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What I was trying to say…

Posted by Chance on August 10, 2006

My last post was probably not well structured, I didn’t write it all at once. This is basically what I am trying to say. There are two views of gov’t I am pondering.

1) View 1. The Mosaic government can provide a good model of our government today concerning morality and economic matters.

2) View 2. The government is no longer led by God, but by deeply flawed humans. Because man is inherently evil and power corrupts, we should strive to limit government as much as possible. The goal is maximum freedom. Also, the New Testament seems to focus on the relationship between a person and God as an individual matter, not a government matter. Issues of morality and helping the poor should be priimarily issues of Christian obedience and love, not government issues.

No one has to belong to one view or the other, and it may be somewhat of a spectrum.

I would like to address the issue of the economy and welfare. There are some, like myself, who tend towards View 2, and believe in limited government, but do not believe in the abolition of welfare altogether. For such a situation, I believe one can still look to how economic matters were handled in the Mosaic Law. I will discuss those later.

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6 Responses to “What I was trying to say…”

  1. Dan Trabue said

    I would think that it would be a fairly common mainstream religious view in our nation that one’s religious views will impact what one thinks and that one can still be a citizen and express those faith-based thoughts.

    What I’d hope most religious folk think from that point is that when we talk about forming policy, we do so based upon civic reasoning that we can expect to find common to the human condition, regardless of religion (or lack thereof). What that means is that I might believe theft is wrong because that’s what the Bible says, but when it comes time to make law, I say “Thievery should be outlawed because it is the taking of what doesn’t belong to you,” and NOT, “Thievery should be outlawed because I think the Bible tells us so.”

    Conversely, if I believe that the Bible teaches a triune nature of God, that I would not try to make THAT law because it would be exclusive to my interpretation of the Bible and/or God.

    In other words, we ought not make laws in a multicultural society based exclusively upon what some say the Bible says, but on common human/civic grounds.

    Are we together thus far?

  2. Michael Westmoreland-White said

    I don’t think Mosaic government–early or later Israel–is a DIRECT model for us. What I think we can learn is God’s priorities: e.g., against great disparities of wealth and poverty; for redistribution; care for others; hospitality to strangers; etc. We can also learn (1 Sam. 8) from the fact that God was opposed to the creation of the monarchy that God does not like concentrations of power–standing armies, etc.

    I’m not sure that the OT is more collective and the NT more individualistic–or that, even if this is true, support for a laissez faire market follows.

  3. Michael Westmoreland-White said

    I don’t think Mosaic government–early or later Israel–is a DIRECT model for us. What I think we can learn is God’s priorities: e.g., against great disparities of wealth and poverty; for redistribution; care for others; hospitality to strangers; etc. We can also learn (1 Sam. 8) from the fact that God was opposed to the creation of the monarchy that God does not like concentrations of power–standing armies, etc.

    I’m not sure that the OT is more collective and the NT more individualistic–or that, even if this is true, support for a laissez faire market follows.

  4. Chance said

    What you two say makes sense. And I’m not advocating a direct model, but like Michael said, we can establish those same priorities. But even so, Michael, you didn’t mention anything about individual morality, which God also harped on so much. Also, when I look at the Mosaic law, I see some redistribution, but I would disagree on the amount. I don’t think the rich gave 40-50% of their stuff to other people. I do see a focus on forgiveness of debts, and no interest rate loans, however. In my view, and again, I will have to reread some of the Pentatuch, but I think God was primarily concerned about the poor in relation to having their needs met. Are they clothed, do they have food? I could be wrong, but I don’t remember God being concerned about the poor in relation to the rich. In fact, God says in one of the Ten, do not envy your neighbors possessions. When we look at the poor, not objectively, in terms of do they have what they need, but relatively, in relation to other people, wouldn’t that possibly cause feelings of envy?

  5. Chance said

    And the Law of Jubilee did redistribute land somewhat, although the reasoning may have had to do with the time. The thing with land, however, is it is a fixed resource. Money/labor is not. If the rich get richer, the poor do not necessarily get poorer.

  6. Michael Westmoreland-White said

    I didn’t speak of personal responsibility because we were talking about economics and politics. I try (not always successfully) to stick to one topic at a time. I don’t eny the rich–I pity the chains their possessions put on them. I’d hate to live in a gated community, never knowing whether my friends just like me for money, etc. The rich are to be greatly pitied–they have the tyranny of possessions, of overconsumption. of the marketplace. Shudder!

    I think the major reason for land redistribution in the Jubilee was that too large a gap between haves and have nots (even if the poor’s basic needs are met) leads to a power imbalance. The biblical texts on the whole (Proverbs is a major exception) are extremely critical of inequality in class and power.

    And, no, that power doesn’t disappear if you shrink the government.

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