John Locke vs. Thomas Hobbes
by Christian Ledford—
In the coming decades natural rights may be more vulnerable to subversion and violation than they have ever been. It is of the utmost importance that we return to the ideals of Lockean Liberalism and the Christian origins of natural rights. ...Individuals across the globe must rise up and declare that their rights come not from constitutions, not from politicians, not from laws, and not from the state, but instead as a universal and inalienable endowment from their creator: God.
*This piece is both timely and fitting for the current political climate. It is an excerpt from a longer speech that Christian wrote for last spring's Locke and Lewis / Faith and Reason speech contest at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He delivered this speech from the university's film studio on March 18, the first week after it had been shut down due to the Coronavirus. It won first place. The full video recording of the speech can be viewed in YouTube here: https://youtu.be/glhYFz7nxmc. Christian Ledford is a recent political-science graduate of the university (2019) who aspires to a profession in law.
**The Editor has divided this piece into three parts beginning with the final two paragraphs.
Why would an all-good and all-powerful God allow a pandemic?
by John Shaheen—
John is a junior at the University of Michigan–Dearborn. He especially loves philosophy and biology.
Fear is aroused, panic abounds, medical supplies dwindle, and the economy suffers… where is God? Why would he let the people that he loves suffer? Within months, the Coronavirus has rapidly spread throughout the world. What seemed like alarmism now seems like inadequate preparation. Surely, the question on the minds of many is why would God allow this? Where is the God of infinite and perfect love and mercy?
In response to the logical problem of evil, many solutions have been offered, the most famous being the Free will Defense. Perhaps evil and suffering are a consequence of allowing free beings to exist. The objection soon arose, what about natural evil? How are floods, diseases, earthquakes, etc. the result of free beings? Alvin Plantinga suggested that perhaps these disasters are the result of the free actions of supernatural beings such as angels or demons. Though this is definitely a solution that makes natural evil logically compatible with a perfect and powerful God, it still feels unsatisfactory. Why did God give these beings this kind of power? He could have easily restricted their power without limiting their free will. They can only cause this kind of havoc if God allows them. God is still the ultimate authority and power in this paradigm. Furthermore, in an age of scientific knowledge of the causes of natural disasters, this solution may seem unsatisfactory to the naturalist.
My studies have led me to the revelation that the statement ‘Jesus is Lord’ is not merely a propositional truth that needs to be apprehended for salvation. But that "Jesus is Lord" is a mission statement.......
Is Christian social activism biblical? This debate is often at the forefront of the Church when societal ills or political propositions arise. We are confronted with the proverbial fork in the road: Should we do or say something? . . . Should we stand by in silence because we would sacrifice our Christian witness to align ourselves with the causes of the world? My hope is to offer some perspective that might help resolve this conundrum, or at the very least, provide some food for thought.
Part of the challenge lies in our theological framework. Things such as our views on the effects of sin can greatly influence how we look at problems in this world. For example, sin causes brokenness and depraved behavior. Therefore, some suggest what logically follows is that sin is a problem that will remain until God makes all things new. So as Christians we shouldn’t involve ourselves in temporal resolutions. Rather, we should preach that we all need Christ and that is how you deal with the problems of sin. Others argue that God has left us here as his representatives to be His salt and light. Through this representation (as salt and light) God draws people and they become part of the Church or a Christian. Which view is correct? My belief is that the latter is the more correct of the two. So let me share with you some of the reasons for this conviction.
How we use force of law to plunder our neighbor instead of love our neighbor
In 1696, the legislature of Britain implemented a window-tax. The more windows you had, the more you had to pay. If you were wealthy enough to own a home in London that had a lot of windows then you can pay your fair share (for the common good, of course). Some variation of this law existed for about 150 years. This (even if well-meaning) tax was a swing at the rich but these laws rarely hit their targets. Those with the means just boarded up their windows with bricks leaving a legacy of absurdity making both air and light a government service to pay for. When the law is used to target the rich, it rarely hits the target. In this case, a large tenant building full of middle and lower-class renters would get taxed heavily. The owner would pass the cost down to the tenants. A swing and a miss.
One absurd law played out requires another absurdity to fix it. A similar tax was placed on the number of fireplaces and the number of bricks used to build a home. This, in turn resulted in bricked up hearths, cold residents, and building houses with over-sized bricks. It is not that all laws are absurd. Undeniable laws exist naturally and organically. These natural laws govern all human activity. Natural laws are based on the responsibilities of the individual to bear the image of God. This requires certain rights in order to execute those responsibilities. These rights include the right to your own life. Not being killed. They include the right to your freedom. Not being enslaved. They include the right to property. Property is what you did with your right to life and freedom in the past. Not being robbed or plundered.
The bona fides of the Church that Christians must consider
Politicians have told us that we must follow the science. Models were presented that caused us to brace for impact for up to 2 million dead from this virus. We complied. We submitted. The Executive Branch of our states have the legal authority to curtail rights in the face of an attack or national emergency. The emergency was originally the risk of overwhelming our healthcare infrastructure with too many infections. We shored up hospitals, erected tent hospitals, and boats to care for the sick. We were called upon to not assemble, to stay at home, to flatten the curve so that we are not all sick at once. The curve was flattened. The hospitals were not flooded, the tents are empty, and the boats have sailed away. The estimates were overblown, the models flawed, and the science trumped by politics.