12 March 2015

Extra-Scriptural Commitments Trumping the Text

This article represents a grave error to be avoided. While I can appreciate (in the larger article) the criticism of the Christian Right calling on the state to transform society, the author (and interviewee) still make the same fundamental error... that of Transformationalism.

Seeking to transform society they are simply positing yet another flawed and unscriptural method. Misunderstanding the Biblical teaching on the state in the age of Common Grace, when we live as exiles in the cities of the Beast, they instead argue for a revolutionary doctrine... even if it's supposedly non-violent. I'm not sure they've worked out the full ramifications of what they propose. There are many types of violence and many ways it manifests itself.

Christ was killed by the Jews manipulating the Roman State and yet all of this was ultimately ordained by God who was pleased to bruise the Son.

Trying to blame it on the tyrannical Romans and thus attack the notion of government is to misappropriate the Biblical narrative and derive incorrect ethical applications from it. Rome was an evil tyrant but the petition for execution came from the Jews.

Government is violence and coercion and yet Romans 13 makes it clear that God has ordained it for the common good. Will it be ethically and ideologically good, wonderful and/or transformative? No. No model will, even the anarchist model posited by the author of the linked blog post. We're not looking for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or the protection of property. Nowhere does the Scripture tell us to pursue these things. In fact, quite the opposite. We're to be martyr-witnesses. Our liberty, property, security, fulfillment and happiness are not things we seek after nor are they things we are told to expect.

This rather dashes all Christian attempts at political projects.

If there is a lesson to be derived from the way the Jews and Romans colluded in the death of Christ, it is with regard to power and how other powers can manipulate government. Few Anarcho-Capitalists seem to grasp that the vacuum will be filled... by something. If it isn't government then business interests seeking their own security and monopoly will fill the gap or try to control the governing powers.

Anarcho-Capitalism is rooted in a Pelagian worldview. It assumes that man will not act sinfully, that men will be content, that men will play by the rules and not seek to manipulate the system. It looks great on paper but doesn't work in a Fallen world. No system does and if they seem to, it will only be for a short time. Static systems don't work in a dynamic sin-cursed world.

The danger here is the commitment to a socio-political system and then trying to read it back into Scripture... and thus misinterpreting and manipulating it. This school of thought has a real problem with the hands off/let it be posture toward government that the New Testament teaches. Worried about rights, taxes, and extra-Biblical (and frankly un-Biblical) economic principles it agitates and calls theft what the Scriptures do not. It ultimately makes ethical demands that the New Testament labels as sinful.

Is the state going to always fall into evil? Yes. And since we're not called to rule and view the state as a temporary measure that will burn at the conclusion of the age, we realize in the end it doesn't really matter if we live in the USA, China, Russia or a Sub-Saharan African nation. We have to deal with the context wherein we are placed and our focus is to be on the Gospel and the Kingdom. Fighting over politics and economics will not help these ultimate concerns and causes. You're fighting over which is better, the Babylonian or Assyrian model. It's a waste of time. Proclaim Divine Judgment but don't proclaim some other fallen model is the solution, let alone revolution. We're not called to suffer as busybodies in other people's affairs.