I meant to add to my last post an addendum that ties things together in my mind. In that post we looked at some traits of socialism. Eventually where I hope to go with this is to segue into differences between Marxist Socialism and Fascist Socialism and to show concretely that the political differences that exist in this country among the two major parties is merely a contest over which stripe of Fascism one prefers. Anyway … there is another connector between this and what I have also written recently on Radical Two Kingdom Theology of the Westminster West variety (R2Kt virus).
The connector is that when the Church refuses to deal with, from the pulpit, the kind of issues that I am trying to clarify in my posts on Socialism and Fascism the consequence is that the larger culture loses the sense of the True Transcendent that is required for Biblical civilization to occur. If the Church will not speak a clarion word about how the Transcendence of God needs to be a guiding presupposition in the cultural life of any nation then that culture will embrace a false god with a false transcendence. R2Kt proclaims that culture lies in the common realm where all can participate but what we are already seeing in these posts on Socialism and Fascism is that culture while certainly a common realm is affected by presuppositions that either are or are not Biblical. While all agree that culture is a common realm we are learning that it is not a neutral realm. If culture is affected by presuppositions that are Biblical then those presuppositions along with the texts they grow out of need to be preached from Reformed pulpits and Reformed Churches all across the land.
To refuse to do so in pursuit of some lame academic theory is treason.
10 thoughts on “While I’m Thinking Of It”
Thanks for your post Bret. If your argument is that America is socialist, then it follows that nearly all of the European governments, the Canadian government, and the Australian government, and countless more 1st world governments are MORE socialist than the U.S. government/country.
The fact is that the U.S. has lower taxes and less government than any of these other countries. For instance, all of these other countries have universal health care.
One could then argue that Europe and Canada’s socialism has lead them to be post-Christian and America is following right behind. But, I pause and consider that American patriotism is considerably stronger than Canadian patriotism, despite having smaller government than Canadians.
Last meeting, you said you could make an argument for limited government based on the commandment “do not steal” among other Scriptures. It seems to me that if we are going to argue that this commandment, the biblical teaching of the sword, the biblical teaching for traditional marriage, and the biblical teaching for life ought to influence/guide our government and our government policy, then to be consistent, we also have to say that the repeated command throughout the bible of caring for the poor (more than just handouts of course) ought to guide government policy as well.
Bret, this is in response to a conversation you had with Matt about 100% certainty and biblical interpretation.
Some Scriptures are difficult to interpret (Calvin was never ready to write on Revelation,etc.). A believer can say that he is not 100% certain about his interpretation of a given text and be certain about that uncertainty. That is not relativism – that is humility. That is not denying absolute truth. It is admitting that I’m not sure about the absolute truth in this one area becasue it is not clear and/or my understanding is limited.
If I would say, “I am uncertain that there is absolute truth” that would be self-defeating. But, to be uncertain of one’s understanding of a given absolute truth is not to deny absolute truth altogether.
Matt can be uncertain as to whether he is interpreting certain bible passages correctly, while still being certain that Jesus is the Christ. You were at this point once when wrestling with Armeninanism/Calvinism and infant baptism.
Of course, if Matt means to say that he is uncertain about all of his interpretations – well – then he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in a debate.
Thanks for stopping by.
My argument is indeed that America is Socialist. Over the course of time I hope to show that we are socialist of a particular creeping variety. I fully admit that there are varying degrees of Socialist, but I would argue that These United States of America’s tendency has been for quite some time increasingly socialist oriented — even when considering certain periods of time when Socialism hasn’t advanced as greatly as at other times.
I would likewise agree that all of Europe and Canada and Australia is Socialist in varying degrees. Indeed, I would say those countries are Socialist to a far greater degree then America. I would also add though that this global incremental Globalism is only able to survive given the remnant of capitalism (Free Markets, Private Property, Small Entrepreneurialship, etc.) that exists in America and other Western countries. If the day comes when socialism, in one variety or another, ever blankets the globe then socialism will finally be seen to be the bankrupt system that it is, just as Communism was finally seen to be a bankrupt system. All forms of forced collectivism is parasitic, and everyone knows that once the host is brought down the parasite dies with it.
Also I would agree that Europe and Canada are indeed post-Christian. To be perfectly frank I think it likely that all of the Western World is currently post-Christian. Christendom in its current form is dead and only a remarkable event akin to the Reformation will revive it. In Europe the Demographics alone show that within 50 years, unless something divine and drastic takes place Europe will no longer be European in the way that we have understood that for hundreds of years. Similarly, with illegal immigration here in the States combined with other prevailing factors it is more than possible that the enervating and energizing power that is Christianity will be depleted and we will become a third world country beholden to a faith system that is likely not going to be particularly Christian.
Finally you write about the Scriptures and limited Government.
First we need to consider the US Constitution which, theoretically speaking is the law of the land. The US Constitution, specifically in the 9th and 10th amendment does not allow for most of what the Government is currently involved in, in the way of social programs. The Constitution was written by a people who were leary of Big Government and powerful Government (having just escaped the clutches of one) and did not envision the Centralized Nation State that we currently have.
Second when it comes to the Scriptures I can only direct you to the idea of Sphere Sovereignty that Reformed people have championed so well. Many in Reformedom have clearly understood that the State, The Family, and the Church, were all interdependent but autonomous spheres under sovereign God that were each uniquely responsible for their own domain. To the State God gave the Sword. To the Church God gave the keys. To the Family God gave the Rod. The sword is an instrument of retribution. I believe the State has the responsibility of retribution (whether in capital punishment or in waging just war) given to it by God. The sword however is not a tool one uses to feed people, or to clothe people or to house people. I believe those responsibilities belong to the family and the Church. When the State subsidizes poverty by stealing from one group of people to give to another what it does is produces more poverty. In Economics it is a basic that whatever the State subsidizes the State gets more of and whatever the State taxes the State gets less of. When the State subsidizes the poor it doesn’t help the poor but rather creates more of what it is trying to alleviate. In America we have had 75 years of this approach and have spent billions upon billions of dollars on poverty relief and still we fight the war on poverty. FDR’s New Deal. JFK’s Great Society. LBJ’s Gun’s and butter. ‘W’ Bush’s incredible growth in spending have not even helped the poverty problem and the reason that is so, is that rewarding people for their poverty is not a way to help people and creates only more poverty. Besides, the command not to Steal, as I said before, applies to the State as well as it does to individuals, and when the State steals the current amount that it does in confiscatory taxation it is nothing but theft.
Next when it comes to the Biblical teaching of Marriage I likewise believe that this is none of the States Business. For many many decades in America the State was not involved in licensing marriages. This belongs to the Sphere of the Church and the State should butt out.
When it comes to life, I advocate the State’s role in stopping abortion because of the 5th amendment. I believe constitutionally speaking the Federal Government has a responsibility to stop abortion.
Finally, as to the command to help the poor, I couldn’t agree more that Christians have a command to help the poor. But that command throughout Scripture is given to individuals or given to the Church but it is not given to the State. The State is far to big of an institution to be able to help the poor effectively. Effective help for the poor should come from the grass roots level that is nearest to the problem and is able to intimately involve themselves with the problem. In most of my experience with the indigents in 20 years of ministry what I have seen is not working poor people who need a hand but rather people who are not working and expect the world to take care of them thus violating the scripture mandate, “If a man shall not work he shall not eat.”
It may be the case that should the State quit stealing so much money from the producers in taxation that the Church might find itself more healthy to aid these kind of people. But as many in our congregations are already paying 40% + in tax rates and then 10% more in tithe it doesn’t leave much left over to raise a family and give extra to help with poverty.
No, I am afraid that it is not Biblical for the State to steal in confiscatory taxation and then justify it by saying that they are helping the poor. More likely it is the case that the poor become an excuse so that the State can line their bureaucratic pockets with the wealth of middle class Americans. Besides, if the poor ever disappeared how would the Statists ever get elected since the poor give them their reason for existence and provide their voting constituency.
I want to emphasize again I do agree that we should care for the poor. It is precisely because I agree with that so thoroughly that I am opposed to Statist involvement due to my conviction that the State ‘helping’ the poor only leads to a wrong kind of dependence of the poor upon the State which in the long run does far greater harm to the poor then if the State allowed the Church to do good to all men, especially those of the household of the faith.
Maybe you would like to discuss this further. Goodness knows that it is a big subject where lots more could be said.
Thanks again for stopping by,
I fully agree that socialism collapses on itself. History has proven this. I guess the question is, at what point of big government do we declare: this is socialism. I can’t see Canadian “socialism” collapsing on itself right now. Yes, they have big government. They’re also balanced their budget in recent years and even payed off some of their national debt. And this was done by Paul Martin’s liberal party! When any government gets to the point where a)there is no longer enough incentive for individuals to work and start businesses or b)the national government goes into such debt that it collapses financially, then yes -we have a disaster.
What bothers me so much about the Bush administation, besides the disaster of Iraq, is the government spending and the ever increasing national debt that is unsustainable. It infuriates me. It is not what I voted for. How ironic that under the “liberal” Clinton administration, our spending in comparison to tax intake was so much more equal. Check out this link on the government surpluss in 2000 http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/09/27/clinton.surplus/
AS for the issue of the poor: Where would we be rignt now without labor laws and government involvement that holds back some of the evils of capitalism? Remember, capitalism is driven by individual incentive. But it never stops there. It goes from individual incentive to greed in this fallen world and when there is greed there is abuse of the have nots. Without current labor laws (which are probably not all just) we would be where we were at the time of the industrial revolution. You’ve probably read Sinclair’s “the Jungle.” I’m not arguing for handouts to people who need to be working. I’m a conservative on personal responsibility. You quote the proper text “If a man shall not work..” I’m arguing for justice in the structures of the economy and business. Where would we be on the issue of racial justice without government intervention to address the structual racial injustices of the first part of this century.
I think it would be helpful for you to do some studying on the difference between Biblical Capitalism and Evolutionary Capitalism as practiced by the Robber Barons during the gilded age. I think some of what you indict under Capitalism belongs more to the problems inherent in ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ Capitalism then it does in Biblical Capitalism.
I don’t know much about Canada (yes… yes… I know … typical American) but I can say that Canada’s Socialistic system couldn’t survive without America’s comparative free market next door.
I completely agree about the disaster Bush has been. He makes LBJ’s Guns and Butter program look like a piker. But then as I am not a Republican I feel no compulsion to defend that flavor of liberalism. (Actually, in many respects Bush has achieved more for the liberal agenda then Clinton ever did).
And as far as the Racial Justice and Government involvement goes I would just say that there is more than one way to read the evidence on that issue. Certainly all the statistics show that the Black family was stronger before the heavy government involvement then it is today. The same holds true for the statistics on Black educational achievement. Also it would be interesting to compare the black incarceration rates of 1950 with the black incarceration rates today.
Here is the kind of thing that I am speaking of,
Dr. Andrew Billingsley confirms Grant’s assessment of the Black family in his book Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (1992). He writes
“For the hundred-year period between the end of slavery and the aftermath of World War II, the structure of African American family life was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. Specifically, the core of the traditional African-American family system has been the nuclear family composed of husband and wife and their own children. Divorce was rare and couples stayed together till the death of a spouse. Children lived with their parents until maturity, then started their own families. As late as 1960 when uneducated Black men could still hold good-paying blue-collar jobs in the industrial sector, married couples headed 78 percent of all Black families with children. By 1970 only 64 percent of African American families with children were headed by married couples. This declined steadily to a minority of 48 percent by 1980; and to 39 percent by 1990 and the trend is likely to continue into the future.”
Now, it might be argued that at least part of the reason for this decline is due to government involvement in the creation of the Welfare State. In its attempt to help the ‘poor’ the unintended blowback (was it really unintended?) was the destruction of the family unit (Blacks suffered disproportionally it seems.). Husbands were no longer needed in the homes as women could raise children with the Federal Government being the daddy. This legislation freed men from family responsibilities giving them more opportunity for criminal activity while allowing a culture of matriarchy to develop.
As I said… Blacks seem to be disproportionally affected by this attempt at ‘racial justice,’ though statistics suggest that this phenomenon has effected all ethnicities.
The problem is that you need biblical citizens in order to have biblical capitalism and we don’t have enough biblical citizens. I’m a realist. We need a system that can deal with people who are sinful and unredeemed. We need a system that can protect the country as a whole from some of the extreme abuses that unbiblical citizens would promote if allowed for the sake of their personal gain.
Your point about the black family in relation to the welfare state is a bit of a red herring. It’s a separate issue. What was necessary was for the government to eradicate “separate, but equal”, eradicate/reform unjust, racist voting laws, and eradicate/reform systems that prevented the black man from gaining access to education, job skills, and political power. The problem was that much of the government itself was structurally racist. Thus the government needed to reform itself.
Good to continue to hear from you.
You hold that ‘we need a system that can deal with people who are sinful and unredeemed.’
Now why would you think that people who are sinful and unredeemed could bring forth a system that wouldn’t itself be sinful and unredeemed? How could a sinful and unredeemed people produce a government that would be noble enough to correct a sinful and unredeemed people? What we need is a system that does not seek to be God walking on the earth which the current Government does. It strikes me that the best system of government for a sinful and unredeemed people would be a non-centralized limited government since such an arrangement would put restrictions on the immense evil that can be done when power is consolidated into one place. Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, after all.
Next you appeal to a system that ‘can protect the country as a whole from some of the extreme abuses that unbiblical citizens would promote if allowed for the sake of their personal gain.’
I can’t help but fine that statement a little humorous. The 20th century was the century that pursued that goal perhaps more then any other century in human history. It was the goal of Italian Fascists, Soviet Communists, German National Socialists, American New Deal Fascism, British Fabian Socialism, and Chinese Communists (to name but just a few) to protect citizens from just those kinds of things you advocate ‘good’ Government should be protecting people from. And yet seemingly you have forgotten that the 20th century, with those benign people helping governments in place was the bloodiest century of human history. Governments govern best when they are, as Thomas Jefferson said, bound down ‘by the chains of the constitution.’
Now if you mean that we need government that practices capital punishment in order to protect people from extreme abuses, I would certainly agree… and maybe that is what you meant.
I am enough of an historian to know that the last thing we want is a government that ‘just wants to help us.’ Indeed, the best way for me to prosper is if the government leaves me alone and decides to go help protect somebody else.
I also don’t agree w/ your last little bit of analysis. It is not a separate issue and it proves perfectly the point that I was making. I don’t think it was the government’s business to involve itself in those cases. I don’t have a problem with separate and equal. Indeed the pursuit of integration has been a complete bust. Also the quota laws, while no doubt well intended, were misguided to begin with and have only hurt the cause of those they were intended to help.
Well, I thank you for interacting and invite you to continue should you so desire.
The Scriptures teach that there are at least three different spheres of sovereignty that should be honored. Civil government is one of those spheres and is to be respected in its proper place. However the story of the 20th century continuing into the 21st is that Civil government has sought to steal God’s sovereignty and conflate all other spheres into its sphere. When it does so it sets itself up as an idol to be worshiped. Christians always resist idolatry.
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Lovely post. I like your pencraft and thatâ€™s great that youâ€™ve opened this subject. Only fool can disagree with this!
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