Thursday, November 13, 2008

Babka v. Frazer Rerun:

A few years ago I hosted a debate between Jim Babka and Gregg Frazer on my personal blog and Positive Liberty. I'm "rerunning" that debate over at American Creation for the courtesy of those readers who may have missed it the first time. But newer readers of readers of my personal blog and Positive Liberty might be interested in that debate as well. Check it out.

In the latest post Frazer Replies to Babka II Gregg Frazer hits upon something noteworthy. Frazer is a fundamentalist who believes the Bible is the inerrant infallible Word of God. His honest, literal interpretation of the Bible leads him to conclude a) that the concept of political liberty (whether what today's libertarians desire or the "unalienable right to liberty" as invoked in the Declaration of Independence) is not found within the Bible's text, and b) a proper understanding of Romans 13 teaches America's Founders sinned when they revolted against Great Britain when they should have submitted. As Frazer writes:

That view –- based on what Romans 13 actually says -- was the majority view throughout the history of the church up to that point. Jonathan Boucher and Samuel Seabury (for example) were prominent Anglican ministers who argued the traditional literal (and biblical) view of Romans 13 and against revolution.

....Regarding I Samuel 8...the primary point is that Israel rejected God as their king and that any human regime which follows will inherently be inferior. Second, a warning about kings is not equivalent to support for political liberty. Before this time, Israel was ruled by a series of judges and before that by Moses. All of them, like the first two kings to follow, were appointed by God – not expressions of political liberty. The reason rule by the kings would be worse was that they had rejected God – not because they would lose political liberty. They had no less political liberty under the kings than they did under Moses. In fact, they ended up with more “liberty” (in the libertarian sense) under the kings because the kings abandoned the Law of God which regulated every aspect of their lives! As Jonathan Boucher pointed out, God does not express concern about political liberty in the Bible. God is concerned about spiritual liberty – freedom from the bonds of sin.

Frazer's point that Tory preachers Jonathan Boucher and Samuel Seabury followed what the Bible actually says and the Whig preachers followed, not scripture, but Locke's Enlightenment teachings has the effect of ripping the rug out from underneath the "Christian Nation" thesis. The Tory preaches posited "Christian principles"; the Whig preachers posited "Enlightenment principles."

I'll say this: Romans 13 is one of the passages of the Bible whose interpretation can be reasonably disputed. Theologically orthodox Christians who believe the Bible the inerrant, infallible Word of God, yet who argue the compatibility between the Bible and the Declaration of Independence must at the very least concede the following: That Jonathan Boucher and Samuel Seabury literally interpreted the Bible in good faith and determined the right answer was submit to Great Britain, not rebel. Reasonable people may disagree over how to properly interpret Romans 13. But reasonable people cannot possibly conclude that Boucher and Seabury were not arguing their case for submission to Great Britain/against American rebellion in good conscience from the Bible/Christian principles.

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