More Presidential Killings

By Andrew Napolitano (www.lewrockwell.com), 27/1/2021

Secretly and quietly, the Biden administration has continued to use the killing machine crafted by President George W. Bush, expanded by President Barack Obama and employed from time to time by President Donald Trump. These presidents have used drones and other unmanned missiles and projectiles to target persons in foreign countries with which the United States is not at war.

They have done this notwithstanding the prohibition of taking life, liberty or property from any person — not just any American, but any person — in the Constitution each has sworn to uphold, and they have done so pursuant to secret rules that they themselves have established for these killings.

Last week, 11 senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives — Democrats all — to their credit sent a harshly worded letter to President Joseph R. Biden asking him to stop the killings. As of this writing, he has not publicly replied.

Here is the backstory.

The purpose of the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — is to protect personal liberty by restraining the government.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits killing persons, restraining liberty and taking property without due process; that means a jury trial at which the government must prove fault. Until President Abraham Lincoln waged war on half the country, the operative clause in the Fifth Amendment was understood to prohibit all federal killing without a declaration of war or due process.

If the country is at war — lawfully and constitutionally declared by Congress — obviously the president can use the U.S. military to kill the military of the opposing country. And if an attack on the U.S. is imminent, the president can strike the first blow against the military of the entity whose attack is just about to occur.

There are no other constitutional circumstances under which a president may kill.

All this changed — culturally, not constitutionally — when President Harry Truman targeted Japanese civilians in Japan as the Japanese government was within days of surrendering in World War II. Truman was, of course, not the first American president to target civilians, as Lincoln criminally targeted American civilians during the War between the States.

Notwithstanding his unprosecuted war crimes, and with the government’s version of Pearl Harbor still fresh in many Americans’ minds, Truman was regarded as heroic for ordering the profoundly immoral, militarily useless, criminal mass killings against the hated Japanese using atomic bombs.

Fast-forward to the 9/11 era, and Bush had precedent to begin his own presidential killings of people the government wanted Americans to hate. While Congress did authorize him to use force against those who caused or aided the 9/11 attacks, we all know that his thirst for Middle Eastern blood knew no regard for the Constitution, evidence, proportionality, civilian lives, morality or human decency.

Julian Assange sits in a British dungeon awaiting decisions on his extradition to the U.S. because he courageously, lawfully and constitutionally published documents and videos demonstrating conclusively that Bush’s use of drones targeted and murdered Afghan and Iraqi civilians, and his administration covered it up.

Obama took this to another level when he targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, both of whom were born in the U.S. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, advised Obama that the killings were lawful, as al-Awlaki had encouraged folks in the Middle East to fight against American soldiers there. Holder likened killing al-Awlaki to a shooting at a bank robber who is being chased by police and shooting at them.

Holder forgot that al-Awlaki was not charged or indicted for any crime, was never accused of violence and was not even the subject of an arrest warrant when a drone evaporated him while sitting at an outdoor cafe in Yemen.

The exercise of power by the federal government is largely based on precedent and politics. Whenever a president wants to kill secretly, he need only find an example of a predecessor having killed secretly with impunity — without due process, without a declaration of war and without an imminent attack. And then he needs only to calculate what he thinks he can politically get away with.

Stated differently, Joe Biden — whose drones in 2021 destroyed a dam in Syria, killing thousands, and targeted innocent civilians in Afghanistan, killing dozens — is using unlawful powers that his modern predecessors used and got away with to target and kill unsympathetic persons.

The nature of political power is to expand so that it fills a perceived need, unless there are mechanisms in place to restrain its expansion.

The founding generation believed that British monarchs had no limits on their power and that was a good enough reason for the 13 colonies to secede. They also believed that they had crafted founding documents — the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — for the new nation that imposed sufficient restraints on the federal government.

After all, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Its language is clear that only Congress writes laws and declares war, and presidents can kill only troops in wartime or civilians consistent with due process.

Moreover, every president takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as it was written, not as they may wish it to be.

Sadly, the Founders were wrong.

Today, the president writes laws and rules that let him restrain personal liberty and kill with impunity, and Congress and the American people let him get away with it. Formally, we still have a Constitution. Functionally, it has utterly failed to restrain the government.

Ultimately, we have ourselves to blame for these killings. Why do we repose the Constitution for safekeeping into the hands of those who subvert it? If a future president uses Bush’s lust and Obama’s logic and Biden’s stealth to kill Americans in America, no one’s life, liberty or property will be secure.

Rutherford and His ‘Lex, Rex’ Are Still Vital for Today

“To oppose tyranny is to honour God. The office of the magistrate demands our respect, but we need not blindly respect the ruler in that office.”

By BILL MUEHLENBERG JANUARY 13, 2022

A hugely significant figure in what is known as resistance theory is Samuel Rutherford, the Scottish theologian, pastor and political theorist. Especially of significance is his major contribution to political philosophy, Lex, Rex. This brief article will look a bit further at the man and the book.

Timeline

  • 1600 Born in Roxburghshire
  • 1617-1621 A student at Edinburgh University
  • 1627 Parish work in Anworth in Galloway
  • 1636-1638 Exiled to Aberdeen
  • 1639 Professor of Divinity at St Mary’s College, St Andrews
  • 1643-1647 A Commissioner from the Church of Scotland to the Westminster Assembly
  • 1644 Lex, Rex published
  • 1651 Appointed Rector of the University of St Andrews
  • 1661 Dies

The Scottish Presbyterian pastor and writer is famous for many things, including his Letters. Spurgeon once said of them: “When we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men.” Indeed, there are tremendous devotional gems to be gleaned from them. Various volumes exist with some of these terrific quotes, including:Advertisement

MacLean, Malcolm, ed., The Fiery Edge of Love: A Collection of Quotes From Samuel Rutherford. Christian Heritage, 2021.
Wilson, Jim and Bessie, ed., The Loveliness of Christ: Selections from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Community Christian Ministries, 1909, 2018.

But it is his vitally important 1644 volume Lex, Rex, or The Law and the Prince, that is so very crucial in the debate and discussions of what rulers are allowed to do under God, and whether resistance to them is ever justified. His title refers to the biblical truth that the law is king, and is under the law of God. Even the king is subject to the law. It offers a theory of limited government and makes the case for constitutionalism – a very significant work in the history of political philosophy.

The book’s 44 questions are answered in great detail, comprising some 600 pages in the edition that I have. All this detail cannot be properly discussed here, so let me offer some general overviews and summaries of the book. I begin with two paragraphs from my chapter in Augusto Zimmermann’s important work, Fundamental Rights in the Age of COVID-19 (Connor Court, 2020):

Very simply stated, Rutherford argued that there are limits to monarchies, since everyone, from kings to the common man, are subject to the rule of law – God’s law. When a king or magistrate violates God’s law, he loses his authority, and people may then have the right to overthrow this ruler. Tyrannical governments are immoral and can and must be opposed. Indeed, tyrannic government is satanic government, and the believer must resist it. To oppose tyranny is to honour God. The office of the magistrate demands our respect, but we need not blindly respect the ruler in that office.

His important book of course deals with far more than the place of revolution against unjust authorities. It is a comprehensive discussion of key issues such as the rule of law, the case against royal absolutism, the importance of constitutionalism and limited government, and the nature of political theory based on biblical law and natural law. The book was certainly a volatile volume, and was later burned in Edinburgh. But it was hugely influential, not only in refuting the then widely-accepted notion of the divine right of kings, but paving the way for resistance to government tyranny, most notably as found in the American Revolution.

Rutherford was of course not thinking and writing in a vacuum but draws upon the thoughts of others (others who I have covered or will cover in this series on resistance thinking). A few quotes on this will suffice. Donald Macleod for example says this of the book:

Prima facie, it was Rutherford’s reply to a Royalist treatise from the pen of John Maxwell, the deposed Bishop of Ross, but it also had the more positive object of providing justification to the Parliamentary and Presbyterian campaign in the English Civil War. We must keep in mind, however, that in propounding his theology of resistance Rutherford was drawing on a long Scottish tradition going back to John major, John Knox, George Buchanan, Andrew Melville and Alexander Henderson. He was also drawing on a significant body of continental thought in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas. . . . Beyond that, he drew substantially on such early church fathers as Tertullian and Cyprian, and on Classical authors, especially Aristotle…

Or as Douglas Wilson recently wrote:Advertisement

Rutherford held that the people were the “fountain-power” of political authority, and that they were the ones who delegated this authority to the magistrates. He also demonstrated that when such authority was abused, the people had the authority to rescind that delegation. This kind of thinking was evident in Book IV of Calvin’s Institutes, in Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, which was the work of “Junius Brutus” (a 16th century French Huguenot), John Knox and the Scottish Presbyterians, Oliver Cromwell and company, the English Puritans, and, of course, Samuel Rutherford.

One more quote on this. John Coffey reminds us of this background:

Although it is true that Lex, Rex repeated the familiar arguments of English writers like Parker, Goodwin, Prynne and Hunton, it was also the distinctive contribution of a Scottish divine, peppered with references to Scottish resistance, and marked by explicitly theological arguments. Even Prynne, who dealt with biblical and natural-law arguments in some detail, had focused primarily on legal and historical precedents, and Rutherford probably felt that the theological case needed a fuller treatment. Maxwell had written his book because he felt that it was appropriate for a divine to put the case for absolutism, since it had already been convincingly argued by eminent lawyers like Bodin and Barclay, and since it was so strongly supported by Scripture and Christian tradition. Rutherford clearly could not let this go unchallenged. The natural-law contractualism of the Scottish-parliamentarian alliance needed to be defended by a theologian.

These are not old and arcane debates for old times. They are quite relevant for today. Indeed, given the past two years, they are even more relevant. Francis Schaeffer was someone who was greatly influenced by Rutherford, and he devoted several chapters of his important 1981 book, A Christian Manifesto to him. In it he says this about his continuing relevance:

Rutherford held that a tyrannical government is always immoral. He said that “a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power; and is no more from God, but from sinful nature and the old serpent, than a license to sin.”

Rutherford presents several arguments to establish the right and duty of resistance to unlawful government. First, since tyranny is satanic, not to resist it is to resist God—to resist tyranny is to honor God. Second, since the ruler is granted power conditionally, it follows that the people have the power to withdraw their sanction if the proper conditions are not fulfilled. The civil magistrate is a “fiduciary figure”—that is, he holds his authority in trust for the people. Violation of the trust gives the people a legitimate base for resistance. 

It follows from Rutherford’s thesis that citizens have a moral obligation to resist unjust and tyrannical government. While we must always be subject to the office of the magistrate, we are not to be subject to the man in that office who commands that which is contrary to the Bible.

Rutherford offered suggestions concerning illegitimate acts of the state. A ruler, he wrote, should not be deposed merely because he commits a single breach of the compact he has with the people. Only when the magistrate acts in such a way that the governing structure of the country is being destroyed—that is, when he is attacking the fundamental structure of society—is he to be relieved of his power and authority.

That is exactly what we are facing today. The whole structure of our society is being attacked and destroyed. It is being given an entirely opposite base which gives exactly opposite results. The reversal is much more total and destructive than that which Rutherford or any of the Reformers faced in their day.

Much more can be said about this great man and this great book. But hopefully this short piece – and the books recommended below – will inspire the reader to pursue this further.Advertisement

For further reading

There is a huge amount of literature on all this, so I offer a very brief and selective bibliography here. Various versions of Lex, Rex are available. The one I have is from Canon Press (2020), with an introduction by Douglas Wilson. As to other books worth perusing, see these:

Coffey, John, Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford. Cambridge University Press, 1997, 2002.
Cook, Faith, Samuel Rutherford and His Friends. Banner of Truth, 1992, 2013.
Hewison, J.K., The Covenanters, 2 vols. Banner of Truth, 1908, 2019.
Macleod, Donald, Therefore the Truth I Speak: Scottish Theology 1500-1700. Mentor, 2020, chs. 8-9.
Rendell, Kingsley, Samuel Rutherford. Christian Focus, 2003.

Published by Bill Muehlenberg

Bill is involved in a ministry of pro-faith and pro-family activism. He is head of an apologetics/ethics ministry called CultureWatch.

More than Just Conservative (21)

Can and do people actually believe in slavery as salvation? Clearly, the answer is, yes, in most of history, men have clung to slavery, but it must be realized that they have rarely been honest enough to call their choice slavery. In case we ever become somewhat tolerant of the concept of slavery, we ought to remember that slavery and murder have commonly been linked in history.[1]

The Pharoah of Exodus was both a slave driver and a murderer. The Communist nations of the twentieth century, especially the Soviet Union, murdered and enslaved people by the millions. It was State policy for seventy years. That’s why it is essential to find lasting Biblical solutions to social problems, such as poverty.

You didn’t think this was a part of the gospel? Think again. When Jesus commenced His ministry, He stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth, and quoted from the prophet Isaiah, concerning Himself:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18, 19).

Socialism purports to care for the poor, but its means are to forcibly take vast amounts of money from productive people in the community through taxation, handing it over to unproductive people. But that’s not caring for the poor- that’s legalized theft, from which some “poor” people benefit.

So, how should we care for poor people? The thing that poor people need most of all, is work. This means that Christians ought to work for the elimination of award rates in employment, along with minimum wage rates and penalty rates.

Why? These compel employers to pay a specific rate of pay, whether or not the employer can afford that rate, or not. They work against poor people actually getting work.

Consider this example. Cafes, restaurants and Coffee-Shops are substantial employers in the Australian community, employing many thousands of people, nation-wide. When people go out, they want to be able to stop somewhere, for meals or refreshments, or both. If Fred the Coffee Shop owner, is compelled by law to pay his casual staff $25/hour, along with penalty rates (such as time and a half, or double time on Sundays) he may say to himself, “I can’t employ many staff at that rate. In fact, I can’t afford to open on Sundays. I’ll close the shop,” and everyone loses: his customers, himself, and his staff.

But if he can work out a sustainable labour price with his employees, he’ll be able to provide them with the maximum employment, because it’s in his interests to have his doors open. A needy employee understands that a lower rate of pay, is better than no work at all. If they are good enough, they can negotiate a better pay structure, later. What is required is the freeing up of the labour market, so that employers and employees can negotiate their arrangements, without interference from a third party.

In the long-term, this is one sure way of providing jobs for the poor. Work is what Boaz provided Ruth. She had the opportunity to engage in “gleaning:” going into his fields after the barley and wheat harvest had been completed, to pick up what had been left behind for the poor (see Ruth 2). Boaz recognized her character, her willingness to work, and showed favor to her. Later, he married her. 

At the same time, the Bible says a lot about other ways of caring for the poor. This can be in the form of money, or goods. For poor people, while having access to free money is very popular, it is also frequently abused. People like handouts without strings attached, and this will quickly bleed any truly charitable institution dry. This is why historically, poor people have tended to be divided into “deserving” and undeserving.”

Some poverty (such as drug addictions) is brought about by people’s folly, and it should not be subsidized. Other poverty is unrelated to people’s poor choices. Christian people have to be able to draw the lines in the sand, regarding which of the poor should be supported.

What poor people need most of all, is work. When they have that, they can buy food and other necessities, and they’ll get out of the poor queue. Having resources available can be a terrific help to poor people in need, and that includes knowledge of employment. The church can have a supply role in this vital field, with this encouragement to people: “Submit to God, get a job, and work hard.”

Conclusion:

Finding solutions for people’s poverty is an important aspect of the gospel. It involves money and goods, but it must be seen in a broader context, than merely providing commodities for people. The poor person most of all needs work, and removing the social hindrances to work (including negative attitudes) makes employment, and the ability to get out of poverty, possible.

Award rates, minimum rates and penalty rates are hindrances to work, making it more difficult to employ people. As the price of labour goes up, employment numbers go down. They reduce opportunities for employment, and wise governments will do away with them, letting the free market determine who gets a job, and at what rate. Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him, saying,

Go and report to John what you see and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Mat.11:4-5).

And this is what we are commanded to do, too.


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.149.

More than Just Conservative (19)

               …Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel (Prov.12:10).

Particularly since the Great Depression, we have gotten ourselves into a right pickle in the West, in relation to our expectation of what governments can do for us. This has already caused us some drama, and will cause a whole lot more in the coming years.

Why?

Because the West’s underlying belief structures have been shifting steadily away from God. But as Chesterton observed, when men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything. So people have been drawn to believe that the government can ultimately do for them, what only Jesus Christ could ever do. And this is where we have got it terribly wrong. As North has pointed out,

The State is not an agency of creative transformation. It is not a saviour state. Men should not seek to make the State an agency of social salvation. It is supposed to enforce Biblical civil law-no more, no less. The State is not supposed to make men righteous; its God-assigned task is to restrain certain specified tasks of public evil.[1]

The most important reason that governments can’t do it, is that God hasn’t gifted them and instructed them to do so. They have tried all right, and they will keep on trying to prove the Bible completely wrong. But all the trying won’t prevent failing.

The marks of the welfare state historically are useless wars, broken promises, the failure to deal with basic infrastructure needs, massive bureaucracies and debt. Today, all over the western world, the wheels are steadily coming off the economic billy-carts. Know of any nations that are running a budget surplus these days? They are as scarce as hen’s teeth. The consistent trend is more debt, on top of what has been borrowed in the past. And in most countries, that’s a lot.

But there’s more. I read of a US soldier, wounded in the Viet Nam War. Like many thousands of others, he needs on-going treatment for resultant chronic health problems.

But can he get it? No. Because the Defence Department bureaucracy can’t cope with the number of people with needs. It is under-funded and under-staffed.

Try dealing with this if, as is the case with an acquaintance of mine, you are so riddled with shrapnel, because something big came through the bottom of your helicopter, that you are in constant pain – forty years later. You have to take so much pain medication just to get through the day that you can’t understand bureaucratic letters.

This man’s legal adviser wrote to him:

I currently have four claims for Iraq and Afghanistan kids for shoulder, hip and knee injuries, usually caused when they fall going up or down hilly terrain with these [back-pack] loads. Then there are the injuries caused by IEDs. The truth is that the President has given more money to the VA in five years than Bush did in eight, but it’s not enough, thanks to Republicans in the House. The new budget proposes a 4% increase to $63 billion, but it does not include enough money to hire thousands of new people to work on claims. Most of the increase is to hire more medical staff, particularly mental health providers. It does no good to offer mental-health services when the vets who are suffering can’t get their claims done in less than a year. It is forcing many to live on the streets, sleep in their cars or they end up in shelters. We see this right here, in Central Oregon.[2]

There is a lot more that could be said about the flaws and evils of socialism in every nation where it’s been tried. What is plainly evident though, is that socialism is essentially a curse on any nation.

But there’s something important here to note. The scripture tells us that “… a curse without cause does not alight” (Prov.26:2). Socialism is not merely politically applied atheistic beliefs, or a set of social policies: it is a result of the Church’s disobedience to God.

How is that?

Think of this statistic. Some years ago I heard that only 3% of American church-goers tithe. The tithe is commanded by God to support ministers (see Mal.3:8-12), and has the capacity to empower the Church to innumerable tasks of assistance and reconstruction. The Church would clearly become a powerful and influential social institution, if Church members world-wide faithfully tithed.

And the Bible clearly teaches that failure to tithe brings a curse on people, because it is robbing God (Mal.3:8-12). Now if only 3% of the Church in the US is tithing, there is 97% of the problem. God is using the evils of socialism (as bad as they are) as a rebuke to His people. So, many nations in the West are paying tax rates of 40% or more. In France, the top tax rate is 85%.

We have to face up to this. It’s no good saying, “Well, tithing was under the Old Covenant, but we’re under the New Covenant now, so tithing’s finished with now.”

Is that all? No.

Tithing is one aspect of Old Testament law, which the Church has been distancing itself from for hundreds of years, and now the birds are coming home to roost, just as God said they would in Deuteronomy 28 (and other places). That’s what has gotten us into this mess, internationally.

This is the issue:

When God deals with His people in a harsh way in history, it is a means of restoration: judgment unto restoration, not judgment unto destruction.[3]

The compassion of the wicked is indeed cruel, as that US serviceman can attest. And the ultimate solution to this is not political action. It’s the obedience of Christians to God’s Word (including tithing), and many other aspects of Christian obedience. Are you ready for that?


[1] Gary N. North, “Tools of Dominion,” 1990, Vol.3, p.540.

[2] Fred Reed, “Screwing the Troops,” Lew Rockwell website, 10/4/2013.

[3] Gary North, “Tools of Dominion,” 1990, Vol.3, p.540.

Are the Enemies of Western Civilization on life support?

Aug 3, 2020 by Gary DeMar

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, wrote the following concerning reports that he was seriously ill and near death (it was his cousin): “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” A similar thing can be said about Western Civilization. It may be ill, but it’s not dead. The enemies of Western Civilization are on life support because they are using force to implement their ideology. This is a sign of illegitimacy, desperation, and failure to change people’s minds by reasoned discussion.

Consider what’s happening in Louisville, Kentucky:

An activist group is threatening Louisville business owners with possible repercussions if they fail to submit to their list of social justice-related demands. Phelix Crittenden, who is allegedly the “lead supply organizer for BLM Louisville chapter,” created a group called “Blacks Organizing Strategic Success [BOSS].”

The group’s demands include having a minimum of 23% Black staff and purchasing “a minimum of 23% inventory from Black retailers or make a recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit or organization.”

Failure to comply will mean financial repercussions from BOSS that could shut down the non-complying business through boycott efforts and negative publicity “by launching negative reviews and social media posts about the businesses.”

These types of actions are a microcosm of a larger problem brought on by attempting to affect culture via power. “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.” [1]

The main reason anti-Christian civilizationists survive and seem to thrive is that Christians have not engaged with and built a competing alternative culture. Moreover, many Christians don’t believe there can be a Christian civilization, so they send their children off to the local government school that is anti-Christian believing that facts are neutral and public education is free. Such thinking comes at a terrible cost since there is no such thing as “free.” There’s always a cost. Actions by Christians can change this problem by simple obedience to God’s law. If wolves in sheep clothing are a problem for the people of God, then what should we think of wolves who are admitted wolves?

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It hasn’t always been this way. Winston Churchill, for example, saw the Battle of Britain as a struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. “Upon this battle,” Churchill said on the 18th of June 1940, “depends the survival of Christian civilization.” [2]

Christianity has always entered the world when it was deep in the stench of paganism and darkness. In the past, such conditions have brought out the best in the Christian worldview. Christianity infused the world with the light of the gospel and its call for the redemption of sinners and their sin-stained world. This vision of Christianity seems lost on many of today’s Christians.

Anti-Christians are killing off their future via abortion and choosing not to have children. Homosexuality and transgenderism (and all the other genderisms) are self-emasculating. When men and women are cutting off their genitals to identify as the opposite sex, we must ask whose civilization is coming to an end.

There are many Christians who will not participate in civilization-building efforts that include 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, and so many more myths.” [3]

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. [4]

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!’” [5]

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 civil ministers when they violate their oath to uphold the Constitution and violate some biblical law, for example, the specific law against man-stealing (Ex. 21:161 Tim. 1:10Rev. 18:13). Should we remain silent and passive when a husband violates his marriage oath or a minister of the gospel who violates his ordination vows? Of course, we should 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.

Romans 13The Establishment and Limits of Civil Gov’tIt seems that almost on a daily basis we are losing our God-given rights. Some even make the case that there is a direct assault on the Christian religion because it is the only belief system that is greater than government and puts limits on governments.Buy Now

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 civilization-building efforts, including civil governments decades before and understood the limits of unchallenged actions by those who work against a Christian civilization, 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.” [6]

It’s a travesty that many Christians hold similar views today. It doesn’t help that Millions of Christians believe it’s hopeless and that the remedy is something called “the rapture of the church” that will rescue Christians from responsibility. See my article “A Vote for Biden Will Hasten Jesus’ Return and His Second Coming.”

  1. Gary North, “Resistance to Church Lockdowns: What About Romans 13?” (July 30, 2020).[]
  2. Quoted in John Baillie, What is Christian Civilization? (London:  Oxford University Press, 1945), 5.[]
  3. See my book Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2010).[]
  4. T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949), 29, 126.[]
  5. Abraham Kuyper, “Sphere Sovereignty” (1880) in James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 488.[]
  6. Richard V. Pierard, “Why Did Protestants Welcome Hitler?,” Fides et Historia (North Newton, KS: The Conference on Faith and History), X:2 (Spring 1978), 13.[]

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.”