One of the notable inconsistencies of so-called social conservatives in the United States is the disparity between wanting government to legislate morality and wanting government to be small. This isnâ€™t simply a question of â€œgotchaâ€ politics, it is a serious matter of political theory and historical inquiry. Is the ideal of American government one of keeping the state under check, or is a far-reaching state fine as long as it supports and enforces the morality that I believe is good. A recent exchange at On Faith explores this tension within the ranks of the Tea Party. This populist effort seemingly favors limited government but if it attracts social conservatives who want the American government to enforce their moral convictions itâ€™s policies may not be so limited.
Contemporary conservative Protestants are equally implicated in this glaring problem. On the one hand, they long for a magistrate who will enforce both tables of Godâ€™s law. And shortly thereafter they will upbraid President Obama for violating American notions of limited government.
How can you possibly think you stand in continuity with the framers of the American political order who instituted checks and balances to guard freedom from tyranny and also believe, with the original Westminster Confession, that the magistrate has the power to â€œcall synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.â€ Letâ€™s get this straight. The magistrate has power to call synods of the church, and to ensure that whatever happens at them â€“ this from a lay person, no less â€“ conforms not to Scripture but to the â€œmind of God.â€ What magistrate has that kind of spiritual insight? What people wants to give a magistrate that kind of power? One obvious answer — not the American people, and that is why they have a Constitution that not only divides the magistracy up into executive, legislative, and judicial helpings, but also prevents the legislature from enacting laws that govern religion.
But despite the disparity between an Erastian magistrate and the American form of government, Presbyterians in the United States continue to think that their big magistrate in religious matters goes with a limited government over the rest of life. Take the example of the Baylys.
First, hereâ€™s an excerpt from a sermon which includes exhortations to President Obama from David Bayly (though it may have originated from Doug Wilson):
President Obama stands as our head. He is our representative not just under our federal form of government, not just in earthly terms, but in heavenly terms, before the throne of God. He stands before God for all the righteousness and wickedness of our nation. He either opposes the sins of the nation and reaps blessing from God, or stands in affirmation of them and reaps their judgment.
And in this regard I call on us to declare and President Obama to hear the Word of God.
President Obama, you have promised not to make abortion a litmus test in nominating judges to the Supreme Court. The King of kings, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, however, has declared the murder of innocents a high sin, a sin so vile that even after Manasseh repents of his butchery of the innocent and is followed by the righteous Josiah, God will not turn back his judgment on Judah. President Obama, you are not the first American political leader to embrace this slaughter. Others have gone before you in this. Others bear equal or greater responsibility. But you are president today. And you are the leader of a nation which is at war against God in this, President Obama. We have rejected the Word of God and the Lordship of Christ in this matter. You must oppose abortion in obedience to the King of kings for whom the murder of innocents is indeed a litmus test of righteous authority.
President Obama, in your declaration of June 1, 2009, â€œNOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third. BARACK OBAMA.â€
President Obama, you speak of â€œthe year of our Lord,â€ yet you honor what God despises, declaring a matter of pride that which is an abomination to God. In declaring good what God has judged wicked you are in rebellion against the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.
President Obama, in your speech in Cairo last Thursday you said, â€œAll of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.”
In that same speech you also said, â€œI consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.â€
But I say to you as a minister of the Gospel you claim to believe: Scripture tells us God hates all false gods and that Jesus is earthâ€™s sole Lord of lords. When Moses, Elijah and Jesus stood together on the mount of transfiguration and Peter suggested building tabernacles for all three, God thundered from heaven the unique authority of His Son. You proclaimed yourself a Christian in your speech. In so saying you claimed to accept the authority of Jesus Christ. Surely any Christian knows that Scripture teaches the unique authority of Jesus.
You, Barack Obama, by using your office to defend the impostor Mohammed, and to suggest that Jesus and Moses are equals, usurp the authority of Christ and are in rebellion against King Jesus.
Reading this youâ€™d almost think Obama was a king (of Israel, no less). But the American rebellion was against monarchical forms of government. Go figure.
And when figuring do take into account another Bayly post which faults Obama for not following the Constitution:
During his State of the Union Address with the justices sitting under his nose, President Obama shamed them for their recent decision overturning unconstitutional campaign reform laws. Note how little the Constitution matters to this former law professor at University of Chicago and editor of the law review at Harvard. His issue isn’t that their decision was wrong, constitutionally, but that its consequences are bad for America. He might have said “with all due respect First Amendment to the Constitution,” but he didn’t.
Whatever in the world happened to the Constitution? Among these public masters, finding submission to their vow to uphold the Constitution is like a “Where’s Waldo” game.
I know consistency is the hobgobblin of small minds, but wouldnâ€™t President Obama after reading the Baylys, be a tad confused about knowing when he is supposed to obey the Constitution and when heâ€™s not? Do the Baylys (and their defenders) really think you can have the Constitution without the First Amendment? Do they also think you can have the original Westminster Confession or Calvinâ€™s Geneva for that matter and have the Constitution of the United States? If the Baylys want to uphold limited government along the lines of the American founding, then how can they support an expansive government with power to pry into personal beliefs?
This is the plight of contemporary American political conservatism. It is populated by people who, thanks to their confusing the spiritual and temporal kingdoms, also confuse 1640s England with 1770s America. That leaves American Protestants of an allegedly conservative bent lurching for policies, laws, and officials that veer markedly from the limits that those not-so-Christian founders placed upon American government. Ironically enough, the sort of limited government practiced in the United States and upheld by political conservatives grants loud-mouthed ministers the freedom to mock and ridicule authorities instituted by the very God they profess to serve. And people think Obama is un-American!
106 thoughts on “Having Your Constitution and Obeying It Too”
Thomas Jefferson stated “Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censorâ€”over each other.” Fortunately, he also said, The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” or else these churches would probably be gathering wood for a fire.
I can’t say I see the inconsistency. You’d at least need to show that where the want the gov. small is where they want it with more powers. This critique sounds like what I’d expect see on Huffington, or Moveon. “Conservatives want small government, but then why do they want to grow the military!?” Really? Isn’t this just an example of what’s wrong with our public discourse? Lazy arguments that ignore the finer distinctions just so that an “inconsistency” can be found?
Anyway, a more profitable “problem” to look at is the one with some libertarians; i.e., “fiscally conservative but socially liberal.”
Paul, perhaps the reason that you cannot see is that you are blinded by your political prejudice.
Darryl, I do wish that you would learn the difference between it’s and its, and when to use them.
Ronald, of course, that was extemeley unhelpful. Aside from the fact that you don’t know what my political prejudices are, you don’t bother to be helpful and show us the “inconsistency.” I even hinted at what you need to show. Do “conservatives” say that they want “large” and “small” government in the same sense? If they did, that would be inconsistent. If you think they do, that would be a case of being blinded by political prejudices.
Ronald, I do know the difference. The mind is willing but the fingers are weak.
So Paul, since you’re the world-view guy here, why don’t you set us straight on how it is consistent to want a big government to enforce Christian morality (both tables, mind you, since it is immoral to engage in idolatry) and a small government that minds its delegated powers. Rather than simply complaining about cheap shots, you could provide a real service and unravel the inconsistency. While you’re at it, you might want to consider all the fault-finding about government schools and social engineering. If it is bad for the state to inflict its world-view on citizens through its schools, and if a solution is to give citizens freedom to send children to the schools of their choosing, why would conservatives want the state to adopt a religious point of view and inflict it on everyone? In other words, I don’t think you have come to terms with political liberty in the U.S. It’s (see Ronald?), supposed to be for everyone, not just for Christians.
Darryl, you forgot to call me “Pau.” I’ll try to set you straight, per your request, if you promise to read this. Deal?
Consistency is a technical term. Two propositions are consistent just in case both can be true at the same time. Now, certainly we could offer two apparently inconsistent Conservative propositions, like this:
 Government should be small in area x.
 Government should be large in area x.
If  and  were meant to apply to the same area, x, and the ostenisble quantitative terms were both used quantitatively (i.e., one was quantitative and the other qualitative), then we could justly scratch our heads. But what if this were the case,
 Government should be small in matters x, y, z.
 Government should be large in matters a, b, c.
Clearly, then,  and  can both be true, and you don’t even need to be a world-view guy to grasp that. And this is, precisely, what we see from many conservatives, especially the neo-con, religious right, or Reagan conservatives. One of the main talking points of this position is for the government to become smaller in matters dealing with the free market and the traditional family, but also to become stronger or larger in matters dealing with, say, defense and the rule of law.
So I don’t need to “unravel the inconsistency” because I don’t think there is one; or at least not in the way you portray it (since the conservatives you refer to have not wanted “limited or small” government period, it’s always been qualified). Besides that, it would do you well to not make assumptions. Not only do I have a child in public school, I have no problem with political liberty for all.
Paul: It does get a bit muckier if all issues have a moral component (as I hold to be true).
 Government should enforce true morality,
 All issues have a moral component,
 Government should enforce morality in areas of family and immigration, but not in areas of war or sexual politics. (Just to pick a platform currently held by no-one!)
Those really are inconsistent propositions.
Do not all governments enforce morality? I see the problems of enforcing the first table of the law but all governments enforce the second table to some extent (some better than others I suppose). Since God has “implanted” his moral law within the human consciousness what is the difference between this implanted law and the law revealed to us in the scriptures? My point being, even natural law thinking enforces the morality of the law of God. So, this “manages” sin in the culture to the extent that it can towards outward actions. That is what I do not get about 2K thinking- you cannot get around enforcing morality- even when you bring natural law thinking to policy making. Am I missing something here?
Paul (or Pau if you prefer), sorry but you took the bait. We are talking about the Constitution here. If you want to explain to me how enforcing religion or morality is enumerated in the powers defined by the U.S. Constitution, have at it. But this is not an abstract discussion of either logic or the ideal government. The Constitution says one thing and many American Protestants welcome what it says about limited government. The original Westminster Confession says something else about the government that is quite opposed to the U.S. Constitution. Now if you want to say that the Constitution is wrong, that’s fine and it would be honest. But I don’t know how you can have both, unless you adopt 2k and revise the Confession.
Darryl, you made a claim about inconsistency. Please show it. The American government has always had rules and laws that it enforced. So, again, there’s nothing inconsistent with wanting the government “big” in one area and “small” in another. Or, with wanting the government’s presence known in one area, but not another. You made a claim in your post, to wit: “One of the notable inconsistencies of so-called social conservatives in the United States is the disparity between wanting government to legislate morality and wanting government to be small.” There’s nothing inconsistent here, because they, right or wrong, don’t want government to be “small” in those areas. So, please show the inconsistency. Otherwise, use another term.
You need to understand the dialectical situation here. Darryl is claiming that all the members of a class (social conservaties) have inconsistent beliefs. So your post was quite off topic. The question I am addressing is the claim that some person, S, supposedly holds inconsistent beliefs, B1 and B2, such that B1 and B2 cannot both be true at the same time and S is a social conservative. This is the relevant context of dialogue I am arguing within. I offered an argument that shows this to be false. My argument has not been addressed. Though I’d like to spend time looking at your set of propositions, they are simply irrelevant to the dialectical tension at hand.
And Darryl, by the way, I hold to the revised confession, and I am 2K. So, again, you’ve got a picture of me in your head that doesn’t quite match reality.
Ho-hum, Gentleman…What about “Live and let live”?… “To each his own”?…”Always do what’s right”?…”Most people are a contribution to society, just by being the kind of people they ARE”?..”If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”?…””Some folks’ve GOT it, and some ain’t”?…”I have my belief’s, you have yours” (as long as they don’t hurt anyone else)?…and “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for ANYTHING”? (Personally, if one believes that morality is living a life that’s productive, pondered, well-spent, enjoyed,and truthful, we would have a much improved world. I may have missed the points here but I just had to state my feelings.
Paul: You need to understand the dialectical situation here.
I do not need to understand the dialectical situation here! (Sorry — Hegel joke)
But actually, I was more on-topic than all that. Evangelicals justify government intervention on the grounds that social issues are moral issues. DGH’s point is that there is no apparent principle that explains why this moral issue is a matter for government, but that one is not.
So the inconsistency is *not* that conservatives want government here, but not there. Instead, the inconsistency lies in the justification for government action.
I’m not sure what evangelicals do. I’m sure some do as you say, and I’m equally sure that others do not. So your unqualified and hyperbolic statement really doesn’t serve to help the discussion along.
Anyway, the evangelicals you mention are a subset of the set of “social conservatives” Darryl mentioned. Darryl also mentioned a criticism that is, apparently, not unique to him, but is one that can be found in the musings of political historians. Since they comment more on the political philosophies of ostensible party affiliates, his own claim implied, initially, a braoder context than you hope to find for him. Again, I am commenting on the claims made in the first paragraph. The claims that go beyond Hart’s bÃªte noire.We can see similar claims made here, for instance: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/death-to-big-government-l_b_599140.html
So again, Darryl is trotting out a particular criticism of a particular political philosophy that is made by people who do not have Hart’s post on Bayly’s or evangelicals in mind.
But I’ll offer you the same challenge: *show* the inconsistency, step by step, by appealing to logical rules of derivation.
I am content to observe this discussion for the most part, and let you guys have at it but I do see one problem with your insistence on “consistency” being a technical term. While it certainly serves your purposes to insist it is a precise term with a fixed meaning, consistency like almost every other term has a broad semantic value. The consistency of a pumpkin pie is different than the consistency of one’s political beliefs. Context determines meaning. The point being made it that the Baylys are being inconsistent with their political beliefs here, which seems to be a reasonable point given the context.
Maybe you want to broaden the context, which the diagram of (x vs. x) contra (a,b,c vs. x,y,z) suggests, but let’s say you do so successfully. Does the Baylys contradiction dissipate simply because it exists in a broader context of political beliefs?
Your diagram does help to illustrate the broader context of what limited government has come to mean. Even with these nuances, to claim an originalist position on the Constitution as the Baylys do, and then to ask the president to come down on Muslims and gays in order to be loyal to King Jesus is inconsistent and contradictory, even if this is embedded in a more nuanced neo-con platform that they hold to. While your diagram might militate certain straw-man arguments, it doesn’t quite seem to apply here, even if this were to be stretched to say that the Baylys have a multivalent definition of conservatism that resolves the dialectical tension here.
It might be better to as how the Baylys are being consistent here. My guess is that their high view of the US Constitution is at odds with their insistence that US policy must also be honorable to King Jesus. It seems to me that the First Amendment allows for a whole host of expressions that are anything but honorable to King Jesus. We all struggle to have consistent views on politics and religion in the public square, this simply is one area that the Baylys and those like them fail in.
Paul, what Jed said.
And if you’re 2k and agree with the revised confession, why are you sticking up for the Baylys?
Thank for the condescending lesson. Anyway, the context of dialogue determines the meaning of the term under discussion. If we had been talking about cooking, and you mentioned the consistency of pumpkin pie, then I’d take you to mean the archaic term that indicates the way substances “adhere or stick together.” But, as you even note, we are here talking about propositional consistency, and the rules governing that term are clear: two propositions (or beliefs) are inconsistent just in case they cannot both be true at the same time; or, in other words, they entail a contradiction.
Now, you bring up the Bayly’s, but I’ll note for the second time, I am talking about Hart’s claim in his first paragraph. That claim, as Hart himself admits, is broader than the claim about his bÃªte noire—or, the Bayly’s. So, I didn’t want to braoden the discussion, it was broadened from the get go. Darryl took a well-worn critique, a critique, as he himself mentions, that is applied by people who don’t care a whit about evangelicals or the Bayly’s. And it is that critique that I am addressing. It’s a boiler plate criticism of social conservatives that is false and unhelpful for political dialogue.
Next, you note that I have mitigated certain straw man argument; and indeed, that’s what I’ve done! Darryl said, “One of the notable inconsistencies of so-called social conservatives in the United States is the disparity between wanting government to legislate morality and wanting government to be small. This isn’t simply a question of â€œgotchaâ€ politics, it is a serious matter of political theory and historical inquiry.” Darryl admits he’s trotting out a popular criticism, and it is one I happen to think is unthoughtful and unhelpful. I don’t think the criticism he appeals to shows any inconsistency.
Regarding your last paragraph, I have nothing to say because I never even intimated—in fact, I intimated the contrary on more than one occassion—that I am sticking up for the Bayly’s. In fact, I haven’t even read Darryl’s critique of them, and to tell you the truth, I’ve never even read a blog by the Bayly’s and have only seen their site maybe 3 times.
Your comment reveals a lot. First, I have not been defending the Baylys’. This tells me you haven’t been reading my posts, and I thought we made a deal that you’d do that. Second, let’s grant that I’m 2k and hold the revised standards. Then, let’s assume the Baylys’ make this claim: 2+2=4. Then, let’s further suppose that you come in and argue against them. Now, I come in to “stick up for them.” Would you tell me that since I’m 2k and hold to the revised standards that I can’t defend them? So, even if I were to defend them, it doesn’t follow that that impugnes my 2k status. Now, you may say that this issue isn’t math, so I’ve argued disanalagously. Well, I could debate that, but let’s leave it alone. There may be instances where I stick up for the Baylys’ against your interpretation of 2k on some matter. Being 2k doesn’t mean I have to walk lock-step with Hart on everything Hart says. So, your question was revealing on many levels.
“While it certainly serves your purposes to insist it is a precise term with a fixed meaning, consistency like almost every other term has a broad semantic value.”
I am still in awe at this. This is so uncharitable and could only be made by someone who doesn’t know enough to know how much he doesn’t know. It is utterly ridiculous, uncharitable, and sophistic for Jed to actually imply that I think that the consistency of a pumpkin pie means that it has propositions that cannot all be true at the same time! However, as should have been clear to all, in the current context of dialogue, “consistency” does have a fixed meaning. It is CLEAR that the critique Darryl mentiones is that there are certain BELIEFS that are in tension with each other and cannot all jointly be true. I don’t know how to explain this. Maybe Jed doesn’t like me and so he lets his emotions control him when he posts to me. I don’t know. Sheesh.
Illustrations are not personal attacks, nor are they an assault to your intellect. You were arguing for precision in order to further justify an expansion from (x) to (x), to (a,b,c) vs. (x,y,z), as if Hart dealt with the wrong issues in proving the point. The fact is that the to statements attributed to the Baylys (even if one originated with Wilson) left the impression that they wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Even if the discussion were expanded to include the propositions you were hoping to find, which the Baylys themselves held, they were inconsistent with calling President Obama to loyalty to King Jesus as a self-proclaimed believer on a whole host of political issues, and then calling him to account based on the 1st Ammendment on other issues.
The fact is that there are a whole lot of conservatives that do tout small government but don’t think to criticize the generally Republican commitments to what is the largest military-industrial complex in the history of mankind. The military issue in the discussion isn’t petty, it is central. How can one tout small government while supporting what some view as imperialistic foreign policies? Of course there is other bureaucracies like the CIA, FBI, and DEA to name a few that are most conservatives have no problem supporting. Then there is a whole host of conservatives that claim to be Constitutional originalists, but don’t seem to have a problem decrying 1st Amendment rights to those they find morally or religiously undesirable. Inconsistencies abound on many of these issues. But in this simple case of the intent and extent of Constitutional rights, the Baylys were inconsistent.
I get that you aren’t taking the Baylys side on this, but what I don’t get is why you want to re-frame the discussion to include issues that aren’t germane to the discussion. What if they were included, would that dissolve the inconsistency cited here? Then lets say that you encounter an honest neocon about their consistency with regards to constitutional ideals regarding a small government – my guess is that they would not be maintaining an originalist viewpoint to arrive at their conclusions.
Paul, loosen up. My tongue is in my cheek. I’m joking. But perhaps Americans don’t get Australian humour (I’m sorry, humor).
Paul, what gets me in this discussion is how you justify some of the personal remarks you make about me here. Your last post paints me as an uncharitable sophist who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, or that my emotions got the better of me when I dared to challenge your point. You flipped the switch on a term to suit the purposes of your own argument. Which is fine, I simply thought you were making much ado about defining a term that was fairly obvious in its own context. What’s the worst that can or should happen here – a simple disagreement over terms, or resetting the debate? I see you going into attack mode with plenty of guys who disagree with you and I don’t think it is right. You can paint whatever picture of me that you would like in order to discredit my arguments, but this uncharitable sophist isn’t so sure how charitable that would be of you to do.
Paul, so what is your point other than trying to show your knowledge of logic (again)? I find it odd that you take these posts in directions that make subsequent comments about you and your knowledge. Please do tell me how you have a big govt. on morality and a small govt. on logic. Do you have some insights from the Constitution?
But, Paul, you and the Bayly’s seem to agree that not only is 2 and 2 are four, but that political outlook and personal morality are the same. The problem isn’t that you agree with the Bayly’s on this score, but rather that the logical consequence of your shared confusion is to persecute an ideology instead of disciplining a Christian. Don’t you think that’s an important difference?
I think my response to you was sufficient to defeat your initial comment to me, I have no interest in going down the tangents you want to go down. That are irrelevant to my argument. Your point about “consistency” was totally irrelevant (as I argued), and your point about the Baylys’ was also irrelevant (as I argued). I also have no doubt that some social conservatives are inconsistent, and I never argued that none were. So your further point is irrelevant. As far as your latest response, I simply offered some possible explnations for your totally irrelevant comment that tried to educate me that the term ‘consistency’ means somehting different when talking about pumkin pie than it does when talking about propositions. And of course, I didn’t inquire about your motives because you “dared to challenge me” (why do you get to make accusations like that but I don’t?). I inquired as I did because of your ridiculous comment where you tried to pass yourself off as erudite and making a sophisticated and profound point. And you still don’t get it:
“Illustrations are not personal attacks, nor are they an assault to your intellect.”
Your was. Telling me that I think the consistency of pumpkin pie is the same as the consistency that applies to propositions is an assault.
“You were arguing for precision in order to further justify an expansion from (x) to (x), to (a,b,c) vs. (x,y,z),”
No, I wasn’t. In the context of dialogue it is analytic that consistency means what I said it means. I didn’t need to “argue” for it. I also didn’t need to “justify the expansion” as you say. I was simply illustrating how consistency could be had. I take it that what I said was obvious and that no properly functioning cognizer could doubt what I said.
“as if Hart dealt with the wrong issues in proving the point.”
Again, Jed, I was commenting on the claim by Hart that “it is a serious matter of political theory and historical inquiry.” Can’t you see that he’s appealing to something that transcendes the Baylys’??? It is that which I was critiquing.
Really, what I have been arguing is so obviously true and uncontroversial that I can’t imagine anyone arguing against what I’ve said. I’m actually baffled at the responses.
My point was to correct the unhelpful rhetoric in your first paragraph. When I read your blogs I assume everything you say is fair game. Since I think I demonstrated my point, and since there has been no substantial disagreement with what I wrote, you could have simply admitted your error or carelessness and we would not have had to take these posts in any direction. But you can’t do that, it seems. If one of your posts included the claim that 1+1=5, and i corrected it, you’d argue with me for 5 posts and then name call and say I’m making it all about me.
Paul, let me remind you this is a discussion, not a mental arm-wrestling match. If you don’t chill, I’ll start deleting your comments.
Also, you have not responded to my first paragraph by doing anything more than a debater’s technique of questioning logic and disputing terms. My point stands. If you want government to enforce morality, you may be granting power to the state that the American founders’ were loathe to grant. You may want to argue that Christianity requires a strong state. You may argue that I get the founders wrong. But you haven’t yet explained how a state can enforce morality (especially the first table) and be small.
You wrote: “But, Paul, you and the Bayly’s seem to agree that not only is 2 and 2 are four, but that political outlook and personal morality are the same.”
Me: Would you care to prove that statement? Where do you get this idea? What have I said here that would make you think this? What have I said elsewhere? Can you quote me and cite the source?
You wrote: “The problem isn’t that you agree with the Bayly’s on this score, but rather that the logical consequence of your shared confusion is to persecute an ideology instead of disciplining a Christian.”
Me: First, can you please show this “logical consequence?” can you derive it from propositions I have affirmed, step by step, according to rules of logic? If not, how can you say it is a “logical consequence?” Second, if you’re talking about my claim that Christians could be disciplined for voting, on a single issue ticket, for abortion, then remember that Stellman and Gadbois and many other 2Kers agree with me. So they’d be indicted by the “logical consequence” too. Moreover, I demonstrated my position from logic and the confession. To deny my argument you’d need to deny the Confession.
But didn’t we go ’round and ’round on this? Beat it into the ground? Why is that old debate getting dragged in here, especially when you are the ONLY 2kers I know who holds that view?
Darryl, a discussion? Is that why you claimed I “took the bait” in your September 28, 2010 at 8:02 am post? Yes, it’s not a mental arm wrestling match; apparently it’s a fishing expedition! Anyway, since my comments are about to start getting deleted (again), I can see it’s time for me to go. Take care, Darryl.
“Second, if you’re talking about my claim that Christians could be disciplined for voting, on a single issue ticket, for abortion, then remember that Stellman and Gadbois and many other 2Kers agree with me.”
I asked David G.this question on the other blog and he said he would not discipline pro-choice voters, only pro-choice politicians. And where does Stellman say he would discipline voters?
Todd, you didn’t ask him the question as I phrased it.
Stellman says it here:
Oh, by the way, I checked up on Gadbois. You’re wrong.
79.David Gadbois said,
September 13, 2010 at 10:42 pm
“It would be different if the individual voter voted for legalized abortion in some sort of ballot proposition or referendum, if it ever came to that. I think that would be a disciplinable offense.”
So, you’re wrong.
Todd, this isn’t really directed at you, but: I wish 2Kers would give me some credit. Every comment I make is thought-out, backed up, and not subject to easy dismissals. I may be wrong, but it’s going to take argument and serious interaction with what I write to show it. Claiming I think the consistency of pumpkin pies is the same sort of consistency that applies to beliefs, or similar such criticisms, isn’t going to cut it.
Todd, since I cited my sources with two hyperlinks, my comment is being held in moderation. Hopefully it gets released. If not I’ll email it to Zrim and he can send it to you.
…if you’re talking about my claim that Christians could be disciplined for voting, on a single issue ticket, for abortion, then remember that Stellman and Gadbois and many other 2Kers agree with me. So they’d be indicted by the â€œlogical consequenceâ€ too. Moreover, I demonstrated my position from logic and the confession. To deny my argument you’d need to deny the Confession.
Paul, yes, that was what I had in mind. And you’ll recall that what I suggested was that I don’t really care who agrees with you that political outlook and personal morality could be as badly confused as that. If Kuyper can “not hide the fact that [he] disagrees with Calvin, our Reformed theologicans and our confessions,” about the civil magistrate punishing idolatry, then I can certainly disagree with you and whoever else thinks political outlook and personal morality can be conflated. Is the name dropping supposed to be intimidating or something?
And I’m bringing it up because you seem to think that agreeing or disagreeing with someone in particular means something significant, as if it completely unravels a general view.
Then you think I stand with Gadbois, Stellman, and every other 2Kers I know or can think of. So you think the same “logical consequence” applies to them. I didn’t mean to intimidate by name dropping, just making sure you didn’t think you had a “2K” criticism of me, it’s just a “Zrim’s personal belief” critique. Okay, but I still want you to show it. Show the “logical consequence.” If you can’t do that, I’d like you to withdraw the charge.
Anyway, you’re assuming that voting yes for abortion on a single ticket issue is a “personal morality” issue. I deny that. You’re begging the question then. I have also argued that the Confession claims that it would be wrong, so you’re anti-Confessional too (does that intimidate you?).
So, not only haven’t you shown the “logical consequence,” you’re entire argument against me rests on an unargued premise of yours that is (a) highly contentious and (b) hasn’t been demonstrated. And also from what I remember, you’re entire argument rests on the highly dubious premise that voting is not an action (which strikes me as something obviously false). I don’t think the state has a right to judge “personal morality,” so you’re distorting the picture in order to get your point it. That’s irresponsible and not good debate or dialogue manners.
Darryl, without taking a position or your mega-point on what the magistrate should do, I have to say I don’t think your argument is very effective here. The big government so loathed by the Tea Party tends to be related to federal bureaucracy, out-of-control spending, and federal courts engineering the country by virtual from-the-bench legislation. It doesn’t take a big government or a federal government to ban same-sex marriage, abortions, or even blasphemy and blue laws. Most (and perhaps all) states had the later two first-table laws long before there was “big government.” And I doubt that our founding fathers ever intended to be libertarian on these issues.
“Without taking a position ON…”
“…LATTER two first-table laws…
Michael, I already tried to go down that path; it’s not advised. Next thing you know they’ll tell you that you confuse milkshakes with positive cognitive attitudes, or something like that. It’s like the Borg here, just a little different: “Disagreement is futile.”
That’s OK, Paul – I’m comfortable being the only correct person in the room. And, if I am wrong, it’s more like being wrong about whether a Scrabble word should count than about deciding the future of space and time. “A man’s got to know his limits.”
Michael, actually Paul has not gone down this road because he has yet to show he is interacting with the Constitution. The Constitution is clear that the federal government will not make laws about religion and most of the moral issues you bring up. Those powers actually fall to the states. And in the case of marriage, state law still rules.
And this is the point of federalism — to limit what the national government does. So the founders had small government intentions at the federal level.
You are right that the states had some of these laws. But low and behold, the U.S. population changed so that Protestants were not the majority. Do you not see a problem of legislating Protestant morality for a non-Protestant population in a society where Protestants and non-Protestants are BOTH citizens?
Darryl, I’m still twiddling my thumbs and waiting for you to show the inconsistency. I went down the road Michael did. He said, “The big government so loathed by the Tea Party tends to be related to federal bureaucracy, out-of-control spending, and federal courts engineering the country by virtual from-the-bench legislation.” The social conservatives you bring up don’t want government to butt out “all over,” just at certain places. Hence, there’s no inconsistency. You also seem to not grasp that I am dealing with your first paragraph, where the set of those you claim are inconsistent is larger than those who you now want the argument to apply too. There may be a problem with some social conservatives in particular, but initially you tried to suggest that this inconsitency issue is a problem with social conservativism per se.
The constitution is clear that it legislates morality all over the place. Hence, there’s no problem with small government and morality legislation per se.
Paul, that’s correct, I don’t think I have a 2k criticism of you per se, it’s just my basic belief that political outlook is not personally actionable, and I’ve yet to be convinced by those (claiming 2k or not) that do that it is. I do think my basic belief is in better keeping with 2k presuppositions. But what I don’t do is suggest that our disagreemnent is tantamount to your being anti-confessional, etc. I don’t know what “charge” I’ve made against you that you want withdrawn.
Zrim, I never said a political “outlook” is actionable either. If you want to think getting in a car, driving to the polls, waiting in line, and casting a vote to try to ensure that society is the way you think it should be is an “outlook,” then, as Wittgenstein would say, “language has gone on holiday.” Your view that people may do some things that tend toward the destruction of life is anti-confessional (cf. Larger Catechsim, sixth commandment), and so your “Confessionalist” drum-beating hard to take serious. The charge you made that I’d like withdrawn is your claim that some proposition, p, is a “logical consequence” of other propositions, p1 … pn, I hold to. It’s like someone asserting that the “math” of a budget proposal doesn’t hold up. If I ask for you to show how the math doesn’t work, and you refuse to or can’t, then you should withdraw the charge. Agree?
“Do you not see a problem of legislating Protestant morality for a non-Protestant population in a society where Protestants and non-Protestants are BOTH citizens?”
I once was talking to a judge – no Tea Partier, he – who made a sweeping motion with his hands in front of his bookshelves and said “this is all pretty much the ten commandments.” If he had nuanced it, perhaps he would have said “commandments five through nine” etc., but he had a point. Morality is inextricably woven into our law. It cannot be otherwise: don’t rob banks (8th C), don’t commit fraud (9th C), don’t murder, don’t commit sexual abuse (7th C), do not be in contempt of court (5th C), etc. But this is an aside.
Insofar as you use the disdain of social conservatives for big government to make your point, I think you have swung and missed. But, as to your question above, what, exactly do you see as “Protestant” morality and which social conservatives are trying to impose it? Republicans? Tea Partiers? Or just the Baylys? I know a little about the first two, but nothing about the Baylys.
Michael and Paul, the founders believed that religion was the basis of morality. That is why they spoke well of Christianity. Without a religious people, a free republic could not survive because religion was the basis for virtue.
Now, having said that, they also specified that the federal government would not legislate religion — that is, the first amendment. So where exactly do you make the case for the founders thinking that government should legislate morality.
I see your one point about the second table. But don’t you know that Cicero and Aristotle also followed the second table. They were also religious, just that their religion was pagan.
So I’m still waiting for some clear interaction with the powers delineated by the Constitution to the three branches of the federal government. No fair saying the whole world is moral. That’s natural law.
You want to talk about the Establishment Clause? What it meant originally, how it has been interpreted in modern case law, whether the judicial philosophy in recent case law is sound, whether the framers or the modern court had a more salutary conception? I don’t. Doing that on a blog would be like writing poetry in Morse code.
My personal preference leans more towards states rights and local control anyway.
Michael, the Establishment Clause was no more obscure originally than it is now. The Federal Govt. never pretended to take hand in support of religion, nor did it lift a hand to oppose religion. It tried to — watch out — be neutral.
I’m all for the original Constitution. And that is why I’d like religious conservatives to pay attention to it. It does not allow Obama to do what they want him to do.
DGH, I would just urge you to be more circumspect and tentative when outside the field of your expertise. It is evident that constitutional law is not your field of expertise. What you are saying here might be the rough equivalent of someone saying “the First Great Awakening was good and the Second Great Awakening was bad.”
No one is arguing that our laws are amoral, heck, even speed limits and building codes have a moral component inasmuch as they are used to preserve life. To further clarify, the government legislates morality all of the time, this is not a problem, the problem is when the government legislates morality in a way that violates the church/state separation and/or gives deference to one or more religious groups and/or disadvantages other groups.
So even if conservatives/ tea partiers/ Republicans et al. want to contract government in some areas and let it be or expand it in others, the common theme of family values and legislation of morality that so many conservatives champion can be anti-Constitutional if it does give deference to their religious groups to the exclusion of others who would be protected under the 1st Amendment or any other portion of the Constitution. In the 80’s the Moral Majority under leaders like Fallwell attempted to revoke Larry Flynt’s 1st Amendment rights and lost. Similar groups sought to enact moral legislation that gave rise to the 18th Amendment which was successful only to be later repealed. The problem isn’t morality legislation per se, the problem is morality legislation that unduly deprives others fundamental Constitutional rights. Of course these sort of problems haven’t plagued conservatives, because liberals and progressives have also succumbed to the same sort of impulse from time to time as well.
In this post, Dr. Hart addressed a common inconsistency that Christians who land on the conservative side of the political spectrum are guilty of. The first quote dealt with abortion*, gay rights, and Islam caged in heated Christian rhetoric. In clear and unequivocal language this excerpt was calling for the the President to pronounce homosexuality an abomination on the basis of clear Scriptural mandates which would likely further entrench discrimination and prejudice for this group. Additionally he was called upon to denounce Islam as a inferior religion as compared to the true religion of Christianity which would imperil the church-state distinction and deprive law abiding Muslims of freedom of expression. Each of these were founded upon the notion that if Obama failed to capitulate to these demands he would be guilty of disloyalty to King Jesus. Wherever this excerpt originated (from the Baylys or Wilson or someone else) it is not an uncommon sentiment of many conservative Christians. While such remarks might have some religious value, and conservatives are free to express these sentiments it flies in the face of the 1st Amendment and a whole host of Federal Anti-Discrimination statutes. Suppose Obama capitulates to these demands, the bureaucratic apparatuses necessary to enforce these moral principles would only increase the size of the already massive Federal government.
If this weren’t enough of an inconsistency, Obama was blasted by the Baylys for not upholding the 1st Amendment with respect to campaign laws which would more than likely favor conservatives and Republicans specifically who traditionally have garnered far more financial support in campaigning than liberals and Democrats. This is how the Baylys specifically were inconsistent in their stances on the 1st Amendment – they would see no problem in disenfranchising certain religious groups or segments of society (gays) but at the same time they insist on protecting 1st Amendment rights that would favor their political preferences. If the Baylys were isolated in these inconsistencies, Dr. Hart wouldn’t have much of a point, however the Baylys represent the sentiments of many in the tea party movements and other Christians politically aligned with the Republican Party platform.
So to say that many conservatives don’t have to deal with these inconsistencies because they have qualified where they want government to remain large and where they want it small it to entirely miss the point. Enforcing legislation that would line up with these common conservative ideals would not only expand the government it would fly in the face of the Constitution. This would have the net effect of enlarging the government at the Federal and State level as well as increasing already bloated budgets. So they can cry limited government all they want, but it is a bit inconsistent to say they want limited government, but only where it suits them. The inconsistencies address not only the scope of government, but also fundamental constitutional rights.
* The abortion issue can be addressed without invoking religious morality. If Roe v. Wade is ever to be overturned it must be on the basis of basic human rights as well as Constitutional rights, and possibly economic implications that would increase the birth rate, which would have an net effect on GDP and taxation in the long run.
Fundamental to this debate are the basic freedoms that have defined our Republic from its inception. It is easy for those of any political persuasion to degrade the rights of those with whom they disagree. Regardless of how we like or dislike the exercise of these freedoms, they are crucial to the viability and survival of this Nation. To rescind the rights of one group is to endanger the rights of all. This is something that Christians in the US sadly misunderstand. Dr. Hart consistently addresses these issues because they comprise one of the great debates of our day, for Christians or any other group to fail to grasp these issues is to threaten the freedoms we enjoy. Conservatives do get a lot of things right, and in general I am glad to wear the label even if it is from a libertarian vantage point. But inconsistencies like these need to be accounted for and addressed to promote “the good of the city”, especially for those of us who are numbered among God’s pilgrim people.
Michael, so you don’t have an answer and you engage in name calling and breast beating?
Please tell me how I am wrong about the federal government, the powers delineated to it in the Constitution, and where the feds actually tried to enforce any religiously based morality? I know the states did in my wee bit of knowledge. But I’m still waiting to hear how the federal government did.
Jed still doesn’t get it and is taking the discussion of on a tangent, again. Darryl Hart appealed to a GENERAL criticism of “social conservativism” that can be found in the literature of those who don’t care a whit about evangelicals or the Baylys’. It is THAT general criticism, which Hart says can be found in the wider literature, that is being argued against. Hart said it, it is fair game for discussion. In fact, Jed’s initial parapgraph admits my entire argument here! Why did he bother arguing against me when he nowadmits I have been right and there is no “inconsistency” with social conservativism per se and limited government in other areas.
Michael and Paul, the founders believed that religion was the basis of morality. That is why they spoke well of Christianity. Without a religious people, a free republic could not survive because religion was the basis for virtue.
Now, having said that, they also specified that the federal government would not legislate religion â€” that is, the first amendment. So where exactly do you make the case for the founders thinking that government should legislate morality.
Darryl, by reading the constitution. There are moral positions that are legislated. As you admitted, murder, rape, fraud, contempt, etc., are legislated. That’s legislating morality.
Now I can see Darryl wants to call it “religious” morality, but I could argue, via natural law, that government has an obligation to legistlate certain moralities than can be known apart from religious texts. There are certain “rights” people are “due”and government has a “duty” to protect them. These are ostensible normative and ethical categories, which is why Darryl should know that political philosophers maintain that political philosophy is a subset of ethics. The constitution sets forth principles intended to spell out how our society *should* be. The entire constitution is an ethical document.
So again, where is the inconsistency with social conservativism per se? Did you read Jed’s first paragraph? He admits my argument against you. ’bout time.
Darryl, as I have said before, I hold in you in high regard for your books and your contributions to the OPC. I have no idea whether I generally agree with Paul or not, but he is right that this forum consists of a lot of verbal sleight of hand, rhetoric, dodging valid questions, imputing positions that are not held, changing the subject when the going gets rough, etc. You can do better than this. I’m checking out of this thread.
Paul, sorry but you’re still not reading your Constitution. Article 2 includes the following for Congress:
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
DGH: I don’t see murder.
Michael, try telling me how I’ve done poorly. I am looking at the Constitution of the United States and I don’t see murder or adultery covered. How is that doing badly? That’s not sleight of hand since the title of the post contained the word CONSTITUTION and it meant the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THE GREATEST PLANET IN THE UNIVERSE.
I do not know how I could be clearer. At least the Tea Party folks actually read and cite the Constitution. Worldview proponents seem to think they know what’s in it by sleight of mind.
You can take what I say and twist it however you want. But neocons, and conservatives do a lot of talking about limited government, then when you press them on programs they are in favor of that represent large bueracratic structures you get a lot of backpedaling. They essentially say we want a small gov’t except where we don’t want it to be small. The qualifications they assert undermines any “small government” credibility. Yes there are those who are more consistent in their advocacy of neo-conservatism, but they aren’t out on the rooftops preaching limited government. Then you’ve got honks like Rush, Beck, and Hannity that champion small government with a straight face all the while supporting massive military expenditures. You might call this tired rhetoric, but that is simply because you aren’t looking at the fact that the military accounts for nearly 25% of the Federal budget and close to 4% of GDP. So we aren’t talking about small peanuts here.Qualifications don’t change the bald faced irony that many small government proponents will question your patriotism if you challenge them on the massive budgets the military command. Then you have to account for the fact that the framers never anticipated, nor would they have likely endorsed such as massive and ubiquitous Federal gov’t when they wrote the constitution regardless of which programs today’s parties oppose or embrace. The fact is that only a small portion of the Republican party does anything more than pay lip service to small government, and other than a few fringe political parties small government seems to be an antiquated ideal.
I have admitted nothing by stating that morality is an inevitable component of legislation. However, since you are so into clarifying terms, when the religious right speaks of moral legislation, they are speaking of the kind of morality not contemplated in our constitution – religiously motivated morality. Prayer in schools, municipalities providing religious themes on public land during holidays, the Decalogue in public places etc. So when “morals legislation” is a hot button it is due to religious incursions into the civic sphere. This is something that both sides understand this, generally one side argues for church/state separation while the other argues for a return to “Christian America” or some form of civil religion.The fact that you are ignoring this distinction in trying to co-opt my point tells me that you aren’t interacting with the Constitutional components of the original post, or if you are it is glib at best. The inconsistency of both the Baylys specifically and of a good deal of social conservatives isn’t as hard to demonstrate as you make it out to be.
Jed, I see you again fail to interact with my argument. Maybe you don’t even get it. I don’t know. Your latest post contains similar failures in ability to draw basic conceptual distinctions (e.g., the set of social conservatives is not identical to the set of republicans, or the “religious right,” etc, this is a mark of unclarity in thought), picking issues like prayer in school (which can’t show the inconsistency referred to in the first paragraph, but I think you’re too unfamiliar with logic to even know how to demonstrate inconsistency at the propositional level), contingent facts about “republican party today,” etc and it’s simply tiresome to interact with you. And if your concession must be spelled out for you:  I assume Jed believes in limited government;  Jed admits that we necessarily must legislate morality;  Jed does not think  and  are inconsistent,  therefore, Jed must not believe that desiderata of limited government is inconsistent with legislating morality per se.
Give me a break, you cast off so many careless insults to discredit those who disagree with you, it is absolutely disgusting. I absolutely understand that there are distinctions among all the groups you and I have been talking about, but what you refuse to see is that the overlap within these groups under the “conservative” umbrella is substantial. Unless I qualify every minute distinction and give you precisely the answer that will satisfy you, you attack my intellect.
The problem is that you haven’t interacted with any of my points – why isn’t prayer in school, the Decalogue in public places, Falwell vs. Flynt germane etc. etc. to the discussion. You have only off hand dismissals, not substantave statements which you so cavalierly accuse others of all of the time. You might be a fine logician – good for you, but when your logic is wrapped around faulty premises and you refuse to take the time to interact with any statements directed to you it becomes useless. Your responses on this post in particular are predictable – godlike insights into my psychological motives, personal attacks, dismissals, and weak arguments hidden behind logic, and then if I try to illustrate a point to you you play the victim as if I have a vendetta against you. You try to bully me with these tactics, or smear me as some sort of know nothing idiot, and frankly Paul, the act gets pretty tired.
You obviously have nothing substantive to add to the discussion other than drive-bys and silly attacks because you haven’t interacted once with any of the constitutional issues brought up in the post, or really said anything other than conservatives are broader than what Hart is painting them as – since you are for so much proof Paul put your money where your mouth is and prove your points, because you haven’t yet.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Look what the constitution was established for. But you’re arguing that the constitution doesn’t secure the blessings of liberty of life, a liberty presupposed by all other liberties.
The Constitution doesn’t allow people to keep slaves, commit treason, or the government to murder people (and it’s debatable whether the fifth amendment applies to private citizens too). And Article one includes the elastic clause, which is a can of worms.
If the Constitution is consistent, and the framers held to limited government, and the constitution clearly tells people that they can’t do certain things, then there’s no prima facie inconsistency with legislating morality (e.g., you can’t have a slave even if you want one or believe you should be able to; same with treason, etc) and limited government.
So I still don’t see the inconsistency. Can you lay out a formal argument for the inconsistency, maybe that would help me.
I’ll interact with your points in a substantive way, though it’s against my better judgment. The first comment is more procedural, the rest will be substantive.
Give me a break, you cast off so many careless insults to discredit those who disagree with you, it is absolutely disgusting.”
This is a comment from an insider who can’t think outwardly. I think you’re assessment is seriously overblown, and the hyperbole is a little much. You also can’t seem to get into the shoes of others. You can’t seem to understand that I may take many of your comments to be rude, arrogant, snide, condescending, and belittling. take your initial comment to me. Take your later lectures on basic facts that I am well aware of. It was arrogant and condescending. But you didn’t think it was. Well, I did. See the problem? Jed has set himself up as the standard. If Jed thinks he’s not offending anyone, that’s all that matters.
I absolutely understand that there are distinctions among all the groups you and I have been talking about
Then why did you conflate them. I have been talking about social conservatism per se, your examples from the religious right and republicans, even if on target, were totally irrelevant to the argument I have been making. Let’s assume your examples proved what you wanted it to. All that would do is prove that “some social conservatives are inconsistent,” not that social conservatism is inconsistent. I have been only arguing for the latter. Do you see this point?
“but what you refuse to see is that the overlap within these groups under the â€œconservativeâ€ umbrella is substantial”
See, now you have made an accusation about what I “refuse to see.” But this is an assertion in search of an argument. How would you justify this claim? In fact, my argument can grant as substantial a union of the two sets as you wish—so long as there isn’t an identity—and still go through. This tells me you haven’t grasped my argument, or you just simply don’t understand what’s involved in making a charge about inconsistency. This may help: when your opponent can grant one of your premises and still make his argument, your premise isn’t a defeater to his argument. Accordingly, I can grant you that there is substantial overlap, but that does not prove this proposition: “social conservatism” is inconsistent with their desire to have limited government.” If it cannot prove that proposition, then it fails as a relevant and substantial point.
“Unless I qualify every minute distinction and give you precisely the answer that will satisfy you, you attack my intellect.”
Yeah, sometimes distinctions, rigor, and clarity of thought matter. Moreover, of course this is overblown rhetoric. I only ask that you “qualify” the dialectically relevant propositions. Anyway, imagine the Judaizers claiming that Paul was being pedantic for pointing out that God made the promise to Abraham’s “seed” and not “seeds.” In English it’s one letter, in the Greek the qualification is even more minute and pedantic. Important, though. We’re dealing with inconsistencies here, and as the Scholastics were wont to say, “When faced with a contradiction, draw a distinction.”
“The problem is that you haven’t interacted with any of my points”
I interacted substantially with your first response to me. I then found your arrogant and condescending behavior, coupled with what I took to be an insufficient grasp of the relevant information, to be a sign that I’d better look elsewhere. Anyway, now you know how I feel when Hart and Zrim don’t interact with my points. Anyway, I’ll interact with your points:
“why isn’t prayer in school, the Decalogue in public places, Falwell vs. Flynt germane etc. etc. to the discussion.”
Because those are what are called “accidents” and are not entailed by social conservatism; as such, according to logic, even if we grant they are examples of inconsistencies, it wouldn’t be an inconsistency of social conservatism.
“You have only off hand dismissals, not substantave statements which you so cavalierly accuse others of all of the time.”
Actually, Jed, I have made the above point to you and Darryl more than once. My point directly above is substantive. Call [L] “limited government.” Call [S] all the “stuff” you just listed, i.e., prayer in school, etc. Call [C] social conservatism. Now, if [C] does not entail [S] and [S] does not entail [C], but if, arguendo, [S] is “inconsistent” with [L], that does not imply that [C] is inconsistent with [L]. I am arguing, as I have said, for the consistency of [C] and [L]. I have seen no argument showing that they are inconsistent. What I have been getting are arguments that some social conservative desiderata, not entailed by social conservatism per se, are inconsistent with [L], which is to argue ignoratio elenchi (i.e., fallaciously, i.e., the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion, i.e., it only establishes that [S] or [S*] or [S**] is inconsistent with [L], and not [C]. Now, if you think that [S] entails [C], or vice versa, then make the argument showing the entailment (which will need to use derivation rules of some system of logic). I don’t think you can do it, but if you want to try, I’d be interested.
“You might be a fine logician â€“ good for you, but when your logic is wrapped around faulty premises and you refuse to take the time to interact with any statements directed to you it becomes useless.”
Right, but you need to show that the premises are false. I also interact very extensively with others. I don’t interact with you because I don’t want your lectures and moral berating.
“You obviously have nothing substantive to add to the discussion other than drive-bys and silly attacks because you haven’t interacted once with any of the constitutional issues brought up in the post, or really said anything other than conservatives are broader than what Hart is painting them as â€“ since you are for so much proof Paul put your money where your mouth is and prove your points, because you haven’t yet.”
I find it highly ironic that you can get on this high horse and respond to me this way just because I won’t interact with you.
Now, since I put my money where my mouth is, offering in detail why your objections don;t put a dent in my argument, I want you do put your money where your mouth is. You guys are making a claim about inconsistency. Hart’s first paragraph claims this is a problem for social conservatism in general, or per se, and so, since “consistency” has a fixed meaning in the dialectical context of dialogue, it must be established via showing the inconsistency by logical rules of some derivation system. Can you lay out a formal argument for the consistency, justifying each step along the way by rules of inference? So, “put your money where your mouth is and prove your points, because you haven’t yet.” 🙂
Paul, you might start here:
Amendment 10: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
In legal fact, the regulation of murder, rape, adultery, and others, is and has been a matter for the states. Those items are not regulated by the Constitution.
You err in supposing that the purpose of the Constitution (to establish Justice yada yada) is equivalent to universal jurisdiction (the Federal government’s right to take all means necessary to establish Justice yada yada).
In point of fact, the Federal Government’s hands are explicitly tied and limited when it comes to the administration of justice: only items in its jurisdiction may be regulated.
(That is — until the Feds make a successful “Commerce Clause” argument. Perhaps the existence of hitmen could be used to justify federal regulation of murder. 🙂 )
“You err in supposing that the purpose of the Constitution (to establish Justice yada yada) is equivalent to universal jurisdiction (the Federal government’s right to take all means necessary to establish Justice yada yada).”
Can you point out where I suppose that? Because I explicitly deny it.
14th: 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
This isn’t a states right issue. Hence morality has been legislated. Hence legislating morality per se is not inconsistent with the desiderata of limited government per se.
Furthermore, I explicitly said the constitution doesn’t allow the government to murder people. I also said it forbids slavery and treason, and I am right on all these counts. As for murder of private citizens by other private citizens, I simply quoted the Constitution and pointed out that one purpose it was “established” was to “secure liberty and general welfare.”
I’m really scratching my head at your response.
Let’s turn this around. Does Hart think fiscal conservatism is consistent with limited government? Indeed, can he find all the desiderata of fiscal conservatism in Article 2? If he can’t find all of the desiderata, does that mean fiscal conservatives are inconsistent?
Paul, I hesitate to engage here further. I’ll give it one shot.
JRC: You err in supposing that the purpose of the Constitution (to establish Justice yada yada) is equivalent to universal jurisdiction (the Federal government’s right to take all means necessary to establish Justice yada yada).â€
Paul: Can you point out where I suppose that? Because I explicitly deny it.
Paul before (Sept 30, 10:56AM): Darryl, by reading the constitution. There are moral positions that are legislated. As you admitted, murder, rape, fraud, contempt, etc., are legislated. That’s legislating morality.
Explicit denial or no, you also strongly insinuated that the Constitution legislates murder, rape, fraud, and contempt. It does no such thing.
Now you say (Sept 30, 2:53PM) that what you meant is that the Constitution doesn’t allow the government to murder its citizens.
But that isn’t really what you meant the first time, is it?
So: can you admit error? Or at least unclarity? Can you change the terms on which you converse with others?
Jeff, not sure why you hesitate to enage, but whatevs.
Paul before (Sept 30, 10:56AM): Darryl, by reading the constitution. There are moral positions that are legislated. As you admitted, murder, rape, fraud, contempt, etc., are legislated. That’s legislating morality.
Explicit denial or no, you also strongly insinuated that the Constitution legislates murder, rape, fraud, and contempt. It does no such thing.
Jeff, did you fail to see my qualifier “as you admitted?” I thought Darryl had admitted that when he said, “I see your one point about the second table. But don’t you know that Cicero and Aristotle also followed the second table. They were also religious, just that their religion was pagan.”
“Now you say (Sept 30, 2:53PM) that what you meant is that the Constitution doesn’t allow the government to murder its citizens.
But that isn’t really what you meant the first time, is it?”
I wrote, “The Constitution doesn’t allow people to keep slaves, commit treason, or the government to murder people .” I didn’t say “that’s what I meant.” What I meant the first time, as I clearly indicated, was thet Darryl admitted that murder etc had been legislated.
“So: can you admit error? Or at least unclarity? Can you change the terms on which you converse with others?
I really have no idea what you’re referring to about the “terms which I converse to others.”
And, again, why don’t you berate others? As Mann indicated, “but he is right that this forum consists of a lot of verbal sleight of hand, rhetoric, dodging valid questions, imputing positions that are not held, changing the subject when the going gets rough, etc.” Then I have Jed treating my like an ignoramous who doesn’t know that pumpkin pie consistency is different than belief consistency. Anyway, Jeff, can you admit error?
Another problem is that small government conservatives are small government when it comes to Fed and State. And small government conservatives apparently want their states to legislate against murder. And apparently this is all consistent with small gov at the state level. This seems to undercut the constitution argument.
Paul, I’m not berating you. I’m attempting to be as gentle as possible in an effort to make conversation with you possible. The alternative is to completely ignore you.
The plain fact is that you are very quick to take offense, even at others (Jed) who are not offering offense.
And yet, despite your sensitivity, you are also very quick to offer offense in the form of inflammatory words. You tell others that they “can’t think outwardly”, they use “overblown rhetoric”, etc.
So whereas Jed offended you accidentally, you retaliate by offending deliberately.
Paul, brother, this behavior does not have the effect you intend. Rather than moving me to see things your way, you are moving me to distrust you. I’d rather not get to that point.
Now to the point: whether Darryl “admitted it” or not, your words indicated that the Constitution legislates murder, rape, and contempt. It does not.
So either your words were unclear, or else you mistakenly believed that the Constitution does regulate these things.
What is wrong with telling Jed (not “others”) that they are using overblown rhetoric and can’t think outwardly when that is the case? Assure me that this isn’t an instance of forcing your personal matters of taste on another. And you are not aware of the history between Jed and I. I also have no reason to believe he offends accidentally. Moreover, I don’t mean to offend deliberately. How would you know that? Lastly, I can talk as civil, calm, and “nice” as I want, it still doesn’t move people to see things my way. And if it did, that would be sad indeed.
“Now to the point: whether Darryl â€œadmitted itâ€ or not, your words indicated that the Constitution legislates murder, rape, and contempt. It does not.”
My words did not indicate that. My words only indicated that Darryl believed that government legislates morality. You cannot conclude, from my words, that I believed that.
I argued that the constitution legislates morality. Have I not shown that? That’s really the issue. Darryl asked where I see the founders legislating morality. I said by reading the constitution. And I am right on that point. I thought darryl was admitting we legislated parts of the second table. The examples I used were taken from Mann’s post, not claim I made. If you sit back and think about it. You’re asking us to believe that I think the constitution talks about rape, for example. Is that charitable. I have never in my life thought the constitution mentions rape. But the contempt point is highly debatable. Many have argued that in the very act of creating a court, contempt power was legislated since that is inherent in the concept of a court. So, it is explicitly silent, but not implicitly, as the Judiciary Act of 1789 argued. But this wasn’t on my mind either, I just thought Darryl was admitting things about our federal government that could be used to move the discussion ahead. If all of this was confusing to you, I apologize. My intention wasn’t to be unclear since I thought it would eb clear to Darryl given his earlier admission.
Here’s another problem, I know 2Kers love Romans 13. The government is supposed to be a terror to evil doers. Punish murders, rapists, theives and such. But if doing that is “inconsistent” with small government, then the 2Kers must think that the Bible is a political handbook that tells us that “small” or “limited” government is unbiblical, since it would be inconsistent with Roamsn 13. But if the Bible is not inconsistent with limited government, then legislating morality (i.e., punishing and supressing evil doers) is not inconsistent with small or limited government.
It would seem that this argument and the State’s right argument above are sufficient to undercut the inconsistency argument. Where am I off?
DGH: “Michael, so you don’t have an answer and you engage in name calling and breast beating?”
I can see where you might incorrectly but reasonably conclude that I am breast beating, that being a “noisy demonstrative protestation (as of grief, anger, or self-recrimination).”
However, it is just plain false that I have done any “name calling.” Anyone can look at my few short contributions here to see that. And that false statement of yours is one more thing that drives me away from engaging in this discussion however interesting it could be if this kind of thing were not happening.
You deleted my previous posting which critiqued your method of argumentation and my reasons for dropping out of this conversation. Perhaps now you should delete your own demonstrably false posting.
Michael, I haven’t deleted any of your comments. I just checked the pending and trash files. So where your response went I don’t know.
But on the name calling side of things, you have asserted that I don’t know anything about Constitutional law, that I have swung and missed, and that, in other words, I don’t know what I’m talking about. In none of those posts did you really try to show me the error of my reading of the Constitution. You may understand why I took you to be saying I’m dumb about this matter.
I’m not sure how that advances the discussion.
Your insistence that I have insulted you intentionally is flatly false, I have said so much in this thread. I am not sure why you think I am out get you. When I have unduly offended you by being careless with my wording I have been quick to apologize, yet you continue to assume that because I disagree with you that there is some sort of vendetta present – there isn’t I can assure you. However, you have made statements about me in public space that left me with little recourse but to defend myself. I can understand, and even appreciate a little snark, but you often go beyond this with me.
Now you have asked for more formal proof for some of my claims which I am happy to offer, but that will take me a little bit of time to run down. Suffice to say, I am very confident that the majority of social conservatives are fairly inconsistent in pushing for limited government, and that your distinction of big in some areas and small in others is unhelpful because the same argument could be made for those who don’t claim the “limited government” mantra.
Additionally, asserting that the Constitution legislates morality, assuming all of your other statements are correct disproves nothing. “Legislating Morality” as it has come to be understood is a statement most closely associated with religious conservatives, and outside these confines the idea is considered a pejorative that implies the legislating of particularly religiously motivated morality that is seen as an infringement on the church/state distinction and upon 1st Amendment rights. So there is a distinction in the term that is determined again by context. Nobody would argue that property rights, human rights, etc. aren’t moral issues, but it is hard to attribute them to a single religion, so that these are moral should be a non-issue. It is the classification of the type of morality (namely Christian) that is the issue in question.
I’ll get to a fuller response later…
You don’t mean to offend and I don’t mean to offend. So when you offend me you have to agree that you meant to offend. So whay doesn’t that work for me? Again, I have noted a lecturing and condescending spirit in your posts to me, frequently treating me as an ignoramous. Moreover, when you say things like this, “You obviously have nothing substantive to add to the discussion other than drive-bys and silly attacks,” but pretend you are wearing white, what should I think? I said similar things to you after I was offended, but I got berated for it. So what gives?
Anyway, I apologize for offending you and I will try to speak more gently and civilly and calmly toward you in the future. I do not mean to belittle your knowledge and intelligence and I should not have said what I said in that regard.
Anyway, I’ll save you some time: I can grant you, arguendo, that, “the majority of social conservatives are fairly inconsistent in pushing for limited government.” That can’t get you to show how social conservativism per se is inconsistent. Indeed, I do not think it can be shown since social conservativism per se can exist in many countries, at many times, and it does not have to affirm an originalist reading of the constitution. So, you will have to make many qualifiers if you want the argument to go through. You have to also have necessary and sufficient conditions for “social conservativism,” but that’s going to be a hard one to find agreement on.
I will further grant you this: given your definition of legislating morality, I would grant that it is inconsistent with an originalist reading of the constitution. I was not using the term in that way, but I am happy to grant it under your definition (though I find it ironic that you say the term has a specific meaning given the context!).
Furthermore, I am not here trying to argue for specifically religious moral issues. As I mentioned previously, I am not trying to defend a “Christian morality” to be legislated in some theonomic fashion as being consistent. I believe there can be natural law arguments given for many social conservative desiderata.
And let me go furthere, I’m inclined to agree with Hart’s basic point against the Baylys’ and many of “the Christian right.”
Paul, some 2kers love Romans 13 not so much because it formulates anything about the nature of government or how it should obey God, but because it formulates something about the relationship of belivers to the worldly powers that be and that they should obey their magistrates. The Christian life can be summed up in one word: obedience. That includes political life of Christians. That government “rewards good and punishes evil” is tangential to th ethrust of its actual point, which is to submit and be obedient.
So, to press Romans 13 into the service of government should be bigger or smaller or whether states’ rights beats federalism is to really miss the point. The point is, whether it’s big or small, good at its ordained job or not, etc. and so forth, obey your magistrate because to obey him is to obey God while to disobey him is to disobey God. These kinds of 2kers, then, do not think the Bible is a handbook that tell us what sort of government we should have (nice try). It is still a revelation from God that commands pilgrims on how to live (and why) in the exilic era of whatever particular expression until Jesus comes back to consumate the salvation he won in his life and death.
And let me go furthere, I’m inclined to agree with Hart’s basic point against the Baylys’ and many of â€œthe Christian right.â€
All the antagonism sure is a weird way to show basic agreement.
I appreciate the apology. Likewise, I can concede that some of my remarks that you addressed got away from me and I apologize. I can also see how some of what I have written came across preachy and condescending, which is sure to drive you nuts, unfortunately I have a tendency to do that and it isn’t right, I’ll work on keeping it in check in our future interactions. As for intent, outside of some remarks made in self-defense in the heat of the moment I can assure you that I am not out to get you in any way. I certainly don’t think you are an ignoramus, quite the contrary, you are a bright guy with a wide breadth of knowledge.
I am not entirely sure where our rub originates, but I am sure some of it is definitional and we end up talking past each other, and I am sure some of it is how we process and communicate our thoughts about the issues at hand. I tend to more of an intuitive, common-sense approach which has it’s strengths and weaknesses. While I can dive in to minutiae if needs be, I am less likely to approach issues with the same logical rigor as you seem apt to. If I read you right you are inclined to precision and tying up all of the logical loose ends so it’s bound to aggravate you when you debate someone like me who is prone to broader stroke arguments. Anyhow, without belaboring the point, I’ll try to be a bit more precise and less reactionary in our interactions.
To your points – you are right, social conservativism isn’t inconsistent per se, however, it is as you have noted when it parades “limited government” and/or “originalist” rhetoric with a straight face. My guess is that the terms get thrown around by individuals who like the idea of limited government but haven’t squared that with their broader political views, and by politicians who try to appeal to a generally conservative base in order to get elected. I think this is what Dr. Hart was getting at in the post to begin with, maybe a qualification or two could have helped clear up some of the saber rattling that has since ensued. As I see it, true proponents of limited government and originalism are likely to be paleocons, libertarians, and a few other fringe political parties. Sadly, as a limited government proponent, I think the cat is already out of the bag, and limited government is likely a thing of the past – hopefully I am wrong on that one, but I don’t think so.
Zrim, I know 2Kers don’t think the Bible is a political handbook, I was counting on that. I’m afraid the Romans 13 point was lost on you, but I am not optimistic about persuading you of the point. Oh, and the antagaonism wasn’t “to show” basic agreement. Jed asked if I could admit some of Hart’s points, so I did. Since you’re H2K, you can get away with being contrarian. If someone had asked you to note where you agree, and then you so noted, but I came in an said, “All the antagonism sure is a weird way to show basic agreement,” Jeff Cagle would have came in and berated me for being a big ole meany head. (J/K, I’m Italian and so when I joke I tend toward “ball busting,” to use the nomenclature.)
I can agree with your last paragraph. I think qualifications could have helped, and I should have granted some of Hart’s basic points in the process of registering my worries.
Paul, Jed: Thank you.
Paul, what you said was that “…2Kers must think that the Bible is a political handbook that tells us that ‘small’ or ‘limited’ government is unbiblical, since it would be inconsistent with Roamsn 13.”
I understand that you’re trying to make a point that goes to the relative inconsistency of legislating morality, etc. But what I find interesting is the premise of your statement seems to be that, according to some 2kers, Romans 13 is making some sort of statement about the size and scope of government in order to get to that point. But that premise seems to “strike at the vitals” of 2k, to say nothing of distort the point of Romans 13.
Re the basic agreement/antagonism point, I’m taking into consideration all of your historical interaction. And maybe I’ve missed it, but I can’t say that I’ve seen the same sort of antagonism at the Bayly blog (aka, the Reformed co-belliegents of the Christian Right).
Paul and Jed, before the lovefest bubbles over and ruins my laptop, here is what Paul originally said, “I can’t say I see the inconsistency. You’d at least need to show that where the want the gov. small is where they want it with more powers. This critique sounds like what I’d expect see on Huffington, or Moveon. â€œConservatives want small government, but then why do they want to grow the military!?â€ Really?”
Only about 2/3 of the way through this exchange did Paul actually refer to the Constitution. But the point of the post is to attend to the Constitution and the powers delineated for the branches of the government. And lo and behold, marriage, gay or straight, isn’t in the Constitution.
So sometimes folks like the Baylys want the federal government to follow the Constitution and sometimes they don’t. I can say I see the inconsistency.
As for Paul’s point about big government and the military, it is the case that founders like George Washington believed the U.S. should not enter foreign wars. I’m betting our military would be a lot smaller if we weren’t the world’s cop. Some conservatives are small government all the way down.
Zrim, when I said, “Paul, what you said was that â€œâ€¦2Kers must think that the Bible is a political handbook that tells us that â€˜small’ or â€˜limited’ government is unbiblical, since it would be inconsistent with Roamsn 13.â€ I also didn’t say Rom. 13 was making a statements about size of government and I didn’t say some 2Kers said it did. I’m afraid the point was lost on you, probably my fault, and I don’t have the energy to explain and defend the point.
As far as the Bayly blog, I have never posted there and never even read a blog of theirs all the way through. Isn’t that kind of attitude toward them worse than my antagonism here? (P.S. Notice my history: I usually come in and post something that is not rude or mean spirited at all. Then after about 5 back and forths where I get the “Old Life” treatment of sarcasm, dodging points, not answering questions but asking them, strawy straw men arguments, and name calling, I then resort to smack talking mode, and since I was raised with an Italian father, I am better at that than I am at arguing, and so I make people mad. It’s not like the responses here don’t have *anything* to do with my *subsaquent* rude or mean-spirited behavior.)
Darryl, yeah, you’re right. See, I have no problem admitting it. I would still argue that being a social conservative is not inconsistent with limited government, though. Social conservatism is the same argument you made on your 2K discussion against gay marriage: we haven’t tried it, let’s be cautious, etc. Social conservatisism doesn’t entail any particular way of getting more traditional values to be desired by citizens. There are many libertarians who are social conservatives (’cause they see the inconsistency with government enacted social liberalism and the free market).
As far as the military, they need to be able to defend us from ANY attack, foreign and domestic. Moreover, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. And so there is no theoretical limit on the size, and I say that as someone opposed to world policing.
Paul: …I am better at that than I am at arguing, and so I make people mad.
Just to be clear: I’m not mad at you, not at all. I would like for you to become more effective in conversation.
Prov. 25.15: With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
The master at this is RL. He has powerful, well-thought-out arguments, and presents them with the patience of Abigail. As a result, he is the one most able to get me to reconsider my positions (no offense, gentlemen).
There’s arguing to win, and there’s arguing to persuade. The latter is the hard but worthwhile task; the former stops being valuable at the age where they stop handing out cash prizes for winning debates.
I was partly being tongue in cheek; but it’s interesting to note that no one calls out Hart and other 2kers for their conversation stopping/halting tactics.
Who is RL?
Paul, somehow I find it hard to believe you lack the energy to explain the point that has been twice lost on me. Besides, is that really the response of a good teacher? Maybe three times is the charm and you could start from the top again.
(Speaking of Italian-Americans, Tony Soprano told me the other night that “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.” Maybe Soprano’s failure to appreciate how the past nurtures the present is not only why he seems to get nowhere with Dr. Melfi but also corresponds to how the Baylys fail to appreciate how the post-Constantinian age relates to the Constantinian one.)
It’s kind of like how you lack the energy to read my posts (as you had admitted before). I’ll try though:
Here’s some things I did not say:  That the bible teaches small or large government.  That 2Kers believe that Romans 13 teaches about the size of government.
Here’s something I did say:  2Kers love to cite Romans 13.  Romans 13 says that the government is supposed to be a terror to evildoers.  That some 2Kers had said that legislating morality, punishing murder etc., is not “limited” government.
Now,  ->  are simply facts. You admitted . Romans 13 says . And this thread shows that some 2Kers asserted  in response to my arguments.
So now I put this together and drew some implications, note the use of conditional language. So:
[i] If you think a government punishing evildoings is large government, then you think Romans 13 supports large government.
[ii] If you think Romans 13 supports large government, then you think the Bible supports large government.
[iii] Therefore, if you think a government punishing evildoings is large government, then you think the Bible supports large government.
Notice that this is what is called a hypothetical syllogism. It has the form P->Q; Q-> R; Therefore, P->R.
So if 2Kers say that the punishing of evildoers by the government implies large government, then, as you can clearly see, if that premise is asserted, then it follows by rules of logic, that you must think the Bible speaks to the size of government.
However, I was banking on the fact that 2Kers do not believe that the Bible speaks to a size of government. So, as modus tollens will show:
[iv] 2Kers do not think the Bible supports large government.
[v] Therefore, 2Kers do not think that a government punishing evildoings is large government.
The above is logically valid, and the premises appear to be true. The alternative is that if you believe that government punishing evil doers is large government, then, as the above argument clearly shows, you must think that the Bible weighs in on the proper size of government. But that is clearly unacceptable for a 2Kers, and so the 2Kers cannot think that the mere fact that a government punishes evildoings means that large government has been affirmed.
So, I tried, I was pretty clear, and if that wasn’t enough then the problem is with the student and not the teacher.
Thanks, Paul. Yes, government punishing evil doers doesn’t mean it’s large. But I don’t think any of this turns on size of government as much as confusing sin and crime. All crime is sin, but when we also think that all sin is crime is when we get into the problem of “legislating morality,” which any government, big or small, can do. I think gay marriage has been batted around in this thread. It seems to me the pseudo-conservative pushback against gay marriage has at least as much to do with punishing a certain class of sinners as it does with lawfully maintaining the right, true and good.
Not to detract from your points, but I have been mainly trying to argue for one premise here: social conservatism isn’t inconsistent with limited government. I wish that would have been granted at the beginning, and this would have been a shorter thread. Of course, I don’t think all sin is crime (and I also don’t think all crime is sin), and I don’t think you have to believe all sin is crime to legislate morality (as Jed said, speed limits have moral components to them; it’s nigh impossible to avoid legislating morality). Speaking for myself, I never brought in gay marriage until Darryl mentioned it. I’m not a fan, but I also appreciate that some Christians have wanted to come down on certain sins more than others, such as the high divorce rate among evangelicals. Me thinks some back-yard cleaning is in order.
“Who is RL?”
Robert Lozier; R as in Robert Lozier, O…
The signature politics of modern social conservatism is the a-word. And from I can tell, the idea of limited government when it comes to it is not high on the list. Whatever their differences, what the social progressives and the social conservatives seem to agree on is that government exists to federally legislate morality, it’s just a question of whose.
I’m also skeptical of the “you can’t legislate morality” argument, since as you say, all laws have a moral dimension to them. But, however clumsily some may put it, I think what people mean when they are critical of legislating morality is that they dimly recognize the effort to simply make power plays for social control. That’s what so-called culture war is essentially all about, social power. I think those who employ the “you can’t legislate morality” argument would actually do better to be culture war critics. And the issue isn’t the high divorce rate amongst evangelicals, it’s the family values hypocrisy. So as far as house cleaning goes, good an idea as that may be of course, all I’d ask for is to just shut up about the sins of others (you know, eyes and planks). I mean, sheesh, isn’t shutting up about others a helluva lot easier than fixing your sins? But maybe that’s why all the social finger waging, it’s just easier. Or maybe I’m still chaffed over my transformer church blithely passing around a petition against the local strip joint whilst our own serious sins were being coddled because it was just too hard to deal with.
I don’t get it, why are social cons so eager to be defined by apple pie? Seems odd to me.
I thought we were in agreement regarding social conservatives. Maybe I am misunderstanding you here. You claim that social conservatism isn’t incompatable with limited government (10/2/10 – 4:02pm), yet you also claim that you and I have reached some form of agreement in our “hug it out posts” (re final paragraph of my 10/1/10 3:16 pm). My main point was in keeping with DHG’s post, that social conservatives who tout limited government are inconsistent. They might have some interest in limiting government in certain areas that jive with their political sensibilities, but so do progressives, liberals, and just about everyone else. As I understand the historical thrust of the term and concept of limited government spelled out in the constitution, the scope of the Federal gov’t was to keep the citizenry safe from foreign invasion (life), maintain the broadest scope of freedom possible while still maintaining a functioning government (liberty), and to ensure the citizens are not unduly deprived of or impaired from acquiring private property/assets (pursuit of happiness). Outside of this, the States were left to figure out which forms of political structures suited their residents. Those who claim to support some form of “limited government” essentially are seeking a relatively sparse Federal Government (as well as State government, but that is not within the thrust of the discussion). However, when social conservatives use the term and claim their support for it, frankly it looks nothing like the limited government that is contemplated in the constitution. Sure, they might want to make the typical conservative cuts to social security, welfare, healthcare, etc. But, press a social conservative on the sheer size of the military and its costly foreign entanglements, or DEA, FBI, CIA, Dept. of Homeland Security, ATF, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Health, FDA, etc. and you will start hearing a whole lost of “yeah, well that’s not what I means'” Maybe you could clarify what you mean by saying social conservatism isn’t incompatible with limited government, where I am coming from it is.
Tangentially, to your point that there is theoretical limit on the size of the military, I would have to say yes and no to this. If we were under attack by aliens (or some other more realistically possible threat), sure, you might have a defense budget that accounts for 99% of the budget. However, when it comes to keeping citizen’s safe and nothing more, we would be looking at a much smaller military in terms of size and in terms of budget. Let’s just assume that our current conflict in Afghanistan is a legitimate means to keep us safe. We spent $750 bil in a preemptive war in Iraq, how much safer are we? Size should be determined by necessity, and it is a hard stretch to say that any of our post WW2 wars were necessary.
It grieves me that you have just ruined our after-school special moment. I am most fond of the jocks and nerds come together to see that they weren’t so different after all plot line.
Jed, call me perverse.
“I thought we were in agreement regarding social conservatives. Maybe I am misunderstanding you here. You claim that social conservatism isn’t incompatable with limited government (10/2/10 â€“ 4:02pm), yet you also claim that you and I have reached some form of agreement in our â€œhug it out postsâ€ (re final paragraph of my 10/1/10 3:16 pm).”
Jed, logically, ‘social conservatism’ doesn’t entail that the government does the conserving. And, logically, since it doesn’t entail that it can’t be consistent with limited government, that’s just a analytic truth, then. Moreover, the premise you need for your argument is “an originalist reading” of the constitution, but, again, ‘social conservatism’ doesn’t entail “an originalist reading of the U.S. Constitution.” There can be social conservatives in China. And furthermore, since our constitution does legislate some morality, then mere legislating morality can’t lead straight away to “large government.” And finally, it is not clear that the government would necessarily be enlarged by keeping certain status quoes in practice.
I am socially conservative and I believe in limited government. I think both views have better reasons in support of them than against them. While I can agree with you in critiquing some of the methods or goals of social conservatives, I usually don’t find it helpful to be constantly critiquing and offering nothing positive in terms of moving debates forward and setting out the strongest versions of positions, whether ones I hold or ones I attack. So, I do not think it is inconsistent to be a social conservative, tout limited government, and take an originalist position on the constitution. So, while it may be fun for the jocks to beat up the nerds (i.e., pick on the religious right, tea partiers, Sarah Palin, etc), I don’t find it very interesting or sophisticated. I think better defenses of social conservatism can be offered that do not require a large State to do the conserving. So, you can see that I can agree with your critique while at the same time defending my initial claim.
As to your tangential point, yes, as small as necessary; and, as you noted, that necessity can change, thus, there is no theoretical limit. At any rate, I have no desire to get into this side debate. My point in the military is that I want government smaller and less involved in the free market than I do in defending us. So, it was in keeping with my basic point: Having it at .5 at x doesn’t mean I wan’t it at .5 at y, and that doesn’t make someone “big government,” to claim that they want the government “larger” in certain areas.
I meant “inconsistent” in my second sentence.
Zrim, that may be, but don’t you get tired of picking low hanging fruit? Perhaps your MO is to pick on the Becks, the Osteens, the Hannitys, the Palins, the Falwells, and the Colsons of the world, but I just can’t get into it—except when I feel like slumming. Not only does this give some the impression that you’re finding faults with conservativism and worldviewism per se, it’s just not interesting. Generally, I’d rather read books by Oxford, Cambridge, or Paternoster than Harper Collins and IVP, if I’m looking to engage and interact with the strongest presentation of a view.
Sorry to bore you, Paul. If it helps, I find the Becks-the Colsons of the world less interesting than their adherents, because these figures wouldn’t be nearly who they are if they didn’t tap into the ubiquitous pulse of the masses. So I wonder if you have your jocks and nerds mixed up: the jocks make headlines and set the ecclesiastical pace, while nerds are the ones raising their hands and questioning messages that scratch itching ears.
But what does get tedious and tiring for me is the rather arrogant idea that sophistication solves everything. As I have pointed out before, there is such a thing as a sophisticated way of confusing creation and redemption. It can be done by raised pinkies as much as cheesy combovers (and all manner in between for that matter), so your complaint that all this is is picking low hanging fruit seems pretty off. In fact, this affair with sophistication seems to be something that afflicts a large portion of the Reformed and Presbyterian world: plenty can see the problems of a Joel Osteen but get hot and bothered when it is suggested that theonomy (soft and hard) is simply a sophisticated prosperity gospel. Osteen represents those who want the trivial things of stuff and bling, theonomy (soft and hard) those more inclined for the more enduring worldly wares of cultural and political power. So, read whatever you want and “engage and interact with the strongest presentation of a view” as you please. But creation/redemption confusion is creation/redemption confusion no matter who is doing it. Personally, I find it rather fascinating that such confusion, like sin, is an equal-opportunity affliction.
Zrim, I didn’t mean anything by it. This is the blogging world, and so it’s not like we are bunch of “scholars” writting “important” stuff. So some choose to pick on low hanging fruit with their limited time. It’s time well-spent since they’re easy to critique and make some general points. You know I read your blog, so you don’t “bore” me. It’s just that I’ll raise my hand if the criticisms of low hanging fruit are (actually of possibly) confused as criticisms of the more sophisticated, strongest versions of positions.
Now, I know you don’t like to be referred to as the jock in my story, but I didn’t mix them up. And the ironic thing is that if you and the other R2k, W2k, PC2k, or whatever name you’re going by, get your way, you’ll be the jocks on your own definition.
Of course, I never said or implied that sophistication solves everything. That’s your straw man you need to continually pin on me (because low hanging fruit is easier to attack than the real deal). It is at odds with my public positions on many matters, as you should know. The careful reader would have noted that what I said was that I’d rather interact with the strongest representatives of a position. Those who present their position in the most sophisticated, rigorous, and tenative way they can. So, for example, if someone *really* wants to critique Westminster’s 2K and Nat. Law program, they need to interact with DVD’s recent book. That’s who you go to, not some layman’s blog (no offense, just sayin’).
So, you keep critiquing who you want (and I never said anything about the Theonomists), and you can believe that the worldviewism of Beck is the worldviewism that I have presented. You can believe the Christ and Culture views of Falwell is the same as D.A. Carson’s or Hunter’s (or Machen’s, for that matter). And you can believe that views on politics are the same whether offered by Colson or Oliver O’Donovan (not meaning to put myself in the same league with a Carson, Hunter, and O’Donovan).
And Zrim, not that I’m a Theonomist, but here’s a little help: perhaps people can see the errors of Osteen and think the case there has been made, but when it comes your case against Theonomy they aren’t persuaded—especially when they point to those like Calvin and Turretin who agree with them. It could be, Zrim, that you have a good argument against the one and not the other. It could be that calling theonomy “sophisticated prosperity gospel,” isn’t really helpful either. I mean, you whine and moan when people refer to you as a “R” 2Ker, but then you go and do the same thing by telling theonomists that they hold to a sophisticated Osteenism. So just like you may ignore criticisms of 2K because you get emotional about being called radical, the same thing might be in play. You 2kers whine about “civility” in blog comboxes, but name calling is name calling. Besides that, perhaps, just maybe, you’re not making the best argument against them? Maybe your R2k view isn’t the best to defeat them since it’s so fraught with problems? And maybe, just maybe, your arguments are no good. It would be fallacious to claim that since your argument against osteen is good, then your argument against Turretin must be good. And besides that, you need to get over the narcissistic tendency I’ve seen in you that if Zrim doesn’t agree with it, it is wrong. If Zrim doesn’t believe it, it’s not 2K. I’ve been there before, “Why can’t they just see how awesome my arguments are???” I’m just trying to help.
Re Paul on Zrim, wow! That may be a case of the narcissus calling the daffodil yellow.
DGH, I know, I know, only 2kers and Confessionalists can call people narcissistic. Even though R.S. Clark identified that as a general tendency of people, somehow he and his friends have escaped falling into that trap. Anyway, I’m identifing another fallacy, inspired by R.S. Clark’s “I am Reformed, I think X, therefore X is Reformed” falalcy. I’ve my version of that in you and Zrim: I am 2K. I think X. Therefore X is 2K. So if I can deal with getting called a narcissistm Zrim can two; unless he’s above that—in which case he’s narcissistic! In other words, heads I win, tails you lose.
I meant, Zrim can “too”!, not “two.”
Paul, like I told that fellow at your blog, of all the epithets I actually prefer “Lutheran,” so if you don’t mind.
But while I don’t think I’m quite as cracked up as you seem to suggest, I can admit some narcissism. We’re all prone to it. The problem isn’t being flawed but rather not admitting to it (can you admit to being a tad testy? You seem upset). And as I have admitted to you on other occasions, I think there are fellow 2kers who are better at it than some who I’m not sure think through all the implications as carefully as others. Maybe you think that’s being narcissistic, but I just call it disagreeing. Although I will admit your overstatement of things is way more exciting and interesting than my dreary posture.
â€¦if you and the other R2k, W2k, PC2k, or whatever name you’re going by, get your way, you’ll be the jocks on your own definition.
Well, I seriously doubt it. It seems to me that one important component of 2k is a theology of the cross, which by definition is categorically unimpressed with the stuff of power and influence like its counterpart, a theology of glory. It probably accounts for all the accusations against 2k of an under-realized eschatology, general apathy, the faulting of contentedness with proximate justice and blustering about how it is virtually solely responsible for the Third Reich, and why those who abstain from protesting abortion clinics are rendered unfaithful, etc. 2k doesn’t have a need to present Christianity as a way to make bad people (and their societies) good and good people (and their societies) better.
Re: Jocks and nerds – I had no idea that this metaphor would get so much run here. It was only a humorous anecdote. I hadn’t contemplated who the nerds and who the jocks were in this discussion, truth be told the interlocutors on this blog probably are more nerd and less jock regardless of where we land on the issues.
To your main point, I don’t wish to begrudge you of your point that some social cons such as yourself have a more nuanced articulation of what social conservatism means and how it might be compatible with Constitutional originalism and limited government. This might very well be the case. However, if you were to analyze the majority of social cons arguments whether that be in the tea party movement, or that which is touted by popular media figures and politicians, you are going to be hard pressed to insist that the majority of the movement is fraught with some very problematic inconsistencies. While you may not be, the stronger positions taken by social conservatism are more likely in the minority. If there were more social cons out there who do articulate the issues with the clarity that you insist exist (which I am sure does) we wouldn’t be having this discussions. The fact is that there are a who lot more Baylys out there than there are Pauls. 2kers (R, W, PC etc.) wouldn’t be catching so much flack if this were the case.
In our discussions on legislating morality, we have to consider there is morality and then there is morality here. Morality that preserves life, liberty, and property is critical to a lawful society and keeps us from devolving into absolute anarchy. Morality that impinges the ideals that this nation was founded on, often colored by a religious POV are fundamentally problematic for our Constitutional Republic. These morals advantage certain religions and/or worldviews (yes I believe there is such a thing) and disadvantage others or place them under undue discrimination damage the very freedoms that safeguard us all from tyranny either by the government or by the majority. In some cases neutrality reflects the ideals that define our national existence. Speed limits, building codes, departments of weights and measures are all good things, policy that limits freedom of expression and speech is not.
An example of the inconsistency similar to the one the Baylys are guilty of can be found in my own community. The city council is blocking efforts of a particular large church from developing a 30+ acre site. The outrage of Christians in our community is substantial. At the same time a small group of Muslims are seeking to construct a mosque since the closest one is nearly 60 miles away. The most vociferous opposition against this is coming from Christians and other conservatives (not necessarily social cons only) who are trying to make a direct connection between this mosque and terrorism threats. This is a typical inconsistency for those on the conservative end of the political spectrum, they want freedom of expression except when they disagree with the brand of expression in question.
So while I can appreciate your insistence that social conservatism isn’t necessarily inconsistent with limited government and originalism, I think the critique is about social cons in general, and generally they are fraught with the common inconsistencies discussed here. Due to the substantial majority of social cons who are inconsistent, those who aren’t guilty have the unfortunate role of drawing better distinctions and proving that they are consistent. Maybe that isn’t fair, but 2kers constantly have to defend themselves as well, otherwise we are implicated as Nazi, slave-owning, and abortion sympathizers. It is what it is I guess.
I didn’t use any epithets, but I wonder why you “mind” that people use something you prefer while you use epithets like “prosperity gospelites,” for theonomists; or, were you under the impression they didn’t “mind” that?
I also didn’t pile the narcissistic label on you, I just noted a “tendency.” I am not upset in the least, why would you think that? Anyway, I’m glad to see you point out that you can think through the implications better than EVERY 2Ker out there on some matters. Are you sure “narcissistic” is an “overstatement?”
While I’m happy to note that the *ideals* of 2K are unimpressed with power, surely you can grant that most other Christian positions say the same thing. Funny things happen when the *people* who hold to the ideals get in charge. So I wouldn’t be so sure; indeed, check out what’s going on with the limited power you guys yield. Running around telling everyone in the world they’re not Reformed unless they think and dress like you. Yeah, everyone acts “dreary” when they’re not in charge. Look at Muslims in countries where they’re not in charge and countries where they are. Wee bit of a difference.
But none of this is to say I don’t like you, or am being a big ole meany head. After all, you seem fine with disagreement (cf. your post), and so that’s what I’m doing. Please don’t tell me you only let Outhouse Saints “disagree” with you while everyone else is a “testy” meany head.
It is interesting to note that many of the more “radical” (er, Lutheran) 2Kers come out of of crazy eeeevangelicalism. Human tendency is to switch to opposite extremes. One of the most hardcore 2K church in San Diego is made up of tons of ex-Calvary Chapel people. And look at your testimony, Jed’s, and Hart’s (raised fundamentalist baptist). I certainly can empathize with being prone to overreaction, but I’m on the outside looking in. Speaking for myself, a healthy respect for mystery and the theology of the cross is a good tool to keep one away from extremes. That’s why I think there’s something wrong with worldview maximalists and worldview minimalists. Usually, the extreme opposite of errors are also errors—and that can be shown historically.
All that to say, I don’t dislike you, I just disagree with you. It’s seems like I always disagree with you, but I have given you a few amens (more than you’ve given me), and besides, it’s no fun to chat about all we agree on.
Have you seen my muscles? I wrestled and played baseball and football growing up. I also had an amateur fighting card for a while, durning my wannabe MMA days. So I’m jock. Maybe that’s why I come off so hard in these discussions. I’m used to being able to punch people if they disagree with me. It’s hard getting used to this civility stuff. Lately, however, I’m trying to come into my nerd own, and so I’m trying to make up for lost time. 🙂
I’ll grant you the silliness of many social conservatives, but not all are like that. Thomas Sowell comes to mind. So do many Nat. Law theorists (and that’s an interesting discussion of it’s own: many of the best natural law theorists deduce propositions that are unsavvory for the some of the more militant 2Kers to accept. And so they really need to work out this endorsement of Nat Law thing; currently it’s just a *word* they appeal to). So, yes, the Bayly’s are more than the me’s. Since I try to avoid extremes, there’s more of the militants on exteme sides than the balancers of tensions in the middle.
So, while I’ll grant you your critiques of those you mention, I’m going to avoid discussing it (partly because I don’t have the time to get into the particulars and try to hash them out, and partly because I am in *general* agreement with you). I’m just happy to accept your claim that social conservativism isn’t necessarily inconsistent with those American desiderata.
Paul, if you’re worried about the likes of me coming into power, rest assured, CVD has said he’s praying against that. But not dressing like me doesn’t mean one is un-Reformed, only only that he has bad taste and probably prizes self-expression over self-comportment. Ok, that latter part might have some bearing on one’s Reformedness, but bad taste is no more a sin than bad logic. See, I’m open minded.
Zrim, if you ran for some local office here, whether church or secular, I’d vote for you.
Oh, of course, it is possible that bad logic is sinful and, at least, some of the misuse of logic is a result of the fall. We don’t use our noetic faculties as we ought to, as they were designed to function. See, we can give natural arguments even for misuse of logic. Of course, given that logic is normative, it’s easy to see how it can be misused sinfully. But this is all very obvious, so I don’t expect you’ll respond.