Saturday, July 18, 2009

CN and WWJD in a different context

Here's an interesting assertion of the Christian Nation hypothesis in what would otherwise seem to be an unrelated exchange...

41 comments:

Pinky said...

???????

King of Ireland said...

Goes right back to the Romans 13 debate. Does God expect us not to defend ourselves? Great question! I think he answered it right. If someone is coming to kill me I want as big a gun as I can get to defend myself. Bible back up:

Love God....... and your neighbor as yourself. The order is God, self, and neighbor. I would say it is proper self love to defend someone the same as we would defend a neighbor.

Kristo Miettinen said...

What I like about this video from the perspective of our discussions here is that it forces the question "If we were a Christian Nation, what would that look like?"

Too many CN deniers think they know the answer to that question, so they assert chains of reasoning as short as "We cannot be a Christian Nation, because we have freedom of religion", or "We cannot be a Christian Nation, because we value our military".

The true CN debate turns on the question of what would we expect of a Christian Nation, and this guy has a pretty militant individualistic take on that. It is not clear that he is wrong.

bpabbott said...

Kristo, regarding the CN "debate", I am in total agreement, the answer to the question is all about "If we were a Christian Nation, what would that look like?"

... I think that is where the meat of the debate really is.

I've yet to see a definition for Christian that is agreed upon by those frequenting this blog, thus I am doubtful that an agreement can be reached upon the question as to what a Christian Nation is or would look like.

Pinky said...

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I've yet to see a definition for Christian that is agreed upon by those frequenting this blog, thus I am doubtful that an agreement can be reached upon the question as to what a Christian Nation is or would look like.

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Of course, and once again, this kind of question expresses the genius of the First Amendment.
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Suppose it weren't there--suppose our government could legislate on speech and worship--we WOULD have a CHRISTIAN NATION and so, the question you put out is shown in strong relief. What would our Christian Nation look like?

Is there anyone who doubts what we would have?

We might well find ourselves back in the thirteenth century with burnings at the stake and worse.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Pure nonsense.

68% of Americans [according to a Pew poll] view America as a Christian nation. Therefore

"The true CN debate turns on the question of what would we expect of a Christian Nation..."

And the 13th century [or the 17th] is not a good faith answer.

bpabbott said...

If a term has no definitive definition, then it is pure nonesense.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think many have tried to defend the "CN" by identifying the nation with Israel. But, the question is, what does anything "Christian" look like?

Is Christian anything really, except a special "brand", "name", "label" that makes one identified with certain ways of understanding "Christian"? And does one care or want to be identified with such qualities, concerns, values, or however else the "special group identifiers" define "Christian"...?

Law is what is appropriate behavior in the legal sense, and is defined as the "moral", but the ethical goes beyond the "law" to what underlies the law, which is the question of values, and how we defend and come to understand our defense of the Law and what values are of most importance.

Some argue that we should be activists in seeking liberty/justice, which is a positivist view, while others suggest that we cannot mandate certain behaviors without interfering with other liberties. These are negative in their understanding of liberty/justice...

Pinky said...

The only thing we are able to do--with any surety--in order to define what a Christian Nation would be today, is to go back to the eighteenth century to check out Christianity when it was declared to be illegal to legislate ANY religious standards.

America had been and was under the heavy and intrusive hand of Reformed Protestantism. There is very little doubt about that today. By the way, speaking of today, just about eighteen percent of Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Reformed Protestantism--in the eighteenth century--had its nose in everyone's business. According to statistics, the average American spent some 15,000 hours listening to sermons during their lifetime. Today, the average American college graduate spends approximately 1,500 hours listening to lectures--one tenth as much time.
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To say something is nonsense based on a prejudice is truly nonsense.

What has taken place in the Islamic religion in about one century speaks volumes on the pressure an intrusive religious faith can put on its adherents. Nearly every time a single religion has been declared to be the law of the land, what followed was great pressure on the masses to get into compliance on the threat of their life.
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Were America a Christian Nation in the legal sense, conservatism would have ruled the day and the process of purification would have progressed on a continuing basis.
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It's nonsense not to understand this very simple point.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Law is what is appropriate behavior in the legal sense, and is defined as the "moral"

---Ms. VDM makes law and morality synonymous. Apparently we can legislate morality afterall.

but the ethical goes beyond the "law" to what underlies the law, which is the question of values

...which is very astute. Values underlie the law, then. But what values?

Were America a Christian Nation in the legal sense

Mr. Pinky sees the distinction between being founded on Judeo-Christian principles and imposing sharia. Good.

Pinky said...

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Finally! Tom got it riight.

MISTER Pinky is correct

bpabbott said...

TVD acknowledges the importance of defining what a Christian Nation looks like. Good! ;-)

Pinky said...

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What needs to be defined is what is meant in using the word, nation.
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Does it mean the legal status or are we speaking of the nature of the society.

Once it is clear what we mean by using the word, nation, we should be able to quickly ascertain if we are a Christian Nation or not.
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bpabbott said...

Phil, I agree with you point on "nation", but what we must also agree upon what is meant by Christian.

Pinky said...

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"... we must also agree upon what is meant by Christian."
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And, that, my friend is the fly in the ointment, is it not?
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There has almost always been an incessant argument amongst all people throughout all history about the proper definition of such questions for humanity in all religions--who is and is a true Jew, a true Muslim, a true Christian, etc.

I cannot see that we will EVER come to such an agreement.
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I am a true Christian--a person who is at one with God and learned that through the teachings of Jesus.
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Doesn't that describe most of us?

bpabbott said...

Regarding the claim we are a CN, the problem is compounded by the 1st amendments establishement clause. Meaning that the government cannot take a position on what "Christian" means.

Why not; "Our nation is of a proportionately Christian people and has a long Christian heritage."

jimmiraybob said...

Why not; "Our nation is of a proportionately Christian people and has a long Christian heritage."

This is a question that I've often asked. I don't think that I've ever gotten an answer.

I suspect because it's insufficient to the cause of appropriating America as the new Jerusalem or Kingdom of God. Or, put in the CN Culture War's parlance, it's not within the strict Biblical Worldview to allow any hint of pluralism that detracts from the authority of Godly leadership and Godly submission - as long as we're talking the Christian God.

As someone more attuned to a secular humanist perspective, I don't mind sharing the road and would think that the statement is mere empirical observation. Of course, for this I am condemned by some to eternal torment in a lake of fire.

Tom Van Dyke said...

it's not within the strict Biblical Worldview to allow any hint of pluralism

Hmmmm. I don't know who argues for theocracy or non-pluralism. The discussion always mutates back into stereotypes and strawmen.

Pinky said...

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Those who think America should be considered a Christian Nation in the legal sense seem to be failing to recognize the reason why so many Puritans came to these shores in the first place.

England was a Christian Nation and that meant that a Christian--by definition--was defined by the state. The way a person came to be a Christian in England had to do with their Christening that took place on the eighth day of life. They were Christened, ie., made a Christian by birth. Those who were born out of wedlock or not reported as having been born were defined as illegitimate--Bastards consigned to eternal damnation.
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Who would decide on how a person came to be a Christian and who would decide on what it meant to be a Christian if America were a Christian Nation in the legal sense?.
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My statement that I am a Christian is strongly in dispute by many people.
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Do you wonder why that upsets me? When Jesus taught that we could be like him, at one with God and that the Kingdom of God was right there within our reach?
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Oh! But that takes liberty too far, cry the Evangelicals.
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Tom Van Dyke said...


Those who think America should be considered a Christian Nation in the legal sense



a) Who are these people?

b) Isn't what you describe a theocracy?

bpabbott said...

a) Who are these people?

Barton is considered by some to be a candidate. Personally, I'm not convinced he seeks a theocracy, but am convinced if is an activist who misrepresents history to suit his activism.

Then there's Terry Kemple, whose web site is said to have claimed (I can't find it) "America's government was made only for people who are moral and religious."

Terry Kemple appears to fit the description.

b) Isn't what you describe a theocracy?

I think so.

Pinky said...

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So, I guess, Tom, that we need a definition for the word, Nation.
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Are we talking about a sovereign society within certain borders which operatres under the authority of a central government?
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If so, then wouldn't a Christian Nation also be a theocracy?

bpabbott said...

"Those who were born out of wedlock or not reported as having been born were defined as illegitimate--Bastards consigned to eternal damnation."

I've been told my family name originated with infants left at the door of churches (apparently all bastards).

Pinky said...

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They say that Johnson came from John's son when the father's identity was unknown

Join the club.

heh heh heh

Last weekend I visited relatives in St Clarir Shores, a northern suburb of Detroit and one of the main highways I crossed on the way is named Van Dyke Road.

How about that?

jimmiraybob said...

JRB - it's not within the strict Biblical Worldview to allow any hint of pluralism

TVD - Hmmmm. I don't know who argues for theocracy or non-pluralism. The discussion always mutates back into stereotypes and strawmen.


THis is neither a steotype or strawman. A strict Biblical worldview recognizes the legitimacy of church and family authority and leadership by Godly men. Men and women and nations not in compliance with Biblical authority are not legitimate in the eyes of the CNs. Therefore, America is either defined as a all in Christian Nation or it's outside of the Biblical world view.

Where's the controversy in my charaterization? Please note that I'm not commenting on Christianity as a whole, just the CNists. I don't think that CNists would have any problem with what I said.

Otherwise why the all out effort to rewrite history?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Therefore, America is either defined as a all in Christian Nation or it's outside of the Biblical world view.

I can't answer for every crank who falls off the truck. But David Barton doesn't argue this way, and neither did Jerry Falwell or Francis Schaeffer.

Pinky said...

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Now, this sort of space, is when we could use an open forum.
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Why don't one of you dudes start one?
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Perhaps I have been "asleep", but is any of the discussion on whether America is a CN underlined by the "Restoration Movement". Is the discussion about natural versus supernatural knowledge, understanding and interpretation? It seems so...

bpabbott said...

Angie, perhaps I slept through something as well, but after skimming the Wikipedia article on the Restoration Movement I think you may be on to something.

However, I don't get what you imply by the natural vs supernatural part. Can you explain?

In any event, you've peaked my interest. I hope to learn more.

bpabbott said...

Phil, I'm lost ... what do you mean by an "open forum".

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Mr. Abbott,
I'm sure you have an understanding of what natural and supernatural means.

As to my definition, I understand both terms with how we understand God's interevention, action or inaction in the world. Is the world a functioning clock, as the Deist believed? a system like a computor? a supernatural "creation"? a dynanmic interaction of "all things", a "holism"? etc.

The naturalist believes, I think, that man is a product of nature and is bound to nature and whatever all that means, which is still being understood and studied in the social and physical sciences. But, is man something other than his physicality and materialality? does he have a soul or a spirit? how much of a person is bound to his materiality? Is he the same person if his personality changes due to a brain injury? What is a person?

Pinky said...

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I was thinking of a more generalized thread covering the broadest spectrum of questions and answers about the American Creation rather than the narrowly defined topics being presented now. One in which a wide variety of interests can surface wihtout having to go off topic....
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bpabbott said...

Angie,

I was unclear. I do have an understanding of natural and supernatural. What I was wondering is how these were interpreted in the context of the Restoration Movement.

Regarding the naturalist, I hesitate to use words like "product". I hesitate because this world view does not include a plan, destiny, purpose etc ... Admittedly nature does function by cause and effect, but that that all things have causes does not mean that all effects are predetermined by their causes.

In any event, reading in more detail, it does appear to met that the Restoration Movement was influence/motivated by an emphasis on sola scripture (relevation?) and that the interpretation of scripture was an individuals right.

In this, the CN movement does appear (to me) to be congruent with this movement. If my inference is correct, my perspecitve of the CN movement is going to get much more complicated.

I'm curious about what role the natural/supernatural perspectives played. To what did your refer?

bpabbott said...

Phil,

Sounds like the old yahoo message boards. Did you participate? ... they were rather venomous.

Pinky said...

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This site has a pretty good record of handling vennemous problems.

It's worth a try.
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Nothing ventured. Nothing gained.

Or something like that.


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Angie Van De Merwe said...

I agree that all outcomes are not planned, and this is why systems thinking in regards to society is really determining what cannot be determined, without limiting many things. Social planning is athenema to the liberty of limited government!

People who believe that America replaces Israel, is priviledged by God to "enlighten the nations", etc. also believe in "sola scriptura", where the Holy Spirit (supernatural) enlightens and "shows the way". At the same time, their understanding of the Bible guides their understanding of what is to be legislated, as government is a means to bring in the Kingdom. It is dominion theology and "moral government"...taking responsibility for "God", so that God can rule in the physical world. This is nothing short of supernaturalistic Christian Taliban..ism...

Although the FF did believe in some kind of moral structuring of society, they did not believe that government was to be the means of attaining morality, as this would be unethical. Character was built within social structures, but was not deemed as a "mandate" in legislative form.

Our country is ridden with many social ills that affect all of us. I think Pinky is right, that we must all discuss what the problems are and how we think that society should "meet them".

The Restoration Movement was/is, of course, bent on revivalists transforming society by conversion to Christian faith. This is also a suprenaturalist view.

I do not dismiss what transpires in these conversions, but wonder how long term these conversions are and wonder if the social structures of the family were more stable, if there even would be a need.

As to God, I am an agnostic, bordering on atheism, because I do not believe that God is intervening in the affairs of men. Men intervene in the affairs of men. And when they do, they should know what they are doing and they should be held accountable!

The Restoration Movement plays into the hands of Islam, because of their intent on gaining political power in the West. This is done under the guise of religious freedom and 'moral concern'. We are after all, "The Great Satan" who do not deserve to be told the truth as we are infidels. Christians are playing into these hands at the costs of national security and our liberal and free society. This concerns me greatly.

Pinky said...

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Although the FF did believe in some kind of moral structuring of society, they did not believe that government was to be the means of attaining morality....

I'm not so sure of that if by, morality, you mean what we mean with the word, righteousness.

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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yes, Pinky. Righteousness is a "religious term" and as has been written, the FF did not adhere to sanctioning a religious "form". This is the Establishment Clause of a speicified religious tradition. There was an appeal to religious freedom, as to one's conscience. I thought all of this had been discussed.

Separation of Church and State is an important aspect of our government's order today, as well, as our hands will be forced as in Britain with Shairia family law. This would be a backward step, in my opinion.

Pinky said...

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I'm just a pedestrian here; but, from what I'm reading in Shain’s book, it sure looks to me as though the FF were heavily under the influence of the idea of Original Sin and wanted government to act in a way to ensure righteous behavior by each and every single American.
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I'm getting the sense that they may have seen government as though it should be in the background of community life; but, to provide a steadying influence on the over all.
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Religion was intrusive to the extreme and it ruled the day to day morality of everyone. Government's prerogatives were outside the spiritual.

Pinky said...

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Perhaps some recognize the dilemma with which we are faced in America today with this quotation from Shain’s book.off pages 224, 225:

"But the most important political implication of Americans’ reformed Protestant confidence in the equally sinful nature of all people might have been the Revolution itself. By passing the Declaratory Act on 18 March 1755, and demanding from Americans 'unlimited submission' in 'all cases whatsoever,' the British Parliament had created a situation that Americans as reformed Protestants were obligated to resist. (160) As Martin Bucer, Calvin’s teacher and a famed reference, had written in his Lectures on the Book of Judges, 'wherever absolute power is given to a prince, there the glory and the dominion of God is injured. The absolute power, which is God’s alone, would be given to a man liable to sin.'(161) By demanding unlimited submission, the British Parliament, an external body of sinful men, had effectively 'set itself alongside God’s Word as a competing sovereign.' (162) The response of Americans, theologically and historically committed to submitting only to God, 'and only God’s word—in all respects of life and faith,' should have been predictable. (163) The members of Parliament had framed the debate in such a way that many Americans respects of life and faith,' should have been predictable. (163) The members of Parliament had framed the debate in such a way that many Americans immediately understood their demand for 'unlimited submission' as a struggle between eternal life and perpetual damnation.(164)"

(see footnotes 260 - 164)

Pinky said...

ERATA
"see footnotes 260 - 164)"
should have read,
"see footnotes (160 - 164)"