Archive for the ‘government’ Category

The Poison of Subjectivism

June 12, 2013

If “good” means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves? The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his creation.

Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish. If we do, we may live, and such a return might have one minor advantage. If we believed in the absolute reality of elementary moral platitudes, we should value those who solicit our votes by other standards than have recently been in fashion. While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as “vision,” “dynamism,” “creativity,” and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial – virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill.

The Poison of Subjectivism, C.S. Lewis

.In Islam, God is Caesar; in China and Japan, Caesar is God; in Orthodoxy, God is Caesar’s junior partner

May 10, 2013

Throughout Western history, first the Church and then many churches existed separate from the state. God and Caesar, church and state, spiritual authority and temporal authority had been a prevailing dualism in Western culture…In Islam, God is Caesar; in China and Japan, Caesar is God; in Orthodoxy, God is Caesar’s junior partner.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Samuel P. Huntington. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996, p.70

Foxe gets it about right in the Calvin/Servetus affair

February 14, 2011

It has long been the delight of both infidels and some professed Christians, when they wish to bring odium upon the opinions of Calvin, to refer to his agency in the death of Michael Servetus. This action is used on all occasions by those who have been unable to overthrow his opinions, as a conclusive argument against his whole system. “Calvin burnt Servetus!–Calvin burnt Servetus!” is a good proof with a certain class of reasoners, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true-that divine sovereignty is Antiscriptural,–and Christianity a cheat.

We have no wish to palliate any act of Calvin’s which is manifestly wrong. All his proceedings, in relation to the unhappy affair of Servetus, we think, cannot be defended. Still it should be remembered that the true principles of religious toleration were very little understood in the time of Calvin. All the other reformers then living approved of Calvin’s conduct. Even the gentle and amiable Melancthon expressed himself in relation to this affair, in the following manner. In a letter addressed to Bullinger, he says, “I have read your statement respecting the blasphemy of Servetus, and praise your piety and judgment; and am persuaded that the Council of Geneva has done right in putting to death this obstinate man, who would never have ceased his blasphemies. I am astonished that any one can be found to disapprove of this proceeding.” Farel expressly says, that “Servetus deserved a capital punishment.” Bucer did not hesitate to declare, that “Servetus deserved something worse than death.”

The truth is, although Calvin had some hand in the arrest and imprisonment of Servetus, he was unwilling that he should be burnt at all. “I desire,” says he, “that the severity of the punishment should be remitted.” “We endeavored to commute the kind of death, but in vain.” “By wishing to mitigate the severity of the punishment,” says Farel to Calvin, “you discharge the office of a friend towards your greatest enemy.” “That Calvin was the instigator of the magistrates that Servetus might be burned,” says Turritine, “historians neither anywhere affirm, nor does it appear from any considerations. Nay, it is certain, that he, with the college of pastors, dissuaded from that kind of punishment.”

It has been often asserted, that Calvin possessed so much influence with the magistrates of Geneva that he might have obtained the release of Servetus, had he not been desirous of his destruction. This however, is not true. So far from it, that Calvin was himself once banished from Geneva, by these very magistrates, and often opposed their arbitrary measures in vain. So little desirous was Calvin of procuring the death of Servetus that he warned him of his danger, and suffered him to remain several weeks at Geneva, before he was arrested. But his language, which was then accounted blasphemous, was the cause of his imprisonment. When in prison, Calvin visited him, and used every argument to persuade him to retract his horrible blasphemies, without reference to his peculiar sentiments. This was the extent of Calvin’s agency in this unhappy affair.

It cannot, however, be denied, that in this instance, Calvin acted contrary to the benignant spirit of the Gospel. It is better to drop a tear over the inconsistency of human nature, and to bewail those infirmities which cannot be justified. He declared he acted conscientiously, and publicly justified the act.

It was the opinion, that erroneous religious principles are punishable by the civil magistrate, that did the mischief, whether at Geneva, in Transylvania, or in Britain; and to this, rather than to Trinitarianism, or Unitarianism, it ought to be imputed.

Foxes Book of Martyrs, CHAPTER XIII

The Trinity is the sole ground of love

January 10, 2010

The Nicene Creed – three persons, one God… Whether you realize it or not that catapulted the Nicene Creed right into our century and its discussion: three Persons in existence, loving each other, and in communication with each other, before all else was. If this was not so, we would have had a God who needed the universe as much as the universe needed God. But God did not need to create; God does not need the universe as the universe needs Him. Why? God is a full and true Trinity. The Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other before the creation of the world. This is not only an answer to the acute philosophic need of unity in diversity, but of personal unity and diversity. The unity and diversity cannot exist before God or behind God because whatever is farthest back is God… The unity and diversity are in God Himself – three persons, yet one God… this is not the best answer; it is the only answer. Nobody else, no philosophy, has ever given an answer for unity and diversity… Every philosophy has this problem, and no philosophy has an answer. Christianity does have an answer in the Trinity. The only answer to what exists is that He, the starting-place, is there.

Francis Schaeffer, quoted in Michael A. Robinson, God Does Exist!, Author House 2006, pp.154-5

A unitarian god would be a god that lacked. He could not be love in himself since he would need a creation to love. He would not be an eternally loving being. Neither would a unitarian god be an eternally communicating being. In addition, the Triune God supplies the ground for equality (such as between persons generally and the sexes in particukar) because the different roles of the divine persons in no way diminishes their equality since they are of one substance.

divers Nonconformists pitying the dying and distressed People, that had none to call the impenitent to Repentance, nor to help them to prepare for another World, resolved that no obedience to the Laws of any mortal Men whatsoever could justify them for neglecting of Men’s Souls and Bodies in such extremities

December 8, 2009

…divers Nonconformists pitying the dying and distressed People, that had none to call the impenitent to Repentance, nor to help them to prepare for another World, resolved that no obedience to the Laws of any mortal Men whatsoever could justify them for neglecting of Men’s Souls and Bodies in such extremities.

Richard Baxter, describing how those ministers ejected from their minsitries in 1662 returned to their flocks during the plague of 1665. The ministers who had taken up the vacant posts had abandoned their flocks to seek refuge from the plague.

Quoted in Faith Cook, Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan, Evangelical Press, 2008, p.246

Why the State and Church must be separate

September 14, 2009

This therefore I decree, that if anyone shall be detected in concealing a book compiled by Arius, and shall not instantly bring it forward and burn it, the penalty for this offense shall be death; for immediately after conviction the criminal shall suffer capital punishment. May God preserve you!

Constantine

Socrates Church History From A.D.305-439.   trans. A. C. Zenos, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church   edd. P. Schaff and H. Wace, vol.II  W.E.Eerdmans, Michigan, 1997. Book I , Chapter 8.p.14.

I’d rather be with God against men, than with men against God

September 12, 2009

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was, in 1940, Consul General for Portugal in Bordeaux, France. He was a graduate of the University of Coimbra, a wealthy lawyer from an old aristocratic family and he had represented Portugal in diplomatic posts in Brazil, Zanzibar and the United States. Hitler’s Nazi forces had marched into Paris and a flood of humanity had departed for the south, hoping to leave France. Their destination was Bordeaux where a Portuguese visa could assure them passage through Spain into Portugal, which was nominally neutral; from there they could perhaps hope to obtain a passport or a visa to America. Salazar had ordered his embassies not to issue exit visas to Russians, Portuguese political exiles or any Jews.

Thousands of refugees reaching Bordeaux had found the Portuguese Consul General’s apartment and had congregated outside, hoping for visas de Sousa Mendes, with great compassion, decided to disobey the Salazar orders and he, with his two sons, wrote by hand some 30,000 visas in order to save as many refugees as possible from the Nazis. 10,000 of these refugees were Jews. He was quoted as saying, “I have to save these people, as many as I can. If I am disobeying orders I’d rather be with God against men, than with men against God.”

The result of this magnificent action was that he was recalled to Lisbon in disgrace, but on the way he stopped in Bayonne and wrote out more visas by hand, thus saving another thousand refugees. When he reached Lisbon he was fined and prohibited from practicing law. He was reduced to selling off all his personal possessions to procure food for his family. He died in 1954 penniless and still in disgrace.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes’ name has been honored by the United States Congress, the Government of Israel, and has been recently restored to a place of honor and respect by the President of Portugal, Mario Soares.

source

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5.29

The Law’s limitation

September 4, 2009

A state government can shut down stores and theaters on Sunday, but it cannot compel worship. It can arrest and punish KKK murderers, but it cannot cure their hate, much less teach them love. It can ban adultery but not lust, theft but not covetousness, cheating but not pride. It can encourage virtue, but not holiness.

Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace? p.251

The King is Law

September 4, 2009

In truth, the action of the Fuehrer was pure justice. It is not subject to the law; instead, it was the highest law.

Carl Schmidt, Hamburg, 1940.

There was, supposedly, no one to whom Hitler was accountable, no norm or standard of Justice to which his actions could or should be tested.

When God is not God

September 4, 2009

One former Japanese soldier said he had been reared to believe that the Japanese emperor was the natural holy ruler of the world. And that the Japanese was racially superior to the rest of the world and that it was the divine destiny of Japan to control Asia. And so, when a local Christian priest asked him, who is greater, God or the emperor of Japan, he had no doubt that the emperor was the correct answer.

The Japanese killed about 300,000 Chinese at Nanjing who were considered not as human beings but as ‘less than cats or dogs’.

cf. Iris Change, Rape of Nanking, p.219