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Archive for statism

Aug
20

If I were a pastor

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vangogh_church1890I am not a pastor. I am not a minister. I am not a preacher. I am not a priest. I am not an evangelist. I am not an elder. I am not a deacon. I am not a reverend. I am not in the ministry. I am not ordained.

I am not complaining, and am honored to be addressed as such.

I only bring this up because, since I often write about Christian themes, I sometimes get e-mails in which I am addressed as Pastor Vance, Father Vance, Rev. Vance, or Preacher Vance. I also occasionally get e-mails in which reference is made to my church or my congregation or my ministry.

I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and am no stranger to preaching, teaching, and church work, and have written a number of Christian books, but I don’t want to give people the impression that I am something I am not.

So, I am not a pastor; however, if I were a pastor, and if I did have a congregation to lead, there are some things that I would never allow to take place in the church on my watch. Here are seven of them.

First of all, if I were a pastor, there would be no flags of any kind on the platform, on the walls of the church, on a flagpole, stuck in the ground, or anywhere on the property. Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, or Veterans Day. And not even at a funeral for a veteran if held in the church. And not only would there be no American flag, there would also be no Israeli flag or “Christian” flag. But even if the church had an American flag on the platform because of years of following mindless tradition, I would not lead the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. I would, of course, point out that the Pledge was written by a socialist Baptist minister.

Second, if I were a pastor, there would be no hymns sung to or about the state. No “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” no “America the Beautiful,” no “We Salute You, Land of Liberty,” no “This Is My Country,” no “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” no “Star-Spangled Banner,” no “God Bless America,” no “God Bless the U.S.A.” And certainly not the blasphemous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day.

Third, if I were a pastor, there would be no invoking the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. government and its military. Just because God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, does not mean that God sponsors American wars or that America is God’s chosen nation. The U.S. president is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, and the Lord God never sanctioned any Christian to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged him to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.

Fourth, if I were a pastor, there would be no American statolatry. Romans 13 would never be invoked to justify support for the U.S. government and its wars. There would be no special September 11th commemoration service. The sins of America would not be downplayed because of blind nationalism or American exceptionalism.

Fifth, if I were a pastor, there would be no political activity. This means no Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family voting guides on the back table, no introducing local candidates who claim to be Christians, no promoting candidates, no promoting the Republican Party, no appeals to fax members of Congress about impending legislation, no running for office or encouraging others to do so, no voter registration drives, no reminding the congregation to vote, and certainly no letting the county use the church buildings as a polling place.

Sixth, if I were a pastor, there would be no special law enforcement appreciation days. State and local law enforcement personnel are just as aggressive, militarized, and on the lookout for victimless crimes as their federal counterparts. (See here for the latest outrages.) I would no sooner have an appreciation day for them than I would for FBI, TSA, and DEA agents. Law enforcement personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, they would just be encouraged to fight real crime instead of victimless crime, to not set up speed traps and sting operations, and to lay off the doughnuts.

And last, but not least, if I were a pastor, there would be no special recognition given to current or former members of the military. All veterans and active duty military personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, just as all pimps, prostitutes, pushers, and politicians would be welcomed. There would be no special military appreciation services. No veterans would be encouraged to wear their uniforms to church on the Sunday before Veterans Day. No veterans would be recognized on the Sunday before Veterans Day. I would instead briefly explain its origin as Armistice Day, and talk about the folly of World War I and how the United States was led into it by a sorry excuse for a Christian named Woodrow Wilson. Not only would I not introduce to the church any young person in the congregation who joined the military, I would actively persuade them from joining. As a pastor, I would be disappointed and ashamed if any young person in my congregation joined the military. There would be no prayers for the troops to be kept out of harm’s way while they defend our freedoms. There would instead be prayers that the troops didn’t harm anyone in an unjust war and that they would come home from foreign military interventions and overseas bases.

I don’t get very many invitations to speak in churches. Now you know seven reasons why.

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Jul
31

Is Progress Possible?

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CS_LewisThis 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→

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Apr
17

The Idolatry of Statism

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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?

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Apr
15

All Taxation is Theft

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double_taxation_dividend_taxWhen 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→

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Tower_of_Babel_cropped_squareOn 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.

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