Clay Jars, Vines and the Cultural Collision

So apparently, David Haseltine of Jars of Clay has come out as supportive of same-sex marriage via Twitter. Here’s a few soundbites:

Queue the controversy! Michael Brown posted a lengthy response to his comments at Charisma News. My reaction on Facebook was:

Sigh, as usual, we can’t seem to realize that there are two different issues at play here. What homosexuals do or call their relationships have no substantive effect on us. Us not attacking them for their behavior would not be to condone it. Why is this even a debate?

Oh yeah, because of that thing called government that possesses a monopoly on coercive aggression and has declared that we may not use the word “marriage’ without their express consent sought before hand. This issue isn’t really about marriage or homosexuality. It’s about the first amendment. The proper Biblical position is to oppose government licensing and definition of any marriage, returning that role to the church where it belongs, and to commit to only perform Biblical weddings.

Interestingly, Charisma’s article has prompted Haseltine himself to try to clarify himself, so it appears that there’s more to this story, though I haven’t read all of the particulars of it, because I’m not actually here to discuss Haseltine. I mention him because he’s a hot topic, and because he marks the next advance in an ongoing trend in which the enemy is sinking his teeth into the church’s stance on Biblical Authority. It comes in the wake of Al Mohler’s book rebutting Matthew Vines’ assertions that the Bible does not actually teach that Homosexuality is a sin, and it is this issue that I actually want to interact with.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you may know where I’m going, but please stay tuned anyway. This is one of those issues where I feel stuck in the middle, but not really. I don’t side with either Mohler or Vines. I have to confess that I’ve not read Mohler’s book yet, nor have I even had a chance to read through this quasi debate between them, but I’m familiar enough with Mohler that I can guess his position. (by the way if it seems like I pick on Mohler, I can’t give an explanation. I don’t particularly dislike him on a lot of things, but several of his statements lately, such as…., have required comment. Actually, I haven’t commented on that one, have I? Oh well…. Add it to the To Write list….)

I actually watched Vines’ video a while back and wanted to post a rebuttal, but never got around to it, and now that Mohler has come out with his own, I figure the time is right to put it out there. I think this needs to be written and this is the time to do it, because there is a third side to this debate; one that is hardly ever argued; one that is actually Biblical.

In the interest of full disclosure, and for the purpose of context, here is Vines’ lecture in full. Be warned. This is an hour long. You might want to pop some pop corn first, and definitely have your Bible handy. I would also encourage you to get and read Mohler’s book at some point, or at least read through the debate I posted above.

Continue reading Clay Jars, Vines and the Cultural Collision

Property Rights on a Tropical Island

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Welcome back to my ongoing series in which I interact with the ideas put forth by Adam McIntosh in his article series at The Kuyperian Commentary. In Part 1, I discussed the large degree of agreement there is between us. In Part 2, I interacted with his critique of the Non-Aggression Principle. In Part 3, I discussed the task of separating the Biblical Laws into civil and non-civil categories. I realize this last article was quite a bit rambly, clocking in at 4,000 words! I will need to write more on this subjecxt as I hone my arguments and approach. So if you were a bit confused or unsatisfied, stay tuned for more in the coming months.

Today, however, I want to interact with his Tropical Island analogy.

Continue reading Property Rights on a Tropical Island

Dividing Moral Law from Civil Law

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

This is the third installment of my counter series to Adam McIntosh, a man I have been picking on for a couple weeks now. If you are unfamiliar with his work, please visit The Kuyperian Commentary.

This article focuses on the second of my three critiques of McIntosh, which is that he provides a rubric for dividing between civil and moral laws that I believe to be incorrect. McIntosh says

God distinguishes between sins and crimes. If a command is given without an attached punishment, then it does not constitute as a civil law. It’s a moral law that you should obey but not a law that civil rulers are to regulate.

I plan to interact with this in today’s installment and to show where I think he is wrong, and to suggest a better rubric for dividing between criminality and private morality. In fact as we do, we may find out that McIntosh doesn’t really disagree with me, but we’ll have to see.

Unfortunately for you, the reader, I have to take a slightly windy path to get there. I do apologize. Please stick with me. There’s a gold star in it for you if you do.

Continue reading Dividing Moral Law from Civil Law

A Christian Defense of the Non-Aggression Principle

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

This is the second installment in my series responding to the series by Adam McIntosh posted at The Kuyperian Commentary. This article specifically deals with the second part of his analysis, “A Christian Critique of the Non-Aggression Principle.”

My first installment focused on the massive amount of agreement I have with McIntosh. However, I must now turn my attention to the points of disagreement. I have three.

First, I believe he is too quick to dismiss the Non-Aggression Principle. Having exposed Rothbard’s philosophy as being unsurely founded on Natural Law, he seems to set the Non-Aggression Principle aside and disregard it’s legitimacy and the importance of its application.

Second, I disagree with the very brief glimpse he gave into his rubric for extracting Biblical instructions for determining what sins should be considered criminal, and what sins should not. This is the crux of my disagreement with Theonomists, Minarchist or Statist, and I must clarify. If you read my series on a Biblical Theology of Civil Government and Human Authority, you will know that I left this as an open end. I intend to close it in this series.

Finally, I believe he suffers from a faulty understanding of property rights, as demonstrated by his contrived island example. I intend to provide a thorough analysis of his island analogy and demonstrate how property right solves every single one of the proposed problems he raises.

And if you can make it through all of that, I intend to round the series out by going back to the issue of public vs private law enforcement, and explain my idea for how we might solve the problem of funding the criminal justice system without stealing from citizens and without going full on anarchy.

I really do hope you stick around.

In this article, I intend to rebut his dismissal of the Non-Aggression Principle. You may have noticed that I gave a very brief synopsis of his critique in the first installment. I kept it so brief because Part 1 was running rather long, and I didn’t want to drag it out any further. So perhaps it would be good to start this rebuttal with a recap of his argument.

Continue reading A Christian Defense of the Non-Aggression Principle

Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy, or Statism? A Response

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

I ran across a series of articles lately on a blog called “The Kuyperian Commentary.”

The Article in question is titled “Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy or Statism?” and was written by Adam McIntosh, a former missionary kid, and currently a pastoral intern in Southern Illinois. It is my intention over the next series of articles to interact with the ideas McIntosh presents in his article. Before, I get into it, though, I would encourage you to read the entire thing for yourself. It’s a bit long – a five parter – but it’s well worth it, and you’ll have a much better context for what I am going to say.

Continue reading Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy, or Statism? A Response

Legislate Morality?

I read these comments from Al Mohler on Facebook:

“The argument for removing polygamy laws was simple: the state has no business legislating morality. But every legislature legislates morality. Every code of laws is a codex of morality. The law is itself inherently and inescapably moral, even irreducibly moral. The law can’t be anything other than a moral statement.”

In my early days, I made that argument rather vigorously, but have now come to modify my position. It is not so much that I have abandoned what I once believed, but that I now understand the nature of that belief with greater clarity.

Continue reading Legislate Morality?

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property. It is with those things in mind that we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Thanks for stopping by. This post is the third part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. I really do not recommend reading this post without first coming to grips with what I have said in previous posts, so please check them out.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property.

It is with those things in mind that in today’s post we turn our attention to Romans 13.

Romans 13

Now we get to Romans 13. For starters, here’s the text of Romans 13:1-7. As you read this, lets’ remind ourselves what perspective we are reading this from. We are not reading this as citizens under the authority of government. We are reading this as civil magistrates casting our votes for how the government will rule. We must ask ourselves, what does Romans 13 reveal about how God wants me to govern?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his  approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Certainly I must be stretching the text to say that it contains commands that must be obeyed by the civil magistrate!

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Hi there. This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government.

In Part 1, I laid the groundwork necessary to interact with this discussion adequately, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

For that reason, we turn our attention in today’s post to a fundamental Biblical principle for all human ethics and consider how it applies to civil government.

The Foundational Principle of Human Ethics

As discussed in my previous post, I will get to Romans 13 and deal with it in-depth. However, in recognition of the fact that Romans 13, at least as traditionally understood, speaks to citizens, and we are interested in God’s mind as it pertains to civil magistrates, I want to first back up to determine if there are any foundation and universal principles we can glean from Scripture that will give us some parameters that we need to keep in mind.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Newest Blogroll Addition: My Kindred Spirit The Reformed Libertarian

I’ve felt a bit like an ugly duckling lately, and strangely so. I am Reformed, and I’m a Libertarian. And everywhere I turn, it seems to be an oxymoron. Unfortunately, my study of the Word of God and my study of the issues leads me repeatedly to the conclusion that the two should be intrinsically linked, hinged primarily on the notion that righteousness is a heart condition, and not a behavior.

I’ve found other sites that have helped, one of them being Libertarian Christians, which introduced me to the wonderful Laurence Vance. However, I’m often disappointed with the handling of Scripture I’ve read there – not that I see them grossly misusing it, but there have been a few points of quibbling, and they overall seem to lack the Reformed notion of Scripture first, reason second, leaning instead toward reason first, Scripture second. So, I have longed for a more Biblically sound resource that agrees with me.

Enter the Reformed Libertarian. I’ve only scratched the surface here, but just his explanation of The Christian and His Relation to the State is right up the correct alley. A critical excerpt:

Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13, and Titus 3:1 all state that we as Christians are to be subject to “rulers and authorities.”  That word “subject” is in Greek hypotassō.  And hypotassō means to “be arranged under.” … to be in subjection to the authorities does not mean that the State’s precepts are our rules to live by, but rather, to be subject to the authorities simply means to recognize that we as proponents of the Kingdom of God are not to establish this kingdom here on earth by overthrowing the State.  Contextually, the concept of hypotassō, to be arranged under, was mentioned for the reason that the Roman Empire was fearful that the Christians were seeking to overthrow it (a typical phobia for those in power –even today).  States everywhere, especially those that have become empires, are constantly fearful that their power will be stolen.  Peter and Paul were therefore very clear: we are not trying to establish the Kingdom of God coercively by eradicating the Roman Empire.

The application I take away for our contemporary situation: We are not called to take the reigns of the violent state in order to force our social order on the world.

Please go over there and give him a few hits.

That’s all for now. Thanks.