Archive for statism
This essay by C.S. Lewis was originally published in The Observer in 1958. It was subsequently printed in the book God In the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, subtitled “Willing Slaves of the Welfare State.”
Intro from God in the Dock: From the French Revolution to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, it was generally assumed that progress in human affairs was not only possible but inevitable. Since then two terrible wars and the discovery of the hydrogen bomb have made men question this confident assumption. The Observer invited five well-known writers to give their answers to the following questions: ‘Is man progressing today?’ ‘Is progress even possible?’ This second article in the series is a reply to the opening article by C.P. Snow, ‘Man in Society’, The Observer (13 July 1958).
Progress means movement in a desired direction, and we do not all desire the same things for our species. In “Possible Worlds” Professor Haldane1 pictured a future in which Man, foreseeing that Earth would soon be uninhabitable, adapted himself for migration to Venus by drastically modifying his physiology and abandoning justice, pity and happiness. The desire here is for mere survival. Now I care far more how humanity lives than how long. Progress, for me, means increasing goodness and happiness of individual lives. For the species, as for each man, mere longevity seems to me a contemptible ideal. Read More→
This guest post is by LCC reader Paul Maitrejean.
Many Christians today are quick to leap to the defense of the current American regime. They will go to any length to defend its actions, particularly in the case of foreign policy and “culture” wars. On both sides of the aisle, Christians will throw their support behind virtually any politician of their particular political leaning regardless of his record, his words, or his current actions. Supporting without question the activities of the American government, particularly in foreign matters, has nearly become an unwritten prerequisite for being a Christian.
Amazingly, these Christians are supporting and swearing allegiance to among the most godless, cruel, greedy, murderous governments in history. When this is pointed out, though, the supporters of the State will cite Scripture in their defense – usually the oft-heard and badly-twisted Romans 13:1 – and they fall upon the dissenter like wolves. Is this the sort of mindset Jesus came among us to promote?
When it comes to governments the world over, bad economic policies usually beget more bad economic policies. That is especially true when it comes to taxes.
The eyes not just of Europe but of the world were on Cyprus recently when, as part of a proposed bailout package, ordinary bank depositors were to be taxed to pay part of the €5.8 billion needed to secure a €10 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
That, of course, would have set a terrible precedent and given the insatiably cash-hungry governments of every country another idea of how to extract more money out of its citizens.
In the 1990s, Italy did impose a tax on all bank accounts to keep its lira afloat, but the rate was only 0.06 percent. In Iceland in 2008, the government reneged on deposit insurance for Internet-based accounts held by British and Dutch clients. Those two governments spent $5 billion helping their citizens who were affected and then sued, unsuccessfully, in a European court to get their money back from Iceland, which has nevertheless begun to repay some of the money. But all that pales in comparison with the situation in Cyprus. Read More→
On Easter Sunday, I joined a Facebook thread where the role of government and Romans 13 were discussed. A number of points about the Christian’s relation to government were aired, including citations of Leo Tolstoy, and a major theme was the idea of Christian anarchism. When this happens, of course, Romans 13 is invariably brought to the table. It seems to me, though, that this is not a good starting point for discussion of statism in the Bible.
Romans 13 is not a shortcut to being right about government. People like sound bytes, quick ways of responding to scenarios – and that is basically the way most Christians attempt to treat Romans 13. However, you absolutely cannot discern the whole of what the Bible says about the state by Romans 13. It sounds good, but it won’t work.
Ronald Sider is a liberal. Paul Ryan is a conservative. But don’t let the labels fool you; they are more alike than you think.
Sider is the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, a think tank that promotes “peace with justice for the oppressed and marginalized throughout the world” by combining “biblical scholarship with astute policy analysis to further economic wholeness, support multilateral rather than unilateral U.S. foreign policy, promote racial and ecological justice, and generally try to make the world a better place.” Sider, who is the professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary, the seminary of Eastern University in Pennsylvania, is the author of more than 20 books, including Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (InterVarsity Press, 1977), named as one of the 100 most influential books in religion in the 20th century.
Ryan is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin. First elected to Congress in 1998, he is now the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He was also the 2012 Republican Party nominee for vice president. According to the Washington Post, Ryan voted with the majority of his party 93 percent of the time in the 112th Congress. The American Conservative Union gives him a conservative rating of 84 percent for 2012 (the GOP average was 83.94%), and gives him a lifetime rating of 91.14 percent.
Although it might seem as though Sider and Ryan are poles apart politically, both fully support the welfare state. And their support of the welfare state is typical of liberals and conservatives in general. But before looking at some recent criticisms and comments they made about it, we must first look at the welfare state itself.