Science reveals the intelligibility of the universe;The Bible reveals the Intelligence behind the universe.I have often said that nothing I have learned in science has challenged my faith so much as the problem of evil, which confronts everyone and which has been discussed at least as far back as the Book of Job in the Bible. For me the problem of evil is perhaps somewhat exacerbated by the fact that I do not believe in human free will in what is called the incompatibilist sense, meaning free will that is incompatible with determinism.Free will in the contrary compatibilist sense means the freedom to act according to one’s wishes and decisions, which I believe does exist. I would agree with Arthur Schopenhauer that “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.”Here if I speak of “free will” without an explicit modifier, I mean it in the libertarian or incompatibilist sense, the ability to make choices that are not fully determined by causes outside the person, such as God. However, I do not wish to contradict beliefs or doctrines of the existence of free will, since if it is interpreted in the compatibilist sense, I have no opposition to that idea.If libertarian human free will were to exist, one might say that the ultimately responsibility for the actions of a person would lie in the free-will choices of that person, perhaps absolving God of the ultimate responsibility for the evil the person were to commit. However, there still might be the question of why God would permit a person to carry out an evil libertarian free will choice that hurts others. As Steven Weinberg notes, “It seems a bit unfair to my relatives to be murdered in order to prove an opportunity for free will for Germans, but even putting that aside, how does free will account for cancer? Is it an opportunity of freewill for tumors?”On the other hand, if free will does not exist, then one might say that the ultimate responsibility for a person’s actions would lie in the ultimate determining cause or causes outside the person, that is, God, if God is indeed the ultimate cause. This might seem to heighten the problem of reconciling evil with the idea of a perfectly good God.Lest people think that they would be absolved of responsibility for their actions in a world without free will, I should hasten to say that I believe that the person would still have responsibility in the sense of respond-ability–the ability to respond to moral demands placed on him or her, even if the response is completely determined by external causes (which include those moral demands). Therefore, he or she can be held accountable for not obeying those demands. I do not believe that a lack of free will means that one can be justified in expecting not to be punished for one’s evil deeds, or that society does not have the right to carry out such punishment. Indeed, such punishment can be viewed as a good cause for improving society and the welfare of its individuals.In Romans 9:19-21, the Apostle Paul essentially says someone may ask how God blame us if He determines our actions. Paul does not take this opportunity to deny determinism by God and say that we have free will, but rather he defends God’s right to do what He chooses. I think this passage shows that God can hold us responsible even if it is His will that determines what we do.Part of my scepticism about free will comes from my belief that the simplest theories of physics consistent with our observations are deterministic, though this is controversial. For example, quantum theory is often considered to be indeterministic. Some interpretations of quantum theory give probabilities of possible events, but then which event actually happens is a matter of chance and is not determined by the theory. (The random choice of which event actually occurs is called the collapse of the quantum state or wave function.)However, there are several different interpretations of quantum theory. One that appears simplest to me and which seems to have become adopted among a majority, though not by all, of my theoretical cosmology colleagues (but perhaps only among a minority of all physicists) is the so-called Everett “many worlds” view. This model postulates that all possible outcomes that quantum theory predicts as possible really do occur, so that the totality of outcomes evolve deterministically, with no random collapse of the quantum state. It is true that one cannot predict uniquely which individual outcome will occur (since there is not just one). So each particular outcome may seem random, but if indeed all outcomes occur, the totality is not random but instead is uniquely determined by the initial quantum state and its evolution. Of course, this does not mean that it is determined apart from God, but rather in a theistic view one might postulate that God creates and determines the entire quantum state and its evolution.For me an even more convincing reason for not believing that humans have free will is that I personally think the simplest belief, and the simplest interpretation of the Bible (such as Romans 9:19-21), is that God completely creates, causes, and determines everything other than Himself from nothing outside Himself. (By everything, I am excluding logically necessary truths like theorems of mathematics that I believe can be neither created nor destroyed. Here I also exclude God from “everything.”). The meaning of creation from nothing (other than God) that makes most sense to me is that what God creates, He completely causes and completely determines, though many theists disagree with me.I see at least these two mutually exclusive e possibilities for the world:1. God creates and fully determines everything2. There occur free-will choices not determined by God.Most theists appear to believe the second possibility, but to me the first possibility seems simpler and more in accord with what I see the Bible says. Thus it seems to me that the simplest biblical view of God is that He completely creates, causes, and determines everything from nothing outside Himself. That is, I believe that all causal chains ultimately go back to God.I essentially follow the viewpoint of the great seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz, in his book Theodicy, that this is the best possible world. The idea is that it is the whole that is the best possible, and not necessarily each part in isolation. One can see creation as a tapestry, and our view of nearby threads does not show the entire pattern that God creates. One might wonder why God does not make each individual part the best possible, but this might not be logically compatible with optimizing the whole. The good of the whole and of a given part may logically compete. Even God is not immune from logical necessity, so in order to create the best, He may need to have some of the individual parts not appear best if they were viewed in isolation.I agree that there probably must be a trade-off between competing goods, even though I find the idea of libertarian free will implausible. Therefore, the free-will theodicy does not satisfy me intellectually. It also does not satisfy me morally in that I do not see that the value of free will would justify the evils that supposedly arose from it.In the Everett “many worlds” version of quantum theory, a person is continually branching into many copies (each copy in a different Everett “world,” which should not be confused with the entire world of all that exists). Even with exactly the same genes and previous experiences (the same “nature” and “nurture”), the outcomes in the different Everett “worlds” will be different. In ours Hitler was an evil monster. But I suspect that in most Everett “worlds” with the same early “nature” and “nurture” for Hitler, he was not nearly so evil. (Of course, there is the slip side: in most Everett “worlds,” Mother Teresa also did not turn out so good as she did in ours.)I believe that it is a consequence of the laws of physics that when a person is faced with a moral choice, in some Everett “worlds” in which that choice is made, an evil choice is made, one that reduces the total happiness of the conscious beings in that Everett “world.” There will also be Everett “worlds” in which a good choice is made, which increases total happiness. (One might postulate that Jesus was an exception, choosing to incarnate Himself with no quantum amplitude to make any evil choices).
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ἔπεισαν τοὺς ὄχλους ἵνα αἰτήσωνται τὸν Βαραββᾶν τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν ἀπολέσωσιν. 21 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἡγεμὼν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Τίνα θέλετε ἀπὸ τῶν δύο ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· Τὸν Βαραββᾶν. (Matt. 27:20-21)
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”
The crowd requests to destroy (ἀπόλλυμι) Jesus and release (ἀπολύω) Barabbas. Both verbs are in the aorist subjunctive. It's totally twisted and backwards.
It's reinforced by a previous play on words earlier in the text, assuming the textual variant is original:
συνηγμένων οὖν αὐτῶν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Πιλᾶτος· Τίνα θέλετε ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἢ Ἰησοῦν τὸν λεγόμενον χριστόν; (v. 17)
Therefore, when they had gathered together Pilate said to them, “Which do you want me to release to you? [Jesus] Barabbas or Jesus the one called Christ?”
Which Jesus will be destroyed, and which Jesus will be released? Of course, the crowd gets it backwards, but so does the Gospel. The Gospel is like Jacob crossing his arms when he blesses Joseph's sons.
What I am against is using the Church as a politcal force to bring about pressure in the political process in order to impose Christian values on a godles culture that is not in the Christian group and is not expect to hold to Christian values in the first place.
It is my view that the Church has become too political in modern American culture.
Did the apostles really address the gospel to the government or individual civil authorities?
Moreover, is it lawful to use the Mosaic Covenant to shape the civil laws of gentile governments? I am not saying that it is a bad idea for a government to use the law in this way if that is what they choose to do. That is not the right question. The question lies in the imperative. Does God issue a mandate to governments to use the Mosaic Covenant as the foundation for their civil codes?
Another good question is God’s requirements for the individual believers living under various forms of government. Does the Christian responsibility change from one system of government to another? I don’t think it does.
I come to the text with the presuppositions of a grammatico-historical hermeneutic. This hermeneutic provides the guardrails upon which my exegetical process moves.
Although the emperor, or king, or governor may be the mediate source by which society is ordered, God is the ultimate source.
The right Christian perspective about civil authority is that they are ordained by God for the good of society, even the worst of them. The NT writers never bother to tell us that this truth changes based on any particular system of government. Apparently, it applies to every system.
According to Paul, we are given an urgent divine imperative to pray for Barak Obama and every other politician in Washington and the states and districts.
That Paul is concerned with civil authorities is impossible to miss in his writings. He is clearly concerned with the relationship between the Christian and Emperors, Kings, and Governors. He understands they set the tone for society. How does he think the Church should interact with them? Does he provide Timothy or Titus with a set of instructions for how he wants the Church to influence the civil authorities? He wants us to submit to them, all of them, and to pray for them. It is through living Christ’s values and through prayer that we have our best chance of influencing society it seems.
Immediately after commanding the Roman Christians to over evil with Good, Paul says that everyone must be in subjection to the governing authorities. No exceptions are provided in the text. No qualifiers are given. Even if the government is one with which we disagree, subjection is the proper Christian response. Why? Governments are established by God. This is true even in a democracy.
While the Scripture mentions prayer as a means to possibly having a peaceful life, it nowhere instructs us to pray for the removal of civil leaders because of their ungodly views. God establishes civil leaders who have the most ungodly of views. Nero was profoundly wicked, yet God set him in the place of civil authority. He killed Peter and Paul and a host of other Christians. While God’s command to Nero personally was repentance, from a civil perspective Nero was God’s servant.Paul tells us in v. 2 that everyone who resists civil authority also resists God. When the Christian sets out to fight against the current leader, he cannot avoid but fight against God. God has placed the current leader in office. It matters not if you are in a democracy. The important thing here is individual sin. We must be willing to ask ourselves if we sin by engaging in all sorts of efforts to remove the current leader.
We may address the wicked policies as policies that contradict the holy commands of God.
But we are interested, not in changing the government, but in changing the individual. We are calling Barak Obama to repentance and faith in God, not in order to win the day and have our platform prevail, but in order that he may know life and know it more abundantly.
Civil rulers are put in place to direct society as God sees fit. They are there to carry out God’s plan, whatever that plan may be.
Steve Hays has made much of the Mosaic Law in his remarks on why Christians should be politically active. From my perspective, his general principles moving to logical inferences are nebulous principles employing incoherent logic that result in arbitrary and capricious applications.
The Mosaic Law belongs to Israel, to the Jew. God never gave the law to the gentile. Romans chapter two tells us that the gentiles do not have this law. Moreover, the law was given for a very specific purpose and to use it unlawfully is a serious matter as many false teachers did in the NT. It is illicit use of the law to say that secular gentile governments “ought” to employ it in their legal process. In addition, it is outside the scope of Christianity for the Church to take up such an initiative.
Nowhere in the Scriptures are Christians told that their mission is to produce a better, more moral culture.
Yet, this is exactly what American culture thinks about the Church. American culture thinks the Church uses religion or Jesus to push a conservative political agenda. They don’t see us loving them and simply giving them the gospel and doing good. They don’t hate us because we love Christ in many cases. They hate us because we try to force Christian values on the non-Christian group, and that is simply not the gospel and it is not how we are to be salt and light.
To someone who was raised and educated in the Catholic school system, as I was, a film like this inspires shock and outrage. "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" documents that child sexual abuse has been epidemic in the church for at least 1,000 years, and in the 19th century, the Vatican first formed an official policy of keeping it secret….
…[A]s I was watching this film I heard a name that was familiar to me, and found that chilling. William E. Cousins was our bishop of the Diocese of Peoria from 1952 to 1958, and then after being made Archbishop of Milwaukee, was reportedly part of the cover-up of the first publicly known charge of sexual abuse against an American priest.
There's no reason to believe he was guilty of abuse himself, but this documentary argues that the entire hierarchy was fully aware of abusive priests and followed the church's ironclad global policy of secrecy.
That first public case involved the Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who was a priest at the St. John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin. Between 1950 and 1974, he abused young students and enlisted older ones to help him. When a group of his victims, now grown, tried to inform the church about what had been done to them, they were ignored, told to forget about it or assured that it would be taken care of.
Three Milwaukee archbishops were informed of Murphy's behavior, and one of them was Cousins. I read in an article by Laurie Goodstein and David Callender in the New York Times: "Arthur Budzinski and Gary Smith, two more victims of Father Murphy, said in an interview last week that they remember seeing Archbishop Cousins yell, and Father Murphy staring at the floor. The deaf men and their advocates were told that Father Murphy, the school's director and top fund-raiser, was too valuable to be let go, so he would be given only administrative duties."
Murphy remained a priest until his death, and continued to receive assignments and have access to children.
What makes his particular case so painful is that his deaf victims found it difficult to communicate their protests. Police and states attorneys said it was the church's business. Lawsuits were dismissed. Many of the parents of the victims couldn't speak American Sign Language, and the deafness of the school's students made it commonplace for Murphy to visit them at night, moving unheard among the boys in their dormitory…
… We learn of the Servants of the Paraclete, who treat wayward priests and whose founder once declared "there is no cure for pedophilia." He suggested to the Vatican than an island be purchased to isolate these priests from the general population. This purchase was negated, and many of them remain in service today. Given the grievousness of their sins, one wonders why the church continues to shelter them. Might it not be more appropriate to excommunicate them, and refer them to the attention of the civil authorities?
Friday, November 16, 2012
Roger,I actually have no problem saying that open theism is generally a variety of Arminianism (with the qualification that emerged from your interaction with Martin above — OT in the sense of a theological research project and proposal among certain evangelicals; there can be open theists who are not Arminian). It is a non-traditional one just as current corporate election Arminianism is a non-traditional one. Open theism typically agrees with every one of the major points of Arminianism, unless one defines conditional election strictly as being according to foreseen faith, in which case, the corporate election model would also be ruled out of Arminianism.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
You assume that the only effective method for opposing something is political activism. That is sheer nonsense. I can speak out against it. I don’t have to attempt policy reform through political activism in order to be against something. If so, why and how?
While I identify strongly with the doctrines of grace, and consider myself reformed in terms of my soteriology, I do not agree with covenant theology's hermeneutic. I am good friends with Dr. Henebury and would align more closely with his views on that subject.I am not a covenant theologian and reject their division of the law. It is based on an illegitimate hermeneutic in my view.
Natural theology is the basis for civil law and order.
We judge the church, God judges the world (1 Cor. 5:12-13)
You are not taking general principles and applying them to specific scenarios.
The Law “rewarded” lawful behavior on the part of the Jews, but mostly it cursed them.
This was foreseen even before the Law was given. Again, the Law was given to national Israel. It was not given to modern American culture.
The broadest sense in terms that men are commanded to work with their hands to provide for their own. While that work is undefined, nevertheless, it means that we are to have a job. That concept falls safely within the Christian value system.
If a man does not work, neither should he eat. If he does not work, he is worse than an unbeliever. That work might be a civil servant or something else. To say it carries so far as this political activism s a specious argument at best.
If it was possible for the New Testament Church to be socially responsible, but not politically active, why is that not possible for the modern church? I think you are being anachronistic.
Fathers and husbands and children are given specific instructions on how to provide for their families to include their parents. Are we to think that the NT audience had no earthly idea what Jesus meant when He said this or when Paul said it? They knew full-well what Christ and Paul meant. It means to think honorably of them, and to provide for their basic needs if necessary.
It does not mean cut the centurion’s throat and overthrow the government to make things better for them. Nor does it mean to engage in efforts to dethrone Caesar because his policies are oppressive to my family, my kids, and my parents.
Defending your kids against a godless culture can be achieved by pointing out the sin in that culture and how that culture engages in one God-hating behavior after another. It means indoctrinating your kids in the way of God. It means living God’s values at home so they can see the difference in the Christian group as opposed to the godless community at large.
Submission to the civil government is the command of Paul.
That government was far more encroached upon the NT Church than American government is.
Paul said nothing about pushing them back.
He offered no letures telling the church that the government needs to be pushed back so that we can have religious liberty and live in a nice moral culture in which to serve Christ.
How about prayer? Paul told Timothy to pray to that end. Isn’t it possible that the vehicle God uses to accomplish this is prayer?
Of course it must also be within His divine plan that we live in such a culture and this seems to be an unspoken assumption on your part and the part of all those American Christians who think we deserve religious liberty for some reason when most of our brothers and sisters live in dire circumstances.
If we lose our rights, it is by divine decree.
I don’t lose sleep over the possibility that Christianity may be underground in America in 50 years or even sooner.
I know God is faithful. My hope is not in the American way of life. My hope is built on Christ.
This has essentially nothing to do with the fact that Jason’s speech is offensive. That last time I checked, when you become aware that you have offended your brother, you are supposed to go and be reconciled.
We should be deeply concerned with those who are vulnerable. But are we to show that concern through imposing Christian values on a godless culture or by some other means?
How did the early church deal with abortion?
How did it deal with the homosexual issue? Did Paul tell the Roman Christians to lobby Caesar so as to outlaw it? I don’t find Paul even hinting at such actions. He preached repentance. He called it what it was. But he never spent time trying to have it banned.
Your divorce analogy is not unlike the rape scenario used by abortionists.
I am talking about the fact that church discipline is almost non-existent for current abusers of grace who do not take God’s word nor the Christian community seriously. These political pastors refuse to act because of the scandal or because people might leave or whatever. I asked one pastor if he was going to act in one case and he told me he was not their Holy Spirit. Another pastor simply allowed the woman to resign and when that happened, even the presbytery did nothing to address the issue. Both of these men were and are highly vocal in their speech against gay marriage. It is hard for me to take either one of them seriously.
So what? Pragmatism? Hypocrisy is just as offensive or perhaps more so to God as the behavior the culture warrior seeks to eradicate. So what, you eradicated sodomy, you replaced it with rank hypocrisy. Nice job!
ii) Moreover, he is ignoring my actual argument. Hypocrisy doesn't make doing the right thing wrong.
They would only be hypocritical if the doctor accepted your presuppositions about abortion being murder. He does not! Therefore, as far as the doctor is concerned, he is being quite consistent with his worldview. I am going to try to frame this up more clearly using sodomite marriage and divorce.
Therefore, we will turn a deaf ear when our members divorce because it really isn’t that big a deal after all.
The old “end-justifies-the-means” argument. How many other sins should Christians commit in order to transform the culture? Hypocrisy of any sort is a sin.
So what are the guiding principles that help you pick which batter takes the top of the list? And where is the exegetical support for that? Where is the exegetical support for engaging in political battles to begin with? All I have seen is an obscure statement about general principles and logical inferences. From where? General principles from where?
And there is consensus on this, right? Who gets to say which ones are more destructive? The PCA? This opens the can of worms around who decides which issue to attack.
I used the term adultery in place of fornication for that reason. Since adultery is the cause of so many divorces, it can only help the institution of marriage to outlaw it.
In addition, lying was not a violation of the covenant? Leviticus 19:11 clearly commands the Jew not to lie to one another. Hence, lying is a violation of the covenant. In Jer. 9:3-5, lying is characterized as evil.
Romans 2 makes a great case for natural law as the foundation for civil law.
I find Jason's comments personally offensive…What ever happened to Christian civility and charity in these sorts of discussions? Why do we always have to resort to harsh insults toward another over issues that are not central to the Christian faith?
Hypocrisy run amuck. We pound our chest in NC when we say we stopped gay marriage but 90% of evangelical pastors do nothing when members divorce unbiblically.
Should we not outlaw fornication and lying and stealing, and cheating and whatever else offends God and violates His moral code? Why focus on just abortion? Why not go for the whole ball of wax? Is it not hypocritcal to only fight against gay marriage and not also fight to outlaw unbiblical divorce? Your logical end is a theocracy, is it not? Where do you draw the line and why there? If you are going to push this issue, then push it all the way and at least be consistent. Don't stop with just half the law. Shouldn't you be working to outlaw Sabbath labor?Actually I am attempting to apply your method to other issues. Abortion is not a crime but you say it should be because it is murder. Well, civil law does not define it as murder the same as civil law does not criminalize fornication. Yet you desire to outlaw abortion because it violates God's moral code but now you seem to give fornication a nod and a wink. The same method applies to sodomite marriage. How can you say that I am calling a sin a crime when you want to make abortion which is a sin a crime. Why not make fornication, which is a sin, a crime also? You got stoned for murder the same as you did for adultery.
If politics were merely theoretical, merely an exercise in determining how a well-ordered state should be structured, then implementation would not matter at all. But politics is practical, not theoretical: it aims at action that implements the view deemed best…You are a utopian who fails to understand that politics is about action, not theory, in the world as it is, as opposed to some merely imagined world.
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in his wings:
When comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.
It can bring with it nothing but he will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe his people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And he who feeds the ravens will give his children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, his praise shall tune my voice,
For while in him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.
Without getting too bogged down in esoterica, it seems uncontroversial to say that, at the end of the day, politics is culture (and of course, political systems reflect the cultures from which they grow). If that’s the case, then we will be in ever greater danger at the national level unless we start winning on the cultural battlefield. Losing five of the last six popular votes for the presidency should be a wake-up call.
As Irving Kristol noted, the culture war is over, and we lost. We were driven out of the universities, surrendered popular culture, and hunted from the mainstream media (from which most Americans continue to get their news). But we better start opening up some new fronts, conducting guerilla warfare, and investing in long-term strategy to have just the hope of keeping even. We need to fully accept the fact that nearly two generations have grown up in a dominantly liberal culture outside the home. It’s not simply that many don’t agree with conservative positions, it’s that they reflexively think in mainstream liberal terms. Moreover, conservatives, and the GOP in particular, have been vilified for so long that large swaths of the country see us as no less than dangerous to American society.
But culture is more than politics.
It’s true, mainstream liberal American society – east coast and west coast varieties – have developed an unbiblical form of morality and have successfully imposed it upon their world – through their ownership of schools and universities. In entertainment, through the media, and in big-time Washington politics. And in the process, they’ve imposed it upon the rest of the world in a de facto kind of way. Christians do need to address this form of morality. There is a need for Christians to infiltrate media and politics at highly visible levels. But we also need to show the Christian underpinnings of morality in real life: what these are, and why they are a better way for people to live. There’s no doubt that will take time. At this point, it will likely take generations. That’s what Auslin says:
We have to break out, and undermine the fallacious, unrealistic, idealistic, offensive nostrums of far-left liberalism. And, we have to offer a rational and appealing view of life to counter more moderate liberalism. That, I think, will even answer Ramesh’s keen insight: The GOP has lost ground because it did not become the party of middle-class economic interests. But that’s in part because a generation was getting educated that free enterprise was evil, and that it was easier to get government handouts than spend decades working patiently.
We have to forget about elections and play the very long game of changing the underlying cultural stratum of society. It’s what the liberals did quietly for decades, securing each triumph so that they did not have to worry about counterattacks (when was the last time a university academic department suddenly became filled with conservatives?). Andrew Breitbart was on to this with Big Hollywood, just as Fox was on to it in the media. But we either need to redouble our efforts or we need to think outside the box.
But he also begins to explore some places where we won’t want to go:
There’s also a huge temptation to play dirty, the way Ted Kennedy and his ilk did against Robert Bork; I’m not so sure that’s wrong. They play dirty against us in academia, and mock us on television. We hold ourselves to higher standards, but that’s not much help in an increasingly liberal, dependent society. Maybe we shouldn’t flinch from playing dirty (or dirtier).
We should resist “playing dirty” with all our hearts. There’s a difference between tough and dirty. We should know what that line is, and never, ever cross it.
The news from the election was not all bad. Many Christians [and conservatives] are winning, even in the midst of the big-time losses.
Michael Barone did an extensive study of elections at lower levels:
Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That's clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year's election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.
Democrats came out of the 2008 election with 257 seats in the House, well above the majority of 218. That enabled a tough Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to squeeze out majorities on unpopular measures like the stimulus package, cap and trade, and Obamacare.
Two of the three were big liberal policy victories (cap and trade went nowhere in the Senate). But the Democratic Party paid a price in 2010 -- and kept paying in 2012.
Democrats have won or are currently leading in 201 seats in the House. (All these numbers could change slightly in final counts.)
Between 2008 and 2012, they gained seats in only three states: Delaware, where a popular Republican ran for the Senate in 2010; Maryland, thanks to Democratic redistricting; and California, where a supposedly nonpartisan redistricting commission was dominated by Democrats.
One reason this is good news: the party in power in the presidency almost always loses seats in congress during the off-term election years (that would be 2014 at this point). And if the Republicans can nominate a strong candidate in 2016, who can bring in even more seats, it can have ramifications that are farther reaching. The reason for this is: the gains were even bigger farther down in the state legislatures:
In state legislative races, Democrats also rebounded from 2010, but fell far short of the losses they sustained then. They went into the 2010 election with 53 percent of state senators across the country and 56 percent of state lower House members. (Nebraska elects its one legislative chamber on a nonpartisan basis.)
Democrats came out of the 2012 election with only 46 percent of state senators and 48 percent of state lower House seats.
In that time, they gained seats in both chambers in only three states: New Jersey (one seat in each body), Illinois and California.
Democrats still hold most legislative seats in the Northeast. But Republicans now have more state legislators in the Midwest, West and South.
The changes in the South have been especially striking. Democrats went into the 2010 election with 51 percent of state senators and lower House members in the South. They came out of the 2012 election with 38 percent of state senators and 40 percent of lower House members.
Of course, we know that political gains can be lost as well. But political offices aren’t the only place where Christians and conservatives need to win.
To be sure, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”. Don’t hesitate to do this in places where you can “offer a rational and appealing view of life to counter more moderate liberalism” … In places where “middle-class economic interests” can be highlighted. “Play the very long game of changing the underlying cultural stratum of society”. Christian individuals should not hesitate to be salt and light in places that matter most: in the media. In public schools and universities. In business.
“It’s what the liberals did quietly for decades.”
Let’s redeem the time well.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I could not agree more. The educational institutions play a strategic role in the liberal indoctrination of our children and in my view, that is beyond dispute. I wish the church were as focused on our own indoctrination as the secular university is on their own.
We know the purpose of the law was to hold mirror up in front of the unrighteous to show them/us their/our hopelessly sinful condition. It drives men to Christ.
(2) Civil Use: The Law restrains evil through punishment. Though the law cannot change the heart, it can inhibit sin by threats of judgment, especially when backed by a civil code that administers punishment for proven offences (Deut 13:6-11; 19:16-21; Rom 13:3-4). Although obedience out of the love of God is the ideal for which every Christian should strive (1 John 4:18), society still benefits from this restraining use of the law.
The communities containing reprobates has little to do with my contention that the holy writings were directed to the holy community…
Of course the unregenerate can engage in parsing, syntax, and even analyze a text. There are a number of them in the seminaries today who do that very thing. But that does not change the fact that true understanding involves appropriation and appropriation requires God’s Spirit.
The holy writings were not given to make a godless culture more moral.
There is nothing equivocal in my statement that political activism does not fall within the mission of the church.
The mission of the church includes a respectable work ethic in the broadest sense.
No one is suggesting that work ethic does not fall within the Christian ethic. There are specific commands given regarding work. You cannot make an exegetical case for broadening the scope of the church’s mission to political activism.
Yes, we are to provide for our children and our families. However, God instructs us specifically about how we are to do that. We are to work, to care for our own, etc.
Defending my family against a burglar is one thing. Defending it against a godless culture is entirely different.
If I may have to take the burglar’s life if he forces the matter. Should I do the same to a doctor who is about to commit an abortion? Should I do the same to a politician who is soft on pedophilia? You take a huge leap when you extend family protection to political activism.
To deny the trend toward secularism, toward social liberalism is essentially to bury one’s head in the sand with all due respect of course.
I never argued that there was once a consistent ban on abortion in the past. What I stated was that the American legal system will never outlaw abortion again.