I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading.
Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!
For all you Bible-loving men and women out there, this may be a moment for some serious reflection on what sentiments you should be expressing on February 14th. So as an alternative to one of those sentimental shop-bought cards, here are three alternatives with some properly thought-through theology behind them.1. Recognise what marriage is
Paul lays out the mysterious truth about marriage by telling us that the human bonding of a man and a woman is meant to point us to a greater reality: the love of Christ for his people, and the devotion of believers to their Lord (Ephesians 5 v 21-33). So, the encouragement to men is to model the sacrificial love of Jesus for his people. But for wives and sweethearts, you need to remember that your man is just an imperfect model of the love of Christ for you. You are meant to gaze lovingly at him, but then shift your focus beyond him to the Lord who loves you…
Perhaps this card sums it up better than most:
2. Recognise how long marriage lasts
One significant feature of the gloopy sentiment that abounds at this time of year is how it so frequently uses “eternity" as the time frame for the love two people share with each other. Biblical Christians will instantly be on guard. Marriage is, of course, “until death do us part”; and Jesus taught that there will be no marriage in heaven (Matthew 22 v 30); but rather we will all be completed and satisfied by the joy of our union with Christ at the great wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19 v 6-9).
So why not send this card to your loved one to make this clear:
3. Recognise what love is
You will not be able to escape hearts on Valentine’s day. But even here, there is a biblical conflict.
I grew up thinking that when you love something or someone, it's the pounding thing in your chest that is the centre and source of that thing we call love. Makes sense. After all, didn't it start to thump alarmingly when I first set eyes on on my dearly beloved? Didn't it race when I turned and saw that vision of loveliness walking up the aisle to say "Yes" to be being with me for the rest of our earthly lives? But it seems it wasn't always that way. For Hebrews and Greeks, the seat of the emotion was slightly further south than that. Whereas we might say: "I love you with all my heart", the proper rendering of Paul's declaration of love for the Philippian believers (1 v 8) is literally:
"For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." (AV)
So rather than loving someone with all their hearts, they loved them with their icky plumbing. And that makes equal sense too. People who have fallen profoundly in love often describe it as being like a kick in the guts, or having a deep, visceral feeling of yearning to be with someone.
So here’s a final card to send your biblical love to show how deeply you love them; but I guess you’d have to be pretty gutsy to send this.
The Good Book Company: Helping people to be more biblical: whatever the cost!
Share the reaction with us on Facebook if you give one of these on February 14th. We’d love a story, a video, a quote to see how it goes.
That councils are facing budget pressures is entirely true. Polly Toynbee doesn't quite tell us why though:
The shires do claim, with some justification, that their finances are more inflexible, paying for care for children and the elderly, with no housing income to balance their budgets.
We should not let people forget that the widely cheered announcement of a national minimum wage - largely binding upon those who provide such care - was not matched by an increase in grants to pay for that pay rise. However, Polly's error, rather than omission, is here:
Let councils borrow unlimited capital to invest in housing, which yields profits.
That is to confuse accounting and economics, a terrible sin. Council housing makes an economic loss, not profit. For unless we consider opportunity costs we are not doing economics at all.
Council rents are lower than market rents, that's rather the point. Said council housing could be let at market rent - we know this very well from the existence of subletting. That difference between what is charged and what could be is the loss.
Thus Polly's call is that we should be making ourselves poorer, increasing the societal loss, by having more council housing. Really, not a good economic idea at all.
If you would like receive additional professional training and career counseling based on the results of this scientific and peer reviewed test, as revealed by the third question, please fill out the credit card information below.
Bishop of El Camino Real to take part in the performance of the Vagina Monologues to be held in a California church sanctuary
AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
2 Corinthians 4 (page 1160)
Inclusio – vv1, 16
We do not lose heart because…
(1) … despite appearances, we have the wonderful light-giving good news of Jesus Christ the Lord, who gives us the knowledge of the glory of God (vv1-6)
(2) … treasure in jars of clay, power through weakness, is God’s plan so that the glory goes to him (vv7ff)
(3) … we are focussed on the future God has promised us and not on the present (vv16-18)
Today would have been the 89th birthday of Burt Blumert, one of the greatest personalities of the modern libertarian movement. Burt was the indispensable man behind the scenes and was a key figure in the Mises Institute, the Center for Libertarian Studies, and LewRockwell.com. He was one of Murray Rothbard’s closest friends; and when you met him, it was easy to see why Murray liked him. He was a genial and kind person and a source of wise counsel to all those fortunate to know him. Burt was the founder of Camino Coins and a principal figure in the hard money community. If you want to get a sense of what Burt was like, you have only to read his collection of humorous essays, Bagels, Barry Bonds, and Rotten Politicians (2008). It was a source of great pride and comfort to Burt in his final illness that he was able to see this book in print. Burt helped me with good advice when I most needed it, and I will always be grateful to him for his counsel and friendship
The pastor leaned forward in the pulpit. "I have good news and bad news" he said "the good news is we have all the money we need for our new project, the bad news is that it's all still in your bank accounts".
I have spent pretty much all my professional life working around raising and investing money. This covers both secular business fundraising and raising money for charitable and Christian causes.
In this blog, which is designed to be provocative and stimulate debate, I would like to take aim at a few "myths" which I believe hinder the Christian church raising money for God's work. The "myths" are based on my experience in the UK and if any of my dear readers disagree then I would say "if the cap fits wear it". Comments welcome!
1. "We shouldn't ask for money because it sounds like an American televangelist ." Now, it's certainly true that American televangelists have done much harm to the cause of Christ by relentless appeals for money and by then misusing that money either for personal gain or for stupid "Prestige projects". But the church in England in general seems to be in danger of swinging rather to the opposite extreme. There is often a cultural cringe about even mentioning the dreaded "M" word. Often, once a year, the church treasurer will rattle at high speed through the accounts and everyone in the congregation will breathe a sigh relief that the subject will not be mentioned for another 365 days. But a good biblical principle is "ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find". We should be much more open about talking about money.
2. "If I am the Pastor and I teach about money from the Bible, my congregation will think I'm after a pay rise". When did you last hear a sermon about money or about giving? Yet the Bible both old and New Testament is packed full of practical teaching about money and giving. According to one book I have read there are more than twice as many verses in the Bible about money and possessions as there are about faith and prayer combined. What's more, approximately 45% of Jesus's parables are about money and possessions. Yet in my experience on money over the 50 years plus I've been listening to sermons (admittedly I can't remember the ones I heard aged 4!) I have very rarely heard sermons on money. The Bible is given to us for a spiritual health and we must teach everything in it, even if we find it embarrassing. Sometimes it feels like the church is obsessed by sex but again there is far more teaching in the bible about money then about sex. Lack of teaching on the topic of money and giving leads to defective theology and in turn to insufficiently sanctified lives.
3. "I'm a pastor and there's no way my church is going to give up my donors to anyone else!" This kind of thinking is faulty theology because it implies that there is only a fixed amount of money able to be given to Christian work – a zero sum game in other words. Sadly, I have heard the same thinking applied to efforts to start new church plant – a new church in a city or area will only "cannibalise" existing believers. On both fronts, this is a council of despair. God is able to take a small efforts both in terms of money and new churches and use them to build his kingdom far beyond our imagination. We need faith that indeed it is not a zero sum game but rather that our tentative steps of faith are honoured by our heavenly Father. I argue - see below- that most of us give far less than we could. Now supporting in the first place your local church is good. But, this concerns me if we stop there. For where does this leave for example local churches in poorer areas who can never find the money themselves to be self supporting? (To say nothing of work outside the UK) .The truth is that most of the money in UK evangelicalism is concentrated in London and the M25 area (yes, that where I live!). How can we best serve our brothers and sisters throughout the UK? Especially in poorer areas where the locals will struggle to fund gospel ministry? Could there be some kind of partnership like "twinning" where we link up a wealthy church with a poorer one? Giving isn't just about money its about partnering and building relationships. Stephen Kneale a pastor in Oldham has blogged about this helpfully https://stephenkneale.com/2018/02/10/we-are-the-project/ and https://stephenkneale.com/2017/12/04/why-dont-relatively-well-resourced-churches-help/
4. "People in my church ( or Christian charity) should just give me their money and I will decide what to do with it". This is view which I'm glad to say is changing. Historically, at least some churches worked on this principle. Some people also prefer to delegate giving to somebody else, fair enough. But in general in fundraising for charities, a better model I believe is to ask people to give money for specific projects and new ventures. I suggest that this is also a biblical model if we look at the New Testament where individual churches supported specific other churches (eg see 2 Corinthians). This kind of relationship where individuals get involved with a specific project is much more likely to be successful than a general statement "we need more money." Donors whether individuals or foundations are looking for specific people and ideas to support. We need to promote closer relationships between donors and recipients. This also encourages prayer.
5. "People like Hudson Taylor or George Muller never asked for money and God honoured this". Now there is some truth in that statement and again we need to avoid the televangelists desperate weekly appeal for cash to avoid his TV station being closed. I do think there is some biblical basis for being careful about the kind of appeals which you get from time to time along the lines of "we are running out of money". God certainly honoured the faithfulness and prayerfulness of men such as Taylor and Muller. And as far as I can tell, they did not appeal for specific funds. However both of them were experts in publicising (rightly in my view) what they were doing. So they made their needs known to the Christian public without overstepping the biblical mark. The idea that we say nothing and somehow the money will come in by itself is unbiblical - see 2 Corinthians
6. "If I give money away, the church will waste it". So far, I have taken aim at our dearly beloved clergy. Now I will turn my attention to myself and Christians in general in the pew. I can tell you from the case of my own father, which I believe to be true of all of the ministers under whose preaching I've had the honour to sit, that they gave up huge amounts of potential financial gain to enter the Christian ministry. This is not necessarily true in other countries but in the UK there is precious little money or honour in being a full-time Christian worker, let alone a pastor or vicar. My father used to burst out laughing when people accused him of joining the ministry to make money. Many years after the event he told me that the roughly £6000 I was making it my first job aged 21 was significantly more than he was making at the same time aged 52. In fairness, he always felt well treated by his church who went out of their way to look after him and my mother – my point is not in any way to criticise his church, which I love deeply, but to make the general point that there is precious little cash in the Christian ministry in England. My general point therefore is that if we give money to the cause of Christ it's unlikely to be wasted on fripperies or extravagance.
7. "I'm already giving all I can". Now, most of all I'm preaching is to myself and I can tell you that this is simply not true for me or for 99.9% of Christians in the UK. Pretty much every single one of us and again I put myself at the head of the queue could give much more proportionate to our income. The wonderful story of the widows mite shows us that the Lord Jesus pays careful attention to what we give and what matters is not the absolute amount but our heart attitude and how we give in proportion to our means. As our heart loves, so we give. Money is a window into our hearts.
8. "God blessed me so I should spend my money on a new house and new car etc". I'm certainly not arguing, not least because it would be rank hypocrisy, that it's wrong to buy a house a car or whatever. But one of the many pernicious effects of the so-called "prosperity gospel" is this kind of thinking - that this is the first step not the last. The Bible teaches us that each one of us is accountable to the Lord for the money which he has entrusted us with. The Bible tells us to "lay up our treasure in heaven". In other words, we can send our treasure ahead of us where we don't have to worry about appreciation, financial crashes, fraudsters, and most of all death. I believe that by supporting Christian work we are sending our money on ahead of us.
9. "I give my money to Oxfam" or "I give my money to Christian social projects". This is a moot point which each of us needs to consider and I certainly don't want to stop Christians giving money to worthy secular or Christian socially oriented charities. I've very much enjoyed supporting and being a trustee of the Woodland Trust, for example. However I know from my own experience, and this is backed up by significant external research which I've seen, especially in the USA, that's what we might call "gospel work" struggles for funding. According to one study I've seen less than 10% of Christian giving in the United States goes to evangelism, church planting etc. Each Christian must make up their own mind about their priorities but it seems to me very unfortunate and in aggregate a very poor sense of priority, if in the UK, Gospel work struggles to be funded.
10. "I don't have any money, so none of the above applies to me". There is certainly a danger of the church becoming too focused on wealthy people with high levels of disposable income. The letter of James warns us precisely about being preoccupied with the rich. But giving money is only one way and in fact one of the less important ways of supporting the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I think back on the church I grew up ( a church as I mentioned with very little money) in there were a number of single elderly ladies, I think particularly of a lady called Queenie Waterhouse, who we as children called "Auntie" Queenie. Queenie had a cleft palate (easily corrected now but not pre WW2) worked all her life in the local paper mill in Apsley. To the best of my knowledge she had no money. But what she did have was a wonderful heart and a devotion to prayer and encouragement. Though sometimes the encouragement could be quite sharp! On leaving a particularly difficult church meeting Queenie once thrust a folded piece of paper into my father's hand. He assumed it was some kind of encouraging verse, but when he opened it later it said "Of what use is your strength if it fails on the day of trouble?". I'm sure when we get to heaven that we will find countless thousands of "Queenie's" who had little or none of this world's resources but used their time and effort to do good and especially to pray, being honoured far beyond all the wealthy Christians that ever gave money to anything. How much more is this true when we think that the average Christian today in the world lives in poor circumstances in the majority world.
If you want to think through these issues more I recommend above all the huge wealth of resources from Stewardship, of which I am a trustee https://www.stewardship.org.uk. For over 100 years Stewardship has supported and enabled Christians and churches to give in a Godly and efficient way. If you use Stewardship, you are not only getting excellent technology and reporting, your money when it is in Stewardship is also being used for excellent purposes, such as lending money to churches to buy or expand their buildings. Stewardship also allows monies to be raised for individual Christian full time workers. I particularly recommend https://www.give.net which supports individuals fund raising for charitable causes. Online giving is now one of the most popular ways to support charitable causes. According to the Charitable Giving Report, online donations now make up roughly two thirds of total funds that are being raised.
If you want to read more, I suggest Randy Alcorn's excellent book "Money Possessions and Eternity" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Money-Possessions-Eternity-Randy-Alcorn-ebook/dp/B000FCKCJM/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1469038292&sr=8-8&keywords=randy+alcorn.
A few friends and I also started Generous Journey a few years ago to help Christians think through these issues http://www.generousjourney.org.uk. This is a very good and safe place to learn more about biblical teaching on giving and how to be generous. Its aimed at givers rather than fund raisers.
There are relatively few books on Christian fundraising per se, a very good recent one is by Peter Harris https://www.amazon.co.uk/Keeping-Faith-Fundraising-Peter-Harris/dp/0802874622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514391471&sr=8-1&keywords=peter+harris+fund+raising.
Another one which was recommended to me but i haven't read yet is by a Dutch Catholic writer thinker, Henri Nouwen. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirituality-Fundraising-Henri-Nouwen/dp/0835810445/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=J1HGSB07MTSQR8WAQJTW
Buried in Oxfam's latest report about how disastrously unequal the world is we've got an assumption which is so breathtakingly foolish as to kill off any belief in the sense or sensibility of the organisation's mindset. They're trying to insist that the minimum wage in a place should be very much higher than GDP per capita in that same place. Something which simply cannot be done.
Oxfam has shown that minimum wages in countries like Morocco, Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam are not enough for people to escape poverty.246 The Asia Floor Wage Alliance has found that legal minimum wages in the garment sectors in various Asian countries fall far short of providing a living wage (see Figure 8).
That's on page 39 of that report, figure 8 is on page 40. An introduction to the report is here.
The specific part that we know about from personal experience is the garment trade in Bangladesh. This produces some 80% of exports, is the major reason for the country's growth and employs some 4 million people. The minimum wage there is, close enough, 5,000 taka a month, or £50.
That's the minimum wage in the garment factories, not for the economy as a whole. That, the more general one, is whatever can be scraped together by doing whatever, a rather lower sum. That garment trade minimum is also straight in off the fields, no training, no experience, before any benefits (which do indeed exist) and before overtime or anything else.
Yes, a low sum and most assuredly we'd all like it to be much higher. But Oxfam's claim is that this should be a living wage of more like £250 a month (perhaps $250). Something which simply cannot happen.
GDP per capita in Bangladesh is some $1,500 a year or so. We cannot have a minimum wage twice that. This would be the same claim as insisting that the UK minimum wage should be $80,000 a year (say, £60,000). Worse, that this should only apply in one industry.
Imagine the dislocation if, to make up a British comparison, the minimum wage in sandwich making was £60k, all other wages staying as they are today? This would do what to the supply of doctors (maybe not so much) nurses and teachers (quite a lot) and so on?
It's a demand based upon the most aggressively stupid misunderstanding of what ails Bangladesh, isn't it? The actual problem being that the place is too poor to be providing the incomes we'd all be delighted for everyone there to enjoy.
You know, that poverty which is being alleviated by this very neoliberal globalisation, that growth of the garment trade, which has seen the place growing at 6% and more for a couple of decades now.
Bangladesh's problem is not global inequality, the thing Oxfam is whining about, it's Bangladesh's poverty. That the recipients of hundreds of millions of our tax money manage to get this so wrong seriously calls into doubt Oxfam's right to anything more than a contemptuous sneer. The cure for poverty is economic growth, the very thing which has reduced that global absolute poverty from 40% of all humans to under 10% in just these past three decades of that very neoliberal globalisation.
This is just the one example from that report, we could pick out many more. Sorry folks, but Oxfam is deluded here.
"We must never privilege the institution of the church above the inviolable dignity of a human person, especially a vulnerable person."
Church leaders report clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the Ituri District of Orientale Province in the DRC
The actual negotiations could easily run right up to the deadline in March 2019, when Britain is due to leave. If no agreement is forthcoming by that date, both sides might agree to extend negotiations, but that only seems likely if there is a good prospect of an agreement. Otherwise, Britain leaves and falls back on WTO trading rules, or does away with tariffs altogether. This is seen by the EU negotiators as a threat to Britain, believing it is Britain which is running out of time. Therefore, if Britain wants a trade deal, she must make it clear that a no-deal option is attractive to her. And, be it clearly understood, the negotiations only cover a minor part of the UK’s overall economy.It’s Much Ado About Not Much Trade
WTO tariffs apply to physical goods, involving only £143bn exported from the UK’s £2,000 billion economy to the EU, and imports from the EU of a larger £235.5bn. Excluding agricultural products of some £5bn (net of spirits), average trade-weighted tariffs on goods imported into the EU from non-member states without a trade agreement is only 2.3%.[i] Therefore, the EU’s external tariffs which will be applied to UK non-agricultural goods exports to the EU involves only 7.5% of the UK’s GDP, and is a tax on EU citizens amounting to roughly £2bn. Is this really worth arguing over, and paying massive divorce fees?
The larger issue is services, and here we must differentiate between services sold to consumers, such as retail investments, and wholesale services, such as capital market operations, commercial lending, legal services, architectural services, etc. The retail services involved are not material, and in any event are easily distributed through locally-incorporated subsidiaries in Dublin and Luxembourg. Wholesale services are generally excluded from trade agreements for practical reasons.
Therefore, if a trade agreement is not forthcoming, the cost to British business as a whole is not as material as the Remainers and lobbying businesses have it, and certainly less than the implied cost of normal currency volatility on cross-border settlements. One should conclude that the absence of a trade agreement costs considerably less than the UK Government paying money to the EU for an implementation period.The Current State of the Brexit Debate
It is becoming clear that the Remainers are driven by little more than a desire to prevent change while distrusting free markets. Nick Clegg, who was Deputy Prime Minister in the Conservative/Liberal-Democrats coalition, has recently published a book entitled How to stop Brexit (And make Britain great again)[ii]. There are no substantive arguments in favour of Remain, not even a neo-Keynesian discourse. Make Britain great again? The book is miss-sold. There is nothing on the subject of the book’s subtitle at all.
Mr Clegg’s unquestioning assumption, which he appears to share with other leading Remainers, is Brexit is just plain wrong. He makes much of the Brexit campaign’s supposed lies about the extent of the rebate when Britain leaves the EU. There was no lie: it merely failed to differentiate between the funds Britain would save, and the money that is spent by the EU in the UK funded by the UK taxpayer. The latter amount is decided by the EU, not the UK, so all the Brexiteers were quoting was a gross figure sent to Brussels, which on Brexit would become available to the Government to save or spend as it sees fit.
Furthermore, there was no mention of “project fear”, the Remain campaign’s concerted effort to frighten voters into voting Remain. But, as we saw only this week, the pro-Remainers in the establishment are at it again. They prepared and leaked another negative report based on the same economic modelling. A reasonable person would have been so embarrassed by the failure of the first attempt at economic propaganda, as to not repeat it. But we are dealing with ingrained beliefs, not reason.
On the evidence, Remainers cannot argue their case effectively. Furthermore, the cost of backtracking on Brexit, which receives too little attention, is now considerable, and almost certainly unpalatable to the electorate. Unless Britain does achieve a proper Brexit, she becomes, taking the words of Jacob Rees-Mogg,[iii] a vassal state, having lost considerable political credibility and the ability to influence EU policy as she has done before.
Realistically, bridges have been burnt, even though the panjandrums in Brussels want Britain to change her mind. The Thatcher rebate would certainly be lost, and Brussels is preparing more onerous regulations in the knowledge Britain can no longer obstruct the EU executive’s plans. The Tobin tax on financial transactions can now be introduced, which would kill the City, if Britain remained, more certainly than any threat from Paris and Frankfurt as rival financial centres. A Tobin tax introduced in Euroland after Britain leaves would see Eurozone wholesale financial business migrate to London.
If Britain backtracks or compromises on sovereignty, it will be disastrous for her, and little account has been taken of the new opportunities for the City, operating from outside the EU.Enter the European Research Group
The ERG, unlike its name might suggest, is the grouping of pro-Brexit backbench Conservative MPs determined to ensure Britain truly leaves the EU. The recent appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg, as its new high-profile chairman, promises a new dynamism in the battle between the Brexiteers and the Remainers. The ERG has considerable power, being comprised of sixty MPs while Mrs May commands no overall majority.
Further pressure is being applied through the 1922 Committee, which officially represents all backbench Conservative MPs. Amongst them are Remainers and those without well-defined opinions, the latter becoming increasingly alarmed at the lack of a clear government policy. If forty-eight of them formally write to the 1922 Committee expressing no confidence in Mrs May, an election for a new leader (and therefore prime minister) is automatically triggered. It is rumoured that forty such letters have already been received. Between the ERG and the 1922 Committee, the Brexiteers’ ability to pressure the Government into sticking with a firm Brexit policy is increasing.
All this lends support to Mrs May’s original Lancaster House declaration, which is what the ERG is seeking to achieve. In the Commons, opposition to Brexit has been subdued enough to get the required legislation through the House, without major concessions. This is not the case, however, in the Lords, which by sending legislation back to the Commons for reconsideration threatens to delay the whole process at a time of tightening deadlines.
Mrs May’s greatest problems are likely to be in dealing with her own advisors, senior civil servants whose only world is one of bureaucracy, and the Treasury, populated with staunch neo-Keynesians. Bureaucrats resist change, particularly when it involves a whole new paradigm, which is always seen as risky. And the Treasury believes in manipulating the economy to enhance tax income, the antithesis of any free market proposition, with which it has little empathy.
These operators are unhappy at the prospect of past agreements being torn up to be replaced by, in their view, uncertainty. Thus, Oliver Robbins, whose job is to coordinate negotiations with the EU from Downing Street, and Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, are seen by the ERG to be pursuing a policy of fudging the changes required for a true Brexit. And Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, is now being downright obstructive.
However, governments have a duty to represent the electorate, not the permanent establishment, which is there to serve ministers in pursuing government policy. Individual ministers are meant to toe the agreed policy line. Mrs May, in trying to accommodate the Remainers, appears to be in danger of siding with the permanent establishment and the Treasury, against her own stated policy, instead of firmly instructing it to do the Cabinet’s bidding. Doubtless, the ERG will ram this point home.Keeping the Broader Picture in Sight
It is always difficult for a prime minister at the coal-face of day-to-day problems to retain a broader vision. The ultimate prize for Mrs May would be to go down in history as having laid the foundations for a prosperous Britain. To achieve this, she must have a proper understanding of free trade, as Robert Peel acquired when he sided with Richard Cobden and abolished the Corn Laws in the 1840s. Unfortunately, Mrs May has little option but to listen to risk-averse advisors and central planners who deny the primacy of free markets, not just for handling day-to-day issues, but also, it appears, to guide her for the broader picture. In short, she has to have an independence and resolve to act despite her advisors’ advice.
Some members of Mrs May’s Cabinet do understand free trade. They include heavyweights such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis and Liam Fox. Even though Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has been persuaded against it by his permanent staff, the ERG does have powerful allies in the Cabinet.[iv]
The European Research Group understands, to a reasonable degree at least, the fallacies of central planning and the faults of the socialism of the European project, while understanding the benefits of free trade. Its leadership should be well placed for the task. This is where the position of Mr Rees-Mogg is important. He personally appears to understand the benefits of free markets, has a good grasp of the individual Brexit issues, and argues his case well. This is in sharp contrast with the Remain camp, and the middle ground of lobby-fodder on both sides of the House.
That middle ground is his to win, but time is severely limited. To do so he must not only argue his case well, but also get the following points across, loud and clear:
- The best outcome for the British consumer is no tariffs, and their removal is the responsibility of the UK Government. The best outcome for the economy is not found in protecting business through trade tariffs, because that is to the detriment of the consumer.
- Current EU trade tariffs disadvantage the poor most. This point will become increasingly relevant when price inflation gathers pace ahead of the final Brexit date (March 2019), as the global credit cycle progresses. An appreciation of this simple fact makes tariffs indefensible, and a clean break Brexit becomes more obviously the best solution.
- No separation payments should be made to the EU, unless they are specifically itemised and contractually justified. The capital payments demanded by the EU in any political compromise are not only a needless expense, but an imposition on the Treasury’s finances which are already in deficit. Furthermore, the loss of revenue from the removal of all tariffs is a considerably smaller sum than the amounts demanded by the EU negotiators.
- The Treasury must be persuaded that free trade leads to a stronger economy, which will be reflected in higher tax revenues. Moreover, a botched compromise, effectively being advocated by the Treasury, is a significant threat to the government’s finances.
- There is no need for an implementation or transition period. These extensions do not encourage businesses to adapt to Brexit so much as they delay the necessary changes. Any such period should be firmly restricted to be as short as possible and involve no payment.
In any event, time is short, not only given the Brexit timetable, but ideally it must be concluded, or at least set in stone, before the disruption of the next crisis of the global credit cycle.
Remember that the Spirit moves throughout the earth, converting and restoring individuals, fashioning them into saints, into believers. As His fruit is manifested in them, one of those fruits is self-control, self-government, or self-mastery. This self-government is the basic building block for establishing non-tyrannical governments in the other spheres that God has established among men. Without self-government, families can become autocratic tribes, with one domineering personality. Without self-government, the church can become a grasping and despotic monster, as happened with the medieval papacy. Without self-government, the civil magistrate can become an overweening and covetous thug, as has happened in our day.
It is easy for us to blame these governing entities for filling up the vacuum, but we really ought to find fault with ourselves because we (and our lack of self-control) are the ones who create the vacuum. When the people are slaves to sin, they cannot enjoy the balance of form and freedom that God has ordained for humanity. A family filled up with scheming manipulators will not be at peace with one another. A congregation of porn-users will not see the law of liberty unleashed in their midst. A nation of fornicating potheads will not enjoy civil liberty. As well expect to plant thistles and harvest barley.The Text:
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it” (Rev 21:24-26).
“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2).
“Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought (Is 60:9-11).
“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12).Summary of the Texts:
Instead of just one text, I have selected a mash-up of texts. In doing this I am not attempting to pull a fast one, but am rather following the example of the New Testament writers, who frequently present us with a collage of quotations from all over the Old Testament.
In that spirit, the New Jerusalem in Revelation, the Isaianic Zion, and Ezekiel’s great Temple, are all one. Comparing them with one another, and seeing what is said of them, we see that they are all symbolic images of the Christian Church, neither more nor less. The Jerusalem above is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26). When we gather to worship God, as we are doing right now, we are assembled on the heavenly mountain, the heavenly Zion (Heb. 12:18). Come, the angel said to John, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. And who is that Bride? It is the Christian Church (Eph. 5:25). And then he showed him the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride for her husband (Rev. 21:2). The great Harlot was the old Jerusalem, now divorced and put away. The New Jerusalem is the Holy of Holies, a living shrine of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:19; Rev. 21:16). So much is basic.
My point with these texts is to show you the distinction between this Church and the redeemed nations of men. The boundary between them is porous, but still clear. Ezekiel’s Temple does not grow and fill the earth, but water flows from her until it inundates and heals the earth. The earth does not become the New Jerusalem, but the kings of the earth bring their honor and glory to her, and acknowledge and support her. Kings will be nursing and nurturing fathers to the church, and queens will be nursing mothers (Is. 49:23). They simultaneously support the church and submit to the church. What they don’t do is vaporize. The great Zion of Isaiah does not swallow the world, but the ships of Tarshish sail to her, with all their wealth. There is an ongoing traffic of peace between them.To Review:
When men are forgiven and set upright again, they find themselves functioning within the framework of three basic governments. The first is the government of the family, following the order that God has established. The husband is the head, his wife is his body and the executive, and together they shepherd their little ones. The family is the Ministry of Health, Education, and Welfare. The second is the civil magistrate, which is the Ministry of Justice. Their task is to make it possible for you to walk across town safely at 2 in the morning. Justice here is defined by the Bible, and not by the hurt feelings of somebody. The church is the Ministry of Grace and Peace, who is the Holy Spirit Himself.
Because the word justice is so abused in our day, I need to say something brief about the civil magistrate’s duty to enforce justice. Injustice is not the violation of someone’s rights, however those rights may be defined. Injustice is the violation of God-given rights. God gave us all the right to a fair trial if we are accused of some crime. And so, if we get an unfair trial, the kind that Jesus got, this is an injustice. But God did not give us the “right” to $15 an hour. For if He did, that means that somebody else has the obligation to pay you that amount. And when the state steps in to enforce that kind of obligation, the result is always tyrannical.The Relationship of the Three:
In God’s order, not one of the three is permitted to domineer over the others. Each has its assigned task, and each one needs to tend to its own knitting. The church does not declare war, or collect the trash. The family does not administer the sacraments. The state does not review cases of church discipline. And not one of these spheres is dependent on any of the others for its existence. Now in times of crisis, as when Rome was threatened by the Lombards, one government may pick up some of the responsibilities of another. Say there is a failed state, but the church is still present. Or in unusual circumstances, it may be the same, as when Paul prohibits Christians filing civil suits against one another before unbelieving judges (1 Cor. 6:1-7). Ordinarily, the church ought not to be adjudicating property line disputes, but we should prefer that to the scandal of asking pagans to define justice between two believers.
But with that said, there is definitely a hierarchy of honor in this glorious and eschatological fulfillment. And this is what it looks like. The church does not fill up the world, and the church does not make every day into Sunday. But the knowledge of the Lord does fill up the world, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). How does this work? In our texts, notice the flow in two directions. The living water flows from the church out to all the families and nations of men, and all the families and nations of men flow to the church. But they don’t stream to the church in order to live there. They don’t come into the church to establish permanent residency. They come to eat from the tree of life, and then they go back out again with a benediction, with the peace of Christ upon their heads.
So picture it this way. The worship of God is central to all of life, but it does not devour all of life. The sun does not burn everything up, but it does give light to everything. The water does not flood the world, but it does irrigate the entire world. The anchor fastens the ship, the ship does not turn into a gigantic anchor. The cathedral is at the center of the town, but does not “take over” all the activities of the townspeople—their printing, their auto mechanics, their software designing, their lawn mowing. In one sense all of that is none of their business. But at the same time the church instructs the townspeople in the adverbs—how these things are to be done, meaning, honestly, before the Lord, with one eye always on the text, and with a hard work ethic.
The church is therefore at the center of the kingdom, but the church and the kingdom are still very different.And Christ is Lord of All:
So the authority of Jesus—the kind of authority that is granted to a sacrificial king—is an authority that mediates the kindness of the Father, and He mediates that kindness with the center fixed and all the edges in play. The church teaches you how to be a father, but does not take over the role of a father. The church instructs the magistrate, but does not rival the magistrate. The church teaches wives to submit to their husbands, and models that submission through dutiful and cheerful submission to the authority of Christ as found in the Scriptures. Reflecting Christ, the church suffuses all of life, the way sunlight fills up the day. It does not displace ordinary life, the way one billiard ball displaces another. Rather, it informs and instructs ordinary life—wherever you are in the town, out in the kingdom, whatever you are doing, whether changing a tire or changing a diaper, you can turn around and look, and from that place you can see the church spire. And whenever you do, whatever you are doing, you are reminded that you are part of the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.
The post Church and Kingdom, Cathedral and Town/State of the Church #7 appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
We live in a generation in love with specialization. To a certain extent this is unavoidable—God has called particular individuals to particular vocational callings from the beginning of the world. But every believer is called by God to that vocation, and he is to pursue it in faith while oriented rightly to the rest of the world. This means that he has to be a generalist as well.
If you are a cobbler, a lawyer, a musician, or an engineer, then you should strive to excel, under Christ, in that pursuit. Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings (Prov. 22:29). That is all very well, and so he should.
But vocational excellence should not be pursued in such a way as to make you narrow. That is the way of educating yourself or your children to be idiot savants—outstanding in one area, and clueless in all the rest.
A Christian worldview does not consist of having certain thoughts in your head, rattling around. It means living in a certain way—striving for excellence, certainly, but also demonstrating catholicity and generosity of spirit. Remember balance. You appreciate fine dining, but are not above eating a corn dog at the county fair. You know what kind of music glorifies God in worship, and you also love the intricate simplicity of the blues. You love good writing, but you are not critical of the punctuation on the grocery list you are trying to read. Following Christ means striving to grow up into all true excellence—and becoming a snob is not excellent.