Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Archive for April, 2009

Seeing the cold monster

Friedrich Nietzche, for all his strangeness and antipathy toward Christianity, was equally as unsparing regarding the state:

A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples.

A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.”

It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers, are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.

Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.

This sign I give unto you: every people speaketh its language of good and evil: this its neighbour understandeth not. Its language hath it devised for itself in laws and customs.

But the state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen.

False is everything in it; with stolen teeth it biteth, the biting one. False are even its bowels.

Confusion of language of good and evil; this sign I give unto you as the sign of the state. Verily, the will to death, indicateth this sign! Verily, it beckoneth unto the preachers of death!

Many too many are born: for the superfluous ones was the state devised!

See just how it enticeth them to it, the many-too-many! How it swalloweth and cheweth and recheweth them!

“On earth there is nothing greater than I: it is I who am the regulating finger of God”–thus roareth the monster. And not only the long-eared and short-sighted fall upon their knees! (First part. Zarathustra’s Prologue. Zarathustra’s discourses. 11. XI. The New Idol).

Nietzche tells us that the state is not the people after all. It is unliving; relentlessly it comes and obesely squats in everyone’s pathway. It is its own machine, with its own laws and ways; a bloated, unnatural, deadly virus. It is a machine of violence and pillage, attracting unthinking drones whose ready obeisance it turns to its own cold ends. It entices and swallows them, consumes and reprocesses them. They accept the squatting idol and acquiesce to its demands. They bow down to it and serve it and they live through its death. His thought continues:

Everything will it give YOU, if YE worship it, the new idol: thus it purchaseth the lustre of your virtue, and the glance of your proud eyes . . . . Power they seek for, and above all, the lever of power . . . . There, where the state ceaseth—there only commenceth the man who is not superfluous (Ibid.).

No Christian will subscribe to Nietzches’ philosophy on every point. Still, he seems to have had fundamental insight into the nature of the state. The state is Babylon all over again. It is man rising in rebellion against God and against His laws.

The psalmist, of idol-makers wrote, “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:8 ESV). The state invites our trust. It beckons us, offers men hope that they may build a tower, rewrite morality, and remake the world in their own insidious image. It is a cold and dead competitor with God. It suggests an alternative virtue, where men are prey to men, and this is a good thing.

The image in Daniel two, representing the kingdoms of man is at last broken at its feet and destroyed by the kingdom of God; so the idol, the coldest of all cold monsters, is likewise destined. Its place will not be taken by a society of persons shining with their own glory, for that would only be another cold, new, dead statue. Jesus came to give to man life and that he might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). In Him and only Him is life (John 1:4). He is the opposite of the cold monster.

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Showdown looms concerning local restrictions on military recruitment

Two cities in California, Arcata and Eureka, have passed laws restricting government military recruitment within their jurisdiction. Persons less than 18 years of age may not be contacted by recruiters, although they may themselves contact recruiters. The whole thing is set for a legal showdown.

See here:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/26/MNE6176LK9.DTL&nopu=1

(Hat tip to strike-the-root.com)

It seems likely that the Federal government will prevail for now. But it does raise the question of local self-determination. Namely, is there any? If the local voters pass laws limited recruitment, or, as in the case of Humboldt county, barring local enforcement of the Patriot Act, what rights does the Federal government have to countermand?

As soon as you set up a government, you are placing the fate of yourself and your family under the hands of others. You are signing your freedom away.

There is another resource that the state wants besides your money (property). The state needs soldiers for its aggression against others. Just as gladly as they remove our property, they also want the lives of our children. Without soldiers and police, the state would be in a grim way. Our world needs more people like those in Humboldt county.

Power versus unpower; Jesus chose the anarchist perspective

Anarchism is a repudiation of power. As an anarchist I do NOT want power over others. I do not seek it. I am satisfied if I can have power over myself, opportunity to make my own choices for myself, to choose good or to choose evil. I am made in God’s image. I live—unremittingly—in the moral domain. Because of what I am I can do no other.

Having said that, I am a weak creature. I am designed to worship but live in a nature that has been set against itself. We are all like sheep that have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). We wander on the mountainside as coyote howls in earshot. We exist in a moral domain, but our race has strayed from our Creator.

Consider the contrast between our adversary (which is the literal Hebrew meaning of “Satan”), and Christ.

In Isaiah 14:12-14 we are granted a peak through the divine window into the heart of Satan:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:12-14 ESV).

The very next verses in 14 and also in Ezekiel 28 record not this self-intended fate, but the actual: Satan will be destroyed. A fire will come from from his own midst and consume him (Ezekiel 28:13-19). Here is a creature who sought to set himself above the stars of God—stars being a biblical symbol for his fellow angels. That is, he sought to be worshipped, one creature by others. He longed for God’s power but not His character. Listening to the Isaiah 14 passage we see his problem: “I, I, I, I, I,” that is, “me, me, me, me, me!”

But there is a contrast in Scripture. While Satan seeks power, Jesus does not. His labor occurs in unpower. Listen to Philippians:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).

Whereas Satan seeks power and is destroyed, Jesus gives power up, and in the following verses is exalted (Philippians 2:9-11).

Nor did Jesus walk through earth crackling with electrical energies, zapping stuff. He “made himself nothing.” The Underlying Greek literally says that He “emptied Himself.” The miracles He wrought He did not directly do. John 14:10 says of Jesus that “the Father who dwells in me does his works.” If you prefer King James, “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Jesus asked His Father and His Father did the miracles. Jesus had emptied Himself of His own power. Satan sought power to defeat God; God gave up power to defeat Satan (Hebrews 2:14).

Jesus who had had absolute power, refused to be corrupted by it. It is not true that absolute power corrupts absolutely—not for God. But for any other being, (that is, for all other beings, for all others are created beings), surely it is true that the more power one gathers, the more readily the character is corrupted.

When Christians seek to link arms with the state, they choose to run with the multitude to do evil. Why do they do it? They think that they can turn the world by guiding, accessing, or participating in the power of the state. They choose the satanic course. The course of Jesus was to give up power, to let things stand on their own footing, to make His case for living justly by actually living justly. He took the form of a servant and humbled Himself. And unpower triumphed over power.

So. Which method and which mind will you have in you?

Socialism wars

By Michael S. Rozeff

America’s socialism wars began in full force with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president.

By the time I was born, 1941, the socialists occupied virtually all the enemy territory: the Supreme Court had endorsed the New Deal. It had killed the U.S. Constitution by re-interpretation.

The commerce clause justified any Congressional act. Substantive due process was dead. The contracts clause was dead. The general welfare clause became, not a restraint, but a justification for any and all legislative enactments. The Bill of Rights was on its way to emasculation.

Legislation triumphed over rights, militarism over peace, foreign entanglements over neutrality, war over peace, slavery over freedom, the State over the family, coercive collectivism over private property, and Keynes over Hayek.

Socialism was victorious over liberty, laissez-faire, private property, freedom of association, and free markets. Socialism cleared the ideological battlefield.

From then until now, the soldiers of socialism have deepened and widened their victories. The American eagle is now socialist. Socialism has its talons in every part of a person’s life and every major institution in America.

But wars go on for surprisingly long periods of time. Justice, truth, and right cannot be extinguished, no matter how severely they are suppressed. The socialism wars have not ended. They will go on until socialism is completely defeated, which it will be, eventually.

The ideological poles of the battling sides are evident to those who look into the wars. But who are the persons fighting in the socialism wars? Everyone. Every person on earth. Every person chooses up sides.

Where are the battlefields? Ultimately, they are in the hearts and minds of every person on earth. While the ideological battle lines are clearly drawn, the physical battle lines are not. The same person may be on either side at various times and with varying degrees of strength and commitment.

This is not a classic military battle. As a society, the enemy is within us, around us, and over us. The enemy pervades our every action. The enemy is entrenched in the system and in our minds. We are now deeply dependent on the enemy. Our every plan involves its survival. We count on it. We fear its demise. We are trapped in it by ourselves. We are trapped in it by powers beyond our apparent control. But the trap is of our own making. We have recruited ourselves into the socialist wars on the side of socialism.

Someone asked me “what makes a healthy economy?” A simple but profound question, if by “healthy” is meant “good.” Ethics are of supreme importance. But whose ethics? Where shall they come from? To the libertarian, an economy without aggression is a good economy. To the socialist, only an economy with aggression can be good. To some libertarians, non-aggression is an element of natural law. To others, natural law is untenable. To some, praxeology is a hope: non-aggression has to be rooted in an as yet unelaborated science of ethics. Yet others look to the Greeks and eudaemonic ethics. I am in none of these schools of thought, all of which are looking within man or to man for ethical guidance. I believe in revealed (biblical) ethics. It is sometimes the case that the recommended ethics of the various schools of thought overlap, even if their foundations and rationales do not.

As a society, we have made the satanic enemy our God. To vanquish that enemy, throw down that idol in one’s heart and mind. Hate its evil. Hate its wickedness. Do not tolerate its deceits and lies. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10.)

April 24, 2009

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.

Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

National service: paid to be good?

On 2009-04-21, the president of the United State signed a bill tripling the size of Americorps. He said it was “just the beginning” of a sustained effort to remake the nation. Earlier on, the new administration had urged what was called “mandatory service,” and only time will tell if they follow through with that vision of servitude.

According to the Associated Press,

The service law expands ways for students and seniors to earn money for college through their volunteer work. It aims to foster and fulfill people’s desire to make a difference, such as by mentoring children, cleaning up parks or buildings and weatherizing homes for the poor.

“I’m asking you to help change history’s course, put your shoulder up against the wheel,” Obama said. “And if you do, I promise you your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090422/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_national_service, accessed 2009-04-22 15:46Z).

We are going to change the course of history by cleaning up parks, eh?

What is actually happening here, of course, is a redistribution of wealth. Like Robin Hood, the state swoops in and takes from the rich to give to the poor. The state is our savior.

Fail.

The state is a robber, that much is true; it is actually a gang of thieves writ large. An endeavor to inculcate virtue is not wrong. But much hangs on how this is done, and even on who does it.

The man who would not be bribed

This is not a new question (service for $$ or service for unselfish purposes). God and Satan engaged in a contest concerning this all the way back in the time of Job. The oldest book in the Bible is not Genesis. It is the book of Job.

The book can be understood as having roughly three main parts:

Chapters 1, 2 are a showdown between God and Satan over whether or not Job serves God for the good stuff that He gives to Job. Satan says it is just for the good stuff; God says that if this is all taken away, that still Job will serve Him. That is, Job’s motivations are from unselfishness and from righteousness. Terrific calamities befall Job and his family. Still he is faithful. God prevails.

Chapters 3-37 are a dialogue between Job and his friends. They are sure that Job is suffering because of his own sin, but Job insists that he is innocent.

Finally, chapters 38-42 are where God intervenes in the discussion. He vindicates Job and indicates that Job’s friends have not spoken rightly about Him and His kingdom.

Here is the wild thing: Job does not know who is causing all these calamities to fall upon him. He thinks it is God, but it is clearly Satan. And still he serves God. No incentives are dangled before his nose, no state comes to offer him cash money for this or to give him a tax break for that or to steal money from some productive neighbor to give to kids to clean up a park. Job lives a life of virtue without being bribed or bought off. He is good because he wants to be good.

The virtuous Samaritan

Another example, and one specifically offered by Jesus, is the Samaritan. We know the story (Luke 10:25-37). A man is set upon by thieves, robbed, and lay dying along the side of the road. One by one clergymen and church officials come down the road, spot him, and pass rapidly on on the other side. At last comes a man they would all regard as heathen. This man stops and at risk to his own life, helps the victim of the thieves, takes him to an inn, washes his wounds, and pays the innkeeper to feed and nurse the man back to health. This is not part of a state program; he does it because this is what he wants to do. He is virtuous at risk to his own life.

Both Job and the Samaritan would have been scandalized by the suggestion that they should be good, do good things, for money. It was their own basic story. They chose to be pluses, not minuses. They were not looking for incentives and would have regarded it as running with a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2) to receive money stolen from others as an incentive to themselves to do good.

The state as Robin Hood

We must regard most presidents and legislatures as people who are trying to do the right thing but who do not understand that coercion is incapable of generating such. Right idea; definitely, the wrong tools. Actually, the state is artificial.

How can the president speak of making a choice to participate in “national service” as “the moment when your own story and the American story converge”? The vision behind the American state was that the state would handle the minimum necessities in order to set up a situation where men might themselves engage in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That is our business to pursue.

Instead, the state comes in pursuit of us. We are not a part of the “American story” until there is a convergence between our story and the American story. That is, between us and the state. The flaw here is that men do not need the state. It gets in the way, until children are being paid for good grades in public schools, and until the state can reach with impunity into the properties of productive citizens, steal them, and redistribute them to others in the name of inculcating virtue. That is, the state will teach our young to be virtuous by stealing from one group of citizens and giving to another. At the same time, this trains them to think that the state is indispensable. Yes, the state spends many resources (all taken from productive citizens) to tell us how necessary it, the state, is.

The story of a free man never converges with the story of the state. He chooses to be good because that is his desire. He needs not a thief to tell him not to steal.

Being good, that is a good idea. Paying people to be good? It marks the ineptitude of the state. Goodness will never be inculcated from mercenary acts. This is one more example of how the state stands in the way of the development of Christian character.

Ron is right on secession

(FWIW, in the video immediately above, Paul makes some of the very same points we made in our post “The flag salute declined” last week.)

Theoarchy

We respect and appreciate the positive intention of those desiring to remedy injustice through political action. Still, energies are poorly spent attacking sparks instead of fire.

The way to transform the world is to transform men. What is needed is the restoration of the image of God in man—something that can never be achieved through force. Political action is the wrong tool. Unrenewed, fallen people cannot force other fallen people to become moral; a corrupt tree can only produce corrupt fruit (Matthew 7:17, 18). Indeed, the command of Scripture is to cut down the tree which is the source of bad fruit (Matthew 7:19).

The full allegiance of the Christian is to Christ and the government of God. He recognizes the Creator as rightful Lord over His creation (Exodus 20:10, 11). Adam and Eve were given dominion—self-government—directly under God’s government (Genesis 1:26). But mankind fell (Genesis 3:15), and the earth was divided between those who refused His lordship and those who returned to it.

Two systems of government were now in play. To bring the universe to a clear understanding of the end results of liberty versus coercion the two systems must be permitted to play out. Each must manifest its fruits.

Men would not be forced to do good. A space would be allowed for the demonstration of Satan’s principles of coercion, and for God’s principles of liberty. As such, the believer does not in civic matters exercise lordship over any other person. The Christian’s citizenship is above (Colossians 3:1; Galatians 4:26); he is called an ambassador for God’s government (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). Ambassadors do not vote in the civic matters of the country of their embassage.

In a state like America, a majority of citizens exercises lordship over a minority; a majority vote determines elections. But we are not to exercise lordship over other persons made in God’s image (Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-30). Jesus Himself is Lord. People are granted freedom to chose evil or righteousness. Men are to reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7, 8)–something confused when coercion is applied.

Moreover, the governments of earth—all of them—stand in opposition to God’s government (Psalm 2:1, 2; Acts 4:24-28; Revelation 18:1-4, 9, 10, 23). If the Christian votes in matters of civil government, he is advocating that the state coerce; he is acting in favor of goodness by force. This is not his work. He is undergoing renewal of mind, he is learning self-government, to think and act for himself as an agent in cooperation with the government of God (Philippians 2:12, 13).

He is friendly but no friend of the world, storing up his deepest interests in the things of the kingdom. He is just a stranger here; heaven is his home. But while he is here, he represents a kingdom of righteousness. Thus, it is imperative that he in no way coerce. This may be called the “self-government,” or “direct lordship” position. Jesus is Lord. A state is sometimes permitted but never endorsed by Him (1 Samuel 8; Romans 13:1-7).

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