Evangelical anti-statism… or is it pro-statism?

Evangelicals, if they are anywhere on the sliding scale of “the religious right,” believe in free market economics and that the government should provide for the national defense.  In some circles, part of the free market public policy is justified on the basis that the Bible never authorizes the state to take money from some people and give it to others because the ones from whom the state takes are better off than those to whom the state gives.

I actually subscribe to a similar argument, though I now think you need to add some steps to it, and perhaps make some other changes.

Still, it has got to look jolting to anyone who is Biblically literate to encounter this ideological sub-culture for the first time.

When you consider how much space in the Bible is devoted to condemning state welfare programs compared to how much is devoted to condemning military spending, the “religious right” becomes even more of a mystery. When you consider how much space in the Bible is spent forbidding the government to engage in military build-ups or foreign entanglements (that is the point of horses and wives), the political slogans of the “religious right” look positively perverse.  How can we oppose “welfare” programs (in quotes because I don’t think they result in real welfare) and be so exuberant about huge amounts of (totally unaccountable) military spending?

As I was thinking about these things, I heard Gary DeMar’s substitute on the American Vision podcast read from First Samuel:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.  According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.  Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.  He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your money from you and give it to the poor in your midst, so that they are a perpetual dependency class who will support the king out of financial necessity.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Oh, wait.  Samuel never says that. No, Samuel talks about redistribution in the same economic class, or from the middle class to the upper class.  I take this as a substantiation that, even in a welfare state, the poor are never in the driver’s seat, but some middle- or upper-class manipulators who use the poor to get leverage.

Notice that Samuel warns about people being drafted to “to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.”  The idea that the military-industrial complex isn’t simply an arm of the welfare state intended to keep a class of dependents is just a Christian fiction.

Militarians are as statists as any Obama socialist, and we are right now being judged appropriately by both in the Obama regime.

1 thought on “Evangelical anti-statism… or is it pro-statism?

  1. laura

    The welfare state is wrong. The military state is wrong. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are legitimate wars according to Christian just war theory.

    Neo-cons are really statist – I would agree. What’s sad is they think they’re a “new conservative” while practicing leftist fascist statism… and just don’t get it.

    We need limited government at all levels. We need, especially, to end the fed.


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