Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

To the Making of a Safe, Civil Society

“For if you don’t write it, they will claim I never warned them. ‘Oh no,’ they’ll say, ‘ you never told us that!’” ~God to Isaiah (30:9)

Ugliness will sprout from freedom of choice along with the noble. Law is a necessity…so how far MUST law intrude into society’s freedoms? At what point does freedom of public behavior bring a society down? I feel compelled to plod on in John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, especially since reading the very long string of comments at Questions and Answers on the art of lawmaking!

What John Calvin calls “freedom in things indifferent with proofs from Romans 7-9” (Calvin’s Institutes, III:xix:7-9) are to be matters of conscience—in short, questions of our material handlings; luxury, gluttony, the use of God’s gifts. Freedom on this personal level is of no harm to a free Christian society because Christians are led to use discretion as they grow in Christ. I am drawn to this section of Calvin’s writing because of the socialistic/Marxist trends among Christians to force society to live temperately with taxation and redistribution of wealth, AKA the welfare state.

What I can’t grasp in section fifteen is Calvin’s alluding to the temporal matters as political after he so carefully placed things indifferent under matters of conscience earlier. Not even church law inflicts temperance or lack thereof as a punishable offense. Our choices of food, clothes, and how we bestow love on our neighbor are issues of temporal earthly life but political government? Am I wrong to say no Christian governing body deals with these outward but personal disciplines? Calvin even goes into a long dissertation on how, if we give up fine wine, then we will eventually be tormented with guilt over cheap wine, leading to the evils of grape juice or fine water! (Sec. 7) The same could occur with giving a man your cloak, but he later needs your car! Shall we offer the house when he goes bankrupt? Issues arise about whether you love your neighbor AS YOURSELF or if asceticism has overtaken your joy of life. Homes have been given away out of generous hearts, but it is not a right or wrong deal that can be applied in civil law. In much of our daily choices of temperance, we must rely on God’s voice and not the guilty pleas of Satan, much less the orders of men.

Bottom line, not all things of this earthly life are suited for political rule. Christ’s Kingdom is HERE and has been ever since the sign was posted, King of the Jews. It is most definitely a private, unseen governing between God and the hearts of men! Human government cannot touch it! “You have no authority over Me-- My Kingdom is not of this world.” ~Jesus

The remainder tomorrow...my brain hurts!

Comments:
"We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching
that we can choose either to accept or reject the God
who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the
Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be
equally free in our relationships with other men.
Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer
and social freedom for its completion." Edmund A. Opitz

Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son
of man that You take care of him?" Hebrews 2:6
A: "I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have
laid before me." Psalm 119:30 "Let Your hand become my
help, for I have chosen Your precepts."Psalm 119:173

- from The HUMAN PARADIGM
 
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