Dear Sisters and Brothers,

It is always easy to play Monday morning quarterback. That’s my favorite
position in my favorite sport, because I always win, and the other team
always loses. Disasters like Hurricane Katrina beckon us to join in the
fray. I’ve heard New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin blamed, Louisiana Governor
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco blamed, and President George W. Bush blamed. Do
they have blame? Sure. Only the Lord Jesus was perfect; except for him, no
other human ever acts without the influence of sin, even when we truly
believe that we are acting completely selflessly, solely for the glory of
God and the good of others.

The rest of humankind is not only fallen, we are finite. We make stupid
judgment calls, especially under pressure. It took me almost one full
minute to remember the last four digits of my home telephone number this
past week when I was filling out a Red Cross volunteer form. On Friday, I
couldn’t remember where I put my keys and searched our house for fifteen
minutes before giving up, only to find them sitting on my desk at work — we
used my wife’s keys to unlock the doors. Those little physiological things
illustrate that the brain is simply another organ of the body, subject to
sensory and emotional overload and fatigue, an organ that cannot operate
very long without renewal. In spite of the power of the will to choose to
act, there are limitations on our system, limitations that keep us from
functioning the way that we may choose. The President, Louisiana’s governor
and New Orleans’ mayor are not really any different from you or me. They,
too, need to eat regularly and go to the bathroom, and they need to get
enough sleep, or they will simply go nuts.

I am thankful for God’s gift of civil government. The temporary loss of it
within a major urban area this past week demonstrates the truth that God has
ordained civil government for our good, and “there is no authority except
that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been
established by God.” (Romans 13:2.) Civil government is “God’s servant to
do you good.” (Romans 13:4.) It has been “sent by him to punish those who do
wrong and to commend those who do right.” (1 Peter 2:14.) Yet government
does not have the ability to solve all our problems.

First of all, the American system of government is inefficient, deliberately
so: our founders feared centralization of power and created a form of
Constitutionally limited, representative government with basic liberties
reserved to individuals and the states. Nowhere is power concentrated in
one political body. At the federal level, we have three branches of
government: legislative, executive and judicial, and they are often at odds
with each other. Furthermore, Federal authority is strictly limited and
balanced with state authority, while state authority is limited and balanced
with local authority. The American system wasn’t designed to be a
dictatorship, so it isn’t as efficient as some people might want it to be in
times of great crisis. I have heard it said that Benito Mussolini made
Italy’s trains run on time, but he did that by shooting inefficient people.
Is this true? I don’t know — I wasn’t there. But one thing I know: I
don’t want to live under a President Mussolini, a Governor Mussolini or a
Mayor Mussolini. And the framers of the U.S. Constitution wrote the
document the way they did because they didn’t want to live under a Mussolini
either.

Furthermore, government is limited in its ability and subject to the sinful
choices of fallen people. In the modern West, many people have the tendency
to view government in an almost God like way, as if government can keep us
from disaster and provide a safety net that is able to keep everybody from
dropping through. But government is limited. It doesn’t have the ability
to spend money on and on without dire consequences. It doesn’t have the
ability to correct every problem at home or abroad. If we put money and
people in one place, we won’t have money and people to put in other places.
That is simply how it is.

As a citizen of Louisiana, I am grateful for all of the help, public and
private, that is flowing into our state. And I am grateful for the good
sense that our President used in putting an African-American, Louisiana
native in charge of the whole three state project: Lt. Gen. Russell Honore,
born and raised near Baton Rouge and a graduate of Southern University, a
great Black institution. I thank God for General Honore, because “The
Reverend” (I hate that damned title and never use it.) Jesse Jackson was
here in Alexandria, Louisiana, over the weekend, grandstanding and playing
the race card. The last thing we need is a racist demagogue, exploiting
this tragedy by further polarizing the races. From such may the good Lord
deliver us.

Amen,
Bob

“Why do you say that you are righteous by faith only? Not that I am
acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only
the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ is my righteousness
before God; and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way
than by faith only.” (The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 23, # 61.)

Robert Benn Vincent, Sr.
Grace Presbyterian Church
4900 Jackson Street
Alexandria, Louisiana 71303-2509

Tutissimum Refugium Sanguinis Christi
80 Hickory Hill Drive
Boyce, Louisiana 71409-8784

318.445.7271 church
318.443.1034 fax
318.793.5354 home
bob@rbvincent.com
http://www.rbvincent.com
http://www.grace-presbyterian.org
http://www.gcsla.org

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