Sandra praised my altar call, but demurred because she is not a Christian. But of course, the whole point of presenting the gospel is to present it to non-Christians. Let me just say that it is a standing offer — and it really is an offer to come to Jesus, and not to me, or to any particular brand of the faith. Going into Baskin-Robbins does not commit one to the tutti-frutti.
There are two things that must be addressed. Sandra says (cheerfully enough) that she is not trying to have it both ways, she is trying to have it her way. But ethical theory is not Burger King. She then goes on to join “her way” to the voice of her genuine authority, which in her view should be “democratic consensus.” I can understand this view — demos is god. But then she goes on (quite mysteriously) to say that there should be “constitutional protections for the right of minorities.” Why is this? This would seem to grant that demos is not ultimately god. But if demos is not ultimate, then who or what is? Presumably, these protections are to keep demos from running amok, as he is so prone to do. Let us just say that if demos were a guy, he’d be doing hard time in the penitentiary.
So how can we say demos must be restrained, if demos is the final authority? What is the standard before which even a two/thirds majority vote from demos must bow? Are these constitutional protections to be crafted by demos? But demos is the one the protections are designed to restrain. Should they be crafted by Sandra the Law? But why her and not me? Should they come from . . . what? That is the question I have been posing, and which no one is answering.
What is the authority that over-arches all of us, even when we have a super-majority vote? If everyone in the world wanted to torture one person to death on public television, and the only dissenting vote was the person in question, what makes this action by the super-majority wrong? If ninety-percent wanted to enslave ten percent, why is that wrong? That is my question, and it is the question that has not yet been answered.
Moreover, Sandra cannot answer it from within the model she has proposed. In the past, democratic consensus got us slave-holding societies. So what voice should those societies have obeyed when they heard the words, “Thou shalt have constitutional protections for the rights of minorities”? Suppose demos hates those pesky minorities and proposes a Final Solution. Is that bad? Why?
There is no way to reject a transcendental authority over society without in some fashion absolutizing that society. If there is no God over human society, then is some fashion, human society is god. But if that is the case, why does Sandra want to restrain the will of this god with these niggling protections for the rights of minorities? Why? Who says? Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.
In her conclusion, Sandra says this, getting it exactly backwards: “Admit it — this is what’s intolerable to you. You want absolute certainty, but uniformity of interpretation can only be achieved via force. You can do that by force of will, force of strength, or force of argument, but if those don’t work, what’s left? The sword. And so we’re
back to you and the Amalekites. I don’t begrudge you your Zion, Doug, but I don’t want to live there myself. I suspect I’d find it hard to distinguish between a Wilsonite Promised Land and Hell on Earth.”
But this whole controversy revolves around just this point — our repudiation of force as we seek to advance the kingdom of God. And this has brought us into conflict with those who worship force — the “watch fires of a hundred circling camps.” The weapons we use are not carnal, the apostle Paul says. We do believe that the world will come to Christ, and we invite everyone to do so, but the instruments for accomplishing this will be preaching the gospel, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper — Word and sacrament. That is where our authority lies, and only there. We are not trying to do this by political means at all, and certainly not by military means.
That was, in fact, the whole point of the Amalekite reference in our article, “Moving Beyond Pro-Life.” We were explaining why Paul Hill was so wrong in his murder of the abortionist — he was imitating your approved methods in the violent tradition of John Brown in Kansas, which we reject with loathing. It is worth noting that prior to the murder, Paul Hill had been excommunicated by faithful Christians before he shot anyone, just on the basis of his wild and wicked talk. Steve Wilkins (of recent fame) had known Paul Hill in earlier years, and spent a good bit of time on the phone rebuking him for his wickedness — prior to the murder which got Hill justly executed. After we published that article, Paul Hill (from death row) wrote a letter to the editor of our magazine objecting to our reasoning. He didn’t like it any more than you all do.
This is because our “Moving Beyond Pro-Life” article was a manifesto of our rejection of force — even as we try to persuade those who use deadly force on their own children (“constitutional protections for minorities,” aye). We cannot comprehend how anyone could be brought to the point where they would demand the right to execute their own children, their own future, in utero. But you as a people have been insisting that your children do not have a right to live. Why are you upset if we (appalled, but bowing to this hard judgment of God against you) agree? Just as we believe that slavery should have been ended without violence, so we believe that abortion will be ended without violence on our part. It is important to note that phrase “on our part.” There will be ongoing violence in the ending of abortion, but it is all self-inflicted and suicidal. You all are doing it to yourselves, and we reject your bloody ways. We will not imitate you in this, not even to fight you.
And so I am eager to repeat it again. Jesus died to save us from our sins, and no sins are beyond His forgiving reach. He will forgive us for all that we have done contrary to His will — including sodomy, abortion, anger, hatred, self-righteousness, stealing, adultery, lying, dishonoring our parents, and worshipping other gods. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the basis for a new life, one in which you have complete forgiveness for all sin. It is like having a hot, soapy bath on the inside. That is why the gospel calls us all to repent and believe.
Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.