John R. Houk
© August 8, 2014
Years ago when I became a Born Again Christian I began the ironic evolution (ironic because since being Born Again I am not a huge fan of Darwinian Evolution) of moving from a Center-Left Liberal to a downright Christian Right Conservative. And honestly there are quite a few Neoconservative ideas in which I have an affinity.
I began with this micro-bio of my faith because I read a fascinating article from the Acton Institute with the theme of heretics and heresy. I first became aware of the Acton Institute back in the days of the disillusionment I began having with the Democratic Party. Just think, back in the early 1980’s the Dems were not even close to being as anti-Christian as they have become under the direction of President Barack Hussein Obama. One of the last good Dems was still in the Senate – Henry (Scoop) Jackson – in Washington State where I grew up in Eastern Washington.
Senator Jackson was quite Liberal on most domestic issues (I am a bit uncertain social issues such as abortion and gay marriage). On the other hand before terms like Neoconservatism and American Exceptionalism was a political cause, Jackson was quite supportive of a strong military to confront Marxist expansionism embodied by the then Soviet Union. Jackson believed in supporting Western-style democracy in foreign governments to confront the totalitarianism that was the spread of the disease of Communism.
After abandoning the Dems I was not politically transformed enough to be a Republican. Hence in 1980 I did not vote for Ronald Reagan. Actually I don’t even remember the name of the Candidate I voted for in 1980 except it was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for POTUS. I voted Libertarian because of my disgust for Carter and my distrust Reagan (at the time) as a button pushing warmonger. It is in these Libertarian days that I found the writings of Lord John Acton, Ayn Rand (See Also HERE and HERE) and Ludwig von Mises. Libertarians promoted these people as pioneers of Libertarianism. Although my insight today is these guys though definitely espoused much of the Libertarian ideals, none of them would call themselves Libertarian in today’s sense of social Liberalism and Free Market Conservatism as expressed in this thought:
Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property-rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force-actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud. (Quote from Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz; Found at – What is Libertarian? Written for Institute of Humane Studies at George Mason University)
This train of thought sounded like a great compromise between the exploitive ravages of Left Wing Liberalism and the part of Conservatism I was not ready embrace, viz. a super military with the ability to threaten the people of Independent nations that live under a different political paradigm in which Americans are acquainted. Today I view the latter as naïve wishful thinking that people can just get along. The former sounded great from a Liberty point of view yet I came to realize Social Libertarianism did not comply with the Biblical view of God Almighty.
This social view hypocritically viewed the rights of female individuals trump the rights of unborn human beings in a woman’s womb. This social view deceptively justifies immoral living as acceptable as long as it doesn’t cause physical harm to another person. This is deceptive because if the Creator says it is wrong that means there is harm to the inner man (or inner person to feminists and Liberals) of an individual both in person and to those unwittingly exposed to immorality from another. And so, I abandoned Libertarianism.
I have found that the Acton Institute (actually founded in 1990) named after Lord John Acton promotes Conservative economics and Godly morality.
And hence I return to the fascinating article from the Acton Institute entitled, “Heretics and Heresies, New and Old”. Here Hunter Baker brilliantly demonstrates that a heretic can be something other than merely deviating from the orthodox principles of a particular faith.
Heretics and Heresies, New and Old
By Hunter Baker
August 6, 2014
You may not have realized it, but Tony Dungy is a heretic. Does the former football player, coach and now TV analyst hold beliefs that are considered heretical by his fellow Christians? No. But his recent doubts about Michael Sam as an NFL player (you’ll recall Sam as the All American college athlete who has publicly announced that he’s gay), caused Dungy to be viewed as a heretic by members of another sect that is gaining adherents at a rapid pace. They are more sure of themselves than ever. Where once they pleaded for tolerance, now they sense that they are gaining the upper hand. “There can be no tolerance for ideas that are wrong,” they explain. And they are thinking it might be time to exercise new power.
Whether the issue is the HHS mandate regarding the provision of contraceptive products or new attitudes regarding same-sex romance and marriage, the group holding what might be called “progressive” attitudes has demonstrated a willingness to push those who disagree into conforming. The Christian florist or baker must be brought to heel. Maybe even sent away for sensitivity training. When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a narrow decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, the secular-progressives howled as though some peasant had failed to remove his hat in the presence of the king.
The issue hasn’t always been sex or bioethics. If we look back into the 20th century, we can see the Soviets persecuting heretics of a different kind. In Russia, the heresy was the idea that the state should be limited or that people should be able to determine their own economic destiny. Some heretics even thought (gasp!) that citizens should be allowed to own property. While they were at it, of course, the Soviets, and the Bolsheviks before them, launched a massive persecution of Christians that heaped up martyrs by the millions.
China under Chairman Mao had heretics, too. These were people who had doubts about The Great Leap Forward and other plans set forth by the great leader who declared that “China has stood up!” Some of the heretics were people like college professors who had to be humbled by being sent out into the rural areas to perform farm labor. Others forgot to place pictures of Mao in their homes in prominent positions. During the Cultural Revolution, packs of enthusiastic teens beat such people, including their once esteemed elders, with belt buckles for a lack of proper revolutionary attitude. As of this summer, I think a few members of our own revolutionary vanguard may have wanted to take belts off and start swinging at the proprietors of a certain craft store.
The tragic thing is that we all seem to have a tendency to want to marginalize and hound the heretics among us. Deng Xiaoping was sent to a re-education camp by Mao Zedong for his incorrect thinking. You might think he would, in turn, be an advocate for greater freedom of expression. But who authored the outcome at Tiananmen Square? It was none other than Chairman Deng.
I am sorry to say that Christians, who are rapidly becoming the heretics of this age as they were in others, are far from innocent in this regard. They were persecuted terribly as an unacceptable cult in the Roman Empire. When they finally gained acceptance, it was a great deliverance for them. Official tolerance brought freedom. Eventually, there was power. While the first Christian emperor, Constantine, was not a great coercer of others, some of his successors were. And we all know that the experience of the church in the west includes acts of savagery in war and the torment of heretics in times of peace. Sometimes repression is due to a desire to retain power, but all too often we are willing to commit crimes against others because we want to bring the millennium. According to this view, Paradise won’t overtake us unless a few committed people are willing to do whatever it takes (perhaps by any means necessary) to get the job done.
It is one thing to pursue visions of moral and spiritual excellence in a positive fashion. We should feel free to exchange ideas and to persuade one another of the correctness of our views. That is the process by which we attempt to discover truth. But there is a human factor that turns healthy debate toward coercion. It is the penchant we have for finding disagreement and disconfirmation unpleasant and unsettling. We don’t like to hear that others hold a different view. Our understandings of the world are precious to us. It can be especially exciting to have some new view that seems to be enlightened in comparison to the retrograde mindsets of others. We don’t appreciate it when these knuckle-draggers don’t get with the program.
But the temptation is always there to finish the process of converting the group with a little intimidation here, some official marginalization there, and the loss of privileges. Maybe those people shouldn’t be able to run a school or have an important job or participate in the community in a variety of ways. Brendan Eich, another new heretic who co-founded Firefox and was evicted from his own organization, can tell you all about it.
Transforming to Conservatism with an Illumination of Heresy
John R. Houk
© August 8, 2014
Heretics and Heresies, New and Old
© 2014 Acton Institute
Acton Institute Core Principles
Integrating Judeo-Christian Truths with Free Market Principles
1) Dignity of the Person
2) Social Nature of the Person
3) Importance of Social Institutions
4) Human Action
6) Rule of Law and the Subsidiary Role of Government
7) Creation of Wealth
8) Economic Liberty
9) Economic Value
10) Priority of Culture
Dignity of the Person – The human person, created in the image of God, is individually unique, rational, the subject of moral agency, and a co-creator. Accordingly, he possesses intrinsic value and dignity, implying certain rights and duties both for himself and other persons. These truths about the dignity of the human person are known through revelation, but they are also discernible through reason.
Social Nature of the Person – Although persons find ultimate fulfillment only in communion with God, one essential aspect of the development of persons is our social nature and capacity to act for disinterested ends. The person is fulfilled by interacting with other persons and by participating in moral goods. There are … READ THE REST