August 29, 2015

Christian Fascists of the World, Unite!

Looks like someone read my previous post on the Biblical Party (link). But in all seriousness, the platform of this so-called Christian Party (link) is tyrannical and socialistic. Here are a few of the most egregious examples (along with my commentary in italics):

August 28, 2015

Helping Some by Hurting Others

Edmund Opitz wrote the following in response to a Christian socialist. In the space of a few short paragraphs he delivers a devastating critique of the social gospel as well as a concise explanation of libertarian principles:
Every law supersedes the will of some individuals, forcing them to do what their own will and conscience would not lead them to do; or, conversely, restrains them from doing what they want to do or think they ought to do. It is morally right to use legal force to frustrate criminal action for the protection of peaceful citizens. But the use of legal force against peaceful citizens is something else again. . . . When you advocate that a given social end be accomplished by means of government action, the construction of housing, say, you will persuade a few people. You would not, however, persuade people like myself who would regard your scheme as morally and economically unsound. Even though you could not persuade me, you could, if you succeeded in capturing the machinery of government for your purpose, force me to go along with you. I would be legally deprived of my property to further your scheme. If I decided to cast prudence aside and stand by my principles to the bitter end, I would be the victim of physical violence by agents of the state . . . This is not what you advocate, but it is the end product of your advocacy. If you are opposed to this end-product, you should desist from advocating the course of political action which produces it. [1]

1. Opitz, Edmund. The Libertarian Theology of Freedom (Hallberg, 1999), p. 32.

August 27, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • Stephen Colbert. Friend or foe? (link)
  • Here's some grist for the conspiracy mill: Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are both descended from the same royal bloodline (link). 
  • Weird stuff (link). Is this part of a pagan ritual or something?
  • You know you're living in a police state when conservatives start calling for police reform (link).
  • And on that note, here's William Norman Grigg: "Committing aggressive violence is the priestly prerogative of the police officer. Protecting one's self or a loved one from such violence is an impermissible sacrilege." (link)
  • How conservative is Carly Fiorina? (link)
  • The five points of . . . Amillennialism?! (link)
  • Joel McDurmon: "I am perfectly fine if people hold a different eschatology than me. Let's have a good discussion and debate! But the moment any Christian tries to trump the authority of Scripture with anything, especially some version of 'God told me so,' they have left the realm of Christian discussion and entered the realms of humanism or occultism." (link)
  • The abortion debate isn't really about when life begins. Science settled that debate a while back (link). The real question isn't "When does life begin?" but "Is human life intrinsically valuable?" Put in those terms, the answer should be obvious.

August 26, 2015

How Should We Then Vote?

What if there were a political party that represented Christian ethics and values? Let's call it the Biblical Party.

Many Christians believe that one of the two dominant political parties does (more or less) represent Christian ethics and values. Many conservative Evangelicals believe that the Republican party fits the bill. Those on the Evangelical Left often believe that the Democrats represent true Christian morality.

If pressed, though, I imagine many of these voters would admit that there is a smaller political party which more closely represents the ideal of the Biblical Party. For conservatives it might be the Constitution Party or the Prohibition Party (yes, it still exists). For progressives it might be the Green Party or the Socialist Workers Party. Yet, they don't vote for the BP (whichever party it might be). They continue to vote for one of the big two.

How different would the political landscape be if all Christians voted for the BP? Would it be enough to end the reign of terror being perpetrated by the two wings of the establishment (namely the Dems and the GOP)?

What if not just Christians but everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, voted his conscience? Surely that would be enough to end the two-party system. Although I don't think most of these third-party candidates would be good for America, I can think of several good things that might come from an end to the current duopoly.

Short term, this strategy would be political suicide. It might have long-term potential, though.

For me personally, I think I'm done voting for the lesser of two evils. One vote among millions doesn't really matter anyway,* so I might as well vote for the BP.

*Particularly in a state with two electoral votes where a Republican win is a foregone conclusion.

The Hugo Awards: A Political Parable

The Hugo Awards, for those who are unaware, are the equivalent of the Oscars for science fiction and fantasy literature. Like the actual Oscars, the winners are often chosen for political reasons regardless of quality. Some voters, by their own admission, actually vote based on the politics of the authors irrespective of the messages presented in the works themselves. In reaction to this phenomenon, a conservative coalition (calling themselves the sad puppies) has formed to fight back against the social-justice warriors in order to award works based on quality rather than political correctness. You can read about all this in more detail here and here.

My primary interest in the story of the sad puppies vs. the social-justice warriors is how closely it parallels the current political scene in America. Progressives have seized the reigns of power and are now punishing those who disagree with them. Reactionary conservatives are trying desperately to retake their seat at the head of the table. Libertarians? They just want to be left alone (link).

August 25, 2015

Donald Trump: Pros and Cons

  • He's rich, so he can't be bought. (Or can he? See below.)
  • He doesn't care about political correctness.
  • He's a political outsider.
  • He says things other candidates are afraid to say.
  • He doesn't back down.
  • He refuses to play by the establishment's rules. 
  • He believes the Iraq War was a bad idea, so he's better than average on foreign policy.
  • It's questionable whether or not he really believes most of what he says (typical of political figures). He might be saying what he thinks conservatives want to hear.
  • He's against free trade.
  • His plan for immigration reform (seen by many as his biggest strength) is unrealistic and economically short-sighted.
  • Despite his personal wealth, he may be beholden to even wealthier backers. I don't know this for a fact, of course, but it's a possibility. Even the wealthiest candidates rarely finance their own campaigns.
  • He's an authoritarian. He may very well attempt to push the limits of executive power if elected (like Obama . . . and Bush).
  • Even if he's right on a few important issues, it's likely due to pragmatic concerns rather than principle.
Overall Evaluation
Trump's drawbacks are shared by most of the other candidates, while his strengths are mostly unique. His immigration plan is terrible, but it probably won't be implemented even if he wins. Trump would probably not make a good president. Despite all this, I still think he's better than most of his competitors (Carson, Bush, Fiorina, etc.).

August 20, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • Does Tom Ascol realize how incredibly damaging Trump's immigration plan is? It doesn't seem like it (link). Trump's immigration plan is nonsense which, if implemented, will hurt the economy and cause a massive ramp-up of the police state (link, link, link, link, link)
  • How should biblical manhood and womanhood look in the workplace? Should women serve as police officers? John Piper answers (link). Aimee Byrd responds (link). 
  • I like Ben Carson less every time he speaks. He's not consistently pro-life (link). This is unfortunate, since that's about all he had going for him. Are conservative Evangelicals actually listening to this guy? Or do they simply blindly follow anyone who claims to be one of their own?
  • Why do intellectuals hate capitalism? (link)
  • Who is responsible for the GOP's lurch to the left? Rich guys who make a hobby of buying and selling politicians (link).
  • What does it mean for a woman to respect a man? (link)
  • So-called progressives are actually pro-slavery: "I constantly see the left demand 'free' stuff be provided to everyone at the expense of everyone else. Underlying their demands is a serious moral contention worth discussing. In essence, they would coerce a producer into service and compel other people to pay the costs." (link
  • Brian Jacobson: "Hillary is a war criminal just like her husband, but don’t hold your breath for her being prosecuted . . . Hillary Clinton has never met a war she didn’t like. That the Democrats have voted for every one of Obama’s and Bush’s failed wars and interventions. That this was Hillary’s war in Libya and everyone on that GOP stage supported Obama and Hillary." (link)
  • Cal Beisner explains Clarkian apologetics and contrasts it with Van Tillian presuppositionalism (link).

August 19, 2015

Democrats and Socialists and Republicans, Oh My!

Mitchell Blatt points out that the Democrats are having a hard time distinguishing themselves from self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders (link).

Libertarians like Laurence Vance (and yours truly) have a hard time distinguishing the GOP establishment from self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders (link).

What's the point? The differences between the two parties are more rhetoric than reality.

A vote for the Democrats or the Republicans is a vote for the establishment. It's a vote for the status quo. It's a vote for business as usual. The only solution is to start voting for independent or third-party candidates (no, not Donald Trump whose only advantage over the establishment candidates is that he speaks his mind and doesn't care about political correctness) and to keep doing it until it's seen as a viable option by the electorate at large.

Unfortunately, while this strategy has long-term potential, it could be disastrous in the short term. How so? Here's the thing: even though both parties are terrible, one party is clearly worse than the other. The GOP is bad. The Dems are worse. While all of us independent, anti-establishment types are busy working to end the two-party bottleneck, we'll be doing nothing to stop the worst of the worst from holding on to the reigns of power in the short term.

What's the answer? I don't know. I'm not sure there is one.

August 13, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • Some folks think that communism/socialism is biblical. Nope. Not even a little. (link).
  • Against the bloodthirsty Fox News crowd, C. Jay Engel argues that the recent Iran deal is actually a good thing (link). 
  • Jeb Bush has some explaining to do, and some influential people don't want you to know about it (link).
  • Since when are citizens expected to agree with the law? Isn't it enough to follow the law? "We need to remember an important distinction in the matter of law: if there is a ruling on the books that homosexuals may get married, then that means that the state cannot prosecute homosexuals who get a marriage license. That ruling cannot be made into a bludgeon to silence all dissent" (link). 
  • Wesley J. Smith points out the inherent inconsistency of the transhumanist movement: "Transhumanists say that humans are not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough–and we die way too soon!" (link)
  • To deny logic is to deny truth, and, without truth, theology is impossible. "To assert that contradictions or irresolvable paradoxes exist in revelation is to accuse God of irrationality" (link).
  • Is Rand Paul the real deal? The jury is still out. He at least talks the talk, though (link).

August 12, 2015

Is the U. S. a Christian Nation?

I often hear the claim that the U. S. is a "Christian nation."

The term "Christian nation" is ambiguous. It could simply mean a nation that has been significantly influenced by Christianity throughout all or most of its history. If that's all one means by "Christian nation" then it's not problematic, but I think those who use the term often mean more.

August 11, 2015

Jihadis in Heaven

"I don't want to go to Heaven if he/she/they will be there."

Someone recently expressed this sentiment to me, and I'd like to offer a few thoughts.

August 10, 2015

My Thoughts on the Republican Presidential Candidates

This post contains quite a few links to The Reformed Libertarian as I rarely disagree with their analysis. I don't claim to have anything particularly original to offer, but here are my thoughts on most of the Republican presidential hopefuls:

August 09, 2015

The Southern Baptist Socialist

Who's the old white guy railing against income inequality? Is it self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders? Or Republican presidential candidate (and Southern Baptist minister) Mike Huckabee?

August 08, 2015

Even When Bernie Sanders Agrees with Conservatives, He's Still Wrong

When Jack Butler of The Federalist notices that self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders agrees with the GOP on a few issues, he concludes that Sanders must not be that bad (link).

I draw the opposite conclusion. When I notice that the GOP's neoconservative establishment agrees with an avowed Socialist, I conclude that they are that bad.

Review: 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord's Supper by John Hammett

Hammett, John S. 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord's Supper (Kregel, 2015), 336 pp.

The latest in Kregel's 40 Questions series covers two of the most contentious issues in Christian theology—baptism and the Lord's Supper. According to author John Hammett, "No practices are more characteristic of Christianity than baptism and the Lord's Supper. . . . But while the these practices have been almost universal among Christians, the understanding of these practices has been far from uniform. In fact, the different understandings that have developed over the years have prompted the questions this book seeks to answer" (p. 9).

August 04, 2015

Review: The Paranormal Conspiracy by Timothy Dailey

Dailey, Timothy. The Paranormal Conspiracy: The Truth About Ghosts, Aliens, and Mysterious Beings (Chosen Books, 2015), 208 pp.

Western culture has taken a turn for the strange. If you don't believe me, just turn on the television. Wildlife and World War II documentaries have been replaced by shows about bigfoot and UFOs. The travel channel has its own ghost-hunting show. What accounts for this fascination with all things fortean? Is there something sinister at work behind this cultural zeitgeist? What are Christians to make of these phenomena? The Paranormal Conspiracy is author Timothy Dailey's attempt to answer these questions.

August 03, 2015

Slapped by the Unseen Hand

Anyone with a basic knowledge of sound economic principles would have seen this coming: CEO who set his firm's minimum wage to $70K hits hard times

Which raises the question: How did such an economic imbecile become so wealthy in the first place? 

That I don't know. But I do know this: the laws of economics don't care about social justice or political correctness. The so-called dismal science is no respecter of persons. Economist Adam Smith wrote of an invisible hand which governs the market. As a Bible-believing Christian, I believe Smith's metaphor was on point. The laws of economics describe the way things work in God's world. They are what they are because the world is what it is, and the world is what it is because God has decreed it so. God providentially guides the market process with an unseen hand.

There are plenty who see the absurdity of a $70,000 a year minimum wage who fail to draw the obvious conclusion. This is actually a reductio ad absurdum of the entire concept of the minimum wage. (Not convinced? See here and here for explanation.)

I don't doubt the good intentions of those who advocate minimum wage laws, but good intentions often make for bad policy. Minimum wage laws are based on a poor understanding of economics  Minimum wage laws, then, are based on a poor understanding of the way things actually work in God's world. As the aforementioned CEO found out, those who flout the laws of economics are in danger of getting slapped by the unseen hand.

August 01, 2015

Warmongering Anabaptists

Something ironic just occurred to me. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is leading the charge among the reactionary, non-Calvinist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention to recover the convention's supposed Anabaptist roots (see this book for example).

What is so ironic about this? Paige Patterson, like most of the SBC establishment, is a hawkish neoconversative (Patterson is a member of the Council for National Policy). Yet pacifism is one the distinctives of the Anabaptists. It would seem, then, that the affection that Patterson and his cronies have for the Anabaptists is not mutual. The pacifistic Anabaptists would be appalled by the warmongering of much of the Christian right which Patterson represents.

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