Sunday, June 26, 2005


Speaking Biblese

When I was two, I talked like a child...I thought like a child...I reasoned like a child...and I sang "Tammy", theme song from the old movie classic. At least that is how the story is told in my family. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard in my wee life! Stayed up late last night to watch "Tammy and the Doctor" (American Movie Classics is doing a Tammy marathon today!) I haven't changed my is still my favorite song of all time. I cried, a privilege I have earned.
"Why, oh why is she going on like this?", you ask. Did you know Tammy, Sandra Dee, was speaking Biblese as late as 1963 on the big screen? Her vocabulary, her reasoning, her outlook on life (that would be worldview as we know it) was her gloriously simple faith in the Word. It was similar to the faith I have tried to share here...the faith Edith Schaeffer passed on to me through her writing. 1963, the year we turned our backs on God by denying prayer time in our public schools. It was the end of an era.

"1963, the year we turned our backs on God by denying prayer time in our public schools."

A little simplistic, surely? There's an awful lot more to "turning our backs on God" than prayer time in schools. Arguably, there were things going on in the USA in the early 1960s that showed that God was clearly at the centre of things (such as the black rights movement). It's never as simple as politicians (of whatever stripe) want us to think.

pax et bonum
Of course we have been turning our backs since Eden ; D even if you don't believe Eden was a place! "Suffer the little children to come unto me." Taking the Lord out of our schools was a direct assault on Him. He wants the children. I have had this argument thrown at me before, when I played a David Barton video for an adult Sunday School class. Since then, we have left that church! But, bring it on John!
Frankly, the black rights movement is not convincing evidence of God's providence. It is Satan who coddles and weakens us. Yes, we needed to deal with the racial divisions but blacks were thriving within their communities, for the most part. It wasn't until the handouts and favoritism ploys of the government that the black community was weakened. God is Freedom and He promotes personal responsibility, choice, and strengthening in our mistakes. Just goes to show, government should never play God.
My point was mainly that "prayer in schools" isn't, even for USAians, a major touchstone of Christian life. We are called "to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God".

But, as for your throwaway comment about the black rights movement - are you seriously saying that everything was OK in the USA WRT the position of black people in society before the 1960s? Were the men and women of God who were at the forefront of that movement mistaken in their belief that the situation was an affront to a nation that founded itself on the principle that "all men are created equal"?

pax et bonum
We will never act justly, love mercy or walk humbly with God if we don't allow, for ourselves and our children, prayer time, a time for surrendering our lives to God. I'm sure there are a few blessed children who actually pray without prompting. That one ruling was BIG because of the disruption in the spiritual realm.

I did not say everything was OK before the 60's. I fear you threw away my comment too quickly! The racial division problem was huge. What government did with it was a disaster. Quoting Kennedy's Lord of All, "Fifty years ago, there were practically no transfer payments or other forms of social spending in this country." Outlays for Fiscal 2000 total over 900 billion dollars in federal spending alone. (p. 152-3) Kennedy includes sources.
I have seen the thriving, even prosperous black sector on film. All men are created equal. Justice takes it from there: "Do not pervert justice, do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly." Leviticus 19:15
"Besides, they get into the habit of being idlers." 1Timothy 5:13
Finally, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." 1Thessalonians 3:10

My firm belief is that the Church should work independent from the State. The State is not our provider. Since it has become just that, God is playing second fiddle.
We need to encourage our children to pray, of course, but saying that this one thing is the most important ("the year we turned our backs on God") is to miss the point, IMO. It is perhaps part of a process, resulting from a previous decision to separate religion and education (Church and State), and leading to later decisions to continue doing the same. Indeed, given the value you seem to put on the separation between Church and State later in your post, I'm surprised that you can support religion within a state institution in this way. You can't have it both ways.

As for the race issue, I know you talked about the need to resolve divisions but you also said that "blacks were thriving within their communities, for the most part." This wasn't the opinion of those blacks, AIUI, which is the opinion that matters. And it was this aspect of your post that I had trouble with.

You said "do not show partiality to the poor", but that's not talking about charity but about justice - in other words, don't let someone off for a crime just because they're poor. That's very different to saying "Let them stew in their poverty". And, in any case, I would rebut that OT view with Jesus' words: "sell your possessions and give to the poor" (Mt 19:21); "when you give a banquet, invite the poor...and you will be blessed" (Like 14:13).

Jesus had a notable bias towards the poor and against the rich - he often praised the poor and rarely if at all praised the rich. If we claim to follow him, surely we should share His attitudes - to see that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have diseases are cured, the deaf hear and the good news is preached to the poor (Mt 11:5). How these things are accomplished is not the point - if we want to see them happen, we should be joyful whoever does them.

This isn't an issue of Church versus State. If the Church were able and willing to take over the task of welfare from the State, perhaps that would be well and good. However, the Church cannot and does not do so. The State is the agent that can care for the poor, destitute and fatherless. Should we prevent it doing so for some political reason like the separation of Church and State? Is that not putting the letter of the law before its spirit?

pax et bonum

Yeah, John, but He didn't say, "Sell someone else's possessions and give to the poor," did He? But that's what the gov't does, by force; it's called 'taxes'.

Nowhere in Scripture does it call on government to do that, nor to educate children. Regardless of what you or anyone else THINKS would happen if the gov't didn't do these things, that's not what gov't was created for. I resent, as should everyone who cares about our Republic, having money taken from me by threat of force to pay for what the gov't calls 'welfare' and 'education', even though I would be glad to contribute to true welfare and true education for the truly needy.

Gov't should be colorblind in its functioning, but the so-called 'Civil Rights' movement has gone waaay beyond that. A racist should be allowed to act in a racist manner, as long as he physically doesn't attack anyone or their property. It may be sinful and foolish, but it should be his right to do so. If he wants to shoot himself in the foot by refusing to buy from or sell to someone because of his foolishness, gov't should have nothing to say about it.

John, I just want to set one thing straight. How happy the blacks were, we will only know from original sources. The film I saw showed a very happy bunch, well dressed and having a good time on the town. Obviously, situations varied and perspectives, even moreso.
The matter of church and state is where we part ways. We should have it both ways, as the FF intended. The "wall" was established to keep the state out of the church...or a particular denomination from becoming the State. The church has always had strong influence on government rulings until recently; the wall was meant to be permeable for church influence in state matters.
Think American Revolution. I would love to put a post about this sometime soon. I'll have to do a little research is all.

Doc, BIG welcome back!
All the evidence is that blacks were profoundly unhappy with the situation in the USA, especially in the South. Look at the huge numbers of people involved in the protests!

As for the Church vs State thing, I'll leave it to USAians to debate the finer points.

Actually there are detailed instructions in the Bible for the collection of taxes (think tithes in the OT). Jesus Himself even said that we were to pay taxes (render unto Caesar...). You also seem to have an odd (especially for a USAian) separation in your mind between "the government" and "the people" - "government of the people, by the people, for the people" is a very USAian sentiment. Anyhow, taxation is very far from cwv's original point so it's probably best not to go deeply into it here!

"A racist should be allowed to act in a racist manner, as long as he physically doesn't attack anyone or their property"

So anything except physically attacking someone should be OK? Exclusion, exploitation, abuse, hatemail and so forth should all be allowed, in the name of "liberty"? I believe that places far too much emphasis on the racist's "liberty" and far too little on the victim's.

pax et bonum
Thanks; always nice to stop by. My opportunities to do so are irregular; like Gandalf, expect me when you 'see' me.


“Actually there are detailed instructions in the Bible for the collection of taxes (think tithes in the OT). Jesus Himself even said that we were to pay taxes (render unto Caesar...)”

Irrelevant to the point; that was a particular time, place, and situation, and there is no commandment for God’s children to perpetuate that in any other situation. Also irrelevant, as the question really is: what the gov’t is to spend taxes on, not how they are to collect them. Collection will always be by force, as ‘voluntary taxation’ is a contradiction in terms.

"[G]overnment of the people, by the people, for the people" was Lincoln’s phrase. Not a very ‘originalist’ fellow, Constitutionally speaking. He certainly didn’t speak for me. The Founders of this nation knew Whose idea government was, and it wasn’t the people’s. We have a republic, not a democracy. Our government was designed to be of the people, by laws (whose foundation is supposed to be God’s law, including His design for government), for the benefit of the people and their posterity.

“Exclusion” Yes. If someone owns property, he should have the total right to say who is allowed on that property, barring ‘hot pursuit’ or a court order.

“Exploitation” What a loaded term. If one citizen agrees to exchange goods, services, or legal tender for another citizen’s goods, services, or legal tender, the government should have exactly zero to say about it, no matter how ‘disadvantaged’ some group of people perceive one of the parties to be.

“Abuse” Are we talking physical or verbal? If the former, that’s assault. If the latter, that’s free speech.

“Hatemail” Free speech.

One of the problems with making ‘racism’ illegal is that such legislation all too easily bleeds over into other areas. Soon it may be illegal (actually it may already be; I’m not sure) for me as a Christian physician to refuse to hire a publically known, unrepentant 'alternative life-style' type to work in my office. You may think that’s a good thing; I do not.

Again, any racist actions are despicable, immoral, and anti-Christian. If a member of a church is found to be behaving in such a way, public repentance should be required, and, if he is recalcitrant, eventually he should be disfellowshipped and declared to be a heathen. Ditto many other immoral actions that shouldn’t be illegal, either. The question is what is the appropriate role of government, vs the appropriate role of the Church, individuals, etc.

"Exclusion" in this context doesn't mean from private property. Blacks were unable to use shops, parks, buses etc. that were for whites only. We are talking public spaces and amenities as well as private ones.

"Exploitation" is a loaded term, yes, but it does convey a truth. Should there be no rules governing trade? How, then, do we avoid being exploited ourselves by dishonest traders who adulterate their produce? For that is what used to happen and was the precise reason for the involvement of government in regulating trade. Sure, it goes further than that now, but the principle of protecting people is there.

It seems to come down to your believing that anything short of physical violence should be legal. I disagree quite profoundly with that, but at least we now know what the real issue is. You seem to put personal rights and individual autonomy at the top of the scale. I put care for others and protection of the vulnerable much higher.

Anyhow, we've drifted rather from cwv's original topic!

pax et bonum
Drifted for sure but that is fun too. I appreciate all the thoughts. I'm still trying to get down to the truth about "Happy Blacks" since it is a sensitive issue. Especially since neither of us lived back then and I for one am not black, I just want to clarify. The people in the south were not happy because they couldn't even ride the bus! Drinking fountains and eating establishments and employment were the issues of protest. I was defying the myth that they were in dire straits. I'm sure some were but many more were not. Rosa Parks didn't look like she was destitute. And the ultimate question is, now that handouts and affirmative action have a grip, are blacks happier?
Attitudes needed to change and, I agree with Doc, legal force wasn't the answer. Those with twisted prejudice needed to be put in their places by the silent moral majority, boycotts, and other Martin Luther King Jr. styles. The man did have style.

When you say “public”, I suspect you’re not just talking about government-owned; you perhaps also mean actually private entities (stores, etc) that are open ‘to the public’ in that there’s usually no physical barrier to anyone walking in (e.g., a grocery store). But it ought to be within a store owner’s legal prerogative, no matter how foolish, to reserve the right to refuse to deal with anyone for any reason; it’s his store, after all!

If a park, a bus, etc, is owned by the government, hence paid for with public monies presumably collected from taxpayers, then no racial discrimination should be allowed.

The problem with your “care for others and protection of the vulnerable” is that you want to do it with government money collected by force, not as Scripture calls for, through true charity (leaving aside the physical protection of the vulnerable; I’m all for the government prosecuting someone who, say, pulls an unborn baby halfway out, ends his life, then pulls him the rest of the way out, dead; how about you?).

Politics is the art of persuasion. The question is, can you make a persuasive case for the use of government that you propose?

And hey, as long as CWV doesn’t call us to heel, we can stray from the topic all we like, eh? :-)

Yes, I'm talking truly public places (parks, streets), semi-public (buses, trains) and semi-private (restaurants, shops, clubs, bars). As one descends the scale towards the private, perhaps we should allow more latitude to be hateful. However, anything that purports to be public should be public, regardless of race or other trivial characteristics.

In addition, I meant social exclusion as well as physical exclusion - the establishment of separate schools for example, separate churches even. Social exclusion is the basis for physical exclusion. Still, it looks like we perhaps basically agree on this.

"The problem with your “care for others and protection of the vulnerable” is that you want to do it with government money collected by force, not as Scripture calls for, through true charity"

And the problem with your proposals is that there is no care for anyone at all except oneself, beyond basic physical safety. Given your espousal of Bible-based government, I'm amazed that Gospel imperatives like care for the poor don't feature more highly.

I'm really interested in where you get this idea that the Bible teaches a clear no-tax, no-big-government doctrine. The Bible contains lots of teaching about taxation of various forms for various purposes. Jesus Himself even said that we should pay taxes; notably, when talking to the reforming tax collecter Zaccheus, he promised to stop cheating people on their taxes, not to stop collecting them.

If your political beliefs are along these lines then that is your privilege, but don't confuse them with Biblical teaching. One could perhaps extract this idea from the Bible (which is why I ask) but it's not clearly taught there, nor is it by any manner of means the only model taught there. If we are looking for a "Biblical" model of government, we must surely see either a pastoral anarchy (Judge-era Israel) or a strict monarchy (King-era Israel), even a communist co-operative (the early church). There is no place for participatory-democratic, republican capitalism in the Bible.

As for your (frankly offensive) comment about abortion - yes, I'm opposed to it in general. However, I do believe that there are circumstances in which it is the least bad option; as, for example, where both mother and child would die otherwise.

pax et bonum
Doc, you might also want to look at this article from Christianity Today, which talks about this issue of the Bible and politics. Especially given that CT is the journal of the evangelical mainstream in the USA.

pax et bonum

Time is too short to discuss the ‘2 Kingdoms’ line of thought, and the various Scriptural principles that support limited government with a representative republic. Suffice it to say that it’s clear to me that families and the church are designed by God to handle caring for material needs (among other things), and government is designed to protect citizens from force, either from without or within.

I find your comment about my comment about abortion to be frankly offensive. It was also somewhat unclear; are you only personally opposed to abortion, but not in favor of it being illegal? Or do you favor abortion being illegal (except for the exception you posed, with which I would agree)?

CT may be the journal of the evangelical ‘mainstream’, but that’s a stream headed for a waterfall. I prefer the straight and narrow channel.
My point about government was that, while it might well be possible to extract your politics from the Bible, you cannot maintain that it is the only possible politics that we can draw therefrom! And that, therefore, you cannot hold your politics up as "the Christian position".

I am unclear why you found my reply to your abortion comment offensive. I replied to your direct question as clearly as I could - the only thing I can see that might cause offence is that I found your comment offensive. If I caused offence by pointing this out, I'm sorry that I did so and ask forgiveness.

Abortion is almost entirely unrelated to this topic so I will not discuss it further here - to do so would be to invite a huge and irrelevant debate, because this is an inevitably emotive and hugely debated area!

pax et bonum
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