Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Profound Ignorance in Respect to Our Founding Continues

I am involved in an interesting debate at Dispatches about inalienable rights. It started with this statement by Ed Brayton:

"Then by all means, please name one thing in the Bill of Rights that has an analog in the Bible. Just one. Good luck."
Here is the relevant part of my response:

"The biblical concept of imago dei and man being the workmanship of God was the foundation for Western thought on inalienable rights all the way up to the founding. This goes back to canon law but it most pronounced in Aquinas. He took this biblical concept and added it to the wisdom of the ages seen in Aristotle and produced Christian thought in regards to political theory.

It is this concept of inalienable rights thats taken to its logical conclusion in the bill of rights. So, are the bill of rights found in the Bible? No. Did Christian theologians use the Bible and the wisdom of the ages to come up with a rational for inalienable rights that is unique to Judeo-Christian thought? Yes."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Keeping it Real, the Teeter-Totter, and Rand's Larger Point

Here is a link to a Rand Paul interview with a home state network. I think he explains himself rather well. Most of all I agree whole heartedly that we want and need more authentic and "flawed" people that have the guts to do a live interview on a hostile network leading our nation. I for one have had enough of the actor-like career politicians, their contrived sound bites and handlers. It is not real.

I would also add that if you piece together Dr. Paul's statements that it would go something like this:

Most matters are best solved outside the influence of government. If this does not work the next best thing is a local solution to the problem. This is the rule. If something cannot be solved in the first two venues and is injurious to individual rights then as a last resort the federal government should intervene. This is the exception. The lunch counters at Woolworths are that exception.  Butttttttttt.....   Be very careful when you allow this exception because who knows how many other worms will get out when you open the can. Like when racial quotas become so common place in society that the teeter-totter tips suddenly to the other side and your neighbor falls off.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Rational Christianity": A Contribution of Medieval Political Thought

In his last post Brad Hart quoted Montesquieu as saying:

"When the Christian religion, two centuries ago, became unhappily divided into Catholic and Protestant, the people of the north embraced the Protestant, and those of the south adhered still to the Catholic. The reason is plain: the people of the north have, and will for ever have, a spirit of liberty and independence, which the people of the south have not; and therefore a religion which has no visible head is more agreeable to the independence of the climate than that which has one. In the countries themselves where the Protestant religion became established, the revolutions were made pursuant to the several plans of political government. Luther having great princes on his side would never have been able to make them relish an ecclesiastical authority that had no exterior pre-eminence; while Calvin, having to do with people who lived under republican governments, or with obscure citizens in monarchies, might very well avoid establishing dignities and preferments."
This article here provides a different narrative. One that at a certain time in my life I would have totally opposed but now tentatively agree with. It is the narrative of a "spirit of liberty" within certain strains in the Catholicism:

"It will suffice for our purpose to consult, in detail, but two Catholic churchmen who stand out as leading lights for all time. The one is representative of medieval learning and thought, the other stood on the threshold of the medieval and modern world.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Tenth Amendment, Interposition, and Western Civilization

This post from the Tenth Amendment Center outlines many of the general arguments for "states rights" or I as like to call it federalism. That is the ability of the states under the 10th amendment to check the power of the other branches of government. This is the tact that many states are using to fight Obamacare.  Most of the arguments used in this line of reasoning are often attributed to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 that opposed the Alien and Sediton Acts.  Anyway, here is a short excerpt from the article and a few comments that follow:

"Throughout its history, the Supreme Court has sided with its co-partners in the federal government more times than it has the states. Relying on the Supreme Court to be an impartial player in intergovernmental disputes is like relying on your ex’s Mother to be your mediator in your divorce settlement.

A Good Article About Calvinist Resistance Theory

Check out this good article I found on Calvinist Resistance Theory from the Acton Institute. It cites many of the leading works, gives the highlights, and seeks to chronicle the progression of thought. This is a good preparation for what will probably be a long discussion at my group blog American Creation on resistance theory/interpostion. My first post on this was about 5 months ago and it has taken that long to hash through many of the initial questions. With that accomplished, I think it is time to look into much that is alluded to in this article. Here is a taste:

"Contrary to much secular thought, the historic emergence of a social contract that guarantees human liberty stems from the seedbed of Geneva’s Reformation. To be sure, a different social contract, the humanist one, had its cradle in the secular thinking of the Enlightenment. The one I refer to as the social covenant (to distinguish) has resisted tyranny, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism with consistent and irrepressible force; the other has led to oppression, large-scale loss of life, and the general diminution of liberty, both economic and personal. Following is a brief review of five leading tracts from the Reformation period that had wide and enduring political impact in support of liberty: The Right of Magistrates (1574) by Theodore Beza, The Rights of the Crown of Scotland (1579) by George Buchanan, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) by Phillipe du Plessis Mornay, Politica (1603) by Johannes Althusius, and Lex Rex (1644) by Samuel Rutherford"
Believe it not, after 5 months of hashing this out we have not even begun to scratch the surface. Was American really a creation of the Enlightenment or is there another narrative that needs to be explored? Perhaps Mr. David Barton's overall point about distorted history is not so far off. I think it may be time to get out of the trees and look at the forest.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lieberman, Beck, and Inalienable Rights

Sandy Levinson's post at Balkinization brings to light the need for a national debate on the meaning of Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in the wake of the "Times Square Bomber." It brings up two very interesting questions:

1. Should the rights of citizens be stripped for joining enemy forces?
2. Do only U.S. citizens accused of acts of terror have a right to a fair trial?

Levinson cites of the opposing positions of Glen Beck and Joe Lieberman. Lieberman says yes to number 1. Beck says no to number 1 and yes to number 2. This is where the Declaration and Bill of Rights come into play. The Declaration says that the rights to life, liberty, and property are God given and thus inalienable. In other words, they cannot be taken away. To some the Bill of Rights only pertains to "We the People" and thus only to citizens. Lieberman and Beck are involved in an interesting debate. Nonetheless, I think something important is being overlooked in this post. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lets Stay On Topic

I appreciate all that Jon Rowe wrote in response to my last post but I think much of it is getting us off topic. The topic is whether the Declaration of Independence was a document of interpositon or not. Jon Rowe stated his case that it was not and called his main witness, John Calvin. My last post clearly shows that Calvin is not a reliable witness in this case because his own words contradict themselves.

Jon's response to this was:

"KOI claims the Othniel example a contradiction in Calvin's writings. Personally, I don't see it. Calvin teaches God sometimes raises up individuals to deliver from tyranny. AND that sometimes the means those individuals use is righteous, sometimes sinful. Likewise, this accords with Gregg Frazer's understanding that, yes, it was God's will that the American Revolution resulted as it did. But that George Washington et al. used SINFUL MEANS to accomplish that end. Indeed, Frazer and Calvin both teach God sometimes uses the sinful means of man to accomplish his will. I can't tell from Calvin's context whether he thought Othniel was one righteously raised up or rather God using "the fury of [a man] who ha[d] other thoughts and other aims," to accomplish His ends. But in any event, there is no apparent contradiction."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Calvin, Interposition, and "the Problem of Othniel"

With all the talk about the Arizona law and state protests against healthcare reform it is important to trace where many of the arguments for interposition originated:

A while back, Jon Rowe replied to my post that claimed that the Declaration of Independence was a document of interposition by stating: "The DOI is NOT a Document of Interposition." He lays out the heart of his and Dr. Gregg Frazer's case for Christianity "properly understood" with the following:

"To Calvin, the Bible categorically forbids revolt. No exceptions. Calvin did discuss the ability of intermediate magistrates to interpose and remove a tyrannical King; but he stressed it must be done pursuant to some positive legal mechanism, like the Congress impeaching the President pursuant to the provisions in the US Constitution. Again, revolt is still forbidden. Therefore if the Continental Congress could make the argument, which they seemingly did in parts of the DOI, that King George and Parliament were violating British law AND if there were some recognized legal method under British law for declaring independence, perhaps what the FFs did could "fit" with such a notion of "interposition."
The problem with this argument is the, "AND if there were some recognized legal method under British law for declaring independence, perhaps what the FF's did could fit with such a notion as interposition." This quote is grounded in John Calvin's narrow view of what qualifies as a valid form of interposition. The problem is that Calvin is not a reliable source on this topic because his own words on resistance to tyranny contradict themselves.

My Response To An Irresponsible Comment At Daily Paul

This is my response to this post at Daily Paul:

The principle of federalism is what we are fighting to restore not "states rights" and certainly not the Confederacy. Madison spoke plainly in Federalist 28 that both state and national government can usurp individual rights. Thus, one was to balance the other. State sovereinty in not and was never absolute. It was a check put into the system to protect individual liberty.

Statements such as the following puke all over an otherwise exciting post:

"Save your confederate money, it appears the South is about to rise up once again."