EDITORIAL- Bill Collier
In the 1st century, Christians insisted there was only ONE God who is manifested as Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit in ONE. Besides God, there is no other! But the Romans did not appreciate this, they wanted everyone to acknowledge that Caesar was a god.
I have often wondered why people believed rulers were gods. The thought came to me that the death of these rulers must surely be proof that they weren’t god!
Suddenly, however, it struck me- the whole point of claiming divinity had nothing to do with living forever, it was a claim of unlimited and unconditional power! By forcing citizens and subjects to “merely” offer some incense to the “divine genius” of the Emperor the Romans were acknowledging a government without any real earthly limits.
When some angry Romans accused Christians of “turning the world upside down” and of saying “there is another king, not Caesar”, they were touching on an implication of the Christian doctrine of God’s sole supremacy, which is a limiting constraint on ALL human authority and sovereignty.
Fast forward to the 21st century and we still have greedy power-hungry people trying to convince us to offer that incense to their genius. It all happened when Chief Justice John Roberts defended the Obamacare law on the basis that the Federal Government’s power to tax pretty much allowed it to “tax” ANYTHING in the name of pursuing ANY policies it wants to pursue.
Whatever you think of Obamacare, the law itself is really NOT the issue. Today, if you like the law, the unlimited power of government might seem a benefit, but tomorrow when that same unlimited power is used for other purposes, well, then it will most definitely NOT seem very “beneficial” to you! Who’s to say now, for instance, that the Federal Government can’t pass a law that “taxes” contraceptives in an effort to get people to stop using them? Who’s to say we can’t have a Federal Tax on all Americans who go to church, or who don’t go to church?
Government is not equipped to do things outside of the powers given to it by God Himself. When government tries to regulate and manage “family” we get an epidemic of fatherlessness and broken marriages. When government tries to take on society’s role of caring for the poor, we get a subsidization of those things that lead to more poverty, including bad behavior, lack of education, and unsafe streets. Everything the government touches outside of its divine magistrate is left in worse state then before government touched it!
Some like to criticize Christians for all of our “rules” (really standards of moral/ethical conduct) but let’s compare.
Even if we chose to follow the OLD law of the Old Testament, which under the New Covenant is not necessary, we would have a grand total of 638 laws to follow. Obamacare is actually almost as big as the whole Bible and if we add all the laws and regulations of just the Federal Government under the allegedly “liberal” ideology that is supposed to free us from all the “rules” of the Bible, well, you’d need a small warehouse to contain them! I’d rather go back to the 638 laws of the Old Testament!
Liberals generally object most to God’s law regarding sex, marriage, and self-indulgence, things like prohibitions of drunkenness and fornication seem terribly constraining to them. To my mind, this is “bread and circuses”: Caesar kept his populace dumb and docile by giving them massive entertainment spectacles and letting them indulge their lusts while handing out free bread to keep them happy. That the only decisions they could make were related to how to give themselves pleasure never occurred to them, at least until Christians started preaching true freedom, which lauds self-control as the fruit of living in Christ.
I’m not suggesting that the government regulate your very bedroom, that’s not the point. My point is that this is one of the ONLY area where the godless regime in Washington DC professes to have no interest!
We seem to be “free” to indulge ourselves as we please, and our government even promises “bread” if our poor decisions or poor circumstances put us in a position to need it: but how we spend the money we own, how we use our land and property, our ability to control things like our local schools, NONE of that is to be left to us. So, what’s more important to you: liberty to satisfy your senses and entitlements to free handouts or the dignity of being in real control over your life, your property, and your community?
Government is not a necessary evil, it is a positive good, but only when government manages those things it was meant to handle, and no more! I have to heartily disagree with Thomas Paine on this one, he taught us that “government is but a necessary evil, but something that God Himself has ordained is NOT evil, though it is a necessity.
It all comes down to what you think the originating authority for government is or isn’t.
There are two predominant schools of thought on this- that the state is its own authority unto itself (we all belong to government) or that the state is a result of a social compact (we own the government). I will propose a third school of thought.
For progressive secularists, government gets its authority, essentially, from itself. As the DNC video showed us, “we all belong to our cities, states, and nation”, in other words government “made that”, not us. Perhaps government also made us? The booing at the DNC Convention when they allegedly inserted “God” back into their platform may in fact reveal their true ideology (although some of our liberal readers will disagree and, indeed, for them this may NOT be true).
During the Democrats’ convention Bill Clinton intoned the state as a messianic force when he said “we’re in it all together is better than you’re on your own.” John Kerry roused the crowd with “we believe in Obama!” The whole theme was “society is rigged and unfair, thanks to people like our political opponents, but, fear not, we, the government, can save you!” Never mind that God is our provider, that “I can do all things through Christ”, or any of that stuff- the answer to every problem, big or small, is government either providing it or taxing and regulating it. Now isn’t that nice?
Others, both liberals and conservatives, don’t believe the government gets its power from itself. The secular progressives are definitely in the minority, although they seem to be in the driver’s seat in America today. For most Americans, the old idea of a “social compact” still applies. This is a theory created first, or at least foremost, by John Locke that says government is a result of a contract between people in a society, a social compact. So, for them, the originating authority for the government is the People.
Mitt Romney answered the DNC video by saying “we don’t belong to government, government belongs to us.” He was extolling the virtue of political sovereignty, the legal ownership of the government by the People.
It is, it seems, assumed to be “common sense” that political sovereignty, which you might call the consensus of the governed, MUST be the basis of legal sovereignty. On what basis is this assumed?
While I defend what I call “Popular Sovereignty” on the basis of equity, fairness, and long-term stability I believe that popular sovereignty must be balanced by Unity in diversity (not “from many, one” but “from one, many”), Democratic equality (especially in terms of equal opportunity and the autonomy of private groups/free associations and local communities) and a Rule of law (based on less flexible ethical/moral strictures of the People/Nation). Popular sovereignty, however, like ALL sovereignty, does not originate in the People OR the government!
This is where the third “school of thought” on the originating authority of government comes into focus.
I propose that the true originating authority for ALL government and all authority in general is the Creator of the Universe- all sovereignty comes from our sovereign Creator! It doesn’t come from the state and it doesn’t come from the People of that state! As a form of government a union of popular and democratic republics is, I believe, the most efficient and fair, as long as the People respect God’s divine mandate for the state.
This is the reason why Patrick Henry famously said that our Constitution was for a virtuous and religious people alone- a pure democracy without any ethical or moral limits is often a compact between 51% of the people to take things from the 49% who lose in the election!
God alone is “forever and always sovereign, at all places everywhere!”
We own no sovereignty that God does not give us, period. Of course, if He gives us authority, as with elected leaders, He expects us to conform to His limits on that authority and if we don’t respect those limits there is always judgment and wrath to straighten us out.
Only God has unlimited authority and sovereignty, no human agency or government has unlimited authority and sovereignty. What’s worse than turning the actual Constitution on its head, a law that does acknowledge God as the source of all sovereignty and authority, as does the Declaration of Independence, is that what Chief Justice Roberts has done was to deny this truth: he is now asking us to give our pinch of incense to the divine genius of government- the god that failed.ADVERTISEMENT
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