The Kuyperian Commentary

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

Archive for the category “Sanctions”

Gospel Explosion in the World

By Uri Brito

It appears that God always delights in bringing good news to his children. In whatever season, in whatever phase of human history, God is always actively changing, transforming, re-creating the world by His word. And good news is here. Since the Ascension of our blessed Lord God has taken the few and the humble and transformed them into a multitude. This is the trajectory of the kingdom.

C.Peter Wagner reports that the five gospel hot spots in the world are China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Nigeria. “Starting with China,” observes Wagner,  the largest nation in the world reports “the greatest national harvest of souls ever recorded in history, beginning in 1976. Although figures differ, I personally am comfortable agreeing with those who claim that 10 percent of the population is Christian, which would mean that there are around 140 million Christians in that country.” The numbers are staggering. The fields are being harvested.

KC contributor, Thomas Kidd, pointed me to a Christianity Today article detailing how despite persecution, the Iranian church marches on. Claiming 0.5% of Christians, the church has not given in to the political dark forces. Melissa Stefan observes:

Yet, there are two bright lights for Christians in the otherwise-dark Iranian context: Elam Ministries reported in its Summer 2013 magazine that 246 Iranian Christians were baptized on April 17—”probably the largest baptism service on record in the Iranian church since the fourth century.” In addition, Iran’s underground house churches—where freedom to attend Persian-language worship services is more likely to be found—do appear to be growing.

The Gospel presses on. After darkness, light.

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl.

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Whither the Wicker?

Guest Post by Rob Hadding

I’ve been watching politics since I was about ten. My earliest political recollections are of the 1972 Republican and Democratic conventions. I was captivated by the theater of it all. The speeches were full of pathos, the nominating process was full of drama, and it seemed like everyone was full of enthusiasm for the possibilities that lay ahead if their man (or woman – Shirley Chisholm ran that year) won the day. It all seemed so important. I’ve watched coverage of almost every political convention since, if with significantly less awe.  Somewhere along the way since 1972, I began to see what every other informed observer of American politics sees. To say that I’ve grown cynical is to say a true thing.

My political cynicism found an easy friend in the hell-in-a-handbasket eschatology of Dispensationalism, and quicker than you could name the next candidate for antichrist, I was a full-blown pessimist. But over time, I found pessimism to be exhausting – there was never a payoff. When things just keep going from bad to worse to worser, the only thing there is to feel good about is the destruction of the universe, and, frankly, that kind of a downer.

Imagine my relief, then, when I was introduced to a more hopeful eschatology. It took me a long time to sort out, but once I finally did it was like I had been given permission to feel good about the creation that God called good in the first place. He isn’t just going to blow it to smithereens; he is going to put it all back together again, but this time more glorious than ever. In fact, new creation had already begun in the resurrection of Christ. Antichrist, meet Jesus Christ. You lose.

But in a sense, this just caused me further consternation. I had abandoned the theological titanic that is Dispensationalism, but my political cynicism had only grown. Speeches, conventions, elections, and bad leaders accumulated, and things only appear to grow worse. How can someone remain optimistic when the handbasket is moving so fast?

Well, last week something happened that sparked hope. Now, it’s only a spark, and the kind of hope it inspires is not in any sense ultimate, but it was like nothing I’ve seen in some time. On the floor of the United States Senate, the junior senator from Kentucky stood for thirteen without a pee break on principle. In accordance with Senate rules, and armed with the conviction to stand up and say, “Hell no,” Rand Paul hijacked the Senate for the day to make a point. The filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation to the job of CIA Director was not to block Mr. Brennan’s appointment (he admitted at the outset that he did not have the votes to succeed in doing so), but to call attention to the use of drones against American citizens, both on and off American soil, without benefit of due process. Specifically, Mr. Paul was calling out President Barack Obama and his chief lawyer, Eric Holder, to give a clear answer on whether they understood it was within the president’s power to order a hit on an American without a trial to establish guilt. Up to this point a clear answer had not come, though the question was clearly asked.

This moment is probably not in itself a tide turner. Even though it seems that Mr. Paul did get a clear, yet terse, response from Mr. Holder the following day, and even though Mr. Paul raised awareness on the issue of drones – both of which were his stated objectives – this event does not in itself change the course of the nation, or usher in a new age of openness in government, or make the president any less likely to do everything he can to drive the America Bus into oncoming traffic.

But something very real happened on that day that gives me reason to think that the handbasket could take another direction. This is evident in the way the day unfolded. At the beginning, it looked like Rand Paul, a chip off the nutty ol’ Paul block, was going to make a long-winded speech. It would be well reasoned, of course, and would score some points with the Tea Party crowd, but would accomplish just north of nothing. But as the day progressed, a swell of tweets and status updates formed. A website emerged to clock his filibuster. Activity in the Senate Chamber increased. Other senators rose, requesting time to ask questions without asking Senator Paul to yield the floor as a show of support and to give him a moment to rest his voice. C-SPAN 2’s existence was justified. I went to bed that night before he had finished. I said to my wife as I turned out the bedroom light, “I hope he’s still going in the morning.” But by the time the day had ended, Mr. Paul had done something that hadn’t been done in a long time – he captured the imagination of the political right, and gave them something to be excited about.

In just thirteen hours – which is a long time to stand without peeing, but not so long if you’re talking about the history of the world – a freshman senator breathed life into his party and into those of us who had lost all confidence in the Republican Party after the nomination of Mitt Romney. In a single moment of political theater one began to think that all just might not be lost.

Let me be clear: I don’t think the answer to our ills is political (in the common sense of the term). I don’t think that Rand Paul is the great hope of the nation, or even of the Republican Party. I am not sure he would make a great president. But on the day of the filibuster, he lit a match in the political darkness, and it may be that that match touches a candlewick – or a fuse. One thing is certain: Rand Paul stock went up that day, and he may just be the leader conservatives have been looking for.

But what really strikes me about the whole thing is something more hopeful. That is, as fast as that things can change. Even though things look like they are hurtling toward certain disaster, in just a moment things can change. Who knows what the effects of this event will be? It could be the beginning of a massive re-framing of the conversation about the economy, morality, and so on. It might not be. But for me, it has persuaded me that good things can happen, and I am free to be optimistic even in the face of what appear to be overwhelmingly bad circumstances. It can all change quickly.

Rob Hadding is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Pace, Fl.

Jesus the Anti-War Hippie?

My post last week addressed an image on the internet claiming that Jesus is an anti-war, socialist hippie. The image is obviously directed at Christian conservatives, attempting to show an inconsistency in their acceptance of Jesus Christ but their rejection of President Obama’s policies. We looked at how even though Jesus wants his followers to be charitable to the poor and needy, this doesn’t mean that Jesus approves of the government forcing people to be charitable. In a similar way, Jesus is anti-war but this doesn’t mean he is against all government force. He is neither a pacifist nor an anarchist. Read more…

Bush, War, Conservatives, and the Search for Consistency

One of the perplexing dilemmas we face as those who oppose the over-reach of the Federal Government is the inconsistency we see in such movements. While on the one hand, we opine viciously in opposition to all forms of welfarism, on the other hand, we support and encourage our military efforts ( a form of international welfarism).
In his essay for The American Conservative, Ivan Eland discusses this inconsistency and warns conservatives that they can’t have it both ways:

“Conservatives should be leery of jumping into wars not only because American powers may become overextended—especially in a time of fiscal crisis—but because war makes government expand rapidly at home, even in areas of national security.”[1]

It is also fair to say that the Conservative mood has changed drastically in these last few years. Just as Democrats are quick to oppose a policy under a Republican governance, so too are they quick to support that same policy under a Democratic presidency.[2] I would like to think Republicans have learned their lessons, but they are just as prone to falling into the cycle of political hypocrisy. On a positive note, I have heard growing opposition to Obama’s Drone Strikes’ Policy from Republicans. Much of this opposition stems from the non-hawkish Senator, Rand Paul.

In his 2007 book, A Tragic Legacy, Glenn Greenwald details many of the former Bush supporters who have now come to see the light on America’s endless wars. Among them is Rod Dreher, a former contributor to National Review. In 2001, Dreher declared, “Thank God we have a Republican in the White House.”[3] Dreher later describes his regret for supporting Bush’s policies:

I see that I was the fool…the consequences of his (Bush’s) failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

These political transformations are the results of a long line of unintended consequences, or what Chalmers Johnson referred to as Blowback.

I am convinced that serious minded Republicans are willing to count the cost, and the cost has been high. The U.S accounts for more than 50% of the world’s military spending[4] and with all that might it has left the Middle East desolate and unstable. The eloquent “No Nation-Building ” answer given by then candidate George Bush should be our policy. It is costing us too much. And as Eland observes, once warfare starts, taxes and spending continue:

Conservatives should not fail to recognize that war is the most prominent cause of the massive welfare state that has been erected in the United State.

Hopefully, consistency will return to small-government conservatives. We cannot continue to stay on budget at home, while distributing our credit cards abroad.


[1] The American Conservative, January/February 2013

[3] Greenwald, Glenn, A Tragic Legacy: How Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, 34-35.

[4] Ibid. 3

Rush Limbaugh’s Evolution on Afghanistan

Jack Hunter observes Rush’s new position:

When American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan as retaliation for an accidental Quran burning earlier this month, Limbaugh asked, “It’s gotten to the point: Why are we there? If this is the end result of us being there, let’s get these people out, bring them home and the hell with the place over there.”

Here is what Rush said two years ago:

“The thing that bothers me about this is that we’re there, whether we should have done or what we’ve done here or for is now irrelevant. There’s only one thing to do: win. You know, ‘What about Afghanistan?’ Easy. We win, they lose.”

 

Ron Paul beating Obama nationally

This is more proof of the destructibility of the incumbent:

Fans of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul will rejoice upon hearing the following news: Congressman Paul (R-TX) has defeated President Barack Obama in a Rasmussen Reports daily presidential tracking poll of general election voters released Monday. This is the first time that Mr. Paul has bested Mr. Obama in a Rasmussen Reports poll. Mr. Paul garnered 43 percent of the votes among general election voters and Mr. Obama pulled 41 percent of the votes.

Read more: http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/2012/02/28/poll-ron-paul-bests-obama-for-the-first-time-nationally/#ixzz1nhBPOi8n

Is Ron Paul prepared to lead?

During lunch, I came across this facebook post by a friend:

I believe Ron Paul to be a very decent and honorable man, and do not consider him the racist others have charged him to be, though his affiliations and writings cast long shadows; I do find his penchant for conspiratorial theories a bit alarming; no, my opposition to him stems from a basic philosophical principle and a very practical reality – first, he is a libertarian and I am a conservative – some things are far too important to be left to states and individuals; i.e. life and marriage; the unbridled liberty he promotes is neither biblical nor good for society; secondly, and just as important, RP simply lacks the leadership to be President; consider that in the last fourteen years in Congress, he has sponsored over 400 pieces of legislation and actually gotten one (yes one!) bill passed, and that pertaining to land in his home district; great leaders build coalitions, i.e. Washington, Wilberforce, Churchill; I have read Wilberforce, and no, RP is no William Wilberforce. As Gandalf said to Frodo, ” we all have a role to play.” He has served his purpose of highlighting important issues, but he would be neither a good nor wise leader; that role is more suitable for others.

This dear brother and I agree on many, many things, but we cannot seem to agree on who the best candidate is. I would like to address a few of these comments with the hope that some of these misconceptions might be brought to light.

He begins by acknowledging that Ron Paul is a decent and honorable man. This is truly an undeniable fact. The media elite–conservative and liberal–acknowledge the gracious character and remarkable generosity of a man who delivered over 4,000 babies, and who many times served his community through his medical expertise for free many times. Ron Paul lived and lives his convictions. This is a rare combination in an age where convictions last only as long as the next poll.

The author rightly asserts that Paul is not a racist; again, something that everyone who knows him and who has read his books, lectures, speeches, articles, etc. will affirm without hesitation. Ron Paul–like him or not–does not have a racist bone. He avoids the grouping of people into categories, choosing rather to view them individually. Each individual is responsible for his actions and is not to be found guilty merely for his association with a larger group. Collectivism has largely gained political vote, but has not been a sustainable philosophy. Many atrocities have occurred in the name of collectivism. Paul, on the other hand, does not wish to condemn an entire race or group, but rather view them as individuals pursuing goals. Thus, individuals have personal responsibility for their actions (an idea that fits perfectly well with the Puritan principles). On the other hand, in light of collectivist principles, the federal government–clothing herself in humanitarianism–chooses to bestow favors on groups. Thus, when programs fail–and they do almost always– entire groups fail, leaving the individual without the ability to escape being caught in the web of social and welfare programs.

The writer argues that some of his “conspiratorial theories are a bit alarming.” But these conspiracies are generally self-observed conspiracies. Further, many are real and proven facts. The fact that Paul associates himself with people who believe that 9-11 was an inside job, for instance, does not mean that he believes it was an inside job (in my estimation an absurd conspiracy), but rather that conspiracy theorists are drawn to Paul’s overall philosophy of questioning major government intents. “Conspiracies,” argued Gary North, “often lead to regression.” They can be deteriorating; but the ever growing leviathan, called the Federal Government, has left the doors of failure so wide open that it is now a simple task to emerge with fairly convincing theories about the government’s mis-behavior nationally and internationally.

Again, a conspiracy is simply an attempt to hide something or some act while selling the transparency speech to the public. In other words, the government says something to appease the public, while acting as she pleases behind closed doors. In this case, the world is largely conspiratorial, since it declares its good intents, while attempting to create a babelic reign. But God does not fall for it, since He has a conspiracy of his own (Psalm 2).

He also observes that his fundamental difference  is that “Paul is a libertarian and he is a conservative – some things are far too important to be left to states and individuals; i.e. life and marriage; the unbridled liberty he promotes is neither biblical nor good for society.”

There are some definitions that need to be addressed. As a theocrat (one who believes in the comprehensive reign of the Triune God), I follow the writings of R.J. Rushdoony and others who called themselves Christian libertarians. It would be utterly absurd to say Rushdoony was not concerned about morality. He has essentially written the largest commentary on the Ten Commandments in the last 300 years. The commentary argues at times even for the death penalty for certain behaviors. However, Rushdoony understood that a revolution in thinking demands regeneration. He was concerned about changing the mind before the law.

Ron Paul, though not a theocrat, follows similar thinking. He would not take it as far, but his philosophical framework would be the one that would–should it be successful–open the door to a localized, and then worldwide theocracy; that is, a world that acknowledges the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To press the point, what is a conservative? Goldwater’s classic has long vaporized. Today, conservatism if attached to Bush, means endless wars and trillions of dollars re-building other nations (something George Washington fiercely opposed, and something, which even George Bush opposed at one time). If attached to most of the conservatives in this race, it means continuing to federalize education and send tax payer’s money to support the remarkable luxury of dictators in the Middle East. In other cases, it means simply reforming massive programs, while disdaining those who wish to see these programs abolished, or as Paul suggests, (e)merge with other programs in a transitional-like nature. Paul’s views are incredibly moderate at times, since he does not so much want to abolish many of these programs, but actually transition (change) the public’s false perception of the benefits of these programs.

I concur that marriage and life are foundational, but on a practical level: What are the chances of marriage and life amendments being made to the constitution? One can argue that we need a republican supreme court majority. If the supreme court ever reverses abortion on a federal level or makes marriage–in the Judeo/Christian tradition–to be the law of the land, I would be delighted, but the reality is it is highly unlikely at this stage. On the life issue, it is important to note that Paul did sign the Personhood Amendment, and has introduced numerous pro-life legislation, which would view life as beginning at conception. Paul has made clear that he does not want to give states the possibility to legalize abortion, but rather to allow states to reclaim their rights to outlaw abortion; rights, which were taken in Roe v. Wade. He even has two books dealing with the subject. In Abortion and Liberty, Ron Paul freely quotes from Francis Schaeffer, and other gigantic figures of the pro-life movement. Paul himself has delivered over 4,000 babies without ever allowing an abortion to practiced under his authority and leadership. Paul has been married for over 50 years. His life is a testament to his view on marriage. He believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that the best way to make this idea a common idea is by taking the federal government off the marriage business. Allow the states to rule on these issues. Allow the Constitutional principles of states’ rights to deal with these moral issues. The issue is not about morality per se; we both agree that we want a moral, God-ordained government. The question is: How is this morality to be implemented? By one monumental decree? something I would love to see. Or by incremental changes in thinking at a more local level? There is plenty of historical evidence for the latter. Of course, the latter is by default the constitutional position, since Article 1. section 8 is silent on these matters.

Finally, my faithful and eloquent brother concludes:

(Ron Paul) lacks the leadership to be President; consider that in the last fourteen years in Congress, he has sponsored over 400 pieces of legislation and actually gotten one (yes one!) bill passed, and that pertaining to land in his home district; great leaders build coalitions, i.e. Washington, Wilberforce, Churchill; I have read Wilberforce, and no, RP is no William Wilberforce. As Gandalf said to Frodo, ” we all have a role to play.” He has served his purpose of highlighting important issues, but he would be neither a good nor wise leader; that role is more suitable for others.

The argument is made that Ron Paul is not able to persuade others, since out of the many legislation only an insignificant one passed. Ron Paul–or Dr. No–as many call him is known for many times being the lonely voice in congress. He has never voted for a tax increase and he has consistently voted against bailouts. The latter is a fascinating display of leadership, since most Republicans actually caved in and allowed the country to pump in billions of dollars, which in the end ended where the bailouts did: in the hands of wealthy bankers at home and abroad.

The men listed as examples, especially Wilberforce, were not men whose ideas were popular and who received the acclamation of the establishment, but actually men who understood that truth is better worked out over time. And that when our ideas do not succeed, we try and try again. Ron Paul fits the bill. For over 30 years he has spoken against the monstrous and disastrous Federal Reserve, which has now become the financial bride of the Federal Government. He has now turned on the light in a secretive and dark organization. Even fellow candidates have thanked him for his bold pursuit of this issue. As Dilorizenzo so ably summarizes Paul’s ability to persuade:

Ron Paul has been persuasive enough to be reelected a dozen times in his rural Texas congressional district despite the fact that he is in favor of ending all farm welfare programs. He has been persuasive enough to be Number One in the Iowa polls less than a week from the Iowa Caucuses and near the top in national polls. He has been persuasive enough to incite thousands of people to volunteer endless hours working for his election. He has been persuasive enough to active-duty military personnel to be the top recipient of campaign donations from them, receiving more donations from active-duty military people than ALL THE OTHER REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES COMBINED. He has been persuasive enough to have authored several New York Times bestsellers. He has been persuasive enough to have become a YouTube sensation. He has been persuasive enough to shock the entire Washington establishment by collecting tens of millions of dollars in small, individual campaign donations in fundraising “money bombs” organized by strangers.

In the end, Ron Paul has been a leader. He has not been the type of charming leader that compromises here and there, and gets his way. Rather, he has been a leader consistent to his principles and faithful to his vow to the Constitution. He has a role to play, and this is the role of every leader: to persevere in his message, to educate and re-orient our attention to the true meaning of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Others, are not more suitable, they are mere repetitions of the status quo.

Doug Wead: A Friend of Freedom

Once again, I am highly impressed with Doug Wead’s brilliant summary of Paul’s positions.  A true eloquent spokesman:

 

What is the U.S. Strategy on Iran?

Mills, again, raises a healthy question in his lengthy article: What outcome does the U.S. see in imposing certain sanctions on Iran:

So, is Washington trying to delay Tehran’s obtaining nuclear weapons for long enough for the situation to change in some undefined but favorable way? That would fit with the covert campaign of sabotage and assassination currently taking place. Does it hope that economic pressure will bring about the ascendancy of pragmatic conservatives such as former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani or Ahmadinejad opponent Ali Larijani? Or is it gambling on a total collapse of the regime?

Who is Winning the Sanction War?

Robin Mills describes the effects of the sanctions imposed on Iran. In the end, the sanctions do not help anyone.

The geopolitics of the proposed sanctions make even less sense. In the United States’ interminable confrontation with Iran, a country with 2 percent of its GDP and 1.5 percent of its military budget, it is handing gifts to two real rivals: China and Russia. China benefits, as noted, from discounts on its oil purchases. If the Central Bank sanctions work as intended, a China hooked on cheap Iranian oil is hardly going to work for any resolution to the standoff.

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