With Constantine No Walter White

I wonder if those who long for a stronger Christian presence in determining cultural standards and governing society are willing to give up some of their sideline interests. If, for example, you happened to hear a person who advocated family values and traditional marriage also write about the brilliance of The Wire in its depiction of urban life and politics, would you not think the message a tad mixed.

I have before wondered about those who like Doug Wilson or the BBs who advocate a return to Geneva of the 1550s or Boston of the 1650s if they are willing to give up some of the liberties that Americans now enjoy this side of 1776 (like blogging). But I am even more curious about the larger and less vocal set of critics of our current scene for its indifference to a higher range of human aspirations and who follow with great enjoyment the latest hit cable TV show — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective. Do these folks who hope for higher standards in government and culture make any calculation about whether their favorite shows will still be on the air if they get their wishes (the Gypsy Curse?)?

Take for instance this passage from Theodore Dreiser’s novel, Genius (1915) — hide the women and children:

She leaned back against his shoulder stroking his hair, but finally ceased even that, for her own feeling was too intense to make movement possible. She thought of him as a young god, strong, virile, beautiful – a brilliant future before him. All these years she had waited for someone truly to love her and now this splendid youth had apparently cast himself at her feet. He stroked her hands, her neck, cheeks, then slowly gathered her close and buried his head against her bosom.

Angela was strong in convention, in the precepts of her parents, in the sense of her family and its attitude, but this situation was more than she could resist. She accepted first the pressures of his arm, then the slow subtlety with which he caressed her. Resistance seemed almost impossible now for he held her close – tight within the range of his magnetism. When finally she felt the pressure of his hand upon her quivering limbs, she threw herself back in a transport of agony and delight.

By the standards and laws of the day (remember Comstock was still on the books), this passage was pornographic. It kept Dreiser and his attorney tied up in courts and prevented the book from being widely distributed for eight years. By those same standards, The Wire would never have aired.

Could I live without HBO or Netflix? I’d like to think so but aside from the ordinary routines of family life or the genuine enjoyment of clever plots and transfixing characters, I’d also like to think that I would not have to choose. I do know enough history to think that if the Christian political and moral types get their way and rectify the errors of a secular society that lives by the antithesis of a Christian w-w, my private amusements are going to resemble what transpires among my fellow church members when we gather for worship or merriment than what I now enjoy in the other kingdom of a 2k universe.

115 thoughts on “With Constantine No Walter White

  1. To illustrate the point, a little help from Peter Lawler (Obedience Boys listen):

    The Puritans really cared for souls. But they made the mistake (according to Tocqueville) of being way too politically intrusive, of criminalizing every sin. They tried to translate the legislation found in the Old Testament’s Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, laws made, in fact, for rude and half-civilized people, into laws for highly civilized and enlightened modern Englishmen. Those laws were often bizarre and tyrannical—offenses against both common sense and conscience – even if they were only rarely enforced. But, Tocqueville reminds us, the laws were democratically enacted, and they were driven by admirable qualities of creaturely devotion that are the opposite of the characteristically America vice of individualistic indifference. What was wrong with the Puritans, in Tocqueville’s view, is that they weren’t Christian enough; their Calvinism gave them too political or specifically legislative view of the relevance the Old Testament for their time, whereas Jesus himself meant for the reform effect of his message of about the equality of all men under God to be much more indirect.


  2. This topic always gets me in trouble so all I’ll say is that Wilson & the BB’s would probably settle for a return to the pre-“Bonnie & Clyde” Hollywood Studio Code — the Hollywood our grandparents enjoyed.

    The BB’s dad was a filmmaker in that era, after all.


  3. Are there only 2 perspectives on this? Do we have to choose between Church control of society and gov’t from a privileged position in society from the 2k position? What about society’s systemic sins and those of its political and economic systems? Should the Church speak out against them? Should the American Church have spoken out against slavery just as the German Church should have spoken out against the Nazis? And how sinful must a public sin be before the Church speaks out against it. These are important questions because inquiring Christians want to know.


  4. Curt,

    “Systemic sins” are in the eye of the beholder. There are a lot of well paid capitalists paying the bills to keep the church’s lights on. The Patriarchs were rich dudes and the wandering prophets were poor dudes. Make sense of that one in simplistic terms.


  5. The high water mark for the Nazis in anything resembling a free election was I believe 36% of the popular vote in the early 30’s. After they finally achieved a workable majority coalition government in the Reichstag (with the Conservative Party, I believe) democratic government in Germany was history shortly thereafter. The church “speaking out” at that point was somewhat pointless as they were not susceptible to public opinion. The Nazis always have to be viewed in light of the German political mess that they came out of in which any workable coalition government was next to impossible. Thank the victors in WWI largely for this.


  6. Curt,

    And always remember the role your friends, the Communists, played in the rise of Nazism. The Nazis were the mortal enemies of the Communists (the nonaggression pact with Stalin notwithstanding). One form of extremism often gives rise to an equal and opposite form.


  7. Curt, Nero wasn’t a great ruler. Paul tells Christians to submit. From what Bible would you have the church prophesy? The one the mainline churches don’t use?


  8. D.G.,
    Understand but from what historical context did he do that? Was it one in which the Gospel was just beginning to be shared or was it one in which not only was the Gospel widely spread, because many countries called themselves Christian countries, Christianity was easily associated with social injustice and thus, which was a fear of Paul, it was smeared and mocked.

    See, there is a significant historical difference between the time of Paul and now. And the question is do we strictly follow the example and words of Paul without regard for the contextual differences or do we look to glorify the Gospel by imitating the OT prophets and even James and call all sinners to repentance?


  9. Erik,
    Which history are you referring to? How did communism contribute to the rise of Nazism? On the other hand, we saw with the rise of Nazism the persecution of both socialists and communists. In fact, they were the first ones persecuted by the Nazis. In addition, the Concordat between the Roman Church and Nazism was made because the Pope said that he would support anyone to oppose Communism. However, the Concordat was made after Hitler came to power.


  10. Erik,
    All sins, whether individual or societal and systemic, are in the eyes of the beholder. The question is which beholder should we pay most attention to.


  11. Of course the Nazis were most strongly opposed to the Communists because they were competing for the same crowd of socialists as the Communists.

    “See, there is a significant historical difference between the time of Paul and now. And the question is do we strictly follow the example and words of Paul without regard for the contextual differences or do we look to glorify the Gospel by imitating the OT prophets and even James and call all sinners to repentance?”

    In other words, we get to make up things as we go now because things are so different.


  12. Joel,
    The Nazis were equally opposed to the Socialists.

    Also, no, we don’t get to just make things up. But we do protect the honor of the Gospel in a different time period. And so we need to think things through, something not necessary when one only needs to imitate or follow orders.


  13. Curt, so the primitive church argument where historical context does all the interpretation, and (surprise!) modernity wins. This is also how we get female ordination. Poor Paul, he didn’t have the benefit of modernity to tell him that when he said there is now no more male nor female that he’s outdated to forbid women’s ordination, and that there’s this thing called resistance theory that makes Romans 13 quaint. But in Reformedville the Bible interprets the Bible, which is how we get that only an elite class of men are called to ministry and obeying the magistrate whether he’s a king or President or dictator (or a she) is all that is left for believers.


  14. Zrim,
    Like it or not, we have a different context in which to operate. And so the question is, how do we respond to the different context. It becomes a matter of using the right abstractions from the NT. That is unless one is comfortable only with imitating and following orders and deny that the change in context might change what we have to do to honor Christ and avoid bringing dishonor to the Gospel.

    Of course, if prohibiting the ordaining of women is your first concern, then you can deny the change in context if you think that recognizing the change in context in another issue will lead you to accepting the ordination of women now. But such a mentality inhibits us in fully reading and understanding the Scriptures for today’s world as it leads us to read and understand the Scriptures in the world that no longer exists. I think that those who used the Scriptures to justify slavery in the 19th century and before didn’t see any change in context either.

    And while you make this seem to be about Paul having fault in what he wrote, I am saying that some of what Paul wrote was for a specific context and that to continue to use him when the context changes, we simply use a different level of abstraction to see how what he wrote applies today. If you read Martin Luther King Jr on Romans 13, you will get an idea of how changes in context sometimes draws in other Biblical issues and thus makes following the Scriptures more complicated. Of course, some might prefer to follow simplicity thinking they are following the Scriptures.


  15. Curt, so please inform me and the rest about how much better a place Rome in 60 was than Birmingham in 1960, and please also explain how its the cultural setting that provides the norm for how respond (meaning, Paul wasn’t teaching a timeless truth about submission to rulers).

    Floor’s yours.


  16. D.G.,
    All you have done is to ignore what I wrote above. I never said that Rome was a better place than Birmingham. In fact, one place being better than the other is not the issue. And if you read King on civil disobedience, he holds Paul’s teaching on submission to rulers. But he also includes Augustine when he says that an unjust law is no law at all.

    My suspicion here is that 2kers want to be able to isolate themselves from the world and its concerns. But some of this isolation violates the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.


  17. D.G.,
    I would also add that while Paul’s teaching about those in authority is timeless, the context from which he wrote was not. And that Paul had other concerns such as the spread and honoring of the Gospel.


  18. Curt, take heart. If I were in Communist Soviet Union, I’d be following Paul’s teaching. If I followed yours, the different context means I could overthrow the Marxist system.


  19. Augustine also wrote this:

    “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.'”

    Of course, Peter writes that Christians are to honor the emperor. I think that Augustine hits on a useful point, that basically all human governments are unjust (perhaps for him he’d limit the idea to only governments that seize land and wealth, which is all of them), but I think Peter says that we have to honor them even in their injustice. Rome unjustly conquered Palestine, but where’s the passage about civil disobedience for that? Rome allowed slavery, but I don’t hear recommendations for civil disobedience there either. If it is only for the sake of the spread of the gospel, aren’t we in a worse position than when the eyewitnesses to the gospel were still alive?


  20. Curt, Paul’s context was pure theocracy, as in lose your life if you don’t renounce Jesus as Lord and embrace Caesar as god. Paul’s missives and the entire NT is pure 2k, as in faith is neither fostered nor punished at the point of the sword (but by the Spirit alone). Are you saying you think that Paul wrote mainly for his immediate hearers and not today, as in let’s go back to some form of theocracy? Maybe you say yes because it means NT ethics embodied legislatively equals “feed the world.” Maybe, but it also means lock up the heretics. Do you really have the stomach for secularized excommunication?


  21. Zrim,
    First, it wasn’t pure theocracy, it was simple empire with religious overtones. But what you are not getting is this, besides your exaltation of 2k to be equal with the NT, is this, that contextual contrasts have more to do with the Gospel and its comparative positions in history. In Paul’s day, the position was the need to spread the Gospel. In today’s world, the Gospel has been spread and is even associated with politics.

    Next, Paul wrote for all times beginning with his. But the context has changed. So what we will derive from Paul can vary. In addition, there is nothing that working in working for social justice that denies Paul’s command to submit to the authorities. Martin Luther King Jr. points this out and demonstrates it with his words and life. In fact, he shows a greater recognition of this than our nation’s founding fathers who rebelled against the UK for economic amongst other reasons.

    But I have said much of this before and yet you are asking the questions you’re asking. That is puzzling.


  22. Joel,
    Note the cited approach of Martin Luther King and the differing historical contexts between both Peter’s and Paul’s and now.

    We might also want to note how the OT prophets talked about social injustice. They spoke against neglecting the oppressed and oppressing others. And what we have to ask ourselves is, how can we love our neighbor as ourselves if we ignore them being oppressed or neglected?


  23. Curt, you call crucifixion for blasphemy mere religious overtone? Nero made Christians candles to light up his back yard. Overtone? I shudder to think what pure theocracy looks like in your mind. So what is your point about the spread of the gospel? You say it has been done, which almost suggests mission accomplished. Spoken like a comfortable 21stC American (yawn, glad that’s done, now let’s get going with being gospel-relevant). You then say it’s been associated with politics. Exactly, that’s what 2k means to push against. 2k is about letting the gospel shine brightly and not get hidden under the traditions and interests of men who want to baptize their politics in the gospel and obscure it, whether it’s MLK or Falwell.

    And talk about puzzling–Old Life has been r(obustly)2k for a long time and yet you are asking the questions you’re asking?


  24. Curt, you have to do two things at once. For instance, by opposing your socialism, I am defending the poor and oppressed from the woes of that economic system, and also doing that in a way that respects government (no civil disobedience).

    BTW, how are the socialists doing figuring out an alternative to the pricing mechanism’s solution to the knowledge and coordination problems? Not so good, I suspect.


  25. Joel,
    Am not sure if you know what you are talking about. Because if you regard socialism as a monolith, then you don’t. And if you don’t regard it as a monolith, please tell me which form of socialism you are defending the poor from.

    We can look at socialism as an ideology or a practice. Lenin used the former which explains his vanguard approach and turn to the right as well as scorning the Left. The latter approach says that workers decide. Now one of the parts where I depart from socialism is the proletariate dictatorship, such is as much a classocracy as the rule of the bourgeoisie. But what we see by making both the workplace as well as the public sector run democratically, is a redistribution of power that prevents its consolidation. It is in the consolidation of power, which follows the consolidation of wealth, that you end up with tyranny–consider all of the stakeholders of neoliberal capitalism before scoffing. That employing democracy to make decisions will not be as efficient but it can do a better job curbing power. And see, that is our choice. Do we want the greatest wealth possible through highly efficient system but where wealth, followed by power, is consolidated so that the system serves only some well? Or do we want to be more empowered by somewhat less efficient where perhaps there is less but it is better distributed? If you select the former, please tell me how you plan to escape what Martin Luther King describe as having a thing-oriented society?


  26. Zrim,
    Nobody said that religious overtones could not carry significant consequences. I am saying that it is hard to claim that there is a theocracy in a society where there are multiple gods. Claiming the emperor to be God does not make the society theocratic.

    What is my point about the spread of the Gospel? Well, wasn’t that one of Paul’s chief concerns? Didn’t he want the Gospel to be spread throughout the world and gave his life for that ends? And so weren’t some of his commands made with that chief concern in mind? And in spreading the Gospel, he was vigilant in protecting its reputation.

    Well, the Gospel is spread and is strongly associated with certain cultures, societies, and even government policies. And when those things misrepresent the Gospel, isn’t it our call to correct that as well as call all sinners, including those who create and manage systems, to repentance?

    As for 2k, its strength is that it doesn’t request Christian privilege. Its weakness is that it cannot call those who are instrumental in facilitating societal and systemic sins to repentance. Again, would 2kers call on American slaveowners to repent or call on the Nazis to repent? We would certainly call on private citizens who are engaged in sins regarding personal morals to repent and we would separate that from the Gospel. And so the OT prophets did not distinguish from God’s Word their call on individuals and their leaders to repent of social injustice sins.

    I wrote earlier that we should beware of reducing God’s Word to a pet model. Because once we make such a reduction, we put that model on too high a pedestal and become blind to those parts of the Scriptures that contradict it.


  27. I’m talking about the type of socialism that puts the means of production into the government’s hands (be it oligarchy, dictator, or democracy). Democracy is another name for mob rule, which sounds like a pretty bad system to me. If democracy is your answer to the knowledge problem/coordination problem, then I question whether you take those problems seriously.

    You bring up the poor, then you say we shouldn’t be worried about inefficiency. Those inefficiencies are a cause of poverty. Worrying about poverty is worrying about “things.” You implicitly admit that socialism is less efficient at providing goods and services (which lift people out of poverty), but that’s okay because the “power” will be transferred elsewhere. Well, if we are concerned for alleviating poverty then sounds like you should be on board with capitalism, even if the power stays with the wealthy. But getting goods and services to the poor isn’t really your concern, as you demonstrate:

    ” Or do we want to be more empowered by somewhat less efficient where perhaps there is less but it is better distributed?”

    There you go, that’s what this is about. You want power, even if it makes everyone poorer. Then you want to make equitable poverty. I’m in favor of delegitimating the monopoly of the initiation of force, including your supposedly benevolent use of it. That takes care of government aggression and poverty.


  28. Curt, how is it a weakness to only call sinners to repent only for personal sin? Don’t you realize that covers everybody, head-for-head? I mean, what happens to those who are innocent of so-called “societal and systemic sins” (leaving aside just what that slippery term even means and how one man’s “societal and systemic sins” is another’s virtue)? Is the gospel irrelevant to them? But if you stick to only calling persons to repentance for actual, personal sin then nobody escapes.

    And if you don’t like certain political outlooks, what’s wrong with combating them…wait for it…politically instead of spiritually? Doesn’t that only make sense? Or do you think it’s kosher when capitalists charge you with sin for being a socialist instead of limiting it to personal violations of the law? Have you considered that charging someone with sin for being a member of the Nazi party sounds a lot like an American still fighting WW2, with a heavy-handed spirituality drizzled on top?


  29. Zrim,
    You miss the point. Yes, calling sinners to repent only for committing personal sins calls everybody to repentance. But it does not call everybody to repent of every sin. That is the issue. And we have the OT prophets as models for how to call society and its systems to repentance. The OT prophets were challenged God’s people to repent of both neglecting the vulnerable as well as oppressing them. To see oppressed people and to do nothing was sin according to these prophets.

    And who is innocent of societal and system sins? It is those who not only refuse to take part in those sins but who resist those who commit those sins.

    Now we may not have the expertise to tell our leaders what system they should adopt. I am not being a transformer here. But we can recognize when a system and society is oppressing a group of people. And that is what we should speak out against.


  30. Joel,
    The problem here is that too many American Christians have no clue as to what socialism. Big government is not socialism. That is taught by those who want power to rest with elites from the private sector. Remember that the Russian Revolution was against a big government. So what made the Bolsheviks different from the Tzars, Russian for Caesar, and Lenin? It was that power rested in the working councils of the Soviets with the Soviets consisting workers and soldiers who kept their day jobs. Those who belonged to the Soviets were elected by people in their class. So this was actually a representative form of government and was dismantled by Lenin who was scolded by people on the Left as well as scolded people on the Left. To quote Rosa Luxemburg, a contemporary of Lenin, Lenin instituted a “bourgeoisie dictatorship rather than a proletariate dictatorship.

    We should note that our founding fathers opposed Democracy, of which there are many kinds including what we have now, because they were protecting their financial elite position. The Constitution was not part of the aftermath of the American Revolution. Rather, the Constitution was in response to widespread dissent against America’s elite and Shays Rebellion. The Constitution actually strengthen the Federal gov’t over what it had been after the American Revolution.

    Those who favor a representative government and call Democracy ‘mob rule’ forget that the difference between the two is in the size of the mob making the decisions. Calling Democracy ‘mob rule’ is often done uncritically and even reflexively rather than after thinking through the issues.

    Finally, with non-elite centered socialism, it isn’t that I want power; it is that we want everybody to share the power rather than have it rest with elites. And if you want power to rest with elites, you are in league with Lenin as well as the writers of the Constitution all who, to varying degrees, wanted power to rest with elites rather than with all of the people.


  31. Curt, and you miss mine. When rightists want to associate you with the devil for your political ideas 2k says get behind me, Satan. Try to help a guy, sheesh.

    But it’s always curious how anti-2ks want the benefit of being able to indict so-called systemic sin but not the responsibility of getting specific on solutions. The advantage of limiting indictment to only personal sin is that the messenger can get specific–you’ve transgressed God’s law, repent and believe in Christ, then live per his law.


  32. Curt, I am a Voluntaryist (though more popularly known as a type of anarchist), so I oppose the Constitution, respectfully. No revolution here.

    Wealth and property that is justly acquired (you include this in “power,” I think) is none of my business and none of yours. It’s the using that wealth to get more wealth through the political means (legal plunder) that is problematic.

    “Those who favor a representative government and call Democracy ‘mob rule’ forget that the difference between the two is in the size of the mob making the decisions. Calling Democracy ‘mob rule’ is often done uncritically and even reflexively rather than after thinking through the issues.”

    I absolutely agree. Democracy is still mob rule. That’s why we need a devolution of aggressive force down to families and individuals.

    You still haven’t addressed the problems I’ve given, which makes me wonder what you’ve read about the debate. Wikipedia has a nice entry to get you started under “Economic Calculation Problem.” That’s the broader debate surrounding the problems that I mentioned. I found out that there has been a book that addresses these questions here from a recent socialist perspective: http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/new_socialism.pdf

    Of course, it sounds like their answer is computers! That’s comical.


  33. Zrim,
    Did you miss what I said I appreciated about 2kers? They have a valid concern about avoid promoting Christian privilege, a point that would help the Transformers if they would listen. The problem with 2k is that it still is incomplete. The Church has no charge to give to society as a whole or the systems it employs. That would be true for society and its sins du jour as it was during Nazi Germany or our embrace of race-based slavery. The latter represented grossly sinful systems and 2k churches wouldn’t make a sound though they come down hard and heavy if you have sexual sins. Pick on the individual but let people sin by participating in groups that sin.

    At least the transformers want to speak to all sin and not just personal sins. Reverse the situation and see what happens. We could call everybody a sinner by how they participate in corporate sin while remaining quiet about people’s personal sins. Would we be faithful to the scriptures if we did that? Of course the answer is no. So why is the other way correct? The OT prophets didn’t see it that way.


  34. Curt, it’s a fair enough point about silence in relation to institutional slavery yet piping up about the politics of sex. But I’m not sure you’d like the answer, which is silence in both cases, as in sticking to ecclesiastical matters and not intermeddling in civil affairs (WCF 31). What you call incomplete is what 2kers call consistent.

    I’m not sure what your reversal point is. Have you ever read 1 Cor 5: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”

    And that’s the posture of all the NT writers. Paul seems pretty clear that we are to mind our own family affairs when it comes to judging. Ignore him and you become a pest to outsiders.


  35. Zrim,
    And yet the OT writers also wrote about social justice issues and that for people to either neglect the vulnerable or to oppress others is serious sin, it is the kind of sin for which Israel was of judged. You might begin with Isaiah chapters 58-59 and Jeremiah 22:15-17


  36. I’m sure, DG, you know that to say that Paul told Christians to “Submit” to Nero is a vast oversimplification of his teaching, and it does not deny the Church’s duty to prophecy to all, including governing officials.

    Whether such prophesying succeeds or not, is not the first concern. Talk to Jeremiah about God’s command to speak, though God knew the people would not listen.

    Curt, There’s always an elite in charge, except it exists to a lesser degree in smaller communities, where the people can keep a better watch on their representatives. Thus, limited government doesn’t ensure liberty, but it leads to more fruitful conditions for liberty. Socialism, of all kinds, always contradicts justice because it demands equality of means instead of equality before the law.

    Voluntary equality of means is theoretically possible, but certain wealthy men in such a society who give up their means in order to be equally limited in capital, like others, would be denying their God-ordained calling to use their capital to build for their fellow man. Forcing others to give up their capital contrary to God’s will is sin, and so is voluntarily giving up one’s capital with which God blessed you – not for giving away – for building up something, like Microsoft or Hobby Lobby. Or do you deny God’s right to bless as He sees fit for His glory and purposes?!


  37. Curt, but the very category of “social justice” isn’t really one the biblical authors knew. Plus, you keep glossing over the fact that all of Scripture is about Jesus (per his own words in John 5:39), which includes Isaiah and Jeremiah. You keep reading with social justice lenses instead of christocentric ones. Hint: the poor and vulnerable are sinners, even those who are rich and powerful.


  38. Zrim,
    Your first statement is wrong. Israel’s two major sins were idolatry and practicing injustice. I’ve already left two Scriptural references: Isaiah chapters 58-59 and Jeremiah 22 with vs 15-17 in particular. But the idea of social justice is throughout the Bible though more predominantly in the OT.

    Again, neglecting the vulnerable and oppressed or oppressing others is constantly identified by the OT prophets as sins that bring God’s judgment. Jesus introduces his ministry by quoting Isaiah on social justice and James 5 talks about social justice.

    We have personal sins, and we have corporate (nonbusiness corporate) sins. Those who lived in Nazi Germany who knew or could have known about the Holocaust bore a degree of guilt for having said or done nothing which is why Eisenhower ordered the people of one town to personally inspect at least one of the concentration camps. IN our country, slavery is the most apparent corporate sin from which we needed to repent. Those who said or did not were complicit.

    All you are saying is that as long as we keep our own little nose clean, we can, with a free conscience, participate in corporate sin and you do so to protect your precious little 2k theory. The Bible does not support you here. Neither does being human.


  39. Curt, if we have corporate sin, do we have corporate salvation? So if we have national sin and we get rid of the existing government by putting in a new government that is free from corporate sin, do we now have salvation? Think about Venerable Bede’s account of the conversion of England. It happened by baptizing the pagan king and making him and his people Christian. Is that salvation?

    And if there is corporate sin, how can I be forgiven short of rising up in revolution (I know that makes your radical heart go pitter patter)? Or is it possible for Christ to forgive me of corporate sin while I go on without revolting?


  40. Win,
    What socialists have you read? The fact that I agree with what you wrote to D.G. and I am socialist suggests that we are closer than you might think. And perhaps that is because you may not know the key tenet in Socialism. I would refer you to the following:




  41. Curt, you’re wrong. Those who murder are guilty of murder, not those who know about it but are powerless to do anything about it. You know about all sorts of illicit things going on in the world, yet you do nothing to stop any of it. Are you telling me you’re personally guilty for Michael Brown? Maybe you’ll say yes (to protect your precious little social gospel theory), but something also tells me Brown’s parents wouldn’t be satisfied with your arrest, trial, and punishment.


  42. Zrim,
    Actually, you’re wrong. There are always a variety of ways to resist and to speak out against. In fact, all rulers are vulnerable to the same form of Kryptonite– the noncooperation of the people. When enough people refuse to cooperate, rulers are helpless. But even if the number of those who refuse to cooperate is small, what they have done is to refrain, to some degree, participation in group or societal sin.

    BTW, look at your analogy. Am I guilty for Michael Brown’s death? Not being a resident of Ferguson and not being a police officer there and not being any part of the system there, I would say no. You don’t even ask if I lived or were a part of the system there to ask. Sounds defensive. But am I guilty for stop & frisk in NYC even though I am not a resident there? Perhaps, but not as much as those who have neither done nor said nothing. So we are looking at guilt and righteousness on a continuum. And the question is for us, are we more concerned about our own accountability or the injustice that prevails in the parts of the world in which we are participants?


  43. Curt, exactly, and that’s the difference between 2k piety (which answers the former) and social gospel piety (which answers the latter). And for 2k piety, to be human is to be guilty–it’s a matter of inheritance. For social gospel piety, you have to connect the dots from Brown to every Fergusonian. The problem for you is that when every Fergusonian is told he has transgressed the law of God, it makes some sense and has biblical warrant, but when told he bears some accountability for Brown not so much.


  44. Zrim,
    The problem with 2k is that churches are to remain silent, and thus complicit to social justice. One can’t state it any other way. And it is time that both the transformers and the 2kers are up front with the weaknesses of their particular theological models.

    It seems that you are presenting an exclusive-or between personal and social gospel piety. Liberal theologians do that too only from the other side when they reduce piety to the social gospel. The Biblical relationship between personal and social gospel pieties is not exclusive-or but conjunction. You must include both, not one or the other.


  45. Zrim,
    Want to make a correction with the first statement:

    The problem with 2k is that churches are to remain silent about, and thus complicit with, injustice.


  46. Curt,

    But what qualifications does the church have to speak on the nuts-and-bolts of politics, sociology, and economics — issues that are worked out through the electoral process and by technocrats? Where do ministers and church officers obtain the expertise to weigh in on these matters?

    Where does Scripture lay out an optimal tax rate, tell us what interest rates should be, or spell out housing, agricultural, or defense policy?


  47. Erik,
    I’ve already answered this question. The Church may not be able to give detailed political plans, but it can speak out on what it sees as sinful and even evil. Again, the previously mentioned examples apply.


  48. Curt,

    Some church members own capital, others work in management, others are union laborers, some work for minimum wage, some work in government, others for for not-for-profits. Who is the church speaking for?


  49. Curt, not that you read every comment, but I’d still be interested in your response to this:

    if we have corporate sin, do we have corporate salvation? So if we have national sin and we get rid of the existing government by putting in a new government that is free from corporate sin, do we now have salvation? Think about Venerable Bede’s account of the conversion of England. It happened by baptizing the pagan king and making him and his people Christian. Is that salvation?

    And if there is corporate sin, how can I be forgiven short of rising up in revolution (I know that makes your radical heart go pitter patter)? Or is it possible for Christ to forgive me of corporate sin while I go on without revolting?


  50. Curt, now you’re just repeating yourself. I’m not deaf (or blind). But your beef isn’t just with me, it’s also with the very confession: “Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.” I guess all P&R churches that practice what they confess are complicit in injustice.

    But until you can show me how a nation can repent of so-called institutional sin and become a baptized and communicant member of a local church, you bet I’m maintaining an exclusively personal piety.


  51. Erik,
    One of the groups the Church should be speaking for those who are oppressed, marginalized, and victimized. And that includes, if applicable, those who are from the groups you mentioned. But if those groups participate in hurting others, then Christians in those groups should be made aware so they can take the appropriate actions. Why? Because God is the God of justice and if we are following him, we should be interested in justice too.


  52. D.G.,
    I don’t think the tie in is relevant. If God is the God of justice and we are following Him, why make the existence of corporate salvation a test for whether corporate sin exists? We sin as individuals but we also sin when participating in groups. If we are saved, shouldn’t we be concerned with combatting sin whether it is done on a personal level or when participating in a group?

    The problem with your approach is that, from what I can see, you’re attempting to use deduction to say corporate sin does not exist. But the facts on the ground give ample evidence to the existence of corporate sin. And what is worse is that when we Americans live as if our nation and society does not commit corporate sin, it leaves us to mind our personal morality only while being willing to sin anonymously in groups. The overemphasis on personal sin leads one to fall prey to what Francis Schaeffer said was the danger threatening Western Civilization: the pursuit of personal peace and prosperity.


  53. Curt, you don’t think it relevant or maybe it’s inconvenient. Think about it. How are we saved from personal sin? Repent and believe? How are we saved from corporate sin? Collective repent and believe? How does that happen?

    If you were following discussions of republication, you might have a point about Israel’s collective sins following from the stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant. But that all passed away (except that utopians keep it alive).

    I believe, if you care to know, that injustice exists. Surprise. I am not outraged by it. It’s a fallen world. What I detest is Christians trying to get people jazzed about their particular pet injustice by attaching categories of redemption to it. I’m sure you wouldn’t want President Obama using language of corporate salvation in Syria. So why not heal your own civil religion.


  54. Curt,

    Would you say that a Session/Consistory should be demanding socialism within the church? If unequal incomes are allowed to exist there, how can we expect them to be corrected in the world? Should a richer Christian be barred from the table as long as they are not giving adequately to poorer Christians in the same church?

    And what if the poorer Christian goes and spends that money foolishly and is still poor? Is the richer Christian bound to keep giving him money until they’re equally wealthy?


  55. Erik,
    The answer is no the first question, not as a session or consistory. If individual members wanted to do that, that is fine. What I am proposing is that the Session/Consistory should be active in looking for abuse and marginalization in society and even the world and should point that out to all levels of our government. Part of their job should be pointing out the problems and encouraging free discussion amongst all rather being just another group that claims to have the solution.

    As for the second question, we should be asking about how we can abstain from participating in group and societal sins. Your other question still puts things on an individual basis. We should be looking at what in society which marginalizes people. As for the Christian who foolishly spends their money, the Rich Christian could use the deacons of their churches as a way of wisely giving to those in need. But, again, that doesn’t address corporate sin.


  56. It’s obvious to me that CCCP has never served as a church officer or he wouldn’t be adding to their already-stuffed portfolio.All levels of government, the society, the world? Are you kidding? You’re not in a 200 level poli-sci course any more, brother. Get real.


  57. D.G.,
    But salvation comes from personal belief. We aren’t saved because of someone else’s belief. And repenting from personal sins does not always result in repenting from corporate sins. And that is why we need to draw attention to sins we anonymously perform by participating in the groups we belong to. It seems that you are trying to insist that just as there is individual salvation as a remedy for individual sin, then if there is corporate sin, there must be corporate salvation. And you want to use such thinking as a way to deductively determine whether corporate sins exist.

    But observation tells us corporate sins exist. In addition, with the split you are suggesting, would you also say that one could be individually be saved but at the same time condemned because of the group(s) one belongs to?

    Finally, as I wrote before, this isn’t about utopia, it is about improvement. And those who deem any improvement to the current system as utopian, have implied that the current system is a utopia in its own right.


  58. What I am proposing is that the Session/Consistory should be active in looking for abuse and marginalization in society and even the world and should point that out to all levels of our government.

    Curt, what happens when the abused and marginalized are competitors? Lifers portray the unborn and choicers women in terms of “abused and marginalized” all the time in order to goad the faithful, so how do you decide which social gospel the church should get behind?


  59. Curt,

    A Session/Consistory should be demanding things of pagans, over whom they have no authority, that they don’t demand over their own church members, over whom they do have authority? Huh?

    If you don’t even have the stones to demand that I have to conclude you’re not at all serious about this. It’s just pie in the sky hopes on your part.


  60. What church do I go to to absolve myself of the sins of being white (check), male (check), middle-aged (check), well-educated (check), and trained for a capitalist position (check? Who is my savior for all that?


  61. And is one “at fault” for being a member of a “group” if one had no part in choosing that group membership? No one asked me about being white or male. My parents settled in a town with good public schools and read to me at bedtime. Those sins are on them, not me.


  62. If Curt really does attend conservative P&R churches I would imagine the amount of traction he gets with this stuff is roughly akin to a greased pig on an ice skating rink…


  63. Curt, if sessions did that, when wouldn’t they meet? Do you have a guide on how to monitor businesses, government agencies, NGO’s? And if the claims of the gospel are universal, then don’t we have a responsibility to monitor marginalization worldwide? Sao Paulo? Helsinki? Belfast?

    Get a clue.


  64. Curt, “improvement”? Now that’s a biblical word, straight out of the Ancient Near East and the Christian scripture.


    How can I be saved from corporate sin? Please tell me, Curt. Think of me as the Phillipian jailer (who may have been engaged in a little corporate sin on his end and Paul didn’t mention it — Doh!).


  65. Some capitalist love for Curt:

    “First we must realize that all actions are performed by individuals. A collective operates always through the intermediary of one or several individuals whose actions are related to the collective as the secondary source. It is the meaning which the acting individuals and all those who are touched by their action attribute to an action, that determines its character. It is the meaning that marks one action as the action of an individual and another action as the action of the state or of the municipality. The hangman, not the state, executes a criminal. It is the meaning of those concerned that discerns in the hangman’s action an action of the state. A group of armed men occupies a place. It is the meaning of those concerned which imputes this occupation not to the officers and soldiers on the spot, but to their nation. If we scrutinize the meaning of the various actions performed by individuals we must necessarily learn everything about the actions of collective wholes. For a social collective has no existence and reality outside of the individual members’ actions. The life of a collective is lived in the actions of the individuals constituting its body. There is no social collective conceivable which is not operative in the actions of some individuals. The reality of a social integer consists in its directing and releasing definite actions on the part of individuals. Thus the way to a cognition of collective wholes is through an analysis of the individuals’ actions.”

    If a democratic majority determines to kill off the democratic minority, did the minority just commit collective suicide?

    Curt, earlier I was asking if you had some answer or thoughts about the economic calculation problem. I’ll state my view a little more bluntly. You cannot rationally allocate goods or services with any scale without a pricing mechanism. That’s why socialism makes poverty worse. You cannot help the poor with socialism. What’s your answer to my accusation that socialism will throw millions into poverty if enacted in the U.S.?

    My take on the current state of the U.S. economy is that we suffer under “participatory fascism.” The socialized government schools even call it a “mixed” economy. It seems like you are wasting breath attacking capitalism in the U.S.


  66. Joel,
    Your example of the hangman has problems. For the hangman is not an agent of the state, his individual action of killing is punished. But when he does work for the state, it is condoned. But we ought to note that more than the hangman is involved in capital punishment. There is a support structure and there is complicity when there is silence by the people.

    In addition, the hangman executes those whom state deem worthy of execution. Not all who are executed are guilty.

    So let’s go back to the freeing of Nazi concentration camps by the allies. What did Eisenhower command after he learned of and inspected those camps? He commanded that the German citizens who lived nearby tour those camps to see what they were partially responsible for. Why were they responsible? Because they supported the gov’t in its work even if that support was by silence. These people did not have to run the camps to be responsible, they merely had to be complicit. Were they as responsible as the people who ran the camps? No. But did they have a measure of responsibility for their existence? Ask Eisenhower.

    Yes, you need pricing mechanism. But you need to know what socialism is to make any statements about it. And that is where you failed here.

    And yes, those on the left see us entering into a kind of fascism but realize the key difference between fascism and communism/socialism as seen in 20th century Europe.


  67. D.G.,
    Like I said, you want to define corporate sin out existence. But look at the example I pointed out in my note to Joel. And see, that is the problem we Reformed Christians have. We are so into our models of thought that we try to determine all of reality by deduction rather than determine some of it through observation.

    But there is something else, for as long as we reduce sin to only personal violations of individual morals, it leaves us free to live righteously selfish lives–live for ourselves as long as we don’t break the wrong taboos. Here, what Francis Schaeffer observed about Western Civ should act as a warning for us. He saw Western Civ’s problem in its pursuit of personal peace and prosperity. And if you use Bonhoeffer’s model of thought, one could interpret this much like the way he interpreted monasteries by saying it is trying to create a world we can love rather than living out our faith in a difficult world. Note that that falls in line with a love of the world the way I John 2 warned against, not the way God loved the world in John 3.


  68. Yes, you need pricing mechanism. But you need to know what socialism is to make any statements about it. And that is where you failed here.

    Ahem. Socialism has no pricing mechanism. Which is a problem in the real world (along with “Thou shalt not steal”). But you need to know something about the real world before making any statements on how to fix it. IOW socialism doesn’t work.
    If you insist on making it an entirely voluntary affair, fine, but sooner or later somebody opts out.
    And then we find out how “tolerant” the socialists are when it comes to other people’s desires and property.

    <And yes, those on the left see us entering into a kind of fascism but realize the key difference between fascism and communism/socialism as seen in 20th century Europe.

    The key difference? Lemme see. The Nazis (National Socialists) lost and the Communists won?
    Uh, the USSR got the idea for the gulag from Germany, rather than the other way around?


  69. Bob,
    You’re providing another example of someone who doesn’t know what socialism is. And you are adding to that the assumptions made by those in an individualist-oriented society.

    Why don’t some American Christians know what socialism is? It has to do with reading. It seems the only reading some of us do is of those we agree with. Thus some Christians will only read those who are antagonists to socialism to understand what socialism is. Again, this is like watching Bill Mahr’s Religulous to understand Christianity.

    But note something else here. While talking about corporate sin, some insist on talking about socialism. Why?


  70. Curt, what you call corporate sin I call injustice. The only case of corporate sin you could find in the Bible is Israel’s, and that has to do with the Mosaic Covenant. But you haven’t weighed in on republication. So far, all you have assertion, hardly anything persuasive or theological — unless you want to be a social gospeler, which is what Marx was.


  71. Curt, how naive are you to think that a session can examine only one or two corporate sins per session meeting and feel like it’s being faithful? You are the guy who sees corporate sin everywhere and then wants to treat it with a little quiet time.


  72. What did Eisenhower command after he learned of and inspected those camps? He commanded that the German citizens who lived nearby tour those camps to see what they were partially responsible for. Why were they responsible? Because they supported the gov’t in its work even if that support was by silence. These people did not have to run the camps to be responsible, they merely had to be complicit. Were they as responsible as the people who ran the camps? No. But did they have a measure of responsibility for their existence? Ask Eisenhower.

    Moralist Americans just love this line of reasoning. But, Curt, instead of asking a faraway American President why not ask the camps’ neighbors for their perspective on what it was like to live under an iron fist and knowing that all piping up does under such a fist is get more skulls cracked (by the way, so does silence, since tyrants tend to interpret silence as tacit DISapproval). But it must feel good to play 21st century American quarterback. Speaking of corporate sin, does it ever occur to you that you’re passing judgment across time and place on a whole swath of people? That’s one big index finger you’re wagging.


  73. Curt, If you’d condescend to tell me who I need to read in order to understand the pricing mechanism in your type of socialism, I’d appreciate it.

    In the blog post you recommended earlier, you wrote, “We need a Socialism that demands democracy and that it starts at the workplace. That means that businesses must be governed by democratic practices rather than in an authoritarian way as exercised by managers. Then we also need to elect government officials who will represent people rather than big business.”

    How demanding must a person or a government be about it? Where there’s a government, there is the power of the sword looming. If the shareholders of Wal-Mart refuse to run things like Curt-in-power, do they get threatened with the sword? I believe that Zappos.com runs with minimal management, do they count as socialist?

    Also, I think you posit this as some sort of answer to the economic calculation problem, so I’ll have to extrapolate a position and you can tell me if I’m wrong. Presumably, society as a democratic collective owns the means of production in your system. This means that voting is the way that goods are allocated for production, so voting must be the alternative for the pricing mechanism.

    Capitalism turns real vice into civic virtue, while socialism turns civic virtue into real vice. A former classmate of mine who asked rhetorically, “Why am I doing this?” He was speaking about working a double shift stocking flowers and helping people with their purchases on a blacktop parking lot on one of the hottest days of the year for 16 hours. In my life, I’m pretty sure that I haven’t served others at that length under those circumstances. Yet the answer to his question was that he was too greedy for money. This guy wasn’t a particularly noble guy, as he was notorious in school for drug use and he kept a copy of the Satanic Bible around to try to shock people. Yet he was outdoing most people in civic virtue because of greed. (To perhaps anticipate an objection, I don’t think the desire to own flowers is sinful, so for the Christian, it is their Christian liberty to buy and own them.)

    Socialism takes people that perhaps are looking to make a more just society and makes them ask questions like, “how can I get the power to redistribute the wealth that my oppressors have?” This is turning a civic virtue into the vices of envy and perhaps theft (even if it is legal plunder). It ignores personal responsibility toward the poor and turns it into a collective responsibility that no one in particular is responsible for (except maybe the formerly wealthy).


  74. Joel,
    Below is the Marxist website. There you can read a variety of Marxist and a variety is needed because there are a variety of views.


    In addition, I would suggest watching the Youtube video below:

    That would be an intro. The most important point here is that when we talk about a movement, it should be first based on reading that movements protagonists rather than antagonists.

    As for the walmart example, again, decisions should be made democratically. And I don’t think that when Walmart using gov’t assistance programs to subsidize their payroll, that they have much widespread support. And yet, that is what the current standards for minimum wage demand. In addition, if we are going to be socialist about it, the employees of walmart would be making the decisions by democratic process, not myself.

    Will wait til you have read and watched before continuing.


  75. D.G.,
    That a session could examine every action is unrealistic. But that a session could examine what they are aware of is reasonable for that is what voters are called to do. It isn’t an all-or-nothing venture here.

    BTW, I don’t we can be faithful by being deliberately ignorant. Were German Christians who went along with the Nazis being faithful? How about those Americans who so harshly treated their slaves or those who turned a blind eye to that harsh treatment? After all, would you say that a Christian who lives an adulterous life or who turns a blind eye to a brother who does the same be considered faithful?


  76. Zrim,
    The reason for asking about Eisenhower’s move is to ask if there is a bottom line by which you will agree there was corporate sin. Because if you don’t in that case, the discussion is already over on your part. And besides, which Christian would say that condemning the Corinthian Christians and their struggle with sexuality by the standards of the puritans or Christian standards today is quarterbacking from a later century? Your defense here relies on the theory of relative morality. And, indeed, we can say some moral decisions are relative. But what about the ones made by German citizens while the Nazis ruled? My guess is that to judge those Germans would allow us to judge others including ourselves. Eisenhower had it right, didn’t he?


  77. D.G.,
    Since you want to refer only to corporate sins seen in the Bible, let me ask you this. Democracy was not a form of government in the Bible, does that mean that it doesn’t or shouldn’t exist today?


  78. So Curt, Mr. corporate righteousness, what are you doing for the cause? Are you pulling down empires and corporations to make everything right? Shouldn’t you get up and walk away from the computer?


  79. D.G.,
    Structurally speaking, we have a form of democracy. In terms of implementation, we don’t. What Socialists want is an expanded democracy that includes the private sectors as well as the public sectors. Why? If you read Marx, you’ll find that he believed that America had abolished private property. Why did he believed that because people who held no property could make laws regulating who had property–that is what he perceived. Likewise, he believed that the abolishment of religion wasn’t its eradication but the freeing of the State so that it could be indifferent to religion. I guess that would put Marx in the same tent as 2kers.

    For Marx, it is about who is in control, not who has what. Marx believed in a proletariate dictatorship which would eliminate the vanguard rule Lenin exercised.

    As for your other note, again, why the all-or-nothing thinking. I am doing what I can which, in the scope of things is very little. But enough people doing a little can accomplish something significant. You just have to be willing to be insignificant to contribute to something that is significant.


  80. CW,
    What’s in a name? The Nazis received backing from business and industry leaders. Any socialist could tell you that resembles fascism, not socialism. As a former seminary professor of mine said, it is about concepts.


  81. D.G.,
    BTW, I hope you realize that when I am talking about corporate sin, I am talking about group sin whether that group is from the private sector or the public sector. I am not reducing this to corporation sins.


  82. Curt, If you asked me a question about who I think explains justification well in Reformed circles, I’m not going to give a list of 20 authors who I think conflict on the question. For Marx, money was to be eliminated. Without a market, money doesn’t even make sense. If socialism means that the community owns the means of production, I’d argue that excludes a true pricing mechanism and replaces it with bureaucracy- perhaps a democratic bureaucracy. I’m familiar with Chomsky, and I watched that video. I acknowledge that there are competing visions for socialism, and I don’t think I’ve implied otherwise. Now, who do you appeal to as having the solution to the economic calculation problem (which was posited in the 1920s and probably earlier, before the Soviets were really the antagonists of the US), or is it just a surprise to find out after we eliminate private property?

    You said earlier that you agreed that an economy must have a pricing mechanism. What is a book or article that explains how you square that circle?

    Are you advocating for anarcho-syndicalism like Chomsky? Does the state combine with the society so they are one in the same thing?


  83. Curt, “relative morality”? Until you’ve lived in real life under a tyrannical regime, you might want to refrain from giving yourself license to judge others who did but didn’t live up to your righteous standards. It’s not a question of giving the Third Reich a pass but of extending a modicum of sympathy to those you feel so free to shame and condemn from the comfortable position across time and place. Maybe you want a good reason to judge others, but I’m after a good reason to have mercy. See, 2kers are all about (ahem) living the gospel.


  84. Curt, fascism is socialism as per indirect control of the economy by govt.
    Communism is direct control. So what?
    Oh, you want a People’s Republic where the workers run everything, including other people’s businesses and capital. It’s called theft. It’s fundamental to socialism as soon as people opt out.

    And what did Eisenhower do with with the GermansGermans? after the war?.
    Served them right I guess.



  85. That means that businesses must be governed by democratic practices rather than in an authoritarian way as exercised by managers.

    Who owns the business? Duh.
    Not the employees.
    The owner gets to run it the way he wants.
    If people don’t like it they quit and he either goes out of business, changes or things weren’t really that bad.

    You’re providing another example of someone who doesn’t know what socialism is. And you are adding to that the assumptions made by those in an individualist-oriented society.

    But you do know what socialism is?
    Tell us again.
    You want democratic socialist workers running the owner’s business/property.


  86. D. G. Hart
    Posted September 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
    Curt, democracy does not exist today. Marx 101.

    We get the government we deserve. You confessed wasting your vote on Ron Paul.

    Neither is Democracy 101 restricted to the privacy of the voting booth, where you just STFU about temporal matters and pretend public issues are private.

    That’s how self-described conservatives like you [and like me] left Biblical morality in the hands of Jerry Falwell to argue. And leave the natural law in the hands of the Manhattan Declaration people, while you theological purists abstain, and consign yourselves to supercilious irrelevance.


  87. Bob,
    Let me ask you something. James Madison was born into wealth. He inherited everything he had including his slaves. So the question becomes, did Madison earn the wealth he received after he inherited it or did those working for him do that? After that question is another question, do those who earn the wealth become partial owners by virtue of what they did to earn the wealth? Finally, if we say that only the owner earned and owns that wealth, what are saying to everybody about wealth work? Are we saying that wealth trumps work and thus encourage people to be like those Paul warned against? You remember the Apostle Paul here. He said that the love of money is the root for all kinds of evil.

    See, there are definitions of stakeholders. The more traditional definition includes everybody who impacted by a business. With the traditional definition comes the understanding that it is the all of the stakeholders who have at least some say in how a business operates. Today’s working definition of stakeholder though is to reduce stakeholders to executives and shareholders. Thus they are the only ones who can have any input into how a business is run.

    With the former definition of stakeholder, there is a collective ownership to varying degrees as all stakeholders can exercise some input into how a business is run. With the latter, money rules as only the shareholders, and the execs who represent them get to provide the input for determining how a business runs and they give that input so as to benefit themselves regardless of how it affects others.

    So what do you think about who owns a business?

    BTW, I know some of the different forms of socialism so I do have an understanding. It is isn’t as complete an understanding as some, but it is enough to know that, so far, you’ve shown that you don’t understand it.


  88. Zrim,
    you’re speaking outside of the history of Nazi Germany. Hitler got much support for many of his horrible policies from the people. Why? Those policies benefitted them at the expenses of others and they knew the costs others were paying.

    Here, we’re not talking about people who didn’t resist out of fear. Rather, they didn’t resist because they either didn’t care or didn’t want to know. After all, not only could people have read Mein Kampf, they could have listened to his speeches that promised to eliminate democracy and crush dissent. And even though who didn’t resist out of fear, they made moral decisions. Let me ask you, what do you say about those Christians in the 1st century who were given the choice between being punished by the state and denying their faith?

    But let’s relate that to us now. We don’t live under that kind of tyranny. We can resist to a degree without repercussions. So doesn’t it follow that we bear more responsibility for the actions of our government than Germans who were trapped in the Nazi reign?


  89. Curt – you’re speaking outside of the history of Nazi Germany. Hitler got much support for many of his horrible policies from the people. Why? Those policies benefitted them at the expenses of others and they knew the costs others were paying.

    Erik – Actually, the most egregious policies had to be hidden from the people.


  90. Curt, if the situation is so much different between then and there and now and here then why have you hitherto been trying so hard to draw parallels? So you can say that those who aren’t as convinced as you of institutional sin (and all that means) can be branded as equal to Nazi sympathizers? That’s what the BBs do to those not given to protesting abortion clinics. It’s fubar.

    And I don’t understand the question, “…what do you say about those Christians in the 1st century who were given the choice between being punished by the state and denying their faith?” What about it? But it seems to me there was a group like this in the midst of the Third Reich, whose silence may now incur your moralizing wrath but also at the time incurred that of a tyrant who put such a choice in front of them and interpreted their silence as a way of saying Christ was superior to him.


  91. Zrim,
    Because if the same principle holds true back then, how much more does it hold true for now when we are more free? Here I am being consistent because I’ve saying that the same principle holds true for both situations.

    As for comparing the 1st century Christians to those living under the 3rd Reich, you were the one who stated that those living under the 3rd Reich had their choices limited by tyranny. But couldn’t the same be said for 1st century Christians and yet they resisted simply by not backing away from confessing Christ. Christians living under the 3rd Reich also had a duty to resist though that resistance would take a different form.

    And I think what challenges 2kers here is that the 2k theology gives permission for believers to ignore the problems and corporate sin. One is required only to keep their own nose clean and what they do after that is their discretion. And as I have written before, such supports Christians in living righteously selfish lives. Francis Schaeffer would call this pursuing personal peace and prosperity and warned those living in the West against this– the smartest observation he made. And I think that is what is really at stake here.

    A secondary issue is the main principle used in applying the Bible to today. It seems that what drives an overly literalist position is the application of the regulative principle beyond worship to all of life.


  92. But couldn’t the same be said for 1st century Christians and yet they resisted simply by not backing away from confessing Christ. Christians living under the 3rd Reich also had a duty to resist though that resistance would take a different form.

    Curt, so you imagine that for 1C Xians there was no equivalent of holocaust (or at least what moderns would consider holocaust)? Highly doubtful, and yet no biblical evidence for the kind of resistance you prescribe (get up in Caesar’s grill, hide people in attics, subvert the dominant paradigm), just the kind that the Bible does (render unto Caesar his due and God his, take your lumps if they come, live uprightly, quietly and peacefully with all men).


  93. Nice blog here! Also your site loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol


  94. The key to this problem is biblical law. Curt, if your attack on corporate sin is not biblical law based, you’re way off. Biblical law does not support present day attacks on the free market, businesses, etc.

    DG, Marx was not a social gospeler; he was an atheist. The social gospelers rejected biblical law without becoming atheists – in name. There was a Presbyterian minister in the early 1800s, George Bourne, before abolitionism became really intense (think William Lloyd Garrison, who borrowed from Bourne). He was defrocked in 1815 by the Lexington, VA Presbytery. He had made an overture to the General Assembly regarding the salvation status of slave-holders based on I Tim 1:10’s reference to man-stealing.

    In his book on the matter, he identified slave-holding as sin based on Mosaic law, as reflected in I Tim, not based on humanism, like the radical abolitionists. In other words, he condemned a corporate sin by exposing the individuals who were violating God’s law. See Gary North’s “Crossed Fingers,” pp. 123-4.

    How can you avoid prophesying against corporate sin if you preach to individuals about their sin, and that sin is popular and sanctioned by the civil government? How does a pluralist preach against that sin if the civil law says it’s okay? What’s the end if the Church doesn’t preach against that sin? Perhaps war & death? Hmm, just like the Mosaic law promises. Ask my Confederate ancestors who lost their lives over the right to steal men and own them.


  95. Curt,
    Forget about Madison and stop majoring on red herrings.
    If you own your business, you own it. If you work for my business, your say in how I run it, runs the gamut from comments/advice to quitting. No more, no less, no stakeholder jazz to gloss over the fact that people have a right to private property period and no amount of bloviating otherwise is going to prevail or change that. Is there injustice in the free market and capitalism? Yeah, but nothing like socialism where it’s the rule, not the exception.

    Socialism is all about equal outcomes, not equal opportunity, Socialism is fine if it is voluntary, but dollars to doughnuts, whatever you call it, you will have to resort to coercion when people voluntarily bail out of it.

    Oh, did I mention, socialism is inherently totalitarian. It has to be. A philosophy/economy of equal outcomes – remember – in an unequal world doesn’t work. So we has to ‘hep it uh long’.

    As in who makes sure all this works like you’ve spelled it out?
    Benevolent and puritanical zealots like Robiespierre or Stalin? Mao Tse Tung?
    But that’s funny. I can’t remember the USSR or Red China having an illegal alien immigration problem. Neither was the Iron Curtain to keep the barbarians like the Great Wall was.


  96. Win,
    Why do you say what you say? Do you understand either the Bible or free markets? When multiple corporations subsidize their payrolls with gov’t assistance programs, that is not a violation of James 5 or other parts in the Bible? Such wages are supported by the free market just as the lack of environmental measures taken by corporations, avoiding paying taxes, and sweatshop labor. And what about the CDOs and CDSs from the housing bubble days? They were also a part of the free market. But none of that is against Biblical law?

    Your description of those involved with the Social Gospel is not only pharisaical, in the parable of the two men praying tradition, it is an overgeneralization. That Marx was an atheist isn’t the issue, it is the concepts he promoted that were. Note what Martin Luther King cited from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, regarding Communism. He called it a ‘Christian Heresy.’ Why? Because Communism packaged certain Christian truths in nonChristian ideas and such. What were those Christian truths? Communism’s concern with social justice and its concern for the poor are scriptural truths (see pg 93 of http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ows/seminars/aahistory/Pilgrimage.pdf).

    The trouble we have here is that some conservative Christians have the same kind of problem that liberals pursuing the social gospel have. While the former reduce Biblical concerns regarding human behavior to personal morality, the latter does the same toward social justice and helping those in need. The problem has to do with the reductionism practiced by both that is the problem here. The Bible clearly warns us against neglecting social justice as it does against neglecting the practice of personal morals. With the former, the bulk, but not all, of the scriptures issuing these warnings rest in the Old Testament while with the latter the scriptures are in both testaments. There are contextual reasons for that.

    If what you say about prophesying against corporate is true, then what about Christians whose personal moral lives were biblical but who either neglected doing or saying anything against or who practiced owning slaves? And what about those Christians who lived in Nazi Germany who either buried their heads in the sand or neglected to resist in any way against the Nazis?

    Or let’s bring this up to date. What are you doing about the use of sweatshop labor or the use of gov’t assistance programs by corporations to subsidize their payrolls? What are you doing about how energy companies are destroying local environments in order extract resources while keeping costs down to satisfy the free market? What are you doing about our country’s support of tyrannical or oppressive regimes, our illegal invasions, and our use of drones to assassinate people all of which involves the killing of civilians? From what you wrote, for those sins involving the free market, you have only declared them to be righteous. At the same time, you seem to say that you are thankful that you are not like those social gospel people.

    The issue for you is whether you recognize that abstracting from the scriptures is still using scriptures.


  97. Bob,
    Look at the implications of what you are saying. If you, by virtue of wealth, own a business, you have absolute sovereignty over it and I either lump it or leave it in terms of being an employee. You have the right to treat me in any way you like while I am on the clock. That is what you are saying. Such actually goes against the traditional standard business definition of stakeholder–remember that the word ‘stakeholder’ comes from business, not from social gospel people. And such allows the business owner to abuse employees, vendors, customers, and the affected communities all in the name of owning private property. Of course, that wasn’t what was practiced in the OT. Property owners were responsible for the safety of those who were impacted by their property.

    From what you are saying, it seems that the business owner owns his employees while they are on the clock. He treats and pays them in the manner he sees fit as long as he doesn’t hurt or steal from them. But how is paying poverty wages not stealing from one’s employees? How not ensuring the safety of the work place not sinful?

    From a logic point of view, how is your emphasis on ownership and your denial of the standard business concept of stakeholder not teaching society that wealth is what is important, not work?

    Finally, again, you have no clue regarding socialism is. No sin there. But when you claim to say what it is while deliberately remaining ignorant, there is a problem. If you actually read about socialism, you’ll find that its first concern is not about equal outcomes with regard to the redistribution of wealth. Rather, it is about the redistribution of power to the workers. In contrast to that is your consolidation of power according to wealth and your lack of concern for stakeholders. How ironic it is for someone who claims to know the free market to have such disdain for stakeholders? Actually, that is not ironic for those who follow Ayn Rand, neoliberal Capitalism.


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