Government’s moral authority

Why the Government Shutdown Is Unbiblical by Jim Wallis, Sojourners, posted on Huffingtonpost.com, Oct 3, 2013 – the poorest and most vulnerable who are always hurt the most in a crisis like this…that is our job in politics — to talk about what happens to them…The biblical purpose of government is to protect from evil and to promote the good.That vision of “common good” is what we have lost, and there is nothing more important in our public life than to find it again…To be opposed to government per se, especially when that opposition serves the ultimate power of other wealthy and powerful interests, is simply not a biblical position. Transparency, accountability, and service are the ethics of good government. “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” is still a good measure and goal of civil authority…

Conservatives With a Cause: ‘We’re Right’ By ASHLEY PARKER, New York Times,  September 30, 2013 — …what gives House Republicans the idea that they can triumph in their push to repeal, or at least delay, the Affordable Care Act when so many veteran voices in their party see it as an unwinnable fight? “Because we’re right, simply because we’re right,” said Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa…Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico, described the task facing his colleagues as perhaps quixotic, but ideologically critical…

Channeling the Populist Rage by Charles Colson and Catherine Larson, Christianity Today, April 7, 2010 …Americans have by and large lost faith in their institutions…at the beginning of the new millennium, 45 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing most of the time. Now less than a quarter do so…In some respects, the distrust is justified…people feel overwhelmed and powerless…
I think we are on the verge of witnessing, is a populist revolt….a massive wave of anti-government sentiment could shatter the political consensus, which may well leave the country virtually unmanageable. The inevitable consequence of all of this should deeply trouble Christians, who, of any segment of our society, understand the necessity of a strong government.
The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives.
Why is this? God recognizes that even a bad government is better than no government. No government leads to chaos and mob rule. When order breaks down, justice is inevitably undermined. As Augustine of Hippo argued, peace flows from order, and both are necessary preconditions to the preservation of liberty and some measure of human dignity and flourishing.
…We Christians are to be the best citizens, praying for our leaders and holding them in high regard, even as we push for the reforms desperately needed to keep representative government flourishing. Only when we funnel frustrations into constructive reformation can we expect a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. full text

Obama Returns to His Moral Vision: Democrats Read Carefully! by George Lakoff,GeorgeLakoff.com, April 17, 2011 -The policy topic happened to be the budget, but he called it “The Country We Believe In” for a reason. The real topic was how the progressive moral system defines the democratic ideals America was founded on, and how those ideals apply to specific issues. Obama’s moral vision, which he applied to the budget, is more general: it applies to every issue. All politics is moral. Political leaders put forth proposals on the assumption that their proposals are the right things to do, not the wrong things to do. But progressives and radical conservatives have very different ideas of right and wrong.
The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment. 

The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis, Huffington Post, November 9, 2012…The results of the presidential election showed how dramatically a very diverse America is changing; people are longing for a vision of the common good that includes everyone.…people of faith aren’t going to be entirely happy with any political leader, and they shouldn’t be. Many of them feel politically homeless in the raging battles between ideological extremes. But they could find their home in a new call for the common good — a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan. That requires a political engagement that emphasizes issues and people above personalities and partisanship.…Whether government is serving its biblical purpose of protecting from evil and promoting good, is more important than ideological debates about its size. How can we move from an ethic of endless growth to an ethic of sustainability, from short-term profits to longer term human flourishing, from the use and consumption of the earth to stewardship and creation care? Protecting “life” can no longer be restricted to a few issues, but must be consistently applied to wherever human life and dignity are threatened. The failure of strident and partisan efforts by people like Franklin Graham and Ralph Reed to narrow those issues in the final stages of this election was very evident and significant. More and more Christians, especially younger ones, now believe our congregations will be finally evaluated not merely by their correct doctrines, but by whether their missions are serving the “parishes” of this whole world; here and now, not just for the hereafter. The prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.

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