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!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Nation Under God, Indivisible: A Debate

I recently found this gem: A full debate between Harry Jaffa and Thomas DiLorenzo. Harry Jaffa (who died in early 2015) was Professor Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University and a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute. According to the Wiki article, "His most famous work, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, written in 1959, [was] described as 'the greatest Lincoln book ever'" by Peter Robinson in Forbes Magazine. DiLorenzo is an American economics professor at Loyola University Maryland Sellinger School of Business, and is one of the foremost proponents of the Neo-Confederate school of thought (although I'm not sure if he'd own the description).

They had a debate on Lincoln, and here it is.

Some thoughts:

·         I don't know who's been borrowing from whom, but Jaffa's arguments are almost verbatim from Vindicating Lincoln by Krannawitter, including the story I've related about the walkout by Southern Democrats in the 1860 primary over federal protection of slavery in the territories. I strongly suspect that Krannawitter's borrowing from Jaffa, but I can't be sure. But if you want a great restatement of just about every point Krannawitter made in his book, it's here. The debate was in 2002, and Krannawitter published his book in 2008.

·         Wow, DiLorenzo is absolutely fixated on this idea that tariffs were the main cause of the War, or at least an equal cause along with slavery. He’s also fixated on asserting that high tariffs were a huge deal with Lincoln, citing speeches Lincoln made which supported protectionism. But did you notice the dates on these? DiLorenzo mentions pro-tariff Lincoln speeches in 1840, 1848, and the early 1850’s. Why is that?
o   Keep in mind that Lincoln had retired from politics in the early 1850’s. What controversial issue brought him back in? Was it tariffs? Well, as Jaffa pointed out, the idea that slavery was a side-issue would be “very strange for anybody reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates, since the subject of tariffs was never mentioned. The only time the word is used, I think, is when Douglas says that the tariff was one of the questions that the two parties used to discuss. But the only subject discussed in the Lincoln-Douglas debates was slavery in the territories.”
o   No, the thing that brought Lincoln back into politics—first local and then national—was the issue of slavery, specifically the expansion of slavery into the territories. He hated slavery, longing for its eventual extinction, and in his mind the expansion of slavery was completely opposed to that.

·         Jaffa, as Krannawitter would a few years later, points out the essential difference between (legal) secession and (illegal) revolution. He explains it quite thoroughly, and DiLorenzo never addresses this.

·         Per usual with NC’s, DiLorenzo seems to criticize Lincoln for being too anti-slavery and at the same time not anti-slavery enough. Lincoln was in favor of enforcement of the Fugitive Slave laws, so he couldn’t have been anti-slavery. But he invaded the South in order to fight slavery, and thus he was a dictator. Once again, Lincoln hated slavery, but he valued the rule of law and the Constitution more than he hated slavery. This doesn’t seem to me to be rocket science, but for some reason DiLorenzo doesn’t seem to grasp that about him. 

All in all, I really think Jaffa got the better of the debate here. 

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