The candidates and the Two Kingdoms

I’ve been studying the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which has some interesting applications to our controversies today.  Christian defenders of Donald Trump are saying that his sexual transgressions show that he isn’t a saint.  But he is well-suited to the pragmatic, rough-and-tumble world of secular government, and that’s what we need in a presidential candidate.

Well, according to the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, God’s spiritual Kingdom is ruled by the Gospel, but His earthly Kingdom is ruled by the Law.  That is to say, morality does apply precisely to secular government.

UPDATE:  Specifically, the first use of the Law, the civil use, which curbs external vices.  Though it cannot justify or get at our internal sinfulness, it restrains the outward expression of that sinfulness.  Such restraint and self-control can be practiced, to a certain extent, by all members of society, which depends on some kind of moral order.

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Keeping our promises

First Things editor Alexi Sargeant says that “Trump’s policies, such as they are, usually come down to America breaking its promises.”  Read the argument after the jump and say what you think of it.
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Moral decline update

“Radical and aggressive secularism and atheism have replaced religion in virtually every school and throughout public life in America.”  So says Jewish pundit Dennis Prager, who goes on to list some more signs of moral decline and cultural suicide. [Read more…]

Bush proven right on stem cell research

Fifteen years ago, President George W. Bush banned the use of federal money for extracting stem cells from human embryos.  At the same time, he doubled funding for finding alternative sources.  Today, virtually all stem cells used for medical treatments and research come from adult sources and do not involve the destruction of human life.

President Bush’s controversial decision has been vindicated, and it exemplifies the application of moral principles to scientific research.  So says Christopher White in Crux. [Read more…]

Clinton Foundation pay for play

The Associated Press, no less, has been investigating the Clinton Foundation.  It reports that over half of the people Hillary Clinton met with as Secretary of State outside of the government were donors to the foundation.

Meanwhile, as Clinton’s clandestine e-mails come out, more questionable details about the foundation are surfacing.  For example, in 2013 its income was $140 million, but it gave out only $9 million for its stated philanthropic purposes.   See also this. [Read more…]

Outcome-based vs. morality-based voting

A lot of us dislike both of the major party candidates.  Quite a few of us also dislike the minor party and independent candidates.  So we are agonizing over what to do come election day.  Perhaps it would help to think through what factors should enter into the act of voting.

The usual approach is to consider which candidate, in your opinion, would be the best in office.  Or, whleast bad.  The focus is on the outcome or possible outcome of the election.

John Mark Reynolds proposes another approach.  He gives a scenario of an election between three very-flawed 19th century candidates.  (He says nothing about the current presidential election, though we know what he means.)

He argues that one person’s vote will do little to have an impact on the election’s outcome.  But it will have an impact on the person casting the vote.  Voting for an evil candidate–even the lesser of two evils–involves the voter in that evil.  Presumably, though Reynolds does not say this, the best solution would be not to vote at all.  Reynolds is arguing for what we could call morality-based voting.

What do you think of his argument (excerpted and linked to after the jump)?

Is there a moral duty to vote?  Is Reynold’s approach a moralistic quest for purity that evades our responsibility as we live in a fallen world?

What are other ways to think about voting?  What other factors should be considered? [Read more…]