Saturday, July 31, 2004

In the News Today...

Christians kicked to the curb in Iraq. Nice to see religious liberty for Christians in the liberated and sovereign Iraq.

Don’t throw your vote away, cast it for Michael Peroutka, says Sam Francis:

"If you'd like to cast a ballot for a conservative this year, forget George W. Bush and don't even blink an eye at the liberal drip from Massachusetts who's the hero of the week. Ralph Nader, believe it or not, actually has some interesting (not necessarily good or right) things to say, but it would be preposterous to claim he's a conservative. The only conservative in the presidential race this year I know of is a gentleman named Michael Peroutka. Take a look at him."

Evangelicals—The Voting Bloc that Won’t Defend Itself. Wall is right, Evangelicals have sold their souls for less than thirty pieces of silver:

"The white evangelical bloc could be a formidable voting bloc indeed. But that can happen only if evangelicals and their leaders shed their inexplicable loyalty to the country-club Republican leadership, beginning with George W. Bush himself.

As for the leftist fantasy of the religious right as being on the verge of taking over the country – well, that's good for fund-raising, but it's simply absurd. In reality, evangelical political leadership is inept and clumsy. It sold out to George W. Bush and was content to receive little in return.

Conservative white evangelicals are so frightened at the prospect of a Democratic victory that they will roll over and play dead for Bush – a man who displays cynical contempt for white, middle-class evangelicals.

It's amazing how so many Christian conservatives will still defend Bush, despite his almost total failure to deliver. It seems that for too many evangelical voters, just having Bush mouth a few platitudes is more than enough."


The Stem Cell Deception. Michael Fumento with a nice summary of some of the arguments against embryonic stem-cell research:

"Ron Reagan made absolutely no reference to an alternative to embryonic stem cells that is decades more advanced and carries absolutely no moral baggage. "Adult stem cells" can be extracted from various places in the human body as well as blood in umbilical cords and placentas."

The theologians over at the Federal Reserve have come to the conclusion that there is less corruption and higher standards of living in societies where large numbers of people believe in hell.

Kerry says his foreign policy won’t be different from George Bush’s. Indeed, Kerry largely supports the Bush Doctrine of preemption.

Is Bush loony? According to this report in Capitol Hill Blue, Mr. Bush is being treated with powerful anti-depressants to control erratic behavior, depression and paranoia.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bush and Abortion

If George Barna is to be believed, 86% of evangelicals will cast a vote for George Bush in November. Barna’s data was recently confirmed by Ra ph Zallow writing in the Washington Times. He wrote that Kerry and Edwards are "losing ground to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney among white evangelicals."

Meanwhile, numerous leaders of the "religious right" are lining up behind Bush. Jerry Falwell said "For conservative people of faith [that about covers the religious gamut], voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush." Pat Robertson spouted that Bush would win in a landslide and then added, "The Lord has just blessed him. I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and come out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him." Andrew Sandlin, president of the Center for Cultural Leadership, writes "…we should work faithfully with the historical options God has granted us. He has not placed us in a historical situation that permits us to vote for the ideal candidate (and perhaps He never will). So, God expects us to vote responsibly and thoughtfully for the electable candidate that most accurately reflects Christian conviction. And in the upcoming Presidential election, that candidate is George W. Bush."

Furthermore, after four years of largely ignoring Evangelical concerns (which I will get to below and in subsequent days), the Bush political team is busily revving up the Christian conservative vote, going so far as to request that local coordinators hand over church directories to the campaign. As I have briefly discussed elsewhere, Evangelicals have, unfortunately, also been the largest constituency crying for the blood of Iraqis. Do I overstate the case? Read Cal Thomas defending the use of tactical nuclear weapons and Joseph Farah’s bloodthirsty musings about the destruction of Fallujah and tell me who the fanatics are.

When I’ve asked my Christian brothers and sisters why they intend to vote for Bush there is usually some innocuous statement about Bush being a "man of faith" and adhering to "Christian principles." They say that he is a man of "integrity" and humility" and that he is honest. But the Bible says that we know a man by his deeds.

When Bush was asked at a press conference if he had made any mistakes during his tenure, he hemmed and hawed, stammered a bit, and said "You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet."

In Bob Woodward’s book "Bush at War," we see the President proudly and repeatedly declaring that he hates and distrusts the media, and for that matter he doesn’t read the mail. The contrast with Ronald Reagan could not be starker. When Reagan passed away recently, I read that during his tenure he had written scores of hand-written letters to Americans that had written the White House. Bush would apparently rather watch "Sports Center." Bush also tells Woodward that, "I’m the commander—see, I don’t need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation." Maybe someone should suggest Proverbs be rotated into the Bush devotional schedule.

As for the honesty of the administration, the repeated deceptions and dissembling regarding Iraqi WMDs and links to terrorist organizations, lured the country, and a comatose, derelict press corps and Congress into a quagmire with no end in sight. Although less consequential, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services has also confirmed that career staffers were threatened with disciplinary action if they disclosed to Congress that the cost of the prescription drug bill than under consideration was $134 billion more than originally thought. Shameless fealty to political expediency trumps fidelity to the truth for this White House.

But what about abortion? Isn’t George Bush pro-life, and wouldn’t John Kerry do everything in his power to advance the culture of death? Kerry was recently quoted as saying "I oppose abortion personally. ... I believe life does begin at conception." The logical implication is that every time Senator Kerry has voted to fund abortion with public money that he has voted to fund the killing of human beings. Kerry has also voted against legislation requiring parental consent or notification for a minor to get an abortion. Truly, Senator Kerry cannot be described as "pro-life."

But what of the President? Andrew Sandlin says Bush has justifiably become a hero to Evangelical Christians because, "He has been an unflagging champion of the pro-life position, and he eagerly signed Congress’ legislation banning partial-birth abortion (Clinton had twice vetoed it)."

Pro-lifers like Sandlin point to the ban on partial birth abortion to burnish Bush’s anti-abortion credentials. The cold, hard fact is that the ban has not and will not save a single life. As Jim Rudd and others have pointed out, the legislation, which will almost certainly be overturned by the courts, does not mention "Intact Dilation and Extraction" (D&X abortion). Since the act does not use this official medical term, the D&X procedure is not really banned by the legislation. Moreover, the very language of the ban encourages abortionists to kill the child in the womb with poison since the act only restricts activities performed on a "living baby." So if an abortionist first kills the baby and THEN performs the D&X procedure, the ban does not apply.

Another piece of evidence proffered by Bush’s pro-life supporters is that he re-instituted Reagan’s Mexico City policy thereby denying taxpayer dollars to organizations that promote abortion overseas. However, Bush soon began to lift those restrictions beginning in 2003. The LA Times reported on February 16, 2003 that "In a major policy shift, President Bush has decided to allow social service agencies in Africa and the Caribbean to receive U.S. funds under his $15 billion emergency AIDS relief plan even if they promote family planning and provide abortions, White House officials said." As William Jasper wrote at the time, "George Bush has out-Clintoned Bill Clinton. The Clinton-Gore team (or any other Democrat-controlled White House, for that matter) could not have come close to getting most congressmen behind such an enormous and outrageous pro-abortion, anti-family foreign aid scheme. But with the Bush White House fervently supporting this UN boondoggle and providing cover, congressional Republicans jumped on board the global gravy train, eager to burnish their compassion credentials."

In 2004, there is only one full-fledged pro-lifer running for the White House—Michael Peroutka.





Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Stuff in the News

Steve Sailer  on Michael Moore.  I have not yet seen the Moore flick, but am certain that Sailer’s critique is on the money.  Sailer, one of America’s best journalists, gets himself into trouble by lobbing politically incorrect comments like this one in reference to Moore’s earlier effort “Bowling For Columbine:”

“For example, metropolitan Liberals support gun control for a hard-headed reason: to disarm the dangerous urban minorities who threaten them. But liberals hardly want to admit that, even to themselves, so they flocked to Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ a minstrel show about scary white rural gun nuts and the evil corporations that profit off them.   
                                 
In “Columbine,” Moore did ask one interesting question: how come Canada has many guns but few murders? Moore stared into the abyss of political incorrectness at the obvious answer—Canada is only 3 percent black and Hispanic—and blinked. It’s so much safer blaming tacky K-Mart for selling bullets.”     
                                                                                                                  
Here  is an interesting interview with the CIA analyst known as Anonymous, who authored the book “Imperial Hubris.”  Here’s a quote:

“It’s also perceived widely in the Muslim world that we attacked Iraq to move along what, at least in Muslims’ minds, is the Israelis’ goal of a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates. While we’re beating the hell out of the Iraqis, Sharon and the Israelis are beating the hell out of the Palestinians every day. So we have an overwhelming media flow into the Muslim world of infidels killing Muslims. It’s a one-sided view, but it’s their perception. And unless you deal with what they think, you’re never going to understand what we’re up against.”

Are the Dems trying to lose?  Paul Craig Roberts  thinks so:

“Neither political party will come to grips with the employment implications of globalization. Neither party will acknowledge the fact that Palestinians are a captive people and that American indifference to their fate is the cause of Muslim terrorism. Neither party will address the domestic police state implications of the "war on terror."  Neither candidate deserves to win the election.  Has America acquired Imperial Rome's inability to produce leadership?”

One way for Democrats to lose the election is failing to take a strong stand on the foolish and damaging war in Iraq.  But that is exactly what they are doing

Want larger breasts?  Join the army

The strange case of Sibel Edmonds.   Edmonds is an FBI whistleblower fired in March, 2002 for bringing information about 9/11 to the public.  John Ashcroft didn’t like that:

“The dismissed accuser, Sibel Edmonds -- a linguist and translator with expertise in Mideast languages -- was hired by the FBI soon after September 11. As the Boston Globe reported July 5: "Sifting through old classified materials in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, (Edmonds) said, she made an alarming discovery: Intercepts relevant to the terrorist plot, including references to skyscrapers, had been overlooked because they were badly translated into English."                                             

 Moreover, on Oct. 27, 2002, Ms. Edmonds told a reporter for CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" that there was a large backlog of untranslated FBI interviews with possible terrorists, in addition to wiretaps. But she was told to do her work slowly so that the FBI could get a bigger budget to hire more translators. Ms. Edmonds also had revealed to her superiors that one of her colleagues was involved with an organization under FBI surveillance. They were not pleased to hear from her on that.”              
                                                                                                                
 When it comes to federalism, we’re all liberals now.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Saturday in July

US Policy on Israel a Key Motive For 9/11, Says Commission.  Duh.

And here is Senator Sam Brownback explaining our "special relationship" with Israel:

"You cannot know the honor this is for me to be here addressing you. Since my earliest memories growing up on a farm in Kansas in the heartland of America, I have read and studied and been taught about you, the people of Israel. I was raised and steeped in the Bible while growing up. Ancient Israel was, and is, a living reality in my home. Its spirituality, wisdom, poetry, its majesty inspired and encouraged me all my life. You have helped form my soul and I thank you for it."

 "The bedrock of support for Israel in America today is comprised of Christians, like myself, who were raised on the Bible, and who see in the Jews of Israel today the inheritors of the tradition of ancient Israel. I've had the great joy of seeing modem Israel, the living spirit of its past. Israel's chain of history and its will to survive with purpose and meaning is a true miracle. "I have been to Israel several times. The last time I was in Israel, I looked out the window of my hotel and saw the flag of Israel with the Star of David and the thought entered my mind, 'God does keep His promises!' That flag which had been absent in this land for nearly 2,000 years was now flying again. What an awesome God we serve..."

"As a member of the United States Senate, my message to you today is to be encouraged. We are with you. We are with you as your allies in this war against terrorism. We are with you in the United Nations. We are with you as your friends as a wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric is once again on the rise... "Our past and our present and our futures are intertwined together. So, in my parting, I pray for Israel. That in this season of ingathering you will be a blessing to all nations. That you will be a Holy Nation. A nation of the righteous leading the world in righteousness. It is your duty and destiny. And when you do your duty, the rest of us will be blessed and able to do ours. Thank you and God bless you."

Brownback says, "What an awesome God we serve."  Has Sam converted to Judaism?  Have Knesset members bent the knee to Christ?  What then is he talking about?  

Brownback then goes on to repent for Christians everywhere:  "As a Christian, I deeply, deeply apologize for the pain and bloodshed and deafness to suffering that we have hoisted upon you and your ancestors." 

As an American Christian, let me simply put forward my view on the Israeli/Palestinian issue.  If I were an Israeli, I would be doing what the Israelis are doing.  Were I a Palestinian, I would do what the Palestinians are doing.  Since I am American, I would like to mind my own business.  Guess it's too late for that. 

More conservative confusion.  Former National Review publisher William Rusher joins former NR editor William Buckley in concluding that the Iraq invasion was stupid and unjustified.   However, Rusher than unloads with this nonsense:

"But it is only fair to ask what we would have expected an American president to do if confronted with the information on which the world's intelligence services agreed in 2003? If Al Gore had been elected, he would no doubt have dithered ineffectually – and Saddam would still, for better or worse, be in power. Bush took his oath to defend this country more seriously, and acted, on the basis of the best information available, to protect it while there was still time. Saddam was ousted, and we are in the second year of a painful process whereby Iraq is being cleansed of jihadists and set on the road to democracy. "

Rusher concludes that Bush was not wrong to invade Iraq (huh?) and then quotes that paragon of virtue Bill Clinton to buttress his case.  Rusher says that Bush has "learned his lesson," which is of course why the administration keeps rumbling about destabilzing Iran.  There is a reason that Sam Francis refers to conservatives as "The Stupid Party," and this is just one more example of the intellectual and moral confusion pervading the "right."


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Confusion at Focus on the Family

Here are three stories from the July 20th "Citizenlink" email from Focus on the Family.  See if you can spot the contradictions and flat out silliness.  Story number one is an article about George Bush’s attempt to get more federal boodle for “character education.”  Everyone at Focus on the Family, and surely every good American, supports that.
 
Story number two is entitled “’Less is More’ Approach to Government Best, Think-tank."  Everyone over at Focus on the Family likes “limited government,” unless of course we are talking about whacking foreigners and spending federal dough on “character education.”
 
But according to story three, we really ought to just give up on American kids anyway.  Let’s invest in foreigners.  We know that they are smarter and more ambitious than our own kids.

Transvestitism, Egalitarianism and Women in Combat

Conservative Evangelicals have become unquestioning in their fealty to the modern warfare state and its imperial ambitions, and no longer even see fit to object to the continuing sexual integration of the armed forces.  In their zeal to prop up a Christ-professing president, Evangelicals are turning a blind eye to the fact that some grand moral failings are taking place on his watch while he cruises the heartland flipping-off the unsuspecting, takes in Shinto shrines, celebrates Ramadan, and publicly equates Allah with the triune God
 
Having swallowed the egalitarian presuppositions of the Enlightenment, Christians routinely deny that there are in fact God-ordained sexual roles.  And why should we be surprised?  Look at our churches. 
 
In January, 1996, John Ortberg, then a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, authored a position paper distributed to staffers at the Illinois mega church.  Mr. Ortberg wrote that on the issue of gender equality, the church "has sought to insure an appropriate level of consensus on this issue with new staff members" in order to avoid a divisive environment that "would be destructive to authentic community and effective ministry."  Ortberg goes on to say that "when the Bible is interpreted comprehensively, it teaches the full equality of men and women in status, giftedness and opportunity for ministry."  Really?
 
Christians who aren't embarrassed by their Bibles might beg to differ and could point to numerous texts, including Deut. 22:5, where we read, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." 
 
The law obviously made reference to clothes, but the meaning is far broader.  The intention is to maintain distinctions between the sexes.  As R. J. Rushdoony said in commenting on the text, it "forbids imposing a man's duties and tools on a woman, and a woman's on a man.  Its purpose is thus to maintain God's fundamental order."  That fundamental order is hierarchical and, for lack of a better word, patriarchal, and you shouldn't allow braying theologians with more degrees than sense tell you otherwise. 
 
It is also striking that the Bible calls gender-confusion an "abomination." There are various Hebrew words translated "abomination," but the word used here is toebah, which according to Strong means "something disgusting" or "an abhorrence, especially idolatry."   Keep in mind that it is the person, not the act, which is considered loathsome. 
 
The elimination and obliteration of distinctions between the sexes is rooted in rebellion against God's order.  Indeed, egalitarianism denies the very principle of order and attempts to arrange creation on its own terms. Equality thus becomes a philosophical and religious faith that demands the fidelity of every individual and institution.  And since "conservative" evangelicals have been loath to do battle with the egalitarian ethos in our homes and churches, what shall we say when it attacks the military?
 
The Abu Gharib prisoner scandal and the capture and rape of Jessica Lycnh should have put the issue of women in combat into the national dialogue.  That it did not shows the degraded character of our culture and the seared state of our collective conscience.
 
The inclusion of women in active combat roles has been an ongoing feminist preoccupation.  Today, according to Bonnie Erbe, women comprise 15% of the active-duty military, 24 percent of the reservists, and one in seven soldiers in Iraq. 
 
But again, the Scriptures are clear that there is a comprehensive pattern of differentiation between men and women.  It is men who protect and lay down their lives for women, even as Christ died for the Church, and it is women who bear a responsibility as nurturers.  In Joshua 1:14, we read that the "wives, young children, and livestock" of Israel remained on the other side of the Jordan River while the "fighting men" crossed the river to wage war against the Cannanites.  Today, Christian men prefer to send their wives, sisters and daughters to die on foreign battlefields instead of fighting themselves. 
 
The progressive desexualization of our culture is running amok, and the distinctions between male and female are increasingly blurred, witness the rise of the "metrosexual."  To quote Rushdoony again, "modern culture has a strongly transvestite character.  Here as elsewhere it prefers the character of perversion to the law of God."  
 
Where are the pastors with the courage to preach on what God says about sending women into combat, and where are the Christian publications and leaders who will stand up and call the problem of women in combat what the Bible does: an "abomination."  Where are the teachers who will call the doctrine of equality what it is: heresy.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Stuff I Wish I Had Written

I recently read Neil Postman's fantastic book, "Amusing Ourselves to Death."  That little book is filled with so much great stuff, I didn't know where to begin.  I set out hoping to use his thesis to construct an essay buttressing my conviction that "seeker sensitive," entertainment-driven worship is from the pit of hell.  However, after a few minutes of searching Google, I found a great essay by Mike Horton arguing that style is not neutral and another by Dave Brown called "Entertaining Ourselves in Church," both of which rely heavily on Postman's work. 
 
If you have never read E. Michael Jones, read this essay on Jews in the porn industry, this one on Harry Potter and the culture of narcissism, and this one on the pedophilia crises in the Catholic Church.  Jones is the editor of Culture Wars, a conservative Catholic monthly published in South Bend. 
 
You shall know them by their fruit.  While Dick Cheney lobs F-bombs at members of Congress, George Bush is apparently out flipping off people in the heartland and bowing to Shinto shrines.  Meanwhile, his aides are saying that Iran is next. 
 
Here is a good idea.  Let's bring back the draft--for NEOCONS!
 
Can it happen here?  Pastor jailed for offending homosexuals.   


Saturday, July 17, 2004

More Musings

When was the last time you heard a sermon about gluttony, anyway?  If you are Baptist, you've probably heard about the evils of "Demon Rum," but what about McDonald's?  The Department of Health and Human Services is on the way the classifying obesity as a disease.  Effectively, this will mean that Medicare and Medicaid will pay for those treatments that Tommy Thompson deems valid.  Once more, the failure of self-government gives way to the tender mercies of the civil government.  

Third Parties Making Life Difficult for Bush, Kerry.  Hey, don't you know that the Republicans and the Democrats own your vote?  "Are you really going to just throw your vote away?"  When I hear that question, I'm always reminded of the episode of "The Simpson's" where two aliens, Kodos and Kang, abduct Bob Dole and Bill Clinton and assume their identities.  Here is part of the dialogue:
 
Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're nothing but hideous space reptiles.  [unmasks them]        [audience gasps in terror]
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.        [murmurs]
Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.        [Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]       
[Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]-- "Treehouse of Horror VII"
 
At the end, we see that the population has been enslaved.  Homer's response is, "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos." 
 
One party that won't get my vote is the Libertarians.  Their position on immigration, just to mention one issue, is tantamout to inviting an invasion by foreigners.  As I have written elsewhere, immigration policy as currently constituted is little more than an elite conspiracy to shift wealth from workers to employers and users of immigrant services. 
 
Coming soon, an Iraqi restaurant in your neighborhood.  Now that liberation has come to Iraq, people are clamoring to leave.  Gee, I wonder where they might go.  I hear that Detroit is nice this time of year. 
 
An error made Tony Blair do it.  By the way, if you aren't already, you should ALWAYS read Paul Craig Roberts
 
All loyalty is local, says Fred Reed.  You should be reading Fred, too.
 
From Charley Reese, (if you aren't, you should always read Charley
 
"So it turns out old Saddam Hussein was correct. He is still the legal president of Iraq; the new Iraqi government is illegal and has no right to try him. That, of course, will not prevent him from being tried and eventually hanged. One of the things I hope Americans are learning, besides the fact that the war wasn't worth it, is that the rule of law is a farce. Like language, the law is twisted to justify what the Bush administration wants to do. This administration is bound by neither law nor truth.

I'm no lawyer, but I pointed out some time ago that you can't declare war on a tactic, and that's all terrorism is – a tactic. Real terrorists, as opposed to people resisting occupation of their country or guerrillas fighting to overthrow a government, are criminals, and as criminals deserve to be hunted down. That, however, is not a war."
 
If you enjoy stories of redemption, check out the very fine flick "To End All Wars."  I watched this recently and really enjoyed it immensely.  The screenplay was written by Brian Godawa, who also wrote the very fine book "Hollywood Worldviews."  I sauntered over to the Rotten Tomatoes website to read a few reviews and not a single one was posted.  Unbelievable.  Here is a thoughtful review of Gene Veith, the only good thing about World Magazine.  Check out this movie. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Don't Add Amendments, Repeal Them

“Conservatives” claim to revere the Constitution, and yet they always seem to be carrying around a bag full of amendments they would like to tack on.  So I was shocked, shocked I say, several months ago when “pro-family” conservatives and prominent spokesmen on the religious right began agitating for a constitutional amendment to define marriage.   (Not all conservatives bought into this, by the way.  Read Tom Fleming, Dave Black, and see this piece on Judge Roy Moore).  That the Constitution already provides a mechanism for congress to circumscribe the appellate powers of the federal judiciary, which is the root of this particular problem, and that a constitutional amendment had no chance of passing anyway, did not matter to these savvy and shrewd strategists.  With geniuses like this leading the “movement,” it is no wonder that the Left, whether called Democrat or Republican, continues its political and cultural hegemony. 
 
My mailbox has been stacked to the gills lately with email “alerts” from Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, and others urging me on to fight the good fight restoring civilization by sending a fax, email, or letter, to Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh encouraging them to “stand up for marriage.”  Oh, and one more thing—could you please send us a check.  For Christians, this is what the cultural mandate, the command to subdue the earth for Christ, has been reduced to.  
 
In any event, I don’t really want to rant and rave about gay marriage, reigning in the imperial judiciary, or the sad state of the Church, there will be plenty of time for that on other occasions.  Rather, I would like to make the case that instead of adding amendments to the Constitution, authentic conservatives should be working for the repeal of existing monstrosities. 
 
For example, let’s repeal the 17th Amendment!   Huh, you say?  The 17th Amendment?  What’s Darrell been smoking, anyway?  What’s wrong with the direct election of senators?  Do you hate democracy?
 
Well, frankly, there is quite a lot wrong with the direct election of senators if you recall that the Founders were most interested in preventing the flow of power to a centralized state.  Though today an insatiable judiciary and an overweening executive branch largely govern us, the original intention of the Founders was to make the law-making legislature the preeminent institution of the new government.  Even here, however, they were interested in limiting power.  While the House of Representatives was elected directly by the people, Senators were selected by individual state legislatures.  The assumption was that if two bodies, serving two different constituencies (“the people” and the individual states, respectively) with two different sources of power, could concur on legislative matters that the eventual outcome would be in the public interest.
 
James Madison, in Federalist 10, put it this way:
 
“In republican government, the legislative authority, necessarily predominate. The remedy for this inconveniency is, to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them by different modes of election, and different principles of action, as little connected with each other, as the nature of their common functions and their common dependencies on the society, will admit.”
 
Overturning this system took quite a long time.  There was a clamoring in some circles for the direct election of senators as early as the 1820’s, but the change did not take place until the “Progressive Era” in 1913.  The conventional wisdom is that the 17th Amendment was needed because the political process had become increasingly corrupt and because “the people” had no say in whom their senators would be.  In fact, candidates for state legislatures usually declared whom they favored for the U. S. Senate.  Moreover, it was moneyed interests that most benefited from the 17th Amendment.  The Framers initially set up our system to thwart factions from controlling the legislature.  Under the original framework, special interests had great difficulty influencing the system because they could not easily manipulate multiple state legislatures.  It turns that it is far easier to control the political process by appealing directly to the electorate.  Direct elections advanced the interest of the elite because it maximized the value of that ever so important element in mass electoral politics—money. 
 
It is also obvious that the change was a detriment to the states and an important part of dramatically changing the role of the federal government.  Though critics of the modern welfare-warfare state usually blame LBJ or perhaps FDR for the radical increase in the size and scope of government, it is actually the 17th Amendment, along with the income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve, both also in 1913, which was the driving force behind federal expansion.   Not coincidently, shortly after these two amendments, Wilson dragged the U. S. into the “war to end all wars.”
If Republicans and conservatives really want to restore constitutional principles, let them repeal unnecessary, harmful amendments rather than adding them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Who is Jesus-Part One

Matthew 16
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Jesus’ question to His disciples is the same question asked of each one of us—and how we answer the question has eternal consequences. At the heart of Christianity is the claim that Jesus is God in the flesh. As Paul says, “…in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Mohammed is just a prophet, and Moses and Confucius were mere mortals. But if what the Christian believes is true, than isn’t it a travesty to say that He is equal to others?

So what does the Bible say of Jesus? First Jesus was fully human. Though His conception was a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, He was conceived in the womb of a flesh-and-blood Jewish woman (Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 1:35). Luke also indicates that as a boy Jesus had normal human development. After amazing the teachers at the temple, we read “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). So He increased intellectually, physically, socially, and religiously. The author of Hebrews also wrote “He learned obedience by the things He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Though Jesus never sinned, and could not do so, He grew to shoulder more responsibility. As a young man, He continued to grow into maturity.

It is also evident from the Scripture that Jesus had real, human, physical limitations. Jesus hungered (Matt. 4:2), thirsted (John 19:28), and became physically tired (Mark 4:38). Additionally, Jesus had real human emotions. At various points, Jesus is described as troubled (John 12:27), sorrowful (Matt. 26:38), and compassionate (Mark 1:41).

Jesus was also tempted in a very real way. As the Second Adam, Jesus had to face and overcome the temptations and machinations of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). The author of Hebrews also says that, “…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus had to face and conquer temptation on behalf of His people as a man, to win victory where Adam had fallen.

Jesus is also called a man by John the Baptist (John 1:30) and referred to Himself as a man (John 8:40). But nothing more dramatically demonstrates Jesus’ humanity then the fact that He died on the cross (Mark 1:41). His death was witnessed (and recorded) by John (John 19:25-27), a group of women followers and a mocking crowd (Luke 23:48-49), as well as Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-41).

Why was it necessary for Jesus to be fully human? There are several reasons. First, Jesus was our representative in obedience. Just as Adam’s sin allowed sin into the world, so the obedience of Christ, Paul tells us in Romans 5, “leads to acquittal and life for all men.” Second, we needed a substitute sacrifice. Jesus had to be a man, and not an angel, for instance, because God was concerned with saving men. Thus, the writer of Hebrews says, “he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.” (Heb. 2:16-17). Third, Man needed a Mediator between man and God (I Tim. 2:5), but in order to fill that role, Jesus really had to be both God and man. Finally, he had to be a man to serve as an example to us. Scripture says that we are “being changed into his likeness” and being “conformed to the image of the Son.” Likewise, Peter tells us that with regard to suffering, Christ is our example—“Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21).

That Jesus was fully human was necessary, but not sufficient to save us. Stop by later for more…

Monday, July 12, 2004

Is Government Ordained by God?

A number of critics of my essay over at Dave Black's site asked me to defend my statement that government is ordained by God. Well, the best place to begin a discussion of civil authority is Paul's letter to the church at Rome. In chapter 12, Paul laid down a principle that individual citizens were not to exact vengeance: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Is Paul saying that all punishment must wait until the day of judgment? Of course not. God has established and ordained a ministry of vengeance, the civil government.

Paul next penned these words in Romans 13:
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Paul speaks of our submission to "powers." He is not limiting his discussion to the Roman State, but is speaking of a plurality of powers that rule. In other words, there is no single human institution that can claim final authority. There are, however, multiple authorities that must be respected.

In verse 2, Paul condemns in very harsh terms those who rebel against legitimately constituted authority, saying that rebellion against them is rebellion against God.

In verse three, he makes the transition to civil government particularly. Strange as it may seem, he indicates that rulers are a threat to Satan and that their very existence points to a hierarchy of power and responsibility, a structure created by God to advance His purpose in restraining evil.

Paul calls the civil authority a "servant" of God. He is a minister of justice, bearing the sword, but a minister ordained by God nonetheless. He has a different function than the minister of the Gospel, but the importance of the role cannot, I think, be denied from the text.

"Christian anarchists" are certainly free to disagree with this reading of the text, but to do so puts them at odds with, among the others, the authors of:

1) The Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession of 1689:
Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate
1._____ God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. ( Romans 13:1-4 )

2)The Augsburg Confession
Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage. They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians. They condemn also those who do not place evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but in forsaking civil offices, for the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart. Meanwhile, it does not destroy the State or the family, but very much requires that they be preserved as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, Christians are necessarily bound to obey their own magistrates and laws save only when commanded to sin; for then they ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5, 29.


3)Belgic Confession
We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose he has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evildoers, and for the protection of them that do well. And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honoured and worshipped by every one, as he commands in his Word. Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of what state, quality, or condition soever he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honour and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers, that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates, and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order, which God has established among men.

4) Missouri Lutheran Synod
Although both Church and State are ordinances of God, yet they must not be commingled. Church and State have entirely different aims. By the Church, God would save men, for which reason the Church is called the "mother" of believers Gal. 4:26. By the State, God would maintain external order among men, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty," 1 Tim. 2:2. It follows that the means which the Church and State employ to gain their ends are entirely different. The Church may not employ any other means than the preaching of the Word of God, John 18:11, 36; 2 Cor. 10:4. The State, on the other hand, makes laws bearing on civil matters and is empowered to employ for their execution also the sword and other corporal punishments, Rom. 13:4

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Bare False Witness

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

Dick Cheney
Speech to VFW National Convention
August 26, 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."

George W. Bush
Speech to UN General Assembly
September 12, 2002

"If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."

Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
December 2, 2002

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
January 9, 2003

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

George W. Bush
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."

Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
February 5, 2003

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

George W. Bush
Radio Address
February 8, 2003

"If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us . . . But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct."

Colin Powell
Interview with Radio France International
February 28, 2003

"So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? . . . I think our judgment has to be clearly not."

Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
March 7, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003

"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."

Ari Fleisher
Press Briefing
March 21, 2003

"There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."

Gen. Tommy Franks
Press Conference
March 22, 2003

"I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction."

Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman
Washington Post, p. A27
March 23, 2003


"One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites."

Pentagon Spokeswoman Victoria Clark
Press Briefing
March 22, 2003


"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Donald Rumsfeld
ABC Interview
March 30, 2003

"Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find -- and there will be plenty."

Neocon scholar Robert Kagan
Washington Post op-ed
April 9, 2003


"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found."

Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
April 10, 2003

"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."

George W. Bush
NBC Interview
April 24, 2003

"There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld
Press Briefing
April 25, 2003


"We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 3, 2003


"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now."

Colin Powell
Remarks to Reporters
May 4, 2003


"We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld
Fox News Interview
May 4, 2003


"I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program."

George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 6, 2003

"U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction."

Condoleeza Rice
Reuters Interview
May 12, 2003


"I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden."

Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne
Press Briefing
May 13, 2003

"Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found."

Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Interview with Reporters
May 21, 2003

"Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
NBC Today Show interview
May 26, 2003

"They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."

Donald Rumsfeld
Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations
May 27, 2003

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

Paul Wolfowitz
Vanity Fair interview
May 28, 2003

"It was a surprise to me then — it remains a surprise to me now — that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."

Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
Press Interview
May 30, 2003

"Do I think we're going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do, because I think there's a lot of information out there."

Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, Defense Intelligence Agency
Press Conference

For links to the above items, click here.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

A Tip of the Hat

A tip of the hat to scholar, blogger, and Christian gentleman Dave Black for posting this essay by yours truly on the subject of Christians and government. The essay is a terse consideration of a few basic principles Christians should be mindful of as they consider the subject of "government," the State, and politics.

OutLANDish

In a bid to maximize the vote among Evangelical Christians, the Bush campaign is asking volunteers to hand over church directories to state coordinators. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had this to say:

“I’m appalled that the Bush-Cheney campaign would intrude on a local congregation in this way. It’s one thing for the church to have a voter registration drive, to seek to inform church members on public policy issues, to encourage church members to fulfill their Christian duty and vote, and to encourage them to vote their values, beliefs and convictions. It’s another thing entirely for a partisan campaign to ask church members to bring in church directories for use as contact lists by the campaign and to seek to come into the church and do a voter registration drive and distribute campaign literature.”

While Land is entirely correct, his selective outrage at the current administration is hilarious to say the least. Land provided political cover among politically conservative Southern Baptists leading up to the war. In fact, he published an open letter to the President along with Bill Bright, James Kennedy and Chuck Colson declaring the pending invasion a just war:

“We believe that your stated policies concerning Saddam Hussein and his headlong pursuit and development of biochemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory as developed by Christian theologians in the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D.”

Meaning no disrespect to these men who have nourished me spiritually over the years, I cannot read this letter without the conviction that they were actually writing a “Top Seven Reasons to Go to War in Iraq” list for David Letterman. When I read the letter to my four-year old son, even he couldn’t stop laughing at the half-baked rationales concocted by Land and his band of Evangelical Warriors.

As the justifications for war fall like dominos, will Land admit he was wrong? Moreover, as one who specializes in a concern for religious liberty, shouldn't he be concerned that, as in the Balkans, our actions have unleashed Islam against Christian brothers and sisters? (For more on "religious liberty" for Christians in the newly "liberated" Iraq, click here, here, here, and here.)

Friday, July 09, 2004

WMDs FOUND

Not reported by Fox News...

WMDs found in Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, and (again??) Maryland.

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Now that the Provisional Coalition Authority has formally yielded "sovereignty" (cough, snicker, wink) to the Iraqis, it seems that the resistance to occupation is four times larger than previously admitted. Meanwhile, the evidence continues to mount regarding Israel's role in the occupation, further leaving U. S. credibility in tatters in the Arab world.

Now the NY Times is reporting that the CIA had information that Iraqi non-conventional weapons program had ceased, and the Financial Times of London is reporting that intelligence was "rushed." Of course the purpose of flaying the intelligence agencies is to protect Tony Blair and George "The Buck Stops in Langley" Bush from the charge that their governments politicized the intelligence process to reach a pre-determined outcome. Unfortunately for the Neo-Con cabal, we have the reporting of Seymour Hersh, Jason Vest and Robet Dreyfuss, Jim Lobe and others demonstrating conclusively that the books were cooked with regard to intelligence.

Moreover, as Jude Wanniski wrote recently, we knew at least thirty days before the war started that Iraq had disarmed. The report from the Senate Intel Committee is little more than a circling of the wagons by the establishment to protect itself from the charge that the country was dragged unnecessarily into the Iraqi quagmire.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Sundry Musings

"Conservative" Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, a darling of religious conservatives, has introduced a resolution apologizing to "Native Americans" for their brutal mistreatment at the hands of evil, wicked, depraved Europeans.

The resolution recognizes "a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the United States Government" and describes the Native Americans as "spiritual peoples with a deep and abiding belief in the Creator." Perhaps the first step on the road to reparations? Don't you just love "Christians" like Brownback who are so politically correct that they are willing to spit on their ancestors?

Maybe I just missed this story, or perhaps it has been buried, but a U.S. Dept. of Ed. study shows that 1 in 10 children are abused by a teacher or school employee. And here I thought it was only homosexual priests that abused children.

According to a study from the Pew Hispanic Center, 28.5% of all jobs created in the last year were snatched up by illegal aliens. According to Rakesh Kochbar, who prepared the report, "The proportion of jobs captured by non-citizens was...much larger than their share of overall employment." Interestingly, the median weekly earnings for Hispanics dropped during the same period from $402 to $395. Wow, you mean incoming immigrants depress wages?? Who would have thought that?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Christians and Politics, Take One--Separatism

Some Christians point to Paul's injunction to "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," along with other texts, as evidence that Christians should avoid politics for fear of being infected by "worldliness." An extreme separatism characterized American fundamentalism during the last century from about the time of the Scopes Trial until the resurgence of the so-called religious right in late 1970's. As a rule, few Christians hold this view today. In fact, the case against voting and in favor of a total disengagement from politics is only made by anarchist libertarians like Wendy McElroy, and "sympathetic nonbelievers" like Fred Reed and Nicholas Strakhon.

I want to just examine briefly a few of the reasons Christians should be involved in politics. I have no illusions of going down every rabbit trail in a brief post, but hope to touch on a few highlights.

First, and most obviously--all of life is ethical. Paul writes in II Cor. 10:5 that, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Moreover, as Christians we are to do all things for God's glory (II Cor. 10:31). As believers, we are to shine the light of truth into dark corners, wherever that may take us. The Bible is given to us primarily to reveal God in His glory and to lead us to faith. But the Word also speaks to politics, economics, and culture. There is no neutrality. Jesus tells us that we are either with Him or against Him, and that applies to politics as well as every other area of life. Christ has all authority, and has a claim on our loyalty.

Secondly, whether they realize it or not, Christians who counsel cultural and political disengagement are in reality preaching a Gnostic gospel. Frequently these well-intentioned folks will create an artificial distinction between "spiritual" and "secular" realms. In arguing that the material world is essentially evil, they are closer to being neo-Platonists than Christians.

As God's people we are called to be salt and light to a dying and dark world (Matt. 5:13-16). Moreover, God affirms that the creation itself is good (Gen. 1:31) and that it is sin that causes the creation to groan. Our duty as God's stewards is to not only spread the Gospel and make disciples, but to work at the restoration of His creation. When the New Testament speaks of salvation, it is talking about an act of the Messiah. It means more than just rescuing a few blighted souls from the darkness of eternal punishment, it speaks to an ethical transformation that impacts every area of life--including politics.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Christians and the State, Some Initial Thoughts

The first thing Christians need to realize about the State is that it is not sovereign. Only God is absolutely sovereign. All human agencies have limited degrees of authority. Scripture tells us that all power and authority reside in the resurrected and ascended Christ who is enthroned at the hand of God (Matt. 28:18) and that it is in Christ that all things are held together (Col. 1:17).

Indeed, God has created numerous institutions aside from the State to serve His purposes. The family, for example, has been given control over children, authority over property and inheritance, and control over education. The family is also the institution preeminently responsible for social welfare. Paul says that the failure to care for our own marks us as “worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim. 5:8) and James says that “pure and undefiled religion…is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble” (James 1:27). The early church did not depend on the Roman civil authorities to meet social needs. Likewise, we see Jesus on the cross with His dying words ensuring that His mother is taken care of by John (John 19:25-27).

Secondly, God gave us the Scriptures as an authoritative and infallible guide (II Tim. 3:16). It is in the Word, rather than reason or natural revelation that we ought to begin when constructing an overarching theory of the State and politics.

So what does Scripture say is the role of civil authorities? Are they to educate children, cut social security checks, and provide cheap prescription drugs? On the contrary, the magistrate is a servant of God (Rom. 13:4) who is responsible to enforce justice. The Biblical role for the State is limited to the administration of just laws to defend life and property, punish criminals, and defend the innocent. In other words, the State’s role is to exact negative sanctions and is not a redemptive institution.

What are our obligations to civil authorities? Quite simply we are to pray for our leaders (I Tim. 2:1-2), honor their God-ordained office (I Peter 2:17, Rom. 13:7), pay taxes (Rom. 13:6-7, Matt. 22:15-21), and obey their lawful commands (Rom. 13:5, Titus 3:1).

Does Paul’s command to submit to lawful authorities mean we are never to resist the State? Some state-worshipping Evangelicals seem to think so. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, noted Baptist theologian Henry Blackaby said that based on his reading of Romans 13, those opposing George Bush’s Mesopotamian excursion were courting the judgment of God. Similar ravings could be heard crossing the lips of other conservative Evangelicals who shall remain nameless.

Since Scripture is our authority and guide, perhaps the Evangelical statists could explain just a few of the references to civil disobedience in the Bible. In Ex. 1:18-21 we the account of Pharaoh commanding the Israelite midwives to kill every Jewish boy. They disobeyed and were counted blessed by God. Daniel 3 gives the account of Shadrach, Meschach and Aded-Nego, who defied Nebuchadnezzar. When the disciples were arrested for preaching the Gospel, Peter’s reply record in Acts 5:29 was, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Needless to say, they continued to preach (Acts 4:18-31, Acts 5:17-29). What of Daniel’s defiance of King Darius’ decree (Daniel 6:1-17) or Rahab’s deceit in protecting Israel’s spies?

In short, there are times when disobedience is justified, nay, demanded by Scripture.

So how is the Christian to approach politics? More on that later…

Friday, July 02, 2004

Bill Buckley, Unpatriotic Conservative

The already semi-retired William F. Buckley has formally given up control of National Review. The once august publication that inspired so many young conservatives is now only useful to paper the bottom of the bird cage. The only thing you have to know about NR is that John O'Sullivan, Peter Brimelow, and Joe Sobran have been replaced by Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, and David Frum. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, in a farewell interview with the NY Times, Buckley let this one slip:

"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."

Gee, thanks Bill. You're only 18 months late with that cogent analysis! Perhaps David Frum will now issue apologies to Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, Tom Fleming, Joe Sobran, Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, and other old right stalwarts that he slandered in an NR cover story as "Unpatriotic Conservatives" beacuse of their opposition to Bush's silliness. Probably not.

Hey Big Spender

Check out this chart that the Independent Institute has put together. A number of years back, journalist Fred Barnes heralded the rise of "Big Government Conservatism," i.e, Neo-Conservatism. This "movement" has reached its peak with the Bush presidency.

"Since 2001, even with record low inflation, U.S. federal spending has increased by a massive 28.8% (19.7% in real dollars) with non-defense discretionary growth of 35.7% (25.3% in real dollars) the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. This increase has resulted in the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, over $520 billion in fiscal year 2004 alone."

Even more disturbing, the 2005 deficit projections don't include the ballooning costs of the Iraqi fiasco. Bush is on track to become the first full-term president since John Q. Adams to not veto a spending bill.

If you didn't know better, you would think the Democrats had become the party of fiscal responsibility. But leave it to gigolo (hey, he did marry twice for money, didn't he?) John Kerry to decry Bush's budget cuts!! Yeah, that's right, he said budget cuts.

Amazing, don't you think? In America I can find 150 types of yogurt at the grocery store, but when it comes to politics we have a corrupt cartel, in effect a one-party state where the "competing" parties are little more than wings on the same bird of prey.


Do You Feel a Draft?

One reason to fear a George Bush re-election is the looming specter of a re-instituion of the draft. The Neo-Jacobins, er, Neo-Conservatives in the Bush administration are still restrained by public opinion. Were Messrs. Bush and Cheney to have four years with such constraints lifted, there is no telling what type of lunacy might breakout. With U.S. troops currently stationed in 130 countries, and 150,000 infantrymen in the process of remaking Mesopotamia, the armed forces are perilously undermanned. Meanwhile, the Neo-Cons, safely ensconced in their cubicles at the American Enterprise Institute, call for the blood of "Islamo-Fascists" from Malaysia to Morrocco. There are only two solutions to the impending crisis. Either sanity returns to American foreign policy and we turn back from the imperial venture, or we have a draft. What do you think will happen?