Miscellany 10-17-17 (Fatherhood, Motherhood, Capital Punishment, Faith and Works, Conservatism, Nationalism)

Reclaiming a Father’s Presence at Home, Institute for Family Studies (John A. Cuddeback)

It is the stock-in-trade of defenders of the traditional household to decry the general movement of women out of the household and into the “workforce.” Most, however, are mute on the issue of the parallel and prior male exodus. And yet the very notion of the “workforce” as something fundamentally outside of the household (significantly, women are said to “leave” the home to “join” it) exemplifies a fundamental shift from both the theory and practice of household life once standard in our civilization.

This change—the demise of the household as a center of production—is one that many defenders of the traditional family either dismiss with a shrug, or even approve with a nod in the direction of “economic progress.” Yet I think it is clear that, regardless of an admixture of genuine advantages, this shift was a blow to the very essence of the household community as, in Aristotle’s words, “constituted by nature for everyday life.”

The Revolutionary Work of Motherhood, Alastair’s Adversaria (Alastair Roberts)

The mother’s labour is inalienable and cannot truly be abstracted, which renders it incomprehensible to a society ordered around alienation and abstraction. Motherhood involves a sort of labour and yields a sort of possession that is simply incommensurable with those forms of labour and possession that our society focuses upon. The ‘labour’ of the mother occurs within her own body and does not lend itself to being sold on the market. Although you can sell your house, you cannot sell your home on the market.

Oliver O’Donovan, The Ways of Judgment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 123

Even if a society formally removes the death penalty from its criminal sanctions, it does not abolish death as its ultimate recourse, for when crime becomes uncontrollable by normal means, society resorts to making war upon it. The armed patrol takes the place of the hangman.

Assessing Piper’s Critics: Love Hopes All Things, Calvinist International (Mark Jones and D. Patrick Ramsey)

Witsius argued contrary to the mere fruit position that believers are to do good works because they live and so that they may live.  Doing good works because they live is equivalent to Clark’s “it is the case believers will do good works.”  However, Witsius is saying more than that by noting that believers obey that they may live.  This is clear by the analogy he uses.  He likens the role of good works to eating food.  No man eats but he lives, but he also eats that he may live.  A man may not eat if he chooses.  But if he wants to keep on living, he must eat.  Clearly, gospel obedience is more that an “is” in salvation, at least for Witsius (and, we would argue, almost everyone else among the Reformed orthodox).

The same is true for Turretin.  He talks about good works being the means and way to possessing salvation.  But “means” cannot be reduced to “it is the case.”  The biblical analogies that Turretin uses make this clear: way to goal, sowing to harvest, labor to the reward, a contest to the crown.

What Is Conservatism?, American Affairs Journal (Ofir Haivry and Yoram Hazony)

Like later conservative tradition, Fortescue does not believe that either scripture or human reason can provide a universal law suitable for all nations. We do find him drawing frequently on the Mosaic constitution and the biblical “Four Books of Kings” (1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings) to assist in understanding the political order and the English constitution. Nevertheless, Fortescue emphasizes that the laws of each realm reflect the historic experience and character of each nation, just as the English common law is in accord with England’s historic experience. Thus, for example, Fortescue argues that a nation that is self-disciplined and accustomed to obeying the laws voluntarily rather than by coercion is one that can productively participate in the way it is governed. This, Fortescue proposes, was true of the people of England, while the French, who were of undisciplined character, could be governed only by the harsh and arbitrary rule of absolute royal government. On the other hand, Fortescue also insisted, again in keeping with biblical precedent and later conservative tradition, that this kind of national character was not set in stone, and that such traits could be gradually improved or worsened over time.

Dr. Bradley Birzer on nationalism and the definition of a nation


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