The Kuyperian Commentary

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

Archive for the category “Politics”

The Irony of Independence Day

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By Andrew Isker

Today as an American, if you were to log into social media, turn on the television, or even step outside your front door, you would hear the refrain, “I am thankful for our freedom, because we live in America.” While it is good to celebrate the few freedoms we do have left, to do so without any idea of where we came from and where we are going is utterly foolish.

That we have more freedom than, say, the subjects of the Soviet Union or Mao’s China, is not up for debate. We are not forced to starve on collectivist farms, nor herded into a gulag if we complain about it. And for all I know, today America might be the most free country in the entire world. But Americans in 2013 are far less free than Americans in 1776. For that matter, Americans in 2013 are far less free than Americans in 2012. This country would be unrecognizable to 18th century Americans. And it wouldn’t be (just) because of airplanes, iPhones, and automobiles. It would be because we think a people who are spied on, who are compelled to pay onerous taxes, and who are so enslaved to lust they would murder one million babies per year are free. If one were to look at the list of grievances against King George III in the Declaration of Independence, almost all of them could be levied against our government, and in fact, far more damning grievances could be added if the document was written with the U.S. Federal Government, rather than the British Monarch, in mind: 

 “He has intruded upon the privacy of a free people, and has protected the criminals who tread upon our rights.”

 “He has furnished the heathen with arms, allowing him to slaughter our good Christian brethren.”

 “He has perverted the institutions of our society; he has called evil ‘good’ and good ‘evil.’”

 “He has played the whore with houses of commerce, and willfully aided their despicable machinations.”

 It should be noted, that while 1776 is a good historical marker to show how much our freedom has diminished, to set that time up as a standard for freedom is idolatrous. Our ultimate standard for what freedom and a free people looks like must be the Word of God, not the ideals of 18th Century secessionists (who, lest we forget, were largely guided by a biblical idea of freedom). And the only way for freedom to be restored in this country is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to sweep across the country. And when that comes, celebration of Independence Day will no longer be ironic.

Worship and the Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness

By Uri Brito

This is a great day for these United States. It is a time of joy and celebration. And we hope to enjoy ourselves with one of America’s greatest inventions: hot dogs. But beyond all the fireworks, parades, and the good and healthy national festivities, we will also remember that in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. Sovereignty is good. It is right. And I believe there was much wisdom in that threefold pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness. Undoubtedly we have not followed those principles very well in this nation. We have despised life by disposing of unborn infants, we have forgotten that God has set us free from ourselves and from the tyranny of sin, and we have also forsaken the liberty given to any nation whose God is the Lord. Therefore, we receive the just punishment we deserve, and that means the majority of our politicians and their policies. Washington has become a place of secret handshakes, unwarranted transactions, political elitism, sophist rhetoric, and cowardice. And finally, the happiness that we should certainly pursue is largely devoid of any form of Trinitarian rationale. Happiness–which is the pursuit of righteousness– without Nature’s God is temporary and unsatisfying.

We are first and foremost heavenly citizens. Our fellowship is heavenly. Our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness are not granted by this nation, but by a heavenly nation that this country has largely ignored. But this should not be the case. We are not pessimists. We know that even in the darkest moment of this country’s history, God is still on the throne, and He did not hit the pause button on his kingdom advance.

Be good citizens of this nation! Sing Psalms so loudly that the enemies will think there is an army of giants coming at them. Speak truth so firmly that Washington will be unable to shut her ears. Stand so strong that nothing will deter you from marching on. Love so convincingly that godly marriage would be honored. Obey the Lord your God; petition his mercy that God would spare us as He did Nineveh.

True patriotism rejoices when our country does right, and weeps when she chases after false gods.

Let us come together this coming Lord’s Day through the holy act of worship, and purify the Bride of Christ with confession and rejoicing, for in this manner this nation will find life, liberty, and true happiness.

Uri Brito is a dual citizen.

DOMA & Gay “Marriage” – a Christian Evaluation

Guest Post by Ben Rossell

In the aftermath of the SCOTUS DOMA ruling, here are 7 points to help us understand why we are where we are and 7 things Christians should do about it.

1. Heterosexual couples destroyed the sanctity of marriage long before the gay rights movement hit the mainstream. “I have two dads, you know.” This is what a young boy I know recently told me. His words struck me. I knew they were true. But I’d never thought of it … like THAT before. His birth parents divorced while he was an infant [for what I believe were sound, Biblical reasons]. His mother went on to remarry a fine Christian man and so, like so many other boys around, he has “two dads”. Why should we think it so odd that this trend continue, though now with the ruthless efficiency of eliminating the mother altogether? A long time ago, our society began to deliberately streamline the process by which a man or woman can dissolve the oath they had previously made before God, church, family, community, and state to stay united until death.  And for decades, the process of oath-breaking has been made more and more convenient.  At this point in our history, “the sanctity of marriage” is nothing more than a hollow-sounding phrase; a string of words that used to mean something.

2. The Heterosexual promiscuity paved the yellowbrick road on which gay rights activists now march – the What young people really mean when they say “Don’t tell THEM what THEY can’t do in THEIR bedroom” is “Don’t tell ME what I can’t do in MY bedroom”.  This is what ‘the pill’ is all about.  What we see today is the fruiting of seeds that were planted fifty years ago and have been faithfully watered and fertilized ever since. Pulling levers and pushing buttons isn’t going to change that or stop what has been in motion for so long. But being faithful will… eventually. This is a bitter fruit, but the story is far from over.   Read more…

“Where’s my Diversity?” asks the Polygamist

By Uri Brito

Does the Supreme Court truly believe in equality? If so, why is the long tradition of polygamy being discriminated against? As Steve Deace observes:

They’re just as guilty of discrimination as those dastardly conservatives still bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion. Why no argument for polygamy, polyamory and other forms of diversity? Why are they only defending their exclusive definition of diversity?

The LGBT should be up and arms about not valuing other types of consensual relationships like polygamy. Is this the next step? Or to put the question more forcibly, “is this the inevitable next step?” Read more…

The SCOTUS Decision and the Christian Future

by Uri Brito

Christians are called to be a future-oriented people. This is easy to forget when we see clear judicial reversals of what God has judicially declared. The SCOTUS decision does not change what is, it simply re-enforces that what is is not cherished. When “what-is” is not cherished, people seek out that which is not.

The Creator established a pattern for all of history. He established condemnations attached with those who attempt to usurp that divine pattern (Rom. 1). The pattern which God has created let no man put asunder. Scalia’s dissent brilliantly summarized the undoing of this pattern:

“Some might conclude that this loaf could have used a while longer in the oven. But that would be wrong; it is already overcooked. The most expert care in preparation cannot redeem a bad recipe.”

Untrained cooks are raving about this new recipe. Though overcooked, it is still the flavor of the day. This is the out-working of that very first sin. As C.S. Lewis observed:

Through pride the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every vice, it’s the complete anti-God state of mind.

And speaking of anti-God state of mind, mainline churches are celebrating today’s ruling with the same enthusiasm as the vocal LBGT community.  The InterFaith Alliance President the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement celebrating today’s Supreme Court decisions:

The enormity of today’s decisions cannot be overstated. The combined impact of these two rulings puts our nation further down the inevitable and proper path towards full marriage equality for the LGBT community. All Americans should rejoice in today’s decisions because they bring us that much closer to fulfilling the promise of our Constitution. I am hopeful that today’s decision striking down DOMA as unconstitutional and overturning the Proposition 8 case on standing will be followed by continued victories in this fight for equality. That a majority of the Court recognized in the DOMA case that this was an issue of equal protection denied is no small victory.

The IRS, on the other hand, is in panic mode. Though nationally distrusted, now it is going to have to create two tax regimes:

One system, for couples in states where same-sex marriage is recognized, will allow gays and lesbians to file their tax returns jointly, exclude them from paying taxes on their spouse’s estate and clear them to contribute together to health savings and flexible spending accounts. The other system, for couples in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage, wouldn’t allow such benefits.

The law does get complicated when the equality trumpet is sounded in a minor key. Ultimately, this is not about civil rights, this is about imposing one right: the right to call evil good and good evil. And these advocates will not rest until their agenda is accepted at a national level. We all know that California has not only bitten the garden fruit, but devoured it. The serpent did not even need subtlety in his argument. However, persuading the nation, that is another story. And as long as there are ten righteous, God will not destroy us.

We are a future-oriented people. And we should always be. Jesus has not relinquished his throne to a perverted Caesar. He is still king of kings and Lord of marriage. His marriage is still to a female bride. And while Hollywood cheers on this ruling, we should be saying “bring it on!” The prophets of Baal may eat well at Jezebel’s table. They may conspire against us and the Lord’s anointed, but when they are finished God will laugh for the future is his.

Uri Brito is the founder of Kuyperian Commentary.

American Hypocrisy: How Would Saint Paul Write To Us?

by Mark Horne

all-seeing-eye-300x295I’ve heard Mormons believe that God directly inspired the Constitution. As a Christian, I know there was only one nation that had a directly inspired “Constitution.” Knowing that one’s country is founded by God should have given Israel a great deal of confidence among the nations. Sometimes it did so. Other times, due to unbelief, it did not.

But there was another way unbelief could trap Israelites. They could allow God’s gifts to Israel to give them confidence even when they were in sin and should have been humbling themselves both in the sight of God and the nations. Paul wrote to them about this:

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24, ESV)

As I write my posts on how to understand Romans, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this passage. In light of recent news about Edward Snowden, with headlines like, “US Seemingly Unaware of Irony in Accusing Snowden of Spying,” there seem to be similarities. Israel was both publicly immoral and publicly moralistic, at the same time, without any insincerity. If that seems impossible, look at the news about how America’s ruling class is posturing. Read more…

Establishment still working to keep Americans running on their mental/political rat wheel

hqdefaultby Mark Horne

A Freakonomics post led me to this article. The thesis is that many people who self-identify as conservative are actually more liberal than they think they are. Given recent voting outcomes, I find this depressing but credible. However, I’m more interested in the use made of this quiz developed by the Pew Research Center. Read more…

Why Americans Always Choose the Wrong President

By Luke Welch

Constitution

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We seem not to know who we are, and we do not know who we are looking for. We have been surprised to find out whom we have already chosen. Most of us are under the impression that we can correctly identify political candidates and the promise they hold by an old idea we had about their parties.

I know many democrats who are supportive of their party, because they believe it will aid Americans. Despite their misgivings about abortion, they don’t think anyone will get out of poverty without assistance. If this were true that the choice were between assistance and exploitation, then it would be understandable that people would swallow the bitter democrat pill.

I also know many republicans who are supportive of their party, because they believe it will aid Americans. Despite their misgivings about the weak promise keeping of past candidates, they keep on voting (R), becuase they think America will never be free of hard times with all the enforced social assistance. If this were true that the choice were between a meddling government and freedom, then it would be understandable that people swallow the giant rotten elephant.

One of the most pressing problems when facing the future of America under the weight of her own political machine is the problem of the continuous stream of Statism. Read more…

The Abuse of Power and the Power of Abuse: Dealing with an Inconvenient Truth

By Uri Brito

Republicans are the party of small government. Democrats are the party of big government. These distinctions no longer hold true. Reagan’s first term, perhaps, in recent history, is the last to come close to the type of small government Republicans say they envision. But for too long the scenery of the political landscape is replete with big government towers. We, the people, stare hopelessly at those babel-like towers wondering if any of them have read Genesis 11. We are Tolkien’s hobbits wanting to be left alone smoking our tobacco and drinking the finest beer, but alone they will not let us be.

David Shipler’s The Rights of the People: How our Search for Safety Invades our Privacy (2011) detailed some of these abuses. Shipler wrote that the Bill of Rights were “embedded in the first ten amendments to the Constitution…to climb and counter the might state, to keep their speech free, their confessions true, their trial fair, their homes and files sealed from cavalier invasion by police.” We are losing that right as speedily as the government (NSA) is tracking your e-mail or Verizon phone call right now.

What we are seeing today is more than the undermining of the Constitution; we are seeing the undermining of morality. And this implies that we need the objectivity of Christendom. We can no longer amen the actions of any party, because both major parties do not care about the shire. They will make deals with anyone. We need the boldness to assert the foolish actions of our party and then condemn them each election.

Obama’s promise to secrecy and the respecting of civil liberties in 2007 has quickly derailed into a Mordor-like crystal ball. They have looked and accessed every conceivable file. They have found what they wanted and used that information for their own purposes. “We cannot have 100% safety without inconvenience,” the president argues. Inconvenience? An absurdly burdensome tax system,  the waste of our taxpayer money, TSA, a destructive economic policy, reckless wars led by reckless leaders, the murder of the unborn? This is more than inconvenience; this is abuse; and all in the name of an agenda.

What we are witnessing is not the era of inconvenience; those days were relatively comfortable. At least we knew when the inconveniences would come. We are entering the era of abuse. We are in an era where the words “abuse of power” have become redundant. In an abusive society, led by abusive leaders, we do not know what to expect. Power corrupts, but absolute power in the hands of fools leads to abuse.

We are not claiming that this is a distinctly Obama problem. Bush’s Patriot Act opened the doors to this type of infringement. The tyranny of technology began long ago. And we are now recipients of a president who is continuing those policies.

The Economist observed in 2007, that in the past, information was gathered by drawing conclusions about citizens from fragmented reports by party loyalists. They would tap phones, send informers to workplaces, and follow people around. Today, “data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behavior, and personal lives are gathered, stored, and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible.”

We are living in a new era. This is an era where privacy is becoming extinct. The security of e-mail exchanges, counselor to counselee phone calls, and a host of other matters are sacrificed at the altar of safety. But are we safe? The answer to that is an inconvenient truth to our president.

Roots of a British Awakening?

A guest post by Thomas S Kidd

My family and I just returned from two weeks in the U.K., and while we were there, several major British religion news events transpired. First, on a day we happened to be in Edinburgh, Church of Scotland delegates voted to allow gay ministers. Then, when we returned to London, came the appalling murder of a British solider by two Muslims, one of whom was arrested in Kenya in 2010 for seeking al-Qaeda training. Finally, a new study of U.K. census data indicated that within a decade, perhaps less than half of all people in Britain will identify even nominally as Christians.Michael-Adebolajo-1912414

These disparate developments suggest several religious patterns: first, prominent churches in the U.K. seem generally inclined to follow the lead of mainline denominations in the U.S. and Canada on issues related to gender and homosexuality. The Church of England has recently decided to ordain celibate homosexuals as bishops, and has issued a new plan to ordain women bishops within two years. These developments make inevitable more difficulties between the shrinking mainline churches in the west, and the burgeoning ones in the global south, which are generally more traditional on issues of sexuality.

Second, the U.K. (like much of Eurjeffertsschori_2_300(1)ope) has a pressing problem of how to handle its growing Muslim population, some fraction of which are jihadist sympathizers. (Anecdotally, I was struck by how ubiquitous the signs of Islam are in the U.K., from mosques to burqa-clad women.) While America’s Muslim population remains proportionately low, especially outside of large cities, in the U.K. a tenth of the under-25 population is now Muslim, and the self-identifying Christian population is stagnant and aging. If it were not for Christian immigrants to the U.K. from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, Christianity would be in utter free-fall as a percentage of the British population.

Abandoned_ChapelThird, the legal establishment of the Church of England looks increasingly strange and antiquated, when you consider how Christianity (Anglican or otherwise) is losing even a nominal hold over much of the population. It is hard to imagine how the church will survive calls for its disestablishment (meaning withdrawal of state financial support and other trends toward stronger separation of church and state) unless a very different pattern emerges in the next generation. In a democratic country, it seems impossible to justify an established Christian church when so few actively practice Christianity, and when even nominal Christianity seems destined to command no more than a plurality of the population’s  adherence. Yet the British government – particularly the monarchy – is still closely identified with Christianity. They still pray “God save the queen” in Anglican liturgies.

Given all this, is there hope for Christian revival in Britain? Christians, of course, always believe there is hope for redemption and renewal, because of God’s power. The observable facts are not promising, but there are certainly pockets of flourishing Christianity in Britain. The Kingsway International Christian Centre, an African Pentecostal congregation which is London’s largest church, attracts as many as 12,000 attendees every Sunday, and there are many other growing immigrant-dominated congregations across the U.K. Evangelical renewal efforts within the Anglican Church include the Alpha Course, pioneered by Nicky Gumbel (see more on the Alpha Course in this Anxious Bench post by Philip Jenkins).

While my family was blessed to attend Evensong services at both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the most vital church we visited was an evangelical Baptist congregation in Stirling, Scotland, which sits prominently in the city center. While nowhere near the scale of Kingsway, it is filled with young Scottish families. The worship is heartfelt, the preaching biblical and accessible, and community life and prayer support are vibrant. Those factors, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, would seem to be essential ingredients for revival in the U.K. and beyond.

@ThomasSKidd on Twitter

Thomas Kidd is a contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

[This article first appeared at The Anxious Bench. Read more from Dr. Kidd there.]

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