Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On “Theocracy,” 11: Mr Schroeder's irrational fear of God-fearing leadership

After last week's intensity, I had hoped to begin this week on a light note, perhaps with a note on the river/mountain mullet, Agonostomus monticola, a small [½ – 2 lb] but feisty Caribbean gamefish found in rivers from the Carolinas to Venezuela -- sometimes fished for with avocado as bait! -- and celebrated in the famous Jamaican poem, the Song of the Banana Man. [Ken Sorhaindo of Dominica rates it as spunkier than a trout.]

I had also hoped to look at Linspire's interesting freebie web authoring tool, Nvu (and hoped for onward developments). [Official web page and links to downloads are here. Unofficial bug fix upgrades here.]

Sigh . . .

These will wait, for, in a remark in his memoirs, as reported here in The Times of London, Mr Schroeder of Germany, reportedly "an agnostic," shows the same pattern of invidious comparison and irresponsible [im]moral equivalency we have been discussing, in speaking of President Bush of the USA:

Again and again in our private talks it became clear how God-fearing this President was and how ruled he was by what he saw as a Higher Power,” says Herr Schröder in the memoirs, Decisions: My Life In Politics . . . .

We rightly criticise that in most Islamic states there is no clear separation between religion and the rule of law,” he says. “But we fail to recognise that, in the US, the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies.

If both sides claim to be in possession of the only valid truth, then there is no room for manoeuvre.”

Of course, Mr Schroeder here, in his haste to join in that ever-popular political sport, Bush-bashing, first of all finds himself in opposition to King David:

2SA 23:1 These are the last words of David:

"The oracle of David son of Jesse . . .

Israel's singer of songs . . . .

2SA 23:3 The God of Israel spoke,

the Rock of Israel said to me:

`When one rules over men in righteousness,

when he rules in the fear of God,

2SA 23:4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise

on a cloudless morning,

like the brightness after rain

that brings the grass from the earth.'

In short, given the very long and quite distinguished history and legacy of God-fearing rulers, Mr Schroeder is plainly utterly out of order to single out God-fearing-ness as a disqualification for political leadership.

Secondly, he creates a fallacy-rich environment, for – sadly -- he has evidently failed to learn the key geopolitical lesson of the C20: appeasement of aggressive totalitarians [e.g. Hitler] is much less successful than containment and firm sustained resolution [e.g. Communism], even as a context for diplomacy and compromise. (That is, agreements backed by resolute capacity to act firmly are more likely to succeed than those without teeth or the will to back up words with swords if necessary. This is also of course the same geopolitical lesson that leaps off the pages of 1400 years of Islamist history. And, it would be wise to reckon with the implications of the recently captured Muslim Brotherhood plan for a 100-year programme to subjugate the world.)

More importantly Mr Schroeder utterly fails to address the basic point that there is a vast and not very subtle difference between:

[a] reckoning that one, as a civil authority, is responsible under God to do good and defend what is just while doing no harm to one's neighbour [Rom 13:1 - 10], while being all-too-fallible, finite and fallen/sinful [Cf here Matt 7:1 – 5]; and,

[b] seeing "justification" for murderous suicide bombing and beheading of innocents through something like 164 texts that command jihad, such as the historically important Q 9:5 and 29 – 31: “...slay the idolaters wherever you find them...take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush . . . . Fight those who do not believe in Allah...nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book [i.e. Jews and Christians], until they pay the [Jizya] tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection [i.e. what has come to be known as Dhimmitude] . . .”

BTW, it is worth noting that the pagan emperor Nero – admittedly, in the happier first period of his regime in which he was under Seneca's tutelage -- was the principal civil authority in mind in the NT's “sword verse,” Rom 13:4, which says of such an authority: “. . . he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

Not to mention, Mr Schroeder also needs to observe carefully that the Christian faith teaches that core principles of morality -- such as Rom 13:8 - 10, that we should do no harm as we should love and respect our neighbours as we love ourselves -- are self-evident truths open to and recognised by all; on pain of grossly inconsistent absurdity:

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the [written, OT] law, do by nature things required by the law . . . [they] show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” [ Rom 2: 14 – 15 ]

That is, there is an obvious and vast difference between recognising the theistic, God-fearing worldview roots of universally recognisable core morality and the establishment of an oppressive, theocratic state order or a closed-minded agenda of self-righteous intransigence. For, as Locke cites “the judicious Hooker” in Ch 2 Section 5 of his 2nd Treatise of Civil Government:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant.

In brief, as we ponder our common humanity as created by God, we are led to recognise that if I wish to be treated in a certain way by others, I should see that my equals in nature are deserving of the same treatment: i.e. we have arrived at Jesus'/Moses' Golden Rule, love your neighbour as yourself. From this principle, Locke immediately derives the principles of natural liberty, and the grounds for resistance to tyranny:

The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions [Cf. Rom 13:8 – 10.] . . . . so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he as much as he can to preserve the rest of mankind, and not unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another . . . . In transgressing the law of Nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men for their mutual security, and so he becomes dangerous to mankind . . . .

It is no surprise, therefore, to see in the justly famous first and second paragraphs of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence:

When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Plainly, Mr Schroeder and others of his ilk need to think again. For, in fact, a well-founded, God-fearing worldview is a bastion of liberty, even in the face of the insidious threats of theocratic, terrorism-inspiring global conquest ideologies. END

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