Sunday, April 09, 2017

The God of Government

We can rapidly see how even a Christian person could make politics their god, taking up all their time and energy and reshaping how they view even minor incidents. Having government become god is discussed less often, but it happens, and it is more dangerous. There are Christians who celebrate Jesus as some remote figure, perhaps available during worship songs, but otherwise something like Narnia's Emperor-Over-The-Sea, rather than a present, active Aslan.

Conservatives can see immediately how liberal Christians do this, seamlessly and automatically equating Jesus's directions to heal the sick and care for the poor with advocacy for some or other government policy, even though the suggestion that Christians are supposed to advocate with government, even local religious government, is absent from the NT.  This god seems much like Mammon, a god of power through money. Jesus was fine with people giving money to others but had stinging words about Mammon as a god, you may remember.

On my walk today I thought of two, perhaps three ways that conservatives may have government, the free market, the rule of law - and again, I am trying to separate this from politics, though the two have clear relationship - as their real god with a remote Jesus acknowledged more in ceremony than in attentiveness.  I'm not asking anyone to guess and I'm not going to grade it as a quiz.  I just saw something that grows up in myself and some things that seem to grow up in others I read only.  It will be at least a week before I put up anything further about it, because it all suggested a couple of CS Lewis essays I want to review before following too many intellectual dead ends. 


james said...

One obvious trap is to take the idea that a well-governed--or governed as well as can be expected--land will more or less insure the goods that pertain to that: liberty, rule of law, relative security against enemies and criminals, opportunity for prosperity (rather than the more typical rent-seeking by the powerful), and so on, and then assume that when these are available (esp for us) all is well in the world.

Did you ever read Blish's A Case of Conscience?

Grim said...

I have noticed that conservatives tend to treat the market, if not quite as God, as if it were governed by iron laws of nature. What the market really is, is a set of human choices. If it has a nature, it's derived from our nature; but more likely, it's just a bunch of choices people make for reasons of their own. We could make different choices, at least sometimes; we can thus decide, if we're not happy with the outcomes of our choices, to reshape the way the market works in certain ways.

But because it's seen as the working out of laws of nature, when groups of people are hurt by the market, we tend to treat it as when somebody gets hurt by trying to defy the law of gravity. It's just one of those things, you know? Besides, what kind of idiot tries to defy gravity?

Texan99 said...

I see a lot of confusion about how we should order our worldly affairs. My own tendency is to deplore bullying, which leads me to libertarian solutions and free-market approaches whenever practicable. I'm less comfortable with the duty of personal generosity, and in any case am constitutionally incapable of imagining how a political system could impose a habit of generosity, or even how such a habit could even remain "generosity" once imposed. In any case, the most I ever expect out of a worldly social or governmental system is that it not spend to much time and effort trying to force people to do what is actively wrong. I don't expect it to do much to force them to do what is right (beyond a minimal police power to thwart violence and fraud); I leave that to individual consciences and moral or religious systems, principally the Church. Expecting politics to do the job of religion--not to mention giving religion the coercive tools of politics--is what often gets us into such trouble.

RonF said...

It has been my observation to other people that Jesus told us to help feed, clothe, etc. people with our own resources. He did not tell us that the virtue in such laid in taking other people's money to do it.