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October 07, 2014

Comments

The will of the people of California meant nothing.
Balancing the will of the people with The Constitution is not the Supreme Court's job.

In the case you refer to, SCOTUS decided that an appellate court's decision was correct.

That is part of their job.

RonH,

You are merely asking us to switch our view of the extremely poor choice from one angle to another. The point of the post is that the will of the people can be subverted by a few who know how to push the right buttons, influence the few individuals in positions of power and influence to cancel democratic process.

As for the SCOTUS, remember that not every decision enacted by the Judicial branch could be deemed moral. Yet, the Dred Scot decision was a blunt assertion that slavery was allowable. Legal does not equate to moral. We now have the distinction of traditional marriage and governmentally contrived forms.

Ah, political power in state of abuse. Historians debate whether or not the exercise of raw imperial power by Caligula in appointing his horse Incitatus actually happened. But the notion of the emperor's action as a display of utter contempt for the Roman Senate in doing so has compelling parallels. The SCOTUS has in effect showed this level of contempt to those who respect the institution of marriage enough to define it narrowly. "Marriage equality" is not the issue. The claims of the few to redefine the basics is the matter at hand.

The few has allowed for SSM; perhaps it is just that a few believe this is the case in reality.

"The will of the people" is an entirely unconvincing argument.

There was a time when "the will of the people" was for segregated schools, separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites, and further back, slavery.

Fortunately for all of us, there is more to our Republic than the "will of the people."

DGFischer,

Are you responding to me?

It looks like you are. I see my name there.

On the other hand, if you were I'd expect you to either 1) agree with me or 2) give an argument that it IS the job of SCOTUS to balance the will of the people with the Constitution.

From what I can tell, you do agree with me.

You show it by changing the subject. Perhaps you want to talk distinction between legality and morality.

That's fine.

It's not that I'm unwilling to discuss other points with you.

I'm just asking, first, for some resolution on the point I already made.

Your side uses this 'courts thwart the will of the people' tack frequently.

So I think addressing it is important.

RonH

In the case you refer to, SCOTUS decided that an appellate court's decision was correct.

No, they didn't. They decided that the people defending Prop 8 didn't have legal standing, and therefore they did not rule on the case. They didn't decide anything about whether or not it's constitutional to define marriage. That's exactly the problem. We never got a review because our state leaders refused to take it there. Who said anything about "balancing the will of the people with the Constitution"? It's the state government's job to uphold and defend our laws. That's their job. They did not do this, and that led to our not getting our law reviewed by the Supreme Court. This is all in the very first paragraph of the post.

brgulker, the will of the people isn't an argument that it's constitutional to define marriage as a man and a woman, it's an argument for the Supreme Court settling once and for all whether we're going to be allowed to do this. As far as the arguments for being allowed to, I refer you back to the post:

The cases at issue involve lower court rulings that struck down state marriage laws, claiming that they violated the U.S. Constitution. But the courts never provided compelling arguments that laws that reflect the truth about marriage are unconstitutional. Indeed, as former Attorney General Ed Meese and I argued last week in The Washington Post, the Supreme Court should have reviewed these cases and declared the laws constitutional.

See the links above to hear the arguments for why they should find it constitutional.

Amy,

No, they didn't [decide that an appellate court's decision was correct]. They decided that the people defending Prop 8 didn't have legal standing, and therefore they did not rule on the case.

You are right. I was wrong.

Who said anything about "balancing the will of the people with the Constitution"?

Not you, apparently. Well, I guess I'm wrong again.

So the 'few individuals' at the end of the first paragraph didn't include Judge Walker or the Supreme Court.

By 'these few individuals', you actually meant just two individuals: the governor and the attorney general.

So your problem, regarding 'the will of the people' at least, is with those two only.

Is that right?

Or, am I wrong in some other way?

I want to fix it whatever it is.

So please explain exactly how I I'm wrong and I will address it. As above.

Also, please explain where, exactly, 'the will of the people' comes into all this.

That's (still) what I'm really interested in.

RonH

@ DG Fischer,
That is a common misconception the people that wanted all those things were Democrats not republicans. However as a black woman I know plenty of homosexuals that haven't dealt with 0.000001% of what I have had to deal with. Who you want to have sex with, is different because when you walk in a bar you just look like a regular white male and we won't know until you tell us whether or not you are there to pick up a man or a woman. I walk in that same bar and you already know I am a black female.

RonH,

You have drawn the line thus:

>> Also, please explain where, exactly, 'the will of the people' comes into all this.

That's (still) what I'm really interested in.

I would ask that in a democratic system, power is granted to the people to influence their representatives; so where do we make the distinction whether the representative government is responsive to the people, responsive to the few favored, or whether they strive to service the populace as a whole (whether these efforts are successful or failing is another point to consider)?

It is the difference between libertarian democracy (which flirts with mob rule) or statist democracy (where the government usually falls short of fullest expectations).

Mrs. M, please try to understand that my concerns are not political (Democrats vs. Republicans) but cultural (the progressive spirit vs. conservative preservation of the good things in the culture). Where we may differ on cases should be open to discussion and the arena of ideas. Ideas should be winsome and easily approved rather than legislated and divisive.

This goes beyond the simple notion that the SCOTUS does what it does in accordance with the Constitution.

Marriage redefinition is indeed being carried out without representation, but that does not mean that, left in the hands of the people, the absurdity of homosexual marriage would be avoided.

The will of the people, in fact, does not offer a solid basis for morality. Human beings are sinful. They are also gullible; mundus decipi vult, ergo decipiatur. If that was true in Roman times, it is even truer today, as the powers that be have mastered the art of manipulating public opinion through media and education.

The will of the people, in fact, does not offer a solid basis for morality.

No, it doesn't. But there is certainly quite an important difference between the rule of law in a free society and tyranny.

Either one without the other (morality and rule of law) is a problem.

As I read along the comments, a few things pique my attention. Standing in a cause of action is a necessary element for a case to be heard. "Legal Standing" is admitted when it is proved or shown that harm is or has occurred. For instance, when Norma McCorvey became "Roe", the legal team that worked to legalize abortion was able to bring a case...not because they were arguing for just any ole Roe, but a particular person who was pregnant and construed the existing law as harmful. She had standing, therefore the legal team could bring a case before the court. btw, traffic court is a place where legal standing is ignored and is not really a legitimate court.

I think it is arbitrary to suggest that the Governor or the AG were the only two that could bring a case, they personally were not motivated to protect the state law, so another should have been able to represent the people. IOW, if the Govenor and AG represent the people...who's vote was overturned [harm done] but take no action, the people's representation should be allowed to come from another who is willing...so long as they are a resident of California or as a team representate a resident--a particular person.

Francesco and Amy hit on an important point, namely that the founders of the Republic warned that this representative form of government required an educated and moral people.

The will of the people happens at the ballot box, after that leaders [wise citizens among us] were to lead wisely and morally. The mob opinion shouldn't sway true leaders, those who stick their wet finger in the air to see which direction to go are not leaders, they are followers. The will of the people is expressed as their representatives lead, [in an ideal way as a loving father would lead his family]. He shouldn't give in to unwise or immoral paths, even if those in his care squawk about what they want. A government by the people for the people needs wise and moral people to recognize wise and moral leaders...this is not the case in a large portion of the population.

"a team representate a resident"
should have been " a team representing a resident"

You win some and you lose some. I accept the authority of the Supreme Court in such cases as Citizens United and Hobby Lobby. You must also accept the Supreme Court's authority in the cases you disagree with such as DOMA or this one.

But you can't call it "tyranny," as Amy just did in a comment above. If you say the regular workings of the Supreme Court are tyranny, then that's unAmerican. Do you plan to forcefully overthrow the Supreme Court? If so, that's treason.

If you're a real American, you must recognize that the Supreme Court gets to decide. You can disagree all you want with the decision, but you can't say the Supreme Court doesn't have the right to decide. If that's not just empty rhetoric, then get out. You can't be a U.S. citizen unless you respect the Constitutionally granted powers of the Supreme Court.

"But you can't call it "tyranny," as Amy just did in a comment above. If you say the regular workings of the Supreme Court are tyranny, then that's unAmerican. Do you plan to forcefully overthrow the Supreme Court? If so, that's treason."

Well John Moore, quite a half wit comment there. The First Ammendment enumerates the God given right Amy has to say exactly that, if she desires.

As to the rest of your comment, what if the Supreme Court memebers, take an irrational positon in a fit of frenzy, or under some secret compulsion? Do they stand above all? What regulates the Supreme Court? Judicial activism is a real and present danger to the protections guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. WisdomLover has used the phrase "9 tyrants in black robes", I think it's fitting.

The 4th Ammendment is gutted in modern day America and you smugly say "if you're a real American" blah, blah, blah. If you're a real American, you know when to cry foul and then do cry foul, because the 9 tyrants in black robes are not infallible and should be challenged at times.

I'm sure the Constitution specifies the method for impeaching a Supreme Court justice. Otherwise, you just have to wait for them to retire. You can try to elect your favorite President who will nominate better justices in the future. That's all you can do without violating the law.

I don't really think you right-wingers are ready to commit treason like they did back in 1861. I think you're just spouting empty rhetoric. It's not treason, but it sure is unpatriotic.

I think the good thing about the Supreme Court not hearing the issue now is that maybe when they do inevitably have to rule, the Court will have a more sane composition.

Hi John Moore, I appreciate your not taking too much offense at my response to your previous comment. I want to say that I wouldnt want to be construed as calling you a half wit, I apologise if it seemed otherwise. On your prescription for remedy, it is true...we still have the vote, we just need wisdom to vote rightly....until then God gives us the government we deserve.

John Moore,

Go back and re-read Amy's comments. When you have, please lay out the logical progression you used to conclude that Amy calls the Supreme Court's decision tyranny.

Second, "You can't be a U.S. citizen unless you respect the Constitutionally granted powers of the Supreme Court." is patently, and demonstrably, false. There is nothing within the Constitution, or the legal statutes of the United States that places this requirement on a citizen. In fact, a baby born to U.S. Citizens on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen and is incapable (do to the capacity of knowledge and ability at birth) of granting "respect [to] the Constitutionally granted powers of the Supreme Court."

You've also presented a false dichotomy, either treason (apparently through forceful removal of the Supreme Court) or "empty rhetoric." However, there is another option: namely, expressing reasoned disagreement with decisions made such that individuals recognize the error and seek redress through appeal to representative public officials, which is within the bounds of the governmental system in place. That is not empty.

I submit that after re-reading Amy's comment you will discover that associating the Supreme Court decision and tyranny is a non-sequitur, and so the bulk of your comments thus far have been fallacious.

The founders of the Republic warned that this representative form of government required an educated and moral people

They did, but they forgot to account for situations where the powers that be are able to accumulate astounding amounts of wealth and control over the means of information and instruction, which makes them able to manipulate public opinion at the bottom as well as political, judicial, and financial matters at the top.

Next up, polygamy. Already being portrayed as normal in the arts. One of the many things Christians abandoned in the late 60's now it's all coming back with a vengeance. The church has no one to blame but itself.

You must also accept the Supreme Court's authority in the cases you disagree with such as DOMA or this one. But you can't call it "tyranny," as Amy just did in a comment above. If you say the regular workings of the Supreme Court are tyranny, then that's unAmerican. Do you plan to forcefully overthrow the Supreme Court? If so, that's treason. If you're a real American, you must recognize that the Supreme Court gets to decide. You can disagree all you want with the decision, but you can't say the Supreme Court doesn't have the right to decide.

Whoa, whoa there, John! Did you read my post? How could I be saying the Supreme Court doesn’t have the right to decide when my very problem is that they didn’t decide? Here is what I said.

the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to not weigh in on whether or not the people of our country have a right to legally define the most basic and necessary institution in our country is a blow

Also, I did not call the “regular workings” of the Supreme Court “tyranny.” Francesco was emphasizing that “the will of the people does not offer a solid bases for morality” in a society, seemingly at the expense of considering the importance of the will of the people and the rule of law in a free society. That is, he was saying it does not in principle offer a solid basis for morality. We’re talking about principles of running a society at this point. My response was to say that the fact that it’s not a basis for morality doesn’t mean it’s not important in a just society. The rule of law vs. tyranny is also an important aspect of society (their being opposites on the scale we have to navigate), and the respect of the laws enacted by the will of the people, or lack of it, will move us toward one end of that scale or the other, which is why it’s legitimate to complain about things like our governor refusing to defend a law just because he personally doesn’t like it. That’s not the rule of law, and that’s something to be concerned about because both morality and the rule of law are necessary for a free society. I wasn’t even commenting on this particular situation when I was explaining that we need to be concerned not only about the morality of citizens in a society, but also where that society falls on the rule of law/tyranny scale.

How on earth you got from that discussion of the principles of setting up a good society to the idea that I’m saying “the regular workings of the Supreme Court are tyranny” I can’t understand.

Come on, guys. Read responsibly.

I definitely like Mr. Moore's advice about looking at the pro-life movement. Our first focus should be on changing hearts and not laws. In the long run, it's the only winning strategy to overcome the hypocritical "pro-choice" stand in this country. It was true for slavery (pro-choice slavery democrats vs.the religious abolitionist movement) and it was true for segregation (pro-choice segregationist democrats vs. a Southern Baptist Preacher). And it is true for abortion (democrats who are putting millions into pushing for the termination of "unwanted" human beings vs. a handful of Christians, begging for every life). It is the battle of intrinsic vs extrinsic value. Created and of equal worth vs. valued or devalued according to rational of an "enlightened" pragmatic view of the world. We can't win the battle for souls in court. The pro-choice politicians in this country, no matter if we are talking slavery, abortion, segregation, anti-miscegenation laws or samesex marriage, have ALL been elected in majority by Christians. As long as Christians themselves are more confident in the World than they are in God's given truth, we'll keep electing worldly driven leaders ...you voted for President Obama? Then YOU voted basically for a redefinition of marriage and a continuation of devaluation of human beings in order to allow their termination. Yes, we see certain areas, understand certain truth better than others and don't agree with our worldly leaders when they knock on these corner stones of our understanding ....but do we really act on it? The majority of Californians voted against a redefinition of marriage ...but the majority also voted for our pro-choice governor and attorney general. We love us a little Jesus for the soul, but want the pragmatic "Roman" to govern our daily affairs. We love the Lord with our heart and soul ...but seem to fail miserably on the strength and mind part. Apologists are needed as much inside of our churches as they are needed outside of them ...maybe even more.

OK, I'm glad to hear you guys don't think the Supreme Court is a tyranny. That's refreshing. I suppose you also agree that Barack Obama is the legitimately elected President. And you readily obey the law even when you disagree with it, just as I do.

Everyone's free to disagree on the issues and groan about bad decisions the government makes, but it goes too far if you criticize the system itself. If you want to change the Constitution, there are legal ways to do that.

My adoptive country (Japan) has a constitution based on the U.S. Constitution, and the people here are fighting hard to protect that constitution. It's bewildering to see the lack of respect or even understanding that Americans themselves show toward their own Constitution, which has been such a huge inspiration for many people overseas yearning for freedom.

John, the lack of respect for the Constitution is part of the problem I describe above. Judges are supposed to determine whether or not a law conflicts with the Constitution (either state or federal). Instead, many are making decisions based on what they personally think is "irrational" or "not good enough" reasons or on supposed motives. A constitutional government is more than just having judges who rule on laws, it's having judges who care more about what the Constitution actually says than they do about their own agendas.

So you're saying Supreme Court justices lack respect for the Constitution? That's kind of paradoxical because the justices themselves decide what the Constitution means, or what it means to respect the Constitution. I doubt you or I are qualified to rule on it.

So I don't think it's worthwhile to speculate about the justices' inner motives. If you want a constructive discussion, you should focus on legal precedent and the expected effects of decisions.

John,

I admire the fact that you respect the office of the Supreme Court, whether their decisions are agreeable or disagreeable to you.

The case revolves, however, on the idea of the fallacy of the appeal to authority. Supreme Court decisions can be granted for the political advantage of some over others. This could be just, but never consistently so.

To this point, how would you perceive the activities of the SCOTUS in these three areas: 1) infallibility, 2) integrity, and 3) incorruptibility?

As you ponder this, consider how these factors frames the thoughts of those people whom you've addressed in this line of posts.

Wait, you guys are talking here about Truth? I was just talking about political and legal reality. That's two very different things. I certainly don't think the Supreme Court is infallible. That's not the point.

Even if the court declares gay marriage legal, that doesn't mean gay marriage is morally correct in God's eyes. But we still have to comply with all Supreme Court decisions regardless of whether we (or God) think they're good or bad.

The reason we must comply is because we've made a political compromise where we agree to let the Supreme Court settle our disputes. If we don't respect the Supreme Court, we might end up settling disputes in a different way, such as civil war. I hope nobody wants that again.

>> I certainly don't think the Supreme Court is infallible. That's not the point.

I am glad we are in agreement. But this is exactly the point.

>> But we still have to comply with all Supreme Court decisions regardless of whether we (or God) think they're good or bad.

So, where was the compliance in the years the Court would not rule on DOMA? Because, in democracy, the people can protest. So, doesn't the opposing side have the same right to raise concerns over legal decisions? You are rankled at the notion of "talking here about the Truth." Truth is scary, but we sometimes must go there. So, if those opposing SSM are not invited to the table of discussion, what about the consequences? Will church bodies that stand firm to the sinfulness of homosexual life-style be compelled to comply, political compromise trumping conscience and principle? You referred to the situation of 1861 and the possibilities of civil war. Be reminded of the Missouri Compromise of the 1850's, a compromise that failed to accomplish a single thing. Why? People of conscience and principle.

You have spoken on the first point of infallibility. Now as to integrity (I am thinking along the lines of why judicial appointees who are passed by after severe vetting as being "borked" and not "sotormayered") and incorruptibility?

"It’s very hard to watch our culture rush headlong into its own destruction waving celebratory flags. I love our people. I love our country. The consequences we’ve been warning about are already beginning to show themselves throughout the West, and things are going to get worse. It’s like watching a nation of snowmen fight for a right to live in greenhouses. We can reason, and weep, and plead, but they want their “freedom,” and they just won’t listen to us haters."

To be honest, it's getting harder and harder for me to care.

How long do you stand on a ledge with a suicidal person and try to talk them down, while they are doing nothing but fighting you, cursing you, spitting on you and trying to pull you down with them?

Even if you love the person with all your heart, at some point... you simply don't have the physical/mental/emotional strength to keep fighting them anymore.

That's where I am.

If we would just comply with the Supreme Court decisions,we would still have slavery and segregation in this country. Supreme Court decisions are not an untouchable holy grail. The Supreme Court can overrule its own rulings and/or Congress can amend the Constitution accordingly and/or rewrite law, so that it might confirm with a new standard set....

So you're saying Supreme Court justices lack respect for the Constitution? That's kind of paradoxical because the justices themselves decide what the Constitution means, or what it means to respect the Constitution. I doubt you or I are qualified to rule on it.

John, the mistake you're making here is this: The Constitution is above the Supreme Court, not the other way around. When they create their own "meanings" they're flipping this.

I refer you to this pro-same-sex-marriage legal scholar who says that judges in this situation are putting their agenda above constitutionality:

[T]raditional marriage laws should easily pass rational basis review (even if “with bite”), if only judges could grasp and accurately characterize the state interest that actually differentiates same-sex couples from opposite-sex couples. The stream of victories for the Movement principally reflects weak lawyering by defenders of state laws, systematic distortion of the state’s long-recognized responsible-procreation aim by plaintiffs’ attorneys and sympathetic judges, and widespread adoption of counter-arguments so obviously flawed it seems unlikely the advocates or judges expressing them actually believe what they are saying. Judges must fear that regardless of what reason, precepts of democratic governance, or constitutional doctrine might counsel, if they rule against same-sex marriage they will be viewed ever after as having been on “the wrong side of history.” Willful obfuscation by liberal academics posing as `friends of the court’ might also have played a role.

Mrs. Mickle brought up a good point. There is a huge difference between sexual orientation and skin color. Skin color is a characteristic that is self evident. Sexual orientation is made evident only by (1) public behavior or (2) public disclosure. To say that race and sexual orientation are equal ignores this basic fact.

For DGFischer: People can certainly protest bad laws, but until those laws are repealed, everyone must obey them.

Those opposing SSM are certainly invited to the table of discussion - after all, you get to vote. You get to explain your position online and in the media. The trouble is just that you sometimes get out-voted.

Truth is what we usually talk about here on Stand to Reason, but politics is about what we will actually do, regardless of the Truth. Of course we try to make our politics conform to Truth, but we often fail, and even when we fail, we must carry on. We can't subvert the political system just because it contradicts our sense of the Truth.

As to the integrity and incorruptibility of Supreme Court judges, I think this isn't a big problem. They have lifetime tenure. Unless you're ready to begin impeachment procedures, it's no use speculating about the personal motivations of the justices. We should focus our discussion on legal precedent and the expected effects of decisions.

For Volker: Not just the Supreme Court decisions, of course, but we must obey all three branches of government. Yes, I'm all in favor of balancing power.

For Amy: True, the Constitution is above the Supreme Court, but who can say whether the Supreme Court is following the Constitution? You and I have our layman's opinions, but the Supreme Court itself determines what the Constitution really says. Theirs is the official interpretation.

It's like the Pope interpreting the Bible. You might disagree with the Pope, but he's the Pope. So all you can do is either (1) obey him and (2) wait for him to retire and then elect a better Pope, or (3) rebel and go start your own religion somewhere else.

I'm just saying we should do (1) and (2) with the Supreme Court, and we shouldn't do (3).

"This isn’t the way a free society is run, "

Of course it is not...but then who said this was a free society? It is only free if you can afford it.

I don't know what one expects from capitalism, but I expected this kind of thing from it that is why I am not experiencing shock and awe. Move a culture away from God and this is what you get.

Of course Amy is correct in her reply to John Moore's [apparently accurate] description of how things are in the judicial branch nowadays. The inverted authority noted and approved by John is going on and offered up again as an example when he in a similarly accurate description of the relationship of the Roman Catholic Pope > Scriptures opines that this is how things ought to be and that it's wrong to oppose either. His reasoning seems to be one that is a recipe for disaster, and is outright tantamount to the logical fallacy appeal to authority. Anyone can inspect the logic behind a legal decision, even common layman to use John's example.

Volker then, later in the discussion is also correct to mention that if not for opposition, things that I am sure John Moore would be radically opposed to would never have been made illegal.

Question to John Moore, is civil disobedience ever appropriate in your opinion? From what you say, I dont think you'd say it is but I just would like to know.

Back to the Supreme Court methods, stare decisis is a practice in law where precedent is to define later but similar interpretation of cases. Intresting thing is one can easily see that once you interpret the interpretation of another interpretation without reckonning with the original, the original gets left behind. And further straying is probable when only parts of prior case law is cited and then applied to new interpretations.

John is foolish to think that the Supreme Court gets to decide what the Constitution means, words mean things in certain contexts, it is the Supreme Court's job to maintain original intent not use stare decisis to smuggle in their own pet doctrines. Tyrants stand above the law, 9 tyrants in black robes = justice in John Moore's scheme.

If the Supreme Court doesn't decide what the Constitution means, then who does?

No, the Pope is not greater than the Bible, but who can interpret the Bible? I'm humble enough to admit that I need someone wiser to tell me what the Bible really means.

The neat thing about the Pope comparison is that people really did rebel and set up their own separate religion (protestantism). There was a huge civil war (the Thirty Years War) which ended in a draw, which is why we still have both protestants and catholics today. So the difference is that the Union won the Civil War in the U.S., and that's why we only have the U.S. government and not a CSA government. I'm sorry if you're still upset about that.

If Supreme Court justices are tyrants, then what are you waiting for? Get your guns and go kill them. Ha ha - just a joke. Don't take me seriously, OK?

I think civil disobedience is only acceptable (in the USA) if you plan to overthrow the system. I think there are adequate legal means for you to exercise your democratic rights in the USA, so the only reason to use illegal means (civil disobedience) is if you want to sweep aside democracy and force your will on the country. As I said above, I don't think you want to overthrow U.S. democracy. Go ahead and correct me, if I'm wrong.

>> No, the Pope is not greater than the Bible, but who can interpret the Bible? I'm humble enough to admit that I need someone wiser to tell me what the Bible really means.

Don't be silly,John, anybody is capable of interpreting the Bible.

First, you read the Bible.

Then comes encountering the difficult sections. This is the inherent threat of which you might be thinking. The big difficulty comes in not placing your own spin on the perceived message. There are hermeneutical principles, granted, such as historical context, the nature of the miraculous, the issues of the big subjects as redemption and salvation, etc.

And, it's demanding of your time. There is not easy one-week course of cramming (try this with reading The Brothers Karamazov or Pride and Prejudice, a week of purposeless reading without enjoyment). You take the Bible at face-value and decide whether the message is true.

Your Thirty Years' War analogy is a vital one. I have found that the essential theme of the Bible is a friction of God desiring the best for mankind versus the trend for man to tell God to take a hike. On the one hand, the Garden of Eden, a nation under a covenant of promises, a yoke that is gentle and light, a life-style that seeks to serve to honor God. On the other hand, there is the fall, a covenant people constantly apostatizing, kings securing power through falsified religious forms, a Christ whose message is misunderstood and put to death on account of it. It is the working of a gracious God who wishes us to understand well what grace is all about. The princes who caused the three-decade struggle had totally forgotten the teachings of the Savior for whose honor they they imagined they fought. The kingdom of God versus the spirit of humanism has been an historic one.

And, it is a hermeneutic that demands introspection, a contemplation that sees us as failing God, where our blaming God for failing us as the clearest evidence of our refusal to "Know Yourself." I know this last bit is from Socrates, but the essence of this discipline proves true. Its unpopularity among thoughtless masses would spell the end of this philosopher as well.

So, John, I'd welcome you to "interpret" the Bible, which is to give it a fair reading. You'll have questions, and the good people at STR will do what they can. Understanding the Biblical faith of Christianity is daunting. It is one of my favorite Chesterton quotes: It is not that Christianity was tried and found wanting, but found to be difficult, and never tried.

Well, that's the thing, because if I interpreted the Bible my own way, you'd probably come back and say I was wrong. You'd say I didn't give it a fair reading, but how do we know what's fair? There are so many heresies in history that were sincerely believed by serious people, and even today there are so many different denominations. Which is the true Christianity?

Hi John Moore, you're not even leaving yourself ground to stand on with the ongoing hyper skeptical-ism on what the average layman can come to know...first when reading the Constitution, and now with reading the Bible.

Seriously you cant defer on interpretation as though you never have to interpret. You, as we all, are a rational free agent. You conclude that the Pope is the final authority on biblical interpretation for some reason...you must be comparing what Pope so and so said against what you think you know about the Bible. This logical string puts you as the authority over Pope so and so--dont worry, every free agent does this also. This is why DGFischer urges you to read and understand yourself because in the end, it is your own tush on the line...you cant defer to some imaginary infallible Pope and blame him for what you yourself should come to know.

I don't say the Pope is the final authority on biblical interpretation. I just say if you want to be a Catholic, then you must consider the Pope as the final authority. You can disagree with the Pope, but in the end you have to give him that respect.

In the same way, if you want to live in America, you must consider the Supreme Court as the final authority on interpreting the Constitution. You can disagree all you want with the court's decisions, but in the end, you must acknowledge their right to rule.

So it all depends on what you choose to be. This is where individual choice comes in. You can choose to be Catholic or to rebel and become something else. You can choose to be American, or you can rebel and go somewhere else, or you can break the law and probably go to jail.

"I don't say the Pope is the final authority on biblical interpretation. I just say if you want to be a Catholic, then you must consider the Pope as the final authority. You can disagree with the Pope, but in the end you have to give him that respect."

Hi John Moore, you must be kidding...either that or you are just trolling to get some kind of jolly out of wasting peoples' time. Here, you pretty much are saying the Pope is the final authority on biblical interpretation.

"It's like the Pope interpreting the Bible. You might disagree with the Pope, but he's the Pope. So all you can do is either (1) obey him and (2) wait for him to retire and then elect a better Pope, or (3) rebel and go start your own religion somewhere else."

I guess I'm done, I should've known better.

Only if you're Catholic. Are you Catholic?

John Moore,

I can see that we are at different levels of understanding the issue. So in making these assertions:

>> Which is the true Christianity? (Honestly, an excellent question!)

>> I just say if you want to be a Catholic, then you must consider the Pope as the final authority. You can disagree with the Pope, but in the end you have to give him that respect.

... you are a little confused on Biblical authority and the proper interpretation of Scriptures.

To explain, I might be saying things that might rankle some friends in Christ, but here goes.

I am a Lutheran.

My Church was founded on Pentecost, circa A. D. 30.

Some might object that my dates are wrong. October 31, 1517 (we'll have an anniversary on this, I am sure. You're invited). But I say that the Christian Church transcends the dovetailing of institutional denominations (this term is based on the Latin for "name" a descriptive label for some movement within the greater Church). Thus when Luther disagreed with the Pope in the matter of indulgences (and many other doctrinal matters shortly thereafter), it should not have been nothing more than Paul reproving Peter, as mentioned in Galatians chapter two. That, except for all the politics and politicizing going on in the early sixteenth century.

Politics and politicizing suck the life of the proclamation of the Gospel of divine grace for sinful humanity.

The truth of the matter, as I use Church, I speak of no building, no steeple, no institution that resides on corner of this street and that avenue. I speak of the people called out (Greek word for Church is ekklesia, call out) from mundane matters to pursue the life of faith. Church is wherever the Gospel is taught in truth and reverence (and this can be in a building, a backyard, heavens, even the catacombs served in its time).

Has it not possibly occurred to you that all the Christian voices you meet in this website (Amy, JBerr, Brad B, WL, schbrforgothowtherestisspelled, dave, volker, Francesco, Robert, yada infinity) don't attend the same church (building) or have the same theological backgrounds. But we speak the same concerning Christ, perhaps attest that the Apostles' Creed is a true summary of the Christian faith (though some may question the weaknesses of encapsulating tenets of faith in credal statements.

The true Christianity is where Christians walk. This idea frustrates the appeals of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy for the fallacy fails to seek definition of what is Christian. Christ defines Christianity, and He knows those who are His. We only seek to follow. A Lutheran is one who holds to Christ for salvation (and respects grace so much that any thought of human effort gaining salvation is avoided). A Catholic is one who holds to Christ for salvation (and sees the importance of the developing traditions of fathers, pope, and councils). A Baptist is one who holds to Christ for salvation (and considers infant baptism an oddity). And on and on.

And, oh yes, you are still invited.

Grammar note ... it should not have been anything more ...

Mea culpa.

Level headed response DGFischer...and good point about the Reformation should have been humbly resolved within a context of unity. The Roman Church did Reform also, even if minimally, so what I think John Moore is showing is a lack of knowledge of the Christian Church and her history.

Makes me think his worldview is founded on one sided testimony while not even really considering, making only a cursury glimpse and not taking any time to know common/readily available details, of the Christian faith.

Yes, "we are at different levels of understanding," as you say. You guys are talking about God's ultimate Truth whereas I'm talking about grubby politics.

The problem is that you guys can't seem to keep the two separate. You keep telling me that the Pope and Supreme Court aren't speaking God's ultimate Truth, and I totally agree with you. But then you imply that the Supreme Court is betraying the Constitution, or that the Pope doesn't have the right to rule on doctrine for Catholics. That's where we disagree.

Mike Huckabee was on TV saying "Horse apples! The Supreme Court is not the supreme being!" And I totally agree with that. But then he said, "The biggest issue is the betrayal of our Constitution and the surrender to a small group of unelected black-robed jurists ..." So then I said What?? Is he saying the Supreme Court justices are betraying the Constitution? If so, I wish he'd explain precisely how.

That's the whole issue here, and I'm still confused about it. Do you guys think the Supreme Court justices are betraying the Constitution? I think that's a self-refuting position. You haven't got anything to stand on.

Hi John Moore, its been stated for you more than a few occasions and in varied ways. The Supreme Court, just like the Roman Pope can betray their offices simply by not faithfully abiding by their oaths to support/obey the founding documents.

I see you dismissing this simple display of heiarchy of authority by stubbornly asserting that the subordinates who derive their just powers from the founding documents in the first place, somehow get to now rule over their primogenitor. I see that you end your last post with an admission of confusion, then discern somehow that we haven't got anything to stand on since our position is self-refuting.

Which is it? Are you just confused, or are you confused because you just dont want to understand the opposition view in lieu of an opposition strawman that you attach to us that keeps you confused?

It's true that I am "confused on Biblical authority and the proper interpretation of Scriptures." I think you are too! Everyone is confused, and nobody has the one true interpretation. You might think the Holy Spirit speaks directly to you, and maybe He does, but I think the devil also speaks directly to you, and you can't always tell the difference between the two.

You guys seem to assume that the Bible's meaning is obvious to all, but if that's the case, then why are there theological seminaries and works going back thousands of years?

You guys seem to assume the Constitution's meaning is obvious, but if that's the case, then why do we need lawyers and judges?

By the way, you still didn't give me a clear answer: Do you think the Supreme Court justices are betraying the Constitution? And if so, on what basis do you think that? Do you understand the Constitution better than the high court justices, or what? Where do you get your basis?

Pretty funny you are John Moore. I just have to ask though, since you cant come to any reasonable doctrinal conclusions on the bible or the constitution...iow only professionals are qualified to do that, how then do you so emphatically state for us a diagnosis of confusion, and who told you that this is so?

You're still trying to change the subject. Are you accusing the Supreme Court of betraying the Constitution? It's a simple question. Why do you keep dodging it?

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