Daily Archives: April 11, 2009

An Appeal to Heaven

“The Conquered, or their Children, have no Court, no Arbitrator on Earth to appeal to. Then they may appeal, as Jephtha did, to Heaven, and repeat their Appeal, till they have recovered the native Right of their Ancestors, which was to have such a Legislative over them, as the Majority should approve, and freely acquiesce in.”

–  John Locke,  Two Treatises on Government

The phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” is used multiple times by John Locke in his work, Two Treatises of Government. The phrase suggests that after all other alternatives of seeking justice have been exhausted, only an “appeal to heaven” remains. That  is exactly how I feel about the current course of the U.S. government. This has nothing to do with either major political party. Both have followed a similar path that could cause long-term devestation for our economy and future generations.

I am talking about debt beyond comprehension, bailing out bankers while ordinary citizens are struggling, rewarding incompetence, betrayal of the public trust, and the like. This cuts across all parties and political idealogies. Where is the Common Sense that led to the founding of this country?

Calling Obama a “communist” and labeling Republicans as “sell-outs to the rich” does nothing to help the situation. We need average Americans to care and tell their government representatives that enough is enough. No more grand standing for the cameras. No more empty promises. No more blank checks. No more double standards. No more spending or wars without oversight. No more letting foreign interestes dictate our policies. No more greed and corruption in government.

Both parties are guilty of betraying the public trust. The Republicans started the ball rolling with the last year of the Bush administration that saw stimulus checks, a bailout of our financial sector, massive government spending, etc. The Democrats have picked up right where the Republicans left off. They have ballooned the debt beyond absurdity and come to the rescue of some of the companies that got us in this mess in the first place. We are printing money that we don’t have. What does it say to the world when the European governments are the ones calling for less debt and government spending? I fear that we have turned into Rome.

Capitalism has its faults. It needs some regulation and oversight. But we must not rush into writing sloppy laws, which is what happened with the most recent economic stimulus package. Hastly constructed legislation leads to the worse kind of reform – a solution that turns out to be worse than the original problem.

This past week I bought an “An Appeal to Heaven” flag. I plan on taking it with me down to the Tax Day Tea Party being held in downtown Richmond next week. The gathering is for all of those who are fed up with the current course that both parties have steered for us over the last 10-20 years. It is not a rally against taxes. It is not an effort by the rich to keep the government from taking their money to help the poor. The goal of the gathering is to call us back to founding values that have stood the test of time. You can find out more at http://www.richmondteaparty.com/

I see these values as…

  • Limited government that relies every law that is passed equates to individual liberties that are lost to promote the common good. Thus, laws should not be written unless the common good is important enough in that case to trump individual liberties.
  • Government debts and spending should be kept in check so as to free succeeding generations from debt obligations that don’t provide long-term benefits for the people as a whole.
  • Political leaders should work for the common good of the people. Political service is just that service. It should not be a lifelong career or source of private economic gain. Government leaders must be held accountable by the people and avoid even the appearance of partiality or impropriety.
  • Excessive government spending must be limited because burdensome taxes will not lead to long-term economic growth. Overprinting of currency will cause destruction in wealth and discourage saving.
  • Laws should be past with careful consideration about all the potential long-term effects. This means that no massive expansion of government power or spending should take place without the final bill being given at least a month’s worth of open debate and scrutiny. When it came to the most recent economic stimulus bill most lawmakers didn’t have time to read it before they were being required to vote on it. 
  • The law of unintended consequences is the biggest political reality that most lawmakers don’t take the time to consider. It is usually the thing that leads to success or failure of any policy. Prudence requires a government that will do what is best not always what is popular. This means that we should not rush to judgment except in rare instances. 

There once stood an elm tree at the corner of Essex Street and Orange Street in Boston, Massachusetts, under which a group of men calling themselves the “Sons of Liberty” met to protest the notorious British Stamp Act sometime during 1765. From that time onward, the tree was popularly called the “Liberty Tree.” In 1775, the British seized Boston, cut down the tree and used it for firewood. Flags bearing the symbol of the “Liberty Tree” almost immediately began to appear. So it is no wonder that when, in the fall of that same year, George Washington outfitted a squadron of six schooners at his own expense, he fittingly used the symbol of the tree and his own personal prayer to the Lord with the phrase, “An Appeal to Heaven.”

The pine tree flag with the motto “An Appeal to Heaven” was by Massachusetts’ state navy vessels in addition to privateers sailing from Massachusetts. The Massachusetts General Court established the flag of the state navy on July 26, 1776: “that the Colors be a white flagg, with a green Pine Tree, and an Inscription, “Appeal to Heaven.'”

This flag accurately reflects how I feel about the path of our government over the last 15-20 years. It seems like the best thing we can do now is continue to make our voice heard and pray all the louder for sanity to return to federal, state and local governments.

Here is my warning to the current situation: Any right that is quietly removed by the stroke of a pen today may take bloodshed to regain tomorrow.

A Bloody Freedom

The thought of Old Testament sacrifices has bothered me for a long time. Why does God require dead animals to atone for the sins of mankind? Why does the Temple ritual have to be so bloody? Does God really enjoy the smell of burning animal flesh?

I don’t think that I have come up with the most complete answer. But here goes nothing.

The New Testament is clear that sin leads to death and separation from God (Romans 6:23). Jesus takes our place and provides the perfect sacrifice that we can never be (Hebrews 5:9, 10:10-18) .

I believe the sacrifice has to be bloody. Hebrews 9:22 testifies that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Jesus by meeting the requirements of the first law established a second, better covenant. 

Talking about the blood of Christ offends modern sensibilities. Blood is a cultural taboo. But there may be no better way to understand it. Otherwise, we may forget just how precious is the price that was paid for our freedom.

May Jesus’ death never become ordinary to me. May I never see any sin as worth the price. I need the cross to be bloody so that I will understand just how serious and costly sin is.