Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Archive for May, 2009

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 4

The fourth commandment is found at Exodus 20:8-11:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

The Sabbath, seen superficially by some as a marker of legalism, is actually a sign of righteousness by faith. It is a resting from works; Sabbath-keeping is not a work invested with human merit.

The seventh day is God’s day (“My holy day,” Isaiah 58:13). Although it is His day, it is made for man (Mark 2:27). Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (2:28). Jesus recognizes the perpetuity of the Sabbath. He cautions His followers that, decades later, when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, they should pray that they will not have to flee the city on the Sabbath day (Matthew 24:20). Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a cessation of the seventh day Sabbath or a transference of its observance or holiness to another day. The New Testament church normally met on the seventh day Sabbath.

The conflict between God and pharaoh (church and state) in Exodus may have had at its center the Sabbath commandment (Exodus 3:18; 5:1, 3; 7:16; 8:1, 20, 27; 10:3; ch. 16). The preamble of the Ten Commandments is a special reminder that God brought the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt (Exodus 20:2). Under conditions of slavery, it would have been impossible for them to observe the seventh day Sabbath. Bringing them out from under the Egyptian state, Sabbath-observance became possible again.

Time is a commodity. It is limited; it has scarcity. One man who employs another can pay him on a per job basis or per hour basis. Either way, he pays him for his time. The state does not own us or our time.

God owns time as much as He owns us. We are His twice over: first, by creation; second, by redemption. Not only does He own us, but He declares His ownership of our time. He owns 100% of our time. He asks us to return one seventh of that to Him as Sabbath. In any case, it is good for us to observe the Sabbath. It reminds us that He is Creator and Recreator, and that things having to do with His kingdom are superior.

Since the Sabbath is God’s property (“My holy day”) the state has no business legislating about it, defining it, encroaching upon it.

Church and state have often blended their energies to persecute those who saw things otherwise than the accepted pattern. The seventh day Sabbath has been one of these. The first law affecting Sabbath and Sunday observance came under Emperor Constantine in A.D. 321.

Later, the Holy Roman Empire persecuted Radical Reformation preachers Andreas Fischer (1480-1539) and Oswald Glaidt (1480-1546) for teaching sabbatarianism (see Andreas Fischer and the Sabbatarian Anabaptists, by Daniel Liechty, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, Herald Press, 1988, 167 pages). Fischer raised up several Sabbath-keeping congregations, received the death penalty, and was hanged. For several hours he hung by the neck, but somehow survived and escaped to found more Sabbath-keeping churches. Glaidt was killed by drowning—a common practice employed against Anabaptists. Countless Anabaptists were killed although only a few for heresy; most were put to death by the state because they refused to fulfill their “obligation” to serve as soldiers in national wars.

As recently as the past century and a quarter, Seventh-day Adventists in the United States have been imprisoned for their practices relating to the Sabbath. In Arkansas and Tennessee they have even been compelled to labor in chain-gangs. The same commandment that tells us to rest on the seventh day also tells us that the other six days are working days. Hence, laws which restrict labor on Sunday have a testing aspect quite similar to the seventh day Sabbath.

Even in 2009, many blue laws continue to exist throughout the United States. Some have been repealed, but some persist, outlawing in one way or another business transactions on Sunday. The original intent of blue laws was to encourage church attendance on Sunday, but in the process Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jews, and others, have been inhibited. In fact, everyone’s property rights are inhibited when they are prevented by law from buying or selling on a certain day.

The seventh day Sabbath is a part of God’s Ten Commandment law. As such, it is a helpful part of understanding His character. Whereas many of the Ten Commandments are framed in terms of “thou shalt not,” the Sabbath commandment is presented with great positivity, starting with the plea to “remember.”

As usual, the state stands ready to legislate and plunder to its own satisfaction. It is not content to impose its financial burdens upon us, but at times it has gladly insisted that citizens involuntarily serve time in its armies. It is no surprise, then, that the state, machine of coercion that it is, has its hands in laws impacting conscientious observance of the seventh day Sabbath.

Seventh-day Adventists, based upon their understanding of the Bible prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, fully anticipate the development of a situation in which the state will seek to enforce the observance of Sunday. There have been attempts at national Sunday laws in the past, especially in the decades centering in the 1890s. Time will tell whether we have been right.

The observance of the seventh day Sabbath ever remains a marker, a reminder, that the state is not supreme, that personal conscientious conviction takes a higher place, and that when God’s law and man’s law collide, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Revelation 13:11ff proposes that the state will interfere under economic auspices, restricting buying and selling. In 2009 the state is Pharaoh. It remains a dangerous machine ready to interfere. To this sabbatarian, Edmund Opitz’ warning seems especially prescient:

If the state sets itself up as the supreme arbiter of human affairs, it must domesticate the individual lest any lingering remnants of self-reliance weaken the state’s authority. The state must restrict the individual’s effort to follow the dictates of his conscience, lest they conflict with the decrees of Caesar. In the interests of its own safety the state must eventually deny that the individual is a person, for the individual can be a person only when he puts his obligation to God ahead of his obligation to Caesar” (Edmund Opitz, The Libertarian Theology of Freedom, p. 145).

Police impede, choke hospital-bound EMT

Outrageous. (Hat tip: Lew Rockwell.com: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/026972.html.)

“Instructions to all persons of JAPANESE ancestry…”

So read the title line of placards posted in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona in March 1942. I have been researching this event of late and suggest to readers the following article: “The Japanese Camps in California” by Mark Weber. What is your government capable of? Just about anything! http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v02/v02p-45_Weber.html

According to the article:

All incoming and outgoing mail was censored. All internal communications were strictly controlled. The Japanese language was banned at public meetings and Japanese religious services were suppressed.

The inmates were forced to salute the flag, sing patriotic songs, and declare their allegiance to “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Good and bad government

by Michael S. Rozeff (Originally posted here: http://lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff299.html.)

Aggression is the act of attacking, invading, or injuring a peaceful or innocent person. Peaceful or innocent behavior is non-aggressive behavior. (Peaceful behavior does not exclude defensive behavior, which may include actions to repel aggression.)

Human government is the means of coordinating interpersonal human action.

There is good government and there is bad government. To begin with they are defined next according to the libertarian view, which is then expounded. Later, I look at good and bad government in greater generality.

The defining feature of bad government is coordination by aggression, that is, either compulsion (power, violence) or imposition (deception, fraud, trickery, cheating) against the wills of peaceful people who are not using either compulsion or imposition.

Good government is government that is not bad government.

A (political) State is an organization that employs bad government.

(General) political freedom is the (general) social condition of human action in which there is not bad government.

A particular political freedom is a variety of human action undertaken in a condition in which bad government does not coordinate that human action. For example, freedom of assembly occurs when bad government does not affect the wills of people in the act of assembling, or when neither compulsion nor imposition affect the wills of people in the act of assembling.

Since the set of human action is indefinitely large, the set of all particular political freedoms is indefinitely large. Any list of political freedoms is bound to be incomplete.

Since a State employs bad government, a State does not protect political freedom. A State destroys political freedom.

Any supposed freedom, such as freedom from starvation, that is obtained by use of the State, and thus by use of bad government, cannot be and is not a freedom, since the very use of bad government affects the wills of some peaceful persons. So-called positive freedoms, compliments of the State, are merely instances of bad government in action.

A political right is the same as a political freedom, except that it is couched in different terms. Everything that is called a right is not a right, anymore than everything that is called a freedom is a freedom, as the case of positive “freedoms” demonstrates. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” Since such an entitlement requires bad government, there is no such right and no such freedom. (This does not mean that good government cannot bring about protection of the family.)

Since rights are the same as freedoms, no complete list of rights can be made.

All of the preceding that begins with the definition of good and bad government is libertarian political philosophy, and it all follows from the definition of bad government.

While this clarifies the libertarian case, it does not solve the problem of philosophical conflicts.

Suppose that political opponents, libertarian and non-libertarian, agree on what compulsion and imposition in government mean. Then they may still disagree about what is good and bad. The libertarian argues that any compulsion and imposition is bad under most or even all circumstances, while the non-libertarian argues that some compulsion and imposition is good under some or even many circumstances.

What the libertarian thinks is bad government, the non-libertarian may think of as good government.

This argument cannot be settled because different people have different ideas of what is good and bad. In order to choose among the alternative forms of government, a person has to decide what is good and bad.

Suppose the non-libertarian succeeds in imposing his form of government on the libertarian. Then the libertarian is unhappy because he experiences what for him is compulsion and/or imposition. Now suppose the opposite. Suppose that the libertarian succeeds in imposing his form of government on the non-libertarian. Then the non-libertarian is unhappy because he thinks that the good is going unachieved and/or that things are bad without the presence of compulsion (or what the libertarian thinks of as bad government).

A solution to this conflict is available. If each man chooses his own government and allows the other man the equal freedom to choose his own government, then each can live in peace with the government of his choice. As there is freedom of worship, which is non-compulsion in the choice of religion, there can be freedom of government, which is non-compulsion in the choice of government. Each may think that the government of the other is bad, but each also thinks that his own government is good. What is required for a solution between them is abiding the other man’s government.

I believe this is a good solution. For one thing, it establishes an open competition. Each person can observe the outcomes of his own choice and learn about the outcomes of alternative choices made by others. He can switch governments, in the same way that he switches cars, churches, and pizzas. The governments that supply their clients then have to change their ways of operating toward satisfying them or else losing membership. The incentive works in the direction of greater client satisfaction.

Two things, at least, stand in the way of this outcome. One is intolerance and the other is the attempt to dominate others and gain from it. Utopia is not going to break out suddenly.

The perfect should not, however, be the enemy of the good. It is the idea of a variety of consensual governments operating on what is now the territory of a single government that matters here. It is the concept that government, which is the coordination of interpersonal human action, need not necessarily be a single government over all persons in a given region. A very great amount of interpersonal action can be coordinated in different ways for different people who are living near one another. For example, a good many people wish to sleep when it is dark, and they do not want to be disturbed by loud music and other people mowing their lawns at 3 a.m. Government coordinates this by various laws, but people also do this themselves by choices of location; and property developers who owned and leased property could do this by creating rules that satisfied lessors.

The U.S. government says that every citizen must participate in a variety of social programs. These are a major part of government today. This is like saying that there is one church in America and everybody is a member, whether they like it or not, and every person must contribute a certain amount of their income which will then be distributed according to certain rules decided by an official church body. Let those who want such rules and programs have them, and those who do not want them not have them. Open these programs to membership only upon subscription and not by compulsion. Let neither side force its views on the other. Let each side mind its own business and keep its hands off the business of others.

Some people want lots of government, others want little or none. Both cannot have their way if there is a single government. Both can have their way by choice of government. To get this, both have to give up the goal of making others conform to their own choice.

One of the main principles that Americans hold dear and have in common is freedom. Freedom involves acting without being compelled to act against one’s will. There cannot be freedom without tolerance of what other people do with their freedom. There is freedom of movement to the extent that we tolerate where other people travel; we do not interfere with their movements. There is freedom of work to the extent that we ignore what others do when they choose their work; we do not interfere with their work. There is freedom of worship because we ignore the religions of others and how they worship.

In the case of work, the U.S. has developed rules that govern every aspect of hiring and firing, hours worked, overtime, safety, liability, unionization, and so on. Freedom has been drastically reduced. In order to opt out, many businesses have moved to overseas jurisdictions. A single government backed up by a single judiciary coordinates the personal interactions of millions of employers and employees, whether they like it or not. Why can’t those who want to opt out of these arrangements be able to opt out? The only thing keeping many of them within this system is government force that is designed to favor certain interests at the expense of others. In this arena of human interaction as in many others, it is easy to conceive of multiple governments on the same territory. If one business and its employees want a government that meticulously sets the work rules, let them have it. And let those who do not want such a government coordinate their interactions in other ways. One can easily have one business operating with one set of rules in the same county or region or state as another business operating with a different set of rules. That is what goes on in the world today among countries.

The American Dream is a dream of general freedom. It has become a nightmare of compulsion and imposition in the eyes of those Americans who have different ideas of good and bad government from the government that they are forced to live under and that routinely violates their freedom.

Let Americans through their government stop being busybodies, busily interfering with each other’s lives constantly and in minute detail. This is the opposite of freedom, done in the false name of freedom.

There is only one way out: choice of government. This does not mean a vote for one of two parties that runs a single monopoly government. It means consent over the very form and content of one’s government. This consent will lead to multiple non-territorial governments.

May 25, 2009

Michael S. Rozeff 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.

What would be the most helpful for you?

Tomorrow we will continue with the Ten Commandments from a Christian anarchist perspective, but today, I wanted to ask you to share your comments: what kinds of articles, what kinds of content would be the most helpful to you, reader? Tell me. Include a comment below. Thanks!

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 3

The third commandment reads

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

In the Bible, a person’s name stands for his character. This is not always the case, but quite often the case. Certainly it is true when we come to God. His name is mentioned in Exodus 34:5-7

And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation

God’s name represents His character qualities. The above description is a little sample of that. The name of the Lord is full of meaning. All who follow Him are supposedly carriers of the same meaning, albeit in a lesser sense. This commandment has to do with our claim to represent God. Taking God’s name in vain, that is, making it empty or void, is much more than an ill-mannered utterance. It means to misrepresent God in any way.

If we claim to be His representatives and our behavior is a denial of His name, i.e. a denial of mercy, grace, justice, etc., then we are guilty, through our actions, of misrepresenting Him. From the standpoint of the Christian anarchist, this is especially troubling. The reason why, is that the fundamental reason for choosing to become a Christian anarchist is because of the quest for justice. Anarchism says that no created person stands in the place of Christ above any other created person. It rejects all lords but Christ, all antilords, that is, all antichrists.

The Christian anarchist supposedly has a better grip on history and the depradations of the state. This should shape his behavior. As a representative of a more just world, his behavior should be the most appealing, the most attractive, the least obsessive, the least statelike, overbearing, invasive, repellant. He represents the highest ideal: the fully responsible, responsibility-taking, eyes-wide-open Christian. If he has shed the injustice of the state, if he is truly antistate, then he is called to be a model of the most just life a human can live.

We can summarize this by saying that, far from emptying the name of God of its moral power, the Christian anarchist should be the kind of person whose life is an illustration of the opposite: his life should as fully as humanly possible echo the divine name. If ten Christians live on his street, he, the Christian anarchist, should be the most like Jesus.

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 2

The second of the Ten Commandments falls out as follows:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).

The first commandment clarified for us that nothing else comes first but God. It also warns us of the possibility of easily coasting along into the worship of a false god. Someone may present a false god before me and tell em to make it first. I must not succumb by passivity. Yes, I am created a worshipping being, but not to worship any which thing or person or being who presents himself to me. I am made, quite specifically in God’s image, not in the image of a pseudo-god. God, THE GOD, THE ARKY, He and only He is to be first.

With this in mind, we consider the second commandment and find a particular warning. We are not to create for ourselves any false gods / pseudo-gods, and worship them. God gave us a creative faculty. We are at risk of making to ourselves, and in our own image, a god to worship. The state, after all, is not God’s conception, is it? No, it is not.

The first state we find explicitly noted in Scripture was conceived by Nimrod. Later, we find the Hebrews wishing for a king and national greatness—all against God’s counsel. The state is not a divine conception, at least not as we know the state. It was first introduced among men in a fallen situation, in a world where the plutonium of sin was loose on the winds.

Man is not to serve the state; he is to serve God. The state is, it becomes so apparent, an idol, and we are neither to create them nor to bow down to them. Theology, of course, can be a notorious, ferocious stage for the creation of gods. The state will use whatever tools it finds that it can use. It cares not whether it corrupts religion, not in the least. What it cares for is to seduce the Christian, seduce the church, to reshape it, to turn it from humanity into something as unreal and unliving as itself. The cold monster is set on absorbing all.

We are not to make our own towers of Babel. We need not any ziggurat markers to show our greatness. We have none. We are not designed to bow down to other creatures but to THE ARKY. We must be anarchists with respect to all other arkys but God. He is the first and He is the last. He is not one among many, He is alpha and omega. There remains no room for human idols fashioned after flatulent human productions. God will brook no other. If we set ourselves to the making of idols, we are introducing competition. Then we are out of our league.

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