Summary of Chapter #4: SECULAR LIBERALISM AND THE NEUTRAL STATE (Pgs.119-143)

310D727a2fL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

In this chapter Beckwith begins pointing out that Christians who support a liberal democracy (see chapter 2) nevertheless are dismayed at the fruits of incivility, relativism, and the use of tax dollars to support abortion, SSM (same sex marriage), and public education that’s less educative and more indoctrinative in nature.

In all spheres of life people have embraced “secular liberalism” as the position to maintain and safeguard democracy while simultaneously marginalizing “religious positions” for making public policy.  There’s much confusion concerning the term “religious” but it’s assumed by far too many people such that the  cultural haze is continues to be perpetuated.

After considering the aforesaid, Beckwith delves into the meaning of secular liberalism which at its core makes the individual king when moral disputes arise in order to resolve them.  That is, the individual is ultimate never the state nor any “religious” tradition, all of which is a relativized view of the “good life”.

When it comes to the meaning of “secular” Beckwith notes that restraints on citizens can only be enforced through “non-religious” arguments or worldviews.  The problem of definition of course obtains but no one bothers with this.  They just assume everyone “knows” the meaning being employed.  In other words, “religion” brings bondage to citizens, but the “secular” non-religious bring liberty.   The state here may even pay for the poor to have an abortion, but it must never stop said procedures from obtaining lest personal liberty be hindered.

The reality here is that a relativistic presupposition is being employed in absolute terms.  It’s Secular Liberalism that’s largely responsible for advocating SSM, Abortion, etc., which is fine because the reasons used to support such acts are secular, not religious.  That’s bogus because it’s also coming from a worldview that is absolutely not neutral but “closed minded”.

Beckwith continues and points out three arguments used to advocate (SL) that doesn’t measure up to rationality and are thus self-refuting in nature.  First, is the Golden Rule argument advanced by philosopher Robert Audi which holds that we ought not to impose our religious viewpoint on those who disagree with us because we would not want that done to us.  Two problems obtain here; one is that the term “religious” is vague and second there’s always a worldview governing human affairs telling us what is and is not good.  Why is SL better than a “religious” point of view?  Beckwith then uses examples which either expose SL’s relativism or radical subjectivism [pgs123-132].

Second, there’s the Secular Argument which essentially hi-jacks reason to mean “non-religious in nature” but Beckwith rightly points out that reason has the properties of either true or false  right or wrong, not black or white, religious or non-religious.  This muddies the waters of reason and clarity  and is used to justify the issue of abortion [pgs.133-138].

Third, there’s the Err on the Side of Liberty argument which ends up being not just obtusely incoherent but also shoots itself in the foot when applied to itself [pgs.139-142].  Beckwith concludes the chapter by pointing out that secular liberalism is no more dogmatic in its stance than any “religious” view ever has been.  The irrationality here is legion and yet largely goes undetected by throngs of people.  It’s bizarre.

Advertisements

Summary of Chapter 2: LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN (Pgs.59-89)

310D727a2fL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Beckwith begins the chapter by explaining that Liberal Democracy (LD) has been absent from most of history and thus our Christian heritage.  Yet, Christians have largely embraced (LD) because it accentuates the liberty to worship, holds governments accountable, empowers people to form the mores of society, and because it seems consistent with the Christian worldview concerning its views of  persons and natural rights which are grounded on natural law (NL).

The term Liberal concerns the freedoms government is to guarantee and Democracy refers to the principle of self-governance and equality each citizen possess before the law.  Beckwith notes that self-governance deals with having a representative government which is ultimately accountable to the people.  Thus, for (LD) to work well a nation must be under the rule of law and have a developed civil society.  These laws are to be equally applied to every citizen and under all of this must obtain 1st principles that are unassailable by government or the masses thus guaranteeing the proper use of power to move a nation.

Accordingly, the duty of government is to protect certain freedoms while simultaneously having limited power by the law and individuals they protect.  For this to work and society to flourish, individuals must be civil.  This is where the problem with a relativistic society comes in.  Such a society kills objective truth, the result is that might makes right and the mob mentality wins the day because no “1st principles” exist above the people.  Sadly, we’re there today.

Beckwith continues and explains that by separation of powers each branch of government has jurisdictional authority to perform their duties unique to themselves.  This often affords a compromise of views held between differing parties and ultimately reduces the occasion for despotism or tyranny to arise.  Historically the Parties in the USA have been the Democratic-Republican Party and the Federalist Party.  Today, it’s the Democrats and Republicans holding opposing views on many issues precious to Christians (e.g., the state of the unborn, gay rights, public education policies, religion/state relations, etc.)

The Christian citizen is the subject of two cities (e.g., one of earth and one of heaven).  As resident aliens, Beckwith accentuates the fact that justice and doing good to others is based on people being created in the image of God and both Church and State can work together to achieve such ends.  Yet, the Church must beware of backing government programs which would halt evangelism.  Doing justice is part of God’s rebuke of the nations in the Old Testament and the Good Samaritan as a swift reprimand to the Church in the New Testament (Pgs.68-69).

Inevitably, to love neighbor will require that God’s truth interrupt the cultural moral climate and when this obtains, true tolerance is carried out and thus true civility will obtain.  For this to happen, it’s critical for Christians to know the laws of the land in order to use them for the advancement of the common good as Paul often did in the book of Acts with his Roman citizenship.

Beckwith accentuates how Paul understood that all authority comes from God (Rom.13) but it’s also limited.  Significant also is to fight the split view of knowledge within Western Society that says Science gives us objective facts binding on everyone and religion provides only private subjective values binding only on the community holding said values.  For when people have this view of knowledge it prevents the Christian worldview from even being considered for making public policy.

Beckwith holds that supporting non-Christian candidates can be done and sometimes it should be done, the grounds of which is competence to rule rather than religious persuasion.  A major mistake to avoid is to think that only a “religious” view (whatever that means) is not neutral.  The fact is that neutrality is impossible specifically because everyone has a worldview from which they try to make sense out of reality.  Thus, worldviews play a vital role in deciding the desirability of a candidate.  Moreover, one can champion democracy and natural law and be informed by their theological position for the good.

Reflections From JUDGES 17-21: WHEN TRUTH IS DEAD AND GOD FORSAKEN RELATIVISM RULES!

46638940.cached

          What a sad dreadful account of a people who have forsaken the LORD and thus, “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (21:25). Twice is the following refrain found in this account of Israel’s history:

“…There was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes”

 After the account of Samson’s life, this book recounts the idolatry of a mother (17:3-6), the cruelty done to a concubine (19:22-30), and the war among Israelites. It’s as if being leaderless (no king) leads Israel into lawlessness (21:25) which ends in the unbridled slaughter of many—anarchy.

This book is a reminder to me that when the Creator is forsaken, human flourishing does not obtain, but dehumanizing acts against image bearers result.  This happens incrementally and gains momentum to the point that cruelty is out of control and mayhem is the fallout.

(SDG)

Reflections From JUDGES 1-2: A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE FORSAKE THE GOD OF THE COVENANT

46638940.cachedREFLECTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF JUDGES: My goal in writing reflections from Judges are the following: First, to encourage you the reader that if you will pay attention to the words on the page and listen carefully you will mine a lot of truth for life without the need of a commentary or any secondary source.  That is, “take up and read” to enrich your soul Christian.

Second, I write to give you a model of how observations can be done in scripture that do not read into the text something foreign to the author’s intent.  This will help you experience the joy of discovery and increase your confidence in your ability to comprehend God’s word.

Third, by doing the above my hope is that you will be able to hear God’s voice all the more clearly and follow Him all the more closer.  For, it is the word of God that is forever settled in heaven, and not our subjective impressions however valid they may be.  That is, we have a more sure word of prophecy according to Peter—meaning the inscripturated word of God—then a glorious experience we may claim to have (2 Peter 1:16-21).  Too often we Christians have bizarre ideas of what “God” is supposedly speaking to us and when it contradicts the Bible, be assured we are not hearing his voice.

JUDGES 1-2: A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE FORSAKE THE GOD OF THE COVENANT

            Joshua the son of Nun is dead (2:8), most of Israel does not take complete possession of the land (1:27-34), because they had forsaken the God of the covenant and wandered in their hearts to worship and serve the gods of the nations they had conquered (2:1-5).  Israel continuously served the Baals, thus forsaking the LORD, the God of their fathers and thus provoked God to anger (2:11-13).

Just as the LORD fought for Israel against her enemies, now He was in a sense Israel’s enemy and would fight them (2:14-15).  God’s anger rightly burned against Israel because they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the worship of created things—“gods”—which are no gods at all but rather demons leading them astray from worshipping the pone true God.  Thus, God gave them over and yet, in their rebellion, God still sends them judges to rescue them from their enemies (2:16-18).

But the cycle of unbelief returned on the death of these judges and Israel’s wickedness would increasingly outdo the previous generation’s unrighteousness because they forsook the LORD:

19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died   (2:19-21)

When rebellion is at an all-time high Gods anger will be kindled against unrighteousness and would result in God no longer fighting for Israel in order to test whether or not Israel would be faithful to the LORD:

23 So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.(2:23)

 Forever God’s word is settled in heaven, thus what He promises to do, will be fulfilled whether or not it’s favorable to us (2:1-5).  His faithfulness which springs from his holiness is such that God will always keep His promises (even if it hurts His people for a time).  This is because from Him, and through him, and back to Him are all things.  God’s the author of the drama, people are the players in this redemptive story and when God’s own forsakes Him, death awaits—except for mercy.

This scenario of rebellion and restoration, sin and salvation, and victims becoming victors is a biblical theme.  It reminds us that when the God of creation decrees a thing and choses a people, there’s never a dull moment because the choices people make are significant and thus have real life consequences.

(SDG)