The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Champion of the Unborn

by Adam McIntosh

I confess: I supported Congressman Ron Paul during the presidential primaries. I thought he was the only candidate anywhere near to a biblical view of government on the major issues. What are the major issues, you ask? Well, there’s that annoying idea about actually obeying your oath to follow the Constitution; economic and monetary policy; war and foreign policy; and civil liberties. These are broad categories that include numerous issues. Overlapping each of them is the issue of abortion. I highly respected Paul for his firm stance against abortion. He seemed to truly care about the unborn in a way other pro-life candidates didn’t. Not only did he spend a career delivering babies, he published two full books against abortion and introduced legislation each session of Congress that would have outlawed abortion nationwide. There is no politician in recent history that can match Paul’s zeal when it comes to protecting the unborn.

All pro-life candidates say they want to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. They say they are for a constitutional amendment defining the unborn as persons under the law. These two positions alone will give any candidate an automatic stamp of approval from pro-lifers, even if all evidence points to the candidate being insincere. I think it’s time to raise our standards.

Paul certainly wants Roe v. Wade overturned and the unborn defined as legal persons, but both methods mentioned above are unrealistic. The majority of Supreme Court justices in the last forty years have been Republican-appointed. Five of the seven justices who passed Roe v. Wade were Republican-appointed. Have we seen any attempts to overturn Roe since then? Of course not. And don’t forget, a Republican-appointed justice was the deciding factor in passing Obamacare. Gambling the lives of innocent children to the Supreme Court has been a losing game from the start. Only delusional gamblers keep playing.

Likewise, a constitutional amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states before it becomes law. Do we really think there are thirty-eight states willing to do so? Declaring the personhood of the unborn would take years to pass (if ever) with millions of abortions continuing in the meantime. This strategy is simply a distraction from the true solution.

Paul’s Sanctity of Life Act would have removed jurisdiction from the Supreme Court and defined the unborn as persons with full protection under the law. You don’t need new justices or amendments – the Constitution gives Congress the power to remove jurisdiction from the Supreme Court. Republicans could have passed this bill when they controlled all three branches of government under George W. Bush. Did they? Nope. Paul never received more than five cosponsors, but that didn’t stop him from introducing his bill every congressional session. In his current and final year in Congress, Paul’s bill has zero cosponsors.

Unfortunately, conservative evangelicals were largely critical of Paul during his political career. He was mistaken by many as “not pro-life enough” all because he didn’t use the typical rhetoric. In reality, Paul was perhaps the most pro-life congressman of this generation. The pro-life movement will not see many victories until we reassess our strategies and start following Paul’s example. May his efforts not be in vain; and may the Lord Jesus Christ raise up leaders who will carry on his legacy.

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Reflection on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

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Bartolome Esteban Murillo, The Martyrdom of St. Andrew

Today the Church remembers St. Andrew the first Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a martyr for the faith.

About:

St. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was born in the Galilean village of Bethsaida. Originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, Andrew then became the first of Jesus’ disciples (John 1:35-40). His name regularly appears in the Gospels near the top of the lists of the Twelve. It was he who first introduced his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:41-42). He was, in a real sense, the first home missionary, as well as the first foreign missionary (John 12:20-22). Tradition says Andrew was martyred by crucifixion on a cross in the form of an X. In AD 357, his body is said to have been taken to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and later removed to the cathedral of Amalfi in Italy. Centuries later, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the Western Church Year, since the First Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day.

Reflection:

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/13/Martyrdom_of_andrew.jpgReverent hearts, we hold the feast of the apostle Andrew in Christendom as the first in the [Church] Year not only because it falls near the season of Advent but also because Andrew was called first, before the other apostles, by the Lord Jesus. Even Durandus the bishop of Mende (13th century liturgist) , says, “The saints are be honored by imitation, not adored, as honor them as gods. They are to be honored with love, not adored with servitude.”

Now history tells us how St. Andrew. together with his fellows conducted their new office. Right away they left their nets and followed the Lord Jesus. And again, right away they left the ship and their father and followed Him. To them, Jesus is now the most precious one on earth—according to His mind they learn, according to His words they teach, according to His will they live, according to His decree they suffer and die. When St. Andrew was threatened with the cross, he said joyfully, “If I feared the punishment of the cross, I would never have preached the mystery of the cross.” Then when he saw the cross, he spoke, “Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you.” And when he was living after three days on the cross, his hearers wanted to take him down by force, but he said, “Ah, let God take care of it! Do not make the peace of the Gospel suspect by your unnecessary revolt against the government.” That was apostolic constancy and long-suffering! This is what it means to “leave everything and follow Christ,” all the way to the last catch of fish.”

—Valerius Herberger (21 April 1562-18 May 1627, a German Lutheran preacher and theologian)

All of the above cited from the Lutheran Treasury of Daily Prayer.

I hate to interrupt your hysterical weeping, but maybe this poll would be worse if Romney had won

A new poll out by Gallup shows that for the first time since 2000, a majority of Americans believe it isn’t the responsibility of our federal government to provide healthcare to all Americans.

Government responsible for healthcare of all Americans?.gif

via POLL: Majority of Americans against federal guarantee of healthcare « MichelleFields.com.

[Note: I have no idea why the image won’t show. Until someone can fix it, you’ll have to follow the link.]

I’m not now, just as I never have, promoting some kind of strategy for getting Obama elected to teach anyone a lesson. But I’m just saying that it could happen.

And you should pray that it does.

Luther on the Inseparability of Faith and Good Works

Faith, however is a divine work in us that changes us and makes us to be born anew of God, [John 1:12-12]. It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times. This knowledge of and confidence in God’s grace makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all creatures. And this is the work that the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready and glad to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God, who has show him this grace. Thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire.

–Martin Luther, from his Preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, cited in the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, IV. 10-12

Christians Hide Jews, Kill Muslims?



Bonhoeffer Steve Macias Israel Gaza

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated — in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer



Hitler’s Ghettos and Concentration Camps

During the Second World War, German Nazis isolated Jews from the non-Jews, creating thousands of enclosed communities, subjecting Jews to the brutality of the SS and miserable prison-like conditions. These ghettos were a temporary provision until the Nazis decided how to be rid of the “terrorists” within their borders. Once dispersed throughout Germany, Jews were now forced out of their homes into designated areas, and Jews escaping sealed ghettos were shot. Germans carefully monitored what and who went in and out.

Ghetto Uprisings



As conditions in the ghettos worsened, more Jews were deported and sent to killing centers, while the imprisoned became increasingly resistant to the Nazis, to the point that in 1942 Jews began acting in armed rebellion. Using pistols and hand grenades, Jews in Warsaw made sporadic raids against Nazi forces. The Nazis quickly sought to quell such rebellions, reducing the ghetto to ruins and sending the remaining inmates to work camps and killing centers.



Media Teaches “Jews as Aggressors”



Following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hitler established his own state media. The “Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment” was headed by Joseph Goebbels, and it taught that Germany had been subverted by the Jews. The Nazi regime story was that Jews were not only subhuman, but also dangerous enemies of the German Reich. Germany was presented as the defender of “Western” culture against the “Judeo-Bolshevik threat, and painted an apocalyptic picture of what would happen if the Soviets won the war. They consistently sought to connect “Jewry” to Soviet communism.



Hitler Abusing Religion



The fact that many Christians then in Germany were nominal cultural Christians who were indoctrinated into the Nazi worldview helps to “explain how the SS troops could perform monstrous acts of cruelty and yet return home for Christmas and attend church and still think of themselves as good Christians. They were not murderers, they were men who were building a race of supermen and helping the inferior people get on with their evolutionary journey” (Lutzer, 1995, p. 95).

Hitler and the Nazis abused the influence of Christianity, using Christian terms to attempt to justify their actions. They published mottos like, “ He who serves our Führer, Adolf Hitler, serves Germany, and he who serves Germany, serves God” (Germany 1918-1945 – by J. A. Cloake), allowing Hitler to attach his ideals to a very non-Christian agenda. Hitler’s SS brainwashed and intimidated pastors to support his goals, to realign their theological standards to fit the anti-Jew propaganda.

Christians Rescuing Jews

Those who escaped killing centers or ghettos hid in annexes, attics, cabinets, or any place where they could be concealed from the German Gestapo. Christians hid Jews as both an act of resistance to the Germans and as acts of charity towards their fellow man. While Christians risked death by hiding them, Jews were at least outwardly saved by following Christian rituals like attending church and learning the New Testament. This type of ministry led to conversions to Jesus Christ, as well. For instance, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who hid from the Nazis, was later baptized and then became a priest. The Christianity that had helped them survive the Nazis became the Christianity that saved some eternally.



As a Christian, Would You Hide Jews from Nazi Germany?

If your answer is yes, please consider how that relates to our current situation in the Middle East.

Gaza: Israel’s Concentration Camp

Just after the Second World War, non-Jews, both Muslim and Christian, were forced out of their homes or fled due to fear of terrorist attacks on their homes. Since 1948, they haven’t been allowed to return to their homes, subjected to an open-air ghetto/prison in the Gaza strip. Eighty percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are Palestinian refugees. For 60 years, Israel has denied the internationally recognized rights of Palestinian refugees because they are not Jews. Israel is an occupying force in Palestine. It exercises complete control of the West Bank and Gaza. They use brute force and bombs whenever the ghetto gets restless.

Gaza Uprisings


Enter Hamas. Much like the Jews who banded together to rebel against Nazi Germany, Hamas is a response to the bondage under Israel. As Israel encroaches deeper into the West Bank and Gaza, continuing to oppress Muslims in their foreign captivity, groups like Hamas become increasingly resistant to Israel. On November 8, 2012, an Israeli military incursion invading Gaza, killed a 13-year-old Palestinian boy. The men of the open-air prison rebelled, and the next few days were a back-and-forth retaliation between Israel and Gaza rebels. During this time, the Israeli government called a cabinet meeting, and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz urged the government to “cut off the head of the snake… take out the leadership of Hamas in Gaza.” He also called for cutting off water, food, electricity, and fuel shipments to Gaza’s 1.7 million people. 

Israel quickly sought to quell such rebellions, reducing the ghetto to ruins and sending forces in to bomb the area, killing rebels, civilians, women, and children, without discrimination.

I

 do not condone the terrorist actions of Hamas against innocent civilians, any more than I do on the part of Israel. Neither side is responding in appropriate ways, and both need the tertium quid (third solution): the Gospel and condemnation of all violence and oppression.

Media Teaches “Muslims as Aggressors”

Following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, its “right to self defense” has been promoted in all western media. Now “Islam is the threat to Israel,” and the Jewish terrorists who expelled the Muslims from their homes are portrayed as the victim as they continue a genocide against non-combatants and non-Jews. History has been re-written as we are to believe that Israel is the victim of blood-thirsty, “they hate us for our freedom” Muslim extremists. Like Germany, Israel is presented as the defender of “Western” culture against the “Islam-Jihadist” threat, and an apocalyptic picture is painted of what would happen if the Palestinians returned to their homes. Like German propaganda, the religious hate-fueled support for the continued war crimes is the official line, while Israel is given “victimhood” status.

Think about it: How can it be the Christian solution to uncritically support Israel if Democrats, Republicans, and Obama all agree to it?



Jewish State Abusing Religion

American Christians have been duped– they have attached some extra-Biblical spiritual significance to the Jewish state. We are told by false teachers like John Hagee that God blesses those that bless Israel and so we are to support Israel, no matter what. Back in 2010, I wrote, “Promises to Israel, to the seed of Abraham, to the true Jew are to those who are in Christ. Christians are the only people who will receive God’s covenant promises, by faith. The free pass evangelicals have given the modern Israelite is contrary to the clear and plain teachings of the Scripture. They teach that the Jewish people have a title to the land that transcends virtually any other consideration, including unbelief, rebellion, and hatred toward Christ and His church.”

Israel doesn’t care about protecting Western culture, nor do they want anything to do with Christianity. Israel is one of the least Christian nations in the Middle East for a reason: their Talmud teaches that Christ was sent to Hell along with His adulterous mother Mary and His followers, to all to be tortured in boiling excrement. The Jewish faith today is a religious hatred for Christianity. And they are hardly a beacon of western Christian culture – Israel’s Tel Aviv is “an international gay vacation destination,” one of the “Most Gay-Friendly Cities in the World,” and is famous for its annual “Pride Parade” and “Gay Beach.” Over 20,000 children are aborted in Israel each year, with the country’s lax abortion policies, and Israel has almost no active pro-life movement, which is not surprising at it is Christianity that is the foundation for the pro-life cause.

Yet Israel has allowed itself to attach to Christian Zionism, a modern revision of biblical eschatology, and thus has access the American taxpayer’s pocketbook. Dispensational pastors who want to usher in the “end times,” by helping Jews settle in their “homeland,” where they believe they will all be killed in the Battle of Armageddon, support Israel’s existence and realign their theological standards to fit anti-Muslim propaganda.

Christians Rescuing Muslims

As Dr. Ron Paul has said, “US foreign policy being so one-sided actually results in more loss of life and of security on both sides. Surely Israelis do not enjoy the threat of missiles from Gaza nor do the Palestinians enjoy their Israel-imposed inhuman conditions in Gaza. But as long as Israel can count on its destructive policies being underwritten by the US taxpayer it can continue to engage in reckless behavior. And as long as the Palestinians feel the one-sided US presence lined up against them they will continue to resort to more and more deadly and desperate measures.”

Those who have escaped Israel’s bombings or blockades over Gaza hide. But unlike the Jews in the Holocaust, there are no Christian homes to hide in. Christians in America support pagan Israel. The Muslims either fight or die.

How does this help Christianity in that region of the world?



As a Christian, Would You Hide Muslims in the Gaza Strip From Israel Today?

If your answer is yes, please consider that response in relation to the United States’ support for Israel’s war crimes. It’s easy to hide our conscience behind the propaganda like the many Christian Germans who went along with Hitler, only later to wish they could have stopped him. Let’s hide the Muslims, not because they’re special or better than Jews, but because it is our responsibility to “do justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).

Instead of sending three billion dollars each year to Israel, how about three billion Bibles? Three million missionaries? Three Thousand Churches? This nation is dying and it is in worse condition than any Muslim country out there as long as they continue to believe they are God’s chosen people apart from Christ.

“Legislative Productivity” = Worst Euphemism Ever!

Today’s Congress is the least productive in the nation’s history. At least, so claims a soon-to-be published paper by Rosanna Kim ‘13.

Kim’s work, which analyzes the 112th Congress using a model of legislative productivity designed by political scientist Sarah Binder, will be published later this year in The Fellows Review. Kim completed the research while working last year as a Fellow for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC).

via Worst Congress Ever? Ask Rosanna Kim | Daily Gazette.

What a horror story we live in. It is bad enough we have an committee that meets regularly that justifies its existence by the passage of new laws. Now, they are actually criticized if they don’t pass more faster.

And why is there gridlock? Because there are many people, or a significant minority that opposes the law. What kind of democracy are we going to have if it is considered a problem when Congress doesn’t violate the will of the people?

Israel never had a legislature. Nor did Rome, truth be told. The English Common Law developed without a legislature. In fact, if England had always had Parliament it would never “common law” would never have come into existence.

The law is supposed to be the application of ethical principles to situations. It develops by court processes. It evolves naturally in a society (at least to the extent that the society has a known ethical code that is shared by the members of that society–maybe that helps explain the demand for “legislative productivity”).

Legislatures are interventionists in this natural process in society. They wreck it.

I realize that, due to our political circumstances and the nine rulers of the US known as the Supreme Court, that American conservatives have come to oppose “judge made law.” But, in general, judge-made law is far preferable to legislatures.

For further reading, I highly recommend Freedom and the Law by Bruno Leoni. It is by no means a Christian book, but it is of great value to Christians and will help them understand ancient Israel and how law is supposed to develop far better than many other Christian works.

You can read it online here.

Cross posted at Christendom Unbound

The Messianic Character of American Politics

During the Soul Train awards telecast last night, Jamie Foxx declared his undying allegiance to his Messiah. But this is not the Creator of Heaven and Earth confessed by the apostolic church, rather, as Foxx enthusiastically declared: “First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior Barack Obama. Barack Obama.” If we were following Pauline logic, one would conclude that Foxx referred to God as Barack Obama.

M. Catharine Evans wrote on the American Thinker that the biblically saturated language describing Obama is actually the hallmark of Marxist thought: “If delusions of grandeur were good enough for Marx in 1848 they’re good enough for Obama in 2012.”

As examples of this messianic language, consider writer Ezra Klein who said before Obama was elected in 2008: “He is not the Word made flesh but the triumph of the word over flesh.” Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan called his neighbor the Messiah. A Danish newspaper pronounced Obama “greater than Jesus.” The first lady Michelle Obama once declared of her husband: “This President has brought us out of the dark and into the light.”

But this is 2012. Though Obama was re-elected convincingly, traces of his messianic character are all but gone. After all, to quote Quin Hillyer: “The parade of abuses, incompetencies, extravagances, and illegalities goes on and on.” The reality, however, for Obama’s supporters is that like the death of his first four years in office, the second four years promises to be done in resurrection style. The promises are many. The gifts are abundant. The deliverance will be great. Watch and see for he will come just as a thief in the night!

Who are we kidding?

Obama is the paragon of incompetency. Hollywood’s worship of Obama is simply a further witness to the moral decay and Constitutional illiteracy of most in this nation. Obama is certainly a savior. He delivers people from misery to misery.

The messianic character of American politics is a mere reflection of a people who trust in horses and chariots, and who have bowed their knees to a false deliverer.

What’s the most important economic lesson Americans need to learn?

By Kuyperian Commentary Special Contributing Scholar, Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.

There are any number of appropriate ways to answer this question. I have for years now affirmed that the most foundational economic truth is that God owns everything. We need to learn that, down to our toes. I have also affirmed that the first law of economics is that consuming more than we produce leads to poverty, consuming less than we produce leads to prosperity. Grasping these truths would go rather a long way in fixing what ails us, economically speaking.

Having barely survived another election season, however, and mourning the end of Twinkies, I’m tempted instead to start with this lesson- governments cannot create any wealth, though they can and usually do destroy wealth. On both sides of the aisle we had voters demanding and candidates promising more jobs, better health care, rising home values. Government, however, is a parasitic institution rather than a productive one. That is, the government doesn’t actually produce anything. Everything that it has it first must take from someone else. If it “invests” in infrastructure, it does so with money taken from others who would invest where there was market demand. Federal loans (or guarantees which amount to the same thing) to green companies happen because people investing their own money don’t think it a wise investment. Turns out people were right, the government wrong, again. The key point, however, is that they had to take money from you and me first.

Please remember this when the left complains of corporate greed supplanting human need. What these folks mean is, “I know better what to do with the wealth of stockholders than they know. I should have control over the wealth of others.”  Every dollar directed by the state is a dollar that once belonged to someone else, who would make market decisions, rather than political ones.

Which brings us to the other side of the coin. The state cannot create wealth, but they certainly can destroy it. The notion that businesses can just pass tax burdens on to consumers is patently false. Suppose for a moment that Michelle Obama successfully lobbies for a Twinkie Tax of $10 a Twinkie. How many Twinkies will Hostess be able to sell? Demand for a given product or service goes down when prices go up, even if prices go up because of an increased tax burden. Lowering demand is generally bad for business.

Governments also destroy wealth by inflating the money supply. This is a tax on savings. My $1 can buy a loaf of bread in an economy with x paper dollars. Double the number of paper dollars to 2x and dollars to donuts my dollar will now buy only half a loaf. The government, without taxing me, without breaking into the bank, has stolen half a loaf of bread from me. Inflation isn’t businesses being greedy, but governments being devious and destructive.

Finally governments can destroy wealth by regulating businesses. Requiring companies to provide health insurance to its employees, or pay them a wage above some arbitrary standard may seem like a good idea. Until we realize that wages are actually determined by supply and demand. If it costs me $10 an hour, because of government mandates, to hire someone for a job that I value at $9 an hour simply means no one gets hired to do the job. Multiply that principle across the board at a given business and it will go out of business.

God gave the state the power of the sword, to punish evildoers. That’s what they are to do. When they step outside their calling hardship comes, every time. Economies create wealth. Governments punish evildoers.

(Original piece can be found here. Also visit R.C. Sproul Jr. at his new website)

Biblical Economics and Killing Flies with Vinegar

A few days ago there was a blog post by Bojidar Marinov critiquing a recent article in First Things by Dr. Peter Leithart entitled “Capitalism and its Contradictions.” This article was an addendum to Dr. Leithart’s initial post-election piece, “The Religious Right after Reaganism.” It might be an understatement to call Marinov’s critique scathing. Let’s just say it’s clear the recipe for Marinov’s fly-killing solution contains no honey and more than enough vinegar to drown a cat.

But before we delve into Marinov’s lengthy critique, it’s worth taking a look at what Peter Leithart said.

As a starting point, let me clarify that the term “capitalism” here refers to the actual economic form that has evolved over the past several centuries. It does not refer to a theoretical ideal of a “free market.” Capitalism as a historical ordering of economic life has not taken shape in a “state-free” zone. In many places (including the US), industrial capitalism was promoted if not created by the state. Whatever the theoretical virtues of a state-free free market, it is not the economy we have or have ever had. One may reserve the word “capitalism” for the ideal free market; that is anyone’s semantic prerogative. But I don’t.

This definition puts us in a particular stance toward capitalism from the outset. If “capitalism” means an ideal of economic freedom, one might give it unqualified support. One might even say that the American economy might be far better off if it conformed to the capitalist ideal. Theoretical models can be pure, historical societies and economies are not. Since we’re talking about a historical form, we have to discriminate between goods and lesser goods and evils, pluses and minuses and things in between

Looking at this section, if one were to read it charitably, giving Dr. Leithart the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t actually a Marxist in conservative Reformed clerical garb, we should read a critique by Leithart of crony capitalism, corporatism, fascism, or what Dr. Leithart probably unhelpfully calls “capitalism.”

Further down Leithart references self-described socialist (as Marinov notes in his critique) and sociologist Daniel Bell.

[Bell] identified some real tensions in capitalist democracies – structural tensions between the aims of economic life and the aims of politics and culture, and tensions between the virtues needed for capitalism to succeed and the desires that its success tends to arouse. He worried that capitalism is so good at responding to and meeting consumer desires that its slick efficiency inhibits the development of settled public moral standards.

As Bell argued, the capitalist system has had a corrosive effect on families and traditional societies. Sometimes the structures that it destroys need to be destroyed, and the benefits are worth the costs. But when, for example, the notion of consumer choice infiltrates families and sexuality (which it has), then big social problems follow. Sometimes the corrosions arise because the wealth capitalism generates enable people to pursue morally questionable fantasies. Sometimes the corrosions have happened because the state broke up traditional patterns of life in the name of “modernization” or “industrialization.” Capitalism’s infatuation with novelty spills over beyond the economy. (That image is a problem, since the economy is never bounded off from the rest of life in the first place.) Whatever the cause, my goal was to point out that promoting capitalism might inhibit other goals of the religious right.

Of course, Bell is a left-liberal critic of capitalism (it is likely Bell does not make a distinction between actual free markets or phony-crony “capitalism”), but from what Leithart refers to Bell seems to agree with no less than that proto-Marxist, Cotton Mather, when he said, “prosperity beget faithfulness, and the daughter consumed the mother.”

In his conclusion, Dr. Leithart says:

The question is: What social and economic order best promotes the good of the poor? It’s clear that the massive American welfare system is not the way to take care of the needs of the poor; quite the opposite. Any statist system is dangerous, if not outright evil. Some of the basic features of capitalist economies are crucial to forming a just economy: Free markets and protection of property rights are good for the poor (as Henando de Soto has emphasized). Elijah, Isaiah, and Amos stood up for the property rights of small landowners against the machinations of the wealthy. Further, Scripture provides various models for how the church can address poverty – gleaning laws and even the Old Testament slavery laws offer much food for thought. The economic system that best secures and protects families is also the best economic system for the poor; family breakdown is often a cause of poverty, and even where it is not a cause, it regularly accompanies poverty.

Of course, there’s no either-or choice. In a just society, there are opportunities for expanding wealth and also opportunities for the poor to rise from poverty as well structures for the relief of poverty. Both are social goods, but the test of whether the society is just is the latter not the former.

Here Leithart leaves the question mostly unanswered (characteristic of a scholar rather than an ideologue). To me it seems rather obvious. The church should have a vision for society that respects the Spirit’s moving in the hearts of men. That is, after all, what the law of supply and demand is. Because Christians are not anarchists, this vision should include a state; a state that seeks out justice as God defines it, which precludes any type of redistribution of wealth by the state. A Christian society is one where goods and services are exchanged freely. Implicit in this arrangement is a refusal by the wealthy to use the power of the state to crush the poor, but rather a gratitude to God for His blessing them and charity towards the poor in response. A society like that is truly the only way that the poor can be taken care of. This is, of course, only possible with a society filled with mature Christians. The kind of society we pray God will bring whenever we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Now, as to Marinov’s critique, not much needs to be quoted to get a feel the tone:

In reality, far from clarification, Leithart leaves a trail of confused, illogical babble that is self-contradictory at best. But at the end, the call to action is firmly Marxist.

And

Far from proving some “inner contradictions” characteristic to capitalism, Peter Leithart has only demonstrated the true inner contradictions of his own thinking.

And

Not content with demonstrating his own logical contradictions, Leithart is also demonstrating his and the Federal Vision’s abandonment of the Covenant Theology of the Reformation. Sinful desires do not come from the heart, they come from the economic environment of man; and capitalism must be blamed for the dissolution of the “settled public moral standards.” It’s the wealth it created that is the moral problem. Without that wealth, and without the “slick efficiency” of capitalism, our society would have been much more ethical and just.

And lastly

Leithart’s call at the end is entirely without justification in the Bible but is in harmony with the common socialist and statist leanings of the modern church. The new model for “justice” is re-distribution of wealth, not obedience to the Law of God. Subsidizing poverty is what defines a “just society” for Leithart; encouraging obedience and therefore economic productivity and freedom are only a second thought. Theonomy has been replaced by a new Social Gospel preaching.

I think I can understand why Marinov is a little bit jumpy when notable conservative Reformed Evangelicals seem to be attacking biblical economics in favor of some kind of socialist scheme. It isn’t like Bojidar Marinov is creating conservative Reformed Evangelical (who-are-kind-of-okay-with-socialism) boogeymen—N.T. Wright and James K. A. Smith are prominent names that come to mind. It is certain that a biblical formulation of economics is coming under attack, and this is what Marinov is reacting to, and I have considerable sympathy for him in this regard. This is a battle that I think will be brewing in conservative Reformed circles during and beyond my lifetime, a battle over the answer to the question, “what economic system does Jesus want?” I think Bojidar and I are kindred spirits with regard to the answer to that question. The problem is that we can be absolutely correct and lose that battle, and set the maturation of our corner of the church back quite a bit. We can either deal with men who disagree with us on that question in a charitable way and try to win them, or go down the road of the Christian Reconstructionists and stop speaking to one another because we disagree with what the blood on the doorposts at Passover really meant.

Romney’s Loss: The Abortion Factor

by Adam McIntosh

Nothing puzzled me more than when conservatives kept insisting that Mitt Romney was a pro-life candidate for president. Many voters cast their ballot for Romney last week because of the abortion issue alone. Likewise, many Americans – including Christians – didn’t vote for Romney because of the abortion issue alone. Not because they are pro-choice, but because they don’t believe Romney is truly pro-life. It is an undeniable fact that Mitt Romney has been on both sides of the abortion debate throughout his career. Inconsistency is usually a good sign of not being trustworthy, but people can change their minds. For now, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The official narrative we are given is that Romney converted to the pro-life position in 2004. Throughout the 2012 campaign, he has used the typical pro-life rhetoric to his advantage. His website even had a great section on protecting the unborn. So far, so good. One could easily conclude that his days of supporting legal abortion and funding Planned Parenthood are done and in the past. But what did he say in the months leading up to election night?

On September 9th Romney was asked on NBC’s Meet The Press if he would fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. He replied:

Well, I don’t actually make the decision the Supreme Court makes and so they’ll have to make their own decision … I’ll reverse the president’s decision on using U.S. funds to pay for abortion outside this country. I don’t think also the taxpayers here should have to pay for abortion in this country … I hope to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution. And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe v. Wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.”

Though not the best answer, it is consistent with a pro-life position. Let’s continue.

On September 23rd Romney told CBS:

My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother. But recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court. The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

On October 9th Romney said to the Des Moines Register:

There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

The very next day, October 10th, Romney said:

I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I’ve indicated I’ll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy.”

On October 16th Romney releases a TV ad pandering to pro-choice voters:

You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme… Turns out, Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life.”

That’s five total statements regarding abortion over the span of five weeks and only two of them are consistent with a pro-life position. That means his pro-abortion statements outweigh his anti-abortion statements. His two good statements aren’t even unique to the pro-life movement! Certainly, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund abortions and Roe v. Wade should be overturned. But these ideals could just as well be uttered by a pro-choice constitutionalist. So, how should we interpret all of this?

Romney’s stated views are not exclusively pro-life and he can’t offer us a constitutional argument. He defers all responsibility to the Supreme Court, ignoring that the Constitution gives Congress the power to strip jurisdiction from federal courts. A pro-life president could push Congress to pass personhood legislation, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade. But not Romney. There’s no abortion legislation on his agenda, remember? The Supreme Court will have to make their own decision, remember? Romney wants abortion to be legal, remember? He alluded to abortion being a valid form of contraception, remember? It makes one wonder what’s left for Romney to be “pro-life” about.

There may have been legitimate reasons to vote for Romney last week. Unfortunately, pro-life activism wasn’t one of them.

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