31 July 2010

An Interaction with a Theonomist critiquing a system he mistakenly identifies as socialism

This is yet another interaction with the Theonomic system. Peculiarly American, this system is on a crusade to defend its political vision. In doing so, it often engages in revisionist history as we've dealt with elsewhere, and in many cases employs so-called Worldview teaching to invalidate and mischaracterize its enemies.

This article from the New Geneva Leadership Blog is a prime example of how Theonomy interacts with systems it doesn't like. I'm not arguing for socialism or capitalism. Instead I want to demonstrate Theonomy's hermeneutic and means of arguing.

I wish to point out that time and time again, Theonomists attack their enemies by accusing them of illogical argument, assertions rather than developed arguments, and poor scholarship. Keep this in mind as you read this interaction.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a non sequitir is a conclusion which does not follow. An argument is made, a conclusion asserted but it does not logically follow from the argument.

All houses in town are yellow. Fred lives in town. The town is in China.

It may or may not be true, but the conclusion hasn't been proven. It's a non sequitir.

Certain camps within Christian circles continue to publish amazing quantities of articles and books and the reason I keep sharing these posts is I want to expose their nature.


For some who have read my other interactions, there will be some redundancy with the material in the other articles.

The original link can be found here.




The New Geneva Leadership Blog

June 19, 2010

The Bible Opposes Socialism

by Prof. Steve C. Halbrook

The Bible’s civil code does not authorize socialism.

The Bible’s civil code (in the Older Testament) does not authorize rulers to redistribute wealth. While helping the poor is commanded, none of the laws regarding helping the poor are backed by a civil sanction.

For instance, the law about leaving gleanings from the harvest for the poor and the sojourner (Leviticus 23:22; cf. 19:9) is not accompanied by a penalty to be enforced by the state if the law is violated. (The main penalties the state is permitted to enforce for
certain sins include restitution [e.g. Exodus 22:1-4], flogging [e.g. Deuteronomy 25:1-3],and execution [e.g. Leviticus 24:16]).

Of course, while the state is not to punish the sin of neglecting the poor, God nevertheless does. Whenever we neglect the poor, we risk God’s judgment in this life (cf.Deuteronomy 28:15), and we must answer to Him for it on judgment day (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Protoprotestant responds:

Where to begin? The civil code the author refers to is a division he and other theologians have made within the Mosaic Covenant. The Bible nowhere sanctions this division. It is a Unit, meant for the Holy People of God. It served various purposes, some anticipatory, some typological, and some practical for the Near Eastern cultural context around 1500BC, the time of the Exodus.


Halbrook shows a misunderstanding of the nature of Theocracy. God Himself was the ruler of His people Israel. He was their king, until they rejected Him and sought Saul. Even this sinful rejection was prophesied and also served a typological purpose. When Halbrook argues that the 'poor' laws are not backed by civil sanction or the state, but God Himself punishes with judgment, he shows a failure to grasp the system which he places so much stock in.

God is the head of government in the pre-monarchical Mosaic period. It is a true Theocracy. By God punishing those who have mistreated the poor, that is the very 'civil' penalty the author wants so desperately to escape.

On another level, the conversation is convoluted by the assumed paradigm. He's assuming when we wish to interact with modern economic doctrines, we turn to the Old Testament. No argument is made for this assumption. This assumption stems from a philosophical theory driven from a particular understanding of the cultural mandate. Of course if the cultural mandate has been misinterpreted, the whole impetus for the theory is somewhat diminished. This philosophical system in seeking a comprehensive system disallows the Biblically valid category of Common Grace. This Van Tillian system pays much lip service to the idea of Common Grace, but won't allow it to function. The mission of the church, according to the Dominionist application of Van Til, is to transform the realm of Common Grace into the Holy Kingdom of God. Thus, the so-called autonomous thoughts and models of the unbeliever are deemed invalid.

We admit of course the unbeliever's autonomous thought in the end is sinful, and even when sinful man does the right things, they are for the wrong motives. Yet, Common Grace serves as a venue for the gospel of the Kingdom to function. Since the Bible when rightly read, gives us no chiliastic utopian vision prior to the Eschaton, we understand Natural Revelation to be sufficient. Fallen man creates the City, which Satan seeks to transform into the Beast. His success or failure rests in Providence. And it is Providence which gives even fallen man the necessary tools to form a civil order. Some laws will rightly reflect the Truth of God, others will fail. All without grounding in Special Revelation will improperly founded, but on the pages of the New Testament, nowhere are we ever given reason to expect anything else, nor are we to be discontent with it. How can fallen man ground his laws and social order in Special Revelation? He cannot. One, because the Bible does not provide this blueprint. Two, fallen man cannot understand Special Revelation. He cannot keep the law of God. He cannot please God by taking up covenantal law. Because it's covenantal, it's holy. Employing it is a holy act, an act of worship. The unregenerate cannot do this, they cannot even 'see' the Kingdom of God, let alone understand it or assist in its implementation. We must be careful not to ascribe powers to fallen man which he does not possess.

This Van Tillian system, or at least this interpretation of it, on a practical level invalidates the God-established Common Grace order. But in order to provide an 'answer', not for the hope that is within us as per 1 Peter 3.15, but for the sphere blueprints, the models for politics, economics etc.... the Van Tillian system argues that we cannot engage in autonomy. So the only answers can be found in the Scriptures themselves.

Of course nowhere in the Scriptures are we given any models for political and social orders, economics etc.... The Scriptures tells us how we as God's people are to view these things as we, God's people, interact with the fallen world. Often appeals are made to Romans 13 for the Biblical model of Government. Careful examination will show Paul is in no way trying to lay out a political theory. He's telling the Romans how they should view Caesar, and how they are to live. Theonomists like Halbrook appeal to the Mosaic code, but this was a Covenant for God's people, not at all to be applied to Edom, Moab, or the Philistines. Even when the nations are rebuked by the prophets, they are never called into question for breaking the Sabbath, or violating dietary laws. No, they're held accountable to the law which all man, even the proverbial man on the desert island, must answer to....natural law, the conscience interacting with General Revelation. If there is no natural law, by what standard is man held accountable?

The Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ, the son and image of God. To read it as a rule book, or legal code is to misunderstand the very nature of the book. When Theonomists claim to derive political, economic, and cultural models from the Bible, they must either strip it from its context or engage in some kind of inductive speculation. They don't have principles by which they may deduce these systems they hope to construct. As I've written elsewhere, in building these models, they engage in the very autonomous thought they would hope so desperately to avoid.

I assume he understands socialism is an economic theory. When socialism is used in a political context, this refers to the means of bringing about a society in which socialistic economics can function. I think he is confused on this point, and it will show later in the article.

Also I would point out that if I'm correct in arguing that God himself is the Executive of the Mosaic government...I assuming Halbrook's categories for a moment. If that's true and the Israelites were civilly (his category) punished by God, then indeed the Mosaic code does in fact have Socialist principles and tendencies. I will appeal to the same example Halbrook does....the gleanings.

Now, I do not appeal to the Mosaic code for modern government, but if I did, based off what Halbrook has given so far, I could argue just as strongly for socialism.

One final point regarding the typological nature of the Mosaic Covenant. It functioned as a unit, the so-called sacrificial system picturing Christ as Redeemer, and the so-called penal sanctions anticipating Christ as Judge. The 3-fold division of Westminster has always been harmful to understanding this unified picture. By keeping part of the imagery and discarding another part, the typology is destroyed. Theonomy confuses the issue more by conflating the moral/civil sections and effectively arguing for a two-fold division. This just muddies the waters and people sit and argue over the Confession, completely missing the real issues.

The New Testament clearly teaches the Mosaic Covenant has been set aside. Hebrews 7 makes it very clear. Theonomists try to argue this is the 'ceremonial law' being laid aside, but nowhere can you find the Westminster division in the New Testament. Without the three-fold division, their whole argument and system collapses.


Theonomy by viewing the Bible in Monistic fashion...note the 'Older' Testament language at the beginning, fails to grasp the multi-layered chronological and typological interplay and tensions between the Covenants. The Older adjective as opposed to the traditional Old, is their attempt to argue the Old Testament and New Testament are one Covenant. So they mean, the Older form of The Covenant.

They miss how in Ephesians 2 we are told of a plurality of Covenants, and the unity lies in the Promise. There is both unity and disunity between the Covenants. If we miss this, they will fail to grasp how the New Testament relates to the Old.

Halbrook:

Socialism violates the Bible’s commands against partiality

Since socialism confiscates the wealth of—and thereby punishes—the rich in order to enrich the poor, socialism breaks the Bible’s commands against partiality:

“nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.” (Exodus 23:3)

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15)

Note how in the last verse, partiality to the poor is contrasted with righteous judging.

Protoprotestant:

Confiscation of wealth is called taxation. It's completely legitimate as per Romans 13. We already 'socialize' many things within society. The military, roads and other public works. Socialism is not in any way monolithic, but since most socialist states are in Europe we can look to them for some assistance in this interaction. Also, since articles like this are being written in light of the Obama administration, we should look to Europe. If Obama is a socialist which I would argue he's not, the model he and other liberals in Congress seek to emulate is the European model. This socialist model argues the key industries necessary to the functioning and order of society should not be in the hands of those wishing to profit from these bedrock social necessities. Things like utilities, transportation, health care, military etc... should not be for profit. There are practical and even moral arguments for this. Many of the utilities have actually been transformed into publicly owned corporations. This socialist system certainly allows for private ownership and commerce. Anyone who asserts Europe does not have private companies or property doesn't know what they're talking about.

Now, Halbrook may not like this system due to American bias, but to argue the example of the poor in a lawsuit invalidates taxation or government control of key industries, is a bit of a stretch. Remember I'm not saying the Bible says government has to control key industries, I'm simply saying it doesn't say anything about it. Halbrook is arguing it is a violation of the Scriptures.

Again, I'm not arguing for socialism. I simply want to show the Theonomic system has no argument against it, and its own models also don't stand the Biblical test. I also want to show how they argue, and the methods employed. I argue the very methods they charge to others, they themselves employ on a regular basis. Assertions, non-sequitirs, assumptions, and sometimes very poor interpretation of the facts are what I continually find.

The Biblical Worldview contrary to the Dominionist vision is that all political and economic systems ultimately fail. They have to in a fallen world. What would I offer as a solution? Since the Bible doesn't address these issues, I would argue two points. We should want what works and provides for peace, order, and justice. And we should desire a system which allows the greatest degree of social freedom so we can pursue Kingdom work. If this system allows the wicked to sin, it does not matter, because I cannot find a system or an example from the pages of history that has prevented them from doing so.

I would not appeal to Israel as mentioned above because it was a true Theocracy which we cannot re-create. The only Theocracy today is the Church. Attempting to create a 'theocracy' of our own device will not lead to a typological Kingdom of God, but to a Sacralist/Constantinian pseudo-Kingdom of God, a Christian version of the Tower of Babel.

We are in an epoch compared to the days of Noah. During that time God's people did not build cities, they dwelt alongside the Cainite cities. Another applicable parallel would be the Babylonian exile. Were the Jews to engage in culture war and convert Babylon into Israel? No, they were to live peaceably, build houses, raise families and live as martyr-witnesses for God. This is exactly parallel to the injunctions given to us in the New Testament. We are to pray for the king to leave us be, let us live quietly, minding our own business.

As I challenge every Theonomist, show me a single passage in the New Testament that exhorts us to strive for political or economic transformation. There are none. They are forced to appeal to the Old Testament, yet the Old Testament is interpreted by the New, and the Apostolic hermeneutic regarding the transformationalist passages in the prophets show the transformation and application are not at all compatible with the Theonomic vision. Look at Acts 2's reading of Joel 2. Look at Acts 15's reading of Amos 9. Now apply that same Apostolic hermeneutic to passages like Isaiah 2, or Psalm 72.

Halbrook:

Socialism is a form of public slavery

Socialism is a form of public slavery Because of its spendthrift nature, the socialist state tends toward heavy taxation and borrowing. This results in enslavement of virtually the entire nation.

Protoprotestant:

And I could argue the Capitalist system enslaves the public as well. Instead of the state, we are enslaved to Corporations, who in a system like the U.S., also run the state. Certainly socialist states have heavier taxation, but they also have more services. Socialist states borrow? All states borrow at certain times when the need arises. I fail to see how this relates to the Bible-based arguments the author is trying to make. If anything it shows how the three-thousand year old Mosaic Code doesn't work for today, and was never meant to.

"Antinomian!" they charge. Just as easily I could argue, "Judaizer!"

If someone suggested we erect an altar in our church building on Sunday morning and sacrifice an ox, would we be right to charge them with Judaizing? We would, because the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled. It is the same with appealing to any portions of the typological law.

Halbrook:

When the elders of Israel rejected God for a king like that of the pagan nations, Samuel warned of several acts of tyranny by their future king, including ten percent taxation:

“He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.” (1 Samuel 8:15)

“He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.” (1 Samuel 8:17)

Note how verse 17 ends—“and you shall be his slaves.” Ten percent taxation or more is, or contributes to, national enslavement. Such enslavement socialism, with its excessively high taxes needed for wealth redistribution and “welfare” programs, fosters. (Ten percent
taxation is actually modest by today’s socialist standards.)

Moreover, socialism enslaves the nation by the excessive borrowing needed for its programs.

Protoprotestant:

I think the author of 1 Samuel had a little more in mind than a lesson in economics. This reminds of Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof instructing Tevye's daughters that the moral of the story of Jacob and Laban was....never trust your employer.

Halbrook's argument has nothing to do with the context. And even if we grant ten percent taxation is enslavement, so what? We are commanded to pay them. If you don't like it, fine. But you still haven't made an argument that the Bible opposes socialism.


Did Jesus say, "Render unto Caesar," unless he goes over ten percent? Then we should rebel? Was that Paul's argument in Romans 13? When the tax is too high, attack the king's ships and dump the cargo into the harbour as protest?

Halbrook:

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

In socialism, the state acts as the lender, and coerces the people into becoming enslaved borrowers.

Protoprotestant:

The state acts as a lender....hmm, by providing services like electricity, roads, and health care? And we're enslaved by paying taxes for these services we use?

I don't think Halbrook wants to quote Proverbs 22. If I want to argue the way he does, I could say that's more applicable to a Capitalistic system.

Maybe I personally don't care about electricity or paved roads, but society is bigger than just me. And like it or not, it's hardly sin, so I'm told to pay my taxes.

For those who argue we can't pay taxes for socialized medicine because the money might fund abortions....who says?

Did Paul say don't pay taxes if Rome is going to use the money fund murderous wars of conquest? Don't pay taxes if Rome is going to use the money to fund gladiatorial shows? Why don't American Christians argue that we shouldn't pay taxes to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I don't want to support those wars with my tax money, but I have no choice.

Halbrook:

Thus, socialism is a form of public slavery, where the people, in the words of Eric Holmberg, act as “the slave-labor force for some grand federal plantation.”

(Eric Holmberg in Vorthos Forum, “Government-Sanctioned Theft—the IRS,” YouTube Retrieved April 29, 2009, from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UsuHlhWil8&feature=channel_page)

Protoprotestant:

Non sequitir. We're talking Americanisms now. Let's stick to the Bible.

Halbrook:

Socialism is a form of covetousness

Covetousness is foundational to socialism, since socialism is premised on politicians and the poor coveting the wealth of the rich. But covetousness violates the 10th commandment:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

Protoprotestant:

Socialism is a form of covetousness?

No, it's actually meant to counter covetousness. Because even fallen man, or the Christian's who support socialism in Europe recognize it is dangerous to society to place essential elements in the hands of those who provide the services in the name of profit. They will exploit people, who will in turn suffer, and all of society will suffer because it will become destabilized.
Conservative Protestantism has a long socialist tradition in Europe. They found Capitalism to be repugnant, an anti-Christian system that rewards and encourages greed and exploits the poor.

Even in America, I argue Republican business owners love socialism. They depend on it. Since we don't have state health-care or pensions, businesses like Wal-mart can pay their people rock-bottom wages so they are forced to turn to the state for things like food stamps, medicaid, and of course many American seniors would starve without Social Security.

These business owners love HUD housing and welfare. Go to Tijuana or sub-Saharan Africa. What do you find? Shanty towns. We would have those here as well if it wasn't for the programs. And guess what, when people are living like that, they have nothing to lose. They would start camping in Halbrook's backyard and in the park down the street from his house. He wouldn't feel safe, his kids would have to stay indoors.


No, no....they want those programs. Raw unregulated capitalism would radically increase the disparity in our society and all the good middle and upper class folks would start living in compounds, just like in South Africa.

These people live in a dream.

Halbrook:

Note that the commandment forbids coveting “anything that is your neighbor’s.” This rules out the justification by socialists that “the rich don’t need all their money—taking some of their wealth for redistribution won’t hurt anybody!”

One of the qualifications for being a ruler is to hate covetousness:

“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:” (Exodus 18:21, KJV) (emphasis mine)

This verse, as Daniel F.N. Ritchie writes, disqualifies from office those with socialist leanings, since civil rulers require “the characteristic of ‘hating covetousness,’ and socialism “is the politics of covetousness.” Daniel F. N. Ritchie,A Conquered Kingdom:Biblical Civil Government (Saintfield, Northern Ireland: Reformed Worldview Books, 2008), 628.

Protoprotestant:

Capitalism is actually based on the idea of 'the love of money,' and in the dog-eat-dog world of the Capitalist trenches, in order to survive you have to try and shut down your opponent. In a sense, you covet his holdings, his customers, his niche.


See I can use vague arguments as well. Halbrook is engaging in classic straw-man argumentation. He hasn't even engaged socialism and I would argue his system is incapable.

In a Capitalist system, I can't be content with a modest profit. Someone else will come along, undercut me, and drive me to change my way of life, my way of running my business, which affects workers, products, and all of society.

Halbrook:

The New Testament does not sanction socialism

As we discussed, the Bible’s civil code in the Older Testament does not sanction socialism. Neither do we see any alteration to this rule in the New Testament. There is not a whole lot in the New Testament about the duties of civil government. It seems that if we were to find a biblical basis for socialism, Romans 13:1-7—with its emphasis on the general duties of civil government—would be the place to look.

And what is the state’s duty? Is it to rob from the rich and give to the poor? No. It is to terrorize and kill evildoers. (Not to terrorize and destroy the free market, as socialism does.) The state’s duty to terrorize evildoers is found in verse 3a:

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” The state’s duty to kill evildoers is found in verse 4b: “he [the ruler] does not bear the sword in vain.”

(Obviously not every evil act can be considered a capital crime—the Bible is our sole authority for determining what should be capitally punished, cf. Matthew 5:17-20, 15:4.)

These duties are why we pay taxes (Romans 13:6). Thus as far as Romans 13:1-7 is concerned, taxes are intended to subsidize terror and destruction of the wicked—not to subsidize socialism.

Protoprotestant:

Romans 13 is not setting out to establish a macro- or comprehensive system for civil government. It's an interpretation for Christians to live their lives.

Maybe some would consider the heads of the capitalist system as evildoers.....

Halbrook:

Socialism is idolatrous

Socialism tends to exceed taxation rates of ten percent or more because of the expenses of wealth redistribution. But no institution has the right to claim a higher tax than God. God requires a tithe (ten percent) of all income. When the state attempts a higher tax than God, the state deifies itself, and is an idolatrous state.

Protoprotestant:

We've addressed this elsewhere.

All I have to say is....if you think being non-socialist or keeping one's tax rate under a certain percentage, protects a state from being idolatrous, then I'm afraid you're not understanding nations or idolatry. And, America is without a doubt one of the most idolatrous self-deifying states in history. And the Christians are its primary supporters.

Halbrook:

Socialism is symptomatic of a lack of faith in God

When a nation lacks faith in God, it looks to civil government for its source of security, including economic security. This is why socialism is so popular and appealing, despite that it repeatedly leads to tyranny and economic instability.

Protoprotestant:

Capitalism provides stability....right. Except for those who are trampled by it. And capitalistic societies don't look to their governments for security?

Actually capitalism is grounded in a Pelagian view of man, that men will do what's right even though in a true free market they have no compulsion to do so.

The reason Christians in Europe supported socialism was because they knew man was depraved and it would harm all of society to allow the necessities to be in the hands of mammon-worshippers.

Halbrook:

For example, when the Israelites lacked faith in God, they yearned to return to the
enslavement of Egypt’s socialistic programs:

“They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the
wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Exodus 16:1-3) (cf. Exodus 14:10-12; Exodus 17:1-3; Numbers 14:1-4) (emphasis mine)

Protoprotestant:

Large scale non-sequitir.

Halbrook:

Socialism opposes “The Golden Rule”

The free market system (capitalism) is based on a voluntary, willful means of exchange between both parties. But socialism is based on a coerced means of exchange, backed by the threat of violence—contrary to what we call “The Golden Rule”:

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31)

Protoprotestant:

Actually, socialism is trying to legislate the Golden Rule. That's why I disagree with it in the end. I don't think the state should legislate Holy Law. But Capitalism in seeking profit in no way is looking out for others. For them it's buyer beware.

To apply the Golden Rule to Capitalism is to turn everything on its head.

Halbrook:

In his sermon “Terrorism and God,” Joe Morecraft observes,

“[The free market] can be summed up in the phrase, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ That’s the basis of free enterprise. ‘You do something good for me, and I’ll do something good for you.’ And in this kind of economy,both parties in the exchange benefit.

“But in a statist economy, in a socialist economy, where the federal and state governments control businesses and the marketplace, we have a violent means of exchange, because in that situation, here’s what’s being said: ‘Unless you do something good for me, I’ll do something bad for you. I will get the state to force you to do what I want.’ And so violence is bred in our very socialist economy itself.”

(Joe Morecraft III, SermonAudio.com, Terrorism and God (April 23, 1995). Retrieved June 16, 2010, from http:/www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1229081635472.) (The portion of the
sermon cited begins at the 40:45 mark.)

Protoprotestant:

I'm not sure what to say other than this is one of the most naive and misinformed statements I've ever heard. Morecraft has made some really ignorant statements before, but this one is staggering.

Both parties benefit? Except when the one is forced out of business.

Workers benefit? Except when the owner needs to cut costs to compete or to maximize profits.

Consumers benefit? Except when they end up with cheap worthless junk because the greed of the companies forces them to reduce quality. Some companies produce premium goods, but the workers who are smashed into poverty have increasingly less access.

Society benefits? Except when the corporations gain massive political influence establishing a political order that protects them, subsidizes their costs, and often socializes their losses.

Capitalism won't allow a Christian businessman to be content with what he has. He is forced to compete, be dynamic, cut costs, increase profits...because if he doesn't he is forced out of business.

Capitalism as a system rewards greed and promotes terrible destructive consumeristic and materialistic values in a society.

I could go on for a long time. I can also critique socialism. I'm not looking for a perfect system. But Morecraft's statement is staggeringly naive.

Look at the history of mining or forestry. Look at how the companies exploited people. If Morecraft made that statement on a West Virginia street in the 1930's he'd probably be shot.

I've cited this elsewhere but a quick example.

A study was done in Maine I believe where they looked at various doctor's offices and gathered statistics about different procedures. The one statistic dealt with cataract surgery I believe and they noted how in one small town, with one doctor, the standards seemed to be 20/200. I don't remember the exact numbers. That's not the point. So, when patients hit the 20/200 vision threshold, it was time to talk surgery.

Now in the next county there was a larger town that was able to support two doctors. Theoretically, with competition, the costs should have dropped. But they didn't, they were the same as the small town and about the same 20/200 threshold.

Then they found another town, about the same size as the one with two doctors. But this town had three or maybe even four doctors...but the same population. Hmmm...we should definitely see a price drop now. That's the Capitalist argument. Competition helps everyone right?

No, the prices were about the same. But what did change was they were no longer urging surgery at the 20/200 threshold. Instead in that town they were doing it at 20/100.

Greed is king.

I don't know what kind of socialist country Morecraft is talking about. In Europe, the government doesn't own the businesses. It doesn't allow the key industries to be in private hands, but everything else is private. I know of no example where the government through violence forces exchange. Europe more or less has free markets. Business practices and products are regulated. They are here as well. I know Morecraft would like to eliminate that, but many people want the regulation. They don't want their kid drinking mercury out of a milk jug. They don't want to buy a coffee machine and have it catch on fire. They don't want to buy a car that explodes when it is rear-ended.

Fine lets eliminate all regulation, but when Morecraft's house burns down because his kid plugged in his video game console, will he just let it be? Or will he sue? If he sues, then insurance companies are going to get involved. This also means lawyers. Our whole legislative system is corrupt. I'm willing to scrap the Constitution. Is Morecraft? With our system, and the way money operates, you're going to have insurance lobbyists writing the legislation for building codes and product standards. That's what has happened and is happening today. American Conservatives have been full participants in the development of this process. In fact, I would argue they bear more of the guilt since having more money they are more likely to pursue civil lawsuits than the poor. Sure the poor are exploited by unethical lawyers as well, but visit you local courthouse next week. There aren't too many poor people filing lawsuits. It's the wealthier people that are doing it. And it is they who have created the monster that is our system.

What socialism is Halbrook and Morecraft talking about? Have they visited Europe? Europe doesn't have the ostentatious Mcmansions of America, but it sure does have plenty of rich people. As I was driving down the autobahn, Ferrari's, Lamborghini's, Porsche's were all passing me. I've seen them in California, but not as many as I was seeing in Europe.

Overall western Europe has a higher standard of living than the United States. I traveled through Switzerland but it was killing me. I couldn't afford it. Germany and Austria have much better roads, orderly towns, lower crime etc....

I'm not arguing for socialism, but I refuse to accept the arguments being given here.

Halbrook:

The Book of Acts does not support socialism

Many support socialism because of Acts 2:44, 45:

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

However, this is voluntary benevolence—not coercion, which socialism requires of the state. Thus contrary to socialism, the apostles did not squeeze money out of well-off Christians with threats of imprisonment or death. Moreover, Acts 2:44, 45 involves the church—not the state. We cannot determine state
policy by examples of what the church did.

Protoprotestant:

Why not? You argue the very same premise when it comes to the Old Testament. Israel was the church in the Old Covenant and you want to use its Covenant Law as a basis for American political order?

I'm not arguing for Christian Socialism either, nor coercion of any sort. But in principle, Acts 2 indicates the Church was living in a communistic fashion. This would seem to be problematic for one who insists on capitalistic doctrine.

Halbrook:

To do so would violate the biblical basis for separation of church and state (2 Chronicles 19:11). (Separation between church and state is different than separation between God and state. While the church does not rule over the state, the state must acknowledge God and His law [Ps. 2:10-12; Eph. 1:20-22; Rom. 13:1-4].)

Protoprotestant:

Uh, the state acknowledges God and His law, but then the members of the government who in your system have to be members of the church and are individually accountable to elders...not very separated.

The 2 Chronicles passage has nothing to do with your argument, though I too vigorously insist on the separation of church and state.

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and unto God the things that are Gods.

Halbrook:

If the socialist insists on basing socialism on a text meant for the church, then logical consistency demands that he also bases socialism on all texts meant for the church. This would undermine socialism, though, since the Apostle Peter affirmed Ananias and
Sapphira’s private property rights. When Peter confronted Ananias for his dishonesty regarding the proceeds of a piece of property that he sold, Peter acknowledged Ananias’ right to that property, saying:

“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4a)

Not only this, but if fully consistent, the socialist must also insist that it the duty of the state to engage in such things as administering the sacraments, and handling church discipline (e.g., excommunication). This, of course, is extreme, but nevertheless the logical outworking of using the Bible to justify socialism. Indeed, socialism itself is extreme.

Protoprotestant:

Socialism doesn't deny private property and this whole argument is a non-sequitir. The issue with Ananias had nothing to do with property rights and as I've argued socialist states have private property. Is Halbrook going to argue people in Germany, Italy, or the United Kingdom don't own property?

Halbrook:

It leads to economic instability at best, genocide at worse (consider Stalin, Lenin, and Mao).

(All verses, unless otherwise noted, are from the English Standard Version, accessed from http://www.biblegateway.com/)

Steve Halbrook is an author and a professor of Apologetics, History and Law, at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy

Protoprotestant:

At last we have it. Halbrook and Morecraft don't know what socialism is. All along they've been arguing against Totalitarianism. Lenin never implemented Communism, and Stalin never did either. Communism didn't work. Stalin was a totalitarian ruler.

Does Halbrook think communism is the same as socialism?

Why then are the communist parties in places like Italy fighting the socialist government? Why is it that even Marxists would argue that their doctrine was never implemented in the Soviet Union?

Mao? Maoism was a different form of communism focusing on the peasant rather than the worker. But Mao was a totalitarian ruler. Communism failed. Within two years after Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping opened the door to capitalism. China abandoned Mao's policies over thirty years ago, but they still call themselves Communist. They're no more communist then Mickey Mouse. What they are is a Totalitarian state. Yes, even they can have capitalism and be quite successful. And with the capitalism has also come a lot of suffering. Look into it. China is bleeding, one part of the country has become filthy rich and another portion in just trying to survive, is suffering demographic collapse.

Are Halbrook and Morecraft going to suggest David Cameron, Sarkozy, Merkel, Berlusconi....any of these leaders are akin to Stalin and Mao? These European leaders are all socialists. Their countries all opposed communism.

It would seem not only has Halbrook failed to make his case from the Bible. I think Halbrook wrote a paper dealing with a topic he didn't know anything about. He like many others in the Christian Right have confused political movements with economic theory. They have misunderstood the systems they critique and fail to understand how they have played out in history.

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