Compromise

by Jimmy Veith

For many, the word “compromise” has negative connotations.  People who “compromise” are viewed as people who lack moral courage to live up to high ethical standards.  We admire most those individuals who stand up against the system and do the right thing regardless of what others think.  When “Mr. Smith” went toWashington, his filibuster in the Senate was not obstructionism.  It was a heroic act.      John Wayne never compromised.   Our aversion to compromise, is probably a reflection of our individualism, which is a dominate personality trait of Americans.

There are cultures, primarily in the East, that seem to place a greater emphasis on getting along with others.  The middle way or the “golden mean” is a dominant theme in their religions and philosophies, which place a greater emphasis on living in harmony with others.   We are more defined by our Judeo-Christian heritage which places a greater emphasis on absolute truths.

The Bible is full of warning and admonitions against compromise.  Yet, there are passages in the Bible that describe circumstances in which compromise is considered to be a good thing.  Consider Acts 15, which describes what is know as the Jerusalem conference, where Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and the other Apostles to discus whether or not Gentiles who converted to Christianity had to become Jews first, and thus be circumcised according to the Law of Moses.  The view of Paul and Barnabas prevailed and the conference concluded that converts did not have to be circumcised.  (Yea!)  But even then, the Gentiles were instructed to comply with Jewish dietary laws.  (See Acts15: 20)   Was this an example of a compromise?    Are there other or better examples in the Bible where compromise is considered to be a good thing?

The United States Constitution is full of compromises.  The greatest conflict among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention was between the big states and the little states.  The big states wanted proportional representation based on population.  The little states wanted equal representation so they would not be dominated by the big states.  This conflict threatened to tear the convention apart, until they decided on the so-called “Connecticut Compromise” which gave proportional representation to the House of Representatives and equal representation in the Senate.

Today, we are engaged in a national debate over what should be done to address our national debt crises.  The far right refuses to raise taxes.  The far left refuses to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits.   Isn’t this a situation where a compromise which does some of both, is the moral and ethical thing to do?

What are the moral and ethical dimensions of compromise?   Isn’t the attitude of “My way or the Highway!” repugnant in a Democracy?     Is it possible that in some circumstances, our willingness to compromise is an expression of Christian humility?

  • larry

    Interesting. I’ve been pondering this myself on many levels for a couple of weeks. It depends, I think, how the word is used. This cuts both theologically and to our national heritage. It depends on how one thinks of compromise. It’s generally viewed as “binding” as in two parties move toward each other and then bind themselves to that, yet in the “binding” itself one is exposed to the danger of the trust of the other.

    In our culture we tend to view it legalistically or “law like” in the sense of “John Wayne” wouldn’t compromise, men of integrity don’t compromise, etc… And that is viewed as “manly”, so a man that stands his ground, so to speak, is said to not compromise. Yet, that’s not really the spirit of the word compromise nor is that really truly bold and “manly”. Why? Because unyielding is really not “strength” is it! To expose one’s self to potential ‘compromise’ is in reality bold and strong, right! E.g. it’s not Rambo that’s admirable when all is said and done, but the apparently weak father that turns the other cheek and takes the “hits” to protect the family in the face of danger. Uncompromising in this way is really selfish childishness that is self serving and not loving, while compromising, exposing one’s self to the other and the danger of that trust invested is really to love.

    Let’s go theological, example, the Cross of Christ is THE example. Did not Christ give up His position to suffer on behalf of the world’s sin? Did He not expose himself to this. He gave up all for the sin and redemption of the world (John 3:16) even though many have and will reject this for themselves, though he did not have too and all sinful man could have simply been punished eternally.
    At the root of “comprise” is the self giving over to the trust of the other. In fact marriage is based on this in which the one exposes themselves to the risk of the trust and love of the other, such exposes one’s vulnerability if you will. One becomes nude before the other in naked trust. In fact friendship works this way too.

    The truth issue: “Compromise” can be seen in the light of “law” (e.g. John Wayne) and legalistic law at that, or “gospel” (e.g. nude trust). Truth can never compromise because in the BIG epistemological picture if truth “compromises” with falsehood, then the resultant is nothing BUT a “compromise” that is seen in the light of the law and legalism, rather than selfless love and mercy. In other words if grace and mercy “compromise” the only thing they CAN compromise with that exists otherwise is legalistic fulfillment. If that happens all compromise based on grace and mercy is lost and nothing BUT law/legalism can exist and as such the “my way or the highway” is all that WILL exist (this would be how hell functions, also the elder son in the prodigal son parable standing uncompromisingly outside of the eschatological feast by his own BOUND will/choice). Thus, truth cannot compromise because if it does the falsehood is the very thing that wins the day and all mercy and grace at length are lost. Truth and falsehood are polar opposites in which compromise means ultimately ‘no compromise’ and one is lost, grace and mercy, for the other, unyielding law. Truth in this sense is asserting itself so that true compromise, the exposure of one’s self to the love and trust of another CAN be so and happen. When we stood naked before the fall, in this sense we ‘compromise’ ourselves BECAUSE we trusted God without exception (His Word/promise). When we distrusted His Word AT the fall, the serpent unhinged faith from the Word to other things, we then “fell” (rose up) into unyielding and what did we do next? We armored up by clothing ourselves for fear of not trusting God so nakedly. The armoring up with clothing was in reality a fruit of our fallen “my way or the highway” sin.

  • larry

    Interesting. I’ve been pondering this myself on many levels for a couple of weeks. It depends, I think, how the word is used. This cuts both theologically and to our national heritage. It depends on how one thinks of compromise. It’s generally viewed as “binding” as in two parties move toward each other and then bind themselves to that, yet in the “binding” itself one is exposed to the danger of the trust of the other.

    In our culture we tend to view it legalistically or “law like” in the sense of “John Wayne” wouldn’t compromise, men of integrity don’t compromise, etc… And that is viewed as “manly”, so a man that stands his ground, so to speak, is said to not compromise. Yet, that’s not really the spirit of the word compromise nor is that really truly bold and “manly”. Why? Because unyielding is really not “strength” is it! To expose one’s self to potential ‘compromise’ is in reality bold and strong, right! E.g. it’s not Rambo that’s admirable when all is said and done, but the apparently weak father that turns the other cheek and takes the “hits” to protect the family in the face of danger. Uncompromising in this way is really selfish childishness that is self serving and not loving, while compromising, exposing one’s self to the other and the danger of that trust invested is really to love.

    Let’s go theological, example, the Cross of Christ is THE example. Did not Christ give up His position to suffer on behalf of the world’s sin? Did He not expose himself to this. He gave up all for the sin and redemption of the world (John 3:16) even though many have and will reject this for themselves, though he did not have too and all sinful man could have simply been punished eternally.
    At the root of “comprise” is the self giving over to the trust of the other. In fact marriage is based on this in which the one exposes themselves to the risk of the trust and love of the other, such exposes one’s vulnerability if you will. One becomes nude before the other in naked trust. In fact friendship works this way too.

    The truth issue: “Compromise” can be seen in the light of “law” (e.g. John Wayne) and legalistic law at that, or “gospel” (e.g. nude trust). Truth can never compromise because in the BIG epistemological picture if truth “compromises” with falsehood, then the resultant is nothing BUT a “compromise” that is seen in the light of the law and legalism, rather than selfless love and mercy. In other words if grace and mercy “compromise” the only thing they CAN compromise with that exists otherwise is legalistic fulfillment. If that happens all compromise based on grace and mercy is lost and nothing BUT law/legalism can exist and as such the “my way or the highway” is all that WILL exist (this would be how hell functions, also the elder son in the prodigal son parable standing uncompromisingly outside of the eschatological feast by his own BOUND will/choice). Thus, truth cannot compromise because if it does the falsehood is the very thing that wins the day and all mercy and grace at length are lost. Truth and falsehood are polar opposites in which compromise means ultimately ‘no compromise’ and one is lost, grace and mercy, for the other, unyielding law. Truth in this sense is asserting itself so that true compromise, the exposure of one’s self to the love and trust of another CAN be so and happen. When we stood naked before the fall, in this sense we ‘compromise’ ourselves BECAUSE we trusted God without exception (His Word/promise). When we distrusted His Word AT the fall, the serpent unhinged faith from the Word to other things, we then “fell” (rose up) into unyielding and what did we do next? We armored up by clothing ourselves for fear of not trusting God so nakedly. The armoring up with clothing was in reality a fruit of our fallen “my way or the highway” sin.

  • Tom Hering

    Compromise was possible when both political parties contained liberals, moderates, and conservatives. When one party purged itself of liberals, and the other marginalized its conservatives, compromise became difficult – if not impossible.

  • Tom Hering

    Compromise was possible when both political parties contained liberals, moderates, and conservatives. When one party purged itself of liberals, and the other marginalized its conservatives, compromise became difficult – if not impossible.

  • L. H. Kevil

    To make compromise some kind of absolute good, ignoring the specific circumstances of the case to hand, would be a mistake. Just ask Neville Chamberlain.

    It also helps to know the goals to be achieved. If reducing federal government overspending and beginning to reduce the annual deficit on the way to its elimination are the goals, then any compromise that makes this impossible is a bad thing, is it not? Any compromise that contributes to achieving these goals is progress.

    In other words, in and of itself, compromise is an empty abstraction.

  • L. H. Kevil

    To make compromise some kind of absolute good, ignoring the specific circumstances of the case to hand, would be a mistake. Just ask Neville Chamberlain.

    It also helps to know the goals to be achieved. If reducing federal government overspending and beginning to reduce the annual deficit on the way to its elimination are the goals, then any compromise that makes this impossible is a bad thing, is it not? Any compromise that contributes to achieving these goals is progress.

    In other words, in and of itself, compromise is an empty abstraction.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am not sure the dietary restrictions really count as a good example of a compromise.

    14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: [3] are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
    1 Corinthians 10:14-22

    There are moral implications in the dietary restrictions, so it kinda loses its force as an example of compromise. However, the question is a good one.

    Some compromise is good. Some just delays the inevitable, the Missouri Compromise comes to mind. Some compromises can bring us closer to a desirable end goal in a less painful fashion. I could live with a compromise over the debt issue at hand as long as the compromise included for real, meaningful spending cuts across the board and not just the fictional cut coming from the so called peace dividend. I have lived with a gradual move to the outlawing of abortion, I can live with a gradual move to more responsible governmental spending.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am not sure the dietary restrictions really count as a good example of a compromise.

    14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: [3] are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
    1 Corinthians 10:14-22

    There are moral implications in the dietary restrictions, so it kinda loses its force as an example of compromise. However, the question is a good one.

    Some compromise is good. Some just delays the inevitable, the Missouri Compromise comes to mind. Some compromises can bring us closer to a desirable end goal in a less painful fashion. I could live with a compromise over the debt issue at hand as long as the compromise included for real, meaningful spending cuts across the board and not just the fictional cut coming from the so called peace dividend. I have lived with a gradual move to the outlawing of abortion, I can live with a gradual move to more responsible governmental spending.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I can see compromise when it’s practical, but in the case of the budget deficit, I simply don’t see it as practical. We have about $300 billion lost to the government due to tax evasion already, and higher tax rates don’t always equate to higher tax revenues–see the results of the yacht tax of the 1990s (lower revenues) and millionaire taxes in the 1920s, as well as more recent millionaire taxes in Oregon, Maryland, and New York; all of which resulted in far less than anticipated revenues. I believe Maryland’s take was actually negative.

    In the same way, the tax hikes of 1937 prolonged the Depression until Hitler and Hirohito made Roosevelt’s economic policies meaningless.

    So I would agree that there are times when compromise is good–I want to cut the NEA and PBS, you want to keep them, so we get rid of just the NEA–but in this case, the data do not suggest that we can pluck more taxes from the goose before it stops hissing and starts biting.

    In short, the debate over compromise may be a little bit of an error in itself, because the facts are notoriously resistant to politics, thankfully.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I can see compromise when it’s practical, but in the case of the budget deficit, I simply don’t see it as practical. We have about $300 billion lost to the government due to tax evasion already, and higher tax rates don’t always equate to higher tax revenues–see the results of the yacht tax of the 1990s (lower revenues) and millionaire taxes in the 1920s, as well as more recent millionaire taxes in Oregon, Maryland, and New York; all of which resulted in far less than anticipated revenues. I believe Maryland’s take was actually negative.

    In the same way, the tax hikes of 1937 prolonged the Depression until Hitler and Hirohito made Roosevelt’s economic policies meaningless.

    So I would agree that there are times when compromise is good–I want to cut the NEA and PBS, you want to keep them, so we get rid of just the NEA–but in this case, the data do not suggest that we can pluck more taxes from the goose before it stops hissing and starts biting.

    In short, the debate over compromise may be a little bit of an error in itself, because the facts are notoriously resistant to politics, thankfully.

  • DonS

    The Jerusalem Council is an excellent example of religious compromise for the purpose of the unity of the Body of Christ. The factions involved continued to worship separately, and to hold different doctrinal distinctives within the parameters of Scriptural truth, but realized that there is a greater Body of Christ outside of their own narrow sects, and wanted to ensure that the spread of the Gospel was not impeded by human squabbling. It is not so different from the devising of a Statement of Faith for a parachurch organization, a process that I have been involved in on several occasions. The goal is to come to agreement on the essentials of the meaning of faith in Christ, and our common goal within the Body of Christ of bringing others to salvation in Him, while respecting the denominational differences represented in the membership of the organization. It helps to put things in perspective, and is ultimately unifying.

    On the political side, conservatives are leery of so-called compromise because it never ends up being balanced. Tax hikes are real, and take effect immediately. Spending cuts are not really cuts, but merely projected decreases in the rate of increase of spending. Usually, in packages such as those being proposed now, most of the alleged cuts occur in the out years, i.e. years 5-10 in a ten year plan. They almost never happen, because they are subject to revision by future Congresses. To my knowledge, in modern times there has NEVER been a federal budget that actually spent less, in real dollars, than the prior year budget. Thus, there have never been actual cuts in spending.

    Conservatives want to see cuts first. The federal budget was increased some 20% during the recent financial crisis, and Obama wants to lock that in. Many families have had to make real 20% real cuts in their own household budgets, and cannot understand why government cannot make much smaller real cuts. People also cannot understand why we won’t step up and fix the obvious train wreck which future entitlements are going to cause, by making the necessary adjustments to retirement age, changing COLA formulas, or, better yet, making COLA’s elective each year so that Congress can evaluate whether there is actually money to fund them, and doing other common sense things to make the system sound, while protecting seniors.

    Once a genuine effort has been made to reduce governmental spending in real terms. to reflect the reality of funds availability and to ensure that our automatic spending increases due to entitlements won’t bankrupt us, then conservatives such as myself would be open to tax reform which would greatly simplify the taxation system while increasing government revenue. The simplification should ensure that most everyone pays some taxes, thus preserving a stake in the system, and that the savings in tax compliance costs will stimulate the economy so that the revenue increases are more than balanced by compliance savings. That would be a true win-win compromise.

  • DonS

    The Jerusalem Council is an excellent example of religious compromise for the purpose of the unity of the Body of Christ. The factions involved continued to worship separately, and to hold different doctrinal distinctives within the parameters of Scriptural truth, but realized that there is a greater Body of Christ outside of their own narrow sects, and wanted to ensure that the spread of the Gospel was not impeded by human squabbling. It is not so different from the devising of a Statement of Faith for a parachurch organization, a process that I have been involved in on several occasions. The goal is to come to agreement on the essentials of the meaning of faith in Christ, and our common goal within the Body of Christ of bringing others to salvation in Him, while respecting the denominational differences represented in the membership of the organization. It helps to put things in perspective, and is ultimately unifying.

    On the political side, conservatives are leery of so-called compromise because it never ends up being balanced. Tax hikes are real, and take effect immediately. Spending cuts are not really cuts, but merely projected decreases in the rate of increase of spending. Usually, in packages such as those being proposed now, most of the alleged cuts occur in the out years, i.e. years 5-10 in a ten year plan. They almost never happen, because they are subject to revision by future Congresses. To my knowledge, in modern times there has NEVER been a federal budget that actually spent less, in real dollars, than the prior year budget. Thus, there have never been actual cuts in spending.

    Conservatives want to see cuts first. The federal budget was increased some 20% during the recent financial crisis, and Obama wants to lock that in. Many families have had to make real 20% real cuts in their own household budgets, and cannot understand why government cannot make much smaller real cuts. People also cannot understand why we won’t step up and fix the obvious train wreck which future entitlements are going to cause, by making the necessary adjustments to retirement age, changing COLA formulas, or, better yet, making COLA’s elective each year so that Congress can evaluate whether there is actually money to fund them, and doing other common sense things to make the system sound, while protecting seniors.

    Once a genuine effort has been made to reduce governmental spending in real terms. to reflect the reality of funds availability and to ensure that our automatic spending increases due to entitlements won’t bankrupt us, then conservatives such as myself would be open to tax reform which would greatly simplify the taxation system while increasing government revenue. The simplification should ensure that most everyone pays some taxes, thus preserving a stake in the system, and that the savings in tax compliance costs will stimulate the economy so that the revenue increases are more than balanced by compliance savings. That would be a true win-win compromise.

  • Jonathan

    @6 RE: Jerusalem Council. I think you’re confusing clarification (making something easier to understand) with compromise (settling a dispute by giving way on some points). Church councils don’t compromise, but their conclusions can clarify matters. I can see why you so view Councils, since you compose your own statements of faith, with an eye toward avoiding controversy.

  • Jonathan

    @6 RE: Jerusalem Council. I think you’re confusing clarification (making something easier to understand) with compromise (settling a dispute by giving way on some points). Church councils don’t compromise, but their conclusions can clarify matters. I can see why you so view Councils, since you compose your own statements of faith, with an eye toward avoiding controversy.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 7: No, I don’t think so. Clarifying what, exactly? Men met together, some of whom wanted more retention of provisions of the Jewish law applied to Gentiles, others of whom wanted less, they waited on the Holy Spirit, and wrote a letter summarizing what seemed good to them and to the Holy Spirit. Their conclusion was a compromise, blessed by the Holy Spirit, of the two positions they carried into the meeting.

    Note Acts 16:3, where Paul has Timothy circumcised, in the very next chapter after the Council, clearly as a compromise to the Jews in the region, because Timothy’s mom was Jewish.

    Your last statement is a mischaracterization of what I said, but, whatever. I’ll try to do my part to have a civil and respectful discussion with you.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 7: No, I don’t think so. Clarifying what, exactly? Men met together, some of whom wanted more retention of provisions of the Jewish law applied to Gentiles, others of whom wanted less, they waited on the Holy Spirit, and wrote a letter summarizing what seemed good to them and to the Holy Spirit. Their conclusion was a compromise, blessed by the Holy Spirit, of the two positions they carried into the meeting.

    Note Acts 16:3, where Paul has Timothy circumcised, in the very next chapter after the Council, clearly as a compromise to the Jews in the region, because Timothy’s mom was Jewish.

    Your last statement is a mischaracterization of what I said, but, whatever. I’ll try to do my part to have a civil and respectful discussion with you.

  • Richard

    Compromise is what politics in our society is about–and the kingdom of the left hand. We confuse the two kingdoms when we think otherwise.

  • Richard

    Compromise is what politics in our society is about–and the kingdom of the left hand. We confuse the two kingdoms when we think otherwise.

  • Joe

    The Jerusalem Council is not an example of compromise. It is an example of the exercise of the authority of a Bishop to settle a dispute. Where does Paul say, “you know, what I could live with X” or where do the Judaizers say, “we can give up Y and X but not Q”? Its not there. Instead, the parties presented their arguments. The Judaizers argued for circumcision. Paul and Peter argued against. Paul giving first hand accounts of the conversion of Gentiles and Peter arguing from scripture. Then James issued a decree.

    Based on this council, I have always thought that the Catholics should be claiming James as the first pope …

  • Joe

    The Jerusalem Council is not an example of compromise. It is an example of the exercise of the authority of a Bishop to settle a dispute. Where does Paul say, “you know, what I could live with X” or where do the Judaizers say, “we can give up Y and X but not Q”? Its not there. Instead, the parties presented their arguments. The Judaizers argued for circumcision. Paul and Peter argued against. Paul giving first hand accounts of the conversion of Gentiles and Peter arguing from scripture. Then James issued a decree.

    Based on this council, I have always thought that the Catholics should be claiming James as the first pope …

  • Joanne

    Compromise is something you do when you can’t win and something you do until you can win. It’s part of the negotiation process. You use this when war is not an appropriate solution or until war is an appropriate solution.
    Don’t you know how to play the game? Italian princes do.
    Didn’t you notice how good a compromiser Paul was in Jerusalem and how he never mentioned dietery laws when he left Jerusalem?
    The greatest compromise/negotiation in the Bible is between God and Abraham over Sodom and Gomorrah and whether there were enough rightous men there. God is such a straight-shooter and Abraham is so wily. But, ultimely Abraham gives up and condemns the cities because even he will not go any lower than his last offer although God has not indicated His limit on rightous men.
    From Abraham we learn that when in negotiations, never assume the opponent’s bottom line. From Alinsky we learn to never compromise in good-faith. Always start the discussion standing on the hill you want (demand) and never budge except by force.
    But, really, the Italian princes have known this for centuries.

  • Joanne

    Compromise is something you do when you can’t win and something you do until you can win. It’s part of the negotiation process. You use this when war is not an appropriate solution or until war is an appropriate solution.
    Don’t you know how to play the game? Italian princes do.
    Didn’t you notice how good a compromiser Paul was in Jerusalem and how he never mentioned dietery laws when he left Jerusalem?
    The greatest compromise/negotiation in the Bible is between God and Abraham over Sodom and Gomorrah and whether there were enough rightous men there. God is such a straight-shooter and Abraham is so wily. But, ultimely Abraham gives up and condemns the cities because even he will not go any lower than his last offer although God has not indicated His limit on rightous men.
    From Abraham we learn that when in negotiations, never assume the opponent’s bottom line. From Alinsky we learn to never compromise in good-faith. Always start the discussion standing on the hill you want (demand) and never budge except by force.
    But, really, the Italian princes have known this for centuries.

  • DonS

    Joe, I wouldn’t characterize it as James issuing a decree. As you said, there was dispute among the conferees, Paul and Peter had their say, then James offered his view as to how it should be settled. Verse 22 emphasizes that “it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men (to deliver the letter)”. Verse 23: “they wrote the letter..”, and it is indicated as being from “The apostles, elders, and the brethren”, not from James alone. The text of the letter is that they were of one accord, and that the letter and its contents seemed good to them collectively, not James individually. I would characterize James, in that situation, as being an effective consensus – builder. Of course, the report is not exhaustive (which is probably why it doesn’t include “you know, I could live with X…”), and thus is subject to interpretive speculation, but the cleear impression is one of consensus, not a papal bull.

    And again, don’t forget that in the very next chapter Paul has Timothy circumcised.

  • DonS

    Joe, I wouldn’t characterize it as James issuing a decree. As you said, there was dispute among the conferees, Paul and Peter had their say, then James offered his view as to how it should be settled. Verse 22 emphasizes that “it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men (to deliver the letter)”. Verse 23: “they wrote the letter..”, and it is indicated as being from “The apostles, elders, and the brethren”, not from James alone. The text of the letter is that they were of one accord, and that the letter and its contents seemed good to them collectively, not James individually. I would characterize James, in that situation, as being an effective consensus – builder. Of course, the report is not exhaustive (which is probably why it doesn’t include “you know, I could live with X…”), and thus is subject to interpretive speculation, but the cleear impression is one of consensus, not a papal bull.

    And again, don’t forget that in the very next chapter Paul has Timothy circumcised.

  • Joanne

    Joanne’s compromise (similar to Buddy Roemer)

    1. Raise debt limit by 2.4 TRILLION. Borrow 2.4 TRILLION of US Treasury debt to pay for operation of US government for 2 more years, or 18 more months, or 10 more months, or 8 more months.

    2. Or, do not raise debt limit by 2.4 TRILLION. After August 2nd, pay for operation of US government as the revenue (175 BILLION per month) is received. We can pay for everything except the Department of Energy or is it the Department of Agriculture.

    If option 1 is chosen: Crisis is over for now, but falls like a ton of bricks on whoever wins the 2012 election when it becomes the 1st matter of business to raise the debt ceiling by 4.6 TRILLION as fast as possible.

    If option 2 is chosen: All hell breaks loose now at affected Departments and in MSM and congress and president must remain focussed on the crisis because MSM will kill children if DOA affected agency or MSM will destroy earth by fire if DOE is affected agency.

    For sheer entertainment value, I’d go for door number 2.

  • Joanne

    Joanne’s compromise (similar to Buddy Roemer)

    1. Raise debt limit by 2.4 TRILLION. Borrow 2.4 TRILLION of US Treasury debt to pay for operation of US government for 2 more years, or 18 more months, or 10 more months, or 8 more months.

    2. Or, do not raise debt limit by 2.4 TRILLION. After August 2nd, pay for operation of US government as the revenue (175 BILLION per month) is received. We can pay for everything except the Department of Energy or is it the Department of Agriculture.

    If option 1 is chosen: Crisis is over for now, but falls like a ton of bricks on whoever wins the 2012 election when it becomes the 1st matter of business to raise the debt ceiling by 4.6 TRILLION as fast as possible.

    If option 2 is chosen: All hell breaks loose now at affected Departments and in MSM and congress and president must remain focussed on the crisis because MSM will kill children if DOA affected agency or MSM will destroy earth by fire if DOE is affected agency.

    For sheer entertainment value, I’d go for door number 2.

  • fws

    There are two kingdoms.

    In the heavenly kingdom there is , alone , the Truth, and faith alone that trusts in that Truth which is alone Christ.

    Faith, alone, can see that part of the Law of God , peculiarly found only in the first table of the Decalog that demands those “New Heart Movements” that , alone, is the fearing, loving and trusting in God that we call regeneration or “putting on Christ. It is the most important part of the Law God demands. And , not coincidentally, it is the only part of the Law we cannot do as Old Adams.

    This Law that is about what our hearts can only do as New Man can’t be compromised it is not something we can do. It is a gift of God lest any man should boast.

    Then there is that other earthly Kingdom Law that Old Adam is commanded to do, and that the Law divinely revealed in his Reason nags and compells him to do . The Lawless judge driven by a nagging conscience widowed to love in Luke 18 is how this Law works.

    This Law can be compromised. But when man compromises this Law, God sends the sword of Government, your mama, our some plague or punishment until he grinds all our Old Adams down. This “grinding down” is what the word contrition means. And this is what keeping the Law looks like for all we can see and do in our earthly existence. We only think we do the Law of God. Actually the Law does us!

    But here is where it gets really interesting. What is it that the Law of God written and revealed in the Reason of all demand of us?

    It demands that we yield our own selfish, self serving and self centered interests in order to help and befriend our neighbor.

    We call this “compromise”. We literally drop dead to our egos, and we become obedient to the greater good.

    Usually “standing on principle” is camoflage for self interest. True standing on principle always involves compromise. Why? It will always appear to sacrifice our own best interest for the common good or good of others. true standing on principle is a defense, always, of the best interests of someone else and the sacrifice of self interest.

  • fws

    There are two kingdoms.

    In the heavenly kingdom there is , alone , the Truth, and faith alone that trusts in that Truth which is alone Christ.

    Faith, alone, can see that part of the Law of God , peculiarly found only in the first table of the Decalog that demands those “New Heart Movements” that , alone, is the fearing, loving and trusting in God that we call regeneration or “putting on Christ. It is the most important part of the Law God demands. And , not coincidentally, it is the only part of the Law we cannot do as Old Adams.

    This Law that is about what our hearts can only do as New Man can’t be compromised it is not something we can do. It is a gift of God lest any man should boast.

    Then there is that other earthly Kingdom Law that Old Adam is commanded to do, and that the Law divinely revealed in his Reason nags and compells him to do . The Lawless judge driven by a nagging conscience widowed to love in Luke 18 is how this Law works.

    This Law can be compromised. But when man compromises this Law, God sends the sword of Government, your mama, our some plague or punishment until he grinds all our Old Adams down. This “grinding down” is what the word contrition means. And this is what keeping the Law looks like for all we can see and do in our earthly existence. We only think we do the Law of God. Actually the Law does us!

    But here is where it gets really interesting. What is it that the Law of God written and revealed in the Reason of all demand of us?

    It demands that we yield our own selfish, self serving and self centered interests in order to help and befriend our neighbor.

    We call this “compromise”. We literally drop dead to our egos, and we become obedient to the greater good.

    Usually “standing on principle” is camoflage for self interest. True standing on principle always involves compromise. Why? It will always appear to sacrifice our own best interest for the common good or good of others. true standing on principle is a defense, always, of the best interests of someone else and the sacrifice of self interest.

  • Lou

    Amen FWS! That was very well put.
    To take it one step further, when you wrote: “true standing on principle is a defense, always, of the best interests of someone else and the sacrifice of self interest”, I would say even more so for those who would take upon themselves the title “leader”.
    It would be good to read your thoughts on what this might look like specifically for government leaders.

    Just to think @ this outloud for a moment… In terms of church government, Presbyterian churches are ruled by a session – a group of “leaders”. The board of elders never agrees 100% with every decision put before the church, but as leaders they are required to have discernment, to rule with character and to defend “the least of these” – who without the protection of the leaders would be greatly harmed. I tend to think that civil leaders ought to be held to similar standards.

  • Lou

    Amen FWS! That was very well put.
    To take it one step further, when you wrote: “true standing on principle is a defense, always, of the best interests of someone else and the sacrifice of self interest”, I would say even more so for those who would take upon themselves the title “leader”.
    It would be good to read your thoughts on what this might look like specifically for government leaders.

    Just to think @ this outloud for a moment… In terms of church government, Presbyterian churches are ruled by a session – a group of “leaders”. The board of elders never agrees 100% with every decision put before the church, but as leaders they are required to have discernment, to rule with character and to defend “the least of these” – who without the protection of the leaders would be greatly harmed. I tend to think that civil leaders ought to be held to similar standards.


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