Posts tagged ‘Religion and government’

January 19, 2008

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.

January 10, 2008

Review of Bible and Government – part 1

by thoughtfulconservative

Written by Dr. John M. Cobin, an investment adviser and Visiting Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Bible and Government(subtitled Public Policy from a Christian Perspective) gives a view of government from a Christian perspective most Christians would probably be surprised to read.

This is not Mike Huckabee government, folks.

And he doesn’t wait till chapter one to get started. In the introduction he asks four basic questions (p. 5):

  1. What kind of government should Bible-believing Christians support?
  2. What public policy must be obeyed?
  3. When, if ever, should Christians revolt?
  4. To what extent is the Christian’s submission to the state qualified?

These questions Dr. Cobin seeks to answer in his book.

He then discusses three dominant philosophies of biblical public policy that have emerged (p. 7-9).

theonomists (or Christian Reconstruction) would tend to allow civil government action that assists in the establishment of the postmillennial golden age. …Anabaptists… advocate non-participation in most civil government offices. [ed.-in some cases, this leads them to pacifism]. …Still a third perspective,…seems to offer a revitalized vision of the divine right of kings….if God ordains the state, then nearly all of what it decrees must be obeyed as if God Himself had issued the order.

Reformed Christians (like Huckabee) see civil government as “a redeemable and, hence, potentially useful institution that may be placed in the service of God’s kingdom as a restraint against evil.” This is what most evangelicals mean by Cobin proposes that at least part of civil government is beyond the pale of transformation.

What might surprise some Christians is Dr. Cobin’s interpretation of 1 Samuel 8:4-20. Israel is asking for a king and Samuel is trying to tell them what a king will mean, especially in the area of taxation.

Another of Cobin’s premises is that civil government is, in fact, a lethal institution. He quotes extensively from a speech that includes data that can be found on this website.

Well, that’s the introduction, there’s more to come.