Sunday, September 21, 2008

Voddie Baucham on Sarah Palin

James Manning on Obama's Mama

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Guilt, Atonement and Foreign Policy

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of Godon a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

---II Samuel 6:1-7

In I Samuel 4 the Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant. After being afflicted by tumors and seeing their “gods” embarrassed they returned the ark to the Jews on a cart. Soon Israel followed this example rather than the revealed law of God which required the ark to be carried by priests (Exodus 25:14, Exodus 25:14).

Though the ark would have been surrounded by priests, when the oxen stumbled Uzzah took it upon himself in an act of presumption to steady the ark. He was immediately struck dead by God.

Uzzah was guilty of presumptuous responsibility. In effect he was saying, “If you need something done right, do it yourself.” But such false “responsibility” is in fact a desire for control. It is fundamentally grounded in a desire to be God and assume responsibility and control outside one’s legitimate sphere.

The fabrication of false responsibility is a strategy employed by the elite to make men guilty so that they hand over power and authority to the state. It is an ugly strategy designed to accumulate power.

Guilty men with a troubled conscience, in other words all men, seek atonement. Christians seek a right standing before God through repentance and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us through the instrument of faith. Though as Adam’s heirs we are sinners (Rom. 5:12) dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) we are made righteous through though Christ, our representative in obedience.

Unbelievers seek justification elsewhere through self-atonement and self-justification, effectively a form of masochism. The other option is the transfer of guilt to other parties. Politics ultimately becomes a forum for obtaining atonement and its ministers and magistrates take on a priestly function rather than serving in their God-ordained office as ministers of justice (Rom. 13:4).

How has this desire for atonement driven American foreign policy? Through the systematic propagation of guilt, Americans have been indoctrinated with a belief that their history is little more than a series of power-grabs, a desolation of innocents. We are repeatedly assured that our history is simply an account of guilt toward Blacks, Jews, Chinese, Indians, Mexicans and ultimately the entire world.

The result of this defective history is a politics loaded down with guilt, in the face of which the populace assumes a posture of submissiveness. A foreign policy elite than is able to advance its interests by claiming a “humanitarian” justification for military adventurism, effectively placing guilt on one party in the midst of great complexity (e.g., Serbs vs. Bosnians, Russians vs. Georgians, etc.). Thus we are urged to atone for our sins by “saving” a “tyrannized” people from their “oppressors.”

The other possibility is to heap the guilt upon ourselves and assume responsibility for every malady on all continents. All the guilt for the starving and oppressed of the world or the ruination and environmental degradation of the planet is thus placed squarely at our feet. Atonement in this scenario leads to foreign aid schemes and similar looting of taxpayers.

Because few men can do more than look after their families and a small circle of friends or fellow believers, the task of imposed responsibility is soon delegated to the state and its planners. By acquiring this duty the state seeks to remake the world in its image, making salvation and liberation the work of man rather than God.

What is particularly irritating is when this guilt-mongering becomes the work of prominent Christians. And I don’t mean simply leftists like Jim Wallis. Consider the messianic pretensions of our Christ-professing President. In various speeches the President has sounded more like Robespierre than Burke:

“I believe democracy can take hold in parts of the world that have been condemned to tyranny. And I believe when democracies take hold, it leads to peace. That's been the proven example around the world. Democracies equal peace.”

"It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

"With the power and resources given to us, the United States seeks to bring peace where there is conflict, hope where there is suffering, and liberty where there is tyranny."

But America’s “special obligation” to the world is also parroted by evangelical theologians like Richard Land, who in addressing a gathering at Harvard said this:

We believe that America has a special role to play in the world. Now we do not believe that America is God’s chosen nation, but we do believe that God’s providence has blessed this country, and that that is a belief that brings with it obligations and responsibilities and that America has a special obligation and responsibility to be the friend of freedom and the friend of democracy in the world.

And I cannot tell you the number of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals and Catholics who told me that they were moved to tears by the president’s second inaugural address and the statement that we are going to be the friend of freedom. People of traditional religious values believe America has a special obligation and responsibility because of the blessings we have received to be the friend of the oppressed ... and to help those who want freedom for themselves.

Naturally Land believes that we are "culpable" (his word) for failing to intervene in Rwanda and our tardy excursion into the Balkans.

From where Dr. Land conjures this divine imperative is unclear, suffice to say that it is Christ, not the United States, that came to free His people, to make them sons, not slaves. We have no condemnation and guilt in Christ but are liberated by His sacrifice. The “obligation” and “responsibility” of Land’s universalist ethic leads to slavery and total power in the hands of a seemingly all powerful state where God’s predestination is replaced by that of man. Total responsibility becomes total control. Man’s duty is to control himself, his family and his work. His responsibility does not extend to the entire world and his relationships are to be governed by the Word rather than a response to the guilt engendered by those who would enslave us.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Immigration Policy and the Importation of AIDS

This is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen:

After more than two decades on the books, a little-known yet strictly enforced federal law barring foreigners with HIV or AIDS from entering the country is on its way out.

Tucked in a bill pledging $48 billion to combat the disease, signed into law by President Bush last week, was language stripping the provision from federal immigration law.

But that change didn't fully lift the entry ban on visitors with HIV or AIDS, which applies whether they're on tourist jaunts or seeking longer stays. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services still needs to delete HIV from the agency's list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” which includes tuberculosis, gonorrhea and leprosy.

An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment, noting administrators are still reviewing the new law. An April report from the Congressional Budget Office said that, based on information from HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV will be dropped from the list and new regulations will be in place in two years.

Both immigrant and HIV awareness advocates, however, say the toughest hurdle has been cleared, that the lifting of the immigration provision has been a long time coming — politics finally catching up with medical knowledge.

I had thought immigration policy was designed to benefit those already here. Silly me.

A Little Prison Love

A new issue for civil rights crusaders: Does homo marriage apply to prisoners who want to tie the knot?

Attacking Iran?

The Dutch seem to think it is imminent.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sproul on Statism

R. C. Sproul in the latest issue of Tabletalk has an essay on the plague of Statism...

Right Now Counts Forever
by R.C. Sproul

“A decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered….” In Luke 2, the well-known passage introducing the nativity story, the title accorded to the Roman emperor is Caesar Augustus. Had this census been mandated earlier under the monarchy of Julius Caesar, the Scripture would read: “A decree went out from Julius Caesar….” Had Octavian followed the model of Julius, he would have called himself Octavianus Caesar, and then the text would read: “A decree went out from Octavianus Caesar….” But we note Octavius’ explicit change of his personal name to the title Caesar Augustus. This indicates the emerging dimension of the emperor cult in Rome, by which those who were elevated to the role of emperor were worshiped as deities. To be called “august” would mean to be clothed with supreme dignity, to which is owed the reverence given to the sacred. The elevation of the emperor in Rome to this kind of status was the ancient zenith of statism.

About thirty years ago, I shared a taxi cab in St. Louis with Francis Schaeffer. I had known Dr. Schaeffer for many years, and he had been instrumental in helping us begin our ministry in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1971. Since our time together in St. Louis was during the twilight of Schaeffer’s career, I posed this question to him: “Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest concern for the future of the church in America?” Without hesitation, Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word: “Statism.” Schaeffer’s biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.

In statism, we see the suffix “ism,” which indicates a philosophy or worldview. A decline from statehood to statism happens when the government is perceived as or claims to be the ultimate reality. This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends.

In the nineteenth century, Hegel argued in his extensive and complex study of Western history that progress represents the unfolding in time and space of the absolute Idea (Hegel’s vague understanding of God), which would reach its apex in the creation of the Prussian state. The assumption that Hegel made in the nineteenth century was made before the advent of Hitler’s Third Reich, Stalin’s Russia, and Chairman Mao’s communist China. These nations reached an elevation of statism never dreamed of by Hegel in his concept of the Prussian state.

In America, we have a long history of valuing the concept of the separation of church and state. This idea historically referred to a division of labors between the church and the civil magistrate. However, initially both the church and the state were seen as entities ordained by God and subject to His governance. In that sense, the state was considered to be an entity that was “under God.” What has happened in the past few decades is the obfuscation of this original distinction between church and state, so that today the language we hear of separation of church and state, when carefully exegeted, communicates the idea of the separation of the state from God. In this sense, it’s not merely that the state declares independence from the church, it also declares independence from God and presumes itself to rule with autonomy.

The whole idea of a nation under God has been challenged again and again, and we have seen the exponential growth of government in our land, particularly the federal government, so that the government now virtually engulfs all of life. Where education once was under the direction of local authorities, it now is controlled and directed by federal legislation. The economy that once was driven by the natural forces of the market has now come under the strict control of the federal government, which not only regulates the economy, but considers itself responsible for controlling it. Where we have seen the largest measure of the loss of liberty is with respect to the function of the church. Though the church is still somewhat tolerated in America (in a way it was not tolerated in Mao’s Red China and under Stalin), it is tolerated only when it remains outside of the public square. In other words, the church has been relegated to a status not unlike that given to the native Americans, where the tribes were allowed to continue to exist as long as they functioned safely on a reservation, outside of any significant influence on the government. So although the church has not been banished completely by the statism that has emerged in America, it has been effectively banished from the public square.

Throughout the history of the Christian church, Christianity has always stood over against all forms of statism. Statism is the natural and ultimate enemy to Christianity because it involves a usurpation of the reign of God. If Francis Schaeffer was right — and each year that passes makes his prognosis seem all the more accurate — it means that the church and the nation face a serious crisis in our day. In the final analysis, if statism prevails in America, it will mean not only the death of our religious freedom, but also the death of the state itself. We face perilous times where Christians and all people need to be vigilant about the rapidly encroaching elevation of the state to supremacy.

Chronicles on Palin

Since the McCainic's selection of Sarah Palin for Veep I've been waiting for Tom Fleming and others at Chronicles to weigh in on the matter. Well they've obliged.

Scott Richert, Aaron Wolf and Fleming are concerned that the salivating over Palin by the "Christian Right" points to their rejection of the natural order and the acceptance of feminist presuppositions.

Fleming: "If Ms. Palin is a truly a Christian conservative, she is certainly not a conservative Christian. Christians are supposed to understand the implications of “male and female created He them” and, at the very least, realize that a mother’s primary obligation is not to the taxpayers but to her children and husband. It is all very well to celebrate her prowess as a politician and moose-hunter, but I do not recall these as feminine qualities in the Scriptures. I or we are not saying that we cannot vote for a woman who did not stay home to take care of her family, but only that this decision is incompatible with traditional Christian morality."

Wolf: "I will resist the temptation to steal my own thunder for next week’s John Randolph Club meeting in Philadelphia, where I intend to talk about the most important aspect of the Palin Pandemonium: the conservative Christian rejection of the natural order...It is not an exaggeration, however, to suggest that the Palin pick is harmful. It has lured dissatisfied Christians (evangelicals, Catholics, conservative Lutherans and Calvinists) back to the GOP Roe-reversal delusion—and to an obsession with fruitless national politics in general—and it portends to put in Washington a new convert to perpetual war for Israel and petroleum pipelines and “our values."

Richert: "That doesn’t mean, however, that it is sexist to raise them. Instead, it points to the very heart of the problem: From a Catholic understanding of the complementarity of the sexes, should a woman ever find herself in the position where she has to choose between her vocation as a wife and mother and political service? Even considering this a choice that needs to be made implies that, at best, motherhood and political service are of equal value.

But they aren’t—not in the eyes of the Church. That is not to demean wives and mothers, but to raise their vocation to its proper dignity—a dignity that dwarfs any that may once have been attached to politics."

Obama Campaign Plays the "Anti-Semitisim" Card

Some jackass in the Obama campaign named Mark Bubriski calls Buchanan a "Nazi sympathizer."

The all too typical charge is discussed by Joe Scarborough and company.