Last fall I did a series of posts reflecting on the video series promoted by Focus on the Family called The Truth Project. It was a well-produced series that promotes, by my assessment, a foundational Christian philosophy that has gone on the offensive in recent years as it has lost steam in the face of the demise of modern philosophy. I continue to receive many hits from folks searching for information to the Truth Project and thought I would repost my most recent response to a Truth Project inquiry.
Someone inquired to my reaction to this link regarding Lesson 9 on the state. I offered the following thoughts:
Thanks for the post, Randy and the link. I looked over the information and it lays out Tackett’s premise in regards to the role of the “sphere of the state.” In some of my other posts on The Truth Project, I’ve critiqued this “sphere” understanding to the Bible.
It is Tackett’s understanding that the Bible somehow maps out this grandiose social order. Now, I’m the first to acknowledge there is a great order and scheme behind the great creative God, but I’m not convinced that he isn’t over playing the cards on this one. Foundational to his argument (again, a philosophical underpinning that I’ve already rebutted in this post) is the idea that God has created blue printed confines within which the state must operate.
His case point is a handy one considering his conservative realpolitik. Why not consider the question, “Can the state murder unjustly?” His case study on can the state steal is simply his case against the welfare state.
In his argument he chooses the relatively obscure story of Uzziah. Now, Uzziah’s in the Scriptures and I also believe he should be considered. But, it could hardly be argued that Uzziah somehow represents an exemplary story of the core identity of Old Testament social ethics.
A broader and more fundamental Old Testament example would be Leviticus 25’s teaching of the year of Jubilee. Every 50 years the state of Israel was to forcibly redistribute wealth. It’s not often termed that way since it sends up so many red flags, but is that not exactly what happens? Those who had become imprisoned were to be freed. Those who had lost everything were given a fresh start. Those who had accumulated too much had to give up their excess. Interestingly, Tackett makes strong statements about the Bible’s teaching making it being an overstepping of the role of the state to do exactly what Israel was commanded to do (and later reprimanded by the Old Testament prophets for not doing!) And this is no obscure law on the edge of the Torah – this was fundamental to it’s economy! By no means am I claiming that this solves any discussion . . . however, it blasts major holes in Tackett’s arguments and shows him to be rather inept in his presentation by not dealing with the most glaring shortcomings of his overgeneralization.
One other aspect of the notes I’ll comment on is the listing of the states and their leaders who have shown “obvious overstepping of the state’s authority.” It’s a list of the notable notorious world leaders: the worst of the worst – Hitler, Stalin, etc. While I am in no way comparing these evil empires with the American empire, I do think it deserves mention that the United States and other Western empires are not allowed a free pass. Millions have died at the hands of American militaristic campaigns.
Again, I’m not in any way denying the blessings of our country. However, as Christians we are called to be prophets, standing back from the culture and acknowledging God when we see Him, acknowledging sin when we see it. More Christians need to acknowledge America is an empire. The only empires in the Bible were staunchly addressed in the Bible (be it Rome, Egypt, etc.) We must not give America some free pass. Tackett’s theology here is a house of cards created to avoid real critique and consideration of prophetic implication for the new empire in which we find ourselves.
Thanks again, Randy for you comments, I’m going to post this as my newest blog entry as well since it’s been awhile since I’ve commented on the Truth Project.