Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Tommy Chong, Marijuana, Civil Disobedience, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Religion

The new martyr for the libertarian cause of the legalization of marijuana is Tommy Chong.  Most people had forgotten who Tommy Chong is or was until the Bush administration decided to make an example out of him.  I recently watched a documentary on Chong's prosecution for selling bongs over the internet to an undercover agent in the state of Pennsylvania sometime prior to 2003.  This begs the question, of course.  Can someone legally buy pornography in Pennsylvania?

Although this is a religiously motivated blog, I occasionally meander into cultural and political issues.  The reason I do so is that this is not a church.  It is a blog.  I can say whatever I like here.  Recently I had my fill of the so-called "diversity" training for the "teaching profession."  The mantra is, "Whatever is right for you is right for you, and whatever is right for me is right for me."  What they don't tell you, however, is that if whatever is right for you is something the government disagrees with you about you are going to lose your job as a teacher.  In fact, you might never be hired in the first place.  In other words, if you're going into the teaching profession you give up your first admendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Even when you are not on the job and you are acting only on behalf of your own personal beliefs you are not allowed to make any public comments that would disparage "diversity".  I don't know what else to call this but government censorship.  (See:  Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida).

Section 4 of the Code of Ethics is particularly in view here:

4. Obligation to the public requires that the individual:
  1. Shall take reasonable precautions to distinguish between personal views and those of any educational institution or organization with which the individual is affiliated.
  2. Shall not intentionally distort or misrepresent facts concerning an educational matter in direct or indirect public expression.
  3. Shall not use institutional privileges for personal gain or advantage.
  4. Shall accept no gratuity, gift, or favor that might influence professional judgment.
  5. Shall offer no gratuity, gift, or favor to obtain special advantages.

And in regards to censorship:

5. . . . 

b.  Shall not on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition if otherwise qualified, or social and family background deny to a colleague professional benefits or advantages or participation in any professional organization.
c.  Shall not interfere with a colleague's exercise of political or civil rights and responsibilities.
d.  Shall not engage in harassment or discriminatory conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual's performance of professional or work responsibilities or with the orderly processes of education or which creates a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive environment; and, further, shall make reasonable effort to assure that each individual is protected from such harassment or discrimination.
While none of this seems to directly relate to one's personal religious beliefs or views, the point is that whoever is in power can arbitrarily use this code to ouster those who rub them the wrong way.  In the case of religious "fundamentalists" liberals can use this language against them for things said and done in the private sphere and apart from the performance of their public school job.  In other words, simply being against gay marriage or such like could get you fired as a teacher and may even prevent you from being hired in the first place.

Moreover, Tommy Chong was breaking the law.  Hopefully, everyone knows that the federal government has become more selective about who they prosecute and what laws they will enforce.  Under the Bush administration an obscure law that had rarely been enforced was used to punish the left wing critics of the Bush administration, headed up by Attorney General John Ashcroft.  The war on drugs was in full swing under the leadership of Mr. Ashcroft.

But when Obama came into power, the pendulum swung in the other direction.  Now the immigration laws are not being enforced.  An officer of the law is sworn to uphold the law, but I guess the executive branch of the federal government gets to arbitrarily enforce the laws passed by congress. 

I tend to be a libertarian when it comes to drug laws since I believe that enforcing the law is way too expensive and does little to change the subculture that produces drug abuse in the first place.  Secondly, having smoked a little pot myself in the past, I don't see marijuana as a gateway drug.  Frankly, smoking pot is no worse than drinking beer or smoking a cigar.  Marijuana should be totally legalized and taxed.

Be that as it may, Tommy Chong deserved to go to jail for breaking the law.  The law is the law until the law is changed, and the law of the land ought to be equally enforced everywhere until it is either overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or another law is passed that supersedes the previous law.

What is particularly troubling, however, is the outright governmental disregard for the Bill of Rights and the freedom of religion (First Admendment), which this country was founded upon.  Now, instead of political pluralism and religious pluralism, we have a polarization in place such that whichever party is in power uses its political powers to censor, harass, and persecute the other side.  Anyone who happens to be religiously conservative is labeled as a dissident and is disqualified from holding public office or from receiving a teaching certificate from their home state.  In other words, these days it is dangerous to oppose abortion or the gay/lesbian/transgender propaganda of the liberal left.  It could cost you your job.  And the way things are going it might even cost you your freedom.  

Take Canada for an example.  If you dare to say anything in public in print or in the media which can arbitrarily be declared as "hate speech" against homosexuals or transgenders you could be looking at jail time and a hefty fine.  It really doesn't matter if it is "hate speech" or not.  All that matters is that the government thinks it is hate speech.

Liberals and atheists think the Bible itself is hate speech.  Well, there goes the freedom of religion.  Materialistic atheists get to decide what is or isn't hate speech.  Let's not forget that the first settlers here were the pilgrims who were Calvinists and Puritans.  They came here to escape the persecution of  the Church of England under the rule of James VI.  Later migrations occurred when the Puritans were persecuted by the high church Laudians.  (See:  Great Migration).  And Thomas Jefferson's great line in the Declaration of Independence is, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that God created all men equal, . . ."

It is indeed ironic that even a deist like Jefferson recognized that some moral truths and revelational truths are "self-evident."  In other words, in order to sustain any truth claim reason alone is insufficient.  What is necessary is a self-evident axiom.  Of course, Jefferson's axiom comes from the Bible even though he does not specifically say so in the Declaration.  (Cf. Genesis 1:26-27).

The idea that the United States was created by a bunch of rich white men and women had no right to vote overlooks the fact that for that time period these men were extremely ahead of their time.  But obviously what progressives really mean to say when they make remarks like this is that anyone who disagrees with them is still living in the dark ages of a pre-critical Enlightenment.  But then the Enlightenment itself has given way to postmodernism and irrationalism.  These progressives pick and choose their worldview eclectically and whatever is true for them is true for them--no matter that laws of logic and contradiction apply only to their opponents and not to their own arguments.  Paradox is a convenient out for them.  Pinning down a liberal is like trying catch a live, slippery catfish bare handed.  You may eventually oogle the catfish, but your going to get your fingers scratched and bitten.  You might even get finned.  That, I can assure you, is a painful experience not soon forgotten.

It is worth fighting those who refuse to play by the rules of logic, decency, and fairness?  Some would say no.  But I say, if God be for us, who can be against us?  (Romans 8:31).

I don't confuse politics with the Gospel.  I tend to favor the two kingdoms view over against theonomy and reconstructionism or even post millennialism.  On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that in the black community even conservative churches have always played a part in the political betterment of blacks in general.  If not for the black churches as the center of political reform the Civil Rights Act of 1965 might never have happened.

If conservative Evangelicals hope to change the world, preach the Gospel, and win souls, they too must learn how to utilize the church as a catalyst for change.  In doing so the Law/Gospel distinction must be maintained along with all the confessions and creeds.  Social action must not become a social gospel, which is no gospel at all.  The problem with the two kingdoms view is that in many ways it is a retreat into the fundamentalist fortresses of the past.  Withdrawal from the world and the political realm is not an option.  In fact, politics and prophetically challenging the status quo has always been part of the Christian message.  Jesus got involved in politics when he challenged the religious and political powers of his day, including the Sanhedrin, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Saducees.  The apostles were thrown into prison and martyred because they refused to obey the political and civil powers that used military force to stop the Christian Gospel from being preached.  How can we do anything less today?  Will Christian churches allow the communists, socialists and atheists to take over our nation and drive true Christianity into underground churches like we see in China and other nations?  Or will we stand for the truth no matter what?  Will only "state" approved religion survive?  Or will Evangelical and Reformed Christians continue to preach the truth no matter the cost?  That's the question, isn't it?

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