is something you have little passion for. 😏 Are you a busybody? I don’t know, but you are surely voting for such. Busybodies are nothing if not passionate, but there isn’t any logic to Busybodyism. That makes it difficult to point out a logical flaw in a structure that is almost completely senseless. Instead, we have to prove that what appears real is a fantasy held together by lies, in this case Socialism, the vehicle of choice for today’s busybodies.

            There was a reason Pontius Pilate asked Jesus “What is Truth” and then promptly walked away. He was afraid of the answer. When people set their hopes on an idol, they hate being told bad the bad news.

            Like

          27. After carefully rereading what you wrote about Scriptural Law, my thought remains that we are about 99 percent in agreement, and mainly just disagreeing because we like to argue with each other. The one percent where we do appear to actually disagree may be more of a misunderstanding than a disagreement, but it is an important misunderstanding, that is if you are actually interested in why my focus is on trying to understand and practice God’s Love, the perfect sacrificial love that Jesus taught and exemplified, rather than on Rabbinically deciphering Scriptural Law in order to judge good from evil.

            You misunderstand if you believe I think the Law is wrong. I don’t. As Reverend Mel Wild put it about the Law, “It’s perfect”.

            However, as you already alluded, even a Pharisee steeped in the Law like Saul completely failed when he tried to judge and condemn others in the name of God based on a misdirected interpretation of the Letter of the Law without accepting in their hearts the Spirit of the Law that was manifested in Jesus Christ.

            As you know, something profoundly and very much mysteriously new happened with the Word, the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus as both man and God. What we seem to be arguing about, maybe even just quibbling about, is how we each perceives the other misunderstands a view about how that profound change in our interpretation and practice of God’s perfect Law changed after Jesus. Or perhaps we just regress into some sibling rivalry and talk past each other.

            In an effort to get beyond that, let me just align my thoughts and basic agreement with someone who we are both familiar with and who understands and conveys that understanding far better than either of us, well at least far better than I do:

            https://melwild.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/commandments-and-covenants/

            You may want to read the comments too.

            Like

          28. Tom,

            As for your last comment, I don’t mind disagreement. I’m not upset. I don’t think I’ve attacked attacked you personally. I don’t claim that Jesus doesn’t have a lot to say about literally everything, including government. But you got one thing half right – in our own distinct ways, we are both wonky, argumentative busybodies. I think it runs in the family. 🤓

            Liked by 1 person

  4. You make a scriptural argument against materialism, and rightly say that that is what divides us, but then instead of recognizing that Jesus desires that we turn away from our focus on everything material and instead give ourselves to His Holy Spirit in Love, you just appear to embrace greater atomization in just another materialistic argument, dividing us further into covetous camps who worry incessantly about who renders who’s stuff unto Caesar. 🙃

    Like

    1. @tsalmon

      So you think we should vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks? Seriously, instead of speaking in vague generallies, can you be more specific? What did I say that has anything to do with what you are talking about?

      Like

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