The Kuyperian Commentary

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

Archive for the tag “conservative”

Is the Bible a Panacea for Poor Government?

What is the role of the government? To be sure, this question is answered in different ways by different people.

Libertarian: to get out of the way.

Conservative: to protect and defend us, our property, and our rights.

Liberal: to protect us from ourselves.

Bible: to punish evildoers and reward the righteous.

At first glance, these seem to be mutually exclusive, especially when we consider what each group means by those statements. Read more…

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Rhetorical Hit, Theological Miss

A couple months ago, Mary Elizabeth Williams posted a column at Salon.com entitled, “So What If Abortion Ends Life?”  The vitriolic nature of the piece prevails from the title to the final phrase, designed to enflame the most seasoned of post-Roe veterans on both sides of the debate.  Her flippant handling of what’s often considered a sacred issue does its job.  The article was low on fact and high on accusation, but it is still able to accomplish its goal of engendering strife and perhaps, even a little bit of nausea.  However, as acerbic as the article is, Ms. Williams makes two salient points.  The first is about the use of language in public debate and the second about the arbitrary philosophical distinction in the “life-begins-somewhere-other-than-conception” camp.

Her immediate use of the phrase “diabolically clever” is diabolically clever, because it automatically brings to mind thoughts of a red-clad, pitchfork-wielding imp, mostly drawn from religious allusions.  Comparing the religious-right with the devil will certainly get folks stirred up in a hurry.  Then they’re not seeing straight when she gets to her arguments later. But her use of rhetoric is not as prominent as her analysis of how rhetoric is used.  Her opening paragraph begins,

Of all the diabolically clever moves the anti-choice lobby has ever pulled, surely one of the greatest has been its consistent co-opting of the word ‘life’.  Life!  Who wants to argue with that?  Who wants to be on the side of…not-life?

Then with all the hubris she can muster, she boasts, “that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me.  I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life.  And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.” Read more…

Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy, or Statism?

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

an·ar·chy (nr-k): Rules without rulers; the doctrine of abolishing all compulsory, tax-funded government. Crime would be dealt with through the free market as private agencies offer judicial services based on consumer preferences.

min·ar·chy (mnr-k): Minimal rule; the belief that civil government rightfully exists to protect individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud. Law enforcement, courts and military are valid government services.

stat·ism (sttzm): The practice or doctrine of giving a centralized government control over economic planning and policy, usually including the acceptance of welfarism and militarism.

If you adhere to a minarchist view of civil government, a statist has probably accused you of being an anarchist at least once in your life. Read more…

Why Drug Decriminalization is Central to Liberty

Stigmatize Liberty

This past week alone I’ve seen two attempts by mainstream conservative pundits to stigmatize liberty by portraying it as some obscure liberal ideal. It goes like this: somehow liberty is great, but the drug stuff takes it too far. They suppose that freedom is a value that must be reined in by the government, because if we go too far with that dangerous idea – like in the area of drugs – society could be negatively affected if the state stopped regulating certain drug commerce. That there would be no negative effect on society if the state regulated drug commerce, is presumed. Read more…

Impeaching Politics: Saturday Reading Habits

reading the morning newspaper

If you are reading this, you may be in danger. You may be in danger of reading too much politics. Much of the content published here at the Kuyperian Commentary is political in nature and the odds are good that political content drew you here. That is well and good (in fact, tell your friends), and I have no desire to impugn anyone’s sense of civic duty, but I have noticed that often consumption of political news and political commentary is not something done in moderation. As a case in point, consider the people in your social media networks. We can all think of the friends who “just aren’t that into politics” and those who are posting and tweeting political graphics, statistics, rants, etc. a dozen or more times a day (unless you are that friend, in which case, like a Mr. Collins, you may not realize it). It could be argued that one has to read a great deal from a variety of sources to get a balanced picture, but one could also balance bourbon with vodka and not end up sober. Now, I don’t want to take the bottle away, just put some food in those stomachs. Read more…

Rand Paul Is Still My Senator

In early 2009, I was a fairly new fan of Congressman Ron Paul, having learned of him during the 2008 presidential election. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that his son, Rand Paul, was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate. When I found out he would be representing Kentucky – my home state – it was that much more invigorating. I knew immediately that I would do everything I could in my local community to raise support for Rand.

The first order of business was to bring Rand to my city for a live speaking event. If he decided to run I knew he would be going up against establishment candidates in both the primary and general elections Read more…

The Battle in Bear Country » Sullivan v Wilson: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

The University of Idaho hosted a public debate, to a crowd of over 800, on February 27, 2013. The debate was participated in by Andrew Sullivan, blogger and former senior editor of The Atlantic, and Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church of Moscow, ID, author and educator. The topic of the debate: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

Battle of the Beards

Battle of the Beards

Read more…

Jesus the Socialist Hippie?

This past weekend I had the privilege of seeing this photo on the internet:

I say “privilege” with all the sarcasm you can possibly fathom. There are so many false assumptions being made in this short statement that it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps I should just roll my eyes and forget about it. But no, this is a very misguided statement that requires a serious response.

Liberals like to use biblical admonitions to take care of the poor as justification for government-run healthcare, but a logical leap of this magnitude never sets foot on solid ground. Jesus certainly does give away free healthcare and he commands his followers to do the same:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” – Luke 4:18

“Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” – Luke 7:22

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21

“They will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:37-40

“…when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” – Luke 14:13

None of these verses prove what the liberal wants to prove. For starters, the healthcare that Jesus gives away is his own. The eternal Son of God heals by his own life-giving power and blood. This is completely reversed with government-run healthcare. The government has no life-giving power on its own. It must necessarily take from someone else, by force, to provide its services. The way of Christ is one of mercy and self-sacrifice; the way of socialism is theft and coercion.

Secondly, Jesus gives the responsibility of taking care of the poor to individuals within the Church. Does Jesus say, “Sell what you have and give it to the government, so that the government can give it to the poor”? Does Jesus say, “Let the government take your property away from you so that they can provide for the needy”? No! Jesus wants his people to be people of charity, people who bring healing to their communities in the spirit of mercy and self-sacrifice. The early Christians followed Christ’s example by giving tithes and offerings to take care of themselves and the community (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35). They didn’t lobby the Roman Empire to pass welfare legislation.

I believe most liberals have good intentions in wanting the government to provide healthcare, but that doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate method. Ignoring the needs of others is wrong, but forcing charity is wrong as well. Doing the right thing in the wrong way is never right.

So, is Jesus a socialist hippie? Far from it. Jesus is our great high priest, through whom we find healing and rest. In him, every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9) and we share the responsibility of sacrificial service to our communities. The Church is supposed to be the institution that cares for the sick, clothes the naked and feeds the hungry – not Washington, DC.

by Adam McIntosh

Lent, Ligon Duncan, and Legalism

Collin Hansen wrote an article for the Gospel Coalition entitled Should You Cancel Good Friday? which has brought to the attention of many a conversation they have never had before. What is Lent? Why celebrate it?

As a committed Protestant, I am committed to the Church Calendar, not because I want to be a slave to it, but because I am aware of its inevitability. We all follow some calendar. The question is which calendar? I ask that question because Protestantism is grounded in a Trinitarian view of the world. In its best expression it does not isolate ideas; it brings ideas together to form a coherent system.

I suggest that Lent is highly Trinitarian. As the Trinity is a communion of love, so Lent provides a means to express that love to one another in the community. Where sins are confronted and battled, there you find a vigorous Trinitarian community and vision. Lent is service to the community by giving us a season of determined battle against sin for the sake of our neighbors.

It offers a vision of history that undergirds the biblical history and that reflects the normal routines, liturgies, and rituals of human beings. Lent is a form of restructuring our lives. All Christians need a re-structuring of order in their own lives. All Christians need to re-balance and re-form areas where there is disproportionate indifference. We all undergo a Psalmic journey of lamentation and feasting. Lent draws us into this journey.

In essence, Lent reveals the God who suffers in the Person of Jesus Christ. God’s image-bearers are formed from the dust of a fallen Adam to the glorification of the risen Final Adam. To disconnect Lent from the Church Calendar is to disparage history.

It is true we live in the age of an ascended Lord, but this same Lord guides a Church that is still broken, suffering, and healing from brokenness and suffering again and again. The removal of Lent is to proclaim an over-realized eschatology.

It is true that Lent can be abused, and history teaches us that it has. But it is also true, as Luther so memorably stated, “the abuse of something is not an argument against its proper use.” So if Lent can be proven to be profitable, then is there a legitimate way to benefit from it without falling into some its former abuses. Protestant Christians are not bound by Romish structures of food or rituals. We use wisdom in forming healthy habits for a Church and individuals while not binding the Church or the individual to a particular habit.

Lent and Wilderness

Lent teaches us that Satan’s gifts are easy to master. They come with first grade instruction manuals. They are made to be mastered quickly and enjoyed rapidly (fornication, drugs, alcohol; various temptations). God’s gifts are a little harder to master. They require self-control and patience. They anticipate spiritual growth; they demand a kingly attitude to grasp kingly wisdom. God’s instructions mean you have to seek others in the community to understand them properly. You have to exercise and express a theology of patience built into a theology of blessings.

In the wilderness, a garden stripped of colors, fruit, and water, Jesus faced the devil again in a re-match. He knew well that temptation had a triumphant history of subtly winning arguments. Jesus wasted no time and rebuked temptation. just like He would do with the demons and the demonic-like religious teachers of the day.

We are not to sit in temptation’s classroom. God already said we are to flee it; to rebuke it with the only source of authority that is permanent and stamped with divine truth.

The Church finds herself in a wilderness scenario. She is stripped of her former glory. But she is destined to journey from glory to glory like her Lord and Master. As in Luke four, we need to sit in Yahweh’s school house. We need to be instructed by the two-edged sword that muzzles the Tempter and tells him to not come back again. He is not welcome and neither are his offers.

Lent offers us a 40 day class on temptations and the glories and rewards of resisting it.

But Why 40 Days?

Lent follows the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. His fasting for 40 days speaks to the evil and the hardness of heart of the Israelites who succumbed to the Serpent’s whispers. So as the Church walks with Jesus from wilderness to Golgotha she re-lives the messianic journey. The 40 days are symbolic for that wilderness testing, and as a result it is chronologically set before the Great Paschal Feast, commonly referred to as Easter.

Should Lent be Observed?

Ligon Duncan and others in the Southern Presbyterian tradition argue that Lent has a meritorious history. Lent was a way to earn something. The Reformation fixed this soteriological error, and therefore Lent is no longer to be observed.

Duncan and others also go on to say that celebrating Easter and Christmas offer no such harm (he also believes that a National Holiday like Thanksgiving is also a uniquely American holiday to be celebrated). There is no doubt Easter and Christmas, and even Thanksgiving–to a lesser degree–offer wonderful benefits. But the question and the opening presupposition is that Lent is not biblical therefore it should not be practiced in the Church. If that is the case, then the question is not whether one day (or Season) is more beneficial than the other, but rather is it explicitly stated in the Bible or not? If the “explicit reference” argument is used, then Duncan will have to conclude that this is faulty reasoning.

I concur with Vance Freeman that “each of his (Duncan’s) reasons for not observing Lent are undercut by the observance of Christmas and Easter.” Mr. Freeman also concludes:

The biggest threat to Christianity today is not the church in Rome, or that Americans are prone to elevate traditional Christian rituals, like Lent, over discipleship. The biggest threat to the church is that our rituals are increasingly only secular ones. We are Americans before we are Christians. Super Bowl Sunday not only competes with the Lord’s Day, it dominants it. And when we relegate the Christian life to a mere facet of our American lives we fall into Moral Therapeutic Deism.

The formation of godly habits is the issue at hand. In other words, is there an adequate time of the year where the Church should have an explicit focus on the cross of Jesus and how that cross must shape our understanding of sin? Is there room for setting aside a season for a cruciform hermeneutic? I believe there is.

As Peter Leithart so ably summarizes:

Lent is a season for taking stock and cleaning house, a time of self-examination, confession and repentance.  But we need to remind ourselves constantly what true repentance looks like.  “Giving up” something for Lent is fine, but you keep Lent best by making war on all the evil habits and sinful desires that prevent you from running the race with patience.

If this is true, then Lent serves an enormously important role in the life of the Christian. Naturally, to quote Luther’s first thesis, “the Christian life is a life of daily repentance.” A faithful understanding of the Lord’s Service provides that for us weekly. However, an extended period where our sins are deeply brought to our attention by the preaching of the Word and prayer (and fasting) are regularly considered, practiced and meditated upon can provide great benefits for all Christians on each Lord’s Day and throughout the week.

The legalism concern is legitimate. We are all tempted to fall into this trap, but it does not have to be so. If we view Lent as a time to additionally focus our attention on mortifying our sins and killing those habits that so easily entangle us, we can then consider the cross in light of the resurrection, not apart from it. If we do so, Lent will become legalism’s greatest enemy and repentance’s best friend.

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

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