OK, Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced. While I agree with the stated aim that everyone should have access to and be able to afford health care (though I would stop short of calling it a ‘right’), both the foundation upon which the law is built and what has been built on top of that foundation is shoddy and unworkable. It’s too complex. It’s too convoluted. It places the federal government into the doctor/patient relationship. It claims for the federal government powers that the founding father and the states that ratified it never intended it to have, such as the power to force individuals to purchase products from a private entity under penalty of law. It’s just gone too far.
Another area where I see the same thing is the State of Alabama. In this case the foundation, the state constitution, is flawed in its premise and its purposes. Whereas the federal constitution grants to the federal government and leaves everything else to the individual states, the Alabama constitution is just the opposite. It grants certain powers to the counties and municipalities and retains everything else for itself. It centralizes power in Montgomery and the localities are mere functionaries of the state government. It’s a very poor way to run a state because, in my humble opinion, the governmental authorities that are closest to their constituents are the most responsive to the needs of their constituents. I would love to see the state constitution done away with and reworked along the lines of the federal constitution.
Which brings me to the federal government. There is a difference here. The constitution of the United States, in contrast to the foundations of both Obamacare and the State of Alabama, is a solid foundation. It is a remarkable document developed by a remarkable set of men who had keen insights into both human nature and human history. They recognized so many of the dangers that other forms of government presented and even the perils that could creep into a democratic republic. They limited the scope of the federal government. They divided power among the three branches. They were able to draft compromises that balanced out the powers between the larger and the smaller states. They provided the Bill of Rights that established the basic individual freedoms we still enjoy (at least for the most part) today.
But over time smart, ambitious, and sometimes corrupt individuals found ways to expand the federal government. Most hideous of all is the used of the Commerce Clause, that part of the constitution that grants to the federal government the power to “regulate interstate commerce” and stretch it far beyond its original meaning and intent. It was put in place to that Georgia could not levy tariffs on products brought into the state from Virginia. Or that Maryland couldn’t ban products coming into that state from Pennsylvania. It was never intended to have the scope that it has today.
Today the federal government essentially has the power to regulate anything it wants to under the assumed powers of the Commerce Clause. Think about it a minute. You plant tomatoes in your garden in the spring. But wait…because you’re growing your own tomatoes that means that you will not be purchasing tomatoes that are grown in Florida and shipped into Alabama. The latter is interstate commerce. So the federal government can use the Commerce Clause to regulate your garden, even to the point of forbidding you to plant tomatoes.
Think that’s far-fetched. It’s happened. And it turns out the way the Supreme Court ruled in this situation laid the foundation for the federal government to assume power over almost every aspect of life, simply by asserting its power under the Commerce Clause and calling something interstate commerce.
The other way that Uncle Sam has laid claim to powers not specifically granted to it is through the purse strings. It brings money into Washington and then doles it back out to the states provided, however, that the states comply with their edicts. What’s a poor state to do. They play the game or they lose the money. It’s a strong persuader. Actually, it’s extortion. But that’s a commentary for another day.
Between the Commerce Clause and the power of the purse Washington has grabbed for itself powers way, way beyond the original intent of the constitution. The foundation – the constitution – is still solid. It’s what’s been built on top of it that’s rickety and unworkable. We have two choices. We can purposefully tear it down and build again on that solid foundation. Or, if we don’t, it will crumble and collapse under its own weight. The former will be better than the latter.
Which brings me to the fourth and final area where there is a necessity of tearing down something and starting over. And like the constitution of the United States this one has a solid foundation. It’s not like Obamacare or the State of Alabama constitution where the foundation itself is shaky. This one has the best of foundations.
But as it has been with the federal constitution men of ambition and greed have corrupted it and turned it into something that was never intended by the founder. What was once unified on a solid foundation has been sliced and diced, contorted and contrived, extended and distended until it is, in most of its permutation, unrecognizable from the original.
Can you guess what it is? It’s the Christian church. Or maybe better said “Christendom”. The Christian church is built of the best – the perfect – foundation. But what men have erected on that foundation over the centuries has, in so many cases, distorted or even hidden the truth of the foundation.
I just finished reading (for the second time, actually) a book titled The Eternal Kingdom by F. W. Mattox that traces the history of the church from the first century until today. It talks of how the church climbed into bed with the Roman Empire and set up an apparatus that was all-powerful. And remember the old saying, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It goes through so many of the abuses propagated by the Roman Catholic church through those centuries. And it goes into detail about many of the reformers, those who recognized that the teachings, doctrines, organization, worship, and practice were not what was found in Scripture.
I have a greater respect for the reformers than I once did. In so many cases they did what they could do under the circumstances of the time. Still, their efforts were to reform, not to restore.
The book concludes by looking into the restoration of the church, those who have led the way to moving back to the simplicity of what is found in the New Testament. It’s still a work in progress but progress seems to come oh so slowly.
But this is where the bulldozer needs to be fired up and all that has been built on the foundation needs to be plowed under, taken down to the foundation, and then rebuilt according to the pattern we have in Scripture. No, the church will never, in its earthly manifestation, be perfect because it’s comprised of imperfect people. But that’s no excuse for not trying, is it?
And though this study (actually, even before this study began) I could see parallels between the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and the Christian church as it evolved into what it is today. The nation of Israel proclaimed then (and still do today, for that matter) that they are God’s chosen people. But throughout much of the time from Solomon through the close of the Old Testament God speaks of his “remnant”, referring to them as those who had not bowed down to the Baals or had not kissed the golden calves of Jeroboam.
Jesus taught that many who would call themselves Christian will be lost – they are not children of God any more than the Jews who claimed such privilege simply from their descendancy from Abraham. Many will say to me in that day Lord Lord didn’t we do all these great and might things in your name (yes, they would be calling themselves Christian) and I will say to them Depart from me, I never knew you. To me, the most sobering passage for anyone who calls themselves Christian.
I’m convinced a lot of this is because of the corruption of what men have built upon that foundation. It need to be bulldozed down and rebuilt according to the pattern. Fortunately, each person individually can do that very thing in their own life. Still, I fear there are many who might, indeed, to that if all the distractions of man-made Christianity were to be taken away.
OK, I’ve rambled on a lot here and I’ll tell you that my thoughts aren’t as concise as they could be. But hope you get the picture, especially with this last one.