Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tagged, and books read


Manata tagged me. Here goes the books:

Q. One book that changed your life:

A. Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

Q. One book that you've read more than once:

A. Calvin's Institutes

Q. One book you'd want on a desert island:

A. The script to the T.V. show Lost

Q. One book that made you laugh

A. Westminster's Confession by Gary North

Q. One book that made you cry:

A. Future Grace by John Piper (there was a section in there concerning Warfield's belief in providence in the face of his wife's affliction).

Q. One book that you wish had been written

A. A systematic critique of the Two-Kingdoms theory.

Q. One book you wish had never been written.

A. The Scofield Reference Bible.

Q. One book you're currently reading:

A. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses by Poythress.

Q. One book you've been meaning to read:

A. Faith and Rationality by Plantiga and Wolterstorff

Now Tag three people:


Sunday, July 23, 2006

D'Aubigne on Oliver Cromwell

I was critical of D'Aubigne's approach to Cromwell when I first began the biography. I still think my criticisms of MD are justified. That being said, he is a darn good writer! Here are some wonderful snippets from his biography that are worthy of reflection (and imitation!).
Speaking of Cromwell's opposition to Turkish Islamism:

He sailed right into the harbor, adn though the shore was planted with heavy guns, he burnt nine of the Turkish vessels, and brought the tyrant to reason. But he did not confine himself to this mission: he spread the terror of the English name over all of Italy, even to Rome itself (211).

Cromwell himself reflects on his army,

I raised such men as had the fear of God before them, as made some conscience of what they did; and from that day forward, I must say to you, they were never beaten, and wherever they engaged the enemy, they beat continually (240-241).

D'Aubigne concludes:

Without Cromwell, humanly speaking, liberty would have been lost not only to England, but to Europe (278).

Cromwell had his faults, to be sure, and I will go into them in detail in my fuller review.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pastoral Applications of Localism

Pastoral Applications of Localism

A while back I did a post on another site arguing for localist politics. We should try to reform the local areas before we move to the big leagues. I will try to show that localist politics has pastoral applications. Simply, if you are unwilling to do for your home what you are willing to do for the national government (ie, make it Christian, save it, restore it, whatever), you are deceiving yourself. The kingdom of God moves inward out. (This is an interesting argument for postmillennialism. If the nature of the Kingdom has always been to permeate the earth, then it makes no sense that God would at the end of history destroy the space-time order to establish his rule when he has been laboring to that end for all of history).

Pastor Paul Jehle tells a funny story. He was speaking to a group of ladies (and a few men) who wanted to restore America, Christianize it, and so on. He began his speech with:

"Do you want to see America become Christian?"
Everybody cheered.
"Do you want to see the Law of God established in the land?"
Not as many cheers, but still supportive.
"Then where are your husbands? Where are your children?
"Dead silence"

Listen, if you aren't submitting to your husbands authority and discipling your children, then we are really deceived to think we can change this country. The rule of God begins in the heart and in the home, then it moves outward. The best thing you can do for your country is to go home, submit to your husbands, and spend time with your family."

Jehle is a fireball. He can get away with that.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Christian America and The Rule of Law

This is a collation of posts by me and Chris Rhoades on the politics forum at Puritanboard.

Separation of Church and State
Historically, this is how it has been viewed:1) Papalism: The Church dominates the State. I reject this view for obvious reasons.2) Erastian: The State dominates the Church (the functional position of most Americans). I likewise war against this view.3) (Modified) Voluntarism: I do not believe that the State should dominate the church, nor vice-versa. However, this does not necessitate pluralism (a logical joke). However, someone's morality WILL form the basis of a society's legal policies. With R.B. Kuiper I maintain "Both the church and the state are sovereign, each in its own sphere, and each must recognize the other's sovereignty" (316). --------------------------------------------------------The State can only give negative sanctions. It can only restrain the sinful nature of man. Whenever it interferes into economics, education, The Church, etc., it screws everthing up. I will conclude, decisvely, with the words of Patriot John Adams, "Statesman may plan and speculate liberty, but it is religion and morality alone upon which freedom can securely stand. A patriot must be a religious man>: No, I won't conclude. I am on a roll. Enter Groen Van Prinsterer. He maintained that political programs are "inescapably value-laden, or based on ultimate philosophical principles." In other words, whose morality will dominate: Christ's or Humanistic Judges?Francis Schaeffer thunders, "No totalitarian authority nor authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge the State and its actions!" (emphasis added for "annoying" reasons).How Should we Then Live? I could go on but that would be overkill. Summary Statement: I stand for maximum individual liberty under biblical law.

In other words, thing "Kuyperian" on this area--sphere sovereignty. This way, we avoid a Byzantine fusion of Church and State.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Even in Insanity, Thy word still reaches me

Unbelieving thought is ultimately reduced to two positions, both of which end in absurdity:

Rationalism--I only believe in things that the human mind can give an account of. Unfortunately, this position depends on man's finite mind knowing the infinite in an exhaustive, infallible way from all eternity, and able to apply that knowledge perfectly. In other words, for man to know anything, he must know everything. Man does not know everything, therefore, he cannot know anything.
Further, when faced with data that does not fit his scheme, the rationalist will either say that the data doesn't exist, or give up his sceme altogether. In short, the rationalist quickly becomes irrational.

Irrationalism--The human mind realizes its finitude and says that man cannot know anything. But can it know that it doesn't know anything? I can deny that we can even know the truth of irrationalism. But if I do this, then one must renounce any attempt to convince others that you are right. Although you can say this, can you really live that way? I don't know anything but I don't even know that I can know that.
Rather than deny that I know the truth altogether. One can become insane, if you will. What's teh problem with that? God's word can reach even the mental hospital!!!!!!!!! His rational word can make even that difference!

When God's grace draws after you, you cannot resist. You cannot say no to him in whom all the promises of God are yes and amen. Do you remember the words of Francis Thompson?
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet --
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

Santiera Cult
This is in tandem with another post I am doing at xanga.

On April 12, 1989, the pluralist attempt to skirt that dificult question
lost all credibility and came face-to-face with the ugliness of pagan society.
The front-page headlines of every major paper reported that authorities had dug
up a number of mutilated hu- man corpses, the vicious results of the religious
ritual practiced by a Mexican offshoot of the Santeria culti satanic sacrifices.
The problem posed to Dr. Spykman is not simply a matter of hypo- thetical and
tritling intellectual games. Real Satanists murder real people in real
subservience to their real religious choices. Now then, should the civil
magistrate respect this religious ritual of Santeria? Or should he rather in
good (but morally prejudiced) conscience follow Christian values in giving a
civil response to satanic sacri.tlce

And then Bahnsen finishes the argument with one hammer blow:

The libertarian-tainted spirit of our age tempts us toward an all-too-easy “answer” to this problem. Without due reflection we are tempted to reply that, because atl faith-commitments must be equally protected, the pluralist position could adjust the pun- ishment and restraint of satanists who are destroying the lives and liberty of those who do not share their particular ftith-commit- ment. That is, there is an implicit restriction in the pluralist equal-protection clause: viz., one may not use his own religiow liberty so as to infinge upon or impede the practice of another's religious libetiy. This reply does not an.wer the original question, howeveq it simply shifts the question to a more basic issue. Given the pluralist commitment to the equal-protection of all ftith-commitments, would he not need equally to protect those fh.iths which do not honor the restriction which was just enunciated here? Some religions do, and some religions do not. Apparently, the Santeria faith does not. Would the pluralist implicitly impose his Christian religious con- victions on the followers of Santeria by requiring them to dishonor their own religious convictions about human sacritlce and/or to dishonor their rejection of the restriction just stated? If he would, b too is “prejudiced.” If he would not, his position is morally bankrupt.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Pre-Manifesto

I am merely summarizing the political views of several past theologians and justifying the actions of other Reformed heroes. I am also asking questions as to whether the rhetoric and aims of the Declaration of Independence still apply. Dedicated to:Chris RhoadesAndrew MeyersRyan Setliffand many others in whom the fire of liberty still burns. I am also writing to steer more zealous ones than I from paths that would lead to their destruction.

An honest reading of my posts would evidence immediately that I believe only a lesser civil magistrate, acting within bounds of the law, can properly resist via armed force "crazed and usurping" tyrants. This qualification eliminates many from applying (myself included; it also raises the very interesting question of who is a civil magistrate and to what range of people Romans 13 calls 'powers that be.') However, lesser magistrates do exist. When I get to the library I will type out the relevant sections from Reformed theologian, John Jefferson Davis.

In the meantime, here is a manifesto (Schaeffer did the same thing that I am doing and nobody is getting onto him. Actually, he plagiarized Rushdoony but we won't get into that).

I. The Precarious Nature of Liberty
RL Dabney writes, ""The history of human rights, that their intelligent assertors usually learn the true grounds of them "in the furnace of affliction"; that the posterity who inherit these rights hold them for a while, in pride and ignorant prescription; that after a while, when the true logic of the rights has been forgotten, and when some plausible temptation presses them to do so, the next generation discards the precious rights bodily, and goes back to the practice of old tyranny."

II. So what should we do and not do?
A. We should pray that God would make bare his arm and convert the nation (I am borrowing that phrase from Iain Murray). 1. We should pray that God would continue to Reform his church by his word and spirit. We should pray that God would stop the slaughter of the unborn. We should pray that magistrates should enact just laws, and pray for them. Believe it or not, I pray for Bush.

B. We wait on God. 1. America is not read, spiritually, to repeat 1776. So short answer: no action. I need to stress this. People think I am some youthful, zealous fireeater. Not so, as my statemtns here and elsewhere clearly indicate. 2. Such convictions that were present in Cromwell's England, The Patriot's America, and Davis's Confederacy, are produced only by generations of Calvinistic preaching, covenantal preaching to the extent that the outlook of the culture is definitevly changed. As you can see--a problem arises. We lack that time. I do believe God will give us preachers in the future, but even then it takes several generations. As Molech is rearing his ugly head even now, we won't be ready, spiritually, to meet him as a nation. 3. Nevertheless, there are small pockets of committed Christian influence (and here is where it gets tricky, for I have long wanted to write about the primacy of county politics, sphere sovereignty, and local jurisdiction, but time has not allowed it). This is the undeveloped link in my argument simply for the reason that the answer lies in a footnote I read in a journal a while back and haven't had a chance to evaluate the argument. Nevertheless, if it confirms what I think, then I can develop this point further. 4. The above being said, it is best to err on the side of caution (unless that caution puts more innocent lives at stake, which is usually not the case). See again, I am urging patience on the part of my brethren.

C. So I ask again, what do we do in the face of tyranny?
1. Rutherford Redivivus. What does a Chrisitan populace do in the face of hostility?a. Redress wrongs by constitutional and lawful means. We present our case in public debate. b. If this fails and conditins arise where we cannot worship God according to his word, and we no longer have the means by which to make a lawful appeal to the civil magistracy, and as good Christians our aim being to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, we leave the "troubled area" and establish a Christian enclave somewhere else. Samuel Rutherford writes, "Flying from the tyranny of abused authority, is a plain resisting of rulers in their unlawful oppression and perverting of judgment" (Lex Rex, 157).c. If our enemies follow us, and since they would now (usually) be acting outside their jurisdiction, and threaten the lives of our women and children, then we may take up arms to defend our kinfolk. Rutherford again: "If flight do not prevail, Goliath's sword and an host of armed men are lawful" (160; actually, that whole section of Lex Rex is quite interesting). 2. However, we do not do so for our own selfish motives (see, the third time I urge patience), nor should we engage in offensive action against the State. a. It is beyond the jurisdiction of individual citizens to take up arms against the state.b. Lesser civil magistrates, however, may take up arms against the State, provided the proper preconditions are met (see II.B-C). A godly civil magistrate, although lesser, mary arise with the support of the Christian people, and may depose tyrants so that the social order and peace of the realm may be restored. John Calvin writes, "For sometimes God raises up open avengers from among his servants, and arms them with his command to punish the wicked government and deliver his people, oppressed in unjust ways, from miserable calamity" (IV. XX. 30). Calvin restates this line of thinking in the next section. The editorial footnotes at this point become really fascinating: "The Magdeburg statement affirms the duty of armed resistance to a ruler who violates the law of God."Conclusion: I will conclude by summarising J.J. Davis' outlines for just revolution.
1. It must be a just revolution.
2. Issued by a lawful authority
3. Reasonable hope of victory
4. There should be due proportion between the good achieved and the probably evil side-effects stemming from violent means.
5. It must be rightly conducted through the right use of means.(Evangelical Ethics, 224-225)

That's all. I have the support of Rutherford, Cromwell, Dabney*, Thornwell, and others. My view is not new. It is quite old actually. I have never argued that private citizens can band together to kill tyrants as vigilantes. However, as JJ Davis clearly articulates, lesser magistrates may. *Dabney: There is a higher law superior to constitutions and statutes; not, indeed, the perjured and unprincipled cant which has no conscience against swearing allegiance to a Constitution and laws which it declares sinful, in order to grasp emoluments and advantages, and then pleads "conscience" for disobeying what it had voluntarily sworn to obey; but the everlasting law of right in the word of God. Constitutions and laws which contravene this, ought to be lawfully amended or repealed; and it is the duty of all citizens to seek it. Robert L. Dabney, A Defense of Virginia and Through Her the South pg. 17.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Them Duke Boys

The Dukes of Hazzard: Christian Patriots
Seriously? I think so. But before I begin I probably need to ward off undue objections. Yes, Daisy Duke needs to reform her wardrobe. Her attire is not justifiable. That being said, she is a far cry from someone like Jessica Simpson (who tried to imitate her in the so-called “movie” produced a few months ago, which I am proud to say I did not see). Secondly, it is to be admitted that Bo and Luke are not perfect in their actions. But that being said, I am quite impressed with them. Now that I have appeased the nay-sayers, let’s begin. I repeat, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE TRASH THAT CAME OUT THIS SUMMER.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Dukes of Hazzard, here is the basic summary of the show: Car Chases. Ok, Bo and Luke Duke (cousins) are usually being chased around by the crooked Sherrif Rosco P. Coltrane. Roscoe is doing the bidding of the county machine, Boss Hogg. Boss is the County Commissioner and is crooked as (_____ insert your own horror story). In other words, the Fox is guarding the Hen House. Boss usually has some scheme to swindle somebody (a poor farmer, the federal government, or IRS, or the Duke Boys). Worse, he usually invents some trumped up charge to get them Duke Boys arrested.
Romans 13 exhorts Christians to be in submission to the higher powers (it also says rulers should rule justly and justice can only be defined in terms of God’s Law-word). So, on first glance it looks like the Duke boys should be good evangelicals and allow themselves to be taken to jail. But it is a lot stickier than that. The Duke boys know that there is a law above the law. They know that to obey and acquiesce to Rosco and Boss is to break the law of the land (this really isn’t a paradox if you think about it. Just imagine any ole crooked politician. To obey him, say, in aiding and abetting thieves is sin). Even more, they know that by breaking the law they can help some poor soul from being cheated (or robbed, or taken to jail indefinitely). Or, turn the situation around: if they do what is right and help this poor soul, that puts them at odds with the law.
There is another nuance on the meaning of the word, “outlaw.” It can also mean, not a law-breaker, but someone denied the protection of the law. Such a definition is important since it allows the Dukes the platform of moral high ground. So, you see: it is not quite that easy to just obey the higher powers no matter what. What if the higher powers are the bad guys? Or, to move this into the realm of jurisprudence: What if there is no court of appeal beyond that of tyrannical man? Enter John Knox and the Protestant Reformation.
John Knox knew that “black is not whate and man’s tyranny is not God’s most perfect ordinance.” To quote Knox, “We mean neither sedition, nor revolution.” Knox opted, rather, for a restoration of the social order. More important than the capricious whims of a tyrant being obeyed was the peace and welfare of the citizenry. In other words, the critical patriot is not to overthrow the government. FAR FROM IT!!! The patriot is to work for the welfare (defined in historic terms, not those of the Democratic National Convention) of the people, to protect the helpless, and maintain peace in the land. Therefore, when the well-being of the poor and helpless is attacked and threatened in disregard of the law, the Patriots (Bo and Luke Duke) must act. How must they act?
Already being established that not any man can start a social restoration, there must be--in accordance with Reformed Calvinistic Political Theory--a lesser magistrate who is raised up of God to lead the people to liberty and justice. Since the man in question is a lesser civil magistrate, he is given the duty of protecting his citizenry. Secondly, given the proper preconditions necessary for such a movement, his actions will be just and lawful. Rushdoony wrote, "Law was sovereign, if any sovereign existed, law as ancient custom, justice, and right. Every king was under law and therefore could be lawfully resisted if he broke the law." Therefore, the lesser magistrates actions, to the degree he is faithful to just war theory, are lawful.
This means he must interpose, if necessary, against the State who seeks the blood of the people. R.J. Rushdoony writes,
When the humanistic state, in terms of the nature of its being, claims absolute competence, it claims thereby that it is itself above the law. The state therefore stands above its citizens and above its own law as its own justification. But, since the essential nature of the humanistic state, which has no law above itself, is power, and it maintains itself in terms of power, its basic law is power. The basic and essential self-determination of the humanistic state is thus in terms of power…The humanistic state, because its claim is to universal jurisdiction, is thereby a competitor to and a supplanter of the various law spheres and of man. It gains power by robbing power. It gains power over the economic sphere, and over education, by robbing economics of liberty and power, and by usurping the independence of education. The humanistic state, instead of being a benefactor of its people, is their powerful competitor and supplanter. It can only prosper by displacing man and man’s legitimate activities. The state thus seeks to supplant both God and man. Basically, the humanistic state is simply the organization and control of the legislative or judicial powers. “Right” is therefore what the state does, and what the state does is to develop, consolidate, and extend its power, and the positive law of the state is the formalization of this power. It is the absolutization of the state.
Rushdoony elsewhere writes, “If the judge does not represent God’s law order, he is ultimately a political hack and hatchet man whose job it is to keep the people in line, protect the establishment, and, in the process, to feather his own nest. Ungodly judges ar eto be feared and hated: They represent a particularly fearful and ugly form of evil, and their abuse of office is a deadly cancer to any society.
Therefore, it is the duty of the lesser civil magistrate to protect the people. Ideally, the lesser magistrate must be at the county level. Of the peripheral things that America needs, one is a restoration of the centrality of the County and the decentralization of the State. In other words, power must go from bottom-up.
Now, the shrewd reader will point out, “Them Duke boys ain’t magistrates. Therefore, your entire theory is wrong.” Not necessarily. The Duke boys do not take positive action against the Boss and Rosco. They are merely defensive in their resistance with regard to human life. This keeps them, broadly anyway, within bounds of Just War Theory. Secondly, Boss and Rosco, while crooks, aren’t bloodthirsty. Bo and Luke know this. So, on this level, positive resistance is not the crying need of the hour.

Final Thoughts:The Duke family is within the Calvinistic tradition. When Jesse’s (their uncle and the family patriarch, more on him in another blog post) life was on the line, Bo and Luke pleaded with a Sovereign God and took action (Patrick Henry, anyone?). Secondly--and I thought this was cool--Jesse Duke always refers to the U.S.A as these United States. This was how the USA was referred to before the War of Northern Aggression. Unless you are a history buff you probably won’t catch that. Implication is, “Lincoln’s war destroyed the union and we no longer speak in terms of our country being a union, but a nation.”
So why did I do this? Why did a write a theological justification of the Dukes of Hazzard? Well, I pulled a “bait and switch.” Nobody is going to read dense expositions of Reformed political theory and Rushdoony quotes, but if I throw in some cultural references, I have a ready audience. Secondly, this didn’t take too long to write. I threw these thoughts out at Puritanboard, to the chagrin of quite a few. I never could figure it out…
Soon, I will do a cultural appreciation for the Dukes of Hazzard. In the meantime, back to Greek and Hebrew...

The Rule of Law

I realized after I had written all of that, I could have summarized the whole post in four words: "The Rule of Law." In other words, laws are to be obeyed. The king, for example, is under the law. If the King is under the law then he can objectively break the law. If he can objectively break the law then he can be punished for his crimes.
Someone asked, "What's the reason for America's Decline?" While there are many, I will give a few (and argue for them later):
With the rise of Defeatism and Dispensationalism, the church saw this world as irredeemable and said, literally, 'to hell with it;' therefore, with the church no longer acting as salt and light, the enemies of God began to play for blood and exacted a terrible price on the church. We are still reeling from the hammer blows.
The dispensational camp is not the only one to blame. Many (ie, natural law theorists) in the Reformed camp have twisted their political heritage to justify social inactivity, approval of judicial tyranny and lawlessness, and in the larger picture, an abdication of the virile world and life view of its greater heroes: Calvin, Knox, Rutherford, Kuyper, and many heroes in today’s church who are otherwise scorned.

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Several people have asked me on the nature of a Christian's duty to a social government when that government is in violation both of God's law and the law of the land. This is an attempt on my part to answer this question. Much more could be written. I will humbly entertain your questions and criticisms. Please note that I have, and I am not boasting, the entire Reformed political theory on my side. Since I know most Calvinists worship their ancestors, I figured this was a pretty good trump card. Seriously, these ideas are not knew and were the driving motivation of our Reformed and American forefathers. We shun such thinking in our day because we have never known true freedom. There is much more I could have written.
When is a just revolution allowable?

This issue has often been in the forefront of Protestant Christianity. Beginning with Calvin, Protestants have maintained since God is sovereign, man is not. More precisely: Man's sovereignty is only that of a limited sort. Furthermore, since all men are sinful and totally depraved, no one man or institution can be trusted with absolute power. There should be, if you will, a system of checks and balances. As Americans we are familiar with this line of reasoning, but there is another method of checking a magistrate's power that often goes unsaid: constitutionalism. I will argue in this paper that there is a Law above the law. This Law (best summarized in God's written revelation to mankind) will function as the standard of right and wrong in judging civil policies and rulers. At the end of the essay I will attempt to answer objections to this line of reasoning.

Biblical Considerations
The verse most often cited in these passages is Romans 13. Since I, and others better than myself have debated this issue often, I will forego much of the debate, except to summarize it. The objector to the line of civil resistance including armed force says that unqualified obedience is due to the civil magistrate. He will also add that this passage, conveniently, does not apply to magistrates. This line of reasoning, I maintain, is problematic on several levels. The first level is that the apostles themselves defied the civil magistrates. In Acts 5:29 Peter and others told them, "We must obey God rather than man." Of course, in this situation Peter did not use armed force nor political leverage (although Paul was not averse to the latter). Secondly, Romans 13 has stipulations for magistrates as well. Greg Bahnsen writes, "Paul's words have definite bearing on what governments ought to do and be, [and on what citizens ought to be and do], and his words can hardly be construed as offering unqualifed acceptance of every political ruler" (Bahnsen, 370). If God allows I will unpack the force of this statement later.

I will go ahead and address one criticism now (and perhaps devote more attention to it on my section "Ethical Considerations," which will not be in this paper due to time and space limitations). People will point out, "Paul did not advocate armed resistance. We have no record of the persecuted New Testament church violently resisting pagan Rome." To be fair, on one level they are right. However, the nature of theology is that it progresses (the standard by which is how biblically faithful it is becoming) in its understanding of how to apply biblical principles to modern day circumstances. I will say it another way: Given the legal and socio-political conditions of the first-century, the Roman Christians could not have resisted via armed force. However, it is naive and anachronistic at best, irresponsible at worst, to suppose that we live in the first-century today and that there changing social conditions are normative for us.
A. Morality is absolute and never changes. However, our applications of moral systems do change. We are called to be good citizens. For the Roman Christians this meant obedience to Caesar. As American citizens we are called to be obedient to the civil magistrates as well. (And I will steal a little of my thunder and introduce my main argument).
B. The question then becomes: When Caesar' law requires me to break the Law of the land (while not necessarily exclusive of biblical law, it can be and often is distinct from it), to whom do I owe obedience? That will be the argument of the next section.
C. Grant me Premise B, then I can argue that resisting Caesar (and I will develop this below) is actually obeying Romans 13.

Lex Rex or Rex Lex?

Is the Law above the King or is the King above the Law? Is there a standard by which to determine whether a magistrate is right or wrong? John Knox taught that a civil government is covenantal, or federal, i.e., based on a aseries of covenants that define its authority, functions, powers, and limitations.
(1) The civil magistrate is in covenant with God promising to rule according to His revealed law and to oppose idolatry. 2 Kings 23:1-3.
(2)The civil Magistrate is in covenant with the people promising to rule over them righteously and for their protection. 2 Chronicles 15
(3) The people are in covenant with the civil magistrate that they will submit to his righteous government, 2 Chronicles 15.
(4) The people are in covenant with God promising to be his faithful people, Exodus 34.
(While I like the above argument, I do not expect it to win the day. I am just throwing it out for consideration.)

A Law Above the Law

Samuel Rutherford, that great Puritan defender of liberty, argued that the King is held accountable to the people (Lex Rex). "Rutherfored belived that tyrannical princes were to be resisted by the people, who represented a higher authority than the King. Since Rutherford did not believe in democracy, by people he means the REPRESENTATIVE BODY of the people,i.e., the "three estates," of the magistrates, the nobles, and the Church leaders, all of whom represented the people and who elected and controlled kings" (Morecraft, 34).

Greg Bahnsen writes, "Moreover, when there exists a condition of warfare against a wicked state, or rebellion against it is being led by lesser magistrates, or there arises an unjust and murderous regime beyond any possibility of relief or legal redress, conscientious Christians have the right to side against the State" (Bahnsen, 'Christ and Civil Government,' p. 45). Kevin Clauson expounds, "Under ordinary circumstances, Christians re to use peaceable means of persuasion and education to bring about socio-political change. This requires civil obedience insofar as possible. However, there may arise a regime beyond political or judicial correction. A godless, anti-Christian regime may come to power, which denies (or even punishes) all peaceful means of redress" (Clauson, 142-143).

Now I will play my trump card. Despite the rulings of Federal Courts, the Constitution is still the objective law of the land (granted, it has no real meaning post 1865, but I will still employ it because it is our Magna Carta and does not lose objective meaning simply because Leftist judges don't like it). The Second Amendment, famously loved and famously hated, allows for citizens to keep and bear arms. Liberals dismiss this right as merely pertaining to the government, police force, army, etc. Conservatives uphold this right as arguing for private protection. Both sides are onto a half-truth. Liberals are correct (and only moderately so) in that this right is communal in nature. Conservatives are correct in this right provides for defense. Historically, this right pertained to the militia to protect themselves from the tyrannical advances of the State. Thomas Jefferson writes, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves from the tyranny of the government" (quoted in Walter Williams, "To Keep and Bear Arms," The Washington Times, April 1, 2000, p. A10). Therefore, the Law of the land allows for Christians in America--remember we must apply our ethical systems, insofar as the are biblically faithful, to our modern conditions--a means of redress against ungodly and law-breaking governments.

Back to the question: Is the King above the law? King Charles Stuart I of England was executed for treasonous acts and other crimes. What is the penatly for conspiring to murder? Charles I conspired to murder on a number of counts. Is he liable? Case closed.

The Lesser Civil Magistrate

Not just anyone can lead a revolution, however. As Christians we seek the furthering of peace and justice in the realm. It is our duty as Christians to seek the well-being of the society in which we live. This determines the conditions of resistance on the larger scale. Whenever the aim of a people is to remove a lesser magistrate, it should only be done for the good of society, when the magistrate has proven himself (or herself--Hillary 2008) a terror to the people. Therefore, a lesser civil magistrate should arise, with the support of the people, to remove the tyrannical princes from office for the re-establishing of peace and justice to the realm. The fact that the counter-political movement is led by a magistrate, although lesser, gives it the legal ground and prevents it from merely being a revolution. It is, rather, a restoration of the social order. Romans 13 is not being disobeyed. The "governing authorities," in this case the lesser magistrate, are the ones who are calling the tyrannical and lawless princes into account.

Practical Applications

So what does all this look like in real life? It is hard for 21st century Americans to consider these issues because we have been brainwashed by left-ist textbooks. The functional god of modern America is the State. Most American Christians--even genuine and honest Christians--live in terms of the State's lordship. Therefore, to even consider calling the State to account for crimes is unthinkable. What do American Christians need to do, then?
(1) We need to beg God for mercy and repent of our sins. Our country is at its darkest hour. God, however, loves for his light to shine in the darkest and we have good reason that he will do great things in our midst when our country repents. God will not raise up our lesser civil magistrates unless we repent.
(2) Study Reformation political history and the political and social conditions surrounding our Wars for Independence in our country. I only summarized the tip of the ice-berg. There is so much more.
(3) Stop whining about how liberals are destroying our country. They are, true. They will be judged harshly by God for their systematic robbing and tyrannizing of the people. Take responsibility. If Congress were filled with Evangelical pastors tomorrow, we would move further to the Left. We lack, presently, the responsibility to take and see political change in our nation.
(4) Think on the local and county level. Our country in its birth lived and died on the local level. Human government, whether in church or state, functions more effeciently on the local level. I want to write an essay in the future on the primacy of county life and norms. More practically, how dare we think we can change things in Washington if we can't even manage our own household? If our neighborhood is in shambles, why do we think we can change this country?

The Hunt for Confederate Gold

The Interposition of Lesser Magistrates
The Hunt for Confederate Gold is too good to be true, as an artistic work. Without wanting to give too much of the story away, the following will suffice as an intro setting the stage for the given dialogue. The Feds, in logical consistency with the so-called Patriot Act, have arrested a Southron history professor on charges of "racism" (a word defined by the elitist establishment. I am against unlawful discrimination when class and not competence/character is the defining aspect, but the word racist, thanks to mentally incompetent civil un-liberties groups, the word has no objective meaning. Kind of like calling someone a "heretic" in reformed circles), "terrorist activities" (think League of the South meetings), and whatever else they might have concocted to get a case. But, things go ill. Remember what I have written on earlier last week on the resistance to tyranny (taking the form, in this case, of noncompliance) led by lesser civil magistrates? The following illustrates it:
"Twenty minutes later the two agents pulled into the parking lot outside the spacisous new County Governmnet Complex in Lexington. Bill Becker (Federal agent instigating the whole matter), pacing in front of the entrance, waved them forward.'What's up, Boss?' they asked.'I want you guys here with me for a little show of force. Seems like the local sheriff wants to play the local hero.''You mean Sherrif Cash?' said Lom.'You know him?''Yeah, we met him last year. Before you arrived."'Where was that?' Becker asked.'At the annual State Law enforcement Association dinner. He was the keynote speaker. It was, well, different, I gotta say,' Studenko told him.'Oh, in what way?''Not in a way you are going to like,' said Lom. 'He spoke on, well, on local law enforcement, uh, interventio--''Interposition,' said Studenko.Lom nodded. 'That's it. 'Interposition of the Lesser Magistrate.' His speech started with the Fall of France to the Germans in World War II. He told how in the summer of 1942 the Gestapo decided to round up all the Jews in Paris and eport them to concentration camps. But the Nazis didn't have nearly enough manpower for the job. So they gave lists to the Paris gendarmes; and it was the French police, not the Nazies, who went around all on theri own arresting thousands of French citizens. The Jews were held for days in teh heat of an open sports arena withotu food and water and hundreds deid even before they were shipped to the death camps.'
'And what does this have to do with anything?' Becker's eyes narrowed.'Well, I'm coming to that.' Lom continued. 'Sherriff Cash siad it was the duty of the French police not only to disobey such a wrongful order, but that they should actually have interposed themselves between teh Jews and the Nazis. They committed a terrible crime by complying with the Nazis.
Becker snorted, 'But that's crazy! The Germans would have killed them.''He went into that,' said Studenko. 'He said the Nazis couldn't have--and wouldn't have--done away with the police. They needed help too badly, and so if they'd refuse to cooperate, it would have collapsed the whole thing. He said it was the duty of law enforcement to protect the community, from local police and sheriffs, up to the governor, even if it meant resisting the unlawful acts of a higher power. Kind of shook people up, I have to tell you. Anyway, that's his theory. Interposition of the lesser magistrate, he called it.'
'So what else is he like?''Well, they call him Johnny Cash,' Studenko replied. 'He doesn't wear black, but he does have the same deep Southern drawl like the singer. Don't let that fool you, though. He's easy-going, but not somebody who can be pushed around.' Studenko hoped his boss was listening."
RJ Rushdoony: Enemy of Statism

RJ Rushdoony: Enemy of Statism

That which says the most about a people or a nation is its source of law-the source to which that person or society looks to find out the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. The god of any society is its source of law…Any society that divorces itself from God’s law is like a fish out of water--violently active but quickly destined to die (Institutes of Biblical Law).Most Christians, perceptive ones anyway, have seen the vicious bloodlust inherent in totalitarian regimes, but have missed the more important issues. It is one thing to point out the obvious and cry over what liberals and wanna-be Marxists are doing to our country in various political policies. It is another thing to attack the worldview upon which it hinges. That worldview is statism. Statism is the attempt of a political party to play god, to be the messiah to the masses, and to bring in a golden age of peace. In other words, it believes in salvation by legislation, and if that were bad enough, it enforces this salvation by military force. It is a bloodthirsty form of universalism. I will try to point out in this essay the anti-biblical presuppositions of statism, the valiant and heroic insights of Rushdoony in opposing, and hopefully--God willing--some practical pointers in our modern-day struggle against the state’s attempt to play God.

If Man is Inherently Good, Wherein Lies the Problem? Simply put: Deny man’s sinfulness and you must then find a new means of salvation. Every worldview has to answer these basic questions: Where did I come from? Who am I? What is Wrong with Me? What is the solution? Biblical Christianity maintains that Man is sinful by nature and cannot do right. His problem can only be fixed by divine action. But deny man’s sinfulness and maintain that he is good, one must still locate the source of his evil and then posit a new solution. If man is inherently good, then how do we explain the evil that he does? Well, the problem is, so says the statist, his environment. Therefore, to save him, we must change his environment. We must pass laws to make him better. He needs to be educated. If only he had the right facts, he would do well. The statist, then, believes in salvation by education and legislation. But what about those who maintain the antithesis and say that man can only be saved by the work of the Holy Spirit, not by law? Well if the statist is to be consistent, then those people must be neutralized by any means possible.

A Finite Reference Point
The great defender of the faith Cornelius Van Til said, “Either theonomy or autonomy” (yes, I know that he is using theonomy in a different sense than Bahnsen, but my point is equally as strong--because of the nature of the case one must appeal to God or Man). The Psalmist says in Psalm 119 “I walk in liberty for I love thy law.” At this point I am going to attempt a line of reasoning that is not often brought out in the theonomy vs. statist debates. I will be drawing from the presuppositional insights of Cornelius Van Til. The presuppositional method of defending the faith asks, “What are the preconditions of intelligibility?” In other words, for reality to make sense, what conditions must first take place? I will not repeat the TAG debates but will use this line of reasoning as a launching point. The statist, like his Greek hero of old, sees the universe as essentially chaotic and it is man’s duty to impose order upon it (Nietzsche). But the Christian must maintain that God has already imposed his order upon the universe (Genesis 1). Man is not to impose his autonomous order on the world, but to bring the world into conformity with God’s order. Like all big government regimes, the statist thinks he will find liberty by enforcing his own arbitrary, autonomous laws upon his neighbor. The Christian (I will now be using the term “antitheian”) sees order and freedom because God’s law frees him to do so. Rushdoony writes, “But the implications for liberty in their [Calvin and Luther] doctrines are scarcely dreamed of by twentieth century man, who is everywhere faced with encroaching statist tyranny and assumes that liberty is from law (the humanistic idea), rather than under law (the Christian faith) [World History Notes, 152].”

Liberty or License?

Older dictionaries define two types of liberty--natural and civil. Natural liberty is what man is able to do if he is not impeded by law, society, or cultural norms. Civil liberty is man’s ability to live his life under law. If man is allowed to run wild and no restraints are placed upon him, then liberty is lost. Liberty is lost because every man is doing right in his own eyes and the State becomes unable to protect the liberties of its citizens. Therefore, the State enacts laws. The embarrassing question is “who’s law?” God’s or Man’s? Here is where people really react to what I am saying. The will say to me, “The Bible doesn’t regulate how civil government ought to be run.” Okay, I can quote Romans 13 (which is prescriptive and destroys the above argument; the State‘s primarily role is to terrorize evildoers, not be a Savior to man), but in case they don’t like that (at this point they are arbitrarily engaging in special pleading) then let’s look at their position and reduce it to ethical absurdity. The issue is this: Is there a transcendental limitation on law? If we will not have God as the source of law, then we will necessarily have man as the source of law. Case Study: When is Punishment Criminal? As Dr Bahnsen pointed out: Let’s say I drive my car on your driveway and leak oil on it. You walk up to me, express your disappointment, and then knife me in the chest (remember the context; God’s law is not valid). We (arbitrarily) think that is wrong. Ok, perhaps it is. Let’s say I d
o the same thing and you come up to me, express your disappointment, point to the badge on your chest, and then knife me. Is that punishment wrong? If so, why? Let’s say we are in a democracy. 50% + 1 makes a judgment morally right. Let’s say enough incompetents in a democracy (but I repeat myself) vote and approve of such idiocy. On what ground can we say that this punishment is wrong? By denying a transcendent limitation law one cannot say it is wrong. In one hammer blow of a paragraph Rushdoony writes (and this is the most important thing I have read in a few weeks),

“ There is no law, no appeal, no higher order, beyond and above the universe.
Instead of an [vi] open window upwards, there is a closed cosmos. There is thus
no ultimate law and decree beyond man and the universe. Man’s law is therefore
beyond criticism except by man. In practice, this means that the positive law of
the state is absolute law. The state is the most powerful and most highiy
organized expression of humanistic man, and the state is the form over the
universe, over every human order, the law of the state is a closed system of
law. There is no appeal beyond it. Man has no “right,” no realm of justice, no
source of law beyond the state, to which he can appeal against the state.
Humanism therefore imprisons man within the closed world of the state and the
closed universe of the evolutionary scheme (introduction to The New Legality by
Hebden Taylor, 3).

In other words, lacking all limitations on its law, it lacks all limitations on its power. Its total law is its total power. The State reinforces its total law by its total power. And if you deny ultimacy of a Transcendental law-word from God, who are you to ever question the will of the State!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a fair argument on my part. If you grant me my premise (~God’s Law), you must grant me my conclusion.

One Man’s Stand Against the Messianic State
You can always tell the good a man is doing by the anger he incurs, often from within the camp. I came to the Reformed faith late in life. I found the writings of R.J. Rushdoony because of my vicinity to Auburn Avenue Presybterian Church in Monroe, LA. I had been an avid history student and was studying for intense exams in American history. Rushdoony had written several powerful studies in American History. But before that I got my hands on The Institutes of Biblical Law. I was immediately impressed by his forceful writing style and clear and persuasive logic. His footnotes were utterly fascinating and the fruits of his intensive reading regimen (a book a day, six days a week, for fifty years). Rushdoony applied his faith to all areas of life (literally, he wrote on about every subject). Granted, he drew some wrong and odd conclusions but unless you require perfection of everyone you read, then this shouldn’t be too troubling. Rushdoony, like John Knox before him, championed the supremacy of God’s word and the rule of law in society. Is there a law above the law? Is Man sovereign or God? Rushdoony drew the most logical conclusion about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty: If God is Sovereign then the State is not. The State is only derivatively sovereign. It finds its legitimacy only to the degree that it is just (uh oh, how do you define justice except by God’s word?). At this point I am just going to quote several powerful Rushdoony quotes,

Orthodox Christianity was to introduce lasting tension into history by
insisting, first, that law comes from a transcendental God and His word, so that
civil law is a creature of rligion, nd, second, that for the state to attempt to
make law and religion its own creations is to play god and to incur the judgment
of God and the necessary opposition of true believers. Charlemagne had
inserted into his royal tide the words "by God's Grace." This formula is very
important to Germanic or barbarian Christianity. It placed the king and the
state under Christian law. Charlemagne saw himself as the "bishop of bishops,"
clearly superior to the papacy, but also very clearly under God's law (World
History Notes, 115).

This is probably the second most important sentence I have read in a while:

The Germanic peoples also denied the idea of human sovereignty, as F. Kern
hasshown in Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, and they held to the
of law. Law was sovereign, if any sovereign existed, law as
ancient custom,
justice, and right. Every king was under law and therefore
could be lawfully
resisted if he broke the law.

Are you mad enough yet

Monday, January 09, 2006

This blog will explore the relationship between Biblical Christianity most faitfully expressed in the Calvinistic confessions and its relationship to religious and civil liberty. The thesis will be set forth in papers and dialogues that Religious and Civil liberty is most consistently applied and defended in a Calvinistic context. Conversely, when the tenets of Calvinism are denied, political tyranny is soon to follow. If autonomous sinful man is made absolute and granted sovereignty only allowed for God, then there is no check upon his power. His word is absolute. Good and evil are now only defined in terms of the State, and the state's representative.