So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One Nation Under God, Indivisible: Questions Relevant and Non

            In the last posting we tried to define the Neo-Confederate (hereafter abbreviated as “NC”) movement, and the first point the Wiki article made in its summary was this:

“Honor of the Confederacy and its veterans — Much of the Neo-Confederate movement is concerned with giving honor to the Confederacy itself, to the veterans of the Confederacy and Confederate veterans' cemeteries, to the various flags of the Confederacy, and to Southern cultural identity.”

Another point in their summary of the movement:

“Black Confederates — The book The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader notes that toward the end of the Twentieth Century, in order to support the idea that the Civil War was not about slavery, Neo-Confederates began to claim that “thousands of African Americans had served in the Confederate army.” A Neo-Confederate publication, Confederate Veteran, said in 1992 that “the overwhelming majority of blacks during the War Between the States supported and defended, with armed resistance, the Cause of Southern Independence.”

            Let’s address these for a moment.
            I’ll quickly stipulate that there were a lot of brave soldiers who sacrificed much—up to and including a horrible death--for what they believed in. I’ve heard some Neo-Confederates make the claim that most of the southern soldiers on the front line weren’t fighting to uphold slavery but to defend their homeland against what they considered to be tyrannical foreign invaders. I have some doubts about their thesis--the complete disassociation with slavery in the mind of the Confederate soldier--but let’s concede it for the moment for the sake of argument.
            Let’s also stipulate—for the sake of argument—that the NC’s are right in their claim that 1000’s of blacks volunteered to take up arms for the South in the conflict. I confess I haven’t done enough research to confirm or deny this assertion.
            I’ve also heard it pointed out by NC’s that only a minority of white Southerners ever owned a single slave. This is absolutely true. 
            None of this is relevant to the point at hand.
            None of this is relevant to the question of why the South seceded, whether or not secession was right or wrong, or whether or not the main reason for secession was slavery.
            What matters in any conflict is not why any number of soldiers are fighting on the front lines. They might really believe in the national cause, or they might’ve been pressured (or forced) to join, or they might be fighting in the hope of scoring some war booty, or they might be fighting to defend their comrades in arms right next to them in the foxholes. The common understanding of most soldiers’ motives is that they’re fighting for their buddies next to them, not for any high-minded principle, and I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
            Why any particular soldier, or group of soldiers, were fighting in the Civil War (on either side) is largely irrelevant to the questions I’m trying to address here:

1) Was the Civil War over slavery or something else?
2) Was the War inevitable?
3) Did the Southern states have a right to secede?
4) Which was more pro-freedom, the North or the South?
5) What were Lincoln's views on slavery and race relations?
6) If the South didn’t have a right to secede, then were Lincoln’s actions during the war justified?
7) Why are so many conservatives NC’s? What’s their thought-process on this?
8) So what difference does it make? What's the big deal? Why should we care if some conservatives are NC’s?

            Those brave soldiers might’ve been sincerely fighting for what they believed was a just cause, but even if in their minds their fight had absolutely nothing to do with slavery, that has nothing to do with the questions above.            
            Before we go any further, I have to confess that just about everything I’m about to argue in the remaining posts on this topic is almost completely based on Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of Our Greatest President by Thomas Krannawitter. I’m not going to footnote every time I’m summarizing one of his points or arguments, since this isn’t a school research paper. The problem is that the people I’m trying to convince on this—NC’s and those leaning towards their viewpoint—aren’t very likely to pick it up, so I can’t just link to it and say “Just read this.” So I’m going to summarize some of his main arguments in this series. Once we get back to my own thoughts (which aren’t directly based on his book), I’ll let you know. For the time being, however, just assume that anything reasonable or worthwhile coming off these web pages comes from him, not me.
            The plan is that I’ll address each one of the eight questions in a posting, mostly using Mr. Krannawitter’s arguments to answer it. If you’re a Neo-Confederate or lean that way, or if you’re like me in your concern for the NC streak in the conservative movement, then I hope you’ll join me. 

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