The Bible is Not Off Limits But Only Settles So Much

Two of Old Life’s regular voices, Zrim and Jed, are having an interesting discussion — in response to a post questioning the political machinations of the hallowed Bonhoffer — about whether 2kers may legitimately appeal to the Bible in their civic duties. Zrim argues that the Bible forbids civil disobedience while Jed questions whether a 2ker may employ the Bible in this way.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Bret responds to me that his case for Ron Paul and paleo-conservatism come directly from biblical teaching on the fifth and eighth commandments.

Several points of clarification seem to be in order. First, 2kers do appeal to the Bible. They do so in their personal lives all the time. They even appeal to the Bible — you know, “my kingdom is not of this world,” does not come from Aristotle — to argue for legitimacy of 2k. Two-kingdom theology is thoroughly biblical (or at least tries to be) and its advocates don’t let differences between the kingdoms prevent them from seeing that — to borrow a line from the old E. F. Hutton commercials — when the Bible speaks, believers listen. As I have repeatedly insisted in different forums, the eighth commandment compels me to question whether I should shop at Walmart or at Gelzer’s Hardware. After Sam Walton is not my neighbor, the one whose welfare I am supposed to seek. But Mr. Gelzer is. The Bible gives some instruction about economics. I should try to apply to my life. I don’t see how that is inconsistent with 2k because it is not.

Second, this appeal to the Bible does not mean that I may require Rabbi Bret to shop locally or Jed to drink only the beers made by San Marcos breweries. Individual believers need to respect the consciences and interpretations of other believers. Some may eat meat offered to idols, and others won’t. Both will appeal to the Bible. But appealing to the Bible doesn’t settle whether believers will act in the same way about a host of matters.

Third, the critics of 2k — aside from uncharitably disregarding 2kers’ appeal to Scripture — can’t seem to fathom the difference between the claims made by individuals about biblical teaching and those of church officers and assemblies. For instance, because the Baylys’ believe the Bible compels them to protest at abortion clinics, they believe that church assemblies must call all believers to similar forms of protest. They even go a step farther and think that anyone who dissents from their application of Scripture disobeys the Bible. (Wow!) Meanwhile, folks like Rabbi Bret don’t seem to understand that his appeal to the fifth and eighth commandments for paleoconservatism leaves little room in the church for other perspectives, such as the Covenanters, libertarians, Democrats, or monarchists. Yet, the Reformed creeds insist that church assemblies should address only matters that are spiritual and ecclesiastical. In other words, when the church speaks as institutional church, she must have a biblical warrant. And that explains why the creeds don’t address education, math, or economics. The Bible doesn’t require God’s people to have a uniform method of delivering education, a base-ten system of math, or a commitment to free markets.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not solve the problems that critics of 2k think it does. If you believe in Christian liberty, which is premised upon the idea that Christians have liberty in matters where Scripture is silent — from whether or not to meet for worship at 11:00 on Sundays to whether or not to drive an SUV — then appealing to the Bible will not yield the unity or uniformity in politics or culture that Bible thumpers tout.

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142 Comments

  1. Jon
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “The Bible doesn’t require God’s people to have a . . . commitment to free markets.”

    What? Seriously? So, you are saying that the alternative, state-run markets, are no less Biblical than free markets? Was is merely a coincidence that the founders of Socialism and the leaders that advanced their ideology were avowed atheists? You don’t see any connection here? You don’t think centralized power tends to corrupt? The Biblical worldview says NOTHING about free markets?

    This is pure insanity. Any movement (such as R2K) that it leads to such asinine conclusions can be safely written off by anyone with even an elementary understanding of Scripture.

  2. Posted February 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Jon, Adam Smith was not an orthodox Presbyterian, nor was Milton Friedman. You may want to rethink your position on asinine reasoning.

  3. Jon
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Of course they weren’t, but they were clearly borrowing from the Christian worldview.

  4. mark mcculley
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    When they borrowed from “the” Christian worldview, Jon, does that mean that they share your opinion on something? Do you have an opinion on everything?

    In my opinion, we don’t need to have an opinion on which direction in history Satan’s kingdom should turn to at the present moment.

  5. Jon
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    MM,

    “When they borrowed from “the” Christian worldview, Jon, does that mean that they share your opinion on something?”

    No, it means they borrowed from the Christian worldview.

    “In my opinion, we don’t need to have an opinion on which direction in history Satan’s kingdom should turn to at the present moment.”

    Are you saying civil government is Satan’s kingdom? Do you have Biblical support for this assertion?

  6. mark mcculley
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I agree with DGH about the weirdness of having “the” Christian worldview and not being orthodox on the gospel. Jon wants to assume that there is such a thing as this “the worldview” but I wonder what that view is and where you can find it and if anybody has “it”.

    We have noticed before the irony involved in having an “anti-worldview” worldview. But I really would like us to focus on the relationship between believing the gospel and having “the view”. If you can have the view, but not have the gospel, how is it that having “the view” makes your opinions right or wrong?

    Just to warn you, Jon, I don’t plan to keep answering your questions until you begin to answer some of mine. But I admit it’s difficult not to give my opinion when asked. Please note that the following ” answer” is not one anybody else on this list, least of all dgh, would endorse. So feel free to ignore. After all, it’s one thing to “have Biblical support” and another to be correct. For that, perhaps you need either the confessions or “the view”.

    one guy’s opinion: I was looking for the words “civil government” in my Bible, but I must have the wrong translation. Sometimes the powers are the “secular governments” and sometimes they are not? We know the powers have been disarmed (Colossians) and that the Lord Jesus reigns until
    they are all destroyed (I Cor 15:14-28) To be “weak in Christ” is to have the patience to wait for God’s justice.

    It is one thing to claim that God had predestined the regimes of the status quo as his agents. It is another thing to assume that the agency of these “civil governments” is something different from the
    agency of Satan.. “Submit to” does not mean that we should encourage collaboration and obedience with Hitler and other “civil governments”.

    Romans 13 cannot be understood apart from its context. Romans 12:19 commands Christians not to avenge themselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine…” “Submit to them” in Romans 13 cannot mean that we leave it to ourselves or that we are to
    attempt to become the them to whom we submit. “Leave the wrath” does not mean “and take it up again” when you put your other non-Christian “civil” hat on.
    .
    The biblical context of submitting to the powers that God has ordained is important. 1. There is a difference between God ordaining evil to happen and God approving that evil. 2. There is a difference between submitting to the powers and agreeing that these powers are supposed to follow “theistic but not orthodox” standards..

    The Bible commands Christians to never exercise vengeance but to leave it to God. Magistrates can claim that the justice they advocate is not “God’s wrath” but Romans 13:4 says that the magistrate “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

    Notice, Jon, that the governors are executing the specific function which Romans 12:19 commanded Christians to leave to God. Though this does not prove that none of the governors are Christians, it does prove that none of them are obeying God at this point! And the text teaches us that God uses this disobedience (not leaving it to God) as wrath. God does not have to approve of the standards of the unforgiving secular regime in order to restrain sin with more sin.

    James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”

    Psalm 76:10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”

  7. Todd Rundgren
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    The Magistrate is also “not a terror unto good works, but to evil…do what is good…” and God’s “minister to you for good, not evil”.

    By what measure are Christians to know what good works are? What is “good” and what is “evil”?

    As Calvin notes:

    “[Magistrates] bear the sword; not only the sword of war, but the sword of justice. They are heirs of restraint, to put offenders to shame; Laish wanted such, Judg. xviii. 7. Such is the power of sin and corruption that many will not be restrained from the greatest enormities, and such as are most pernicious to human society, by any regard to the law of God and nature or the wrath to come; but only by the fear of temporal punishments, which the wilfulness and perverseness of degenerate mankind have made necessary. Hence it appears that laws with penalties for the lawless and disobedient (1 Tim. i. 9) must be constituted in Christian nations, and are agreeable with, and not contradictory to, the gospel.”

  8. Todd Rundgren
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Well that is embarrassing… the above quote is Matthew Henry, here is Calvin…

    “Magistrates may hence learn what their vocation is, for they are not to rule for their own interest, but for the public good; nor are they endued with unbridled power, but what is restricted to the wellbeing of their subjects; in short, they are responsible to God and to men in the exercise of their power. For as they are deputed by God and do his business, they must give an account to him: and then the ministration which God has committed to them has a regard to the subjects, they are therefore debtors also to them. And private men are reminded, that it is through the divine goodness that they are defended by the sword of princes against injuries done by the wicked.
    For they bear not the sword in vain, etc. It is another part of the office of magistrates, that they ought forcibly to repress the waywardness of evil men, who do not willingly suffer themselves to be governed by laws, and to inflict such punishment on their offenses as God’s judgment requires; for he expressly declares, that they are armed with the sword, not for an empty show, but that they may smite evil-doers.”

  9. Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Jon,

    There is evidence that the economic system outlined in the OT law (E.g. Jubilee Law, Law’s for Sabbaths for the Land) would not exactly fit the “free market” models of today. What’s more is there isn’t solid evidence that the economic system entailed money at that time (a later development), as transactions took place on a very sophisticated barter system at least up to the Monarchic Period. The fact was, there were certain economic realities that fit more of a command and control, and even a wealth re-distribution model. Of course there was also an emphasis on equitable weights and measures, but historically, most viable economic systems have required reliable mediums of exchange to survive. To say that Scripture demands free market economics is pure anachronism, as no such system existed, or was even contemplated at the time the OT or NT were composed. Adam Smith, was revolutionary simply because he was able to recognize how economic activity coalesced naturally in a cultural and industrial setting that was far different than the ancient systems of Israel or the Greco-Roman world.

    Why do we need to baptize capitalism to call it a good idea? Like any field of social or economic thought, free-market capitalism must be defended on its own internal merits – which I believe it does without needing to turn to Scripture for justification.

  10. Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Back on the topic of merited civil disobedience, I ran across a contemporary example over in Ireland over foreclosure law – here’s an interesting exchange between a Sheriff’s representative attempting to exercise a foreclosure, and an advocate who refused his entry on the property of the foreclosed party on the basis of the Irish constitution:

    Constitution Halts Sheriff

  11. Posted February 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Todd, is this an argument for or against Washington and Lincoln. Quotations don’t speak for themselves.

  12. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    MM,

    I did not intend to purposely ignore you, I just didn’t understand the question at all. I am positing the merits of an objective Christian worldview and you said something about “opinion.” I didn’t understand it, so if you want to please elaborate I can indulge you.

    As for your exegesis of Romans 12-13, you say “Notice, Jon, that the governors are executing the specific function which Romans 12:19 commanded Christians to leave to God. Though this does not prove that none of the governors are Christians, it does prove that none of them are obeying God at this point!”

    I think you are totally wrong here. While it is wrong for individuals to take vengence (vigilantism), it is quite legitimate for civil government to do so (justice). This is the whole basis for the distinction between murder and capital punishment. If we follow your logic, every magistrate who conveys the death penalty is guilty of 1st degree murder.

  13. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    As far as DGH’s, your, and many folks’ on this site obsession with hating the concept of worldview, I can only conjecture as to what is causing this strange phenomenon. I have to think there is some sort of axe to grind here that forces people into performing mental acrobats to avoid the obvious. As for anyone who goes so far as to refuse to even write the word (i.e., w— v—-), I start to wonder if mental disease is a factor(?)

    A worldview is simply a philosophy of life. AND WE ALL HAVE ONE (known or unkown to ourselves). Do you have a metaphysic? Do you believe in immaterial entities (i.e., God, logic, etc.)? Then you have a worldview which reflects that belief.

    DGH et al: Please stop playing games and resorting to pure weirdness to try avoid such obviousness. DGH has admitted and seems to revel in being a “curmudgeon.” Such an arbitrarily contrarian attitude smacks of pride and the desire to draw attention to oneself. “I want to be different!” I thought we were supposed to give up such childishness in elementary school? Let’s cut the games and debate like men.

  14. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Jed,

    Every time one of you guys encounter an argument you don’t like, you dismiss it as “anachronistic.” Please explain how a barter system would mitigate against a free market.

    “The fact was, there were certain economic realities that fit more of a command and control, and even a wealth re-distribution model.” Okay, you made an assertion. Now please make an argument to support.

    Apparently, you find no connection with the athestic worldview (uh oh, I’ve lost many of you with that evil word) of Karl Marx and his economic philosophy. The deification of the state involved in anti-free market economies is purely coincidence? God scattering the people at Babel was arbitrary? There is no moral implication in the civil government stealing our money via inflation?

    Guys, you are obviously smart people. But your desire to hold to this ridiculous radical 2K worldview is forcing you into the most absurd conclusions. Repent, please and let’s get on with it. We are on the same side here.

  15. mark mcculley
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I understand that you think “everyone has a worldview”, Jon. But I keep asking you, where did you find your worldview, and how do you know it’s “objective”? How do you know your worldview is the correct one and that other people’s are wrong? Did you find your worldview in a book by Edith Schaeffer? Or did you locate it in the stars above?

    And is there a difference between “the” Christian worldview, and other “individual” worldviews? Are there some Christians who don’t have “the” Christian worldview? Or, as DGH has asked from the beginning, are there some non-Christians who nevertheless have “the” Christian worldview?

    And I warn you: if you don’t talk to me the way I think you should talk, perhaps you are simply not masculine enough….

  16. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    MM,

    “where did you find your worldview” – In Scripture.

    “how do you know it’s “objective”?” Well, I am not a postmodern, so I believe in objective, knowable truth. Space does not permit an extensive thesis on epistemology, but suffice to say that God has created us in a way, and communicated to us in a way such that we can know objective truth. How do you know your creeds are objective? Or would you say they are subjective? How do you keep from dissolving into complete subjectivism? Can you apply your same questioning to your own beliefs (worldview)?

    “How do you know your worldview is the correct one and that other people’s are wrong?” Because mine is based on Scripture. If one’s worldview is not, then it is wrong.

    “And is there a difference between “the” Christian worldview, and other “individual” worldviews?” Yes. The Islamic worldview, for instance, is wrong in its belief in an unkowable God.

    “Are there some Christians who don’t have “the” Christian worldview?” To the extent that they diverge from Scripture, yes.

    “are there some non-Christians who nevertheless have “the” Christian worldview?” They don’t have THE Christian worldview, but they do borrow from it at many points. For instance, they believe in the regularity of nature.

    “And I warn you: if you don’t talk to me the way I think you should talk, perhaps you are simply not masculine enough….” Yes, man up.

  17. Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Jon,

    The point I am making is that there are plenty of Christian world view apologists who look to Scripture to justify their particular economic theory, and this isn’t limited to free market advocates as some advocate more collective models (e.g. socialism and communism) from Scripture as well. But what each group here ends up doing is cherry-picking the parts of Scripture that *might* privilege their modern system while ignoring the parts of Scripture that do not lend as much support for their economic theories. What I am arguing fits within the grammatical-historical reading of Scripture that must form part of our hermenutic that says the economic system(s) that existed in Scripture weren’t capitalism, and that outside certain economic commands such as tithe/offering, Jubilee, and earmarks for the poor, and tax commands in the NT Scripture makes no affirmative argument for any economic system.

    So, the anachronistic point is important, not because there aren’t possibly elements of free market capitalism that aren’t also found in Scripture, such as the importance of contract law, but because the economies of the ANE and then Greece, and then Rome were not capitalism and to say that they were is to misunderstand ancient socio-economic constructs. There are also some elements that other economic models historically have pointed to, whether that was mercantilism, or older medieval systems that reflected elements of Scripture. The OT system of land inheritance which parceled out the land to families in perpetuity would have been problematic in a capital system as well, as capitalism relies on the velocity of assets through the system, this would include the sale, purchase, and resale of property, which would not be allowed per Jubilee Laws.

    I have no problem with free market capitalism, as someone who tends toward an Austrian School of economics I think that the free markets succeed where Marxism, or Keynesianism, or other systems fail. But, I am of the opinion that battles in economics must be fought on the field of economic argument, theory, and discourse. If you sat in a room with other economists, even one’s who were sympathetic to the free market, if you were to justify your position with “because the Bible tells me so” you would be dismissed because your arguments would lack sound economic rigor.

  18. Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Jon, we all understand worldview 101. But the reason Christian worldview receives criticism is that it doesn’t seem to pass the test of uniformity in application. You can take two people who claim Christian worldview “based on Scripture” but have very different outlooks about how the world should shake out, which seems to suggest that Christian worldview doesn’t have the direct bearing on temporal affairs its proponents claim. Christian worldview might begin to make more sense when its application is seen in things like doctrine, creed, sacrament, doxology, and church polity.

  19. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Jed and Zrim,

    There are many different denominations, but you are a member of yours because you believe it is the true one. Does the existence of the Oneness Pentacostal denomination mean that you can’t know that yours is truer to Scripture? Sorry, the existence of competing worldviews does not mean that a true one does not exist or cannot be known.

    Jed, your “Bible told me so” statement sounds like the caricatures people make of presuppositional apologetics. First of all, I am not afraid to say the Bible told me so and I believe it. I am not embarrassed of that. But second of all, I don’t have to just say that I believe in free market economics because the Bible told me so. I believe in free markets because the Biblical worldview sets the foundations for a free market and the Bible is never wrong. Private proerty rights, just weights and measures, de-centralization of power, the concept of enslavement by taxes – these are all Biblical principles. They are also all empricially observable throughout history. I would advance these foundational concepts via Biblical reasoning, with or without explicit references to Scripture, depending on the context.

  20. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    But, Jon, the Bible makes a much better case for sola fide than it does for how a country should be politically or economically arranged and executed. Maybe that’s because that’s what it exists for? But what WV proponents seem to assume is that the Bible exists for purposes it seems vastly uninterested in.

  21. mark mcculley
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Jon: “Are there some Christians who don’t have “the” Christian worldview?” To the extent that they diverge from Scripture, yes.”

    mcmark: To repeat, I am still more interested in dgh’s questions—are there some nonChristians who nevertheless possess parts of “the” Christian worldview. How can you know that they are living on the borrowed capital of “Christendom”, when in fact “Christian civilization” might be living on the borrowed capital of materialist capitalism?

    But to attend to your answer—is this something like “universals”? Individual chairs don’t matter because there is one perfect essence of “chair-ness” which cannot be located inductively in any specific chair?

    But if that is so, then Jon you don’t have “the” Christian worldview. You only have your own worldview which is not “the” view to the extent you diverge from Scripture. So, again, where do you find this “objectively” universal “the Christian worldview”?

    Some of “them” diverge somewhat from “the” view, but you found it and know it? And if I keep asking questions you can’t answer, that makes me “postmodernist”? Next thing you know, you will notice how “secular” (bound in time) I am..

    But is it “the secular worldview” or are there as many “secular worldviews” as there are people?

  22. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Jon, in the interests of debating like a man, why don’t you address the issue and actually argue for w— v– rather than say everyone knows it exists. MM has offered objections as have I. But your womanly response is to say I don’t love you.

  23. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Jon, do you act always according to your w — v–? Is it subconscious or conscious? What is objectionable is that w– v— advocates make it seem like a wv is something that informs every single act. If it did that, then how could you ever drive a car or cross the street. Somethings like breathing we do without thinking about them. But wv’ers seem to say we need to be mindful of w-v- all the time and if we are the world will be a better place.

    It is a view of knowledge and ideas that does not square with human existence.

    BTW, it is not required by Scripture. You can’t make me have a w-v- no matter how manly you are.

  24. Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Jon,

    You are just ignoring historical facts to make an argument that isn’t defensible outside of circular reasoning. The bible doesn’t speak to capitalism – nor does it endorse any economic system, certainly not one as developed or complex as free market capitalism. Simply because the Israelites were warned about the oppressiveness of taxation by the kings did not absolve their responsibilities to pay them as Scripture clearly states. We are still demanded to pay taxes no matter how “oppressive” we think they are.

    Besides, if you were to have a conversation with a Christian in Sweeden, or China, their criticisms of socialism may be very different than yours. Marxist atheism is divisible from socialist economics, as highly religious states in South and Central America will tell you. Many have also falsely used Scripture to defend the virtues of socialism, and all I am arguing is that beyond a massive stretch of very basic principles, Scripture does not support any of the modern economic theories, nor does it automatically condemn them. You can insist on your “bible says so” argument as a basis for policy, but it requires rigor to demonstrate the merits of your economic theory. So your view might get some run at a political rally of like minded individuals, but it won’t effect change when it actually comes to monetary or fiscal policy, or shape the academy’s view on these matters as they inform both major policies in developed economies. You will have to prove the merits of your economic theories on the basis of economic arguments. It might be somewhat self-assuring to hold to the “biblical” model of economics, but until these advocates do the work of economists they aren’t going to see their ideas go very far.

  25. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “why don’t you address the issue and actually argue for w— v– rather than say everyone knows it exists.” I didn’t just claim that everyone KNOWS it exists; I also claimed that everyone HAS one. Darryl, do you think that a belief system based on materialistic determinism affects the way an atheist studies psychology? Do you think that Richard Dawkin’s committment to naturalism causes him to gravitate to non-Christian theories of origins?

    “Jon, do you act always according to your w — v–?” No, sometimes I am inconsistent. Do you always act according to your creeds?

    “Is it subconscious or conscious?” Both.

    “What is objectionable is that w– v— advocates make it seem like a wv is something that informs every single act.” Why? Why is it wrong to be consistent? Why should I believe that sometimes the Bible should speak to how I act in a certain area and sometimes it should remain silent? This really gets at the heart of the issue, doesn’t it? Your opposition to worldviews is simply because they mitigate against the r2k position.

    “Somethings like breathing we do without thinking about them.” How is this statement even relevant? We have all sorts of involuntary physical reactions. What makes us human (image of God) is our ability to reflect and think rationally about life. Paul said to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That is just what I mean when I say “have a Christian worldview.” Paul didn’t say to breath like a Christian, but he did say to think like one.

  26. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    “Simply because the Israelites were warned about the oppressiveness of taxation by the kings did not absolve their responsibilities to pay them as Scripture clearly states.” Jed, c’mon, you’re better than that. Can you not see the difference between obediently paying the tax in an oppressive regime and the approval of that regime to begin with?

    “Marxist atheism is divisible from socialist economics” No. It’s all based on the same idea that makes the State the messiah and seeks to centralize power like Babel (which God condemned).

    You are running the exact opposite direction of where Christians should be headed politically. I try so hard to explain to Christians that we don’t have “moral issues” and “amoral issues.” Economic issues are every bit as morally relevant as abortion, for example. Yet, in your zealousness to divorce the Bible from any political relevance at all, you are undermining the very efforts we should be advancing. You are siding with the secularists. Man, with friends like these. . . . .

    By the way, Christian economists have done a VERY rigorous and thorough job of laying out a Biblical economy. You won’t agree with them, but they have. Interestingly, I bet the society that you and DGH and other r2k’ers would advance would look very much like one I would design. The only difference is I could support mine Biblically and objectively.

  27. mark mcculley
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Which is the Christian economist? Ron Sider or Gary North or my recently deceased friend Art Gill? Since they don’t have the same view of economics, at most only one of these guys could have the “objective” view? Jon, Is the objective view identical with the correct view? And how do we know which is which? What is your view on holding slaves, as long as these slaves are not in the covenant?

    I simply would not presume we all believe the same things but simply label them differently. I don’t think the problems you would have with my attitude about private possessions would only be my failure to dress up my opinion in religious dress.

    How ironic—non-Christians who nevertheless teach not simply “theistic economics” but “Christian economics”…..

  28. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    MM,

    “my attitude about private possessions” Is your attitude about private possessions Biblical? Sounds like it’s not.

  29. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    MM,

    I have to go now. I have to work so you can steal and encourage others to steal my private possessions. But I wanted to leave one last thought.

    Your entire argument against worldviews can be reduced to this:

    Not all worldviews are the same,
    Therefore, worldviews must not exist.

    Or, put another way:

    In order for worldviews to exist, they must all be identical.

    I think anyone can see how absurd that is.

  30. Posted February 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Jon, that is not the argument. The argument is that what makes Christian worldview suspect is how it is allegedly traced back to the Bible and is made further suspect by competing Christian worldviews claiming the same source. So what is actually absurd is for one worldviewer to say the Bible contains a doctrine of private property and another to say it contains a doctrine of the redistribution of wealth, and that’s because the Bible contains neither.

    It’s not so much the case for Christian creed, and that’s because the Bible actually has plenty to say about Christology, justification, baptism, evangelization and doxology. Granted, those who claim Christian creed do differ on these and that might look to cause a problem, but at least they can be tested against holy writ. The way WVers speak is a lot like saying the rule book for training dogs applies to cats. There might seem to be overlap or relevancy, but um, dogs are to cats what eternity is to temporality. Or put another way, special revelation applies to spiritual life and general revelation to temporal life. In case you’re wondering, this is the part where you talk about radical compartmentalizing, but really it’s just using the right book to rule the right sphere. Why is that so hard?

  31. Posted February 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, some of us know, right, that w-v- is pietism for the intellectually ambitious?

  32. Posted February 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Jon,

    It’s almost useless having a debate with you on the issue of economics, much less which iterations are or aren’t Christian, because you are simply ignorant about economics.

    Socialism is distinct from Marxism, is distinct from communism. There is private ownership in the first, not in the last, and Marx had some incredibly insightful comments on what would befall late-stage capitalism – which is an amalgam of statism, currency debasment, and favoring moneyed interests – the problem with Marx isn’t his observations, it is 1) his assumptions about the nature of reality and 2) the conclusions he draws. Any economist who does not have Marxist leanings must account for the strengths of his position, and understand why it has attracted such a massive following (considering the largest country in the world still holds to a form of Marxism).

    Then you have to answer which version of the free-market are we speaking of Keynesian economics, the London School, the Chicago School, the Austrian School? Each of these also has philosophical pre-commitments that sometimes differ greatly. Any Austrian economist worth his salt will argue that the whole Austrian system is built on the notion of philosophical subjectivism, namely that the Austrian School starts with the individual and his rights, freedoms, and preferences, and then proceeds to build out an economic model from there – which is quite opposite from neo-liberal (neo-Keynesian) economics.

    You have demonstrated little understanding of economics, from a broadly historical standpoint, and in a more specific standpoint other than pointing out a few tenants of free market capitalism are also found in Scripture. Well, fair weights and measures, concern for the welfare of the whole system (e.g. “there shall be no poor among you” – Deut. 15:4), contract law, sound money, are all features of some of the Socialist/Capitalist regeimes in Europe – where they actually are besting the American “free markets” with respect to sound money, and equitable enforcement of the law.

    It’s a nice trick to say that the bible privileges one form of economics, when the fact is, it simply does not, especially systems that did not exist, and were not contemplated by Scripture. If free-market capitalism was the economic system contemplated in Scripture, then Christians have been living in violation of biblical economic principles until around the industrial revolution, when a truly Capitalist society was actually possible.

  33. Posted February 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, yes. And 2k is Christianity for the intellectually humble.

  34. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    So if two creeds disagree than neither can claim the Bible as its source?

    You are begging the question. The point under debate is whether the Bible speaks to economic issues. You argue against it by saying it doesn’t. Circular reasoning.

  35. mark mcculley
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    jon: I have to go now. I have to work so you can steal and encourage others to steal my private possessions. But I wanted to leave one last thought.

    mcmark: Rather than answer my questions about the objectivity of “the” Christian worldview, Jon has falsely accused me of stealing and of encouraging theft. I challenge anybody to read this thread and see me doing that. In fact, my opinion is that we need to give as much of our stuff away as we can. Our stuff. Ours to give. But de-capitalization is not theft, and one “Christian economist” (Gary North) is on public record as granting the distinction in my case. (Read Gary’s footnotes!)

    But Jon is more interested in assuming the worst than he is answering questions about his sacred cow. Does having “the” worldview mean getting the last word? If you leave, you don’t get the last word. If we come back, still we don’t have the last word. Those who would be the most humble will need to have the most to be humble about….

    jon: “Your entire argument against worldviews can be reduced to this: Not all worldviews are the same,Therefore, worldviews must not exist.”

    mcmark: Reductionism is not what we really ought to be doing when we read each other. It’s bad enough to be telling each other to shut up and let me talk, because what I say is “objective” and we already know that what you say is not biblical. It’s even worse to put words in the other’s mouth in order to have a “dialogue” with a caricature of our own creation.

    I have never denied that folks have worldviews. I have denied that they need to have them and become “more conscious” about it.

    I have never denied that worldviews are different. I have denied that there is one “the Christian worldview” which some Christians (and non-Christians) have access to.

    I have never denied that worldviews are different. I have asked how you know which views are correct and which ones are not.

    If the answer is that you read the Bible and others don’t, then that doesn’t account for the folks who bring “biblical support” for their opinions. If the answer is that you read the Bible objectively, and that others do not, well, I am afraid that doesn’t seem that objective.

    It’s one thing to say “the whole Bible is my gospel” but if we look at various church confessions, we can begin to see the connections and the reasons some people think God gives priority to the justification of the ungodly instead of the “social gospel” (which since Reagan has eliminated abortion in this country).

    Jon: “In order for worldviews to exist, they must all be identical. I think anyone can see how absurd that is.”

    mcmark: Sure can. I certainly see how dumb that is. I never said it. But the implication of your reductionist “last thought” is that even I can see it but I just won’t. Too stubborn I guess.

    You see it, but you just won’t admit it. I am right and you are wrong and you know I am right so why won’t agree that I am right? Your conclusion is very much like a “worldview”. It begins and ends by begging the question.

  36. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Jed,

    Sorry, I am so beneath you. Though i am not as smart as you, please accept my feable reply. The reason Marxism attracts so many is because they are sinful and make an idol of the State.

    Your comment on Austrian economics is completely false. It is based on objective truths, such as the laws of the free market, human nature, freedom, problems with central power, etc.

    Socialism is antithetical to Scripture. I have already deomnstrated such. You use the exact same arguments as a liberal in your railing against freedom.

  37. Jon
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “Humble”??? Haha, now THAT’S funny! Have you guys wondered why the only ten guys in the world who hold this theology hang out at this site? The rest of the world is just not smart eoiugh, apparently. And that’s humble?

  38. Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Jon, no, it’s not so much circular reasoning as it is a presupposition that the Bible is silent on economic matters. Maybe you presume that is loud and clear. But if that’s the cased then I suppose you mean to say that the whole confessional tradition has missed it, given the fact that there is nary a chapter or section in any creed, confession or catechism about economics. That doesn’t seem very humble, laddie.

  39. Jon
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Not true. Have you read the parts about the eighth commandment? Or the ninth? Or the tenth? These all have very important ramifications for economic theory. That’s why we can know that Jed and Mark’s socialist tendencies are a form of stealing and based on covetousness.

  40. Jon
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    You are A web of self-contradictions.

    “If the answer is that you read the Bible and others don’t, then that doesn’t account for the folks who bring “biblical support” for their opinions. If the answer is that you read the Bible objectively, and that others do not, well, I am afraid that doesn’t seem that objective”.

    Same with your creeds. Please explain the difference.

    “I have never denied that folks have worldviews. I have denied that they need to have them and become “more conscious” about it”

    So people have worldviews, but they dont need them? How do they get rid of them? You should start your own speaking tour, compelling people to rid themselves of their worldviews. Is it sinful to have a worldview? Or only if you’re conscious of it?

    “Your conclusion is very much like a “worldview”. It begins and ends by begging the question.”

    But didnt you just say we all had worldviews? So arent you also begging the question?

  41. Posted February 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Jon, so you have Mark and Jed guilty of stealing? That’s par for the WV course. Still not impressed with the humility, laddie.

  42. mark mcculley
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I am just getting around to David Gordon’s essay on Romans 13. As usual, I am reporting and not necessarily approving. Of course I have an agenda but I do not file this report to advance it.

    “Our conscientious responsibility to obey the civil magistrate is itself determined by the magistrate’s adherence to his divinely-established purpose. That is, in circumstances where he neither commands what is evil (in which case we must disobey) nor commands what is morally right (in which case we must obey), but merely commands regarding a matter that is “indifferent” in itself, we
    are not morally obliged to obey him, because the conscience can never be obliged to implicit obedience, and, indeed, it is the magistrate who has sinned, by stepping beyond his divinely-established role to reward good and punish evil.

    Prudence, however, may dispose us to obey the civil magistrate even where conscience does not. If
    the magistrate, for instance, required us to put whitewall tires on our automobiles, on pain of death, we would obey not for conscience’s sake (since it is not inherently right or wrong, by divine standards, to have white-walls; and the magistrate has stepped beyond his divinely-instituted prerogatives in requiring such), but for the sake of prudence (why surrender life for such a trivial matter as white-wall tires?). It is not immoral to have white-walls, and so conscience does not require us to disobey (not having white-wall tires is not malum in se, it is merely, in this circumstance, malum prohibitum).

    Similarly, it is not morally necessary to have white-walls, and therefore conscience does not require our obedience. Prudential considerations alone (the power the magistrate has to punish those who disobey him, and the likelihood and consequences of his employing it) govern our behavior in such a circumstance. Of course, the sword is a figurative expression of the remarkable power
    of the civil magistrate, and he does not always resort to this final expression of his authority. He may choose less extreme measures, such as banishment from his realm and its protection, incarceration, etc.

    This view was earlier proposed by theologians such as Thomas Manton (1620-1677): “Whatever God commandeth, I am bound to do even in secret, though it be to my absolute prejudice; but now submission to man may be performed by suffering the penalty, though the obedience required be forborne; and in some cases a man may do contrary in
    private, where the thing is indifferent, and there is no danger of scandal and contempt of authority” (Commentary on James, 385). Manton recognized that it is consistent with our “submission to man” either to suffer the penalty for disobedience, or to disobey privately and not be punished, if the matter required was not a moral issue (and therefore not properly something the civil magistrate could require anyway).

    Manton concurred with the Westminster Assembly (of which he was a commissioner), which rather remarkably (considering that the Assembly itself was called by the Long Parliament) only required obedience to the magistrate’s “lawful” commands: “It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons,to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake” (WCF 23:4, italics mine). However self-consciously, this differs from the earlier Lutheran confessions, that articulated and anticipated a view such as that of Robert Lewis Dabney.

    The Augsburg Confession (1530) had said: “Christians, therefore, must necessarily obey their magistrates and laws, save only when they command any sin; for then they must rather obey God than men.” Westminster used much more ambiguous language than the Augsburg Confession had employed; permitting one to embrace the Augsburg view, but also permitting views such as those of Manton. Those like myself who adopt the view of Manton recognize that the magistrate about whom Paul wrote was a Roman; who neither acknowledged the Law of Moses or the teachings of Christ.

    When Paul said of this Roman magistrate that such “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to
    bad” (Rom. 13:3), what did he mean by good and bad conduct? The opinion of Manton and others was that “good” and “bad” were not here references to the highest Christian ethic, but to those essentials of public morality necessary for cultures to thrive. “Bad” in such a context probably meant something like what John Locke suggested, when he said “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions” (Second Treatise of Government, 1690, II, 6).

    Theoretically, this viewpoint is, I believe, consistent with the definition of Christian liberty and liberty of conscience taught in the Reformed standards, and also consistent with the instructions of
    Romans 13. Practically, this viewpoint justifies the practice of many believers who routinely disobey the civil magistrate (knowingly or unknowingly) in an era when the civil magistrate’s laws more
    frequently deal with matters of indifference than they do with matters of morality. Many Christians adopt this practice, while professing in theory that they are obliged to obey the civil magistrate in every area that is not sin per se. My practice is no worse than my theory; if one is wrong, both are wrong.” from David Gordon’s website

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