Sunday, April 11, 2010

God-Inspired Constitution

I was struck by this line in an article on the local Tea Party movement: So and so "called the Constitution a document derived from divine inspiration that is being manipulated, destroyed and ignored by presiding politicians."

Now I know reporters get things wrong. They often seem to miss fine distinctions that are very important to the people they are interviewing or they stereotype the person they are interviewing. But if this is even close to accurate, it is also close to blasphemy.

I love the Constitution because I think the Enlightenment brought immense benefits to the Western world. The notion of a societal social contract, of inalienable individual rights, of the dispassionate quest for truth, of individual liberty, of laissez-faire economics, these are all products of the Enlightenment, associated with names like Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, and Bentham.

They also can stand in serious tension with Christian values and must be carefully balanced and reigned in from Christian perspective. How about that slaves being 3/5 of a person thing, was that divinely inspired? Should we get rid of the amendments to the Constitution, because anyone who adds or takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, well, you know.

Here's the bottom line: God comes before country--if you really believe in Him. If you don't believe in God and want to worship the Constitution, you're a little weird (and in danger of hell fire), but at least you're more coherent. I love the Constitution, but I think I'll stand back from wherever you're standing.

P.S. The Constitution also allows for taxes (so does the Bible--which commands its audiences to pay them).

P.S.S. And you have representation (the Bible doesn't care whether you have representation when it says to pay them).


::athada:: said...

Don't doubt it.

"The chairman of the Grant County Tea Party announced his intention to represent Indiana’s fifth district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Andy Lyons, Marion, said he intends to make decisions with the U.S. Constitution in one hand, and the Bible in the other."

from "Tea Party Chariman wants seat" Chronicle-Tribune, 11/12/09

Anonymous said...

Ken..if you really mean all this and you love the Constitution so much, maybe you should join the Teaparty. You criticize the guy who says the Constitution was inspired by God, we know it was not. But, you seem to support the big nanny state government that wants to play God in the lives of it's citizens. Last week you identified yourself as a Progressive. Progressivism is a religion in itself whereby the state takes on the role of provider and the elites and bureaucrats take on the role of lordship over the lives of citizens. Heck, the US Constitution limits government growth and power over our lives. The monstrosity that we have now looming over us is not what the Founders envisioned. It is bloated, corrupt, bankrupt and has overpromised entitlements to it's citizens that will never be realized. I am glad you are all for taxes, because the guys you voted for will make sure you work for them.

Ken Schenck said...

You have inspired an idea for a post, Craig--"What I like about the Constitution." :-)

You know, you and I agree on a number of general principles. It's just the outworking of them that we disagree on. I agree "that government governs best that governs least," but we disagree on how little is appropriate. I am very nervous by the national debt and while I mourn Obama's nixing of key NASA programs, I'll swallow the bitter pill because of the deficit.

I don't know the extent to which you are doing it on purpose, but I never identified myself with anyone else who might call themselves a progressive. I didn't use the term as a technical term and the only name I mentioned was Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican.


Anonymous said...

No, I do not think we are close in political philosohy. I would never have voted for or promoted Obama for President. I knew who he was. To vote for him was to either agree with his radical Progressivism or to have been fooled by his less than honest campaign. I think the guy is a Marxist. So again, you and I have opposing "worldviews."

Last week on Facebook, you identified yourself as a Progressive. Yes, there are both Republican and Democrat Progressives. Both believe in big government. The progressive Republicans are Democrats lite or RINOs. Progressives are not known as fans of the U.S. Constitution. They view it as an impediment to their goals of expanding and empowering government. To a real Progressive, government is a religion and almighty shaper of and provider for the citizens of the nation they rule. When you identified yourself as a progressive, this is what I heard. A mere believer in progress....I guess it depends on your definition of progress.

I would suggest that under Obama government is expanding at record pace and if it continues on this road we are heading toward a socialist form of government where the U.S. Constitution will be tossed.

Looking forward to hearing the Schenck interpretation of the US Constitution. It should be interesting!

Anonymous said...

For you Ken

Ken Schenck said...

I don't know what Obama thinks when he is laying in bed or in secret meetings. All I know are the decisions he has participated in. I want to give you an opportunity to tell me which of these decisions have been radical leftist. The health care overhaul does not count--it has no public option (the liberal wing of the Democratic party is not happy) but a free market competition for insurance business like the Romney led Massachusetts. I have seen a president who has compromised on drilling (the liberal wing of the Democratic party is not happy). His economic bailouts were those begun by the Bush administration and have seemed to have prevented a global depression. He has escalated the war in Afghanistan (the liberal wing of the Democratic party is not happy). The deficit was set on this trajectory solidly during the Bush administration.

I honestly don't know what you mean when you call him the most radical president on these sorts of things. Carter was more socialist than he is. The Clinton health care plan was more socialist than his is. Medicaid and Medicare were more socialist than this plan. Roosevelt was more socialist than he is.

Please enlighten me. What specifics (not general labels--the stuff of bad thinking when people can't provide specifics) are you and others talking about?

Ken Schenck said...

Did a quick skim of the article. Thanks for it. Note that it distinguishes the progressives of the turn of the century from contemporary liberalism :-)

There are elements of these individuals that I agree with. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle remains for me a strong statement of what capitalism can do if left unchecked. Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations did not work, but I agree with Clinton that globalization is inevitable apart from world catastrophe and should be facilitated rather than fought against. I agree that the inalienable rights model of the Englightenment seems locked up in the paradigm of its day. It is for this reason that I do not think that health care is a right but might be a privilege of being American.

These are just some details I seized on in the article.

Jason said...

Progressives do not want the government to play God; they identify social ills and then figure out ways in which to solve them. Sometimes this involves regulation or enforcement of laws. Martin Luther King Jr. was a progressive; he fought for civil rights --for solutions to grievous social ills. But King Jr. could not end segregation --government regulation was required, which King in part won for his cause. Is the federal government playing God by prohibiting businesses and organizations from discriminating and segregating? Southern racists might say so, but I don't really see it that way, and I hope you don't either. I see regulation --just as King saw it-- as one possible (and often successful) solution to a social ill. Other social ills include poverty, unemployment, lack of health care accessibility for the poor, etc. Some or all of these may require government intervention. As Christians, we should be looking for solutions to the problems, not pretending that if we just leave everything well enough alone, it will all work itself out. Free market fundamentalism is just as false of a religion as any other.
But the argument is nothing new. In the 80's, the great Archbishop Helder Camara eloquently noted, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist." The poor guy was just trying to find the solution.

Anonymous said...

A few hints:

College & Church

*Admittedly sought out 'Marxist' professors
*Admittedly attended 'socialist conferences'
*Began attending a Marxist church - led by pastor Jeremiah Wright (attended for 20 years)


*Tragedy of the Warren Court: No redistributive change
*$787 billion stimulus redistribution bill
*Healthcare bill admittedly about 'redistributing the wealth'
*Single Payer Healthcare proponent
*President Obama now also President of GM & Chrysler
*President Obama seizes control of insurance giant AIG
*President Obama is leading America to single payer healthcare
*President Obama seized control of Student Loan industry in order to 'cut out middle man'
*President Obama seizes control in massive land grabs
*Repeatedly vilifies 'the rich'
*Obama believes race problems can be solved through redistribution of wealth... he said "race is still an enormous factor in our society. But economics can overcome a lot of racial division."
*Trying to regulate the Internet via FCC
*Forces mortgage co's to cover people who aren't paying mortgage

*Told Joe the plumber 'it's better when you spread things around'

Family, Friends, Advisors & Administration

*Wife Michelle Obama said “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”
*Jim Wallis, Obama's spiritual advisor & forced redistribution of wealth advocate
*Van Jones, disgraced Green Jobs Czar & Communist
*Ron Bloom, Manufacturing Czar & anti-free market
*John Holdren, pro-redistribution of wealth
*Andy Stern, SEIU President & redistribution of wealth fan
*Anita Dunn, fan of Chairman Mao
*Mark Lloyd, FCC 'Diversity Czar'
*Carol Browner, socialist
*Robert Creamer, socialist

Ken Schenck said...

I am very grateful for this list, Craig. Whether it is my personality or my philosophy, I find it very difficult to know what to do with generalizations without specifics.

I am interested in decisions he's made as president. So here's the part of your list that is most significant to me:

*$787 billion stimulus redistribution bill

Honest question: how is this different than Bush's stimulus bills, except in the amount? Seemed necessary and the usual critique is that he didn't spend enough.

*President Obama now also President of GM & Chrysler

Not for long. This was a rescue plan. Seemed like a better of two evils move to me because of the massive job loss folding would have caused.

*President Obama seizes control of insurance giant AIG

Not for long. Since the formation of a global economy in the 90s, there are new dynamics they couldn't have taught us in college. Even Greenspahn and others are feeling their way themselves. I suspect this was necessary to prevent a global depression. Obama is spearheading initiatives to keep an entity like this one being so intertwined that it can't be let to fail.

*President Obama seized control of Student Loan industry in order to 'cut out middle man'

Don't know if this is a good move or not. The only difference is in what happens after the initial loan, not the initial loan itself.

*President Obama seizes control in massive land grabs

I don't know about this...

*Trying to regulate the Internet via FCC

Not sure what to think here, but it will be horrible for us little people and for educational institutions if there isn't free access over internet lines.

*Forces mortgage co's to cover people who aren't paying mortgage

I agree that we can't bail out everyone. On some level, however, mortgage failure was partially responsible for the almost global depression.

Anonymous said... can defend Obama all you want. If you do not see his socialistic inclinations it is probably because you and the President have the same worldview and philosophy of government. I guess you will see in November when the Democrats get removed from office that the "hope and change" people thought they were getting was nothing more than left wing politics. The scam Obama used was telling the voters he would govern from the center. Very few believe that today except maybe you. The ram it down your throat governing and out of control spending has angered alot of people. The division and anger in America has to be attributed in large part to the fact that people feel betrayed by Obama and the Democratic far left and the irresponsible fiscal policies of his administration. Good luck defending this growing mess. Read the Constitution; the bloated, arrogant and bankrupt government of today is not the nation the Founder's envisioned whether it is Bush or Obama in charge. I look forward to hearing the Schenck reconciliation of the U.S. Constitution with the Obama Administration and Democratic Congress.

Ken Schenck said...

I've already set my piece on the Constitution to post tomorrow. Obama is not mentioned. :-)

Brad Harris said...

Dr. Schenck,

You should have taken some Dr. Martin classes when he was alive. Who truly understood a Christian Worldview point. I can see you need help in this area.

Ken Schenck said...

I appreciated the way Dr. Martin gave purpose to the lives of numerous young men, many of whom I suspect otherwise had no direction and might otherwise have headed off in bad directions. I also have no question but that he knew the data of history exponentially better than I do.

However, understanding is not as much in knowing the data as in its organization, and off hand I can think of three aspects of Dr. Martin's teaching that immediately call his entire system into question:

1. The invocation of a "biblical worldview" usually reveals from the very starting point and inability to read the books of the Bible in their varied contexts. These were individual books written to address myriad contexts over the course of a 1000 years. Integrating their teaching into one point of view always and inevitably involves organizing principles that cannot and do not come from the texts themselves. Countless biblical worldviews are possible on the basis of the texts themselves.

Yes, God can and does put these pieces together into a more limited number of possible Christian worldviews, but Dr. Martin never even realized the massive degree to which his philosophy connected the bits of Scripture together. His biblical worldview was thus more than anything else a reflection of the Reformed stream from which he had heavily drank.

2. Dr. Martin seems to have seriously underestimated both the degree to which ideologies are connected to their temporal context and the degree to which they are epiphenomenon to other factors. Make no mistake. Ideas do matter and "we do see."

But I do believe that, more often than not, ideas gain currency not so much because of their interaction with prior ideas but because of the environmental changes going on at a time. This weakness of Dr. Martin, in my view, seriously calls into question his macro-historical analysis.

3. Finally, I believe ideologies are more complex than Dr. Martin's system allowed for. I have interacted quite a bit with a Martinite online and he seems perennially unable to see ideologies as a spectrum. Rather, for him, you are either one thing or another, period. For him, ideas are wholes.

I'm assuming he took this from Dr. Martin and it is horrific illogic, closely related to my second critique.

All these thoughts are my impressions from some of his former students and from professor chat. The religion department always thought Dr. Martin was a good man, but it also recognized him as the most un-Wesleyan influence on campus.

Brad Harris said...

Dr. Schenck,

I would agree that impart that Dr. Martin seemed to have Reformed tendency's but yet he never ever denounced his Arminianism.

Yet, I believe Dr. Martin brought balance to the IWU Campus. In my years as a Ministerial student I think I learned more in how the Bible and God relates to all of life through the few classes I had with him than my ministerial classes at the time.

In my opinion and that might not be much. The Religion Department could have learned somethings from him instead of keeping him at a arms length.

I would rather sit under a Dr. Martin or a John Wesley who at least had high regard of scripture than a Bell, McLaren, Evans, Tickle, Padgett which seems to be the flavor of some IWU ministerial students.

Sorry, I did not mean for my other earlier statement to be derogatory. I did not word that very well.

Ken Schenck said...

Thanks Brad--I am glad that people feel free to bring all the different sides of issues with a genuine interest in seeking the truth. Iron sharpens iron...