Church and State

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Dingle, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    ChristBeforeTheHighPriest.jpg

    In a very real way Honthurst captured something of this question in this painting of Christ before the High Priest. This is where kingdoms ruled by authority and power where territory is defined by land borders and will is imposed by the generation of fear, meets and new kind of kingdom where hearts and minds are the core issue and power to change is found in the vulnerability of the child in the manger and the crucified redeemer and love rules over all.

    John 18:36
    Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’​

    We are not trying to establish a Christian version of an Islamic Caliphate.

    Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the commonwealth may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.
    From the letter accompanying the proclamation of the Edit of Milan in the East, probably by Licinius.

    Our task is the bear witness to the light, we cannot legislate salvation.
     
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  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I appreciate your comment and take everything here in good will, as well as intending the same in return.

    I also get your point about children, and having got two of my own I wholly support you in an inflexible leadership, as the head of the household, in leading your children towards God and godliness. None of that would encounter resistance from me.

    Here is the thing though: our fellows and neighbors in the world are not our children, in a few senses: not only are they not our children, but just as importantly, we are not their fathers. This is especially true in a non-monarchical republic. Imagining another national constitution such as under Charles I, where the king was seen as the father of his people, one (although not I) could make the case that he could compel his people, "his children", to obey the Church even from a secular sense; assuming that you live in America as do I, we don't have that route to resort to. Even in England though, this understanding was abolished, such that by the end of the 17th century, the king was seen as the highest citizen of the land, rather than the father of the land. There was a famous book, entitled Patriarchia by Robert Filmer, arguing for the patriarchal/fatherly rule of kings based on the notion that all kings derive their lineage from Adam (the original Patriarch), to whom God gave rule over the earth, and thereby the Kings ruled their nations by this status of derivative Divine Patriarchy. This book was just as famously rebutted by John Locke in the Two Treatises of Government, where he argued that the king is not the father of his people (etc); this paved the way for the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the Bill of Rights, which later inspired the American founders.

    Alright, so both understandings of government exist within the Anglican tradition, but the one with a lower doctrine of the monarchy has been given more weight. Not that we don't believe in monarchy in any instance, obviously, but rather that we see monarch as the first citizen instead of the father of the nation. Therefore, according to the majority/dominant opinion today, no one is in the position a father to his nation, unlike you and I who are fathers to our families.

    That's the first point. But the critics of the Divine Right of kings also made a point that even if the monarch were a father, it would be wrong of him to insist on his subjects at the point of civil force. We may rightly infringe on our children because they have not attained to the age of reason and self-ownership. They are still our charge/property as it were, without an independent existence of their own. We take care of them because they don't have the capacity to take care of themselves, including making decisions about God, the Church, or salvation. However after they do attain to self-ownership (say if they were 25 but still lived at home), it would then become wrong to make them go to church.

    Why would it be wrong? Say you had a servant whom you had every right to make do as you wished. Still even then it would be wrong, because in the argument of Locke and the Anglican tradition which flowed out from the 1688 Revolution, forcing the will of a person is counter-productive. It never actually produces a conversion. That's why forced conversions (in this interpretation) have always been ultimately futile and self-refuting. None of the disagreements people had went away when they "converted". They would say all the right things, and do all the right things, but inwardly reject it and you'd never know.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You posit that a fetus "has some responsibility for its mother's welfare." By the same logic, any baby (whether 1 week old or 1 year old) has the same responsibility. I reject that idea. Neither a baby nor a fetus has the capacity to hold responsibility for anything whatsoever. However, I think what you're getting at is the concern that a mother's life may, on rare occasions, be substantially endangered by the pregnancy; I can appreciate the value of a legal exception (narrowly drawn so as to avoid abuse) for this circumstance.

    I don't know how it is in the UK, but in the US we have plenty of adoption agencies and plenty of people waiting to adopt. Perhaps greater education about this fact would be beneficial, but even more importantly we need to get the law changed so we can teach young women that abortion is a moral, ethical, and legal injustice which should be as totally "off the table" for consideration as is murder of any child or adult.

    No. Absolutely not. Do you suppose we should try to reduce the number of armed robberies by doing away with the felony charge and its incarceration penalty, and handing out money and offering free counseling to all people just in case they happen to be tempted to rob? I don't think so. Negative reinforcement does work. Consider all the people who refrain from doing wrong for fear they will be caught and punished. Consider how out of control a society would become if all legal penalties were done away with and replaced with free money ("financial support," as you call it) and "social support" (counseling? neighborly encouragement?).

    Oh, I agree with this! Those would be insipid reasons to pass such a law. Instead, abortions must be prohibited for a much more vital reason: halting the wanton, indiscriminate murders of 600,000 people per year (in the US alone).

    Two out of three isn't bad. As far as "equitable [re]distribution of wealth," this must be kept entirely voluntary and individual-conscience-based, or else no good can come of it. The story of Robin Hood sounds grand and glorious, but it is a fiction which appeals to base greed; sure, it sounds very charitable to force money from those who have plenty (but who will define what "plenty" is?) for the sake of "those who are in need" (among whom nearly any redistribution advocate likely numbers himself), but in actuality not a whit of charity or love, let alone dependence upon God's providence, is involved in this great scheme of enlightened self-interest. The redistribution advocate imagines congratulating himself upon doing the 'good deed' of providing for the poor (and hopefully a bit for himself, too), but in the end he will find his own funds, as well as those of the poor he fancied himself helping, being drained to pay for an ever-burgeoning administrative state created to harvest, enforce payment, and effectuate the distribution. We must always remember that an effective trap is generally baited with something that looks and smells irresistably juicy.
     
  4. Dingle

    Dingle New Member

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    The way to approach this is to start by asking the question, is authority legitimate? Is it legitimate that there are superiors and inferiors, meaning there are some who make laws and others who are to obey those laws. If the answer is yes, then why is it this way and to what end? What is the purpose of law? Why should we even bother? Should I as a father allow my children to do anything they want? Should a king allow his people to do anything they want? What is the basis for making any laws at all?

    The homilies answers this with the following,

    “God hath appointed his laws, whereby his pleasure is to be honored. His pleasure is also, that all men’s laws, not being contrary to his laws, shall be obeyed and kept, as good and necessary for every commonweal, but not as things wherein principally his honor resteth: and all civil and man’s laws either be, or should be made, to bring men the better to keep God’s laws, that consequently, or followingly, God should be the better honored by them.”

    -The Book of Homilies, A Sermon of Good Works Annexed unto Faith

    The purpose of legislation is “to bring men the better to keep God’s laws”, and this very much has to do with salvation. When you say we cannot legislate salvation I think you are missing the whole point of legislation. Everything we do in life should be related to our salvation and the salvation of our neighbors. I don’t understand why legislation is an exception to this.

    A good example to bring up is pornography. Pornography should be be censored and pornographers should be punished according their crimes. Doing so will help to protect our weaker brothers and sisters from those who, quite honestly, are seeking to destroy their soul. Legislation in this case is a help to the salvation of those struggling in sin.

    All legislation should be made with compassion for others, with the aim of guiding them to the true God and protecting them from Christ’s enemies.
     
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  5. Dingle

    Dingle New Member

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    What you have described is the heart of what I would call my spiritual struggle today. I know that you say Locke’s theories (which I would refer to as Enlightenment philosophies) are valid for Christians but my struggle is trying to reconcile these ideas with traditional Christian doctrine. I guess what I struggle with is, as far as I can tell, historic Christian interpretation of the fifth commandment is that father and mother does not refer to natural parents only, but to all in authority over us. This interpretation was done away with as a result of the Enlightenment.

    The main difficulty here is that these two political theories, or interpretations of the fifth commandment, are wholly opposed and the two beliefs cannot exist in peace. I know this from experience. Every time I have attempted to have a discussion about it with someone it generally gets very uncomfortable and emotional. In fact, you are the only person I have talked with who has even acknowledged that the traditional interpretation is legitimate. Most people refuse to acknowledge that people used to believe it or they explain it away that the past was a time of oppression. Many people are not interested at all and just get emotional and angry about any challenge to liberalism. I attend a Presbyterian church and we profess the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The catechisms take a clear traditional approach to the fifth commandment, yet nobody in the Presbyterian Church acknowledges what the catechisms say on this. Even the most conservative Presbyterians deny the implications of the traditional interpretation. The documents linked on this site such as Nowell’s Catechism, Beverage’s Catechism Explained, The Homilies, and John Jewell’s Defense of the Church of England take the same interpretation of the fifth commandment but my guess is that Anglicans in general would be equally offended by the traditional views on authority.

    So I guess I am left with how to approach this topic. In my life I have learned to have a great respect for the catholic and historic church as a whole and my preference is to trust traditional interpretations. ( I have even read an Orthodox catechism that interprets the fifth commandment in the same traditional sense). But, the traditional interpretation generates so much opposition.

    Is it best to keep the traditional interpretation to myself? Or should I try to challenge modern beliefs by pointing out the traditional church believed something different, despite the opposition?
     
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I don't disagree with you on that by the way, so I think you're 100% correct with regards to traditional Anglicanism to maintain that the 5th commandment refers to all in authority. No disagreement there.

    However, obeying someone like our father does not make them our father. That's maybe where our differing views can come to light.

    The clearest way of explaining what I mean is, say a child's natural father passes away and his brother raises the child as his own. By the 5th commandment, he must be obeyed like the child's natural father. But that doesn't make him the child's natural father. No, he is the uncle, who should be treated like the father.

    In the strands of the Anglican political tradition (the absolutist, and the constitutional), both would argue that we should see our ruler as our father. It's not a provence of the divine right of kings people. Locke and the whole modern train of political thought fully allows for the traditional interpretation of the 5th commandment, and thus we are called to obey the president of the United States (for example) like our father. The traditional interpretation of commandments is still 100% in place.

    But just because we obey our superiors like our fathers does not mean that they are our fathers. My father does have the right to impose his views on me, but the president of the United States doesn't. Do you see the difference?
     
  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    What would be the 'traditional view' then on whether the people should obey the Anti Christ like a father? How is it that a commandment to honour your father and your mother Ex.20:12, gets trotted into service and applied only to our political 'Fathers' and not to our political 'Mothers'. How would you feel about a female President, incidentally? I have a feminine Queen to whom I am willingly pleased to be 'subject'.
    Should a female President be possible, and if so should and would you honour her like your mother?
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  8. Dingle

    Dingle New Member

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    The problem lies in your last sentence. The traditional interpretation equates father and mother with all who are in authority whether they are natural parents, civil parents, or spiritual parents. The traditional interpretation would say that each of these positions shares a common set of duties, namely to encourage and promote what is good and to punish/discourage what is evil. In fact, all mankind shares these duties, it is just that superiors hold authority over others and are to use their authority to carry out their duties required by God. The distinction between natural parents and civil parents is never recognized pre-enlightenment as far as I can tell. Something that has to be clarified as well is what is meant by “imposing” views. My supervisor at my place of work imposes his views on me and it is his job to do so. The whole point of having a distinction between superiors and inferiors is superiors impose their views. If they do not impose their views then they are no longer superiors.

    Take a look at two quotes to see how they differ from what is believed today.

    “Then the Prayers—-according to S. Paul. 1 Tim. 2. who exhorts that Prayers and Supplications be made for all men.  In particular for Kings ;  and the Reason he there gives, sufficiently shews the necessity of Praying particularly and especially for them ;  namely, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty :  which can hardly be done if they do not help towards it.  For as the Son of Syrach says Chap. 10. 2. As the Judge of the people is himself, even so are his officers, and what manner of man the Ruler of the City is, such are all they that dwell therein.  A good Josiah, Hezekiah, or David, promote religion and honesty and the right worship of God among the people; but a Jeroboam by setting up Calves in Dan and Bethel, makes all the people sin.”

    -Bishop Sparrow, Rationale Upon Common Prayer

    “We give our Magistrates no further Liberty than what we find is their due by the Word of God, and what the Practice and Example of the best Governed Commonwealths have confirmed. For besides that the Care of both Tables is committed to a Christian Prince by God, that he may understand that all Affairs, as well Ecclesiastical as Civil, come under his Cognizance ; besides, that God doth often and strictly command the King to cut down the Groves, to beat the graven Images to Powder, and to break down the Altars, and to write him a Copy of the Law in a Book ; and besides that, Isaiah tells us, that Kings should be Nursing Fathers of the Church: I say, besides all these things, it is Evident from the Histories and Examples of the Best Times, that Pious Princes ever thought the Administration of Ecclesiastical Affairs a Part of their Duty.”

    -An Apology of the Church of England by John Jewell.

    Bishop Sparrow writes that a good superior, or King, will promote religion and honesty and a right worship of God, using David, Josiah, and Hezekiah as examples. He even goes so far as to say that leading a quiet and peaceable life can hardly be done without superiors fulfilling their duty.

    John Jewell writes that based on both scripture and history, Magistrates need to take cognizance of Ecclesiastical and Civil affairs. It is implied that it is not only right but it is their duty to do so. He interprets the scripture that Kings should be nursing fathers to the church, leading people to Christ, and they should disallow false religion.

    Neither of these writers would say that civil parents do not have the right to impose their views, they would say the opposite, that it is their duty to do so. Enlightenment philosophy has succeeded in inverting the morality of the church. What was once seen as good is now evil. The post enlightenment church, if they are honest, would have to regard these men as heretics. They would have to regard the rulers of the “best Governed Commonwealths” per John Jewell as rulers who did evil because they were imposing their will, which was never their right. David, Josiah, and Hezekiah did wrong by imposing their will and were outside their rights as well. If a ruler today tried to do their duty to encourage and promote the right worship of God and take cognizance of Ecclesiastical affairs Christians would oppose them along with atheists and others, for simply trying to lead others to Christ.

    Something else to point out here is that post-Enlightenment Christians generally accept the distinction you make between natural parents and civil parents, namely that civil parents do not have the right to impose while natural parents do. Consistent liberals do not hold this distinction and they end up attacking the nuclear family and deny parents authority over their children as a result. They are only being consistent with their beliefs though.
     
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  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I would argue that you interpret the 5th commandment in the "simple and fuzzy" way. But in the history of the Church, all great matters have been less than simple: what's the Trinity? How many wills did Jesus have? Do people have their own guardian angel? Free will and divine omnipotence? Sure there has been an Absolutist strand of Anglican political thought which interpreted the 5th commandment in your way. But in contrast to them stands the Constitutional strand. You have to reckon with that fact. It is simply inaccurate to say that "the" traditional way is to see things through the Absolutist lens. Far from it.

    I also want to push back on your assertion that the Constitutional strand comes from Enlightenment thinking and is itself tinged with suspected liberalism. If we look from the origins of Common Law in the middle ages, the Anglican understanding of civil power has always been traditionally Constitutional. The Absolutist strand was a new "innovation" which temporarily took hold in the 16th and early 17th centuries.

    What is Constitutionalism for the purposes of this discussion? A separation between the concepts of father and superiour. In a nutshell, 1) The ruler is a superiour; 2) The ruler is not the father.

    Here are some instances of how far back goes the Constitutional strand of the Anglican political tradition:

    1. The first obvious case is the Magna Carta. Not only did it limit the King's power and put him under the sway of the constitution, but it also rebuked the Pope, and in general signaled the independence of the Church of England from Papal usurpation (albeit contested in centuries to come as we know). That's the first constitutional document we have which outright rejects the King as the father of his people, while allowing him to be a superiour.

    2. The next obvious case is the great codifier of Common law, Henry de Bracton, who wrote Of the Laws and Customs of England in 1268. He found the following legal precept in the vast and seemingly untouchably great legal corpus of the vanished Roman Empire: "The will of the prince is the letter of the law." And in the 1268 book, he changed it, for the whole subsequent history of Common law, to now say, "the will of the prince is under the law".

    3. Next we have the next legendary English jurist, John Fortescue, who in 1471 wrote a treatise called The Difference Between the Absolute and Limited Monarchy. The title speaks for itself.

      After that we have the emergence of absolutism from Roman Catholic circles, especially the medieval Spain, with the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. All of Europe, including England, for a time becomes possessed of this new concept. But even then some traditional Anglicans have defended the traditional constitutional position.

    4. We have bishop John Ponnet, who wrote A Short Treatise of Political Power in 1556. This has been called an early prototype of Locke's Second Treatise. He argues that the monarch derives his power from the consent of the governed. The American founding fathers had explicitly mentioned him in 1776.

    5. Next we have Sir Edward Cooke, the legendary early 17th century jurist. He was an intense Anglican who strongly opposed puritans, but he also strongly opposed the absolutist trends of that era and was frequently at odds with James I. Despite that he became perhaps one of 2 most famous and influential jurists in modern English history (along with Blackstone). He was involved with several cases, such as "The Case of Prohibition" (1607), and "The Petition of Right" (1628), the latter of which prohibited non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, imprisonment without cause, and the use of martial law. It is seen as one of England's most famous constitutional documents, similar to Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights of 1689.

    I could go on from there, because the latter 17th century offers a resurgence of the Constitutional tradition, seen in John Locke, Algernon Sydney and others, which reaches fruition in the Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights of 1689. This movement (again) strips the Monarch from the role of the father, puts him under rather than over the law, and from then on, the Absolutist tradition essentially disappears.

    In the 18th century we have the final apotheosis of Constitutionalism, with Sir William Blackstone's magisterial Commentaries on the Laws of England, which supported and reinforced everything in the Magna Carta, Bracton, Fortescue, Ponnet, and especially Edward Coke.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
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  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I have to confess I can't see how it is possible to assume that the commandment to obey Father and Mother is relevant to how we should regard our political overseers. This commandment was issued when Isreal not only did not have a King, but also at a time when God had no intention of Israel ever having one. When they eventually demanded one they were rebuked by God for wanting one, saying they had rejected God. 1 Sam.8:6-22.

    It therefore occurrs to me that the very fact of a 'King' wanting childlike obedience to his political control, would be idolatrous and blasphemous behaviour in the eyes of God. I guess this would also apply to megalomaniac Presidents too, certainly to the Anti-Christ when he appears. In fact all such demands for unquestioning, childlike, obedience by rulers are very un-Christlike and condemned by Christ in His Church on earth. They are styled by him as 'Heathen' and 'Gentile'. Matt.20:25, Mark 10:42.

    We are called to give honour to whom honour is due. Unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.
    .
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Dingle and Stalwart, I find your most recent posts on this thread intriguing and informative. I had no idea about any of this and it was fascinating reading. :thumbsup:
     
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  12. Dingle

    Dingle New Member

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    Thank you for your response, the history is definitely helpful and gives me something to look into. I agree that it is better to describe the two sides as Absolutist vs Constitutional rather than using the word traditional.

    You wrote this as a definition of the Constitutional position,

    “What is Constitutionalism for the purposes of this discussion? A separation between the concepts of father and superiour. In a nutshell, 1) The ruler is a superiour; 2) The ruler is not the father.”

    One question I have is how does the Constitutional position define the concepts of a superior vs that of a father? Is it correct to say the following?

    -The Constitutional position is natural fathers have the duty, required by God, to encourage, promote, and enforce both tables of the Ten Commandments over their young children.

    -Superiors are given the duty to encourage, promote, and enforce only the second table of the Ten Commandments over their inferiors. It is sinful for them to encourage, promote, and enforce the first table over another.
     
  13. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Ahh yes Lord Coke (Cooke) Wasn't it his court in the Princes case of 1606 that acknowledged that the 2nd and 3rd Cornish Charters of 1337 and 1338 were legitimate legislation, but these Charters have been quietly dropped from the current list of legislation without ever having been repealed!

    Yeah I know a bit off topic, you can p.m. me if you like, unless you feel others would be interested in this topic.. I understand you're a lawyer. ( I'm a mere factory worker :) ) .
     
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Stalwart posted that, not me. And I'm non-practicing, having never joined the Bar. (For a living, I operate a little sales business out of my home.) You have me wondering, though, if Stalwart is a lawyer?
     
  15. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Sorry Rexlion you are of course correct. I will try again.


    Ahh yes Lord Coke (Cooke) Wasn't it his court in the Princes case of 1606 that acknowledged that the 2nd and 3rd Cornish Charters of 1337 and 1338 were legitimate legislation, but these Charters have been quietly dropped from the current list of legislation without ever having been repealed!

    Yeah I know a bit off topic, you can p.m. me if you like, unless you feel others would be interested in this topic.. I understand you're a lawyer. ( I'm a mere factory worker :) ) .
     
  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Basically yes. What you say under the term of the 2nd Table is really understood to be Natural Law. In other words the superiour, the magistrate, has the duty to enforce natural law, which is what all magistrates throughout history have done from the Code of Hammurabi onward, namely to protect the principles of justice, equity, family, gender, and such.

    And I'm not a jurist, but thank you for saying that. Just interested in the history and legacy of liberty, in the Western tradition.
     
  17. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I am glad to see that some combatants on this forum have adopted the traditional view of Romans 13.

    But anyways, I think the problem here is that the adoption of a secularized ethic and government, attempting to be a neutral arbiter between competing religions/visions of the common good, ends up leading to an enforced, functionally pagan orthodoxy.
     
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  18. Dingle

    Dingle New Member

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    I agree. My own conclusion on this is of the two views described on this thread, the absolutist and constitutional views, the absolutist is the true Christian biblical belief while the constitutional is a false belief that, as you say, is essentially pagan. The constitutional belief has been adopted by the authorities of the modern western world and that in itself isn’t a problem, because as Christians we are to obey the lawful commands of our superiors regardless of their faith. The problem is that most Christians have adopted the constitutional view and merged it with Christianity to create a kind syncretism of the two.

    Most Christians today in a political sense have drawn false battle lines between “conservatives” and “liberals” but the reality is both sides are incorrect. I would contend that the constitutional view is a direct attack on authority in general as it advocates for the sovereignty of the individual over and against that of their superiors and it results in what we have today, either the belief in the “rugged individualism” of conservatives or the lack of morality found in modern liberals.
     
  19. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The rich man in his castle,
    The beggar at his gate.
    God made them high or lowly
    And ordered their estate.

    All things bright and beautiful,
    All creatures great and small.
    All things wise and wonderful.
    The Lord God made them all.
    .
     
  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Don't confuse the conservative viewpoint with the libertarian viewpoint (the latter matches the "rugged individualist" label to a T).
     

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