Review of Bible and Government – part 2

by thoughtfulconservative

Continuing my review of the book Bible and Government by Dr. John M. Cobin, we move into the first few chapters.

Dr. Cobin recognizes two rights, positive and negative. Negative rights are natural rights. Positive rights are those rights guaranteed by the government that people do not have naturally.

Dr. Cobin then sets out four categories of public policy.

  1. Reactive policy which is “action by government which is designed to provide a social service that the market cannot provide well.” The “pure” reactive policies he sets forth are national defense, legal rules based on the law of property, contract and tort, and criminal justice.
  2. Policies of inefficient public provision wherein, government provides a genuine good or service normally provided by the market.
  3. Proactive policy aimed at changing behavior (Big Brother or Nanny state policies).
  4. Proactive policy aimed at fostering redistribution wealth in conjunction with a social goal.

He then rails against two examples of #4, Social Security and student loans.

In Chapter 2,  he discusses modern public policy from a Biblical perspective.

First he says that “the Bible never suggests that the institution of government is in and of itself good.” This may come as a surprise to many Bible believers, as it did to me, whose view of government is conditioned by teaching on Romans 13:1-7. He further suggests that nationalism has no place for Christians, which I can agree with.

He spends a lot of time discussing Sept. 11, especially some of the talk of wanting to bomb or even nuke  Arab or Muslim population centers in retaliation.

Dr. Cobin contends that any non-reactive policy (i.e., other than #1 above) would be difficult to justify Biblically, even to go so far that a Christian should not voluntary benefit from those policies, and any such benefit would be sin.

He states that, from the Biblical record, “it seems that the main purpose for government is to serve as God’s minister for judgment.”

And he says, “It is the officials in civil government who usually become the greatest beneficiaries of the welfare state or rent seeking society–at the expense of their constituents.”

Strong words.

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