Monday 30 August 2010

Monday quote

It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.

GK Chesterton

Saturday 28 August 2010

Breaking the yoke

God speaks thru Jeremiah about the evil of men of Jerusalem; their injustice, their love of lies, their idolatry, and their refusal to repent. In this accusation he says,
But they all alike had broken the yoke;/
they had burst the bonds./

Therefore a lion from the forest shall strike them down;/
a wolf from the desert shall devastate them./
A leopard is watching their cities;/
everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces,/
because their transgressions are many,/
their apostasies are great. (Jeremiah 5:5-6)
The men are likened to oxen working for their master. Rather than submit to farmer's yoke they have broken it off so they can do their own thing. But refusal to come under the care of the farmer means death by carnivorous beasts.

There is no complete freedom for man. He can do his duty to his master, or he can be destroyed by their enemy. When men demand freedom from the requirements of God, they are pursuing death unawares. This is not to say God's yoke is burdensome or uncomfortable (Mat 11:30). But we only have 2 choices: willing submission to the Father, or death at the hand of our enemy. There are no other options.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Douglas Wilson on: Why the KJV?

Douglas Wilson favours the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. In this video he gives his 3 reasons. They are
  1. Textual basis
  2. Translation philosophy
  3. Church ownership of the version, both translation and copyright.
The KJV uses the the received text. I favour an eclectic text such as used by NIV and ESV. The translation philosophy of the KJV is one of formal translation. ESV and NASB use this philosophy, NIV is more dynamic. I am with Wilson here.

His last point, which is his most important, is that The KJV is product of the church and is owned by the church, or rather in the public domain. Modern versions are products of academia and corporations, and the corporations may be secular using the profits for themselves. I don't see this as a complaint against corporations or profits, rather secular groups profiting from God's word. He would rather church groups feeding any profit back into church work.

Wilson would happily use a more modern version that met these requirements, and he suggests that he would prefer it.

I think there are options that would solve reason 3, but not necessarily all 3 reasons.

Firstly I am not certain that KJV gets around issue 3. Much of KJV came from Tyndale, but the translators were probably the academics of the day. I fail to see how many of the KJV translators differ from modern academics who produce Bible versions. Many of the modern academics are Christians who are committed to the church. And translation committees often use a variety of translators to minimise potential sectarian bias. The chosen translation philosophy of a particular version is likely to lead to greater differences than the fact that translators are tied to academia. As to ownership, I understand that the initial publishers had copyright in perpetuity after the KJV was produced, though this is irrelevant outside the United Kingdom now and probably of little consequence within. The KJV mainly gets around the ownership issue now by virtue of being in the public domain. I am not certain how the KJV profits were used prior to this, but modern versions do use money to offset Bible costs in the developing world.

The biggest problem facing Wilson is finding a modern version prioritising the received text. Most that do will probably be variants of the KJV. Modern versions of the KJV include: KJV 20th Twentieth Century, New KJV, Modern KJV, American KJV, KJV 2000, Updated KJV, New Cambridge Paragraph Bible, Authorized Version Update. Many of these are copyrighted and produced by a single editor.

So it would seem that Wilson's only real option is to arrange for the production of a modern version of the KJV either copyrighted by the church, or released into tho public domain.

I do wonder if the World English Bible (WEB) is a consideration? It is public domain. It follows formal equivalence. The WEB is a modified American Standard Version (ASV) which uses an eclectic text; but the WEB is also based on the majority text which has significant similarities to the received text of the KJV.

Monday 23 August 2010

Monday quote

When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

Benjamin Franklin

Friday 20 August 2010

Does opinion on abortion discriminate libertarians

Abortion is a topic that polarises people. And while there is significant variation I suspect that there is an association between conservatives and opposition to abortion on one hand and liberalism and permissibility of abortion on the other.

The state needs to make a decision about whether abortion should be addressed in law. It can make it an issue and actively oppose it, or it can decline to rule on it and thus abortion becomes theoretically permissible to a pregnant woman with access to a consenting abortionist. Refusal to legislate does not intrinsically imply that abortion is considered morally neutral; it may be considered by legislators as either amoral, or immoral but legally inconsequential.

The state could take an active position for abortion by funding it, increasing access, or by coercing and forcing pregnant women to abort against their will. I am not going to discuss these latter possibilities here other than mention that most people on any side of the debate should consider positions statist.

So the question is: since forbidding abortion requires the hand of the state to actively ban it, and/ or police it; and permitting abortion is possible with no action from the state; is opposition to allowing abortion statist? And is allowing each woman to choose her preferred pregnancy option libertarian?


One could argue that those who favour women choosing are less libertarian as it coincides with their underlying preference (as per my recent post). But that is not the main problem with this issue.

The problem with this argument is that it is framed this way by people who think abortion is acceptable—morally neutral behaviour. However opposition to abortion (regardless of whether the position is correct) is based not on the desire to control what other people do with their own person and property, nor the desire to for the government to have that control. Opposition is based on the view that there is another person involved; a person that the mother does not have the right of life over. The libertarian position allows people to do what the wish with their own property (and varyingly their own person) so long that such activity does not directly negatively affect another. It is a principle of negative rights.

If the fetus is not a person, then the pro-abortion position is consistent with libertarianism. But even it that is the case, the anti-abortion position is hardly statist if the anti-abortionists do not know this. This is because their stance is not based on controlling individuals but protecting them, and protecting them from the ultimate infringement of rights—unjustifiable death. Their position is not at odds with libertarianism it is consistent with it. And if the anti-abortionists are correct about the personhood of the fetus then their libertarian fight against abortion may be one of the most important.

Until the status of the fetus is agreed to by both sides of the debate, opposition to abortion cannot be considered anti-libertarian.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Libertarian lefties?

The right-left political divide has been extended to other axes. Some place right and left views into moral and economic categories and plot them orthogonally. Others compare economic views versus degree of state oversight. Some have several axes for several positions. What has surprised me is how frequently I see traditionally left wing groups plotted as relatively libertarian and traditionally right wing groups plotted as quite statist on two-dimensional political scales (see here for an example). Surprising because conservatives (right wing) tend to argue more for limited government than liberals; and socialism seems intimately wedded to the state.

It appears that the problem relates to who is authoring and interpreting the questions as applied to various positions. Left leaning authors give greater credence to left views of liberty, and vice versa, presumably?

The reason for this seems to be that groups give themselves libertarian credence for positions that they intrinsically favour. If you think something is acceptable behaviour you view legal opposition to this behaviour as statist; but if you think something is unacceptable behaviour then you view legal opposition to such to be reasonable.

Of course this does not address the focus of libertarianism which seeks small government in general and allows for behaviours you disapprove of so long as they do not directly affect you.

Consider drug use. The libertarian position is quite liberal in allowing people to use intoxicating drugs and opposes legal prohibition. Some on the (far) left think such drug use is morally acceptable behaviour (as do some on the right no doubt). But to argue against illicit drug laws when you favour drug use is hardly libertarian. But to argue against illicit drug laws even though you think drug use is morally wrong is very libertarian.

So the questions addressing statism and libertarianism depend significantly on what you otherwise think is moral or appropriate behaviour. How much are you prepared to allow people you disagree with do without government involvement or intervention?

I think a good question to ask in teasing out the libertarian-statist axis is: How much money do you allow the citizens to keep? Do you permit people to use their own money foolishly? Even though you can think of many ways you would spend their money for their and others' benefit if it were up to you.

I am not commenting here on the wisdom of having or not having illicit drug laws, nor the centrality of drug laws to the libertarian position; I use the example illustratively.

Monday 16 August 2010

Monday quote

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.

Thomas Aquinas

Sunday 15 August 2010

Fathers as priests

Derek Prince (1915–2003) considered fatherhood to comprise the roles of priest, prophet, and king. His take on these three roles is standard. A priest represents people before God; a prophet represents God to people; and a king governs people before God. Thus a father represents his children before God, represents God to his children, and governs his family on behalf of God.

Prince considers the priesthood duties of the father for his family to include thanksgiving, intercession, leading toward salvation, and exercising faith on behalf of his children.

What I found interesting is Prince suggests that the role of priest is foundational: men will struggle in their roles as prophet and king if they do not assume the role of priest. He claims that success as a priest generally leads to success as a prophet and king, and failure as a priest makes the other 2 roles difficult.

Though this somewhat surprised me, on reflection it does seem to make some sense. As fallen creatures we struggle to perform our roles. We represent God imperfectly to our children. We admonish, discipline, and encourage them inconsistently. To be a good prophet and king we need God's help, and to get it we go to God. We read his Word and we pray to him. And this approaching God for his help to be a better father is part of what it means to be a priest: pleading for our children and for our own selves, that God may transform our children and us into his likeness.

Though I have thought the roles of kingship and prophet important, and they are, I need to value the role of priest more highly.

Monday 9 August 2010

Monday quote

Satan is the father of lies; thus we expect his kingdom (including modern secularism) to promote beliefs that are both false and dangerous.

John K. Reed

Friday 6 August 2010

The meaning of sovereignty

In Tabletalk magazine, 1992 November edition, in an article titled "Before the Omnipotent's throne," Maurice Roberts defines sovereignty thus,
Sovereignty refers to that absolute predestination of God by which He has from eternity chosen some sinners to eternal life and passed by others.
Several dictionaries differ
  • Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state
  • Royal rank, authority, or power
  • Complete independence and self-government
  • Supreme and unrestricted power, as of a state
  • The position, dominion, or authority of a sovereign
  • Supreme power
  • The quality or state of being sovereign
  • The status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royalty
  • Supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed or claimed by a state or community.
  • Rightful status, independence, or prerogative
  • Supreme power esp. over a body politic
  • Freedom from external control
The English word derives from the idea of authority and rule. KJV and ESV Bibles do not have the word "sovereignty". It occurs 7 times in the NET Bible (Psa 68:34; Isa 11:9; Jer 49:38; Dan 2:7; 7:14; Mic 4:8; Rev 17:18 NET) translating terms like mamlakah, malkuw, kicce', basileia. "Sovereign" appears 3 times  in the ESV (Act 4:24; 1Ti 6:15; Rev 6:10 ESV), each time meaning king. It does not appear in the KJV.

That the word "sovereignty" relates to kingship in English does not mean Roberts' position is scripturally incorrect, it does however mean that he has to demonstrate his position, and redefining words is not an argument.

Arminians agree that God is sovereign. He does rule over the earth as a king his subjects. Arminians do not need to be convinced that God is in fact sovereign (in the usual meaning of the word). But Arminians understand what it means for God to be sovereign in a different way. Yes, God can do whatever he wills, but does he do so in all things deterministically? Mike T explains this succinctly
The first error of Calvinism is that it defines divine sovereignty as a thing God does rather than something God possesses. God's sovereignty is a pre-existing fact. It is not possible for God's perfect will to be thwarted because there are none like him. We don't say that when a human king expresses a passing wish that a subject not do X that his sovereignty is violated when that subject does it anyway. Yet Calvinists argue precisely that would be the case if humans had the freedom to disobey God's will and act autonomously.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Inducing premature labour in cows

A press release from the Green Party of New Zealand condemns the practice of inducing calving so herds can calve together and to maximise milking times. TVNZ News reports
Dairy farmers deliberately birth thousands of calves prematurely each year in a practice known as "inducing". The vet gives the cows two injections, so their calves will be born 8-12 weeks premature. It's done to get all cows in a herd to calve at the same time, and produce milk earlier. It means many calves are born dead, but some are born still alive and have to be euthanised.

...The issue has become an ethical dilemma for New Zealand's $6 billion dairy industry, with approximately 200,000 cows induced in New Zealand each year. Farmers say it's a valuable management tool, but are divided on its use.
The Green Party calls for banning of the practice
Dairy farmers in New Zealand routinely inject cows in order that calves are born – dead or alive – months early. This practice is used so that milking can start earlier.

“This inhumane and cruel practice could put our international dairying reputation at risk,” said Ms Kedgley.

...“Under the Veterinary Code, vets have a specific duty to protect animals and alleviate their suffering.

“By dispensing drugs that allow induction to take place for economic rather than animal welfare reasons, vets are deliberately inflicting suffering on healthy animals.

“This surely is a breach of their code.”
Here is a description of the technique; why and how it is done. It is used maintain seasonal patterns for future calving.

Interestingly the Green Party supports induced abortion in pregnant women, and as part of their women's health policy promote increased access to abortion. Women's Policy point 6.26 states the Green Party will
Review abortion services to ensure equity of access for women throughout New Zealand.
Elsewhere on the website Kedgley speaks approvingly of the battle to legalise abortion.

I recognise that a large number of secularly minded people approve of abortion. But approving human abortion for the convenience of the mother while at the same time opposed aborting and euthanasing (newborn) calves for the convenience of the farmer is not just morally confused, it is morally corrupt. Of course opposition to such practice reveals Green ideology.

Monday 2 August 2010

Monday quote

When the skies are sunny and the ocean is flat, everyone is a fair sailor. It is the storm that tests you.

Douglas Wilson


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