Monthly Archives: August 2012

Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism | LearnLiberty

http://www.learnliberty.org/content/schools-thought-classical-liberalism

Excellent summary of the different philosophies of classical liberalism. I started in the Chicago school of Milton Friedman, but now I’m seeing some of it’s limitations. Still learning and developing where to go from here.

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But wait! There’s more!

David beat me to the punchline I was setting up with my last few posts, but suffice it to say that my thoughts on the philosophies of Liberty, Censorship, and Fellowship are not complete.  So before you start pounding the Kool Aid, take a deep breath and wait for my follow up.  😉

Fellowship 2.0

I was starting to write all of the following as a part of my previous post, but I figured I had completed one thought.  This is another, new thought, though there are obviously some tie-ins here.

I’ve often said that if I didn’t have a family to support or this affinity for crunching numbers, I would love to own a coffee shop – to sit around drinking a delicious dark roasted Kona while pontificating over the human experience.  It would have a stage where poets, writers, musicians, philosophers, theologians, comedians, actors, etc. could come in and share their artwork with an audience.  I wouldn’t want to do it to earn a living because margins are so thin, overhead would be prohibitive, there are many substitutes available, and the fact is, I do have a family of 7 children and a wife that depend on me. 

This probably explains why I have this need to blog.  I’ve shared before this wonderful piece by Albert Jay Nock on writing for the Remnant vs. the Masses and how this ties into my motivation. 

Anyway, I am not a sociologist, but I like to play one on TV.  The times we live in are changing at such an accelerated pace that I often wonder how sociologists are able to keep up or even decide what sliver of the human spectrum on which to focus. 

The advent of the internet and wifi communications has really changed the playing field in how humans interact with each other – particularly when you are geographically dispersed.  Growing up, we used to write paper letters to each other.  Maybe you talked on the phone (though since you paid by the minute, conversations were usually brief).  But to really get into someone’s head (or heart), you certainly had to spend a LOT of time together in person.  There are subtleties that you just can’t get in a handwritten letter or over the phone such as what the other person is really feeling /thinking or what their motives might me.

With the internet, we’ve come to expect access to instant information.  We’re able to receive and react to information as it is happening.  You have a thought.  You Tweet or post it on FB.  You find a bargain at a local store, post on Foursquare and the place becomes buried under the “swarm” (which is actually a status on 4S). 

And . . . you get instant feedback.  People “like” your post.  They re-tweet.  They get on their own blogs and start tearing apart your stance. 

And . . .  the feedback can come from anywhere in the world.  In a weird, kind of cool way, we’ve expanded the borders of the human experience beyond those people we see every day.

There are some wonderful things that have happened as a result of all this sharing.  I can tell you personally that the internet has helped me to get to know most of my friends a lot better, and on a deeper level, than would ever have been possible trying to write, call, or catch a minute or 2 together around our hectic schedules.  Many of my friends today would not even be my friends if it had not been for the internet. 

The other thing is that this instant exchange of information has also allowed me to react to my friends’ needs much more quickly and efficiently than just 5 years ago.  If one of my friends is in the ER, I’m able to quickly mobilize and find someone to watch his kids, call his wife, start a prayer chain, look up his symptoms / treatment options online, etc.  I can access medical history, insurance coverage, and dietary restrictions.  I can start to piece together what happened, who saw him last, what he was doing.

We used to call some of this kind of behavior a form of Exhibitionism.  Now, I’m not talking about public flashing or streaking through Pennys.  But there was always this negative connotation associated with sharing too much information about yourself with people – especially strangers.

Today, it’s completely turned around.  People are sharing EVERYTHING online.  What they ate.  Where they went.  Who they saw.  What they were really thinking when they saw that person again, even though they pretended not to notice them.  They share photos.  Video.  Sound bites.  (I’m waiting for smell-o-vision). 

With anything that involves human relationships, people have mixed emotions that are all over the map and the internet is no exception.  Some would argue that there should be no filter and that completely opening yourself up online is REAL.  ‘Be real, don’t be fake’ kind of thing.  There are others that avoid sharing anything online because they’re afraid of how things might be interpreted, who might be reading, or if it might someday come back to haunt them.

You might have guessed, but I’m basically of the opinion that any grown adult should be allowed to share whatever they want online. 

(I won’t get too far into the distinction with children, but suffice it to say that I think the rules are different when we’re talking about minors that don’t fully understand the choices they’re making when using the internet.  I will say that it’s not up to anyone to set those rules for my children except me and my wife.)

But back to adults and sharing online.  Just as I wouldn’t suggest restricting your freedom to get together with someone to share all of your innermost thoughts, feelings, lusts, desires, anger, hatred, or malice with them, I too would defend your right to do so online.  Just as I would be totally against preventing you and others from gathering together in a place the size of Cowboy Stadium to bow to a golden idol, I believe you have every right to promote that activity online.

Some critics of freedom have chosen to focus on the mode of communication – in this case, the internet.  For whatever reason, they see the internet as the cause of our societal problems.

I don’t see it that way.  If anything, that argument reminds me of a gun control advocate’s logic.  All they can see is that people die and guns were involved so therefore, we need to get rid of guns.  I would suggest that long before the gun is purchased, the bullets are loaded, or the trigger is pulled – there’s a heart issue of hatred that needs to be addressed.  Murder, as Christ revealed, begins in the heart.

Blogs, FB posts, Tweets, and text messages are just vehicles of communication for sharing personal feelings or emotions.  If you have issues with what is being written / posted / shared, it has nothing to do with the internet.

I’ll go one step further.  I submit to you that all communication — the sharing of our innermost thoughts, motivations, struggles, and successes — only increases our fellowship.  If I hate all people from Alderaan and post about it, you now know something about me that perhaps I would not have shared at a party or family reunion or work function.  If I start an online anti-Alderaanian movement, you now have more information about me to decide if you want to continue to have fellowship with me or not. 

Online communication is a valuable opportunity for us to have fellowship, to learn from each other, to correct and rebuke, or to stand together in solidarity.  Christians, especially, need to get out of this façade that everything is fine and happy and start sharing our burdens, confessing our sins to one another so that we can help, pray and encourage the growth and maturity of body of Christ.

Liberty vs. Censorship

Another relaxing Saturday afternoon.  Jenny and Ruth are out sewing.  Little boys are taking their nap.  And I have a chance to stir things up again and capture some thoughts.

Let me start with a simple statement of liberty: 

I believe very strongly that grown adults should be given every opportunity to exercise their unrestricted freedom as long as it does not hinder another person’s equal right to freedom.

If your immediate reaction to this statement is “yeah, but we need to protect _X_ from _Y_”, then my response is ‘who is WE’ and how did ‘WE’ come to decide what X’s needs are or that Y is a threat to those needs?

Now, I don’t mean to sound like a moral relativist.  I believe in some very clear moral absolutes that govern the decisions I make each and every day.  What I take issue with is anyone imposing their moral absolutes on someone else, especially if they voice an opposition to your absolutes.  Forced / coerced obedience completely annihilates the moral high ground upon which the aggressor bases their justification.

For example, I believe that the Bible teaches us that God created all of the heavens and the earth, the sun and moon and stars, the animals and human beings in 6 x 24 hr days.  Many people don’t agree with me.  That’s fine with me.  But I am totally opposed to someone telling me that I can’t believe what I believe, nor can I teach others what I believe (as long as they are willing to listen freely).  On the flipside, I don’t feel I have a right to force anyone to buy into, or teach, my beliefs either.  If you want to believe you came from some slime that was struck by lightning a gagillion years ago, have at.

One point to make.  My belief is absolute, as would be the beliefs of those opposed to me.  In other words, we can’t both be “right”.  At least one (if not both) of us has to be wrong.  BUT, I don’t for one minute believe that allowing you the freedom to believe what you want in any way discredits my beliefs.  Part of embracing liberty is taking the crazies with the sane.  The alternative is censorship or an authoritarian state.  And that, if you look at history,  is a terrible place in which to be.

What to do?

Been talking with a number of Christian friends recently and Jenny and I are beginning to run into this conversation more frequently.  Actually, this conversation takes place a lot with non-Christian friends as well.

example 1.

A:  The Bible says to do this.

B: Yeah, but that was the Old Testament.  We’re in the New Testament times.

or

Example 2.

A: We’re not supposed to do this.

B:  How do you know?

A: Because it doesn’t specifically say so in the Bible (or New Testament).

I’m sure you’ve had these types of conversations before, especially if you are a Christian with non-Christian friends or friends that subscribe to a different denomination of Christianity.

This had got me thinking and I’ve come up with the following Venn diagram.

Here’s my claim.

There are specific things that in the Old and New Testaments, God gave instructions on what TO DO and what NOT TO DO.  There are these places of overlapping areas which are also pretty clearly stated which I’ve labeled with letters.  I’ll try to think of some examples of each.

A) God Said “Don’t Do” in both OT and NT.

Pretty much any time Jesus referenced OT commandments, you could put into this category.  For example, Do Not Murder.  (Matthew 5:21 Exodus 20:13Deuteronomy 5:17).  Jesus expands our understanding that Murder is not just the physical act of taking someone’s life, but that long before you pull the trigger, if you have hatred in your heart, you are already guilty of the same sin.

B) God Said “Do This” in both OT and NT.

Again, anytime Jesus or the Apostles referenced the OT as our duty, you could put here.  For example, Honor your Father and your Mother.  (Ephesians 6:3 Deuteronomy 5:16) aka. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

C) God Said “Don’t Do This” in the OT, but then said “Do This” in the NT.

This is where the death and resurrection of Christ changed the original Abrahamic covenant with God’s people and established a New covenant with both the Jew and the Gentile.  I think of Peter dancing the fine line between eating with Gentiles and refraining from them depending on the company he was with and how Paul rebuked him.  (Galatians 2:11-13)  This despite his vision of eating the unclean meat (ie. preaching to Gentiles) (Acts 10:9-15).

But even a more basic level is the fact that we are now able to approach boldly the throne of grace, to call God “Abba Father”, and to go to Him with our prayers and supplications.  To do so in the OT would mean immediate death.

D) God Said “Do This” in the OT, but then said “Don’t Do / No Longer Required to Do This” in the NT.

Most of this is in the same vein as C.  Specifically, I think of physical circumcision in the OT as a requirement vs. the NT circumcision of the heart.  I also think of observances of the Sabbath and the Passover.

So far, I think these are pretty easy to discuss because these are clearly described in both the OT and NT.

NOW.  Here’s where it gets tricky.

What about all those areas in the Red and Green OT circles that are not specifically mentioned in the Blue and Purple NT circles?  And what about the things that aren’t found in any of the circles?

Here are a couple of examples I hear a lot:

Again, then there are things that are not mentioned specifically anywhere.

  • Sunday evening / Wed night / Friday night worship / Bible Study gatherings
  • Sunday School (particularly age-segregated)
  • Proper church attire
  • Disciplining of children

And the lists can go on and on.

Now, I have an opinion about each of these bullets.  And most of my opinions are based on what I believe the Bible is teaches me is right living.

But as a Christian, I think it’s my responsibility to take extreme caution in stamping anything that’s not specifically written as “Thus Saith the Lord”.

So what is one to do?  How can we discern what TO DO, what NOT TO DO, and what we’re ALLOWED TO DO but not necessarily commanded?  What parts of the OT still apply and what doesn’t?

There are a couple of key principles that I’ve used to guide me through the confusion.

1.  God Does Not Change. (Malachi 3:6)

The nature of God does not change because to do so would imply He made a mistake.  So when you see something in the OT, you have to ask yourself in light of the New Covenant, why would God create that commandment?  What does it say of God’s nature?

2.  Christ’s Death and Resurrection gave us Freedom from the burden of the Law. (Galatians 5:1)

Christ died and was resurrected once for all to save us from the requirements of sacrifice as a result of our sin.  He paid the price for us not only to roll our sins forward for another year, but to wipe them out completely and wash us clean.

3.  Our freedom is not a license to do anything we want (Romans 6Jude)

We are not given freedom to sin in order that grace may abound.  We are still called to be holy as God is holy.  The freedom we have received does not change God’s law.  As Christ stated, He did not come to abolish the Law put to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

4.  There is permissible, there is good, and there is best.

Our conscience, grounded in Biblical wisdom, is to be our guide ultimately in the “grey areas”.  As Romans 14 reads, all things must be done paying particularly close attention as not to cause a weaker or less mature Christian to stumble (1 Corinthians 8).  If we are truly considerate of our brothers and sisters needs above our own, we must recognize that our freedom can also be a stumbling block for those around us.

Finally, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 reads:

23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Christians,

Before we start drawing lines in the sand and declaring our camp is more righteous than yours, please consider what divisions these distinctions create in the body of Christ.  Are they profitable or are they simply our pride getting in the way of fellowship?