DOES JESUS DRAFT CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS?

Last Crusader by Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808–1880)
Last Crusader by
Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808–1880) (from here)

I am in a sorrowful condition. I am in an endless argument about politics. I don’t seem to be able to win, to change hearts and mind. WOE is me.

So here my last crusade to win a war of words with a couple of commenters. The picture above is how I expect to look when I come back from this contest. Even the horse I rode on will be exhausted.

What is the subject? Should our government redistribute our wealth?

In my last post, 2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 5, I included a picture of George Washington with this caption.

It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency. — George Washington, in “Sentiments on a Peace Establishment” in a letter to Alexander Hamilton (2 May 1783); published in The Writings of George Washington (1938), edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 26, p. 289. (from here)

What Washington described were his requirements for a draft army levied by each of the states.  Is a draft a good idea? What’s that got to do with this post, you ask? Well, let’s see. When someone decides to take part of your earnings and give them away to the poor and needy, are they not drafting you to “fight” in the “war” against poverty?

Without a doubt we each have an obligation to help defend and strengthen our society, but is it a good idea to draft people to defend and strengthen our society.  Isn’t a volunteer army a better idea?

Let’s look at how the Bible told the leaders of ancient Israel to manage its “draft” when they were on the verge of battle.

Deuteronomy 20:3-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’

“Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’

“The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint[a] like his heart.’ And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

What the classic example of how this “draft” worked?  There was a man named Gideon. After some motivational talks (which included miracles), our Lord persuaded Gideon to fight the Midianites. Our Lord did not want a big army. He wanted an army who believed in the cause.

Judges 7:2-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

So it was Gideon went to battle with only three hundred men (plus God) against an army of thousands. Because Gideon had obeyed God and his soldiers wanted to fight and believed God would bring them victory, the Midianites had already lost.

Take the time to study Judges 6-8.  Gideon himself serves as an object lesson. Imagine trying to lead an army of Gideon’s. Look at the effort God expended bucking up Gideon’s courage. What man could have given Gideon the courage to fight boldly?

So why do our health, education, and welfare systems work so poorly and cost so much?

  • Even when they care, the draftees, the people paying the costs of the war on poverty don’t have any significant control on how their money is spent. Once the politicians get their hands on our money, those politicians largely control how that money will be spent.
  • Politicians manage the war on poverty, and the mechanics of getting reelected rewards those politicians who use health, education, and welfare spending to buy votes.  Effectively, for the sake of votes politicians steal some people’s money and give it to other people, and often they just give that money to bureaucrats, not the people who need it.
  • There are some good people working on health, education, and welfare programs, but many of the workers are just there to make a living. They are not devoted to the cause. Instead of winning the war on poverty, they are devoted to getting a secure job and receiving a healthy government pension. Effectively, most are just government employees who give money to unions which give money to politicians who hire more government employees who give more money to unions which give more money to politicians………

Some Relevant Posts

  • #1 The Worst One Of All (kingdompastor.wordpress.com): This is the last post in a series that starts here, Top 10 Things That Are Killing The Church! What is Pastor Randy‘s number 1 thing killing the Christian church in America? Instead of going out into the country seeking souls to save, Christians are sitting in their pews waiting for the unsaved to come to church.  What does think we should be doing?

    How we do THE MISSION is by getting into the streets, communities, neighborhoods and getting to know them.  It is US reaching out and going TO them.  Now excuse me, but I have to leave.  I’m volunteering in a low-income neighborhood to help elementary students become better readers.

    is spot on, but consider his example. Don’t most of us believe government is suppose to do those health, education, and welfare things? Well, government does not love people enough to save their souls. That is something Christians do. If we don’t have enough charity to save someone’s soul, what is the chance we will care about their health, education, or welfare?

  • Spiritual Warfare: Authority, Part Deux (sharethecoffee.wordpress.com): This is post about love and wisdom. Why link to this post? Successful health, education, and welfare programs require charity in the old sense of the word, agape love. Government-run health, education, and welfare programs don’t inspire agape love.  Christian-run health, education, and welfare programs primarily exist, however, because most Christians feel at least some degree of love for God.

    John 14:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

    15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

    H/T to The Life Project: Finding Clear and Simple Faith for the link to Spiritual Warfare: Authority, Part Deux.

  • THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY: This is an old post of mind that references The Federalist, Paper # 10, written by James Madison. The subject is how the Constitution was designed to mitigate the effects of factional politics. What should we learn from reading The Federalist, Paper # 10? It is definitely not a good idea for half the population to use the Federal Government to feed off the other half.

Anyway, it is bedtime.  This crusade is over. Time to feed a tired old horse and brush it down, get some rest, and prepare for the battles to come.

HOW DID WE GET FROM HERE TO THERE?

puzzledComment threads can wind and twist. So regardless of the topic, there is no telling where they may go.  Hence my comments on Bible Hub by insanitybytes22 eventually produced this comment.

  •   David said:                                                        January 1, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    So there might be research dollars to all districts. Is this suprising or a sign of something nefarious? Who cares? What matters is who does the research, that is, how good are the scientists at the facilities. Are they doing good science? Politicians do not determine who gets an NSF or NIH or NASA grant (yes, NASA awards grants to university researchers). So, much of your concerns about politicians and research grants are unfounded and uninformed.

    Yes, the position that you have taken is an extreme one. The fact that there are private schools or that private industry conducts research is not particularly relevant to the question of whether or not the position of zero federal dollars for education or for biomedical research is an extreme one. This is not just a matter of my “private goals.” We’re talking about the hopes and goals of millions.

    Yes, there are private schools. Can everyone afford to send their children to them, especially when we are talking about universities? Historically, how did the introduction of public schools at every level change the percentage of Americans who were able to get X number of years of education? What percentage of the population recieved a college education in the days when most of the colleges were private or when there was no federal support in the form of grants and loans? How has expanding educational opportunities benefited individual Americans and the country as a whole? I understand that you don’t wish to be enslaved, but maybe a little enslavement is not such a bad idea when you consider the benefits.

    And here’s a dirty little secret. Private colleges and universities receive huge amounts of federal support, both direct and indirect. For example, scientists at private university compete for the same research dollars as those at public universities. Federal dollars enable colleges and universities to offer a lower tuition rate to poorer students. In practice, there are no private universities.

    Yes, private industry does research. But private companies are severely constrained by the need to turn a profit. In addition, the discoveries of scientist working in private industry are private or proprietary. This is not good for science. And where and how do you suppose the scientist in private industry get their initial training as scientists? Guess. Further, there is no way that the private sector can match the amount of money that is provided by federal sources for research. No chance.

    Bottom line, in any many areas, the federal government really can do much more than the private sector. But then again, I don’t want to be enslaving you.

    Not trying to bludgeon anyone with my father’s dead body. Just trying to remind you that there real human beings who genuinely benefit when we are not wedded to purity. (And he’d be happy to be disturbed just to have a chance to chat with you.)

What are and I debating that causes us to fling so much sarcasm back and forth? Several years ago I wrote WHAT IS JUST ENOUGH GOVERNMENT? The topic of that old post, I think, is the subject of our debate.

It seems that David would like to believe that I am some kind of selfish, ignorant hog who doesn’t want to pay his fair share of taxes. However, as Milton Friedman points out in the video in WHAT IS JUST ENOUGH GOVERNMENT?, there is a good reason politicians and civil servants waste our money. They are spending somebody else’s money on someone else.

When politicians tax us and spend our money, they deprive us of the opportunity to use resources that belong to us — that we earned — for our own designs. Human nature, being what it is, drives them to remake the world into what they think it ought to be. Hence, politicians seize every opportunity to spend all they can, including other people’s money, to suit themselves and their designs. Thus, even those monies that politicians ostensibly acquired for one purpose, to build roads, for example, can find their way into unrelated social engineering schemes, health, education, and welfare programs.

Of course, those scheming politicians will have lots of help. They can always count upon needy and politically active government union workers who want all they can get of that big pile of other people’ money to fund their programs.

The mere existence of the public education system exemplifies the magnitude of the lust for power and money. If the public funding of education were just about the children, then we would just give the parents of poor children education vouchers. Then those parents could send their children to a decent school of their own choice. Instead, because our rulers insist upon having control, we have government-run schools, expensive schools that at best instill knowledge without wisdom. At worst, public schools instill beliefs in children contrary to those of their parents, clearly a violation of the freedom of religion and parental rights.

Anyway, as I tried to point out to , I don’t think this debate should be about me or about ‘s father. I also don’t think this debate should be about the poor, the needy, the children, the aged, the endless hopes of dreamers and so forth.  What is important is what is good for our country.  As that old post explains, WHAT IS JUST ENOUGH GOVERNMENT?, we all need a good government. Because everyone suffers horribly under a bad government, good government is just too important to jeopardize by using it to redistribute the wealth.

When we put a huge pile of money in front of our leaders and ourselves — when we try to use the Federal treasury as a piggy bank to fund our personal dreams — we don’t realize our dreams. We just fight and claw over a big pile of money, and who gets that money? Ironically, it is those who need it least. As points out, for example.

And here’s a dirty little secret. Private colleges and universities receive huge amounts of federal support, both direct and indirect. For example, scientists at private university compete for the same research dollars as those at public universities. Federal dollars enable colleges and universities to offer a lower tuition rate to poorer students. In practice, there are no private universities.

Our great private colleges, the Ivy League universities, had their beginnings as seminaries. Over the years those schools have become some of the most secularized institutions in the world. Why? Well, they do get lots and lots of government funding. Would government funding of our education system have anything to do with their increasing disinterest in Jesus’ Great Commission? Doesn’t power corrupt?

Doesn’t greed corrupt? Look at that last election. Did our leaders strive to unite us, or did they pit us against each other any way they could?  When the votes were counted, did they — did we — show we want what is best for our people, or did we just prove how much we want and want and want…..

When we vote, it is our own motives that matter most, not the candidate’s or the other party’s. “Why am I voting for this candidate? Is it about my pocketbook or my country? What is my interest in that big, huge pile of taxpayer monies?”

 

THE TRADE-OFFS WE MAKE WITH GOVERNMENT

A Grand Prix motorcyclist leaning in a turn (from here)
A Grand Prix motorcyclist leaning in a turn (from here)

In my last post, 2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 2, we considered the problem of controlling government from a religious perspective. Here we will look at the problem of government from a technical perceptive. That is, what are the basic things that government does that can get out of control? Since this subject has already been addressed numerous times by better authors, I will just refer you to one of them. Here is an excellent summation from Ken Cuccinelli.

We are all familiar with the law of gravity. It is a law of nature, and thankfully, the law of gravity is not considered to be open to debate.

There are other laws of nature — immutable truths that cannot be avoided but that are not as well known.

Among these is the principle that when a government derives its power from the people, such as in a constitutional republic like the United States, every expansion in the role and power of the government automatically results in a reduction in the power and freedom of the people. This law of liberty is as unavoidable as the law of gravity.

There are three ways that government increases its power: raising taxes, increasing spending, and creating more regulation.

It’s easy to see how taxes increase government power and reduce our freedom. The more of our earnings the government takes from us for its own purposes, the less we have left to spend on ourselves and our families, and the fewer choices we have in our lives. Fewer choices means less liberty.

Because the federal government’s spending is not tied to its taxing power (it historically spends more than it collects), spending is not directly related to taxes.

Therefore, the more things our government attempts to do — i.e., the more money it spends — the less there is for us to do. This crowding out of citizens means less freedom for them.

The third part in the law of liberty is perhaps even more nefarious, because it tends to be subtler. More regulations means the government is ordering us to do something or restricting us from what we are otherwise allowed to do. (continued here)

Why the picture of the motorcycle? Whenever we do anything, we have to make trade-offs. When a motorcyclist takes a turn, he must anticipate the trade-offs. He can lean into the turn to compensate for the fact that turning increases the forces throwing him outward, but how much he can lean into the turn depends upon the his tires and the friction provided by the road surface. That means the faster he goes the greater the risk of slipping and sliding. Therefore, the motorcyclist seeks an optimum speed, one that allows him to win without sliding out of control.

As Cuccinelli observed, increased taxes, increased spending, and increased regulation forces us to make trade-offs. Where is the optimum? How much should our government tax us? How much should our government spend? Where should we draw the line and say we have enough regulations? Since government uses force or the threat of force to collect taxes, spend our money, and regulate us, I think the answer is a moral one, not just a technical one.

When we call government taxation, spending, and regulation moral issues, what does that mean in practice? It means we must make certain we know exactly what it is that we need our government to do and why government must do it instead of public-spirited, charitable private entities. Is what we want the government to do actually worth throwing some of our neighbors in jail?

WITHOUT HONOR THERE CAN BE NO PEACE

preamble to the constitutionThere are two ways of looking at honor with respect to peace.  Pride drives us to say no peace without honor.  In other words, unless our opponent offers conditions that guarantee our self-respect, we won’t quite fighting.  That’s a frivolous way of looking at honor.

The second way of looking at honor with respect to peace has to do with honor as a virtue. How is honor a virtue? Well, there is some ambiguity in that matter.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.” This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to “reputation” and “fame”; to “privileges of rank or birth”, and as “respect” of the kind which “places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence.” This sort of honour is not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to sexuality, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) “chastity” or “virginity”, or in case of married men and women, “fidelity”. Some have argued that honour should be seen more as a rhetoric, or set of possible actions, than as a code. (from here)

In our society rank still exists. So people with power, because of their pride, still demand honor. For the most part, however, we expect people to earn honor by gaining a reputation for virtuous conduct and personal integrity. At least, that’s the theory. Nevertheless, we still honor the powerful. Why? Some among us do fear the powerful, but the more serious issue is that we no longer share a common code of honor. Instead of honoring virtuous conduct and integrity, many of us will just as happily honor power, wealth, and fame.

Western Civilization once shared a common ethical system based upon the Bible. Most people of European descent understood the Bible to be literally true, and they believed all of the Bible was the word of God. During the Protestant Reformation, if anything, such sentiments about the Bible grew even stronger.  However, the Protestant Reformation also set in motion an opposite trend. Instead of the Roman Catholic clergy being the sole interpreters of the faith, Protestantism made it possible for anyone to decide for themselves the meaning of Bible. In fact, these days we can decide what the Bible means without having ever read it. Hence, Western Civilization’s shared code of honor (or ethics) is slowly dissolving into gibberish.

Consider an obvious controversy.  The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as a sin. Nevertheless, many mainstream Christian churches don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. Is there any practical way to condone homosexuality based upon what the Bible actually says? No, but once we decide feelings matter more than the truth what the Bible actually says does not matter. We can be a Christian and even say the Bible says homosexuality is okay.

How does this sort of integrity relate to peace? Virtuous conduct, especially as it relates to integrity, requires an unwavering respect for the truth. Otherwise, peace is logically impossible because we cannot work out and maintain the compromises that make peace possible.

Consider what a compromise involves. People meet. They discuss their objectives and their differences. Then they reach an agreement that sorts out their objectives and their differences so that each party to the agreement gets most of what wants at the cost of some objectives it cedes to the other parties.

What is the key to a successful compromise? Well, good negotiators help, but the main ingredient is usually honor (that is, a high degree of integrity). Each of the parties to a compromise has to be willing to honor the agreement as written.

The Constitution, for example, is a compromise. Because of the compromises it contains, the Constitution allowed the 13 original colonies, each a small country with its own interests, to come together as a federation.  The Constitution worked because most of the citizens of each of the colonies fully expected their leaders to abide by the document as written.

Unfortunately, the integrity of our people is not exactly what it use to be. Now many of our leaders regard the Constitution as a Living Constitution.

In United States constitutional interpretation, the Living Constitution (or loose constructionism) is the claim that the Constitution has a dynamic meaning or that it has the properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes. The idea is associated with views that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases. (from here)

What is the problem with a Living Constitution? If the compromises in the Constitution are “living compromises”, then what are the compromises? Why would anyone want to be party to a compromise that can be arbitrarily changed by the “other side”? What good does it even do to put agreement on paper if after a period of time the agreement can be arbitrarily changed by unelected judges?

We can discuss how we think the Constitution has changed, but all we can know is what something in the Constitution meant the last time the Supreme Court issued a ruling. Tomorrow? Who knows? Yesterday? Well, it seems history is just so beyond us. Only highfalutin experts can rightfully have an opinion, but consider these examples. Before the Supreme Court’s decisions related Social Security, Obamacare, or to same sex “marriage”, would any of those things have been legal? Were they legal in the several decades before each suddenly became legal? Was the Constitution actually changed to make them legal?

Let me close this post with one last observation. In a very real sense, our Constitution is a peace treaty. Search The Federalist Papers for the word “peace” and you will get 175 hits. Sometimes the writers spoke of the need for a Constitution to maintain peace with other nations. Each colony on its own was too weak to easily defend itself. Often, however, the writers also worried the colonies would fight among themselves, and they were right. Because they could not agree about the issue of slavery, in spite of the Constitution there was war between the states.

What we honor matters.