The Idea of America and Why it Matters

The American Idea:

What It Is, Why It Matters, and Why It Is in Jeopardy

By Ben Sasse, Ph.D.

We face great challenges at this moment in history. We face cyber threats. We face a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin. We face a jihadi threat. We face the growing threat of non-state actors, who now can carry out massive attacks and are as able to play on the global stage as state actors. We face the exploding costs of our entitlement programs.

All these challenges are acute, but another dangerous trend is attracting less notice: the crisis of confidence in, and the growing unawareness of, the American idea.

What is the American idea? The American Founding made the bold claim that most peoples and most governments in the history of the world had been wrong about the nature of power and the nature of freedom. Sure, there had been moments in history when certain city-states advanced some conception of liberty. But most people in human history had said that might makes right: if you have a monopoly on power, you can do what you want. Everyone else in those societies was not a citizen but a dependent subject. If you lived in such a society, you needed the king to give you rights. The passive assumption was prohibition. The passive assumption was that if I want to start a business, I need a charter, because it’s illegal to run that business unless the king has sanctioned it. So, I go and supplicate before the king in his court, and he decides whether to give me the right to start that business.

Today we would say that’s bizarre. The voluntary transaction between two people is the very nature of freedom. The American Founders saw that denying people their freedom is fundamentally wrong because it doesn’t comport with the dignity of people who are created in the image of God. People have been endowed with certain inalienable rights. God gives us those rights; government does not.

Government is merely a tool. It provides a framework for ordered liberty so that free people can live fully flowering lives.

This is why Ronald Reagan said that the American Founders “brought about the only true revolution that has ever taken place in man’s history.” Previous revolutions “simply exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers,” Reagan said. But America’s Founders did something different: they developed and fought for “the idea that you and I have within ourselves the God-given right and the ability to determine our own destiny.”

Think about how the framers of the Constitution wrestled with whether to enumerate any rights. What’s the danger in enumerating rights? Your list will never be long enough. The Constitution actually doesn’t define any rights because the Constitution is the way that we give the government limited authority. All the powers that we don’t give to the government are rights that we still retain. Even when the framers came up with the first ten amendments to the Constitution as a Bill of Rights, they couldn’t decide on any one individual right to list first. They had to list five things in the First Amendment: religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to redress grievances. Those five freedoms are all listed as first freedoms because there’s no way you can get the list complete.

And that is a crucial point to understand whenever you hear discussions of “limited government.” We talk about limited government not because we’re obsessed with government; we talk about it because we’re obsessed with the maximal nature of human freedom and human dignity and human potential. The American experience with limited government is not about government. It’s about people—about the dignity and the full lives that God envisioned for people created in his image. Limited government is just a means to that end.

That’s the American idea. And it has had unbelievable results.

America’s Civil Society

Even after the United States won independence from Great Britain, Europeans were too distracted by their own issues—the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and so on—to take much notice of the Americans. In fact, not until the conclusion of the War of 1812 did it become clear to Europe that the Americans would retain their freedom.

Then, beginning in the 1820s, America embarked on a market revolution as well as transportation and engineering revolutions. This is when Europeans really began to take notice: Who are these people, and how is all this economic flowering happening over there?

Alexis de Tocqueville comes to the new world in 1831 to try to answer such questions, to explain American dynamism to Europeans. What does he do? He goes to Washington, D.C., because if you have a vibrant society, it must be because you have greater bureaucrats than anyone else.

But when Tocqueville arrives in Washington, he finds a swamp. So he realizes he must go elsewhere to find the source of American innovation. He spends nine months traveling up and down the United States. Finally he writes back to Europe and says, I found the meaning of America. It is . . . the Rotary Club.

What Tocqueville found was America’s communal life. Americans had discovered new ways to associate with one another. Europeans wondered, how can you ever take on shared projects if the government isn’t in charge? Tocqueville saw that Americans had found the answer by building a robust civil society—intermediating institutions that struck the balance between the extremes of collectivism, which means that the government is in charge, and isolated individualism.

That’s what Democracy in America is about: the volunteer spirit of Americans who came together to create communal life. The American dynamism of the 1830s was just a working out of an idea that was clear to those who were drafting the Constitution a half century earlier, and that should still be our idea today.

The American Idea in Peril

But now that idea, the American idea, is in peril. Ronald Reagan recognized the importance—and the fragility—of the American idea when he said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed down for them to do the same.”

Today we’re not doing a good job of fighting for or handing down the American idea. Think of President Barack Obama’s response when asked whether he believed in American exceptionalism: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” This is exactly the opposite of what American exceptionalism means.

Obama’s misunderstanding of American exceptionalism was deeply wedded with the philosophy that the Democratic National Committee followed throughout the 2012 election. The videos used to introduce the president on the campaign trail and celebrate his first term featured a troubling line from then-congressman Barney Frank: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” That is an abandonment of the core American understanding of what government is. Remember, government is the tool by which we create a framework for ordered liberty; it guards the natural liberties of the people so they can go out and build flourishing lives.

That flourishing rests, of course, on individual rights, but as Tocqueville saw, individualism alone is not the answer. The American idea of freedom centers on civil society and mediating institutions, all those ways that we form real communities—communities of the heart and communities of the soul; communities of voluntarism, not of compulsory institutions.

We often hear that politics has become too polarized, and that characterization is a fair one when it comes to political elites and the nationally attentive. But I think our more fundamental crisis is a crisis of disengagement. We have so many people who have little understanding of what it means to transmit republican ideals to the next generation that we now see a drift toward the assumption that it is the government’s job is to solve every problem. The framers of the Constitution were quite clear about what governments do and don’t do, and about what powers and responsibilities reside at the federal level versus the state and local levels. But as a people we have lost that clarity.

Government is not “the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” No, as the Founders and Alexis de Tocqueville would have recognized, it is in coming together in voluntary communities outside the sphere of government—in civil society—that we get things done together.

We have big battles to fight to persuade people that the American idea is in crisis, because so many of our fellow citizens have never even heard what it is. To say that the solution to virtually every problem is a government solution, and especially a federal government solution, represents a regression from the American idea. The true greatness of America is the ability of people to build institutions together and to fully flower.

In the economy, in higher education, and in so many other fields, what we need at this moment is more innovation. We need more entrepreneurs. We need more civil society. We need more striving for independence, not more homogenization and standardization. We need to preserve and enhance the communities that have made America great, not seek to become more European in the way we embrace the future.

The full flowering of America has always depended on the private sector. The private sector isn’t just for-profit entities; the private sector includes all of civil society, all those mediating institutions that have defined Tocquevillian American greatness for two centuries.

*****

Ben Sasse is a United States Senator representing Nebraska. Before his election to the Senate in 2014, he served as president of Midland University, where he turned around a failing institution and made it one of the fastest-growing colleges in America. Senator Sasse holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, and a PhD from Yale.

From the Intercollegiate Review; See more at: https://home.isi.org/american-idea-what-it-why-it-matters-and-why-it-jeopardy#sthash.cgjXa6HF.dpuf

 

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What if Trump and Clinton Traded Places?

Academics Surprised by Restaged Clinton/Trump Debate

by John Sexton

Edited by Gospelbbq

This is fascinating. A professor of economics named Maria Guadalupe was watching the presidential debates last year and had a thought. What if Trump were a woman and Hillary were a man? How would that change people’s perceptions of the exchanges in the debates?

With the help of Joe Salvatore, a professor who specializes in something called ethno-drama, Guadalupe set up a recreation of sections of the original debates using actors to play the roles of Trump, Clinton and the moderator. All the words the actors spoke were taken from transcripts. The candidates’ body language and delivery were studied and the actors did their best to match it moment-to-moment to video feeds from the actual debates. The only difference was that Donald Trump was now a woman renamed Brenda King while Hillary was now a man dubbed Jonathan Gordon. A third actor played the moderator in the debates.” So they weren’t named Hillary and Trump. They were given totally different names, but the words uttered were identical — they were verbatim — except a woman played Trump and uttered what he had said and a man played Hillary and uttered what she said. And what they hoped to demonstrate was that the outrageousness and the folly and the stupidity of the things Trump said, those things, as spoken by a woman, would have seen him lose.  They wanted to establish that the reason Hillary lost was that she was a woman. “Gender bias.”  And so they actually hired actors who studied the debate, the exact lines, even the mannerisms, and then they reenacted the debates.

Initially, both Guadalupe and Salvatore had little doubt what the experiment would reveal, i.e. Trump’s behavior would never be tolerated coming from a woman while Clinton’s competence would be even more obvious coming from a man. But as rehearsals for the performance of the reimagined debates went on, Guadalupe and Salvatore were surprised by what they were feeling about the two candidates. It turned out the woman version of Trump seemed more likable than they had imagined. Salvatore told Guadalupe during rehearsals, “I kind of want to have a beer with her!”

As Rush noted, “They expected to demonstrate that the only reason Hillary lost was because of sexism. They wanted to demonstrate that, if a man had said what Hillary Clinton said, he would have won in a landslide. That a woman was uttering what Trump said was probably irrelevant to their experiment but they had to do it in order to complete the project. But the focus obviously was on trying to demonstrate (’cause it’s called “Her Opponent”) that what did-Hillary-in was this archaic, patriarchal, corrupt American society that values men and denigrates women.”

They wanted to prove it by having what Hillary said — which they thought was brilliant and relevant and sensitive. If a man said those things, he would have won in a landslide. And it turned out that they were as wrong as they could have been. They expected the audience — and the audience, by the way, was made up of people from the West Village in New York City. You can’t get more hardcore liberal than that. I mean, not even if you go to the Upper West Side.”  (Comment from rushlimbaugh.com)

When the debate was actually performed, for a crowd of mostly academics, the audience was somewhat bewildered. From NYU News:

The two sold-out performances of Her Opponent took place on the night of Saturday, January 28, just a week after President Trump’s inauguration and the ensuing Women’s March on Washington…

Many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon what they had admired in Hillary Clinton—or that Brenda King’s clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out. For those Clinton voters trying to make sense of the loss, it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered.

In an interview with NYU News, Joe Salvatore described some of the specific reactions he heard from the audience:

We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she said was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it.

Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you.

Salvatore says it was personally an education for him as many members of his extended family had voted for Trump. “I developed empathy for people who voted for him by doing this project, which is not what I was expecting,” he told NYU News. He added, “I expected it to make me more angry at them, but it gave me an understanding of what they might have heard or experienced when he spoke.”

*****

Article from:

http://nyu.edu

http://rushlimbaugh.com

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The Pastors of Early America

America’s Exceptionalism:

How Christian Pastors Helped Mold America

By Roger Anghis

The Pastors

 It is very necessary that we discuss, and I believe in detail, the pastors of early America and especially during the time of the Founders.  These were the men that fanned the flame of independence by preaching the principles of Christianity.  Historian B.F. Morris stated: The ministers of the Revolution were, like their Puritan predecessors, bold and fearless in the cause of their country. No class of men contributed more to carry forward the Revolution and to achieve our independence than did the ministers. . . [B]y their prayers, patriotic sermons, and services [they] rendered the highest assistance to the civil government, the army, and the country.1 Alice Baldwin went one step further when she stated: The Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit.2 (Emphasis added)

These pastors were more than simple people who gave a cute sermon on Sunday mornings.  They were the leaders of the community.  They were the teachers. They carried so much influence in the community that the British labeled them The Black Regiment for the color of the robes that they wore.3 The British even blamed these pastors for the war for independence4 and probably rightfully so as all the rights declared in the Declaration of Independence had been preached from the pulpits of America from long before 1763.5

This fact was also very well known in America as well.  John Adams stated that “the pulpits have thundered”6 and he even talked about some of the ministers that he believed were “characters the most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential” in the “awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings” that fanned the flames for American independence.7

Many believed that it was solely the part of the pastors that started and finished the fight.   Historian Clinton Rossiter stated: Had ministers been the only spokesman of the rebellion – had Jefferson, the Adamses, and [James] Otis never appeared in print – the political thought of the Revolution would have followed almost exactly the same line. . . In the sermons of the patriot ministers . . . we find expressed every possibly refinement of the reigning political faith.8 The American Quarterly Register wrote: As a body of men, the clergy were pre-eminent in their attachment to liberty. The pulpits of the land rang with the notes of freedom.9

These men were men of honor and integrity.  They preached that Christians should live in the fullness of God’s Word.  There were sermons on the deity of Christ, on Christmas, on Easter, but there were also sermons on other varied topics that you would not hear preached today such as sermons on bridges [architecture], earthquakes, taxes, elections, even executions.  Whatever was in the forefront of the people’s daily lives, the pastors would address it from a Biblical perspective.   They were always out front in the fight for freedom.  They helped write state constitutions, were the founders of most of our colleges and universities such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia [Kings College], Princeton, William and Mary, Dartmouth, and Rutgers University.  By 1860 there were 246 colleges founded and all but 17 were founded by different religious denominations.  They were the ones taking care of the wounded in battle and even served in state legislatures and Congress

These pastors were very astute concerning God-given rights and would be very vocal about any attempt of government to encroach in those areas.  They were vocal on things that involved liberty and freedoms and taught constantly about resisting any form of tyranny. Church historian Charles Galloway regarded the pastors of the Founding era to be the pillars of the community.  He declared: Mighty men they were, of iron nerve and strong hand and unblanched cheek and heart of flame. God needed not reeds shaken by the wind, not men clothed in soft raiment [Matthew 11:7-8], but heroes of hardihood and lofty courage. . . And such were the sons of the mighty who responded to the Divine call.10

These pastors were not out of the ordinary, something that just appeared on the scene just before the revolution.  They were doing what pastors had been doing for the almost one hundred and fifty years before the revolution.

Virginia began to be settled in 1606 and included several ministers such as Revs. Robert Hunt, Richard Burke, William Mease, Alexander Whitaker, and many others.  By 1619 they had formed the Virginia House of Burgess which consisted of elected people from the families of the ‘common’ people.11 This was a new concept in the world at that time.  That new legislature was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Bucke in the Jamestown church.12 Isn’t it interesting that in a nation that the revisionists say was founded by atheists the first government meeting was held in a church and opened with the blessing of the local pastor?13

The pastor of the 1620 pilgrims in Massachusetts, John Robinson, instructed the people to elect leaders who would seek the ‘common good’ of the people and eliminate special privileges and status between governors and the governed.14 This was also a new concept in that day.  They took the concept of electing the people in authority over them and giving them only the powers over the people that the people wanted to give them to a different level by establishing America’s first citizen Bill of Rights in 1636.15

The election of leaders giving them only the power the people wanted them to have become the norm for the Colonies.  When the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1630 they established a representative style government which elected officials every year16 and by 1641 had established their Bill of Rights called the Bill of Liberties.17 This Bill of Liberties was drafted by their minister Reverend Nathanial Ward.18

In 1636 four pastors founded Connecticut, Rev. Thomas Hooker, Revs. Samuel Stone, John Davenport, and Theophilus Eaton19 and the government they established was a representative style government20 based on the Biblical examples set forth in Deuteronomy 1:13.  Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.21 And 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:22

Rhode Island was founded in 1636 by a minister as well.  Reverend Roger Williams also established the representative style government23 based on the idea that “the sovereign, original, and foundation of civil power lies in the people.”24

We will see that Colony after Colony had their governments designed and established by the pastors.

*****

Article from ipatriot. http://ipatriot.com/americas-exceptionalism-christian-pastors-helped-mold-america/

End Notes 

  1. Benjamin Franklin Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), pp. 334-335.
  2. Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1958), p. 134.
  3. Boston Gazette, December 7, 1772, article by “Israelite,” and Boston Weekly Newsletter, January 11, 1776, article by Peter Oliver, British official. See also Peter Oliver, Peter Oliver’s Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion, Douglas Adair and John A. Schutz, editors (San Marino California: The Huntington Library, 1961), pp. 29, 41-45; Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962), p. 334; and Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958), pp. 98, 155.
  4. Alpheus Packard, “Nationality,” Bibliotheca Sacra and American Biblical Repository (London: Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1856), Vol. XIII p.193, Article VI. See also Benjamin Franklin Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), pp. 334-335.
  5. Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958), p. 170.
  6. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. III, p. 476, “The Earl of Clarendon to William Pym,” January 20, 1766.
  7. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1850), Vol. X, p. 284, to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818. See also John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1856), Vol. X, pp. 271-272, letter to William Wirt, January 5, 1818.
  8. Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953), pp. 328-329.
  9. “History of Revivals of Religion, From the Settlement of the Country to the Present Time,” The American Quarterly Register, (Boston: Perkins and Marvin, 1833) Vol. 5, p. 217. See also Benjamin Franklin Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), pp. 334-335.
  10. Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), p. 77.
  11. Colonial National Historical Park, “The First Legislative Assembly at Jamestown, Virginia,” National Park Service (at: http://www.nps.gov/archive/colo/Jthanout/1stASSLY.html) (accessed on September 24, 2010).
  12. Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), pp. 1131-114; John Fiske, Civil Government in the United States Considered with some Reference to Its Origins (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1890), p. 146.
  13. Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), p. 114.
  14. Old South Leaflets, (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work), p. 372, “Words of John Robinson (1620)”; “John Robinson’s Farewell Letter to the Pilgrims, July 22, 1620,” Pilgrim Hall Museum, July 22, 1620 (at: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/RobinsonLetter.htm).
  15. “Plymouth Colony Legal Structure,” Plymouth Colony Archive Project (at: http://etext.virginia.edu/users/deetz/Plymouth/ccflaw.html) (accessed on September 24, 2010).
  16. Henry William Elson, History of the United States of America, (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1904), Ch. IV, pp. 103-111. See also “Massachusetts Bay,” History of the USA (at: http://www.usahistory.info/New-England/Massachusetts.html) (accessed on September 30, 2010).
  17. “Plymouth Colony Legal Structure,” Plymouth Colony Archive Project (at: http://etext.virginia.edu/users/deetz/Plymouth/ccflaw.html) (accessed on September 30, 2010).
  18. George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1858), Vol. I, p. 416-417; Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), pp. 124-125; Old South Leaflets, (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work), p. 261-280, “The Body of Liberties: The Liberties of the Massachusetts Colonies in New England, 1641.”
  19. “Connecticut to 1763,” Connecticut’s Heritage Gateway (at: http://www.ctheritage.org/encyclopedia/ctto1763/overviewctto1763.htm) (accessed on September 30, 2010).
  20. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws, Francis Newton Thorpe, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909), Vol. 1, p. 534, “Charter of Connecticut-1662.”
  21. The Holy Bible: King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. Dt 1:13.
  22. The Holy Bible: King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. Ex 18:21.
  23. “Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” The Avalon Project, July 15, 1663 (at: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/ri04.asp).
  24. Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958), p. 27 quoting Roger Williams’ The Bloody Tenet, p. 137, quoted by Isaac Backus, Church History of New England, I. 62 of 1839.

 

 

 

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What Would a Biblical Society Look Like Today?

“What a Theonomic Society Would Look Like”

by Dr. Joel McDurmon

Life and Liberty

Life would have its utmost protection in a theonomic state. It would be protected both by the state and from the state. Murderers would be executed (Ex. 21:12–14, 18–25; Lev. 24:17, 19–22).  Children in the womb would be protected as living persons. Anyone causing injury to an unborn child would be liable for damages (Ex. 21:22–25). Anyone willfully or through criminal negligence causing the death of an unborn child would be considered a murderer and subject to the death penalty. Abortion would, therefore, be strictly outlawed.

People would be strictly liable for the safety of others on their property. Those found negligent would be strictly liable for damages up to and including criminal negligence for life (Ex. 21:29–36; Deut. 22:8). Pets or livestock known to be a threat to life must be controlled as such. If one should cause injury, damages, or death, the owner could be held liable for all damages up to the death penalty (Ex. 21:29–30). The principle of liability in general, and for life in particular, certainly would extend to factory conditions, workplaces, businesses open to the public, machinery, and more.

Under biblical law, freedom is an aspect of life. While a rehabilitaional form of servitude would exist, the type of chattel (ownership) slavery practiced in the American South would never have existed. Kidnapping, human trafficking, and slave trading all would be punishable by death (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7). Likewise, terrorists, hijackers, all hostage-takers, and carjackers who hold people against their will. The slave traders of the Old South (and other places) would have been executed for their crimes. Likewise, the Fugitive Slave Act would never have been allowed. Slaves escaped from unbiblical jurisdictions would never be returned to their enslavers, but given refuge, freedom, and protection of law, and treated like every other citizen (Deut. 23:15–16). Refugees of war or tyranny would receive similar protections.

By these same life-freedom laws, citizens and families would be protected from the state itself. Government agents who seize children from parents, or who otherwise make false arrests or false imprisonments, could be held liable under laws against kidnapping. Police abuse would disappear as such accountability increased. The privacy of the home would be inviolate (Deut. 24:10–11). A man’s home is his castle, and the castle doctrine would return to its earlier strength, uncompromised by loopholes created by the Supreme Court.

Further, life is protected against malicious witness and fraudulent prosecution. Corrupt individuals who wish to harm others under the color of law will nevertheless meet several hindrances. Two or three witness are required to bring any conviction (Deut. 17:6; 19:15). Upon any conviction, the accusers themselves must be the first among parties to an execution (Deut. 13:9; 17:7). Malicious witnesses, however, when discovered, will receive for themselves whatever penalty they wished to execute upon the falsely accused, up to the death penalty (Deut. 19:16–21). This would create a powerful deterrent, which is non-existent today, against false accusations and false prosecutions. Government officials will be held to the same standards as everyone else. Prosecutorial and police immunities would be greatly curtailed if not eliminated.

The laws of warfare maximize the protection of life even during the tragic event of war. Standing armies and military drafts are outlawed. Militias could only be mustered in response to an imminent threat or attack from an enemy. The law provides several exceptions to militia service, including an exception for those who are merely fearful. Anyone perceiving any particular cause to be unjust, and thus anticipating God’s judgment, could decline to serve. This and all other exceptions would not only save conscientious and innocent lives, but would discourage unjust wars. Such conscientious objection would also be considered socially acceptable and even laudable. Only after briefing and allowance for these exceptions would officers be appointed. War proceeds first with attempts at negotiation for peace. If the aggressor refuses peace, war may ensue, but only against military targets. Militias may not target innocents or food or water sources. Upon victory, the nation may extract the costs of warfare from the defeated aggressor (Deut. 20). This means no more lasting debts due to wars, and no more tax increases or inflation to pay for them.

In short, all attempts are made to spare innocent or conscientious life, and warfare is only conducted to repel invaders or attacks. Such laws also entail a foreign policy of non-intervention in general. A theonomic state does not police the world looking for monsters to destroy.

Marriage

The government would have little to do with sex or marriage. The state would no longer issue marriage licenses. Marriages would be treated as private contracts. Divorces would be handled through private or church courts. Civil government would only enter the picture if necessary to enforce terms of divorce. The integrity of the marriage bed is protected against all forms of incest (Lev. 18:1–18, 20, 22–24). Homosexual marriage would not be a civil right (Lev. 20:13). Businesses could not be required to cater to homosexual celebrations, pretend weddings. Sexual acts with animals could be grounds for punishment (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 18:23; 20:15–16). Transvestitism, pornography, public nudity or indecency, and prostitution would all be shunned (Lev. 19:29; Deut. 22:5; 23:17). Certainly no government could require businesses or individuals to treat transgenders according to their chosen non-gender, upon pain of fines or imprisonment. No-fault divorce and easy divorce would be abolished.

Overall, biblical law aims to uphold the biblical family unit—one man, one woman—and to abhor those forms of perversion that threaten its integrity or stability. There are a significant number of moral laws pertaining to sex and marriage, but few remain with civil government sanction.

Property

Some of the most profound improvements would be seen in the areas of property and contracts. First, private property would be a sacred right which would remain inviolate from neighbor, state, and enemy alike.

Punishments for theft would be far more just than our prison system today. In general, the penalty for a convicted thief is restitution. A prison sentence in this light must be considered wholly pagan, unbiblical, and cruel. There is only a slight shade of comparison to what could occur under biblical law, and we’ll cover that in a minute.

More specifically, the standard punishment for theft is double restitution (Ex. 22:4) if the property is recovered. This involves one times the value for replacement of the stolen property, and a second times value as a punitive measure (thus the thief loses exactly what he sought to gain from his victim). If the property is not recovered, the restitution will include any lost production value—four or five times, or possibly more (Ex. 22:1; Prov. 6:30–31). In the rare case a thief comes to his senses and returns the property before he is caught, he is liable only for full restitution plus twenty percent (Lev. 6:1–5).

Thieves who break in during the night or whose actions are otherwise perceived to be life-threatening may be killed in self-defense or home-defense without guilt (Ex. 22:2), but even the lives of thieves are protected when it is clear they are not a threat to life (Ex. 22:3).

What happens if a thief steals only because he is poor and needs only to eat? Even then, Solomon says, restitution must be paid (Prov. 6:30–31). But what if he has no money to pay what is required? This is where the nearest thing to prison—and I hesitate even to place it in the same sentence as that word—appears. It is indentured servitude, often simply translated “slavery” in the Old Testament. The laws for restitution for theft clearly say that if he cannot pay, “he shall be sold for his theft” (Ex. 22:3).

Before we recoil at the thought of modern-day “slavery,” let us stop and consider a couple things. Biblical “slavery” is not slavery in any sense we have understood the word in American history. It is not ownership of a person, has nothing to do with race, protects the rights of the servant, and imposes specific checks and duties upon the custodian. The modern prison system is far closer to American slavery than anything discussed in the Bible. It is this to which we should direct our revulsion.

Modern prisons involve mass incarceration with chains, cages, mass strip searches, mass nudity, gang violence, fights, apathy, haplessness, loneliness, depression, mental illness, waste, sodomy, rampant masturbation, corrupt guards, drug trades (yes, even inside the prisons!), and much more. When a prisoner leaves, he is often a far more hardened criminal, and with more criminal gang connections, than before.

The biblical system, on the other hand, places applicable convicts in truly correctional or rehabilitation programs under custodians (“masters”). They are designed for training in work, discipline, skill, self-confidence, morality, productivity, and community. Private programs similar to this description (though they are few) have far greater success rates than prisons, and prevent recidivism at much higher rates as well.

Under biblical servitude, custodians do have a right to corporal punishment (just as civil governments in general do—Deut. 25:1–3—and parents as well), but are held to strict standards of liability. If a scourging leads to an injury, medical care is the master’s duty and the convict’s right. Any permanent injury, even as slight as a tooth, results in the servant’s freedom from their bonds. When a term of servitude is over, the custodian is required to supply the servant with capital for his future (Deut. 15:12–18).

Biblical penal servitude is similar to modern probation in some ways. Probation involves the loss of certain rights, including the right to bear arms, the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom to travel, the right to serve on a jury, and even the right to vote. The biblical model may or may not include some such things, but it would focus on the more beneficial aspects of training for work, social skills, etc., not provided under standard probation.

Governments must enforce just weights and measures. Cheaters, whether individual, corporate, or governmental, must be convicted as thieves and pay restitution. Governments and banks, especially, may not inflate currency (Deut. 25:13–16). This standard forbids all forms of bribery and lobbying government officials. It also outlaws all forms of government-funded welfare, including corporate welfare. Government confiscation schemes based in “asset forfeiture” laws would be abolished.

All government taxation is theft, and thus, all government-backed redistributions of wealth based in taxation are outlawed. This includes property tax (real and personal), sales tax, income tax, payroll taxes (social security and Medicare), import and export tariffs, transportation and gas tax, all excise taxes, so-called “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol, poll taxes, luxury taxes, ad valorem taxes, all license fees and other fees, and value-added tax schemes. And all others. All of them. Gone.

All public services would be privatized and be better off for it. Police, fire, EMT, 9–11 services, roads, bridges, libraries, civic centers, and even hospitals would be either privately funded services, or else donor-based charitable services.

Immigration would be no problem in such a society because all property would be private. There would be no government-owned property, roads, or borders in need of government agents to patrol or build a wall. Private property owners would be in full charge of whom they let on their property, or not, with the right of home defense against intruders. Further, there would be no welfare benefits to incentivize or reward interlopers who wish to seize amnesty even if they would be unwelcomed. In light of this, the immigrant population would be made of only welcomed and/or hardworking guests.

Honesty

Like property, contracts would be strictly enforced. The state is charged with enforcing contracts, and with punishing those who harm others via slander or libel, false accusation, or who pervert justice through perjury, peer pressure, conspiracy, discrimination, class warfare, or bribery (Ex. 23:1–9). Further, the reputations of individuals and businesses would be protected from damages inflicted by slander or libel.

The final decision in any case would fall to juries. Juries would be fully informed of their right to decide not only facts but the nature and applicability of the law also. Judges would no longer be allowed to lie to juries concerning these rights, nor intimidate them in any way. Innocence must always be presumed and the burden of proof lay upon the prosecution. Great care must be taken to avoid ever convicting the innocent or righteous (Ex. 23:7).

Covetousness

Finally, covetousness in itself is not punishable by the state, but it is to be forbidden to manifest in the form of the politics of guilt and pity. People who may grow jealous of their neighbors’ wealth or success will not be allowed to engage in political class warfare in an effort to start government welfare programs. This also exposes the root of such political programs focusing on “income inequality,” “the rich,” “the one percent,” etc. The commandment is also helpful in confirming that property is primarily to be owned by individuals (“your neighbor”), not the state.

Yet, as society was allowed to operate freely, and the free market unleashed to address its needs and demands, collective wealth would grow. This has been demonstrated everywhere it has been tried: wealth inequality may grow, but the collective grows as a whole with it, and the poorest are always better off than under systems based on covetousness. In a sense, by seeking the Kingdom of God and its righteousness (law) first, all these things are afterward added unto you.

Many biblical laws which still abide are not “civil” laws—they lack any sanction for the civil government to carry out. They are still, however, social laws which Christ Himself judges in history. If and when the people refuse to carry out such laws like sexual purity, right worship, and care for the poor, Christ Himself will predictably bring judgment upon that nation (Lev. 20:1–5, 6, 22–24; 26; Num. 33:55–56; Deut. 12:29–31; 28–29; Jonah). Likewise, if the nation adopts the ways of pagan nations around it, God still brings judgment in history.

Conclusion

The biblical vision of a godly society is much richer and broader in scope that many people imagine even heaven to be. It is life lived to its fullest and at its freest. It is love in action: the love of God and love of neighbor. Biblical law shows us the bounds of love, and these bounds are peace, liberty, justice, and the prosperity that flows from these.

It is not hard to see that our society is far from this ideal in many ways, but that is no reason for despair. There are many ways in which we can be working towards our goals in the meantime. The vastness of liberty and great amount of widespread self-government required to make it work certainly seem like an intimidating challenge from our vantage point, but it is the vision and law given us in Scripture, and Christians are to embrace it in faith. We are to live it out to the greatest extent we can, and promote it among the nations, including our own time and place. We are to be faithful to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20) trusting God that He shall bring it to full victory. In the next chapter, we will discuss how this vision will come to pass.

*****

Article from www.americanvision.org

From Dr. McDurmon’s series; “ The Bounds of Love: An Introduction to God’s Law of Liberty

 

 

 

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The Aim of Totalitarian Education

Making People Superfluous: Hannah Arendt on Ideology andU.N. Building the-big-appleTotalitarianism

By Patrick Keeney

The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any. —Hannah Arendt

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between true and false no longer exists. —Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was a thinker of the first order but one who defies easy categorization. She fits uneasily into a category such as liberal, conservative, libertarian, or radical. And while she humbly eschewed the title philosopher, few would doubt that her writings, in all their manifest variety, provide a continuous source of insight into the human condition and, in particular, further our understanding of the political realm.

Her greatest contribution to political thought is her analysis of the rise of the twentieth-century totalitarian state, a phenomenon that in her estimation lay outside the traditional categories of Western philosophy. Nazism and communism—the two most prominent forms of totalitarianism—were something new: “Totalitarianism differs essentially from other forms of political oppression. . . . Wherever it rose to power, it destroyed all social, legal, and political traditions of the country.”

leninArendt’s analysis of totalitarianism is developed in her first book, The Origins of Totalitarianism.1 As the word suggests, totalitarian systems claim to have uncovered absolute and universal laws that provide a “total” explanation of all history. Totalitarian rule, far from being lawless or arbitrary, appeals to suprahuman laws. Nazism declared that the laws of nature had decreed the Aryan race to be superior to all others: “Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws… is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of natural development.” The unequivocal laws of nature determined that those of Aryan blood were the rightful rulers of the world. Similarly, Marxism appeals to the invariable law of historical progress. Hence, “totalitarian rule is quite prepared to sacrifice everybody’s vital immediate interests in the execution of what it assumes to be the law of History or the law of Nature.”anti liberty

Such “laws” occupy the sacred status of first principles. They make claims about the world that are immune from falsification by either experience or logic. For example,

The word “race” in racism does not signify any genuine curiosity about the human races as a field for scientific exploration, but is the “idea” by which the movement of history is explained as one consistent process.

In short, ideological thinking is contemptuous of the empirical realm. It establishes a “functioning world of no-sense.” Facts are seen only through the lens of an a priori, ideological explanatory theory. Ideologies start from “an axiomatically accepted premise, deducing everything else from it… Ideological argumentation [is] always a kind of logical deduction.”

And herein resides the steely logic of totalitarian thought. Like the closed, axiomatic systems of logic or mathematics, they are exempt from reality, from the world in which human life takes place. Arendt sums it up this way: “Ideological thinking… proceeds with a consistency that exists nowhere in the realm of reality.”

Totalitarian movements are different from mere revolutionary movements, in that what they aim at is “not the . . . transmutation of society, but the transformation of human nature itself.” As Arendt puts it, “There is only one thing that seems discernible: we may say that radical evil has emerged in connection with a system in which all men have become equally superfluous.” Here, then, is the ultimate nightmarish aim of totalitarian thought: to render men superfluous.

The bland assumption that totalitarianism can be safely confined to history is belied by zealots of various stripes, all of whom are convinced that their manifesto or holy book or prophet has revealed, at last, “the mysteries of the universe.” Such true believers are a danger to us all, in that they are willing to sacrifice their fellow man on the altar of one or another of the inexorable laws of history, nature, or God.

Our schools are the first line of defense against what Susan Sontag once referred to as “Fascinating Fascism.”2 Educators need to affirm their commitment to rationality, to the power of reasoning unhampered by ideological blinders. Students need to be equipped with the requisite cognitive tools to challenge the plausibility and coherence of the central tenets of totalitarian thought. For example, to confront the assertion that there is a single, all-encompassing explanation for historical movement, students must learn how to weigh and assess historical claims, and how to grapple with contested interpretations of evidence. They also need to be taught the differing modes of inquiry appropriate to various disciplines. As Arendt demonstrated, a closed system of deductive logic proceeding from axiomatic first principles is a disastrous method for understanding the political realm.

Perhaps most important, students must be taught to tolerate and respect ideas that differ from their own or that they find offensive. The explosion of campus censorship in recent years, along with the demand for “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and an overall general intolerance for any ideas deemed offensive, constitutes a betrayal of the Western academic tradition. For central to the mission of the university is the idea that a community of scholars, joined by a commitment to reason and the pursuit of truth, must be free to consider, confront, and critique all ideas. Open-mindedness is the sine qua non of the academic life. To insist that some ideas are so beyond the pale that they cannot be discussed in a university setting is to adopt a one-dimensional and parochial view. Bad ideas need to be refuted with better ideas and better evidence, not by shutting down speech. Any attempt at regulating campus speech constitutes a crucial first step toward creating a totalitarian campus, one that, like its political counterpart, has already decided the answer to certain questions. In such an institution (just as in the totalitarian state), restrictions are placed on what can and cannot be said, and those who engage in discourse that strays from the accepted orthodoxies are disciplined or banished from the realm.

To combat such a dystopian scenario, students need to enjoy toleration, and tolerance begins with humility. Like Socrates, we need to acknowledge that wisdom begins by admitting our ignorance. There is probably no better means of combating fanaticism and extremism than instilling in students a healthy dose of Socratic humility and skepticism.

Arendt’s analysis of totalitarianism continues to provide guidance for our own age. Many of those same social and intellectual pathologies that caused such devastation in the twentieth century are never far from the surface in democratic politics. Arendt thought that the best inoculation against totalitarian thinking is a citizenry capable of seeing through the false promises, deceits, and illusions of ideologies ready to foist upon us unassailable “truths” about the world. Which is only to say that Arendt believed in the power, and indeed the political necessity, of liberal education.

*****

Patrick Keeney is the author of Liberalism, Communitarianism and Education: Reclaiming Liberal Education. He has written for both the academic and the popular press, and has contributed articles and reviews to journals and newspapers in Canada, the U.S., Ireland, and the U.K. He is co-editor of Prospero: A Journal of New Thinking in Philosophy for Education. He is currently an adjunct professor in the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. He can be reached at pkeeney@telus.net.

  1. All Arendt quotations are taken from The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, 1968).
  2. See “Fascinating Fascism,” New York Review of Books, February 6, 1975.

Article from Intercollegiate Review

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Imposing Pornography on The National Parks?

a-pictureA New Version of Making America Great (Again)

By Bill Potter

In November of 2015, a National Park policeman approached the tour group I was leading on the grassy knoll of Bunker Hill in Boston. He demanded I stop teaching about the battle that had been fought there in 1775, and drew his ticket book (not his revolver) and threatened to write me up for “illegal guiding,” a crime unknown in statutory law and a term new to Landmark Events, our ‘history tour company.’Alaska

We had been there a number of times in previous years and until now had always received a warm welcome and at least indifference over my lecturing about the battle on the grounds around the monument. I lecture using a headset transmitter while our guests have unobtrusive receivers and ear buds so we don’t disturb non-group members who may also be visiting the site. Unlike our groups, most people just visit the history center, climb the steps of the massive obelisk that commemorates the battle, and then move on. The National Park Service (NPS) personnel help people inside the monument and museum and run the gift store.

Mummified ForestThe president of our company, Kevin Turley, gently informed the irate guard that the NPS police and interpreters, indeed, work for us, the American people. In response, the guard threatened to ticket Kevin and all our guests. In the end, the park rangers could neither provide a guide for us nor allow us to continue.

Tip of a Growing Iceberg

If this were a one-off incident, we could just chalk it up to a bored and over-zealous security guard. Alas, it is another conflict in a growing list of examples of the National Park Service (an arm of the Department of the Interior) attempting to prohibit teaching that they do not control, and which, perhaps, does not fit the new narrative of American history that they desire to convey.trees

Most history tour businesses depend on the NPS to tell them everything and provide the guides and instructors on battlefields, in homes and museums, and other historic sites. We too, in fact, sometimes lean on their expertise, especially inside museums. But we are careful to instruct all our families how to evaluate what they see at historic sites: from a Biblical presuppositional worldview, advising them not to absorb uncritically what they see and hear.

picassos loverA couple years ago we led a tour to Charleston, South Carolina. The NPS interpreter told us that they would separate all the children from the families once we arrived at Fort Sumter. When Mr. Turley remonstrated that we do not separate our families and that we have our own historians, she wagged her finger in his face and said “we know what your children need to know.” The implication, of course, was that only the instructors anointed by the federal government possessed the expertise to properly instruct the children about the whys and wherefores of the Civil War, and the sooner we understood that, the better. Could it be that the central government, in all its humanistic egalitarianism, has developed another revision of American history?1 Such revisionism did not happen overnight.leap of faith

Surveying the history of American public education and the ways that the past has been recruited to support the current political agendas is fodder for another article. Faith shapes the interpretation of the real world, including all the sites that have been set aside to remember the past. When you enter the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, you are greeted by cute little Iggy the Iguana who will lead you “through the evolution trail” in the museum. You will meet your one-celled protozoan ancestor and see how he evolved through natural selection all the way till you were born. Not all museums are that in your face about the evolutionary presuppositions of the historians who tell the story. Be assured, however, that the vast majority of historians believe that man is a product of chance/evolution, and without a soul, without hope, and without meaning. This, they say, is simple fact derived from the truth of natural selection.

The War of the Worldviews

All education is inherently religious. The conviction that facts are neutral and that they are merely reported by objective historians’ flies in the face of reality. As Dr. Rushdoony stated in The Biblical Philosophy of History: “To avoid myth, a historian must disavow the cult of ‘objective, impartial scholarship’ … The historian’s report represents a perspective on history, and it is a limited perspective of necessity.”2 A historian’s message is derived from his beliefs concerning God, creation, man, sin, redemption, revelation, accountability, epistemology, culture, and other central convictions.

Every June, we lead a tour to New Orleans over the annual D-Day commemoration. Besides visiting the World War II Museum, we take the opportunity to study another great battle of American history at the Chalmette Plantation just outside the city. It was there that General Andrew Jackson defended the Queen City from the attacks by General Pakenham and the veteran army of Great Britain, fresh from the defeat of Napoleon.

The results could not have been more spectacular nor more important in the course of United States history. I lead the group over the battlefield explaining the context, the main actors, the weapons, the strategies, the tactics, and the providential implications for American history. We often hold our own little reenactment with the children, flags flying, in a corner of the field, using wooden guns.

In June of 2016 we arrived for our annual tour as usual. The preserved battlefield is quite large, with few visitors present. In the midst of our regular tour across the battlefield, a NPS ranger approached our group, listening for a few moments before Kevin Turley asked him if we could be of service. The ranger said there was some question as to whether we had a right to teach there and inquired if we were a commercial company or a non-profit. After replying that we were a non-profit, the ranger said he would check to see if we were allowed to be there and left with our contact information. We ended the tour a few minutes later and moved on to our next destination.

Two months later we received a packet in the mail from the Department of the Interior with a large red WARNING angled across the envelope. They ordered us to pay a fine for illegal guiding at Chalmette Battlefield. Further, they prohibited me from guiding any more history tours on National Park Service property.

They had apparently visited our website where our Christian philosophy of history is on bold display, as are pictures of teaching and guiding without their authorization. We have refused to pay the fine and will meet them in federal district court in New Orleans on December 6, 2016. In preparation for the trial, we have discovered a number of interesting facts of relevance to readers of Faith for All of Life.

Imposing a Worldview Using State Force

The National Park Service celebrated their one hundredth anniversary in 2016. The NPS is led by a director who exercises full authority over the operations and interpretations of American history. He oversees more than 21,000 employees at more than four hundred sites, fifty-nine of them national parks, and manages an annual budget of three billion dollars.

On June 24, 2016, President Obama recognized the Stonewall National Monument as the country’s first monument to honor the LBGTQ “community” in America. It commemorates the “uprising” in Greenwich Village in 1969 by homosexuals that is typically considered the most important event in the history of “gay liberation” in America. In October of 2016, Jonathan Jarvis, the director of the NPS appointed by President Obama in 2009, in a conference call with Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewel, discussed the release of LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. Jarvis mentioned that they have identified 1,300 potential LGBTQ sites to consider for historic designation. “For far too long the struggles and contributions of the LBGTQ community have been ignored in the traditional narratives of our nation’s history,” said Director Jarvis.

Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation (which financially supported the LGBTQ America study) happily stated that “equality has now become the way the federal government does business. It’s that commitment that led the National Park Service to produce this landmark study. It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds.”

Moral relativism has long been a central tenet of the “court historians,” and with the widespread acceptance of homosexuality and the agenda that has permeated everything from the armed forces to the public-school classroom, we should not be surprised that the new historical sites will reflect those values. Dr. Rushdoony characterized such interpretative frameworks as seeking liberation, specifically,

… the liberation from history, Christianity, civilization and law. A radical moral relativism goes hand in hand with every form of statism and is its instrument and concomitant. This liberation is called a battle for liberty, but this new definition of “liberty” is not liberty under law, but liberty from law, and it is anti-law. Every instance in history of the rise of statism has gone hand in hand with the rise of pornography. The two are closely related. To encourage the one is to further the other.

In its simpler form, this faith is expressed as “the will of the people.” Democracy is vox populi, vox dei. There is no standard other than ‘the will of the people,’ which can include all things.3

We do not have to accept the new history or the elites who articulate it in popular culture, including those imposing it at the historical sites where God in His great providence brought about events that have moved His agenda forward (and His is the only agenda that will move forward). From a Constitutional viewpoint, we still possess freedom of speech and assembly, though those precious freedoms are also being redefined and eroded.

Our stand against the National Park Service is a small engagement in a much larger historical and cultural war. We don’t know if it will be easily resolved. What we do know is this: if we don’t fight the small encroachments on our liberty under law, we may soon find ourselves liberated from the truths of the past and our right to teach them.

*****

See the following four articles for important insights into how we arrived at the current situation:

Dr. Roger Schultz, “Historical Revisionism: Why All The Fuss?” Faith for All of Life, Mar-Apr 2007, pp. 7–11. Also available online at http://chalcedon.edu/faith-for-all-of-life/historical-revisionism-why-all-the-fuss/historical-revisionism-why-all-the-fuss-2/

Mark R. Rushdoony, “Historical Perspective,” Faith for All of Life, May-June 2015, pp. 2–3. Also available online at http://chalcedon.edu/faith-for-all-of-life/a-review-of-the-first-academic-book-on-rushdoony/historical-perspective/

Martin G. Selbrede, “The World in God’s Fist: The Meaning of History,” Faith for All of Life, Jul-Aug 2008, pp. 23–27. Also online at http://chalcedon.edu/faith-for-all-of-life/the-bibilcal-philosophy-of-history/the-world-in-gods-fist-the-meaning-of-history/

Martin G. Selbrede, “The Emperor’s Continued Nudity: Jeff Sharlet’s Critique of Christian Historiography Examined,” Faith for All of Life, Mar-Apr 2007, pp. 16–21. Also online at http://chalcedon.edu/faith-for-all-of-life/historical-revisionism-why-all-the-fuss/the-emperors-continued-nudity-jeff-sharlets-critique-of-christian-historiography-examined/

  1. Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Biblical Philosophy of History (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1969, 1997] 2000), p. 111.
  2. Rousas J. Rushdoony, This Independent Republic (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1965] 2001), pp. 111–112. Other valuable works by Rushdoony on this issue include The Biblical Philosophy of History and his lecture series on American History and World History, available at chalcedon.edu.

***

Mr. Potter is an independent scholar and historian who teaches, writes, and lectures from a Biblical/Providential perspective. He is a popular conference and university speaker and the leading historian for Landmark Events, a company specializing in teaching on the ground where great history-changing events occurred. Landmark emphasizes teaching the new generations to recognize the hand of God in our nation’s past and in all of history and to interpret it based on the truths of God’s Word.

Bill has been married to his wife Leslie for 40 years during which time they have home-educated their eight children.

[Editor’s note: Readers interested in supporting Landmark Events in its court battle with the National Park Service can send donations online at http://www.landmarkevents.org/products/support or by mail to Landmark Events, P.O. Box 1762, Columbia, TN 38402.]

Article from http://www.chalcedon.edu

 

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Freedom of God vs Freedom of the State

washington dcFreedom and the Statelight and darkness

By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony

Not only is morality transferred from God and His law to the state and its fiat law, but freedom also. Whether it be a Marxist state or a democratic one, freedom is today usually spoken of as an attribute of the state rather than of the people as individuals. Such freedom as is permitted to men is freedom under the state, not under God.

Turning again to Gumplowicz, we find a frank statement of the fact that man, as a creature of the state, cannot be free:

That man is a free being is pure imagination … The premise of “inalienable human rights” rests upon the most unreasonable self-deification of man and overestimation of the value of human life, and upon a complete misconception of the only possible basis of the existence of the state. This fancied freedom and equality is incompatible with the state and is a complete negation of it.1

In Biblical theology, the absolute freedom of God is a basic premise: God cannot be controlled or governed by anything outside of Himself. This is the premise of humanistic doctrines of the state: the absolute freedom of the state.U.N. Building

At the same time, radical and final coercive powers are claimed by the state. It can be noted indeed that there are limits, in the United States and other countries, to these coercive powers, but these are self-limitations. Acts of Congress or of Parliament can at any time alter or remove those limits. Without the limitation of faith in and a covenant with and under God, the state is the absolute determiner of its own powers. With each passing year, we have seen an extension of those powers. In the United States, whatever the platform of moderation, reform, or the limitations of powers whereby presidents and members of Congress have been elected, there has been a steady increase of coercion and a decrease in freedom.

In Mexico, there has been a clearer development of the theology of the state, because Mexican intellectuals have been more successful in implementing their philosophies. The Mexican economy has been more backward by far than anything else in North America, but its politics has been more dominated by intellectuals and theoreticians and hence in advance of the United States and Canada in developing the implications of humanism.

No less than do Christians believe in a final order, the full and perfect community created by God, do humanists also believe in their own final order, the “Great Community” of man. Thus, in Mexico, leading thinkers have been ready to allow a semblance of religious liberty provided that the churches do nothing to influence or alter the social order. Thus, for Gabino Barreda,

An individual should think and believe as he pleases, provided that his thoughts and beliefs do not alter the social order. The mission of public education was not merely to teach; it was to make public order possible.2

Less honestly stated, this is the position of many state and federal agencies in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s in particular. Religious freedom was tenable only when and where Christianity was having no influence on the social order. When the Christian school movement began to move the faith from irrelevance to relevance, persecution began. It became obvious that the much vaunted religious liberty meant for many officers of state the freedom to practice religion only between the limits of a man’s two ears.

The Marxists have seen liberty as a concept used by a social class to their advantage. The Mexican positivists hold that a thing is free when it follows its natural course and encounters no obstacles. It then follows the law of its being. A stream coming down a mountainside is in terms of this definition free. However, where applied to man, this doctrine has some interesting consequences, because freedom is then clearly related to the doctrine of man. If man is God’s creature, then freedom is only under God. If, however, man is an evolving animal whose being is determined by naturalistic drives and forces, then religion is a dramatic restraint on his freedom.

Thus, for Gabino Barreda, the individual was not free to do as he wished. Rather, “Freedom ought to be subordinate to the interests of society, namely, to the interests of the Mexican nation.” A laissez-faire freedom is to be seen instead as disorder, not liberty. “The freedom of the individual must subordinate itself to the social order.” Freedom is not under God, but under the state. “Thus, the state should intervene, as an instrument of society, in the moral education of Mexicans. It must prepare Mexicans to be good civil servants by stimulating their altruistic sentiments.”3 For this reason, Barreda could say, “the rights of society are more important than the rights of man.”4 It followed also that Barreda could propose a civil dictatorship to promote freedom.5

The equation of reason and morality with the state is commonplace to humanistic thought. (A variation is its equation with autonomous man.) Such a view is productive of a new pharisaism. In this self-righteous faith, the state as the great good passes judgment on all other segments of society. It holds that the state and its sovereignty constitute the necessary order for life, indeed, the saving order. Dissent from the state then becomes true evil. Not crime but nonconformity is then seen as the great problem.

As a consequence in the [former] Soviet Union, criminals are not seen as the great offenders. Rather, it is the (political) dissenter of any kind, especially the Christian or the libertarian dissenter. The uniform testimony of former slave labor camp prisoners is that criminals have a privileged status and are commonly used to terrorize political prisoners. The only offense of these political prisoners, when there is any offense, is their real or fancied dissent. Vicious hoodlums do not threaten the political philosophy of the state, but dissenters do, and they are accordingly treated more severely.

We see steps in the same direction in the United States. As the state’s ability to cope with crime, and its concern to do so, diminishes, its zeal to penalize dissent increases. The persecutions of churches and of independent Christian schools points clearly to this zeal to limit liberty. Thus, many people find a dual limitation on their freedom. In major cities, freedom of movement, especially after dark, is limited because of the freedom of the criminal element. At the same time, their personal and religious liberties are increasingly restricted by statist claims and the growth of statist power.

Bussell pointed out how, in medieval Europe, the empire revived Roman law (in the twelfth century) to destroy the freedom of the church. Roman law “could not conceive of a genuine dyarchy in which both parties respect the limits of the sacred and profane departments.”6 By 1453, Bussell held, the ideals of the medieval world were dead, and statism in the saddle.7 The savagery of the modern age was under way, and the Renaissance of paganism was also the renewal of tyranny and barbarism.

Despite the rise of the national states, the Holy Roman Empire and its dream persisted. Maximilian I (1459–1519), called “the foremost knight of the age,” is, like Sigismund, well regarded by many historians. However, as we know from a letter to his daughter Margaret, Maximilian hoped to gain the papal throne on the death of the pope, and at times thought of deposing Pope Julius II. Moreover, Maximilian dreamed of the “good” he could accomplish by using the church’s wealth for the empire.8

There were and are no restraints on the dream of the modern state. What Maximilian dreamed about, Henry VIII in effect did, and also Louis XIV and other monarchs with their state churches. With the French and Russian Revolutions, the state made itself man’s church and savior. As man’s true savior and church, the modern state began an open or a covert war against the church, and also against man’s freedom. The only freedom desired by the modern state is its own.

As we have noted, man’s freedom was separated from God and creation in His image and made a natural fact, freedom to follow our natural course. One religious consequence of this has been the sexual revolution. Another and an earlier one, is aptly summarized by Hallowell: “Communion with nature replaces communion with God as the source of inspiration and true enlightenment.”9 An early example of this was William Wordsworth. The environmental movement has deep religious roots.

This “natural freedom,” however, does not make possible any freedom for man other than an esthetic and sexual venting of his impulses. To “do your own thing” is a logical consequence of Wordsworth’s religion. It means submission to, not resistance against, the forces of history, and it is the death of freedom, which is an anti-naturalistic motive. Because the Biblical doctrine of freedom is anti-naturalistic and supernatural, only Christ can make us free (John 8:36). We are made free by the supernatural act of regeneration. Since our natural course is a fallen one, natural freedom is to sin and die. The history of true freedom cannot be known or written apart from Jesus Christ. Inevitably, the modern humanistic state is anti-Christian and anti-freedom.

*****

(Taken from Christianity and the State)

  1. Cited by Hallowell, Main Currents, p. 318, from Gumplowicz, The Outlines of Sociology, p. 180.
  2. Zea, Positivism in Mexico, p. 126.
  3. ibid., pp. 98–99.
  4. ibid., p. 115.
  5. ibid., p. 95.
  6. Bussell, Religious Thought and Heresy in the Middle Ages, p. 848.
  7. ibid., pp. 646–647.
  8. Friedrich Heer, The Holy Roman Empire (New York, NY: Frederick A. Praeger, 1967), p. 139.
  9. Hallowell, Main Currents, p. 167.

***

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.

Article from http://www.chalcedon.edu

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