Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christian Republicans Vote Ron Paul

Worldmag's Marvin Olasky does a predictable hitjob on Ron Paul in the crucial days of the Iowa campaign, written not by himself but by his friend D.C. Innes, got a beautiful and strong rebuttal by JJF:
D.C. Innes’s entire argument is based on this premise:
The Bible tells us that God established government for a limited purpose—to punish evil and praise well-doing (Romans 13:1-10; 1 Peter 2:14)—giving other responsibilities to individuals, families, and churches.
This tortured and politically motivated eisegesis (to borrow a term from another thread here) entirely ignores logic, context, and other Scripture.
There is an enormous unwarranted leap in logic here. From a Scripture passage that commands believers to obey the governing authorities because all authority comes ultimately from God who grants it to earthly servants to punish evil, it in no way follows that God thinks punishing evil is government’s only function. In other words, to say that X is a function of Y in no way implies that X is the ONLY function of Y.
D.C. entirely ignores the context. Paul is not writing a political tract like some 18th century philosophe justifying government and delimiting its powers. He is addressing believers who were being persecuted by the Roman government and exhorting them to obedience anyway. He may have been countering a rebellious impulse in the early church, who recoiled against the recent proclamation (some 50 years prior) that Caesar was a god. You cannot pretend that Paul’s audience in this passage is political philosophers and his intent is to define the scope of government.
Finally, D.C. ignores other Scripture in his gospel of conservatism. You cannot argue that government’s only biblical roles are punishing evil and praising good when the only government for which God directly and explicitly crafted rules (Old Testament Israel) had many other functions. Relevant to our discussion, God gave Israel rules about providing for the poor and the widows. These are precisely the sort of thing evangelical conservatives like Innes are saying fall outside the proper scope of government. I would not argue that because God commanded them for ancient Israel, they are likewise commanded for modern America; but since God established those rules himself, you cannot say that such rules are unbiblical because God likes small governments.
The biblical case for small government must begin with the corruption of human nature and argue that small governments are most effective given that corruption. The difficulty there is that you must use reasons and facts accessible to all. But this is an abuse of Scripture, to argue that Romans 13 is intended to limit the powers of government.
Finally, I will point out that if you want a government that “actively cultivates a moral environment that facilitates people’s ability to live their lives ‘godly and dignified in every way’”, then you do not want a small government! A government that is responsible for the “moral environment” of people’s private lives cannot possibly be “small” by any definition. You want the Puritan government of early Massachusetts. Though it was perhaps a “Biblical” government, it was most certainly not a “small” government.

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