One Nation Conservatism

Mitt Romney seems to dismiss the 47% of Americans who will never vote for him anyway.  James P. Pinkerton, though, recounts another kind of conservatism–the tradition of Disraeli, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and others–that is oriented to the 100%.

This is the ideology of the popular conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who described his philosophy this way:

I’m a one-nation Tory. There is a duty on the part of the rich to the poor and to the needy, but you are not going to help people express that duty and satisfy it if you punish them fiscally so viciously that they leave this city and this country. I want London to be a competitive, dynamic place to come to work.

It is also the ideology of Calvin Coolidge, who said this:

The commonwealth is one. We are all members of one body. The welfare of the weakest and the welfare of the most powerful are inseparably bound together. Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. Transportation cannot prosper if manufactures decline. The general welfare cannot be provided for in any one act, but it is well to remember that the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all. The suspension of one man’s dividends is the suspension of another man’s pay envelope.

via What Happened to the 100 Percent? | The American Conservative.

This brand of conservatism tries to create a sense of national unity, rather than setting groups off against each other, embraces patriotism, tries to reform social evils, and thus inspires voters.

Do you see any prospect for bringing this back?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Abraham Lincoln so strongly believed in national unity that he was willing to expend blood and treasure to force his vision of it on almost one-half of the nation. Teddy Roosevelt drifted right on into embracing a destructive and intrusive set of Progressive policies that enervated American industry and created a variety of groups dependent upon continued state support and intervention. In fact, many of the policies that Roosevelt advocated were opposed by Coolidge. Henry Clay was the epitome of Whig economic interventionism – probably as much an impetus for the withdrawal of the South from the North after 1860 as anything. Clay’s idea of national unity was to take money from people living in one part of the country through tariffs and duties and putting it into public works (canals, for example) in other parts of the country, thereby creating a national economic policy of have’s (political favorites) and have-not’s (those on the outs, or living in the wrong place). National Unity Conservatism is not national, it is not unifying, and it is not conservative. It is favoritism, interventionism, and statolatry wrapped up in red, white and blue.

    I guess I’m identifying more and more with John C. Calhoun (less the love for slavery) in my “conservatism,” and not just for the great hair. Then again, I believe in subsidiarity, parochialism, and regionalism in my flavor of patriotism, and less in “national unity” as a marker for conservatism. The more national, the more “unifying” a “conservative” political movement desire to be, the more dangerous and less conservative it actually becomes.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Abraham Lincoln so strongly believed in national unity that he was willing to expend blood and treasure to force his vision of it on almost one-half of the nation. Teddy Roosevelt drifted right on into embracing a destructive and intrusive set of Progressive policies that enervated American industry and created a variety of groups dependent upon continued state support and intervention. In fact, many of the policies that Roosevelt advocated were opposed by Coolidge. Henry Clay was the epitome of Whig economic interventionism – probably as much an impetus for the withdrawal of the South from the North after 1860 as anything. Clay’s idea of national unity was to take money from people living in one part of the country through tariffs and duties and putting it into public works (canals, for example) in other parts of the country, thereby creating a national economic policy of have’s (political favorites) and have-not’s (those on the outs, or living in the wrong place). National Unity Conservatism is not national, it is not unifying, and it is not conservative. It is favoritism, interventionism, and statolatry wrapped up in red, white and blue.

    I guess I’m identifying more and more with John C. Calhoun (less the love for slavery) in my “conservatism,” and not just for the great hair. Then again, I believe in subsidiarity, parochialism, and regionalism in my flavor of patriotism, and less in “national unity” as a marker for conservatism. The more national, the more “unifying” a “conservative” political movement desire to be, the more dangerous and less conservative it actually becomes.

  • Susan

    One of the unfortunate things about the 47% remark was that it conflated several topics and 1-2 minutes of the recording is missing. That said, in speaking about 47%, he was addressing the fact that he believed 47% of the voters would not vote for him. He was not talking about governing and has taken pains to try to distinguish between governance of 100% and 47% of voters not voting for him.

  • Susan

    One of the unfortunate things about the 47% remark was that it conflated several topics and 1-2 minutes of the recording is missing. That said, in speaking about 47%, he was addressing the fact that he believed 47% of the voters would not vote for him. He was not talking about governing and has taken pains to try to distinguish between governance of 100% and 47% of voters not voting for him.

  • fws

    calhoun without the slavery.
    founding fathers without the slavery.

    maybe better to consider how slavery was a huge part of what they believed, and thus avoid some sort of ideological idealism that is just as bad as that which you oppose.

    the proof of the pudding is in what is done for the last, the lost , the least and the helpless.

    God grants wealth, alone, so that it will be redistributed, voluntarily from those who have, to those who have not. Mercy. Mercy is the opposite of what we deserve to receive for what we have done or left undone.
    I have just described the Biblical core of morality as to what it is we own.

    If we fail to do that redistribution joyfully and willingly, then God WILL still have this Will of his be done. In that case he will send us an increasingly oppressive government. He hears the cries of the poor and distressed in exactly this way. Mary´s song describes perfectly how God makes his Will be done on earth.

    We need to repent and joyfully get busy about the task of redistribution of ALL we possess short of what it is we need, today, for the modest living and wellbeing of those family members entrusted to our personal care.

    If we do not do this mercy, we should fear God and know he will send plagues , punishments, and the Democrats to make us do this mercy work. Romney in this view, needs to donate aboutb 95% of what he makes or more to others. Ditto for you and me if we have such good fortune to have that sort of excess of wealth.

  • fws

    calhoun without the slavery.
    founding fathers without the slavery.

    maybe better to consider how slavery was a huge part of what they believed, and thus avoid some sort of ideological idealism that is just as bad as that which you oppose.

    the proof of the pudding is in what is done for the last, the lost , the least and the helpless.

    God grants wealth, alone, so that it will be redistributed, voluntarily from those who have, to those who have not. Mercy. Mercy is the opposite of what we deserve to receive for what we have done or left undone.
    I have just described the Biblical core of morality as to what it is we own.

    If we fail to do that redistribution joyfully and willingly, then God WILL still have this Will of his be done. In that case he will send us an increasingly oppressive government. He hears the cries of the poor and distressed in exactly this way. Mary´s song describes perfectly how God makes his Will be done on earth.

    We need to repent and joyfully get busy about the task of redistribution of ALL we possess short of what it is we need, today, for the modest living and wellbeing of those family members entrusted to our personal care.

    If we do not do this mercy, we should fear God and know he will send plagues , punishments, and the Democrats to make us do this mercy work. Romney in this view, needs to donate aboutb 95% of what he makes or more to others. Ditto for you and me if we have such good fortune to have that sort of excess of wealth.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Lincoln, a conservative? I threw up a little in my mouth when I read that statement. No one did more to erode states rights in favor of the Fed than Lincoln.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Lincoln, a conservative? I threw up a little in my mouth when I read that statement. No one did more to erode states rights in favor of the Fed than Lincoln.

  • SKPeterson

    Eliminating slavery is not mercy. It is justice. While mercy is important, we are called also to deliver justice and to provide peace. I’m not sure that mercy is the province of government. Government is force, and mercy that is forced is not really mercy, is it? Further, God does grant wealth as he grants rain, sun, and the harvest. Who, though, decides how the wealth is to be redistributed or the seed planted, or the harvest stored? The owners or custodians of the bounty, or a bureaucrat?

    Here is a question: How do you measure mercy? Did Obama deliver more mercy because he advocated that resources be sent to areas of Chicago to buidl up communities or alleviate some from poverty? Or did, Romney do so through his investments in Bain, which redistributed capital to more profitable (i.e., efficient and less wasteful) pursuits, and providing more gainful employment?

  • SKPeterson

    Eliminating slavery is not mercy. It is justice. While mercy is important, we are called also to deliver justice and to provide peace. I’m not sure that mercy is the province of government. Government is force, and mercy that is forced is not really mercy, is it? Further, God does grant wealth as he grants rain, sun, and the harvest. Who, though, decides how the wealth is to be redistributed or the seed planted, or the harvest stored? The owners or custodians of the bounty, or a bureaucrat?

    Here is a question: How do you measure mercy? Did Obama deliver more mercy because he advocated that resources be sent to areas of Chicago to buidl up communities or alleviate some from poverty? Or did, Romney do so through his investments in Bain, which redistributed capital to more profitable (i.e., efficient and less wasteful) pursuits, and providing more gainful employment?

  • DonS

    “Mitt Romney seems to dismiss the 47% of Americans who will never vote for him anyway.”

    Oh, please, Dr. Veith. We will never attain anything approaching unity when people deliberately put the worst possible construction on the words of others every chance they get. And, yes, this clearly applies to both sides. Obviously, in the context of his talk with his supporters, Romney was talking about voters whose votes he could not realistically expect to get. He wasn’t saying he wouldn’t be their president, or serve them just as he serves everyone else.

    Why do we assume that the speeches of politicians from the past were anything more substantive than they are from our present-day politicians? Remember Obama’s speeches about unity in 2008? How did that work out? I don’t think things were so much different in the 1920′s — Democrats despised Coolidge. And still do.

  • DonS

    “Mitt Romney seems to dismiss the 47% of Americans who will never vote for him anyway.”

    Oh, please, Dr. Veith. We will never attain anything approaching unity when people deliberately put the worst possible construction on the words of others every chance they get. And, yes, this clearly applies to both sides. Obviously, in the context of his talk with his supporters, Romney was talking about voters whose votes he could not realistically expect to get. He wasn’t saying he wouldn’t be their president, or serve them just as he serves everyone else.

    Why do we assume that the speeches of politicians from the past were anything more substantive than they are from our present-day politicians? Remember Obama’s speeches about unity in 2008? How did that work out? I don’t think things were so much different in the 1920′s — Democrats despised Coolidge. And still do.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    calhoun without the slavery.
    founding fathers without the slavery.

    maybe better to consider how slavery was a huge part of what they believed, and thus avoid some sort of ideological idealism that is just as bad as that which you oppose.

    Quote of the week.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    calhoun without the slavery.
    founding fathers without the slavery.

    maybe better to consider how slavery was a huge part of what they believed, and thus avoid some sort of ideological idealism that is just as bad as that which you oppose.

    Quote of the week.

  • Cincinnatus

    While, as a confederate in body and soul, I heartily endorse SKPeterson’s (@1) citation of Calhoun, I’m more interested in the general question that can be extrapolated from his fine comment: in a nation as vast as the United States, can there be any “national” ideology of any kind? A political theory and mode of governance that applies to the entire continent?

    History has proven over and over–not just in the Civil War–that the answer is clearly no. Though I’m strongly critical of the Constitution in general, there was a time when it was taken to provide for the diverse local ways-of-being in America: the Constitution establishes a government designed to preside over affairs that are of interstate concern. Everything else is left to the irreducibly local communities to decide.

    tl;dr: A national conservatism is no conservatism at all because it must be imperial in nature.

  • Cincinnatus

    While, as a confederate in body and soul, I heartily endorse SKPeterson’s (@1) citation of Calhoun, I’m more interested in the general question that can be extrapolated from his fine comment: in a nation as vast as the United States, can there be any “national” ideology of any kind? A political theory and mode of governance that applies to the entire continent?

    History has proven over and over–not just in the Civil War–that the answer is clearly no. Though I’m strongly critical of the Constitution in general, there was a time when it was taken to provide for the diverse local ways-of-being in America: the Constitution establishes a government designed to preside over affairs that are of interstate concern. Everything else is left to the irreducibly local communities to decide.

    tl;dr: A national conservatism is no conservatism at all because it must be imperial in nature.

  • Susan

    I wonder if a better question is “what brand of government do we want?” Do we want 1) to continue with Obama’s progressive agenda and overreach that promotes an engorged pervasive bureaucracy and regulation in all departments of our personal lives including religion and what we eat or 2) a moderate conservative agenda that seeks to rein in government growth and it’s expenditures, heed the constitution, and diminish government’s invasion into every aspect of our private lives.

    I don’t see any way to unify libertarians, liberals, progressives, conservatives, moderates, and so forth, but it would be wonderful if we could stop the slice-and-dice misuse of demographics (race, gender,class, etc) and professional grievance groups that pit people against each other and cause divisions and polarizations.

    Patrick Deneen has a good article: President Obama’s Campaign for Leviathan. I think his article hits more at the heart of what is at stake. Excerpts:

    Though the HHS mandate represents an expansion of government power into the heart of many religious institutions, efforts to resist this expansion were portrayed by HHS Secretary Sebelius as a war against women,” a label that has stuck and a narrative that the Democratic party during its Convention sought to make a dominant theme of the campaign-it would seem, with considerable success.

    The origin of the mandate lies in an impulse that can be dated back to the beginnings of the modern era and the rise of the state. Before the latters ascent, memberships in various social settings were overlapping and varied, ranging from families, neighborhoods, townships, boroughs, regions, guilds, Church (parish and Catholic), nation, even empire.

    The state undermined competing allegiances by demanding primary allegiance to itself alone, and only secondarily and voluntarily” to these preexisting institutions. Such memberships became less and less constitutive.” Rather, such associations and memberships came to be viewed as secondary to our primary allegiance to a State that reserves the right to control, oversee, and define any other institution.

    Read more here:
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/10/president-obamarsquos-campaign-for-leviathan

  • Susan

    I wonder if a better question is “what brand of government do we want?” Do we want 1) to continue with Obama’s progressive agenda and overreach that promotes an engorged pervasive bureaucracy and regulation in all departments of our personal lives including religion and what we eat or 2) a moderate conservative agenda that seeks to rein in government growth and it’s expenditures, heed the constitution, and diminish government’s invasion into every aspect of our private lives.

    I don’t see any way to unify libertarians, liberals, progressives, conservatives, moderates, and so forth, but it would be wonderful if we could stop the slice-and-dice misuse of demographics (race, gender,class, etc) and professional grievance groups that pit people against each other and cause divisions and polarizations.

    Patrick Deneen has a good article: President Obama’s Campaign for Leviathan. I think his article hits more at the heart of what is at stake. Excerpts:

    Though the HHS mandate represents an expansion of government power into the heart of many religious institutions, efforts to resist this expansion were portrayed by HHS Secretary Sebelius as a war against women,” a label that has stuck and a narrative that the Democratic party during its Convention sought to make a dominant theme of the campaign-it would seem, with considerable success.

    The origin of the mandate lies in an impulse that can be dated back to the beginnings of the modern era and the rise of the state. Before the latters ascent, memberships in various social settings were overlapping and varied, ranging from families, neighborhoods, townships, boroughs, regions, guilds, Church (parish and Catholic), nation, even empire.

    The state undermined competing allegiances by demanding primary allegiance to itself alone, and only secondarily and voluntarily” to these preexisting institutions. Such memberships became less and less constitutive.” Rather, such associations and memberships came to be viewed as secondary to our primary allegiance to a State that reserves the right to control, oversee, and define any other institution.

    Read more here:
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/10/president-obamarsquos-campaign-for-leviathan

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    This brand of conservatism tries to create a sense of national unity, rather than setting groups off against each other, embraces patriotism, tries to reform social evils, and thus inspires voters.

    Social evils like divorce, single motherhood, abortion, vast mountains of public debt, debasing the currency, etc, have been redefined as good.

    So, good luck with that.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    This brand of conservatism tries to create a sense of national unity, rather than setting groups off against each other, embraces patriotism, tries to reform social evils, and thus inspires voters.

    Social evils like divorce, single motherhood, abortion, vast mountains of public debt, debasing the currency, etc, have been redefined as good.

    So, good luck with that.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    ah, crud. messed it up. I should stick to old fashioned quotation marks.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    ah, crud. messed it up. I should stick to old fashioned quotation marks.

  • fws

    Skp @5

    Out of old adam mercy is always the fruit of the extortion worked by the HS in with and under Old Adam driven by carrot and stickby the Divinw Law written in reason. THIS is why we see God as the Authoe of all goodness and mercy that happens….”for the unworthy…indeed witout our prayer….even for all the wicked.” (small catechism 1st article and 4th petition).

    So free will is sort of an illusion that the law ,veiled by the veil of moses as an act of mercy ,allows ao that we can live as pharisee rather than puting a gun in our mouth.

    So what is mercy? It is when we receive anything that is the oppoaite of whT we deaerve for what we have done. What we deaerve is juaticr. Juatice alwats requires the death of someone or somwrhibg. And mecy simply cannot happen, in old adam, without that selfsacrifice or justice being done.

    Mercy skp is anythibg we receive that helps us flourish. It is situatio al. It os the laxk of excess or defecit of what is necessary depebding upon ach situation just as pagan aristotle says.

    But you changed yhe subject to an abstract one. Morality is always aleaya about two or more persons. It demands that we take nothing that is not ours to have. Conservatives have that part nailed. But thy miss that morality is also to rediatibute all we have beyond qhat we need to maintain a modest life. Period.

    We can learn to do this will of god voluntarily or….God will send smeone to make us do it in a way that fewls like a punishment or unjust. we deserve such punishment. Christians sin to flee this suffering rather than repent and confess that we deserve far worse.

  • fws

    Skp @5

    Out of old adam mercy is always the fruit of the extortion worked by the HS in with and under Old Adam driven by carrot and stickby the Divinw Law written in reason. THIS is why we see God as the Authoe of all goodness and mercy that happens….”for the unworthy…indeed witout our prayer….even for all the wicked.” (small catechism 1st article and 4th petition).

    So free will is sort of an illusion that the law ,veiled by the veil of moses as an act of mercy ,allows ao that we can live as pharisee rather than puting a gun in our mouth.

    So what is mercy? It is when we receive anything that is the oppoaite of whT we deaerve for what we have done. What we deaerve is juaticr. Juatice alwats requires the death of someone or somwrhibg. And mecy simply cannot happen, in old adam, without that selfsacrifice or justice being done.

    Mercy skp is anythibg we receive that helps us flourish. It is situatio al. It os the laxk of excess or defecit of what is necessary depebding upon ach situation just as pagan aristotle says.

    But you changed yhe subject to an abstract one. Morality is always aleaya about two or more persons. It demands that we take nothing that is not ours to have. Conservatives have that part nailed. But thy miss that morality is also to rediatibute all we have beyond qhat we need to maintain a modest life. Period.

    We can learn to do this will of god voluntarily or….God will send smeone to make us do it in a way that fewls like a punishment or unjust. we deserve such punishment. Christians sin to flee this suffering rather than repent and confess that we deserve far worse.

  • fws

    Skp

    Anything we can see and can do with reason and will power is the Divine Law at work. Mortification aka justice…is to see the Law doi g its work. Mercy is the God desired fruit of the Law.

    The mercy worked by Christ, by New Man animated by God with faith is the SAME identical fruit worked by the same Author.

    Rhe only diference is the means that Author uses to produce the fruit that is Mercy that is the Divine Eternal Will to have happen among men. It is mecy, not sacrifice that is the Law, that is the Will of God.

    That is why only Christ who is mercy incarnate and law incarnatw can be the tevelation of the will of God. THAT is why st tgomas is wrong to see that revelation of Gods will in the Law. That is to see hia will as doi g sacrifice.

  • fws

    Skp

    Anything we can see and can do with reason and will power is the Divine Law at work. Mortification aka justice…is to see the Law doi g its work. Mercy is the God desired fruit of the Law.

    The mercy worked by Christ, by New Man animated by God with faith is the SAME identical fruit worked by the same Author.

    Rhe only diference is the means that Author uses to produce the fruit that is Mercy that is the Divine Eternal Will to have happen among men. It is mecy, not sacrifice that is the Law, that is the Will of God.

    That is why only Christ who is mercy incarnate and law incarnatw can be the tevelation of the will of God. THAT is why st tgomas is wrong to see that revelation of Gods will in the Law. That is to see hia will as doi g sacrifice.

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  • SKPeterson

    Yes, Frank. That is all fine and good, but quite besides the point. Is the purpose of the state to do mercy? In other words, does the state compelling me to hand over my money to the state remove the obligation of the Law to undertake acts of mercy toward my fellows? Or does it merely relieve me of the means to do so, while providing an excuse to my Old Adam that I’ve done my part to care for the needs of others by giving my money to the IRS. Whenever I see the homeless can I simply shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, I paid my taxes, so he’s not my problem.”

    If you want to posit this dichotomy between justice and mercy, it is that we are arguing over the role of the state in the administration of both. Or rather, what is the proper sphere of the government in the provision of both. Should the state provide justice, or mercy, or a mix of both? A corollary argument is whether the actions of the state alleviate my obligations to act justly and mercifully. I would argue that if the choice is justice, mercy or a mix, that the state cannot do both well, is likely to botch the provision of mercy without alleviating the condition requiring mercy, so as a result, it should concentrate on the provision of justice, i.e. the maintenance of public order. To the second corollary argument, my answer is a most emphatic, “No!”; but that, because of the first instance, the state should not act to compel anyone to act justly or mercifully except in the context of keeping public order, such as protecting lives and property. I would further argue that the best level of government to protect lives and property is the local, and that the greatest threat to lives and property, i.e. to public order, is a national government that seeks to “unify” the people.

    QED: National unity conservatism is therefore the advocation of a set of political policies with the potential to do great harm and further evil in our society. For the sake of justice, for the sake of peace, for the sake of mercy, it must be repudiated.

  • SKPeterson

    Yes, Frank. That is all fine and good, but quite besides the point. Is the purpose of the state to do mercy? In other words, does the state compelling me to hand over my money to the state remove the obligation of the Law to undertake acts of mercy toward my fellows? Or does it merely relieve me of the means to do so, while providing an excuse to my Old Adam that I’ve done my part to care for the needs of others by giving my money to the IRS. Whenever I see the homeless can I simply shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, I paid my taxes, so he’s not my problem.”

    If you want to posit this dichotomy between justice and mercy, it is that we are arguing over the role of the state in the administration of both. Or rather, what is the proper sphere of the government in the provision of both. Should the state provide justice, or mercy, or a mix of both? A corollary argument is whether the actions of the state alleviate my obligations to act justly and mercifully. I would argue that if the choice is justice, mercy or a mix, that the state cannot do both well, is likely to botch the provision of mercy without alleviating the condition requiring mercy, so as a result, it should concentrate on the provision of justice, i.e. the maintenance of public order. To the second corollary argument, my answer is a most emphatic, “No!”; but that, because of the first instance, the state should not act to compel anyone to act justly or mercifully except in the context of keeping public order, such as protecting lives and property. I would further argue that the best level of government to protect lives and property is the local, and that the greatest threat to lives and property, i.e. to public order, is a national government that seeks to “unify” the people.

    QED: National unity conservatism is therefore the advocation of a set of political policies with the potential to do great harm and further evil in our society. For the sake of justice, for the sake of peace, for the sake of mercy, it must be repudiated.

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – I take back my first line in 14. Your argument is not beside the point, but rather is in the realm of meta-context – the political implications of our (theological) anthropology. It is important, but not precisely relevant to the call for national unity conservatism. Hopefully, that makes sense. I apologize if it came across harshly.

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – I take back my first line in 14. Your argument is not beside the point, but rather is in the realm of meta-context – the political implications of our (theological) anthropology. It is important, but not precisely relevant to the call for national unity conservatism. Hopefully, that makes sense. I apologize if it came across harshly.

  • MarkB

    FWS, as much as I appreciate your references to the Bible and to Christ work, doing mercy is and should be something we do ourselves.
    Another contention I would have is that the “mercy” done by the state is not really mercy. When the actions of the state in an attempt to be merciful do harm to families and kill children then this is not mercy of any kind.

  • MarkB

    FWS, as much as I appreciate your references to the Bible and to Christ work, doing mercy is and should be something we do ourselves.
    Another contention I would have is that the “mercy” done by the state is not really mercy. When the actions of the state in an attempt to be merciful do harm to families and kill children then this is not mercy of any kind.

  • Stephen

    I think you guys are missing Frank’s point. Mercy is God’s work, and if he has to use the state so that mercy happens He will do so. His will will be done. Mercy is not something we do ourselves in any necessary way. We may and we may not. But God means for mercy to happen and he will make it so, even if he has to use a vehicle like high taxes to do so.

    And your last sentence Mark B is a straw man. No one, especially FWS, has suggested that those kinds of things are mercy. He is talking about God working in the world in spite of us and our attempts to be merciful and just. We rarely are, but God always is.

    It’s all about that loaf of bread on the coat of arms. If the people’s cries are not heard by their earthly rulers, God will do it. In other words, if the “system” (capitalism, communism, conservatism, liberalism – take your pick) is not providing the mercy God desires to happen, he will use earthly means to make it happen. That may mean four more years of Obama or it may mean a Mormon. In either case, it may seem as though God is punishing us with one of these choices. But faith believes that whatever the case, God will do what he promises and hear the cries of those who plead for mercy, just and unjust alike.

  • Stephen

    I think you guys are missing Frank’s point. Mercy is God’s work, and if he has to use the state so that mercy happens He will do so. His will will be done. Mercy is not something we do ourselves in any necessary way. We may and we may not. But God means for mercy to happen and he will make it so, even if he has to use a vehicle like high taxes to do so.

    And your last sentence Mark B is a straw man. No one, especially FWS, has suggested that those kinds of things are mercy. He is talking about God working in the world in spite of us and our attempts to be merciful and just. We rarely are, but God always is.

    It’s all about that loaf of bread on the coat of arms. If the people’s cries are not heard by their earthly rulers, God will do it. In other words, if the “system” (capitalism, communism, conservatism, liberalism – take your pick) is not providing the mercy God desires to happen, he will use earthly means to make it happen. That may mean four more years of Obama or it may mean a Mormon. In either case, it may seem as though God is punishing us with one of these choices. But faith believes that whatever the case, God will do what he promises and hear the cries of those who plead for mercy, just and unjust alike.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen@17,

    If that’s an accurate interpretation of Frank’s remarks, then he may as well have just said “it doesn’t matter who wins because God’s will shall be done”–and saved us a lot of reading in the process.

    Put otherwise, then, what Frank has provided is a non-political thesis, and thus one that is irrelevant to this discussion. Frank’s point is theological, not political. In SKPeterson’s words, it is “meta-contextual.” In any case, it doesn’t contribute to our discussion of contemporary politics, and it certainly doesn’t provide a workable metric for assessing constitutions, candidates, and policies.

    And in a sense, of course, I agree with Frank. On the other hand, though, I still maintain that politics is a realm of human activity worth our attention and action. If, at the end of the day, we as Christians want to recline with a sigh and remind ourselves that “God is in control”–which is basically the cliche Frank has apparently used about 1000 words to say–that’s one thing. But it says nothing about how we can, do, and should manage our affairs in political community. And I’ll protest till my dying day that there are better and worse ways of doing that without needing to invoke theological language.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen@17,

    If that’s an accurate interpretation of Frank’s remarks, then he may as well have just said “it doesn’t matter who wins because God’s will shall be done”–and saved us a lot of reading in the process.

    Put otherwise, then, what Frank has provided is a non-political thesis, and thus one that is irrelevant to this discussion. Frank’s point is theological, not political. In SKPeterson’s words, it is “meta-contextual.” In any case, it doesn’t contribute to our discussion of contemporary politics, and it certainly doesn’t provide a workable metric for assessing constitutions, candidates, and policies.

    And in a sense, of course, I agree with Frank. On the other hand, though, I still maintain that politics is a realm of human activity worth our attention and action. If, at the end of the day, we as Christians want to recline with a sigh and remind ourselves that “God is in control”–which is basically the cliche Frank has apparently used about 1000 words to say–that’s one thing. But it says nothing about how we can, do, and should manage our affairs in political community. And I’ll protest till my dying day that there are better and worse ways of doing that without needing to invoke theological language.

  • fws

    Cinn and SKP

    what stephen says at 17 nicely summarizes what I said.

    Here is what is missing: God demands that we redistribute anything he gives us beyond what we need to modestly maintain ourselves and the family God has entrusted to our care.

    God WILL make this happen. Either we will listen to the Divine Law written in our reason and learn to exercise the self virtues with the intentional purpose of being equipped to do mercy to our neighbor.

    If we do not do this willingly, then in that case God WILL make mercy happen. He will hear the voice of the poor. And in that case he will send government or plagues and punishments to bring us to turn and do the mercy he demands. And if that doesnt work, then he will take everything from us.

    And if even the government fails at this, he will destroy that government as happened to greece and rome and all governments in sinfilled history.

    So here is our choice: Redistribute all we have that is in excess of our modest needs, or God will force us to do that.

    To argue about the right role of government and what is choice and what is not is Old Adam rearranging the deck chairs on the moral titannic.

    We should fear God and simply drop dead to all that as Christians.
    We need to get busy before God sends his judgement. It starts with our individual lives.

    Look, my own life is way too self absorbed. I dont do what I am telling others to do. My time is running out. Gods patience is wearing thin. I too need to repent, fear God´s wrath for not caring for the poor as I care for my own self, or I will expect God to force me to do what I am failing to do willingly. God WILL have his Will which is for me to do mercy with or without my free will and volunteering. I fear that judgement. And I welcome it in Christ as the death of my Old Adam. May God´s Will for me to be an instrument of Mercy for those who do not deserve it be done in me. Amen.

    Lord have mercy.

  • fws

    Cinn and SKP

    what stephen says at 17 nicely summarizes what I said.

    Here is what is missing: God demands that we redistribute anything he gives us beyond what we need to modestly maintain ourselves and the family God has entrusted to our care.

    God WILL make this happen. Either we will listen to the Divine Law written in our reason and learn to exercise the self virtues with the intentional purpose of being equipped to do mercy to our neighbor.

    If we do not do this willingly, then in that case God WILL make mercy happen. He will hear the voice of the poor. And in that case he will send government or plagues and punishments to bring us to turn and do the mercy he demands. And if that doesnt work, then he will take everything from us.

    And if even the government fails at this, he will destroy that government as happened to greece and rome and all governments in sinfilled history.

    So here is our choice: Redistribute all we have that is in excess of our modest needs, or God will force us to do that.

    To argue about the right role of government and what is choice and what is not is Old Adam rearranging the deck chairs on the moral titannic.

    We should fear God and simply drop dead to all that as Christians.
    We need to get busy before God sends his judgement. It starts with our individual lives.

    Look, my own life is way too self absorbed. I dont do what I am telling others to do. My time is running out. Gods patience is wearing thin. I too need to repent, fear God´s wrath for not caring for the poor as I care for my own self, or I will expect God to force me to do what I am failing to do willingly. God WILL have his Will which is for me to do mercy with or without my free will and volunteering. I fear that judgement. And I welcome it in Christ as the death of my Old Adam. May God´s Will for me to be an instrument of Mercy for those who do not deserve it be done in me. Amen.

    Lord have mercy.

  • Stephen

    In one sense, it is what he is saying. And as you say, you agree – in one sense.

    But I think the other thing going on here is the idea that “God can’t possibly want . . . ” and/or “God would much rather . . .” The conclusion to those sentences seems to land somewhere in either conservative or liberal land, as if God would not have it any other way. “My ways are not your ways says the Lord.”

    And so Frank is trying to answer the question of what Christian response to politics is, stepping out to some degree of the culture war. The end goal God has in mind is mercy in everything. It behooves us to ask if the candidate and their positions, policies, etc. will afford that or not for a greater number of people. People disagree about how that all works out, granted. I think he is suggesting the proper point for reflection – that it isn’t about you and your interests, your money, etc. but those of your neighbor that should come to mind. How will he fair, and the question of whether or not he “ought” to fair well (justice) is not the right question. In other words, what choice will provide him with the mercy God desires him to have? “Let’s work on that one” is what I hear him saying. And it is a worthy political goal for a Christian.

    Whenever one suggests theological language about God doing what he will do, which is always goodness and mercy for his creatures, it does not mean the ethical thing to do is sit to back and watch. But this is often the critique of Lutheranism – a pious quietism that is not forceful enough in public matters. No, it means getting busy actually, forgetting about yourself and seeing to what your neighbor needs. Only faith can do that, and it is a kind of rest within action. It is best understood through vocation, and one of those is as an earthly citizen, one who does not need to fret about himself but can place the needs of others before his own. Ideal perhaps, but that is what we are called to do.

  • Stephen

    In one sense, it is what he is saying. And as you say, you agree – in one sense.

    But I think the other thing going on here is the idea that “God can’t possibly want . . . ” and/or “God would much rather . . .” The conclusion to those sentences seems to land somewhere in either conservative or liberal land, as if God would not have it any other way. “My ways are not your ways says the Lord.”

    And so Frank is trying to answer the question of what Christian response to politics is, stepping out to some degree of the culture war. The end goal God has in mind is mercy in everything. It behooves us to ask if the candidate and their positions, policies, etc. will afford that or not for a greater number of people. People disagree about how that all works out, granted. I think he is suggesting the proper point for reflection – that it isn’t about you and your interests, your money, etc. but those of your neighbor that should come to mind. How will he fair, and the question of whether or not he “ought” to fair well (justice) is not the right question. In other words, what choice will provide him with the mercy God desires him to have? “Let’s work on that one” is what I hear him saying. And it is a worthy political goal for a Christian.

    Whenever one suggests theological language about God doing what he will do, which is always goodness and mercy for his creatures, it does not mean the ethical thing to do is sit to back and watch. But this is often the critique of Lutheranism – a pious quietism that is not forceful enough in public matters. No, it means getting busy actually, forgetting about yourself and seeing to what your neighbor needs. Only faith can do that, and it is a kind of rest within action. It is best understood through vocation, and one of those is as an earthly citizen, one who does not need to fret about himself but can place the needs of others before his own. Ideal perhaps, but that is what we are called to do.

  • Stephen

    Post #20 to Cin. And here’s Frankie!

  • Stephen

    Post #20 to Cin. And here’s Frankie!

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    God WILL make this happen.

    Since bloody when? Tell that to the starving beggars of India or Africa.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    God WILL make this happen.

    Since bloody when? Tell that to the starving beggars of India or Africa.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen@20:

    It seems that what you’re suggesting is that politics should advance the common good.

    I agree. Next question? Because simply asserting that politics should advance the common good doesn’t say anything about what constitutions, candidates, and policies advance that common good.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen@20:

    It seems that what you’re suggesting is that politics should advance the common good.

    I agree. Next question? Because simply asserting that politics should advance the common good doesn’t say anything about what constitutions, candidates, and policies advance that common good.

  • fws

    cinn @ 18

    We need to get busy at redistributing what we have beyond what we modestly need Cinn.

    That is THE purpose of ALL righeousness on earth Cinn.

    The 3 earthly mortifying governments of marriage, church and society are meant to extort this righteousness out of Old Adam.

    God´s idea is that Old Adam fears the consequences (and carrots/rewards) that these 3 governments can deal out to us, so that we choose to do the mercy of redistribution voluntarily. Rather than be forced to do it. THAT is the binary God gives us.

    This Old Adam behavioral modification program, preferentially, starts from birth, with parents who do their governmental duty in their household. If they fail, then there is the church and government waiting their turn at applying discipline. And if none of those 3 sword-bearers work, then the hangman awaits.

    This training looks identical to Aristotle´s acquisition of virtue by practicing virtue as if one is virtuous until that practice becomes second nature or habit. It is about self discipline and mind numbing repetition that any virtuous pagan does. Christians can learn to do this from any virtuous pagan that means.

    You are right that there is NO need to invoke religion. No Christ, No Holy Spirit and NO bible are needed to know and do what God´s demands of us. This is because this Divine Law is written in the Reason, fully so, of ALL men. romans 2:15.

    Virtue is NOT it´s own reward. Virtue , must be aimed intentionally at preparation for sacrificial mercy work towards others to qualify as Godly righteousness. Pagans really do know this.

    So tell me what part of this is not relevant and on topic?

    Summary: God´s intent in ALL government is to force us to redistribute all we have beyond what we modestly need to live, if we fail to do this task voluntarily. It is as simple as that.

    The arguments you and SKP are raising are Old Adam rearranging the deck chairs on a moral titannic. We simply need to repent and individually start voluntarily and radically redistributing what we have to avoid God´s punishment and judgement which he threatens us with. Or… we will get the government we really deserve…

  • fws

    cinn @ 18

    We need to get busy at redistributing what we have beyond what we modestly need Cinn.

    That is THE purpose of ALL righeousness on earth Cinn.

    The 3 earthly mortifying governments of marriage, church and society are meant to extort this righteousness out of Old Adam.

    God´s idea is that Old Adam fears the consequences (and carrots/rewards) that these 3 governments can deal out to us, so that we choose to do the mercy of redistribution voluntarily. Rather than be forced to do it. THAT is the binary God gives us.

    This Old Adam behavioral modification program, preferentially, starts from birth, with parents who do their governmental duty in their household. If they fail, then there is the church and government waiting their turn at applying discipline. And if none of those 3 sword-bearers work, then the hangman awaits.

    This training looks identical to Aristotle´s acquisition of virtue by practicing virtue as if one is virtuous until that practice becomes second nature or habit. It is about self discipline and mind numbing repetition that any virtuous pagan does. Christians can learn to do this from any virtuous pagan that means.

    You are right that there is NO need to invoke religion. No Christ, No Holy Spirit and NO bible are needed to know and do what God´s demands of us. This is because this Divine Law is written in the Reason, fully so, of ALL men. romans 2:15.

    Virtue is NOT it´s own reward. Virtue , must be aimed intentionally at preparation for sacrificial mercy work towards others to qualify as Godly righteousness. Pagans really do know this.

    So tell me what part of this is not relevant and on topic?

    Summary: God´s intent in ALL government is to force us to redistribute all we have beyond what we modestly need to live, if we fail to do this task voluntarily. It is as simple as that.

    The arguments you and SKP are raising are Old Adam rearranging the deck chairs on a moral titannic. We simply need to repent and individually start voluntarily and radically redistributing what we have to avoid God´s punishment and judgement which he threatens us with. Or… we will get the government we really deserve…

  • fws

    cinn @ 23

    no. the common good? too abstract.

    Gods Will is for us to hear the cries of the last, the least, the lost, the un loved, the unlovable, and the unworthy and even the wicked and start redistributing ALL God has given to us beyond what we need to modestly maintain ourselves and our families.

    Nothing short of doing precisely this will avert the wrath of God in the form of his sending a heavy handed government to make us do this.

    The Mercy that is the redistribution of wealth to the poor and needy WILL happen either voluntarily or by the force of Government.

    You are spinning off into abstraction again Cinn. It is the common tactic of Old Adam to avoid the accusations of the Law. I do it too!

    We all need to simply repent and start radically giving any extra penny or minute of our time and talent to those who need it regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

    When someone is drowning, we rescue them first, then we scold them for getting themselves into deep water. We have no excuse. But we always find one as Old Adam. But God is not mocked.

  • fws

    cinn @ 23

    no. the common good? too abstract.

    Gods Will is for us to hear the cries of the last, the least, the lost, the un loved, the unlovable, and the unworthy and even the wicked and start redistributing ALL God has given to us beyond what we need to modestly maintain ourselves and our families.

    Nothing short of doing precisely this will avert the wrath of God in the form of his sending a heavy handed government to make us do this.

    The Mercy that is the redistribution of wealth to the poor and needy WILL happen either voluntarily or by the force of Government.

    You are spinning off into abstraction again Cinn. It is the common tactic of Old Adam to avoid the accusations of the Law. I do it too!

    We all need to simply repent and start radically giving any extra penny or minute of our time and talent to those who need it regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

    When someone is drowning, we rescue them first, then we scold them for getting themselves into deep water. We have no excuse. But we always find one as Old Adam. But God is not mocked.

  • fws

    cinn @ 22

    What I am saying is an article of faith Cinn.
    It is what the Bible tells us about God´s Will .

    Read St Mary´s song at the annunciation. God WILL hear the cries of the poor. You must believe that. And YOU are demanded to hear those cries by God.

    Gods´s Law demands this of you Cinn. they are not the 10 suggestions. They are the 10 commandments.

    The three Governments of household, church and society are intended by God to be his blunt punishing instruments to force us to redistribute ALL we have in excess. That is precisely what God´s will is for all governments to be busy doing.

    Governments who are not successful at making its populace do this Mercy will fall.
    So what government or government programs are best? We are to evaluate which ones, given the circumstances of a selfish populace that SHOULD redistribute their excess but refuses to, will redistribute the most mercy to those who most need it. Period.

    That is subject to debate and judgement, but that is the criterion. there is no other really.

  • fws

    cinn @ 22

    What I am saying is an article of faith Cinn.
    It is what the Bible tells us about God´s Will .

    Read St Mary´s song at the annunciation. God WILL hear the cries of the poor. You must believe that. And YOU are demanded to hear those cries by God.

    Gods´s Law demands this of you Cinn. they are not the 10 suggestions. They are the 10 commandments.

    The three Governments of household, church and society are intended by God to be his blunt punishing instruments to force us to redistribute ALL we have in excess. That is precisely what God´s will is for all governments to be busy doing.

    Governments who are not successful at making its populace do this Mercy will fall.
    So what government or government programs are best? We are to evaluate which ones, given the circumstances of a selfish populace that SHOULD redistribute their excess but refuses to, will redistribute the most mercy to those who most need it. Period.

    That is subject to debate and judgement, but that is the criterion. there is no other really.

  • fws

    cinn @ skp.

    the three governments of family church and society are supposed to look like disciplinarians. that IS their core function . They are all supposed to make us do what we dont want to do.

    This is not just a passive negative exercise in the donts as in dont kill dont steal dont……

    It is also to force us to actively redistribute our excess to those who have less than we do. This is where conservative governmental theory breaks down. right here. they say that none of those 3 governments has the right to make us do good things for others.

    Government just takes over the reigns of our dad when we reach our majority. But the function of government is the same identical function as that of our father and pastor. It is to make us do good and not just to punish us for doing bad.

    This is simply what the Bible teaches. The enlightenment is simply wrong here along with our enlightenment southern or northern or federal or whatever so called principles that are really selfishness called virtue. Mercy is what God WILL make happen.

  • fws

    cinn @ skp.

    the three governments of family church and society are supposed to look like disciplinarians. that IS their core function . They are all supposed to make us do what we dont want to do.

    This is not just a passive negative exercise in the donts as in dont kill dont steal dont……

    It is also to force us to actively redistribute our excess to those who have less than we do. This is where conservative governmental theory breaks down. right here. they say that none of those 3 governments has the right to make us do good things for others.

    Government just takes over the reigns of our dad when we reach our majority. But the function of government is the same identical function as that of our father and pastor. It is to make us do good and not just to punish us for doing bad.

    This is simply what the Bible teaches. The enlightenment is simply wrong here along with our enlightenment southern or northern or federal or whatever so called principles that are really selfishness called virtue. Mercy is what God WILL make happen.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    That the common good is abstract is precisely the reason we need politics. In fact, the idea that we ought to redistribute our goods to the “least of these” is also abstract. How much? How? Who determines the “modest amount we need”? When? These are all political questions, and God doesn’t miraculously answer them for us.

    By the way, methinks your interpretation of Christ’s political message (insofar as there is one) is a a bit too bourgeois. Where, exactly, does Christ command us to redistribute most of our stuff except the stuff we “need.” Sell all that you have and follow me. This message is too radical for politics.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    That the common good is abstract is precisely the reason we need politics. In fact, the idea that we ought to redistribute our goods to the “least of these” is also abstract. How much? How? Who determines the “modest amount we need”? When? These are all political questions, and God doesn’t miraculously answer them for us.

    By the way, methinks your interpretation of Christ’s political message (insofar as there is one) is a a bit too bourgeois. Where, exactly, does Christ command us to redistribute most of our stuff except the stuff we “need.” Sell all that you have and follow me. This message is too radical for politics.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Everything belongs to God. We serve others primarily within the economy by having an honest meaningful profession.

    The problem with redistribution is that taken too far it leaves even the poor worse off. When goods and services are taxed or regulated into artificial scarcity, the poor suffer predominantly.

    However for the most part this isn’t our case.

    Most American redistribution is to wealthier groups like retirees (who are on average wealthier than most working people), banks, public sector unions, and politically connected businesses.

    Any society which tries large scale redistribution will eventually redistribute money to the wealthier as those with money end up running politics and leave only scraps for the poor.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Everything belongs to God. We serve others primarily within the economy by having an honest meaningful profession.

    The problem with redistribution is that taken too far it leaves even the poor worse off. When goods and services are taxed or regulated into artificial scarcity, the poor suffer predominantly.

    However for the most part this isn’t our case.

    Most American redistribution is to wealthier groups like retirees (who are on average wealthier than most working people), banks, public sector unions, and politically connected businesses.

    Any society which tries large scale redistribution will eventually redistribute money to the wealthier as those with money end up running politics and leave only scraps for the poor.

  • trotk

    Frank, where does God say that we must redistribute everything we have beyond what we need for a modest life?

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe God calls us to care for the poor. But to equate that with redistribution of wealth is a radical stance as to what care for the poor means.

    Additionally, as Cincinnatus said, what about the millions that have starved while warlords and dictators sat on piles of money? Is God absent in those circumstances?

    Lastly, I would argue that most everything involved in the government’s use of our taxes is anything but redistribution to the poor. It is redistribution to the bureaucrats, who spend money in a way that they claim aids the poor, but instead harms them.

  • trotk

    Frank, where does God say that we must redistribute everything we have beyond what we need for a modest life?

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe God calls us to care for the poor. But to equate that with redistribution of wealth is a radical stance as to what care for the poor means.

    Additionally, as Cincinnatus said, what about the millions that have starved while warlords and dictators sat on piles of money? Is God absent in those circumstances?

    Lastly, I would argue that most everything involved in the government’s use of our taxes is anything but redistribution to the poor. It is redistribution to the bureaucrats, who spend money in a way that they claim aids the poor, but instead harms them.

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    It is all summed up in that we are to love our neighbor as we love our own selves. And we are even to do this to our enemies and those who seek to do us harm. What are the limits of what you would spend to save your wife or children from some sort of harm? what efforts would you spare in such a situation?

    God´s Law demands that we do this same thing, in the same way, for whoever needs our help. Who is my neighbor? It is whoever needs my help.

    If we chose not to learn to love our neighbor in this way, God threatens to punish us. If we do learn to do this, God promises all the earthly blessings and happiness that having a long life is short hand for.

    Of course you and Cinn and SKP and others would be quite right to say that reasonable men can disagree as to what is the best method to do this redistribution of our resources of time and money etc. If we are honest, usually this is an excuse to do nothing close to what is being demanded, or to become very legalistic about how we go about this. God demands that we do this from the very depths and volition of our heart.

    To picture yourself doing mercy as God demands it, imagine how you are moved to do goodness and mercy for one you are madly and passionately in love with. You look for ways to sacrifice, you do before it is even asked of you to do. THIS , and nothing less, is how God´s Law demands that we seek out those who need our help Trotke.

    To the extent that we fail to do this, and do it spontaneously and passionately from the depths of our hearts, we should fear God´s wrath.

    Lord have mercy.

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    It is all summed up in that we are to love our neighbor as we love our own selves. And we are even to do this to our enemies and those who seek to do us harm. What are the limits of what you would spend to save your wife or children from some sort of harm? what efforts would you spare in such a situation?

    God´s Law demands that we do this same thing, in the same way, for whoever needs our help. Who is my neighbor? It is whoever needs my help.

    If we chose not to learn to love our neighbor in this way, God threatens to punish us. If we do learn to do this, God promises all the earthly blessings and happiness that having a long life is short hand for.

    Of course you and Cinn and SKP and others would be quite right to say that reasonable men can disagree as to what is the best method to do this redistribution of our resources of time and money etc. If we are honest, usually this is an excuse to do nothing close to what is being demanded, or to become very legalistic about how we go about this. God demands that we do this from the very depths and volition of our heart.

    To picture yourself doing mercy as God demands it, imagine how you are moved to do goodness and mercy for one you are madly and passionately in love with. You look for ways to sacrifice, you do before it is even asked of you to do. THIS , and nothing less, is how God´s Law demands that we seek out those who need our help Trotke.

    To the extent that we fail to do this, and do it spontaneously and passionately from the depths of our hearts, we should fear God´s wrath.

    Lord have mercy.

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    I agree with all you might say about the evils of government. Think of such governments as a judgement of God and a punishment for failing to do the Mercy that is the fruit that is the sum of what God aimes to fruit out of us with the Law that only and always accuses and kills.

    Even when God uses carrot to do this as in “get up and go to work so you can buy (fill in the blank) this is still the law relentlessly and always and only working our death for the goodness and mercy of others. The law just demands and then demands more and finally has its way with us. It grants us the wages due us. Old adam finally receives the justice he deserves.

    But along the way we have taxes. these are historically always unreasonable, evil, and unjust. there has never been a time this was not so. It is a punishment upon us. And we are to suffer this punishment in obedience just as we suffer with a father who is overly harsh.

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    I agree with all you might say about the evils of government. Think of such governments as a judgement of God and a punishment for failing to do the Mercy that is the fruit that is the sum of what God aimes to fruit out of us with the Law that only and always accuses and kills.

    Even when God uses carrot to do this as in “get up and go to work so you can buy (fill in the blank) this is still the law relentlessly and always and only working our death for the goodness and mercy of others. The law just demands and then demands more and finally has its way with us. It grants us the wages due us. Old adam finally receives the justice he deserves.

    But along the way we have taxes. these are historically always unreasonable, evil, and unjust. there has never been a time this was not so. It is a punishment upon us. And we are to suffer this punishment in obedience just as we suffer with a father who is overly harsh.

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    and what can we say about the governments proper role in all of this mortification?

    There are 3 governments, the cradle one is the household. we are mortified and also provided for by our father . then the church comes and further mortifies us. then finally, when we are adults, the government becomes our father.

    and at each step, it is not just curb to make us avoid doing bad. it is to force us to do good. it is “Do this, or we have the power to make your life absolutely miserable.”

    The entire point of this entire system of government is to administer the law that always and only kills and accuses. and the point of that, is to extort mercy out of us for others. that is the god desired fruit and the sum or point of all of this governmental law stuff.

    Mercy is the desired fruit. And those three governments are Gods vehicles for enforcing that we do Mercy. So libertarians are wrong to say that government is only about police action to curb evildoers.

    Government also is to curb the evil of us doing nothing to help those in need. That is what so called conservatives disagree with , They are simply wrong here.

    for Lutherans, I would urge a reading of the Large catchism on the 4th commandment to better understand what the nature and purpose of government is. and then the 4th petition in the large catechism as well to understand how it is that God works to provide us our daily bread through the Law applied to Old Adam.

    for the rest of you…God desires mercy and not sacrifice. ponder what Jesus means by that in the context of whom he is speaking to and what it means…

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    and what can we say about the governments proper role in all of this mortification?

    There are 3 governments, the cradle one is the household. we are mortified and also provided for by our father . then the church comes and further mortifies us. then finally, when we are adults, the government becomes our father.

    and at each step, it is not just curb to make us avoid doing bad. it is to force us to do good. it is “Do this, or we have the power to make your life absolutely miserable.”

    The entire point of this entire system of government is to administer the law that always and only kills and accuses. and the point of that, is to extort mercy out of us for others. that is the god desired fruit and the sum or point of all of this governmental law stuff.

    Mercy is the desired fruit. And those three governments are Gods vehicles for enforcing that we do Mercy. So libertarians are wrong to say that government is only about police action to curb evildoers.

    Government also is to curb the evil of us doing nothing to help those in need. That is what so called conservatives disagree with , They are simply wrong here.

    for Lutherans, I would urge a reading of the Large catchism on the 4th commandment to better understand what the nature and purpose of government is. and then the 4th petition in the large catechism as well to understand how it is that God works to provide us our daily bread through the Law applied to Old Adam.

    for the rest of you…God desires mercy and not sacrifice. ponder what Jesus means by that in the context of whom he is speaking to and what it means…

  • fws

    trotke and cinn

    dont just limit that thought “where IS God!!” in the middle of all the unjustice and suffering that men inflict upon men in the world.

    It would do well for us to deeply ponder and answer that question.
    I do believe that the only satisfying answer to that very question is to gaze at our dear Lord Jesus dead upon the cross.

    And that answer should terrify the bejebers out of us and thoroughly discard that questioning as an excuse to personally not drain our bank account to serve the very urgent needs of those who are our neighbors. We are the rich young man to whom Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. he asked “who is my neighbor”. and why was it he asked that question? it was to avoid the only and only accusing Law that was pointed straight at his heart.

    And when we examine our own hearts, we need to put ourselves in that story not into the story of the Good Samaritan, but rather into the heart of that man Jesus told the story to. We need to confess that we seek the same legalistic loopholes to not do what the Law demands of is. and then we need to repent. We are to turn and do ALL we can to serve our neighbor in his need. Cant find neighbors in need? unlikely? How much are we required to do? ALL we can until we cant do any more. we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves our our most beloved family members.

    And finally, when we are doing all of this, we need to still remember to hide ALL of that in the Works of Another as the moral equivalent of the used tampon that those works are. Why are they that? we have to work very hard at doing them. why do we need to work so hard at them? Our hearts are simply not into doing mercy. Not unless there is something in it for us. It is our hearts that give us away as ones unworthy of mercy. All the good we receive IS mercy.

    Lord have mercy

  • fws

    trotke and cinn

    dont just limit that thought “where IS God!!” in the middle of all the unjustice and suffering that men inflict upon men in the world.

    It would do well for us to deeply ponder and answer that question.
    I do believe that the only satisfying answer to that very question is to gaze at our dear Lord Jesus dead upon the cross.

    And that answer should terrify the bejebers out of us and thoroughly discard that questioning as an excuse to personally not drain our bank account to serve the very urgent needs of those who are our neighbors. We are the rich young man to whom Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. he asked “who is my neighbor”. and why was it he asked that question? it was to avoid the only and only accusing Law that was pointed straight at his heart.

    And when we examine our own hearts, we need to put ourselves in that story not into the story of the Good Samaritan, but rather into the heart of that man Jesus told the story to. We need to confess that we seek the same legalistic loopholes to not do what the Law demands of is. and then we need to repent. We are to turn and do ALL we can to serve our neighbor in his need. Cant find neighbors in need? unlikely? How much are we required to do? ALL we can until we cant do any more. we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves our our most beloved family members.

    And finally, when we are doing all of this, we need to still remember to hide ALL of that in the Works of Another as the moral equivalent of the used tampon that those works are. Why are they that? we have to work very hard at doing them. why do we need to work so hard at them? Our hearts are simply not into doing mercy. Not unless there is something in it for us. It is our hearts that give us away as ones unworthy of mercy. All the good we receive IS mercy.

    Lord have mercy

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    it goes beyond your material goods, you are to be a living sacrifice for others. you are to lay down your life, as in make it your lifes very purpose to serve others.

    This goes way beyond legalistically calculating what percentage you are required to give up. It is about giving your all. God demands of you nothing less.

    You really disagree with this Trotke? this is not a suggestion. It is what God demands. and the governments of the household, church and society? they are the enforcers of this will of God.

    How is it that God will provide mercy to the unwortthy, even those who dont pray and even all the wicked but by doing it through you and other unworthy, prayer neglecting, wicked persons such as yourself?

    How much mercy do you need Trotke?How much mercy would you like to receive from others? How much of that do you really deserve? how much mercy has God showered upon you up till now? have you done as much mercy as you have received in your lifetime? why not?

    Get busy before God needs to come and put a fire under your ass. And that applies to me too!

  • fws

    trotke @ 30

    it goes beyond your material goods, you are to be a living sacrifice for others. you are to lay down your life, as in make it your lifes very purpose to serve others.

    This goes way beyond legalistically calculating what percentage you are required to give up. It is about giving your all. God demands of you nothing less.

    You really disagree with this Trotke? this is not a suggestion. It is what God demands. and the governments of the household, church and society? they are the enforcers of this will of God.

    How is it that God will provide mercy to the unwortthy, even those who dont pray and even all the wicked but by doing it through you and other unworthy, prayer neglecting, wicked persons such as yourself?

    How much mercy do you need Trotke?How much mercy would you like to receive from others? How much of that do you really deserve? how much mercy has God showered upon you up till now? have you done as much mercy as you have received in your lifetime? why not?

    Get busy before God needs to come and put a fire under your ass. And that applies to me too!

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – I think your thesis is seriously, seriously flawed. “Love thy neighbor as yourself” does not necessarily lead to your conclusion. In fact, politics may be said to be precisely about how this requirement can best be realized. It is essentially the spelling out of how to address the Second Table. I would argue that your thesis would support the wholesale violation of the ninth and tenth commandments as an excuse to “do mercy.”

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – I think your thesis is seriously, seriously flawed. “Love thy neighbor as yourself” does not necessarily lead to your conclusion. In fact, politics may be said to be precisely about how this requirement can best be realized. It is essentially the spelling out of how to address the Second Table. I would argue that your thesis would support the wholesale violation of the ninth and tenth commandments as an excuse to “do mercy.”

  • trotk

    Frank -

    I agree wholeheartedly with you that the cross is the answer to the question “Where is God when…?”

    And I agree with you at 35 that God requires the sacrifice of my own life for others, and that I am daily given what I don’t deserve.

    But this has nothing to do with redistribution of material wealth.

    Sometimes God may require the redistribution of material wealth. Always He demands that we care for the poor. These aren’t necessarily the same thing, and there is no scripture you can hold up to show that they are.

    I am not arguing this to avoid serving the poor, or to avoid draining my bank account. I am instead arguing this because the thesis that God demands that I give all of my excess money to the poor is demonstrated as false by the sinful woman who wasted her money in worship at Jesus’ feet. Judas specifically wondered why she didn’t give it to the poor, and Christ rebuked him because worship was more important at that moment than mercy. I am also arguing against the premise that the government necessarily is the one God has chosen to give mercy to the poor. Show me where, in the Bible, the government is seen as doing anything other than justice (bearing the sword).

    I am not trying to avoid the commandment of love, but I am trying to keep love from being reduced to material equality amongst all citizens through the power of the government. When that implication is created (and yes, it is the implication of your thesis), love gets truncated and reduced in a terrible way. Ultimately, mercy isn’t about money. It is about the sacrifice of one’s life (as you note in 35!), which may or may not exactly correlate to one’s money. To equate life and money is to have an extremely poor view of life or an extremely excessive view of money.

  • trotk

    Frank -

    I agree wholeheartedly with you that the cross is the answer to the question “Where is God when…?”

    And I agree with you at 35 that God requires the sacrifice of my own life for others, and that I am daily given what I don’t deserve.

    But this has nothing to do with redistribution of material wealth.

    Sometimes God may require the redistribution of material wealth. Always He demands that we care for the poor. These aren’t necessarily the same thing, and there is no scripture you can hold up to show that they are.

    I am not arguing this to avoid serving the poor, or to avoid draining my bank account. I am instead arguing this because the thesis that God demands that I give all of my excess money to the poor is demonstrated as false by the sinful woman who wasted her money in worship at Jesus’ feet. Judas specifically wondered why she didn’t give it to the poor, and Christ rebuked him because worship was more important at that moment than mercy. I am also arguing against the premise that the government necessarily is the one God has chosen to give mercy to the poor. Show me where, in the Bible, the government is seen as doing anything other than justice (bearing the sword).

    I am not trying to avoid the commandment of love, but I am trying to keep love from being reduced to material equality amongst all citizens through the power of the government. When that implication is created (and yes, it is the implication of your thesis), love gets truncated and reduced in a terrible way. Ultimately, mercy isn’t about money. It is about the sacrifice of one’s life (as you note in 35!), which may or may not exactly correlate to one’s money. To equate life and money is to have an extremely poor view of life or an extremely excessive view of money.

  • fws

    skp @ 36

    Just be clear on what my thesis is:

    The sum of God´s Law is that we are to be useful in doing Mercy to our neighbor in the same passionate way we care for our own needs and of those we hold dear. We are to hear the cries of those in need and help them until we are not able to do any more. This should involve our property time and talents. Every man´s life and wealth is supposed to be purposed to serving others that need them.

    And if we refuse to do this willingly, God threatens to send 3 different governments he has sanctioned to do this punishing and killing work, to make us do what we are unwilling to do or as a punishment or suffering. So we must repent and learn to do this will of God willingly…. or else. That is the “choice” God´s Law presents us with.

    Explain to me how this violates the 9th and 10th commandments wholesale.

  • fws

    skp @ 36

    Just be clear on what my thesis is:

    The sum of God´s Law is that we are to be useful in doing Mercy to our neighbor in the same passionate way we care for our own needs and of those we hold dear. We are to hear the cries of those in need and help them until we are not able to do any more. This should involve our property time and talents. Every man´s life and wealth is supposed to be purposed to serving others that need them.

    And if we refuse to do this willingly, God threatens to send 3 different governments he has sanctioned to do this punishing and killing work, to make us do what we are unwilling to do or as a punishment or suffering. So we must repent and learn to do this will of God willingly…. or else. That is the “choice” God´s Law presents us with.

    Explain to me how this violates the 9th and 10th commandments wholesale.

  • fws

    trotk @ 37

    see my post @ 37. There are people who could benefit from that extra coat you have that you rarely wear in your closet, or that money sitting colecting interest in your bank account.

    If it were yourself and your own family who needed any resource you had urgently, you would not hesistate, in spontaneous love, to just order those resources to get to work to serve others. For most of us (read “me “) here, our money owns us. It is our idol. We worry about it. Worry is the liturgy of false idols that consume their devotees.

    When we can order our money about and demand that it goes out to serve others, then we can say that we own and are the master of our money.

    How is this reducing love to material goods Trotk . I dont get that. Love is in what we do for others. True Morality ALWAYS must involve more than one person… and , it demands personal sacrifice as the price of admission into the game.

    Let me take what you said a very necessary step further!

    The government , including those that are your own family, and most especially a church, is the WORST vehicle for providing and doling out mercy in any form, financial or otherwise that there is. You know best what it is you need and how it is that you need to acquire it. BECAUSE you know this best, is the reason we are told to love others as we most passionately love our own selves. That is how the Law informs us as to what it is demanding. Love others as you passionately love your own self. That is the demand. It is a rather impossible demand. So God applies the Law. How? It called the government. We are talking punishment here usually. carrot and stick. Nothing here about what is the “best” way to deliver mercy. Look in the mirror to see what is the best way. Its you. And you are doing what? Law message: Get busy or God will send one of his 3 governments to extort that work out of your recalcitrant ass of an Old Adam. That is your choice Trotke.

    We ALL know what it looks like to suck up to someone when we need to, to ingratiate ourselves with others. And the Divine Law demands that we do this even with our enemies! This requires no money. And it demands the most mortification of anything we can do. To take the seat beneath a serial child molester, homosexual, rapist, war criminal, the unwashed wino near our office building door mumbling incoherently to only God knows who…. is not easy.
    But that is God calling us to DO something. And yes, DOing something usually involves our wallet.

    That is how the Divine Law in our Reason cuts through all the bullshit excuses that want to carefully measure out Mercy to others down to the very last ounce, but first have them filling out a mental form to find them worthy of mercy. Worthy of Mercy! Oxymoron. Mercy, definitionally, is precisely the opposite of justice… which is what we deserve to receive for what we have done.

    Yes you are making excuses Trotk. so am i. daily. When you throw a stick into a pack of dogs , the one that whelps is the one that was hit. The Law is hitting you man. Confess your sins…. and .. get busier. Your money is not your own.

  • fws

    trotk @ 37

    see my post @ 37. There are people who could benefit from that extra coat you have that you rarely wear in your closet, or that money sitting colecting interest in your bank account.

    If it were yourself and your own family who needed any resource you had urgently, you would not hesistate, in spontaneous love, to just order those resources to get to work to serve others. For most of us (read “me “) here, our money owns us. It is our idol. We worry about it. Worry is the liturgy of false idols that consume their devotees.

    When we can order our money about and demand that it goes out to serve others, then we can say that we own and are the master of our money.

    How is this reducing love to material goods Trotk . I dont get that. Love is in what we do for others. True Morality ALWAYS must involve more than one person… and , it demands personal sacrifice as the price of admission into the game.

    Let me take what you said a very necessary step further!

    The government , including those that are your own family, and most especially a church, is the WORST vehicle for providing and doling out mercy in any form, financial or otherwise that there is. You know best what it is you need and how it is that you need to acquire it. BECAUSE you know this best, is the reason we are told to love others as we most passionately love our own selves. That is how the Law informs us as to what it is demanding. Love others as you passionately love your own self. That is the demand. It is a rather impossible demand. So God applies the Law. How? It called the government. We are talking punishment here usually. carrot and stick. Nothing here about what is the “best” way to deliver mercy. Look in the mirror to see what is the best way. Its you. And you are doing what? Law message: Get busy or God will send one of his 3 governments to extort that work out of your recalcitrant ass of an Old Adam. That is your choice Trotke.

    We ALL know what it looks like to suck up to someone when we need to, to ingratiate ourselves with others. And the Divine Law demands that we do this even with our enemies! This requires no money. And it demands the most mortification of anything we can do. To take the seat beneath a serial child molester, homosexual, rapist, war criminal, the unwashed wino near our office building door mumbling incoherently to only God knows who…. is not easy.
    But that is God calling us to DO something. And yes, DOing something usually involves our wallet.

    That is how the Divine Law in our Reason cuts through all the bullshit excuses that want to carefully measure out Mercy to others down to the very last ounce, but first have them filling out a mental form to find them worthy of mercy. Worthy of Mercy! Oxymoron. Mercy, definitionally, is precisely the opposite of justice… which is what we deserve to receive for what we have done.

    Yes you are making excuses Trotk. so am i. daily. When you throw a stick into a pack of dogs , the one that whelps is the one that was hit. The Law is hitting you man. Confess your sins…. and .. get busier. Your money is not your own.

  • fws

    all we have is a gift of undeserved mercy.

    The poor we will always have with us.
    What is it you think our dear Lord means by that. “Ah the poor. Meh.”

    Thank you for playing (trotke falls through trap door of stage….)

    it means that the cries of the poor to God will never go away. and those cries always and only accuse and kill us before God. It is the Divine Law pricking our conscience.

    As you have done to the very least of these, you have done it unto me our Lord says. You eviscerated what our Lord is telling us in quoting that passage as you have. Take your perfume and go out trotke and commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of self sacrifice for the least deserving in society. See what happens!

  • fws

    all we have is a gift of undeserved mercy.

    The poor we will always have with us.
    What is it you think our dear Lord means by that. “Ah the poor. Meh.”

    Thank you for playing (trotke falls through trap door of stage….)

    it means that the cries of the poor to God will never go away. and those cries always and only accuse and kill us before God. It is the Divine Law pricking our conscience.

    As you have done to the very least of these, you have done it unto me our Lord says. You eviscerated what our Lord is telling us in quoting that passage as you have. Take your perfume and go out trotke and commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of self sacrifice for the least deserving in society. See what happens!

  • fws

    it is important to note dear trotted that we are talking about a carnal righteousness here that requires no holy spirit. no cheat. and no bible to know and to do. we are to do these things working hard to apply our reason and willpower against our flesh.

    this righteousness is useful on earth to avoid punishment and have a long and happy life. and it will end with this life. It is Christ is that righteousness that is useless on earth except for God and a terrified conscience. we are to do in fear of God. and then, in terror at seeing the sin in all we can do, we must hide all we do in the works of Another.

    lord have mercy.

  • fws

    it is important to note dear trotted that we are talking about a carnal righteousness here that requires no holy spirit. no cheat. and no bible to know and to do. we are to do these things working hard to apply our reason and willpower against our flesh.

    this righteousness is useful on earth to avoid punishment and have a long and happy life. and it will end with this life. It is Christ is that righteousness that is useless on earth except for God and a terrified conscience. we are to do in fear of God. and then, in terror at seeing the sin in all we can do, we must hide all we do in the works of Another.

    lord have mercy.

  • Cincinnatus

    So anyway, is there a chance that we could discuss whether a national conservatism is possible? Or do we have to get fws’s permission first?

  • Cincinnatus

    So anyway, is there a chance that we could discuss whether a national conservatism is possible? Or do we have to get fws’s permission first?

  • SKPeterson

    Cinn @ 42 – Is it possible? I suppose, but is it wise? I think not. I find within it’s premise the opportunity for much mischief.

  • SKPeterson

    Cinn @ 42 – Is it possible? I suppose, but is it wise? I think not. I find within it’s premise the opportunity for much mischief.


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