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I still have some tidying up to do, but comments seems to be working. Go for it Gene.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
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Monday, October 30, 2006
Greg Boyd said,
The kingdom of God is not the most "Christian" party winning power in the nation, but all political parties dying.
Jesus did not come to give us a new and improved version of the kingdom of the world, He came to bring us a Kingdom not of this world (Jn. 18:36).
The kingdom of God is not a Christian nation, but all nations dying.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
In the Magnificat, Mary prophesied what God would do through Jesus.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;Mary did not prophesy that kings would be replaced by constitutional democracies. She did not say that Herod would establish a department of social welfare or start providing food stamps. She warned that rulers would be brought down from their thrones and the ordinary people would be able to govern themselves. She said that the poor would be able to provide themselves with food through God’s blessings on their own endeavours.
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).
If kings are brought down from their thrones, kingdoms must go too. They do not get replaced by nation states or parliaments, but by communities networked in the Kingdom of God.
God kept his word and destroyed Herod’s power in AD 70. Then he destroyed the Roman Empire. The Church missed the point, and tried to prop up the Roman empire, by establishing the Holy Roman empire.
The Church has been trying to maintain the power of the state ever since. We have been fighting against Mary’s prophecy, because we do not understand the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is King, then parliament is not.
When Jesus is enthroned,
human governments are dethroned.
Friday, October 27, 2006
As the Kingdom of God expands, human governments will be transformed. God will shake them, so they collapse. Christians must be prepare to share the gospel when this happens. We must also be ready to explain how God’s government works.
Civil government will shrink. Authority will be pushed down and diffused among many people.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Justice is limited to theft and violence. The punishment of theft is limited to restitution. The penalty for violence is generally limited to restitution. The death penalty is allowed, but only for really horrendous crimes that have been witnessed by two or more independent witnesses.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Civil Government is only legitimate if submitted to God.
Righteous judges applying God's law to disputes is the only system of government that has God's blessing. God will only give his authorisation to governments that apply his law. A government that wants to make its own law is in rebellion against God.
Friday, October 20, 2006
There was no government in the Garden of Eden, because there were no disputes to resolve. Even after the fall, civil government was not immediately needed, because families dealt with all disputes.
The need for civil government arose when people started to live in close proximity. Civil Governments was need to resolve conflict and limit theft and violence.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Many Christians equate the Church and the Kingdom of God. This is simplistic, but clearly Kingdom principles must be worked out in the church first, as an example and to draw others into God's Kingdom.
In the Kingdom of God, people should not dominate others, but serve each other (Luke 22:24-26). This principle should shape all that we do, including our organisations. Unfornately, the Church has not applied this principle, but has instead copied its management structures from the world. Bishops and Boards of Directors and Pastor/Leaders cannot demonstrate Kingdom government.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Do the scriptures require rich people to be generous, if the are not Christians? This is an interesting question. The scriptures warn rich people not to trust in their wealth. They are warned that their wealth may quickly disappear. Or they may die before they have a chance to enjoy their wealth. But, the Bible is realistic and does not expect the rich to do good to the poor.
Christians do have a responsibility to care for the poor. If we got serious about 1 John 3:17, we could do far more to get rid of poverty before lunch time.
Responsibility for poverty rests with God's people. Passing the buck to the rich is a cop out.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The civil government does not have to the power to eliminate poverty. In the last fifty years, western governments have taken billions of dollars of dollars from the rich and given it to the poor. However, poverty is getting worse and not better, because government programs tend to lock people into poverty. The Grameen Bank makes small loans, usually less than $200, to individuals, usually women, to establish or expand a small, self-sustaining business. For example, a woman may borrow $50 to buy chickens so she can sell eggs. As the chickens multiply, she will have As loans are repaid, usually in six months to a year, they are re-loaned. This continual reinvestment multiplies the impact of each dollar loaned. The village phone program makes cell phones available to people who would otherwise have to travel five or six miles from their homes. This can mean leaving work and losing out on desperately needed income.
Poverty will only be resolved by people who care. A good example is Professor Muhammad Yunus, who used his own money to start the Grameen foundation in Bangladesh.
The success of the Grameen Foundation shows what one person with compassion and a clear vision can do.
more eggs to sell. Soon she can sell the chicks. Each expansion pulls her further from the devastation of poverty.
The odd thing is that interest free loans to the poor are a biblical idea (Deut 15:7-11). Unfortnuately, Christians have put so much effort into using government power to resolve poverty that they did not find God's way: the loan to the poor.
God does not hold people down, but gives them a "leg up". Administering loans to the poor is part of the ministry of the deacon.
The Grameen Bank makes small loans, usually less than $200, to individuals, usually women, to establish or expand a small, self-sustaining business. For example, a woman may borrow $50 to buy chickens so she can sell eggs. As the chickens multiply, she will have
As loans are repaid, usually in six months to a year, they are re-loaned. This continual reinvestment multiplies the impact of each dollar loaned.
The village phone program makes cell phones available to people who would otherwise have to travel five or six miles from their homes. This can mean leaving work and losing out on desperately needed income.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Ted Amery said,
We must avoid the temptation to use the power of government to perfect our society and its citizens. Christians must never use the power of government to make people better. We do not need to. We have a copy of our makers manual. We have a wonderful gospel. We have the Holy Spirit, who can change peoples from the inside out.
A religion that does not have these things is going to struggle to change peoples lives. It will be tempted to use state power to achieve its goals. We have no such reason for using state power to establish the Kingdom of God.
Anyway, it would be a waste of time, because state power is very limited in what it can achieve. It cannot make people good. It cannot eliminate poverty. The most that civil power can do is restrain the worst evil.
Attempts to use civil power for anything more than this limited goal leads to disaster. Millions of people were killed during the twentieth century in efforts to create heaven on earth using civic power. Its time to give it a rest.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Chris Trotter, a left wing political commentator, made the following statement in his weekly column in the Independent Financial Review. This is a scary thought. During the past year, the way that democracy works in New Zealand has been exposed. Not a pretty sight. I wonder why Christians have such great faith in a system that produces so much garbage.
Like the stage act of a professional conjuror, democracy is absolutely dependent on the audience's willingness to be deceived.
This is a scary thought.
During the past year, the way that democracy works in New Zealand has been exposed. Not a pretty sight.
I wonder why Christians have such great faith in a system that produces so much garbage.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
David Henderson warns of the dangers of Global Salvationism.
Over the past half-century, two strands of thinking about world problems have been much in evidence and have received continuing support.... One is a generally dark - not to say alarmist - picture of the world's current state and future prospects, at any rate unless timely and far-reaching changes are made. The second element is a conviction that remedies for the present highly alarming situation are known, and that they require the adoption by overnments and 'the international community' of concerted strategies and programmes. 'Solutions' are at hand, given wise collective decisions and actions. It is the combination of alarmist visions with confidently radical collectivist prescriptions for the world as a whole which characterises Global Salvationism. (The Role of Business in the Modern World p. 90).
Global Salvation sounds like the Beast of Revelation
Labels: Global Salvationism
Friday, October 13, 2006
The reason that we get into problems with the State is that we are not satisfied with the gospel and prefer the gospel plus a little bit of force. Its not that we want to start another crusade, although some do. We just want to use the force of the state to stop obesity, to ban prostitution, to make the rich help the poor. Nice goals, but it is still the gospel plus force.
The corollary is that we must narrow down the calling of the state. The state is not evil in principle, but much of what Christians expect the state to do in the modern world is evil. As the Kingdom advances the state will shrink dramatically.
See humble government
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The auditor general Kevin Brady has released his report on spending by political parties during the last election. He found over a million dollars of illegal expenditure. Well done, Kevin! You are a brave and honest man. Meanwhile, the politicians have reluctantly agreed to pay the money back. However, they are not repentant, but claim they have a different interpretation of the law.
The total value of the breaches I identified for the 2004-05 financial year was $443,462 (including GST), and the total value of the breaches I identified for 2005-06 financial year was $730,136 (including GST). Overall, $1,173,598 of unlawful expenditure was incurred.
Why do we trust people who are so cavalier with other people's money?
I wonder if the new excuse for thieves will be: I have a different interpretation of what stealing means, or No one complained the previous time.
Well done, Kevin! You are a brave and honest man.
Meanwhile, the politicians have reluctantly agreed to pay the money back. However, they are not repentant, but claim they have a different interpretation of the law.
According to Walking the Talk The impression is conveyed that the goods and services that people, businesses and governments currently buy are somehow made available by 'the planet' and then unequally - and hence inequitably - distributed among countries. In fact, rich countries are rich because their citizens produce more per head, not because they have secured privileged access to 'the planet's goods', or to its 'resources'. (The Role of Business in the Modern World p. 91).
Some 80% of people live in developing countries and haveDavid Henderson has an interesting comment about this statement.
to live off 20% of the planet's goods.
We must do some careful thinking before deciding who has sinned in this situation.
The impression is conveyed that the goods and services that people, businesses and governments currently buy are somehow made available by 'the planet' and then unequally - and hence inequitably - distributed among countries. In fact, rich countries are rich because their citizens produce more per head, not because they have secured privileged access to 'the planet's goods', or to its 'resources'. (The Role of Business in the Modern World p. 91).
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Many Christians are concerned about inequality and worry about rich people becoming richer. There are six ways that a person can become rich. The first three ways seem to be legitimate. Henry Ford became rich because he made cars available to ordinary people. He did not force anyone to work for him or buy his cars. No 2 might be stupid. Most Christians would say four is wrong. 5 and 6 are definitely wrong. When criticising the rich we need to be careful that we do not drop into thinking like the Pharisees. I find it ironic that when people rail against the rich getting richer, they are ususally referring to people that are a little richer than they are. The hard truth is that anyone reading this is among the richest group of people who have ever lived on earth. There is nothing to stop us from selling everything and giving it to the poor. Certainly the economic system does not stop us from doing this. The problem is that being generous is never enough for Pharisees. They always want to make other people generous too. This is where progressive taxation comes in. The implicit argument goes like this. If I were rich, I would be generous. The rich people are not as good as me, so they cannot be trusted to be generous of their own accord. They should be forced to be generous. We should tax the rich more, so the money can be used for the poor. My problem is that I cannot see Jesus forcing other people to be generous.
The first three ways seem to be legitimate. Henry Ford became rich because he made cars available to ordinary people. He did not force anyone to work for him or buy his cars.
No 2 might be stupid. Most Christians would say four is wrong. 5 and 6 are definitely wrong.
When criticising the rich we need to be careful that we do not drop into thinking like the Pharisees. I find it ironic that when people rail against the rich getting richer, they are ususally referring to people that are a little richer than they are. The hard truth is that anyone reading this is among the richest group of people who have ever lived on earth. There is nothing to stop us from selling everything and giving it to the poor. Certainly the economic system does not stop us from doing this.
The problem is that being generous is never enough for Pharisees. They always want to make other people generous too. This is where progressive taxation comes in. The implicit argument goes like this. If I were rich, I would be generous. The rich people are not as good as me, so they cannot be trusted to be generous of their own accord. They should be forced to be generous. We should tax the rich more, so the money can be used for the poor.
My problem is that I cannot see Jesus forcing other people to be generous.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Christian voice has two important roles in the political space.
- Some will challenge the political powers whenever they miss God’s standards. To be effective, these prophetic declarations will be quite black and white.
- Others will get involved in the political space to try and bring in gradual change for the better. This might include the compromises involved with membership of a political party.
There should be enough love in the church these two roles to understand and support each other.
At the same time we must maintain two different perspectives in tension.
- We should share a biblically-based long-term vision of where we hope to be when the gospel and Spirit are successful. This may seem utopian from the world’s perspective, but we must be clear about our ultimate goal.
- We should also comment on current issues, based on a clear, well thought out Christian political theory.
Both these perspectives are valid. The first perspective is important for long-term direction. The second is essential if we are to remain relevant. Both should be based on a sound political theory.
Whenever Christians speak on political issues, we should be clear about what role and which perspective we are taking.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Christians must confront the political powers. We must also work with God to transform culture. However, the timing is important. Christians cannot have much influence on the political culture, while they are a minority. If we try, then we just end up attempting to impose Christianity on those who hate it. Trying to change the political sphere in a pagan nation is pointless. This is the time for speaking prophetically.
However, if we are successful in preaching the gospel, we might just get to a place where most people have accepted the gospel. We should then be in a position to transform the political culture, if we know God's will for the political sphere. We should be doing some serious study of scripture, so that we will be ready if and when that time comes.
The problem is that Christians generally go straight to Marx or Mises for guidance, instead of to the scriptures. Others go to the NT, but do not find a Christian political/social theory there, so they assumes that none exists. I believe that we will need to do some serious study of the OT, including the law, before we will get the political creed that is true to the NT. Fortunately, we have plenty of time.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Politicians like to think that they are generous people, but this is just another delusion. When they spend tax revenue on helping people in need they feel really good about what they have done. They feel generous and good.
They forget that they are just given away money that they have stolen from other people. Giving away other people's money is easy, as it costs nothing. All thieves are generous, but their generosity does not make them good.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Politicians like to think that they represent the people, so when they make a decision, they are making the decision that the people would make. They think that what they decide is what society as a whole wants.
They are deluded. If everyone agreed with what they decide, then a decision would generally not be needed, because everyone would already be doing it anyway of their own free will. In fact, most of the decisions of politicians benefit some people and harm others.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is near!” The kingdom was represented in Jesus by doing the will of his Father. The death and resurrection opened it up to us.
Did the kingdom go away again, when Jesus left the earth? Do we have to wait for Jesus to return to bring it back again?
No the Holy Spirit also represents God’s will. The Kingdom is near in him. We can be part of the Kingdom of God by walking in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
If you start with Hobbes, you end with Leviathan.
Modern government is based on the principle that order in society comes through a good big guy beating up the bad guys to keep good guys safe. The problem in a sinful world is that big guys eventually become bad big guys. You always need a bigger and bigger good big guy (world government). However, who will beat up the world hegemon or world government when it eventually becomes a big big bad guy.
Paul and Jesus did not advocate order through big guys beating up bad guys. They advocated a radically different way: good guys turning the other cheek and good guys doing good to bad guys.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
When should I submit to the government?
The answer to this question is simple. I surrender most of the time, because the state is bigger than I am, and I do not want to get beaten up. Most of us want a peaceful life. I will disobey to preach the gospel, help someone in need, or to speak prophetically against the state in obedience to the Spirit, if I am brave enough to risk getting beaten up.
Asking if you should submit the the government is a silly question, because modern government gives you no choice. It is stronger than you, so it will always win. The only choice you have is whether to acquiesce quietly or whether to rebel against it. The outcome will generally be be the same, regardless of my choice. You can place your neck under its foot, or wait until it puts its foot on your neck. Either way it will win, because it is stronger than you.
When writing his epistle, Peter suggests that rebelling is a waste of energy and will obstruct the advance of the gospel. We should wait on God to overthrow ungodly governments.
In Romans 13:1, Paul was not writing about submitting to a government as we understand it. He was writing about how we can create a radically different type of government. More on this here and here.
Monday, October 02, 2006
A common view is that God established civil government to bring order to the world. The problem with this assumption is that power usually escalates without reducing disorder.
Here is how the "order argument" goes. If I am afraid that someone evil will harm me, I can join with someone stronger or a group of people that are stronger and threaten to beat up the evil person, if they harm me. The problem in a fallen world is that there is nothing to stop that strong person or strong group from turning on me. I then need to appeal to an even stronger person or larger group for help, but the same risk remains.
We can put in place mitigations like voting and separation of powers, but the risk is not elminated. If the government is strong enough to protect me, there is nothing to stop it, if it decides to harm me.
This ends with me wanting a world hegemon or world government to protect me from rogue states. The problem is that there is nothing to stop the hegemon or world government turning on me, which is where we are now.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
The civil government or state is a person or group of people who have the power to force people to do things that they do not want to do (supposedly for the greater good).
Other groups can make me do things. If I join Toastmasters, they can make me make a certain number of speeches each year. The difference is that if I do not like what they are telling me to do, then I can resign from their organisation. All other groups, except the family are voluntary.
The government is the only organisation that can force me to do things. If I do not obey, they can throw me in prison until I agree to obey. There is not escape, except leaving the territory they control.
We should be very careful about what authority we give to such a powerful institution.