Providence of God and reformation (as seen by Chattanooga attorney)

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Andrew Huffman, an attorney and Christian minister, is joined with his wife, Rhonda, by his nine children. Clockwise from his eldest son, Seth, behind him, are Annabelle, Adelaide, Noah, Ezra, Ivan, Zachary, Joel and Priscilla. The family resides in Hixson.

By David Tulis

A great blessing for me has been an increase of my usefulness to you and one or two other people in my hometown by the provision of an AM radio station four miles from my house. The owner, Sab “Confederate Mike” Cupelli (whom I like to describe as a sawed-off pipe bomb of a man), gives me free reign to conduct my inquiries and pursue subjects of interest to me on the air. An interview recently was with Andrew Huffman, a homeschool dad, Panera Posse regular and attorney. The highlights:

Reformed outlook boosts local economy

David Tulis. We are talking today with Andrew Huffman, a lawyer and very rich, rich man. He is rich in capital, in the capital of 9 children. He has young ones ranging from 3 to 19. A picture of his son is here. Andrew is the minister of Chattanooga Primitive Baptist church. He was explaining what primitive means.The idea is that the convictions of this fellowship of Christian believers, Christian people is that they cling to truths that do not waver or shimmy, as it were, miragelike in front of them, but which are really written down in ink. They’re not electrons, really, they are in ink, and they may even be in stone. I was asking Andrew earlier about this view of reality that insists that reality is fixed, that insists reality has a single source, like perhaps like a hub from which all the spokes come and that source is the anchor of all the different varying spokes. *** How does this view of reality that you defend, how does that affect things in Chattanooga? Where is the conflict between reality and unreality?

Andrew Huffman. The Word says there are two great commandments. The first is to love the Lord our God will all our heart, soul strength and mind. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is a twist on what is often called the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we have the perspective of neighborhood in our community, then we are interested in — today, when I was going out buying seedlings to plant to in the damp rich spring soil today, I went to Holcomb’s garden shop, because I know the folks who work there at Holcomb’s are my neighbors (not to slight the big box retailers that also have seeds for 20 cents a packet). But I feel like the quality of the interaction and the advice and the supply chain and everything behind the neighborly connection I have with local economy in that one small example is something that gives value to both sides of the transaction in a tangible way.

David. Now you’re not suggesting that shopping at Lowe’s is sinful. We’re not saying that. But there is something positive that your Christian convictions give you about relationships with people. It sounds like you’re saying you can’t have quite the same relationship and personal connection if you bought from a large chain with F$8 an hour employees?

Relational doings in the marketplace

Andrew Huffman. No, and I did in fact buy a couple of hand tools at Lowe’s, too. I try to patronize all of our local establishments as much as I can. Yes, it’s the difference between a nameless, faceless check showing up in your mailbox that says here’s something David Tulis is entitled to. The difference between that and a neighbor walking over and tapping on your door, and saying, “I heard there’s a sickness in your family and so we have a cooler here with a couple of days meals we want to provide to you. And here is some cash we just pulled out of our pocket because the Lord has blessed us and we want to help you.” There is a degree of actual relationship relating to one another that comes with local economy that enhances the value of that transaction and gives it some deeper meaning than some nameless, faceless check in the mailbox or electrons deposited in your online account.

David. In the 1920s Emile Durkheim posited the theory of anomie, which he was using to explain why crimes are committed, how and why men and women are alienated from society. Anomie comes to a man in his spirit when he is isolated and he tends to not look at people  personally, but as resources for his immediate needs. What is it in [the absence of] Christianity that evokes this sort of thinking? *** What you’re saying there comes from a long reading of the scriptures and living the Christian life.

Andrew Huffman. Well, David, you talked about words in pen and ink and even carved into stone. And, David, I think it’s even deeper than that. I think by his Holy Spirit in the work that the heavenly Father does in the new birth — the scriptural concept of a fresh spiritual beginning in the life of someone who is alienated from Him, that in that work He actually inscribes His core principles of His word in the heart. So it’s not just written on paper or just even carved in stone. But it’s actually written in the hearts of God’s children, that we are to treat each other as we’d like to be treated ourselves, or better, to think of others more highly than ourselves. The way this flows out and plays out in our lives has tremendous impact across the board in every facet of life. ****

David. Tell me, since we are talking about Christianity as a theory of life, as a claim upon the person, and as maybe as a kind of door to seeing more about what [we are] about — again, that whole question of taking charge, of serving others, of being committed to our wife, of having children. One of my arguments to the listener is that he really think about taking a little sweet time with his wife and say, “We need to become richer. Could we maybe get the children to bed early tonight and go upstairs and have a little enrichment time together?”

A lawyer looks at Christ’s redemption of sinners

You had once mentioned to me in discussing the idea of redemption and Christ’s work on the cross as a — can you bring that to mind?

Andrew Huffman. We are in what some people call a gospel-hardened era in our nation’s history. A lot of folks in the community they maybe grew up going to church on occasion or maybe to Sunday school on a regular basis. And they’ve kind of got this mindset from modern Christianity — which is the opposite of primitive Christianity — they got this mindset that dealing with God is sort of like dealing with the man on the other side of the counter in a business transaction. It’s a commercial transaction between you and God. *** That is a departure from the scriptural frame of reference. In fact, in many pulpits, sincere people this Sunday will be talking about God offering you something. The word of God does not talk about God offering us something. The word of God talks about him sending His son and His Son offering Himself, not to me, but back to His Father as the perfect sacrifice in my behalf.  And so we talk about that in legal terms. That is not a traditional bilateral contract where you and I sit down and negotiate something between ourselves, or we sit down with God and negotiate something between ourselves. This is actually a third-party beneficiary contract.

This is an arrangement where God and His son, actually the entire Trinity before the foundation of the world, made a covenant among themselves, a covenant within the Triune God, to do something for my benefit before I was ever even a gleam in my great great great great great great great grandfather’s eye.

David. Who is the beneficiary?

Andrew Huffman. The beneficiary is the recipient of the blood of Christ, the one who is moved upon the Spirit of God and drawn to Him in love and faith and conviction.

Rising law in which ‘guilty mind’ proof not required

David.  What I really appreciate about that explanation is that it is legal. Because law — law really does describe things. People sometimes say, well you have an interest in law, and you talk about the law of God, and you’re just a legalist. Somehow you think if you somehow will just obey God’s law you’ll have His favor. I always demur on that. That’s not true. God’s law is not given to save anyone. All it can do is condemn people. But it is a guide for life. It is a template in which you think and you live. Let me ask you a legal question, since you are bringing up legal concepts of the third-party beneficiary contract that has saved our listener, let’s hope. Why is the idea of guilty mind necessary in criminal law.

Andrew Huffman. We are moving from the realm of civil law to criminal law. Both originally in our legal tradition were founded on what today is often called natural law, and what was unabashedly and originally called the law of God. Our legal system was founded on principles  that are larger than ourselves, and which came from outside ourselves. And one of those principles has to do with guilt. There is a different level of culpability  between doing something accidentally, doing something recklessly and with extreme carelessness, and doing something with actually intention, purpose. There are tragic cases of even of a loving parent accidentally maybe backing the car out of the driveway and a child is playing hide and seek and they were struck by the car and killed. *** But no one suggests that the parent should be held culpable of murder. There may be some negligence involved, and sometimes there’s not even that. Sometimes it’s just an out-and-out accident.  The difference between criminal culpability and mere civil liability, or less, the difference is chiefly one of the state of mind. What is the perspective of that a person when committing the act? Were they behaving responsibly, appropriately? Or were they behaving with what the law calls mens rea, with a state of mind that gives the foundation or proper basis for a criminal charge to be brought against them.

David.  The difference between a manslaughter or a murder is that in murder there is the proof of intent that the man did certain actions that took the life of another. Manslaughter would tend to be either an accident or a careless act or oversight. There was not intent. Intention, even in biblical law, is very important.

Andrew Huffman. Absolutely. Intention is the root of the deepest, gravest kind of culpability. That’s for example why the Scripture says that while Eve took the first bite of the forbidden fruit, that Adam was in the transgression because Eve was deceived by the serpent but Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he bit into that forbidden fruit.

David. Is that why we refer to the fall as Adam’s fall?

Andrew Huffman. That’s exactly why.

When ‘federal’ means something good

David. And also because he had authority her. He was her head?

Andrew Huffman. He was actually in position of authority over all of us. He was the head of the human race. He was the representative of the human race. Just as we send a congressman to Washington to vote on our behalf, Adam was the representative, the duly appointed representative and progenitor of all the human race.

David. So he is the federal head, if you will. *** The word federal is not a bad word.  Used to be, when people heard federal, as in federal law, they had the feeling that things were going to be OK. There’s now a federal law that going to take care of this, a new federal program. Nowadays that’s  changed. The word federal brings a sense of bristling to many people, and I think you, too, right? There’s been a series of stories in the Wall Street Journal in the past couple of years that point out that more and more laws from that empire don’t have a mens rea component. There is not a provision in a statute that creates a new crime that says there has to be some proof of intent. The laws are I think they’re called strict liability. Why is that tend developing? What does it say about our culture? And do we deserve it?

Andrew Huffman. The question of who deserves what is an interesting one. Let’s look at it in a couple of ways. I suppose you always have the government you deserve because you elected it. Not you personally, but you, the society, you the culture. So, in a sense, we have brought upon ourselves through the last several generations particularly the path where we are now, that there are more and more laws on the books every day many of which many include not only civil penalties  but even potential criminal culpability without proof of any malicious intent or any wrongheartedness, if you will, on the part of the alleged wrongdoer.

Learn more about Chattanooga Primitive Baptist Church on Runyon Drive.

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