Sunday, November 13, 2016

Donald J. Trump, and Christians

I would like to start with a disclaimer. I am not a supporter of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I did not vote for either of the candidates in the 2016 election. It is public that I voted for the Constitution Party's candidate, Darrell Castle.

After the election, we see just how divided the nation is. The media, as relentless as it is, is doing its utmost to keep the division ripped wide open, by overemphasizing the various demographics that voted for each candidate, and even calling for states' electorates to disregard the vote and throw the electorate count back to Hillary.

Violent protests and riots rocked cities. College kids took to the streets.

But I am thinking about the state of Christianity in the nation.

Christians were concerned that a Clinton presidency would have a terrible impact on the Church's ability to worship and evangelize. That her presidency would have clamped down on our ability to share Christ outside the walls of our respective churches. The most thoughtful evaluations suggest that Clinton would not have done anything to impede corporate worship... the "Church Service"... but outside the Church, she would have demanded compliance to certain ideologies, even when they fly in the face of the most fundamental Christian principles.

These astute observers were most likely correct. In fact, in most cases, I think their prediction would have been a little too optimistic. Hillary Clinton has already hinted at the need for Christians to loosen their principles in order to accommodate government and social policies that are contrary to Christianity. Ideas she's hinted at in speeches would have come to fruition in her presidency, in my opinion. There is little doubt that Clinton would have been a disaster on religious liberty, especially for fundamentalist Christians who hold a rigid, biblical worldview. See this video.

But, it doesn't really matter. Donald Trump won the presidency.

What does the Church do?

Well, I will begin by saying that, as bad as Clinton is, the way the Church has embraced Donald Trump has been troubling at best. If what I see in my Facebook feed is to be taken at face value, their faith and trust in him flirts with having a serious messiah complex. While I think that Trump's presidency, from what I can tell at this VERY early stage, will result in basically lateral results, and maybe some improvement, in the preservation of our rights to be a genuine Christian in this nation. At the very least, we might be spared some of the hateful rhetoric accusing us of being "mysogynist" because we are pro-life, and believe the lives of those inside the womb are just as precious and sacred as lives lived outside the womb.

But I cannot shake the feeling that, for the overall health of the Church, a Clinton presidency might have been better for the Church.


Simple. For the reasons I stated above. She would have been an opposing force against Christianity.

Historically, from the time of Abraham clear through to the Present Day, it seems God's people are constantly looking for a place of rest and comfort. And when it seems like they are close to achieving this goal, God shakes them up.

Consider Joseph, leading his father Jacob and his brothers into the comforts of Egypt. The purpose was to wait out the remainder of the famine... a mere 7 years. But what happened? They got comfortable. Pharaoh allotted them a parcel of land, called Goshen, for them to make homes in, and they settled in. 400 years, there they sit. The promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, yet sitting on their haunches in the first place they were able to achieve any level of comfort and security.

God knew this wouldn't do. So he sent a Pharaoh that "knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). He essentially enslaved them, and kept them oppressed. He soured the milk of their comfort and security. So when the time came, there was no debate or dissent. They were ready to put Egypt in their rearview mirrors.

This pattern is repeated all throughout history. From Israel under King Saul, to the Babylonian Captivity, King Herod, to the Roman Occupation, to the siege of Jerusalem. Evangelicals can even add the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening, and all the great revivals to their list. All these oppressive times in history accomplished the same thing. A re-alignment of God's people back to where they should be.

It is easy, at least it is for me, to see the corruption in our western church. So much is neglected. Most churches neglect the greatest majority of the biblical precepts. The Church is in a rut. They are locked into a status quo. They have exchanged the genuine glory of God for seeking "feelings". They neglect prophecy and the deeper minutia of theological understanding, in exchange for seeking His "presence". Of course, Christians ought to seek His presence. But I have found out that by "His presence", what most Christians mean is the manufacture of a certain feeling or visceral experience they have come to associate with God's presence. Modern Christianity has, in fact, inherited many of the same attributes as some New Age disciplines, but I will save that for later.

So, what do I think will happen? The Church will remain locked into this status quo. They will continue their lethargic presence in this nation, without any real forward momentum into a deeper, more profound, knowledge of Jesus Christ. As long as Christianity neglects real spiritual warfare, and continually seeks to embrace Hedonism rather than the Asceticism prescribed in Scripture (Matthew 16:24-25), it will remain a pointless entity in western culture.

But if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, maybe things would have been different. The Church would have met genuine resistance. Yes, a Clinton presidency might have culminated into something similar to what China has, a state-sanctioned doctrine that is a dilution of genuine Christianity. True, Christianity might have been driven underground, the way it is in China and Saudi Arabia, where Christians are forced to meet in secret and hold baptisms under the cover of darkness for fear of their lives.

But the Church, just like the Hebrews in Goshen, would have grown spiritually. In Goshen, Pharaoh tried to kill the baby boys. But the Hebrews were literally having them quicker than they could be destroyed (Exodus 1:19). Imagine if Christianity was being oppressed, and we found ourselves in the same scenario... People born again into the Kingdom quicker than the government could respond to the growing influence.

Clinton would have been like Pharaoh. Relentlessly abusive, but ultimately used for God's purposes to bring the Church back into proper alignment. But the Church wanted Trump. Demanded Trump, in some cases.

So if I am right, and that, for the spiritual health of the Church, Clinton and her anti-Christian policies would have been more beneficial, why did God allow Trump to be elected? First, let me reiterate my disclaimer that I did not vote for Hillary Clinton, nor would have I advised any Christian to do so.

But, as has been stated, ad nauseum, on social media... God is in control.

I prayed about this. God led me to 1st Samuel 8. This messiah complex that Christians hold for Donald Trump may very well be the same scenario. We rejected the evil, even though it would have culminated into a spiritually armed and strengthened Church, in favor of our own personal King Saul.

We demanded Trump, the way Israel demanded a King. And even for the same reason. Israel saw corruption in God's way (the corruption of Samuel's sons - 1st Samuel 8:3-5) the way we saw corruption in Hillary Clinton.

And if I heard from God correctly, Trump is God's anointed for this time, just like King Saul, who basically enslaved HIS OWN people (1st Samuel 8:11-18).

I think God intends to show me more on this as Trump's inauguration nears. But I wanted to share what I believe is God's message to me, and hopefully you. The "take-away", as it were.

It's one thing to, with God's help, emancipate yourself from a foreign ruler, the way Israel did to Pharaoh in the Exodus, when it is within the constraints of God ultimate design. It is quite another matter to emancipate yourself from the slave-master you pick for yourself, based on fears of losing freedom, comfort, or security.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Lost Political Ideologies

First off, let me begin by saying that, as a Christian, I recognize every Christian believes their faith aligns with their political beliefs. That is a given, and isn't likely to ever change. And, I will begin by saying that Christ never actually defined a Christian political program. But there were points in His ministry where he encountered governmental policy.

Secondly, I am writing this because so many, especially Republicans, have lost sight as to what the ideologies actually mean.

I will start with liberal political ideology. Liberals generally believe, as society evolves, the role of government should expand to accommodate this role. The problem with this in American society is that we have a Constitutional Republic whose government should be operating within the narrow constraints of the Constitution. Since constant expansion of government requires operation outside these constraints, Liberals tend to embrace a fluid Constitutional interpretation method called "Loose Constructionism" or "Living Constitution".

According to Wikipedia, Loose Constructionism is... "the claim that the Constitution has a dynamic meaning or that it has the properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes. The idea is associated with views that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases." That is the summary of liberal ideology. Times change, and the role government plays in our lives should change, and expand, with it. This is why liberal ideology is often referred to as "progressive" ideology.

Expansion of government, just like the expansion of anything, requires additional resources. It is for this reason that liberals generally push for higher taxes upon its. In fact, the entire economic system of liberals proposes a complete government regulated economy, eventually trending toward Socialism, the economic model embraced by Communism. The closer a society gets to Socialism, the closer that society will be to putting an end to any free-market Capitalistic enterprise, as well as any private property rights. Everything essentially becomes property of the State, and the citizens are basically wards of the State. This is why Liberalism is called a Collective ideology, as it basically nullifies the whole idea of an individual having sovereign rights to their own personhood.

In America, liberal ideology is most commonly represented by the Democratic Party, and more extreme cases are represented by various third parties, like the Green Party or the Communist Party.

Conservative ideology isn't necessarily the polar opposite of liberal ideology. Conservatives believe in the diminished role of government, preferably to its Constitutional restraints as it was originally written and interpreted it by those who framed it centuries ago. Any expansion of government can be accomplished through Constitutional Amendment, and even that is subject to interpretation by the Supreme Court. The passage of a Constitutional Amendment is difficult, facilitating its precise understanding before passage. It is for this reason that Conservatives are often regarded as "Traditionalists", contrary to the Liberal title of "Progressives".

In general, Conservatives embrace Capitalism, and allowing the natural mechanisms of a free-market, to run unimpeded by government intervention. While Liberals claim such a system creates massive income inequality and potential class abuse, Conservatives claim that Capitalism drives innovation, controls market prices, and improves the overall living conditions within any given society wherein it is allowed to work. Conservatives generally allow some regulation of the free-market, to discourage both monopolies and injustices perpetrated upon the working class.

In America's past, the Republican Party used to represent Conservatism. But over the last four to five decades, this has changed profoundly. Traditionally, Democrats embrace the expansion of government, while Republicans embrace Conservative idea of reducing the size of government. Today, government expands under both Democratic and Republican government control. The only measurable difference being, with Republicans, it grows slightly slower.

Conservatism is more nuanced than Liberalism. With Liberalism, it is far simpler to understand because they will always be for more government control, more government regulation, and more government dependency. With Conservatism, there is always the question, if government is too big, how much fat can we trim before it starts affecting society in a negative way?

Take, for example, Social Security. The Social Security Program was part of Lyndon B. Johnson's, a liberal Democrat, "New Deal" programs, which expanded government exponentially. From a "original intent" Constitutional Interpretation, the whole idea of government taking a portion of your wages (without your express consent) and holding the funds (actually using them to fund other government expansions) until you are retirement age, isn't a enumerated power given to the Federal Government by the Constitution. But today, nearly a century later, the mere mention of ending the Social Security programs will be met promptly with howls of anger. Too many people are now reliant upon the government program to ever allow its demise.

That is the Conservative dilemma. Once an expansive government program has been installed, and a portion of the citizenry has become dependent on it, you cannot repeal it without appearing the "bad guy". It doesn't matter if it passes Constitutional muster from a "original intent" standpoint.

So, how does a Conservative reduce government without getting dirty? This is why Republicans have had such a hard time clearly defining a limited-government platform for the last three or four decades.

Libertarians are a different sort. They are usually either anarchist or minarchist. No government, or extreme minimal government. For Libertarians, the choice is clear. The individual takes precedence above the collective. If government is to exist, it isn't to interfere with individuals at all, but to protect individual rights. That is different than protecting individuals. If government properly protects the rights of an individual, the individual can protect themselves. This is why Libertarians are so fond of the Bill of Rights. While most Libertarians disagree on the potency and efficacy of having a Constitution to constrain government, almost all of them see the Bill of Rights as a list of something that should be protected. The Bill of Rights, the right to life, free speech, to bear arms, to private property, to practice, or abstain from practicing, any religion, etc, is natural, paramount, given to us by our Creator, and inalienable. Government, if it exists at all, should only exist to protect these rights. Often Libertarians cite the oath taken by Federally elected officials. They swear to protect and defend the Constitution. Notice, their oath isn't to protect and defend the people, but the Constitution. The Constitution is an ideal.

Of course, most presidents go beyond their oath within a few days of taking it.

Economically, Libertarians embrace Laissez-faire. According to Wikipedia, Laissez-Faire is "an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government interference such as regulations, privileges, tariffs, and subsidies." In other words, a genuinely free-market, where one individual can enter into a contract with another individual without interference.

Libertarians regard taxation as theft, since it is our money taken without our express consent. They also are against the passage of victimless crimes. Libertarians call this the "Non-Agression Axiom". If an activity does not produce a victim, it shouldn't be prohibited. This is why Libertarians are sometimes seen a being proponents of the legalization of recreational drugs and even prostitution. And once our western mindset can get beyond the cognitive-dissonance of legalizing these things, it becomes easy to see why they should be legal. Sex between two consenting adult individuals isn't illegal, why should sex between two consenting adult individuals for money be illegal? Alcohol isn't illegal, why should the use of any recreational drug be illegal?

Libertarians also believe that any government control is a step toward Authoritarianism, more commonly called Statism. The opposite being, of course, Anarchy. Don't let the westernized images of Anarchy you see on television throw you off. Anarchy of the Libertarian type was best summed up by the famous author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", J. R. R. Tolkien, who said, "My political opinions lean more and more toward Anarchy... the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity."

I would suggest other works for further study. For Conservatism, my first recommendation is Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative. For Libertarianism, my first recommendation is Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Forgotten Man

Excerpted from William Graham Sumner's "Forgotten Man", written in 1883 for Harper's Weekly. It eloquently presents the ideas and philosophies that have been completely abandoned by America's modern politicians, but were valued above all things in the 19th century...

"I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator, and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him....

In the definition the word “people” was used for a class or section of the population. It is now asserted that if that section rules, there can be no paternal, that is, undue, government. That doctrine, however, is the very opposite of liberty and contains the most vicious error possible in politics. The truth is that cupidity, selfishness, envy, malice, lust, vindictiveness, are constant vices of human nature. They are not confined to classes or to nations or particular ages of the world. They present themselves in the palace, in the parliament, in the academy, in the church, in the workshop, and in the hovel. They appear in autocracies, theocracies, aristocracies, democracies, and ochlocracies all alike. They change their masks somewhat from age to age and from one form of society to another. All history is only one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellow-men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others and might shift the burdens of life from their own shoulders upon those of others. It is true that, until this time, the proletariat, the mass of mankind, have rarely had the power and they have not made such a record as kings and nobles and priests have made of the abuses they would perpetrate against their fellow-men when they could and dared. But what folly it is to think that vice and passion are limited by classes, that liberty consists only in taking power away from nobles and priests and giving it to artisans and peasants and that these latter will never abuse it! They will abuse it just as all others have done unless they are put under checks and guarantees, and there can be no civil liberty anywhere unless rights are guaranteed against all abuses, as well from proletarians as from generals, aristocrats, and ecclesiastics....

It is plain enough that the Forgotten Man and the Forgotten Woman are the very life and substance of society. They are the ones who ought to be first and always remembered. They are always forgotten by sentimentalists, philanthropists, reformers, enthusiasts, and every description of speculator in sociology, political economy, or political science. If a student of any of these sciences ever comes to understand the position of the Forgotten Man and to appreciate his true value, you will find such student an uncompromising advocate of the strictest scientific thinking on all social topics, and a cold and hard-hearted skeptic towards all artificial schemes of social amelioration. If it is desired to bring about social improvements, bring us a scheme for relieving the Forgotten Man of some of his burdens. He is our productive force which we are wasting. Let us stop wasting his force. Then we shall have a clean and simple gain for the whole society. The Forgotten Man is weighted down with the cost and burden of the schemes for making everybody happy, with the cost of public beneficence, with the support of all the loafers, with the loss of all the economic quackery, with the cost of all the jobs. Let us remember him a little while. Let us take some of the burdens off him. Let us turn our pity on him instead of on the good-for-nothing. It will be only justice to him, and society will greatly gain by it. Why should we not also have the satisfaction of thinking and caring for a little while about the clean, honest, industrious, independent, self-supporting men and women who have not inherited much to make life luxurious for them, but who are doing what they can to get on in the world without begging from anybody, especially since all they want is to be let alone, with good friendship and honest respect. Certainly the philanthropists and sentimentalists have kept our attention for a long time on the nasty, shiftless, criminal, whining, crawling, and good-for-nothing people, as if they alone deserved our attention....

What the Forgotten Man really wants is true liberty. Most of his wrongs and woes come from the fact that there are yet mixed together in our institutions the old mediaeval theories of protection and personal dependence and the modern theories of independence and individual liberty. The consequence is that the people who are clever enough to get into positions of control, measure their own rights by the paternal theory and their own duties by the theory of independent liberty. It follows that the Forgotten Man, who is hard at work at home, has to pay both ways. His rights are measured by the theory of liberty, that is, he has only such as he can conquer. His duties are measured by the paternal theory, that is, he must discharge all which are laid upon him, as is always the fortune of parents. People talk about the paternal theory of government as if it were a very simple thing. Analyze it, however, and you see that in every paternal relation there must be two parties, a parent and a child, and when you speak metaphorically, it makes all the difference in the world who is parent and who is child. Now, since we, the people, are the state, whenever there is any work to be done or expense to be paid, and since the petted classes and the criminals and the jobbers cost and do not pay, it is they who are in the position of the child, and it is the Forgotten Man who is the parent. What the Forgotten Man needs, therefore, is that we come to a clearer understanding of liberty and to a more complete realization of it. Every step which we win in liberty will set the Forgotten Man free from some of his burdens and allow him to use his powers for himself and for the commonwealth."