Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Theology Matters

[I wrote this post originally for the Tea Party Hobos blog simply because it is more political, especially in defense of a political candidate, but since I think some of the issues raised by Michelle Goldberg have discussed on this blog in principle, I thought it worth posting here as well.]

Bill Anderson wrote a brief post on Lew Rockwell's blog this morning. Now I have noticed several statements that, though, I bet they do know the reasons for certain quasi-religious claims, the contributors of the blog seem to hide their knowledge in an attempt not to get into overly religious discussions on a political site.

First Bill quotes a Leftist, Daily Beast's, Michelle Goldberg:
It might seem that Paul’s libertarianism is the very opposite of theocracy, but that’s true only if you want to impose theocracy at the federal level. In general, Christian Reconstructionists favor a radically decentralized society, with communities ruled by male religious patriarchs. Freed from the power of the Supreme Court and the federal government, they believe that local governments could adopt official religions and enforce biblical law.
To which Bill responds by saying,
So-called biblical law would require stoning of gays and other measures that would mirror the Taliban, she writes. (Not surprisingly, Goldberg misrepresents both Covenant Theology and the diversity of opinion of people who fall under that theological umbrella.) So there you have it: Ron Paul's libertarianism is going to create a new American Taliban. Look for more of this kind of nonsense as clueless mainstream reporters try to write about someone who does not believe the State should be an object of worship.
Bill is absolutely right. Covenant Theology is very able to answer the objection by the Left's thinking concerning religious people wanting to establish some kind of Theocracy, but some seem to overlook that Covenant Theology is only now coming back into popularity in mainstream Evangelicalism.

Dispensationalism has been the popularized eschatology and theological framework for quite some time. It is Dispensationalism that has led many to favor the nation of Israel as if they were God's modern day people and theocracy. Of course, since Dispensationalism's utter predictive failure of Christ's Second Coming through date setting schemes, Dispensationalism is waning. But I think it might explain some of the statements on LRC.

As a Christian, I recognize "theology matters". It greatly impacts life and culture. Good theology does so in a good way. Poor theology does so in a poor way. So when women like Michelle Goldberg misunderstand (purposeful or not) politically active Christians, I am not convinced it is entirely her fault. Yet after trying to explain sound theology to people such as Michelle Goldberg, it is my experience she has no intention of trying to understand. She fears that without Central Planning from the Federal Government, the homosexual agenda will not go forth. And of course, as one who has embraced Libertarianism to an extent as a Christian, I have made that exact same argument. She is quite right for seeing Libertarianism's stress on private property rights as something to fear.

In other words, the easiest way to stop the culture war and/or win it from a conservative perspective is to restore private property rights. Then people are free to be who they are, and that includes being able to discriminate with your property. That is something, I think, Michelle fears far more than anything else.

Now she does mischaracterize Covenant Theology when she wrote,

In fact, they’re often much further to the right. While dispensationalists believe that Christ will return imminently and establish a biblical reign on earth, covenant theologians tend to believe its man’s job to create Christ’s kingdom before he comes back. The most radical faction of covenant theology is called Christian Reconstructionism, a movement founded by R. J. Rushdoony that seeks to turn the book of Leviticus into law, imposing the death penalty for gay people, blasphemers, unchaste women, and myriad other sinners.

Covenant Theology does no such thing. What I think she is referring to is a position called Theonomy. Theonomists are usually under the umbrella of Covenant Theology, but is in fact, an eschatological position based squarely in Post-Millenialism, and she may very well be right in linking this with an American version of Christian Nationalism. However, even its modern proponents such as Greg Bahnsen saw that Old Testament laws as cited by Michelle were problematic and that far more work needed to be done in this area.

In conclusion, the arguments provided by Michelle are in my opinion emotional and fear-mongering. She admits that she is taking the fact that her argument is based upon the "fundamentalist faction that has until now been considered a fringe even on the Christian right" and that this position is a small minority among those who are Ron Paul supporters.

Ron Paul is a libertarian. Libertarianism and Theonomy are just not compatible.

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