Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Archive for June, 2009

More on the Daily Dent

On occasion we will include in the posting of the “Daily Dent” a statement that is as minarchist as anarchist, although the position taken by this site is anarchist. There is enough room here to appreciate others’ thought as well.

In the next day or two we will post our first Christian anarchist Bible study, this one on the book of Colossians. Looking forward to seeing what you think.


REAL ID by Any Other Name Stinks As Bad

Since REAL ID was DOA, the state’s long noses have introduced a similar bill with $ugar coating for the states. Don’t pass it. Here is the link:

Courtesy and author Becky Akers

Is God’s law impositional?

Having recently completed the series on the Ten Commandments here at C&S, I wanted to address the issue of law. Some Christian anarchists reject the idea of law. They are antinomian. In contrast, we wholeheartedly accept the idea of God’s law. Why?

To observe a law is to recognize an authority over oneself; something exactly opposite the intent of some anarchists. However, there is a difference between government and the state. There are may kinds of government, including self-government. A husband who chooses to remain faithful to his spouse is practicing self-government. There may or may not be a law against adultery, but the man is choosing to make a commitment to his wife and to remain faithful to that commitment.

The state is a form of government in which the ruling forces of government impose their will on the subject population by force. Inevitably, such a government is impositional; it imposes its rule over others. God gave to each man a will, and that will is to be exercised in self-government. A person is granted free will. He is thus granted freedom to choose his moral path. Will he engage in positive action and benefit others, or negative action, harmful to others?

Eller helps here. He points out that we choose between heteronomy (“hetero,” meaning “other” and “nomos” meaning “law”) and “theonomy” (meaning “God” and “law”) positions. “All worldly arkys are by nature heteronomous—each is out to impose its idea of what is right upon whoever has any different idea” (Vernard Eller, Christian Anarchy, p. 2). But

When Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ he was saying that, although all worldly arkys have to be impositional, his is radically different in that it does not have to be—and in fact is not (Ibid.).

The secular anarchist position, says Eller, is autonomy—”the self being a law unto itself.” But the Christian recognizes that self-rule, when self is interwoven with a fallen human nature, is also a bondage.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin (Proverbs 5:22 ESV).

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:19 ESV).

Ellul has pointed out, so very intriguingly that although we talk a good talk about desiring to be free, actually,

It is not true that people want to be free. They want the advantages of independence without the duties or difficulties of freedom. Freedom is hard to live with. It is terrible. It is a venture. It devours and demands. It is a constant battle, for around there are always traps to rob us of it. But in particular, freedom itself allows us no rest. It requires incessant emulation and questioning. It presupposes alert attention, ruling out habit or institution. It demands that I always be fresh, always ready, never hiding behind precedents or past defeats. It brings breaks and conflicts. It yields to no constraint and exercises no constraint. For there is freedom only in permanent self-control and in love of neighbor (Jacques Ellul, The Seduction of Christianity, p. 167).

The Christian anarchist has the answer to Etienne de la Boetie’s famous question about the ruler who rules over a people:

How does he have any power over you except through you? How could he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What would he do to you if you yourself did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? (Etienne de la Boetie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, p. 52, op. cit. in Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed, p. 90).

How does he have power over us? We give it to him. We seek out someone to rule us because we do not really want freedom. The Fall so radically impacted humankind that we are repelled by the idea of becoming truly human. It will take conversion, a new power working in us from above, to cause us to want genuine freedom. God must waken in us the call to Canaan and quiet the tedious programming of habit which ever says in us, “Back, child, back, return to Egypt and the slavery you know so well. It is the path of least resistance. Go back!”

The alternative is theonomy, by which I do not mean theocracy. I do not mean an earthly religious kingdom ruled by popes or mullahs or pastors. To engage in theonomy is to be guided by God’s law. His law is not impositional, it is voluntary. He is our Designer; He “wrote the manual” on humanity. He knows exactly what works, what fits, what His original design intended. He knows that which is healing and humanizing for us. Eller again:

God’s arky, his will for us, is never anything extraneous to ourselves but precisely that which is most germane to our true destiny and being . . . Rather than a heteronomous imposition, God’s arky spells the discovery of that which is truest to myself and my world.

The contention of Christian anarchy, then, is that the worldly arkys are of the “all” that “in Adam” dies and are no part of the “all” that “in Christ” is made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). (Ibid, p. 3).

We might add more but this will suffice. God’s law is not against us. If it could give us life, it would, but that is not its function in the plan of redemption. It is, however, a primary instrument of God as we invite Him to search us, show us our wicked ways, and lead us into a better way. A way that is non-coercive, does not use force, and leads rather by the winsome, attractive appeal of goodness (Psalm 139:23, 24; Romans 2:4).

God’s law is not impositional; it is an exact match for humanity and its natural desire for righteousness. To the heart which remains unrenewed, God’s law will seem impositional. Such hearts will seek to find any way of keeping alive because they have not died. Self is alive and God’s law looms as a condemning hammer. But if we die daily, if God resurrects a converted heart in us daily, we will neither be enslaved by our own tendency to seek out bondage, nor be agencies coercing and imposing and lording it over others.

What a different world is coming. The Christian anarchist, and no credit to himself, is riding that cutting edge. May God open our eyes to see ever more of His ways.

MN Rep. Bachmann warns about census

She says that she will not be filling out anything more than the number of persons living in her household, as that is the Constitutional requirement. (The law says that you are coerced to provide accurate information on anything they ask you, or face a $5,000.00 fine.) I plan to follow Bachmann’s example.

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 10

And the tenth commandment is presented as follows:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s (Exodus 20:17).

Coveting—desiring that which belongs to someone else—is unhealthy. Instead of being engaged in acquisition through one’s own labor, to want what someone else has, to want it so that one covets it, is to want to take it from them without having labored for it. It is to seek a shortcut. Efficiency is healthy, but shortcuts are not. A shortcut introduces a deficit between reaping and sowing. The Bible insists that what one sows one reaps; to seek a shortcut is to seek to reap what one has not sown.

God does not want us to covet the property of others, as we have already seen, because He has created the world with basic assumptions about property rights. Private property ownership is inwrought in the Ten Commandments. His law begins with having no other God’s before God—who is owner of all, and ends with the directive that we are not to covet—again, having to do with our interfering with His ownership of all.

Let’s unpack this a bit, recapitulating some points of interest. God owns everything, and gives it to whom He wills. God owns the Sabbath, but He made it for man. God owns the world but He made it to be inhabited by man. He did not make man an appendageless lump; He gave us hands, feet, muscles, and minds. He intends for us to live amidst His creation—His property. He made us to be productive.

That being said, we consider afresh the attitude of covetuousness. If we see something that we like, then simple good will toward our brother suggests that we would look for ways to reproduce that or to copy it or to fairly acquire it; that is, no shortcuts, no secret desire to get, no devaluation of the other person as in the mercenary thought: “I wish I had your stuff!”

God wants us to be productive and to respect the property rights of others. “Thou shalt not steal.” Paul warned concerning some that if they would not work they should not eat. What was he saying? There are no shortcuts.

Christians should be among the most productive people, and often they are. All the comfortable atheists sitting in air conditioned glory in hotter climes have Christian inventor Willis Haviland Carrier to thank for their comfort. Christians should be the most realistic. We should be practical, responsible people, rather than dreamy and antihuman seekers of shortcuts and smokers of pipe dreams.

God’s law is so practical and so appealing to the anarchist perspective precisely because it was not cooked up by any legislative assembly, any state, mass meeting, crowd, or republic. It did not come through Mao’s little red book or Mein Kampf, nor is it any 18th century manifesto. The Bible indicates that this Torah is given by revelation and reveals in compact form the mind of God. It is a positive; not a negative. It cannot give life, but it points the way for the life that God can give. Salvation is not through the law but through Jesus Christ. He is the Law. The Ten Commandments fit the gospels so well because they are the very mind of Christ. The Testaments Old and New are intimately related; there would be no “New” Testament without the Hebrew Scriptures that preceded it. Take away the earlier Scripturea nd you would shrink Paul’s writings quite considerably.

I am a Protestant, but I recognize that there is a soft place in Protestant history at the law. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their iimediate associates mostly trained as lawyers before switching to theology and eventually becoming reformers; they viewed questions about salvation through the window of Western Christianity, which in their day had a decidedly juridicial focus. No wonder, then, that the law was seen from the perspective of condemnation rather than as a helpful psychological MRI showing God’s ways. Their focus was on guilt, condemnation, acquittal, while the Radical Reformation and Eastern Christian perspective was focused on the restoration of the image of God in man. From that point of view, the law is not nearly so negative.

Finally, from the Christian anarchist perspective, God gives a law directly and commands men to be men and to obey it. This includes men with fallen natures. See Cain contemplating doing violence to his brother in Genesis four, and God’s intervention, pleading with him to “rule over” his desire to kill (Genesis 4:6, 7). God was not being idle with Cain; He would have fully helped him to subdue his violence had Cain laid hold of His help. Likewise, with us; the power is no more in us to obey on our own than it was in Cain. But God will help us to rule over such desires, whether thoseare to submit to idols (including the idol of political power), to kill, or to covet. The Ten Commandments is a law direct from God to man; and that is anarchist to the core.

Hurricane Fed approaches, and it will be HUGE

Very important concise suggestions from Greg over at The Holy Cause. Here is the link:

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 9

The ninth commandment states

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16).

In the “errata” for the Ten Commandments, this is expanded upon:

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exodus 23:1-3 ESV).

Bearing false witness has a very broad application, but here we see it particularly connected to judicial and social matters. To bear false witness is to pervert justice. Those who pervert justice are automatically on the wrong side of justice—and God. (He is always on the side of justice. He always combines justice and mercy.)

A false witness may prejudice the decision reached and cause an unfair sentence to be handed down. In Bible times, most decisions were rendered by single judges, but in our day, sentence rendered often via jury. Unfortunately, people in groups do not necessarily render impartial decisions. This very command indicates that a lying witness can bend the facts and sway the outcome.

The commandment reminds us that others—all others—are our neighbors. When we recall the command “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12), we again see that other people are our neighbors. There is a brotherhood. To put one’s hand against another for personal gain is a form of aggression. Since punitive action may be undertaken in a judicial process, to render false witness in support of such action is a violation of the well-known non-aggression axiom: That no one has the right to initiate the use of force against another person or his property.

To bear false witness is to deny this fundamental connection of all humans with all humans. It is not to seek peace with all men, but to seek to exploit judicial processes in a mercenary manner for the benefit of oneself. Some anarchists leave the impression that they see life as an arena in which it is every man for himself and survival of the fittest; the Christian anarchist cannot see himself alone in the world. He sees himself neither as apart from God nor from man. His eyes are wide open to the mischief and injustice so often wrought through collectives, but at the same time he is not blind to the inadequacy of unbridled individualism.

God’s law is seen here, as in many other of the Ten Commandments, to facilitate community. Remember that God’s law is a thumbnail sketch of His character. We are made in His image. The divine character is opposite the satanic character. The very essence of what Satan is, is a liar. He was a liar from the beginning of his apostasy, and made himself an accuser of the brethren. He is the paradigmatic image of one who bears false witness. The contrast is complete; God bears a true witness of others. In Him is only truth, only light; there is no shadow of turning in Him, no hidden dark spots.

To prevail in secular politics, one must be a skillful operator. That circle is a stagnant pool of institutionalized misrepresentation, a school is bearing false witness. Is it any wonder that the outcomes of the state are almost universally corrupting?

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