Amendment 1—Marxist Ideology Pointing to the Church’s Failure?

Oct 7, 2022 by David Fowler

Amendment 1—Marxist Ideology Pointing to the Church’s Failure?
The provocative heading about Amendment 1 to the Tennessee Constitution, the so-called “right to work” amendment, is not intended to indict anyone, but to provoke deeper reflection among those willing to consider a perspective not advanced by Democrats or Republicans. There is more here than meets the eye. Let me know if you see what I see.
I want to address that which does not meet the eye because Christians, which I profess to be, are not to “look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). I have not been too good at that most of my life regarding economic matters such as Amendment 1.
Readers wanting only a bottom-line conclusion, skip to the bottom. 

Appreciating All the “Rights” Involved 

What must first be “observed” is that more is implicated by this amendment than meets the eye. 
For example, the right of each person to work is more than a right, but necessary to carry out the duty each person owes to God to fulfill His commission that we work (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). Then there is the right to the product of one’s work in contradistinction to theft, which can take many forms and is prohibited by the Seventh Commandment; and there are duties corresponding to rights in relation to certain associations (Cf the Fifth Commandment pertaining to the relation of parent and child)[i]. 
This may seem an odd way of looking at the amendment, but reading the law of God in a flat, mechanical way is what Jesus condemned in His Sermon on the Mount. Moreover, I am simply trying to take what I profess seriously, namely, making the Bible not just that which informs my faith in God, but also my practice in relation to God and others.

More Important Than Rights—The Duty to Love

Most importantly, what is not so easily “seen” in these commandments is the greater good they protect—the love of God and of neighbor. That is, after all, how Jesus summed up the law.  
For example, we protect a “right to work” because work is our love offering to the creator God (His work) as His image bearers. 
The prohibition on theft and the right to work go together to further our duty to love: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need (Ephesians 4:28, emphasis added). 
Love is the hallmark of the relationship between Christ, as our mediator before God, and the Heavenly Father. Christ, as man, loved the Father and so humbled himself to the place of servant (Philippians 2:8), and the Heavenly Father loved Him (Matthew 3:16) and gave Him glory (John 17:1, 24). That is the model for the relationship between employers and employees (Ephesian 6:5, 9; Colossians 3:22, 4:1).

What Are We Trying to Fix?

So, what are we trying to fix with this human law and how does the foregoing apply? 
As I will explain, I believe we are trying to fix a trinitarian heresy that is being expressed in the relationship between employer and employee. 
This heresy necessarily results in a violation of the law of love which cannot be “fixed” with a law.
This heresy pervades everything from Socialism to spousal abuse to Black Lives Matters to homosexuality to transgenderism, so I hope you will keep reading.

What “Heresy” Are You Talking About?

Heresy is simply the denial of God’s revealed truth. And the truth being either denied or misapplied in the relationship between employer and employee is doctrine of the Trinity.   It is denied in each of the aforesaid areas as well, but that is for another day.
We don’t recognize the heresy easily because teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity has almost disappeared in evangelicalism. But the doctrine explains several important things to us about the nature the world and particularly human relationships. 
First, there is an objective unity of essence, an ontological equivalence, among us despite any number of distinctions that might exist. This unity of essence is real because God is one in nature or essence (ontological) even though distinct in persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and we are made in His image.
Second, the distinctions among us are also objectively real, but they do not diminish our ontological equivalence. This objective truth also rests in the Doctrine of the Trinity. 
Though the three Persons are equally God in nature, within that unity there is what theologians call a distinction in “economic functions.” The economic distinction is expressed by the Father planning for our salvation and sending the Son, the Son assuming our nature to purchase our salvation through his mediatorial office, and the Holy Spirit applying the benefits of Christ’s work to us. These economic distinctions do not make any one of the three Persons less than God.
In the Doctrine of the Trinity, God’s ontological essence is not more important to our understanding of God than the economic functions of the three Persons and vice versa. The same should be true for us as His image bearers. 
Therefore, when we do not see each other and our relationships as bearing the image of God—which includes His trinitarian nature— then we will tend to violate the law of love. The “law of love” is what I call our application to one another of the love which is the eternal and infinite nature of the relation between the three persons of the Godhead.  

Application of the Theology to Anthropology   

When the preceding is taken into consideration, the employer and the employee must be seen as ontologically equal. 
This is not a subjective assertion—how the employer feels about the employee or vice versa. No, it is an objective reality rooted in the ontological essence of who God is, and both employer and employee, being made in His image, are equal in nature. Ontologically neither is superior to the other
However, the employer and the employee have different economic functions. But those functions must also be objectively valued, each by the other, because those functions also reflect the objective reality of the economic distinctions in the Godhead. 
This explains why the Apostle Paul told Philemon he was sending his runaway slave Onesimus back to him as a slave, but “more than a slave—a beloved brother”—“both in the flesh and in the Lord” (Philemon 1:16, emphasis added)). Being a slave or a freeman was not where the value of Onesimus as a human being was to be found by either Onesimus or Philemon.

The Employer-Employee Relation Problem       

When God was removed from the cosmos by science (evolution) and finally in law and anthropology (our present subject), the distinction between ontology and economic function was necessarily lost. 
There is no longer any essence or given nature to anything. There is no source from which such could come. 
All that is left is matter (or maybe ethnicity or sex if that is where one finds his or her value). Our value (except for these other two categories of being) is now determined not by what God says about us, but by the value we give to our embodied matter. This materialist value can best be measured by money.
Thus, one’s value is now driven by how far up and down one is on the chain of material being because that is all there is. 
This is the heart of Marxist philosophy.

Application to the Advent of Unions and Union Hate for Right to Work Laws.

Finding Personal Value. In a godless cosmology where money is the measure of value, greed takes hold; it drives the need to “measure up” compared to others—“I need to go up which means you need to go down.” “Keeping up with the Jones” is real for a reason!
For a godless employer, employees can be short-changed—their ability to provide for their families made difficult—so the employer has the money by which he or she can move up the chain of being. 
This problem, when left unaddressed by a church that no longer speaks truth into problems of a culti-politico[ii] nature, causes employees to devise their own remedies. They unionize so they can move up the chain of being and, reciprocally, bring the employer down. 
Again, a materialist Marxist worldview of human value lies at the root of both party’s actions.
The Law of Love. The “love of money” is poisonous and leads to death of persons and cultures that find their value in it. (See 1Timothy 3:3, 6:10, Hebrews 13:5).  
For example, a godless employer loves money more than the love of giving and naturally wants to protect it by preventing unions. To that employer, unions are like organized theft that the law sanctions.
Godless unions, like the godless employer, love what they gain by collective bargaining and don’t want those not part of the union to get “value” from what they have gained. In their view, right-to-work laws allow non-union members to move up the chain by “stealing” from their organizing labors with the law’s sanction. 
Both sides sound a lot alike to me. It seems to me that neither Republicans or Democrats want to consider the root causes behind the Union laws and the correspondence of those laws to the need for right to work laws. My hope is that my observations will encourage Christians to consider more than political rhetoric and give more attention to what scripture says in relation to the root issues.

How will I vote?

Apart from the fact that some of the language of the amendment is subject only to definition by a court—a possibility I loathe—the substantive issue is this: What vote do I think best affords a form of civil liberty in which the root problem can be addressed, hopefully by more pastors beginning to preach or teach on issues like this and more Christians beginning to live out what they profess to believe.
In my view, adapting law to address fundamental problems is best done in the context of legislation that can be more easily changed as new conditions arise. 
Christians, of all people, should know that law doesn’t fix root problems, and that is what I think ultimately needs to be addressed.
[i] For those who think this last one odd, consider that the common law viewed the master-servant relation one of the three fundamental relations in private life, the other two being husband and wife and parent and child. Related to this common law grouping of inherent human relations, one should consider that Martin Luther rooted the nature of the relation of ruler and people in the nature of the parent-child relation found in the Fifth Commandment and the rights and duties pertaining thereto.

[ii] A word I coined for today meaning cultic, or cultural, and political, or politico.David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

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