Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Government Liberal?

A cyber-friend of mine posted an interesting piece on one of his blogs a few months back and since I am way out of the loop I just read it a few minutes ago. This friend is politically on the left while at the same time he has an evangelical faith. Those of you out there who are secularists might not be able to grasp that one, specifically those of you who think the term 'evangelical' is a political rather than a theological term. I'm not sure how this anomaly occurs (that of being an evangelical and a leftist) but I am almost certain it has to do with some sort of regressive genes and perhaps if our good friend Richard Dawkins were here he could explain how it might be a positive step in the evolutionary process.

(smile)

Anyway, here is what my friend One Salient Oversight wrote (I blanked out specific names of specific individuals because they were unimportant to the discussion at hand):

"I am not saying that my political stance is the way to go. One of the basic reasons of the disagreement between (...) and I is over politics. (...) is the small government is the only solution type. I am far more leftist in that regard and think largish government supported by higher taxes is a good thing. If that was all it was then I would have no problem with (...)'s politics. The problem with (...) is that he has taken on small government as being biblically taught. (...) therefore not only thinks that his political position is right, but also biblically mandated. That is where (...) and I differ. While I have leftist beliefs that I think are great there is no way I would argue that my position is biblical because neither position is backed up in scripture. Political ideology is one area that the Bible is broadly silent on and which therefore gives believers freedom to choose. (...) has taken an area of life that Christians are allowed liberty to choose in and turned it into a black/white biblical/unbiblical issue. Many of my disagreements with him have been about this very thing. I will expand this idea as I post about it."

First, let me say that I don't go to (...)'s blog, don't read what he writes at other blogs, frankly have never found him that compelling when I did read him (once upon a time), and have no desire to defend anything he has written. But what my friend OSO says in the quotation above intrigues me and I want to address some of it. Here goes:

"I am not saying that my political stance is the way to go. One of the basic reasons of the disagreement between (...) and I is over politics. (...) is the small government is the only solution type.

I, too, am a small-government-type. I don't arrive at that position by way of pragmatism, however, although I could. I arrive at it by way of principle. I believe small, decentralized government is the only way to go and that large central government is, by nature of the beast, always bad. Not that the concept is inherently bad, but that it always turns out bad due to the nature of the individuals who people it.

OSO goes on:

"I am far more leftist in that regard and think largish government supported by higher taxes is a good thing.

I find this interesting how we have almost come full circle on this left/right thing. Back in Thomas Jefferson's day he was considered a radical leftist because he championed the individual over government and thought big government was equal to tyranny. He is/was a classical liberal. Today, his position is held by no one on the American left. Modern liberals champion big government while individual liberty and Jeffersonian democracy were best represented in this last century by the Republican conservative Ronald Reagan. So in a weird twist of irony I am a classical liberal, aka conservative, while the big government conservative types of Jefferson's day find their ideology represented today on the American left.

OSO continues:

"If that was all it was then I would have no problem with (...)'s politics. The problem with (...) is that he has taken on small government as being biblically taught. (...) therefore not only thinks that his political position is right, but also biblically mandated. That is where (...) and I differ. While I have leftist beliefs that I think are great there is no way I would argue that my position is biblical because neither position is backed up in scripture. Political ideology is one area that the Bible is broadly silent on and which therefore gives believers freedom to choose. (...) has taken an area of life that Christians are allowed liberty to choose in and turned it into a black/white biblical/unbiblical issue. Many of my disagreements with him have been about this very thing."

Again, I have no desire to either learn or defend the positions of the individual cited above. But I think it is necessary to point out that I believe that a biblical world-view, consistently applied, will lead one to a position of favoring individual liberty to a large extent over big government. Government was instituted by God and some government will always be necessary. How much government is the question at stake and I do believe that my position is more theologically sound than that of One Salient Oversight. I would like the opportunity to expound upon that over time. I am sure that he will afford me that opportunity as well as give me the grace of responding thoughtfully to what I write.

And, I guess that means I am blogging again--but only sporadically.

3 comments:

One Salient Oversight said...

I knew there was a reason I kept your blogsite as a bookmark despite you never updating.

Good to see someone's actually reading my stuff.

One counter-argument from the top of my head concerns sin. Sin affects both the individual and the community. To argue that the Biblical direction is more individualistic is to argue that the sins of the many outweigh the sins of the few (in a per capita sense). I would argue that sin affects both equally.

Another counter argument from the top of my head is that God instituted a community and has community rules. In the OT this was the nation of Israel and the NT this is the church. There is always a sense in which an individual is part of a larger group and has responsibilities to it. A Christian is not an island and a Christian father is not the pastor of his home church. We are linked to something greater, that our individual selves are merely part of God's great plan of salvation through Christ that he achieves through his church.

Again these are not arguments which I would use to support a leftist/centrist position, but rather use to show that the Bible does not really advocate a small government / individualist ideology. As far as Sola Scriptura goes I would say the bible is silent on the issue, which allows Christians to have differing points of view.

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