Taxed about tax

by Richard on January 28, 2011

Union bosses to decide whether to hold anti-cuts strike says the headline.

Union leaders will decide later whether to support a co-ordinated campaign of industrial action to oppose the government’s spending cuts.

Several large public sector unions are warning of possible strikes over pension changes, BBC political correspondent Norman Smith says.

But TUC officials are hopeful any action can be avoided after ministers agreed to extend talks.

The government has hinted at changing the law if co-ordinated strikes happen

The unions have a strong case, especially when they argue that more effort should be put into preventing the wholly legal practice of tax avoidance by many of our weathiest. It’s immoral. Unfortunately, that case is somewhat undermined by an enclosure in a recent mailing that my wife has received from her union. Headed ‘Tax Refund Claim Form’, it comes from a company claiming to be ‘the UK’s No. 1 tax refund specialist’.

I know. Claiming a tax refund isn’t the same as tax avoidance. But for a union to be promoting this does seem to have bought in to the prevailing view that tax is somehow A Bad Thing.

It’s time to change our collective mindset. It’s good to pay tax!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Earl 01.28.11 at 3:53 pm

People should get what they pay for. People should not be expected to pay for what they do not want. That includes government. At best, government is a necessary social evil. At the minimum, it serves a purpose. Expansive, it consumes while producing nothing. Those who pay taxes have the right to expect that government at least provide that minimum of service that voters desire. If taxpayers and voters refuse to pay more taxes, then government must be constricted. This is democracy in action. If anyone thinks that paying taxes is a good, thing, then they must advocate for this position and seek to persuade others to support it. If they can manage a majority, then they have the opportunity to put their position into law. At present, public sentiment in the United States does not support increased taxation. Possibly that is not the case in England. However, recent election cycles on both sides of the Atlantic indicate that the majority of voters favor a smaller less “activist” government. The extreme overwhelming reaction against the nationalization of healthcare in the United States is indicative of that rejection of a socialist agenda. If good is done by government programs funded by taxes, then those who would see widespread support for such programs must do a better job of explaining to the voting public and specifically tax payers why they should support these programs. If only special interest voter groups support any program while tax payers are left to conclude that their pocket is being picked to pay for someone else’s “bread and circuses,” then it only exacerbates increasingly sharp lines of social division. The increased polarization of special interest groups and political parties reflects the failure of advocates of various government programs to persuade broad support from those persons who have to pay the bills. This is a conversation that will not wait. It is now ongoing both in England… and finally in the United States. This time, it’s going to be a two way conversation.

It’s time to change our collective mindset. It’s good to pay tax!

2

Kim 01.28.11 at 7:03 pm

Do I take it, Earl, that for you a national health service comes under the rubric someone else’s “bread and circuses”? What a bleak, Hobbesean vision (or rather nightmare) of democracy you have. But you helpfully draw the lines of the debate: Is democracy primarily the means of protecting individual self-interest (the liberal democratic tradition), or of pursuing the common good (the social democratic tradition)?

Where you are not helpful is in equating social democracy with “communism”, a mistake common to many parochial Americans with little sense that life is good beyond the Pond, i.e., little sense of either geography or history. It also rigs the debate from the start. Certainly in the US, only the paranoid could see communism as a real threat (though that Obama can be called a communist with a straight face shows just how paranoid some folk can be). As I see it, the combination of Tea Party liberal democracy and doctrinaire deregulated market capitalism will only go to ensure that the economically powerful become more fuck-you still, while social destitution and environmental depradation spiral out of control. Of course you see things differently.

3

Paul F. 01.28.11 at 7:27 pm

“As I see it, the combination of Tea Party liberal democracy and doctrinaire deregulated market capitalism will only go to ensure that the economically powerful become more fuck-you still”

That’s been the plan all along. Who do you think bankrolls the Tea Party in the first place?

How does that Dylan song go? “Only a Pawn in Their Game”

4

Earl 01.29.11 at 3:18 am

I simply observe and comment. Evidently the nhs of England is facing a necessary review. In the U.S. there is no broad support for the confiscatory level of taxation necessary to fund the current administrations socialization of healthcare. The b&c idea does apply to healthcare funded by compelling others to pay for it, especially when that b&c business boils down to a way to use other peoples money to buy votes. If someone wants healthcare, let them pay for it. They have the right to whatever level of healthcare they want to buy. They do not have the right to expect much less force someone else to pay for whatever level of healthcare they want, while they pay nothing.

Democracy is a means of social organization. It is not predicated upon self or social interest. It may however be used to serve either interest. In the balance of interest, the default is to the individual and not the group/society. Now as to communism and social democracy, both are peas from the same pod… they are 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Differences between the two are of no significance. Wild and extravagant claims to the contrary are simply ramblings signifying nothing. Conservatives and Republicans as well as Tea Party members reflect the broad will of Americans who are not ready to trade in their citizenship for subjection to the “rule” of anyone and who refuse to meekly surrender their finances to anyone who assumes that all money belongs to the government and that they have the right to rule and tell people how much of their money they may be allowed to keep.

5

Kim 01.29.11 at 10:28 am

Now as to communism and social democracy, both are peas from the same pod… they are 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Differences between the two are of no significance.

The people of Sweden, Norway, and indeed of the UK and Germany, among other European nations, will be pleased to hear that they are/have been communist countries, Earl. Wild and extravagant claims and ramblings signifying nothing? Indeed.

6

Paul F. 01.29.11 at 12:48 pm

“Conservatives and Republicans as well as Tea Party members reflect the broad will of Americans…”

That’s quite a stretch. Last I checked the country was pretty much ideologically split right down the middle. And I have yet to see a single poll which suggests anybody — anybody — the GOP nominates in ‘12 would defeat Obama. But it’s been a while since facts mattered to your worldview, hasn’t it?

Notice I mentioned that I haven’t seen a “poll”. Statistics and data matter. Facts matter. Like the fact that nobody in the Obama administration has said anything close to “all money belongs to the government”. If you can find someone saying such a thing, I might take your paranoia seriously.

Your mentioning of “the current administrations socialization of healthcare” also has no grounding in reality. I can reach in my wallet right now and pull out a health insurance card — from a private for-profit company. Until I can no longer do that, I’m afraid I can’t take you seriously.

7

Tony Buglass 01.29.11 at 1:03 pm

Earl: “If someone wants healthcare, let them pay for it. They have the right to whatever level of healthcare they want to buy. They do not have the right to expect much less force someone else to pay for whatever level of healthcare they want, while they pay nothing.”

And just how do you justify that in the light of Acts.2:44-45? The fact that most folk involved aren’t believers? Shouldn’t Christians nevertheless be advocating that we all care for everyone in need, without requiring that the sick have the ability to pay?

I watched the TV coverage a few years ago, as free dental and medical care was offered in a community in the US - hundreds of people came to find treatment they’d never been able to afford. Some had suffered pain for years. This is in the richest country in the world - and you think this is good? I call it utterly selfish, and totally evil. No Christian can possibly justify such a system.

8

PamBG 01.29.11 at 1:21 pm

Close down Medicare and VA hospitals and benefits. These are our greatest expenses for socialized medicine.

We can all become ministers and have our churches pay for our private health insurance. Then we can lecture our congregations from the pulpit about rugged self-sufficiency and not needing anyone else to help us get through life.

If the self-employed father of 3 kids with food allergies can’t get health insurance for his kids because the insurance companies don’t want to insure those kids, that’s necessary fallout. If the self-employed tech consultant with narcolepsy can’t get private health insurance, that’s necessary fallout.

What’s important is that market forces determine who in society is “deserving”. Jesus didn’t say anything about the poor and he certainly didn’t care about sick people. His message was all about rugged self-sufficiency and personal morality. Don’t you people read the bible?

9

Richard 01.29.11 at 3:39 pm

“I simply observe and comment…”

And I merely comment that for democracy to work properly, the people must receive good information. There are some powerful lobbies in the US who have consistently lied about the NHS. Their lies have been believed.

10

Beth 01.29.11 at 10:09 pm

A tax refund is something you are owed because you have been charged too much tax. On my really very small earnings, I’ve been being charged over 20 per cent tax for five years. I have tried to claim it back but am constantly sent through more and more hoops which are less and less achievable. The government owes me about two grand, which is nothing to them and would make a gigantic difference to me, since it’s about one sixth of my annual income. But I can’t get it back. That is iniquitous; offering to help people to jump through these hoops to get what is owed to them is not.

11

Tony Buglass 01.30.11 at 9:07 am

Beth, is there no ombudsman or complaints procedure available? Do you have a friendly accountant who can fight your corner for you? Then it’s someone else’s head batting against the brick wall, and you eventually get your money. Threaten them with the press and TV - and if you’ve actually got a name of a tax department or tax officer, tell them they will be named and shamed.

12

Earl 01.30.11 at 7:51 pm

“The people of…” etc. Some are satisfied with the terms of their indenture.

13

Earl 01.30.11 at 8:08 pm

The most recent poll of unquestioned validity was November 2010. That particular poll pretty well showed how things stood across the nation. Asked the recently retired house democrats how that poll went for them. The current resident of the white house has been good for Conservatives and Republicans. Middle of the roaders and independents move to the right. Now… with redistricting approaching, the die will be cast for the next 10 years. One can only wonder how things would have gone, had a less polarizing personality/agenda been in the white house.

Now when it comes to spending other people’s money, the current administration takes the historical cake. Even the severely math challenged can figure that out. But as to paranoia, that is a matter better left up to those who look at federal spending and consider a reduction of increase in spending as a cut in spending, etc.

Currently over 700 companies have been granted wavers from being forced into the current administrations nationalization of healthcare in the United States. Why? Why do they not need to now immediately have to deal with the consequences of a massive federal takeover of 17% of the United States economy? As far as presently existing health insurance programs… such cards in wallets continue to exist because the nationalization of healthcare carried out by the current administration has not come into affect immediately. It will be a few years. But of course everyone know that.

14

Richard 01.30.11 at 8:17 pm

>> “Some are satisfied with the terms of their indenture.”

Come off it Earl. You’re suggesting that we can’t criticize the US because The People have expressed their will and that’s that. But you can criticize European states because our citizens are no better than bondservants, kept in ignorance by their overlords.

Are you seriously suggesting that the people of the UK, Sweden, Germany and the rest are less informed than their cousins across the Atlantic?

And I’m obliged to ask again: if the case against some kind of national health system for the US is so clear cut, why have the lobbyists for the status quo found it so necessary to lie about Britain’s NHS?

15

Earl 01.30.11 at 8:43 pm

The federal government is a secular construct. That is all. The well-intentioned experiment of Acts 2:44-45 is a regrettable failure. It had a head-on collision with reality. Reality is that cost have to be paid. There is no free lunch.

16

Earl 01.30.11 at 8:52 pm

“Close down…” etc. Hyperbole seems to be common in these discussions.

17

Earl 01.30.11 at 9:05 pm

“There are some powerful lobbies in the US who have consistently lied about the NHS. Their lies have been believed.” And is anyone surprised that in any sort of “political” debate, someone is not playing with a full deck? That is the nature of politics. Some have been know to promise almost anything. Some have even been known to promise a “transparent administration.” When it comes to political promises, trust is for partisans.

18

Tony Buglass 01.30.11 at 9:06 pm

“The well-intentioned experiment of Acts 2:44-45 is a regrettable failure. It had a head-on collision with reality.”

Well, according to Luke, it had a head-on collision with sin and greed, exemplified by the stories of Ananias and Sephira. It failed because people weren’t prepared to be as sacrificial with their property as Jesus was with his life.

“Reality is that cost have to be paid. There is no free lunch.”

There never was. The question is who pays. And I suggest again that it is absolutely non-Christian to demand that only those who can pay for themselves get health care.

19

Kim 01.30.11 at 9:32 pm

Reality is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the interruption of the impossible, the deconstruction of the the self-evident, the erasure of the calculus of the bottom-line, the explosion of indomitable hope in the new heaven and new earth starting now, as we live tomnorrow’s life today. But you, Earl, you reduce this glorious, world-shattering, apocalyptic event, this triumph of grace, to a little one-act spectacular that guarantees you personal salvation if you believe it happened, and perhaps inspires you to individual acts of charity (which, of course, will bring you kudos come Judgement Day). How politically irrelevant. How unbiblical. How bloody boring. Why would, should anyone give a two hoots about this gospel - apart from self-interest?

20

PamBG 01.30.11 at 10:23 pm

Oh, how I hate to applaud Kim ;-)

But I must.

21

Earl 01.31.11 at 3:40 am

The ill-advised experiment in communism failed. Ananias and Sephira certainly exemplify one problem, i.e., regardless of our best intentions, we are never very far sin and failure, as Peter and the disciples discovered after they followed Jesus out of the Upper Room. As likely the early church discovered that their experiment was simply inadequate. If failed because it was unworkable and unnecessary. The existing system of trade by barter/species most equitably balanced supply with demand. It was as unwarranted a decision as the disciples casting lots to try to figure out who should replace Judas. No one ever hears again of Matthias… but one does hear of Barnabas. Now if one wants to pretend that the problem was a unwillingness to sacrifice, one must deal with the simple fact that Ananias and Saphira were not typical of the membership of the Church at Jerusalem as well as the reaction of the membership to their deaths.

“Reality is that cost have to be paid. There is no free lunch.” To be blunt, no one has a right to expect any certain standard of living to be provided to them. Paul did not mince words. “If a man will not work, let him not eat.” There is no reason healthcare should be some sort of sacred cow removed from the same considerations. If someone wants a Cadillac healthcare plan, let them pay a Cadillac price. If someone wants a Chevy healthcare plan, let them pay a Chevy price. It is unconscionable for anyone to expect that they can vote for a Cadillac plan and have someone subsidize them so that they can pay a Chevy price. That does not preclude some sort of restrained program. But it absolutely does reject the idea that anyone can use the mechanism of govt. as a tool by which to pick the pocket of others to force them to fund a system of healthcare which they do not want or to pay for services that they consider simply illegitimate and wrong. And it rejects that use of govt. as a means of advancing a hostile left-wing socialist political agenda under the cloak of healthcare.

There never was. The question is who pays. And I suggest again that it is absolutely non-Christian to demand that only those who can pay for themselves get health care.

22

Earl 01.31.11 at 3:55 am

“Reality is… ” that the current efforts to nationalize healthcare in the United States are not remotely connected to the New Testaments ethic of Jesus except by the merest shreds of imagination. If anyone would in the name of Christ think to advance a broad program of healthcare reform, it will have to start somewhere other than behind the closed doors a committee staffed and dominated by democrats seeking to use the issue for political gain. The efforts of the current administration are driven by a strategy for re-election and the advancement of a socialist agenda. Not one single time has anyone pushing that effort ever cited the ethic of Christ as the basis of their agenda. Rather they appeal to the need of America to be like europe, an appeal totally lacking in any logic. If they want to approach the matter from the perspective of Christian faith, fine. Let them do so. Until then, the majority of Americans are simply unwilling to surrender 17% of the national economy to the control of political manipulators whose only interest is partisan and whose only concern is re-election.

23

Richard 01.31.11 at 8:02 am

>> Earl wrote: “And I suggest again that it is absolutely non-Christian to demand that only those who can pay for themselves get health care.”

After all that rubbish you’ve written, it’s great that you’ve come to your senses. Hurrah!

24

Tony Buglass 01.31.11 at 9:45 am

“…the current efforts to nationalize healthcare in the United States are not remotely connected to the New Testaments ethic of Jesus except by the merest shreds of imagination.”

Clearly. What continues to astonish me is that you, as a Christian, think that’s fine.

“Paul did not mince words. “If a man will not work, let him not eat.””

He did. He wasn’t addressing the situation of the sick and helpless, who were unable to meet their own needs but needed help to do it. The Christian vision for community embodied in the first Jerusalem commune was that we look after each other. In the long term, it was a failure for the reasons I’ve stated, and because it was a misplaced interim eschatological community: they probably thought Jesus would come again before they ran out of money or property. That wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, the vision they offer to us, still in an interim between the two comings of Christ, and still in an eschatological age, is the care for each other which depends on the resources of the whole community, not on ability to pay.

I point again to the huge numbers of very poor people in the US who are denied basic health care because they are kept poor by the sheer inequities of he richest country on earth. How can it be Christian to leave them in suffering?

25

Beth 01.31.11 at 2:07 pm

“To be blunt, no one has a right to expect any certain standard of living to be provided to them.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights disagrees with you, Earl. Particularly, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Of course, you have every right to disagree with the UDHR, though you’ll be putting yourself in with some interesting company if you do so.

No, people don’t have a right to the same standard of living enjoyed by the wealthy in their country. They don’t even have a right to the standard of living of the moderately well-off. But there is a basic standard of living, which the UDHR calls “adequate”, below which a person’s human rights are not being met by his country. Even if someone won’t work, we still have a duty to alleviate his pain and suffering. This is not because he “deserves” it as an individual, but because humanity deserves it as a whole. If we are universal in our compassion, we can know that we are not failing anybody. We can also know that we ourselves will never be left in want. As the old adage has it, there but for the grace of God

26

Wood 01.31.11 at 2:28 pm

@Earl:”The well-intentioned experiment of Acts 2:44-45 is a regrettable failure. It had a head-on collision with reality. Reality is that cost have to be paid.

Paul had it right. You exchanged the truth of God for the lie. I’m praying for your salvation and repentance from Satan’s deception.

27

Richard 01.31.11 at 2:32 pm

Nicely put Beth. But I can predict how impressed Earl will be by the UDHR.

28

Richard 01.31.11 at 3:18 pm

I thought I was getting to grips with where Earl is coming from, Wood. But his assault on the primitive church has wrong-footed me completely.

29

Wood 01.31.11 at 3:40 pm

It’s the arbitrary picking and choosing from scripture, isn’t it? It’s breathtaking.

30

Earl 01.31.11 at 4:03 pm

“After all that rubbish you’ve written, it’s great that you’ve come to your senses. Hurrah!” Opps! Should have done a better job of proof reading.

31

Earl 01.31.11 at 4:24 pm

“Clearly. What continues to astonish me is that you, as a Christian, think that’s fine…” etc. Left-wing liberal social assumptions typically advanced by a socialist agenda can be cloaked under the image of Christian faith, yet they remain only what they are, the political priorities of those who favor a socialism over personal responsibility.

The quote from Paul is precise and thoroughly applicable. The Jerusalem experiment was one misstep in the development of the Church. It did likely arise from a mistaken expectation of Jesus’ return. It failed because it was not sustainable over a long term. Communism is not normative for Christian community. The normative model of the New Testament is found in free-will relationships. In offerings for relief of the poor, etc., response is not compelled but a matter of free choice on the part of individuals and congregations. In discussion of secular provision of healthcare, personal responsibility as in payment, etc., is a legitimate concern. A secular socialist agenda cannot be justified by appeal to the practice of the N.T. Church is collecting free-will offerings.

32

Earl 01.31.11 at 4:30 pm

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights…” etc. On the whole, probably well-intentioned, but in perspective the quote is underwhelming.

33

Earl 01.31.11 at 4:34 pm

“I’m praying for your salvation and repentance from Satan’s deception.” Sincere prayer is always welcome. Even when one does not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit guides us. (Rom. 8:26).

34

Wood 01.31.11 at 6:05 pm

Right-wing neo-con social assumptions typically advanced by a capitalist agenda are more often cloaked under the image of Christian faith, yet they too remain only what they are, the political priorities of those who favor greed over compassion and justice. Satan’s lie.

35

Earl 01.31.11 at 6:06 pm

“…assault on the primitive church…” Hyperbole expands to fill the void left by an absence of facts.

36

Earl 01.31.11 at 6:09 pm

“Right-wing neo-con social assumptions…” etc., etc. It is nothing less than amazing to see how wrong some can be about what they assume to be the assumptions of others.

37

Kim 01.31.11 at 6:15 pm

I thought I was getting to grips with where Earl is coming from, Wood. But his assault on the primitive church has wrong-footed me completely.

I’m not surprsied in the least. We all come to scripture with prejudices, but I have rarely seen a Bible-reader as proud and defensive, not to mention unaware, of his as Earl. Moreover:

(1) As I have suggested above, for Earl Christ may be alive, but he is far, far away, remotely positioned in heaven, sitting on his ass at the right hand of the Father. Christ may be “my personal Lord and Life Coach”, but he does not reign - he might as well as dead - while his Spirit is available for private consultations only.

(2) Given this otiose Christology (and pneumatology), it is no surprise that Earl has a wafer-thin ecclesiology. For him the church is a bunch of saved monads. The state, not the church, is the bearer of history. A more anemic, anorexic body of Christ is hard to imagine.

(3) Which nonecclesiology is in keeping with Earl’s completely otherworldly and futuristic eschatology. America and apple pie in the sky when you die. In the meantime, let the poor eat crust (as long as it isn’t subsidised), and God help them if they get sick (unless an ER will have them).

The really horrfic thing is that this microanalysis, while sarky, is hardly a caricature.

38

Wood 01.31.11 at 6:36 pm

We call that plank-blindness. Although…

“It is nothing less than amazing to see how wrong some can be about what they assume to be the assumptions of others.”

BINGO. The man stumbles perilously close to the perimeter of wisdom.

39

Paul F. 01.31.11 at 8:22 pm

Earl’s accusations of a socialist agenda — which I’m assuming he’s directing at some of us on this thread — cloaked in the grammar of the Christian faith also reveal that he can’t imagine Christian discipleship as an alternative political ethic to the most popular secular options of our day. He can’t see that following Jesus is all the politics we need as Christians, and that it IS political. By obedience to the teachings of Christ, we may get mistakenly lumped into one of the secular categories every now and then (pro-life puts us in the same camp as James Dobson, anti-war and anti-greed puts us with the left), but that does not mean that we are socialists in Christian disguise or vice versa.
Or at least, God help us if that ever becomes the case.

My question then would be, where is the fault line, Earl? Where are we inserting our agenda into the plain words of scripture? We have verses clearly condemning wealth (Luke 6:24-25, James 5:1-4) and encouraging compassion for the poor (Matthew 25:31-46, 1 John 3:17), and yet somehow, we are socialists despite our taking them at their plain meaning.

40

Earl 01.31.11 at 9:04 pm

“I am not surprised…” etc. It is no surprise that different people will read the Bible from their own frame of reference. In this matter some appear surprised that the seemingly apparent rightness of their assumptions and position are not universally affirmed. Given that the assumptions and positions advanced reflect a left-wing secular socialist political agenda, why would anyone suppose that those positions would be affirmed? These programs are not being advanced as reflective of any Christian commitment. These programs are being advanced by partisan politicians seeking to advance their own very particular agenda of political and social change, If there is any contact with Christian commitment, it is a very casual contact.

Now as to ramblings about theology and ecclesiology, they simply reflect the particular perspective of the writer.

41

Earl 01.31.11 at 9:07 pm

“We call that plank-blindness.” I do not object to your removing any splinter you might see in my eye. But first, remove the beam from your own.

42

Richard 01.31.11 at 10:12 pm

Earl, you suggest that my phrase “assault on the primitive church” was hyberbole. I don’t see that there was anything exaggerated or extravagant about it. You suggested that the Jerusalem church was foolish in its economic organisation and in its internal governance. I reckon that qualifies as an assault.

43

Earl 01.31.11 at 11:04 pm

“You suggested that the Jerusalem church was foolish in its economic organisation and in its internal governance. I reckon that qualifies as an assault.” The Jerusalem church’s experiment in communism was not described as “foolish.” It was in fact described as well-intentioned, ill-advised, a regrettable failure and a misstep based on a mistaken expectation of Jesus return. Neither was the decision making process in selecting Matthias to replace Judas described as “foolish.” In fact the decision making process reflected a reliance on traditional Jewish practice, the consequence of which was not so very successful. In sharp contrast, the decision making process demonstrated by Paul and his fellow missionaries in Acts 16 reflects a reliance on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the consequences of which were much more positive. When Paul notes Peter’s inconsistency in faith and practice as relates to sharing table fellowship with Gentile believers, he did not simply make a note on his napkin and then let the matter pass. Is it inappropriate to note the shortcomings of the Primitive Church as it sought to develop a practical organizational response to ministry?

44

Kim 01.31.11 at 11:11 pm

Nice rhetorical ploy, Earl: calling my comment “ramblings” absolves you of answering and falsifying my quite serious evaluation of your theology.

I’ll challenge you again: your remark about the church in Acts 2 demonstrates that your attitude is the exact opposite of the attitude of Bonhoeffer, who said that the vocation of the church “should not be to justify Christianity in the present age, but to justify the present age before the Christian message” (emphasis in the original). One could say that you take the politics out of eschatology and the eschatology out of politics, privatising and moralising faith, reducing it to a sort of sanctified self-interest, and thus making it unrecognisable as biblical faith. Instead of witnessing to the Powers you concede the world to them. Yours is a literally hope-less theology.

45

Earl 02.01.11 at 1:49 am

“… quite serious evaluation…” Given past exchanges, I simply considered the source and responded accordingly.

The developmental nature of the Primitive Church at Jerusalem is no more definitive of the norm for the Church than is Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus the definitive norm of salvation. To suppose otherwise goes beyond the warrant of Scripture. I will trust your quote of Bonhoeffer. But, how he applies to the current discussion of taxation, partisan driven socialization of healthcare in the United States, etc., that is not so clear.

Jesus was not a card carrying Democrat. Convenient appeals to his ethic by partisan democrat politicians are simply not convincing. The logic of this is no different than when Christians of a liberal social perspective recoil at a Conservative or Republican politician appealing to the Christian faith to gain support for their legislative agenda.

When it comes to hope for the future, no one is wise to give much weight to anything that politicians might say. It is like putting ones weight on the tip of a sharp stick. The more you trust them, the more your going to get hurt. Hope for the future is found in a personal relationship of trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. When asked, He clearly affirmed His kingship. He also clearly stated that His kingdom was not of this world. It is not possible to square what Jesus said with the veracity of any who would claim to be seeking to realize His Kingdom ethic via their very partisan political agenda, especially when their party is otherwise overtly hostile to the Christian faith. This is particularly the case when those making such claims seldom demonstrate little more than an occasional concern for that ethic.

46

Paul F. 02.01.11 at 9:08 am

“Hope for the future is found in a personal relationship of trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. When asked, He clearly affirmed His kingship.”

Which is immediately a middle finger to Ceasar (and anyone else who thinks they run the world), who also had people refer to himself as “savior and lord”. No one here is doubting Christ’s kingship. We’re just trying to show how your understanding of His lordship is anemic.

“He also clearly stated that His kingdom was not of this world.” The full quote includes “If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” In other words, the kingdom inaugurated by Christ is not just another version of Caesar.

“It is not possible to square what Jesus said with the veracity of any who would claim to be seeking to realize His Kingdom ethic via their very partisan political agenda, especially when their party is otherwise overtly hostile to the Christian faith. This is particularly the case when those making such claims seldom demonstrate little more than an occasional concern for that ethic.”

Who are you referring to here? One of us on this blog? As I tried to explain earlier, following Jesus is a political act. Calling him lord and savior is a political act. Christians are political prisoners in some of the worst countries of the world expressly because they have recovered this understanding of their faith.

I will say again: if my following Jesus makes me look like a rabid liberal (being anti-war, anti-death penalty, etc) or a stuffed shirt conservative (obeying Christ’s teachings on avoiding lust, for example), so be it. The first Christians were derided as atheists, but they didn’t change their tune just because the truth was uncomfortable to their culture.

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Kim 02.01.11 at 11:19 am

Earl, you haven’t been paying attention if you think that I think that Jesus was a card-carrying Democrat, or that I baptise the Obama project, which is so far from the kingdom as to be out of sight. As for the Republicans, let alone the Tea Party people, they are simply out of their minds. Theologically, a pox on both houses - and a plague on the tent. The political priority for Christians in the US today is engagement in micropolitics, local acts of witness, care, provocation, and subversion.

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Earl 02.01.11 at 4:29 pm

Odd. When it comes to “gestures,” you must have Jesus confused with someone else. As to any anemic understanding the lordship of Jesus, it can only be charitably said that the feeling is mutual.

There is no disagreement as to Jesus Kingdom not being Ceasar 2.0. Efforts to use and advantage ones argument in the political process based on a assumption of right and right to rule are just as patently illigitimate when those efforts arise from a left-wing liberal social and political interest as when when they arise from a Conservative perspective. Those efforts are no more legitimate when a faith stance is appended. For illustration one need only refer to the current political debate in the United States.

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Earl 02.01.11 at 4:58 pm

“…if you think that I think…” etc. I expect and believe the best of you, as I do of everyone else. I assume integrity and genuine faith regardless of how sharp might be any disagreement. When it comes to social and political issues, there is no basis in fact to believe that any political party will act in a way that reflects the broad Christian ethic except where there is a clear political advantage to be gained. Mitigating this is the simple fact that Christian thought is not monolithic. There are a diversity of Christian views held by a variety of believers. Now deceased, former speaker of the house Tip O’Neal famously said, “All politics is local.” I.e., leadership is bottom up. Maybe that’s why early believers were described as people who were turning the world upside down. They acted locally. Call it micro… whatever. Call it witness… care… provocation… subversion… even (horrors)… evangelism! But do it!

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tortoise 02.01.11 at 6:25 pm

“… quite serious evaluation…” Given past exchanges, I simply considered the source and responded accordingly.

“…if you think that I think…” etc. I expect and believe the best of you, as I do of everyone else. I assume integrity and genuine faith regardless of how sharp might be any disagreement.

Earl - on the one hand you appear to profess a stance of interpretive charity towards all; yet on the other hand you seem to say that it was “consideration of the source” that led you immediately to conclude that a particular interlocutor’s critique was mere “rambling”.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but I’m having a little difficulty reconciling these two statements of yours.

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Earl 02.01.11 at 8:59 pm

“…I’m having a little difficulty reconciling these two statements of yours.” There is no man who does not sin. In the first instance, the response was impulsive and sharp. In the last instance, the response was more thoughtful.

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