Bible Stories: Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Bible Stories:

Dinner Topics for Monday

Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Walk with Me

Behold, my Spirit is upon you. (Moses 6:34)

And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.  And he heard a voice from heaven. (Moses 6:26-27)

What is it like to hear a voice from heaven? What is that voice like, and how can we hear it?  Elijah learned that the Lord was not in a great and strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice.

So this still small voice said to Enoch, “Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off.”(Moses 6:27)

The Lord spoke to Enoch, because Enoch heard Him, and the people did not.  What can cause people’s hearts to wax hard, and their ears to become dull of hearing, and their eyes unable to see?  The Lord is not in the shriek of cell phones, not in the din of TV, not in the foul and fake social media, not in the roar of the crowd, but in a still small voice.

And the Lord told Enoch, “Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you . . . and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.(Moses 6:33-34)

And Enoch walked with God, and built a great city, and it was called Zion.

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.(Moses 7:16)

And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED. (Moses 7:68-69)

 

Dinner Talk Topic:

Enoch accepted the invitation to walk with God.  Will we?

 

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

 

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US Constitution Series 8: Life, Liberty, Property Rights are from God

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

decofindependence1The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

 

US Constitution Series 8: Men are Endowed by their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights

~Skousen, pp. 124-129

keyThe Founders did not believe that the basic rights of mankind originated from any social compact, king, emperor, or governmental authority. Those rights, they believed, came directly and exclusively from God. Therefore, they were to be maintained sacred and inviolate.

 

johnlockeJohn Locke

The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which …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; for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker …

And, being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of Nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us that may authorize us to destroy one another.

 

When is a Right Unalienable?

Blackstone_from_NPGWilliam Blackstone

Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are: neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture. (Blackstone: Commentaries on the Laws of England)

And these [great natural rights] may be reduced to three principal or primary articles: the right of personal security; the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property.

In other words, we may do something ourselves to forfeit the unalienable rights endowed by the Creator, [such as murder] but no one else can TAKE those rights from us without being subject to God’s justice.

Vested Rights

We have certain other rights called vested rights which are created by the community, state, or nation for our protection or well-being. However, these can be changed any time the lawmakers feel like it.

Examples of vested rights: the right to go hunting during certain seasons, or the right to travel on the public highway. Notice that the government can change both of these “rights” or prohibit them altogether. A region could be declared off-limits for hunting; the highway could be closed.

But [current events notwithstanding] the government could not pass a law to destroy all babies under the age of two, or lock up someone [because of their appearance]. In the one case it would be destroying the unalienable right to live, and in the other case it would be destroying the unalienable right to liberty.

 

BastiatFrederic Bastiat (trying to preserve freedom in France)

We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life—physical, intellectual, and moral life.

Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property, this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation and are superior to it.

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws [for the protection of them] in the first place.

Principle 9: To Protect Man’s Rights, God has Revealed Certain Principles of Divine Law.

US Constitution Series 7: Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff

 

US Constitution Series 7: The Proper Role of Government is to Protect Equal Rights, Not provide Equal Things

 

 

Gallery

Character Building Tips: Meditation for Understanding God, Faith, Life

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Dinner Topics for Monday To Think To think is to awaken the epic hero within you, To subdue the unwilling flesh and sinew. A single pause to choose what is just Can replace years of pain with peace and trust. … Continue reading

Parenting: Teaching Courage

Dinner Topics for Thursday

chicken

What does a Chicken have to do with courage? See this post:

Parenting Value: Courage


Methods for Teaching Courage

Richard and Linda Eyre

Courage

“Daring to attempt difficult things that are good. Strength not to follow the crowd, to say no and mean it and influence others to try it. Being true to convictions and following good impulses even when they are unpopular or inconvenient. Boldness to be outgoing and friendly.”

Method for Preschoolers: Teach Small Children to Look People in the Eye

This can help children learn a useful habit that takes courage and that gives you a good opportunity for praise. Establish a family tradition of looking people in the eye. Explain to small children that if you look right at people, they will like you and know that you like them. Practice looking in each other’s eyes as you say, “Hello,” “How are you?” “Thank you,” or as you ask questions: “Where do you live?” “What school do you go to?” And so on. Have little contests to see who can look into the person’s eyes the longest while having a “made-up” conversation. And have “staring contests” (who can look into the other person’s eyes the longest without blinking).

Explain that being brave means not having anything to hide — and when we look right at someone, it is like saying, “I trust you and you can trust me.” Learning to do this helps us not to be afraid to ask people questions or start conversations.

Method for Elementary Age: “Hard and Good” – The Relationship Between Them

This activity will help children begin to relish rather than resist hard challenges. For this game set up two sides with at least one child to a side. Say that you are going to mention certain actions and you want one side to write either “hard” or “easy” to define each action. The other side should write “good” or “bad” about each action. (Each side needs a paper numbered from one to ten and a pencil.)

1. Get up early and study for a test.
2. Say you’re sorry to someone even though it’s embarrassing.
3. Try smoking with your friends so they won’t call you chicken.
4. Make friends with the new kid at school, even though everyone else is ignoring him.
5. Sleep in on Saturday instead of getting up to do your household job.
6-10. Add your own (try to draw from real experiences).

When the game is over, match up the two team lists. Show how “hard” almost always matches up with “good.”

Method for Adolescents: Decisions in Advance

This can help adolescents make right — and courageous — decisions before they are in situations conducive to wrong choices. Explain to adolescents that many decisions are best made early — before we’re confronted with pressure to decide. Help them to make a list (preferably in the back of a journal or diary) of “decisions in advance.” For example, I will not smoke. I will not cheat. I will not be cruel or rude even if others around me are, and so forth.

With each “decision in advance” help the adolescent to imagine a future situation where it would be very difficult to keep the decision. Think it through together. Point out how much easier it is to do the right thing when the decision has been made in advance.

To illustrate the point tell them the story of Abraham Lincoln, who was riding in a coach with an important and influential man who was insistent that Lincoln smoke with him. He said he would be offended if Lincoln did not.

Abraham Lincoln said he had made a decision twenty years before not to smoke. He had committed himself to that decision and had even made the commitment to his mother. Because he had made the decision in advance, courage to keep it came easy for Lincoln, and his friend did not push him further.

YouTube Video: Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

YouTube Video: Milton Freedman, Capitalism and Freedom

From Rush Limbaugh Radio

miltonfriedman2One sound bite is two minutes of Milton Friedman schooling Phil Donahue and his audience in greed and capitalism and virtue.

RUSH:  [Obama] was quoting Reverend Wright, and he said that’s for me, man, I love that.  White folks’ greed runs a world in need.  So let’s go to 1979, ancient times for many of you.  We may as well be going back to the Roman Coliseum for this.  Nineteen seventy nine, I was 28.  Ancient times for many of you.  Phil Donahue interviewing Milton Friedman, and they had this exchange.  And Donahue starts off wanting to know about greed and capitalism.  Here it is.  And listen to this.

DONAHUE:  When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have-nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?

Greed Definition

FRIEDMAN:  Well, first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed?  You think Russia doesn’t run on greed?  You think China doesn’t run on greed?  What is greed?  Of course none of us are greedy. It’s only the other fellow who’s greedy.

The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.  The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus.  Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat.  Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.  In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.  If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that.

So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

DONAHUE:  But it seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system.

Virtue Definition

FRIEDMAN:  And what does reward virtue?  Do you think the communist commissar rewards virtue?  Do you think Hitler rewards virtue?  Do you think American presidents reward virtue?  Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?  Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?  You know, I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted.  Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.

DONAHUE:  Well —

FRIEDMAN:  I don’t even trust you to do that.

RUSH:  Milton Friedman back in 1979 schooling Phil Donahue, and everybody else who heard that on the notions of virtue and greed and just basically upsetting Phil’s applecart.  Phil wasn’t smart enough to know it was happening. He’s still running around lamenting the accident of birth. If he’d been 30 miles south he would have grown up in poverty.  Anyway, we wanted to play that for you and recognize Milton Friedman.

miltonfriedmanMilton Friedman:  “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there will be a shortage of sand.” 

 Milton Friedman:  “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” 

Another Milton Friedman quote:  “Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.”  

Boy, isn’t that true? Pass another law.  Government comes along and creates a program.  The program is an absolute disaster.  Government says, “That’s gotta get fixed.”  Government says, “Okay, we’ll fix it.”  And it compounds itself, one error atop another. (Rush)

Another Milton Friedman quote:  “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”  

I’ll tell you, the guy was great.  He was a genius.  He lived into his late eighties.  He would have been a hundred years old this week. (Rush)

Dinner Talk

1. Who does Mr. Friedman say is greedy?

2. Do you think political self-interest is better than economic self-interest? Why or why not?

3. According to Mr. Friedman, which system fosters a stronger economy— management by government bureaucracies (socialism), or free enterprise? Why?

America, Liberty, and Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville: Life and Quotes

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Alexis_de_tocquevillekeyOne reason Tocqueville, as a Frenchman, took such interest in America is the comparison between the American and French revolutions. The Founding Fathers loved the God of the Bible, and respected the Judeo-Christian moral values. The French were just the opposite. They totally rejected God and all His attendant values, resulting in murder, immorality, and anarchy. Note that  Tocqueville understands the difference. This is why it is so important to know and understand history—to learn from the choices, good and bad, made by people in the past and then apply those lessons today. ~CD

Alexis de Tocqueville

From Wikipedia

America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

  • This has often been attributed to de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, but erroneously … There’s an earlier variant, without the memorable ending, that dates back to at least 1886:

I went at your bidding, and passed along their thoroughfares of trade. I ascended their mountains and went down their valleys. I visited their manufactories, their commercial markets, and emporiums of trade. I entered their judicial courts and legislative halls. But I sought everywhere in vain for the secret of their success, until I entered the church. It was there, as I listened to the soul-equalizing and soul-elevating principles of the Gospel of Christ, as they fell from Sabbath to Sabbath upon the masses of the people, that I learned why America was great and free, and why France was a slave. (Empty Pews & Selections from Other Sermons on Timely Topics, Madison Clinton Peters; Zeising, 1886, p. 35)

Read on for more thoughtful statements from de Tocqueville. CD

Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville 29 July 1805, Paris – 16 April 1859, Cannes) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science.

Alexis de Tocqueville came from an old Norman aristocratic family with ancestors who participated in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. His parents, Hervé Louis François Jean Bonaventure Clérel, Comte de Tocqueville, an officer of the Constitutional Guard of King Louis XVI, and Louise Madeleine Le Peletier de Rosanbo, narrowly avoided the guillotine due to the fall of Robespierre in 1794. After an exile in England, they returned to France during the reign of Napoleon. Under the Bourbon Restoration, his father became a noble peer and prefect.[citation needed] Tocqueville attended the Lycée Fabert in Metz.[1]

 

Tocqueville, who despised the July Monarchy (1830-1848), began his political career at the start of the same period, 1830. Thus, he became deputy of the Manche department (Valognes), a position which he maintained until 1851. In parliament, he defended abolitionist views and upheld free trade, while supporting the colonisation of Algeria carried on by Louis-Philippe‘s regime. Tocqueville was also elected general counsellor of the Manche in 1842, and became the president of the department’s conseil général between 1849 and 1851. According to one account, Tocqueville’s political position became untenable during this time in the sense that he was mistrusted by both the left and right, and was looking for an excuse to leave France.[2] In 1831, he obtained from the July Monarchy a mission to examine prisons and penitentiaries in America, and proceeded there with his lifelong friend Gustave de Beaumont. While Tocqueville did visit some prisons, he traveled widely in America and took extensive notes about his observations and reflections.[2] He returned in less than two years, and published a report, but the real result of his tour was De la démocratie en Amerique, which appeared in 1835.[3]

Apart from America, Tocqueville also made an observational tour of England, producing Memoir on Pauperism. In 1841 and 1846, he traveled to Algeria. His first travel inspired his Travail sur l’Algérie, in which he criticized the French model of colonisation, which was based on an assimilationist view, preferring instead the British model of indirect rule, which avoided mixing different populations together. He went as far as openly advocating racial segregation between the European colonists and the “Arabs” through the implementation of two different legislative systems (a half century before implementation of the 1881 Indigenous code based on religion). In 1835 de Tocqueville made a journey through Ireland. His observations provide one of the best pictures of how Ireland stood before the Great Famine 1845-1849. The observations chronicle the growing Catholic middle-class and the appalling conditions in which most Catholic tenant farmers lived. De Tocqueville’s libertarian sympathies and his affinity for his Irish co-religionists are made clear.[4]

After the fall of the July Monarchy during the February 1848 Revolution, Tocqueville was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848, where he became a member of the Commission charged with the drafting of the new Constitution of the Second Republic (1848-1851). He defended bicameralism (the existence of two parliamentary chambers) and the election of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage. As the countryside was thought to be more conservative than the labouring population of Paris, universal suffrage was conceived as a means to counteract the revolutionary spirit of Paris.

During the Second Republic, Tocqueville sided with the parti de l’Ordre against the socialists. A few days after the February insurrection, he believed that a violent clash between the Parisian workers’ population led by socialists agitating in favor of a “Democratic and Social Republic” and the conservatives, which included the aristocracy and the rural population, was inescapable. As Tocqueville had foreseen, these social tensions eventually exploded during the June Days Uprising of 1848. Led by General Cavaignac, the repression was supported by Tocqueville, who advocated the “regularization” of the state of siege declared by Cavaignac, and other measures promoting suspension of the constitutional order.[5] Between May and September, Tocqueville participated in the Constitutional Commission which wrote the new Constitution. His proposals underlined the importance of his American experience, as his amendment about the President and his reelection.[6]

A supporter of Cavaignac and of the parti de l’Ordre, Tocqueville, however, accepted an invitation to enter Odilon Barrot‘s government as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 3 June to 31 October 1849. There, during the troubled days of June 1849, he pleaded with Jules Dufaure, Interior Minister, for the reestablishment of the state of siege in the capital and approved the arrest of demonstrators. Tocqueville, who since February 1848 had supported laws restricting political freedoms, approved the two laws voted immediately after the June 1849 days, which restricted the liberty of clubs and freedom of the press. This active support in favor of laws restricting political freedoms stands in contrast of his defense of freedoms in Democracy in America. A closer analysis reveals, however, that Tocqueville favored order as “the sine qua non for the conduct of serious politics. He [hoped] to bring the kind of stability to French political life that would permit the steady growth of liberty unimpeded by the regular rumblings of the earthquakes of revolutionary change.″[7]

Tocqueville had supported Cavaignac against Louis Napoléon Bonaparte for the presidential election of 1848. Opposed to Louis Napoléon’s 2 December 1851 coup which followed his election, Tocqueville was among the deputies who gathered at the 10th arrondissement of Paris in an attempt to resist the coup and have Napoleon III judged for “high treason,” as he had violated the constitutional limit on terms of office. Detained at Vincennes and then released, Tocqueville, who supported the Restoration of the Bourbons against Bonaparte’s Second Empire (1851-1871), quit political life and retreated to his castle (Château de Tocqueville). Against this image of Tocqueville, biographer Joseph Epstein has concluded: “Tocqueville could never bring himself to serve a man he considered a usurper and despot. He fought as best he could for the political liberty in which he so ardently believed-had given it, in all, thirteen years of his life [….] He would spend the days remaining to him fighting the same fight, but conducting it now from libraries, archives, and his own desk.”[8] There, he began the draft of L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution, publishing the first tome in 1856, but leaving the second one unfinished.

A longtime sufferer from bouts of tuberculosis, Tocqueville would eventually succumb to the disease on April 16, 1859. He was buried in the Tocqueville cemetery in Normandy.

Tocqueville’s professed religion was Roman Catholicism.[9] He saw religion as being compatible with both equality and individualism, and felt that religion would be strongest when separated from politics.[2]

Quotes by Alexis de Tocqueville

Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?

Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Koran not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others.

The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man.

The principle of equality does not destroy the imagination, but lowers its flight to the level of the earth.

I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it.

As the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Free Will and Jesus Christ Atonement

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Free Will and Jesus Christ Atonement

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Free Forever, to Act for Themselves

Character-Education

Todd Christofferson

keyIt is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually.

A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme. ~D. Todd Christofferson

henryvshakespearechristoffersonWilliam Shakespeare’s play The Life of King Henry V includes a nighttime scene in the camp of English soldiers at Agincourt just before their battle with the French army. In the dim light and partially disguised, King Henry wanders unrecognized among his soldiers. He talks with them, trying to gauge the morale of his badly outnumbered troops, and because they do not realize who he is, they are candid in their comments. In one exchange they philosophize about who bears responsibility for what happens to men in battle—the king or each individual soldier.

At one point King Henry declares, “Methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king’s company; his cause being just.”

henryvshakespeare2Michael Williams retorts, “That’s more than we know.”

His companion agrees, “Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.”

Williams adds, “If the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make.”

Not surprisingly, King Henry disagrees. “Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.”1

Shakespeare does not attempt to resolve this debate in the play, and in one form or another it is a debate that continues down to our own time—who bears responsibility for what happens in our lives?

When things turn bad, there is a tendency to blame others or even God. Sometimes a sense of entitlement arises, and individuals or groups try to shift responsibility for their welfare to other people or to governments. In spiritual matters some suppose that men and women need not strive for personal righteousness—because God loves and saves us “just as we are.”

freewill1But God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”2 It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of “puppet master” in God’s place. Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.”3

So God does not save us “just as we are,” first, because “just as we are” we are unclean, and “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man [of Holiness].”4 And second, God will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels nor abandons us. Rather He helps and guides us. Indeed, the real manifestation of God’s love is His commandments.

We should (and we do) rejoice in the God-ordained plan that permits us to make choices to act for ourselves and experience the consequences, or as the scriptures express it, to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”5 We are forever grateful that the Savior’s Atonement overcame original sin so that we can be born into this world yet not be punished for Adam’s transgression.6 Having been thus redeemed from the Fall, we begin life innocent before God and “become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.”7 We can choose to become the kind of person that we will, and with God’s help, that can be even as He is.8

The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character. Justice demands, however, that none of this happen without our willing agreement and participation. It has ever been so. Our very presence on earth as physical beings is the consequence of a choice each of us made to participate in our Father’s plan.9 Thus, salvation is certainly not the result of divine whim, but neither does it happen by divine will alone.10

jesusjusticemedAtonement of Christ, Justice and Mercy

Justice is an essential attribute of God. We can have faith in God because He is perfectly trustworthy. The scriptures teach us that “God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round”11 and that “God is no respecter of persons.”12 We rely on the divine quality of justice for faith, confidence, and hope.

But as a consequence of being perfectly just, there are some things God cannot do. He cannot be arbitrary in saving some and banishing others. He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”13 He cannot allow mercy to rob justice.14

It is compelling evidence of His justice that God has forged the companion principle of mercy. It is because He is just that He devised the means for mercy to play its indispensable role in our eternal destiny. So now, “justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own.”15

jesusforgivemedWe know that it is “the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom [the Father] wast well pleased; … the blood of [His] Son which was shed”16 that satisfies the demands of justice, extends mercy, and redeems us.17 Even so, “according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance.”18 It is the requirement of and the opportunity for repentance that permits mercy to perform its labor without trampling justice.

Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save”19 in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, God enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves. Repentance respects and sustains our moral agency: “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”20

Misunderstanding God’s justice and mercy is one thing; denying God’s existence or supremacy is another, but either will result in our achieving less—sometimes far less—than our full, divine potential. A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.

 

Relativism

Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.”21 Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”22

To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God’s own power. If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions. As Lehi expressed it: “If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”23

responsibilityResponsibility is a gift

In matters both temporal and spiritual, the opportunity to assume personal responsibility is a God-given gift without which we cannot realize our full potential as daughters and sons of God. Personal accountability becomes both a right and a duty that we must constantly defend; it has been under assault since before the Creation. We must defend accountability against persons and programs that would (sometimes with the best of intentions) make us dependent. And we must defend it against our own inclinations to avoid the work that is required to cultivate talents, abilities, and Christlike character.

graveyardThe story is told of a man who simply would not work. He wanted to be taken care of in every need. To his way of thinking, the Church or the government, or both, owed him a living because he had paid his taxes and his tithing. He had nothing to eat but refused to work to care for himself. Out of desperation and disgust, those who had tried to help him decided that since he would not lift a finger to sustain himself, they might as well just take him to the cemetery and let him pass on. On the way to the cemetery, one man said, “We can’t do this. I have some corn I will give him.”

So they explained this to the man, and he asked, “Have the husks been removed?”

They responded, “No.”

“Well, then,” he said, “drive on.”

It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.

christofferson-freewillI am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”24 And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.

I bear witness that God the Father lives, that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer, and that the Holy Spirit is present with us. Their desire to help us is undoubted, and Their capacity to do so is infinite. Let us “awake, and arise from the dust, … that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto [us] may be fulfilled.”25

Related Post on Free Will

 

Culture Wars: Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

Culture Wars—

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

My Questions on Jesus and Charity

Rush Limbaugh

Jesus-question-charityRUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a question, maybe a couple of questions here, and I ask these questions simply because I would like the answers.  And these questions derive from what I have heard on television today during our obscene profit time-outs here. I very rarely do this, but I turned the audio up, I actually listened, and I’ve caught a couple of guests on Fox and they’ve been asked, “Are you aware that people like Rush Limbaugh are calling the pope Marxist?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re aware of that, and the pope is clearly aware of it, too, but like the pope said on the plane yesterday, he’s not a leftist.  It’s just a misinterpretation.”  And this one guest said, “There’s nothing liberal about the pope. He’s just a good Catholic.” He started rattling off charity and concern and all these other things that define Christianity and said that’s all the pope is.

Okay, so I have a question, because this seems to be a major point of contention.  I have long maintained that whenever it happened in our welfare state, and we could probably find this with enough deep research.  When welfare became or started to become categorized as charity is when liberalism began to be attractive to churches.  Churches quite naturally are big on charity both as recipients for distribution and donors.  They do both sides.

So along comes this pope now and his not apologists, but the people translating for him or explaining, interpreting, “Oh, no, no, no, this ideological, pope is not liberal, no, no, no, no, no.  Don’t be so silly.  Don’t be so foolish.  Don’t be so small-minded.  He’s simply a Catholic, simply Christian, this is what Christians and Catholics do.”  And then, “It’s what Jesus did, simply what Jesus did.”  So my question is this.  I need some legitimate help on this.  I know that Jesus preached charity.  Did Jesus tell people to give their money to the Romans so that the Romans could then distribute it?

In other words, did Jesus tell people to give their money to whatever governing entity there was, or entities there were at the time, or did he preach charity as an individual thing?  In other words, was Jesus a big-government charitable advocate?  It seems to me that it might have been the opposite, that Jesus had some problems with governments.

These are just open-ended questions to which I’m asking if people have the answer.

These are not rhetorical questions.

welfare-government-charity-madisonWell, I don’t think there’s anything offensive about these questions.  One, I’m trying to understand, because it’s come up today.  One of the undeniable truths in our culture is that the modern day Democrat Party does not like religion.  They don’t like Christianity.  That’s not even arguable.  (interruption)  Well, certain big government didn’t like Jesus, but my point is when it comes to chair, the pope seems to be advocating that governments need to do all of these big things, and our interpreters on TV are saying, “Yep, that’s what Jesus did.”

Is that right?  I am not a theologian.  I have never used this program to preach or proselytize.  As you well know, I don’t go into any of these arguments. Faith is a deeply personal, private thing. That’s why I don’t even condone arguments about it on this program, so I’m just asking here.  (interruption)  No, I’m not asking if… (interruption)  When Jesus told people to be charitable, was he telling them to pay higher taxes and let the Romans take care of it?  (interruption)  He wasn’t, right?  The Romans ran the show. 

I mean, the Romans were the government then.  They were the federal government.  There might have been some local pretenders and so forth, but that’s all I’m asking.  He said render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but he also then had a qualifier after that which made it clear that Caesar was not entitled to everything.  I mean, you can interpret it, “Yeah, pay your fair tax and get the hell out of Dodge.”  But this is why I’m asking the question, because it’s being interpreted today.  The left — I find this fascinating.  The left, which does not hold any really great love for the Catholic Church or organized religion at all is now all of a sudden trying to portray themselves as Christ-like. 

And it’s all in the name of big government, all in the name of trying to portray now what the Democrat Party’s doing, the American left is doing as Christ-like, taking advantage of the visit of the pope in order to create that impression with people.

US Constitution Series 7: Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff

Dinner Topics for Thursday

US Constitution Series 7:

Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

keyThe utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of the wealth], and a community of goods [central ownership of all the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional. ~Samuel Adams (p.119)

 The Proper Role of Government is to Protect Equal Rights, Not provide Equal Things

Equal Opportunity, Liberty of Enterprise, NOT Equal Income, NOT Free Stuff

redistsocialismillustratedIn Europe, during the days of the Founders, a popular idea was that government should take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots” so that all might be truly “equal.” However, the American Founders believed that this idea contained a huge fallacy.

Suppose a kind-hearted man saw that one of his neighbors had two cars while another neighbor had none. What would happen if, in a spirit of benevolence, the kind man went over and took one of the cars from his prosperous neighbor and generously gave it to the neighbor in need? Obviously, he would be arrested for car theft. No matter how kind his intentions, he is guilty of flagrantly violating the natural rights of his prosperous neighbor, who is entitled to be protected in his property.

What if the “kind-hearted” man got the government to force the prosperous car-owner to give a car to his pedestrian neighbor?

A Lesson from Communism

hammerandsickleWhen the communists seized power in Hungary, the peasants were delighted with the “justice” of having the large farms confiscated from their owners and given to the peasants. Later the Communist leaders seized three-fourths of the peasant land and took it back to set up government communal farms. Immediately the peasants howled in protest about their property “rights.”

Those who protested too loudly or too long soon found that they not only lost their land, but also their liberty. If they continued to protest, they lost their lives.

Equal Rights Doctrine Protects the Freedom to Prosper

The policy of the American Founders was to guarantee the equal protection of all the people’s rights and thus insure that all would have the freedom to prosper. There was to be no special penalty for getting rich. (pp. 115-117)

 

Making the Whole Nation Prosperous

wealthspreadworkethicThe Founders felt that America would become a nation dominated by a prosperous middle class with a few people becoming rich. As for the poor, the important thing was to insure the freedom to prosper so that no one would be locked into the poverty level the way people have been in all other parts of the world.

Some would prosper more than others. Some would prosper because of talent, some because of good fortune, some because of an inheritance, but most would prosper because of hard work.

Where people suffered the loss of their crops or became unemployed, the more fortunate were to help. And those who were enjoying “good times” were encouraged to save up in store for the misfortunes which seem to come to everybody someday. Hard work, frugality, thrift, and compassion became the key words in the American ethic. (p. 118)

Why the Founders Made European Theories Unconstitutional

America soon became the most prosperous and best-educated people on earth. The key was using the government to protect equal rights, not to provide equal things. Samuel Adams said the ideas of a welfare state were made unconstitutional:

The utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of the wealth], and a community of goods [central ownership of all the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional. ~Samuel Adams (p.119)

Founders’ Formula for Compassion

Benjamin Franklin wrote:

wealthredistribute1To relieve the misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity; it is godlike; but, if we provide encouragement for laziness, and supports for folly, may we not be found fighting against the order of God and Nature, which perhaps has appointed want and misery as the proper punishments for, and cautions against, as well as necessary consequences of, idleness and extravagance? Whenever we attempt to amend the scheme of Providence, and to interfere with the government of the world, we had need to be very circumspect, lest we do more harm than good. (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 3:135)

Highlights from the writings of the Founders suggest the following:

1. Do not help the needy completely. Merely help them to help themselves.

2. Give the poor the satisfaction of “earned achievement” instead of rewarding them without achievement.

3. Allow the poor to climb the “appreciation ladder”—from tents to cabins, cabins to cottages, cottages to comfortable houses.

4. Where emergency help is provided, do not prolong it to the point where it becomes habitual.

5. Strictly enforce the scale of “fixed responsibility.” The first and foremost level of responsibility is with the individual himself; the second level is the family; then the church; next the community; finally the county, and, in a disaster or emergency, the state. Under no circumstances is the federal government to become involved in public welfare.

wealthprivatesectorThe Founders felt it would corrupt the government and also the poor. No Constitutional authority exists for the federal government to participate in charity or welfare.

(pp.120-121)

US Constitution Series 6: All Men are Created Equal—Law, Liberty, and Socialism

Next Principle 8: Men are Endowed by their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights

History Facts: Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

History Facts:

Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

Calvin Coolidge represents the exact opposite of Left-wing politics.. Coolidge had integrity. He deserves a lot more respect than he ever got. ~C.A. Davidson

“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”

key“We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.” ~Calvin Coolidge

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. ~Calvin Coolidge

Amity Shlaes
Author, Coolidge

calvincoolidgeCalvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy

AMITY SHLAES is a syndicated columnist for Bloomberg, a director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and a member of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She has served as a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and as a columnist for the Financial Times, and is a recipient of the Hayek Prize and the Frederic Bastiat Prize for free-market journalism. She is the author of four books, Germany: The Empire Within, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It, and Coolidge.

The following is adapted from a talk given at Hillsdale College on January 27, 2013, during a conference on “The Federal Income Tax: A Centenary Consideration,” co-sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Ludwig von Mises Lecture Series.


WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.

An alternative model for conservatives is Calvin Coolidge. President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was Coolidge’s penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Coolidge was the Great Refrainer.

Enter Coolidge
Following World War I, the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the war, and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets. The Woodrow Wilson administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the war, and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.

The Republican Party’s response in the 1920 election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, Warren Harding, dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate. Calvin Coolidge, a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be Harding’s running mate. And following their victory, Harding’s inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing Wilson administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” Harding said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”

One of Harding’s first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which Harding named a flamboyant Brigadier General, Charles Dawes, as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where Dawes cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts. In addition, Harding pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.

Unfortunately, some of the men Harding appointed to key jobs proved susceptible to favoritism or bribery, and his administration soon became embroiled in scandal. In one instance, the cause of privatization sustained damage when it became clear that secret deals had taken place in the leasing of oil reserves at Teapot Dome. Then in the summer of 1923, during a trip out West to get away from the scandals and prepare for a new presidential campaign, Harding died suddenly.

Enter Coolidge, whose personality was at first deemed a negative—his face, Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle.” But canny political leaders, including Supreme Court Justice and former President William Howard Taft, quickly came to respect the new president. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, after visiting the White House a few times that August, noted that whereas Harding had never been alone, Coolidge often was; that whereas Harding was partial to group decisions, Coolidge made decisions himself; and most important, that whereas Harding’s customary answer was “yes,” Coolidge’s was “no.”

The former governor of Massachusetts was in his element when it came to budgeting. Within 24 hours of arriving back in Washington after Harding’s death, he met with his own budget director, Herbert Lord, and together they went on offense, announcing deepened cuts in two politically sensitive areas: spending on veterans and District of Columbia public works. In his public statements, Coolidge made clear he would have scant patience with anyone who didn’t go along: “We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.”

If Harding’s budget meetings had been rough, Coolidge’s were rougher. Lord first advertised a “Two Percent Club,” for executive branch staffers who managed to save two percent in their budgets. Then a “One Percent Club,” for those who had achieved two or more already. And finally a “Woodpecker Club,” for department heads who kept chipping away. Coolidge did not even find it beneath his pay grade to look at the use of pencils in the government: “I don’t know if I ever indicated to the conference that the cost of lead pencils to the government per year is about $125,000,” he instructed the press in 1926. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” he told voters.

Coolidge in Command
“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge had once advised his father. And indeed, while Harding had vetoed only six bills, Coolidge vetoed 50—including farming subsidies, even though he came from farming country. (“Farmers never had made much money,” he told a guest, and he didn’t see there was much the government could rightly do about it.) He also vetoed veterans’ pensions and government entry into the utilities sector.

Thanks to A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection.com for his great cartoon

The Purpose of Tax Cuts

In short, Coolidge didn’t favor tax cuts as a means to increase revenue or to buy off Democrats. He favored them because they took government, the people’s servant, out of the way of the people. And this sense of government as servant extended to his own office.

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

But as unpopular as he was in Washington, Coolidge proved enormously popular with voters. In 1924, the Progressive Party ran on a platform of government ownership of public power and a return to government ownership of railroads. Many thought the Progressive Party might split the Republican vote as it had in 1912, handing the presidency to the Democrats. As it happened, Progressive candidate Robert LaFollette indeed claimed more than 16 percent of the vote.

Yet Coolidge won with an absolute majority, gaining more votes than the Progressive and the Democrat combined. And in 1928, when Coolidge decided not to run for reelection despite the urging of party leaders who looked on his reelection as a sure bet, Herbert Hoover successfully ran on a pledge to continue Coolidge’s policies.

Unfortunately, Hoover didn’t live up to his pledge. Critics often confuse Hoover’s policies with Coolidge’s and complain that the latter did not prevent the Great Depression. That is an argument I take up at length in my previous book, The Forgotten Man, and is a topic for another day. Here let me just say that the Great Depression was as great and as long in duration as it was because, as economist Benjamin Anderson put it, the government under both Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, unlike under Coolidge, chose to “play God.”

Lessons from Coolidge

Beyond the inspiration of Coolidge’s example of principle and consistency, what are the lessons of his story that are relevant to our current situation? One certainly has to do with the mechanism of budgeting: The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 provided a means for Harding and Coolidge to control the budget and the nation’s debt, and at the same time gave the people the ability to hold someone responsible. That law was gutted in the 1970s, when it became collateral damage in the anti-executive fervor following Watergate. The law that replaced it tilted budget authority back to Congress and has led to over-spending and lack of responsibility.

A second lesson concerns how we look at tax rates. When tax rates are set and judged according to how much revenue they bring in due to the Laffer Curve—which is how most of today’s tax cutters present them, thereby agreeing with tax hikers that the goal of tax policy is to increase revenue—tax policy can become a mechanism to expand government. The goals of legitimate government—American freedom and prosperity—are left by the wayside.

Thus the best case for lower taxes is the moral case—and as Coolidge well understood, a moral tax policy demands tough budgeting.

Finally, a lesson about politics. The popularity of Harding and Coolidge, and the success of their policies—especially Coolidge’s—following a long period of Progressive ascendancy, should give today’s conservatives hope. Coolidge in the 1920s, like Grover Cleveland in the previous century, distinguished government austerity from private-sector austerity, combined a policy of deficit cuts with one of tax cuts, and made a moral case for saying “no.” A political leader who does the same today is likely to find an electorate more inclined to respond “yes” than he or she expects.

Coolidge and Moral Economy, complete article