Amazing Grace, Legislated

From Strong’s Concordance: “Grace, the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object.”From the Greek word Charis (xάρις), related to Charisma (gracious gift). Both these words originated from another Greek word Chairo(to rejoice, be glad, delighted).

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It is understandable that people believe that any tie they have to a perceived immoral action is equivalent to doing the action, condoning the action, or enabling the action be done.  So, tax money being used to fund an abortion is seen negatively.

This really is not such a stretch, because — from a nationalistic perspective — when the US Govt (including the Courts) does something internationally (or even nationally, but observed by the international community), I can feel proud or ashamed, elated or appalled.  In the same vein, I’m not happy that the money I have contributed as a citizen has been used to used to start & conduct wars in the name of supposed safety, spreading democracy, or pushing other national “interests” that negatively impact other peoples.

It is also understandable that people want to change, structure, or institute laws and policies that minimize or remove immoral connections.  There is a push from religious or other moral perspectives to do that under the banner of re-establishing the US as a Christian Nation (Dominion), taking back the country from Godless forces, and turning back progressive (ever changing and evolving) agendas that foist upon them both immorality and connection to it.

For individuals with this perspective, when it comes to voting or participating in national issues (such as by voting or debating), decisions & viewpoints need to be “biblically informed.”  For instance, “From God’s ethical command not to murder, flows, in the minds of many people, the obligation to protect the lives of unborn children. Therefore we campaign—sometimes very aggressively—for laws that protect the lives of unborn infants.”

There exists an underlying pressure to “be Christian,” and to be Christian, you have to do and think Christian things, in every context.  If you help to enact a law that is Christian-based (presumably), then you are both being Christian and … that’s the question here.  You are obviously attempting more than just “being Christian” because your actions result in larger things that affect more than just you.

There is more going on here than merely distancing oneself, for example, from abortion ties.

Grace vs. Politics

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom Matthew16:28).

When you legislate or attempt legislation of your beliefs, I posit that you are doing more than distancing your self from the “appearance of evil” by not directly or indirectly participating in non-Christian, sinful acts & larger-community (city, state, national) policies.  You are also both insulating yourself from temptation and tribulation, and — when proclaiming to “take back” the US as a Christian Nation (Dominion) — you are trying to establish a righteous nation, God’s Kingdom on earth (something I thought Christ’s second coming was supposed to do).

The distancing part I get, but I think minimizing trials is like paving the Path to make it easier to walk (more on that later); and legislating holiness is not just un-Christian, it is anti-Christian.

With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions. … By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us.
~Buddy Hanson, of Exodus Mandate (a dominionist organization)

It becomes anti-Christian when you break and annul the concept of Grace.  Legislating holiness & engineering a Christian society is far from being a beacon of light and, most importantly, Grace to the souls who need it.  In fact, it is not grace because Grace is God’s alone to give; and the moment you apply a rule to it, it is not present. It can’t be because your rule and God’s freely given gift of unmerited mercy or favor are absolutely mutually exclusive. Instead, you have supplanted Grace in favor of legislation (rules & dogmas) and homogenizing orthodoxy.

So what is happening, and what are we to make of the modern-day Christian church’s take on government and its corresponding political walk with Christ? Is it Christian (as in Christ-like) or Christian (following some interpretation of the Bible)?  What are non-Christians supposed to make of Christ & Christianity as exemplified by the body of Christ?

Part of what’s going on, of course, is interpretation via bias confirmation and illusory correlation.

Romans 13 says:

13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 13:2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 13:3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 13:4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. 13:5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. 13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. 13:7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Did Romans 13 and a few Psalms say that a nation of various faiths and creeds needs to be Christianized and, thus, homogenized so that diversity only exists within a Christian government framework (like Islam’s Sharia) in order for believers to be Christians?

And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with good and gladness (Acts 14:16-17).

Nope.  It didn’t say that.  Romans 13 goes on to say that you maintain your walk by sticking to Biblical laws and pursuing spiritual development toward God independent of “nations,” or governments.

Did Romans 13 and a few Psalms define what government should be?  It alluded to selected, not exhaustive, aspects.

One Christian thinker says,

…governments ought to perform a limited function and ought to perform that well. They should be strong in their limited function, but in the big picture their strength should be very limited. In other words, they should be weak not strong on the broad scale of things. Paul says in Romans 13 that government does have a legitimate function and the Scriptures largely define this function, but it’s very limited.” [Bold added]
(The full article whence this quote is pulled argues against healthcare for all.  See here for an excellent counterpoint.)

Really? This is to say that Romans 13, like the US Constitution, supposedly exhaustively enumerated the rights and scope of the govt., just as the Bible also did on other topics of great importance, such as exhaustively prescribing how to get married (in a church with a civil license), who could get married (not blacks & whites together), everything that should happen in a marriage (division of labor and all sexual practices), when to kill and not to kill (capital punishment vs. military action vs. abortion), etc.?  Not.

Let’s assume that “ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,” protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are, somehow, uniquely Biblical tenets. Generally Christians have no Biblical problem with the things on this list, and, in fact, assert that they are Bible-based.

Does specifically listing some things categorically exclude providing for the common welfare, regulating commerce, ensuring religion & govt don’t mix (avoiding “establishment” of a religion [Christian] by institutionalizing its precepts, thus showing “preference”), and establishing a framework to which all states must abide to be part of a republic of federated-though-independent States?

How things are accomplished in both the Bible and the Constitution are very rarely specified, but rather we see guidelines for conducting, recognizing and regulating activity to establish a path.

The point is, the Bible is not often exhaustive in any matter. What the cited Christian thinker is arguing is that the absence of mentioning other things means they are deliberately excluded.  Yet nowhere is the sex-life of married couples discussed or even how marriage ceremonies are to be conducted or other reasons why besides being horny that you should get married.

Using this ‘it is excluded by omission’ logic, if marriage is for procreation and controlling sexual urges, then sex should only be engaged for procreative purposes.  And since procreation involves the direct involvement of both sets of complementary sexual organs in procreative conjunction, no other sexual activity to satisfy sexual urges is allowed — because they are not mentioned.  That leaves only intercourse.  That’s it.

I don’t know a single soul who believes that. (And I’m not trying to make an Argumentum ad populum here.)

So how can one say that govt. is Biblically limited as “largely defined” by the Bible?  I suspect that is a political view coloring Bible interpretation to suit its own ends.  I know God by knowing myself (via my prejudices, biases, revulsions, etc.)  Assuming the Bible is a spiritual guide for a personal walk toward God, why should we expect that it would also specifically address non-spiritual matters, such as what a government should and shouldn’t do?

What we see here is a type of rationalization with a different motive, and it ain’t Christian.  To alleviate the disharmony (dissonance), the political perspective is Christianized; and politics (and economics) becomes the focus for the path to God via activism and legislation.  Onward Christian Soldiers.

In this way, Christianity has been polluted and has supplanted Grace with efforts to work out its own and others’ salvation.  It is in no way “Christ-like.”

We Can Guess What it Will Be by Their Fruits

For the sake of argument, what might we expect from a Christian government and from the people instituting the Government?

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21 ).

For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20).

First off, I would expect a Christian government to simply evolve via the fruit that results from the collective actions of its citizenry. The Kingdom of God is established in the hearts as a spiritual kingdom that naturally results in a physical (or legal) manifestation.

Second, I would expect that those who want a Christian Dominion would inspire those around them with Christ-likeness, to be a beacon of Grace and justice — and more immediately — demonstrate blameless attitudes and behaviors.  In that way non-Christians might preview what a Christian-run nation would look like.

With such inspiration and demonstration, why wouldn’t we all want to live in a Christian Dominion, where the Grace of God reigns supreme.

Unfortunately, what we actually see (the fruits) is an effort to construe the current Govt to be Christian (as in following the precepts of Christ) and then attempt to achieve the Christian Govt with slander, false witness, lies, and misleading arguments (among other dishonesty- & ignoble-based sins) with the attitude that the ends justifies the means. We see a poisonous tree — what should we expect of the fruit?

What we see coming from politicians, the proponents of California’s Proposition 8, NOM, the Tea Party, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Bachmann to name a few is astounding in the distortion, mischaracterization, constituent manipulation, and outright falsehoods, whether sincerely believed or politically expedient.  We see people willing to change or throw out the Constitution when it conflicts with their agendas while at the same time praising the Constitution as being inspired by Christian Founding Fathers.

What we see begs a few questions:

  • Did Christ do these things to further his message and characterize God?
  • Do noble and sanctifying motivations need to be achieved by sinful & evil actions?
  • Are injustices tolerable to arrive at sanctity – can sanctity spring from evil?
  • Is it mandated that Christians re-form a country in their own likeness with the expectation that it corresponds to God’s Kingdom on earth?

Supplanting Grace with Kingdom-building

The whole point of being a Christian is to become Christ-like (following the Way of Christ), which is the human manifestation of Divinity & Grace.

One of many aspects of Christ-likeness is that Grace shine through the believers.  If Christians are the “body” of Christ, then what we see of the “grace” coming through Christians compels us to believe that what Christians do (as a body) is what Christ would do — or, by extension, is what Christ is doing.

Based on what we see, Christ, for instance, would claim a land as his own; and he would mislead, lie & bear false witness in order to legislate his views.  He would get heavily involved in politics, and he would sanction the use of Government to force-feed his Father’s Grace to non-believers in him and his ways.  He would utterly ignore free will to come to him, and instead create holy cattle chutes by which to both herd the non-believers and insulate the believers from growth-providing trials.

For Grace and Salvation to work, it has to be freely accepted by the receiver. It has to be wanted; and the value to the soul recognized.  We have to recognize our own sinful state and that we need to be redeemed from it.  But if mostly all we see from the Body of Christ is sin and sinfulness, the light that’s supposed to shine from Christians is not illuminating our states.  We see hypocrisy and demagoguery and deceit.  We see political agenda clothed in Sunday clothes pandering to the gullible.

We see these things in the Christian effort to “reduce government” by increasing its religious intrusion into our lives with laws, the very instrument they supposedly abhor and not the instruments supplied by the Spirit and knowledge of God.  In this way, they establish a theocracy — Old Testament-style structures to simulate Grace and holiness.  Old Testament Leviticus, or Christian Sharia  And these structures are to be forced onto the nation.

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

Since grace is God’s only and can only be reflected by or transmitted through Him or a believer, for man to do anything at all in order to establish God’s grace to mankind by rule is to nullify Grace.

It’s not for a human to interpret.  It’s not for a human to dispense.  It does not belong in any way to mankind.  It’s His grace, or it isn’t.

Attempting a Christian Dominion Is Sin

For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20)

Legislating Christian precepts is like cocooning and building fences at the same time.  It is cocooning in the sense that it attempts to insulate the Christian from non-Christian influences.  It is building fences in that it clearly establishes an “Us vs. the Gentiles” mentality, one that Christ explicitly taught to destroy.

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

The Christian Dominion attempts to create by law social structures to help ensure they, the “Faithful”, don’t stray — in addition to separating themselves from government-enacted sinfulness.

In other words, they have supplanted Grace with more Pharisaical laws & rules. They try to limit the trials they are exposed to by making it illegal to do otherwise in the guise of pre-establishing God’s Kingdom on earth.  (Christ’s second coming notwithstanding.)

For instance, the “lax” conception of marriage (easy divorce for other than Biblical reasons) does not provide sufficient  penalty or restriction to cause re-evaluation of one’s Christ-directed motives or to force reconciliation. On the contrary, lax conception of marriage encourages consideration of non-Biblical separation or divorce — it is an evil temptation sponsored by the Government and the godless.

Legislating God’s Kingdom on earth sets up walls within which you think yourself worthy of heaven and re-establish the Us vs. Gentiles mentality. Within these walls, looking out, Scripture is reinterpreted:

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire”


‘if someone else’s eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better to attempt to create the kingdom of God in your own eyes, than serving God by loving your fellow man in His eyes within His grace.’

41 Responses

  1. It’s pretty obvious that I didn’t write this post from an outline. Ugh — the concepts are muddled.

    The concept of Grace is central for there to even be a Christ and, thus, a Christianity. The entire faith is built on the premise of there being Grace and what the nature of that Grace is, in both its manifestation and as a characteristic of a loving God. God did not have to show Grace (well, He did, as it is part of His character) — he could have let us suffer the consequences of forever severing our communion with Him (“hell,” or death). To show us unconditional mercy & a means to come back to Him when we clearly don’t merit it is a gift, which is the definition of Grace.

    One of the major things to understand about Grace is that it emanates strictly from God. There are no bounds to it, as it is a freely given gift of mercy and favor. There are no conditions on it. There are no rituals to achieve it. There are no rules within which you must live to deserve or maintain its being granted. If any kind of a rule, ritual, or condition at all enters the picture, Grace exits the picture. The whole notion of Grace is antithetical to rules & conditions.

    Since Grace emanates from God, it can only be reflected through humans as far a any human’s participation in Grace goes. If a human applies some filter, measure, rule, etc. to showing Grace, it is no longer God’s Grace. Period.

    Enter politics.

    There are two motivations and one possible motivation (if it is not merely a happy side-effect) to Christian political activity. The most obvious (as it is the loudest and most salient) is distancing oneself from the appearance of evil, whether directly or indirectly, such as through use of taxes. The second is to effect a Christian Dominion or Nation. The third is that, in establishing Christian tenets into law, the law becomes both a crutch and a type of insulation. Hence the “happy side-effect” of removing the liberty of others to sin around you and the ability to enact unholy laws against that which affects your “walk” with Christ toward God.

    In a Christian environment (produced by adherence to the laws), the temptation to do something is alleviated, and the channels for getting back on the straight and narrow are painlessly (and prescriptively) provided. You have, thus, effectively removed or obstructed growth-enabling and spirit-strengthening exercises. Almost like taking a pill to lose weight instead of doing physical activity.

    The path to God is reflected in the story of the Good Samaritan, where you learn about God and develop in sanctity by what you make of the trials and challenges of the world around you. Removing or mitigating the trials and challenges is like paving the path to make it easier to walk. Not just paving the path, but also lining it with fruit trees and water wells.

    But the main point of this post is that establishing Christian laws (by whatever unsavory means) upon a nation re-establishes Leviticus type scenario: a reversion back to a time before the Grace of God saw its fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ. The efforts — both the attempt and how they are attempted — detract from the main purposes of a Christian, which are to become Christ-like and to offer light to the world of sinners in order that they see their sin and repent. Focusing on and overlaying laws interferes with the greater spiritual purposes of both.

    Sin is deviation from the Path — the path toward righteousness, which is acting in accordance to the divine will, which is to grow in knowledge of Him and transmit that knowledge by your transformed and transforming spirit and its fruits to others. If the manner and type of things you do obscures these things, that is sin. To mischaracterize & misrepresent Grace and Christ-likeness is sin. To focus on the making of new Laws in an effort to clothe oneself in the appearance of righteousness and work out by decree, not only your own salvation, but that of non-believers, is to focus on the wrong thing. Hence deviation from the path. Hence sin.

  2. Probably never run out of examples, so I won’t try to compile them. However, when I run across a particularly apt example (and I think about it), I’ll try to include it here.

    1. Southern Baptist Pastor, Fox Host Get Facts Wrong

      Jeffress: “On the one hand, we have a president who never met a Muslim holiday he didn’t like, or at least wasn’t willing to issue a proclamation for, and on the other hand, here he is refusing to acknowledge publicly the most important event in Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

      Neither Doocy nor Jeffress pointed out that no president has issued an official proclamation recognizing Easter. Obama was merely following precedent.

      Additionally, Obama has not issued official proclamations for Muslim holidays as both Doocy and Jeffress asserted, but instead released less formal statements. (Click here to see the official list of the Obama White House’s proclamations.)

      Contrary to Jeffress’ claim, Obama had recognized Easter with a special prayer breakfast just one week before Jeffress’ attack. During the gathering with numerous Christian leaders, Obama spoke openly about his Christian faith.

    2. Texas Gov. Rick Perry Partnering with New Apostolic Groups for Houston “Call to Prayer”

      The New Apostolic Reformation is where the anti-gay, anti-abortion, and Christian Zionist networks converge with an aggressive form of Christian “dominionism,” or the belief that Christians must take control over society and government.


  3. Quote from C.S. Lewis:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

  4. From Desmond Tutu:

    Surely it is good to know that God (in the Christian tradition) created us all (not just Christians) in his image, thus investing us all with infinite worth, and that it was with all humankind that God entered into a covenant relationship, depicted in the covenant with Noah when God promised he would not destroy his creation again with water.

    Surely we can rejoice that the eternal word, the Logos of God, enlightens everyone — not just Christians, but everyone who comes into the world; that what we call the Spirit of God is not a Christian preserve, for the Spirit of God existed long before there were Christians, inspiring and nurturing women and men in the ways of holiness, bringing them to fruition, bringing to fruition what was best in all. We do scant justice and honor to our God if we want, for instance, to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was a truly great soul, a holy man who walked closely with God. Our God would be too small if he was not also the God of Gandhi: if God is one, as we believe, then he is the only God of all his people, whether they acknowledge him as such or not. God does not need us to protect him.

    Many of us perhaps need to have our notion of God deepened and expanded. It is often said, half in jest, that God created man in his own image and man has returned the compliment, saddling God with his own narrow prejudices and exclusivity, foibles and temperamental quirks. God remains God, whether God has worshippers or not.

  5. I enjoyed reading your take on the idea that tax money used for “immoral” purposes implicates us all. Hmmm. I do believe Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” when someone slaps you. Why is it this Christian nation has never once done that? Perhaps someone can tell me if it has because every time someone slaps us, we seem to want to sanction or bomb them. I think it the ultimate hypocrisy for us to call ourselves, or even believe ourselves to be a Christian Nation, when we were in fact founded on the idea of religious freedom and if you wanted to NOT be a Christian that was actually OK. And we put down other nations for being theocracies while pretending to be one even though we don’t even come close. What’s with all the self deception?

    • There is a reason why ‘hypocrisy’ is the most oft-named sin (over 400 times) in the Bible, right? If one were to judge the sin of being gay to the sin of being a hypocrite by the sheer volume of mentions, it would certainly be easy to figure out which one to work on the hardest.

  6. Quotes of quotes from the Slacktivist in his article, “Richard John Neuhaus did not think dominionism was a myth

    Some Reconstructionists express resentment of the way their critics focus on their view of capital crimes in connection with Bible law. … It seems hardly surprising that such views should attract considerable attention, but those who hold them insist that the attention is exaggerated. They point out that they are not advocating the death penalty today to punish, for example, homosexual acts. Their proposal would be applicable, they point out, only in a reconstructed society that may be thousands of years away. And in a reconstructed society the level of righteousness will be such that capital crimes will be almost unheard of.

    To which the critics of theonomy might respond that the time factor is quite irrelevant. In their view we should resist taking the first step toward a destination whose distance makes it no less grotesque. And the assurance that very few people will be stoned to death for apostasy, for example, is small comfort for those who think that apostasy does not belong in the criminal code at all.

    A reconstructed world ruled by future Rushdoonyites will not, needless to say, be democratic. Rushdoony is straightforward in condemning democracy as a “heresy.” … His opposition to democracy and any form of legally protected pluralism is enprincipled, as it should be in the argument of a reflective theocrat. The free exercise of religion, for example, must be only for the free exercise of true religion. As Rushdoony says, “The right have rights,” thus echoing the Roman Catholic dictum of an earlier day that “error has no rights.”


    Look at the way such disputes are framed. The Bible is first held up as the sole and final arbiter is all disputes. Right away we’re in a tough spot because disputes about the Bible cannot be resolved by appeals to the Bible. Because every other means of resolving disputes has been minimized or delegitimized, disputes among biblicists over the meaning of the text are seemingly irresolvable.

    That is a consequence of what Christian Smith described as biblicism’s emphasis on the Bible’s “exclusive authority.” But as Smith also notes, biblicism also emphasizes the Bible’s “perspicuity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning and universal applicability.” It teaches, in other words, that the meaning of the Bible is plain and clear to any reader of good intent.

    And that’s what makes disputes over the meaning of the Bible among biblicists so nasty and personal. If you’re reading the Bible with what you know to be good intent and some other person reading the same Bible arrives at a different conclusion as to what it means, what is the most obvious, and the only permissible, explanation?

    You can’t say that your conflicting interpretations are a consequence of the Bible sometimes being complicated and difficult to understand. Those possibilities are ruled out beforehand by the belief in scripture’s “perspicuity” and “self-evident meaning.” Nor can you decide that the other person is simply innocently mistaken. The biblicistic approach does not allow for the possibility of any honest reader being innocently mistaken (and thus, since you know yourself to be an honest reader, you also know that you are not mistaken).

    And that leaves only the conclusion that the person disagreeing with you must not be an honest reader with good intent.

    That may not be a conclusion you’re eager to embrace, but the logic pointing toward it seems airtight. If you have a good heart, then you cannot be wrong. That means that they must be wrong and, therefore, that they must have a bad heart.

  8. From the book “The Violence of God and the War on Terror” by Jeremy Young. Pg 125

    The rejection of a superseded group’s right to maintain its own beliefs is easily generalized to include all oppositional sects, an intolerance which St Augustine sought ot justify through the doctrine that ‘error has no right’. As the Irish theologian Joseph Liechty explains:

    This doctrine was developed by St Augustine in the fourth or fifth century to justify the use of state coercion to suppress his heretical opponents: because they are radically in error, they have no right to express or hold their beliefs. Ever since, the doctrine has been put to similar use as the principle behind every use of coercion, especially state coercion, for religious purposes. Error has no right is the doctrine behind penal laws, inquisitions, forced conversions, and similar ugly stains on Christian history.

    It should be noted that there is a functional equivalence between the idea that error has not right and the dynamic in domestic abuse when a abusive partner disallows the rights of the other to be heard because he determines the truth and she is ‘stupid’. Liechty points out that when the belief that error has no right is combined with the belief that there is only one true Church — or, we may add, one chosen people — the result is likely to be sectarianism:

    if you belief that error has no right, then the chances are your truth claim will be made disastrously, because if your church is the one true church and error has no right, then it is your duty to see that error is suppressed by whatever means necessary. Therefore tolerance is no virtue — tolerance is a deadly vice. In terms of our definition of sectarianism, note that this combination of doctrines operates by demonizing enemies and justifies their domination.

  9. From dominionist Stephen Che Halbrook’s book titled, “God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws” regarding how Mosaic law should be the basis of our civil law:

    To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity. (p. 205)

    Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. “[T]he wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level. (p. 191)

    Before exploring this topic, we must note that Christians must evangelize sodomites. This in no way conflicts with the capital sanction against those convicted of engaging in sodomite acts, a sanction which helps protect potential sodomites from themselves as well as society, as we shall see, from suicide.

    But as we have seen, justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?

  10. From the Slactivist “Still in Hell” (footnote):

    The world seems wrong and we want to see it made or remade right.

    Every religion worth anything addresses this dilemma in two ways. First by requiring that its adherents practice both charity and justice here in this life. And second by extending the hope that such unfairness will ultimately be rectified, if not in this world, then in the next.

    When religion goes awry or becomes corrupt, it often results from or results in an emphasis on one of those two aspects to the neglect of the other.

    Corruption A: Emphasize the hope for eschatological justice to the neglect of justice in this world and you end up with the “pie in the sky when you die” opiate used to justify every oppressive caste system from Bombay to Alabama.

    Corruption B: Emphasize justice in this world to the neglect of the hope for eschatological justice and you begin thinking that you can impose perfect, infallible justice here in the temporal realm – an idea that quickly gallops off into oppressive theocracy of one form or another.

    Our history books and newspapers are so full of examples of both of those errors that it can be tempting to think that maybe religion itself is the problem – that if we could just stamp out religion, we could end oppression and establish perfect justice. If that idea seems attractive to you, see again Corruption B above.

  11. …arguing about some moral issue with someone who adheres to a secular conception of the good. The Catholic claims that it is legitimate for the Catholic to impose his moral commitments on the secular person through the democratic process, since they are not explicitly based on theological premises. But, when the democratic process reaches a conclusion contrary to the Catholic’s, the Catholic then turns around and claims an entitlement (on religious freedom grounds) to be free from the outcome of the democratic process. I’m not saying this is a logical inconsistency, but it unappealing in its radical asymmetry and, moreover, is understandably likely to be a tough position for the secular citizen to swallow.

  12. When we look to political power to solve our problems, we reject Christ as Messiah. We reject his actual modus operandi, his way of working. It is enough for us to be like the Master, our Teacher. Our love of power threatens to destroy the work of Christ in the world, destroy many ministries, and destroy the testimony of the Church. Remember these words of Jesus:

    You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

  13. A crow is not a small, feathered human. And God is not man writ large.

    When we yield to the temptation to anthropomorphize God — consciously or unconsciously — we inevitably reduce God, projecting onto God limits, constraints and boundaries that we, as humans, cannot help but introduce.

    -the Slacktivist

  14. Great article here:

    “Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness…”

    ~Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Section I (1777, 1779)


    ..the combination of Biblical literalism and magisterial inertia, which are the two principal ways in which human knowledge is idolized at the expense of being able to receive God’s infinite wisdom through the testimony of His scripture. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not seized it” (John 1:5). That’s a verse I can take literally, because it captures the epistemological gap between our knowledge and God’s wisdom. When we try to seize His light for the sake of our power, we end up with a fistful of darkness, because no divinely inspired word of God can be reduced to a single univocal, “literal” meaning; each word is perpetually pregnant with new wisdom that it births for those who are patient and humble.

  16. From David Johnson (a pretty smart fella) on Facebook regarding this comment: “Whatever that number is, they are used to defend human life,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly explained. “They are used to defend our property and our families and our faith and our freedom, and they are absolutely essential to living the way God intended for us to live.”:

    Right, in practice 1+2+3 amount to “it’s theologically analogous to Israel” for the purposes of applicable governance imperatives. You hear all the time the Dominionist movement spout off promises to Israel as if promises to America.

    “When “Paul lays out clearly that it is proper for authority to use violence to exact justice and defend the innocent”, you refer to “authority” to use “violence”, not non-authority.”

    Of course. The question “Who qualifies as God-appointed authority tasked with justice in what context?” is thus the crux of its application. So American rethinking of traditional governing authority and the remodeling of sovereignty has a lot to do with the theological complications America runs into here.

    “Then again, people who murder doctors at clinics which perform abortions are “protecting the innocent.””

    Right, but I would say even most Dominionists would not approve of this as the proper means, at least with any claimed theological grounding.

    I am not convinced the notion of a “Christian Government” is even coherent in any unified, proper sense. The hope of Christianity is for the Kingdom of Heaven – governance not by indirect theocracy (per Israel) but by direct theocracy. The mandates of Christianity are calls to action for the Church, not for the world at large. Jesus and the early Church fathers are entirely focused on Church governance and have nothing to say about governing other cultures beyond what Paul talks about being the God-given duties to rulers (which is entirely framed around the duties of Christians).

    In this regard, I’ll agree with what several Christian philosophers I have fond of have said on this structurally: That the best “Christian Government” theologically is merely a government that best facilitates the free sharing of the Gospel and the free acceptance of it, and the free practice of faith – in this the Church lays down the framework to fulfill the highest commands it has been given and allows others to (love God, love your neighbor, share the good news). Beyond that I am not convinced Christians are theologically bound to particular political positions in any absolute sense – we can talk in particular about Paul’s mandate to wield force to enforce justice and what that means (I think we can start at caring for the poor and protecting them from the oppression of the rich – a topic none of the NT authors have any second thoughts about), but into and beyond that the justification for particular positions begins to become relative to its value in ministering the spirit of Christ in the culture. As you point out, once the Church puts on a double-face of claiming grace while institutionalizing a lack thereof, we get into a nasty morass of attempting a false theocracy.

  17. Thinking about what is going on in AZ as an ongoing reaction to Agenda 21, which reaction is against the ominous specter of a OWG, I wondered:
    Is it Christian to attempt to forestall conditions that are a part of or herald the End Times? Aren’t they supposed to be focusing on their walk with God toward a state of being holy enough to stand in His presence?

  18. […] Is it Christian to attempt to forestall conditions that are a part of or herald the End Times? Aren’t they supposed to be focusing on their walk with God toward a state of being holy enough to stand in His presence? (See related: Amazing Grace, Legislated) […]

  19. We could also critique those elements that did make the cut in Kinnamon and Lyons’ list — such as the perverse choice to emphasize Jesus’ moral purity as his most essential attribute, as though this leper-hugging, Sabbath-breaking, woman-touching, dead-embracing friend of prostitutes and tax collectors wanted us to turn him into the standard-bearer for the very holiness-as-avoidance purity system he trespassed and trampled as routinely as breathing.

    The ‘biblical worldview’ doesn’t come from the Bible

    The list of what constitute Kinnamon and Lyons “biblical worldview” has as a #5 “A Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people.” The argument in my post is that YES THEY DO have that responsibility, but it is sharing as fruit, not sharing as doctrine.

    To rely on doctrine as the sole medium of communication is the lazy way out in the sense that it requires no actual godliness, holiness, or spirituality. It’s just “words of hope.”

  20. “So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate?” the Colorado lawmaker continued. “I’ll tell you what I’d say: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ And live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from people you can’t see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them or employ them or rent banquet halls to them.”

    “Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want, but don’t claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens. That’s not what we’re doing here.”


  21. From some Facebook exchange:
    …those who do things to others in the name of God within a belief system where one’s motivation makes those actions sin/not-sin. And oddly enough, at the root of this belief system, if you don’t think about whether something is “right” or not because you’re doing it as an emanation of your soul that has its gaze fixed on the divine, that’s the most sanct of all. Trees that don’t grunt out fruit; the fruit is simply what its living bears.

    <Kill an unrepentant infidel> let’s say is a fundamental tenant of religion. In this religion, it is your duty. Doing so is not a guideline, but a command. But when you execute a specific command, you participate in formula, one where the sum total of your actions add up to a degree of sanctity to earn you points. You can internalize the command to the point where it becomes a motivation, but the fact of its transformation does not likewise transform the seed of its motivation.

  22. Rowan Atkinson, commenting in 2004 on Britain`s proposed Racial and Religious Hatred Bill:

    To criticize a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous, but to criticize their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticize ideas, any ideas – even if they are sincerely held beliefs – is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. A law which attempts to say you can criticize and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed.


    I found this sentence to be fascinating: «Lucifer said that he would be the savior and he would force everybody to live righteously, thus guaranteeing that all of God’s spirit children would return to Him in heaven… »

    When I think of the current religious climate in the US, I constantly reevaluate the notion of “forc[ing] everyone to live righteously.” What precisely might that look like?


  24. Mark my word: if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

    ~Republican Barry Goldwater

  25. In reality, a faithful application of the procreation requirement for marriage would mean that only those relationships entered into by fertile adults and consummated in a way that is consistent with seeking children could be labeled “marriages”.


  26. To describe homosexuality as ‘unnatural’ – particularly from our culture which is almost defined by our deliberate disconnection from nature seems like the ultimate odd argument…



  27. The freedom of the church is at risk nowadays … Law always reflects someone’s morality, so if Christians are not involved in making sure it reflects their morality as a majority, according to polls, then it’s going to reflect a lack of morality or some immorality. So the law will reflect somebody’s and it better be the majorities that believe in God.

    ~ U.S. Tea Party Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert


  28. Re:

    I didn’t find the piece particularly analytical, but rather a little sketchy. The premises he pulls in that are dragged into the political sphere read like strawmen (mostly interpretation of what the atheist Murray worte). But given the issues he addresses (lightly), I won’t commit the “fallacy fallacy” of dismissing his underlying point. I did enjoy the “separation” topic — fascinating. I didn’t know about Iceland, for instance.

    My ggggg+-grandfather was one of the two co-founders of the Quaker Church who didn’t appreciate having to pay tithes to the Church of England. In that tradition, I would not appreciate paying tithes to a church I did not belong to. There is something clearly not “freedom of religion” in that scenario. I understand his point: separation is not a necessary prerequisite for a full democracy. I would question the “full” part in the case of paying tithes to a church I didn’t belong to.

    It is obvious that the speaker has the UK in mind when he speaks. If I apply his speech to America, there is no need to “return … God [religion] to public life” – He’s already there.

    «Outside a tiny number of theonomists on the very fringes of Christianity, no Christian advocates theocracy today.» I don’t believe this is true. Every effort to legislate a Christian principle is theonomy. Theocracy, to me, is a system built on theonomy.

    Further, what are the implications of “tiny number” and “fringes”? Here he attempts to minimize or gloss over a rather important point: It only takes a “tiny number” to insinuate their agendas into a larger, largely unaware body of believers within the full spectrum of belief. Earlier he muses on something else Murray might have been saying: “…or laws drawn exclusively from scriptures…” This sets a false-dichotomy frame: Why “exclusively”? If laws drawn are derivative of something religious, isn’t the effect the same: theonomy?

    In America, the presence of Christianity is already quite keenly felt in politics, as is the notion of Christian privilege. To me the article’s “return” premise is similar to the “Take Back America” agenda of the Tea Party. It is as hollow as it is specious.

    I also think that the value of Christianity in politics to «articulate a vision of the human being, the human good, and the common good» is a good place to start … if it were left there. But in our American experiment, that vision results in “dictation” (as the speaker muses upon Murray’s words). It is a “lodestar” that is «amorphous and badly, or disingenuously expressed » that leads to backlash.

    In the end, for Christianity to be a lodestar of value to everyone, it needs to draw down on the efforts to legislate its “vision” on a diverse population and focus on the core of Christ’s teachings, not the evolved and extrapolated interpretation we see floating to the top of national dialog.

    For the sake of argument, if we gave full rein to Christianity in America, how might we expect the lodestar to work— from a “core teachings” perspective?

    First off, I would expect a Christian government to simply evolve via the fruit that results from the collective actions of its citizenry. The Kingdom of God is established in the hearts as a spiritual kingdom that naturally results in a physical (or legal) manifestation. It does not result from legislation to create its formation or force a perspective.

    Second, I would expect that those who want a Christian Dominion would inspire those around them with Christ-likeness, to be a beacon of Grace and justice — and more immediately — demonstrate blameless attitudes and behaviors. In that way non-Christians might preview what a Christian-run nation would look like.

    With such inspiration and demonstration, why wouldn’t we all want to live in a Christian Dominion, where the Grace of God reigns supreme, regardless of what other faith we might follow?

    But that is hardly possible if even imaginable.

  29. C.S. Lewis on theocracy:

    I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.

    And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

    More Lewis:

    I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

    I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

    The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .

    The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

  30. The Power of Gayness is more powerful than death.

    It is more powerful than life. It is more powerful than angels, rulers, things present or things to come. It is more powerful than powers — more powerful than height, and depth, and everything in all creation.

    That’s what a lot of Christians keep telling me, anyway, because they keep saying that just being gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender, somehow separates people from the love of God.

    And that’s just an amazing claim. An astonishing claim. It’s like saying that gayness is more powerful than Superman times the Hulk times Green Lantern’s ring times infinity squared.

    The Apostle Paul said that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

    And then, because he was kind of worked up, Paul went on to explain that by nothing he meant nothing:

    For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    And yet, somehow, people keep suggesting that gayness can do what none of those other things can.

    Powerful stuff, this gayness.

    Or, maybe, not. Maybe those Christians are just wrong.

    This was prompted by Jason Micheli’s guest post at Jesus Creed, “Sinners in the Hands of a ___________ God,” which is way better than the fire-and-brimstone sermon it takes its name from.

    “God has not had it up to anywhere with you,” Micheli writes. It’s a beautiful thing.

    The illustration above comes from the Marvel/DC crossover comic that punted on the perennial question of who would win if Superman fought the Hulk. That’s a fun argument for comic book fans. The theological equivalent of that perennial argument isn’t nearly as smart, sophisticated or interesting: Who would win in a fight between human sinfulness and God’s love?

    That’s a no-brainer. It’s barely worth discussing. That’s not Superman vs. The Hulk. It’s not even Superman vs. Unarmed Henchman No. 3.

    (None of which is to suggest that gayness is an example or sub-set of human sinfulness. It’s not. It’s an example of human human-ness, and God loves human human-ness — so much so that God chose to take part in it.)

    P.S. With all due respect to the big green guy, Superman. One-on-one, that’s always my answer, unless we’re talking Superman vs. Doctor Strange.

    The Power of Gay is more than more than conquerors … the Slacktivist


  31. Facebook post with a link to the “Origin of ‘Separation of Church and State’

    My Reply:
    One can be “truly interested” without accepting the undisclosed premises of this article.

    If the Constitution meant “denomination of Christianity,” might these super-smart men have said so? But they didn’t.

    To extrapolate to an a-priori conclusion (begging the question), you have to draw from the Founders’ own religion: Of course they would mean “Christianity” because they were Christians. They were obviously not capable of framing a guiding Principle to allow for freedom of religion for all people, agnostic of a particular religion – as reflects today’s Christian approach and the move toward Dominion.

    Part of what’s going on, of course, is interpretation via bias confirmation and illusory correlation. The SC justice of Alabama’s position is just the unvarnished version.

    To say “obviously, the words ‘separation,’ ‘church,’ or ‘state’ are not found in the First Amendment,” relative to the Origin article, reveals this double standard of enumeration vs. extrapolation. I would argue that ‘intent’ is actually clearer in the resulting words and the words the Founders did *not* use. I apparently give the Founding Fathers more credit than others do, and see them as attempting to frame higher principles than tribal ones.

    Another element in play: discussion of one’s beliefs, if it is in fact NOT reflected in the Constitution, does not make those beliefs implicit in the final language. Further, one member’s beliefs is anecdotal, and one cannot argue as though from “Founding Father” (singular), you can extrapolate to the whole of Founding Fathers (plural).

    The above two paragraphs are examples of the double-standard clash. Yes, those words aren’t there — and neither is the “Christian” intent.

    What is a “law”? The SC skirted the issue of ‘no establishment’ by reducing prayer to tradition and merely a part of the mechanics of a governmental meeting. It is actually quite clever and requires a great deal of privilege attribution.

    Yet, as also argued, if you only allow a Christian construct of prayer, you are in fact establishing a religion, de-facto. “Law” seen this way results from the notion of “rules in play” or “standard applied.” Tyranny of the majority knowing that, predominantly, one religion above all others will be furthered.

    The article finishes by decrying “judicial activism” … another double standard in play. It’s ok as long as it works for one’s faction.

    To me, the SC’s ruling is an insidious tactic of intellectual dishonesty.


  32. Christian extremists disrupt Buddhist prayer in state senate:

  33. The majority held that ceremonial prayer — an encouragement to gravity and sobriety — is not harmful to the plaintiffs, who felt somehow coerced when present at public prayers, and who said such prayers are necessarily divisive. The court should have told them: If you feel coerced, you are flimsy people, and it is a choice — an unattractive one — to feel divided from your neighbors by their affection for brief and mild occasional expressions of religiosity.

    An absolutely perfect example of how the homogenization to Christianity would solve so many bumps in the Way if only everyone would simply conform to their tenets.



  34. If It Weren’t for Jesus, I Might be Pro-Death Too: A Response to Al Mohler

    He tells all the men who are ready to kill the woman, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” And of course he reminds us all that if we have looked at someone with lust in our eyes we are adulterers. If we have called our neighbor a fool we are a murderer. You can hear the stones start to drop, as the men walk away.

    The only one who is left with any right to throw a stone is Jesus — and he has absolutely no inclination to do so. We can see that the closer we are to God the less we want to throw stones at other people.

  35. […] To declare as “enemies of God” (Pastor Roland Caldwell) and therefore “[your] enemies. And now the fight is on!” [against] all those who believe their faith is about living the life of Christ and not structuring a nation to conform to their own beliefs at the same time believing in fairness and equality for all tax-paying citizens of this same nation, I say you’ve overstepped or stepped over the living-by-example and grace-as-light foundation of the person whose name you have soiled, whose light you have tainted, whose Grace you have horrifically misrepresented. […]

  36. […] christianism and its followers christianists. Anything you add to Love becomes a condition; if you condition Grace in anyway, it ceases to be Grace. The light is […]

  37. Let’s say that Christ is “The Light” of God’s unconditional Grace; and Christians are the lanterns.

    And anything beyond Christ’s direct teachings is extrapolation. We know about extrapolation: the farther away you get from the source, the thinner the connection to the core truth.

    Imagine now years and years — thousands — of extrapolation. We can see them like geographical layers of history in the earth’s surface; or layers of colored wax that accumulates with each dip of the wick into a vat of molten wax.

    Imagine now the rings of extrapolated crust or colored wax around a lantern. How much light do we actually expect to get through?

    Today’s christianists and dominionists are not Christian. They have straightened the path, paved it with gold, and lined it with nice fruit trees and water wells. They shelter it so that no rocks, rifts, or bumps occur that would cause them to stumble as they skip through life worrying about how well other people are skipping on the road of their making and without considering the path at all.

    Some aren’t even skipping. They’re standing in the middle of this road, content that as long as they’re on something shiny, they at least have a seat at the location where it supposedly leads.

    But both types of gold-pathers consider holiness to be in the encrustment and just the right type of skipping. They fancy the effort they make to polish the road or even to pave it or plant the fruit trees as merit, as layers of holiness by which they will be recognized when arriving at their supposed destination.

    They have confused the journey and what they (would) find on a path to righteousness with their paving toils and protecting the path from debris — temptations and the ungodliness of others. Their “job” isn’t really a relationship with a divine being, but rather it is with a path they think this being will approve of.

    They are Pharisees in the truest sense of the word.

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