More than Just Conservative (20)

Resistance to Church Lockdowns: What About Romans 13?

Gary North – July 30, 2020

I reported on their defiance in yesterday’s article: https://www.garynorth.com/public/21145.cfm.

The elders made their defiance clear. They did not weasel.

Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). He is also King of kings—sovereign over every earthly authority (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Grace Community Church has always stood immovably on those biblical principles. As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.

In the next paragraph, they cut off those pastors who prefer compliance, and who would be willing to cite Romans 13 as justification for this compliance. Here is Romans 13, verses 1 through 7.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

The elders correctly understand the context of Paul’s statement — the tyrannical Roman Empire — and also how Paul’s words should be applied today.

Some will think such a firm statement is inexorably in conflict with the command to be subject to governing authorities laid out in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. Scripture does mandate careful, conscientious obedience to all governing authority, including kings, governors, employers, and their agents (in Peter’s words, “not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” [1 Peter 2:18]). Insofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not. In other words, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 still bind the consciences of individual Christians. We are to obey our civil authorities as powers that God Himself has ordained.

Later in their manifesto, they wrote this:

Accordingly, the honor that we rightly owe our earthly governors and magistrates (Romans 13:7) does not include compliance when such officials attempt to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church in any other way.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote this:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour (I Timothy 2:1-3).

Paul was clear: civil government is legitimate. Churches even owe public prayer for civil rulers. He could not have been more clear on this point.

Peter was equally clear: Christians don’t owe obedience to civil laws that undermine the church of Jesus Christ. They are not morally obligated to obey these laws.

There is another issue: the language of plural governments. Paul was not writing just about civil government. He uses the word authorities. That is a plural word. I have explained this elsewhere.

LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENTS

In 2001, I published my economic commentary on Paul’s letter to the church at Rome: Competition and Dominion I had it professionally typeset in 2012. It is posted as a PDF here. Chapter 11 presents my analysis of Romans 13:1-7: “Legitimate Governments.” Here is what I wrote, but without the footnotes.A. Plural Authorities

Paul speaks of higher powers. Strong’s Concordance defined the Greek word exousia as follows: “(in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subj.) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.” It means, basically, lawful authorities. There are more than one. There is no single hierarchy in this life. God has created competing jurisdictions in order to eliminate the possibility of an absolute centralized tyranny. “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city” (Gen. 11:6– 8). A national civil government or empire has always faced competition: from foreign civil rulers, local civil rulers, families, kinship groups, churches, voluntary associations, and businesses.

Paul says here that lawful authorities deserve obedience. He does not say or imply that there is only one lawful institutional authority that must be obeyed. In his confrontation with the high priest, he made this point clear. Even though he was an apostle and in possession of lawful authority, he did not deliberately challenge the high priest. “And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people” (Acts 23:2–5). Paul honored lawful authorities. But when one authority could be used to offset another, Paul set them in competition to gain his freedom. “But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided” (Acts 23:6–7). The Sadducee party, which denied the bodily resurrection, was associated with the temple’s priesthood. Paul’s words to the Pharisees immediately undermined Ananias’ power to prosecute Paul on the authority of the priesthood.

No power is established on earth that is not established by God. On this point, Paul is clear. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (v. 1). This English phrase—“the powers that be”—has come down through the centuries to describe the supreme rulers in a society. Therefore, obedience to them is biblically mandatory. “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (v. 2). Because God has established authorities to rule over men, men are required by God to obey rulers.

Paul lived under the rule of Nero, a tyrant by any standard. Yet he writes: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good” (v. 4) Christians are to do good deeds, gaining praise from their rulers. God has set rulers in seats of authority to be a terror to evil-doers. Let these rulers devote their efforts to overcoming their enemies, not look for rebellious Christians to prosecute.

There are rulers who themselves are evil and allied with evil men. Nevertheless, Paul says to obey. The goal of governments is to defend social order. Every government has rules. It enforces standards with sanctions. Most civil rulers want more authority for themselves. They want things to run smoothly. God has built into human nature the desire to live in a predictable world. For predictability, there must be rules and sanctions. This is why rules and sanctions make life easier. Tyrants want predictability. The closer to righteousness the civil laws are, the more voluntary cooperation that rulers will gain from their subordinates. Rulers cannot rule without subordinates who voluntarily cooperate. If everyone refused to obey a law, there would not be enough police to enforce it. This is why rulers prosecute a representative figure. This sends a message to the public: “If you don’t obey, and everyone else does, we’ll get you.” But there comes a day when many people take a chance and deliberately disobey the law. They refuse to cooperate with the civil government. On that day, the illusion of state omnipotence ends.

The early church lived under a pagan civil tyranny. Rome mandated idolatry as a means of extending the power of the empire. This polytheistic system of civil rule sought intercultural unity by divinizing the emperor. But Christians refused to offer public sacrifices to “the genius of the emperor,” for they understood the theology of ancient empires: the divinization of man and the state. For this rebellion, they were intermittently persecuted for almost three centuries. They did not rebel by taking up arms. They merely refused to participate in false worship. Over time, they gained the reputation for being good citizens and reliable subordinates. In the fourth century, they inherited the Roman empire. They had served under tyranny, and they became rulers when this tyranny collapsed into the chaos of civil war and bankruptcy. Nonviolent disobedience to civil authority on this one point eventually gained Christians civil authority. Otherwise, they were obedient. This is a biblical principle of authority: he who seeks to rule should first serve. Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:25–26). But there is another principle of biblical authority. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Both principles must be honored. Both principles must be intellectually defended by covenant-keepers. Both must be honored by the flock.B. The Legitimacy of Governments

Paul’s discussion of institutional authorities follows a passage that challenges personal vengeance. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). If personal vengeance is wrong, then how does God bring vengeance in history? Through civil government. The text does not say that vengeance is wrong. It says that God possesses final authority to impose vengeance. He has delegated the authority to impose physical vengeance to two governments: civil and family. Peter agreed with Paul on this point. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (I Peter 2:13–19).

Neither Peter nor Paul demanded obedience to civil government at the expense of obedience to other lawful governments. Again, Peter explicitly told the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b). Yet they had the authority to beat him, which they did (Acts 5:40). He submitted to the beating, but not to their command to stop preaching the gospel. He disobeyed, but he submitted to the sanctions for the sake of his disobedience. So did Paul.

The point is this: Peter and Paul self-consciously operated within the existing Roman legal system. Paul understood Roman law, and as a Roman citizen, he invoked it. “But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar” (Acts 25:9–11). His words, “I refuse not to die,” affirmed the legitimacy of civil government, including capital punishment. But, at the same time, he appealed to Caesar to escape the jurisdiction of Festus, who Paul believed was acting on behalf of the Jews. This was consistent with his affirmation of the ministerial office of civil magistrates.

The anarcho-capitalist rejects all forms of civil government. He can point to every kind of tax as distorting the free market. He sees the free market as legitimately autonomous. But then come the problems of violence and sin. How can these be predictably restrained? The biblical answer is government, including civil government. In an anarcho-capitalist world of profit-seeking private armies, the result is the warlord society. Militarily successful private armies will always seek to establish their monopolistic rule by killing the competition, literally. Civil governments always reappear. They are one of God’s four ordained systems of government: self-government, church government, family government, and civil government. All four are sealed by an oath. All four involve sanctions.

Christians cannot legitimately adopt the libertarian quest to establish a world devoid of civil government. Sin mandates civil government and civil sanctions. The right of civil rulers to impose physical punishments is affirmed clearly by Paul in Acts 25. He affirms in Romans 13 the legitimacy of civil government among other legitimate governments. He says that rulers are ordained by God as His ministers. This is powerful language. It invokes the authority of God on behalf of the state. If Paul is correct, then anarcho-capitalism is incorrect. There is no way around this.C. Crime vs. the Division of Labor

The threat of crime forces men to allocate scarce economic resources to the defense against criminals. The state is the primary institutional means of crime prevention. The state imposes negative sanctions on convicted criminals. The goal is to uphold justice by means of fear. “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut. 19:18–21). Fear adds to the cost to criminal behavior. As the economist says, when the cost of anything increases, other things remaining equal, less of it is demanded. This is the goal of negative civil sanctions: less crime.

The expense of crime-prevention reduces men’s wealth. They believe that this expenditure prevents an even greater reduction of their wealth by criminals. Men find it more expensive to cooperate when crime increases. Their lives and property are less secure. This makes them more cautious about entering into cooperative ventures with people they do not know well. The information costs of dealing with strangers are high, and some people choose not to take these extra risks. Because of sin, the division of labor is reduced. Crime-prevention activities are a means of removing risk and increasing the level of cooperation. Institutional authorities seek to reduce crime by imposing negative sanctions on law-breakers.

To maximize the division of labor in a world of sin, the state must impose negative sanctions only on law-breakers, biblically defined. By adding laws that go beyond the Bible, or even go counter to it, civil rulers reduce the division of labor. Legislators and bureaucrats who go beyond the Bible in seeking to stamp out illegal activities make it more expensive for people to cooperate voluntarily to achieve their ends. This reduces the division of labor. It therefore reduces people’s wealth. The state thereby produces the same condition that criminals produce. The difference is, good men feel justified in defending themselves against criminals. They feel far less justified in defending themselves against the state. The predator state can become a greater threat to economic and social cooperation than the predator criminal class. In some cases, the state allies itself with the criminal class.Conclusion

Paul speaks of the illegitimacy of personal vengeance. He does not deny the legitimacy of vengeance as such. He says that God has restricted vengeance to legitimate civil governments. Civil power is supposed to restrain unpredictable personal violence, family feuds, and gang warfare. The free market is not autonomous. It is an extension of the individual or the family, both of which operate under civil law. The free market is under civil law. Civil law covenantally is superior to the free market. The civil covenant establishes the conditions of the free market by shaping public behavior and attitudes. Civil law is enforced by rulers who are ministers of God. Taxation as such is not theft, contrary to some libertarian theorists. Most forms of taxation are theft, and all levels above the tithe surely are (I Sam. 8:15, 17), but not all. Lawful authorities are entitled to economic support. Taxation supports the state.

Paul calls on Christians to obey lawful authorities. This may mean challenging one authority in the name of another. Authorities are to some extent in competition with each other. It is not unlawful to pit one against the other, as Paul’s tactics in Acts indicate. Freedom is sometimes achieved by using one authority to reduce the power of another. Paul used Roman law to undermine Festus’ desire to please the Jews. He lawfully removed himself from Festus’ jurisdiction. A legal system should not be allowed to become monolithic.

CONCLUSION

Rev. MacArthur and the church elders presented a biblically accurate assessment of Romans 13:1-7. I hope other congregations that face tyrannical lockdown laws will do the same when they defy these unjust, illegitimate laws and rules.

More than Just Conservative (18)

Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands. They covet fields and then seize them and houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance (Mic.2:1-2).

Messianic government tries to be society’s Messiah. It thus has to know all things, be all-powerful and infallible, along with being totally just and wonderfully compassionate, just like the real Messiah. But these are very big challenges for us mortals. For Jesus Christ, these challenges were fine, but for us?

It’s way too hard.  History has shown that whenever governments (explicitly or implicitly) hold out the idea of their messianic abilities, things tend to come unstuck very quickly. Not only that, but the lives of people in the community are then very often at risk. Think of the US.

America has plenty of enemies but they can probably relax. Who among them could do to the US the amount of damage that it is doing to itself?

Terrorists brought down some buildings in New York and punched a hole in the Pentagon. But it was not a terrorist who brought down the US economy at a staggering cost of more than $US20 trillion (Australian $19.4 trillion) in losses in the value of family homes, shares and retirement funds.

It was, of course, poor US policy and weak governance. In other words, it was self-inflicted, man-made and entirely avoidable. The enemies of the US can only dream of inflicting this much damage on the superpower.[1]

One of the hardest things for Messianic governments to do, is to leave the free-market alone. The free-market has lots of lumps and bumps; it can certainly be a rough ride. But economic Messiahs want to “sort things out.” They want to “make it easier for people.” So, they interfere in the free-market.

Where? Anywhere. Take Health. Socialised health-care was ostensibly to help the poor have better access to health-care. But whenever governments involve themselves in almost any community service activity, the cost to the community goes up dramatically, and the efficiency goes through the floor.

Why? Decisions are not made by private individuals anymore. Governments have to employ vast numbers of bureaucrats to check on and oversee everything. Rather than individuals making their own private decisions about doctors, hospitals and their health, some decisions are made for them by bureaucrats.

But bureaucrats don’t have a vested interest in an outcome. They merely have a job to do, and if it goes wrong, so what? They rarely lose their job.

Hunters and homeless people in Louisiana are righteously outraged after state health officials forced a homeless shelter to throw out nearly a ton of perfectly good venison.

The meat that had been donated to the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission could have fed more than 3,000 people. Instead, it was tossed in trash bins by officials from the Department of Health and Hospitals who say that state law prohibits the serving of venison in homeless shelters.

Not only did the officials toss the meat, they doused it with Clorox to make sure it couldn’t be eaten by animals or, presumably, people.

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” an official told Fox News in an email. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

Richard Campbell, co-founder of Hunters for the Hungry, a charitable group that donates wild game to shelters, said hunters across the state and in Mississippi are outraged about the statement and the waste.[2]


That’s why there is almost nothing that ought to be left in the hands of government today, or at anytime. They have enough difficulty staying out of trouble when they are left with only law and infrastructure. It is the individuals and families of the community that ought to be making the big decisions. Decentralisation is Biblical; it’s always the way to travel for lovers of liberty. This is an ancient but fading mark of conservative political thought. Why?

Good government starts by recognising we are not the Messiah, and will never be. Joseph acknowledged to Pharoah that “…it is not in me…” (Gen.41:16). “The government shall rest upon His shoulders” (Isa.9:6), not ours. It also starts by recognising there are real limits on what governments can successfully accomplish, and interfering in the free-market through government policy always proves to be a form of community abuse.

Stay away from it.


[1] Peter Hartcher, ‘Sound of Silence as new Debt Woes Grow,’ “The Sydney Morning Herald,” 26/2/2013.

[2] “Let Them Eat Cake? Government Destroys 1,600 Pounds of Deer Meat for Homeless Just Because,” Tad Cronn, [news@godfatherpolitics.com], 27/2/2013.

More than Just Conservative (17)

Earthly slavery, as manifested clearly in the history of the Exodus, involves at least three factors: slavery to food, slavery to the past, and slavery to the present. The Hebrews cursed Moses, for he had served them as a deliverer. He had enabled them to cast off the chains of bondage. They looked to the uncertainty that lay before them (the Red Sea) and the chariots behind them, and they wailed. They had lost what they regarded as external security in Egypt, a welfare State existence, and they resented Moses’ leadership.[1]

For some two hundred years, believers have been developing a dismissive view of the Old Testament law. “Oh, that’s from the Old Testament, and we don’t need to bother with that anymore,” is largely   the usual attitude in evangelical circles.

But we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath-water. There are aspects of both continuity and discontinuity in relation to God’s law from the Old Testament, which the Bible explains or infers. The Ten Commandments remain eternally, but the focus of enforcement of the Fourth Commandment (dealing with the Sabbath) has shifted to the individual:

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind (Ro.14:5).

This is a very important Biblical principle. It has been the basis of the West’s liberties, which are now in decline. It means that every person is responsible to God for their actions.

You want to go overseas, go to university, get married or start a business? No problem. It’s your life. It may or may not be a mistake, but it is your responsibility. And it has been this Biblical culture of individual responsibility (with the associated opportunities and risks), which has been at the root of the West’s rapid development in the last 300 years.

People should remember this fact: you can’t replace something with nothing. Yes, there are aspects of Old Testament law (such as the animal sacrifices, the food laws, the seed laws and the land laws) which are fulfilled in the New Testament, because the focus today geographically is not a tiny piece of land in the Middle East, but on “…all the nations…” (Mat.28:19). God’s law is His plan for every nation.

But when people replace the Bible’s overall law and culture, there is always a price they’ll pay. If you refuse individual responsibility, someone else will have to take it up for you, and in the modern era, that has generally been the State. And the State’s representative has generally been an inefficient, self-serving, tax-funded bureaucracy.

Think of law-enforcement in the United States. It began with local police, then early in the twentieth century, they added the FBI. Its 2011 budget? $7.9 billion. Then in the 1940’s the CIA came along to supposedly deal with matters of international security, and since 2001, the US has a Department of Homeland Security, and a Transport Safety Authority.

Is US law-enforcement any better now? It’s hard to believe. Bureaucratic institutions tend to grow not because of need, but because it’s a matter of status. The leaders want the power and prestige (and money) that comes with leading a growing organisation. So they say to their political superiors, “Give us more!”

Efficiency? Irrelevant. Ethics and justice? Forget it.

Because individual liberty and responsibility are largely ignored, massive, inefficient and sometimes corrupt bureaucracies have to keep finding justifications for their existence. And they do, even if they have to invent them. And what seems to frequently happen? The innocent suffer abuse.

Can the innocent do anything about it? Mostly, no. How things have changed. Today, if your home is targeted by a SWAT team for a drug bust in the US, you could easily be killed. Law enforcement agencies can be effectively above the law. As Will Grigg writes,

The Milwaukee Police Department holds down the number two spot in the national police brutality rankings. Its distinguished contributions in the field of state-sponsored crime include a lengthy and growing list of suspicious deaths of people in police custody.[2]

Furthermore, plausible allegations about both the FBI and the CIA have been made, linking them to many assassinations, including that of President Kennedy in 1963, and his brother Robert in 1968. But you thought it was the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” It’s time to wake up to how things have deteriorated.

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, they just left; there were no border restrictions. When Joseph and Mary decided at God’s direction to flee Israel to evade Herod, they simply got up in the night and left for Egypt (Mat.2:13-15).

What if you had to do the same thing? Got a passport? Got a permit? And what if you decided to go on a Friday night? Well, you would have to wait till the relevant office opened on Monday. Sorry about that.

And what if the bureaucrat essential for your approval takes exception to you? That’s why all restrictions on international movement (including passports) are generally oppressive in nature; the Berlin wall was not built with a Biblical world-view in mind. When a nation declares to its people, “you have to have our permission to leave,” they are saying in effect, “you are our slaves.” This was the attitude of many Eastern Bloc countries up until about 1990, and is reminiscent of the oppression of the Israelites under Pharoah.

A church acquaintance who immigrated from South Africa recently told me he had to pay $80,000 to come to Australia with his wife.

Something else: what if I have been visiting the south of France, and return to Australia with a few bottles of champagne, along with some Belgian chocolate, and some vintage, valuable French pistols that I’m fond of?

Anything wrong with that? Biblically, no, but according to the present laws, it would probably raise major issues with the Customs Department, and I wouldn’t be let out of the airport.  The guns could be confiscated. After all, I could be about to commit a crime!

 The irony is, that a well-armed populace of law-abiding citizens has a very great defence against criminals, gangs, and those who wish to do harm to the citizen base. An unarmed public, on the other hand, can do virtually nothing to defend themselves.[3]

This goes to the heart of Biblical liberty. The Bible never focuses on what I might do with whatever is in my hands, as a potential criminal; every person is a potential criminal. It deals only with what I have done. The difference is very important in how people are treated before the law.

In Australia, we have seven State and Federal Education Departments. Why?

Well, we ignored the fact that the Bible makes parents responsible for education, and so we handed that task to the State, and the results have been horrific. Not only is it costing the taxpayer $15,000 in 2020 to send a child to a State school, but we’ve put the people with a vested interest in the Department’s perpetuation in charge.

Thus education (as in Nazi Germany) is subject to political control, the foxes are in charge of the hen-house, and parents had better not sneeze without Departmental permission. They could be prosecuted for taking responsibility for their children’s education. What a bizarre perversion of God’s justice.

In a free Biblical society, you can generally do as you wish, within Biblical boundaries. It represents a level of libertarianism we would be shocked by today. But in our present evil “nanny-state” environment, the key thing is to get permission first, even for something totally innocuous like buying a gun. Even advertising at sporting events, and labelling on cigarette packets are State regulated. Thus decision-making processes are shifted from individuals and families to the State, something God never intended.

And the worst of it? The Church accepts it.

When Israel turned from God and wanted a king “…like all the nations” (I Sam.8:5), God made it clear that “they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v.7), and that there would be consequences (v.10-18).

And what were some of these? A high tax rate of 10%, property confiscation, a general expansion of government control, and State sponsored murder (see I Sam.22:16-23).

We in the West have shown we are no different to Israel in Saul’s day. There have been, and there will be painful consequences for our poor and evil choices: massive, overbearing bureaucracies, social oppression by government and high tax rates in place of godly freedom and responsibility: God’s just judgments on us for running back to the slavery of Egypt.

But all this can change. It must change, if the West is to have a future of blessing and prosperity under God.

John the Baptist was a Biblical prophet: a radical in the Biblical tradition. He preached that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees…” (Mat.3:10).  We need his solution today.

Conclusion:

Individuals, families and churches must begin the long religious and cultural walk out of Egypt, to the promised land of God’s glorious purpose.

This may take us generations to accomplish, just as it took us generations to get to the bad state we’re in. The time is not the issue, the issue is that we start to move. And the first and simplest place to begin to act in obedience to God, is in taking responsibility for our children’s education.

It’s time to move, and it begins with obedience and repentance on the part of God’s people. Are you ready?

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Gal.5:1).

 

 

[1] Gary North, “Moses and Pharoah,” 1986, p.256.

[2] Will Grigg, “Meet Ed Flynn – Milwaukee Crime Lord, Citizen Disarmament Advocate,” Lew Rockwell’s website, 1/3/2013.

[3]Anthony Gucciardi, “A Brief and Bloody History of Gun Control,” (courtesy of Lew Rockwell’s website,) 23/2/2013.

 

Restoring the Foundation of Civilization: God’s Government or Chaos

Jul 24, 2020 by Gary DeMar

The following is from the Introduction to my new book Restoring the Foundation of Civilization: God’s Government or Chaos that should be available in late August or early September of 2020.

There are many Christians who will not participate in politics because they believe (or have been taught to believe) that politics is outside the realm of what constitutes a Christian worldview. “Politics is dirty,” “Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics,” “Politics is about law, and Christianity is about grace,” “Government is not our savior; Jesus is,” “Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world,” “The Christian’s only task is to preach the gospel.” [1]

 

Myths Lies and Half Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths takes a close look at God’s Word and applies it to erroneous misinterpretations of the Bible that have resulted in a virtual shut-down of the church’s full-orbed mission in the world (Acts 20:27). Due to these mistaken interpretations and applications of popular Bible texts to contemporary issues, the Christian faith is being thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matt. 5:13).

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The thing of it is, a biblical worldview includes politics, the civil dimension of biblical government. The British poet and literary critic T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) makes the point better than I can:

Yet there is an aspect in which we can see a religion as the whole way of life of a people, from birth to the grave, from morning to night and even in sleep, and that way of life is also its culture…. It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have—until recently—been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian Faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does, will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning…. If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. [2]

The entire Bible speaks about the subjects of governments and politics just like it speaks about everything else. Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Professor of Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam and editor of the daily newspaper The Standard, summarized this truth with these words: “[N]o single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!’” [3]

If holiness means “Thou Shalt not steal” for you and me, then it also means the same thing for you and me if we decide to become a civil official. Politics, actually “civil government,” is not morally neutral territory just like self-, family, and church governments are not morally neutral. If we follow the reasoning of some Christians, we can’t speak out against a civil minister when he violates his oath to uphold the Constitution and violates some biblical law, for example, the specific law against man-stealing. Would we remain silent and passive with a husband who violates his marriage oath or a minister of the gospel who violates his ordination vows? Of course, we would not. There are procedures to deal with these violations. The same is true in the civil realm. It includes organizing people to oppose civil oath violators to remove them from office.

So, if thieves break into your home and burn it down, what should you do? What if they beat and rape your wife and steal all your stuff? If the chief of police and the mayor don’t do anything about it, are these non-involved Christians telling their fellow-Christians that they should not protest but just take the persecution “for righteousness’ sake”? Would he be considered “proud,” “pompous” and a “power monger” to rally his neighbors to vote the mayor out of office in the next election? According to God’s Word, the civil magistrate has the power of the sword (Rom. 13:1–4). Without limits on the civil minister’s authority and power, that sword can do a lot of harm to a lot of people.

I suppose as Christians like Corrie ten Boom (1893–1983) and her family were being dragged off to a concentration camp for helping Jews escape from the Nazis, their fellow-Christians should have told them, “This is what you get for not being willing to be oppressed and disenfranchised for righteousness’ sake. You should have made peace with the Nazis not protest against them. Persecution is the Christian’s lot in life.”

If Christians had been involved in civil government decades before and understood its limitations and their responsibility to speak out against oppression, Germany would never have had an Adolf Hitler. In 19th-century Germany, a distinction was made between the realm of public policy managed by the State and the domain of private morality under the province of the gospel. Religion was the sphere of the inner personal life, while things public came under the jurisdiction of the “worldly powers.” Redemption was fully the province of the church while the civil sphere was solely the province of the State. “Religion was a private matter that concerned itself with the personal and moral development of the individual. The external order—nature, scientific knowledge, statecraft—operated on the basis of its own internal logic and discernable laws.” [4]

Christians were told that the church’s sole concern was the spiritual life of the believer. “The Erlangen church historian Hermann Jorda declared in 1917 that the state, the natural order of God, followed its own autonomous laws while the kingdom of God was concerned with the soul and operated separately on the basis of the morality of the gospel.” [5] Sound familiar? It’s what many Christians believe and practice.

  1. See my book Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2010).[]
  2. T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949), 29, 126.[]
  3. Abraham Kuyper, “Sphere Sovereignty” (1880) in James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 488.[]
  4. Richard V. Pierard, “Why Did Protestants Welcome Hitler?,” Fides et Historia, X:2 (North Newton, KS: The Conference on Faith and History), (Spring 1978), 13.[]
  5. Pierard, “Why Did Protestants Welcome Hitler?,” 14.[]

More than Just Conservative (1)

The Israelites had experienced firsthand the institutional effects of a social order governed by a law-order different from the Bible’s. They had been enslaved. The God who had released them from bondage announced at Sinai His standards of righteousness – not just private righteousness but social and institutional righteousness. Thus, the God of liberation is simultaneously the law-giver. The close association of Biblical law and human freedom is grounded in the very character of God. 1

Political conservatives tend to trace their ideological history back to people like the Englishman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who pointed out in his era, the dangers of the French Revolution.
There is nothing wrong with that, but they could go a whole lot further. They could include Oliver Cromwell (who successfully defeated Charles I of England), Stephen Langton (who wrote the Magna Carta, in opposition to King John), and many others.

But the real basis of political conservatism should be traced to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.
Why? Because it is here that we gain the proper understanding of the need to conserve and protect individuals and legitimate social institutions (such as the family and the Church) against the ravages of a tyrannical, humanistic state.

And it is here that the true political conservative gets his authority. The history of government has always been about the struggle between liberty and bondage, and the Bible has commonly been at the forefront of this debate. This explains why the tyrants of history have tended to be haters of the God of the Bible.

People cannot truly know themselves or each other without the Bible, neither can they correctly understand anything of the human condition without the Bible. It wasn’t written by us, (though
God inspired a number of human writers to put pen to paper). It was written by our Creator, Who describes us as reprobate sinners, needing a Saviour, His Son. When we come to the knowledge of this fact, we begin to understand our utter incapacity to deal with ourselves and society, outside of the God of the Bible.

When political conservatives ignore the God of the Bible and the Exodus, they lose all capacity to speak authoritatively to society. They are just another politician. This is the tragedy of the modern era; few political leaders willing to accept the Bible as their text-book for liberty, and apply it to society. The Church hasn’t consistently applied it; why should we expect politicians to?

But this can and must change. How? By the impetus and pressure from faithful Christians within the Church, who understand the claims of Christ on every society, and that every society that ignores Christ’s commands only prepares itself for His judgment.

This means the education and instruction of Christians in the scriptures must move to a whole new level. We must consider a lot more the implications of applying the whole of scripture to
the era we live in. To education, to health, to welfare, to law, to defence and foreign affairs, and economics. The Bible speaks clearly to these matters.2  That means we have got to get busy to find out what it means to obey Jesus Christ in realms we haven’t considered much in the past.

This is all a part of us preparing to give a good account to God. It’s all part of serving the generation we are a part of, and providing society with the leaven of the kingdom of God.

I’m a political conservative, but I believe Christians must be much more than that, just reacting to the grim excesses of the politics of the Left. What the world really needs is an articulation of the political and social implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He can bring liberty to every individual and nation of the world, but always and only on His terms.

It was God Who brought about the Exodus? When He called Moses, He said

I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their suffering (Ex.3:7).

The Bible makes it clear that every person is a slave of someone. Whose slave are you? Nations are the same. And like individuals, those nations that run from God run invariably into bondage. That’s what communism brought to the Soviet Union, but the West today really isn’t too far behind; it’s just taken us a lot longer to dig ourselves into a similarly deep hole.

But let’s not dwell in this hole of our own making, a moment longer than we have to. Let’s get back into the light of God through Biblical obedience. That’s what He’s always wanted us to do.

I will walk at liberty, for I seek your precepts. I will also speak of Your
testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed (Ps.119:45-46).

 

 

 

1 Gary North, “The Sinai Strategy,” 1986, p.19.

2 See Andrew McColl, “The Great Christian Revolution.”

 

More than Just Conservative (15)

                              The Law in the New Testament

Our Lord readily submitted to the whole of God’s law. At the time of the temptations, Jesus quoted from the law three times to resist and refute the devil (Mat.4:1-11). In dealing with the Pharisees, who had accused the disciples of being in breach of the elders’ traditions, Jesus quoted from the law, highlighting their hypocrisy (Mat.15:1-14). In teaching the disciples, Jesus taught from the law (Luke 24:25-27).

Jesus came and spoke as a king. He spoke “with authority” (Mat.7:29). All kings have laws and rules. Any kingdom without law presupposes anarchy. Jesus submitted to and taught from the law, because it was His law:

the warfare of Jesus was not against Moses. It was against the scribes and Pharisees who perverted Moses. It is a perversion of Scripture to separate the law and the prophets from Jesus. The Mount of Transfiguration witnessed to their unity.[1]

Jesus made His attitude towards the law abundantly clear, in Mat.5:17-18:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

This means that Christians should always reject careless and foolish assumptions about the law, which are not found in scripture.

Either God’s revealed law is sovereign in society or else autonomous man’s declared law is sovereign.[2]

When faced by Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees, who saw themselves as the guardians of the law, found themselves face to face with the law incarnate. Jesus manifested the true law of God, not the pharisaic versions of it, in all His being. In the hands of the religious leaders, the law had become a yoke of bondage (Gal.5:1), not the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12).[3]

Paul and the other apostles quoted from the law as though it was perfectly normative, to be obeyed by them and by us. (See Ro.15:4; I Cor.9:8-10; 14:34; Eph.6:1-3). Paul makes it clear (see Gal.1:13-17) that Judaism had been his former way of life, before becoming a Christian. Not anymore. Judaism was not the Old Testament faith. It was an attempt to implement an ancient heresy, justification by works, which is never taught in scripture.

Abraham is chosen by God and made just by God’s grace, not by his personal merit or works. Implicit and explicit in all that Paul continues to say is what Calvin briefly summarized thus: ‘there is no place in the church for any man who is not a son of Abraham.’ [4]And we are sons of Abraham only by God’s grace through faith, not by blood or works. [5]

Five times in the Book of Galatians the apostle Paul names the issue he is vigorously contending with: Gal.2:16 (3 times); 3:11 and 5:4. Gal.2:16 says,

a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even as we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law; since by the works of the law no flesh will be justified.

Was Paul being critical of the law itself? No, for he said in another place, that

the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (Ro.7:12).

What the apostle Paul contended with and was critical of, were attempts by some within the church, particularly the Pharisees, to turn the law of God into a means of salvation– something which it was never designed for. As Bahnsen commented,

Galatians is a polemic against the Judaizers who insisted on the keeping of the ceremonial law as a way of justification (cf. Acts 15:1, 5; Gal.5:1-6). [6]

North’s comments are also helpful here:

Paul was at war with Judaizers who were inside the church. They sought to bring gentiles under the mosaic ceremonial law, meaning laws associated with the priestly status of old Covenant, national Israel…Paul [in I Timothy 1:1-11] is identifying Judaizers, not gentile antinomians or gentile theonomists as the false teachers of Ephesus…Paul asks Timothy to tell them to stop teaching their version of Pharisaic legalism.[7]

This helps us understand Paul’s comment, when he taught that “…you are not under law but under grace” (Ro.6:14). Judaism was a serious problem within the early church. Rushdoony is clear on this point:

Works are under a curse when they represent human activity apart from God and His sovereignty. Such works seek to vindicate man’s autonomy and to justify man before God and humanity. Such works posit the possibility of creating an order outside of God and thus represent the premise of Genesis 3:5, every man as his own god. Men can use God’s own law to attempt to justify themselves before God by uniting God’s law, as filtered through man’s hand, as a means of furthering their autonomy. [8]

This explains Paul’s question in Gal.4:21: “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?” The Judaisers were effectively refusing the notion of God’s grace, believing that genealogical descent from Abraham and a superficial commitment to God’s law would both be a means of justification for them, when they should have known that no one can obey God’s law perfectly.

Judaism was thus hostile to the Christian faith, because it was:

a) Humanistic- Jesus said to the Pharisees, that “…you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Mat.23:15).

b) Nationalistic.

c) Hypocritical and racist-Mat.23:23-29; Jn. 4:9; 8:48.

d) A works-based religion focused on the outward observance of Mosaic law, such as circumcision- Gal.6:12.                                                                                                                      e) Religiously bigoted- Jn.9:24-34.[9]

Conclusion:  

For the Pharisees, God’s law was a weapon of assault against anyone who did not fit their religious and political agenda, regardless of their innocence. But their criminal misrepresentations of God’s law only revealed their hypocrisy. It was they who were evil, not the law.

The law of God given to Moses, summarised in the Ten Commandments, was His gracious provision to a nation which had just emerged from the slavery of Egypt. It is the only true law of liberty mankind has ever had. Every other one has been a counterfeit. The Psalmist confessed as much when he wrote, “I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts” (Ps.119:45).

Christians must confront the fact that God requires them to impose His law for the state upon all men, whether men like it or not. The universe is not a democracy, but a Kingdom.  If Christians do not impose God’s laws upon non-Christians, then non-Christians will impose man’s laws upon Christians… The law of man bares its fangs of iron increasingly against the righteous.[10]

 

 

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Institutes,” p.714.

[2] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.18.

[3] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.145.

[4] John Calvin, “Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians,” 1948, p.87.

[5] Rousas Rushdoony, “Romans and Galatians,” 2000, p.344.

[6]Greg Bahnsen, “By This Standard,” 1991, p.309.

[7] Gary North, “Hierarchy and Dominion,” 2012, p.39, 47.

[8] Rushdoony, ibid, p.345.

[9] Andrew McColl, “The Great Christian Revolution,” chapter 3.

[10] James Jordan, “The Law of the Covenant,” 1984, p.29.

More than Just Conservative (13)

   The fact is that all law is ‘religious.’ All law is based on some ultimate standard of morality and ethics. Every law system is founded on the ultimate value of that system, and that ultimate value is the god of that system. The source of law for a society is the god of that society. This means that a theocracy is inescapable. All societies are theocracies. The difference is that a society that is not explicitly Christian is a theocracy of a false god.[1]

God is a God of covenant,[2] and covenant means there are obligations to be met by both parties. Since God formally gave the law to Moses, He has viewed all departures from His law as acts of rebellion and treason. Even before the giving of the law to Moses, individuals and nations (such as Sodom and Gomorrah) were judged for their breaches of the law.

How could this be? It was known to them, since the original revelation given to Adam.

If we break the commandments, we are judged. Abraham said to God, “…shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen.18:25).

Thus the burden of the Old Testament prophets was always to call Israel back to the law, pointing out where Israel had departed.  The prophets did not announce something new to Israel; they were not innovative but were conservatives, endeavouring to bring Israel back to the ancient paths God had laid down, hundreds of years earlier. And they made this abundantly clear: do nothing, and you will be judged.

God through Isaiah the prophet reproached Israel,

if only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isa.48:18).

Amos warned Israel,

… For three transgressions of Judah and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept His statutes… (Amos 2:4).

The Bible’s standard individual attitude is promoted in the Psalms:

…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (Ps.1:2).

the law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip (Ps.37:31).

…how blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendents will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed (Ps.112:1-2).

God said that “Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws” (Gen.26:5). Jesus instructed us that “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…” (Jn.14:21). He also indicated that “if you keep My commandments you will abide in My love…” (Jn.15:10).

Paul commands us to “bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal.6:2).

Thus the church has no reason to be conservative, unless that conservatism is based in the law of God. In fact, any person, institution or nation that is not committed to the law of God is ultimately going to be judged by God.

The foundations of all law are in essence religious and theological: they are questions of ultimacy and moral necessity. Law without faith is an impossibility. Every law order is a moral and a theological order, a structuring of society in terms of a fundamental faith.[3]

Christians who say today, “Oh, but we are under grace, not under law,” generally don’t know what they are talking about. Sinful men have always needed God’s grace to relate to Him. If we don’t receive grace, we will receive judgment. Grace is a fundamental necessity for us to relate to God, but law and grace are not opposites in scripture. They are both fundamentals of our relationship with God.

Man has always needed a framework of appropriate behaviour to live by. We get it from the law of God. That was its purpose.

Only when we return to a Biblical foundation for law shall we again have a return to justice and order under law. ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it.’ [4]

 

 

[1] David Chilton, “Paradise Restored,” 1999, p.219.

[2] See Ray Sutton, “That You May Prosper,” 1987.

[3] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.893-4.

[4] Rousas Rushdoony, “Law and Liberty,” 1984, p.5-7.

More than Just Conservative (12)

The Bible records for us a tale of two kings, Rehoboam and Jehoshaphat. Rehoboam was Solomon’s son, but the scripture tells us that

When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord. And it came about in king Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up out of Egypt against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people who came against him from Egypt were without number: the Lubim, the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians. He captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘you have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’”(II Chron.12:1-5).

It is essential to understand the progression here. Israel rejected the law of God; Israel was invaded. The Bible plainly connects these two events; their proximity is not co-incidental. The Biblical principle of sowing and reaping was clearly at work in Israel: “And it came about in king Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up out of Egypt against Jerusalem” (v.2-3).

God had earlier told Israel through Moses that this is what would happen to them, if they turned away from Him. He said that

…if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…the Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies… (Deut.28:15, 25).

The scripture tells us that Rehoboam “…did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord” (II Chron.12:14). God’s commentary on what had happened to Israel was this: “…they will become his [Shishak’s] slaves so that they will learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (II Chron.12:8).

Is there a similarity between the experience of Judah under Rehoboam, and the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? The implementation of political atheism (such as communism, fascism, feminism and environmentalism) hostile to God and the family, constant wars (including the First and Second World Wars), the incessant abuse by governments of their people leading to genocide, murders and enslavement of peoples on a scale never seen before in history, manipulation of national economies by governments for short-term political gain, leading to economic catastrophies such as the Great Depression, unprecedented rates of taxation, along with a host of other evils.

The lesson? When people and nations turn from God, they run into bondage.

Judah’s experience under Rehoboam can be contrasted with her experience under Jehoshaphat, located in II Chronicles 17. Jehoshaphat:

  1.  … followed the example of his father David’s earlier days (v.3).
  2.  [He]…sought the God of his father…[and] followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did (v.4).
  3.  The Lord established his kingdom in his control (v.5).
  4.  He sent his officials… to teach (v.7).    
  5. They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them (v.9).                         
  6. Now the dread of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands which were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat, and they brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat (v.10-11).                   
  7. Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater, and he built fortresses and store cities in Judah. He had large supplies in the cities of Judah, and warriors, valiant men, in Jerusalem (v.12-13).

Jehoshaphat was receiving the promise given by the Lord, in Joshua 1:8.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

North’s commentary here is instructive:

Whenever men remain covenantally faithful through obedience to God’s Bible-revealed laws, social progress is not only possible, it is assured.[1]

Jesus Christ made us this enduring promise:

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Mat.11:28-30).

Conclusion:

* God identified the rejection of His law (antinomianism), as the rejection of Himself: “Thus says the Lord, ‘You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak’” (II Chron.12:5).

* The solution for national apostasy at any time is repentance, and a wholehearted turning to God, including His law, beginning amongst God’s people (II Chron.7:14).

*The Ten Commandments as the only legitimate basis for all law, must then be taught to the nations.

* Obeying God’s law is the key to a nation’s safety & security.

* Who will the church (and the nations) identify with: the rebel Rehoboam, or Jehoshaphat?   

* Our choice is clear: God’s law, or chaos; God’s law, or tyranny; God’s law, or God’s judgment.  

[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, Ch.18, ‘Miracles, Entropy and Social Theory.’

More than Just Conservative (11)

He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isa.42:4).

When Moses was preparing the children of Israel to enter the promised land, he made it abundantly clear that the occupation of the land would be conditional on their obedience to God. The fundamental aspect of this would be their obedience to God’s law:

See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do this in the land where you are entering to possess it (Deut.4:5).

From this we must learn this vital fact: God’s law and dominion are inseparable. Christians cannot expect to be powerful and influential in the communities of the world, successfully implementing the Great Commission, if we leave aside our tools of dominion.[1]

When Moses had died, God reiterated this fact. He spoke to Joshua:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your ways prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).

The laws of God were not merely for the children of Israel to utilise in the promised land. It is true that there are aspects of the law which were for that land and that time, such as the seed laws and the land laws, so there are in relation to the law, aspects of continuity and discontinuity which we must properly understand today.

One aspect of this is that the Great Commission is not limited to a small piece of land at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean. Jesus made it clear to His listeners that they were to

…make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you… (Mat.28:19-20).

But accepting that there are some aspects of the law that are discontinued, is different to  adopting a smorgasboard, or a “take it or leave it” approach to God’s law. We are not free to accept and reject as we choose, but must apply ourselves as obedient servants of God, working systematically through the law to determine which aspects have continuity today.

Thankfully, there is instruction in the scriptures that enables us to see the way. Think of the food laws. The Old Testament provided a number of restrictions in terms of what the children of Israel could eat, with prohibitions on items such as pork, and some forms of seafood.

Have these changed? Yes, for Jesus declared to the disciples

“Are you so lacking in understanding? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from the outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” Thus He declared all foods clean (Mk.7:18-19).

Paul amplified this teaching, warning of those who

…advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (I Tim.4:3-5).

We can thus deduce that if there are to be changes to God’s requirements for us in the New Testament, we will be informed of these. Consequently, it is utterly inappropriate to glibly conclude concerning the commands from the Mosaic law, “Oh, that’s the Old Testament. We don’t need to concern ourselves with that now.”

Part of the reason God deferred judgment on Judah in Josiah’s day, was Josiah’s humble attitude to God and His law (II Kings 22:8-20).

Will we be like Josiah, or not?

 

[1] Gary North, “Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus,” 1990.

Gun Sales and American Liberty

Gary North (garynorth.com), July 03, 2020

Here is a cheering chart.

0gunsales

https://apnews.com/8ddad3189eb8864e9ae6b123e09b6900

This is a chart of background checks to buy guns, not actual sales. But actual sales do reflect the trend of background checks.

The significant fact is not that gun applications are up this summer. The significant fact is the trend. It rose slightly under Bush, accelerated under Obama, and continues to accelerate today.

I think it is safe to say that it’s going to continue to accelerate all summer. I think it’s also safe to say that, if Trump loses, November and December gun sales will go through the roof.

Adjusted to reflect only gun purchases, the number of checks for June was up nearly 136% over June 2019, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. That adjusted figure was 2.2 million, the group said.

“Civil unrest, rioting, looting and calls to defund police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing. Americans are right to be concerned for their personal safety,” said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the group.

Oliva said gun purchases are a reasonable reaction to the political climate.

“Politicians who entertain notions of defunding police departments are the same ones who call for strict gun control and even outright confiscation,” he said. “These figures aren’t push polls. They are representative of Americans from all walks of life who are taking action and taking responsibility for their rights and their safety.”

Then the article added something that I find not just mildly amusing but wildly amusing. “Gun control advocates worried that those buying a gun for personal safety may not have enough training to handle or store it correctly.” Yes, that’s the main concern of gun-control advocates. They fear for the safety of the people who buy the guns. They also fear for those around them, who are usually family members. Worry, worry, worry: gun-control advocates are just so worried about the lives of people who buy guns. That’s certainly what motivated Hitler and Stalin to abolish guns. They were just so worried about the safety of people who would otherwise buy guns.

A SYMBOLIC ACT

Buying a gun is a symbolic act. It is loosely related to potential threats to life and limb, but mainly it’s a symbolic act. Somebody buys a gun because he becomes convinced that he is at risk. He is convinced that the police cannot protect him. He is convinced that hoodlums are a threat to his family. I don’t think they are, statistically, because hoodlums stick to their own neighbourhoods most of the time. But, as a symbolic act, buying a gun does register the individual’s lack of confidence in local civil government. Anything that encourages loss of confidence in local civil government seems like a positive action to me. Civil governments are decreasingly reliable.

The Democrats are on record as favouring some degree of gun control. They don’t usually speak about outright confiscation. They speak about registration. But will they take steps to restrict gun sales if they win this year? It’s possible. I think it’s more likely that they will restrict sales on ammunition. They will go about this by the back door. But I would be very surprised if they launch a full frontal assault against gun ownership. The law could not be enforced, and they know it.

This is a blue-collar issue, not a Republican issue as such. Middle-class wives don’t like guns, but husbands who do like guns really like guns. They vote as a bloc.

Liberals don’t really think that there’s going to be an armed revolution of Right-wingers. Anyway, liberal politicians don’t believe this. They understand that the ownership of guns is a symbol. It is a symbol of distrust in the state. That’s why they want to take away our guns. They don’t want this symbol to exist in the American body politic. Liberals trust the state. They don’t want anything to undermine the trust in the state. Having the right to go into a gun store and buy a gun is probably the most significant single American liberty that is related to the distrust of the state.

That’s why liberals want to remove this liberty. It’s not that they think they’re going to be able to ram the welfare state down the throats of Americans if Americans don’t own guns. Americans are generally in favor of the welfare state. There wasn’t any resistance to the bailouts this year. There is no resistance to increasing payments through Social Security and Medicare. The issue is not the welfare state. The issue is the right of an individual to register his distrust of the state’s ability to do the one thing that the state says that it is supposed to do, namely, protect the public against criminals.

This country still has a jury system, and it still has the right to own guns. The jury system is substantive. The right to own guns is symbolic. Both are important for the maintenance of liberty.

This is why I don’t think Americans live in a police state. I don’t think we’re going to live in a police state. The jury system won’t allow it, and the right to own guns won’t allow it. Until both of these are gone, we’re going to retain our liberty as a nation and as a people.

Democrat politicians are lawyers. They’re not in favour of abolishing the jury. Jury trials were their bread and butter.

There are some groups whose civil liberties are being infringed on. The civil liberties of unborn infants are being infringed on. But the public could have stopped this years ago. The public is in favour of it. I don’t blame the Democratic Party for this; I blame the moral blindness of the voters.

I regard Democrats as threats to our economic liberties, but I also regard the typical voter as a threat to our economic liberties. There is nothing unique about Democrats as threats to our economic liberties. They reflect at least half of the population. I trust the free market and technological innovation to stay at least one step ahead of the regulators.

CONCLUSION

I am in favour of everybody going out and buying an extra gun. I’m also in favour of young families having one extra child. There are certain things that we can do to assert our independence of the state, and owning guns and having children are two good ways to do this.