Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy, or Statism? A Response

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

I ran across a series of articles lately on a blog called “The Kuyperian Commentary.”

The Article in question is titled “Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy or Statism?” and was written by Adam McIntosh, a former missionary kid, and currently a pastoral intern in Southern Illinois. It is my intention over the next series of articles to interact with the ideas McIntosh presents in his article. Before, I get into it, though, I would encourage you to read the entire thing for yourself. It’s a bit long – a five parter – but it’s well worth it, and you’ll have a much better context for what I am going to say.

Continue reading Biblical Government: Anarchy, Minarchy, or Statism? A Response

Legislate Morality?

I read these comments from Al Mohler on Facebook:

“The argument for removing polygamy laws was simple: the state has no business legislating morality. But every legislature legislates morality. Every code of laws is a codex of morality. The law is itself inherently and inescapably moral, even irreducibly moral. The law can’t be anything other than a moral statement.”

In my early days, I made that argument rather vigorously, but have now come to modify my position. It is not so much that I have abandoned what I once believed, but that I now understand the nature of that belief with greater clarity.

Continue reading Legislate Morality?

An Open Letter to Ohio Senators Cafaro, Brown, Turner and Schiavoni RE Senate Bill 248

UPDATE: VICTORY! http://hslda.org/hs/state/oh/248_withdrawl_statement.docx. Here and after I already printed, signed and sealed my copies of the letter. Oh well. At least I didn’t stamp them. I will definitely have to keep my eye on this issue though.

I live in Ohio. I home school. This hits home. Senate Bill 248 is an attack on home schooling families. Read more here and here. In response, I have drafted the following letter that I plan to send to the sponsoring legislators. I will also be sending a modified version to the senator from my district urging his opposition to this.

Continue reading An Open Letter to Ohio Senators Cafaro, Brown, Turner and Schiavoni RE Senate Bill 248

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property. It is with those things in mind that we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Thanks for stopping by. This post is the third part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. I really do not recommend reading this post without first coming to grips with what I have said in previous posts, so please check them out.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property.

It is with those things in mind that in today’s post we turn our attention to Romans 13.

Romans 13

Now we get to Romans 13. For starters, here’s the text of Romans 13:1-7. As you read this, lets’ remind ourselves what perspective we are reading this from. We are not reading this as citizens under the authority of government. We are reading this as civil magistrates casting our votes for how the government will rule. We must ask ourselves, what does Romans 13 reveal about how God wants me to govern?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his  approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Certainly I must be stretching the text to say that it contains commands that must be obeyed by the civil magistrate!

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Hi there. This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government.

In Part 1, I laid the groundwork necessary to interact with this discussion adequately, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

For that reason, we turn our attention in today’s post to a fundamental Biblical principle for all human ethics and consider how it applies to civil government.

The Foundational Principle of Human Ethics

As discussed in my previous post, I will get to Romans 13 and deal with it in-depth. However, in recognition of the fact that Romans 13, at least as traditionally understood, speaks to citizens, and we are interested in God’s mind as it pertains to civil magistrates, I want to first back up to determine if there are any foundation and universal principles we can glean from Scripture that will give us some parameters that we need to keep in mind.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. This first post sets up the latter posts by introducing the topic and then laying some ground work. Please stay tuned for the next installments.

Introduction

I’ve found myself roped into several debates lately over political issues in which I have needed to defend my position as a Libertarian. This is partly because of my nature to debate things. I hope that nobody perceives me as an argumentative person, or as one who is arrogant or condescending. I suspect, however that such is the unfortunate case. In truth, while I do have to fight against these temptations, the stronger forces that drive me to debate are the strong conviction I have on these matters and the fact that I’m an optimist.

Yeah, I’m a bit of an optimist. I generally have a positive outlook on the nature of human discourse. I truly believe that if we can discuss things rationally, we can come to an understanding of the truth. This is not to place too much faith in human reason or ability, but rather in the authority of Scripture, which ought to be our rule, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process. That being said, when someone engages with me, I assume that they are genuinely curious and that they are truly interested in hearing my side of things. On that assumption, I seek to explain myself as fully, clearly and accurately as i can. I refuse to project ill will on another, insisting that the benefit of every doubt be given. When a question is asked, I assume an answer is expected. I therefore strive to give the best one I can.

However, things very often devolve, as is the nature of the Internet. Sometimes intentions are not noble. Sometimes discussions get hijacked. Sometimes we are limited by time and media. Whatever the reason it seems that I am rarely able to give a full and well-reasoned defense of things. This is what drives me here. I maintain my hope that when believers discuss these things and when their discussion is guided by the Word of God, they can come to a better understanding of the truth, and a better bond with each other, regardless of whether the go away agreeing. For our sure hope is founded not in the correctness of our political platform, but in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his resurrection, and his promise of future glory.

To that end, I seek to lay before you my treatise on all things political.

Newest Blogroll Addition: My Kindred Spirit The Reformed Libertarian

I’ve felt a bit like an ugly duckling lately, and strangely so. I am Reformed, and I’m a Libertarian. And everywhere I turn, it seems to be an oxymoron. Unfortunately, my study of the Word of God and my study of the issues leads me repeatedly to the conclusion that the two should be intrinsically linked, hinged primarily on the notion that righteousness is a heart condition, and not a behavior.

I’ve found other sites that have helped, one of them being Libertarian Christians, which introduced me to the wonderful Laurence Vance. However, I’m often disappointed with the handling of Scripture I’ve read there – not that I see them grossly misusing it, but there have been a few points of quibbling, and they overall seem to lack the Reformed notion of Scripture first, reason second, leaning instead toward reason first, Scripture second. So, I have longed for a more Biblically sound resource that agrees with me.

Enter the Reformed Libertarian. I’ve only scratched the surface here, but just his explanation of The Christian and His Relation to the State is right up the correct alley. A critical excerpt:

Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13, and Titus 3:1 all state that we as Christians are to be subject to “rulers and authorities.”  That word “subject” is in Greek hypotassō.  And hypotassō means to “be arranged under.” … to be in subjection to the authorities does not mean that the State’s precepts are our rules to live by, but rather, to be subject to the authorities simply means to recognize that we as proponents of the Kingdom of God are not to establish this kingdom here on earth by overthrowing the State.  Contextually, the concept of hypotassō, to be arranged under, was mentioned for the reason that the Roman Empire was fearful that the Christians were seeking to overthrow it (a typical phobia for those in power –even today).  States everywhere, especially those that have become empires, are constantly fearful that their power will be stolen.  Peter and Paul were therefore very clear: we are not trying to establish the Kingdom of God coercively by eradicating the Roman Empire.

The application I take away for our contemporary situation: We are not called to take the reigns of the violent state in order to force our social order on the world.

Please go over there and give him a few hits.

That’s all for now. Thanks.

Freedom Requires Virtue

You’ve probably heard it said that “Freedom requires virtue.” I’ve heard it in one form or another countless times, attributed to various founding fathers. I doubt very much that any of them said it verbatim, but I think they all expressed some form of the idea in one way or another.

What do I make of it? Usually I hear it from someone who does not like libertarian ideals because they think that it opens the flood gates to immorality. So what is my response? Do I agree with this sentiment, and what does that mean for my views on libertarianism? Surely the two are mutually exclusive, right?

Continue reading Freedom Requires Virtue

A Very Brief Comparison of Libertarian and Theonomist Utopias

This is not in the least bit exhaustive. I merely wish make a key point in comparison and contrast between the ideal world from a Libertarian standpoint and an ideal world from a Theonomist standpoint.

Brief Definitions:

Theonomy

Theonomy is far to deep a subject to treat adequately here. There are many brands. For our purposes, I will boil this down to any political theory which seeks to legislate Christian morality. There are Theonomists who wish to impose the Law of Moses word for word. There are others who see the Law of Moses as outmoded and have a “New Testament” moral code, but still seek to legislate that moral code. I think my analysis below covers both. Most of the Theonomists I know may not label themselves Theonomists, but do fall into that second group. Rather, I would say that, with very very few exceptions, almost every Christian I know falls into that second group of Theonomists.

Libertarians

I have covered Libertarianism rather thoroughly in my previous post. There can be many reasons to hold the principals of Libertarianism. In this article, I’m specifically referring to Christian Libertarians, which is a term that perhaps requires definition on its own. A Christian Libertarian is one who holds Libertarianism because he believes that it is the political philosophy that most adequately fits with Biblical principles. The full defense of my belief in such assertion is still in the works. But to sum up as briefly as possible, it boils down to the concept of God ownership. God alone has a greater ownership claim on my life, liberty, and property than I do. I can rebelliously reject his ownership claim and keep it for myself, but that is between him and me. Regardless of whether I submit to his ownership, no other person has an ownership claim on my life, liberty, or property. Similarly, I have no ownership claim on another’s life, liberty, or property. My neighbor is free to choose for himself whether he will submit to God’s ownership. Since I am to love my neighbor as myself, and I would prefer that my neighbor allow me to make my own choice as to whether to follow the Lord (not that he wouldn’t be free to try to persuade me, but that he cannot force me to choose one way or another), I leave him free to make that choice as well.

Most Christians think that a Libertarian society would be a morally reprobate world. I hope to show below how it would actually be better than a Theonomist world.

Continue reading A Very Brief Comparison of Libertarian and Theonomist Utopias