Sunday, April 17, 2005

Symposium Tour

Cliff Notes from the Symposium
For this post I am not using italics and red for quotes.
For easier reading these snips are copy/paste from the sources indicated.
I resisted the urge, in a few cases a very strong urge, to emphasize words or phrases with bold face.

Pluralism Good for Evangelical Church
Scripture and history teach us that pluralism is not quite the enemy we assume them to be. It is true that it is used as an excuse like the people at Mount Carmel not to decide. But, it is preferable to the religious tyranny spawned by state-sponsored religion. There is a catch phrase used by people in progressive politics that applies here to Evangelicals as we interact with our culture:
Speak the truth to power.
We may not be in charge, nor is it likely that we will be. Yet, we must propose the truth to all of the remnant who might listen. If God be God follow Him. If Baal be God follow him.
The Blinne Blog

Christian Law Making
I just think that is between ourselves and God, with the help of our fellow children in Christ, not the local constable and magistrate. The law doesn't save. Repeat that after me: the law doesn't save -- Jesus saves. It's okay if humans don't outlaw everything that God does. By all means we should never shirk declaring what's right and what's wrong nor should we lose sight of the power of our example.
Funmurphys: the Blog

Towards A Modern Christian Theocracy
For the believer, who might be persuaded by the correctness of the Scriptural derivation of these rights, these rights and the government which might flow from it might be taken to be axiomatic. However, this question is one which will need to be answered in order to sell this ideal for government in an increasingly pagan (or to be kinder, pluralistic) world. It will (or would) be important to convince others on secular grounds apart from where one derived these principles that they are something worth following.
...Much more thought and care should be put into the Scriptural exegesis, into analyzing what moral rights did God bequeath us. Then, taking those rights and everything we have learned, that is by drawing from the best political thought from Hobbes, Locke, Madison, Jay, and Hamilton as well as later writers like Hayek, Strauss, Rand, and (fill in your favorite political philosopher(s) here). Then engage in discourse and discussion, give and take, establish what we might find to truly be a Christian government. Finally we can hold the result up for the world to see. When fearmongers on the Left cry "theocracy, theocracy", one would then be able to point to an established body of work and say, "Well that would look like this. And it doesn't look at all like something to be feared at all! In fact, let's instead consider how to get there from here?"

Moving Values from the Freezer to the Medicine Cabinet
If we desire to fulfill the Cultural Mandate, that is, develop and harness the social and natural world, then we must start by shifting “values” back down to the Lower Story. We must show that certain “values” aren’t simply ice cream in the freezer, but are really medicine in the cabinet. As Nancy Pearcey puts it, “to recover a place at the table of public debate, Christians must find a way to overcome the dichotomy between public and private, fact and value, secular and sacred. We need to liberate the gospel from its cultural captivity, restoring it to the status of public truth.”
The A-Team Blog

Pluralism is necessary for a functioning society
A non-Christian is spiritually dead and thus it is a moot point whether they are addicted to drugs, pornography, gambling, etc. Every human being before salvation is spiritually dead as their course in life will naturally lead to Hell. To try to force them to be virtuous is pointless since morality on their part cannot and will not act as a spiritual defibrillator. We can coexist with them, support them, love them, evangelize them and enforce basic public order, but we do nothing but waste our breath by forcing them to adhere to a truth they cannot see.
That is ultimately why secularism in some form must be the basis of our civil laws. To call our laws moral codes rips open a whole can of worms ravenously hungry for the flesh of society.
Ultimately, as a Christian, I cannot support legislating from God’s morality onto a secular society for a simple reason: if we dare to do so we must be prepared for the fact that non-Christians will be enforcing it much of the time and that God’s love will not be a factor in it. Just imagine God’s law, specifically the Mosaic Laws, without the love and compassion of the God whose son died for us being enforced by non-Christians. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, then I don’t think you understand the ramifications of legislating true Christian morality.
Blind Mind’s Eye

Judeo-Christian morality in an ethically pluralistic society
...ethical pluralism is not the same as moral relativism.
...while an ethically pluralistic society does attempt to respect differing moral viewpoints that are held by individuals, the formation of laws and public policies shows that this pluralism is limited in scope.
So how does a believer in historic, orthodox Christianity with its moral absolutes live in a society of limited ethical pluralism?
Christians should unequivocally and unconditionally support individual freedom of conscience and expression....If freedom of conscience and expression applies to everyone, then it applies to Christians also. This seemingly obvious point takes on increasing relevance as the political left is more and more seeking to suppress dissent, using a range of “hard” and “soft” methods. Soft methods include use of name-calling and shame. For example, if you’re against affirmative action, it couldn’t possibly be because you hold certain moral or economic viewpoints that are at odds with such a policy; you must be a racist, even if you don’t know it. Now, many people don’t want to be thought of as racist, so it’s easier to just remain silent on the question than to voice opposition. People on the left also object to opposing moral views being given the weight of law as the imposition of some people’s morality upon all, but this is a false framing of the issue as discussed above. “Hard” methods of suppressing dissent are imposed most often upon the next generation, in college campuses.
We need to promote and demonstrate the concept that objective, propositional truth exists and is knowable.
*Become acquainted with some of the basics of logic, and use them in communications.
*Rather than countering other ethical conclusions with our own ethical conclusions, we should be in the habit of asking what the premises are that have led to each conclusion.
*Point out that postmodernism is not viable; it is inconsistent and contrary to human nature. In truth, postmodernism is a parlor game that people only play when the stakes are thought to be low.
*We must live out the truth we say we believe in.
*We need to consider and embrace the necessary conclusions of the truths we say we believe in. For example, if we say that every human being is created in the image of God and is therefore possessed of inherent dignity and worth, then we ought to act like it in how we treat each one (1 Peter 3:15).
*We should stop supporting all churches, ministries and parachurch organizations that don’t embrace the last two points.
*To the extent that we seek to have our moral positions implemented as public policy, the greatest care should be taken to examine the effects of such policy and whether such effects uphold the value and dignity of every individual, even those who disagree. A truly Christian society cannot be implemented by the coercive power of the state, for at least a couple of reasons.
There will always be ethical pluralism to a degree, but biblical morality will be embraced by the larger society only to the extent that the Gospel is communicated with clarity, we demonstrate in our day-to-day lives that the historic Judeo-Christian tradition offers real, relevant, viable solutions to the problems that confront us individually and collectively, and people embrace it. Truth must be lived as well as spoken. And if we maintain our hope while confessing our faults, it might just suggest to people the biblical truth that we are ultimately saved by God’s grace and not by our adherence to a moral code.
Short Attention Span

Judeo-Christian Morality, A Pluralistic Society, and the Courts
The Schiavo case prompted a barrage of commentary, much of it from conservative Christians, about the role of the American judiciary. The Schiavo case was seen as one more example of judges usurping judicial and executive authority and "legislating from the bench." The truth, however, is that the state trial court did no such thing. Rather, the trial court merely adjudicated factual disputes about Terri Schiavo's wishes concerning medical treatment, the nature of her medical condition, and the fitness of Michael Schiavo as a legal guardian.
How should we respond when a court's factual determinations lead to a result that seems to conflict with our moral principles?
...there are three principles we must follow, all of which, I believe, are rooted in a Biblical understanding of a believer's role in and relationship to civil government in a pluralistic society. These principles are respect for authority, recognition of complexity, and reasoned discourse.
Romans 13:1-2 commands Christians to be subject to civil authorites...Even if we disagree and lobby for change, we must never forget to respect their authority over us.
...the recognition of complexity. Most people who embrace a concept of Judeo-Christian morality are rightly leery of relativistic claims that there is no real truth or knowledge. Yet, we often use our understanding of absolute truth as a crutch to avoid complexity. This results in simplistic sloganeering rather than thoughtful public discourse....
The judicial process, then, cannot provide much more than rough justice. Judges and juries always must make difficult human judgments. Only God can has the perfect knowledge and perfect intentions required for perfect justice, and He has chosen to reserve that sort of justice for the final judgment.
If we fail to understand the intensely human aspects of judicial decision-making, we will merely fixate on hard cases. This is a mistake because it overlooks the importance of process to a concept of adjudicative justice. We cannot remove human frailty from human judgments. The best we can do is to establish procedural rules that mitigate the effects of such frailty. We need the sophistication to engage in debate at the broader procedural level, rather than limiting our focus to particular factual decisions that seem to offend our moral sense.
...our public discourse about the courts must always be reasoned. We must remember that when we discuss judicial policy in the public square we are addressing those who do not hold our particular Judeo-Christian beliefs as well as those who do hold them. It is not enough to state that a judicial decision must be overturned because it violates God's law. We must translate our particular religious expression of God's law into a form accessible to others in the public square.
At no other time in history have courts been so important as they are now in American society. If we as people of faith wish to bring their moral views to bear on public policy, we must address the role and function of the courts. This must include a healthy respect for the courts as a source of God-given authority, a recognition of the complexity of the courts' appointed task, and a reasoned approach to judicial policy that extends beyond individual hard cases. Only then will we begin to influence the judicial process further towards a Biblical concept of justice.
Through a Glass Darkly

Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society
It's tempting to frame the discussion in terms of law, specifically biblical laws and whether or not they have a place in today's society. But this leads straightaway to wails about theocracy and warnings of Jim Jones' grape drinks. (The secularist watchmen mean "ecclesiocracy," the rule of the church, but why should precision ruin a good buzzword? One would think the actual rule of God might be a good thing!) misses the point. ... if we'd just BE a moral majority, we wouldn't have to name ourselves one.
... real authority is exercised through serving, that we are kings who lay aside our robes for simple ephods. This is a morality that shows itself through action, not reaction, through being defined by what we're for rather than what we're against.
Society knows we're anti-abortion, but are we really pro-life? Until we're better known for having and adopting babies than for protesting, that image won't change.
They know we're against the welfare state, but are we willing to make the bureaucracy redundant by our initiatives in helping the poor and elderly? ... heavy taxation started only after faithful tithing...stopped.
The secret to selling our no-absolutes nation on Judeo-Christian absolutes is to convincingly practice virtue instead of only proscribing vice. Passing laws, even good ones, won't win them, because laws are negative by nature. They are meant to cut away rotten fruit, not heal it.
God is willing to restrain evil, but He does not wish to mandate specific good. Instead, men are free to find creative ways to please Him and bless one another.
Jesus understood this, and thus summed up ten mostly negative commandments with two perfectly positive ones: To love God wholly and to love our neighbors thoroughly.
The defining feature of Post-Modern, ethically pluralistic America is hunger for authenticity. Don't preach to me; don't show me your menu of morality; just cook something that smells good.
They are hungry, and they will eat. Will we cook?
@ Large

Tolerating the Intolerable
Increased lawlessness results from the view of no absolute truth. Because how can you condemn anyone if you believe in tolerating others beliefs? Yes, a tolerant person must even be tolerant of the intolerant.
Everyone has the right to believe what he chooses to believe. However, I cannot and will not treat other beliefs as equal with The Truth. To do so would dishonor the holiness of God.
...The "tolerance" logic just doesn't work, and it turns on itself.
As I said, increased lawlessness results from a tolerant and a pluralistic society. Everyone is free to do what seems right to them! We don't want to live in a society like that. No one wants to live in a nation where there is no law to protect them. So to promote morality is to promote the Law, which keeps us safe. To believe in tolerance and pluralism is to promote lawlessness, and a land that does not keep us safe. The choice is up to you--do you want to be under the mercy of the Law, or a nation with no law?
Agent Tim

Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society
In the end governmental authority cannot enforce an ethical code without becoming entirely too oppressive. Ultimately, a populace will reject such governmental authority. Only religious authority, which seeks to motivate the populace from within rather than through oppression can result in the widespread acceptance of an ethical code.
...I do not really think that the problem is a "Judeo-Christian" ethic, but an authoritative ethic of any sort....can our nation survive without a common ethic?
The best case in favor of a Judeo-Christian ethic that I have ever read is the one that Dennis Prager has been serially publishing at
[Link to Dennis Prager series]

Church and State, Faith and Reason
...what is at work here, it seems to me, is the longstanding liberal suspicion of embodying substantive moral positions in government policy....the idea seems to be the government must remain neutral, not just among religions, but among moral positions. To do otherwise is to “legislate morality” and to force one set of views on the entire populace.
...we should candidly acknowledge that politics involves a contest of substantive moral claims. To portray the conflict as one of “faith vs. reason” is simply disingenuous.
Government simply cannot remain neutral about momentous moral issues. Whatever policies it enacts will embody a certain moral perspective. When the U.S. government outlawed slavery it was taking a moral position. One wonders if the arguments of Abraham Lincoln would carry the day if judged by the standards of neutrality about comprehensive goods. One needn't shed one's moral commitments to enter the public arena in good faith.
verbum ipsum

UPDATE (almost):
I'm about burned out making notes for the Symposium essays.
I went far enough to make me feel better about the center of gravity of today's faithful.
I'll read the others, but I won't take time to make notes. This little batch seems not to have attracted any attention for anyone else, and if I'm reading them I don't need to go to this much trouble for note taking.
See the next post for my two favorites.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Hey Hoots! Jim Gilbert here. Just wanted to say thank yo for your encouragement. Actually I've only started blogging in March. The old dates and sparse archives have to do with a decision I made: They are articles from infrequent newsletters I wrote over the past few years, and I decided to put their authentic dates on, rather than make it look as though I'd recently churned out those articles. Probably wouldn't have made a difference, and in retrospect it looks pretentious to have archives for a six-year period! Blessings...