Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On the Public Service Academy

There's a bitty discussion between Payshun and I over at God's Politics.

Chris Meyers Asch advocates the liberal Christan support of a new Service Academy.

I think its a bad idea:

I also doubt the usefulness of a PSA.

1. Many public universities already offer similar programs.
2. It is unclear to me what the specific set of skills necessary for effective public administration and service are. If I were to take a guess, they would include: Follow orders. Follow regulations. Cover yourself. Blackmail. Evade feedback.

Courtesianship and confucianism are not modes of behavior we want to encourage in our institutions.

3. The Christian element here is fuzzy. Why should Christians support the creation of an institution which absolves individuals of more responsibility by creating a new "priestly" class of bureaucrats to handle the "least of these" for us? I should think that Christians would further strengthen their support for Christian universities which have strong track records in developing servant-minded individuals.

4. Why should Christians be interested in emulating institutions which were designed to train for war? The service academies are excellent at preparing men and women to serve the United States Government (certainly NOT our country) by breaking things and blowing them up.

"Chris Myers Asch is an incumbant of the unionized unaccountable Teach for America/AmeriCorps programs established by the United States Government to make good statist pagans of all of us, and the co-founder of the U.S. Public Service Academy which will teach us all the right regulations and political behaviors which will insulate young bureaucrats from the feedback inherent in the market. It will further instruct them to make decisions based on what will advance their career, expand their program's budget, and undermine liberty."

Nathanael Snow is a student of Bonhoeffer, Hauerwas, Hayek and Mises. He believes that all social good is to be done by Christians and that responsibility for the least of these must be assumed by individuals. He blogs at http://jurisnaturalist.blogspot.com

Later:

What Biblical justification do you offer as evidence that the state can make things better? I observe several instances where the scriptures warn us about the influence of the state. I also observe the scriptures admonishing the Church to be the effective force for good in the world despite any actions of the state.

What, specifically, can the state do to make the world better that the church couldn't do more efficiently and without invoking force? Nothing.

Good done by compulsion or utilizing means extorted involuntarily is devoid of virtue. Any reward for such action is temporal and diminished. As believers we seek eternal rewards and to the fullest, not only for ourselves but also for those we serve. To strip the "good" which is to be done of the conditions which generate its virtue is also to strip the administrators and recipients of such aid of their dignity, making them wards of the state - so much less than image-bearers of Christ.

To be sure, while they remain unserved they are much worse off. Which is why well - intentioned strong efforts such as Chris' disturb me so greatly as they are misdirected. If all that energy were expended on and through the Church, so much greater the work, as all glory would be given to Christ, instead of being diluted on the state!

Dare to think outside the box which ascribes divinity and ultimate responsibility to a human institution, and to seek for solutions which do not begin with, "There ought to be a law."

Nathanael Snow



Then Payshun:

Umm Nowhere is his post saying that his ideas are the solution. They are place where solutions can be created and grown. You all on the right and folks like juris believe that the government can do no real good. I know that's not true. There are plenty of examples in the old testament that speak to that. Anyone remember sanctuary cities...? The government like individual efforts can be used for good or ill. It really does depend.

Nathaniel,

Please do not be naive enough to think that individuals will always make things better if anything they can make it worse just as much as the state. I am sorry but feeding a family is not diluted work. Christ gets the glory regardless if people convert and the overt level of arrogance about the majesty of the church is disturbing. The church is flawed just like every human institution. Yes I called it a human institution as it was made for man and not man for it. It's about community and for some really odd reason you seem to deify it as a cureall. Just to bring this discussion down to earth a little we really need to examine the church and actually let it do what it can do and let the state do what it can. Instead of hating government which is what folks on right and you do please try to use it as a tool to feed people because when it's all said and done the church can't do it alone. That's a fact.

p



Most recently me:

P,
I will address your example of the sanctuary cities.
These were cities appointed for anyone accused of wrongful death. The accused could run there for sanctuary until the case was brought to a judge. Once the case was heard the judge's verdict, according to the law, was followed.

I have no quarrel with this form of government. I don't believe it requires central organization, but it is clearly Biblical. It does not, however, assign to the state the responsibility of caring for the least of these. Rather than calling this a "good" which the state performs, I prefer to look at it as a "harm" which it prevents.

In regards to the rest of your comments:

1. Individuals and the state have equivalent potential for doing harm.

True, except the state does its harm in the name of the law, whereas individuals do their harm in contradiction to the law.

2. Feeding a family is not diluted work. True, but it ought to be done by the Church. To be clear, I don't advocate removal of welfare programs until the Church has risen up to meet the need on its own. If it never does, then the Church is to blame for the further loss of liberty and dignity we all will endure.

3. I don't advocate the use of social programs by the church to cloak evangelistic agendas. We are to feed the hungry regardless of whether they convert.

4. Am I being arrogant about the church? Is Christ arrogant or is He God? Did He establish the Church or did He not? If He did establish the Church and assign it a peculiar ethic and a social mandate, then it is a special institution, not to be compared to other human institutions, just as Christians are peculiar people since we believe we have God living inside of us in the person of the Holy Spirit enabling us to do good works which our flesh cannot perform. I suppose this is an exclusive, and perhaps an arrogant position if it is not borne with much humility by acknowledging that it is Christ which lives in me, not I myself who deserves the glory for the good which I am now able to perform. To be able to do good IS the blessing.

5. I don't hate law. I do hate pagan centralized government. Whenever it feeds someone it does so with strings attached. If the state were restricted to protecting rights and enforcing contracts it would do well. God rebuked the Israelites for desiring a king. Arbitrary centralized leadership is pagan in its root. It demonstrates a rejection of God and His law in favor of a law giver who can be manipulated by various special interests.

6. I believe that the church can feed the hungry, and those it cannot are covered by God's sovereignty. I believe it is a sin to coerce others into doing what we think is good. It is patronizing and legalistic. It places a perceived good above the command of God.

Nathanael Snow

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