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A View from the Altar / Limited government? How come?
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Limited government? How come?

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Nimrod be hatin’ on the Apostles

The Republican primary elections are now officially underway, and it’s worth pointing out that the mainstream media are using it to drive their own agenda.  It runs like the silent news ticker beneath the talking head on Fox, and it demands the body politic be moved as far from Jesus Christ as it’s possible to get. The old political order was Judeo-Christian. The new one pointedly won’t be. They’re applying what pressure they can to turn America away from both Sinai and Calvary back to Babel.

And no, that sort of clamor isn’t new, as the quote from Psalm 2 shows. But Christians should remember that if they listen to ABCCBSMSNBCCNN, they’re hearing people who are, for the most part, contemptuous of Christ and the Christian heritage of the West. The news media are dominated, if you will, by those raging heathen.  Media personalities openly despise candidates such as Mr. Santorum (whom I do not support, by the way) whom they regard rightly or wrongly as principled Christians.

You can imagine that if media folks were challenged on this, they’d likely explain why they don’t like religion mixing with politics (causes wars, they’d affirm confidently).  They might even explain why Christians shouldn’t bring their religious views into politics.  What’s harder for them to explain, and in fact I suspect them of being in denial on this point, is why they harbor such a squinty-eyed loathing for people like Santorum, Palin, Bachmann, and others whom they perceive as Christians.  They want rid of Christian influence, and they want rid of the people who bring this influence.  Those who doubt this aren’t paying attention.

The simple explanation for their animus is that they believe it’s “us” Christians against “them” secularists.  They are not prepared to understand, nor would they believe if they did understand, that true Christianity is the fountain from which their right to dissent flows.  This is our well.  We aren’t about to poison it.

Inherent limits

In swinging an axe at the Christian roots of America, therefore, the Secular Man truly knows not what he does. Christianity is the only belief system with an inherent reason for limiting government.  Christianity sees government as instituted by God for a specific set of purposes that benefit man.  It is subject to God and therefore subject to his law.  When government rebels against God by transgressing his law or neglecting its just duties, it ceases to benefit man, forfeits its just authority, and becomes legitimately subject to overthrow.  In this way, Christianity naturally gives rise to the idea of a limited government, limited, that is, by God Almighty.

There is no such limitation built into the chief rival religion of the West, secularism. If the Secular Man gets his way, it’ll be his way, and nothing in the innards of that philosophy can frame the concept of pulling up short of a totalitarian state.

Limits from separation

Not only does Christianity provide a reason for limiting government, but its very concept of the ecclesiastical power being distinct from the civil power is a priceless Gospel bequest to the West.  Government by its very nature is organized force.  Resistance against its inevitable overreaches requires some other organized power.  The Gospel church is an obvious candidate for this check on state power, but not the only one.  Once it became clear that there could be organized opposition to state power, then people organized all kinds of ways to protect their own interests.  Mo’ power to ’em, says I, but please remember: In America, this got started with the church, not the Freemasons or Kiwanis Club.

The Welfare drift

The country is so divided right now that it really doesn’t know which way to turn.  Lots people like the idea of freedom and enjoy chanting slogans in favor of it, but quite honestly the most potent political force in the country is the amassed greed of the slight majority of voters who are getting a check from the government.  That has become a sort of high speed continental drift in which the whole body politic traces out its moves on a stage that relentlessly moves left because of the tectonic power of giveaways multiplied by 150 million hands held out, palms up.

There are some people who understand that the welfare state cannot forever coexist with private property rights.  One or the other must prevail in the end, and for right now, the men with the guns are being controlled by the greed of the people who want free checks.  Without private property rights, there can be ultimately no other rights, and so there you are.

Chasing the train

Further, with Christianity being ever more banished from political discussion, the basic American idea of government being limited is also falling away.  People advocating for limited government must feel like a dog chasing a train; they’re running and barking and it’s receding from view. Fewer people question government power grabs any more, let alone challenge them, and the discussions of policies is almost invariably pragmatic rather than principled. Will warrantless wiretaps result in privacy violations? Will the president use recent legislation to essentially eradicate the right of habeas corpus?  Will it inflame Arab tensions if the president, minus Congress, commits U.S. fighting forces in Libya?  All pragmatic, weighing immediate results, none of it principled, weighing matters against the Word of God or even asking what sort of civilization we are building.

The probability is low that we will hold onto a nominally Christian concept of limited government.  In its place, the growth of the state.  The upcoming election is the most serious in my lifetime.  If the growth of the state cannot be checked here, then unlimited government is where we are headed, sooner or later.  Some political issues that matter much:
● repealing ObamaCare
● recapturing Congressional authority over the President’s war powers
● reasserting citizens’ rights under the Bill of Rights
● shoving back hard against the welfare state
● shoving back even harder against the regulatory establishment

If God graciously grants us a president (Christian or not) who comprehends why these issues matter to the founding principles of the country, we’ll know we have found another season of grace in his sight. And if not, then we’ll know we have only ourselves to blame for what may be about to follow.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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