A Conversation With Myself: Why I Speak Against Monergism

Much of what you’ve written in the theological vein is very anti-Calvinist, or more broadly, anti-monergist.  Why?  Aren’t there other heresies to decry?

Yes, there are many other heresies to decry.  Monergism is a unique one, at least to me.  It’s a belief held by some people that I love and care about.  People who either are close to me or have been.  People who ostensibly truly believe in their hearts and minds that they love, worship, and care about the cause of the One True God.  People who do read the Bible and books about the Bible.  Who go to church.  Who give of themselves.  Who are not ashamed of their faith.  I hate to see such people be so wrong about this critical aspect of Christianity.

Critical?

Critical might be a strong word to use there.  Might.  At a minimum, I’ll say important.  The most fundamental truth of Christianity is,”Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Almost nobody, I suspect nobody, who calls himself or herself a Christian, when confronted with that simple statement, will deny it.  Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Restorationists, Reformers, Eastern Orthodox, Calvinists, and Arminians do not deny it.  That’s not all though: Arians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Modalists and other sets of folks that most in the former list would not call “Christians” won’t deny it either.  Perhaps those in the latter list would deny it upon further reflection, and I’ll emphasize perhaps, but if given that statement and asked, “True or false?” the vast majority would instinctively reply “True.”  It’s a very short statement, and almost seems trivial to many Christians.  They confess such a thing, and should, but I don’t know if some folks realize just how many unique statements (and this list is not exhaustive) are extracted from that one:

(1) Jesus (referring to Jesus of Nazareth) is a Christ.
(2) There is only one Christ.
(3) God has one, and only one, Son.
(4) That Son is Jesus.
(5) There is one, and only one, God that has the attribute of “living”.
(6) The God to Whom Jesus is the Son is alive.

These things are a very big deal in Christianity.  Deny any one of them, and you cannot say, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  That’s why I say many in the second list, upon further reflection, might deny it.

That doesn’t at all explain why a false belief in monergism is critical, or even important.

It does if you understand statements (1) and (2).  What is this “Christ” thing that Jesus is? It’s a six letter word in and of itself, and only a six letter word in English.  What’s important is the meaning of that word.  The set of stuff to which that word refers. You can say, “Jesus is a Christ and there is only one Christ,” but if you believe that “Christ” means an anthropomorphic coffee maker who is an expert in fencing and a sexual deviant, then the statement lacks the meaning it has in Christianity, and you would be very wrong. There are thousands of years of texts written on it, and a man could spend quite literally an entire lifetime reading and pondering them.  There are likely dozens, if not hundreds, of such texts sitting in the Vatican Library that haven’t been touched for centuries.  So even if I could rehash the extent of it, I won’t.

The Christ is the One who was foretold by the prophets: the Messiah.  The Anointed One.  The One who would be born of a virgin.  He’s also the One who would deliver a synergistic, not monergistic, salvation that is all to God’s glory (Isaiah 9:4).  Therefore, to deny that the salvation that came by Jesus is synergistic is very arguably to deny that Jesus is the Christ.

Well I can see why you say “critical,” but I don’t understand why you would consider reducing it to “important.”  Regardless, that seems like a bit of a stretch.  It seems like you’re saying that without a proper Christology or soteriology, a man is not a Christian.  Many good Christians don’t even know what “Christology” or “soteriology” even are, let alone have a complete, accurate, Biblical definition of them.

Let me be clear then.  I’m not saying that.

It sounds like you are.

Well I’m not.  First off, I’m not out to pass judgment on folks, at least not at this time (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).  Second, if someone doesn’t know that salvation is synergistic or understand it, I see no reason to believe that such a person is not a Christian.

Well then why is it so important or critical?

Because there is a huge gulf between simply not knowing or understanding that the salvation Jesus delivered is synergistic and actively denying that it is.  Not knowing or understanding isn’t preferable to knowing and understanding, but there’s a big difference between those and actively denying.  To actively deny that the salvation Jesus delivered is both synergistic and all to God’s glory is to deny that Isaiah 9:4 refers to the One God proclaims shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), which can only be the Christ.

How could that be anything but critical?

Because it equates being, not necessarily correct, but at least not actively wrong, about one aspect of Jesus with having faith that Jesus is the Christ.  There are many aspects to the Christ.  Can somebody be actively, clearly wrong about one aspect of Jesus and still have saving faith Jesus is the Christ?  If so, how many are they allowed to be actively wrong about?  The truth: I don’t know.  That’s why I say it’s important at a minimum, and might be critical.

Muslims believe in Jesus, and call Him a prophet.  Christians do too.  But Muslims don’t believe that Jesus is the begotten Son of God.  This, too, is one aspect of the Christ.  The heavily monergist Gospel Coalition thinks that’s sufficient to say they don’t believe in the same God.  I’m not saying they’re right or wrong, I’m just saying the logic is much more nuanced than they make it out to be.

So, that’s why

Yeah, that’s why.  In all truth and love, I call upon monergists to repent.  Christians are to be in unity with one another, but in unity with one another in the true, Biblical Christ.  Not a god according to their own understanding.

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Why Midian, Isaiah? or Salvation is Synergistic and that Doesn’t Diminish God’s Glory

Isaiah 9:4 makes a direct comparison between the coming Christ’s salvation and the freedom of Israel from Midian:

4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

Gideon faced an impossible task.  As if there were any doubt, God imposed restrictions on Gideon to ensure that Israel knew the work was God’s. Judges 7:2:

2And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

Gideon’s force, which already faced an extremely difficult task, was reduced to 300.  Gideon couldn’t possibly reason, outside of God’s word, that this would work. Without God, he would have been at least relentlessly mocked.  Eventually, he would have been slaughtered. Gideon and his 300 people still had to obey God by shouting, blowing horns, marching, and breaking some pottery.

There are those who would say that synergism diminishes God’s glory in the work of salvation.  To which I can only respond, “Does the fact that God required Gideon and his people to do things reduce His glory?” Not even a little.  They couldn’t boast in such a victory: it was God’s. The task was impossible for them to win without God. But God, in order to search the heart of men by their actions (as He does, Jeremiah 17:10, Ezekiel 18:30), and in His true sovereignty and justice, still imposed this rule upon them.  God also provided a means, a means that is all to His glory, for them to do it. That’s the view of synergism.

What if God didn’t require Gideon to do such a thing? Wouldn’t that make God a respecter of persons? He’s not (Romans 2:11).

There are some people who will say that verses such as Ephesians 2:8-9 or Romans 9:16 make it clear that faith is monergistic:

 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Those verses say grace comes from God as a gift that you do not deserve. I concur. Even after faith and repentance, you do not deserve to be forgiven. It is only because God, in His love and sovereignty, proclaims that through faith which produces repentance that you receive grace that you are able to receive it. Just as it was with Midian: victory was God’s gift.  Gideon’s will couldn’t win the battle, only God could.

At this point, some monergists will claim that if faith is our own decision, then it’s a work.  Since we are saved by God’s work and not our own, God must monergistically grant faith.  Where I think there’s a big logical leap (with anti-Biblical logical implications) is the seeming equation of a cognitive decision (as I contend faith is) and works, or rather that cognitive decisions are included in the set of things that are works.

For one, never, not once, ever, is a cognitive decision referred to in the Bible as a “work” in and of itself. That doesn’t make it necessarily untrue, in and of itself. There are lots of things that are true that are not in the Bible, but it is dangerous.  The Bible simply doesn’t say that.

Another is if persons are saved monergistically, we either have to believe in Universalism or in a pathetic god, because the true God desires that all come to repentance and has no pleasure in the death of him who dies (Ezekiel 18:32):

32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Therefore, to attribute salvation to grace through monergistic faith means that either everyone is saved, or that God is incapable, either through His desire to save (which would make Him a liar) or power to save (which would make Him weaker), to provide faith to all people. Neither is true. He’s capable, but in His justice and sovereignty requires you to seek the promise by faith (Romans 9:31-33):

31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Gideon sought God’s promise by faith.  And just like Gideon, He’s provided the means. That’s the Christ’s salvation that Isaiah said was coming.

That’s why Midian matters, and that’s why the Holy Spirit through Isaiah pointed to Midian.  We are saved the way Israel was saved in the days of Gideon, through grace that is both synergistic and doesn’t diminish God’s glory.

Reason #(insert large number) why I’m not a Republican

As if there was any doubt, the Republican Party is, in fact, made up of at least 31% (+/- 3.6%) stupid people.  According to today’s Rasmussen polls, 88% of Republicans view Rick Santorum as a conservative, while only 57% view Ron Paul as conservative. 

That’s right, 31% of Republicans view a man who voted for No Child Left Behind, more expensive drugs for senior citizens not on medicare, has never once voted against a foreign aid package, teamed with Hillary Clinton to “get violence out of video games”,  endorsed Arlen Specter, and supported quanitative easing as being more conservative than a man who has voted against all of those things and against every unbalanced budget.

Apparently being “conservative” in the Republican context is supporting unconstitutional wars, forcing otherwise non-violent people to live their lives according to your values, and spending other people’s money almost as much as Democrats.  If that’s “conservative” or “conserving” Republican values, count me out.

An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

Dear Ms. Coulter,

You write the following in your latest column to try to make it sound as if Romney has widespread support and is, in reality, on pace for the nomination:

…the widening gulf in delegates won by Romney compared to the others — he now has more delegates than all other candidates combined…

I’ve already explained why that isn’t necessarily true, and even if it is, in the very near future it will not be.  You and I both know this.  I suppose you just saw fit to sneak it in this week, while such a statement is mildly defensible, in order to get “I do what I’m told” Republicans to conform and give a loud “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON” to Romney’s supporters.   It’s not necessarily your line of reasoning; I’m not able to read your mind, but I don’t see any other reason to say it.  As I’ve already made clear, such a statement about the delegate count is not necessarily true, and even if it were, it won’t be one month from now.

If indeed that is your reasoning, I have to wonder why you would take such an approach.  Do you believe that the independents and Reagan Democrats, that the Republican party will need to win 3 of 5 states between Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania will conform to a candidate that needs such a (mildly misleading at least) message from such an influential person as yourself?  A person who says to Mitt Romney personally, during the primary season, “I hope you’re as conservative as I keep telling people you are.”  A person who says to a conservative audience, “We’re either going to nominate [a real conservative] and win, or we’re going to nominate Mitt Romney and lose.”

Forget the independents and Reagan Democrats.  You’ll be lucky to get the Republicans motivated.

I, for one, applaud the fact that Romney is struggling so much.  It means the Republican Party might actually nominate a candidate who can win, even if that means starting from scratch in Tampa.

You and I agree that all of the Republican candidates are equal to or greater than Obama (also from your latest column), “…it’s true that any of the Republican candidates for president would be an improvement over Obama, it is not true that any of them can beat him. ”  Unless you haven’t been paying attention, and I know you have, you know that Ron Paul is polling better in a head to head with Obama than any of the other candidates.  Indeed, Ron Paul is the only one actually beating Obama. Even more than that, think about the future: Ron Paul is the only candidate growing the Republican Party.

If ‘just beating Obama’ really is that important, why aren’t you showing some support for the one with the best chance to, you know, actually beat Obama?

Sincerely,
Peter Beardsley

Why Ron Paul Really Can Win, or the Wild World of Primary Math

After Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney has a commanding lead in the delegate count and has won 3 of the 5 states (Florida, Ohio, and Virginia; Pennsylvania and North Carolina still outstanding) most critical for Republican success against Barack Obama in November.  So why are the others still in it?  Why wouldn’t they give up?  The answer is simple: in the wild world of primary math, “winning” is an interesting word.  They can “lose” the primary and still get the nomination.

To truly win the primary before the convention, a candidate must achieve 1144 delegates in order to have a clear majority of the 2286 that will cast a vote at the Republican National Convention in August.  Get that number of bound delegates, and nothing can stop you.

If a candidate has a clear lead, but no majority, we get introduced to this nuance called “unbound” delegates.  These are 477 of the 2286 total delegates. The RNC allocates delegates to states based on a variety of factors, but it pretty much boils down to two: how big of a factor you are in the electoral college, and how likely you are to vote Republican.  The states (and territories) are then free to allocate these delegates however they darn well choose.  Some legally bind their delegates to the results of the primary / caucus / straw poll / state party convention.  Some do not.  Take Montana for instance: 26 delegates.  They are allocated based on the results of the caucus, but they aren’t legally bound.  A “Santorum delegate” from Montana can go to Tampa and vote for Romney.

Other unbound delegates are even softer.  The Republican Party of a given state / territory is free to reserve some (or all, but none do) of their delegates to members within the hierarchy of the party.  A governor who is a member of the party, the state party chairman, something of that sort.  These are “superdelegates,” but the Republican Party doesn’t want to call them that.  That’s what the Democrats do.

So if a candidate gets a clear plurality, but not 1144, those delegates can leave and go for somebody else in order to save the party a headache, help the guy they think can win the general, show some love to their bff, or whatever.  They are the mirror fog in making any semblance of clarity in this mess.

Where we stand right now – Mitt Romney is the clear leader.  He has won 302 of the just under 600 “bound” delegates allocated thus far.  He’s also gotten verbal pledges from 19 of the superdelegates, more than triple the other 3 candidates combined (which is why I just have to laugh when Ann Coulter and Jonah Goldberg say he’s not the “establishment” candidate).  That would lead you to believe he’s on pace for the nomination, and in that way it would mislead you.

Here’s why: there have been caucuses and primaries held so far where the delegates are strangely allocated, and not even really, officially, allocated.  Iowa and Washington are examples.  There is a raw “vote” taken, but it’s virtually meaningless in and of itself.  The caucuses held in conjunction with the vote send delegates to the state convention, where those delegates will actually select the delegates to go to the national convention.  It’s a strange process, and every state that does it has their own unique flavor of it, but it’s an approach specifically designed to sway the delegate allocation toward more motivated and organized campaigns.

The wonderful website www.thegreenpapers.com estimates the results of those caucuses based on the raw vote totals, but that’s misleading.  Historically mildly accurate, and reasonable enough for an estimation, but misleading.  The Paul campaign is much more motivated and well organized than the others.  Paul will get much more than his vote totals suggest.  If those numbers are taken to be accurate, however, Romney currently has 368 projected delegates + 19 superdelegates for 387 total delegates.  The other three candidates have a total of 350.  But like I said, in some of those states (Washington and Maine in particular) Paul will get more than his fair share, and steal directly from Romney.  That number is closer to even than the projections suggest.  And remember, 19 of those are superdelegates, which artificially inflate Romney’s pace.

Then we have the near future, which does not look good at all for Romney.  Between now and March 20, 161 bound delegates will be awarded and 46 unbound delegates will be up for grabs.  The vast majority are either in caucus states / territories or in open primaries in decidedly anti-Romney territory: the South and Plains, or the heavily practicing-Catholic Puerto Rico.  Mitt way win a couple of the Mormon-rich territories, but even then the delegates will be split, and he may very well finish 4th in the open primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.  If he gets 60 of those delegates, it would be a surprise.  While maybe, and I’ll emphasize probably not, on pace for 1144 now, he won’t be anywhere close to on pace for 1144 in the near future, and somebody (I suspect Santorum) will have the momentum.

Which is why Ron Paul can win this.  If nobody actually gets to 1144, everybody enters Tampa as an equal.  It’s like having 4 guys run a marathon to determine physical fitness, and if none finishes in a certain threshold, we all go to Tampa and play basketball.  Unless those unbound delegates mess with the timekeeping.  Or something like that.  More than that, Ron Paul polls better in a head to head against Barack Obama than any other candidate, and he’s actually growing the party.

We’ve got LeBron James.  The other Republican campaigns have marathon runners.  They’ll beat on us for now, but unless one of them gets to 1144, we’ll have the edge when it matters.

Make it Known

A Sunday School teacher I had as a teenager (Ms. Brenda Woody), who happened to be a longtime teacher and coach at my school, once described the relationship between faith and works in the following way (paraphrased),

“Say there’s a man who claims to be a basketball fan.  Maybe he even believes he is a basketball fan.  But he doesn’t play basketball.  He doesn’t watch basketball.  He doesn’t donate time or money to basketball clubs.  He’s not that familiar with the rules of basketball.  He can’t tell the difference between pictures of George Mikan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, or LeBron James.  He doesn’t have a favorite team or make time to watch them.  He doesn’t even own a basketball.  Is such a man really a basketball fan? No, he’s not.”

I’ve thought back to that statement many times in the approximately 10 years since I heard it.   The more I think about it, the more accurate I think it is in describing the relationship between saying and/or believing you’re a Christian and actually being a Christian.  If you truly are a Christian, you will fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission.  That involves baptism, studying the Bible, prayer, and fasting.  You’ll at least try.  Really try.  You might not always succeed, but you’ll truly, genuinely, make an attempt to do so.

But the deeds themselves are not enough to be a basketball fan either. You can hate basketball and still do many of those things. Even the demons know the truth of Christ, and tremble (James 2:19).

God requires what you do to be done in the right spirit (Micah 6:6-8, Joel 2:12-13, Mark ch 7), but He makes clear that being in the right spirit is made known to Him by your actions.  Psalm 139:23-24 and Jeremiah 17:10:

23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

10I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

God searches your heart and mind by your actions, to see if there is any wicked way in you.  There will be no real, pleasing “fruit” of your doings unless these things are done in the spirit. Do the things for God that He commands, and do them in the right spirit.  Make it known to God that you’re a fan in this way, and He will lead you.

Make Tuesday Super — Open Thread

Today is Super Tuesday, which unless we get a Republican convention where no candidate has 1,144 delegates, is probably the single most important day in the primary season.  Consider this your open thread, friends of freedom, to discuss today’s goings on in the comments.  I’ll leave you with a handful of things from my facebook page to get the ball rolling:

“I look at this campaign right now and I see a lot of folks all talking about lots of things, but what we need to talk about to defeat Barack Obama is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government…” — Mitt Romney saying something I actually agree with, continued:

“…and that’s what I do” — Mitt Romney, the architect of RomneyCare that is currently bankrupting the Commonwealth of Massachusettes, finishing the previous quote with a laughable lie.

The man in the best position to defeat Obama is Ron Paul. The jobs and small government candidate is Ron Paul. If you really believe the first part of your quote, Mitt, you’ll drop out and cast your support for Ron Paul. If you don’t, I have to assume that you don’t believe what you say either.

——– 

I’d like to believe in American Exceptionalism. Not that America is exceptional, how could it be? It’s a country. It gets no special exceptions from the laws of physics or economics. Reality is not optional

But I’d like to believe that the American people are exceptional. I’d like to believe that the American people are still a people, no matter how diverse in how many ways, bound together in spirit not by bloodlines, territory, religious conviction, or any other attribute of a person, but to a document: the U.S. Constitution. I’d like to think that America is still a country where peace, prosperity, and the Constitution is a winning message.

Prove me right. Get out and vote for Ron Paul..

——–

‎”Just get the people in Washington D.C. to follow the Constitution. It would solve all our problems”

“There’s a worldwide debt crisis now, and we can’t get out of it by doing the same things that got us there in the first place”

–Ron Paul after the Washington Caucuses

Faith and Reason

A friend posted on my facebook page that what I write reminds him of the Benjamin Franklin quote, “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.”  My response: I try to see through both, and don’t find them to be contradictory.

The reason why is the crowning mathematical and philosophical achievement of the 20th century, Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.  There are many facets to it and implications of it, and for the layman (or anyone not well versed in academic papers about symbolic logic), I recommend the book Godel’s Proof.  It’s outstanding.  One implication is this: in any logically consistent system, there are three kinds of truth.  There are axioms (things assumed to be true), things provable from the axioms (necessary logical implications), and things that are true that are not provable from the axioms (possible truths that are true).  None is any less true than any other, but all of the things that are true in a logically consistent system fit into one of the three, and reality is a logically consistent system.

If the the Bible is to be believed, it makes it clear that the beliefs that constitute faith are not provable, but nonetheless true.  Faith is evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1).  There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).  If the beliefs that constitute faith were provable, faith would be evidence of things obviously seen.  There would be no way that appears right to man, but in the end leads to death.

So clearly, if the Bible is true, it falls into the third category: things that are true that are not provable.

To see strictly by reason, in the terminology of Franklin’s day, was to be thoroughly agnostic about all things that were not provable.  Even after Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, some people still adhere to this ideology.

Which is silly on at least two fronts.  For one, a result of Godel’s Proof is that axioms cannot be proven.  The best you can hope for is to display that your axioms are consistent with one another.  You can’t prove them to be true, let alone consistent with this complex, massive, space-time governed thing we call reality.  Without the axioms, you have nothing to generate necessary logical implications from.  Without axioms and necessary logical implications, you have nothing with which to compare possible truths.  To be governed strictly by proof is to be a total epistemological skeptic.

Nobody is an epistemological skeptic, aside from possibly acknowledging it in the academic sense.  You breathe.  You eat food.  You drink water.  You do these things because on some level, you choose to live your life in accordance with the notion that these things are beneficial or prudent.

Another reason that notion is silly is because it’s limiting.  Even if (and we’re playing pretend here) you had a set of axioms that you knew, without a doubt, were true and governed all reality, and even if you knew you had the complete set of those axioms, reality is massive and complex.  There’s an entire third set of truth out there. In a massive, complex system such as reality, it’s far greater than your axioms or the things proven by them.  Just one, trivial, unprovable truth, when combined with the hypothetical axioms or things proven by them, would lead to a vast set of true things all its own.

So can I prove the Bible is true? No (by its own admission in the verses above), but non-believers have spent thousands of years trying to prove it untrue and all have failed.  One wrote an excellent book about his attempt, Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict; he ended up converting in the process.

But unless we completely distrust our senses, we know this: the Bible exists.  It was written over a span of roughly 1500 years, by roughly 40 different authors, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages.  It is consistent with itself and all verifiable history.   That’s remarkable in and of itself.  It contains hundreds of prophesies that have either been fulfilled or that the Bible states would be fulfilled in the Second Coming of Christ.  Many of its authors were so convinced of the truth of what they wrote that they preferred martyrdom to recanting their testimony.

Which leaves you with a question: is there more evidence that this possible truth is true or not?  And either way, what are you going to choose to believe?

It’s not shutting the eye of reason.  It’s using both eyes.

Preach it Dr. Boudreaux

One of the best websites on the internet, Cafe Hayek, is the work of two of freedom’s best friends: Professors Russ Roberts and Don Boudreaux of George Mason University.  I do not agree with them on everything.  They do not agree with themselves on everything.  I endorse their website and think you should make a habit of going to it.

For those outside of the broader liberty movement, I’ll let you know something that brings a great deal of sadness to the rest of us: infighting at Cato.  The Cato Institute has been a champion of liberty longer than I’ve been alive, and there is currently some infighting going on that threatens the organization and all it stands for.  As to the nature of the argument, there are many things we don’t know.  I don’t know who is right between Ed Crane and the Koch brothers and to whom ownership of shares in the organization actually belongs.  I don’t know.  I don’t wish to speculate on the facts or pass judgment on individuals I respect a great deal.

I do know that like Dr. Boudreaux, I stand with Ed Crane and Cato’s vision of fostering libertarian ideas for the long term, with little regard for the short term (as the Koch brothers ostensibly prefer).  As Professor Boudreaux himself writes:

At the end of the day in any society, political office holders largely reflect the culture and climate of ideas that prevail in that society.  The overwhelming effects of culture and the climate of opinion on actual, day-to-day policies over the long run are unseen.  This unseen influence of culture and ideas is, I believe, as the underwater bulk of the iceberg is to the seen tip that looms above the water’s surface.

Yes.  Ideas matter, because the propogation of ideas is what influences the culture.  That’s why I do what I do here.  If I were out to get people to like me or get a ton of viewers and comments, I wouldn’t be blogging about libertarianism and Restoration Movement theology, certainly not together.  I might change a few minds.  Even if I don’t, I’ll refine the ideas of others.  Even if what I do is little more than an eye dropper of water in the ocean of American culture, those minds I change will go on to change others.

The Cato Institute has helped mold my worldview by its commitment to the long term.  Let’s keep that going.

Free Campaign Finance

In an excellent piece in the Washington Post defending the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, George Will says the following:

The one certainty about campaign finance laws is that all of them are, and ever will be, written by incumbent legislators.

Will’s statement is so obvious as to seem trivial, but it’s something that many people in either political party don’t understand (the law involved in Citizens United was sponsored or signed by the last 3 Republican Presidential candidates and Russ Feingold). What do nearly all incumbents have in common?  They want to get re-elected.  If you don’t think they’ll write laws that protect incumbents, you’re either ignorant to that simple fact or to history.

And by history, I mean very recent history.  In the last decade level recent.  The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, aka McCain-Feingold, was a piece of legislation passed in 2002 and enacted in 2003 to do exactly that.  Some of the worst parts were overturned by Supreme Court in Citizens United, but parts still exist.  It’s time for them to go.

Limiting (and complicating) campaign financing in any way will always help incumbents.  They have money, name recognition, and a sufficiently organized campaign team already. They also know the maze of laws already, because they either got elected under them or wrote them.  Both are steep walls for a challenger to climb.

This isn’t complicated stuff. If we’re a free society, we should allow people to do with their money whatever non-violent thing they want.  Even if that’s giving money to a political campaign.  Even if it’s one to which we’re opposed.  Free campaign finance.