Monday, August 27, 2007

Exodus Does Not Support Political Liberty:

Commenter Charles instructed me to "re-read the Book of Exodus, and then tell me there was no 'political' liberty for the NATION of Israel." Since I'm discussing Dr. Robert Kraynak's work, I've already noted his answer for this, filtered through Dr. Gregg Frazer's Ph.D. thesis:

First, as Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.” Second, “(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….There is nothing voluntary or consensual about the biblical covenant; and the most severe punishments are threatened by God for disobedience.” Third, “insofar as the covenant with Israel sanctions specific forms of government, the main ones are illiberal and undemocratic;” including patriarchy, theocracy, and kingships established by divine right. Fourth, “the Bible shows that God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and supports national liberation, not for the purpose of enjoying their political and economic rights, but for the purpose of putting on the yoke of the law in the polity of Moses.” Fifth, “the content of the divine law revealed to Moses consists, in the first place, of the Ten Commandments rather than the Ten Bill of Rights, commanding duties to God, family, and neighbors rather than establishing protections for personal freedom.” Finally, the combination of judicial, civil, ceremonial, and dietary laws imposed on the people “regulate all aspects of religious, personal, and social life.” The history of Israel, therefore, had to be radically rewritten to provide support for the demands of political liberty and for republican self-government.

– Kraynak, 46-49 quoted in Frazer, “The Political Theology of the American Founding,” Ph.D. dissertation, 18-19.


Speaking of such radical rewriting, the same folks, mainly minsters, who argued Israel's history supports political liberty and republican self government also "creatively" intrepreted Romans 13 to justify revolution. Two recent articles, in fact, from WorldNutDaily, one by Farah, and the other by Bob Unruh, deal with this theological problem for folks who think it's okay to arm against a tyrannical government on the one hand, and be a good Christian on the other.

Farah appeals to the Founding and wrongly assumes that the Revolution's key principles were put forth by good Christians like himself.

I hardly know where to begin in addressing such a fundamental issue. But let me start by asking all Americans who subscribe to this principle as an absolute how our founding fathers, many of them devout Christians, justified breaking the bonds with their rulers in Great Britain. Were they not under a scriptural obligation to render unto King George? Have you read the Declaration of Independence?

I strongly suggest that my dear misguided Christian friends spend a little time reading the great debates that precipitated the War for Independence – all of which took place among men far more learned in the scriptures than the average modern Christian. The revolution that created America has often been called a war that began in the pulpits of the colonies.

And, more importantly than earthly examples, such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington, are the words of Jesus in context.


Farah needs to consider seriously that 1) the principal leaders of the American Revolution -- the "key Founders," whom he invoked -- were not particularly orthodox Christians (arguably not Christians at all) and 2) perhaps the Tory ministers who argued America's revolt violated Romans 13 were theologically in the right. I'd argue that devout Christians like George Washington's friend Reverend Brian Fairfax, one of the many American Tories who stayed loyal to Great Britain, and thought the American Revolution was a sin because it violated Romans 13 stood on at least as strong, if not stronger theological grounds as the patriotic Whig ministers.

For the sake of conciliation to my Christian friends who want to think of themselves as both good Christians and good Americans, I'll concede that whether the American Revolution violated Romans 13 is a debatable proposition over which traditionally minded Christian can reasonably disagree.

Some of those patriotic ministers, like John Witherspoon, were indeed devout orthodox Christians. Most other notable ones, however, like Jonathan Mayhew, Charles Chauncy, and Samuel West, as unitarians, arguably weren't Christians but theistic rationalists who elevated man's reason over revelation as the ultimate arbiter of truth. Some sermons from the Founding era that attempted to justify revolution by explaining away Romans 13 read like pro-gay ministers attempting to explain away the scriptural injunctions against homosexuality.

The ministers would typically look first to nature or reason to find the right to revolt. And indeed, they had to look outside the Bible because there is no right to rebel against tyrannical government contained therein. It's like looking for a right to engage in homosexual sex; it's not in the Bible. But those verses which forbid revolt can be "explained away" in context as not applying to present day or founding era circumstances (which is again, exactly what pro-gay Christians do with the parts of the Bible which forbid homosexuality).

I've blogged about this before where I examine a popular pro-revolt sermon from unitarian minister Samuel West. West finds right to revolt from "reason," and then proceeds to explain away "revelation" which forbids revolt -- Romans 13. When you consider that the leader Paul told believers to obey was not some "godly" ruler, but an unelected tyrant and a pagan psychopath to boot -- Nero -- we should see the difficulty in explaining such text away.

Samuel West made two points. The first was the epistle was supposedly written during the beginning of Nero's reign when he was "nicer," not towards the end when he was a tyrant. Even if true (I don't think history confirms West's assertion), this strikes me as invoking hair splitting context to reach a desired result, like concluding things like the Bible permits gay men to have oral sex because that is not "lying with a man," or that even if they did "lie with mankind," and commit an "abomination," that term means "ritual impurity," and is more like eating shellfish or the mixing of fabrics. The second point West made was if Paul said this when Nero was indeed acting tyrannical, he must not have meant it! This shows West's willingness disregard scripture which disagrees with what his reason concludes. (Maybe Paul didn't mean it either when he condemned homosexuality.) Again, this is "cafeteria" not orthodox Christianity, if it's fair to call West's theology Christianity at all.

And West's arguments were typical of a great deal of the patriotic sermons which attempted to justify America's revolt against Great Britain on theological grounds.

4 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

First, as Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.”>>

The Bible is not undemocratic, rather it is Republican.

Notice God is speaking.
Deut 1:
6The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount.

Another error by Dr. Kraynak:

“(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….There is nothing voluntary or consensual about the biblical covenant; and the most severe punishments are threatened by God for disobedience.”>>

And here the people agree to the Republican form of govt, with the Law as the foundation:
14And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.

Joshua 24:22
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

Deuteronomy 4:31
(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

Deuteronomy 5:2
The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.

“the Bible shows that God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and supports national liberation, not for the purpose of enjoying their political and economic rights, but for the purpose of putting on the yoke of the law in the polity of Moses.”>>

I disagree with Dr. Kraynak.

Ecclesiastes 3
13And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

Is not this the pursuit of happiness? This concept is based on love for God and his neighbor.
The law is not a yoke but it is liberty, as no one can take the liberty in Christ from you:

commanding duties to God, family, and neighbors rather than establishing protections for personal freedom.”>>

Dr. Kraynak is missing the entire point. Freedom and Liberty is inherent in obedience to God.

Romans 13. When you consider that the leader Paul told believers to obey was not some "godly" ruler, but an unelected tyrant and a pagan psychopath to boot -- Nero -- we should see the difficulty in explaining such text away.>>

Romans 13 is consistent with the Old Testament, Abram defeating the other Kingdoms to free Lot, etc.

Rom 13 only refers to good govt.

4For he is the minister of God to thee FOR GOOD. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

God here, also affirms the Death Penalty.

God, only ordains a good govt. The early church had a mission, not to overthrow Rome. There are hundreds of passages where God affirms the overthrow of wicked govt.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon,

By the way, where is that reference where Washington was too cunning to give an answer and thereby left them without an answer regarding his faith?

If you find it, can you post it on Hercules' foundation forum, on his reason pt 1,2 post.

Thanks

123 123 said...

Great article as for me. It would be great to read more concerning this theme.
By the way check the design I've made myself Female escorts

123 123 said...

Nice blog as for me. It would be great to read a bit more concerning this matter.
By the way look at the design I've made myself Overnight escort