Thursday, February 03, 2005

The World System - The Context of Christian Charity and Good Works

It has been my pledge to not blog politics. My desire has been to not offend readers by political views which could in some way get between my role to promote the renewal of the church and the reader. I see politics as a distraction to our main task. This does not mean that I reject all political involvement but that I am simply not called to such political activism. BUT...

I am involved in another blog community called the Dialogical Coffee House. This morning I decided that prior to diving into my exposition of the sayings of Jesus with respect to Christian charity and materialism, I would counter-balance the quest for chuch renewal with its complimentary political view. Please, if you do not agree with this post, which is on political basics, do not throw the baby out with the bathwater and reject the more important issues of following Jesus into a life of Good Works and Blessed Charity.

The Third Way of a Decent Right
On political matters, I tend toward libertarianism. By libertarianism, I mean a very limited view of the role of the state. The role of the state is primarily to protect the rights of its citizens. Therefore, in this discussion, I would tend toward promoting a "third way" that contends for a "decent right". Thinking globally, as Gideon has suggested, it seems that the influence of the Christian church to promote a decent right in lands where civil liberty and economic opportunity is structurally denied to a majority of citizens is a third way in which the North American church could better find unity and could, therefore, be better mobilized.

My political philosophy, as immature as it may be, is based on my strong commitment to the gospel of grace, as opposed to law or coercion, as the means to authentic righteousness. It is not beneficial to have the state privilege certain institutions over other institutions. It is not religious or virtuous for a population to act charitably under duress or fear. In a marketplace of civil liberty and freedom, the gospel and true righteousness will prevail by the grace of God. Therefore, in this dialogue, I promote a decent right which expands upon a strict libertarian view of the role of the state to include the following clarifications:

1. Opportunity. We can only say that a person is truly free when that individual is given a legitimate opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For example, it is necessary and prudent for the state to place a high priority on public education. Radical libertarianism would limit the state to such an extreme as to not see the state as playing a role in breaking the back of structural oppression through the education of all classes of society. If the libertarian right looks at the state as only protecting rights and not seeing that freedom includes the promotion of equality of opportunity, I do not think that we can say that all members of such a society would be actually free. The promotion of equal opportunity as a paradigm leads to an appropriate level of economic regulation of the monopolistic tendencies of unhindered capitalism. The promotion of rights and opportunity can lead to a decidedly “green” aspect to this third way of a “decent right”. The promotion of opportunity would mean the maintenance of a political and social infrastructure which protects human dignity and allows for authentic choice and consequence of all societies members.

2. Consequence. When I hear the idea of public justice, being a novice to this discussion, I tend to think of the possibility of extending the role of government into somewhat utopian programs. Government oversteps its bounds when it undermines motivation and promotes victimization by calling all suffering injustice and therefore seeks to cushion the consequences of poor behavior. Therefore, it does not promote authentic human freedom for the state to protect adult citizens from the natural consequence of poor intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and economic choices.

In my youth, the 80's, I was a Marxist. The Marxist worldview is filled with innumerable errors, but with respect to economics and an understanding of human freedom, I see one problem that stands above them all. Marxist theory hinges on the idea that wealth is created when those who have the means of production steal labor value. In the Marxist system, the laborer creates all the value and profit equals the amount of value that is stolen from the laborer. This economic theory completely underestimates the value of human thinking and creativity. In my business life, I have found that companies and individuals create huge amount of wealth when they invent or create a new product or an innovative way to manufacture or promote a product. In other words, wealth is generally created through human ingenuity and entrepreneurship. A system which promotes human intellectual achievement and the benefits of such achievement is a system that promotes human dignity and human freedom.

Within such a system, the world system, the Christian is given the challenge of voluntary charity and good works as well as the opportunity to create value for the market and society. The role of the state is to promote such a system that balances civil rights, equal opportunity and the reality of consequences.

God Bless,

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