"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)"
The limited government or Jeffersonian republic ideal and "vision of civil society, paring off some 90 percent of the current behemoth state (and the proportionate amount of taxes it requires), is what Christian activists should contend for as their proper civic duty. And with such clear objectives in mind Christians can effectively work to improve this fallen world." (p. 260)
Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience is an important multi-disciplinary work, encompassing public policy, economics, history, moral and political philosophy, and biblical theology.
This book provides an in-depth study of the biblical teaching reagrding the state, civil government, and public policy. It also delves into practical theologies of Christian activism and action, tackling the big questions regardingthe rightness of the American Revolution, the War Between the States, and other conflicts since then. Christian civic duty and major issues regarding lotteries, capital punishment, rights, taxation, welfare, slavery, and rebellion are considered.
PART I: FUNDAMENTAL KNOWLEDGE AND PARADIGMS
1 Basic Economics and Public Policy Theory for the Theology of Public Policy
2 Public Policy Theology in Historical Context
3 The Four Christian Views of the State and Public Policy
PART II: LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE PERSPECTIVE PARTICULARS
4 The Nature of the State
5 The Divine Ordination of State Criminals and Legalized Crime
6 A Concise Commentary on Romans 12-14 and 1 Peter 2 Manifesting the Liberty of Conscience Framework
PART III: KEY ISSUES
7 The Christian and Self-Defense against Criminals?Including the State
8 Rights, Just War, Torture, Capital Punishment, and Public Policy Theology
9 The Theology of Public Policies of Enslavement
10 A Christian 'Rebellion'-The War for American Independence
11 The Christian Fight for Peace
12 The Second Amendment and Public Policy Theology
PART IV: PUBLIC POLICY AND CHRISTIAN DUTY
13 The Theology of Nations and Nationalism
14 Public Finance Using State Lotteries
15 Christian Civic Duty in America
16 Concluding Remarks
Appendix 1: Responses to Aberrant Notions Regarding Submission to Civil Authorities
Appendix 2: Questions and Taxonomy of the Four Christian Views of Public Policy
Scholarly, popular, and pastoral praise for the book.
In this bold work, Baptists will find their nationalistic ideas counted treasonous to Christ by their forefathers in the faith. Neoconservatives will find their blind commitment to contemporary Republicanism to be liberal in the eyes of the American Founding Fathers. Christians in general will find that much of what they embrace runs counter to the biblical and foundational concepts of justice and liberty for all. Long held notions concerning war, torture, capital punishment, and more will no doubt be challenged, if not reformed. Pastors, theologians, and church leaders will hopefully have coddled errors eviscerated from their teaching ministries and expunged from their Christian practice. Regrettably, Baptists along with other Evangelicals today have succumbed to statist ideologies that do not glorify Jesus Christ. These ideologies have caused them to unduly rely upon, and confide in, the delinquent state and its proactive public policies (1) to change people's bad behavior and (2) to provide for their material welfare. Statism has so undermined the church's role in civil society and crippled its ability to engage its culture that the modern church can hardly be viewed as "a city that is set on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) any longer. Pastors and church leaders, Baptists in particular, would do well to digest the contents of this important book and apply it to their work for Christ. Otherwise Christians will continue to be duped by the charlatans that persist in preying upon their well-meaning motives and using them for the cause of evil instead of the cause of the truth.
Paul J. Dean, D.Min., Pastor, biblical counselor, radio talk show co-host.
Think before you talk. Think before you act. Embrace powerful means but use them properly. All of these are great lessons for life. Sadly, these great lessons have not yet been learned by most Christians in their approach to government. Too little thought has preceded ill-informed action. Christians embrace government even when it is in-consistent with the ministry model of Christ and other Biblical principles. Christians advocate government when it is an impractical means to the desired ends, often because of unintended consequences they fail to anticipate. Worst of all, some Christians unknowingly fall into idolatry of the Stateimagining that we should look to the State first for sustenance, security, and solutions.
D. Eric Schansberg, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, Indiana University (New Albany), author Turn Neither to the Right Nor to the Left.
This is an outstanding book that I could not have written if I tried. It is a thoroughly-biblical and much-needed remedy to Christian apologists for the state and its wars. Dr. Cobin hits the proverbial nail on the head when he describes states as "parasites and predators that dole out privileges and siphon off prosperity through taxes and regulation." I highly recommend this book to all Christians, and especially those Christians who blindly follow the conservative movement and the Republican Party while repeating their "obey the powers that be" mantra.
Laurence Vance, Ph.D., professor, columnist, and author of Christianity and War.
Dr. Cobin integrates both economic theory and rights theory into his Biblical analysis of a Christian view of government. He also substantiates how negative rightsrights not to be interfered withare both Scriptural as well as in accordance with America's founding principles establishing constitutionally limited government. The latter does not create rights; only God can do that. It encodes and protects them. Positive rightsrights to specific goods and servicescan only be administered by an expansive state, a mutation of government that has fallen into the hands of secular power brokers. The latter bring out the worst sins in human nature, inclining a population to rely on secular authority (a welfare state, or Marxian or UN doctrine, and so tend to elevate the very sort of plunder that Scripture condemns into a secular moral principle. Dr. Cobin refreshes our memory how strict adherence to negative rights within the confines of limited government tends to bring about genuinely prosperous societies by encouraging wholesome values, both economic and otherwise. Positive rights, however, expand government into a Leviathan state, thus sabotaging both prosperity and morality. Since this is out of accord with what God has willed for us, it should not surprise us that the latter fail in the economic realm as well.
Steven Yates, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of South Carolina (Upstate)
It has often been written that such and such a book is a must read for this or that group, that it has become a cliché. However, as that may be, I truly believe that this book is a must read for all Christians in general, but most certainly is a must read for all Christian ministers and anyone else in Christian leadership. Faithfully using Scripture, Dr. Cobin clearly lays out the problems Christians face today in dealing with ever increasing anti-Christian states and, more importantly, presents said Christians with a biblical course of action. He clearly delineates the true role of government and states how all states have overstepped their given authority with proactive policies. Dr. Cobin explains how states are tools of Satan and again, using Scripture, informs Christians how to understand and deal with this evil. Dr. Cobin clearly shows in his work why it is not sinful to pick up, figuratively, the sword of God in order to resist satanic states. Much, if not most, of the problems Christians face in dealing with public policy could be alleviated if every Christian minister understood this book's teachings and began to preach them from their pulpits. Yes, for freedom-loving Christians, a must read.
Robert B. Hayes, Director of the South Carolina League of the South
John Cobin's Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience ought to be read by every Christian and indeed by everyone who wishes to understand the role of God's word vis-à-vis the American polity in the 21st century. Lucidly written, Cobin's work integrates Biblical passages (often misunderstood) that deal with public policies (e.g. the role of government, economics, military and foreign policy, etc.) into their historical context. Cobin's conclusions likely will shock the average, historically-challenged, Evangelical. Many of the sacred cows of both the Left and Right are spared no criticism, among whom are Lincoln, FDR, and the current occupant of the White House. But Cobin's most shocking conclusions (at least to those who do not know their American and Southern history) regard the South and her bid for independence. He understands that antebellum Southerners were the direct philosophical and theological descendants of the Founders. As such, they were right to pursue their independence in 1860-61. And their offspring are still right today in seeking independence for the South from a godless American Empire.
Michael Hill, Ph.D., Professor of History and President of the League of the South
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