Crusty Logic is a bit of an accident. It started as an informal way to share a couple of papers with a small group of folks. I soon found it to be an enjoyable outlet for some of my background research and other stuff that would likely never be published otherwise and it allows me great freedom in writing about some more controversial and exploratory topics. The downside – no editor to place constraints on topics, length or to correct my often poor grammar. My apologies for this.
Christianity & Liberty
Religion and Politics are separate but intertwined and co-dependent parts of each and every one of us and both have a huge impact on each and every one of us every day of our lives.
They are perhaps most intertwined for Muslims whose religion, Islam, also codifies and requires a very detailed civil government in Sharia, which in turn proscribes much about how religion is practiced by those under its government. Religion and politics are likely least intertwined for Agnostics. All the rest of us; Jews, Atheists, Christians, Hindus, New Agers, and the rest, fall somewhere in the middle.
As for me, I became a Christian in my teens and, though my family proclaimed it ‘a phase’, it has been the core of my being ever since. It has not always been a smooth road though. My Christianity and I have struggled with each other often. Sometimes it’s been a disagreement between what I wanted to do and what I thought God wanted me to do, other times it’s been conflicts between what I believed about Christianity, what other Christians taught about it, and what I read in the Bible.
Politically I was raised a Southern Democrat. I worked on a number of Democrat campaigns and along the way saw few positive results and many negative consequences of the initiatives I’d believed in and that I thought were ‘Christian’. I soon found myself with political beliefs seemingly more in line with Republicans. For the past 30 years, as the Republican party has migrated further away from the limited government that our country was founded upon, I’ve migrated towards that limited government and the liberty and freedoms it proclaims for all of us. I’ve landed solidly somewhere between conservative and libertarian.
For many Christians today there seems to be a conflict between these, between our Christian beliefs and our foundational liberty and limited government. We say we want Liberty And Justice For All, but in practice, only so long as others don’t use their liberty in ways that we disagree with and justice weighs the way we want.
We like our government the same as our religion – judgmental and meddling – of others, not us.
Our founders, Christians and Deists alike, understood the dangers of a large, controlling, and meddling human government, of humans desire to meddle, and of some Biblical concepts that we seem to have forgotten. They understood that many areas of life can only be governed by individual personal choice and that external meddling and human laws often come with undesirable consequences. They understood the dangers and consequences of making up our own sins and rules beyond what God laid out.
For example, we’ve recently decided (recent relative to our age as a country) that we want our government to provide food, housing, clothes, cars, and ipods for some people rather than have them work for these things. This seems reasonable and compassionate, at least as far as helping the poor. Yet, the Bible lays out a rather different plan for this, and one that worked better for us in the U.S. than our current welfare society.
Similarly, the vast majority of today’s Christians believe, rather strongly, that our civil laws should govern personal conduct – so long, of course, as it’s conduct we agree with.
Augustin (of Hippo) and Thomas Aquinas, perhaps two of the greatest moralists in history, taught something quite different. Neither were supporters of prostitution in any way. Far from it. They did though realize both the purpose and limits of effective human government, and stated that they did not believe prostitution, even if immoral or sinful, should be illegal. Vincent Dever summed it up well:
Aquinas notes that the mandate of human law is to prohibit “whatever destroys social intercourse” and not to “prohibit everything contrary to virtue.” The main reason for civil law’s inability to prohibit all vice is that it cannot effect a full internal reform of an individual. An individual in their personal moral life is wounded by original sin and can only be restored by God’s grace. Therefore the coercive and educating power of human law is inefficacious in this realm. Aquinas asserts, then, that human law cannot “exact perfect virtue from man, for such virtue belongs to few and cannot be found in so great a number of people as human law has to direct.”
It is upon these Biblical principles, personal liberty and personal responsibility, that our country was founded and that allowed us to so quickly become such a great nation. These are critical and inseparable components of our Republic. One cannot exist without the other. You can’t even have unequal amounts of them – the extent to which you have one directly impacts the extent to which you will have the other.
… And Stuff
I like to write. I like to explore a variety of topics. Basically a good excuse for all the other posts like electric vehicles, public decorum, architecture, cafés, … and stuff.
 Vincent M. Dever, Essays in Medieval Studies 13
 Our country was founded upon Judeo-Christian Biblical principles. This itself does not mean that we are a ‘Christian nation’, as some think, but simply that our founders relied upon principles found in the Bible in forming our government and drafting our Constitution. Our founders likewise looked to principles of Athenian democracy, a quite non-Judeo-Christian culture. That does not make us Greek.