Good but Different Americans

With Ash Wednesday comes Lent and different rationales for turning up those practices that increase holiness. George Weigel opts for the difference that Lenten practice makes:

Friday abstinence was once a defining mark of the practicing Catholic, and Lenten pork roll raillery aside, it ought to be again. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is not renowned for its traditionalism, but some years ago the bishops mandated a year-round return to Friday abstinence south of Hadrian’s Wall, and good for them for doing so. If our baptisms really set us apart for Christ, then we should live a different temporal rhythm than the rest of the world: not to advertise our righteousness, but to remind ourselves, each other, and those who might be curious about these Catholics and their ways that we’re, well, different. And at a moment in Western cultural history in which the tsunami of the Culture of Me threatens to overwhelm everything, putting down behavioral markers of difference is no small thing. From Friday abstinence, who knows what might grow?

Well, these days at First Things someone might ask if Friday abstinence could lead to the kidnapping of baptized children from non-Roman Catholic parents.

Or how about the royal absolutism of French monarchs?

For those keeping score at home, liberalism is on the ropes at First Things, which is odd for a magazine that used to be (along with Weigel) firmly in the Americanist camp of U.S. Roman Catholics.

The problem is not Lent or abstinence from meat. I have great respect for minority groups that maintain their religious ways in face of a society that does little to encourage or foster such practices. The Amish and Orthodox Jews, for instance, who continue to maintain family and spiritual traditions without trying to Americanize their traditions are (or should be) obviously admirable in their fortitude and conviction.

But transferring such admiration to Roman Catholics comes with a catch. That snag is that Roman Catholic piety for a long time was not simply a way of being a good Christian before God but also came with expectations about society, the political order, and the church’s authority. To sever personal piety from Rome’s global reach or cultural aspirations was never possible, the way it has been for other faiths outside the political order that brought them into existence. The reason is that fellowship with the Bishop of Rome and all the affairs in which he had his hands was necessary to be a good Roman Catholic.

So Weigel’s proposal for being more distinct is no neutral proposition when Roman Catholicism in its most distinct expression was not necessarily a respecter of the sort of freedoms that allow the Amish and Orthodox Jews to practice their faiths. Like Neo-Calvinism, Roman Catholicism is not content with a personal faith. Religion is not a private affair but needs to take root in all areas of life — and there goes political liberalism.

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398 thoughts on “Good but Different Americans

  1. dgh–The way I (mmmeeeEEEE) interpret this is to say that the baker who does not want to bake and decorate a wedding cake (why not an inferior one?) for a gay couple should NOT base her appeal on her own conscience but on the teaching of her church

    dgh–Their piety FOR A LONG TIME was not simply a way of being a good Christian before God but also came with expectations about society, the political order, and the church’s authority. To sever personal piety from Rome’s global reach or CULTURAL ASPIRATIONS was never possible, the way it has been for OTHER faiths outside the political order that brought THEM into existence.

    Does this mean it’s ok for us to “decouple” the sermons and commentary of John Calvin from his relationship with magistrates in Geneva and France? In a DIFFERENT way that maybe we would not give a political pass to John Knox or John Owen?

    Lassere—“A striking example of how hard it is to draw a line between lawful and unlawful war is to be found in Calvin’s thoughts on whether French Protestants might defend themselves by arms against their enemies, the Dukes of Guise. The day after the massacre of Vassy, Calvin frankly encouraged and helped the Huguenots to organise their army, finding many fine pretexts, resting on great principles, to authorise such action. But quite soon afterwards, in April 1563, he wrote: “I shall always recommend that arms be abandoned and that we should all perish rather than return to the confusions that have been experienced.”

    http://www.bringthebooks.org/2010/12/lasserre-on-calvins-advice-to-huguenots.html#links

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  2. Carl Truman –“For Roman Catholics, the challenges of our cultural exile are different. Rome has somehow managed to maintain a level of social credibility in America, despite holding to positions regarded as intolerable by the wider secular world when held by Protestants.”

    There is no salvation for any of the rest of us without a Luthern or Reformed discipline that accepts the Trinitarian means of grace administered by the Roman Catholic church. To suspend somebody from the Lord’s Table in an environment where the Lord’s Supper is merely a symbolic gesture is scarcely a serious sanction

    James Rogers— Calvin sought a model of civil society that was built upon mutual dependence, cooperation, and intercommunion. Earthly citizenship, Calvin believed, should be patterned after heavenly citizenship. For Calvin and Nevin, the social body constitutes an organic whole from which each part of member finds significance.

    Maybe John Calvin was more of a NT Wright kind of Jerry Falwell.

    https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/05/mercersburg-theology-eucharistic-union-and-civil-society

    NT Wright–“When Jesus talks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus really did mean that this was the time for God to become King and reign in a way that not only challenges Caesar’s kingdom but challenges Caesar’s type of kingdom.When you put it in context, it is anything but a mandate for a church/state split,”

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  3. ““When Jesus talks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus really did mean that this was the time for God to become King and reign in a way that not only challenges Caesar’s kingdom but challenges Caesar’s type of kingdom.”

    Yes, because N.T. was there, right?

    I think Jesus would scratch his head at all the SJW and Kingdom talk, really. But I wasn’t there either, so I wish everyone who relax just a little and quit trying to save every square inch, and maybe just worry about their immediate neighbor’s health insurance and food stamps and their individual own soul, versus the education rights of DREAMERS and of 19 year old girls to play on lacrosse teams of funding that matches that of their brothers.

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  4. mcmark, that’s easy. 1789 proved that you could keep Calvin’s content without his political patrons. Since the papacy itself was (and continues in its 900 acres) to be its own political patron, separating Roman Catholicism from the papal states or Vatican City has yet to be tried. That’s why I say, the papacy should rotate. One year in Rome, another in Omaha, another in Sao Paulo.

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  5. Curt, it’s wrong. Jesus and Paul and Peter did not address politics — unless you want to talk about submission to the emperor and paying your taxes.

    Is that what you had in mind? Or does your imagination wander to those theonomic prophets like Amos and Isaiah? Sure it does.

    What you haven’t figured out is why Jesus and the apostles, who knew the prophets better than any of us, didn’t appeal to the prophets the way you do.

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  6. D.G.,
    Why do you think that because Paul and Jesus didn’t address politics that is wrong for us? Paul did address poverty and not just poverty in the Church. He did address the issue of law in term of whether he deserved to die. It seems that for you to conclude that because Jesus and Paul never addressed politics, then there have been no historical changes or no new issues that have come about since their time. But we have new changes and issues. We live in a time when the Gospel has been well-spread to almost the whole world. In addition, we now have democracies. Now if because Jesus and Paul never addressed politics, then are you concluding that the Scriptures, which talk about all of life in general, do not have anything to say about we how we decide for whom to vote?

    James address the exploitation of people by those with wealth. The OT prophets addressed social justice issues as well as political leaders. And they did so not just with leaders of covenant nations, but with leaders of the neighbors of Israel and Judah as well. Are there no social injustices because we are now in NT times? Or didn’t John, in Revelation, talk about political leaders and how they would be judged?

    Furthermore, does the command to love one’s neighbor imply anything about our politics? After all, I am sure that the description of Christians being in exile as the Jews were in Babylon influence the political views and activities of some 2kers.

    Personally, I don’t think this is an issue about Jesus and Paul for you. This is an issue of over use of the Regulative Principle and how it has made you a very concrete thinker in terms of understand what the Bible has to say about our lives today. But being concrete thinker, as I have pointed out about the conduct of the Good Samaritan, does not tells all we need to know about loving our neighbor as ourselves. For if you look at all that the Good Samaritan did for the victim, you’ll find that not all of it was done by following explicit commands or examples. Rather, much of it was done out of love. And the question, when it comes to our political views and activities, is this: What’s love of neighbor got to do with it?

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  7. Curt: Why do you think that because Paul and Jesus didn’t address politics that is wrong for us?

    Precisely because of the principle that you have already agreed to: It is wrong to bind people’s consciences to matters not taught, by explicit word or direct implication, in the Scripture.

    It’s not just that Paul and Jesus didn’t *explicitly* address politics. It is also that they did not *imply* any political system — communist, socialist, democratic, republican, monarchial, oligarchial, or decision by random lottery.

    You want us to love our neighbors. Well and good; we agree. But now: Does the fact that I must love my neighbor tell me whether it is better or worse for my neighbor to have strict or loose gun control? Laws that restrict porn or laws that permit free speech? Laws that subsidize college for all, or laws that leave college price-setting to the free market? Laws that restrict drug consumption, or laws that permit it?

    Those questions, the actual implementation details of loving one’s neighbor, are not addressed in Scripture, either by direct statement nor implication.

    And every time someone pokes their head up and waves the flag of “Christian politics”, it turns out to be just like the Quest for the Historical Jesus: the supposedly Christian political theory turns out to be the pet theory of the author, pastiched onto Scripture for moral authority.

    Bluntly put: Christian politics is legalism. It is the binding of the conscience to matters not taught in Scripture by explicit command or good and necessary inference.

    The Scripture teaches us *to* love our neighbor. In most matters, it does not teach us *how* to do that. And in the matters that Scripture does address — for example, the parable of the Good Samaritan, or commands to believers in James — it addresses the behavior of the individual, not public policy.

    In your mind, your 2k opponents here are “overly concrete” thinkers who miss the demand of Scripture on politics by being obtuse.

    In reality, we see something that you don’t: The Scripture has a narrative arc that makes no mention of public policy outside of theonomic Israel. We are paying attention to issues of theme, genre, audience, and historical context that you want to flatten out.

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  8. dgh–Their piety for a long time was not simply a way of being a good Christian before God but also came with expectations about society, the political order, and the church’s authority. To sever personal piety from Rome’s cultural
    aspirations was never possible, the way it has been for other faiths OUTSIDE THE POLITICAL ORDER that brought THEM into existence.

    dgh–1789 proved that you could keep Calvin’s content without his political patrons

    mcmark—you could? Not me. I don’t want a “content” which flattens all the post-fall covenants into one covenant in order to equate “the visible church” with “the covenant that includes some of the non-elect” I am not sure who you are talking about in 1789, but the content also has changed whenever there is a transition from the one (Roman) visible church (however many patrons) to more than one (Protestant) visible churches whose members and patrons base their social and political decisions on the teaching of their churches (not their individual conscience)

    “Protestant Establishment survived in New England well into the nineteenth century. Disestablishment came to Connecticut in 1818, but not until 1833 in Massachusetts. New Hampshire enacted a toleration act in 1819, but authorization for towns to support Protestant ministers remained on the books, unenforced, for the rest of the century.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/north-carolinas-proposed-state-religion-isnt-as-unprecedented-as-it-sounds/274646/

    I am not saying that all who want to include some of the non-elect into “the visible true church” or into “the one covenant with different ways to administrate it and relate to it” are doing so in order to ” maintain a level of social credibility” (although I can’t rule that out from your remarks of those of Carl Truman’s). But I don’t see how in the world you think Calvin has the same content before and after church-state split, and then complain about Roman Catholics still lacking a church-state split???

    dgh—the papacy should rotate. One year in Rome, another in Omaha, another in Sao Paulo.

    mcmark–Is this rotation something like the relocation of Machen’s legacy from Westminster Philadelphia to the now unified OPC? Is this “rotation” something like John Frame’s “DIFFERENT perspectives”? or Scott Clark’s DIFFERENT WAYS of relating to the same one new covenant ? (sometimes contrasting Abraham and Moses, and other times letting it slip that there are conditions even in God’s “administration” with Abraham and Abraham’s two sons)

    Acts 7: 2 “Brothers and fathers,” Stephen said, “listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia and said to him: Get out of your country and away from your relatives… 4 “Then Abraham came out of the land ….After his father died, God had Abraham move to this land you now live in. 5 God didn’t give Abraham an inheritance in this land but God promised to give it to Abraham as a possession, and to his descendants after him… 6 God spoke in this way ( Abraham’s descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, and they would oppress them 400 years. 7 I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, God said. After this, Abraham’s descendants will come out and worship Me in this place. 8 Then God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision

    Genesis 17: My covenant will be marked in your flesh as a lasting covenant. 14 If any male is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that man will be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

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  9. “the supposedly Christian political theory turns out to be the pet theory of the author, pastiched onto Scripture for moral authority.”
    Exactly. In some sense, I have more respect for the reconstructionists (as nutty as their politics are) because they adopt very hard to accept political principles that they believe scripture requires. They conform their politics to their understanding of scripture rather than adopt readings of scripture that support their political priors.

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  10. Curt, of course the Bible doesn’t tell us about everything in our lives today. That’s the point. If the Bible is silent, then so should those be who minister or claim the Bible as their authority.

    If want to be a lefty, fine. It’s a free country. Just don’t tell me it’s Christian. WWJD.

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  11. D.G.,
    Why is the Bible silent on some of the issues we face today? Is there more than one answer to that question? For if the Bible silent because some of the issues we face today were not faced directly by those whom God used to write the Bible, then we should assume that we are free to do as we please or that we need abstract from what we have learned from the scriptures to what we face today? For example, does the command to love one’s neighbor, with the definition that the Good Samaritan parable gives to to the concept of neighbor, affect our political views, voting and activities? Do what the OT prophets wrote about injustices influence our political views, voting and activities? Or are we free to hold to political views and vote and pursue political activities that benefit us without regard for how they affect others, especially the poor and the vulnerable? Again, what does love thy neighbor got to do with it?

    Certainly, there are issues the Scriptures are silent on that we should be also. But are there different reasons for the Scriptures being silent so that we have to further think why the Scriptures are silent? Your answer implies that there is only one reason.

    I find it ironic you seem to follow a literalist’s approach to interpreting the Scriptures, which would indicate that you generalize the Regulative principle to applying the Scriptures to all of life, and yet you use the Regulative principle in interpreting the Scriptures just in terms of worship.

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  12. -Post’s link says: putting down behavioral markers of difference is no small thing.

    That’s for sure.
    Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry…and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

    -D.G.Hart says Like Neo-Calvinism, Roman Catholicism is not content with a personal faith.

    It isn’t?
    we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another; that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
    The glory which You (Father) have given Me (Jesus) I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

    -Joe M says I think Jesus would scratch his head at all the …Kingdom talk, really.

    Jesus didn’t talk about the kingdom…. alot?
    From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He said pray this way “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    -Jeff Cagle says The Scripture teaches us *to* love our neighbor. In most matters, it does not teach us *how* to do that.

    It doesn’t?
    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    -WWJD?
    So that the world may know that I (Jesus) love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. I glorified You (Father) on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known

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  13. Jeff – excellent comment.

    Ali – you quoted 2 Timothy 3:16 in response to Jeff, but ended it mid-sentence and conveniently left out verse 17: “that the MAN OF GOD may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The context of the passage is undeniably about living a Christian life, and specifically about the pastor’s role in helping his flock live Christian lives. Scripture is indeed profitable for the “training in righteousness” of other Christians, not our atheist neighbor. We should tell our neighbors of the hope found in the Gospel when appropriate, but “loving” our non-believing neighbor does not entail constantly exhorting them from Scripture. That’s the MacArthur in you coming out. And Scripture certainly does not dictate how we show love through societal structures or political views, as DGH, sdb, and Jeff have aptly pointed out already.

    General question for everyone: what do you make of the fact that many Protestants of all stripes are adopting Lenten practices? I personally don’t participate in Lent, but know many mature Christians who do. Is this a positive sign of ecumenicism or a form of idolatry? Or is it neutral? Or none of the above?

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  14. Church and state were different even in the Mosaic economy. If the 1789 American experiment is based on free-will (no instruction for the state mediating institution from the churches) and if water regeneration depends on faith, and if faith depends on “freewill”, then how do Lutherans get faith before they get regeneration and lose their original sin? And how do Lutherans (sometimes) lose their watery regeneration? Was the loss of their (daily) new birth a result of the failure of God’s grace, or was their return to a state of condemnation (no different than the original position) a result of their “freewill”?

    Since “freewill” plays such a big part in being “good Americans”, does this mean that Romanists and Lutherans are more likely to fit into an experiment in which nobody waits for God or God’s church? By our freewill we promise each other to kill those who would kill us, and we can do this without naming any particular God with any specific law….Why be biased against those denominations (voluntary associations, Machen) that happen to be a little different?

    Oliver O’Donovan —“Public theology has an apologetic force when addressed to a world where the intelligibility of political institutions and traditions is seriously threatened.”

    Marilynne Robinson—“I am interested in American institutions and reforms that began in the Puritan Northeast. Oddly enough, the states that banned and opposed slavery after the Revolution, as they could not do while they were colonies under British law, the states that advanced women’s rights and achieved levels of literacy never before seen in the world, the states that practiced the purest forms of democracy yet seen in the world, are thought of as peculiarly harsh and intolerant.”

    https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/5181/marilynne-robinsons-apologia-gloriae/

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  15. Vv says Ali – you quoted 2 Timothy 3:16 in response to Jeff, but ended it mid-sentence and conveniently left out verse 17: “that the MAN OF GOD may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
    -Conveniently? V17 just reinforces that we are not just told “to’ love but equipped about it (how to), so why would I conveniently leave it out.

    Vv says The context of the passage is undeniably about living a Christian life, and specifically about the pastor’s role in helping his flock live Christian lives.
    -Again, so why accuse ‘conveniently”- makes no sense ,vv

    Vv says Vv says Scripture is indeed profitable for the “training in righteousness” of other Christians, not our atheist neighbor. We should tell our neighbors of the hope found in the Gospel when appropriate, but “loving” our non-believing neighbor does not entail constantly exhorting them from Scripture.
    -I believe what I said above is – the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. And the exhorting was in response to Jeff’s belief that scripture just tells us to love. There are many ‘how’ exhortations. That is often Curt’s point, which you never acknowledge as valid with him.

    Vv says That’s the MacArthur in you coming out.
    -If the example of John MacAruthur (for the most part) ‘came out’ in me, I would be honored, because I believe his desire is to imitate Christ. vv, the Spirit would never accuse John MacArthur like you seem to be doing.

    Vv says And Scripture certainly does not dictate how we show love through societal structures or political views, as DGH, sdb, and Jeff have aptly pointed out already.
    -Jeff’s premise was that scripture tells us “to” love, not ‘how’ to which is what I disagree with. We would not even know what love is except that the Lord tells us, which it tells to believer and nonbeliever alike.

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  16. Curt,

    For example, does the command to love one’s neighbor, with the definition that the Good Samaritan parable gives to to the concept of neighbor, affect our political views, voting and activities? Do what the OT prophets wrote about injustices influence our political views, voting and activities? Or are we free to hold to political views and vote and pursue political activities that benefit us without regard for how they affect others, especially the poor and the vulnerable? Again, what does love thy neighbor got to do with it?

    I may be wrong, but I’m not sure anyone is denying that love of neighbor should be a factor in making political decisions.

    The difficulty is that it is not always clear which public policies best enable us to love our neighbors. An unbridled welfare state? Earned Income Credit or mandatory minimum wage? Freer markets or a more constrained and regulated economy? Government-backed student loans or private?

    It’s just not entirely clear. I try to take into consideration how best to love my neighbor with my vote, but I can guarantee that my votes regarding economic policy are very different than yours. Does that mean I don’t love my neighbor?

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  17. Ali – let’s cut to the chase: your point in responding to Jeff by quoting 1 Tim 3:16 was that we love our neighbor by using Scripture to exhort them. That was clearly your point, and if it wasn’t you did a horrible job communicating what your point actually is. If your point is that Scripture does tell us the “how” of loving our neighbor, then you need to say so and provide examples to support your argument. It’s poor rhetoric to quote a tangentially related passage of Scripture with no accompanying analysis.

    And Curt’s point is that the “how” to love includes specific government policies, which is what many of us dispute. Should we help our needy neighbors financially? Sure. Should we welcome them into our homes and care for them appropriately? Of course. But as Robert pointed out, it is extremely difficult to determine how to demonstrate love for neighbor with our political votes. If you disagree, I would love to see some analysis from you, ideally based on Scripture and/or historical theology.

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  18. Donald Trump—“Faith is central to American life and to liberty. Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence. Our currency declares, “In God We Trust.” And we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaim we are “One Nation Under God.” OUR RIGHTS are not given to us by man, our rights come from our Creator . . . That is why the words “Praise Be To God” are etched atop the Washington Monument, and those same words are etched into the hearts of our people.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/2018/02/calvinism-un-american/

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  19. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: If your point is that Scripture does tell us the “how” of loving our neighbor, then you need to say so and provide examples to support your argument.

    vv, please read Genesis through Revelation and I hope you don’t get side tracked on premarital and extramarital activity, because I’m asking you to please read those books for the purpose to learn about what our Creator says about actual LOVE.

    Have a good weekend

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  20. Ali – we all agree on what the Bible says – it’s not helpful to tell me to read the Bible to get your point. What I’m looking for is exegesis that explains how we are to love our neighbor, especially in a political context. It appears you are unwilling or unable to provide any such exegesis or analysis.

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  21. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: Ali – we all agree on what the Bible says –

    I don’t think so. Not if we don’t think the bible tells us more than ‘to’ love.
    If we did agree on that though, we could agree it should be a very, very short book-maybe a small single-sided triple-spaced pamphlet and maybe accompanied by a single exhortation – something like “God says to love, so do that (if you want to)”.

    It seems not only do we not agree on the bible’s content, we also don’t agree on who the bible is for. It is for Christians and potential Christians -faith comes by hearing; that would include us, even before God saved-us, atheists, agnostics, unsaved adults, children, and infants(even including the nonbelieving- infant-baptized)

    Does God want all of His image bearers engaged and influential in their country? Yes.

    On two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets… and everything.

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  22. Great, Ali. in 100 words or less lay out the biblical program for gun control (if any) and immigration restriction (if any) for 21st century capitalist Western pluralistic democracies. This should be a piece of cake.

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  23. JRC: The Scripture teaches us *to* love our neighbor. In most matters, it does not teach us *how* to do that.

    Ali: It doesn’t?

    That’s correct, it doesn’t. In *most matters* — the bazillion choices in life such as wearing red vs blue vs bright orange, supporting BLM or not, watching anime over live-action, taking German vs French vs Spanish, choosing to frequent OldLife or spending time elsewhere — Scripture does not teach us which choice is preferred.

    It *does* teach us to use our goods as though the world were passing away (1 Cor 7). It *does* teach us to glorify God in all things. It *does* teach us to love our neighbor. Those are, in educational parlance, “higher-order goals.” That is, God tells us an end goal, which is “love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1.5).

    He does not give a lot of lower-order instructions about how that is to happen. We know some things, such as “don’t lie”, “don’t hate your brother”, “don’t show preference to the rich.” We are not told many other things.

    Paul: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    Amen. But now, be careful not to transfer the quantifier. Just because all Scripture is inspired and profitable, does not mean that it tells me all answers to every question I might have. It turns out that we need practice to discern good and evil, in addition to reading the Word and putting it into practice.

    Ali: we also don’t agree on who the bible is for. It is for Christians and potential Christians -faith comes by hearing; that would include us, even before God saved-us, atheists, agnostics, unsaved adults, children, and infants(even including the nonbelieving- infant-baptized)

    Actually, we do agree: The Bible is for Christians, and it is also for potential Christians. However, it has two different messages to those two audiences.

    To the non-Christian, the Bible has Law and Gospel. The Law tells the non-Christian one thing: this you must do, in order to live. And since the non-Christian cannot, he must also hear the Gospel: Christ obeyed the law on your behalf, provided that you believe on Him. (@McMark: before you get upset about “free offer”, parse the logic carefully).

    To the Christian, the Bible also has Law and Gospel. In addition to the functions above, the Law tells the Christian how to live out of love for God, as one who is saved by grace. The Bible cannot tell a non-Christian how to live as one saved by grace.

    Ali: Does God want all of His image bearers engaged and influential in their country? Yes.

    Verse?

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  24. @Curt

    For if the Bible silent because some of the issues we face today were not faced directly by those whom God used to write the Bible, then we should assume that we are free to do as we please or that we need abstract from what we have learned from the scriptures to what we face today?

    You are posing a false dilemma. The fact that the Bible is silent on some issue (for whatever reason) does not entail that we are free to do as we please. It means that the Church lacks the authority to discipline members over the issue. Reason also provides guidance on how we should organize and govern the polis. Holding nutty political views (say anarcho-libertarianism) may get you banished from polite society, but it shouldn’t get you barred from the table at church.

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  25. Jeff–To the non-Christian, the Bible has Law and Gospel.

    Richard Gaffin, by Faith not by Sight, p 103–”The law-gospel antithesis enters NOT BY VIRTUE OF CREATION..but as the consequence of sin…The gospel is to the purpose of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER…”

    John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    John Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

    Mark Jones– “The definition of grace as God’s favor in the place of demerit is, I believe, wrong-headed because Christ received God’s grace. Christ was also endowed with the habits of grace in order to keep the terms of the covenant. In order to keep the Adam-Christ parallels, we must not abandon the concept of GRACE GIVEN THEM BOTH but actually affirm it. It has been a peculiar oddity that some assume that the parallels between the two Adams means that Adam could not have received the grace of God because Christ did not. But this view is based on the fatal assumption that God was not gracious to Christ in any sense.”

    Mark Jones—Adam’s obedience WAS MADE POSSIBLE not because he obeyed simply in his own strength, but also because Adam had assisting grace from God….Adam persisted in the garden by grace and ‘grace was not taken from him before he had sinned.” http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/merit-could-adam-merit-anythin.php

    Jeff, I thank you for your continued interest. I know you don’t like my quotations without some summary from me of why I am using them. I am asking you if “the offer” itself is grace? Does'”common grace” include “the offer of saving grace”

    Do the non-elect who hear “Christ died for you provided you…” receive more grace (and thus more condemnation) than the non-elect who do not hear the offer?

    Do the non-elect who hear “Christ kept the law for you provided you…” receive more grace (and thus more condemnation) than the non-elect who do not hear the offer?

    Mark Jones is saying that Christ was under grace, and to me that means that it was not strict justice that satisfied God’s law by Christ’s death. Mark Jones is also saying that Adam was under grace, and to me that means that grace failed because Adam didn’t keep obeying the gospel. I don’t know which one of these two statements is worse!

    Gaffin is saying that the law-gospel antithesis enters only as a consequence of sin, and to me that means that Adam’s sin was as much about not believing the gospel as it was about obeying the law.

    Mark Jones is saying that Adam did not sin because God took away grace, and to me that means that God took away grace because Adam sinned .

    To explain a bit more, Jeff, I do disagree with people on both sides of the “could Adam earn lie from the law” question. I say that Christ earned life for the elect by Christ’s death (for the sins of the elect—and if you believe the gospel, even your believing the gospel was purchased by Christ’s death).

    I Peter 1: 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the FATHERS….but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 Christ was chosen before the foundation of the ages but was revealed at the end of the ages for YOU WHO THROUGH HIM ARE BELIEVERS in God who raised Him from the dead

    2 Thessalonians 1: 7 Reward with rest… will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t OBEY THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus.

    On one side, those like John Murray and Mark Jones deny that Adam could merit life from the law, because they say Adam was under grace even before Adam’s sin.
    On the other side, many deny that Christ could merit life from His death because they insist that Christ could only merit life “by keeping the law”. Those who affirm “the covenant of works” are not saying that Christ’s death satisfied “the covenant of works”. What they are saying is that Christ keeping the Mosaic law is what satisfied “the covenant of works”.

    Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
    Romans 3:31 is someties used to support “use of the second table as the standard of conduct” for Christ’s creatures. But in context, Romans 3:21-31 is the doctrine of a definite (not only sovereign but also just) atonement, because Romans 3:31 teaches that Christ’s death was a law-work, a satisfaction of law for the sins of the elect.

    The gospel is not about an “end-run” around God’s law. Christ’s death not only took the law head-on, satisfying its curse for the elect but also purchasing faith for everyone for whom Christ died so that all these elect believe the gospel. Christ’s death was not something provisional, depending on what some sinners would or would not do with that death. Christ’s death even provided the work of the Spirit needed by all those who believe and continue to believe the gospel.

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  26. Jesus didn’t talk about the kingdom…. alot?
    From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He said pray this way “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    Yes. He also said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
    He also said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
    The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to tell us to submit to and honor the emperor (either Caligula, Claudius, or Nero) – none very savory gentlemen. Nowhere does the NT advocate for resistance (a common stance among many Jews in that era). One might think that resisting evil tyrants would be one way to love one’s neighbor, yet the NT doesn’t in suggest that we should.

    I don’t think so. Not if we don’t think the bible tells us more than ‘to’ love.

    No one is suggesting that the bible only tells us to love. God’s word reveals all sorts of things. But it does not reveal everything. If I want to know how to legally build a house, I go here. I’m pretty sure that you can search the Bible and never, ever find how to properly build a house. If you want to follow the law and love our neighbor by building a safe wall, you might start with regulation R602.1.1 and note that “Sawn lumber shall be identified by a grade mark of an accredited lumber grading or inspection agency and have design values certified by an accreditation body that complies with DOC PS 20. in lieu of a grade mark, a certification of inspection issued by a lumber grading or inspection agency meeting the requirements of this section shall be accepted.” Now, you might think that it is a terrible idea that a certification of inspection should be accepted in lieu of a grade mark. And I might think that this is a reasonable accommodation. And VV might think that it is outrageous that any kind of grade mark or certification of inspection is required. The church doesn’t get to decide who is right and discipline dissenters because the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about the certification of sawn lumber. There are literally millions of laws and regulations that govern residential construction, commercial construction, medical policy, hygiene, fire safety, criminal justice procedure, rules of engagement, and on and on and on it goes. And the Bible has absolutely nothing to say about the optimal number of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, maximum capacity, number of exits, sterilization procedures for medical instruments, how often one should wash one’s hands, and so forth.

    Now the Kuyperians make grand claims about how EVERY square inch of the earth, EVERY job, EVERY endeavor should be brought under the authority of Christ. But if the Church is the body of Christ and the manifestation of Kingdom on earth, then this means that everything is under the Church’s jurisdiction. There really are people who take this to its logical end and exclude any and all neutral territory. It sounds quite spiritual, but it is in reality legalism. The scope of the Church’s authority is limited because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. The church does not have any institutional interest in whether a member thinks that sawn lumber should be identified by a grade mark or whether inspection in lieu of a mark is acceptable.

    That does not entail that the Bible has nothing to say about how we live. It has lots to say. For unbelievers, it condemns them because they discover that they can never live up to God’s standard. For believers, it leads us to the gospel and gratitude to Christ for having kept the law on our behalf and shows us how to live. But it mostly shows us principles, for the most part scripture does not give us concrete dos and don’ts.

    Now if you disagree with this analysis (or VV’s or Jeff’s – I think we are mostly on the same page here), provide a biblical case for it. Condescending orders to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (as if we don’t read and reflect on scripture) help no one. Given how often you have misread comments here and had to be corrected, I would think you would engage a bit more humbly and make sure you first understand our position before going on the attack.

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  27. sdb,
    First, I am not posing a false dilemma. Why? Because I have already noted that there are multiple reasons why the Bible is silent on issues. There isn’t a single reason. Sometimes, it as you say, the Church has no basis for mandating what believers should do. But sometimes is not all of the time. Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t address specific issues because they were not face by those God used to write the Bible. I have already noted two of those issues.

    Second, applying regulative principle can result in making us literalists when, in fact, we need to think abstractly. That has been my whole point about the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable, the Good Samaritan had to think abstractly in terms of what it meant to love victim he came across. There were no specific Biblical guidelines for him to follow. Rather, he had to follow the rule of love. So along with concern for the poor, which is a concern expressed by both the OT prophets, Jesus and Paul, some of our practices and beliefs should be governed by love of neighbor realizing who was the neighbor to the victim in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Third, one of the faults attributed to religiously conservative Christians is that they are sanctifying selfishness. Limiting whom we are to love and freeing people to love wealth are ways we reinforce those attributions. Focusing on individual sins while denying corporate sins is another way we reinforce those attributions. Here we are talking about the reputation of the Gospel and providing stumblings blocks to those who otherwise might listen to those preaching and teaching the Scriptures.

    Finally, it is true that Christians aren’t directed into specific political parties or ideologies by the Scriptures. At the same time, it is clear which ideologies or which parts of ideologies we should oppose if we are to avoid being confomred to the world.

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  28. Robert,
    Please see my note to sdb. Part of it covers your concerns. I would add that when we see economic structures that foster economic exploitation, militarism and interventions that replace democratically elected leaders with tyrants, and economic practices and ways of life that attack the environment, then it is clear what we should oppose. What cloudy is what we should support.

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  29. First, I am not posing a false dilemma. Why? Because I have already noted that there are multiple reasons why the Bible is silent on issues.

    You are missing the dilemma you posed: If the Bible is silent on an issue EITHER we are free to do as we please OR we need to abstract from the scriptures principals to guide us on issues unique to our era. These two options do not exhaust our options. The Bible does not tell us whether the Sun orbits the Earth or whether the Earth orbits the Sun, therefore, the church does not have the authority to condemn my conclusion on the matter. That does not mean that I am free to believe either option. Rather there is a different source of information I have access to arrive at the truth of the matter. The same might hold true for a wide swath of public policy questions before us.

    Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t address specific issues because they were not face by those God used to write the Bible. I have already noted two of those issues.

    I missed those. Can you remind me what they are?

    Second, applying regulative principle can result in making us literalists when, in fact, we need to think abstractly. That has been my whole point about the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    I quibble with your exegesis of the parable of the Good Samaritan, but let’s say the point is that we should have the broadest understanding of who are neighbor is and that we are to “love” (i.e., consider the welfare of) everyone around us. I agree that we should love our neighbor as our selves. That doesn’t give us any guide for politics. It doesn’t tell us that the way we help the poor is through governmental advocacy, it doesn’t tell us how to prioritize trade-offs, what the most effective policies will be, or who should be managing support for the poor.

    The fact that the church does not have the authority to mandate a particular path does not entail that we don’t have other authorities to whom we are beholden.

    Third, one of the faults attributed to religiously conservative Christians is that they are sanctifying selfishness.

    Only by lying liars who lie about their ability to divine the motives of people whose politics they dislike.

    Limiting whom we are to love and freeing people to love wealth are ways we reinforce those attributions.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing there is any limit to whom we are to love. We are to love EVERYONE. Our friends and family, strangers on the street, and our neighbors (including the child molesters, kids who shoot up schools, those who advocate for more guns in society, Ayn Rand acolytes, and snarky blog commenters who disagree with all of our political views).

    Focusing on individual sins while denying corporate sins is another way we reinforce those attributions. Here we are talking about the reputation of the Gospel and providing stumblings blocks to those who otherwise might listen to those preaching and teaching the Scriptures.

    So I should compromise my political convictions because my political views purportedly cause offense to people who share your political priorities? That’s a curious stance. Do you face the same obligation? Your leftwing political views are a stumbling block for these guys. Let’s not forget that all that love your neighbor stuff is what offended Nietzsche (and seems to be a sticking point for a number of neo-pagan alt-right types).

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  30. I would add that when we see economic structures that foster economic exploitation, militarism and interventions that replace democratically elected leaders with tyrants, and economic practices and ways of life that attack the environment, then it is clear what we should oppose. What cloudy is what we should support.

    Exploitation is awfully subjective. What you call exploitation, others call opportunity. Perhaps disagreeing isn’t a mark of good faith?
    -One is going to have a really hard time putting together an exegetical argument against militarism and Real Politic. -There is nothing in scripture that confers the legitimacy of office on the basis of majoritarian politics. Vassal treatises were acceptable in the OT – perhaps they could be acceptable today. Personally, I think interventionism is a terrible idea, but it isn’t a terrible idea because of what we learn from scripture and Christians who support interventionism are not sinning.
    -Taking care of the environment is a really good idea for a variety of reasons. There is no basis in scripture of environmentalism though. An appeal to loving your neighbor doesn’t help either. Loving your neighbor by banning fossil fuels makes your neighbors poorer by making energy more expensive, puts a lot of people out of work, etc… Now perhaps that is what we should do But I can understand why some might be less concerned. They would be wrong, but they wouldn’t be sinning.

    So it isn’t at all clear to me what I should oppose.

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  31. Amen Curt.

    cw l’unificateur says: This should be a piece of cake.
    -Anything in life is a piece of cake? Wish I’d known that sooner

    Jeff Cagle Ali: Does God want all of His image bearers engaged and influential in their country? Yes. Verse?
    -Alternative: not engaged and influential where one lives(as the Lord leads)
    Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    sdb says: Condescending orders to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (as if we don’t read and reflect on scripture) help no one.
    -If one thinks God condones premarital and extra marital sex (eg), that it can be parallelled to responsible alcohol consumption, as if consuming another is not despicable, and that it loves, glorifies, reflects God…then yes, much more reflecting is needed, in my opinion

    Just checked – the Westminster larger catechism does not even mention a single time, man’s response of love to God. Incredible. Maybe that’s why one loves to promote the ear-tickling serious error ‘one-way love’ or ‘no strings attached’ and some buy in.

    Since God is love -and eternal life is knowing God -and there are only two great commandments on which everything hinge -and seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness (love), through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence… suggesting to read Genesis through Revelation with the goal of seeing and studying God’s character consistent with His perfect love seems like a good idea.

    Since God’s plan for His children is to become conformed to the image of His Son (God is love) and we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit, saying to read Genesis through Revelation with the goal of seeing and studying God’s character consistent with His perfect love seems like a good idea. I think I gotta go it.

    But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
    Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

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  32. sdb,
    No, exploitation is really experienced by a great a number of people. When the economic system makes people into disposable objects for profit, you have exploitation. When the economic system says that you either accept poverty wages or be unemployed, you have exploitation. When you have trafficked labor, you have exploitation. When your own nation overthrows gov’ts or helps dictators stay in power because it helps our nation’s business interests, you have exploitation.

    There is nothing subjective about it. People are exploited and you say that their exploitation is subjective for only one reason: they are being exploited instead of you.

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  33. Curt,

    No, exploitation is really experienced by a great a number of people.

    Well, a lot of people say they are exploited, but the question is are they really being exploited?

    When the economic system says that you either accept poverty wages or be unemployed, you have exploitation.

    If you are so concerned about poverty, are you advocating for a $10,000 per hour minimum wage? That would make us all fabulously wealthy, right? I’m waiting for the people who whine about poverty wages to actually propose something that will help. Or maybe Jesus was right that we will always have the poor among us…

    When your own nation overthrows gov’ts or helps dictators stay in power because it helps our nation’s business interests, you have exploitation.

    I agree with this, but you’re describing every government that has ever existed in the history of the world.

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  34. McMark,

    Mark Jones is saying that Christ was under grace

    Mark Jones is simply wrong on this. As he is on many other things. I mean, you can say creation was a gracious act because God didn’t have to make the world. But beyond that, to say Christ was under grace is to come perilously close to affirming the RC doctrine of what man was like before the fall.

    Gaffin is saying that the law-gospel antithesis enters only as a consequence of sin, and to me that means that Adam’s sin was as much about not believing the gospel as it was about obeying the law.

    I’m not sure you’re reading Gaffin right here, but I could be wrong. You have to say that the law-gospel antithesis enters only as a consequence of sin because if there is no sin, there is no gospel and no need of the gospel. And you have to say that law and gospel are opposed only in justification. The gospel frees us to observe God’s commandments in our sanctification.

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  35. @Ali

    Jeff Cagle Ali: Does God want all of His image bearers engaged and influential in their country? Yes. Verse?
    -Alternative: not engaged and influential where one lives(as the Lord leads)

    That’s not the alternative. Paul enjoins us to work quietly with our hands and mind our business. He also tells us to honor the emperor and submit to the government. Peter tells us to always be ready to give a reason for our hope. Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men. All of these are consistent as they form a picture of believers not working to change an empire, but to live their lives quietly while sharing the gospel with those around them. Over the course of a few centuries, that may lead to political changes, but it is by no means guaranteed.

    sdb says: Condescending orders to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (as if we don’t read and reflect on scripture) help no one.
    -If one thinks God condones premarital and extra marital sex (eg), that it can be parallelled to responsible alcohol consumption, as if consuming another is not despicable, and that it loves, glorifies, reflects God…then yes, much more reflecting is needed, in my opinion

    Perhaps, but that isn’t the topic of conversation here. As I recall you didn’t have an exegetical answer to VV’s charge that porneia does not encompass fornication. Perhaps if you were less snarky and condescending (dare I say loving?), you would get a hearing from VV on this?

    Just checked – the Westminster larger catechism does not even mention a single time, man’s response of love to God. Incredible. Maybe that’s why one loves to promote the ear-tickling serious error ‘one-way love’ or ‘no strings attached’ and some buy in.

    Incredible indeed. You might check WLC 102, 104, 110, 160, 16, 182, 185, and 191. Your determination to find fault leads you astray.

    Since God is love -and eternal life is knowing God -and there are only two great commandments on which everything hinge -and seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness (love), through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence… suggesting to read Genesis through Revelation with the goal of seeing and studying God’s character consistent with His perfect love seems like a good idea.

    There is a way that seems right… The questions on the table is what the scripture tells us about *how* to love our neighbor. You charged VV with just not knowing what the Bible has to say – trying to apply a patina of spirituality to your suggestion now looks more like an attempt to save face. Perhaps you would find it helpful to reflect on WLC 143-145.

    Since God’s plan for His children is to become conformed to the image of His Son (God is love) and we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit, saying to read Genesis through Revelation with the goal of seeing and studying God’s character consistent with His perfect love seems like a good idea. I think I gotta go it.

    I’m not following you here. Yes, we should all reflect on his Word – his Word is life. That doesn’t change the fact that telling someone to just go read the Bible when they disagree with you is decidedly uncharitable (unloving).

    But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
    Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

    Yep… as they say, charity begins at home. It is easy to be charitable towards one’s fellow man in the abstract. The true test of one’s love is whether one is charitable towards others when they aren’t terribly lovely (especially on the internet).

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  36. @Robert Do you know if commenters here not named dgh are allowed to hand out “dings”? If so, then ding, ding, ding! If not, then I’ll just say I concur!

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  37. I am glad that we agree that Adam was not under grace. Obeying the law is not believing the gospel. The grace of the gospel is not an increased ability to obey (more) the law.

    The creature’s obligation to obey the law is not based on the creature’s ability to obey the law. The not yet Christian’s duty to obey the law is not based on that sinner’s potential to become a Christian. The Christian’s profession of having already been justified before God’s law by Christ’s death does not change Christ’s definition of sin or the Christian’s obligation to obey divine law.

    Despite Stoddard’s halfway covenant”, the “potential Christian” is neither commanded nor invited to “the means of grace”. Sinners are not under law because of some offer of grace that might potentially leave them (more?) condemned. By the imputation of Adam’s sin, all of us sinners are born under law but our beginning in condemnation does not eliminate our duties to obey the law and to obey the gospel.

    Lutheran Mark Seifrid—-According to the puritan perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …. The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous. The puritans regard the “flesh” is present as a power that exerts partial influence on us.
    …In contrast, we find a radically different anthropology in Scripture . The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written.

    http://equip.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/sbjt_102_sum06-seifrid1.pdf

    Calvin ( Institutes 3:2:20)— “In God faith seeks life: a life that is not found in commandments or declarations of penalties, but only in a freely given promise of mercy. For a conditional promise that sends us back to our own works does not promise life unless we discern its presence in ourselves.”

    Dan Fuller (p 81, The Unity of the Bible) “In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake faith. I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith…In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works.”

    Daniel Fuller, Gospel and Law— To maintain an adversative relationship between Romans 10:5 and 10: 6-8 necessitates either conceding that the Pentateuch can state such opposites or that Paul, while holding to the intended meaning of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5, nevertheless ignored the intended meaning of Deuteronomy 30:11-14

    John Murray ( Appendix B “Leviticus 18:5” from his Romans commentary)–”The problem that arises from this use of Leviticus 18:5 is that the text does not appear in a context that deals with legal righteousness as opposed to that of faith. The text is in a context in which the claims of God upon his redeemed and covenant people are being asserted … It refers NOT to the life accruing from doing in a legalistic framework but to the blessing attendant upon obedience in a redemptive covenant relationship to God.” How could the apostle have taken a text which, in context, appears to refer to sanctification works of a redeemed person within the covenant community, and apply that text to individuals seeking the righteousness of justification on the basis of their doing the law?”

    John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

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  38. Ali, your search of the WLC was incomplete. Qn 102 is the first of several mentions of our obligation to love God.

    Further, no-one here accepts anything close to a “one-way love” theology.

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  39. Robert–You have to say that the law-gospel antithesis enters only as a consequence of sin because if there is no sin, there is no gospel and no need of the gospel.

    mcmark- There was no gospel before Adam sinned. There was no offer before Adam sinned. There was law before Adam sinned. Adam sinned against God’s commandment.

    Robert—And you have to say that law and gospel are opposed only in justification

    mcmark–I have no reason to know what you mean by “only in justification”. First, you would have to define “sanctification” and not simply by saying “that which is not justification”. Second, you would have to explain what “are opposed” means. The law is not grace. The gospel is not the law. But law and gospel are both in God’s purpose. Christ’s death satisfies the law for the elect. God’s redemption of the elect is not done by lawbreaking or something illegal. God is both just and justifier of the elect ungodly. God’s sovereignty does not eliminate God’s righteousness.

    Romans 3: 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law

    Romans 3: 26 God presented Christ as a Propitiation to demonstrate God’s righteousness at the present time, so that God would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Romans 3: 31 Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    John Murray, “Justification”, Collected Writings—While it makes void the gospel to introduce works in connection with justification, nevertheless works done in faith, from the motive of love to God, in obedience to the revealed will of God will be the criterion of reward in the life to come. (i) This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification. (ii) This future reward is not salvation. Salvation is by grace and it is not as a reward for works that we are saved. (iii) The reward has reference to the degree of glory bestowed in the state of bliss, that is, the station a person is to occupy in glory and does not have reference to the gift of glory itself… These works could not be rewarded of grace if these works were principally and intrinsically evil.

    John Murray did not always agree with the John Murray quotation above about “works in connection with justification”.

    Gaffin— For Calvin, in the application of redemption, a) the inception of union with Christ is antecedent to both justification and sanctification, and b) justification and sanctification, the latter in its inception, are coincidental…Union carries with it justification and sanctification. Being united to Christ “in faith” effects justification and sanctification.

    Calvin–3.16.1 Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces [1 Cor. 1:13]. Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness.

    Gaffin– Union is broader and deeper than either justification or sanctification(the Spirit’s renovating work) . It needs to be appreciated that in Calvin (and Scripture) in the application of redemption the organic embraces both the forensic and the renovative….The reason for treating sanctification before justification, Calvin says, is to make clear “how little devoid of good works” justifying faith is. Sanctifying faith, faith disposed toward holy living, is the same faith that justifies. Certainly, this does not mean that faith justifies because it sanctifies ….Faith as justifying and faith as sanctifying are not different faiths, nor are these exercises somehow separable.

    http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=140

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  40. R. Scott Clark March 27, 2009 —Mr Murray’s doctrine of definitive sanctification is essential to Dr Gaffin’s doctrine of existential union.

    https://heidelblog.net/2009/08/what-is-definitive-sanctification-and-is-it-reformed/#comment-9487

    Brandon Adams–“John Murray recognized that the principle found in Leviticus 18:5 and Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:12 must be the same. Murray argued that if the principle found in Leviticus 18:5 is part of the terms of the Covenant of Grace, then that principle is not part of the terms of a Covenant of Works…. As John Murray began to work through Westminster’s.. appeal to Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:12, we see progression in his thought in the wrong direction – towards a false gospel of justification by works. Murray slammed on the breaks, but without a consistent explanation as to why – leaving it to his successors to work out.”

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  41. @Ali My reference to WLC 16 above should be WLC162. Sorry about that. While the Westminster Standards are a terrific summary of the main teachings of scripture, I prefer the Three Forms of Unity – this is more of stylistic difference I think. I’m not a nimble enough theologian to identify any particular discrepancies between the English and Continental standards. When our kids were in elementary school, we used the Heidelberg Catechism to instruct them. Our middle/high schoolers use the WSC for the catechism portion memory program that our church runs, so we are working with that now with our kids. At any rate, that is all background for this portion of the Belgic confession that I think also addresses your concern about love of God quite explicitly. I think it is consistent with what is taught in the Westminster standards, but perhaps makes the point you are concerned about more explicitly. It is from Article 24 on Sanctification:

    We believe that this true faith, produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates us and makes us new creatures,[58] causing us to live a new life[59] and freeing us from the slavery of sin. Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,”[60] which moves people to do by themselves the works that God has commanded in the Word.

    These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by God’s grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification— for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place. So then, we do good works, but not for merit— for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not God to us, since God “is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to will and to work for his good pleasure”[61] —thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.’“[62]

    Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works— but it is by grace that God crowns these gifts. Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work. So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

    [58] 2 Cor. 5:17
    [59] Rom. 6:4
    [60] Gal. 5:6
    [61] Phil. 2:13
    [62] Luke 17:10

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  42. Curt, it is hardly literalist to read a text and see that it is talking about sin and salvation, not gun control.

    Just admit you want the warrant of holy writ for your “socialist” politics.

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  43. Curt, “I am not posing a false dilemma. Why? Because I have already noted that there are multiple reasons why the Bible is silent on issues. There isn’t a single reason.”

    Neither are there many reasons for the Bible’s silence. You don’t know (nor do I).

    The constitution is silent on marriage. So the founders didn’t think marriage was important?

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  44. Curt, “When the economic system makes people into disposable objects for profit, you have exploitation.”

    That’s like, your interpretation, man. There are other interpretations.

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  45. Wow, this has gotten to be quite the busy thread.

    McMark: (1) I am asking you if “the offer” itself is grace? (2) Does’”common grace” include “the offer of saving grace” (3a) Do the non-elect who hear “Christ died for you provided you…” receive more grace (and thus more condemnation) than the non-elect who do not hear the offer? (3b) Do the non-elect who hear “Christ kept the law for you provided you…” receive more grace (and thus more condemnation) than the non-elect who do not hear the offer?

    (1) Not in the sense of being accompanied by a work of the Spirit. In a very limited sense, it is gracious (ie, giving the opposite of what is deserved) to declare the only means by which they might, hypothetically, be saved.

    (2) No, those two theological terms are usually taken as antonyms.

    (3) See (1).

    I think what’s possibly confusing you is that you want to take God’s point of view and man’s point of view simultaneously. God knows who is elect. From His point of view, arranging for a non-elect person to hear the gospel — which has no lasting effect — is not offering anything that they will accept. So the words “Whosoever believes in me will not perish…” are accompanied with God’s knowledge, and indeed determination, of who the whosoever will be.

    Men don’t have the luxury of knowing that information. So when we share the gospel with others, we are freely proclaiming God’s grace. When we proclaim that “whosoever believes…”, that could include, as far as we know, every single hearer.

    So there are multiple errors to avoid. The first is obviously Wesley’s, to say that everyone *can* believe and already has sufficient grace to believe. That’s simply not true, per John 6.44. The second is to stare so hard at the truth of election that we try to make the elect status a precondition for our actions. That is an error because it conditions our actions on something entirely unknowable. In so doing, it obviates the command of Christ to preach the gospel to all the nations.

    Acting as a human requires thinking as a human: We don’t know who is elect. So when we offer the gospel, we most certainly offer it freely and to all. As Paul says: “I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” In wishing for all of them to become Christian, he isn’t complaining about God’s election. Rather, he’s simply speaking according to the knowledge and job that he has: To preach to all.

    Likewise, when we baptize our children, we are giving them a sign that is a promise from God: If you believe, your sins will be washed away. That sign is given to them not because we *know* that they are elect, nor because we believe that baptizing them makes them so, nor even because we suspect that they have “infant faith” (which is certainly possible, but is probably not the norm).

    Rather, that sign is given to them because God said to do it. Earlier or in another thread, you said that Reformed folk flatten out the post-fall covenants in order to defend baptizing our children. That’s exactly backwards. We baptize our children because we understand God’s command to Abraham to apply to us, because we are children of Abraham.

    Abraham applied the seal of faith, circumcision, to his children because of God’s command. He didn’t refuse to give them the sign until they had the faith. He didn’t peer into the deep recesses of God’s hidden election and demand that his children show themselves elect as a prior condition.

    So also, because we are children of Abraham, we do as Abraham did. We apply the seal of faith, baptism, to our children because of God’s command. We do not refuse them the sign until they convince us that they are elect.

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  46. McMark: Mark Jones is saying that Christ was under grace, and to me that means that it was not strict justice that satisfied God’s law by Christ’s death.

    I agree with your interpretation of MJ and join you in rejecting that quote. I think Turretin does a much better job with the covenants. In particular, he makes a sharp distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace in this way:

    (1) The CoW is “of nature” — it depended upon Adam acting out of his own nature, unassisted. By contrast, the CoG is “of grace” — God graciously enables the fulfillment of the condition (faith).

    (2) the CoW is “of works” because the reward was contingent on the works of the covenantee. The CoG is “of faith” because the reward is contingent on the works of another, imputed through faith.

    (3) The CoW is “legal” because the condition was obedience to the command. the CoG is “evangelical” because the condition is to trust in another.

    If you can, I strongly recommend reading Turretin, for two reasons. First, he is very clear and level-headed, and I was greatly edified by the reading of it. Second, he represents the 18th cent consensus Reformed view, and indeed the view that came over to America through Old Princeton — Hodge the elder assigned Turretin (in Latin!) to his students. So if you want to have a better historical understanding of the Reformed faith, Turretin is a must-read.

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  47. There are those who never think we disagree, they just think I am ignorant and confused and don’t understand.

    Jeff—I think what’s possibly confusing you is that you want to take God’s point of view and man’s point of view simultaneously. God knows who is elect.

    mcmark—The gospel tells us that God has an elect people for whom Christ died. The gospel does not tell us who is elect and not elect. Those who continue to believe the false gospel until they die are not elect. This makes it important that the gospel tells us that all will be justified (and stay justified) for whom Christ died.

    The truth of election is not “I am elect”. Nobody who has not believed the gospel knows that they are elect. The “truth of election” is that Christ died only for the sins of the elect.

    God imputed all the sins of all the elect to Christ. The gospel is not that Christ died for everybody and offers to save everybody. Nor is the gospel that God offers to save those for whom Christ never died (as a propitiation or to purchase faith in the gospel)

    Even if our parents are Mormons, the Bible still commands us to believe the gospel and promises us that those who believe the gospel will be saved. Not all the children of Abraham are children of Abraham. (you can read it in Turretin, or in Romans 9).

    But the gospel is NOT—if and when you are ready

    The gospel is God saying: When God is Ready
    God already elected you (or not)
    Christ already died for you (or not)

    The gospel is NOT -well if God has an elect, then It doesn’t matter what I believe or I don’t even need to believe

    The gospel is Christ saying, I am ready, into your hands I hand over my spirit
    The gospel is Christ saying–, now when and as I please, I will NOT sin like Adam did, now I am pleased to OBEY the Father by my DEATH for all those the Father has given me.

    That’s God’s perspective. That’s the gospel God has revealed to us. It doesn’t tell us that we ourselves are loved and elected. We can’t know that until after we believe the gospel. But our believing the gospel does not cause God’s love to happen. God’s love causes the believing to happen because God’s love caused the death for the loved to happen.

    The gospel tell us that the good news, the only grace, is the Father giving His Son for all those who will not perish.

    Nathan J. Langerak, –What Mark Jones means by “consequent conditions” is that they are new conditions of salvation imposed on the saved person because the person is now saved No benefits applied by God before faith is exercised by the sinner ? Is not faith itself given by God and purchased by Christ before faith is exercised? What about regeneration?

    https://rfpa.org/blogs/news/the-charge-of-antinomianism-3-against-an-unconditional-covenant

    Jeff–In a very limited sense, the offer is gracious to declare the only means by which they might, hypothetically, be saved

    mcmark–1. You didn’t answer my questions about possible “even worse sanctions” for those given the offer (or born in the covenant”
    2. The “limited sense” is limited to NOTHING. The Holy Spirit does not every use the false gospel to save sinners. But even with the true gospel, without the Holy Spirit there is no grace for those who will perish. Or do you agree with Wesley that at least now it’s kosher for God to condemn sinners now that God has given them “grace in a limited sense?
    3. An atonement in which no sins were imputed to Christ and in which no wrath was taken away by propitiation is not good news, does not give glory to God, and is not revealed in the Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. dgh–Roman Catholicism in its most distinct expression was not necessarily a respecter of the sort of freedoms that allow the Amish and Orthodox Jews to practice their faiths. Like Neo-Calvinism, Roman Catholicism is not content with a personal faith. Religion is not a private affair but needs to take root in all areas of life — and there goes political liberalism.

    mcmark—Now that the WCF has been revised (decoupled from its earlier distinct expressions) is it a “respecter of freedoms that allow” in the sense of benevolent “tolerance “(grace) or is the revision of the WCF itself a positive affirmation of “political liberalism”? I keep asking that question. Or have we become so liberal that the answer depends on if you are dgh or somebody else who wants some of both Tables of the Ten Commandments enforced?

    Do we confine ourselves to revision of the WCF in terms of magistrates or do we talk about Leviticus 18:5 and WCF 19:6?

    Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs, and binds them to walk accordingly;[b] discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives;[c] so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin;[d] together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.[e]
    It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin:[f] and the THREATENINGS of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.[g]
    The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof;[h] although not as due to them by the law, as a covenant of works.[i]
    So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace.[j]

    [a] Rom. 6:14; Gal. 2:16; Gal. 3:13; Gal. 4:4, 5; Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:1
    [b] Rom. 7:12, 22, 25; Ps. 119:4, 5, 6; I Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
    [c] Rom. 7:7; Rom. 3:20
    [d] James 1:23, 24, 25; Rom. 7:9, 14, 24
    [e] Gal. 3:24; Rom. 7:24, 25; Rom. 8:3, 4
    [f] Jam. 2:11; Ps. 119:101, 104, 128
    [g] Ezra 9:13, 14; Ps. 89:30, 31, 32, 33, 34
    [h] Lev. 26:1 to 14 with II Cor. 6:16; Eph. 6:2, 3; Ps. 37:11 with Matt. 5:5; Ps. 19:11
    [i] Gal. 2:16; Luke 17:10
    [j] Rom. 6:12, 14; I Pet. 3:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, with Ps. 34:12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Heb. 12:28, 29

    VII. Neither DO the forementioned uses of the law oppse the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it;[a] the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that, freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.[b]

    [a] Gal. 3:21.
    [b] Ezek. 36:27; Heb. 8:10 with Jer. 31:33

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/murray-on-lev-185-why-did-john-murray-reject-the-covenant-of-works/

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  49. I see that Jeff and McMark are finally getting around to talking about the doctrine of election. I’m confused as to why it took so long to get there. There were numerous threads where the commentary just stopped when election was brought up or questions regarding election were asked. While you guys are on that topic maybe someone can give a clear definition of hyper-Calvinism too.

    Does ones view of election determine how someone might respond to the revision question of WCF 19-6? A history of how the WCF came to be and why each section was written the way it was is an important part of the whole scenario.

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  50. McMark: There are those who never think we disagree, they just think I am ignorant and confused and don’t understand.

    I don’t think you’re ignorant, and I’m not saying it to offend. Clearly, at least one of us is confused about the Biblical teaching of covenants. It might be me. It might be you. It might be both.

    I’m simply trying to identify what seems to me to be a point of confusion. I would humbly ask you to consider the possibility that you have not been very clear in your writings about the implications of the fact that the church as God sees it is not the same as the church as man sees it. As a result, some of your critiques seem to presuppose that credobaptism solves certain problems, such as the governance of the church, that I don’t think it actually solves.

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  51. McMark: Nathan J. Langerak, –What Mark Jones means by “consequent conditions” is that they are new conditions of salvation imposed on the saved person… (and follows a link to an article about the unconditional covenant).

    So one of the reasons I object to the “wall of quotes” style is that by quoting Langerak who argues against Jones, the discussion ends up in rabbit trails. I don’t agree with Jones on several points, especially in his book on Antinomianism. So if you quote Jones disfavorably, how am I to respond? Are you attributing Jones’s views to me? Or just venting about Jones into the ethernet?

    I would much rather have you step out from behind the curtain of quotes and speak your own mind directly. Do *you* think that the covenant of grace is unconditional? Then let’s talk about that.

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  52. I don’t know how anyone who delves deeply into Reformed theology does not end up really confused about what the Gospel is. It seems to me that is why people like Mark Jones end up accepting such a broad range of doctrine as within the parameters of Reformed Orthodoxy. I guess the same could be said of Catholic theology too. Maybe a confession of biblical faith should center around the question, what is the Gospel? How do we know we know the true biblical Gospel?

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  53. mcmark, the revision of WCF was compatible with liberalism, as in a reduced footprint for government (anti-monarchy and consolidation of power in the national capitol).

    Not sure what that has to do with WCF 118. Everyone is under God’s law. Govt’s law is not the same — much smaller jurisdiction.

    I think you know that.

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  54. @ JohnY: I know what you mean. It strikes me that both the WFC and the HC, as well the Canons of Dort, are much less speculative than various theologians, including ones that I like.

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  55. D.G.,
    What is literalist is to say one can’t apply the Scriptures to political issues because neither Jesus nor Paul did. It is literalist because it does consider the reasons why that was the case. We should note that the Good Samaritan was not a literalist when helping the person who was robbed. He didn’t just stick to do exactly what God commanded. Rather, his decisions were based on love of neighbor. So, what is wrong with basing politics partly on not neglecting the vulnerable?

    It is selective, not literalist, because one fails to note that the OT prophets did and to both the covenant nation of God and the other nations. There is a selective and rigid in thought to think that neglect of those who are vulnerable is no longer counted as wrong today because we are in NT times. It is selective and rigid to excuse oneself from supporting political views that would help those who are in need to supporting only those political views that serve oneself. You have a great excuse to only support those political views that take care of you regardless of how others are affected. You have a great excuse to not care about the harm and injustices done to those by your own nation’s domestic and foreign policies while being vigilant in judging as to whether people are keeping the Sabbath as you believe it should be kept or whether or not churches can use musical instruments in worship or some of the other things you are so exacting on. But all you are doing is fitting some of the patterns exhibited by Israel when it was condemned by the prophets for neglecting or oppressing the vulnerable. But the requirement to care for the vulnerable becomes much more limited to those who live during NT times, according to you. However, working for the prosperity of the place in which one is in exile is still in effect today as it was when Israel was in exile.

    Again, what’s loving one’s neighbor got to do with it? For it seems that your first concern isn’t loving one’s neighbor but determining whether you are required to do what you don’t want to do. Does belief in and following Christ call us to be even more concerned with ourselves than before or does it call on us to love our neighbor more?

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  56. Curt,

    For it seems that your first concern isn’t loving one’s neighbor but determining whether you are required to do what you don’t want to do.

    You can’t love your neighbor rightly until you know what it is that God wants you to do. Legalism can be a problem, but so can over-sentimentalized notions of what it means to love your neighbor. Just because your neighbor thinks something is loving, doesn’t mean that it is.

    IOW, neighbors don’t get to demand how we love them. Divine revelation does that.

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  57. Robert,
    It isn’t a one-way street. Loving one’s neighbor can also tell us what to do. Again, go to the example of the Good Samaritan. How many of the things he did for the victim were specifically mandated by what was in the OT? Romans 2 tells us how people who don’t have God’s Word sometimes excel those who have God’s Word by acting on their consciences.

    We should note, because it is all too obvious to many outside of conservative Christianity, that our conservative Christianity has led some of us to be more and more self-absorbed as we become so preoccupied with whether we have done our religious duties.

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  58. Robert,
    We can observe exploitation. And as for people’s claims, we can listen. The real issue is, do we want to find and end exploitation where it really exists or do we prefer to maintain the status quo?

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  59. CD: Rather, his decisions were based on love of neighbor. So, what is wrong with basing politics partly on not neglecting the vulnerable?

    Because it is bait and switch. The good Samaritan cared for his neighbor. He didn’t organize the community to rally for better laws.

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  60. D.G.,
    Therefore sin is not involved at all regardless of what the gun control law are? If that is true, then shouldn’t we be free to enact tougher gun control laws to reduce the mass shootings and gun violence in our nation? Or does wanting to reduce the mass shootings and gun violence in our nation reveal a desire to love one’s neighbor? And if the answer to the latter question is true, then isn’t sin involved when we don’t want to love our neighbor?

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  61. Vae Victius,
    Love of neighbor doesn’t always tell us which specific policies are necessary, but it does provide a direction for the policies we should pursue. And policies that help those who have at the expense of those who are vulnerable show a direction that is not in keeping with loving one’s neighbor

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  62. CD: If that is true, then shouldn’t we be free to enact tougher gun control laws to reduce the mass shootings and gun violence in our nation?

    YES!

    That’s the point. You keep positing the false alternative: Either the Bible informs our politics, or else we are free to do what we want.

    You keep missing the third, true, alternative: OR else we are free to love our neighbor in the manner that seems wisest to us.

    So yes, we are absolutely free to advocate for stricter gun control laws. We are also free, if we believe such laws will not help, to love our neighbor by opposing those laws.

    CD: Or does wanting to reduce the mass shootings and gun violence in our nation reveal a desire to love one’s neighbor? And if the answer to the latter question is true, then isn’t sin involved when we don’t want to love our neighbor?

    Yes, and yes. But the missing, false, premise is that loving one’s neighbor automatically entails support for stricter gun laws. And that’s where the legalism of “Christian politics” comes in.

    True: We must love our neighbor
    True: Loving our neighbor entails wanting our neighbor’s welfare.
    False: Our neighbor’s welfare will be increased by stricter gun control (this is possible, but not certain)
    hence False: loving our neighbor entails desiring stricter gun control.

    And so the net effect is that you obligate the Christian as a matter of religious duty to support gun control. That’s actually wrong to do, and it’s a corruption of the gospel.

    A much better way is to tell the Christian: Love your neighbor. Use your best wisdom to do so.

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  63. Curt Day says: Ali,Thank you.

    Curt – you’re welcome. I know we all want to help each other…
    not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

    We have the mind of Christ.

    As Paul said/prayed: Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    —–
    …….
    The Lord informed Abraham that “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” (Genesis 18:20).

    In light of the passage, the most common response to the question “What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?” is that it was homosexuality. At the same time, it is not biblical to say that homosexuality was the exclusive reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were definitely not exclusive in terms of the sins in which they indulged.

    Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…” The Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an “abomination.”

    While homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities. While Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many other horrendous sins, homosexuality was the reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland.
    Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general, and homosexuality specifically. (excerpt got?s)

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  64. Ali – two points. First, I know my views on Scripture’s teaching of extramarital sex are a major bugaboo for you, but at least try to state my beliefs correctly. I never said Scripture “condones” extramarital sex – I said Scripture does not prohibit extramarital sex, and therefore we should not bind consciences on that matter like the signers of the Nashville Statement did. That was the context of the discussion.

    Second, you completely missed sdb’s point. We can learn a lot of things by reading the Bible cover to cover, but in an area where we clearly disagree you have to provide some exegesis and analysis to make your case. You still haven’t done so, despite repeated requests from multiple commenters here.

    Jeff, McMark, and Robert – I’m still amazed that anyone cares what Mark Jones thinks about anything. His basic logic and ability to develop an argument are weak, and his theology is often confused, if not plainly wrong. I agree with you all, he is definitely wrong about Christ being “under grace,” which strikes me as nonsensical if not Nestorian on some level.

    Curt – but there is even disagreement about which policies help the “haves” at the *expense* of the “have nots.” Is there an example in our laws today? If anything it seems the haves are heavily taxed for the benefit of the have nots.

    Jeff and JohnY – I see your point, but at the most basic level, wouldn’t most Christians agree that the Gospel is the good news that Christ defeated sin and death through His obedience on the cross and subsequent resurrection, and that we access the gracious gift of salvation through repentance and faith? Wouldn’t RCC, EOC, and most Protestant churches agree with something similar to this definition of the Gospel, even if they disagree with the precise mechanics?

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  65. Vv says We can learn a lot of things by reading the Bible cover to cover, but in an area where we clearly disagree you have to provide some exegesis and analysis to make your case

    When you repeatedly make that same request always of your brothers, I might see that perhaps indeed, you are not partial .

    Jeff and JohnY – I see your point, but at the most basic level, wouldn’t most Christians agree that the Gospel is the good news that Christ defeated sin and death through His obedience on the cross and subsequent resurrection, and that we access the gracious gift of salvation through repentance and faith?

    exegesis and analysis please

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  66. Jeff–The church as God sees it is not the same as the church as man sees it. As a result, some of your critiques seem to presuppose that credobaptism solves certain problems

    mcmark–Actually I don’t. The church is not the gospel. The subjects of water baptism are not the gospel. Christ’s death one day saving all for whom Christ died is the gospel.

    The problem is that we have a lot of folks (Reformed or Lutheran or credobaptist) who want to be “confessionally correct” but who don’t want to talk abut the good news of God’s election to lasting life.

    They say things like—“Jesus will save all those who find the payment for their sins in His death.”
    Look. maybe that does not sound like the antitheses in Dordt, but does it flatly deny the Confessions?

    Let me ask what happens to the payment Jesus made for the sinners who don’t find their payment in his death?

    Do they have an idol Jesus who attempted to pay but failed?

    Did Christ really pay for everybody , so that God turns out to be not just to give all for whom Christ the remission of sins and the all things, including the gift of believing the gospel?

    What will happen to a Reformed church when the Arminians born in itscovenant are told that their salvation (or not) depends on God, and not on what they found or accepted ? What would happen if these evangelicals were told that they still worship an idol?

    This is why, as john y suggests, the quotation from Nathan is not a “rabbit trail”. You will never come to terms with the legalism of Mark Jones until you start talking about John Murray and “the offer of the conditional covenant”.

    Nathan is not a credobaptist, but his concern is about election controlling “the covenant”. Do Shepherd and Gaffin and Beale agree with John Murray about Leviticus 18:5 being just as much about “sanctification” and “staying the covenant” (the not yet aspect of justification)?

    1. I am not interested in another discussion about “conditionality” in “the covenant” and the history of that in theology.

    2.. Not all covenants are the same covenant. Not all the children of Abraham are the children of Abraham. You know this, Jeff, but you only sometimes choose to remember it. Then you retreat to frames—“in some sense”, the non-elect are in the covenant, and “in another sense”, the non-elect were never in the covenant.

    3. I keep saying that salvation is NOT condItioned on the sinner. Salvation is conditioned only on God’s election of certain sinners, and because of God’s love, Christ died as the payment for their sins and as the purchase for their regeneration and faith.

    4. A visible church cannot know for sure who is elect. But a true visible church can know that God has elected some sinners and that Christ has not died for those who are not elect. This is good news, even though the news does not tell us which sinners are elect. This is good news, because it teaches us that Christ’s death is just and that Christ’s death saves . The promise of the gospel is not that as many as believe any gospel or in any Christ will be saved. The promise of the gospel is that whoever believes in the Christ revealed in the gospel will be saved.

    Waldron—John Murray’s lecture on justification contained in the Collected Writings affirms that works only have to do with the degree of reward in glory, while in his Romans commentary John Murray affirms that the judgment by works which has the twin consequences of eternal life and wrath is not hypothetical. I see no way to evade the fact of some contradiction between the two statements.

    https://cbtseminary.org/is-there-a-future-justification-by-works-at-the-day-of-judgment-10/

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  67. btw,just this Sunday, our pastor decided to have a ’bulletin’ (not normally done anymore) with a cover saying:

    What is The Gospel

    The “Gospel’ is the central message of the Christian faith. Gospel means “good news” and the good news is that we can be at peace with God.

    But there is some bad news. We were made to reflect the character of God (Genesis 1:27) but we have failed in that calling (Romans 3:23). The Bible names this failure “sin” and it distances us from God. So there are a lot of people running around thinking they are okay with God when they are not. And if you die without knowing Him, you are separated from Him forever. This is what we can hell.

    But while in this state of sin (Romans 5:8), unable and unwilling to return to God, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take our place in the punishment of all this sin we have committed. Jesus died on the cross as our substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21)

    Why Should You Care?

    We should care because, unlike everyone else who has ever died, Jesus did not stay dead, He offered us the chance to do the same.

    So we stop pursuing the things He does not like and repurpose everything in our lives to pursue Him, because we trust Him when He says that He will give us life that lasts forever.

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  68. DGH– the revision of WCF was compatible with liberalism, as in a reduced footprint for government (anti-monarchy and consolidation of power in the national capitol).

    mcmark– And even though you knew that, your post above suggested that Calvinists and Lutherans have always been less Constantinian and more liberal than the Papists. Something like–the Rome can’t attempt to influence culture and escape their past. And then the suggestion that the Reformed and Lutherans are better suited to be the right kind of Americans, at least if they don’t want to influence culture in the way that Carl Truman and Jerry Falwell admire the way Roman Catholics do it.

    I don’t get it. If Americans can have military bases around the world, and the Reformed can be good Americans, why can’t Roman Catholics have their own franchises around the world? And why do you keep wanting to minimiZe the differences between Lutherans and the Reformed when it comes to the use of law in “sanctification”?

    DGH–Not sure what that has to do with WCF 118. Everyone is under God’s law.

    Do Christians have a new ability and disposition that gives them a DIFFERENT relation to law than non-Christians do? Don’t you agree with John Murray and Gaffin and Beale? Them not Christians can’t act like Christians, but Christians don’t want to sin no more….???

    “The promises of the law in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof; although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.”

    Lutheran Mark Seifrid–The confusion of creation and redemption is the confusion of creation and grace, the confusion of justice and mercy. The sins of which we are aware, dangerous though they may be, are not the most dangerous ones. These hidden faults are more deeply rooted in our person and being than we can imagine, and finally consist in the desire to do away with God and to possess that which properly belongs to our neighbor.

    Mark Seifrid–Admittedly, this perspective robs “progress” of its ultimacy. The goal and end of the Christian life is given to us already at its beginning in Jesus Christ. But this displacing of “progress” from its place of primacy prevents us from taking upon ourselves burdens that we were never meant to bear. What those need who do not feel themselves to be sinners is the careful, gentle, yet direct exposure of their sins—not merely the faults of our society or problems in our culture but the root sins of self seeking, pride, lust, envy, greed by which we deny God and mistreat one another.

    Mark Seifrid—-In his eagerness to resolve the question of the unity of Scripture, Calvin speaks of the Law as ….not bringing death but serving another purpose. According to this perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. ….The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous.y.

    Luther finds a DIFFERENT anthropology in Scripture. The picture of the human being is either darkness or light, without any shading of tones. There is no “intermediate state” in which we receive instruction but escape condemnation. In so far as the Law deals with our salvation (and does not merely guide our outward conduct), it pronounces our condemnation. The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/2018/02/calvinism-un-american/#Em5OXvg5MgcjGdRl.99

    dgh–Roman Catholicism in its most distinct expression was not necessarily a respecter of the sort of freedoms that allow the Amish and Orthodox Jews to practice their faiths. Like Neo-Calvinism, Roman Catholicism is not content with a personal faith. Religion is not a private affair but needs to take root in all areas of life — and there goes political liberalism.

    But maybe you were not really talking about Roman Catholics or even Lutherans, but really only about all those baptists who still don’t like Mark Dever.

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  69. McMark: You’re sounding a little hysterical here. Do you want to talk about conditionality, or do you not? Do you feel offended that I suggest that you might be confused? Then perhaps you should not accuse me of having selective memory.

    When Paul says that not all who are descended from Abraham are children of Abraham (Rom 9.8), he follows that up with “those who are the children of the promise” who are counted as offspring. Who are those? Romans 4.13 – 16. Gal 3.7 – 9, 29. Those who have the faith of Abraham are Abraham’s offspring. Those who are Christ’s, are the children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.

    So regardless of how many covenants one might wish to count, it is clear that Christians are included in the covenant God made with Abraham.

    I would rather break this conversation off and give it a rest, then have it move on a trajectory towards shouting. Your last post seemed very angry to me. Is it time for a break?

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  70. Let me ask those who adhere to the Reformed confessions at this site if Ali’s Pastor’s bulletin statement about the Gospel would pass an ordination exam from an Confessional Reformed Seminary? When the doctrine of election is left out of the good news Gospel a conditional Gospel quickly moves in to fill the void. I’m not that concerned if that sounds hysterical or idiosyncratic. I’d rather fear God in regards to what is the Gospel than I would fear man.

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  71. @ JohnY: I think the statement “Jesus offers us a chance…” would get a hard look.

    Despite what Mark wrote, the PCA is very clear on the difference between limited atonement and hypothetical universal atonement.

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  72. May I be so bold as to remind readers at oldlife of a truly hysterical comment that I copied and pasted on my facebook page from one reader at oldlife:

    Mark Mcculley says: “it is not uncommon for them to dismiss the reality of justification by Christ’s blood without seeing a life of moral improvement.”

    Angry guy argument starts here: “Despite your rather convoluted attempts to mangle 1st John 3 into conformity with your permissiveness, there is no such thing as a justification that does not provide new life in Christ. There is then no such thing as new life in Christ that nobody can see forever.

    Look man. Take a piece of brotherly advice. Turn your computer off, get a bible and lock yourself away with the Lord and His word. Confess this craving for the recognition of men to him and don’t come out until you can leave it at His feet.

    I am being serious. When you know who you are in Christ, you will be able to use his obvious gifts to His glory and rest confident that He will give you the audience you were born for. It will probably be far smaller than you presently wish, but the knowledge of His pleasure upon your service to Him will infinitely more than compensate. I promise. And far more importantly, so does He.”

    Mark Mcculley

    How can I take brotherly advise, when you don’t know if I am morally improved enough to be your brother, and when I don’t know if you know and believe the gospel yet?

    God’s commandments are not burdensome for the justified elect because those joined to Jesus Christ are united with His death to the law because Jesus Christ’s death has satisfied God’s judgment for those God has justified. The new life lived by the justified does not (even in part) satisfy God’s law. To gain assurance by one’s morality is not to trust Christ’s atonement.

    Romans 6: 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 DO NOT present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who HAVE BEEN BROUGHT from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW but under grace.

    I John 4: 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

    If you think that you are in the world as Christ is in the world because of improved morality then you do not yet know the gospel which is about the punishment of Christ by death is for the elect the end of religious fear based on the need for constant moral improvement.

    I John 5: 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

    Faith in what? Faith in our moral improvement? Continual believing in our continual moral improvement? Or is it the faith that results from the new birth which trusts in the propitiation made by Christ? Or is it faith in Christ’s death PLUS faith that your faith is working so that you are morally improved?

    I John 4:10 0 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    John Y: Then the guy referenced a quote from Calvin:

    “Therefore, if you would duly understand how inseparable faith and works are, look to Christ, who, as the Apostle teaches, (1 Cor. i. 30,) has been given to us for justification and for sanctification. Wherever, therefore, that righteousness of faith, which we maintain to be gratuitous, is, there too Christ is, and where Christ is, there too is the Spirit of holiness, who regenerates the soul to newness of life. On the contrary, where zeal for integrity and holiness is not in vigour, there neither is the Spirit of Christ nor Christ himself; and wherever Christ is not, there in no righteousness, nay, there is no faith; for faith cannot apprehend Christ for righteousness without the Spirit of sanctification.”

    Calvin in his letter to Sadeleto – September 1, 1539

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  73. Of course I am angry at ‘confessionally not denying” folks who won’t talk about the good news of election. But only liberals start taking about “not nice tone” instead of the content of the confessions. . I am not going to start talking about how my mother raised me, but if your psychologist thinks you need a break, go for it…

    Better yet, I would rather that you focus on ALL that the Bible has to say about PLURAL promises to Abraham. God promised Abraham one child, Christ. But God also gave circumcision and a promise of land to Abraham’s children. God did not promise all the circumcised that they would have faith in the gospel and lasting life. God’s law did promise that those children who were not circumcised would be cut off. As John the Baptist pointed out, God did not promise that all in Christ’s “genetic incubator” (with circumcision) would receive the lasting life of the age to come.

    The circumcision Abraham received is a sign of more than one thing. We can debate about if the circumcision Abraham personally received (after faith in the gospel) was a seal to Abraham about his personal faith or about if that circumcision was simply an objective sign pointing ahead to the blood of his one child who would die to obtain the righteousness of faith (and faith), but what we CANNOT say is that circumcision was either a seal saying that any specific child of Abraham had such faith or that the circumcision was only gospel (offer) but never law.

    Romaans 4: 11 Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make Abaham the father of all who believe

    (is this a promise to all who believe, or is it a promise to Abraham)

    but are not circumcised, in order that righteousness be credited to them also. 12 And Abraham became the father of the circumcised, who are NOT ONLY are circumcised but who ALSO FOLLOW in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised.

    Galatians 3: 7 understand that those who have faith are Abraham’s sons. 8 Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through YOU . 9 So those who have faith are BLESSED WITH Abraham, WHO HAD FAITH.

    Galatians 3: 12 (quoting Leviticus 18:5) But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them.

    Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed,who is Christ.

    The justified elect (Christians) are the seed of Abraham in Romans 4:12 above and in Galatians 3:7 above, but not in Galatians 3:16 . Notice also that “promises” in Galatians 3:16.

    Does “the promise” in 3:17-18, 22, 29 mean “the promises”? All the promises? Some of the promises? Which promise?
    29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

    Galatians 4: 4 God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, in order that WE RECEIVE ADOPTION AS SONS.

    Did the justified elect (Christians) become children because they were already children, or because their parents were already children?

    Galatians 4: 8 when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved…. 9 But NOW SINCE you know God, or rather have BECOME KNOWN by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt….?

    Galatians 4: 21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law? 22 For it is written that ABRAHAM HAD TWO SONS, one by a slave and the other by a free woman…. 24 These things are illustrations,for the women represent the two covenants.

    Hebrews 8:6 But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a BETTER COVENANT, which HAS BEEN legally enacted on BETTER PROMISES

    John Owen,—No man was ever saved but by virtue of the NEW COVENANT, and the mediation of Christ in that respect….Believers in the gospel were saved under the old covenants but not by virtue of the old covenants

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/re-did-the-covenant-of-grace-begin-in-the-new-covenant/

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  74. Jeff,
    You should think about your statement here. After all, how close is that statement to what is said in Judges 21:25:


    In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

    Now compare with what James says in chapter 2, verses 14 and following:


    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    Now, is your statement about how we are to love others closer to what it says in Judges or in James?

    Now let’s the gun laws issue. With the number of shootings that occur in America vs the number of shootings that occur in Western nations that have imposed stricter gun laws, is it realistic to think that stricter gun laws give us a legitimate opportunity to reduce gun violence? See, waiting until some change is certain only makes no change most probable. Compare that with considering treatment for a difficult to treat disease. The treatment may not cure the disease, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is whether the treatment gives us a realistic opportunity to controlling the disease. Again, waiting until some change is certain only makes no change most probable. And is making no change to a problem most probable a way of loving our neighbor?

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  75. @ Curt: It is closer to neither.

    Use context: In the book of Judges, what did men do as they saw fit? They worshiped idols, abused women, attacked one another. That has nothing to do with what I said.

    In the book of James, he speaks to individuals about their actions towards the brother right in front of him. At no point does he discuss legislation. So again, nothing to do with what I said.

    But now in Romans 14, concerning disputed matters, Paul says this: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

    *That* sounds like what I said.

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  76. @ Curt: Those who know about treating diseases will tell you that you don’t treat “just because you might have a chance that it would work.”

    Treatments have success rates and side effects, and if the chance of a serious side effect is great enough, the treatment is contraindicated *even if it might work.*

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  77. Ali – regarding exegesis of my definition of the Gospel (which was a very basic definition), take a look at Romans 1:16-17. For the exegesis look no further than your own MacArthur Study Bible, where these verses are said to “crystallize…the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Jeff and Curt – as someone who treats diseases daily, I can tell you that Jeff is correct. Not only that, but some diseases are not treated simply because the strain on hospital resources is too great to justify a slim chance at saving a person’s life. A classic example is patients who present with ruptured aortic aneurysms, which carry a very high mortality rate even with optimal intervention, and depletes the hospital’s materials, particularly blood products. In those cases we often let the patient’s die rather than undergo a near-futile, heroic attempt to save them. The point is that even when it comes to the possibility of saving a life there are other considerations besides just that patient’s life, and there are rarely black & white answers in such situations. The same is true of something like gun control, where the issues are very complex. I would like to see safer gun laws enacted, but the government not passing gun laws is not sinful. Foolish and dangerous maybe, but not sinful.

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  78. Curt, loving my neighbor is one thing. Socialism is not loving my neighbor. For some reason, you can’t tell the difference. That makes these convo’s pointless.

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  79. McMark, Presbyterians and Lutherans didn’t take until 1965 to back away from the Constantinian cookie jar (thank you Ricky Gervais). That’s what I meant by being better.

    I still don’t see what having a different relation to the law (which I believe believers do) has to do with 2k other than 2kers aren’t wedded to the state or fooled by public displays of “good” works.

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  80. Gun control is in the news because of yet another horrific mass shooting. Yet the rate of such events is comparable to the average among European nations:

    https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/

    Now maybe this source is wrong, but it certainly does not seem obviously wrong to me meaning that the efficacy of gun control measures to stop such events is debatable. How certain must an outcome be before it is sinful to oppose it?

    I was reading an interesting story about the Congo and the challenges that nation faces. In the story they noted that the war there ~15-20yrs ago was the bloodiest since ww2. The nation is critically destabilized and at threat to enter a similarly bloody conflict. The story notes how Dodd-Frank has precipitated some of the problems there. That law forbids trading in conflict metals which led the ruling regime to crackdown on independent miners in a pretty bloody way. I’m sure none of the proponents of Dodd-Frank “meant” to hurt some of the poorest people in the world, and I’m sure opponents weren’t opposed because of what might have happened in the Congo. But in the complex world in which modern nation-states act, the effect of legislation is always highly uncertain. How one weighs the trade-offs of choices with high levels of certainty is not something that scripture provides us guidance about. Thus we should be free to follow our conscience as we consider how to love our neighbor from the ballot box. Is it common sense to include mental health issues in firearm background checks? Perhaps, but will that lead people away from getting help from mental health professionals? Maybe so. Which is worse? Should school disciplinary procedures be reported to law enforcement? Seems like a good idea, but by raising the stakes do we make school discipline more legalistic? Given the way our school systems operate such that this disproportionately fails on black boys, could this exacerbate the relatively low graduation rate of black students?

    I think there are good answers to these questions, but they won’t be found in the Bible and Christians who believe a different policy is a better way to love their neighbors aren’t sinning just because they are wrong.

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  81. sdb,
    We could keep the laws the same to maintain the status quo. Of course, the reason for keeping the laws the same, if not reducing them as Trump undid Obama’s regulation regarding access to weapons by the mentally ill and allowing the legal purchase of weapons like the AR-15 before one can purchase alcohol is to help gun manufacturers make healthy profits. What should disturb our consciences is doing about the problem.

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  82. D.G.,
    Why change the subject? So you can take a dig at me? And why criticize my views of socialism when you don’t know them. Socialism, like Capitalism, is not a monolith. Why don’t you list the specific tenets of how I approach Socialism which are not examples of loving one’s neighbor? Be very specific.

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  83. Vae Victis,
    Having taught logic, I would be leery of leery of your last note because it seems that you were not careful in the comparisons you drew. If you note in my response to Jeff, the only thing I was specific about was not doing anything about gun control. And since mental health problems are not always involved in shootings, your disease model doesn’t contribute much to understanding the problem.

    Under Trump, our gov’t now allows those with mental health problems to purchase guns. In some states, young people can legally buy AR-15s before they can legally purchase alcohol. And the conservative response to these shooting is to send thoughts and prayers only. Have they not read James 2:14ff?

    The issue is very complex, but should complexity paralyze us. When the current situation leads to a repeating of such dreadful results, the government doing nothing in response is sinning. And that especially true when they take so much money from groups like the NRA so that more weapons can be sold and more profits can be made. I guess by your analogy, since the issue was complex because of the side effects of whatever course I took, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I should have done nothing.

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  84. Jeff,
    The choice of treatments depends on many factors. I know this because I have had to deal with cancer and I am helping some people who have stage 3 cancer. I can assure you that doing nothing is the last choice taken except for when there are dire circumstances such as being terminally ill and the quality of life would be severely impaired or because one can’t afford the treatment. With how the campaigns of our elected officials are funded, it seems that they are the ones who can’t afford to do something about gun control. At the same time, they are rarely impacted by these shootings.

    Why not admit it. That conservative Protestantism is following in the footsteps that the Roman Church provided prior to the revolutions in France and Spain and the Orthodox Church provided prior to the Russian Revolution: that all of them have sided with wealth and power to the detriment of the people. No wonder that those revolutions saw the Church and the Gospel as their enemy. And no doubt that churches had cut out James 2:1ff from their bibles so they could support wealth and power with perceived impunity.

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  85. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: Ali – For the exegesis look no further than your own MacArthur Study Bible

    oh, I misunderstood you, vv. I didn’t know you thought John MacArthur was one to be listened to

    MacArthur sermon excerpts from Christian Ethics, Part 1: Love, Sex, and Marriage 1639

    “What is the believers’ responsibility to himself? And this begins in verse 4. Number one: sexual purity. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
    Marriage was meant to be the expression of the fullness of love. So God has portrayed marriage in scripture as a very honorable thing. Keep it that way.

    And so he says, marriage is honorable. Let it be so. The bed is undefiled in marriage, keep it undefiled. Don’t ever have any kind of sexual entertainment or activity outside the purity of the marriage relationship. Why? Fornicators, adulterers, God will judge. Do you know that that’s the only time that a judgment statement goes along with an ethic in chapter 13? God’s serious about sexual purity–very serious.
    You may fool around with illicit sex, you may fool around outside your marriage, and you may get away with it from the judgment of man standpoint, but you’ll never get away with it from the judgment of God. God will judge; somehow and someway chastisement, punishment comes.

    You say, well, John, how do I govern my activity that way? Well, I take you to 1 Thessalonians 4:3, here’s the standard for sexual conduct: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” Number one, that you should stay away from fornication. That’s the word pornea, and it means any kind of sexual activity. It’s usually referred to before marriage. Adultery, moikos , means sex activity while you’re married with somebody other than your wife, or husband. But fornication is just everything from homosexuality to heterosexuality to bestiality, sex with animals, and everything in between is included in this term. Number one principle, here’s God’s will, that you abstain from fornication. Principle one, stay away from sex sin..

    You can take it a step farther, in principle number two, in verse 1, “Everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel,” and I take that to mean body, “in sanctification and honor.” Control your body so it honors God. Stay away from sex¬ual activity. Verse 5: “Not in the lust of evil desire,” sensuality, concupiscence, “as the heathen who know not God.” Principles three, don’t act like the heathen. One, stay away from sex sin, two, control your body so it honors God, three, don’t act like the rest of the world. How do they act? They’re guided by their lusts. Whatever the world’s promoting they’re buying.

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  86. Curt – YOU made the gun control/disease treatment analogy, not me. I simply demonstrated how in reality that analogy (such as it is) works against you. But I don’t think you grasp the broader point, which is that gun control – and most political issues – do not boil down to a choice of “sin” vs “not sin.” As I said earlier, I believe tighter gun laws are warranted, but I don’t view the alternative as inherently sinful. Like treating disease, political decisions are complex and can very rarely be distilled to simple right or wrong scenarios.

    And by the way, addressing your last comment to Jeff, there is an element of truth to what you’re saying about conservative Protestants, but you’re radically oversimplifying the divide between “the people” and “wealth and power.” Most of Trump’s supporters were rural, middle to lower class people – hardly paragons of wealth and power – who fit somewhere under the broadly EEEeeeeeevangelical umbrella. If anyone sees the “Church and the Gospel as their enemy,” it’s not those folks.

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  87. Ali – you’ve taken us completely off topic. All I will say in response is that MacArthur’s definition of porneia is flat wrong, and is based on the flawed King James interpretation of the word as “fornication.” There is plenty of modern scholarship out there that proves him wrong. If you want to get back to the topic at hand, I’ll be happy to discuss.

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  88. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: Ali – you’ve taken us completely off topic. .

    nope, not off topic at all : …”different rationales for turning up those practices that increase holiness.”

    Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: All I will say in response is that MacArthur’s definition of porneia is flat wrong, and is based on the flawed King James interpretation of the word as “fornication.” There is plenty of modern scholarship out there that proves him wrong. If you want to get back to the topic at hand, I’ll be happy to discuss.

    I think Robert and Jeff and I thought sdb (though he seems to be in your corner now maybe just to oppose me) have made their cases by ‘exegesis’ and also have called you on your claim of ‘plenty’ scholarship opposing orthodoxy and you have resoundingly rejected it all. Only thing left to do is counter your error with truth in case anyone was buying in.

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  89. Curt,
    I agree that it is unjust to forbid those under the age of 21 from buying alcohol. Those bans have helped feed the frat scene (which had even fading prior) and lead to the lethal results that come from 18yros drinking mystery punch in a basement rather than natty light in s bar.

    There are trade-offs involved with adding mental health records to NICS background checks. Men (especially) may be even less likely to seek mental health treatment if they know that information will not be kept confidential. The overwhelming number of gun homicides are not caused by long guns (including everyone’s fave bogeyman the AR-15) and they aren’t committed by folks with identified mental health problems.

    You don’t know the underlying motives of politicians, but insofar as it is driving profits, Obama’s rhetoric did much more for the industry than Trump’s.

    One can love one’s neighbors and come to different conclusions on policy. It isn’t up to the church to evaluate which policies are OK for believers to support. I may want all guns criminalized and confiscated while another may be a 2nd amendment absolutist. Both could love their neighbors and be motivated by said love. It isn’t the church’s place to sort that out. But neither is it wrong for believers to try to convince their neighbors to adopt their view. They just shouldn’t tie it to the gospel

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  90. @ Curt:

    Setting aside our differences, I am sorry to hear about the cancer. I will pray for remission and healing.

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  91. Curt: I can assure you that doing nothing is the last choice taken except for when there are dire circumstances such as being terminally ill and the quality of life would be severely impaired or because one can’t afford the treatment.

    That’s actually not true. Prostate cancer is often managed by “watchful waiting.”

    Doing nothing is the indicated treatment — for any disease — when the consequences of treatment outweigh the benefits.

    And the doctor (and patient, and insurance) get to make that call. At no point would it be appropriate for Curt Day to walk in with a Bible and demand that because of the Good Samaritan, therefore love demands a double mastectomy.

    And you probably agree, in the realm of medicine. The Bible doesn’t tell us which treatment option, if any, is the most loving.

    And if anyone *did* try to use the Bible to coerce a particular treatment, you would decry that behavior as legalistic.

    But when it comes to politics, you lose your good sense and think that love for neighbor somehow gives magical insight as to the pros and cons of policy.

    It doesn’t.

    You can no more wander into a discussion of gun control and brandish a Bible than you can in the oncologist’s office. The Bible doesn’t help us predict that the assault weapons ban from 1994-2004 would have no effect. It doesn’t tell us why gun deaths have dropped year-over-year since the 80s, nor why mass shootings have failed to decline.

    Brandishing the Bible to say that love demands X or Y gun law is every bit a misuse as using the Bible as a guide to treating disease.

    Curt: Why not admit it. That conservative Protestantism is following in the footsteps that the Roman Church provided prior to the revolutions in France and Spain and the Orthodox Church provided prior to the Russian Revolution: that all of them have sided with wealth and power to the detriment of the people.

    I don’t admit it because it isn’t true. Fact check: wealth and power are concentrated among liberal Christians and nonChristians.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/11/how-income-varies-among-u-s-religious-groups/

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  92. @Ali What do you hope to gain by making snide comments like, ” I thought sdb (though he seems to be in your corner now maybe just to oppose me)”? Why not just ask me what I think? I believe that VV is wrong on this issue. I also believe that your accusatory take and lack of charity is wrong. I’m not seeing one who is trying to correct an error with the spirit of gentleness that Paul calls for. You’ve been called on this before.

    I might also note that the only person who has brought up this error since we discussed it last is you. Perhaps the only thing to do is not to bring up this issue tangentially, but rather pray that the Holy Spirit might open VV’s eyes to his error and study the issue yourself to see if you can’t add something new to the discussion.

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  93. In addition to the fact that conservative protestantism is not the religion of the powerful and influential, why not choose 19th century England or one of the other western countries that did not undergo a revolution?

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  94. Curt,

    Why not admit it. That conservative Protestantism is following in the footsteps that the Roman Church provided prior to the revolutions in France and Spain and the Orthodox Church provided prior to the Russian Revolution: that all of them have sided with wealth and power to the detriment of the people. No wonder that those revolutions saw the Church and the Gospel as their enemy. And no doubt that churches had cut out James 2:1ff from their bibles so they could support wealth and power with perceived impunity.

    Because that’s overly simplistic. If anything, Trump is a Hail Mary pass by many conservative Protestants because the people with wealth and power are decidedly against Christian sexual morality.

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  95. sdb says: lack of charity

    sdb, …charitable..
    charitable: -of or relating to the assistance of those in need – pt to judge others leniently or favorably

    good point, what’s does it look like to be ‘charitable’ to one in need – giving just what is the need?
    eg:
    -to one promoting false teaching and sin?
    – to one promoting ideas that you don’t agree with, but not sin?
    -to the materially poor
    -to those causing harm
    -etc.

    Another good reason to read Genesis through Revelation and study God’s character and see the law of love that Curt was mentioning above.

    I think Curt should be treated more charitably here

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  96. Robert,
    Christian morality cannot be reduced to sexual issues. IN addition, we need to distinguish that which society should tolerate and that which it should not.

    In the end, when a branch of the Church does not speak prophetically against economic exploitation and/or against militarism and our constant interventionism, then the Church is passively aligning itself with wealth and power especially when the Church directs so much of people’s attention to their own sins and neglects to mention the sins of the state and society. And then when the Church supports economic systems that revolve around exploitation or advise the State to militarily intervene for the sake of national interests while ignoring the moral issues, then the Church is supporting wealth and power.

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  97. sdb,
    sorry, but it is true and what you bring up is irrelevant as well as inaccurate. Much of wealth and power support conservative politics with the exception of LGBT issues.

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  98. Jeff,
    Watchful waiting is not a permanent strategy for prostate cancer unless one wants to go from stages 1-2 to 3-4. My psa wasn’t that high but my prostate was full of cancer which shows that I was close to stage 3. I have a friend whose surgery was not in time and thus his became stage 3 and he is dealing with it.

    Besides how many shootings do we need to tolerate until watchful waiting is no longer appropriate?

    Again, you want to maintain the status quo. The status quo regarding gun ownership is owned by the NRA and benefits gun manufacturers more than anyone else.

    Finally, it is opinion like yours that brings scorn to the Gospel for the political/economic/social conditions you think we should tolerate while you are not shy at preaching against individual sin.

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  99. Curt: Again, you want to maintain the status quo.

    False. I have been very clear about my view.

    I am not arguing that the Bible teaches us to maintain status quo.
    I am arguing that the Bible is to wrong tool to determine whether to change the status quo.

    Use your logic. What is the logical opposite of the statement “The Bible teaches us to support gun control”?

    There are plenty of good reasons to change the status quo. Those reasons are not found in Scripture.

    Curt: Finally, it is opinion like yours that brings scorn to the Gospel for the political/economic/social conditions you think we should tolerate while you are not shy at preaching against individual sin.

    False again. The Gospel is scorned by nonChristians because some Christians seek to use the Bible as a handbook for politics. It is the Moral Majority, not the Missouri Synod, that has made Christianity odious.

    Which names evoke opprobrium: Billy Graham or Franklin Graham? Abraham Kuyper or Jerry Falwell?

    The Gospel is scorned when it is manipulated into a tool for shaping the kingdoms of this world.

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  100. Curt, socialist is an easy handle. Is it inaccurate? Socialist Presbyterian?

    I know enough about socialism and deniers of its consequences to criticize.

    Plus, it’s a free country. Some socialist countries aren’t.

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  101. Jeff,
    That some Christians use the Bible as a political playbook has been my point from the beginning. The pre-dominent branches of the Church have, at times, supported wealth and power. And because of that association, revolutions that followed saw the Church as a friend of corrupt power and an enemy of the people. Historical cases include the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, and Spanish Revolution.

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  102. Curt: That some Christians use the Bible as a political playbook has been my point from the beginning.

    Yes, you have made that point — but inconsistently. You see fairly clearly, I think, that the union of church and state in France (to the point of making the Church the First Estate) corrupted both church and state.

    What you do not see clearly (yet?) is that harnessing the Bible to make a case for social justice is simply another fruit from the same tree. The problem with monarchial France wasn’t that the church needed to do a better job managing its political power; it was that the church had political power to begin with.

    The church has a mission and a playbook. Swerving from that mission or adding to the playbook is unwise.

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  103. @Ali
    I had this definition of charity in mind…
    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

    I am convinced that Curt is wrong about his politics, exegesis, and the relationship between church and state. I do not believe that he is pernicious and wish him only the best. Pointed disagreement does not need to descend into accusations about one’s character, intelligence, or knowledge of the scripture. You have interesting things to say, but it is hard to get to that through the copious pasting and uncharitable accusations.

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  104. @Curt
    It is absolutely true that conservative Protestants are not powerful or wealthy compared to mainliners or the irreligious. Or are you referring to the trade offs between reporting mental health issues to law enforcement By the way, what fraction of the 75,000 receiving SS disability payments for mental health problems bought a gun? I suspect that if they are in such a state that they cannot care for their own finances, the answer is very near to zero. On the other hand, knowing that this kind of information is being traded sent to law informecemnt through NICS may cause some to avoid needed mental health care.

    I’m not arguing that this is dispositive or that the trade-offs point to no more gun control. I’m simply pointing out that the issue is debatable. It is not OK for the church to come down on one side or their other on the issue and thus bind people’s consciences as the optimal policy is not to be found in scripture. This is true in almost all political questions on the table before us… should alcohol be regulated by the state, should alcohol be criminalized, should public education be compulsory, should marijuana be legal, should carbon be taxed, should sawn wood be stamped or inspected, should we invest in bike lanes or more traffic lanes, should school start earlier and have more breaks through the school year, how long should the school day be, and on and on and on the political questions go…. some trivial, some weighty. We should all be welcome to chime in and add our voice to the chorus, but the church should not weigh in on the church unless it has clear biblical warrant for doing so. It isn’t sinful to disagree about policy on pot, gambling, alcohol, guns, pornography, abortion, assassinations, arming rebels, war, taxes, social security, the welfare net, trade, etc…. the use of the state to enforce.a policy involves trade-offs and scripture doesn’t tell us how to weigh those.

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  105. “Gospel is scorned…”

    To be fair, the gospel is scorned because those who have not been regenerated are enemies of God. Scripture tells us that we will be hated because of the gospel. However (and I think this is your point), we shouldn’t do things to bring disrepute on the church. When the church turns itself into a political advocacy vehicle (left or right), it brings the gospel into disrepute.

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  106. @Curt
    If an atheist, Jew, Muslim, or other non-Christian can have politics you approve of (I’m assuming that’s the case), why must churches as churches advocate for policy on a Christian basis? Why can’t they argue for good policy on the same basis as their atheist, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and/or Zorastrian friends? If they can, why force the church to take sides? What if you are wrong about the political programs you advocate for? What about the non-Christians who disagree with you… have we brought the gospel into disrepute for them or is the gospel only for those with the right political leanings?

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  107. Jeff,
    So Social Justice is politics? Trying to curb murder and theft is politics? So the OT prophets were politicians? Or are we to ignore murder and theft provided they were conducted by the state because we are in NT times now? And thus to address murder and theft when practiced by the state is not to address moral issues, but political ones only?

    What does love of neighbor got to do with it when the neighbor is a victim of murder and theft as practiced by the state? The Church could align itself either actively or passively, with the latter done through silent complicity, with the state. But that is what I’ve been talking about.

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  108. sdb,
    Should our nation be involved in unjust wars? Should our economic system exploit both people and the environment? Should our gov’t neglect or even oppress those who are poor? Should our gov’t neglect those who can’t afford healthcare? The Scriptures do not tell us how to specifically answer those questions, but they do clearly answer those questions with firm ‘NO!’.

    Again, go to Nazi Germany and ask, what were the duties of Christians during that horrific time? Was the German Christians” only concern their own submission to the government? Were the Christians there to ignore reports of the atrocities being committed by the German military as the stories came to them? Were there to ignore the persecution of the Jews? And what do people see when it is only non-Christians who show compassion on those who are being being unjustly treated in situations like what occurred in Nazi Germany? What did people see when, for the most part, conservative Christians defended the status quo while liberal Christians and unbelievers challenged Jim Crow here?

    You are attacking a straw man when you ask about specific programs.

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  109. Curt, Jeff has you here. You only notice church politics when it plays to the powerful and rich. But when the church baptizes a socialist’s concerns, “happy day.”

    Implicit bias. Intersectionality.

    You’re not just.

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  110. Jeff Cagle says Which names evoke opprobrium: Billy Graham or Franklin Graham?

    Billy Graham( from Wikipedia)
    According to a 2006 Newsweek interview, “For Graham, politics is a secondary to the Gospel…When Newsweek asked Graham whether ministers – whether they think of themselves as evangelists, pastors or a bit of both – should spend time engaged with politics, he replied: ‘You know, I think in a way that has to be up to the individual as he feels led of the Lord. A lot of things that I commented on years ago would not have been of the Lord, I’m sure, but I think you have some – like communism, or segregation, on which I think you have a responsibility to speak out.'”

    -spiritual adviser for presidents from Truman to Obama
    -gave his support to various political candidates over the years
    -outspoken against communism, supported Cold War policy including the Vietnam War.
    -early years of opposition to communism gave way to pleas for military disarmament and attention to AIDS, poverty, environmental threats
    -1973, openly denounced apartheid
    -opposed Kennedy candidacy working heavily “behind the scenes” to defeat him
    -1979 refused to join Moral Majority “I’m for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom, social justice.
    -urged Truman to counter communism in North Korea
    -urged Eisenhower to intervene Little Rock Nine case to gain admission of black students to schools
    -1960, supported Nixon for president -Nixon gave speech from his evangelist platform
    -1982, voiced fear of “a nuclear holocaust” advised “our greatest contribution to world peace is to live with Christ every day.
    -said evangelists can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person- have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left; said I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future.
    -1991, Gulf War -said there come times when we have to fight for peace
    -1999 praised Kim II-Sun as a “different kind of communist” and “one of the great fighters for freedom in his country against the Japanese.”
    -publicly endorsed Mitt Romney
    -2010 Obama visited him and they had a private prayer

    as cw says “it’s all a piece of cake”

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  111. Curt: The Church could align itself either actively or passively, with the latter done through silent complicity, with the state.

    The way you frame it illustrates the flaw in reasoning. Notice your assumption: “The Church could align itself…”

    What if that assumption doesn’t hold? The Church should not be aligning itself at all with the state, either actively or passively. If it *does* align itself with the state, then the state sets the agenda for the Church.

    Curt: Or are we to ignore murder and theft provided they were conducted by the state because we are in NT times now? And thus to address murder and theft when practiced by the state is not to address moral issues, but political ones only?

    I often encounter calculus students who get confused because they use pronouns instead of nouns. Where they need to argue “f(x) is decreasing because f ‘ (x) < 0", they will say things like "It's decreasing because it's negative", which is nonsense.

    So here, your use of pronouns trips you up.

    I say, "The Church should not address political issues"
    You translate, "Are we to ignore murder and theft provided they were conducted by the state?"

    Which is of course nonsense.

    Your use of language is keeping you from listening carefully

    “We” the people, citizens who happen to be Christians, do not ignore murder and theft. We are free to take political actions, and indeed will be compelled to do so by our consciences.

    “We” the church, the institution whose mission is to proclaim the Word and make disciples, preaches that murder and theft are wrong. That gives Christian citizens the information they need to know in order to inform their consciences.

    Each plays a different role. And in particular, the Church’s role includes upholding the full truth of the word of God — preaching all that is there, and NOT preaching what is NOT there.

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  112. Thank you for the summary Jeff. I think we all, particularly the young (in faith), need to hear clarity after all this dialogue here, what we do all actually agree upon; btw re “We” the church, the institution” – is the church an institution or a living organism (the body of Christ, of which He is the head.)

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  113. Curt,

    Fixing the formatting:

    Christian morality cannot be reduced to sexual issues. IN addition, we need to distinguish that which society should tolerate and that which it should not.

    Sure, but your charge was that conservative Christians in this country support the wealthy and the powerful, which is a problematic claim.

    In the end, when a branch of the Church does not speak prophetically against economic exploitation and/or against militarism and our constant interventionism, then the Church is passively aligning itself with wealth and power especially when the Church directs so much of people’s attention to their own sins and neglects to mention the sins of the state and society. And then when the Church supports economic systems that revolve around exploitation or advise the State to militarily intervene for the sake of national interests while ignoring the moral issues, then the Church is supporting wealth and power.

    This all sounds nice in theory, but how does this work on the ground? Is the local Baptist church in Appalachia that is so busy trying to meet the needs of its impoverished members sinning because it isn’t paying much attention to world politics and speaking about interventionism? Is a church’s support of a 35 percent tax rate on the wealthy instead of 39 percent a sin? And on and on.

    You seem to have this view that everybody in this country, at least, believes that the kind of regulated capitalism that we have is inherently exploitative and that to intervene militarily for the sake of our national interests while ignoring the moral issues is wrong because somehow you seem to believe that if we were to speak out against such things, we would be more respected in the culture and the culture would be more interested in the gospel. The fact of the matter, however, is that the vast majority of people in our culture are just fine with capitalism and don’t have much problem with our foreign policy because we keep electing politicians who support and advocate for both. The differences are mostly negligible: 35 percent tax rate vs. 39 percent; tax cut to last ten years vs. five; invading Iraq vs. invading Syria.

    Given that reality, it’s far more realistic to suspect that people in the culture would be less willing to hear the church if the church were to start making pronouncements on such issues. Maybe the democratic socialists would be more willing to hear us, but why should we care more about their willingness to hear us than the middle class nominal Christians who think capitalism is golden?

    And it’s simply not self-evident that capitalism is any more or less exploitative than socialism. You keep asserting points as if this was some kind of self-evident truth that we all agree on. Is it not evident to you that everyone here is basically a capitalist of some flavor and believes that on the whole, socialism is a much worse system than the kind of economic hybrid system that we have in the US?

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  114. “Should our nation be involved in unjust wars?”
    You mean, does the Bible tell us whether it is right or wrong to invade Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria? No. I don’t think it provides much guidance on whether those interventions were a good idea or not. Should Rome have been involved in its wars of conquest (including that of Judea)? If not, why wasn’t Paul obligated, as a Roman citizen no less, obligated to use his status as a citizen to advocate to the Senate for the end of Roman unjust wars? Why didn’t make a call to political action part of his call?

    “Should our economic system exploit both people and the environment?”
    Does the Bible tell us? No. It does not (or Paul erred in not condemning slavery in Philemon).

    “Should our gov’t neglect or even oppress those who are poor?”
    Nope, but not because of what the Bible teaches about the role of secular city states (which is basically nothing).

    “Should our gov’t neglect those who can’t afford healthcare?”
    The Bible teaches the existence of positive rights? Not that I’ve read! Indeed, it isn’t clear that the Bible has any concept of rights at all.

    “The Scriptures do not tell us how to specifically answer those questions, but they do clearly answer those questions with firm ‘NO!’.” Well you are half right. The scriptures don’t tell us how to specifically answer these questions because the scriptures don’t address these questions. That doesn’t mean that we are left in the ether where anything goes. Rather it means that our guidance on politics (and handling the associate trade-offs) comes from sources other than scripture. Are the Amish sinning by not getting politically engaged? I don’t think so. Are you sinning by getting politically engaged from a left of center stance? Nope. Are libertarians, right of center types, or neoconservatives sinning by advocating for their positions? Nope. That’s the point. Not that there aren’t good answers to your questions, but that the answers aren’t found in the Bible. Therefore the church should remain silent. Church members therefore have wide latitude in how they live out God’s command to love one’s neighbor in the political sphere.

    “Again, go to Nazi Germany and ask, what were the duties of Christians during that horrific time?”
    Depends on their station in life. If the government commands you to do something sinful, then you have the duty to disobey. Not every one had the duty to try and assassinate Hitler.

    “Was the German Christians’ only concern their own submission to the government?”
    No.

    “Were the Christians there to ignore reports of the atrocities being committed by the German military as the stories came to them? Were there to ignore the persecution of the Jews?”
    Ignore or do what? It wasn’t exactly a democracy. It depends on who you are talking about and what their station in life is. There is a big difference between a prison guard refusing to herd innocent men, women, and children into the gas chamber and picking up arms to rebel against one’s government.

    “And what do people see when it is only non-Christians who show compassion on those who are being being unjustly treated in situations like what occurred in Nazi Germany?”
    I don’t know what people would have seen. There were many believers (Corrie Ten Boone, Dieterich Bonhoeffer, my god parents who survived the Holocaust, and my grandfather who was a pow in Nazi Germany (and a pacifist)) who showed compassion to those being treated wrongly. Yes, the church should tell us to love and serve “the least of these”. It doesn’t tell us how. It doesn’t tell us that you have to join the allied forces, attempt to assassinate Hitler, or organize an underground railroad of sorts to get Jews out of Germany. A believer could oppose US intervention in WWII without sinning, and another could support it. The church doesn’t get to say what the right course of action is or demand repentance form one side or the other. That’s the point.

    “What did people see when, for the most part, conservative Christians defended the status quo while liberal Christians and unbelievers challenged Jim Crow here?”
    Here? I thought you lived in Philly? It was wrong for conservative Christian churches to speak out in defense of Jim Crow. Segregation de jure was bad and stupid, but it wasn’t bad and stupid because the Bible said so. Not every stupid thing Christians do (even actions that make Christians look bad to the outside world) is sinful.

    “You are attacking a straw man when you ask about specific programs.”
    Except that the protesters (including a lot of clergy) in Raleigh were protesting specific programs and calling the political stances sinful. On the right, there are those who think “every square inch” should be brought under the dominion of Christ (i.e., the church) so that you end up with Christian exercise, baking, and plumbing (have you seen the Christian yellow pages?). On the left and right, there are Christians who believe the things they care passionately about must be of concern to all institutions. Whether it is opposing war or abortion… they believe so much in the righteousness of their cause, they assume that theirs is the only biblical way forward. I’m not arguing for or against any particular political program or position or suggesting that individuals should not engage in political advocacy. I just don’t want the church to be brought along.

    tl;dr More Rawls, less Kuiper.

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  115. sdb,
    You don’t think that the Bible provides enough guidance as to whether the wars we’ve engaged in are unjust? I think you are approaching that subject from the wrong perspective. The question is, does the government give us enough guidance so we can make that determination? And the answer would be a deliberate ‘no.’ But much of that information is available anyway. Take Panama for example. We supported Noriega as the leader of Panama even though we knew he was involved in drug trafficking. But we could use him in fighting against the spread of “communism” in Central America. We wanted to use him against Nicaragua. Noriega stole an election while receiving our support. Then support for him became a battle between Congress and the Reagan Administration. For while Congress was investigating and starting to condemn him, the Administration was praising and using him. And this went on until he crossed the line and was accused of being a double agent–though most of the crimes he was indicted for occurred when he had our nation’s support. So you get to the invasion and what happens?

    Estimates of the number of Panamanians killed range from 500 to over 2,000 (see http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-u-s-invades-panama and http://www.skepticfiles.org/socialis/pan_hr.htm). How that invasion was experienced by one person can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/03/world/panama-city-journal-12-years-later-scars-of-the-us-invasion-remain.html ). So we invaded a nation whose corrupt leader we supported until he disobeyed our government and possibly over 3,000 Panamanians died as a result of our policies.

    Iraq was very similar. We support Saddam Hussein despite knowing his brutality because he opposed Iran and we anted the two nations to fight. Hussein lost support when he invaded Kuwait. But the crimes he was put on trial for occurred when we knowingly supported him. So we attack Iraq to free Kuwait. And in attacking Iraq, we destroyed much of its civilian infrastructure so that, along with the subsequent sanctions, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died. BTW, attacking civilian infrastructure is a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions. BTW, cancer rates in southern Iraq skyrocketed because of our use of weapons with depleted uranium.

    When we invaded Iraq, our gov’t used false accusations to justify the invasion. We invaded without sanction of the UN. And our invasion started the refugee crisis in the West because of the number of Iraqis who fled their nation for Syria and Jordan in response to our invasion. That became a world problem with the advent of the Civil War in Syria. BTW, both Iraq and Syria became nations on the American hit list for regime changes. That list was made days after 9/11. After the invasion, we tried to use SOFA agreements to force Iraq into favorable business ventures with American businesses. In the meantime, private sector businesses profited handsomely from the invasion and the occupation/rebuilding phase. Estimates of the number of Iraqis killed because of our invasion go up to over 1,000,000. BTW, we should note that the nations that felt most threatened by Saddam Hussein when he invade Kuwait strongly opposed the invasion. Warnings from the Middle East were that the invasion would destabilize the region and that is what happened.

    If you want to go to Afghanistan, you have to go all the way back to Carter who authorized spending for arming the “freedom fighters” and that was done to draw the Soviet Union into their own Vietnam type war. Afghanistan has not seen peace since that time. The “freedom fighters” we supported not only fought the Russians, they committed terrorism against civilians. Afghanistan has only known war since that time.

    What we need to know about whether the Bible would support US interventions depends more on what we know about those interventions than on what we know from the Bible.

    As for Nazi Germany, what one could have done or is accountable for does partially depend on one’s station in life. And that was one of my points from the beginning. That Bonhoeffer said that we aren’t told specifics on how to love our neighbor in times like his time in Nazi Germany is correct. But what we are not to support, either actively or passively , is more defined. And it seems here that you are simply making points I already made. For I wrote how resistance to the Nazi leaders was varied. But resistance was what was required and accepting the status quo was sin.

    Regarding specific gun control laws, the Bible doesn’t tell us what we should implement now. But when we consider how guns are being used to murder people, accepting the status quo or trying to put more guns in the hands of people when other nations have reduced gun violence by reducing the number of guns is wrong. Why? Here wisdom becomes our guide. When Trump undid Obama’s attempt to restrict the sale of guns to those with mental illnesses, was that a wise choice or one that was meant to increase the sale of guns?

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  116. Jeff,
    You can give all the false choices you want. The point is still that the pre-dominent branch of the Church in America supports wealth and power. And it does so institutionally, not just regionally or locally. The pre-dominent branch of the Church in America, conservative protestantism which has been joined by conservative catholicism on political ideology, has refuse to challenge our nation on its exploitive economic system, its unjust wars that financially benefit the wealthy, and how our way of life is attacking the environment. So by reducing its talk about sin to personal sins, especially those regarding sexual morality, the pre-deominent branch of the Church is supporting wealth and power by neglecting to even draw attention to the corporate sins that benefit those with wealth and power.

    While neglecting to address our exploitive economic system, the Church doesn’t even take the pains to inform people that the form of Capitalism we and the world employ now is not the form that we and the world employed following WW II. Rather, religiously conservative Christians merge the two forms of Capitalism in order to give legitimacy to the current form. And that current form, called neoliberalism, has continually increased wealth disparity throughout the world and between nations since its beginnings. And its beginnings initially involved violent coups that overthrew democratic regimes in favor of dictators who would introduce favorable relations with American businesses or neoliberalism, depending on the date of those coups, into their own nations. And our nation often supported or eve participated in the coups themselves.

    What Christians need to know about to challenge those with wealth and power is simply information. But the pre-dominent branch of the Church opposes that information by denying the facts or steering people away from the facts. So while we make such a big fuss over same-sex marriage in society, we say nothing about the corporate sins that first benefit those with wealth and power. Churches are neglecting the number of ways that they can challenge the corporate sins of our nation in favor of getting benefits from those with wealth and power. And those number of ways include how individual churches can respond to how denominations and large para-church groups can respond. Your example deliberately drew attention away from the Church as an institution.

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  117. from got?s question: “What does the Bible say about capitalism?”

    Answer: The dictionary defines capitalism as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” While the Bible doesn’t mention capitalism by name, it does speak a great deal about economic issues. For example, whole sections of the book of Proverbs and many of the parables of Jesus deal with economic matters. As such, we learn what our attitude should be toward wealth and how a Christian should handle his finances. The Bible also provides us with a description of our human nature which helps us to evaluate the possible success of and failure of an economic system in society.

    Because economics is an area where much of our everyday life takes place, we should evaluate it from a biblical perspective. When we use the Bible as our framework, we can begin to construct the model for a government and an economy that liberates human potential and limits human sinfulness. In Genesis 1:28, God says we are to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. One aspect of this is that humans can own property in which they can exercise their dominion. Since we have both volition and private property rights, we can assume that we should have the freedom to exchange these private property rights in a free market where goods and services can be exchanged.

    However, due to the ravages of sin, many parts of the world have become places of decay and scarcity. And, though God has given us dominion over His creation, we must be good stewards of the resources at our disposal. Historically, the free enterprise system has provided the greatest amount of freedom and the most effective economic gains of any economic system ever devised. Even so, Christians often wonder if they can support capitalism. In essence, self-interest is rewarded in a free capitalist system. But even the gospel appeals to our self-interest, because it is in our self-interest to accept Jesus Christ as our savior so that our eternal destiny will be assured.

    From a Christian perspective, the basis of private property rests in our being created in God’s image. We can make choices over property that we can exchange in a market system. But sometimes the desire for private property grows out of our sinfulness. Correspondingly, our sinful nature also produces laziness, neglect, and slothfulness. The fact is that economic justice can best be achieved if each person is accountable for his own productivity.

    Historically, capitalism has had a number of advantages. It has liberated economic potential. It has also provided the foundation for a great deal of political and economic freedom. When government is not controlling markets, then there is economic freedom to be involved in an array of entrepreneurial activities. Capitalism has also led to a great deal of political freedom, because once we limit the role of government in economics, we limit the scope of government in other areas. It is no accident that most of the countries with the greatest political freedom usually have a great deal of economic freedom.

    However, Christians cannot and should not endorse every aspect of capitalism. For example, many proponents of capitalism hold a view known as utilitarianism, which is opposed to the notion of biblical absolutes. Certainly, we must reject this philosophy. Also, there are certain economic and moral issues that must be addressed. Though there are some valid economic criticisms of capitalism such as monopolies and the byproduct of pollution, these can be controlled by limited governmental control. And when capitalism is wisely controlled, it generates significant economic prosperity and economic freedom for its people.

    One of the major moral arguments against capitalism is greed, which is why many Christians feel unsure about the free enterprise system. Critics of capitalism contend that this system makes people greedy. But then we must ask whether capitalism makes people greedy or do we already have greedy people who use the economic freedom of the capitalistic system to achieve their ends? In light of the biblical description of human nature (Jeremiah 17:9), the latter seems more likely. Because people are sinful and selfish, some are going to use the capitalist system to satisfy their greed. But that is not so much a criticism of capitalism as it is a realization of the human condition. The goal of capitalism is not to change bad people but to protect us from them. Capitalism is a system in which bad people can do the least harm and good people have the freedom to do good works. Capitalism works best with moral individuals. But it also functions adequately with selfish and greedy people.

    It’s important to realize that there is a difference between self-interest and selfishness. All people have self-interests which can operate in ways that are not selfish. For example, it is in our self-interest to get a job and earn an income so that we can support our family. We can do that in ways that are not selfish. By contrast, other economic systems such as socialism ignore the biblical definitions of human nature. As a result, they allow economic power to be centralized and concentrate power in the hands of a few greedy people. Those who complain of the influence major corporations have on our lives should consider the socialist alternative where a few governmental bureaucrats control every aspect of our lives.

    Though greed is sometimes evident in the capitalist system, we have to understand it’s not because of the system—it’s because greed is part of man’s sinful nature. The solution lies not in changing the economic system but in changing the heart of man through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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  118. Curt – first of all, it’s predominant, not “pre-dominent.”

    Second, I’m going to quote Robert, who sums it up perfectly:
    “And it’s simply not self-evident that capitalism is any more or less exploitative than socialism. You keep asserting points as if this was some kind of self-evident truth that we all agree on. Is it not evident to you that everyone here is basically a capitalist of some flavor and believes that on the whole, socialism is a much worse system than the kind of economic hybrid system that we have in the US?”

    You seem to think it’s just a given that our economic system is “exploitative,” but have done nothing to even begin to prove that assertion factually or logically. You have also not demonstrated that we have “ignored moral issues” in our foreign wars, and even if we did, how it is wrong for a nation to act in its self-interest. You say the American church “denies facts,” but you have yet to establish that your own beliefs are established by any “facts” whatsoever. In essence, you are so dogmatic and entrenched in your political views that you can’t entertain the possibility that you might be philosophically and theologically wrong. You just assume conclusions that are not reasonably supported by any facts – at least none that you’ve taken the time to demonstrate here.

    I agree there are political problems in the broadly EEEeeeevangelical church today, problems that a 2k perspective would largely remedy. But saying that the American Church encourages exploitative economic practices and unjust wars is both uncharitable and incorrect. I’m open to correction – take the time to prove your case and maybe you would garner a more sympathetic audience here.

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  119. Curt,

    It’s also not self-evident that increasing wealth disparity is a bad thing, even if it were true that neoliberalism does that. The percentage of the world in abject poverty decreased from somewhere around 40 percent or so to less than 10 percent over the last century. And it wasn’t socialism that did that. Why is it inherently wrong for the billionaire to get richer if the same policies enable the person in stark poverty to be able to feed his family, buy a house, and have some money leftover to save and invest even if it is only a little bit?

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  120. “What we need to know about whether the Bible would support US interventions depends more on what we know about those interventions than on what we know from the Bible.”
    Ding, ding, ding!!! Now you’re getting it. Whether those interventions were a good idea or not, whether they were criminal or not, etc… is not an ecclesiastical question. That doesn’t mean that anything goes. I happen to agree that interventionism and meddling in the affairs of foreign countries is incredibly stupid. But not because the Bible the tells me so. That’s the point. So a fellow congregant and I can have an intense discussion about the wisdom of the Iraq war BUT it isn’t necessarily sinful for him to disagree with me and come to another conclusion. It would be inappropriate for the church to include in the prayer of confession, “…we confess for the sinfulness of voting for neocon candidates and not attending the anti-war rally…”

    Your fundamentalist is coming out by your desire to moralize everything. Not every choice has moral weight even if there are right and wrong answers.

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  121. “Regarding specific gun control laws, the Bible doesn’t tell us what we should implement now. But when we consider how guns are being used to murder people, accepting the status quo or trying to put more guns in the hands of people when other nations have reduced gun violence by reducing the number of guns is wrong. Why? Here wisdom becomes our guide. When Trump undid Obama’s attempt to restrict the sale of guns to those with mental illnesses, was that a wise choice or one that was meant to increase the sale of guns?”

    Well unlike you I can’t read minds. It could be that banning people who receive Social Security support who have been declared incapable of handling their financial affairs affects ~0 potential gun buyers. However, since buying a gun is a constitutional right, it could have been decided the ban would not stand up in court if tried. So rather than keep a restriction in place that did no good and fight an expensive legal battle, they decided to rescind it (this affected 75,000 people).

    As far as the status quo goes, it is important to look at granularity in the firearm situation. First, the incidence of mass shootings and deaths by mass shootings is not greater in the US than in Europe where gun laws are much stricter. Indeed, these events are very rare, so small number statistics make nation by nation incidence comparisons give very weird results.

    More important are the total number of people killed by firearms by all causes. Brookings showed that from 2011-2013, the firearm homicide rate for 20-29 yro black men was 89/100k. That is about the same as Hondorus – the most violent (not counting war) country on earth. For black men over all, it is 26/100k. For white men, the number is about 3/100k – comparable to Europe (Brookings did not seperate out Hispanic in their stats… the crime rate for non-Hispanic whites is lower than Hispanic whites, so it could be that non-Hispanic white men have a firearm homicide rate that is even lower). That being said, the firearm death rate by suicide is quite high, and suicide among white men correlates closely with gun ownership rates. Attempts by firearm are the most “successful”, so this is perhaps not too surprising.

    So the data indicates that the majority of the country experiences firearm violence rates comparable to countries with much stricter gun laws. Yet certain subsections of our society are outliers. One solution is to just try and ban guns, but it isn’t clear that this is feasible (and it is hunting long guns you have to ban if you want to put a dent in suicide and pistols you have to ban if you want to put a dent in the death rate for African Americans). The so-called “common sense” laws people keep talking about won’t accomplish anything ( as we saw with the last assault rifle ban).

    Yet we do have two distinct crises on our hands. A few things one might consider that would put a big dent in the homicide rate among African Americans is the following:
    1. Change our educational philosophy. Currently we have a one-size fits all approach based on age. However, if we believe that pre-natal care, how a toddler is raised, and parental involvement in education contribute to success, then it is not reasonable to expect students without these benefits to learn at the same rate as other students. Indeed, there is a pernicious achievement gap between white and black students – the variance among states is overwhelmingly driven by race. Whites in Mississippi and Massachusetts perform much more similarly to each other than whites and blacks in either state. Black students graduate high school with math and reading skills on average two grade levels behind their write peers. These students are less prepared for work, less prepared for college, and far more likely to end up in jail. Spending the money so that students progress based on their achievement rather than their age and expanding year round educational options for students who need extra help will help to close the gap.

    2. Make it easier to enter the workforce – currently it is expensive and risky to hire new workers. Compensation costs have risen (and continue to rise) incentivizing employers to look at ways to reduce entry level employment through increased automation. That means that if you drop out of high-school, only have a high school degree, or “come college”, getting work experience is getting increasingly difficult. Furthermore, if you have any kind of criminal conviction on your record, it is almost impossible to get work. To fix this, we could eliminate minimum wages in favor of wage subsidies on the one hand and replace payroll taxes with energy taxes on the other, and increase the tax incentives for hiring ex-cons. This tips the balance in favor of low wage workers and reduces recidivism.

    3. Increase physical activity time in school.

    4. Increase mental health care (and keep it confidential) in schools and rural community centers (probably schools or extension agencies).

    While not quite as emotionally satisfying as banning “assault rifles”, I suspect these policies would save far more lives. Disagree all your want of course. There is nothing Biblically wrong with that even if you are factually wrong. You are still welcome to my church, I don’t doubt your salvation, and my pastor shouldn’t try to get you to confess things that aren’t clearly forbidden in scripture.

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  122. Curt, “conservative protestantism which has been joined by conservative catholicism on political ideology, has refuse to challenge our nation on its exploitive economic system”

    And then those Protestants vote for Trump to oppose global markets and you don’t notice.

    Why are you so stingy with appreciation?

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  123. sdb says my pastor shouldn’t try to get you to confess things that aren’t clearly forbidden in scripture.

    sdb, hope your church teaches, and you to your children, that it is GOD Who is the ultimate authority and judge.
    – a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised; but he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    -Against You, You only, I have sinned
    -To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
    -I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.

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  124. Ali: hope your church teaches, and you to your children, that it is GOD Who is the ultimate authority and judge.

    Ding, ding.

    That’s exactly the point. And since God is the judge, man is not (which is Paul’s point in 1 Cor). The church does have jurisdiction over matters that are clearly sin (1 Cor 5), but not over disputed matters, nor over those outside the church.

    Hence, Curt’s assertions that the church ought to be telling society how to run itself are not merely questionable; they are positively pernicious. It is a species of theonomy.

    I suspect that it’s not intentional; I can’t imagine that Curt’s intent is to corrupt the gospel. But that’s the inevitable outcome of trying to turn disputed matters into religious obligations, whether in the name of sexual morality (Falwell) or social (Curt).

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  125. @Ali
    You don’t have to hope. You can know. That’s been the point all along. But also note that God has ordained rulers for the church. The question on the table is what the Holy Spirit tells us in his word about the scope of that authority. Curt thinks the church (by which we mean elders) has the authority to tell us what political stance to take. I disagree because scripture doesn’t tell us how or whether to be politically involved.

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  126. Curt: The point is still that the pre-dominent branch of the Church in America supports wealth and power. And it does so institutionally, not just regionally or locally. The pre-dominent branch of the Church in America, conservative protestantism which has been joined by conservative catholicism on political ideology…

    I previously showed you the facts on concentration of wealth. It’s in the hands of liberal Christians and nonChristians.

    Now you want to say that the “pre-dominent” branch of the church in America is conservative protestantism, joined by conservative Catholicism.

    Facts: mainline outnumbers evangelical. They also hold most of the property. They also vastly outnumber evangelicals in centers of power: banking, government, educational institutions, scientific organizations.

    Fact: Catholics have voted for the left in every election save one (2nd Reagan election) since 1972. The stated political positions of the Catholic church are left-leaning and have been since the 60s.

    I can’t post more than one link in a post, so you’ll have to do your own fact-checking. Here’s a start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_politics_in_the_United_States#Party_affiliation

    Your narrative is counter-factual.

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  127. D.G.,
    Those who voted for trump to resist the global side of neoliberalism were still embracing the domestic side of neoliberalism. In addition, what is missed in Trump’s rejection of globalism is that much of that globalism exists in the financial sector and that side of globalism was not opposed by Trump.

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  128. sdb,
    there was no attempt to read minds on my part. It was merely a description of the way things are. Asking if a decision is wise is not an attempt to read minds. But promoting policies that increase the sale of guns, like arming teachers while undoing Obama’s attempts to prohibit people with mental illnesses from buying guns has an obvious result–the increased sale of guns. What I wrote is observation, not mind reading. And trying to brand what I wrote as mind reading passes over the details.

    Next, your selective use of statistics is telling. Honduras has experienced change in violence since the 2009 coup. Now, So if you then want to compare the US with Honduras, realized the objects of comparison. Try comparing the US with Great Britain or Australia or Western European nations to use more comparable objects.

    Finally, if you want to introduce long-term solutions, I am for that. What we must do now is adjust laws for how society is now. And if you want to adjust work force opportunities, you need to include addressing the current exploitive economic system.

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  129. Robert,
    You are displaying what I mean by religiously conservative Christianity supporting wealth and power. In capitalist systems, power follows wealth so that a consolidation of wealth results in a consolidation of power. Again, see the article on America becoming an oligarchy. And in oligarchies, the interests of those with wealth are protected while the welfare becomes disposable. We should also note that with neoliberalism’s free flow of capital, foreign investors gain more and more control over democratic governments.

    Now if you want to talk about poverty, realize that abject poverty is not the only classification. And what you are referring to really has more of a mixed message than you are presenting it as having. With neoliberalism has come more destruction of the environment, more people closer to poverty but not abject poverty (realize that abject poverty is based on living on less than $2.00 per day0, and greater exploitation of workers including the trafficking or workers. In addition, we should note that what is often keeping people out of poverty here is business’s use of government assistance programs as subsidies to their payrolls. And so who starts chipping in more and more to pay a liveable wage for employees who work for certain companies. We should also note that through the promoting of comparative advantage, which is part of the neoliberal package, nations are put into an economic semi-casts system

    Most of the lifting up of people out of abject occurs in India and China. Well, China is much more of a controlled economy than a neoliberal one. Meanwhile, India is seeing a continued increase in slavery as well as it is one of the top 5 source countries for illegal immigrants coming to America.

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  130. Jeff,
    You actually didn’t show anything of the sort. Is there wealth in the hands of some liberal Christians? And some of that shows up in terms of social liberalism vs social conservatism. But wealth and power are, for the most part, in the hands of those who have little concern for religion and Christianity. And it is the conservative Protestant Church, with some assistance from conservative Catholics, who trying to get people so focused on personal sins while either actively or passively supporting neoliberalism because they have yet to distinguish between the Bretton-Woods system of Capitalism from today’s neoliberalism.

    The difference between the support for neoliberalism from political conservatives and political liberals is that political liberals try to make it more palatable by adding some fringe benefits for those from the middle and lower economic classes. But just mention that we need to strengthen unions so that there is a better distribution of power in the business world between employers and workers and then listen for the complaints. And if you want to point to the problems with unions, realize that, for the most part, religiously conservative Christians are opposed to giving worker more power. If one suggests employing codetermination as a way of redistributing power between employers and workers, then the complaint is that that is what Europe does, not America.

    Let me ask, for which political party did evangelicals give the most support? And of those two parties, which political party pushes for fewer taxes and regulations for businesses?

    When I wrote that conservative Protestantism in America is supporting wealth and power, I wasn’t saying whether it was conservative or liberal Christians who had the most wealth. I was saying that it is conservative Protestantism that supports the those programs and policies that primarily benefit those with wealth over the rest.

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  131. JRC: I previously showed you the facts on concentration of wealth. It’s in the hands of liberal Christians and nonChristians.

    Curt: You actually didn’t show anything of the sort. Is there wealth in the hands of some liberal Christians? And some of that shows up in terms of social liberalism vs social conservatism. But wealth and power are, for the most part, in the hands of those who have little concern for religion and Christianity.

    So I showed nothing of the sort, but you repeat what I said in different words. *hat tip*

    Curt: Let me ask, for which political party did evangelicals give the most support? And of those two parties, which political party pushes for fewer taxes and regulations for businesses?

    When I wrote that conservative Protestantism in America is supporting wealth and power, I wasn’t saying whether it was conservative or liberal Christians who had the most wealth. I was saying that it is conservative Protestantism that supports the those programs and policies that primarily benefit those with wealth over the rest.

    Has it never occurred to you that regulations are the means by which the wealthy insulate themselves from their middle-class competitors? That creating a Byzantine maze of regulations is guaranteed to concentrate power with the regulators?

    https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2018/02/06/its_good_to_live_near_the_king.html

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  132. Curt,

    And of those two parties, which political party pushes for fewer taxes and regulations for businesses?

    Increasing regulations signals to businesses that they need to be politically connected in order to make sure that the regulations don’t hurt them too much or that they can be used to advantage themselves against the competition. I imagine you are probably one of the “get money out of politics” guys. Dismantling the regulatory state is the only effective way to do that. Until then, businesses will buy influence to get the regulations they want passed.

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  133. there was no attempt to read minds on my part. It was merely a description of the way things are. Asking if a decision is wise is not an attempt to read minds.

    You said that the *reason* Trump made the decision he did was to sell more guns. That wasn’t a judgement of the wisdom of his policy, it was judgement about his motives.

    But promoting policies that increase the sale of guns, like arming teachers while undoing Obama’s attempts to prohibit people with mental illnesses from buying guns has an obvious result–the increased sale of guns.

    Well let’s see here. Is the result obvious? The executive policy affected ~75,000 who received SS benefits and were declared incompetent to handle their own financial affairs. What fraction of those do you think went out and purchased a firearm? Keep in mind that ~26million firearms are sold each year.

    The policy to allow teachers to receive training and carry a firearm may or may not increase the number of firearms sold. It is entirely possible that it will be handled on a permit basis such that teachers aren’t issued guns, but allowed to carry their own firearm on campus. Seems like a terrible idea to me, but even if half of the 3M teachers in this country elect to carry firearms (I very much doubt it would be that high), we are talking about 1.5M firearms. This is relatively small as well. So no, it is not at all obvious that this change in executive policy have a significant impact on increasing the sale of guns in effect much less the motive behind the policy.

    Next, your selective use of statistics is telling. Honduras has experienced change in violence since the 2009 coup. Now, So if you then want to compare the US with Honduras, realized the objects of comparison. Try comparing the US with Great Britain or Australia or Western European nations to use more comparable objects.

    Did you read what I wrote? My point is that the average firearm homicide rate conceals as much as it reveals. The firearm homicide rate among non-hispanic whites is comparable to western europe. The firearm homicide rate among young black men is comparable to the most violent nations in the world (Honduras happens to have a matching rate – the reason for the high rate in Honduras really isn’t relevant – pick another country, South Africa?, if you will).

    Finally, if you want to introduce long-term solutions, I am for that. What we must do now is adjust laws for how society is now. And if you want to adjust work force opportunities, you need to include addressing the current exploitive economic system.

    We don’t have *a* economic system. We have a plurality of systems (some licit some not). I see nothing about our system that is inherently exploitive. But we’ve been down this road before. I believe the policies you support would make people much, much worse off. You disagree. That’s fine. The point of this thread is that it is not appropriate a conservative pastor to lead a prayer of confession that includes the line, “we repent of not standing up for our right to bear arms”, and it is not appropriate for a liberal pastor to lead a prayer of confession that includes the line, “we repent of not supporting a living wage”. Churches should not issue statements on political matters that are not clearly taught in scripture, and pastors should not preach that political stances are sinful – whether it is van Til preaching against socialism or Niebuhr preaching against capitalism.

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  134. Let me ask, for which political party did evangelicals give the most support? And of those two parties, which political party pushes for fewer taxes and regulations for businesses?

    Remind me. What party do the oligarchs (Silicon valley, Hollywood, and Wall St.) overwhelmingly support? Google, Facebook, Apple and Goldman Sachs aren’t exactly bastions of support for rightwing causes.

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  135. The human propensity for cruelty towards each other- for no apparent rhyme or reason; the case study of Mozambique:

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  136. sdb,
    Revoking Obama’s attempts to keep those with mental health problems from buying guns and suggesting that teachers carry guns results in what kind of gun sales?

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  137. sdb,
    You’re making assumptions about the abilities of those 75,000. The fact that Trump reversed that allows for what? Do you really think that none of the 75,000 can purchase a gun? If not, how many? And if they are mentally incompetent from handling their own finances, why allow them to purchase guns? Your argument is based on assumption and forgetting that it only takes one person with an AR-15 to commit a mass shooting. Realize that Nikolas Cruz legally accumulated a tremendous cache of weapons. Had he don’t that illegally, it would increase the chances that he would be caught and would law enforcement reason to step in prior to his attacking the school.

    That 26,000,000 firearms are sold each year is irrelevant to the point. Increasing the number of people who could purchase guns and encouraging teachers to be armed to stop school shootings is asking for an increase in gun sales. The rate of increase is irrelevant, it is still an increase.

    And yes, I read your note. But what you are missing is that the majority of terrorist attacks in the US are committed by right-wing white males. That mass shootings are committed by an overwhelming majority of white males (56 by whites compared to 16 by Blacks since 1982). Yes, gun violence by Blacks is a serious problems. But the gun violence issue has multiple perspectives and not just the one you cited. Whereas gun violence by Blacks can also be related to the economic situation and racism in the justice system that some Blacks experience, what explains the mass shootings committed by whites? Do you understand why I wrote that your statistics are selective. How do the number whites who commit mass shootings compare to the number of mass shootings in Europe?

    Finally, we do have an economic system, it is called neoliberalism. It is a different form of Capitalism than what was employed from post WW II to the 1970s. it further objectifies people and makes them more disposable than the previous form of Capitalism. Again, look into the statistics of the amount in gov’t assistance is used to supplement the payrolls of many companies. Look into the effects that offshoring had on employment numbers and how people had to transition from factory work to service work and how that transition held down the pay in service work. Look into the effects of technological unemployment that increases the number of ‘surplus’ people for whom the system has not jobs. We have a system that continually tries to void itself of their social responsibilities by reducing taxes and regulations. And all of that is done in the name of maximizing profits for the sake of shareholders. Yes, we have single economic system and those with wealth from the private sector are gaining more and more political power all of the time.

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  138. Robert,
    Though there are bad regulations and there can be too many, in principle, regulations state the rules for how businesses will conduct themselves in society so that those in society will be neither harmed nor exploited. And that also applies to the environment. That the voice of businesses should be heard in the making of those regulations is not the issue. What is the issue is that, in order to maximize profits, business buys more and more political power. And lest you defend the maximizing of profits, realize that such an ethic cannibalizes all other ethics and values and, in addition, such an ethic goes against the Scriptures.

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  139. Jeff,
    You simply claimed that the wealth was in the hands of liberal Christians. Actually, the greatest wealth is in the hands of the financial sector and the corporate sector. They are the ones paying for the homes of the residents mentioned in the article you cited. They are the one employing the lobbyists and who made rich those who transition between private and public sector jobs and that includes those in the military.

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  140. 1) Old Life @oldlife tweet
    Jesus didn’t reach professionals.
    Paul didn’t.
    Peter didn’t.
    You do the math.

    They didn’t?
    Acts 21: 28a crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to ALL MEN EVERYWHERE

    2)Jeff, ,at least one thing we can get from Curt in general without agreeing with him about everything is that Christian living is RADICAL

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  141. Old Life tweet:
    Jesus didn’t reach professionals.
    Paul didn’t.
    Peter didn’t.
    You do the math.

    They didn’t?
    Acts 21: 28a crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to ALL MEN EVERYWHERE

    Jeff, ,at least one thing we can get from Curt in general without agreeing with him about everything is that Christian living is RADICAL

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  142. Curt: You simply claimed that the wealth was in the hands of liberal Christians.

    JRC: It’s in the hands of liberal Christians and nonChristians.

    Slow down and read more carefully, please.

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  143. RADICAL , ie:

    “When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore is for each of us a personal one. Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.”

    ..“Is there some secret we may learn? The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read, it is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.”

    “Knowledge of such a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom the natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.”

    ..“Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever know.
    First, we must forsake our sins……
    Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith……
    Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit….
    Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust.
    Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God. This will take some effort, for the concept of majesty has all but disappeared from the human race. The focal point of man’s interest is now himself.”

    …Thus far we have considered the individual’s personal relationship to God, but like the ointment of a man’s right hand, which by its fragrance “betrayeth itself” any intensified knowledge of God will soon begin to affect those around us in the Christian community. And we must seek purposefully to share our increasing light with the fellow members of the household of God.

    This we can best do by keeping the majesty of God in full focus in all our public services. Not only our private prayers should be filled with God, but our witnessing, our singing, our peaching, our writing should center around the Person of our holy, holy Lord and extol continually the greatness of His dignity and power. There is a glorified Man on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven faithfully representing us there. We are left for a season among men; let us faithfully represent Him here.

    (excerpts, The Knowledge of the Holy; Chapter 23 The Open Secret AW Tozer)

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  144. A. W. Tozer: “But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.”

    ..“Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever know.”

    John Y: More conditional salvation by Oswald Chamber- ““God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”
    ― Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

    Tianqi Wu On being theologians of cross

    “God has determined to reveal himself fully only in the context of Redemption.

    There is no true doctrine of trinity and of person of Christ apart from a true doctrine of the work of Christ.

    In fact, there is no true understanding of “God is one” apart from the knowledge of the person and work of Christ. All of God’s attributes, all aspects of His character, all His promises, are revealed to be one in Christ and him crucified.

    Thus, the only true theologian is the one who believes in the gospel.

    All theologies detached from the gospel become idolatry – whether Judaic, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Evangelical or Reformed.”

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  145. Curt – you asserted that Trump overturned Obama’s executive order for the purpose of increasing gun sales. I demurred as I can’t read minds. However, I find it highly unlikely that gun sales were his motivation because the change would result in a tiny (if any – my estimate was ~0) increase in the ~26M guns sold per year. If Trump really wanted to increase gun sales, all he would have to do is tweet “Maybe we should ban guns.” I guarantee you that the increase in gun sales would go through the roof. It has only been recently that ammo supplies have recovered from the rumor that we would start taxing bullets.

    I make no opinion on whether this was a good decision or not. I can think of arguments for Trump’s decision (like the one I mentioned), that don’t require his motivation be an increase in gun sales. Who knows? Not me or you, and that was my point.

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  146. @Curt Regarding the firearm fatality statistics, you need to read far more closely. I pointed out that the overwhelming majority of deaths by firearms are interpersonal handgun violence and suicide. Firearm homicides are heavily concentrated among black men in their 20’s. The firearm homicide rate among white men is average for Europe. If you want to make a difference in this number, talking about terrorist acts and mass shootings are distractions as they account for an infinitesimal number of homicides. Similarly with suicides. My only point here is that national averages obscure and are poor guides for public policy.

    As far as where the US ranks for death rates from mass shootings, the best summary I’ve seen compiles numbers from 2009-2015. To compare apples to apples, this study excluded shootings from war, gang fights, and robberies. This was focused on events like what happened in Charleston, Newtown, Florida, etc…

    The death rate in the US from such events from 2009-2015 was .089 deaths per million people. France was 0.347, Switzerland was .142, Belgium was .128, Canada was .032, England was .027, and Italy was .009. Of course, these European countries are a lot smaller than the US, so you can fall prey to small number statistics (Norway was the highest at 1.9!). The EU average was 0.114, so the US was slightly lower, but statistically equivalent. You get similar numbered for the incident rate. These are incredibly rare events. Tragic, but rare. If saving lives is your priority, your focus should be on suicides among white men and interpersonal violence among 20-something Africans American men.

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  147. Faith means coming (to Christ-my addition) without your works (conditions-my addition).

    Coming without your works is faith.

    Faith means coming without your repentance.

    On the other hand, you cannot come in faith unless you repent of coming with works.

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  148. sdb,
    Again, you filter out what doesnt’t agree. While you tried to pin the difference between us and Europe on Blacks using guns, you didn’t account for mass shootings. The problem is that grouping gang fights with the shooting event that occurred in Florida is not an apples to apples comparison. The Gun Violence Website does that, but ignores the vast differences between what the kind of shooting that occurs in gang fights and that which occurred in Florida, or Los Vegas, or Orlando. Those are two entirely different events. In addition, the Gun Violence Website uses a broader definition of mass shooting than others. Its definition includes when there only a certain number of injuries rather than a certain number of deaths.

    So deal with the fact that with kind of mass shooting that occurred in Florida, by an overwhelming number, White males are the perpetrators. Outside of that, most gun deaths that occur when white males are the perpetrators are suicides while with Black males, it is murder. Then again, one has to account for the significantly lingering effects of our nation’s history racism along with economics. And regarding mass shootings, again, America is exceptional.

    And it seems that even from your stats, there are things we can learn from Europe, but you are so quick to excuse the difference by attributing the population difference only. That indicates a lack of objectivity here.

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  149. sdb,
    When his actions lead to the increase in gun sales in the light of our national problem with gun violence, it doesn’t take a psychic or a psychologist to see the motivation. Actions speak louder than words.

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  150. D.G.,
    yes, it is a free country. But Trump used deception. He portrayed Hillary as siding with the elites, but in embracing the domestic side of neoliberalism, Trump did the same.

    Yes, it is a free country, but that freedom doesn’t apply to the consequences of our decisions. Neoliberalism revolves around the same kind of ethics that Ayn Rand promoted. Yes, one can be free to follow Ayn Rand, but when an economic system does that, the consequences can become quite dire for more and more people.

    So do you get an idea why Socialists oppose neoliberalism? In fact, so would the kind of Capitalism employed by much of the world following WW II.

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  151. Curt
    Stop flailing. No one is excusing anything.
    1. Mass shootings happen at a slightly lower rate and cause fewer deaths per capita in the US vs. the EU.
    2. Firearm homicides are overwhelmingly caused by handguns and are concentrated among young black men.
    3. About half of firearm deaths are due to suicide – concentrated among rural white men.

    Proposed changes to the law needs to address these facts. Given the highly restrictive gun laws in Europe yet similar mass shooting rates, it is unclear that changing our gun laws will effect change. We ran this experiment once, and the assault weapon ban had no effect.

    The US does have a much higher fatality rate from firearms. The sort of guns causing most of the problems are unlikely to ever be banned. There are things we can do to address these tragedies, but they don’t involve bumpstocks, AR-15s, silencers, or large capacity clips.

    As far as Trump’s motive for overturning a ban that included 75,000 people, even if everyone of these people purchased a new firearm every year, we are talking about a .4% increasingly in sales. However, nationally fewer than 10% of adults purchase a firearm, so even if this group of social security beneficiaries who have been deemed mentally incapable of handling their own financial affairs (the criterion for falling under this ban) want buy guns at the same rate as the general population, we are talking about a 0.04% increase.

    A more likely reason for overturning the executive order is that it was largely symbolic, stopped virtually no sales, and there is no evidence that people covered by the ban had ever committed mass violence. On the other hand, gun ownership is a civil right, and taking away a right requires due process. The government may win in the end, but getting to that point could be expensive. So rather than assume that the policy was motivated by a desire to increase gun sales, I stay agnostic on the topic. There is insufficient evidence to conclude the motivation of the president.

    I think arming teachers is a terrible idea. Even with all the training that police receive and screening for fitness, mistakes happen. Letting teachers who undergo virtually no training, drilling, or screening carry firearms in school in anticipation of a gun battle is crazy. Given how rare shootings in schools are, accidental discharge and mistaken engagement are likely to far out number the number of mass shootings stopped. I doubt it will have a measurable impact on gun sales though.

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  152. sdb,
    I don’t know where you get your data, but here are some facts:

    1. The 2017 total population of European Union members = 511,805,088
    The 2017 total population of the US is somewhere over 300,000,000

    2. Number of mass shootings in Europe between 2009 and 2015 = 19
    Number of mass shootings in the U.S. during the same time period = 31, 27 if

    3. The only stat that favors the US is the number of casualties.

    So, from the mixed stats, in terms of years, above, your first claim appears to be false.

    But let me just stop there. There are many facets of gun control that must be addressed individually. When addressing the problem with mass shootings and the use of assault weapons, comparing suicide rates or gang fights is irrelevant. One of the sides of addressing gun control is to try to reduce the number of mass shootings as well as the number casualties. One must also consider whether there is a real need for anyone in the public to own an assault gun. After all, is there any real need for a private citizen to own a working tank?

    Other problems with the misuse of guns and corrective gun control can be addressed outside of the need to legitimately try to reduce mass shootings and their casualties.

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  153. Jeff,
    Read more carefully, it is in the hands of the financial and corporate sectors. That makes the religion of individuals here irrelevant.

    Where religiously conservative Christians come into play is in their support for the economic system that so benefits the financial and corporate sectors often to the harm of others.

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  154. As usual Ali, I’m not sure of your point. I could not hear that video on my cell phone. That Tozer quote would make me think that the Gospel has not been revealed and understood by you yet. However, who am I? I’m just a recovering drug addict who is exhorting someone who has progressed and advanced to the meat of God’s Word. Woe is me!

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  155. @Curt I am counting shootings that claimed the lives of at least 4 people and were not the result of civil war or gang violence. This leads to an incident rate of .06/mil in the EU and .08/mil in the US. You are correct, I transposed those numbers, but they are statistically consistent. The fatality and casualty rate in the EU is slightly higher in the US, but again, statistically consistent. You may want to tweak the definition a bit around the edges – (perhaps thrown in Norway among EU countries, etc…), but in the end what you find is that the occurrence and injury rate from mass shootings in the US and in countries with far more restrictive gun laws than the US are equivalent.

    The irrelevance of suicides and gang fights to the question of mass shootings is something we agree on. That was my point from the beginning. If you want to compare the US to other countries, you need to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. We agree!

    As far as the need to own an “assault” gun, a few comments:
    1. There is no technical definition of an assault gun. This is largely perjorative.
    2. Whether something is needed is not dispositive. No one needs TV, motorcycles, fast food, cigarettes, ice cream, or Coca Cola. That doesn’t mean you get to ban them. Indeed, hours sitting in front of the TV take more lives off the average US life expectancy than firearms.
    3. Their are good hunting uses for semi-automatic firearms. Where I live, we have a real problem with feral pigs. They are hard to track, do a ton of environmental damage, and get nasty if you don’t put them down cleanly. You don’t want to nick one… fumbling with a bolt action would not be fun if you had one charging you!
    4. AR-15’s are popular for sport shooting due to their ease of use, relatively inexpensive ammunition (for the .223 anyway), and the fact that they are versatile (i.e., work well as a varmit gun – ground hogs, beavers, muskrats, etc…). The kick is minimal, and you can silence them to keep the noise down. I’m a cheapskate, so I use a .22LR low velocity round. The rounds are very inexpensive and quiet, so the kids and I can get a lot of practice shooting in without bothering the neighbors (and yes, I have a safe berm to shoot into and no houses/roads within a 1000ft of where we shoot).

    Now one might question whether high capacity magazines are a good idea. I doubt that banning these would have made any difference in any of the mass shootings of late. Perhaps you have evidence to the contrary? The guns I’ve handled with large clips were awkward to me. I also hear that they are prone to jamming.

    Well, anyway, I think we agree that arming teachers is a stupid idea, the fatality rate from mass shootings in Europe where guns are much more highly regulated than in the US is about the same, and that thinking about policies tied to dealing with mass shootings should be dealt with separately from interpersonal violence and suicides. We disagree about whether AR style rifles should be banned or not. That’s fine. That’s why we have a political process. My point in brining this up and going so many rounds about it here is that while it is fine for us each to advocate for our favored policy position, the church qua church should not opine on the matter. It is not necessarily sinful to think that no civilians should have access to firearms, and it is not necessarily sinful to think that we should have access to tanks and flamethrowers (stupid perhaps, but not sinful). The church has authority over believers, but that authority is restricted to what it has been ordained to do: Word (to which it is to add nothing) and Sacrament.

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  156. sdb,
    In terms of definitions, why not use the definition of assault weapons that was given in the Federal Assault Weapons ban? In addition, an assault weapons ban is not talking about ban on innocuous items, we are talking about a ban on weapons designed for combat. No one needs a hand grenade, a tank, an F-16, and so on either. You need to compare apples with apples here.

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  157. D.G.,
    Then we could discuss the intersection of the two and compare if you want. But today’s neoliberalism follows Ayn Rand and is producing tragic results for both today and the future

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  158. “Assault Rifle” is an actual term: A “magazine fed, automatic fire designed for infantry use.” Those weapons are already banned for civilian use.

    “Assault weapon”, by contrast, is a term in law only, and it refers specifically to the items banned by the AWB of 1994-2004. That ban was repealed because it was utterly ineffective.

    Curt, the term you are looking for is “semi-automatic.” You want to prevent civilians from owning semi-automatic rifles. Good luck!

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  159. Ali: at least one thing we can get from Curt in general without agreeing with him about everything is that Christian living is RADICAL

    I wish that we could get radical Christian living from Curt. I truly wish that Curt could be radically gospel-centered and use God’s law in its proper three uses.

    There is nothing radical about re-appropriating God’s law as a tool for social engineering or a blueprint for political action. That playbook is centuries-old, and it has historically led always, always to corruption.

    There is nothing radical about adding man-made obligations to God’s law. That has been done since before Jesus’ time, and it was done by the Pharisees.

    “Christian politics” offers nothing nutritious, only sawdust and sand.

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  160. Here is how a former heroin addict described the bondage of his will:

    “For the addict dope is God. It is the supreme being, the Higher Power, in the junkie’s life. He is subjugated to its will. He follows its commandments. The drug is the definition of happiness, and gives the meaning of love. Each shot of junk in his veins is a shot of divine love, and it makes the addict feel resplendent with the grace of God.”

    John Y: I think you can probably replace the word “dope” with spiritual disciplines and the fleshly pursuit of holiness too. It makes those addicted to their devotional lives feel the same way as the addict does about his “dope”- RADICAL

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  161. Luther described the bondage of the will (in opposition to the commonly held assumption that man’s will if free) in this way: “Man….does not do evil against his will, under pressure, as though he were taken by the scruff of the neck and dragged into it, like a thief….being dragged off against his will to punishment; but he does it spontaneously and voluntarily. And this willingness or volition is something which he cannot in his own strength eliminate, restrain or alter.”

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  162. Jeff,
    Just a small correction. Fully automatic machine guns are not fully banned. There are some restrictions involved, but if you can pass the background check and the weapon was made before 1986 then you can legally purchase a assault rifle.

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  163. @Curt

    Now this is what the president says when he wants to cause a spike in gun sales”

    WATCH: President Trump: “I like taking the guns early … Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

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  164. johnyeazel says: Man does it spontaneously and voluntarily. And this willingness or volition is something which he cannot in his own strength eliminate, restrain or alter.
    -“In the final analysis it is God who works in us (added:believers) to will and to act according to His good purpose. But we are expressly told by Paul to work at this ourselves (Philippians 2:12). Our responsibility regarding our wills is to guard our minds and emotions, being aware of what influences our minds and stimulates our desires.” From The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.

    johnyeazel’s song says ‘Let it be known there is a fountain That was not made by the hands of men; There is a road, no simple highway Between the dawn and the dark of night; And if you go no one may follow That path is for your steps alone’
    -no one may follow?; that path is for your steps alone?
    But the path of (added:all) the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

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  165. John Y: So are you now a kinder and gentler, Ali?

    Jerry Bridges, p34, Transforming Grace—“if you are trusting TO ANY DEGREE in your own morality, or if you believe that God will somehow recognize any of your good works as a reason for your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.”

    John Y: I’m not sure who said the following but it keeps me going when I am not performing too well:

    “Hearing the gospel is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

    Grace is not for the nice people who are living right. Grace is not what causes us to live right. None of us lives right yet. Grace is not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be.”

    And this: “For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us?

    But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” not having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about not having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? I Am.”

    John Y: I don’t follow the same train of thought as you do, Ali, i.e., in regards to the path of the righteous. The righteous path I follow is completely outside of me. I think the song is hinting at that.

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  166. sdb,
    And he wants qualified teachers and staff to have guns as well as he is now flip-flopping on his statements on guns.

    What he is suggesting with the taking of guns doesn’t substitute for laws that would prohibit guns to certain people. In addition, what he is suggesting is a combination of the approach to law enforcement from the movie Minority Report with the current law enforcement practice of civil forfeitures of resources that were suspected to have been used in a crime.

    Currently, he is trying to respond to pressures from all sides and, again, he is waffling. But his current waffling doesn’t imply that his past suggestions were motivated by a desire to increase the sale of guns.

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  167. Jeff,
    Regarding the link you provided, do civilians need a SBF advantage?

    Second, why are my moral concerns relegated to being merely about ‘social engineering’ while yours are in line with the 3 uses of the law? Neglect or oppression of the poor is not covered in the “orthodox” 3 uses of the law?

    If you are making an accusation about me, you need to be more specific. You seem to be saying that I fail to acknowledge all 3 uses of the law and that, by implication, would remove me from being a believer in your view. Is that because we have differences in our political views? You don’t think that I believe that God’s law tells me I am a sinner and need to believe in Christ? You don’t think that I believe that commandments prohibiting murder, theft adultery, coveting, idolatry, and taking God’s name in vain are in effect today? As for how the law governs our civil affairs, I would refer you to Calvin’s use of the law to persecute and prosecute heretics and witches. And I would refer you to the Puritans when they persecuted and prosecute Quakers. And then I ask whether that is what you mean by the 3rd use of the law.

    Debates with religiously conservative Christians so often eventually result in accusations. Why is that? Why is that especially when we have multiple warnings in the NT against judging one another?

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  168. Jeff,
    Gun control isn’t about eliminating the misuse of guns, it is about reducing the misuse of guns. Why put things in an all-or-nothing way?

    Please note that the assault weapons ban saw a reduction in gun fatalities. But the ban was repealed after the Dems lost control of the House even though most Americans favored the ban. So it was repealed because it was totally ineffective?

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  169. Curt: If you are making an accusation about me, you need to be more specific. You seem to be saying that I fail to acknowledge all 3 uses of the law and that, by implication, would remove me from being a believer in your view.

    There’s an important distinction here. I am saying that *your words* go outside the bounds of the lawful uses of the law.

    That doesn’t mean that you are not a Christian. It means rather that your use of the law is unorthodox.

    Curt: Is that because we have differences in our political views?

    No. I have several friends who are further left than you! The difference is this: they don’t try to make our political differences a matter of religious faithfulness. You do.

    You add to God’s law. And that’s why I push back.

    Curt: You don’t think that I believe that God’s law tells me I am a sinner and need to believe in Christ?

    Indeed it does. Out of charity, I assume that you do actually believe in Christ. But here’s the interesting thing: Out of all of the words you have spoken here, I’ve never once heard a profession of faith from you, or talk of God’s grace or the gospel. *Your words* are all law, all the time: God’s law commands us to do this; God’s law commands us to do that; and all of you 2k-ers are deficient in your law-keeping because you don’t support Curt’s social justice views.

    That’s your consistent message. Is that what you are trying to get across?

    Curt: Debates with religiously conservative Christians so often eventually result in accusations. Why is that? Why is that especially when we have multiple warnings in the NT against judging one another?

    Go back and re-read your own posts. Observe the number of times that you make accusations and judgments about others.

    Then consider why others might have run out of patience for it.

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  170. Johnyeazel says But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” not having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH.

    NOT SO MUCH?
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
    I came that they may have life,
    and have it abundantly.

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  171. johnyeazel says: Whatever, Ali

    whatever?
    Not my words johnyeazel. seems to confirms what I suspect – you are operating in unbelief.

    So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

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  172. Romans 8: 31-39-

    31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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  173. johnyeazel, true believers don’t just want a get out of jail free card (who doesn’t). True believers believe God’s word, do not oppose what He says at every turn, and want to follow Jesus. Why? Because they have the Spirit of the living God dwelling in them.

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  174. Let me cut to the chase, Ali. It is disciples of Jesus via John Piper and John MacArthur who kept telling me the same things you are telling me and who ended up taking all my financial means away from me. They even tried to take my dignity away. After many attempts at reconciliation they kept telling me the conditions I had to meet in order for them to be satisfied to accept me back into their good graces and receive some kind of restoration for what had been taken away. While they were waiting for that day they benefited greatly from my demise. While I was living on top of privately owned parking garages, in tents, in bushes and in shelters for the homeless they continued to keep me out of their consciousness because it was not to their advantage to actually deal with the situation in a way that might expose their own issues, opposition to the Gospel and hardened and recalcitrant hearts. And they still think I am the one opposing God’s Word at every turn and not following Jesus the way they think they are.

    In the midst of all this I came to understand and believe in a Gospel I had never known before. That does not make any difference to them even to this very day. So, I will know that I have come into the promised land when they actually come to their senses and seek reconciliation too. Until that day I continue day by day barely getting by. It has the potential to become a very bitter experience for me. Fortunately, God has seen fit to keep me keeping on. In my bad days there is nothing more I would like to see than for them to be thrown out on the street and me giving them the conditions they must meet before reconciliation can take place. It is difficult not to harbor those kind of resentments and desires for vengeance. I continue to long to see the day when the not so obvious sinners will be treated the same way the obvious sinners have been treated. Only the good news Gospel can reconcile the situation.

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  175. Jeff,
    Have I heard a profession of faith from you in our discussions? I don’t think so. But if you want, I can show you online discussions I have had with unbelievers about faith in Christ or I can point to some blogposts of my own.

    Have I gone outside the bounds of the law? Not if the laws includes corporate sin. And if it does, then you neglecting an important area of the law. But you are not alone there, I think all of us Christians neglect areas of the law. We never get rid of all known sin–that is a point Frederick Dale Bruner makes in his book A Theology Of The Holy Spirit. We also have sin we’re unconscious of. This is why we must cling to Christ and be careful of how we speak to others. James, when he spoke against showing preferences, was really speaking against judging others. And either we choose the law of liberty, which James associates with receiving mercy from God, And if we depend on mercy, then we better not judge others without mercy or we will be judged by the Law.

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  176. johnyeazel says: Let me cut to the chase, Ali.

    ok. yes. let’s cut to the chase johnyeazel.

    1)I appreciated your story. Don’t mean to be mean or insensitive, but so what – If your hope is in man you will always be disappointed.

    1) Do not hold to a form of godliness that denies its power – the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is at work in you.

    the gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, the Holy Spirit,with full conviction

    your faith rests on the power of God

    His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness

    we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

    He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.

    For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.

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  177. and johnyeazel, isn’t it great God recorded for us His own work of power in Paul’s life –

    Paul …who said “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

    Paul who prayed….
    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His POWER toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the STRENGTH of His MIGHT which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places

    I bow my knees before the Father,that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be STRENGTHENED with POWER through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the POWER that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

    we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, o that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; STRENGTHENED with all POWER, according to His GLORIOUS MIGHT, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

    also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with POWER so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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  178. and finally johnyeazel, just to reiterate “why we want to follow Jesus–because they have the Spirit of the living God dwelling in them.” and re: not being disappointed

    hope does not disappoint,
    why?
    because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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  179. Ali –

    I have followed your conversation with johnyeazel closely, and have a few of observations:

    1. His objection to you – which it seems you may not have grasped – is that you are advocating a “two stage” scheme of salvation: justification and then obligatory good works. Johnyeazel is trying to say (I think – don’t want to put words in his mouth), that they are part and parcel of the same miraculous phenomenon: regeneration of a sinful heart by God’s grace that results in repentance and faith, and which naturally leads to good works and righteous living. Should we consciously strive for good works and righteous lives? Of course, but the desire to do that and the power to do that come from the Holy Spirit and His work in our regenerated hearts, and this is inevitably linked to justification in a believer. The problem that you (and Piper and to a lesser degree MacArthur – must be a Baptist tendency) have is embracing a sort of moralism that requires works as a condition of our salvation. Good works inevitably flow from a Christian to some degree, but they are the RESULT of salvation, not a CONDITION of salvation as you seem to be implying. In effect, you are breaking the link between justification and sanctification, which is obviously anti-Scriptural and anti-Confessional.

    2. Johnyeazel’s story is tragic and, without knowing all the details, seems very consistent with how I have seen Reformed Baptists treat others with whom they disagree, even on relatively trivial tertiary matters of faith.

    3. You continue to show a lack of charity and an unwillingness to provide any thoughtful, original responses in your comments. Cutting & pasting quotes or Scripture passages or inserting videos is not original or thoughtful, and frequently leads to confusion about your point. If you want to direct us to Scripture, just give us the reference and then spend time providing your own thoughts – we all know how to look up a Bible verse. I think I speak for most commenters when I say we would much rather read your thoughts than a verse that we can look up on our own.

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  180. Ali continues to reveal a lack of understanding of the Gospel (the doctrine of justification) and wants to disregard and jump over the doctrinal aspects of Paul’s theology and go right to the inward power verses and the imperatives in the New Testament. You can’t do that- she is a moral reformer before a doctrinal reformer. She jumps on what she perceives others sins to be and thinks she is being faithful to what the Scriptures teach by doing so. In reality, her doctrine is really no different from the Catholic understanding of justification and the proclamation of curses towards the Protestants at the council of Trent.

    http://www.presenttruthmag.org/archive/XX/20-8.htm

    Ali says, “so what,” in regards to the way my situation was handled by family members at our family business and claims I am putting my hope in man rather than God. As usual, Ali’s mind works in mysterious ways.

    My conclusions regarding the soteriology of the council of Trent link are as follows:

    1. faith is the righteousness, 2. works give evidence of faith, 3. we are screwed;

    And then you call it good news because the faith and ability are given.;

    Some really believe they are actually doing it and therefore can say, “so what,” to those they think they can get away with treating like indentured slaves.

    John Y: I appreciate your thoughts, VV. I would agree with some of what you say- however, I think the root of the problem goes deeper into doctrinal issues regarding the issue of, what is the Gospel?

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  181. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: I think I speak for most commenters when I say we would much rather read your thoughts than a verse that we can look up on our own.

    johnyeazel, despite Vae victis (@masonmandy apparent dismissal of the vitality, preeminence, sufficiency of Gods’ word, strongholds are destroyed by His divinely powerful weapons of our warfare.

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  182. I have been following the thread bn Ali and JY as well. My impression is the similar to VV’s (who is wrong about sex and NYC… maybe VVWW?) though the responses to Ali have been less than charitable on many occasions and crossed the line from good natured ribbing to unfortunate condemnation.

    That being said, I agree there’s a communication gap here. I doubt Piper, Begg, McArthur, or any of the reformed credobaptists would say that one’s works are either necessary or sufficient for one to be justified – justification is not conditioned in on doing good works (or God foreseeing good works that you can do). Good works are a necessary consequence of justification, but necessary nonetheless. People lie to themselves and others, so false professions of faith are possible. Works are seen as one confirming sign of the reality of one’s profession. The question it seems to me is the degree to which it is valid to look at how another person talks and acts and from that makes a judgment about the state of another person’s justification. The witness of the NT indicates we should not do that. Rather we are instructed to encourage and admonish, and when necessary deal with particular sins, while remaining aware that love coves a multitude of sins and we should seek to restore a wayward brother gently being circumspect about the possibility of falling as well.

    I do have a problem with how Ali uses scripture. I firmly believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. It is infallible because the author is the Holy Spirit, and it is perspicuous on matters necessary for salvation because his sheep know his voice. Not all scripture is equally plain, and theses sections should be interpreted in light of clearer sections.

    However, how believers (or unbelievers) handle scripture is not infallible. The Bible taken as a whole is God’s word. Extracting bits of it is not. This shouldn’t be controversial. We all agree that the letter aleph is not inspired. Going great one step further, the word “love” is not inspired. Indeed, whole passages of Job recounting what his friends said is not inspired. The whole Bible is though. When I take the verse “I can do all things through Christ” as the motto of my football team, the slogan is not the inspired word of God. Once it is taken from its context, it is the Coach’s word (one might even say the word used in vain!).

    When we piece together verses from the Bible to support a theological point we wish to support, our argument is not infallible. This is not a statement about the trustworthiness of scripture, but about the trustworthiness of the expositor.

    This is at the heart of why ordained ministry and accountability are so crucial. Paul is clear that teachers are necessary, that they face additional scrutiny in judgment, that we are to submit to our elders, that our elders should hold teachers accountable, and we should hold our elders accountable. A big part of that is using scripture well. This is part of why we have confessions and catechisms. These are the tools for making sure the word is being handled correctly. They function as teachers. Teachers aren’t infallible or exhaustive, but there is a high bar for justifying dissent. This is why appeals to the standards are so helpful. They distill a great amount of information about a lot of topics. It seems to me that it behooves is to demonstrate our understanding of the standards before pushing a novel interpretation of scripture. My sense is that our Baptist friends are not as deferential, and it gets them in trouble… from Grudem’s mix up about the trinity to McAuthur’s goof about infusion. These usually get straitened out, but not always. The bigger problem is when the local church seeks to tackle a thorny problem like church discipline. Here the lack of external oversight can be (and often has Been) a big problem.

    Ok enough rambling….
    tl;dr Be nice to Ali and JY… stick to confessional language unless you have an Mdiv and are in a church court (I kid about that last bit…sorta).

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  183. Curt: But if you want, I can show you online discussions I have had with unbelievers about faith in Christ or I can point to some blogposts of my own.

    No, I believe you. You don’t have to prove anything to me.

    Curt: Have I gone outside the bounds of the law? Not if the laws includes corporate sin …. This is why we must cling to Christ and be careful of how we speak to others. James, when he spoke against showing preferences, was really speaking against judging others.

    Your misuse of the law consists in your judging of others.

    CD: Personally, I don’t think this is an issue about Jesus and Paul for you. This is an issue of over use of the Regulative Principle and how it has made you a very concrete thinker in terms of understand what the Bible has to say about our lives today.

    CD: Third, one of the faults attributed to religiously conservative Christians is that they are sanctifying selfishness. Limiting whom we are to love and freeing people to love wealth are ways we reinforce those attributions. Focusing on individual sins while denying corporate sins is another way we reinforce those attributions.

    CD: People are exploited and you say that their exploitation is subjective for only one reason: they are being exploited instead of you.

    CD: It is selective and rigid to excuse oneself from supporting political views that would help those who are in need to supporting only those political views that serve oneself. You have a great excuse to only support those political views that take care of you regardless of how others are affected. You have a great excuse to not care about the harm and injustices done to those by your own nation’s domestic and foreign policies while being vigilant in judging as to whether people are keeping the Sabbath as you believe it should be kept or whether or not churches can use musical instruments in worship or some of the other things you are so exacting on. But all you are doing is fitting some of the patterns exhibited by Israel when it was condemned by the prophets for neglecting or oppressing the vulnerable.

    CD: Of course, the reason for keeping the laws the same … is to help gun manufacturers make healthy profits.

    CD: Again, you want to maintain the status quo … Finally, it is opinion like yours that brings scorn to the Gospel for the political/economic/social conditions you think we should tolerate while you are not shy at preaching against individual sin.

    That’s only a portion of the judgmental things you have said to various people on only this thread.

    You make assumptions about the motive (“you want”, “you say … for only one reason” , “sanctifying selfishness”, “supporting political views that serve oneself”) that are exactly what James said not to do.

    James: Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

    When you, Curt, talk politics, you speak evil of others. You have not yet found a way to charitably disagree.

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  184. Jeff,
    Judging others? Would you say that telling a person engaged in adultery that they are committing adultery is judging others? Would saying to the state or society that it is neglecting or oppressing the poor judging others?

    Judging others is ambiguous. It can simply mean a pronouncement of sin because of observation or it can mean that one is looking down on others as being inferior because of some fault or sin. So let’s look at those statements:


    Personally, I don’t think this is an issue about Jesus and Paul for you. This is an issue of over use of the Regulative Principle and how it has made you a very concrete thinker in terms of understand what the Bible has to say about our lives today.

    Now am I looking down on you or am I stating an opinion based on observation? And how harsh is this statement that says my opinion is that you are a very concrete thinker?


    Third, one of the faults attributed to religiously conservative Christians is that they are sanctifying selfishness. Limiting whom we are to love and freeing people to love wealth are ways we reinforce those attributions. Focusing on individual sins while denying corporate sins is another way we reinforce those attributions.

    Now how is that judging when I am reporting attributes attributed to religiously conservative Christians by others? And my second and third statements are hypothetical statements, not accusations. And there I use the first person plural which does not single out anyone or group, but can refer to all of us when we practice certain behaviors.


    It is selective and rigid to excuse oneself from supporting political views that would help those who are in need to supporting only those political views that serve oneself. You have a great excuse to only support those political views that take care of you regardless of how others are affected. You have a great excuse to not care about the harm and injustices done to those by your own nation’s domestic and foreign policies while being vigilant in judging as to whether people are keeping the Sabbath as you believe it should be kept or whether or not churches can use musical instruments in worship or some of the other things you are so exacting on. But all you are doing is fitting some of the patterns exhibited by Israel when it was condemned by the prophets for neglecting or oppressing the vulnerable.

    This is the first of the quotes you listed that issues a judgment. Is the judgment correct? Am I claiming some kind of superiority over you in that statement?


    Of course, the reason for keeping the laws the same … is to help gun manufacturers make healthy profits.

    That is a share opinion based on observation. That opinion is based on factoring in the tens of millions of dollars that the NRA contributes in various ways to our politicians when considering the discrepancy between how Congress votes and public opinion about gun laws.


    Again, you want to maintain the status quo … Finally, it is opinion like yours that brings scorn to the Gospel for the political/economic/social conditions you think we should tolerate while you are not shy at preaching against individual sin.

    That statement is based on history. The dominant branches of the Church that supported wealth and power by trying to maintain the status quo during the pre-revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain. The Revolutions saw unnecessary attacks on the reputation of the Gospel and unnecessary persecution of Christians. Please note what Lenin wrote in 1905:


    Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation. Impotence of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters just as inevitably gives rise to the belief in a better life after death as impotence of the savage in his battle with nature gives rise to belief in gods, devils, miracles, and the like. Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught by religion to practise charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.

    The issue in terms of what Lenin wrote is whether or not Christians were contributing to the oppression of workers. Calling it judgment is a side issue. Is the judgment true? BTW, Lenin’s continued persecution of Christianity went against what Marx said about religion. In addition, you will find a socialist contemporary of Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, appealing to Christians for help.

    But my statement was not only a statement of history, it is a repeating of what I have heard from others. I don’t know if you hang with political nonconservatives, but when I taught or when I engage in activism or when I correspond with certain friends, I do. And the general views of Christianity are expressed in what I wrote. With all of the hoopla Billy Graham is receiving, my one friend sent me articles on how he expressed some anti-Semitic sentiments and suggested to Nixon that he bomb the dykes in North Vietnam in order to end their resolve in the war. The the flooding and other damage that would result from bombing those dykes would have killed up to an estimated 1 million people. To state that that brings scorn to the Gospel is to only report on the reaction of my friend who shared those articles with me.

    Now, have I spoken evil or have I written what is either understandable opinions, judgements if you will, based on observation or the observation of others? What did Paul do when he saw sin in the Church or James say about the rich? And have I spoken as someone who thinks they are spiritually superior and thus looking down on others or am I vying for a better understanding of the Scriptures as I understand them?

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  185. Curt, have you heard of 2k? The Bible doesn’t speak to all of life. You demand that it does so that you have holy leverage against rich whites.

    That’s your problem.

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  186. Curt, you need to prove that capitalism is “the oppression of workers.” You simply assert it because you think that is true and anyone who sees capitalism differently is evil.

    In other words, you don’t recognize that a lot of life is contested. You have your views. Others who don’t share them are wrong, sinful, racist, etc.

    At least liberalism allows for diversity.

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  187. BTW Jeff,

    Let’s look at some of your statements:


    And every time someone pokes their head up and waves the flag of “Christian politics”, it turns out to be just like the Quest for the Historical Jesus: the supposedly Christian political theory turns out to be the pet theory of the author, pastiched onto Scripture for moral authority.

    Bluntly put: Christian politics is legalism. It is the binding of the conscience to matters not taught in Scripture by explicit command or good and necessary inference.

    BTW, in reference to that statement, I agree that Christians shouldn’t attach the Gospel to particular ideologies. But that has never been my approach. My approach has always been that Christians should speak prophetically to practitioners and and followers of the ideologies you mentioned to point out where they oppress others. I am a Socialist, but I don’t claim that Christians must be socialists. I do claim that Christians should respond to the injustices various kinds of Socialists are denouncing.


    Ali, your search of the WLC was incomplete. Qn 102 is the first of several mentions of our obligation to love God.

    A small statement but still a judgment. It is a judgment based on observation.


    So there are multiple errors to avoid. The first is obviously Wesley’s, to say that everyone *can* believe and already has sufficient grace to believe. That’s simply not true, per John 6.44. The second is to stare so hard at the truth of election that we try to make the elect status a precondition for our actions. That is an error because it conditions our actions on something entirely unknowable. In so doing, it obviates the command of Christ to preach the gospel to all the nations.

    Saying that Wesley taught some things that are not true is judging. Yet, like the last quote, I find no fault because you are trying to identify what you think is wrong without putting someone below you.


    Because it is bait and switch. The good Samaritan cared for his neighbor. He didn’t organize the community to rally for better laws.

    So my view is bait and switch? That isn’t a judgment? I would only respond with saying that to think we must only help as individuals because that is what the Good Samaritan did is to be overly concrete. The Good Samaritan first thought abstractly about what it means to love and thus was able to act in specific ways. The Good Samaritan did not do only what was specifically commanded in the Old Testament. That was the point of my question that spurred your answer.


    That’s the point. You keep positing the false alternative: Either the Bible informs our politics, or else we are free to do what we want.

    You keep missing the third, true, alternative: OR else we are free to love our neighbor in the manner that seems wisest to us.

    So yes, we are absolutely free to advocate for stricter gun control laws. We are also free, if we believe such laws will not help, to love our neighbor by opposing those laws.

    I am posing a false narrative? That is a judgment though it isn’t one I fault you for. We are not free to believe that good gun laws will not help anymore than we are free to believe that we don’t need to change nation’s way of life because of climate change anymore than we are free to believe that the world is flat. Current gun laws allowed a disturbed teenager to buy a semi-automatic weapon to conduct a mass shooting. Stats show that nations like England and Australia have passed gun laws that have greatly reduced the number of mass shootings. So we are free to believe that certain gun laws can’t possible help? Realize that we are not just talking about moral imperatives, we are talking about wisdom. If we love and wisdom dictates an action or a general direction for actions, we are not free to ignore wisdom if we love our neighbor.


    Yes, and yes. But the missing, false, premise is that loving one’s neighbor automatically entails support for stricter gun laws. And that’s where the legalism of “Christian politics” comes in.


    McMark: You’re sounding a little hysterical here. Do you want to talk about conditionality, or do you not? Do you feel offended that I suggest that you might be confused? Then perhaps you should not accuse me of having selective memory.

    I will end with your list of passing judgments here. BUt I want to address one more quote:


    Use context: In the book of Judges, what did men do as they saw fit? They worshiped idols, abused women, attacked one another. That has nothing to do with what I said.

    In the book of James, he speaks to individuals about their actions towards the brother right in front of him. At no point does he discuss legislation. So again, nothing to do with what I said.

    Do you understand why I am complaining about being literal when using abstraction is called for. A society doesn’t have to commit the same sins as what Israel practiced to compare it with what Israel did. In addition, does the difference in historical context account for some of the objections you are bringing up. We can’t use legislation to address corporate sins because they didn’t do that in the book of Judges?

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  188. @ Curt:

    There is a large and meaningful difference between talking about *statements and views expressed* and talking about the *motives* of another.

    The first can lead to productive discussion, and it does not involve judgment of another. The second does not lead to productive discussion, and it entails judging the heart of another.

    So when I talk negatively about Christian politics as legalism, or when I say that you are putting forward a false alternative, I am deliberately limiting myself to the statements on the page and talking about those. I am not reaching through the Internet to try to divine “what you’re really trying to do.”

    Talking about statements and views is legitimate discussion. Statements and views are just that, and criticizing them does not imply sin on your part. Further, the evidence is right there on the page, so when I criticize the statement or view, while I might be wrong in my understanding, I can at least be confident that I’m not just spitballing.

    By contrast, when you speak negatively of your brothers as “wanting to help the profits of the gun makers”, you are making a claim about the heart and imputing sin in a public forum. Frankly, you have scant evidence for the state of your brothers’ hearts. You should not be stabbing in the dark the way that you have been.

    Curt: We are not free to believe that good gun laws will not help anymore than we are free to believe that we don’t need to change nation’s way of life because of climate change anymore than we are free to believe that the world is flat.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew ahead of time which gun laws were good, or which changes in way of life would actually be helpful? I would love to be able to foresee the future like that.

    Until then, your brothers are free to think that X gun law or Y climate change policy is unhelpful. They certainly don’t owe you a fully justified account just to be free from your accusations of sin.

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  189. Jeff,
    And what you seem to be missing is whether the statements and opinions expressed are true to a significant degree or not. If they are true to a significant degree, then shouldn’t they be expressed? Certainly how they are expressed is important. But shouldn’t they be expressed? Doesn’t truth trump the negative-positive way of evaluating statements? Again, truth can’t be an excuse to talk down to someone, we can only talk as peers. But truth is a more important criteria to meet than being positive.

    IN addition, you haven’t portrayed my view accurately at all. What I have been saying is that Christians need to speak prophetically to all ideologies and states and societies. They need to point out what injustices are being committed. But that is a far cry from advocating specific ideologies or policies as being morally mandated.

    Regarding gun control, we should let wisdom be our guide and look to limit legal access to guns that are cause horrific results in mass shootings. We might disagree on which laws are best, but wisdom is telling us that keeping that status quo is not a love thy neighbor action. The same applies to climate change. We need to change because of how our way of life is impacting the environment in ways that threaten future generation. Thus, wisdom is telling us that keeping the status quo is not a love thy neighbor action. Regarding both, is it love to make decisions based on what is known at the time noting that we may have to adjust because of the tradeoffs involved or is it love to keep the status quo because it is better to dance with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?

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  190. Curt,

    You aren’t getting that lots of what you charge is contested and that you aren’t making a real attempt to convince those who disagree with you.

    Regarding gun control, we should let wisdom be our guide and look to limit legal access to guns that are cause horrific results in mass shootings.

    WHY does wisdom say this? What if expanding access to those same guns would cut down on the number of mass shootings overall?

    We might disagree on which laws are best, but wisdom is telling us that keeping that status quo is not a love thy neighbor action.

    But sometimes keeping the status quo IS best when changing it will make things worse. You don’t know that your changes will make improvements.

    The same applies to climate change. We need to change because of how our way of life is impacting the environment in ways that threaten future generation

    But this is contested. And lots of the proposed solutions are demonstrably not politically possible, too expensive, can put lives at risk that are not presently at risk, and actually benefit the wealthy who can afford them at the expense of the poor. Not all of us can afford to buy carbon credits to keep our air conditioning running.

    Thus, wisdom is telling us that keeping the status quo is not a love thy neighbor action.

    Sometimes it is. Sometimes you make things worse by trying to fix them.

    Regarding both, is it love to make decisions based on what is known at the time noting that we may have to adjust because of the tradeoffs involved or is it love to keep the status quo because it is better to dance with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?

    If we have good evidence at the time to make wise decisions, then it CAN be loving to our neighbor to act on them. No one is arguing for infallibility before one acts. The problem is that lots of the “problems” you have mentioned and the proposed solutions are right out of a radical leftwing playbook. Does that mean they are wrong? Not necessarily. But I think many of us would be a lot more amenable to your suggestions if you would display a basic knowledge of economics. “Capitalism is inherently exploitative” says volumes about your knowledge of economic systems and the relative merits of the various options.

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  191. Curt
    You explicitly asserted that the reason some one did something was because of greed. You don’t know the motives though. It isn’t a fact. It is an inference about someone’s motives. That is wrong to do. It is one thing to say opposing policy x is a bad idea. It is something else to say you only oppose policy x because you are greedy.

    Lots of people support wide availability of guns because they *say* it will make society safer. We can debate that, but to assert that, “no you really just want enrich gun manufacturers don’t care about your neighbors” is a conversation stopper.

    You can say the same about opinions over open borders, fair trade, drug war, prison reform, minimum wage, welfare, social security, etc… people have wide ranging opinions on these topics and probably have mixed motives: virtue signaling, love of neighbor, fear, understanding of what their religion requires, greed, generosity, and so on.

    In any given instance we cannot know what is motivating someone (perhaps they don’t know either!). But it is not up to us to judge another’s heart. We judge actions and words. If scripture doesn’t forbid it we don’t get to delve into the underlying motives of another to see why they are really doing what they do.

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  192. “Regarding both, is it love to make decisions based on what is known at the time noting that we may have to adjust because of the tradeoffs involved or is it love to keep the status quo because it is better to dance with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?“
    Given the trade-offs, the status quo may be best. Or at least one may believe that is the case. We can have a fruitful discussion about the trade-offs of a given policy, but we cannot have a fruitful discussion about the purported motives of various advocates and opponents.

    The church should tell us that we should love our neighbors and to repent when we fall short. It should not tell us that we ought to love our neighbors by supporting the assault weapons ban.

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  193. “ What I have been saying is that Christians need to speak prophetically to all ideologies and states and societies. They need to point out what injustices are being committed. But that is a far cry from advocating specific ideologies or policies as being morally mandated.“

    And yet Jesus said nothing to Pilate about the injustice of Roman imperialism. Paul said nothing Philemon about the injustice of slavery. John the Baptist confronted Herod over his sexual sin, but had nothing to say about the injustice of his rule….the guy who slaughtered all those first born sons. Why didn’t any of the NT writers speak prophetically to the state? They certainly addressed the believer’s relationship to the state (honor and submit…nothing about speaking prophetically).

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  194. Curt: And what you seem to be missing is whether the statements and opinions expressed are true to a significant degree or not. If they are true to a significant degree, then shouldn’t they be expressed? Certainly how they are expressed is important. But shouldn’t they be expressed? Doesn’t truth trump the negative-positive way of evaluating statements? … But truth is a more important criteria to meet than being positive.

    I actually addressed that. To repeat: Criticizing statements and expressed views is fair game. Those statements are on the page. The evidence is right there.

    Attributing heart motives is not fair game because you don’t know the motives of other peoples’ hearts.

    When you say, for example to SDB, you say that their exploitation is subjective for only one reason: they are being exploited instead of you., you aren’t being “true to a significant degree.” You’re making a statement without basis in fact.

    Curt: Again, truth can’t be an excuse to talk down to someone, we can only talk as peers.

    Well, I’m finding myself expending way more effort than I should just to try to get you to talk like a peer instead of a prophet.

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  195. Jeff,
    I didn’t say anyone was acting for only one reason, but there is a reason that was one of the reasons why politicians were acting the way they were. And what I said to sdb is rather obvious if exploitation is taking place. Those who know they are being exploited will protest, those who know that they aren’t being exploited have the luxury of not caring.

    And yes, talk to me as a peer, I am not a prophet. I never claimed to be one.

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  196. Amen to the insight in some of the things you are saying Curt.

    sdb says I do have a problem with how Ali uses scripture.

    And I have a problem with how some don’t use scripture; did God say –
    -Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with (the confessions)
    – How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to (the confessions)?
    -Let the (confessions) richly dwell within you
    -as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will (the confessions) be

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  197. sdb,
    Jesus didn’t talk to homosexuals and John is the disciple he loved. More than one party can play the literalism game. In fact, literalism was the game Arians played against Athanasius.

    See, your point is valid if the historical contexts between the two time periods is not significantly different. But that isn’t the case and so relying imitation and/or literalism alone will excuse many people from acting like the Good Samaritan. After all, the Good Samaritan was imitating the exact actions of whom or following the literal instructions of what part of the OT? You have to ask yourself how loving is it when you have the opportunity to speak for justice for those who are suffering but neglect to do so because one is busy following the traditions of men like the Westminster Standards. After all, those standards are to us what the traditions were to the Pharisees.

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  198. @Ali
    You have no idea how some here use scripture. You have are making very bold judgments about others on very thin evidence. Let’s look more carefully t one of the passages you’ve cited here:

    -Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with (the confessions)

    Clearly washing us with water and the word is a metaphor. So what does water signify here? Being a credobaptist presumably you do not believe that the water of baptism sanctifies someone. Rather that water is a symbol of an inward reality wrought by the Holy Spirit. Do you agree?

    Now if “water” is a symbol pointing to an action of the Holy Spirit, the “and” suggests that “word” should be treated the same way as “water”. From what I gather from what you’ve written, you understand “word” to mean phrases taken out of a translation of the Bible. Do you agree?

    I take “word” to be the message communicated by the scriptures. This is why translations of scripture are OK for Christians and not for Muslims. We believe that what matters is what is being communicated, not the precise words being used. The NIV, KJV, NASB, ESV, RSV, and so forth may use different words in English, but they are all “saying” the same thing. The metaphor is pointing to what is being said, not the Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, etc… being used to convey the meaning. Do you agree?

    The scriptures were written to a specific audience in a specific time and place. We live in a culture far removed from that of Biblical writers and speak a language that is very different. Even for Paul’s contemporaries, Peter notes that much of what he writes is hard to understand. Therefore the Holy Spirit (the ultimate author of scripture) has blessed the church with people gifted in teaching. Teachers are held to a higher standard, we are called to submit to them, and they are a necessary office for God’s people. Do you agree?

    If we agree that teachers are necessary, then it makes sense to avail one’s self to what they teach. Of course, they can err and they should be judged against the scriptures. But insofar as we can tell that they are faithful to the scriptures, we should submit to their teachings. Their teachings are not just their oral utterances you hear in their presence, but also what they write that they submit to the church for scrutiny. This would include items like the Westminster standards. They are not infallible or complete, but they are faithful distillation of what scripture teaches. They shouldn’t be used in place of the scripture, but rather should be used to teach us how to understand the scriptures. Do you agree?

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  199. “Jesus didn’t talk to homosexuals and John is the disciple he loved. More than one party can play the literalism game. In fact, literalism was the game Arians played against Athanasius.”
    You have a very idiosyncratic understanding of “literalism”. Jesus did talk about sexual ethics and grounded them in the example of the prelapsarian state of Adam and Eve.

    “See, your point is valid if the historical contexts between the two time periods is not significantly different. But that isn’t the case and so relying imitation and/or literalism alone will excuse many people from acting like the Good Samaritan.”
    I don’t understand… Are you saying that because the historical context between now and then is different we can’t expect Paul, John the Baptist, or Jesus to speak out against injustice? Or are you saying that we can’t apply the lessons of the Good Samaritan to today’s politics? Or are you saying that the way we love our neighbor is historically, culturally, and contextually contingent? If so, I agree! You don’t get to judge another though on whether they are loving one’s neighbor, and you certainly don’t get to tell somebody that the way they vote, their position on gun control, or their position the Iraq war is or isn’t a violation of what the parable of the good Samaritan is supposed to be teaching us.

    “After all, the Good Samaritan was imitating the exact actions of whom or following the literal instructions of what part of the OT?”
    To love the alien in your midst? Yeah, that is literally in the law of Moses. That was Jesus’s point. They neglected the law and couldn’t live up to it. None of us can. That’s why we need a savior.

    “You have to ask yourself how loving is it when you have the opportunity to speak for justice for those who are suffering but neglect to do so because one is busy following the traditions of men like the Westminster Standards. After all, those standards are to us what the traditions were to the Pharisees.”
    Who says that the reason some don’t speak for justice for those who are suffering is because they are following the Westminster standards? I hear calls to help the suffering all the time in church. I hear calls to repent for not loving my neighbor as I ought. You have made the illegitimate leap to assuming that those who do not engage in political activism (or engage in political activism you disagree with) are doing so because they don’t care about the oppressed. Yet another instance of you judging other’s hearts. That’s not good.

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  200. “I didn’t say anyone was acting for only one reason, but there is a reason that was one of the reasons why politicians were acting the way they were. ”
    Yes you did. You said *the* reason the Trump overturned Obama’s executive order was *because* they wanted to increase sales for gun manufacturers. You even said that the motive was obvious. I provided alternative motivations one might have for overturning the ban. I don’t know which is the true motive or if it is a mixture of the two. I’m not even sure if the actors involved know. But you persist in making this judgement about another’s motives. That is wrong.

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  201. sdb,
    Some the word ‘the’ is used to emphasize. It was not my intention to say it was the only as if no other reasons for banning could be involved, but it was the primary reason. What were the reasons you gave? Constitutional right? Obama never interfered with the Constitutional right to own a gun. His ban targeted assault weapons getting in the hands of certain mentally ill people. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t require that we allow citizens to acquire any weapon they want. If the gov’t prohibits people from owning RPGs and tanks and fighter aircraft and machine guns, does it interfere with the 2nd Amendment?

    IN addition, suggesting that school staff or faculty be armed while allowing all mentally ill people to be armed, again, results in what? More guns. And more guns result in more gun sales. And the NRA is ever pursuing the increase in gun sales. Why do you think they started rumors that Obama wanted to take people’s guns? That increases gun sales. And the NRA uses tens of millions of dollar to influence government.

    Obama never threatened the 2nd Amendment right. It was reported that he would. And there are some conservatives who feel that their lawmakers can never compromise with liberals on gun laws because once they do, liberals will continually ask for more and more concessions until liberals demand that guns be confiscated–some Trump just suggested and without due process–though he suggested due process after confiscation, he said that gov’t should act regardless of the law. It was a Republican who said that, not Obama.

    But back at the ranch, saying the motive is obvious isn’t wrong. The motive is apparent. And if other motives are involved, we can discuss them. But we are looking a business fact of life. Why does one overturn a ban on certain mentally ill people buying guns and then suggest the solution for the gun violence that could sometimes result from removing the ban is to put more guns in the school? Citing the 2nd Amendment doesn’t cover it. Do you realize that the conservative approach to the 2nd Amendment is supported when one reads all of The Constitution?

    There was nothing wrong with attributing Trump’s actions and word to wanting an increase in gun sales.

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  202. sdb,
    But you miss the point of what said on literalism. Yes, Jesus talked about sexual ethics. But he never mentioned homosexuality and there is the mention of the disciple whom he loved as well as David’s love for Jonathan. And the Arians use of literalism to challenge the eternal nature of the Son. Literalism doesn’t always produce sound exegesis and sound theology. And yet, that is the defense so often given here regarding suggesting political views that are mandate by what the Bible says.

    But what is mandated? I have said for a long time that specific policies are not mandated, but some general approaches and even specific policies are prohibited. Why? Because, yes, the Bible does talk about morals and those morals carry implications for both the individual and nations. And in nations where people have a voice in their gov’t, then it is necessary for Christians, where they can, to oppose those approaches and policies that are prohibited by the morals taught in the Scriptures. It goes back to this: If it is sinful for the individual to murder, it is sinful for a group to murder. The same goes for theft. And when we Christians will call out individual sin, but not corporate sin while some non-Christians are calling out corporate sin, we are tarnishing the reputation of the Gospel. That is because when we call ourselves Christians, all that we do and say, and refrain from doing and saying, is associated with the Gospel. And tarnishing the reputation of the Gospel before others is not smiled on in the Scriptures. And yet, ALL OF US, have a mixed record regarding upholding the reputation of the Scriptures.

    And again, some motives become obvious by a combination of action or speaking out and inaction or silence. We are not the only ones who perceive our own motives.

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  203. sdb,
    Please note the donations made to Trump and the Republicans:


    But no politician benefited more from the NRA’s 2016 spending binge than President Donald Trump. The NRA spent over $30 million in support of Trump’s candidacy — or more than its combined spending in all races during the 2008 and 2012 presidential election cycles, which include 45 Senate and 145 House races.

    As president, Trump has promised to be a champion for the NRA. In April, he told a gathering of gun rights advocates that the “eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”

    https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/11/audit-shows-nra-spending-surged-100-million-amidst-pro-trump-push-in-2016/

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  204. sbd says (Ali, you) being a credobaptist

    Good point. eg. do you tell your children to believe the ‘confessions’ or do you tell them to examine Scriptures carefully daily to see whether these things were so

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  205. “What were the reasons you gave? Constitutional right? Obama never interfered with the Constitutional right to own a gun.”

    Of course he did, and that’s OK. Rights aren’t absolute. He interfered with people’s right to live, by overseeing the execution of US citizens. That comes with the job I suppose, but usurping one’s right requires due process and due process is expensive. Thus we have trade-offs we have to weigh.

    “His ban targeted assault weapons getting in the hands of certain mentally ill people.”
    Close. His ban targeted people who received social security disability checks who were deemed incompetent to handle their own financial affairs. This covered roughly 75,000 people. How many of those 75,000 people who can’t write a check in their own name or use a credit card do you think have found a way to purchase a gun (much less used that gun in the commission of a crime)? I am quite confident that the number is about 0. On the other hand, with aging parents and having watched my (and my wife’s) grandparents age and die – I know that one thing that many senior citizens are acutely sensitive about is maintaining their independence. They are very sensitive about how information about their mental acuity could possibly be used against them and thus refrain from availing themselves of services that could improve their quality of life. Laws that do the kind of thing they are most terrified of (even if they wouldn’t be the target of that law in actuality) make it very difficult to get some seniors to open up about the challenges they face. I have no idea if this was part of the calculus that led congress and Trump’s advisors to over turn Obama’s executive order. Perhaps they really are foolish enough to think that this would result in a measurable impact in the number of new firearms sold. Perhaps they thought it wouldn’t pass constitutional muster. Perhaps they worried about the message it sent. Perhaps they thought the cost of enforcing what would likely be a losing court case outweighed the minimal benefit. Perhaps they wanted to grant the NRA a symbolic political victory. Perhaps their motives were a mixture of all these things or none of them and something else entirely. My point is that you don’t know. You are confidently asserting that someone did something out of base motives and you have no evidence to support your view. Indeed, the evidence suggest that this motive is unlikely. This is emblematic of motivated reasoning (I don’t like the gun lobby, I don’t like Trump, and Trump did something the gun lobby likes. Therefore Trump must have had terrible motives for doing it).

    “The 2nd Amendment doesn’t require that we allow citizens to acquire any weapon they want.”
    Agreed.

    “If the gov’t prohibits people from owning RPGs and tanks and fighter aircraft and machine guns, does it interfere with the 2nd Amendment?”
    Yep, and that’s OK. The law falls under strict scrutiny and if the government has a compelling reason, they can interfere with a citizen’s right to bear certain arms. I don’t think we disagree here.

    “IN addition, suggesting that school staff or faculty be armed while allowing all mentally ill people to be armed, again, results in what? More guns. And more guns result in more gun sales.”
    I think you have cause and effect backwards here. Further, the policies I’ve seen are to allow teachers to get a permit that allows concealed carry on school grounds. Presumable, this will be people who already own guns bringing their guns to work. This is a terrible idea, but I don’t think the motivation is to sell more guns. Their stated motivation is (in my estimation) the misguided notion that armed teachers will make students safer and cause would be school shooters to think twice. I doubt that it will have much of an impact on the number of guns sold (26,000,000/yr). If everyone of the 3M k-12 teachers bought a new gun, that would create a one year 10% bump in sales. More likely, the fraction of teachers who concealed carry is comparable to the national demographics (~10%). Let’s say half of this 10% goes out and buys a gun they don’t own now. That gives us 150,000 purchasers. And let’s say that half of these are new – we are talking about an increase of 75,000 out of 26,000,000 in sales. This is a pretty “optimistic” scenario. Of course, this won’t happen in one year and it won’t happen in most populous states. If we assume that the average teacher has tenure of 10years, that brings us down to 7500guns/yr. I doubt this advocacy is really lobbying for the 0.03% increase in sales.

    “And the NRA is ever pursuing the increase in gun sales. Why do you think they started rumors that Obama wanted to take people’s guns? That increases gun sales. And the NRA uses tens of millions of dollar to influence government.”
    I’m not so sure their aim is to increase gun sales. Do you have evidence to support that? Do you know where their funding comes from? They have about 5million members paying a minimum of $38/yr to join . That provides over $200M/yr in revenue.

    Let’s look at these numbers in context. In 2016, there was 3.15billion dollars spent on lobbying. That same year, the NRA spent a total of just over 0.003billion dollars lobbying. In 2017 that number was 3.34billion of which 0.005billion was spent by the NRA. In the presidential election, Clinton spent $564M and PACS spent an additional $231M in support of her. Trump spent $333M and had $75M spent in support of him. Of the 2.1billion dollars spent on the presidential election, how much was provided by the NRA? Trump received $969,138 from all Gun rights organizations. I couldn’t find the breakdown (since 1989, the NRA has provided $23M out of $42M of spending, so just over half), but let’s assume it was %100. So out of the $333M he received from various sources, less than .3% comes from the gun rights lobbyists. That’s all it takes to own him? Really?

    “Obama never threatened the 2nd Amendment right. It was reported that he would. And there are some conservatives who feel that their lawmakers can never compromise with liberals on gun laws because once they do, liberals will continually ask for more and more concessions until liberals demand that guns be confiscated–some Trump just suggested and without due process–though he suggested due process after confiscation, he said that gov’t should act regardless of the law. It was a Republican who said that, not Obama.”
    Yep. Most democrats understand that that guns are their third-rail issue.

    “But back at the ranch, saying the motive is obvious isn’t wrong. The motive is apparent. And if other motives are involved, we can discuss them. But we are looking a business fact of life. Why does one overturn a ban on certain mentally ill people buying guns and then suggest the solution for the gun violence that could sometimes result from removing the ban is to put more guns in the school? Citing the 2nd Amendment doesn’t cover it. Do you realize that the conservative approach to the 2nd Amendment is supported when one reads all of The Constitution? There was nothing wrong with attributing Trump’s actions and word to wanting an increase in gun sales.”
    We’ll just have to agree to disagree. You are judging intent rather than actions. There are lots of reasons one may do something that is pretty dumb. I’m not defending the decisions (I already noted I think arming teacher is dumb). My only point is a narrow one. You make accusations about people’s intent, and you should not do that.

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  206. @Ali I teach them to hold fast to their confession…. like the Bible tells us to.

    Let’s drop the loaded “or” and embrace the power of “and”.

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  207. @Curt,
    I don’t understand that information form OpenSecrets… Their own website puts spending on Trump at $969k. Then under outside groups, they list $8.7M – both are much, much smaller than the $30M in the OpenSecrets Press release. Either way, it is a pretty small number compared to the $400M that went into his campaign.

    I do find the press release from OpenSecrets (an organization I generally support!) very misleading. The spending increase they note is not necessarily political spending. I took the floor of their spending to be about $200M based on the membership and dues. Of course, lots of people give more. I’m surprised it is only $400M. I would have guessed that it was a lot more than that. Of course, they are only lobbying for personal firearms. The big gun lobbyist (who really do control congress) are the ones working the DoD over…

    I would really like to see us ban congress critters and political appointees at the department secretary level or higher from working in industries who were influenced by committees they sat on and so forth for some sunset period (say five-10 years?). I would also charge a surtax on all government appointees and aides of 75% for the amount they make over the current salary if they leave for a private sector for a similar amount of time.

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  208. @ SDB: I think the pun may not scan.

    @ Ali: You make rather overmuch of the Confession. In our worship service today, we had an OT reading from Proverbs, a NT reading from Titus, calls to worship and confession from Scripture, and a sermon from Jeremiah. No mention of the Confession.

    At the same time, the purpose of the Confession is to provide the collected wisdom of the church about the interpretation of Scripture. So we use it as a subordinate doctrinal standard to help ensure that our teaching doesn’t get out into speculative la-la land.

    No-one ever says or implies “Trust in the Confession.” That’s silly talk.

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  209. SDB,
    Again, Obama didn’t interfere with the Constitutional right to own a gun. Banning guns for certain people does not keep those people from owning guns. And weighing a person’s mental state and how that could affect their use of guns on innocent people is guarding the rights of others to live. And as you listed the number of people who could purchase or use a gun in any kind of shooting is 0, that both confirms what I wrote and is speculative. I don’t think that either of us are familiar enough with an adequate sample of the the people who fit this category.

    And I don’t think I have it backwards regard cause and effect. How many teachers and staff are looking to carry concealed weapons to work? I have taught and the wife taught and so we know a number of teachers. In fact, when the issue of the “right” to concealed carry on campus was being considered, all of the faculty I know of opposed it. Trump’s words say more than allowing permits to carry concealed weapons. So with the policies you reported, realize that they are different from what Trump has been proposing.

    NRA makes false accusations about Obama to increase sales in guns. First, realize that any serious consideration of new gun control laws increases the sales of guns (see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/295503230_The_US_Gun-Control_Paradox_Gun_Buyer_Response_To_Congressional_Gun-Control_Initiatives and http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/06/news/obama-gun-control-sales/index.html ). Note the NRA accusations about Obama in both of his presidential elections (see https://www.politico.com/blogs/ben-smith/2008/08/nra-obama-most-anti-gun-candidate-ever-will-ban-guns-010821 and http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/jun/15/nra-right-obama-coming-our-guns/ ). Note the response (see http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/11/obama.gun.sales/ and http://news.gallup.com/poll/123602/many-gun-owners-think-obama-will-try-ban-gun-sales.aspx ).

    BTW, your response to what I said about the conservative perception of how liberals regard guns doesn’t address the issue. It seems that some rural states have democratic party senators and legislators. The ones I’ve seen have defended gun ownership (i.e. Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders). What you claimed about the dems and guns is both vague and undocumented. Please note the voting records of Dems and Repubs and varying bills addressing gun control (see https://www.npr.org/2018/02/19/566731477/chart-how-have-your-members-of-congress-voted-on-gun-bills). None of the proposals come close to trying to take away all guns as the conservatives I’ve talked with believe.

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  210. Jeff,
    At some point, we have to connect the dots between elected officials who receive contributions and the bills they vote for that would reward their contributors or the bills they vote against that would lower the profits of their contributors. And the same applies to the President.

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  211. Curt: Let’s suppose that it’s fair game to guess the motives of politicians. While foolish (they usually head-fake), it’s an American pastime.

    That doesn’t excuse the personal comments you’ve made here that divine and judge motives.

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  212. @ Curt
    I see. So I guess they are counting primary dollars and separate out oppo money from support dollars. Weird.

    Whatever the case, out of the billions spent in the election the gun rights group accounted for millions. That’s small potatoes. What makes the gun rights lobby powerful is that it represents 5m single issue voters (in addition to many more too cheap to pony up $38/yr). Like pro choices, they care about their issue and have no problem voting against whoever crosses them. Grassroots at its finest…ugh.

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  213. @jeff
    1. Alas…
    2. I can count on one hand that s quote from the confession or catechism made it into our service. In a CRC church I attended once upon a time, the Sunday evening service was built around the HC. Any idea why catechism sermons aren’t more common in the PCA?

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  214. sdb,
    They re counting how much money the NRA spent to elect Donald Trump. What is weird is that the NRA spent so much do defeat Hillary, not the Open Secrets used a proper title to count both sums of money.

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  215. Jeff,
    When voting for representatives, especially Senators, to compare voting records and contributions received with public opinion, it’s foolish not to follow the money. Why? Because look at their decisions, they have a real effect on people. And that isn’t just true regarding gun rights debates, it is true for following other issues.

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  216. @ Curt: You seem not to be hearing me.

    I’m not talking about the motives of politicians. I’m talking about your unfounded personal accusations against me and others involving the imputation of evil motives.

    It’s wrong.

    If you cannot act justly in a combox, then you have no business talking about, let alone hectoring others about, “social justice.”

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  217. sdb says: @Ali I teach them to hold fast to their confession…. like the Bible tells us to.

    amen sdb (and Jeff).

    Hebrews 10
    15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
    16 “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
    AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
    I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
    AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”
    He then says,
    17 “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
    I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”
    18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
    19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us HOLD FAST THE CONFESSION OF OUR HOPE without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

    Hebrews 4: 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us HOLD FAST OUR CONFESSION. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need

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  218. Ali – sdb and Jeff are correct, you’re accusing many of us of elevating the Reformed Confessions to the level of Scripture – no one here has advocated that at all. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but it’s another example of you erecting straw men arguments and treating our comments very uncharitably.

    On that note, you either completely missed my point or are intentionally misconstruing my point about your “cut & paste” proclivities. Using Scriptural proofs is great in a theological discussion, and I use Scripture constantly on Old Life and other sites. But I very rarely quote large block passages in my posts. The best commenters on here – Jeff, sdb, Robert, among others – actually do some exegesis and analysis in their posts. Have you ever read a comment from Jeff where he exhorts someone to “read the Bible” or simply quotes a lengthy passage of Scripture? No, he relays his thoughts or his theological understanding and shows how he derives his thoughts from Scripture. That’s a far more effective way of making your point, and then we could actually interact with your ideas rather than get sucked into a vortex of poor rhetoric.

    Curt – the bad rhetoric applies to you as well, namely your inability/unwillingness to provide evidence for your basic assertions. But that aside, since you want us to follow the money, what do you have to say about Bernie Sanders – the flag-bearer for socialism in the US and a radical left-winger – who has taken NRA contributions for many years, right up through Fall 2017?

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  219. @Ali
    Re: Amen Great! Now can you answer the questions I posed to you? “I don’t know” is a valid answer…

    Re: the NRA influence in Ohio interesting that Portman didn’t think they were the deciding factor. Given the billions being spent overall, hard to see why that wouldn’t be the case. But a story that led with “NRA accounts for less than 1% of political spending is not the deciding factor in elections” has a dog bites man quality to it. It’s true, but doesn’t draw clicks. Better to lead with uncontextualized numbers that sensationalize and save the qualifiers for graph 5 that no one reads. Alas…

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  220. sdb says: @AliRe: Amen Great! Now can you answer the questions I posed to you? “I don’t know” is a valid answer…

    sdb says: @Ali
    1.water is a symbol of an inward reality wrought by the Holy Spirit. Do you agree?
    2.From what I gather from what you’ve written, you understand “word” to mean phrases taken out of a translation of the Bible. Do you agree?
    3.The metaphor is pointing to what is being said, not the Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, etc… being used to convey the meaning. Do you agree?
    4.the Holy Spirit has blessed the church with people gifted in teaching. Teachers are held to a higher standard, we are called to submit to them, and they are a necessary office for God’s people. Do you agree?
    5.They (standards) shouldn’t be used in place of the scripture, but rather should be used to teach us how to understand the scriptures. Do you agree?

    sdb – don’t think I agree with the reasoning that the word is a metaphor like water is a metaphor here. The word is the word – God’s word – the word of truth. “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures”

    To understand this passage (and any passage), scripture is the best interpreter of scripture, and yes I am very grateful for God’s gifting to teachers for us in the church. (I’m pretty sure you know that since I am open here about relying so much on some I have found faithful.) We are eachl responsible to test all teaching against God’s word of truth.
    To the extent teachers and confessions are faithful to God’s word- the word of truth -they are helpful.

    God is the one in charge of deciding instrumentality of His word of truth for/in us.

    To which teachers do we submit to? For sure, those whom God has put in charge of keeping watch over our souls.

    Also, each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

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  221. @Ali
    Right, but what is God’s Word? Is it a metaphor for the fact that God defines reality and makes that reality comprehensible to us? Or does it refer to the combination of letters on the page? I agree that the only infallible rule for interpreting scripture is scripture (the WCF tells us so!), but of course, that teaching isn’t explicit in scripture. It requires a synthesis of the context for how scripture is used by inspired interpreters in scripture. So the Word tells us that scripture interprets scripture even though those words aren’t in the Bible. In this case, “Word tells” is a personification meaning a “valid conclusion to be drawn from the ideas communicated by scripture”.

    Of course, we get in trouble if equate word with the text printed on the page (or illuminated on the screen as the case may be). John tells us that Jesus is the Word. The divine logos existed before all time, dwelt with God, and became flesh. So is the washing with water and the word just another way of saying people are baptized and given the Bible to read? Or is there something more going on here? One possibility is that washing with water and the word is summarizing sacrament and gospel. We are washed by receiving baptism, hearing the gospel and responding in faith, and being strengthened by feasting on Christ in taking communion and learning what the Bible teaches (what we often call in shorthand word and sacrament).

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  222. Vae,
    You must not be reading all of my notes because I have provide plenty of documentation for my claims.

    BTW, many of us Socialists consider Sanders to be an FDR New dealer, not a Socialist. At least not a Socialist from the Marxist tradition. You can’t have Socialism from the Marxist tradition without the proletariat being in charge. Sanders, on the other hand, is a political liberal who believes in elite-centered rule by those liberal, rather than conservative, elites. From after the Revolution, Lenin, who belonged to the petty bourgeoisie, not the proletariat, made the Central Committee the ruling committee in the Soviet Union and made all workers answerable to that central committee. Such destroyed the power of the workers. And then there were Lenin’s purges. According the socialist and contemporary of Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, what Lenin instituted was a bourgeois dictatorship. Her reasoning was that since Lenin employed a vertical style leadership with a central committee, Lenin employed same model of leadership as what the bourgeoisie used. For Luxemburg and those on the Left, socialism was about a proletariat dictatorship where democracy is used to destroy the rule of the bourgeoisie. Luxemburg writes:


    Yes, dictatorship! But this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, but in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and economic relationships of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished. But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class – that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses; it must be under their direct influence, subjected to the control of complete public activity; it must arise out of the growing political training of the mass of the people.

    If you read further, you find that she had praise for the daring to conduct revolution by the bolsheviks, but their governmental structure and how they ruled was not Marxist.

    There are socialists who like Lenin, I’ve run into them. And the primary reason why they like Lenin is because of what he wrote, not what he did. Such people see more ties between Marx and Lenin while others, like myself, see more ties between Lenin and Stalin.

    Back to Sanders, yes he took NRA money. But, if his views on guns are like Howard Dean’s, who was a former governor in Vermont, he reflects the views of many of his people. Don’t know Sanders thinks this way, but Dean proposed having different gun laws for rural population areas than for urban ones. That each area should be able to make its own gun laws according to need.

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  223. Jeff,
    What wrong accusations? .I’ve said two things to you personally: that you are following in the example of the dominant branch of the Church in the pre-revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain, and your wait and see analogy to prostate cancer applied to gun control tarnishes the reputation of the Gospel. For the latter, that is not because it is your view alone, but that view in general when expressed by Christians is causing many to look down on the Gospel.

    As for the former, to not speak against the exploitive economic system employed by our nation, or against its militarism and imperialism is due to either active support for such or silent complicity. That view doesn’t come from my Socialist views, but from what Martin Luther King said about how one can’ remain neutral in the face of injustice. One can try to theologically define that injustice away, but that results in self-deception.

    Finally note that all I am doing on this blog is to point out how we actively or passively participate in corporate sin. And if some are not as involved in corporate sin as others, they might have more struggles with personal sins. None of that should surprise us since we know some about the sinfulness of everyone and how we survive that sinfulness only by believing in Christ. That none of us are above the other.

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  224. Curt,

    your wait and see analogy to prostate cancer applied to gun control tarnishes the reputation of the Gospel.

    But can you provide any objective documentation of this, not to mention your other claim? Is there a survey that says people are more offended by the gospel as a result of not going after stricter gun control laws?

    If we are just speaking more anecdotally, a position that is more lax regarding gun control would actually commend the gospel more among gun enthusiasts if we follow your logic. So why should we care less about commending the gospel among them than about tarnishing its reputation among those further left?

    The point is that just because some people associate a particular position with the respectability of the gospel doesn’t mean they should.

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  225. sdb says One possibility is that washing with water and the word is summarizing sacrament and gospel. We are washed by receiving baptism, hearing the gospel and responding in faith, and being strengthened by feasting on Christ in taking communion and learning what the Bible teaches (what we often call in shorthand word and sacrament).

    Appreciate the opportunity to study this verse since you brought it up sdb. I can see I need to study it more; but in studying it a little bit and with some commentaries, I’m thinking it has nothing to do with water baptism just as John 3:5 ‘born of water’ and Ez 36:25 ‘I will sprinkle clean water’ do not ; and water baptism is not a requirement for salvation.

    I can see in the commentaries, scholars disagree on this verse– which reminds me how the Lord wants us to wrestle with some of His word – probably to think a lot and reason alot together and mostly, I’m sure, to seek and draw near to Him. I tell people I would have written the bible in very clear concise bullet and outline form, but God had the better plan.
    I think we can agree the verse tells us God Himself works powerfully to save us and in applying His word to us and from the proceeding v25 -Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, which He tells us throughout the bible.
    The sum of His word is truth; He cannot lie and does not change. Anyone adding to or taking away from it is in big trouble.

    Anyway, I also appreciate that you are usually very respectful, even with me.

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  226. Curt
    Dean’s proposal is basically what we have now. Cities such as Chicago, NYC, and DC have much more restrictive gun laws than anything being proposed at the federal level. MA has very restrictive laws at the state level (passed in 1998). These are much more restrictive than anything being proposed at the federal level. CA is also pretty restrictive, though not quite as severe as MA.

    In MA the number of firearm homicides has almost doubled since their restrictive laws went on the books. The response is that guns know no borders. Of course it is illegal to buy a handgun out of state, and gun ownership has plummeted because of registration restrictions there. But criminals are not limited. The primary way guns provide protection is the deterrence. One might be less likely to commit a crime if one believes the potential victim is armed (same reason folks put lights on a timer when they go out of town). This makes me think that the proposal to allow teachers to conceal carry may not be as crazy as I thought. They don’t all need to carry, students just need to believe they do. If a school shooter thinks he will be blown away before he has a chance to do much damage perhaps he will be less likely to act?

    Of course a federal restriction would face similar problems as we have a very porous border with Mexico, and arms smuggling is a problem. Perhaps we should build a wall or something…HA!

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  227. sdb says: Any one who can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee gets my respect Ali!

    oh, I thought it was because I was Amelia Bedelia

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  228. SDB,
    Dean’s proposal was that rural areas have different laws for guns than urban areas. BTW, you might want to note that, lately, 60% of the new guns used in gang-related crimes and 30% in non-gang related crimes in Chicago come from out of state between 2009-2013. THat is an important point since border states like Wisconsin and Illinois have very weak gun laws.There are a number of factors that go into gun violence stats with easy legal access to guns playing a role.

    You might want to recheck some of your sources though. For 2015, MA had the lowest rate of gun deaths (see https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/10/mass-had-lowest-gun-death-rate-country-study-says/jOCtngpzaToQFBdZq43AbP/story.html ).

    But skipping to arming teachers, you really want a proliferation of guns in school? You don’t think that letting teachers carry makes it easier for students to commandeer those weapons?

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  229. Robert,
    You reversed it, what people are offended by are the religious phrases of “our thoughts and prayers are with you” after a mass shooting or that the “root problem is sin, not guns.” But quite frankly, one only needs to check the polls about the percentage of Americans who want more gun control laws and how those who oppose those laws are looked. THen one only need to examine how Christians who oppose those laws are looked at. From my own conversations, there are a number of political issues that cause my nonconservative friends to talk negatively about Christians and Christianity based on the political stands they see Christians take. Resisting gun control is one of them.

    As for gun enthusiasts, how many of them would look down on Christianity when they see a Christian support stricter gun laws? That is different for how many gun and non-gun enthusiasts who believe in stricter gun laws look at Christians who resist such laws. We have to remember that owning guns does not imply anything about one’s stance on gun laws. Many Christians themselves also want gun laws. What I am talking about are how those Christians who resist any change in gun laws appear to nonChristians.

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  230. @Curt
    Right. Dean’s proposal is basically what we have now. urban areas like Chicago, NYC, DC have stricter laws than rural towns. The fact that nearby rural towns have lax laws mean that guns can still flow freely into the cities with strict gun laws. Guns know no borders. Of course this is a problem with efforts to control guns in the US – we have a porous border with a nation with weak law enforcement.

    The fact that MA has the lowest rate of gun deaths does not change the fact that the number of gun homicides in 1998 was about half of what it is now (also from the Globe).

    Regarding arming teachers… No. I do not want to see the number of guns in schools increased. I want students to believe that a lot of teachers are armed. Prior to establishing schools as gun free zones, how many teachers were packing? I bet it was of order 0…even if they could have.

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  231. Curt,

    You reversed it, what people are offended by are the religious phrases of “our thoughts and prayers are with you” after a mass shooting or that the “root problem is sin, not guns.”

    I’m sorry, but honestly if people are offended by Christians when they offer prayer or point out the very obviously true biblical statement that the root problem is sin, the problem isn’t Christians. And again, do you have surveys that demonstrate that people are more likely to be turned off by the gospel when they hear such things. I’m unaware of any.

    But quite frankly, one only needs to check the polls about the percentage of Americans who want more gun control laws and how those who oppose those laws are looked. THen one only need to examine how Christians who oppose those laws are looked at.

    Do you have a poll that tells me how Christians are viewed based on their position on gun control?

    From my own conversations, there are a number of political issues that cause my nonconservative friends to talk negatively about Christians and Christianity based on the political stands they see Christians take. Resisting gun control is one of them.

    But the root issue is whether they SHOULD do that. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe your nonconservative friends are wrong to judge Christianity based on a political position that is neither endorsed nor forbidden by the Christian Scriptures?

    We should be cognizant of our witness, but at some point we have to stop caring what the unbelieving world thinks. I’m pretty sure your nonconservative friends also hate such things as biblical sexual ethics and the exclusivity of Christ. Does that mean we change our positions on that.

    As for gun enthusiasts, how many of them would look down on Christianity when they see a Christian support stricter gun laws? That is different for how many gun and non-gun enthusiasts who believe in stricter gun laws look at Christians who resist such laws. We have to remember that owning guns does not imply anything about one’s stance on gun laws. Many Christians themselves also want gun laws. What I am talking about are how those Christians who resist any change in gun laws appear to nonChristians.

    And what I’m looking for is:

    1. Any kind of empirical proof of how Christians who resist any change in gun laws besides what your nonconservative friends say. A poll, maybe?
    2. Why we should care what non-Christians think about us when we take a particular stand on an issue that is not addressed in Scripture.

    Anecdotally, I’ll also point out that a lot of men are wholly turned off to forms of Christianity that say we need stricter gun control and lean in other such passive and pacifistic directions. Why should I care less about them? Maybe the way to reach them is to advocate for no weapon restrictions.

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  232. Curt, I bet more Americans are offended by our socialist cliches than “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” How confident am I? Trump is POTUS.

    Doesn’t make the majority right or you wrong. But it does mean that what offends someone is really beside the point. Otherwise, Al Gore (the guru behind the interweb) would have shut you down a long time ago.

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  233. D.G.,
    Who is more offended and why? Are fellow religiously conservative Christians more offended because they do not know Socialism is not a monolith? You yourself have been unable to list my Socialist beliefs but that doesn’t stop you from using the term ‘Socialist’ in a derogatory manner.

    When I talk about those who are offended, I am not talking about political conservatives with whom many religiously conservative Christians feel comfortable. I am talking about political nonconservatives who need to hear the Gospel as much as anyone.

    I agree that the majority implies nothing about being right or wrong. But as Christians, shouldn’t we be concerned with making unnecessary stumbling blocks to those who need to hear the Gospel? Or are we apathetic in terms of sharing the Gospel depending on a person’s politics?

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  234. sdb,
    Have you noticed how you changed the language or how the language in the article changes from white males to white males of privilege. I never said that white males were over represented in terms of mass shooters. I did say that the vast majority of mass shooters were white males. And considering the wealth disparity between the races and the relationship between economics and crime, one would think that a smaller percentage of white males should be involved in mass shootings.

    However, you might want to read the ADL report on right-wing terrorism and which race most often conducts such terrorism. In fact, there have been more right-wing terrorist attacks on America than radical Islamic terrorist attacks.

    https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/CR_5154_25YRS%20RightWing%20Terrorism_V5.pdf

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  235. Hmmm…. so when you noted above that white males comprised the majority of mass shooters, you were just making the point that white males are only slightly underrepresented among mass shooters rather than overwhelmingly underrepresented among murders committed with firearms? Curious…. the factoid was a surprise to me, as I was under the impression that whites were over-represented among mass shooters. Amazing how you have everything to teach and nothing to learn!

    Aren’t virtually all islamic terrorists attacks committed by whites in this country? I suppose there may be exceptions among the Somali-muslim community, but who knows… terrorism is so rare as to be pointless to be concerned with. The war on terror (like the war on drugs, poverty, cancer, obesity, etc…) is more about mood affiliation and virtue signaling than actually improving quality of life….alas…

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  236. When I talk about those who are offended, I am not talking about political conservatives with whom many religiously conservative Christians feel comfortable. I am talking about political nonconservatives who need to hear the Gospel as much as anyone.

    Wait a minute here. Why is advocacy of leftwing politics (the sort that might be a turn off for non-Christians such as Jonah Goldberg, Razib Khan, John Derbyshire, George Will, Eugene Volokh, Glenn Reynolds, Tyler Cowen, Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, Heather McDonald, David Bernstein, etc…) OK for Christians to embrace, but rightwing politics isn’t? Based on the last election, it looks to me like the those who lacked a college degree or HS degree went for Trump while the college educated and postgraduate degree holders went for Clinton.

    I agree though that politics can be a stumbling block for people hearing the gospel. That’s why the church (as church) shouldn’t do politics! It should refrain from any behavior that could be a stumbling block for someone unless it is required by scripture. What the church as institution should do is different from what individual Christians can do. Its OK for me to sale used cars. It isn’t OK for the church to do that. Its OK for me to host a reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets, it is not OK for that to happen in during worship. This is the essence of 2K. It says nothing about what you as a citizen of the world should do in the world. Scripture is a guide of course, but most of our secular life involves adioapohra. The church shouldn’t try to opine… whether it is the merits of Mac vs PC, Fortran vs C, publicly run schools vs publicly funded private schools, arming teachers or banning guns. These fall outside of the purview of the church. We believers get to use reason and our conscience (formed by worship, prayer, attending to the sacraments, hearing the Word preached, etc…) to decide how best to act. The church attends to the things prescribed for it in scripture…so that it won’t become a stumbling block for Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher on extra-gospel issues. The gospel is enough of an offense as it is… we don’t need to add to it.

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  237. Robert,
    But the offense in those statements if found in the concern ends with those statements. It’s like when James talks about seeing a person in need and pronouncing a blessing on them without helping. That is where the offense is taken. A parallel example is when nonChristians, especially political nonconservatives, hear Christians talking about being pro-life but who are indifferent to an economic system that fosters wealth disparity and poverty, a healthcare system that doesn’t provide affordable access to healthcare for all, or who do not oppose American militarism and interventions. Poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and interventions and wars kill. And sometimes their victims are expectant mothers. BTW, while I was teaching, a liberal colleague of mine who is pro-choice said to me that he didn’t mind discussing abortion with me because he regarded my other views against the economic system, healthcare system, and militarism and wars as being consistently pro-life.

    For your second question, there is no such poll. But there are anecdotes that comes from 12 years of being an activist. The people I’ve heard from about this are not always friends, they are people I meet once while protesting–I’ve been protesting in a number of cities. And the only thing that keeps that anecdotes from becoming data is that I have not systematically collected and organized the stories and views expressed to me.

    Now should Christians take a pro-active stand for stricter gun laws. That depends on whether gun violence presents a social problem or not. Note that the definition of a social problem is when there is suffering or damage and something can be done about it.

    Gun violence has many sides. I am just going to take a look at the mass shooting side of gun violence starting with 1982. Starting with 2011, the number of mass shootings has been generally increasing past any other 7 year block of time since 1982. The same goes with the number of deaths. The highest average number of deaths per mass shooting was between 1982 to 1991. But since 2006, the average number of deaths has been generally increasing past the time period of 1992 to 2005. BTW, 2017 saw a spike in both the number of mass shootings and deaths. No other year comes close to 2017 in terms of the number of mass shootings and deaths with 11 mass shootings and 117 deaths. So even when 2017 is removed from the data, the above trends are true. This indicates that we have a problem that seems to be increasing as time goes on.

    Can something be done? There we can look at long-term solutions as well as short-term solutions. In terms of short term solutions, we make legal access to the kinds of guns most often used in mass shootings more difficult by either qualifying who can purchase such a weapon or totally prohibit the purchasing of such weapons. We can weigh that with need for civilians to purchase assault type weapons. These weapons not only embolden those who would conduct mass shootings, they allow them to kill or injure more people. What is lost with either restricting access to assault weapons or prohibiting such access. There is nothing lost in hunting since assault weapons aren’t generally used in hunting. And assault weapons are not recommended for home defense partly because of the risk of collateral harm. Now restricting or prohibiting access to assault weapons will not eliminate mass shootings, but they could very well reduce them. More Americans want tighter gun controls. More Americans want background checks and waiting periods. And part of the background checks should take into consideration the mental health history of the potential gun purchaser. These are all reasonable changes that could be made especially considering what is lost by reducing the number of accessible assault weapons.

    What does the combination of wisdom and love thy neighbor say when it comes to gun laws that control access to assault weapons? And this is the counterpoint to your point about this not being addressed in the Scriptures. They couldn’t have been addressed in the Scriptures. And so because of that, we say that Christians have no guidance as to how to approach gun laws? Your reasoning is an offense to nonChristians who are not politically conservative. It shows a literalism that doesn’t account for changing historical contexts. And that is the general problem people who follow the Regulative Principle have in apply the Scriptures to problems never foreseen by the prophets and the Apostles. They not only apply the Regulative Principle to worship, which I don’t think is promoted in the NT, they take it to all of life so that unless there is a specific example to imitate or explicit command to follow, they believe that the issue is up to the preferences of the believer.

    The question again comes down to what does the combination of wisdom and love for neighbor say when it comes to gun laws? Does it support a laissez-faire approach to gun laws?

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  238. sdb,
    Yes, having the lowest number of gun murders does say something regardless of 1998. Why? Because cultural context plays a role in gun violence.

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  239. @curt of course. That’s kind of the point. Gun control advocates (incorrectly) claim mass shootings don’t happen like they do in the US. This is false. Europe and the US are comparable. Gun control advocates claim that if we enacted a ban on assault weapons, violence would go down because of it. That didn’t happen either. Gun control advocates claimed that the MA law would lower firearm crime. It didn’t. While the rest of the country declined, MA went up. The point is that there are a lot of variables with unpredictable feedback. Culture matters, laws matter, history matters, economics matter, etc… prohibition always comes with a cost. How one balances those costs against benefits is incredibly complicated. Moral preening on cable news and twitter isn’t. Epistemic humility has never been a common trait among politicians, and certainly not among progressives. Respect Chesterson’s fence… sometimes doing nothing is better than something and much easier to fix if you decide you were wrong…this goes doubly during times of moralistic hysteria… whether the issue is satanic daycare workers, crack babies, or mass shootings.

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  240. sdb,
    we’ve gone through this before. The US is far worse than Europe both in terms of numbers and percentages. When looking at gun control in individual states, realize that lax gun laws in neighboring state can effect all kinds of gun crime in states with stricter laws. In addition, there are other factors such as changes in cultural values and economic changes such as increased wealth disparity. Do gun control apologists really want to say that assault weapons bans never work? The statistics go against you. One only needs to mention England and Australia. Of course there are some cultural differences but mass shootings went down in both places. And difference between that and having states institute assault weapons bans is that neighbors that have more lax gun laws have less effect on nations and states in the US.

    In addition, bans on assault weapons generally don’t put a dent into violent crime. Why? Because most gun violence does not include the use of assault weapons. Banning assault weapons addresses only one problem– the problem of mass shootings.

    Here is the point, when we see an increase in gun violence or mass shootings, the most immediate relief comes from gun control laws that are response to the new variables. such as cultural values. To not change gun control laws when changing cultural values leads to increased gun violence is irrational. Gun control laws don’t have to be treated as if they were absolute values written in stone.

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  241. “ we’ve gone through this before. The US is far worse than Europe both in terms of numbers and percentages. “

    You’ll have to define far. Europe has higher fatality rate, US has higher occurrence. In neither case is the difference statistically significant.

    Regarding Dean’s proposal, you are saying you agree with me now that “guns know no borders”.

    Don’t know what gun control apologists would say about AWB or if they ever work. The one passed in the US didn’t. Unlike Australia and
    the UK, the US shares a long border with a country that doesn’t exactly have control of the arms floating around.

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  242. sdb,
    Beginning with 2012, there have been 5 school shootings that qualify as mass shootings. School shootings that were on school property, not around the school, including colleges are 26 beginning with 2016.

    Here’s the deal. Right now you are spinning and starting to repeat old claims that were shown to be false. I don’ have time for that. It’s not media hype here. When you want a serious discussion, let me know.

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  243. Sdb,
    Regarding Europe, realize that it has 1.5x the population. That not all places in Europe have the same gun laws. And that because of location, they are more susceptible to shooting incidents that are terrorist acts than the US. Compare the mass shootings of Europe that were conducted by citizens of the nation where the shooting occurred with the number of mass shootings that were conducted by American citizens.

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  244. Scripture is a guide of course, but most of our secular life involves adioapohra. The church shouldn’t try to opine…The church attends to the things prescribed for it in scripture…

    Jesus: Yet this ideal involved such a sharpening of moral obligation that in the presence of its unqualified earnestness and comprehensive scope there was no room for the question, so important to legalistic Judaism, how much one might do or leave undone without transgressing the Law. The slightest act, like the individual word, had the highest ethical significance to the extent that it was an expression of the “abundance of the heart” (Matt. xii. 25-37).

    Paul: From the fact that the Christian belongs to God, the Lord of the world, Paul deduces the authority (Gk. exousia) of Christians over all things (I Cor. iii. 21-23), especially the right freely to make use of the free gifts of God (I Cor. x. 23, 26; Rom. xiv. 14, 20). Ability to return thanks for them is made the subjective criterion of their purity (Rom. xiv. 6; I Cor. x. 30)… But action in the domain of the permissible is restricted for the individual by ethical principles according to which he must be bound (Rom. xiv. 2 sqq.; I Cor. vi. 12, viii. 9, x. 23). Concrete action in all such cases he regards as not at the pleasure of the individual, but as bidden or forbidden for the sake of God.
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc01.html?term=Adiaphora,%20and%20the%20Adiaphoristic%20Controversies

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  245. Curt
    The numbers I provided from the WaPo were per capita. Every country included has far more restrictive laws than the US. You have yet to provide data that falsifies a single claim I’ve made. Not sure what citizenship has to do with anything. The study from Northeastern I linked shows the downward trend overall. These are sufficiently rare events that single year fluctuations matter, but looking at the overall slope from the 1990’s to today shows improvement. Perhaps the energy put into banning scary looking guns is misplaced. Lead mitigation, looking at the drugs prescribed to teens, and better mental health access may matter. The AWB in US will not make a difference.

    My point in all of this is that there are no easy answers, and scripture provides no guidance on politics. The church should restrict itself to speaking on matters it was ordained to speak on. We should love our neighbor. Some may believe the best way to do that is arming teachers to keep kids safe. Others may disagree. Churches should not opine one way or the other, but they should proclaim the gospel and call on people to repent of not loving their neighbors as themselves.

    I guess this discussion has gone on long enough. We will have to agree to disagree. Alas…

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  246. Curt,

    But the offense in those statements if found in the concern ends with those statements. It’s like when James talks about seeing a person in need and pronouncing a blessing on them without helping.

    Sure. And for those who are against tighter gun laws, they would say their concern doesn’t end there. They would say that the best way to show concern is to relax gun laws so that there is a greater chance that another citizen with a gun will stop the mass shooter before it stops. You are assuming that one way of showing concern is more appropriate than another, and that is precisely what is at debate!

    That is where the offense is taken. A parallel example is when nonChristians, especially political nonconservatives, hear Christians talking about being pro-life but who are indifferent to an economic system that fosters wealth disparity and poverty, a healthcare system that doesn’t provide affordable access to healthcare for all, or who do not oppose American militarism and interventions. Poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and interventions and wars kill. And sometimes their victims are expectant mothers. BTW, while I was teaching, a liberal colleague of mine who is pro-choice said to me that he didn’t mind discussing abortion with me because he regarded my other views against the economic system, healthcare system, and militarism and wars as being consistently pro-life.

    We can debate the merits of these positions, but it’s simply not self-evident to non-socialists that many of those positions you mention are pro-life. There are trade-offs in “providing affordable access to healthcare for all,” for example, that are well known and that in many cases actual result in prolonged suffering and shorter lifespans.

    For your second question, there is no such poll. But there are anecdotes that comes from 12 years of being an activist. The people I’ve heard from about this are not always friends, they are people I meet once while protesting–I’ve been protesting in a number of cities. And the only thing that keeps that anecdotes from becoming data is that I have not systematically collected and organized the stories and views expressed to me.

    Okay. And I’ve known many non-Christians who if I espoused some of the stuff you espouse would have a much more negative view of the gospel and of Christ than they already do. So back to my question and SDB’s—why should I care more about your liberal activist friends and their view of the gospel and adjust my political views accordingly than I do about my non-Christian conservative friends?

    Now should Christians take a pro-active stand for stricter gun laws. That depends on whether gun violence presents a social problem or not. Note that the definition of a social problem is when there is suffering or damage and something can be done about it.

    Why are Christians obligated to take a pro-active stand for social problems beyond helping people in their immediate circle? Most Christians I know are doing their level best simply to put food on their tables, educate their children, and maybe keep an eye out on the people they know from everyday life. They don’t have time to research every social problem and its solutions. They deal with life as it comes at them because of time, education level, economics, etc. On the gun issue, why does someone in rural America need to know the ins and outs of policies besides knowing that 1. He is largely alone out there because of police response time. 2. He needs a gun to protect his family and his neighbors. 3. He thinks a AR-15 is the best choice for him because of these and other factors?

    Can something be done? There we can look at long-term solutions as well as short-term solutions. In terms of short term solutions, we make legal access to the kinds of guns most often used in mass shootings more difficult by either qualifying who can purchase such a weapon or totally prohibit the purchasing of such weapons. We can weigh that with need for civilians to purchase assault type weapons. These weapons not only embolden those who would conduct mass shootings, they allow them to kill or injure more people. What is lost with either restricting access to assault weapons or prohibiting such access. There is nothing lost in hunting since assault weapons aren’t generally used in hunting. And assault weapons are not recommended for home defense partly because of the risk of collateral harm. Now restricting or prohibiting access to assault weapons will not eliminate mass shootings, but they could very well reduce them. More Americans want tighter gun controls. More Americans want background checks and waiting periods. And part of the background checks should take into consideration the mental health history of the potential gun purchaser. These are all reasonable changes that could be made especially considering what is lost by reducing the number of accessible assault weapons.

    We can certainly discuss all of these. I’m not necessarily against any of them. But while we’re discussing these, we also need to discuss things such as how tighter gun control laws have been used in other nations as a stepping stone to prohibiting gun ownership altogether

    What does the combination of wisdom and love thy neighbor say when it comes to gun laws that control access to assault weapons?

    Well, the very idea of wisdom is largely context-specific. The biblical principles most relevant are the mandate to protect innocent life and the right to self-defense. How you apply these are going to differ depending on the context, which in our own country may vary greatly from place to place.

    And this is the counterpoint to your point about this not being addressed in the Scriptures. They couldn’t have been addressed in the Scriptures. And so because of that, we say that Christians have no guidance as to how to approach gun laws?

    No. There’s guidance, it’s just not as simple as saying, “The Christian position on gun control is x.”

    Your reasoning is an offense to nonChristians who are not politically conservative.

    1. Maybe they shouldn’t be offended. Maybe they are wrong? At some point, we have to stop caring about whether others find our reasoning offensive; otherwise, we stop preaching the gospel.
    2. I could just as well say that your reasoning is offensive to nonChristians who are politically conservative. For some reason you think they need the gospel less, it seems. But isn’t that the same error as conservative Christians who think that conservatives are saved simply by their political conservatism?
    3. May nonChristians—and Christians—are wrong to equate political positions and social policy positions with the gospel?

    It shows a literalism that doesn’t account for changing historical contexts. And that is the general problem people who follow the Regulative Principle have in apply the Scriptures to problems never foreseen by the prophets and the Apostles. They not only apply the Regulative Principle to worship, which I don’t think is promoted in the NT, they take it to all of life so that unless there is a specific example to imitate or explicit command to follow, they believe that the issue is up to the preferences of the believer.

    This is just wrong. People who follow the RP believe in both the explicit commands of Scripture and what may be deduced by good and necessary consequence are mandatory. Where you have neither, you have freedom. It’s simply not evident in respect of this debate that we can dictate society-wide specific gun control policies for 21-century US citizens from Scripture.

    The question again comes down to what does the combination of wisdom and love for neighbor say when it comes to gun laws? Does it support a laissez-faire approach to gun laws?

    That is the question. And the answer is not self-evident. That’s what we all keep trying to tell you. If the answer were self-evident, there would not be a debate about this among Christians.

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  247. Curt, you talk about unnecessary stumbling blocks and then think socialism is like so vanilla? You are aware that 1989 happened, right? But Lenin lives in your heart?

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  248. Every attempt at inclusion is also another exclusion.

    Ezra 10: 10 “You have been unfaithful. You have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do His will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives” ”

    The Catholic “inclusion-rider” is way bigger than yours because it excludes more fundamentalists. Not all in the tribe of Moses were truly following Jesus in the tribe of Abraham. But all those in the tribe of Abraham were and are true partisans of the tribe of Abraham,.Their initiation into the new covenant was not accidental but substantial in terms of God’s common grace offering and sincerely desiring them to remain in the tribe of Abraham.

    Scott Clark –“Lutherans teach that baptism is a “means of justification.–‘Baptism works forgiveness of sins…washes away sin…sanctifies and cleanses…regenerates and saves.” Though orthodox Lutheranism confesses a doctrine of unconditional election, they also deny our doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. According to them, at the moment of the administration of baptism faith is kindled, and one is not only included visibly into the church, but one is made alive and shall remain so unless and until he resists the grace of the Spirit. Not surprisingly, as a consequence of this view, the orthodox Lutheran theologians were and remain highly critical of our Canons of Dort. ”

    https://www.tokensshow.com/blog/how-not-to-be-a-sectarian-ten-not-so-easy-practices

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  249. Re: Offending nonChristians.

    NonChristians in the US were offended aplenty by Prohibition, in which progressives and fundamentalists joined forces to fight social injustice with “good laws.”

    NonChristians in Quebec were quite offended by the Catholic treatment of the Duplessis Orphans in the name of doing good.

    NonChristians in Europe were mightily offended by the Thirty Year’s War in which Catholic and Protestant attempted to bring about social justice by installing the best possible government.

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  250. Jeff,
    That is neat. But that doesn’t tarnish the Gospel and one has to examine why they were offended. The people I have discussed things with several settings see a great inconsistency between what they see in the Bible and the conservative political agenda that many religiously conservative Christians promote.

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  251. D.G.,
    I have plenty of criticisms of Marx. But, again, what are my Socialist beliefs that you think Christians find so offensive? I ask that because I don’t think you have a clue as to what my Socialist beliefs are and yet you are eager to make derogatory statements about them.

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  252. Robert,
    Maybe the offense is found in the conservative belief that only good guys with guns will stop bad guys with guns. That logic is similar to a quote from Jordan Klepper that said: ‘The only person who can stop a bad guy with porn is a good guy with porn.’ But aren’t the mass shooting stats showing that there is a growing numer of mass shootings and that most of the mass shooters end up killing themselves? Basically, the conservative approach to stopping gun violence is the approach that was used in the old wild West. One problem with the logic is that there is far more collateral damage done in suburban and urban areas where shootings take place. Plus, I don’t think that the police generally recommend that approach to handling mass shootings. If mass shooters are armed with semi-automatic and modifeid semi-automatic weapons, should we encourage more people to be armed with the same? What if a good person with such a weapon loses his/her temper? Isn’t there a greater chance guns will be fired in a temporary loss of control?

    Again, compare the mass shooting stats with Europe, especially Western Europe. Look at how mass shooters in those nations are citizens of the nations they conduct their mass shootings. Then compare the percentages, since I am not aware of how the total population population of Western Europe compares with the US, and see if their gun laws have made a positive impact.

    As for what is pro-life, it isn’t just socialists like me who see that being consistently pro-life applies beyond the abortion issue. You opportunistically made an unsubstantiated comment there.

    Also, why should we care about wherher people who do not share our political views are offended to the point of not wanting to listent to the Gospel we believe and espouse? I guess it depends on whether you want to share the Gospel with only those who share you political convictions. What if anyone you are sharing the Gospel with someone who sees an inconsistency in the Gospel and your political views, don’t you want to address that inconsistency?

    Next, are you asking why Christians should care about those who live beyond their immediate circle? Remember the Good Samaritan parable? Wasn’t one of the points that it was the person who was the most distant from the immediate circle of the person robbed who was the neighbor to him? Aren’t we suppose to model God’s love for us to the world rather than just our immediate circle? After all, didn’t God love the world?

    Next, isn’t one way of protecting innocent life that of reducing the number of weapons that could be used to kill, especially when it comes to assault weapons that easily increase the kill-rate potential of a weapon? Or is the only way to protect innocent people is to give good guys assault weapons so they can patrol the streets?

    Next, yes we should use what can be deduced. But saying that and doing that are two different things. And saying that in a particular situation, because political solution was not employhed and thus reasoning that political solutions can never address certain problems does not exemplify the use of deducing the good and necessary consequences.

    Finally, never said that the solutions were always self-evident. But sometimes the problems and the need to look for solutions are. And the current conservative approach to gun violence doens’t employ the combination of wisdom and love of neighbor because, as you wrote earlier, why should conservatives be concerned about those who exist outside of their immediate circle. It seems that the theme song for the conservative approach to social justice and actions is It’s A Small World After All

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  253. @ Curt:

    There are a couple of reasons that you aren’t taken seriously in these parts. The first is incoherence.

    Truth: Religious conservativism — that is, Confessionalism — is not political conservatism. Christians who seek to inject religion into politics, whether conservative, liberal, progressive, or socialist, are theological liberals by definition. They have redefined kingdom work beyond the mandate that Jesus set out for His church.

    The second is the ridiculousness of your claims. So nonChristians are mad at some Christians for failing to support gun laws? Maybe that’s because those laws don’t work. So if your nonChristian friends are offended at good sense, well — I can’t help them.

    When a team of statisticians from the FiveThirtyEight website analyzed all 33,000 deaths caused by guns each year in the United States, they came away “frustrated” in their attempts to support new gun laws. They concluded that “broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns” through bans would not solve the problem; instead, like Lehman, they concluded that one individualized intervention was the best solution.

    And the third is that you continue to be offensive without regret or apology, even when the offenses are directly pointed out to you. I for one have lost patience entirely with the glib judgmentalism and inattention to facts. That doesn’t mean that we cannot be reconciled, but it does mean that you have erected a hard barrier against being heard.

    Your message is a legalistic message, and you have so far refused all attempts at reasoning or correction. That makes my course very clear.

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  254. sdb,
    FIrst, you didn’t link for the WaPo data you referenced. Second, please refer to my Feb 27, 4:24 PM comment to you and your response on the same date written past 11:00 PM. In addition, your calculations appear to be off. THe numbers of 27, for when the #of deaths in the shooting is 4, per 300,000,000+ peoplle vs 19 per over 500,000,000 people. In addition, if you compare the number of mass shootings where the perpetrator is a citizen of the nation in which he conducts the mass shooting, the disparity increases significantly especially in the number of deaths.

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  255. Jeff – “Truth: Religious conservativism — that is, Confessionalism — is not political conservatism. Christians who seek to inject religion into politics, whether conservative, liberal, progressive, or socialist, are theological liberals by definition. They have redefined kingdom work beyond the mandate that Jesus set out for His church.”

    Excellent comment! Very few Christians of all political persuasions understand this concept.

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  256. Does this relativism between “liberal” and “conservative” apply in all places and in all times? Or is it merely “liberalism” itself question-begging the definition of “political” in terms of some time after the Reformed confessions were revised?

    Until Jesus comes in the age to come, are the Reformed confessions (revised) the final solution? Do we begin with the assumption that everything belongs to Caesar, except for some exception we have found that is so “religious” that it could not possibly also be thought of as “political” by any right-thinking person?

    Calvin—though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit…. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men.

    Roeper—The events in Wittenberg reveal what had become a pattern in Luther’s life. Time and again, though he might rail against them and insult them with surprising impudence, Luther in the end would always align himself with the authorities. The account first propagated by the Catholic side–that Karlstadt had engaged in subversive preaching, which has caused armed sedition—Luther now adopted as the official narrative of what had happened in Wittenberg. It was a convenient fiction for all sides, because it minimized the extent to which the council, leading reformers, and others had been actively involved in introducing the Reformation. In fact, until January, Melanchthon had taken a far more radical line than Karlstad, but someone had to be blamed. It is hard to resist the conclusion that Karlstad was made a scapegoat.

    http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Karlstadt,_Andreas_Rudolff-Bodenstein_von_(1486-1541)

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  257. McMark: Does this relativism between “liberal” and “conservative” apply in all places and in all times? Or is it merely “liberalism” itself question-begging the definition of “political” in terms of some time after the Reformed confessions were revised?

    The term “liberal” is historically bound, and cannot be used (except anachronistically) in a 16th century context.

    McMark: Until Jesus comes in the age to come, are the Reformed confessions (revised) the final solution?

    No.

    McMark: Do we begin with the assumption that everything belongs to Caesar, except for some exception we have found that is so “religious” that it could not possibly also be thought of as “political” by any right-thinking person?

    No. Do you?

    Liked by 1 person

  258. Jeff,
    Apparently you have not clue what I am talking about. I am not talking about the injection of religion into politics, I am talking about the interjection of morals into politics and society which doesn’t coincide with 2kt. And not being taken seriously here implies nothing about the validity of what I am saying. BTW, there have been some here who have expressed partial agreement with me.

    The problem many of us religiously conservative Christians have is that we act like our models of thought about theology or politics are exhaustive. Therefore, listening to views that don’t exactly fit those models causes confusion. Example #1:


    Christians who seek to inject religion into politics, whether conservative, liberal, progressive, or socialist, are theological liberals by definition.

    So first, I am talkling about the injection of morals into politics. Second, theological liberalism has always been defined by the reduction of reality to what is physical. From that comes a host ideas that you find ‘theologically liberal.’ But what if conservative theologians inject Christianity into politics? Would you call them theological liberals? If so, how do you distinguish between those who trust in Christ who inject religion into politics from those who do the same but deny Christ as being God? Tim Keller is a theological liberal?

    You are not really talking about Confessional Christians even if being that carried merit. You are really talking about followers of 2KT. And thus it seems that you are merely dissing those who lie outside your reformed 2KT model of thought. Because of your Confessional Theology, you act as if you have the knowledge to label all who lie outside your model of thought. Unfortunately, the confessions as well as 2KT and transformationalism, the Augsberg Confession, and alike are the equivalent of the traditions relied on by the Pharisees. They are all attempts at interpreting God’s Word. But when put on too high a pedestal, they regarded as equal to God’s Word on a de facto basis.

    Next, here is a fact for you, yes, gun laws do work. Will the same gun laws work equally in all places? No. But, depending on the gun laws and how they are tailored for different places, they do work. Again, the mass shooting stats show that. And wisely crafting gun laws for here are a wise and more love-thy-neighbor option than forever watching the prostate cancer until it reaches stage 3.

    But I am going to leave you with, what might be for you, a disturbing point. There is a significant amount of continuity between 2KT, which I have always said has both good and bad in it, and Marx’s abolition of religion (see https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/ ). Sit back, read, and enjoy.

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  259. The discontinuity (abrogation of the Mosaic covenant) taught by Darbyists is DIFFERENT from the “Abraham is the new but Moses is the old” discontinuity taught by the Reformed who teach that circumcision is now fulfilled not only in substance (Christ’s death our righteousness) but also in water baptism for those infants with one parent professing Abraham as father.

    But the continuity of THESE Reformed (Moses was but is no longer an administration of the covenant of grace) is DIFFERENT than the continuity of OTHER Reformed who say that all post-fall covenants are the same, when it comes to conditions and grace.

    Robert Strimple—“That law does not continue as a covenant of works for us, and it was not delivered upon Mount Sinai as a covenant or works for the children of Israel. This may not be what some on our faculty would like it to teach. But it is what the Confession teaches.”

    When we do discontinuity between Moses and Abraham, it is not dispensationist, but when other amillennialists do not do babies, that is a result which reveals their basic dispensationalism.

    When the theonomic (FV) Reformed lament the various cultures, they are doing it as part of their gospel which is not a gospel but a worldview. But when we complain about the various cultures, we are not doing that as churches who teach the gospel Abraham believed, but as those who believe in the separation of state and Scripture, and therefore our complaints can never be confused with gospel nor replace the gospel. Our churches don’t save Jews from Germans as churches, but only as individuals…

    There was not just one village, le Chambon‘but half a dozen others and not only one Protestant pastor, but others like the Darbyists and the Ravenists, descendants of followers of the Plymouth Brethren, who trace their roots to the influence of John Nelson Darby himself, who preached, in the Haute Loire area in 1837, and on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon specifically, in 1849, to ‘crowds gathered from all over the region to hear him speak’ …. Moorehead depicts the Brethren of the Plateau as self-contained, even ‘dour’ , going about their lives in an ‘orderly, separate, silent way’).

    The famous Darbyist silence was shared by them all, Catholics and Protestants alike; None of them were talkative people. It is hard to know, then, if the said silence was ecclesiological or simply cultural.
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/15/caroline-moorehead-village-of-secrets-defying-the-nazis

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  260. Curt: Apparently you have not clue what I am talking about. I am not talking about the injection of religion into politics, I am talking about the interjection of morals into politics and society…

    I know exactly what you are talking about. You say that because Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, we are in sin unless we follow a set of political aims that you have laid out for us: support for gun control, resistance of structural racism, and taking action on economic inequality.

    It’s not hard to understand.

    But when you speak of “sin”, that is the moment you inject religion into politics.

    Are you aware of how much you sound like Rauschenbusch? The Social Principles of Jesus hits all your themes, and he even uses your style of language.

    Curt: Second, theological liberalism has always been defined by the reduction of reality to what is physical.

    Is that so? Do you spend much time with the mainline?

    Curt: But what if conservative theologians inject Christianity into politics? Would you call them theological liberals?

    Already answered above: Christians who seek to inject religion into politics, whether conservative, liberal, progressive, or socialist, are theological liberals by definition.

    You’re phoning it in. Slow down and read.

    Curt: If so, how do you distinguish between those who trust in Christ who inject religion into politics from those who do the same but deny Christ as being God? Tim Keller is a theological liberal?

    There’s a spectrum. Bultmann was different from Rauschenbusch was different from Briggs.

    Curt: There is a significant amount of continuity between 2KT, which I have always said has both good and bad in it, and Marx’s abolition of religion

    That’s a bizarre and superficial read of Marx. First, in the linked essay, he’s discussing Bruno Bauer and reacting to him. So already, you’re trying to draw some parallel with two different speakers talking at once as if they were one.

    Second, Marx’s criticism of Bauer, in a nutshell, is that for Bauer, the man is free when the state is no longer a Christian state; but Marx rebuts that emancipation is incomplete until the man is no longer a Christian man, and that the purpose of the democratic state is to raise man up above religion entirely:

    The limits of political emancipation are evident at once from the fact that the state can free itself from a restriction without man being really free from this restriction, that the state can be a free state [pun on word Freistaat, which also means republic] without man being a free man. Bauer himself tacitly admits this when he lays down the following condition for political emancipation:

    “Every religious privilege, and therefore also the monopoly of a privileged church, would have been abolished altogether, and if some or many persons, or even the overwhelming majority, still believed themselves bound to fulfil religious duties, this fulfilment ought to be left to them as a purely private matter.” [The Jewish Question, p. 65]

    It is possible, therefore, for the state to have emancipated itself from religion even if the overwhelming majority is still religious. And the overwhelming majority does not cease to be religious through being religious in private.

    But, the attitude of the state, and of the republic [free state] in particular, to religion is, after all, only the attitude to religion of the men who compose the state. It follows from this that man frees himself through the medium of the state, that he frees himself politically from a limitation when, in contradiction with himself, he raises himself above this limitation in an abstract, limited, and partial way. It follows further that, by freeing himself politically, man frees himself in a roundabout way, through an intermediary, although an essential intermediary. It follows, finally, that man, even if he proclaims himself an atheist through the medium of the state – that is, if he proclaims the state to be atheist – still remains in the grip of religion, precisely because he acknowledges himself only by a roundabout route, only through an intermediary. Religion is precisely the recognition of man in a roundabout way, through an intermediary. The state is the intermediary between man and man’s freedom. Just as Christ is the intermediary to whom man transfers the burden of all his divinity, all his religious constraint, so the state is the intermediary to whom man transfers all his non-divinity and all his human unconstraint.

    That is lightyears away from 2k. Marx wants the state to be an intermediary that emancipates us from the limitation of religion. What in the world does that have to do with observing that state and church have distinct jurisdictions?

    Third, your attempted parallel fails the sanity test. How many 2k-er Marxists do you know? Now, how many theological liberal Marxists do you know? Can you say “liberation theology”? Of course you can.

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  261. Is the distinction between office and person itself a good “liberal” idea? Maybe that’s what I did, but it’s not who I am. I did what I could, and even that I did not do it as a Christian.

    https://www.vox.com/conversations/2018/3/5/17072260/marilynne-robinson-florida-parkland-shooting-guns

    What do you think of those on the left — the intellectual Cornel West comes to mind — who have accused Obama of outright war crimes because he carried out so many drone strikes?

    Marilynne Robinson–Well, I’ve never talked with Obama about things like that. You have to think people have a certain range of options. If you were trying to keep casualties to a minimum, I can see why you would think that drone strikes were much more effective than an invasion force. It’s not a good choice. I’m sure that he would not have done it happily, but given the range of possibilities that they are, if the objective is to maintain a lower rate of casualties, for both sides, I can see how you might, as president, be forced into a situation like that.

    —-One of the things that bothers me about liberals is that they don’t feel obligated to come up with a better choice. Originally, Obama talked about taking prisoners out of Guantanamo and putting them in the Supermax prison in Colorado. He didn’t end up doing that

    —–Obama couldn’t, because that would not have been politically possible.

    Bonhoeffer—This distinction between private person and bearer of an office as normative for my behavior is foreign to Jesus. Jesus does not say a word about it. He addresses his disciples as people who have left everything behind to follow him. ‘Private’ and ‘official’ spheres are all completely subject to Jesus’ command.

    Are all one-krs the same or different?

    Epistle to Diognetus –For while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. The live in their own countries but only as nonresidents….Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign..

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  262. Walter Rauschenbusch– “The social gospel registers the fact that for the first time in history the spirit of Christianity can form a working partnership with real social and psychological science.”

    Walter McDougall—-Wilson praised the singular insight of a pastor whose book declared the president’s goal to be nothing less than the fulfillment of the Lord’s Prayer: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
    American clergy called Germany pagan and the Kaiser the devil, and enlisted recruits and sold war bonds from the pulpit . Lyman Abbott even boasted of not being able to pray “Father, forgive them” because, he said, “the Germans know very well they are robbers, murderers, pillagers of churches, and violators of women. I do well to hate them.”

    ” The president might have embargoed trade with both belligerent coalitions… But Wilson did none of those things … because U.S. manufacturers, farmers, miners, and merchants made windfall profits selling to Britain and France no less than 40 percent of their war materiel by 1916. To pay for it all the Allies liquidated their American assets at fire-sale prices, then sold millions in war bonds through Wall Street banks, thus reversing a century-old flow of capital and making the United States the world’s biggest creditor. Wilson pretended to condemn material self-interest…” https://www.fpri.org/article/2016/04/great-wars-impact-american-foreign-policy-civic-religion/

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  263. Curt,

    As for what is pro-life, it isn’t just socialists like me who see that being consistently pro-life applies beyond the abortion issue. You opportunistically made an unsubstantiated comment there.

    Maybe it’s my limited connections, but every person I have ever known who labels themselves as consistently pro-life is an evangelical ex-evangelical trying to justify their vote for pro-abortion politicians and pro-socialist economic policies.

    Also, why should we care about wherher people who do not share our political views are offended to the point of not wanting to listent to the Gospel we believe and espouse? I guess it depends on whether you want to share the Gospel with only those who share you political convictions. What if anyone you are sharing the Gospel with someone who sees an inconsistency in the Gospel and your political views, don’t you want to address that inconsistency?

    But you aren’t getting it. If people are offended by the gospel because my political views are different than theirs even when I don’t make my political views part of the the gospel, the problem isn’t mine. It’s with the person. For example, I’ve never told anyone that the Christian view of the 2nd amendment is x and that following Christ entails it. If they are unwilling to listen to the gospel because they don’t like my position on gun control, which I have never made a gospel issue, that is their problem. I really don’t know how else to say it.

    Next, are you asking why Christians should care about those who live beyond their immediate circle? Remember the Good Samaritan parable? Wasn’t one of the points that it was the person who was the most distant from the immediate circle of the person robbed who was the neighbor to him? Aren’t we suppose to model God’s love for us to the world rather than just our immediate circle? After all, didn’t God love the world?

    You misunderstand me. My point is not that Christians shouldn’t care about those who live beyond their immediate circle. My point is that Christians have no obligation to address every single potential issue that touches on love of neighbor when it does not impact them or those with whom they have regular contact. To use myself as an example, I have four young children under the age of seven, the youngest of whom has some significant medical issues at the present. My wife and I are doing well just to survive right now and to keep an eye out for members of our local church and for our immediate neighbors, many of whom are not Christians. There is no mandate for me to become an expert in public policy. The only mandate is for me to help those whom we touch as we are able. You are placing a burden on my back to suggest that I have to develop some deep policy expertise and concern for those outside my current circle, not to mention insisting on certain approaches that have not proved successful in other places based on the knowledge that I do have.

    And while we are on the subject of neighbors, I live in a very pro-Trump area, though I myself did not vote for him. It’s a pro-gun area as well. If you were to come to my neighborhood and start spouting off some of the stuff you say here, these people would be turned off to the gospel by your views based on your logic. So, where’s your concern for them?

    Next, isn’t one way of protecting innocent life that of reducing the number of weapons that could be used to kill, especially when it comes to assault weapons that easily increase the kill-rate potential of a weapon?

    It might be one way. It might even be the best way. The data I’ve seen, however, doesn’t indicate that it is. It doesn’t seem that anyone knows what the solution is.

    Or is the only way to protect innocent people is to give good guys assault weapons so they can patrol the streets?

    No.

    Next, yes we should use what can be deduced. But saying that and doing that are two different things. And saying that in a particular situation, because political solution was not employhed and thus reasoning that political solutions can never address certain problems does not exemplify the use of deducing the good and necessary consequences.

    The political solution of banning certain firearms hasn’t been employed because there’s no political will to do it. The Democrats had control of the government for years under Obama, and they did nothing. The assault weapons ban that Clinton signed into law was allowed to lapse because it was sound and fury, signifying nothing. If the majority of people in this country thought banning AR-15s and other similar weapons was the most pressing issue, they would vote people in who would do it. The only people for whom gun control is a pressing issue to make them one-issue voters are people who would relax gun restrictions if they had the chance.

    Every time we have a gun tragedy, we gets lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth on the left, and nothing happens. And that’s not because the NRA is mighty and powerful but because politicians know that most of the people talking the loudest about gun control have no support. What does happen, though, is that people get scared and run out and buy AR-15s and join the NRA, because that’s what happens when you play to emotions. Parade a bunch of crying 16 year olds around as if they have some kind of inerrant moral authority, and all you do is encourage people to do the opposite. Heck, I don’t own a gun and am not an NRA member, but I’m seriously considering changing both of those because of the gun control mob.

    Finally, never said that the solutions were always self-evident. But sometimes the problems and the need to look for solutions are.

    Sometimes the problems are self-evident. But on this issue, they aren’t. We know that mass shootings are happening. We don’t know why. There are certain variables that all of them have in common, but it isn’t mere gun ownership or mere ownership of semi-automatic weapons that makes a mass shooting likely to happen. If it were, we’d have a whole lot more of them. These things make news because they’re so rare.

    We don’t know how to stop them either. Simply banning guns won’t do it. The guns are already out there.

    It’s also naive utopianism to think that the problems and solutions are always self-evident.

    And the current conservative approach to gun violence doens’t employ the combination of wisdom and love of neighbor because, as you wrote earlier, why should conservatives be concerned about those who exist outside of their immediate circle. It seems that the theme song for the conservative approach to social justice and actions is It’s A Small World After All.

    Conservatives tend to believe that the solutions that work best are those that are most locally implemented. It isn’t because they don’t care about people outside their immediate circles. It’s because they have a high view of human depravity and know that the further removed a solution is from the problem, the more likely things are to go wrong. History vindicates that position in many ways. Just ask Russia, China, and other communist countries how well central planning and solutions worked out.

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  264. Curt,
    One last comment and I’m done. Allow me to summarize where we are:

    1. I made the claim that the US fatality rate from mass shootings in the US is .089/million people (from 2009-2015). The EU average was 0.1+0.2/-0.1 per year per million. The US is slightly lower, but as I noted several times, statistically indistinguishable from the average EU rate.

    2. You responded that my numbers are off because there were 19 mass shootings in Europe and 31, 27 if in the US during the same time (I come up with 25 for what it is worth) and you say that the only stat that favors the US is the number of casualties.

    3. I noted that you are correct – the incident rate is .06 in the EU and .08 in the US (not the fatality rate that I initially quoted); however, these numbers are statistically consistent.

    4. You then stated that “The US is far worse than Europe both in terms of numbers and percentages.” and accused me of “spinning and starting to repeat old claims that were shown to be false.” Then you went off on a tangent about the citizenship status of of the assailants.

    So, I stated a fact, you disagreed with this fact by citing an irrelevant statistic then bizarrely agreeing with my original point. Then a few days later assert that this fact (that you came around on) was shown to be false. If we can’t agree on basic numbers and that these numbers show that the incident rate in the US and in Europe have been comparable (not identical!) over the past decade, then I just don’t know what to say. We have an extraordinarily rare event and coarse tools for measuring it. Averaging over a long period of time, we see that they are pretty close, so that the expectation value for an annualized rate is consistent to within the rather large uncertainty.

    What’s so bizarre is that the conclusions we draw are similar, yet you insist on turning it into an argument. What are those conclusions? You can’t just compare countries, cultural context, geography, etc… matter.

    We see the same thing when we discussed Dean’s proposal to have different laws between rural and urban environments. I pointed out that this is basically what we have now. The problem is that if it is legal to buy a gun in the next county over, the restrictions won’t do anything to stop criminals from getting guns. You then go on to socialist-splain to me how the laxer laws in Wisconsin undermine the strict laws in Chicago. Exactly! That is what I said.

    On the stats in MA, you extolled MA strict gun laws and low firearm crime rate. I pointed out that the firearm crime rate doubled in MA since 1998 when those stricter laws were passed. You then went on to socialist-splain to me how MA did in fact have the lowest gun death rate in the US in 2015. Utterly irrelevant to the claim I made which was that it had double in MA. In other words, it was already incredibly low.

    So I’m done. You expect commenters to pin down the esoteric particulars of your brand of socialism while painting republicans and capitalists more generally as Ayn Rand acolytes. You have impugned the motives of others without evidence to back up your claim. You insisted on calling policy positions sinful (and declared our economic system sinful) while denying that you are injecting your religious views into politics. You have argued against the separation of politics and religion while saying that you don’t think Christianity provides for specific policies. You are in a word incorrigible. That’s not good.

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  265. sdb,
    Around Feb 27, I noted the difference in the number of deaths. But if you examine that closely, the difference is due to the origin of the perpetrator. Take away the mass shootings by non-citizens in each arena and you will see a much bigger disparity. But the number of deaths wasn’t what I was referring to. I was referring to a March 6 comment of yours when you stated the following:


    @curt of course. That’s kind of the point. Gun control advocates (incorrectly) claim mass shootings don’t happen like they do in the US. This is false. Europe and the US are comparable.

    You never said in that note to say that you were talking about the number of deaths rather than mass shootings. If you are going to find fault in this exchange, first try looking at how you wrote things. The sentence above indicates to me that you are talking about the number of mass shootings rather than the number of deaths in mass shootings.

    And no, most Islamic terrorism in the US is not committed by males. But if you check the ADL source, you will find that most terrorist attacks committed in the US are committed by right-wing white males.

    Let alone, when you talk about how eliminating assault weapons didn’t bring down the number of overall gun deaths, you forget that most gun violence is not performed with assault weapons. But most mass shootings are. One eliminates assault weapons to reduce the number of mass shootings.

    Now, if you measure the time period between 2009 and 2015, and you compare 27 mass shootings (4 or more deaths) for a population of 300,000,000+ people to 19 mass shootings per 500,000,000+ people, your percentages don’t hold up. Just compare Western Europe, which has a smaller population than the sample of European nations I cited before, with the US for 2016, which is to small a sample, the stats don’t support your claim. Most of the mass shootings that occurred in Europe in 2016 were from Russia, the Urkaine and others not including Germany, France, Belgium, anso on. Or compare England and Australia to the US in mass shootings. There is a wide disparity that gets wider when you filter out the shootings performed by non-citizens. You tried to filter the data or change the subject ot school mass shootings a couple of times in your comments, but it doesn’t work because you are neglecting shootings at colleges.

    Finally, I ask those who make accusations about my socialism to pin down what they think I believe, not mere commentators. But here, your framing of the claim is misleading. I don’t know if you are allergic to pertinent details or you just playing games, but conversations with you aren’t worthwhile because of the lack of precision in your claims.

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  266. Robert,
    I understand the pro-life claim you made, the problem revolves around your sample. You are not including political non-conservatives whose complaint about pro-life advocates is that they don’t seem to include what threatens the lives of those who have been born with their legitimate concern for the life in the womb. Life incorporates those who have been born with those in the womb. So why do some of us restrict our concern for being pro-life with the abortion issue?

    Let me ask, how many political nonconservatives have you shared the Gospel with? This is what I have found. Political nonconservatives tend to believe that unless someone leaves the conservativeChristian faith, there is no chance for them to be politically enlightened. At the same time, most religiously conservative Christians I know think that unless someone becomes a political conservative, they can’t believe to become a religiously conservative Christian. Now, it is obvious that a religiously conservative Christian can become a political liberal or even leftist. But those beliefs show how strongly conservative attach themselves to the conservative label cause religious non-conservatives to beocme confused.

    THere are some points you made in your last comment I agree with. But I thought we could mull over this paragraph because it touches on a common concern we have.

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  267. Jeff,
    For the injection of religion into politics, I gave the Christian incentive for injecting morals into politics, but I am still only injecting morality into politics. I am advocating for Christians and non-Christians to have common moral political concerns and to collaborate as equal on solutions. THat isn’t injecting morals into politics. And to say that Christians have biblical reasons, such as the combination of wisdom with loving one’s neighbor, while non-Christians don;’t, does not inject religion into politics. Those injecting religion into politics don’t advocate the collaboration of equals to find solutions. That is one of the difference between and transformationalists. THey don’t believe in a collaboration of equals.

    BTW, why spend time with the mainline. We have been given the Great Commission and you ask why spend time with the mainline?

    I’ll stop right there to wait for your response.

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  268. Curt, I don’t find them offensive. More like clueless for someone who grew up during the Cold War. I mean, if you want to be a naive millennial. Wait. That’s what socialists are — forever naive about eschatology.

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  269. D.G.,
    Before criticizing my socialist beliefs, you should what they are first. And so far, your comments indicate that you have no clue. And it seems what you claim about me with the cold war and such, applies more to you since you have been an adult during our nation’s adopting of neoliberalism.

    You serve as a perfect example of what I wrote to Jeff a couple of comments back:


    The problem many of us religiously conservative Christians have is that we act like our models of thought about theology or politics are exhaustive. Therefore, listening to views that don’t exactly fit those models causes confusion.

    You can legitimately confuse that which you have no knowledge of.

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  270. D.G.,
    I used the wrong word in my last sentence. The correction is below:


    You can legitimately criticize that which you have no knowledge of.

    So the next time you want to criticize my political beliefs, be specific. Whar are my political beliefs?

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  271. Curt, “I am advocating for Christians and non-Christians to have common moral political concerns and to collaborate as equal on solutions.”

    You know, that’s exactly what Progressives and mainline Protestants said. Cold War and Prohibition were not religious, just moral.

    That worked out well.

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  272. Curt: For the injection of religion into politics, I gave the Christian incentive for injecting morals into politics, but I am still only injecting morality into politics.

    Please. You have positively told Christians that unless they support gun control laws, they are sinning. That is by definition injecting religion into politics. You have clothed yourself in the mantle of Amos and declared that when a branch of the Church does not speak prophetically against economic exploitation and/or against militarism and our constant interventionism, then the Church is passively aligning itself with wealth and power.

    You just told the church that it must speak prophetically into politics or be in sin. That’s a blatant injection of religion into politics.

    What’s your real play here? Do you just lose track of your thoughts, or are you trolling?

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  273. Jeff,
    Please quote me exactly as to what I wrote.

    And, btw, aren’t violating morals sin? So please tell me, how would yuo distinguish injecting morals into polticis from injecting religion into politics?

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  274. D.G.,
    Why don’t you quote some progressives on that? Provide actual quotes. I ask because as far as I know, progressives are asking to collaborate with conservatives on anything. From what I’ve seen, progressives and conservatives differ on which elites they want us to follow.

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  275. JRC quotes Curt twice in a short post.

    Curt responds: Please quote me exactly as to what I wrote.

    Now I understand: Trolling.

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  276. Jeff,
    Please quote me exactly means what?


    For the injection of religion into politics, I gave the Christian incentive for injecting morals into politics, but I am still only injecting morality into politics. I am advocating for Christians and non-Christians to have common moral political concerns and to collaborate as equal on solutions. THat isn’t injecting morals into politics. And to say that Christians have biblical reasons, such as the combination of wisdom with loving one’s neighbor, while non-Christians don;’t, does not inject religion into politics. Those injecting religion into politics don’t advocate the collaboration of equals to find solutions. That is one of the difference between and transformationalists. THey don’t believe in a collaboration of equals.

    YOu cut short out after the first sentence to make your point. Yes, I know what trolling is becaue I have people who troll me. Sometimes what trolls do is to only partially quote what one says and ignore the rest to make their point. That is what you did but doing doesn’t imply you are a troll.

    Injecting morals into politics and giving Christians a religious reason for doing so is not injecting religion into politics. And since violating morals is also a religious issue for Christians, there can be sin involved. But injecting morals into politics isn’t injecting religion into politics especially when the morals injected come from collaborating with unbelievers as equals. It is simply injecting shared moral values into politics. What you call injecting religon into polticis is simply the difference in appeals one would make to a religious person for following those morals than a nonreligious person.

    But if you are objecting to injecting morals into politics, are you objecting to civic morals such as ‘thou shall not kill‘ or ‘thou shall not steal.‘? When the Church witnesses economic exploitation and does not speak against it, doesn’t it become complicit? The same when the Church sees racism or immoral wars or destruction of the environment? Tell me, what was the Church’s responsibility in Nazi Germany? Was its responsibility to work for its success as it prosecuted multiple wars against other nations and was carrying out the Holocaust?

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  277. D.G.,
    Why are you asking me about Hillary? I have not voted for a Republican or Democratic candidate for President since after 2000.

    You really need to know what I believe before you try to criticize me. But not what that sentence is saying. You are willing to criticize me with know what I believe.

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  278. As far as the difference between transformationalists… you do not know what they believe about their non-co religionists. This is yet another example of you attempting to divine the motives of others. For folks like Jerry Falwell, this is explicitly not true. The moral majority was explicitly about co-beligierency – folks who disagreed on doctrinal issues but agreed on moral issues working together on common ground. The was true for the Christian coalition as well which is why they were willing to work with traditionalists Jews, Mormons, etc…. The fact that transormationalist groups like those associated with First Things work across religious lines does not mean that they are not injecting religion into politics (or more accurately politics into religion). The folks who would don the label transoformationalist (the CRC types) are generally formally non-partisan and tend to work toward a number of what most would take to be left of center goals. The problem isn’t so much as partisanship as it is legalism… “share my convictions or you are sinning”. Nothing wrong with advocating against wars of choice, abortion, the death penalty, universal health care, redistribution of wealth, etc… just don’t tell me that disagreeing with you is sinful or ask me to repent of my political stance. That is legalism.

    “Injecting morals into politics and giving Christians a religious reason for doing so is not injecting religion into politics.”
    Politics is about government enforced collective action. Politics doesn’t aim to send the message that it would be nice if we all gave money to schools. Politics aims to force people to give money to schools or face sanction. We need politics and government to solve collective action problems. Whether one should inject morality into politics or not is an age old question. Rawl’s public reason indicates that public morality cannot be religiously based. That means appeals to the religion of fellow citizens to adopt a particular political stance is invalid even if you are a co-religionist.

    “And since violating morals is also a religious issue for Christians, there can be sin involved.”
    Unless politics are amoral. Violating morality (I take to be short hand for God’s law) is sin. Not advocating that the state punish violators of morality is not necessarily sinful.

    “But injecting morals into politics isn’t injecting religion into politics especially when the morals injected come from collaborating with unbelievers as equals. It is simply injecting shared moral values into politics. What you call injecting religon into polticis is simply the difference in appeals one would make to a religious person for following those morals than a nonreligious person.”
    When you moralize politics (accusing someone of sinning by voting against an assault weapon ban – “The NRA has blood on its hands” to riff off of Macbeth) one is falling into legalism. No one is saying that it is illegitimate for a believer to advocate for this or that political issue. The rub is when the church burdens another’s conscience to sign on to a particular political stance or one Christian accuses another of sinning for holding an opposing political view.

    “But if you are objecting to injecting morals into politics, are you objecting to civic morals such as ‘thou shall not kill‘ or ‘thou shall not steal.‘?”
    Jesus teaches us that having ill thoughts toward another person is equivalent to murder. We don’t outlaw angry outburst even if they are sinful. Why? Because it isn’t necessary to maintain public order. We have decided that the state should not curtail speech (1st amendment) even if it is immoral. We don’t outlaw all forms of murder, and the forms we do outlaw don’t find their justification in the 10 commandments. Similarly on the prohibition against covetousness.

    “When the Church witnesses economic exploitation and does not speak against it, doesn’t it become complicit?”
    No. The church should preach the full counsel of God. The church should not opine on extrabiblical topics. The fact of the matter is that slavery as practiced in the Greco-Roman world was far more economically exploitive than what we see today, and Paul explicitly sends a slave back to his master with the *request* that he be welcomed back as a brother. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul chose not to condemn economic exploitation in *society* it restricted the condemnation to those within the church. We are personally responsible for not being exploitive, but we are not required by scripture to seek political change.

    “The same when the Church sees racism or immoral wars or destruction of the environment?”
    Ditto. The Holy Spirit did not see fit to condemn the imperialistic wars of Rome – Jesus, when confronted with a representative of that government explicitly told him that his kingdom is not of this world. Paul tells us to honor Nero.

    “Tell me, what was the Church’s responsibility in Nazi Germany?”
    To preach the gospel and call men to repentance for their sins.

    “ Was its responsibility to work for its success as it prosecuted multiple wars against other nations and was carrying out the Holocaust?”
    No. It was not the church’s responsibility to work for Germany’s success. It’s responsibility was to preach the gospel and call men to repent of their sins.

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  279. Jeff,
    Do you mean that collaborating with unbelievers as equals to inject shared moral values still means one is injecting religion into politics?

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  280. Jeff,
    I ask an honest question and you respond with an accusation. How is asking an honest question that is in response to your question trolling? It certainly doesn’t fit the definition of trolling.

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  281. sdb,
    As I wrote in my last note to you, I simply don’t think you approach things honestly here. I don’t call it trolling. But it serves as a distraction. Your assertion that mass shootings in Europe and the US are comparable without mentioning casualties in the whole note caused the last problem between us. You went on to talk about MA with gun violence and assault weapons when what has been said about assault weapons is that their bans target mass shootings. The vast majority of gun crimes are not committed with assault weapons. Btw, I had a typo in my last response to you, the majority of Islamic terrorist attacks here are not conducted by white males or whites instead of just males as I wrote. That was in response to your question:


    Aren’t virtually all islamic terrorists attacks committed by whites in this country?
    ,

    The ADL stats go back 25 years. Add up the instances yourself.

    As Reformed theologians, our problem is that we are overconfident in the models of thought we use to explain the world. That indicates that we put our models of thought on too high a pedestal. So we try to define things in ways that fit our beliefs without adequately investigating problems.

    Finally, the problem with your last note is that if the whole counsel of God does not address what governments do, then governments cannot sin in whatever they do. And when we take the worst case examples like Hiter in Germany, Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, the unbelievers with consciences, as described in Romans 2, will find us us to be not credible as we then preach what we claim to be the whole counsel of God. And whether we care or not about that depends on who we want to be members of our own churches.

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  282. Still more trolling. If your question were honest, it would have been responsive instead of misdirecting.

    Time to hang it up, Curt. You’ve burnt the bridge.

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  283. Jeff Cagle says: More trolling. No thanks.

    Curt Day says: Jeff,I ask an honest question and you respond with an accusation. How is asking an honest question that is in response to your question trolling? It certainly doesn’t fit the definition of trolling.
    sdb says: This is yet another example of you attempting to divine the motives of others.

    Good point sdb.
    Internet troll :is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.

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  284. Jeff,
    I am going to comment here. If you want to answer honest questions with accusations, that is your perogative. Jeff, my question stemmed from the part of the quote you did not include. And when I included it, you asked what didfference did the quote make. I answered your question with a question that was based on the quote and you refuse to answer.

    I am going to comment here. If you have a problem with that, then don’t read my comments. But be careful of making accusations because of what the 10 commandments say.

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  285. Curt,

    I don’t know your motives. Your question-in-response-to-a-question has all the markers of a dishonest question.

    (1) It’s irrelevant. I observed that you were positively injecting religion into politics in two ways

    You have positively told Christians that unless they support gun control laws, they are sinning. That is by definition injecting religion into politics. You have clothed yourself in the mantle of Amos and declared that when a branch of the Church does not speak prophetically against economic exploitation and/or against militarism and our constant interventionism, then the Church is passively aligning itself with wealth and power.

    You then asked a question about a completely different behavior (“collaborating with unbelievers as equals”), insinuating that this different behavior somehow cancels out your injection of religion into politics.

    (2) It’s a question in response to a question.

    You might think that’s wise, but unless you know what you’re doing, it comes across as highly arrogant. We’ve been around this bush before, when you answered my question with an irrelevant question, and persisted even when others called you out. Whatever your intent, answering a question with a question looks like dodging.

    (3) Your question put words in my mouth that I didn’t say, ignoring the words that I did actually say.

    I was pretty clear about what consisted of injecting religion into politics. You pivoted to something completely different.

    So, I can’t know your motives, but I can say that your behavior is trollish. You have ignored numerous cautions from others that your behavior is offensive and your doctrine is toxic.

    Comment away … but don’t expect to be taken seriously. Start addressing your own offenses before you lecture the rest of us.

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  286. Jeff,
    You quoted only he first line of a paragraph. I provided the rest of the quote. You asked what difference does the rest f the quote make. I answered that question with a question that stemmed from the quote. You say that my last question has all the markers of a dishonest question.

    Your first claim was that my last question was irrelevant. But the subject was whether I was injecting religion into politics because of how I appealed to Christians. So be specific, how is asking whether injecting moral values shared with unbeliever an injection of religion into politics an irrelevant question? It seems to me that if injecting moral values shared with unbelievers, that it is at least indicated that religion is not being injected into politics. And when one looks at the values of ‘do not commit murder‘ and ‘do not steal being injected, which religion am I injecting into politics? Which religion?

    You are the one who gave me this Amos mantle, I did not claim any such thing. That there is another reason for why I would make a religious appeal to Christians to follow morals based on the prohibitions to murder or steal, means that your implication that giving a religious appeal to Christians to inject morals into politics is false. That is as logical fact. When making an implication, if there is more than one possible reason or cause for an action, you cannot logically say that this first statement means that the second statement is true. Your argument is not logically sound.

    But going back to the which religion question, tell me precisely which moral values identify a specific religion that is being injected when the moral value I am talking about are shared with unbelievers some of whom are atheists.

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  287. @Curt
    “Your assertion that mass shootings in Europe and the US are comparable without mentioning casualties in the whole note caused the last problem between us. ”
    Yes. The number and deaths resulting from mass shootings in Europe and the US are comparable (the occurrence rate falls within the uncertainty of the measurement). You agreed earlier that this was the case as it regards deaths, but not occurrence. I provided the numbers they were something like .06/mil and .08/mil. Of course, the measurements are not perfect, they rely on an arbitrary start and end date, and the measurement is from news reporting. Given this, the casualties and occurrence rates are remarkably similar (note also it makes a difference whether one averages the occurrence rate/country versus summing the events).

    My citations to the Northeastern study was about your assertion that schools are more dangerous now (i.e., something has changed). The fact is that schools are not more dangerous now and school shootings are way down from the 90’s per that study. If you want to criticize their peer-reviewed work, that is fine, but you should at least be familiar with it and make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

    If I recall correctly, my reference to the firearm homicide rate nearly doubling between 1998 and today was in repose to you assertion that MA has the lowest firearm homicide rate in the country because of their strict laws. It is true that MA has the lowest rate, but it is unlikely due to their strict laws because their very low rate increased after the restrictive laws passed and legal firearm decreased.

    You brought up Dean’s proposal for different restrictions in cities and rural communities. I pointed out that this doesn’t work (it is largely what we have now) because it is too easy to take guns from rural communities where restrictions are low to urban communities where restrictions are high (guns know no borders). You *argued* with me on this point asserting that I wasn’t taking into account how easy it is to carry guns across state lines (WI to IL) even though you were simply restating my point. This is trolling.

    My comment that perpetrators of islamic terrorism being white men was simply that demographically people from N. Africa and the Middle East are counted as white in this country. It was a meant to be a bit of joke… but whatever the case, I have no idea what the resident status was of the perpetrators of firearm mass shootings in Europe. The fact that one has a muslim sounding name doesn’t really a thing about citizenship status. But whatever the case, I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Are you arguing that it is easier for people inspired by ISIS (or whoever) to smuggle guns into Europe than it is the US?

    Finally, you are back to judging motives again:
    1. You claimed that Trump advocated allowing teachers to carry weapons and signed the bill overturning a gun regulations was because he wanted to increase gun sales. You don’t know that, and the evidence I presented to you (that this would result in an infinitesimal bump in sales) makes this unlikely. I provided several alternative motivations that may have driven both decisions. We can have a discussions about those, but assumptions about why people do what they do is not productive.

    2. You claimed, “[transformationalists] don’t believe in a collaboration of equals.” Once again you are judging the motives of others, but you don’t know this. I pointed to counterevidence to your claim – namely that the Christian Coalition, First Things crowd, and Moral Majority embraced the concept of co-beligerancy (collaborating with people they believed not to be Christians).

    3. Finally you have accused me of being dishonest. I will state here that I have never in this discussion asserted a fact that I did not believe to be true or make an argument for a conclusion that I didn’t believe was valid. I readily recognize that I can be mistaken, I have admitted to being mistaken several times in these threads. Two examples stem from when I was corrected by a commenter that the WCF does appeal to original languages when describing inspiration – I hadn’t realized that at the time. Another was when Ali corrected my erroneous understanding that Karl Rove was not a religious believer (I based that off of comment by Christopher Hitchens, and she showed me that I was wrong). You have not provided evidence that any of the claims I’ve made here are incorrect, and in following your posts in these threads I have never seen you concede that you were wrong about anything. I have seen you assert that authoritarianism is (in part) characterized by believing you have everything to teach and nothing to learn from those you converse with. From my observations of you in these threads, the numerous accusations you make, and utter lack of self-awareness you exhibit, you fit this characterization of authoritarianism quite well. That’s a shame.

    Your behavior in these threads fits the characterization of trolling quite well. Whatever your motives may be (or whether it is even intentional) is obviously something I can’t know. But I can say that it is unproductive. That’s too bad.

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  288. Curt: tell me precisely which moral values identify a specific religion that is being injected when the moral value I am talking about are shared with unbelievers some of whom are atheists.

    It has nothing to do with how we speak with unbelievers. On that, we agree: appeal to shared values.

    The reason you are injecting religion into politics is that you are telling believers how to vote by telling them that they are sinning unless they vote your way.

    You can’t see the coercive nature of that?!

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  289. Jeff,
    I think you need to precisely define what it means to inject religion into politics. I don’t understand why shared moral values with unbelievers including atheists become religion. When we already have laws that prohibit different kinds of killing and theft and we tell fellow Christians that not only are they breaking the law when they violate those moral values, they are also sinning, have we already injected morals into politics.

    In addition, while you are focussing on my religious appeal to specific laws, I am not advocating that we tell people
    to vote for specific laws or they are sinning. What I have always stated is that we should tell society and the state what sins are occurring. We should endorse shared moral values. But how those values are codified is another issue. I am not suggesting telling Christians that they must support specific laws. Specific values? Yes. Specific laws? No.

    Much of this discussion started with the discussion on gun control laws. All I have said about them regarding what is sinful is the act of doing nothing. I am not associating the voting for or against specific bills as sin. I am saying that with the problems we have, when we see the results from other nations and the general direction of our nation, to not work for better gun control laws is, from the perspective of wisdom and love for neighbor, sin. Which specific laws should we support? That isn’t my point. The moral values on which we are basing our laws on based on agreement with all parties involved as much as possible is one issue. Which specific laws to vote for is another issue.

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  290. Curt,

    All I have said about them regarding what is sinful is the act of doing nothing.

    You just injected religion into politics here by accusing those of thinking that the status quo is the best available option as sinning. It doesn’t matter which laws you do or don’t support. By telling people that they have to act in some way and accusing them of sin if they don’t, you’ve overstepped the bounds.

    Simply put, it simply isn’t clear that something different must be done. And it isn’t sinning to think that the gun laws are just fine the way they are. It’s just a difference of opinion. The data simply isn’t clear. If it were so clear, there would be no debate on the issue.

    One could very well research the issue and come to the conclusion that what we have is the best available option and that any change to it would actually cause more problems.

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  291. The irony here is that I don’t even think that “doing nothing” is the necessarily the best course of action. I’m just certain that it’s not a sin to disagree about which course of action is the best.

    But Curt, you’re sure that “it’s opinions like mine make that bring scorn to the gospel.”

    And then you complain about being misunderstood.

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  292. Jeff,
    This is what you wrote on Feb 20:


    That’s actually not true. Prostate cancer is often managed by “watchful waiting.”

    Doing nothing is the indicated treatment — for any disease — when the consequences of treatment outweigh the benefits.

    Then you write what is in the above comment:


    The irony here is that I don’t even think that “doing nothing” is the necessarily the best course of action. I’m just certain that it’s not a sin to disagree about which course of action is the best.

    Now remember, I am for injecting moral values into politics. But I made the above distinction:


    In addition, while you are focussing on my religious appeal to specific laws, I am not advocating that we tell people
    to vote for specific laws or they are sinning. What I have always stated is that we should tell society and the state what sins are occurring. We should endorse shared moral values. But how those values are codified is another issue. I am not suggesting telling Christians that they must support specific laws. Specific values? Yes. Specific laws? No.

    So your this last comment confuses me. I made clear that I am not talking about specific laws, just specific moral values. And that the Church should be active in telling society what sins are occurring at the present time. But, again, that is different from telling people what specific laws to vote for and I clearly stated that I was not telling Christians what specific laws to vote for.

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  293. Robert,
    Was doing nothing during the 3rd Reich sin?

    Why is doing nothing about the status quo sinning sometimes? Isn’t it because moral laws are being broken? ANd if these moral laws being broken are shared values by Christians and all sorts of unbelievers including atheists, then which religion is being injected into politics?

    We have a difference of opinion on whether is clear, it certainly is clear to the families of the victims. And it is certainly clear if you go back to before the 1970s and compare the number of mass shootings since then, the data is clear that something must be done. 2017 alone saw 11 mass shootings where a mass shooting was defined by 3 or more deaths, 5 if defined by at least 4. Whereas it was common for the number of mass shootings to be in the single digits in each decade, that changed starting with the 1970s. We can blame the shootings on changing culural values, the economy, or whatever else, the number of mass shootings is far beyond what it was a half a century ago and accessibiiity to assault weapons makes mass shootings more feasible. Even with the drop in mass shootings from the 1990s, there were 20 from 2000 to 2009 and around 34 this decade (that is defining a mass shooting by there being 4 or more deaths). So how many mass shootings must occur per decade before you think there is a need to change the status quo?

    ALso, you didn’t address the paragraph I asked you to even after I wrote that tthere were points in your last note that I agreed with:


    Let me ask, how many political nonconservatives have you shared the Gospel with? This is what I have found. Political nonconservatives tend to believe that unless someone leaves the conservativeChristian faith, there is no chance for them to be politically enlightened. At the same time, most religiously conservative Christians I know think that unless someone becomes a political conservative, they can’t believe to become a religiously conservative Christian. Now, it is obvious that a religiously conservative Christian can become a political liberal or even leftist. But those beliefs show how strongly conservative attach themselves to the conservative label cause religious non-conservatives to beocme confused.

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  294. Curt, I wrote that watchful waiting is an actual course of action for certain types of cancer. And? You’re reading advocacy out of that statement?

    Curt: while you are [focusing] on my religious appeal to specific laws, I am not advocating that we tell people
    to vote for specific laws or they are sinning.

    Correct. You are not telling people to vote for specific laws. You instead are telling people that if they believe the wisest course is to do nothing at this time, they are sinning by doing nothing. You think this makes a great difference, that it frees you from the charge of legalism.

    It does not.

    First, because your position is naive with regard to how legislation is made. Voters and their representatives are not faced with an infinite panoply of possible options. They are faced with specific bills that get an up or down vote. The options are, Vote for this legislation, or do nothing at this time. Political parties routinely exploit this feature to paint the opposition as the “do-nothing party”, even when the No vote is based on poison pills in the legislation.

    So your dictum that “doing nothing is sin” is tantamount to demanding a Yes vote on the legislation that comes up. You imagine that you aren’t telling Christians how to vote; but in fact, you are removing one of two possible options, leaving only one choice left. That’s how politics works, and it is one major difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.

    Second, because the imperative to “do something” (or better, “don’t do nothing”) is of itself a command, not found in Scripture nor derived from good and necessary consequence thereof. It is a man-made (Curt-made) imperative that you lay on others, and you tell them that they sin unless they obey.

    This is very straightforward, and very wrong. There’s no escape clause whereby a *vague* man-made imperative is less legalistic than a specific one.

    Curt: I made clear … that the Church should be active in telling society what sins are occurring at the present time.

    And since “sin” is “any transgression of God’s law or want of conformity thereunto”, we have the Church injecting religion into society.

    Unless you care to redefine “sin”? Perhaps along the lines of “shared values”?

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  295. Curt –

    I really hate piling on, but it’s just amazing to me that approaching 400 comments on this post you still do not get the point that Jeff, sdb, DGH, Robert, etc. are making. The sin in the case of a mass shooting is the mass shooting itself. If Christians said that mass shootings were acceptable THAT would cast shame on the Gospel, but Christians condemn mass shootings in the strongest terms. You are trying to make the case that failing to change current gun control policy is tantamount to condoning murder and mass shootings. That is absolutely not the case. The “correct” policy regarding gun control is not a moral issue. I’m all for stricter gun laws, but those who have opposite views are not sinning. Until you can point to Scripture or Confessional standard that reasonably demonstrates that gun control laws MUST be enacted, your argument that failing to act is sinful is entirely meritless.

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  296. @VV: It’s the line between “the Bible forbids sin” to “the Bible requires legislation against sin” that gets glossed over.

    Deny the second, and you get called antinomian. Or weirdly, Pharisaical.

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  297. Jeff – true, but Curt seems to go an extra step and say that it is sinful to fail to enact legislation that *might prevent* sin. In a weird way it all makes sense when you realize that he is – by his own admission – both a socialist AND a moral fundamentalist.

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  298. Curt,

    Was doing nothing during the 3rd Reich sin?

    Depends on what you mean by doing nothing. If you have the opportunity to save innocent life and you don’t take it, you’ve sinned. But that doesn’t mean we’re called to assassinate Hitler.

    Why is doing nothing about the status quo sinning sometimes? Isn’t it because moral laws are being broken? ANd if these moral laws being broken are shared values by Christians and all sorts of unbelievers including atheists, then which religion is being injected into politics?

    Curt, the point is that you can make things worse by changing the status quo. With respect to the gun issue, there’s all sorts of variables. At the end of the day, I’m responsible first and foremost to protect my family. If I choose to do nothing because stricter gun laws would keep me, a law-abiding citizens, from being able to purchase a tool that I believe I need to protect my family, then not doing anything about the status quo isn’t a sin for me.

    As a husband and father, I have circles of responsibility. My first responsibility is to my own home and the safety of my family. Then to my church (actually, church and family overlap). Then to the people I meet every day. And finally, in some generic way, to the wider society.

    We have a difference of opinion on whether is clear, it certainly is clear to the families of the victims. And it is certainly clear if you go back to before the 1970s and compare the number of mass shootings since then, the data is clear that something must be done. 2017 alone saw 11 mass shootings where a mass shooting was defined by 3 or more deaths, 5 if defined by at least 4. Whereas it was common for the number of mass shootings to be in the single digits in each decade, that changed starting with the 1970s. We can blame the shootings on changing culural values, the economy, or whatever else, the number of mass shootings is far beyond what it was a half a century ago and accessibiiity to assault weapons makes mass shootings more feasible. Even with the drop in mass shootings from the 1990s, there were 20 from 2000 to 2009 and around 34 this decade (that is defining a mass shooting by there being 4 or more deaths). So how many mass shootings must occur per decade before you think there is a need to change the status quo?

    With respect to this issue in particular, one mass shooting is too many. But given the choice between outlawing certain weapons and the hopes that mass shootings might possibly be reduced and having access for law-abiding citizens to the weapons of their choice to defend themselves, I choose the latter. You might disagree, but my choice is not sinful.

    Let me ask, how many political nonconservatives have you shared the Gospel with?

    Many.

    This is what I have found. Political nonconservatives tend to believe that unless someone leaves the conservativeChristian faith, there is no chance for them to be politically enlightened. At the same time, most religiously conservative Christians I know think that unless someone becomes a political conservative, they can’t believe to become a religiously conservative Christian. Now, it is obvious that a religiously conservative Christian can become a political liberal or even leftist. But those beliefs show how strongly conservative attach themselves to the conservative label cause religious non-conservatives to beocme confused.

    Actually, the political nonconservatives I have known, if they profess to be a Christian, say that unless you adopt an ever-growing welfare state, you aren’t showing the same concern for the poor that Jesus did. I don’t have any doubt that conservatives tend to confuse the gospel with politics, but its endemic for left-leaning Christians as well.

    I will say that of the professing Christians I have known, liberalness in politics tends to coincide with liberalness in theology and conservativeness in politics tends to coincide with conservativeness in theology. I don’t know if it has to be that way, but in this country it sure seems to be that way.

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  299. One question I have- do you really believe the statistics that track, “mass shootings?” A lot of inner city mass shootings never get recorded; nor do mass shootings of other undesirables in the culture. Those of you who watched, “The Wire,” should know that. My point being, the numbers are probably much higher than the available statistics show.

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  300. Robert,
    Or when one had the opportunity to speak out, especially earlier when or before the Reich came to power? What did Eisenhower do when his troops came to a town that was near a camp? He had the townspeople tour the camp to see what they were partially responsible for. The Reich didn’t have all the power in the beginning that it eventually gained. And the townspeople bared some responsibility for the evil that happened. They didn’t have the same degree of responsibility that others in the Reich had. But they had responsibility for doing nothing even though they knew what was happening or for not finding out when they had opportunities to find out. On the other hand, you had groups like the White Rose which spoke out against the atrocities. There were multiple ways to resist besides just hiding people though hiding people was tremendously risky.

    So let’s go to the gun issue. I have some knowledge of this because a while back, I considered buying a gun to protect my family. And even though I ended up not buying a gun, I have some familiarity with the subject. And some of the advice that was given to me by a gun merchant I consulted with was that an assault weapon was not a good choice. In fact, anything that shot bullets in ways that could put neighbors or those passing by at risk was not the best choice. So now while trying to determine how best to protect the family, another consideration appears. That consideration says that while protecting my family, I should consider not using a gun that puts innocent people at risk. In addition, there is even another consideration, that is making a kind of gun I could use legal which others could use to cause great harm. There is more than one factor here in determining the best kind of weapon to get to protect one’s family. Thus, you have more than just one responsibility in deciding how to best protect the family. And if you look up the crime stats, the risk of being attacked by people using assault weapons while at home or during a home invasion is extremely low. We have to realize that when we limit tough decisions to just single issues, the decision seems clear but too much information has been filtered out in favor of the one issue. That filtering out of information does not lead to making wise choices, instead, it increases the odds against one exercising wisdom when deciding.

    Finally, when the labels of liberal & conservative have an open door policy between politics and religion, mindless tribalism often follows. That tribalism not only says that one is protected by clinging to either label regardless of whether it is applied to religion or politics, it makes us self-righteously deaf to others can contribute. It leads to the kind thinking Martin Luther King Jr wrote about the West when speaking against the Vietnam War:


    The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

    That exercising that arrogance of feeling is not just unjust, it comes right out of the playbook of the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. How can we share the Gospel with people on whom we look down as the Pharisee looked down on the publican?

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  301. Vae,
    Sorry, but I have to disagree. Certainly the mass shooter is guilty for the decision to shoot people. But if his shooting is because he suffered significant distress earlier in his/her life, then those who contributed to that distress bare some responsibility too. And, what if we made bazookas legal weapons to buy? Is the mass shooter the only one responsible for using bazooka to kill many people?

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  302. Jeff,
    I didn’t read anything out of the statement. Advocacy for or exercising watchful waiting depends on the situation. For mass shootings, those that involve 4 or more deaths per year, we had approximately 20 such shootings in the decade of 2000 to 2009, and we’ve had around 34 in the current decade. The number of mass shootings per decade has been in double digits beginning with the 1970s. How does watchful waiting help?

    Second, you are wrong about what I am advocating. I am not telling people whether it is right or wrong to vote for or against specific new laws. How many times do I have to repeat that? What is right or wrong here is the general direction of either settling for the status quo or searching for multiple ways of changing the status quo. What solutions to the misuse of assault weapons are religiously conservative Christians offering? Watchful waiting here is not an option because that is simply setting for