Category Archives: Politics

Mathematical voting: Was the decision to not vote a vote for Obama?

The position of those on Reformed Inquisitor has been what we call “principled voting”. This is the view that we are to vote according to the admonitions of passages of Scripture like Exodus 18:21:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, etc.

The really really evil guy

Our conclusion has also been that if there are no candidates who fulfill these qualifications, that to abstain from voting is more than advisable.

However, there has been some backlash against principled voters due the failure of the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to gain the electoral college and thus fail to become our new President for 2012. Seeing as there were approximately 3 million voters who did not show up to vote on Election Day in the Republican Party, my guess is that those who are perturbed at Romney’s failure need someone else to blame and so, alas! principled voters (among others) get the fallout.

 

The General Argument Against Principled Voting:

 

1. Your non-vote obviously doesn’t put forward any outcome of success since no perfect people exist (straw-man)

2. By not voting, you rob the less bad guy  (Mitt Romney) of your vote (false assumption)

3. Therefore, your non-vote was a vote for the evil guy (Barack Obama) and therefore evil (invalid inference)

If you simply replaced the information the abstaining from voting with information about voting for a third party, you can see that the argument is both against non-voters and third party voters.

The guy just right of the really really evil guy – at least in picture placement

There are at least three fronts that can combat this sort of argument,

Law of Identity:

First, a non-vote is a non-vote. Those who say a non-vote is a vote for someone else fail to recognize a fundamental law of logic, namely, the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity, simply put, says, “A is A”. Thus, a non-vote is a non-vote (which ought to be self-evident). To say a non-vote is a vote for Obama is to confuse matters. Does my name register on the ballot as a recorded vote for Obama? Clearly not.

False Assumption:

Second, there is an assumption that those who vote for the third party guy (or who do not vote) are potential voters for the less evil guy (Mitt Romney). Of course, this assumption is unwarranted. My personal voting record does not indicate that I am a voter who would support someone with the ideologies and record of a man like Mitt Romney. Thus, I should not be viewed as a potential voter for the lesser of two evils. Further, one could argue that a vote for Obama is the pragmatically better choice. After all, if the religious life, and not just the economic life, of America is put in balance, is not the popularization of of the cult Mormonism a destructive thing? Why should economics take precedence? Also, have Republicans been known to stop the tide of big government or do they not rather perpetuate it? Therefore, the assumption that those who vote third party or not at all are “stealing votes” away from Romney is based on a false premise.

Argumentum Ad Hominem (Devil’s Advocate)

Third, suppose we grant, for the sake of argument, their conclusion. We voted for Obama by not voting at all or by voting third party. So what? If one is not going to adopt a principled approach, on what basis is evil inferred on our part? That Barack Obama is evil? Well, so is Mitt Romney. That Obama will cause more damage? How do we quantify the potential destruction both candidates might bring without being able to know the future? And on what principle do we say that we ought to vote for the guy that is less evil? There is none. These are the questions that the voter of Mitt Romney need to answer, but is actually ill equipped to do so. The reason – which is also the motivation of his criticism of the non-voter and third party voter- is that he has rejected a principled approach. While he rejects the principled approach, he needs it to justify his condemnation of the non-voters and third party voters. Instead, what the Romney voter does is appeal to vague and general terms like “moral choice”. We ought to vote for Romney because it’s the “right thing to do”. Of course, all this is begging the question.

Now, this is not to say that non-votes and third party votes are always the good moral choices. Some third party candidates (Gary Johnson at least and maybe even Virgil Goode of the Constitution party) are aptly put in the category of “evil men” and a vote for them is no better than a vote for the other evil men. Furthermore, non-voting is not always virtuous. If there was, hypothetically, a piece of legislation put forward that would outlaw abortion, it would be immoral not to vote. In this case, silence is sin since we are obligated to support righteousness. But these things are actually all apparent from the premises of our view: we are not advocating third party votes or non-votes per se, but a principled approach which may entail a non-vote or third party vote in many circumstances. But “not voting” or voting third party is not good ipso facto (in and of itself), but rather the following of the admonition of Scripture that is good.

More Objections: Let’s look at the Math!

There are a few objections raised to the principled approach other than the above argument. There have been some attempts to do the business of quantifying the evil of one candidate versus the other. The idea is that we ought to vote for the person that we can mathematically quantify, based on statistics, the evil one candidate might do and pit it against the other really evil guy and what he might do, again, all based on the records of these men and statistics. If, for example, both candidates are pro-abortion, this view would suggest that we ought to vote for the guy where fewer pre-born babies will die even though the candidate is actually perpetuating abortion. Suppose that under Obama 10 million babies are killed and 8 million babies will be killed under Romney. The difference is 2 million babies that you will “save” by your vote for Romney. Some might say, “It’s just math!”

The objection against the principled voter, ironically, is that we are responsible for the death of the 2 million babies because in our “purest theology” (something our ideas keep getting labeled) we voted for the guy that “didn’t have a chance”, or perhaps didn’t vote at all and thus “allowed” 2 million pre-born babies to be murdered.

Let me suggest that this objection and conclusion is based two detrimental ideologies, namely, pragmatism and relativism.

What is Responsibility?

First, there is the notion of blame. Who is to be blamed for the death of 2 million babies? Or, since I am highly questioning the assumptions behind the allegation, we might ask, “Who is responsible for the death of 10 million babies?” What I am asking is for the person who is alleging that we are to blame to give an account for his theological concept of responsibility. Let me give a brief definition of what responsibility is. Responsibility is you being held to account by a higher power. Thus, responsibility implies a law and a Sovereign to hold you to account to that law. One is blame worthy, then, when one has violated a principle of the law. It is incumbent upon those who rail against the non-voter to show how they can be held accountable for the death of 2 million babies, when, in the first place, the motivation of not voting was rooted in the fact that both candidates are pro-abortion!

Math and Situation Ethics:

Let’s look back in history and place ourselves in a concentration camp in Germany under Hitler. You are standing in front of ten Jews who are being lined up for execution. You are standing next to a German officer who is giving you a gun. He tells you that unless you shoot one of them, he will shoot all of them. What do you do? The principled approach would say that you don’t shoot any of them since responsibility and morality are based on God’s absolutes. If you shoot that person, you are a murderer and will be held accountable before God for your action. So also, in our view, if the German officer shoots all of them, he is the murderer, not you. (without getting into too much detail that if you were in such a scenario, you would be obligated to defend said people with your own life since this is the positive implication of the sixth commandment, namely, defense of a third person). But what must the mathematical ethicist say?  Well, surely if you shoot one and nine are spared, you should shoot the one! Actually, even if the math was that if you shot nine and only one would be spared, you should do it. Thus we have relativism and its offspring of situation ethics. Suffice it to say, the theory is antithetical to Christian morality. So let’s return to the “math” of the above objection. The person raising the allegation can only do so on the premises of pragmatism and relativism. Since both are theologically bankrupt and neither of them can supply a rule of morality that can withstand rigorous analysis nor even an imperative, we are better suited to follow the Wisdom of the Law-giver.

One minor note: we can only quantify what we know of the two candidates. Seeing as Romney was never president there is the difficulty of needing to quantify potential deaths. This is virtually impossible. All we know is that Romney was a status quo guy. He was and is pro-abortion.

Some Reasons To Vote Third Party (or not voting at all):

There are some tactical reasons for voting third party besides the moral reasons cited above. This is clearly seen in the 3 million who didn’t vote in this 2012 election and even the one percent that voted Libertarian. What does it tell to the establishment? What kind of message does it tell those who might run in the future? Often we think that compromise always means a compromise towards liberalism. Well, in the case of the 3 million who didn’t vote, the Republicans are going to need to start compromising towards the conservatives. The lack of turnout is a message to the establishment that says, “Hey! You can’t do this without us!” It means that those who run in the future are going to need to show some credentials of conservatism before they are going to be able to take those voters back. If no one ever voted third party and always voted for the moderate candidate that the Republican party puts forward, the message you send is that you are willing to eat whatever they feed you. However, once they are shown that there is a large body of people that they haven’t won over because the absentees are sick of the nonsense, there may very well be candidates who have conservative values who will run because they know they have a fighting chance.

So next time you’re confronted with the pottage of liberalism with the Republican front, vote third party or not at all! There are both moral and political reasons to do so.


Christian Exceptionalism

Does President Obama believe in “American exceptionalism?” This has been a subject of debate between liberals and conservatives for months and will no doubt continue until he is out of office. Conservative pundits on the one hand claim that because the president made a particular statement, and because his policies represent a desire on his part for the country to be socialized like many of our European neighbors,  he cannot possibly believe in American exceptionalism. Liberals on the other hand (yes, the left hand) claim the President does believe in American exceptionalism and has, in fact, employed the phrase in affirmation more than George Bush or even Ronald Reagan [1].

The phrase from the president that has the conservative pundits so outraged (as if they weren’t glad to hear it) comes from the April 4, 2009 press conference in Strasbourg, France when the President was asked if he subscribed “to the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world”. His answer, in part, was as follows:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I am enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world…. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality that, though imperfect, are exceptional.[2]”

What is American exceptionalism? Fundamentally it is the view that America is qualitatively different than other political states. America, because of it’s jurisprudence, moral superiority, economic power, and overall love and defense of liberty (I snicker slightly as I type this),  has the right, and even the duty to dispense this superiority across the globe.

President Obama no doubt equivocated somewhat in answering the question about American exceptionalism, regarding it as some sort of pride or esteem of one’s country and its history, not as a right and duty of America to lead the world.

My goal in writing on this subject, however, is not to take sides on whether President Obama believes in American exceptionalism, and whether he is Satan if he disbelieves it. Rather, as usual, I will use this debate as an occasion to advance my exclusively Christian philosophical agenda.

Though I don’t think this was the President’s intent, he did stumble upon some truth: Every worldview believes in its own superiority. So, indeed, the British believe in British exceptionalism (to the degree they are truly British), likewise the Greeks and the Americans. Even the “love everybody equally, except for  Christians, ’cause they’re haters” crowd, with all of their guise of humility (“I’m not better than you, nor you me”) believe in the superiority of thinking as they do (which is self-refuting on its face, nevertheless, it is their confession).

To the degree that one doubts the superiority or exceptional nature of his own beliefs, to that degree he doubts his own beliefs. If I believe 2+2=4 as truth, I believe it is superior to 2+2=39. If I begin to say 2+2=39 is also true, I am not only denying the superiority of 2+2=4, but denying 2+2=4 altogether because they cannot both be true.

Scripture claims exclusivity to it’s truths. As Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Christ claims to be truth, so that his words are truth:  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” His “words” are not only the audible words he spoke to the Pharisees that day and during his time on earth, but all of Scripture, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) All Christ’s words, all Scripture is truth. In logical form: all a is b. Now, if we combine this truth with Christ’s words, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad,” (Matthew 12:30) we may add to our formula no c is b — c representing anything that is not Christ’s truth — anything that is not Christ‘s truth is not truth at all, but opposed to it. All a is b and no c is b. All Christ’s words are truth, and nothing else is.

Allow me to point out the obvious: this makes Christianity exceptional.  Therefore, America is only exceptional to the degree it practices Christianity in it’s jurisprudence, moral acceptance or rejection of certain practices, in its economics, and in its overall system of liberty. Conversely, to the degree America rejects Christian principles, it becomes not just non-exceptional, but polluted,  poisoned, corrupt and destitute of any goodness. This may be said of any state, any philosophy, and of every person individually.

The wisdom we have must be the wisdom of God — wisdom as God defines it. The knowledge that we have must be the knowledge from God — knowledge as God defines it, or else it is not truly wisdom or knowledge. We are to “cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The wisdom and knowledge we have from Scripture that we receive by the grace of God alone through regeneration of the Sprit, the propitiation of Christ, according to the calling and election of God, is superior to the wisdom and knowledge of the rest of the world which Scripture describes as “foolish.”

So there is no cause to accept in any form the dribbling irrationality of the wicked. Rather we should hate it: “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalms 119:104).  We have the best knowledge, the best wisdom, the only truth; a nation built on these will be exceptional. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” Let‘s act like this is true. May we as Christians proclaim with confidence God’s truth to a people who view it as foolishness.

-Ben Murch

[1] Robert Schlesinger wrote an editorial for U.S.News with the catchy title “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More Than Bush” in which he makes this case.

[2] Full transcript here.


What Is the Separation of Church and State?

Separation of Church and State usually means the State is way up here and the Church. . .

Today, whenever anyone talks about applying God’s law to civil affairs, folks oppose saying there should be “separation of Church and State.” It is true that there should be a separation of Church authority and State authority, which I will address later, however this is not usually what is intended when people say this. Usually what they actually mean is there should be a separation betwixt God and the State. This is utterly false. Not only should God be acknowledged in State affairs, but it is His law which ought to govern the very structure, means for representation, and legislation that the State enforces.

He gave us His model for civil government in the Hebrew Republic, which is contained mostly in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. His word states, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” There is no light in those who do not speak according to the law God gave to the Hebrews. Thus, when we hear civil magistrates speaking things like, “spread the wealth (by taxing the productive to death),” “you can’t legislate morality,” or even “the Constitution is the final authority,” it is an evidence there’s no light in them. How? Because the law of God has something to say, and as a matter of fact, gives us specific rules about taxes, how to administer sanctions, and what system of government we ought to have, but they  ignore it altogether and instead settle for autonomy.

What does God say about taxes? In I Samuel 8:15-17 when Samuel describes the tyranny the Hebrews were going to bring upon themselves by putting a king over them he says,

“And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.” (emphasis added)

This passage, showing how tyrannical Saul was going to be, says he will tax the people 10%, which is the amount God requires from His people. So, if God only requires 10%, what makes the State think they have the right to take more than He?

The Bible gives very clear direction as to how the State should administer sanctions in Exodus 21-23. For example, what ought to be done to thieves? Are they to pay the government for a crime they committed against an individual? Or if

the thief ends up in jail, should the victim be the one paying to keep him fed and jailed? What do the scriptures say?

“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep… for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.  If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. ” (Ex. 22:1, 3, 4).

God’s law says how the State should govern. There should be no separation between God and the State. The Civil magistrate is to be learned in the law of God:

“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: ” (Deut. 17:18-19)

. . . is way down here.

This does not teach a separation between God’s law and the civil magistrate. There should, however, be a separation of Church and State spheres of authority. The Church is not to take upon itself the administration of criminal sanctions; that is the State’s job. The State is not to take upon itself the education of the populace; that is the Church and the Family’s job, nor excommunication, for, that also is the job of the Church. They have their respective spheres of authority, and thus, are “separate” but they are to work together to maintain an equitable society.

-Evan Murch


Why I’d vote For Adolf Hitler: A Satire On Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils

The date is unknown and we are facing election time once again. On the one side towing the conservative line is Congressman Hitler, on the left we have Senator Josef Stalin, and some say somewhere in all of the political fog, Judge Moses has decided to have it out with the two big name politicians. No one takes Moses seriously. He has 0.2 of the population who actually know that he exists, and those are the fools who actually believe voting out of principle is a worthwhile endeavor! At any rate, we have some interesting personages indeed!

Starting with Hitler: He is an excellent charismatic figure and an outstanding Christian man. I have heard him speak in a rather convicting and moving way, indeed, his Christian convictions are evidenced is words like,  “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.“ A lover of truth? A lover of justice? Thank God! We finally found someone who is workable!

Now, I confess, Hitler has some things not going for him. I have heard him speak somewhat vehemently against the Jews and suggest genocide of sorts. He said on one occasion, “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. …Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. …”

This is somewhat of a queer interpretation, but I can’t let petty matters like this cloud my vision when so much is at stake; at least he’s Christian in his genocidal ideas! Congressman Hitler proposes the slaughter of only 6 million Jews for the greater good. Only 6 million, you ask? Of course! It is much better than his rival in politics, Senator Josef Stalin. On the other hand we have the Senator who is definitely the greater of the two evils (after all, Hitler’s a Christian and Stalin’s an atheist). I once heard him say, “Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.” How radical! This man doesn’t just propose 6 million deaths for the greater good; he proposes death as a way of politics. He gave a generous estimate that he is working on a plan to put around 10 million of the people to death. The general populace did not accept the plan very well, and it is thought that he has dropped the idea entirely. However, it was rumored that he mumbled to himself just a week ago, “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” What a morbid and cold individual!

So here we have it: 10 million – 6 million  = 4 million people who will not be killed if we vote for Hitler instead of that diabolical individual, Stalin.  It’s a no brainer!

At this point you may be asking about Judge Moses. He’s talking about the 10 commandments and its application to all areas of life, including the civil government. He patently states that both Hitler and Stalin would be detrimental to the society and that their ideas are insanity and sinful. Wow, that’s all fine and good but he doesn’t have a chance! Would you honestly risk having the possibility that Josef Stalin become the next ruler of the country? That would mean 4 million extra people that will be destroyed just because you wanted to vote for God’s law. How selfish! How naïve! Not to mention Moses dropped out just minutes ago; he decided for health reasons (and age reasons; c’mon, give him a break!) that it was for his better interests not to get involved in the mayhem. It is not an option not to cast your vote; you cannot seriously consider doing that when 4 million lives are at stake. After all, wouldn’t that be abandonment? As a Christian, shouldn’t you be voting for the lesser of two evils, especially when we can be optimistic about Hitler’s Christian values? He’s workable!

Besides, Hitler has a lot going for him: he goes to church, believes in God and is seeking the welfare of the people whereas Stalin is an atheist, power hungry lunatic who thinks people should die just because they are people!

Proverbs 8:12-21:

12  I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
13  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
14  Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
15  By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
16  By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
17  I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
18  Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
19  My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
20  I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
21  That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. (Emphasis added)


Are You A Pragmatist?

Let’s set the record straight and think through some areas of life in a methodological fashion.  Many Christians believe that God works all things after the counsel of His own will. Indeed, that God raises kings and casts down kings; this is the area I seek to address, namely, politics.

A lot of us are good Calvinists. Some of us are Calvinists and wish to be men and women of God’s law. But for some strange reason, we completely neglect applying God’s law to politicians or think that it has little to do with whom we cast our vote for. Even if we are not Calvinists, most are not naïve enough to think rulers are appointed by accident or that God had nothing to do with it. So, let’s set the record straight.

We’re pragmatists, let’s face it. We justify our choice of actions often on the basis that they are the “lesser of two evils”. While we are vigilant not to allow this to happen in our individual lives, it is most evident in our politics. Sure, we may try to live an individually pious life, go to church, and even seek to live according to God’s law in our business, our family, but we have our idol. We need to have that one area of life where we feign lordship and original authority over and this we are most comfortable with when we cast our vote or examine a candidate for some civil position. So let’s look at the excuses we use:

 “We need to vote for the lesser of two evils, otherwise we are responsible for what the greater of the two evils does”

You’ve heard this before. Heck, you may have even said it to one of your neighbors before (Although, probably not as awkward sounding as the way I phrased it!). But let’s ask this question to stimulate the synapses: who makes us responsible for our actions? Of course, God does. But how do we get the knowledge that we are responsible for a given course of action? By God revelation through His law. So, the fundamental question to ask is where does God command that we vote for the lesser of two evils? At this point your mind is racing. Perhaps you thought it was common sense that we are to vote for the lesser of two evils and just assumed it was something God commands of us. Common sense, however, is rarely common and even less sensical.

 “I want to stop the spread of evil, so I will make sure Evil-man-X is not elected and lesser-Evil-man(or woman)-Y is!”

This was an unfair way to phrase the reason for voting for the lesser of two evils. But let’s be real: we are calling it the lesser of two evils! We are freely granting that our course of action is a vote for evil. But we justify it by bringing to mind all the evil that won’t happen if the eviler (It’s not a word, I know) guy doesn’t get elected. Pragmatism 101. Definition of pragmatism: a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories. Now, I would even dispute that such reasoning is indeed logical or reasonable, but the point is that it is not based on principles; it is based on what one believes the outcome will be.

The Scriptures do indeed tell us to prevent evil, but it is always with the prior understanding that we are making positive actions of righteousness, not actions that are the lesser evil (which is still evil). God judged the people of Israel for wanting a king that was like the pagan kings, and God gave them what they wanted (See 1Samuel 8). I fear we are getting what we are asking for by casting our vote for a man we know to be a reprobate. We are asking water out of a rock if we expect righteousness to rule the land with such ideas.

Often we think of politics as a grey area where things are dealt with pragmatically

There is a disturbing trend in the thinking of those who want the lesser of two evils in a civil position, and it is that of atheism. At this point you think I am off my rocker. You’re a Christian, after all! You read your Bible perhaps hours in the day. You pray. You go to church and are an active member. You disdain evil in yourself, your family and the culture. But still, I say, you have succumbed to atheism in your thought For, although you are keen on God’s commands and God’s providence in your life in all things, you have thought like a person who sees the world run by chance in your politics. You have seen pragmatism as carrying more weight than faithfulness to your God. Suppose, indeed, the lesser of two evils gets elected. You think you will be the better off for your action. But is there not a God in heaven? When you cast your vote for a candidate and know of his godless ethics, his godless morals and his godless starting point in his thinking, namely, humanism, you are responsible for what he does. You put him there in that position of power. You said, “let this man reign over us!” But is there not a God in Heaven who will judge your course of action? Here’s a brief sampling from proverbs about a ruler:

Proverbs 29:2  When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Proverbs 30:4  The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

Proverbs 20:26  A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

Proverbs 25:5  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

Proverbs 29:12  If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

Proverbs 28:15  As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

What’s the point? If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you put that wicked ruler into power. You think like an atheist if you think all is going proceed in joy and bliss because the guy who was more wicked than the one you voted for is not in office. Here’s the catch: whereas you might have a reason to expect God’s blessing if you voted for a righteous man (Based on God’s covenant promises, especially found in Deuteronomy 28), the only thing you should expect for voting for an ungodly man is chastisement (See again Deuteronomy 28).

You see, the lesser of two evils argument is predicated upon a system where God is not the judge of Heaven and earth. Where things happen by chance; where one guy has “more of a chance” than the other guy. Where voting for evil actually stems the tide of wickedness instead of increasing it! This only can be if God is not Sovereign and where He does not the Judge of the universe.

So, are you a pragmatist?

– Jesse Murch


Morality, Neutrality, Law, and Reformed Theology

Photo by steakpinball, flickr.comWith Congress in session we’re hearing many liberal proponents peddling phrases such as, “Laws are to be morally neutral and objective” or “You cannot legislate morality.” These statements (and many others like them couched in various forms, but always with the utmost vehemence) have been used to defend a variety of  governmental funding  and legislation, as well as to avoid legislation with particular moral implications.

I recently heard an argument intended to defend the federal funding of Planed Parenthood that went something like this: It costs $x00 (Some figure in the hundreds) to have an abortion, and it costs $x,000 (Some figure in the thousands; the exact number varies) for a child to be born in the hospital. It’s less expensive to abort a child than for him to be born. Therefore, if we were objective in our funding and legislation we would see the great benefit in funding organizations such as Planned Parenthood which provides abortions (the person making the argument claimed to be “personally pro-life” to demonstrate, no doubt, just how objective she is).

Now, the puerility and ignorance of such an argument runs so deep it would take too long to refute in total. But I do like to take such arguments as soapbox opportunities to push my agenda of Reformation thinking, so I will address the overarching idea of moral neutrality in legislation.

Because this is a soapbox opportunity I’m going to jump right in with some broad sweeping universals: All laws are moral in nature. All morals require a system of thought. All systems of thought are religious in nature.  All religions have a god. No liberal will recognize this. No neo-con will dare be this dogmatic or even shake hands with those who are.

Concerning my first dogmatic statement: How are all laws moral is nature? Because, morality concerns itself with what is right or wrong. And law[1], at the very least, even according  to the most liberal, concerns itself with the social well being (or good) of society. Combine these two truths and you’ve just admitted that law is very much concerned with morality . Romans 1:3-4 is very clear on this, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Laws do not make one moral, only the regenerating power of God does that, but they do restrain moral evils.

So, all laws are moral in nature. But couldn’t there be some morals that are neutral? This leads us to my second broad sweeping universal: all morals require a system of thought. There is no neutrality in thought. All thoughts spring forth from presuppositions (I know, more universals. For more on this read No Matter What You Think You’re a Presuppositionalist). From these presuppositions we deduce logically subsequent propositions. The collection of these propositions is a system of thought. This makes a person’s propositions or ideas only as strong as his starting presupposition. A person who doesn’t have a system but just one presupposition after another not rooted in any foundational principle is not only arbitrary, but untenable. One who claims it is good to save the trees must have an answer as to why. If they have an answer they have a starting principle (and thus, a system of thought). If they don’t have an answer, there is no reason to believe them.

Religion is simply a system of beliefs that worship and serve a being (anything, whether nature, an object of nature, the human ego, or the Triune Godhead). The being worshiped and served is the god of that system. Even the most liberal of individuals then who passionately oppose morals in legislation are just as religious as the Christian. Their religion has a different god with a different system of thought and different morals and thus, they desire different laws, but it is no less religious. To claim moral neutrality is simply to be dishonest or uncertain as to your religion.

Battles over legislation are religious battles. Religious battles are not as antiquated as one may think. When we push for or support legislation or support a congressman or senator as Christians (especially as Reformed) we must be sure what we are supporting is the religion of Christ and not some other religion. Is the law founded on Christ and His Word, or is it founded on some other god? Have you opted for the myth that there are neutral laws? Christ is sovereign over all things. Let us leave nothing for the rule of another god.

-Ben Murch

End notes:

[1] Every mention of law in this article is in reference to civil law.


Should We Go Back to the Founders?

 

No group of fallen men can come up with any real standard for law.

When seeking to solve the many problems of our day the republican talking heads, ‘tea party’ folk, as well as many of your average conservatives tell us repeatedly to “go back to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution” to reestablish a just and economically stable society. They encourage us to do so because many of the Founders were brilliant men who knew a great deal about politics and government, and because they were the ones that more or less conceived this nation. They were certainly great men. But a contract written by these men (or any group of men) cannot be the ultimate standard for law; as we shall see.

The Founders were greatly influenced by the Enlightenment period of the 18th century. The Enlightenment was a repudiation of Religion, and resulted in an embracing of atheistic, Unitarian, and deistic ideologies as well as a return to ancient pagan Greek philosophies. And with that “enlightenment” returned the Greek idea of “Natural law” [1]. We can see its influence in the opening paragraph of the United States’ Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” (Emphasis added.)

“Natural law” is the idea that man can attain to a law/standard by,

a) By following his conscience/common sense, or

b) By digging deep into the recesses of one’s own noggin. (Which as a system is called Rationalism [2])

Examples:

“Morals are too essential to the happiness of man to be risked on the uncertain combinations of the head. She [Nature] laid their foundation therefore in sentiment…” –Thomas Jefferson [3]

“My own mind is my own church.” –Thomas Paine [4]

“To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions, and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man.” –John Locke [5]

Is this “Natural law” idea legitimate? First, we must note that you can never come to an “ought” from what “is” which is what this philosophy tries to do. For the reader who doesn’t know the difference between is and ought, we will consider the difficulties of deriving norms (or what ought be) from nature (what is). What if I have a “natural” feeling that since Mr. X really ticked me off, it should be legal for me to murder him, should it be? But his intuition tells him that it should be illegal for me to murder him. Whose intuition, or “natural law” do we go by?

 

Enlightenment thinker, Francis Hutcheson

Or, should we follow the arbitrary brilliance of the Enlightenment thinker, Francis Hutcheson, who thought, “that action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.”? [6] What is “the greatest happiness”? Happiness is not a measurable thing; how can you determine which is “more” happiness, really great happiness that lasts for a moment, or moderate happiness that lasts a lifetime? Or what if my happiness comes by murdering Mr. X? Natural law is a failure, and can never be the foundation of a society.

However, the Founders were also greatly influenced by the early Puritans and men of the Protestant Reformation, like John Calvin and John Knox who recognized the Word of God was the only rule for the church, family, and civil government; (a principle commonly called sola Scriptura) as Paul states in II Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (see also, Colossians 2:3-8, Isaiah 8:20, & John 10:35).

The Founders, having been greatly influenced by both the Puritans and the Enlightenment decided to blend Biblical Law with “Natural law”, which is like blending your steak with excrement, or your wine with urine. This has defiled our whole law-system.

Why should we to go back to the Founders in the 18th century as most “conservatives” tell us? Why don’t we go back further, i.e., to Biblical Law: the Puritans, and the Protestant Reformation, which sought to apply that Law? Because our current government is like undiluted urine it seems most conservatives in our day are content to settle with their half wine blend.

– Evan Murch

Footnotes:

[1] This idea is seen in the work of  Sophocles, Oedipus the King.

[2] See Biblical View of Knowledge, Part 3: https://reformedinquisitor.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/the-christian-view-of-knowledge-part-3-rationalism/).

[3] Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826, Author of the Declaration of Independence, in Writings, p. 874 (1786)

[4] Thomas Paine 1737–1809, Opening pages of his book, Age of Reason (1794)

[5] John Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 2.

[6] Francis Hutcheson 1694-1746, Scottish philosopher in Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and Evil, sec. 3 (1725)

Mom’s Apple Cake 6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples 1 tablespoon cinnamon 5 tablespoons sugar 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup vegetable oil 2 cups sugar 1/4 cup orange juice 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 4 eggs 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.