Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Another Response to Masugi and Tucker

Mein Lieb Herr Doktor Masugi advises that we might not be prudent to discuss these things in public. He refers to Publius and Fed #11. If a prudent man tells me to stop, I will. It might be better to have this discussion in a Nocturnal Council where as I recall old men talk to young men about nasty things under the cover of darkness. My view is the cat is out of the bag and, in any event, a blog site is the modern day equivalent of a Nocturnal Council. After all, what should citizens do more than engage in free argument and debate about such matters.

Dr. Tucker makes large demands on me. I shall try to respond.

First, he demands: "I would like Craig to give me the Biblical passages that show liberty is the gift of god as Craig explicates liberty." I trust Tucker will be patient with my response in that it will, at least initially, only refer to a few passages in the Bible.
For a definition of Liberty: One of Washington’s favorites: Micah 4:4, "Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken."

In Genesis 1:25-31, God creates man in his image, and gives man dominion over all other creatures. Much as Aristotle, the Bible understands that there is a qualitative difference between man and beast. Man is the natural or divine ruler of the other beasts.

Regarding equality, I think, a couple of references to the Golden Rule will have to suffice for now: Matthew 7:12 or Luke 6:31-And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Lincoln’s paraphrase, as I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. Jefferson’s paraphrase: the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately.

If I might make reference to one more authority, I recommend Michael Novak’s "On Two Wings" to supplement this discussion.

Tucker chides me for relying on authority in my earlier blog and says my references to Jaffa, West (Tom and Sam) , Locke, Tocqueville, etc. are irrelevant. He then demands that I give an account of my ’Claremont Cosmology’. How can one do that without reference to Jaffa, West, etc.?

I do agree with Tucker when he writes reason and revelation "arrive at more or less the same place, they do so from different starting points." That was one of my points in the earlier blog. Starting points or thoughts about the first things or thoughts about quid sit deus, are the most important questions, and, in the American context, the most important right, the right of conscience. I did not mean to settle any theological or philosophical disputes about first things. What I did suggest is that the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Lockean/Jeffersonian natural rights doctrine result, practically speaking, in the same understanding of what moral virtue is and what the obligations of citizenship require. (See another one of Washington’s favorite Bible passages: Micah 6:8, The Lord hath shown you, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?) I only meant to suggest that I believe there was a consensus at the Founding that reason and revelation taught (more or less) the same moral virtues and moral and political obligations, especially the obilgations of citizenship. That consensus was the opinion (consent) which was the source of the just powers of government. I believe "W" reflects better than any President (or public office holder) in my lifetime, a healthy synthesis (or partial ’amalgamation’) of those two traditions.

One more brief comment; Tucker says that Jefferson and Samuel West as ’progenitors of Unitarianism’ destroy Christianity. I don’t think Christianity has been destroyed. I don’t think Jefferson’s private thoughts can or could destroy Christianity. (And, if God is Dead, let’s rely on that great authority Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. The Ugliest man killed God. Not the hell-hound democracy, or the fire-dragon Jefferson.) Does Tucker want to argue that disestablishment is the fatal flaw of the founding sowing the seeds of a liberalism that is relativisitic, nihilistic, etc.?

Ok, maybe not so brief: I think Tucker draws a false conclusion when he writes: "Religion within the bounds of reason leads to desiccated liberalism." This misrepresenta my earlier blog. Yes, religion that is governed by reason is dead, intellectually and ,certainly, spritually, dry. I don’t think that "religion within the bounds of reason" is the religion (or reason) of the Founding, Jefferson, the Bible or Claremont cosmology (or what I said in my earlier blog). The religion of the Founding is not bound by reason. God is creator. Man, yes, is a rational/consenting being. Made in God’s image. What might god be? John 1:1-2, "In the beginning was the word/logos, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Man made in the image of God, God is the word, the word is logos. In the end, perhaps Tucker and I agree and Masugi is right we shouldn’t be talking about this: So, yes, religion separated from reason becomes cruel fanaticism (pious cruelty), and reason (or science) separated from religion/morals becomes cynicism. I don’t think Jefferson desiccates religion or reason.

Prudence dictates that I stop here. Not for Unitarian reasons but for a Utilitarian reason. I have go back to work.

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