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politics, sphere sovereignty

>Political Overload, Sphere Sovereignty, & Personal Responsibility

>I have unsuccessfully tried to get some of my fellow contributors to offer up our first politically-oriented post here on CRMafia. So, I’ll have to do it myself. But I’m going to cheat. Rather than being a real man and writing something fresh and original myself, I’m going to use someone else’s article to generate discussion in the comments section. So read the short article and join the discussion.

Gorging On Politics
By Chuck Colson 7/18/2007
Does Every Problem Have a Political Solution?

If you’re not already weary of the 2008 presidential election campaign—some 18 months before we vote—you must be living in a cave without cable or Internet
access.
The 2008 campaign began the day after the 2006 election, making this the first non-stop presidential campaign in history. The media, desperate to sustain interest in it, is reduced to pursuing such earth-shattering stories as: Which candidate owns the most pets? The answer: John McCain with three turtles, three parakeets, two dogs, and a ferret.
Even Christians, this early, seem frantic over who’s going to be nominated. Have we finally succumbed to what Jacques Ellul, the eccentric French reformed thinker, prophesied in the ’60s?… [see link above for more]

A version of this article also appears in the current (August 2007) issue of Christianity Today under the title Promises, Promises. How to really build a ‘great society.’ This is where I first found the article but CT does not yet have it available on their website. [edit – here it is]

Related: A Historian’s Comment on the Use of Abraham Kuyper’s Idea of Sphere Sovereignty by George Harinck, Free University of Amsterdam. Journal of Markets & Morality, Volume 5, Number 1 • Spring 2002. [Excellent article, very informative. I recommend it highly.]

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “>Political Overload, Sphere Sovereignty, & Personal Responsibility

  1. >neo-Calvinism and whether you’re reading it as basically identical with libertarianism.No, not basically identical at all. However, genuine neocalvinism finds economic central planning, and other forms of State interventionist policies as violations of sphere sovereignty.As a general view of society, neocalvinism is no more libertarian (ie, individualistic) than it is socialistic / collectivistic. Dooyeweerd does find the influence of Christianity most pronounced upon libertarian thought, above other societal & political philosophies.ps. I don’t find Acton Inst. libertarian.

    Posted by Baus | March 1, 2008, 2:03 am
  2. >I’ve had more than my share of libertarianism. In fact, I’m an alum of the Acton Institute’s little weekend recruitment seminar. (I didn’t come out a born-again Capitalist.) I was more interested in neo-Calvinism and whether you’re reading it as basically identical with libertarianism.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | February 23, 2008, 2:07 pm
  3. >Better late than never?Gilmour asks:[Since] Dooyeweerd affirms that theChristian groundmotive, however, is a unity in which no inneropposition exists…How [then] does Dooyeweerd theorize fall/redemption if not in terms of opposition?The Christian groundmotive is not a theory, but a religious “motive,” that is to say, an orientation of the heart (spiritual core) towards God in Jesus Christ.It is the disposition of the new man / inner man who has been regenerated by the Spirit. The fall into sin and the redemption from sin are indeed opposed. But the condition of being redeemed has as its pre-condition being fallen. So the religious orientation that motivates Christianly normed action (including thought), is described as one encompassed by a unity of being structured by creation and directed by subsequent fall and subsequent redemption.In this structured and directed motive there is no inherent tension between or within. The misdirection of sin in man’s creational/creaturely existence is redirected by salvation in man’s creational/creaturely existence.Gilmour also asks:Does Dooyeweerd ever do anything with the Roman paterfamilias structure, in which the sphere that brings forth life also has imperium for the taking of that life? I wondered whether he did any sphere-analysis of that or other imperial (in the sense of powers of life and death) structures in history.Yes he does! Check out his aforementioned/footnooted “Roots of Western Culture”. Dooyeweerd, in many places, offers incisive analysis and critique of specific historical structures and conceptions such as the Roman family and Greek polis, etc.Gilmour also says:I don’t see the real difference between your Sphere Sovereignty and Laissez-faire capitalism, but I might have missed it along the way. Could you expand a bit on the assertions you made on pages 16-17, section 4?This was a ‘weak’ point in my paper, as I was focusing on speaking against collectivistic and socialistic distortions of Dooyeweerd’s view.I hope to address this more adequately in the future in public writings, but let me say that as far as the State’s interference in the market, there is basic correspondance in the practical outcomes. I recommend http://mises.org for a libertarian economic education.However, as far as the understanding of societal reality is concerned, Dooyeweerd rejects the ultimacy of the individual.Keep an eye out for more on this.

    Posted by Baus | February 23, 2008, 5:48 am
  4. >Baus referenced a most fulfilling expose’ of the notion of Sphere Sovereignty. The following comments are based on my experiences relative to the whole line or thread of discussion in that I can speak with some authority because I was, in the 1980’s, a fellow of Dr. Fallwell’s Moral Majority, serving as the pro generator of the Mississippi Moral Majority. As its founding Executive Director, being in intimate contact with the organization at all levels, I too came to the conclusion that the MM was a front for the Republican Party albeit the Ronald Regan faction; even so, I spoke against such blatant entanglements as endorsing office holders/seekers; expressing that we could not defend the church or her agencies that were under attack in all states by the statist centralist (neo-cons of today.) I was a neophyte in the ways of politics but an eager seeker of revealed truth through the scriptures. Several of us spent many long nights studying the scriptures to find the scriptural basis for politics. One of our first insights was a much less erudite notion that God had founded all and as creator he and he alone is sovereign. He created man, and man created family, family relations – line breeding, created a chosen people who comprised by faith his church, whom in perceived need of a more formal martial organization created the state. The affairs of man were no less complex in Biblical times than today. The constant troubles affecting mankind appeared to be most intense when these “Spheres” excessively or directly infringed on one another, did not honor the peerage of the other. Through those months and years of study I became a reformed believer perhaps mostly because of the discovery that the pulpits of the colonies preached the notion that God’s Law Word was king (Lex Rex) In fact I like to think that the founding fathers formed our US Constitution on the basis of 100 years of preaching such reformational thinking. Also, I discovered that the Moral Leaders of the Nation (TV Evangelists) were as guilty of debasing those spheres as were their secular contemporaries and their notion of association or ministry was and remains centralist as well. The means of motivating the Christian public to action in ‘getting out the vote’ and funding the organizations is dominated by what the professional fund raisers call “Train Wreck” stories. Richard Vigery was a “Bishop” of fund raisers. Mr. Chuck Colson and his ilk of conservative talk show hosts continue the message of terror, reprisals and the besmirching the validity of the rule of law, Constitutional law, God’s Law; all for the sake of garnering ratings and paying advertisers. Oh they give lip service, but no validity or honor is given to the law. In my opinion the liberals lose at these “Train Wreck” stories because 1. The conservatives are suckers for a good tail of whooow, and or 2. The liberals sound like liars; make exaggerations too early in their fantasies. Rush Limbaugh tells them this on his radio programs rather forth rightly.David Cho said “I like the column. Christians should be in politics just as they should be in business. But it’s very problematic when they play party politics as they do. I would be equally alarmed if Christians would only do business with Microsoft, and nobody else in the high tech industry, as an example. We are only doing business with the GOP right now, and that should not bode well with thinking Christians.” Christian are in politics, business: they are the very fabric of the nation, they are the tax payers. Like any good citizen they make decisions on the data they receive. Basically we perish because of the lack of reliable, sound suppositions upon which to base decisions. One must agree with Falwell, if you give them the information clearly they will act on it, his organization elected Ronald Regan. Please don’t ask what that got us. But the test was made and succeeded. Today the conservative and Christian talk hosts are the replacements of Falwell in deed if not in fact. I believe that the party line bespoken by them is synchronized with the Orwellian factions of the Republican party. One thing I am sure of from working with elected and bureaucratic officials, grease is the mainstay of their economy. They only get the invitations to party with the “Big Ikes” (as my grandpa called them) if they sound like one. The grease of their sled is the party line, disinformation, and confusion of the issue(s) by pumping up any possible humor while down playing or belittling the principles of Constitutional law. ( an example of this was recently played out in the University of Florida tazing incident) You may be sick of the Presidential race, but I’m not, I’m excited to meet hundreds of folks entering as youngsters and coming back after years of frustration to a sense of ownership of the political process. That excitement is generating from the only voice that I hear that has any rational law abiding ring to it, that of the talk show host ostracized Congressman from South Texas Dr. Ron Paul. Dooyeweerd affirms that “The norm of justice, as it applies to the state, must be delimited by the state’s intrinsic public nature, and so holds with exclusive regard to the public legal sphere. There are many injustices, then, which the state has no competence to address.” This notion is what I keep hearing from Dr. Paul. There is laughing and moaning in the public forum over these statements but he keeps making them none the less. His obvious caresses of the Constitution are found repugnant even as a child’s view of his parents kisses. The immaturity of the neo-con position, the vulgar remarks and their lack of public respect for a statesman will cost them, I hope.I believe that the thinking public will see the neo cons antics for what they are: aggrandizing the state sphere over all others, and with it they will add their names to the death list of public trust just as the liberal commentators did, it’s just a matter of time. Strict adherence to Sphere sovereignty offers you and I clear boundaries, balance in public and private and open-forums of discussion on all issues not just those of the ‘overlords’. Remember, Hitler’s greatest support came from conservative church going Christians and Zionists as he rose and carried the notion of STATE (government) Patriotism over all … Deutschland Uber alles.

    Posted by Farmer Falster | September 26, 2007, 3:40 pm
  5. >One more note, Baus: The version of the paper I read was the first link. On a perusal of the second, published version, I saw some clarification, but I’m still not clear on how a sphere-sovereignty-informed politics would differ significantly from the Laissez-faire politics from which you claim it differs. That’s still what I’d like a bit of expansion on.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | August 10, 2007, 3:20 pm
  6. >I am happy to oblige HEREhttp://reformatorische.blogspot.com/2006/02/dooyeweerds-societal-sphere.htmlI’m all about explicating terms. Please offer any questions or feedback.Thank you for the paper. I read the pdf version to which the hyperlink at the top of your blog connects. I do have a couple questions of clarification and then a more structural observation. First the clarifications:Dooyeweerd affirms that theChristian groundmotive, however, is a unity in which no inneropposition exists (Dooyeweerd, Roots p.60). How does Dooyeweerd theorize fall/redemption if not in terms of opposition?The requirement that the state put murders to death must not be confused with, for instance, the sort of penalties that should be meted out within the familial sphere which is morally qualified.Does Dooyeweerd ever do anything with the Roman paterfamilias structure, in which the sphere that brings forth life also has imperium for the taking of that life? I wondered whether he did any sphere-analysis of that or other imperial (in the sense of powers of life and death) structures in history.With regards to the paper in general, I think that perhaps it overestimates the intellectual force of Doyeweerd’s categories. I don’t see the real difference between your Sphere Sovereignty and Laissez-faire capitalism, but I might have missed it along the way. Could you expand a bit on the assertions you made on pages 16-17, section 4?

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | August 10, 2007, 3:14 pm
  7. >Gregory,You forgot to give your blood type. Just kidding, man. Thanks for the links. I, for one, was too lazy to respond to Nate. I’m off the hook now that you’ve provided these links. 😉

    Posted by Jeff Wright | August 7, 2007, 9:26 pm
  8. >Dear CRM, Gilmour wrote:”would any of our good Calvinist bretheren be interested in posting a brief explication of sphere sovereignty as a blog entry for the educated-but-not-in-reformed-lingo reader?”I am happy to oblige HEREhttp://reformatorische.blogspot.com/2006/02/dooyeweerds-societal-sphere.htmlI’m all about explicating terms. Please offer any questions or feedback.Also, you may be interested in more links and articles relating to Neocalvinism (aka Kuyperianism) and societal sphere sovereignty HEREhttp://kuyperian.blogspot.com/Not only am I philosophically a neocalvinist, I am theologically & ecclesiologically Orthodox Presbyterian, and I am politically a Constitutionalist:http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_platform.phphttp://www.constitutionparty.com/news.php?cat=Dont%20Waste%20Your%20VoteAnd I intend to vote for Ron Paul in the 2008 presidential election:http://www.ronpaul2008.com/http://www.ronpaullibrary.org/I recommend the following books on Politics:Koyzis’ Political Visions and IllusionsMarshall’s Thine Is The Kingdom

    Posted by Baus | August 7, 2007, 8:21 pm
  9. >wizzle, I think Colson expresses the thought a lot better than I can. But since you asked :)I wrote this essay on the 4th last year. Your feedback would be much appreciated.

    Posted by David Cho | August 7, 2007, 4:18 am
  10. >1. I’m already pretty tired of the election. I guess that I am already a little burnt out…and that’s coming from some one who is a political junkie. 2. David, I agree with you that Colson is not in the same league as Dobson, Robertson, etc. I think I get what you were saying about the “playing partisan politics and elevating political involvement to the end all and be all” comment but could you clarify exactly what you meant? I prob. agree with you but I just want to be sure that I know what you mean.

    Posted by J.Wizzle | August 5, 2007, 9:10 pm
  11. >Having followed Colson for a long time, I am not surprised. Read Loving God, Kingdoms in Conflict, and supported his Prison Fellowship Ministries.While he is politically active primarily because of his background, he has never been in the same league with the likes of Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson in playing partisan politics and elevating political involvement to the end all and be all*I like the column. Christians should be in politics just as they should be in business. But it’s very problematic when they play party politics as they do. I would be equally alarmed if Christians would only do business with Microsoft, and nobody else in the high tech industry, as an example. We are only doing business with the GOP right now, and that should not bode well with thinking Christians.* I may take some heat for this and Falwell/Robertson/Dobson would vehemently deny that, but I’m sorry. I am going by what they do, not by what they say.

    Posted by David Cho | August 3, 2007, 12:34 am
  12. >I agree that Colson’s article strikes me as odd, but I have a different reason: he keeps citing Jacques Ellul, who is as far as I can tell from what of his I’ve read a pacifist, while Colson was in the lead among evangelicals calling for Bush to invade Iraq.That aside, would any of our good Calvinist bretheren be interested in posting a brief explication of sphere sovereignty as a blog entry for the educated-but-not-in-reformed-lingo reader? :)(I know, I keep asking for blog posts that explicate terms, but I think that might be a good contribution for this blog to make. If we actually flesh out the content of such things as “Objective Truth” and “complementarianism” and “sphere sovereignty,” my conviction is that the true ones will appeal to those who want good ideas and the false ones won’t.)

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | August 2, 2007, 10:40 pm
  13. >Let’s begin by talking about this “gorging on politics” concept. First, I have to admit that I was somewhat suprised to read this coming from Chuck Colson. I don’t want to pigeonhole him as a “political” guy because he is certainly more than that but there is no doubt that he has been very vocal when it comes to politics over the years. I don’t know if he has changed or if my perception of him was off. The point about there being a non-stop campaign from 2004 to 2008 is pretty much accurate and this is, as Colson points out, ridiculous. We need a break between campaigns but I don’t know how realistic this is in our current context. I have not read Ellul’s The Political Illusion, or anything else by him, but it looks like he made a great prediction. I certainly agree with the points concerning our morbidly obese, gargantuan government collapsing under its own weight as policy after policy staks up on one another. I agree that this does indeed lead to gridlock even when it comes to simple things.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | August 2, 2007, 8:21 pm
  14. >I’ve gotta write the first political post and be the first to comment on it?! Aw man…

    Posted by Jeff Wright | August 2, 2007, 7:36 pm
  15. >Jeff, why don’t you go first and comment on that article?

    Posted by David Cho | August 2, 2007, 7:20 pm

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