Friday, June 4, 2010

Observation From John Jay, Federalist No. 2

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Professing the same religion? Indeed!

So now, if we no longer are a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, what does that suggest?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Warning From Hamilton, Federalist Paper No. 1

On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting Our State Priorities Right

One good thing about having state budgetary problems is that it forces the government to rethink priorities and first principles. What is really important to the state? When a state is flush with cash it is easy to make everyone happy and dole out the money. I should be quick to add that this shouldn’t be the case, but what politician doesn’t want to make people happy? The benefit of times such as these is that politicians are forced to assess what is important and make appropriate judgments. They can politically hide behind the need to keep the state solvent. Hopefully, in the course of their assessment we can all learn something important as we move to regain control of our government.

So what is important? In order to answer this question we must ask a more basic question; what is the function of government? Isn’t the most basic function of government the execution of justice? The execution of justice is embodied in punishing the evil doer and rewarding the doer of good. And, in the most basic analysis, the best way to reward the doer of good is to get out of his way, give him freedom. The book of Romans captures this idea when it says,
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. Romans 13:1-6.

If we postulate that the execution of justice is government’s core or primary goal and rewarding the good and punishing the evil is the essence of justice, the next logical question is does each expenditure further the cause of justice. Each individual may have laudable goals in spending money. To bring beauty to our community, to help the poor, and to help the sick are all laudable goals. But are these laudable goals justice? Just because a goal is laudable does not cause it to be just. Such expenditures do not necessarily punish the evil doer nor do they immediately reward the doer of good. In actuality, such expenditures may foster injustice. In these tough times we are forced to look beyond the superficial emotions of feeling good about helping those in need. The current under the surface that we see in these tough times is that we must impose taxes on people to accomplish these purposes. In order to accomplish these “good” deeds we must tax the doers of good to accomplish them, thereby reducing their ability to do good deeds.

Again, a little Scripture helps. Israel asked for a king. God, through Samuel, gave them a king. However, Samuels’s observations are instructive. “He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.” I Sam 8:15-17. Taxation imposes slavery.

There is another problem with the government’s involvement with philanthropy. Philanthropy calls for the affecting of culture. If the core function of government is to execute justice, the government should give a blind eye to affecting culture. Remember, the symbol of justice is the woman with a blindfold holding the scales of justice. How can the scales be balanced when the woman is looking through the blindfold to affect culture?

There is nothing wrong with blessing culture. However, the culture must be blessed in the right way for there to be true blessing. There are two institutions in this fair creation which are designed for blessing culture: the Church and family. The problem with government usurping these natural roles of the Church and family is that it diminishes their capability to execute their natural roles. Mark my words: as healthcare becomes a right dispensed by the federal tyrant, the field of healthcare will become devoid of charitable motivation and filled with litigation. This is not the culture our founders wanted. They desired a culture with freedom of speech, assembly and religion where people could gather to benefit their fellow man, not a culture based on what could be secured from others through the use of federal power.

Another example of setting priorities is in the area of the arts. Art more than any other expression of man affects culture. Again, government has no role in affecting culture. Therefore, it is counter to the role of government to give to the arts. Culture should be affected by the free flow of ideas, including especially the arts, with the Church and the family engaging in the dialogue. To the extent government takes through taxes from some to elevate the artistic expression of others to affect culture, this is injustice and should be stopped.

In these tough times we must reassess our priorities in our own lives and in our governing institutions. Let us ask the basic questions: what is the primary role of our government. If we get the basic questions and answers right, we can get our culture back on track. God bless the State of Missouri and the United States of America.

What is the Authority of the States?

What is the authority of the state in the United States of America? The Declaration of Independence has much to say in this regard. Toward the end of the Declaration, the Continental Congress declared,

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

Notice the use of the word “state.” The Declaration affirms that the colonies ought to be free and independent states. It uses the same word to describe the nation of Great Britain. Therefore, in the Declaration, the Continental Congress declared each colony to be a free nation, with the same standing among the community of nations as the nation of Great Britain.

It is only with the adoption of the U.S. Constitution that these free and independent states covenanted and agreed to bind themselves into a covenantal relationship. Covenants are agreements; some may claim they are sacred agreements before God on which the right to govern is expressed and regulated. The U.S. Constitution is one such covenant. In the U.S. Constitution, the states bound themselves together for their mutual benefit, delegating limited power to a federal or covenantal authority. As the founding entities, it is the states that are the ultimate arbiter of the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.

The states, being the free and independent entities on which the authority of the U.S. Constitution was founded have the primary right and power to act as they see fit as long as such action does not contradict the sacred commitment. The tenth Amendment recognizes this truth and does not grant this truth in these words: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Once again the authority is clear. The tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that the states “delegate” certain powers to the United States and all other powers are “reserved” to the states or the people.

As we move into an era of increasing tyranny from the United States located in Washington, D.C., let us remember that it is the states which must act unless such action is specifically limited by the U.S. Constitution. The burden of proof is on the federal tyrant to show that its will is consistent with the limited authority granted by the states.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Take on the Federal Vision Controversy 2

In a previous post I opined that it is wrong to equate the order of salvation to the means of grace in a way that would call for either to be equivalent on the other. The order of salvation is within God’s purview. Faith, our response to God’s call, is in our purview. To insert our own conclusions into God’s election is highly presumptuous on our part, whether we are proponent or opponents of Federal Vision.

A case in point is our Lord himself. During His earthly life, Jesus refused to presume upon His Father. If any human being had the right to ever presume upon the electing purposes of the Father, it was His one and only Son. However, Jesus refused such presumption, following the course of obedience to the covenant instead. When asked when the end of the world would occur, he confessed that such knowledge was strictly within the purview of the Father. Before His crucifixion He requested that the cup of the curse be taken from Him, yet obediently He committed to the will of the Father. And He was commended for His obedience:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11.

Indeed, in a very striking verse, we are told that Jesus was being taught obedience through what he suffered.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:7-11.

Jesus, being God, did not grasp at the privilege of declaring those who were elect but submitted himself to circumcision, baptism and the Sabbath, the covenantal means of grace of His time. He fulfilled all holiness. He was obedient to the commands of His Father and relied on His promises. How much more should we?

If we are obedient to the commands of our Father, we will baptize our infants and we will take the Lord’s Supper as He prescribed through Jesus. If we rely on the promises made in baptism, we will confess that baptism now saves us in some fashion. If we rely on the promises made in the Lords Supper, we will confess that, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 11:26-27.