Come-Outerism: The Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church by William Goodell

Come-Outerism: The Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church by William Goodell

What follows is a historically relevant precedent for an apologetic in favor of the idea that it is the obligation of every professing abolitionist to confront and agitate professing christians on the grounds of their being derelict in their responsibilities towards the weightier matters of God’s Law, their sloth in failing to seek God’s Kingdom, and how their distracting rituals in their government-owned buildings are not safe spaces to shield them from the harsh truth that they take God’s name in vain.

While Goodell provides a tacit logical proof in support of a continued grass-roots approach towards repentance, revival, and obedience to God, we recognize that some of his presuppositions are inaccurate: specifically, he is mistaken about how Scripture defines a “church” and how it does not refer to a musty building with sing-song and sophist rituals, or even to a fellowship of believers, but to the network of ministers who sustain their congregations of families in a daily ministration of their charity. If Christians sought the Kingdom of God as they should, and kept Heaven’s political model for society, then their adhocratic accountability would entirely remodel what we call “Christianity.”

Anyway, the pamphlet is long enough without needing too thorough of an opening disclaimer:

NEW YORK:

AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,

142 NASSAU STREET.

1845.

James G. Birney has proved that the “American Church is the Bulwark of American Slavery,” and Stephen S. Foster that “the American church and clergy are a Brotherhood of Thieves.” Having thus shown the American church to be corrupt, we present our friends with another link in the chain of argument, from the hand of William Goodell of Utica, being his well-known Essay on the “Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church.”

The American Anti-Slavery Society is frequently charged with being opposed to all church organizations. The charge has been again and again both denied and refuted. Those who care to know our views in regard to the churches of the country and the course we urge our members to adopt, will find them clearly defined in the following pages. Though we differ on other points, on this Mr. Goodell and ourselves are entirely agreed.

The very head and front of our offending

Hath this extent — no more. W. P.

DUTY OF SECESSION FROM A CORRUPT CHURCH.

Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ — Rev. xviii. 4.

Our Protestant commentators tell us that by the ‘Babylon‘ of the Apocalypse, we are to understand a CORRUPT CHURCH, and that the proclamation which John heard in heaven — ‘Come out of her, my people’ is to be regarded as a divine admonition to all faithful Christians, warning them to secede from such a church, as from the Anti-Christ, doomed to perdition, at the brightness of the Savior’s appearing. It is true they suppose, that the corrupt church, particularly intended, is the church of Rome; but it is nevertheless equally true that their construction of the passage involves and is founded upon the principle, that whenever and wherever a church, (however distinguished, once, by the divine presence and favor) becomes corrupt and apostate, it is the duty of all true Christians connected with it, to secede from it, because it has thus apostatized, and is become corrupt. It has never been doubted that the church of Rome was once a true church, and the reason always given for coming out of her is her apostacy and corruption.

Nor is it pretended that the Romish church is the only corrupt, apostate, anti-Christian church that the world has yet seen, and that is now to be found. The Greek church has commonly been considered by Protestants to be essentially on the same foundation with the Romish. And both in Old England and New England, the founders of our present churches and denominational arrangements have repeatedly gone through the process of ‘gathering churches out of churches’ (Cotton Mather’s prediction concerning the churches in New England.), on the same principle. The Puritans derived their name from their efforts to secure, in this way, a pure church. And if it be true, as it doubtless is, that secessions have often been made on lighter grounds than the alleged apostacy, and anti-Christian character of the church seceded from, that fact only places in a still stronger light the universal recognition, by Protestants, of the duty of seceding from an anti-Christian church. Indeed, to deny that duty would be equivalent to renouncing the Protestant faith, and would require our return to the Romish communion.

Our commentators, moreover, do not commonly construe the Babylon of the Revelations to mean exclusively the Romish church, nor do they confine the application of the command, in the text, to the Protestant reformers, nor to the duty of seceding from the Romish communion. Thomas Scott says, expressly:

‘This summons concerns all persons in every age; they who believe in Christ, and worship God in the spirit, should separate from so corrupt a Church, AND FROM ALL OTHERS THAT COPY HER EXAMPLE of idolatry, persecution, CRUELTY and TYRANNY, and avoid being partakers of her sins, even if they have renounced her communion, or else they may expect to be involved in her plagues’.

In describing, still further, the anti-Christian practices, on account of which the Romish church, and ‘all others that copy her example,’ should be renounced, and separated from as corrupt and anti-Christian, the same writer adds:

‘Not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, which is the most infamous of all traffics that the demon of avarice ever devised, but by no means the most uncommon. The sale of indulgences, dispensations, absolutions, masses and bulls, hath greatly enriched the clergy and their dependants, to the deceiving and destroying the souls of millions, and thus by feigned words they made merchandize of them ‘, nor has the management of Church preferments and many other things, been any better than trafficking in human souls; and it would be gratifying if we could say that this merchandize has been peculiar to the ROMISH anti-Christ.’

Again, in his ‘Practical Observations‘ on the chapter, the same commentator says:

‘Too often INJUSTICE, OPPRESSION, fraud. avarice or excessive indulgence are connected with extensive commerce, and to number the persons of men with beasts, sheep and horses, as the stock of a farm, or with bales of goods, as the cargo of a ship, is, no doubt, a most detestable and unchristian practice, fit only for Babylon the Great.’

And, after alluding again to those who ‘traded in the souls of men,’ in the way of ecclesiastical traffic in cures and benefices, he adds:

‘How fervently should we then pray that God would raise up reformers, who may contend as firmly, as perseveringly, and as successfully, against this vile merchandize, as some honorable and philanthropical persons have against the accursed slave trade. For, when Christ shall come again, to drive the buyers and sellers out of the temple, he will have much to do with other places besides Rome’

Again:

‘But the vengeance of Heaven is coming upon Rome, not for gestures, garbs and ceremonies, though multiplied, ridiculous, and of bad consequence in themselves, but for idolatry, ambition, OPPRESSION, CRUELTY to the people of God, imposture, AVARICE, LICENTIOUSNESS and spiritual TYRANNY. These are the sins, which have reached to the heavens, the iniquities which God remembers, and the evils FOR WHICH we must STAND ALOOF from her communion, and that of ALL OTHERS THAT RESEMBLE HER, or we shall be involved in their destruction.’

Thus we have Scott’s authority for identifying the abominations of a pro-slavery Protestant church with those of the church of Rome — for applying the warning voice of the text to the former as well as to the latter — for insisting that cruelty, tyranny, injustice, oppression, the trafficking in the ‘souls of men,’ the numbering of the persons of men with beasts, sheep and horses — with bales of goods — are preeminently among the iniquities, a participation in which makes a church (however once favored and spiritual) an anti-Christian church — ‘the evils for which we must stand aloof from her communion, and that of all others that resemble her, or we shall be involved in their destruction.’

It was a flagrant outrage upon self-evident and fundamental morality on the part of the Romish church, that arrested the attention of Luther, and convinced him that such a church could not be the true church of Christ That sale of indulgences to commit crime was nothing different, in character, from the tacit consent of the American churches in general, and with few exceptions, that those to whom they extend religious fellowship, and with whom they voluntarily sustain ecclesiastical relations, may continue to practice abominations equal to any conceived or provided for by the customers of John Tetzel: and this is true, whether commercial, political, ecclesiastical or social advantages constitute the purchase money pocketed by the churches. The common complaint, that the agitation of the subject disturbs and endangers the churches, and hazards their peace, sufficiently attests this.

But are our commentators right in teaching the duty of secession from a corrupt and anti-Christian church — a church guilty of cruelty, tyranny, oppression, avarice, injustice — a church that trafficks in slaves, in bodies and soul of men — a church that consents to, or tolerates, or licences such abominations among its allies and supporters? And were the Protestant Reformers right, in acting upon this same principle of secession from such a corrupt church?

In maintaining the affirmative of this question, we shall endeavor, first to explain, and then prove and illustrate, the duty of secession from an apostate church.

I. FALLACIOUS CREDENTIALS.

The discussion before us requires a clear understanding of what is meant by a corrupt, or apostate, or anti-Christian church. In order to this, it may be well to notice a few things, very commonly relied upon as evidences or credentials of a sound Christian church, which, on reflection, will be found to be no evidences at all; being common to true churches and to many of those that have apostatized.

1. HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS.

Many persons seem to take it for granted, that their church must be a true church, because it was founded by the authority of God, and by wise and good men, or because it consisted of good men, at the time of its organization or at some past period of its history — because it was founded on the true model, was enriched with divine influences, was abundantly favored with effusions of the Holy Spirit, and was remarkably instrumental in the conversion of sinner and the spread of the true religion.

Many of the descendants or successors of the Puritans seem to reason in this way. So do many of the followers John Wesley. At least, they evidently feel thus, if they would not adventure to frame an argument upon the assumption. On the same principle, other sects boast the apostolical succession of their ministers and bishops. The Romanists, by the same rule, prove their church to be the true church, and all seceders from it to be schismatics. And the Pharisees could defend themselves in the same way, again the scathing denunciations of the Messiah, who reproved them for their oppressions, by boasting, ‘We have Abraham for our father!’

This method of proving a church to be a true church of God, will never become plausible until it is made to appear that men, whose forefathers or predecessors were righteous, were always righteous themselves, or that God will accept men for the righteousness of their progenitors or predecessors, whatever their own characters may be. But it is a method which will probably continue in use, so long as anything else besides the exhibition of present good fruits and of sound Christian character shall be made a test either of church membership, or of the character of an assembly or church.

2. RITUALS — OBSERVANCES.

Either with or without a reference to the historical documents of their sect, many persons seem to claim a Christian character for their respective churches, on account of their present adherence to a scriptural church polity — regular organization — regular ordained pastors— exact and scrupulous observance of positive institutions — rites— ceremonies — ordinancesbaptismssacrificesfastsfeastssabbaths — meetings — prayersworship.

One sect is founded and supported on the simple ground of its supposed scriptural accuracy in respect to water baptism — another on the ground of its supposed observance of the precise day originally designated as the Sabbath — another on the ground of its rejecting outward rites and observances altogether. Partizans of these and other religions sects not unfrequently manifest their reliance on these circumstances, in estimating the Christian character of their church or sect. Tell them wherein their church or sect has openly violated the fundamental principles of a sound Christian morality — trampled upon the crushed poor, or neglected to plead faithfully in their behalf— alas! they know it all — they confess it all — they lament it all. They are even loud, perhaps, in their complaints of these delinquencies; they have been so, for many years, and they see no prospect of a change for the better. But they cannot think of seceding from their sect or church. Oh! no! That would be the sin of ‘schism.’ Why so? Because they think their church is, after all, a true Christian church, and they thus judge, because their definition of a church of Christ obliges them to give the Christian name to all the churches that they regard as having been scripturally constituted and regularly organized and governed, and who maintain in their purity and integrity the scriptural observances and rituals of religion.

If this sort of credentials can prove a church to be a true church, then the Pharisees, in Christ’s time, and their fathers in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, could have readily proved themselves to constitute the true church of God. The first and fifty-eighth chapters of Isaiah, and the seventh of Jeremiah, will show in what estimation God regards credentials of this sort, when separated from a practical regard for the oppressed and the crushed.

3. AN ORTHODOX CREED.

But when, in addition to their historical and ritual credentials, the members of a church can point to their correct orthodox creed, they often seem to think that the evidence is complete, and that no dereliction of duty towards the oppressed can prove that such a church is not a true church of Christ.

A profession of correct Christian principles is a very good thing, but it is only a profession, after all, and professions without practice will avail nothing to prove Christian character, either in an individual or in a church. The creed of a church is its profession — and if it be a correct creed, it is a profession of sound principles — nothing more. These principles or ‘doctrines’ are ‘according to godliness.’ — They furnish the grounds, the reasons, the motives for a correct Christian practice. If truely loved and obeyed, a correct Christian practice and a sound Christian character will be the result. An intelligent profession of these principles amounts to an intelligent promise to perform all the duties of religion; and therefore a church covenant is appended to the church creed. But what if the promise is habitually and constantly broken, at vital points, instead of being performed? Will the promise avail instead of the performance? If so (but not otherwise) a correct orthodox creed may prove the Christian character of a church that neglects and refuses to plead for the Lord’s poor! Till then, it will be true that the orthodox creed of such a delinquent church will be its condemnation, instead of its security. It will be the sure evidence of its guilt It will testify that (unless the creed were stupidly adopted, without a consideration even of its meaning) the church has sinned and is sinning against its known and recognized principles of duty, and must therefore be doubly condemned. The orthodox Pharisees, on this account, were more pointedly condemned by the Savior than the heretical Sadducees, who made lower professions. The grossly heretical churches of our own day, that do not plead for the oppressed, have sinned against less light, and probably contracted less guilt, and become less intolerably odious and offensive in God’s sight, than many of the churches that rely on the evangelical creeds to screen them from censure on account of their practical derelictions. They do less dishonor to God, to Christ, to Christian principles — to the very principles in the distinctive profession of which they glory; and on the loving reception of which human salvation depends. When God rises to judgment, the churches that ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness’ must drink a double portion, and drain the cup of trembling to the last dregs. Far be thy feet, Christian reader, from the threshold of such churches then! In that day it will be seen that the positive institutions of Christianity and the revelations of a sound Christian faith, in their integrity and purity, were talents put into the hands of the churches, to be improved; and that if buried and disregarded, they will prove swift witnesses against them.

4. MISSIONARY ZEAL — EFFORTS TO CONVERT SOULS — RELIGIOUS EXCITEMENTS.

These are often regarded as the sure signs that a church is, of course, a true Christian church, and no exhibitions of its inhumane CRUELTY and its CONTEMPT or fundamental MORALITY will reverse the decision! All this betrays an utter ignorance or forgetfulness of true religion itself— of the things wherein it essentially consists. ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.’ The ‘pure religion’ of James — of the ‘golden rule’ — of the two great commandments on which ‘hang all the law and the prophets,’ seems to have no place even in the conceptions of those who rely on such tests.

Equally regardless are such men of the facts of the world’s history and of its present spiritual condition. The Pharisees could compass sea and land to make one proselyte. In their devotions, they were sufficiently vociferous and earnest, breaking out, as by irrepressible impulse, at the very corners of the streets. They were by no means the cold-hearted, stiff, dull, phlegmatic formalists that some men picture them to be. Paul regarded himself as having been exceedingly mad, absolutely insane, with the prevalent enthusiasm of the sect, before his conversion. The same spirit composed the atmosphere of the Romish church, at the very period when its spiritual despotism and its manifold corruptions were engendered and ripened into giant maturity. The present mummeries and superstitions of that church are but the skeletons, the shells, the monuments of its ancient enthusiasm, fanaticism, mysticism and rhapsody. (See Spiritual Despotism’ by the author of ‘Natural History of Enthusiasm— a work in which the rise of the Papal power is traced with a graphic pencil, and shown to have grown up, along with its absurd and blasphemous pretensions and dogmas, out of the rank soil of a spurious; religious excitement, in which reason and common sense were outraged, and the practical duties of life set aside, as unworthy the attention of the spiritually minded and devout.) To galvanize this skeleton into its former life and activity, to revive again and to restore the departed spirit of its now unmeaning rituals — the spirit of the most soul-stirring and wide-spreading enthusiasm the world oversaw — appears to be the object of Dr. Pusey, and the writers of the ‘Oxford tracts.’ And not a few of the most zealous among the English clergy, of the ‘evangelical‘ stamp, the patrons of ‘revivals,’ have been captivated by them, and drawn away to ‘wander after the beast, whose deadly wound’ is likely to be ‘healed ‘ by the process. If modern travellers may be credited, something of the spirit invoked by the Puseyists has been conjured up, in Popish countries, not infrequently, within the last century.

At Naples, in Sicily, in various parts of Italy, in Portugal, and in South America, there have been repeated religious excitements, among the Romanists, in our own day, the description of which casts into the shade — so far as excitement and intense emotion are concerned — the religious excitements of our own country. Whole cities have spontaneously thrown aside their secular avocations, for a succession of days, and in some cases for weeks, it is said. The population, en masse, have eagerly thronged the streets in procession, moved by alternate terrors and transports — sometimes wringing their hands in agony, dashing themselves headlong upon the pavements or into the mire, and imploring the intercession of the ‘Blessed Virgin’ for the forgiveness of their sins. Then receiving absolution from their priests with frantic gestures and clamorous exultations. But did these Romish ‘revivals ‘ bring forth the fruits of righteousness? Ah! that is the question by which Protestant as well as Romish revivals should be tested. What should be thought of revivals conducted by itinerating evangelists, who carry on, likewise, a traffic in men, women and children, during their revivals? Such things have been witnessed, and a prominent minister lately preached, in Baltimore, with a pair of handcuffs in his pocket, which, immediately after the sermon, he put upon a female slave, on ship board, to be transported to the South. And we have, all over the country, ‘revivals’ conducted by preachers who will not plead for the enslaved — nor listen to such a plea — nor suffer their church doors to be opened for one — by preachers in close fellowship and brotherly intercourse with the slave-buying preachers of the South (The editors of our northern religious newspapers, for the most part, are just as ready to record, in tones of gratulation, the revivals in the slave States, as any other; though they cannot be ignorant that the preachers are commonly slaveholders, and that the mass of the converts continue to be either slaveholders or slaves!), and making up a common purse with them, to send the gospel to the heathen! What shall we think of such efforts to convert sinners and to evangelize the world? Can such ‘missionary exertions and revival efforts,’ with the excitements growing out of them, prove that a church, though devoid of humanity, and trampling decent morality and common honesty under foot, is a true Christian church? If so, why may we not join with the clergy of Rio Janeiro and of Naples, in promoting revivals, and with the Jesuits in carrying the gospel to China? No revivalists have got up greater excitements. No Missionaries have been more enterprising, or have numbered a greater company of Converts. There is a philosophy that counts it a sign of a sickly state of religion to make nice metaphysical distinctions between true religion and false. The healthiest state of religion, it teaches, is that in which men are religious, without knowing why or wherefore — without understanding or inquiring wherein true religion consists. If this be sound philosophy, and if ignorance be, therefore, the mother of devotion, all we need is zeal and excitement, and we may venture to harmonize with all who exhibit quantum sufficit those qualities, without stopping to dissect, to analyze, to scrutinize either their character or their fruits. But if religion be a ‘reasonable service’ — if God invites us to ‘consider our ways’ — to ‘know what manner of spirit we are of — to ‘examine’ ourselves — to ‘try the spirits whether they be of God’ — to ‘beware of false prophets — to ‘take heed and beware of men’; — then the philosophy of unconscious, unknowing, undiscriminating, impulsive, mystic, unexplainable religious excitement should be tossed to the breeze or into the moonbeams; and manly reflection, and logical scrutiny, and homely common sense should be welcomed into the field of experimental religion, as well as of everyday business and demonstrative science. The missionary and revival claims of churches in league with oppressors will be understood and adjusted then.

Are we censorious, severe, profane or hostile towards revivals of pure religion, because we thus speak? Turn over the voluminous writings of our own distinguished American theologians, on this very subject. Examine what Edwards, and Bellamy, and Smalley, and Hopkins, and Emmons have written concerning religious revivals and conversions, and upon the necessity of discriminating between true false and the true. You shall there see, in substance, all we have here written, and much more, that we have not room to write. You shall learn from those unimpeachable witnesses, the abundant occasion there has been, in this country, to enter into discussions and discriminations of this sort. You shall be instructed that religious excitements are, (of themselves, and aside from the good fruits they produce,) no evidences in favor of either an individual or a church, being common to all the religions of the known world, the false as well as the true, the Romish as well as the Protestant, the Pagan as well as the Christian — that they are as common on the banks of the Ganges as on the Connecticut or the Hudson — that nothing short of practical good fruits and holy living can furnish any evidences of truly gracious affections, and that where love to God and man, and a filial discharge of the relative duties of life, are not exhibited, all religious emotions, and excitements, and transports, are worthless and vain. (To this very point, the closing part— the climax of ‘Edwards on the Affections’ is devoted, and the absurdity of the too prevalent notion to the contrary is shown up with the cool, latent, solemn, weighty irony for which the gigantic author is so remarkable. Edwards on the Revival contains much to the same purpose.)

An almost incredible amount of labor, (and by the ablest and most honored ministers of the country,) has been expended to expose the worthlessness of ‘revivals’ that do not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. And yet, after all, the ’well substantiated and unrebutted charge against a large‘ portion of the ‘American churches,’ that they are the very ‘bulwarks of American slavery,’ with all its abominations and its blood, is gravely met, forsooth, with the plea that these churches must not be charged with apostacy, because they are blessed with ‘revivals.’!

5. CONVERSIONS — PIOUS MEMBERS AND MINISTERS.

It will be pleaded, nevertheless, that there are, to some extent, true revivals of religion in the churches that stand aloof from the cause of the enslaved — at any rate, that some instances of true conversion take place in their midst, and that among their members and ministers they enrol many persons of undisputed piety, including a large portion of the active friends of the enslaved. How, then, it will be asked, can we come to the conclusion that they are not to be regarded as true churches of Christ? And how can we be called upon to abandon the churches which Christ has not abandoned, and whom be still visits with the converting and reviving influences of his Spirit? Answer, — Zecharias and Elizabeth, and many others of their day, were pious persons, and were converted, of course, in the bosom of the Jewish church. But the Jewish church, at that time, was, nevertheless, apostate, and as such, was doomed to be cast off speedily, and overthrown. And the multitude of converts, afterwards, under the preaching of John the Baptist, of Jesus Christ, and of their disciples, and even on the day of Pentecost, did not prove the Jewish church to be in a sound state, nor avert the catastrophe that followed. The great majority, including the leading and governing influences and officials, were corrupt, and, instead of repenting, filled up the measure of their iniquities, in the midst of these conversions and “revivals.” And so the Jewish Church, as such, was broken off for its unbelief.

The Romish church, in her worst state, could boast her truly pious members and ministers. True conversions, of course, took place in her bosom. Who doubts the piety of Thomas a Kempis, and Fenelon, and Massillon, and Bourdaloue — men whose writings are still read for edification and instruction by the best Protestant Christians? Luther and the reformers were converted while members of the Romish church. Was that circumstance a good reason why they should not repudiate and abandon her, as anti-christian? By this rule, the Protestant Reformation could never have taken place. For none would abandon the Romish church for her anti-christian character, before they were themselves converted, but as soon as they there converted, the rule we have under consideration would require them to regard the church wherein they were converted a true church, because of their conversion, and therefore it would be schismatic to secede.

It is commonly held that the true church was comprised for the most part within the Romish communion, until the time of the Reformation, when it ‘came out’ in accordance with the admonition of our text. Had they listened to the objection under review, they would, nevertheless, have remained. And when the Protestant secession took place, it was not on the principle that no true Christians were left behind, or that conversions there had utterly ceased to take place; but it was on the principle that the church, as such, the church as a body, the church as governed, was anti-Christian and corrupt.

The truth is, the converting grace and power of the Holy Spirit are not limited wholly to the churches and the communities that Jesus Christ regards as truly Christian — nor to the instrumentalities that true churches embody and wield in his service. God converted Abraham amidst the idolatrous worshippers in Ur of the Chaldees; but that did not prove the idolaters true worshippers, nor nullify the call to Abraham to come out from among them, and be separate. He converted Cornelius, and ‘in every nation, he that fears God, and works righteousness, is accepted of him.‘ Mahomedans and Hindoos, when converted at all, are converted before they secede from their anti-christian, ecclesiastical connections, but this does not prove that those connections are sacred, and divinely appointed. In short, the objection assumes a principle which would prove that the wide world itself is the Christian church, for it cannot be doubted that conversions sometimes take place in the world and without the employment of any direct instrumentalities by an organized church.

We conclude, then, that neither historical credentials, nor ritual observances, nor orthodox creeds, nor missionary zeal, nor religious excitements, nor real conversions, nor a minority of truly pious members and ministers, nor all of these combined, can prove a church, as a whole, to be a true Christian church.

II. DEFINITION OF A CORRUPT CHURCH.

What then do we mean by a corrupt church?

A church is not to he renounced as corrupt and anti-christian, merely because its members are not absolutely faultless — nor merely because it may contain some corrupt and wicked members, whose hypocrisy is undetected by their associates — nor because its faith and practice may be, in some measure, and in minor particulars, ‘defective and faulty.’

But a church becomes manifestly corrupt and anti-christian, whenever a majority of its members, or its leading and governing members, and officers, and influences, become so. A Christian church is an assembly or congregation of ‘faithful men’ An anti-christian church is an assembly or congregation of unfaithful men. The character of an assembly or church is nothing distinct from the character of the members of which it is composed, and the influence which, as a body, it exerts.

A professed Temperance Society ceases to be really such; when its members, or a majority of them, cease to be temperance men, and to exert, individually, and as a body, an influence in favor of true temperance. And so a professed Christian church ceases to be truly Christian, when its members, or a majority of them, cease to be so, and when, at vital points, they fail, either individually or collectively, to exert an influence in favor of righteousness, humanity and truth.

A church may prove itself corrupt and anti-christian, by its course, in either of the following particulars, viz:

By its renunciation of any of the fundamental truths of the Christian religion;

By trampling on humanity, or disregarding its essential claims;

By habitually violating the precepts of a sound Christian morality;

By becoming carnally minded, and covetous, instead of spiritually minded and benevolent;

By an absence of the spirit of Christ — or by ceasing to do his work — the work for which Christian churches were founded;

By despotic usurpations — and lording it over God’s heritage;

By willfully retaining ungodly and wicked men in their communion and fellowship: for ‘a little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ (I Cor. v. 6 -13.) The church becomes responsible for, and is infected with the iniquity which it sanctions by its fellowship with the transgressor.

III. SECESSION. A REASONABLE AND INDISPENSABLE DUTY.

What good reason can anyone give for retaining a connection with a corrupt church — an anti-christian church — such a church as has been described? For what purpose should you remain? What obligation do you thus discharge? What divine precept do you thus obey? What heaven-appointed relation do you honor? It cannot be the relation between Christians and the church of Christ, for an anti-christian church is not His.

What is there to cling to, in remaining with such a church? Do you thereby fasten yourselves to the throne of the Eternal — to the great principles that form the pillars of the universe? Do you thereby cling to God, to Christ, to the Holy Comforter, the Reprover of Sin, the Revealer of Righteousness and Judgment to come? On the other hand, do you not weaken, if not sever, the cords that bind you to these, to the kingdom of heaven, by cherishing connections of so opposite and hostile a character? Ponder, carefully, a few of the reasons why you should secede from such an apostate church.

1. IT IS A SHAM CHURCH — A DECEPTION.

Its credentials are fallacious, its claims are not valid. It relies on its historical documents, its parchments, its rituals, its creeds, its professions, its partizan zeal, its proselytizing activity, its periodical or occasional excitements. It claims to be true, because there are true men who have not yet deserted it! It claims to be Christ’s church, because its iniquities have not yet wholly intercepted and quenched the overflowing streams of divine mercy, and driven away the Divine Spirit from all of its members, and from the entire human race! This is the full inventory of its fair claims. Here its appeal rests. Farther than this, it cannot honestly go. As for performing its abundant promises, as for preaching deliverance to the captives, executing judgment for the oppressed, pleading the cause of the poor, delivering the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, remembering them that are in bonds as bound with them, showing the people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sin, coming up to the help of the Lord against the giant crimes of the age, cleansing her own garments from the clotted gore of human victims —this. This is a work that she cannot pretend to have performed, to have commenced, to have desired, to have contemplated, at all! How worthless, then, are her claims! Such a church professes to be what it is not. It is a counterfeit, an imposition, a deceit, a sham. What right can any man have to cling to a deception, to say by his connection with it that he considers it a veritable reality, a thing of worth, and deserving veneration and confidence? Reader! If you believe such a church to be Christ’s church, you are deceived, and do dishonor the Savior, and the institutions he has founded. If you believe no such thing, and yet maintain a connection with it, you certify to an untruth, for your connection with it says to everybody that you consider it a true church.

2. CONNECTION WITH SUCH A CHURCH MUST BE SINFUL.

You cannot maintain a connection with a corrupt church without becoming partaker of her sins, and receiving of her plagues. So says the voice from heaven, which John heard, In Patmos. And conscience, and reason, and common sense testify to the same thing. In all human affairs, the principle now insisted upon is practically recognized.

3. GUILT OF ACCESSORIES.

All communities hold persons responsible for the crimes to which they are accessory, by giving countenance and support to the principals, or actual offenders. If a person merely looks on and sees the commission of a crime, but does nothing to prevent it, if he conceals it, or still associates with the wrong doers, thereby giving them the currency and support of his influence in society, and thus enabling them to continue and extend their injuries in the community, all men will hold such an individual responsible for the crimes of his associates; and, in most cases, the civil law itself will deal with him as severely as with the principal transgressors themselves.

If an organized society or association of any description commits a criminal act — if, for example, it authorizes the murder of one of its own members, or of any other person, whom it may deem an enemy or offender — if the murder be accordingly committed by the officers or committees of the society, or by volunteer executors of its will — an intelligent and right-minded community will hold each and every member of that society responsible for the crime, if they knew of it either before or after its commission, and did not do all in their power to prevent it, or to bring the criminals to justice. And, in case the society, as such, or its leading members, seek to shelter the criminals, or justify or apologize for the crime, or refuse to repent of its commission, the persons who still continue to remain members of such a society, will always be held more or less culpable or guilty, whatever protestations of their own personal innocence they may make. This weight of responsibility will rest on them, so long as they live, unless they withdraw their fellowship and support from the society or association that committed the crime, or sheltered the criminals. God has so framed the human mind, that men must, and will, of necessity, throw the blame of a society’s criminal acts upon the individual that continues to give the society his support. And God himself has abundantly revealed (as in the text) his own fixed and settled determination to do the same thing. On the same principle, the punishment of national sins falls upon the individuals, however humble their station, of whom the guilty nation is composed.

Suppose now, that, instead of the crime of murder, a society commits the crime of enslaving or imbruting their fellow-men, or of countenancing its members, or others, in that practice, what reason can be given why the same principle should not be applied? And suppose that society should call itself a church, a Christian church — a Presbyterian church — a Methodist church — a Baptist church — a Congregational church — can anybody tell why the same rule should not apply to the associated body, and to the members of whom it is composed? Will the sacredness of church institutions release them from the operation of those great moral laws by which God governs the universe? Such a thought would savor of blasphemy! It would contradict the express declarations of God. It is specially and emphatically in respect to a corrupt church that God says, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and receive not of her plagues.‘ Of all the societies that ever existed among men, a professed Christian church is the association to whom the universal principle of holding the members responsible for the acts of the body, should be most faithfully applied. — For the nature of the organization, and of the objects it was designed to promote, gives prominence to individual accountability, and repudiates the doctrine of subjecting the conscience of the individual, or of the few, to the control of the many. The very business of this organized society, is to teach and exemplify human duty, and when it becomes itself a transgressor, and betrays its high trust, a ten-fold weight of obligation rests on the individual member to withdraw the support of his connection with the apostate body.

A church, like every other associated body, is nothing distinct from the individuals of whom it is composed. And their individuality is not to be destroyed or merged in the ‘corporation.’ To deny the duty of secession from a corrupt body, is to deny and reverse these self-evident axioms. It is to make the man the creature of the association. It is to nullify the command, ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.‘ It is, moreover, to deny, in effect, that accountability or guilt can pertain to associated action, for if these do not pertain to the individuals of whom the body is composed, they can exist nowhere, at all.

4. SECESSION IS REQUIRED BY COMMON HONESTY.

It cannot be consistent with honesty to remain connected with a corrupt and anti-christian church, especially with a church that will not protest against the dishonest robberies and thefts of slavery — a church that maintains fraternal fellowship with the robbers, which is ‘a companion of thieves, and a partaker with adulterers.‘ If there be any dishonesty in slavery, there is dishonesty in the churches that sustain it, and there is dishonesty in those individuals by whom such dishonest churches are knowingly sustained. To deny this, is to deny that men can he ‘partakers in other men’s sins.’ And it must he doubly dishonest to remain connected with such a church, when convinced that the church is anti-christian, apostate, corrupt. For such a church, as already noticed, is itself a deception, a counterfeit, a sham. And he that knowingly gives his countenance and endorsement to a deception, a sham, becomes himself a deceiver. He leads others, so far as his influence extends, to rely upon that which he is persuaded, in his own mind, is unworthy of confidence — to rely upon that upon which he is unwilling himself to rely — a plain breach of the command, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’

Suppose you should join with some of your neighbors in establishing a bank, the business of which, you suppose, is to supply the community with a sound circulating medium, a truly trustworthy currency, that may be depended on, a currency of intrinsic value, and, in reality, what it professes or purports to be. But, after a while, you discover that the main business carried on by the company or the directors, is to manufacture and put in circulation a spurious or counterfeit currency, of no real value, but which the people around you, relying on the reputation and standing of the company and its members, (including such men as yourself,) are ready enough to receive, and render an equivalent for, and pass from one to another. Some of them part with all they have to obtain it; they hoard it, and think themselves independent for life, while you know or suspect that they will find themselves bankrupt, whenever a scrutinizing eye, that of a creditor, perhaps, comes to be fastened upon it.

What would people think of you, if, with a full persuasion of all this, you should continue your connection with such a company? And what would you think of yourself? Would you ever suspect yourself of being an honest man? Or could you satisfy your own conscience, or vindicate your course to your neighbors, by merely declaiming against counterfeit money, and scolding, perhaps, at the directors, for making and passing it? Or could you satisfy yourself or your neighbors, by pleading that the company was regularly organized — that its officers were duly elected and commissioned — that the forms and etiquette suitable, or authoritatively prescribed for such companies, had been scrupulously observed — that they had been very active, zealous, indefatigable, in prosecuting their business, and in multiplying to the greatest possible extent, the specimens of their workmanship, acid in filling every nook and corner of the land or of the world with them? Would you maintain that, after all its delinquencies, it was, nevertheless, a true and trustworthy banking company, on the whole, because of these things, or because, in addition to them all, it had for a long time, in years past, very faithfully circulated a sound currency, and because, even now, a certain proportion of genuine and good money was to be found among its issues?

Would your remonstrance against the spurious emissions satisfy your own conscience, or your injured neighbors, so long as you continued your connection with the company, supported its cashier and clerks by your payments, met with the company at its festivals, enjoyed its warm fires and its sumptuous fare, pocketed your portion of the dividends, and discountenanced, by your example, the efforts of those who would leave the charter of the company taken away, for its malpractices, and the community warned against its deceptions?

The cases, to be sure, are not parallel, in all things, for parables, (as the old divines tell us,) ‘do not run upon all Fours’ — they do not, and cannot agree in all the minor traits of the picture. The finite cannot fully explain the infinite, nor things temporal shadow forth, perfectly, the things unseen and eternal. The loss of an estate, by counterfeit money, is a small matter, compared with the loss of the soul, by receiving, as trustworthy, a counterfeit and worthless religion. The man that makes and passes counterfeit money commits a small crime, and inflicts a light injury, in the comparison with him who gives currency to a spurious religion. A sham church is as much more mischievous and abominable than a sham bank, as the bankruptcy of the soul for eternity, is worse than pecuniary insolvency for life.

The difference between time and eternity, between gold and heaven, between dollars and holiness, is the measure of the different degrees of criminality between the adherent and supporter of a sham bank, and the adherent and supporter of a sham church. No wonder, then, that God says, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

If the keepers of a lighthouse, on the sea-coast, instead of maintaining a true light, should hold out a false light, calculated to deceive the mariner, and make him think himself on a remote and safe point of the coast, when, in fact, he was about running on a reef of rocks, all mankind would cry out against the inhumanity of the person who should continue to lend the keepers of that lighthouse his support, while he knew perfectly well the mischiefs they were doing.

5. COMMON HUMANITY REQUIRES IT.

But the church is set to be the lighthouse of the world, and a false church is a false lighthouse, and lures men to destruction. The man that knowingly supports such a church, is equally guilty with those whose character and teachings make it a false church. Nay, he is, oftentimes, more guilty than they, because he sins against more light.

The pro-slavery members and ministers of a pro-slavery church may really think it to be a true Christian church. But abolitionists belonging to such churches know better, or ought to know better, and cannot well plead ignorance in extenuation of their conduct, in supporting such false and mischievous moral lights. If the light that is in them be darkness, how great is that darkness!

6. DUTY TO THE UNREGENERATE.

Men who know not, experimentally, the truth and reality of religion, have a claim on us for truthfulness and fidelity in all our exhibitions of the religion we profess. Those exhibitions are most impressive that are made by our example. When they see us maintain a visible connection with a church, they have a right to infer that we regard it a true Christian church, and that the example there exhibited is, in our view, and in the main, and notwithstanding our complaints of some defects, a fair Christian example, a specimen of Christian conduct, an exemplification of the religion of Jesus Christ. But if the church is radically corrupt and apostate, then we hold up to them a false specimen of the Christian religion. If they rely on our truthfulness and fidelity, they will be led into fatal mistakes in respect to the nature of that religion. If they are disgusted with it, on account of its injustice and despotism, their rejection of it will be likely to involve their rejection of Christianity altogether, believing (as they must needs do, if they credit our testimony,) that injustice, pride and despotism are not inconsistent with the Christian religion. But if injustice, pride and despotism, be their besetting sins, and if they are intent on finding a religion that will allow them in the practice of these vices, then our testimony will embolden them to trust in the religion of a pro-slavery church, (and the more especially if we profess to be the earnest friends of the enslaved,) — but such a religion being a false religion, and not the religion of Jesus Christ, will do them no good, but bind them more firmly in the delusions of the grand deceiver of souls.

7. DUTY TO OUR FAMILIES.

Some abolitionists cannot bear to think of disconnecting themselves with the pro-slavery churches to which they belong, because, as they say, they want to take their families to some religious meeting on the Sabbath, and they know of no other place of public worship where they could attend. But the first question to settle is, whether slavery be a self-evident and aggravated sin, utterly inconsistent with the Christian religion, and whether an earnest advocacy of the claims of the oppressed be essential to the character of a true Christian, IF THIS BE THE TRUTH, THEN AN INCORRIGIBLE PRO-SLAVERY OR NEUTRAL CHURCH IS AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN CHURCH. And to educate your family in such a church, is to educate them in a false religion, which they must renounce before they can be saved; and the renunciation of which, as already observed, with the renunciation of the Bible itself! If you would do all in your power to shut up your children to the horrible alternative of either embracing a false religion, or else rejecting religion altogether, the most effectual way of securing the result will be, while you profess to abhor and loathe slavery, to educate them in a pro-slavery church to which you lend the sanction of your own membership and support.

Would you educate your children in the Romish church, or teach them to worship in a Mahomedan mosque, because you could get access to no other place of public worship?

You know you would not. And there are professed Protestant Christian churches in this country, whose errors are such, in your view, that you probably would not educate your families in their places of worship. But can they be more odious in God’s sight, or more dangerous to your children, than those professedly evangelical and orthodox churches, where the Lord Jesus Christ himself, (in the persons of his crushed poor, ‘the least of his brethren,’) is scornfully thrust into a corner, or out of doors, and where not a lisp must be uttered in his behalf?

8. DUTY TO THE CHURCHES — TO CHURCH MEMBERS.

We are bound to deal truthfully and honestly with the members of the churches with which we have connected ourselves. If we think them true Christians, and the churches true churches, then we ought to walk lovingly with them, and not pester them incessantly with ‘doubtful disputations’ concerning minor points in which we do not happen to be precisely agreed. Let them go their own way, and we will go ours, in respect to such things. But if the points on which we differ are manifestly vital points, in which the very pith and essence of true religion are, in our view, plainly involved, and if their course be exactly opposite to ours, it follows clearly that either they or we are fundamentally wrong, and that, on one side or the other, there must be a radical change, or else there can be no foundation left, upon which we can truthfully and honestly walk together, in the mutual recognition of each other as Christians. A solemn re-examination of their ground, must then become the duty of both parties. If, after such a review on our part, we still find ourselves unable either to change our opinions, or to conceive that the point at issue is otherwise than fundamental to true religion, then we are bound in common honesty and common humanity to acquaint our associates with the convictions to which we have arrived. And if they cannot be persuaded to review and to change their position, we are bound, as faithful men, to shape our conduct in accordance with the principles we profess, and separate ourselves from them.

9. COVENANT OBLIGATIONS.

Nothing short of this is demanded by the covenant obligations into which we enter, on joining ourselves to a church. — We then solemnly promise to watch over and admonish each other in love. If we see the members of the church astray, and that too on points essential in our view to human salvation, and do not warn them of their danger, their blood and our own broken vows will settle, together, upon our guilty heads. And no mere lip-service will suffice to the discharge of this duty, if our actions do not agree with our words; which they cannot, if we continue to sustain church relations with those whom we regard as having proved themselves by their practice to be deficient in the vital elements of sound Christian character, and whom we cannot reclaim.

10. OUR SINCERITY — INTEGRITY — AND USEFULNESS.

How can we secure the respect and the confidence of our neighbors, (whether church members or others) unless our faithfulness be exhibited, when the proper occasion presents itself, in the manner that has been described? We profess to believe, for example, that human rights are inalienable and self-evident — that chattel slavery is the most palpable and deadly violation of those rights — that its victims have a claim upon the prayers and exhortations of all men, especially of all Christians — that Christian character is, in fact, defined and moulded by the advocacy of their claims. Yet we continue by our church relations to certify, to endorse, as it were, the Christian character of those who notoriously neglect, and even contemn and deprecate the performance of that heaven-imposed duty! Here our acts are in direct contradiction to our words. And which will our neighbors believe? If our remonstrances and arguments and scripture quotations were beginning to make church members tremble and inquire, our fraternal recognition of them as Christians, at the communion table, and in other associated religious action, takes back again all we had said. Their consciences are relieved. They conclude we are insincere or mistaken, for they know we are inconsistent, and they are more and more disgusted with our apparent pertinacity and stubbornness in pressing upon them sentiments by which we ourselves will not practically abide, and which our actions show that we do not regard vital to Christianity, after all! Is it strange that, under such circumstances, a number of abolitionists, retaining church connections year after year with churches whom their professed principles should lead them to discard as anti-christian; have been dealt with by those same churches, and suspended and excluded, {not for their abolitionism — Oh! no! this is always disclaimed,) but for their disturbing the peace of the church, and annoying the members perpetually with their notions which they evidently hold as notions, merely, and not as principles, upon which their own lives are to be squared, and their ecclesiastical relations determined?

Abolitionists are evidently losing the public confidence, on account of their inconsistency in this respect, and especially are they losing their influence with the members of the churches to which they belong. Just as their reputation and influence were destroyed at one time by their adhesion to the political parties [All political parties in this country must sustain slavery; since all voters and office-holders, either by implied or express oath, agree to sustain the United States Constitution; and that is a pre-slavery instrument Abolitionists, therefore, should have nothing to do with any political party. — Note By The Editor.] that sustain slavery, so do they now suffer, in the same way, from their support of the churches that are equally subservient to the same wicked system.

Abolitionists who have seceded from their old political parties on account of their pro-slavery character, and yet cling to churches and ecclesiastical bodies of the same character, bring their sincerity, even in their political efforts, into suspicion, and diminish their strength, even in that favorite department of their activity.

11. DUTY TO THE SLAVE.

We cannot discharge our duty to the slave, while connected with a pro-slavery church, any more than we can while connected with a pro-slavery party in politics. The churches can no more be neutral than the political parties. And the churches not enlisted on the behalf of the enslaved, are as truly the props of the slave power, as any political party in the land, indeed, such churches furnish, to a great extent, the moral atmosphere in which the political vices of the country vegetate. (The legislature of the State of New York excused themselves from recommending the constitutional extension of the elective franchise to the colored people, because as they alleged, the Christian churches did not give them an equal place in their houses of worship, and seminaries of religious learning!) And the morals of the State can hardly be expected to be in advance of the Church. To support a pro-slavery church is to place our feet upon the necks of the crushed poor — and upon their mighty Avenger and our own Judge, who has declared that he will constitute them his representatives at the last day, and treat us according to our treatment of them. Of course, we must abandon such churches, if we would not ‘partake of their sins, and receive of their plagues.’

12. THE HONOR OF GOD — OF CHRIST — OF RELIGION — OF THE CHURCH.

All these require that Christians should secede from a corrupt church. Such a church professes to be a true Christian church — to exemplify true religion — to follow Jesus Christ — to do the will of our great Father in heaven. But all these professions are hollow and vain. Most manifestly is this the case with those churches that sympathize with oppressors, that will not plead for the oppressed — nor testify against a system of man-stealing, of theft, of forced concubinage, of impurity, of cruelty, of compulsory heathenism, of tyranny, and of blood. To endorse the pretensions of such churches, as true churches of Christ, is to dishonor, wrongfully, the institution of the Christian Church — is to belie the nature of true and undefiled religion — it is virtually to blaspheme Christ — it is to insult the God of purity, the Avenger of the oppressed. To say that these churches are his churches — that their religion is his religion — that their character is his character — is to say the very worst thing of him that can possibly be said. But to retain membership in these churches is to say that we do regard them as his churches. And to say that they are his churches is virtually to say that they bear in a good measure his moral image, and that the character they habitually exhibit is recognized by us as a reflection of his own!

Many who would deem it a sin and a disgrace to support a pro-slavery party in politics, or to vote for any pro-slavery man as a candidate for civil office, will nevertheless support a pro-slavery church, a pro-slavery religious sect, and pro-slavery teachers of religion; thus plainly declaring, by their acts, that they consider a political party a more sacred and holy thing than a church — that while they cannot endure the spirit of slavery in the former, they can very well tolerate it in the latter — that a man whose moral character does not qualify him to be a constable or a path-master, may nevertheless be a member, or even minister of a Christian church! What a practical insult to Christian institutions— to church and ministry — have we here! Can it be that such persons honor the church and ministry of Jesus Christ? One is almost tempted to suspect that they sympathize with those who would bring those divine institutions into contempt certain it is, that this is the natural tendency of their course. Nor will it remove the difficulty to plead that men may be entitled to a place in the Christian Church, yet nevertheless lack the information and clearness of vision requisite to the proper discharge of a civil office. Our teachers of religion, at least, should know as much, on great ethical questions, as our legislators, and magistrates, and constables. And besides, the question of supporting the old political parties and their candidates, is a moral question, and not a question of intellectual qualification, at all. The friends of freedom require of them no test but that which the nation itself has, long ago, declared to be self-evident, and made the foundation of the government. From President down to path-master, the candidates all acknowledge the ‘self-evident truth.’ Not a man of them is so stupid as not to know the difference between a man and a brute. And all the friends of freedom ask of them is to ACT in conformity with this knowledge.

Let them only do this — let them but ‘remember them that are in bonds as bound with them,’ and the ‘independent nominations‘ of abolitionists would be instantly abandoned. It is a MORAL disqualification, and NOTHING ELSE, that deprives them of anti-slavery votes. And yet this same moral disqualification is made no obstacle to the introduction of these same men into the Christian ministry and the Christian church! Very evidently, no community that permanently insists on a higher MORAL TEST in political life than in ecclesiastical life, will loner retain any affectionate reverence for the latter. The moral test must rise as high, at least, in religion, as in politics, in the Church, as in the political party. Otherwise, the moral test in political life cannot be maintained, and will be abandoned in despair. There can be no possible alternative, unless it be the utter DISGRACE and ABANDONMENT of church institutions, altogether. The problem whether an embodied political morality could long survive an embodied religion, is one which we need not now stop to discuss. Those who think l could, must already have arrived at the conclusion that churches are of little or no value — a conclusion that it will be impossible for those to avoid, who think to secure liberty by political action without their aid. Our ‘liberty party’ men may very honestly and very properly disclaim the anti-church doctrines that another class of abolitionists propagate. [This is intended by the writer as a reflection on those who are commonly known as ‘Garrison Abolitionists.’ But he overshoots the mark. That body have never maintained, as abolitionists, any ‘anti-church doctrines,’ other or different from those set forth by the writer himself in this tract; which they now and here republish as one of the best expositions of their views. If individuals have taught any other doctrines, the “class” he refers to, is not responsible, since it has never endorsed them. — Note by the Editor.] But they ought to know that no such disclaimers, however earnest and sincere, can do away the anti-church tendencies of an attempt (should it be made) to save a corrupt and sinking State without the aid of a purified and true church — a tendency from which their own minds could not long escape, though they may be insensible of it, now.

13. CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS

Requires that Christians should secede from corrupt churches. In such churches they are fettered and crippled, and prevented from doing the good they might do, as individuals, if connected with no church at all. But Christian churches were designed to enable Christians to do more good, by a connection with them, than they could do while standing alone. So long as true Christians remain connected with corrupt churches, they not only diminish their power, and curtail their opportunities of doing good, but all the good they do accomplish, and all the good fruits they exhibit, are made subservient to the honor and credit of a corrupt church, and are used up so to speak, in their service, instead of going to the support of a true church; just as Romanism has been strengthened by the adhesion of pious members, and as the Colonization Society, for a long time, deceived and sponged up, and turned into its own impure channel, all the anti-slavery feeling of the free States. In the same way, there are now scores and hundreds of pro-slavery churches, with pastors and officers of the same stamp, sitting like an incubus upon the poor slaves, and upon the cause of Christian freedom, that derive their main strength, or much, at least, of it, from the support of the professed friends of the enslaved. In multiplied instances, churches of that stamp (leaving pecuniary support out of the account) keep up a creditable appearance of being Christian churches, merely because there are abolitionists enough connected with them to carry on their prayer-meetings, conferences. Sabbath schools, Bible classes, and monthly concerts for them, while the majority, or the officials, content themselves, chiefly, with an attendance on the Sabbath day exercises; and with a magisterial supervision that shuts out the claims of the enslaved, erects the negro pew, forbids the use of the house for an anti-slavery meeting, refuses to read a notice, and snarls, perhaps, at the mention of the oppressed in a prayer.

14. TEMPTATIONS — APOSTACY

Evil communications corrupt good manners‘ in a meeting-house, and in a church, as well as everywhere else. ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ is a prayer that requires of the petitioner that he runs not wantonly into temptation, nor remain there, without necessity and without warrant How shall a Christian and a friend of freedom secure himself from the seductions that must beset him in a corrupt church — in a pro-slavery church? What necessity is laid on him to encounter this temptation? Or where is his warrant for so doing? What right has he to expect the divine protection while disregarding the injunction — Come out of her, my people. In what way can such a person be preserved from temptation and from apostacy, but by being induced to comply with this command?

If he continues to protest against slavery as a heinous sin, and against the support of it by the church, as inconsistent with her Christian character — and if (the church still retaining its position) he nevertheless continues his connection with it, and thus endorses its Christian character, then his acts contradict his professions, and he makes shipwreck of his fidelity in this way. The only alternative left him (short of secession) is the more common one of relaxing, modifying or suspending his testimony against slavery, defending his continued connection with the church by seeking out apologies for the church itself, and thus bringing his principles down to the low standard of his practice. Scores of prominent ministers, and thousands of active church members, once zealous in the cause of Christian freedom, have in this way, and for the sake of peace and quiet with their religious associates, and of maintaining a reputable standing among them, (and under the delusion of making themselves useful by this means,) relaxed their exertions in the cause of the oppressed, till their voices are no longer heard in their behalf, and they cease to identify themselves with their former fellow-laborers in the cause. This well known power of pro-slavery churches and ministers to neutralize first, and then silence, their anti-slavery members, constitutes altogether the most formidable obstacles with which the anti-slavery cause has ever had to contend, and the prolific parent of apostacy, in its varied forms. The recreancy of professed abolitionists in their political relations, may be chiefly charged to the delinquencies of the churches and ministry by whom their political ethics have been shaped; and little must that man know of human nature, or of human history, who should expect the purification of the State, without the purification of the Church.

As this power of a pro-slavery church and ministry is most effectual against freedom, so we know it is the power most relied upon by the conservators of oppression, both at the North and at the South. Such churches and ministers calculate, with certainty, upon the ultimate dereliction of the abolitionists whom they can retain in their connection. Hence their confident boasts and predictions, that ‘the excitement’ will speedily subside. And hence, too, their sensitive outcry against any, attempts at secession, on the part of those whom they stigmatize as ‘fanatics,’ ‘incendiaries,’ and ‘disorganizers,’ and whom they ought to have excommunicated as such, long ago, if they were sincere, and probably would have done, but for their encouraging prospects of success and progress in curing them of their sympathy for the enslaved. The Christian church was designed as an asylum into which men of integrity might run, in order to secure themselves from the evil communications and temptations that almost overwhelm them elsewhere. But when churches become the most effective tempters to transgression, it is high time for the people of God to ‘come out of them, lest they partake of their sins, and receive of their plagues.’

15. PERVERSION AND MISCHIEF.

And this suggests the general remark, that Christians are bound to secede from corrupt and apostate churches, because instead of answering the original ends of their institution and organization, they become, by their perverted use, the most effective of all possible or conceivable instrumentalities for destroying the cause of righteousness they were designed to promote, and for promoting the cause of unrighteousness they were intended to destroy. Universal church history may be cited as presenting one extended commentary on this remarks and those who shall come after us will read and perceive, in the records of our own age and nation, one of the most striking illustrations of the same truth. Common sense teaches us the absurdity of sustaining arrangements and wielding instruments that produce results directly opposite to those which they were intended to subserve, and which their supporters design to promote. To this, likewise, the sacred Scriptures agree. The salt that has lost its savor is to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. The well-arranged and highly cultivated vineyard, that instead of producing grapes, brought forth wild grapes, was to be trampled down and laid waste. (Isa. ch. v.) Of churches, as well as of individuals, it may be demanded — ‘If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?‘ And the candlestick that cannot be made to diffuse useful light, is to be removed out of its place. To cling to a corrupt and perverted church organization is to sacrifice the end to the means. It is to idolize the instrument, instead of using it, nay, after it has become an instrument of evil instead of good. This is the essence of superstition, and the very way in which the worst superstitions are engendered, introduced and perpetuated.

16. CHURCH DISCIPLINE

The duty of secession from a corrupt church is the same thing, in essence, as the duty of maintaining gospel doctrine in a true church. In both cases, the pith of the matter is the separation of the good from the evil, and the evil from the good — that the faithful may be preserved from corruption, and that the apostates may be rebuked, and, if possible, reclaimed. In both cases, the duty devolves on each and every member of the church, and is not confined to majorities or to those in official stations. IT WAS AS COMPETENT IN LUTHER TO EXCOMMUNICATE THE POPE AND THE ROMISH CHURCH, AS IT WAS IN THE POPE AND THE ROMISH CHURCH TO EXCOMMUNICATE LUTHER.

17. DEFINITION AND OBJECT OF A CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Secession from an anti-christian church is demanded by the very definition, as well as by the object of a true church. ‘A church of Christ is an assembly of believers’ — ‘a congregation of faithful men.’ All, therefore, who honor and prize the Christian church, are bound to secede from a congregation of practical unbelievers — of unfaithful men. To do otherwise is to sin against the organization itself It is disorganization of the worst kind. It mixes good men with bad men in the church Just as they are mixed in the world, and thus it practically denies the distinction between the church and the world. Equally clear is it that no Christian can have a right to support a church, or remain connected with it, if the church does not promote the object for which Christian churches were originally founded. Christian churches were organized to separate God’s people from a wicked world — to embody their Christian example — to secure their mutual watch-care over each other — to maintain wholesome discipline — to act as a reformatory body —to instruct the ignorant — to rebuke and reclaim the transgressor. To support churches that fail to do these things, and that do the very reverse of them all — (churches that knowingly admit and retain the wicked within their enclosures, that exhibit an ungodly example, that strengthen the hands of the wicked, that oppose reformatory efforts, that stifle instructive discussion, that apologize for flagrant transgression) — to support such churches, we affirm, is to oppose the high and holy objects to which Jesus Christ instituted a church on earth.

18. CHURCH OR NO CHURCH.

In a word: the reasons for seceding from a corrupt and un-godly church are the same with the reasons for joining and supporting a true Christian church. For the one is the opposite of the other. No man can belong to, and support a true church and ministry, while he belongs to and supports an anti-christian church and ministry. All the time he retains a membership in a corrupt church, he neglects, of course, the duty of joining himself to, and supporting, and being supported by, a true Christian church. He does that which, if every other Christian should do, there would be no Christian church (as an organized visible body) on the earth, and there would be no organized churches, except corrupt, anti-christian churches, to be used for the conversion of the world. Whether the final triumphs of Christianity are to be achieved under such auspices, let those judge who have learned that ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

IV. HOW THE DUTY SHOULD BE DISCHARGED.

The duty of secession from a corrupt church implies, of course, that all proper and scriptural measures for its reformation have been kindly and faithfully, but unsuccessfully employed. Such a work as secession is not to be undertaken without counting the cost, nor without seeking counsel of God) in humble reliance upon the divine aid. No selfish or partizan feelings should be admitted or indulged. The too common practice of breaking up church relations in a pet, in a spirit of personal contention, with angry altercation and expressions of resentment, cannot be too pointedly condemned. Whenever churches are divided in this way, the seceders, though they may have the right on their side, (and though the deserted church may be never so corrupt,) can accomplish little or nothing in favor of the objects they would promote. Their bad temper and wrong conduct will be observed and perhaps magnified, and the moral effect of their testimony will be neutralized, if not destroyed. And when the excitement shall have subsided, they will discover, perhaps themselves, that they have acted passionately and rashly, and not in the spirit of Christ. Intelligent Christian principle, and a deliberate, conscientious, holy, disinterested regard to God’s glory and the good of mankind, having had little, comparatively, to do with their movements, do not now come to their aid, to sustain them in their new and trying position. They are thus exposed to the dangers of seduction and compromise; and, under given circumstances, will be likely to recede from their ground, and join affinity, either in church relations, or by associated religious effort, with the same corrupt churches from whom they have come out, or with some others of a similar description. Thus the cause of church reformation will be retarded, on the whole, instead of promoted, by their secession. On this subject, we cannot now treat as fully as its importance demands, but we may be certain that the true spirit of Christian reformation is evermore the spirit of holy love, of consecration, of humility, of prayer, and of a sound mind.

As a matter of form, it should be added that, whatever efforts may have been previously made to enlighten and reform a relapsed church, the final measure of secession should not ordinarily, if ever, be taken, without distinctly stating to the church in some formal way, by letter or otherwise, the grievances of which the parties complain, and stating also that unless those grievances are redressed, by a return of the church to the path of Christian duty, a division or secession must, of necessity take place. If this communication produces no salutary effect, the way will then be open for going forward in the work of secession, and of organizing a new church. This measure will cut off occasion for saying that the secession was irregularly made, and that it was a breach of the covenant obligations into which Christians enter, when uniting themselves to a church.

V. OBJECTIONS AND ANSWERS.

1. ‘Schism! schism!! schism!!!’

What! ‘Schism’ to come out of Babylon? If it be schismatic to be separated from the churches of Jesus Christ, then it is ‘schismatic ‘ to remain in an anti-christian church — not schismatic to come out from it.

2. ‘But we are too few and too feeble.’

In whom then, is your strength, your life? Is it in yourselves, or is it hid with Christ, in God? You had better not enter into or hold any church relations, until you learn that the strength of the church is in Jesus Christ — not in herself, nor in the number and reputable standing of her members. ‘Where two or three are met together, in my name,’ says the Savior, ‘there am I in the midst of them.’ And he says this with special reference to church organization and church action. [See Matthew xviii.1] If the real Christians belonging to a church are ‘too few and too feeble’ to constitute a church by themselves, how much more strength do they gain, in addition, by their connection with those who are not the people of God, and who oppose, instead of cherishing their aims? You would not, (would you?) maintain ecclesiastical connections with Belial, on account of the pecuniary strength he might afford you?

3. ‘But what if I cannot find “two or three” to come out of Babylon with me? Must I come alone?’

Yes, certainly, if you would not ‘partake of her sins and receive of her plagues.’ At Constantinople, at Rome, at Mecca, you would not ask whether you ought to stand alone, or stand with the enemies of the cross of Christ would you? Why, then, ask the same question in the State of New York, or in New England, or in Ohio?

4. ‘But we are conscious of a low tone of spirituality among ourselves, and do not feel competent to the task of organizing a new church.’

No wonder your spirituality is at a low ebb, and that you are chilled, almost to death, by the icebergs that embrace you. How are you to get warmth in such company? The slaves, it is sometimes said, are not yet prepared for freedom. But is slavery the school in which to prepare them? God commands you, to come out from among them, and be separate, ‘and he will receive you.’ This plain command you disobey, and excuse your disobedience by pleading that you have little spiritual life. Disobedience is not the way to gain spiritual vigor. The way to gain more spiritual strength is to exercise what you have. Then shall ye know, if ye follow on, to know the Lord. Ye are not straitened in him. Ye are straitened in your own selves. To obey is better than sacrifice. Let not obedience be deferred, because the fire on the altar burns dimly.

5. ‘But by separating from the church with which we are connected, we shall lose our influence with the members, and can then do them no good.’

How much good are you doing them, now? What progress have they made under your influence, during the past year? for the last five years? Is it you that are exerting an influence upon them or is it they that are exerting the influence upon you. The probability is, that you have lost your influence upon them, already, by your inconsistency, in maintaining a connection with a church that your professed principles require you to regard as anti-christian; and that no measure, except secession, on your part can give you any hold upon their consciences, or make them believe that you are sincere, and in earnest. The case must be so, if you have continued your connection with them for many months after the righteous cause they contemn had been fairly presented, or offered to be presented before them, and they had turned a deaf ear, or rejected the claim. If your duty in this respect has not yet been discharged, you should lose no time in discharging it, and not make the neglect of one duty your excuse for neglecting another. The claims of the slave have been distinctly before the nation for ten years. And the justice of the claim was declared ‘self-evident’ by the same nation, nearly sixty-seven years ago. It is the simple question whether a man should be made a chattel — a brute — and such a question need not perplex a Christian church, many weeks.

6. ‘Our secession would weaken and discourage those who, in the main, hold our views, but who cannot, at present, be persuaded to abandon their church.’

Answer. — They ought not be weakened and discouraged in a course of wrong-doing. Your example of obedience may encourage them to the discharge of the same duly. What if Luther had remained in a corrupt church, until he could have persuaded all whom he considered true Christians, to come out with him? and until he could thus persuade them without setting himself the example! (Will any suggest that the principles of Christian union are violated by leaving a corrupt church? Those principles, certainly, cannot require us to cling to such churches, nor to the corrupt portion of them. Such a union would be anti-christian union. And as to the sound portion of such churches, we cannot be bound to hold anti-christian connections, in order to remain with the seceders from such church will establish new ones on the principle of receiving all Christians, they will be guilty of no schism, and it will be no fault of theirs, if some of their brethren consent to a separation from, rather than quit a corrupt church, to go with them.)

7. ‘But secession, as a means of reformation, is without precedent Even Luther did not secede, till he was first thrust out of the church.’

Perhaps the church of England, the Puritans and other Dissenters, might furnish us with a precedent for secession, not to claim higher authorities, which our objector might be inclined to dispute. (What was it but secession when the Apostles organized new churches among the Hebrews and the Gentiles? Whenever the members of an old church organize a new one, are they not accounted seceders? But the Jewish church was a national church, from which the ancient prophets could not secede, as they might have done under the New Testament economy persons from its communion? What occasion or what meaning could there be in the command to ‘come out from a corrupt church, if we were to remain till we are thrust out?) But if the practice were without precedent, it would not be without command. The text is explicit — ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ Suppose nobody had ever furnished us with a ‘precedent,’ by complying with the divine injunction, would that blot it out, or excuse our neglect of it?

8. ‘But we must wait till we are excommunicated for our faithful discharge of duty, before we secede.’

Who says so? Does God say it, in the text, or anywhere else? And what is the philosophy of the maxim? How can we faithfully discharge our duty, while our actions contradict our professions, and while we give our support to an anti-christian church? And suppose Satan should adopt the more cunning policy of not casting us out of his Babylon, at all? Must we remain there, and give it our sanction, until the mighty Angel from heaven takes it into his hand, and plunges it like a mill-stone into the sea, to be found no more at all? Shall we not be in danger of sinking with it, and of remaining in it, whether Satan ever gets ready to thrust us out of it, or no? What says the text? And what warrant have we for deferring to obey the divine mandate, until Satan chooses to give the signal for us to obey? Or will it be said that a church does not give evidence of being anti-christian until it excludes all pious persons from its communion? What occasion or what meaning could there be in the command to ‘come out’ from a corrupt church, if we were to remain until we were thrust out?

9. ‘But if the persons whom you call upon to secede from a corrupt church, be admitted to be Godly and righteous person, now, notwithstanding their present connections, (and to such only is the exhortation addressed,) how can it be made to appear that their quitting the church is necessary to their escaping the divine judgments? If they are Christians already, is not that sufficient? Will secession change their character? Will it make them more than Christians? Or will the Judge of all the earth destroy the righteous with the wicked?’

Imagine to yourself the righteous Lot, addressing this same plea to the angel that was urging his speedy flight from Sodom? What would you say to such an argument? Would it not occur to you that the righteous are scarcely saved? That persevering obedience to the divine commands is the only condition of their salvation? That in such obedience, the salvation of the Bible essentially consists?

But be it so, that good men may live and die in the bosom of a corrupt church, and escape final perdition, at last — what then? They may possibly do thus, because they are not aware of the corruption of the church, or because their duty to come out of it, has not been distinctly presented to them. If their ignorance be their excuse, can you make the same plea? Or are you content to do wrong, to support a counterfeit church, and thus destroy souls, so long as you can be persuaded that you are safe, yourself? Is this the religion that can preserve you amid the seductions of a corrupt church? Beware! It is a hazardous experiment, at best, and remember that severe chastisements and lamentable privations, short of final banishment, may punish your derelictions of duty.

10. ‘But we make a wide distinction between Christian fellowship and church connection. We do not extend Christian fellowship to corrupt churches, or to the corrupt portion of them. Our connection with these is merely nominal — it is a nonentity.’

But the church of the living God, to which you ought to belong, is no ‘nonentity’ — no counterfeit — no sham. And a vital connection with such a church and its members is not ‘merely nominal.’ What right, or what good reason can you have for maintaining a nominal connection with a nonentity’ — a sham? A ‘nonentity,’ too, that claims to be a true church of Jesus Christ? That is recognized, and honored, and confided in, as such, because, perhaps, of your ‘nominal’ connection with it? Of all shams, church shams are the worst, and from their sure doom, how shall their supporters be divorced?

To say that you maintain a connection ‘nominally,’ is to say that you maintain that connection ’by name, or in name only.’ (‘Nominally. By name, or in name only.’ — Webster’s Dictionary.) It is to say that you profess to maintain a connection which you do not maintain really! What right have you to make such a hollow profession? After all, are you quite certain that a connection is merely ‘nominal’? When Paul urged the Corinthian church to put away from themselves that wicked person, (I Cor. v.) he demanded, ‘Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?’ What if the Corinthians bad argued that the connection was a merely nominal one?

11. ‘But is not the kingdom of heaven likened unto leaven hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened?’

Yes, truly. And this parable was designed to illustrate the power of truth on the heart, or the power and progress of the gospel, or of a true church (remaining such) in converting the world. And mark! the leaven must be wholesome leaven, not saturated with poison! The figure is never used in the Bible to show that Christians must remain in a corrupt, anti-christian church, in order to restore it, nor has church history yet recorded the successful experiment. The old leaven of iniquity is always to be purged out of the church (1 Cor. v. 7.) — the very doctrine for which we contend.

12. ‘But the tares and the wheat must be permitted to grow together until the harvest.’

Where? In the church? Or in the world? Christ’s own exposition of the parable (Mat. xiii. 38,) informs us explicitly that the field in which the tares and the wheat are allowed to ‘grow together’ is ‘The world Nothing of the kind is said about the church. And those who apply to the church what Christ says of the world, very evidently take it for granted that there should be no distinction made between the church and the world; and no more church discipline maintained in the one than in the other! Disorganization follows, of course.

13. ‘But we cannot see into men’s hearts’ — ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ (Mat vii. 1.)

This text, as Scott justly observes, cannot forbid the exclusion from the church of such members as disgrace their profession — nor forbid Christians to withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly. In the same chapter, Christ bids us, ‘Beware of false prophets,’ and because we cannot see directly into men’s hearts, bids us know ‘the tree by its fruits.‘ Censorious and rash judgments alone are condemned. Some judgment of men’s character, we cannot but form and express.

14. ‘Does it not savor of Phariseeism to secede from churches, and call them corrupt?’

No. Not if the evidence of their corruption is plain and palpable — no more than it does to refuse the admission of openly wicked men into the church, in the first place — no more than it does to gather churches out of the world, in any case, (unless all are permitted to join that church, who desire it.)

GENERAL REMARK.

Of each and every one of these objections, and of many more, like them, it may be observed that, if valid, at all, they are equally so against secessions from all corrupt churches (the Romish, for example,) as well as from corrupt Protestant churches, in America. They likewise forbid all excommunications of unworthy members. They equally forbid all tests of church membership, particularly those predicated on evidences of Christian character. They involve principles which, if carried out, would disband all the church organizations in the world, except those (such as national churches for example,) that claim or welcome the entire community, good and bad indiscriminately, as their members. Above all, they are objections against the discharge of a plainly revealed Christian duty.

It will be understood that we advocate secession from anti-christian churches, with the view of organizing Christian churches in their stead. Of this work, we intend to treat in our next number. [With regard to the formation of new churches, abolitionists, as such have nothing to do. Their duty is performed, and their responsibility ends, when they have persuaded a man to disconnect himself from a pro-slavery body. His conduct after that, in relation to church organizations, must be left to himself and his own convictions. — Note by The Editor.]

The Rules

The Rules

“The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite.” (Franz Kafka)

Where does one begin? I assume this endeavor will be slow going and murky and even tedious. I do not have an office in which to shut myself to keep me from various disappointing distractions, and any effective amount of scotch may shed a hypocritical light on anything I have to say. On an embarkation like this one, an effort to express something greater than oneself, it seems to be ritualistic good form to invoke the muse. But this is not epic poetry like Homer or Milton or Shakespeare and I do not rightly know if the same rules apply to prose anyway, or even non-fiction. If there is a muse for the inspirations I would like to receive, she has not shown up yet (she has undoubtedly learned how to treat me by watching other women in my life), but like Ernest Hemingway says “The shortest answer is doing the thing.” And as Peter S. Beagle says, “If the Muse is late for work, you start without her.” I feel already as though what follows will contain a lot of quotes from various authors and other people of note. It may be important to say that I hope that what has attracted me to their expressions is similar to what may have attracted you to mine. As is articulated by Nietzsche, “Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood… Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read but to be learned by heart.” And Robert Louis Stevenson iterates, “The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.” Maybe Mr. Stevenson would not mind if we borrowed a prayer to serve as our invocation to the muse:

“Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety, and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavours. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temparate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.”

If there is anything I could ever find praiseworthy in any human individual, it would be consistent sincerity. “There are honest people in the world, but only because the devil considers their asking prices ridiculous.” (Beagle) Sincerity is foundation, potential, greatness. We could learn a great deal from our domestic partnerships with our dogs. They wear their hearts on their fur, to make an idiom precise. And they are unfailing about it. It is naturally difficult for us to believe that any member of humanity that we have encountered, claiming to be sincere and forthcoming, lives up to the diagnosis. At least not without regular examples thereof. Periodic displays of generosity, counseling, leadership, and maybe even things miraculous go undervalued when we presume their bearers to be insincere. (Matthew 12:22-37, for example). Harmoniously, “All decent men must be hypocritical, if you assume that decency can’t exist.” (T.H. White)

We do not recognize sincerity in others because we have lost our enthusiasm to drum it up in ourselves. It is human nature to take things for granted, to submit to the distractions, to disremember where our passion should lie. “If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless.” (Moliere) Our forgetting of the importance of people is directly related to our unwillingness to fling ourselves straight into life. To partake in a little life-experience, to garner an education about the world or about ourselves. “I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.” (Henry David Thoreau) Instead, we accumulate things in our lives, we give our lives complication and attach to them accessories. Things unessential and cumbersome and distracting. We take our own souls for granted and the games we play take precedence over mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. “The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.” (Hemingway) Life-experience leads to self-actualization which leads to the understanding of our fellow man. Essentially we become, for another individual, somewhere to lean when they are out of their depths. More and more members of each generation forget this, contented in their distractions, and the cumbrous concern and collective weight of the human condition falls on fewer and fewer shoulders. “The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.” (Robert Frost) We are comfortable in our unthreatening lifestyles, grasping at our diversions and showing all the efficacy of a lotus-eater. “Feasts must be solemn and rare, or else they cease to be feasts.” (Aldous Huxley) We call it a comfort-zone or a blind spot, but I think the Spanish, in the context of their most famous art-form, the bullfight, have a much keener word. Querencia. This is a safe-zone for the bull in the ring when facing down the matador. In us humans, it represents our bastions of complacency and selfishness. Our excuses for refusing to hit bottom and strip away all that is unnecessary and distracting in order to take up the mantle of our spiritual purpose. These places we feel the safest are the ones we will defend with the tenacity of denial, even if we have to bloody those we love the most when they desire the dismantling of these querencias. We will not give them up, this side of the grave, and will most likely take them there with us. For the drunk, it is the bottle. For the complacent, it is apathy. For the rebellious, it is pride. For the codependent (if you will excuse the term), it is placating in fear. Hemingway describes the Querencia perfectly well, and though the description is long, it may shed light on the tactics found in our human nature:

“Aside from the normal physical and mental stages the bull goes through in the ring each individual bull changes his mental state all through the fight. The most common, and to me the most interesting, thing that passes in the bull’s brain is the development of querencias. A querencia is a place the bull naturally wants to go to in the ring; a preferred locality. That is a natural querencia and such are well known and fixed, but an accidental querencia is more than that. It is a place which develops in the course of the fight where the bull makes his home. It does not usually show at once, but develops in his brain as the fight goes on. In this place he feels that he has his back against the wall and in his querencia he is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill. If a bullfighter goes in to kill a bull in his querencia rather than to bring him out of it he is almost certain to be gored. The reason for this is that the bull, when he is in querencia, is altogether on the defensive, his horn stroke is a riposte rather than an attack, a counter rather than a lead, and the speed of eye and stroke being equal the riposte will always beat the attack since it sees the attack coming and parries or beats it to the touch. The attacker must lay himself open and the counter is certain to arrive if it is as fast as the attack, since it has the opening before it while the attack must try to create that opening. In boxing Gene Tunney was an example of a counter-puncher; all those boxers who have lasted longest and taken least punishment have been counter-punchers too. The bull, when he is in querencia, counters the sword stroke with his horn when he sees it coming as the boxer counters a lead, and many men have paid with their lives, or with bad wounds, because they did not bring the bull out of his querencia before they went in to kill.”

Maybe what follows will be an easily avoidable dare. This is excusable in the bull, since the command is to die, albeit nobly. But the command for you is to live. To come out of your querencias and join the action. I know that all call-to-arms go largely unmet and most press-gangs are absconded from pretty easily, so I will not be colored surprised if it happens here en masse. Stevenson contradicts the assumption, however, “We must accept life for what it actually is – a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.” So maybe somebody will learn what life is for and may duck from under the weight of fear; whether it is fear of work, fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of sorrow, fear of magic, or fear of poetry. ‘“All lives are composed of two basic elements,” the squirrel said, “purpose and poetry. By being ourselves, squirrel and raven, we fulfill the first requirement, you in flight and I in my tree. But there is poetry in the meanest of lives, and if we leave it unsought we leave ourselves unrealized. A life without food, without shelter, without love, a life lived in the rain—this is nothing beside a life without poetry.”’ (Beagle) It is my opinion that anybody who still enjoys literature, like people who throw themselves into life with desperate sincerity, and takes it to heart (like all things bloody and aphoristic) already has a head start on becoming well-rounded, dependable human beings. Heroes, if you will. Mountain movers. Shakers of foundations. The benefits of this kind of education is best expressed by T.H. White: “Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.” He also conveys: ‘“The best thing for being sad…is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then-to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”’ We all have purpose, and if nothing else will, fulfilling our purpose will bring us poetry. If we are to raise anchor and become people of purpose, naturally we have to learn a thing or two about moving upstream. We have to learn to develop character because little else will serve as a sufficient rudder.

So, if we must begin learning something, we might as well make good on our transaction and start now. It is not that I have anything new to offer the collective bank of human knowledge, nor is it that my savoir-faire has afforded me some special insight to the human condition. It is only because I consider myself sincere, that I say what I have to say. Sincere and sad, since fruits of wisdom (if you want to call these wisdom; I do not particularly find the term embedded in myself) are unfortunately coupled with sorrow, invariably. It has taken a long time and strenuous throes of reflection over personal life-experience to develop the following “rules”. They are more like observations about the nature (nurture?) of maturity and responsibility that grow from sincerity. Ideas to follow when we get unsure how to treat each other and ourselves. The fact that there are ten of them is no coincidence. They do not each correspond to one or more of the Commandments, I just get the impression that any advices for life, exceeding ten, would be overkill and tedious. Not that we will not reach that point anyway, I am sure. “When you’re good at something, there’s a demand for it.” I suppose it would be unwise (there is that word again) to impose a conscription on those of you who read this. I do not require obedience to any of the rules because I know how blissful commitment to ignorance can be. In any case, enslavement to ideals, no matter how beneficial, is best expressed by White: “There was just such a man when I was young—an Austrian who invented a new way of life and convinced himself that he was the chap to make it work. He tried to impose his reformation by the sword, and plunged the civilized world into misery and chaos. But the thing which this fellow had overlooked, my friend, was that he had a predecessor in the reformation business, called Jesus Christ. Perhaps we may assume that Jesus knew as much as the Austrian did about saving people. But the odd thing is that Jesus did not turn the disciples into storm troopers, burn down the Temple at Jerusalem, and fix the blame on Pontius Pilate. On the contrary, he made it clear that the business of the philosopher was to make ideas available, and not to impose them on people.” And so, for the sake of expediency (and availability):

Rule number one. Never let go of a good thing.

I can hear you think that this sounds like common sense. To which I would reply something to the effect of, “So should all the other rules.” Maybe, then, “a good thing” needs a proper definition. The good things challenge you to better yourself; they are good for you. They are good whether or not you feel good about them, and that is where you have to look and what you have to assess. Good things are not necessarily based on how you feel because emotions change and are duplicitous. I would wager that all of the negativity of human history is accounted for in the unchecked acting on emotions. A good feeling about a good thing is a bonus, but the heart should not take the reins. Not in decision-making. “The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.” (Napoleon Bonaparte) The things that build you up, keep you in check, and keep you anchored are the good things. Good things, including people, are not the things that placate for you or walk on eggshells around you while you are acting childish. They do not avoid the truth to spare your feelings because you do not grow that way. C.S. Lewis says that “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” Never let go of the things that demand growth from you. The good things will be there to protect you and hold your hand, but they will also teach you to protect yourself and encourage you to learn how to walk and fight and provide protection and encouragement for others. The good things will implore your progression down the right path even when you do not want to go. The good things will not let your self-hatred and self-pity get in the way of your mental, emotional and spiritual maturity. Speaking of self-depreciation:

Rule number two. Don not deny yourself regret, but do not devote yourself to it either. Addendum: The same should be said for catharsis.

“The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity.” (Lord Byron) It is part of human nature to hurt other people. And ourselves. We are always burning bridges and providing cases for our damnation. If you do not have room to regret your mistakes and atrocities then you do not plant the seeds to grow and learn from them. Ignoring your shame will only result in your repetition in the things that make you shameful. “After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.” (Henry David Thoreau) He also says “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” Regret is healthy for you. Every action you commit yourself to has ripples and consequences so far-reaching and unpredictable that no amount of forethought will prevent your conscience to come out completely unscathed. “I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can’t, because it’s too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don’t matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.” (Roger Rueff) Regret is unavoidable, but we should use it in a healthy manner. Self-hatred is an easy and addictive trap to fall into. It feels good to beat ourselves up about the wrongs we have done. It makes us feel pious in a way, and it allows us to continue to feel bad without ever having to do any good. But as Aldous Huxley purports, “Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” Another drug to which we commit ourselves is catharsis. It is healthy when used appropriately, though. It is good to rage every once in a while because it has a similar nourishment as sleep. For the body and the mind. Only after confrontation can we reach understanding. Only after a tussle can we reach catharsis. Sometimes we have to accumulate a few scars for people to take us seriously. Just make sure you do not hurt anybody who does not deserve it, and make sure anybody you chew out is aware that you love them. Be aware that moments of catharsis should not be frequent lest they become addictive. Constant liberation is a form of running away from our problems and duties. It is like hitting rubber with a hammer; an illusion of progress. A cathartic lifestyle makes us busy and sidetracked. As Hemingway says, “Never mistake motion for action.” And as Thoreau says, “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” In order to avoid drowning ourselves in regret or in the over-exertion of catharsis, we ought to take a look at the next rule:

Rule number three. Accept the consequences for your actions before committing to your actions.

This is a lesson in being decisive and resolute. “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.” (Frost) An indecisive character usually reflects one unmarked by courage. And, truth be told, courage comes with life-experience and knowledge of the world and it comes with trial and error. Any consequences that we may have witnessed can be catalogued in memory, and any future choice we have to make can be compared to these past consequences. Basically, learn from yourself and from other people. Every course of events in various circumstances follows the same pattern fairly consistently and that is part of the poetry of life. And so, with this knowledge, we must own our successes and mistakes before they happen. We are going to be held accountable for them after they come to pass, so we must show our resolution for accountability while planting the seeds. Maybe that means some of us should be less clumsy when it comes to decision-making. And especially when it comes to indecision-making. There is not so much grey in the world as people would like to believe, most of our crossroads will yield hues more black and white, and I have gathered that maybe some consequences are just hard to bear, which accounts for this desire to call them grey. It is acceptable, in my opinion, to complain about the difficulty of various responsibilities, but they should not dictate our deliberations to commit to them. Right is right, no matter how hard it is. And our fates, and our ideas about saving our own hides should not account in our heroism. It is true, as Albert Camus says, “There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” At least not in this life, but whose opinion are you really going to care about? Taking responsibility for your actions is no easy task. Most of the things worth committing to may take years to come to fruition and your road may be ugly and dangerous and you may not get any sleep as you go. You may not even get your desired end. “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.” (Hemingway) Keep in mind that the ends do not justify the means. The ends do not even justify the ends. But the means always justify the means. Even if you do not succeed in your endeavors, it should be enough that you do not lose your strength of character in your attempts. Or else you have already lost your right to your desires. But, “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” (Thoreau) We should choose the right course of action, despite how aggressive their consequences might be to ourselves or to those close to us. Because how are we to lead by example and teach others to do the right thing, come what may? To best clarify this question, all I can say is, when coupled with the other rules, it is easier to tell which actions are right and which are wrong.

Rule number four. See all the angles. Or see enough for everybody else to not know any better. Rule number four and a half. Play only the good angles, even though this is infinitely more difficult. (If you are prescient, you never have to evacipate.)

To be a good strategian, it is proper to understand how your actions will play out. To live a poetic life you will have to learn to direct the consequences of your actions merely by predicting which actions are best to be committed to. If you can understand the potential and probable outcomes for the choices you must make (or avoid) in any given circumstance, then you can understand which actions (or inactions) are best to choose in those circumstances. But even your consequences have consequences and so forth. Now, I am well aware that only one being in existence can truly see all the angles, but hyperbole makes for a good cattle-prod. “Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.” (Bonaparte) In order to see all the angles, we must gather as much information and place ourselves in as many people’s perspectives as may be involved. And in order to see more angles than other people, well, Hemingway has the remedy, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” It is best to keep our views of things fresh. Our first instincts incline us to view circumstances subjectively and selfishly. It is also beneficial, as heroes and dependable human beings, to also look at them from the shoes of others and also from an objective point of view, disregarding anybody’s stake in the circumstance. It seems like a lot of work, and not many were born with this gift, but there are tools in which to immerse yourself that provide development for such critical thinking. And with enough experience, you can see all the angles in any available circumstance simultaneously and almost instantly. Another way of describing the seeing of all the angles is looking at the whole picture. Yet another way to describe it is lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is a way of thinking that seeks a solution to an intractable problem through unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking. This is a developmental tool that allows you to define the avenues your mind goes down while simultaneously discovering new avenues that may benefit its travels. It also helps to develop a superb memory. Deductive reasoning, when combined with sincerity is a basic contrivance of those successful in intrepidness. It will keep you pragmatic and resourceful and therefore dependable. “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” (Camus) For this reason, it is best to only play the good angles. Attempt to leave for posterity as small amount of evil as possible. Make your steps careful and precise and do not hurt anybody that does not deserve it. If you become proficient in seeing more and more angles, you can predict probable reactions from people. You can crawl around inside their heads and repair some the wires that have been disconnected by life, the world, and their own self-hatred. You can predict their thoughts and emotions and apprehensions and give them somewhere to lean. You can become a decent friend and a capable parent, and you can pass these traits along by your example. “There isn’t any formula or method. You learn to love by loving—by paying attention and doing what one thereby discovers has to be done.” (Huxley) Playing a good angle is about precision and accuracy. It will be a confident endeavor, and most importantly, it will be done with conviction. And maybe even consideration. “Wrongs have to be redressed by reason, not by force.” (White) Playing a good angles also involve consistency, as will be shown in the next rule:

Rule number five. Never be unwilling to deal with a problem or right a wrong. Your negligence means the abandonment of your peers.

Fear of consequence is no excuse for negligence. Your fears and misunderstandings should never not be subject to confrontation. Without self-actualization, you are just like everyone else. And everyone else is banal. You may feel sorry for those around you who are struggling, but if this is all that is inspired in you, then you are useless to them. Maybe that is harsh and aggressive, but if you do not think that it is true then you do not love the ones around you who suffer. You have a level of control and capability in any encounter you find, whether or not you are in the middle of it. There is always a level of real help that you can commit to and pity does not stand on its own. Your friends and associates will perceive you as dead weight if all they can draw from you is negligent spectating while they are in the thick of their personal battles. I am sure you have careful denials and defense mechanisms if you are afraid to provide emotional and spiritual nourishment and comfort to your neighbor, but Leo Tolstoy sums them all up pretty nicely, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means —except by getting off his back.” There is a degree of self-sacrifice in contributing something worthwhile to the lives of the people around us. You have to be willing to give much, if not everything, in order to make some good in the world. “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” (Einstein) Nobody takes a leech or a mosquito seriously and only finds them an annoyance in their insincerity. So if you want to see real change and real progress and leave a real mark on the world before you die, you must lay your life down before it. The risk you run there contributes to your heroism. “Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.” (Beagle)

Rule number six. Some things are not difficult to see, they are just hard to look at. It is good to know the difference.

Denial is unbecoming on any human being in any circumstance. Veracity, in essence, is something obvious, although it can be difficult to accept. “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.” (Tolstoy) We have a natural knack for taking things for granted. It gives us an excuse for not fleshing a thing out and instead we look at it with all its embellishments and misdirection. “Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.” (Camus) We hinder our powers of observation and we drown out our curiosity in fear. We love a good ruse and we are very meticulous about the masks we wear. We express too much shame and are ever willing to conceal a part of ourselves, and over a long enough timeline, we become what we pretend to be. “Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.” (Camus) And as is expressed by Beagle, “…no cat out of its first fur can ever be deceived by appearances. Unlike human beings, who enjoy them.” We commit to distractions to shelter us from the truths that we are unwilling to accept. We bury ourselves under them and make excuses for the covering of ourselves. It only takes a small degree of effort to see and understand the truth, and our determination to not be sincere in this effort is, at base, emotional. It is evidence of another querencia. “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” (Huxley) Because knowing would require that we take up arms for it. And who wants that responsibility? So when things are hard to look at, it is best to muster up all the courage we have and face them head on. Consequences be damned. The truth must be got at, if nothing else. “The hardest thing to remember is that what we each really want is the truth of our lives, good or bad. Not rocking the boat is an illusion that can only be maintained by the unspoken agreement not to feel and in the long run it never really works. Let go of saving the boat and save the passengers instead.” (Kenny Loggins)

Rule number seven. The more things you know are true, the more responsibilities you have. A life marked by caprice reveals a tenacity for evasion.

If we do happen to lay down the masks and strip away the obscuration, then the truth that is left must be acted upon. It must be acted upon despite our emotional stake or the feelings of those around us. If we recognize truth, we must not let others be satisfied with skating by in ignorance of truth. In other words, putting everything on the table makes for healthy relationships. Caprice and coquetry are evidence of insincerity, particularly when a revelation and reckoning is involved or called for. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” (Einstein) We ought not let such things slide from the people around us. And doing so, reveals a transparent lacking in desire for their good. It shows a lack of love, because disappointment is the sincerest form of affection. If we did not love someone then we would not care whether or not they hurt themselves or people around them. So if we are to not avoid the truth, then idly watching another living in denial is inexcusable hypocrisy. I am aware that a common response to calling somebody out on their self-degrading lifestyles yields a projection of, “do not judge me,” but silence is enablement and to condone a thing is also to pass judgment. Yet condemnation always gets a bad rap. Tolerance is the great virtue of postmodern thought. But condoning a thing is contributing to it, no matter how tired you are with dealing with it. “The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else do it wrong without comment.” (White) Again, silence is enablement. If this were not so, only one third of the angels would have been damned instead of two. Sitting on the fence to avoid confrontation is irritable to everybody in a conflict and it decreases the chances for any soldier to trust those who do so, especially if the conflict ends in their favor. This is indicative of a fair-weather relationship.

I know most of these rules are about negligence and inattention and disregard and non-commitment, but with the internet, television, games-mania, smart phones, bar-scenes, and all our other querencias, are you really surprised? The people who commit to harming themselves and the rest of us are fighters. Granted, to persist in a metaphor, they are closely akin to bulls in china shops. The people who want to see them free of their self-hatred and selfishness and see the lotus-eaters free of their apathy are also fighters. Maybe even matadors. The negligent are not fighters. They are more analogous to the steers who are present at the unloading of the bulls before the bullfight. They are not aggressive like the bulls, they simply want to make friends with them, personifying conciliatory behavior, and lead them into the corrals. However, they often take the grunt of the bulls’ aggression and are often gored and physically pay for it with their lives. So maybe with one more rule addressing the steers, I can be satisfied with my attempts at being thorough.

Rule number eight. Just when doing a bad thing is merely your other option, is doing nothing acceptable. “Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Now this is a different boat entirely than the boat that Mr. Loggins mentioned at the end of rule six. This boat is headed in the right direction, and this boat is what rescues the passengers when that other boat has been rocked. This boat has a precise purpose on a difficult course, and on which everybody on board is a member of the crew. Now nobody wants to do an inherently bad thing, but people will not complain much when given the option to do nothing to allay the causes or effects of a bad thing. But as Einstein posits, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” (And idle hands eventually become mutinous.) Spiritual non-violence is suicide when pitted against an intimidatingly strong will and the steers get gored all the same. “The middle of the road is where the white line is—and that’s the worst place to drive.” (Frost) Note that I am not describing survival here. I am not saying we should defend ourselves for the sake of ourselves because I believe martyrdom is the keenest way of leading by example. “Martyrs do not underrate the body, they allow it to be elevated on the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists.” (Kafka) Martyrdom, specifically, is neither doing a bad thing, nor is it doing nothing. So self-defense in these matters can be a form of retreat. It is pride in our self-importance and fear for our own hide. But neither are we to lay down and be consumed by the self-seeking and then cut our losses and lick our wounds. Placating for those who do wrong to or around us, as has been described, does not show love for them, but fear of them. We do not see them for what they are. When we first meet someone we love, we look over any of their imperfections in favor of how much we love them, and after they have disappointed us, we start to emphasize their flaws and forget about their good qualities. “We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love—first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.” (Camus) We find ourselves doing nothing in our disappointment and we give up and we forget about potential. We allow the disillusionment to make us dead weight and we forget about potential. We sabotage and complain and rock the boat and we forget about potential. We do nothing without realizing that doing nothing is doing a bad thing. “We are not what we are, nor do we treat or esteem each other for such, but for what we are capable of being.” (Thoreau) Instead of refining an individual, instead of pruning them, and demanding growth from them, we sit and do nothing and hinder those who have not given up on potential. We get in the way of those who row because capitulation seems like a good idea. We buckle under the weight because we take it personally and we do not lean on the others who row alongside us. “By imposing too great a responsibility, or rather, all responsibility, on yourself, you crush yourself.” (Kafka) And so we give up because we simply do not want to continue, reminiscent of the prodigal son’s older sibling.

Rule number nine. “So few people get what they want, and the ones that do aren’t really the lucky ones anyway… The lucky ones are the ones that do what they are meant to.” (Scott Spencer)

It is not enough to chase after your desires or follow through with your ambition. The people around us will always need our attention, faculties, and self-sacrifice. Anybody can live for themselves and chase their personal ambitions, and if they do not reach their goals, then they compromise their desires and spin their wheels for a few years and get complacent. They reach a dead end and berate themselves for it and do not pick up the pieces. If they succeed in their ambition, they will either find a new ambition to live vicariously through or they will sit themselves down and promptly say, “now what?” Lord Byron says, “Men think highly of those who rise rapidly in the world; whereas nothing rises quicker than dust, straw, and feathers.” Napoleon Bonaparte expresses the problem and implies an answer “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”; “Men take only their needs into consideration—never their abilities.” Meaning they focus more on their ability to receive and not their ability to give when they should be doing the opposite. Instead of giving what we can and doing what we are supposed to, we focus on what we can take, on what our self-entitlement will allow us. I suppose self-sacrifice is not a very agreeable idea to commit oneself to and selfishness has come back into popular opinion as sort of an asset to have (though it never really left). Neither of these opinions will get us anywhere, at least not for long, and he who believes otherwise makes no effort to learn from natural history. Specifically, symbiosis and commensalism. Facility, everyone has, and facility naturally cannot exist without function. The natural function of any special ability that we may have is meant for the benefit of those around us, and as Einstein says, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Our capability is something deeper than artificial charity. When we give or when we do, it ought to come from the heart and for the salient benefit of the intended. “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” (Douglas Adams) To give altruistically, not expecting or demanding anything in return, is still to commit a transaction. You are not giving something for nothing, but are receiving foundation, a sort of reference point, as you build your relationships with your peers. You gain a favorable reputation and you are leading by example. It does not take much sincere service for you to not be surprised when miracles happen around you and through you, and once you are past this point, you do not want to give up committing to them. Once you sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the people around you, once you dedicate yourself to the growth and development and stimulation and inspiration to those in need of these things, then you can know what it is like to receive them in turn, and appreciate them when you do. And, as C.S. Lewis says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare” because “if you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Rule number ten. If you do not know what you want, you do not know who you are, and you end up with a lot you do not want. If you get your priorities straight, everything else will fall into place.

This is a foundational rule. So foundational, that I have placed it last so that it is most likely to leave an impression. Our desires tell us and others a lot about ourselves. They express for us the thoughts that soak up our time and the ideas to which we cling. Our desires define us. Our paths can be predicted just by looking at them. If we do not know what we want, and do not figure it out immediately, then we become stagnant, aimless, and confused. And then we can take no steps towards sincerity. “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” (Thoreau) But of course, as Kafka states, “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” You must dictate your desires with wisdom. The more you know, then the more you know what is important and your desires can be tuned accordingly. Your desires, if directed solely by your selfishness, reflects a sort of ignorance and fear of accountability. Instead, you ought to desire to be devoted to doing the right things. “The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.” (Huxley) Prioritizing in this way will open the door to a life, not led more easily, but more fully. Your successes and rewards will be more lasting and definite and complete. And your failures will be met with more support and resistance. Your solidity will only be matched by your pliability. Desiring to do the right thing will add force to your ambitions and resolve to your endeavors because when you realize that something is worth having, it is worth fighting for. And worth losing over. “Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald) But be aware that you will not struggle alone. And you will not lose forever. “Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.” (Byron) It is easy to operate once you have your priorities figured out, it is just difficult to prioritize. Therefore, it is more important and essential to your growth. The need of it is concrete and the call for it is audible. If you make the right things your priority, if you place your needs before your wants and the needs of others before your wants and the wants of others, then your life is more easily directed and able to be juggled. You have less restriction and more room to breathe and move around a little. The road on which you travel, and hopefully on which you learn to lead, will be better paved and your footsteps will be better planted. The rain will still fall, but you will not sink into the mud of your own selfish ineptitude. And you will not drag others down with you. Most importantly, you will hold them up when they start to slip themselves. Your conviction will serve as illumination in the darkness and you can test any obstacles by it. And you will know greatness and magic and reward. And, dare I say, perpetual meaningfulness in your existence.

I do not believe everybody was cut out to be a leader, but I do believe everybody is meant to be in a progressive state of self-actualization. Tenaciously heroic, if you will. At least in their own social circles. A sincere life is one hard-led, especially in a society that calls for banality and cocktail parties. “There is an old saying that there is no country as unhappy as one that needs heroes.” (Beagle) Being an example is a daily, personal struggle, and as Carl Sandburg says, “Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.” Maybe the key to a life marked by bravery is persistence. One thing that can be said about the dogged is that their epitaphs are never written in lies or embellishments; their histories are available for everybody to see, are they not? Everything on the table. In order to achieve our desired reputation we cannot take our aphorisms for granted. We must refresh their meanings from the perspective of every available human experience, whether it be true or fictional, anticipated or biographical. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” (Thoreau)

It is true that steadfastness does not account for all parts of success. “I always say perseverance is nine-tenths of any art—not that it’s much help to be nine-tenths an artist, of course.” (Beagle) For the rest, we must rely on divine right and grace, if you believe in that sort of thing. Faith and leaps of faith are the ingredients needed for the true and real magic we long to see that make our lives worth leading. There are no miracles without them and life loses a lot of its flavor and luster in their absence. We are meant to do and be good things and most of the time, we shy away from them because we lack the courage to just simply accept them. One should never doubt the possibility of good news, no matter how small the probability of their being true. One can always think, with great conviction, of less probable miracles that have happened. Most miracles go unexpected. But that is our fault, not God’s. If we were more bold, we had learn to expect them. I am sure genuine boldness is a fruit of the Spirit. Even if it is a fruit best served fermented. In order to do the things people regard as miracles, you have to do a lot of self-sacrificial time, and it will not be pretty. Noah’s time at sea, Jonah’s time in the whale, or Christ’s time in the desert, are prime examples. “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” (C.S. Lewis) In order to do the good things, you must be good too. Or at least try to be. Maybe obedient is a better word. You have to want to be good, at the very least. “Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.” (Camus) You are allowed some relapses, but upon seeing the light of refinement and reformation, and experiencing some of the real magic found there, you ought not try to escape it again. “Don’t look back and don’t run. You must never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.” (Beagle) or “Running away will never make you free.” (Loggins) Everybody struggles, sure. But there are alleviations against this. A very keen and easy battle plan, if kept consistently, is to hold a fast and a vigil maybe once a year for the curses you carry. And if you are not at war with any part of your life, then you are not being very sincere and should keep a vigil and a fast for the purpose of unearthing the demons about which you should be fasting and vigilant. This will keep you grounded and anchored and all things beautiful. Twenty-four hours, once a year can be devoted to reclamation of your soul, even for the least capable of people. Today, on this date, happens to be the day I keep mine every year. (This is my attempt at avoidance of hypocrisy, not indiscreet, insincere piety.) T.H. White illustrates grandly the sincerity of this concept coupled with our purpose in gallantry:

‘“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”

“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”

“I shouldn’t mind.”

“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”

“Why do people not think, when they are grown up, as I do when I am young?”

“Oh dear,” said Merlyn. ‘”You are making me feel confused. Suppose you wait till you are grown up and know the reason?”

“I don’t think that is an answer at all,” replied the Wart, justly.

Merlyn wrung his hands.

“Well, anyway,” he said, “suppose they did not let you stand against all the evil in the world?”

“I could ask,” said the Wart.

“You could ask,” repeated Merlyn.

He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically into the fire, and began to munch it fiercely.”’

Maybe I should end it with this quote. I am sure you have gotten the idea by now and are tired of the long-windedness. Writing this all down has felt like what, I imagine, would be similar to passing a kidney stone. “An empty stomach is not a good political advisor.” (Einstein) But, what is one more body amongst foundations? And maybe now I can have a little of that scotch. “It is my right. A hero is entitled to his happy ending, when it comes at last.” (Peter S. Beagle)

If I am going to send you on your way, maybe unconvinced of the salience of my efforts, I may leave you with a little recommended reading. Most of the titles I have to offer are considered classics and as Thoreau says, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” Reading, itself, gives us an opportunity to pick the minds of great men who were inspired by their life experiences coupled by their creative faculties. It takes a great deal of self-sacrifice to record the conclusions found after much reflection and deliberation. The reason this is done is to share with the rest of us the fruits of hard-pressed labor. The best books, if read carefully, provide walkthroughs for life and relationships. “Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.” (Huxley) When it comes to literature, I am of the express opinion that Franz Kafka hits the nail squarely on the head. It should also be applied to television and movies and music and hopefully the books I mention live up to his standards:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

This novel expresses resolve to benefit the people around us that we love. It involves prime examples of intense self-sacrifice and efficient thinking in solving heavy problems. It displays true courage and patience and even redemption.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

This is the most educational novel I have read about the intricacies of life and purpose and revelations found therein. There is much valor and heroism contained in this fiction, and it provides infinite refreshing angles at which to look at life. It expresses the human condition almost wholly, and demands many return journeys into it throughout your life.

The d’Artagnan Romances by Alexander Dumas

Once started on The Three Musketeers, the trilogy ought not to be put down. Dumas provides the importance of gallantry and spirit and courtesy when met with various enemies. He expresses the need for good nature in our thickest battles and how hope should be tempered with ability and persistence. Most importantly, he shows the benefits of surrounding ourselves with good things and not letting them go despite life’s attempts to disrupt your pairing. There is also much critical thinking and looking at all the angles, which makes it indispensable.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

It is a shorter book on the list, but its saliency is noteworthy. It provides an alternative lifestyle to that of placating steers. It shows the importance of bravery and creativity when your surroundings call for banality. Even in the face of the consequences. It shows how the world will try to break you when you stand against it and demands that you do it anyway and with applaudable good nature.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

I am under the opinion that anything by Beagle is amazing and useful. His literature is riddled with aphorisms and heroism and the poetry of purpose. The Last Unicorn shows resolve in our tasks despite not always having a clear path by which to see. It also shows the importance of not letting go of the good things and that sometimes they are all we have. It gives a clear picture of tenacious sincerity and of remarkable intrepidness despite the ugliness of the odds.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A story of redemption, regret, and a call to not commit to defeatism. It deserves many repeat readings because it provides great insight to the human condition, especially in despondent conditions. It shows the importance of fleshing out the motives of those around us and of strategy. It expresses the satisfaction to be found in selflessly acting towards those that need it, without regard to our own hides. It shows what acts of faith may have in store for us in regards to reward and lives worth living. It reveals the need for courage in unsure actions despite ourselves and our selfish desires.

The Abolitionist Approach to Systemic Racism

The Abolitionist Approach to Systemic Racism

Societies that devolve into internal competitions of class, sex, creed, or race, are societies that have already been conquered by their own sloth and covetousness, exposing themselves to be no longer ruled by God. If they ever were. In short, these competitions begin and end as political footballs for false gods and their sensationalist talking heads. The goal of which is to manipulate and radicalize their civil slaves against each other to distract them from their common enemy: Institutionalism. It is necessary, in this divide and conquer strategy, to raise up villains from the masses, creating scapegoats out of comrades, and then to propagandize all of the duller points of revolution and regime change repeatedly until the social smokescreen is thick enough for these forked-tongue oppressors to get away with enacting legal policies that further their Satanic agendas over society, irrespective of class, sex, creed, or race. The popular but hypocritical conflagrations between young socialists and corporate “capitalists,” between feminists and “the patriarchy,” and between those who believe in the validity of modern American Islam and those who believe in modern American “christianity” are all worthy topics, but let us take the current “race war” in America as our example.

It is absolutely necessary to twist an issue of institutionalism into an issue of racism because, while the whole world knows that racism is wrong, nobody is yet ready to admit that institutionalism is wrong. But, in their effort to suppress the inherent malignance of civil and social institutions in favor of crying racism, institutionalists will become racists themselves.

For instance, the term “black community” is an inherently racist one. It demands notions of segregation and compartmentalization, as if there is a special and separate culture comprising only of people with dark skin, or a shared heritage based on skin color. But how black does one’s skin have to be in order to be eligible to be a member of the black community? Do both of their parents need to look black? Only one? Neither, so long as enough of their grandparents were black? How dark does their skin need to be, regardless of their lineage? Are albinic black children tallied amongst the community? You must see how racism becomes the answer to social ills when one refuses to look at the actual problem for them. Even talking heads on both sides of the problem are thinking and talking this way, as they are constituents of the same Hegelian Dialectic. They are two sides of the same plug nickel. In essence, the “black community” is just another Indian Reservation, a self-imposed ghettoization of an entire people group, and racism is not the only similarity between the two.

To dismiss the inherently racist idiom of denoted by the phrase “black community” and address the actual complaints underneath its use, it is necessary to understand that the racism of bureaucratic organizations against the “black community” is a correlative reality and not a causative one. Simply put, the police do not target people who identify themselves as members of a certain race due to the idea that law enforcement institutions are inherently racist, but because the overwhelming majority of the “black race” also identify as perpetual victims as a fundamental part of their culture owed to a twisted view of history. This will be explained shortly.

While the racial statistics about police brutality do not lie, neither do they express any ultimate answers for how to interpret the statistics. They only reveal what is. They do not reveal why. Police states are not innocent, by definition. Policing agents are necessarily socialists who receive tax dollars in order to maintain an occupation, thrive in their personal lives, and oppress everyone with which they come into contact. The police are an entire profession that exists by coveting their neighbors goods in order to exercise authority over them. It should be maintained that this does not just “lend itself” to corruption, it is corruption. Power corrupts because it is the seed of corruption. Institutionalism does not need an excuse to be oppressive, savage, cannibalistic, divisive, entitled, prejudiced, and demonic. It is those things inherently. But because men are not ready to admit that, they allow institutions to focus their destruction and damnation through various excuses. Sometimes it is through the pretext of “religion.” Sometimes it is through the pretext of nationalism. Sometimes it is through the pretext of political party. As we read in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, sometimes it is through the pretext of witchcraft that men in power oppress their fellow men. As we learn from the McCarthy trials, sometimes it is through the pretext of creed. And sometimes it is through the pretext of racism. But invariably these are always excuses. They are curtains behind which the nature of Institutionalism hides. An oversimplified scapegoat makes for an easily distracted frontline of pawns. The pawns will raise up the institutions over themselves and then those institutions will eventually either provide for them scapegoats or incidentally become scapegoats themselves.

The idea that there is a systematized racism in the United states begins with its twisted history, most notably that it coincides with its myopic history of slavery. Despite the fact that slavery in America was not partial to race (130,000 white slaves were sold to the New World under the reigns of King James and Oliver Cromwell), black africans were invariably sold to the old and new world by other black africans, and 3,700 black Americans possessed 12,700 black slaves at the height of American Antebellum), racism was preached from every lectern in every American university (another institution) as a natural extension of Darwinism, which is now the driving presupposition of every institution in the United States including welfare, healthcare, military, and police.

But, as expressed, twisted history demands that one look at slavery through a racist lens, suggesting that oppression was the fruit of racism rather than a generic fruit of institutionalism. This narrative is especially popular within the “black community” who ascribe to their “black culture” and sense of “black identity,” a collective comraderie predicated on victimization, as if institutional oppression against some black people in ancient history demands the perpetual helplessness of other black people in the present day. This same cultural mentality is also present amongst the modern Native American community, resulting in ever-increasingly high statistics of poverty, drug addiction, crime, broken families, and dependency on socialism through familiar institutional snares. A victim mentality and the faux-martyrdom that comes with it lends itself to notions of entitlement and demands for reparation, for the exact same reason why tax slaves beg for social security benefits, or feel entitled to their tax returns or any other boon transacted against their “paying into the system.”

The thing about those who would be perpetual victims, complainers, lifelong martyrs, and anybody else who gives up on hard work, social virtues, personal responsibility, and community ethics in favor of the slothful whingeing about their own inability owed to some past trauma or oppression, is that which they believe about themselves comes true in self-fulfilling prophecy. The perpetual victim creates a power vacuum to be filled by oppression. They cry out to be made victims by holding onto a victim mentality. When they put themselves onto their crosses, they are praying to be nailed to them. And people in power, invariably bullies, are attracted like flies to those who are cry out like they are wounded. Those who have no respect for their fellow man will always oppress those demographics of society who have no respect for themselves. If you want the worst people of society, the institutionalists (in this case the American Brownshirts), to be prejudiced towards you, to profile you, and to basically hunt you, then act like their prey: identify yourself with being oppressed, or always struggling to make ends meet, or keep your neighborhoods at peace, while you also rely on the covetousness of institutionalized welfare through housing projects, or dependence on the socialist system designed to make you an oppressor of your neighbor through receiving benefits paid for by his taxes.

If you want to invite oppression into your communities, prey upon each other through theft, murder, and gangland organizations. If you want to show tyrants that you are easily conquered, do so by murdering your own children through abortion and birth control, or selling them into slavery through social security and public education for tax write-offs. Promote fatherlessness and broken homes. Strengthen the institutions by weakening the families. Be divided and conquered through competition for materialism. Forsake your abilities to provide for and take care of one another, and replace them with consumerism through sex, drugs, cheap alcohol, and self-destructive music and celebrity culture.

The root of oppression isn’t racism. It’s institutionalism. Institutionalism is just the monster of recompense that fills the vacuum created by a slothful and covetous culture that abrogates personal responsibility and replaces it with collectivist misery, and necessarily, dependency on institutions.

The solution has not changed since the creation of mankind: a people who love God, love their neighbors as themselves. They seek to serve their neighbors in adhocracy, in the weightier matters of justice, mercy, through faith, hope and charity. They promote strong families. They protect each other’s property. They keep each other free from civil citizenship under men who are in positions of power. They prefer to serve than to be served. They forgive their enemies because they know hatred and defeatism breeds self-hatred, and atrophy of virtue. They make their neighbors self-sufficient and economically independent, knowing that their neighbor will do the same to them in return. They do not compromise with or tolerate the sin of outsourcing these virtues to socialist institutions through public schooling, food stamps, police forces, or any other civil snare that allows tyrants to rule over them as soon as they take the bait. They certainly do not organize and divide themselves by race, because they know that all men are created by God and all men fall short of His glory. They repent and do hard things, including forgive and forget, and join together with the repentant, regardless of race, to enter into a righteous kingdom as a free society, making obsolete both oppression and the identity of victimhood that demands oppression.

Men, Our Most Critical Need

Men, Our Most Critical Need

The following sermon is lifted from the seventh chapter of This World: Playground or Battleground? by A.W. Tozer. Though he takes for granted modern christianity’s attachment to sophists behind pulpits and to labeling all of christianity “the church,” his sentiments ring true:

The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men—the right kind of men, bold men. The talk is that we need revival, that we need a new baptism of the Holy Spirit – and God knows we must have both – but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above.

This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church—even the evangelical church—is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe—or fear—the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and their people followed them—sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution—and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to bring others under their feet. They have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety. But the free man—never. He has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him—well and good. If not, he loses nothing that he holds dear. But whether he is accepted or rejected, he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them.

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way.

And when the deliverers come—reformers, revivalists, prophets—they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.

The Gospel, Part V

The Gospel, Part V

In the first installment of our explanation of the Gospel tenet, we endeavored to show that all gospels are blood covenants with their respective gods, the majority of which sacrifice their citizens on the altars of bureaucracy, through taxation and institutional authority, in socialist fleshpots of mutual destruction. In the second installment, we expressed the revolutionary nature of Christ’s Gospel, focusing on the political meaning of baptism as an exchange of civil citizenship, highlighting the need to be born again into a literal kingdom characterized by liberty, as free souls under God. In the third installment, we elucidated how Christ “became like us in all things” to undergo the same idolatrous and authoritarian temptations that we face, and maintained his integrity in obedience to God. In the fourth installment, we provided an introduction to Christ’s teachings by putting into political perspective some of Christ’s expository lessons, including the Sermon on the Mount. We also put into political context some New Testament events, including the feeding of the five thousand, the Lord’s Table, and the Last Supper. Because so many professing Christians myopically limit the Gospel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and because this sequence of events immediately follows the Passover meal account, perhaps it would be beneficial to address the significance of this biography in the context of Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in our final installment.

Less than a week before Passover, Christ had been publicly recognized by the people of Jerusalem as the rightful King of Judea, and not just of Judea, but of every Jewish person, even of the ancient kingdom of Israel before it was divided in a civil war under the oppressive administrations of Israel’s pagan-style kings. It is no wonder then that the people of Judea looked to Jesus Christ, a king who came to serve, for salvation from the kinds of kings who came to rule, and whose yokes of taxation and legislative authority were too heavy for the people to bear.

“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:8-10)

The Greek word hósanna literally means “save us, we pray”, as a combination of two words originating in Hebrew. One is yasha which means “to deliver,” “be liberated, saved (properly placed in freedom),” “deliver, save (properly give width and breadth to, liberate),” and “of God, who saves his people from external evils.” The other is na which means “we pray, now” as a “particle of entreaty or exhortation.” The second time Hosanna is mentioned in the passage, it is followed by the phrase “in the highest,” from the word hupsistos, the superlative form of hupsos, a term of political rank. The entire scene represents the people expressing their recognition that the man in front of them had a legitimate claim to the throne of Judea, as its only rightful, living heir in Davidian pedigree. The practice of hailing a man with palm trees is typical to a royal procession, and in John 12:13, where the story is repeated, the people specifically call him the King of Israel. Even Christ’s enemies had no legitimate excuse to not to recognize Him as their king. After hearing the children in the temple declaring Jesus’ claim to the throne, the Pharisees became angry, but the following exchange took place soon after:

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45)

The Pharisees were not more ignorant than the people who were convinced of Christ’s kingship. They were familiar with Jesus’ lineage to the royal house, and already understood that He was their rightful king. This conversation, however, implies that the Pharisees had to also realize that Jesus must be God. Most of them would never admit to this recognition, however, because their conflict of interest in being politically validated by the most powerful man in the known world, Caesar, and in receiving their standard of living by the heavy legal and tax burdens they placed over the people, would require that they reject a King and a Kingdom characterized by voluntary service and humble stature. It was from these burdens that the people cried out to Christ for salvation, believing on His political campaign message of liberty and its light yoke of personal responsibility and voluntary community in the Kingdom of God. Free people have no need of human magistrates, and the proposition of another Kingdom growing in popularity among the people left only one recourse among the existing political party: the arrest and regicide of the people’s champion as an example to His followers to quell their allegiance to him and to make him bear their sin of insurrection.

“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:47-53)

The nation of Israel then, like it is today, was validated by its subjection to, and being sustained by, foreign empires to be included in a global orchestra of political cohesion. As mentioned in the first blog post of this series, Israel’s rulers loved Rome, looked to Rome to be its Benefactor, and enjoyed partaking in its social order, redistributed wealth, and civil privileges. The threat of Christ’s message and independent Kingdom, without the need for rulers or treaties with one-world governments, would dismantle the political authority maintained by the Pharisees, and the way of life to which they had grown accustomed under Roman provision and civil structure. To keep the people of Israel as their indentured serfdom, these men only had to pay thirty pieces of silver. Such human sacrifice has always been intrinsic to human civil government, and scapegoats are always purchased with blood money.

On the night of His arrest, Jesus’ kidnappers, as can be expected from men in political power, committed blatant and unashamed conspiracy against their prey. After marching him from Gethsemane, they presented false witnesses of fabricated crimes, they shuffled him between interrogators, and they stripped him of his dignity. This motivation of such an expedited arraignment in front of a kangaroo court was to get the deed done before the His loyal supporters could be alerted to intervene and save him. Passover Week was a busy time for the people, and they were distracted with their ceremonies at the Temple. Planning to go through this farcical process and illegal charade while the people were busy with the liturgical services of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is typical evidence of the schemes politicians will commit to in order to retain their power at any cost.

It was during the early hours of the following morning that Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate, a procurator of Rome. Pilate’s political function was mainly military, with the added obligation of collecting imperial taxes in order to fund his peacekeeping capacity. While he had the privilege of minting coin for the local currency supply, he was only a promagistrate over the region, meaning he had no magisterial power of his own. He only had delegated authority over limited judicial functions, which naturally included mitigating political insurrection and rebellion. He was not elected by the people, but given office by Rome. It was this consigned responsibility which Christ called into question when he says “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:11) It is fairly common, though without merit, to declare that this “power” was given to Pilate from God, assuming that the phrase “from above” is referring to Heaven for some imagined reason. But it is not “the greater sin” for the Pharisees to deliver Christ into the hands of “God’s man” who bears “the lesser sin” in receiving him. It would not be sin at all if it was God who gave Pilate his power over Christ. Rather, it is because Pilate’s entrusted authority from Rome extended over matters of political insurrection as a peacekeeper, that the pretext of condemning Jesus as “reckoned among the transgressors” was successful for the Pharisees, and made them guilty of “the greater sin” in the plot to depose Him. It is Pilate’s lesser sin to sentence an innocent man who was already arraigned by the Pharisees under dubious circumstances. Their own legal agreements with Rome barred them from executing criminals themselves, and so they delivered Jesus to the only man around who had delegated jurisdiction over such matters, complete with fabricated evidence to seal the deal. But not without due hesitation on Pilate’s part, and a sidebar with the defendant:

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:33-40)

This exchange put to rest the debate of the times as to who was the rightful king in Jerusalem. Since the exile of Hyrcanus, the execution of Antigonus, and the deaths of the ethnarchs, there was no King of Judea. However, by the pedigree of His earthly parents and the providence of His heavenly Father, Jesus Christ had legitimate claim to be the rightful king of the Jews. This was affirmed by the Magi at his birth, recognized by the people of Jerusalem, feared by the Sanhedrin, and even proclaimed by the promagistrate of Rome who expressed it, not once, but twice, and even nailing it to Christ’s cross as a sympathetic expression in favor of His innocence and in rejection of the Pharisees’ decision.

Recalling the second installment of this series, it is necessary to reiterate the fact that when Christ says that His Kingdom is not of “this world,” he is not referring to the celestial body of “Earth,” claiming that His kingdom is in some ethereal, intangible realm, but rather the Greek defines it as the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government,” referring to Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. All of which, in that moment and circumstance, was represented by Pilate. If Christ’s kingdom was of the world of Rome, it would include a bureaucratic hierarchy that existed by force and violence, much like that of the Pharisees who had appealed to Rome to settle the dispute over who should be the Jewish King between brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus some decades prior. Their servants did fight each other on behalf of their respective kings in a civil war before Pompey inserted his Roman military into the situation to bring law and order, and legitimize Judea’s authoritarian king.

Kosmos

Free from that history and the nature of such kingdoms, Christ formed His kingdom to have a different character where His servants are not given over to bloodshed in the pursuit of political power. Pilate knew such behavior was the way of Imperial Rome, but here Christ was declaring that he had no jurisdiction or legal ability to judge Christ or His followers since His Kingdom had no contract or treaty with Rome, especially regarding the charges of insurrection, since His servants did not fight. Pilate, attending to Christ’s answer to his question of “What hast thou done?,” soon learns that Christ and His Kingdom was outside of Rome’s jurisdiction and ceremoniously washes his hands as an expression of dismissing the false charges of sedition and political insurrection against Christ. The washing of one’s hands is a (not exclusively) Pharisean custom to wash away impurity, such as the impurity caused by convicting an innocent man. So Pilate hands the matter over to the Sanhedrin, forcing them to choose between granting the freedom of Jesus, and that of Barabbas. Barabbas, on the other hand, was legitimately guilty of being a violent revolutionary against the Judean government, including the Pharisees themselves and their preferred policies and policymakers in Rome.

“It is possible that Barabbas was merely a robber or highwayman, but more likely, given the use of the term ληστής (lhsth”) in Josephus and other early sources, that he was a guerrilla warrior or revolutionary leader. See both R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:857) and K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT 4:258) for more information. The word λῃστής was used a number of times by Josephus (J. W. 2.13.2-3 [2.253-254]) to describe the revolutionaries or guerrilla fighters who, from mixed motives of nationalism and greed, kept the rural districts of Judea in constant turmoil.” (Footnote to John 18. From NET Bible)

Surely the Pharisees would choose to release Christ under such circumstances, considering He was harmless to their authority in contrast to Barabbas. However, the reprobate need for compromise inherent to the unrighteous with their power centers, encourages them to make bedfellows with their own political enemies in order to stamp out those who promote righteousness and liberty under God. A lawful King who fires moneychangers and disrupts the systematic concentration of wealth of society through taxation and inflation is a much bigger threat to the kingdoms of “the world” than political opponents who agree with the ideology of archism, but differ only on who should rule. As they emulate, it is better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” (John 19:12-22)

Pilate, always unpopular with the Jews, is quick to be intimidated by these threats against his reputation and did not want to fall out of favor with Emperor Tiberius, being his granddaughter’s husband. He may have been bloodthirsty, inflexible, and unnecessarily harsh with the Jewish people, but threats to hold him accountable to Caesar often made him a pushover. To save his own reputation, he must crucify an innocent man. Likewise, to keep their status as rulers over the people, the Pharisees must double down on their rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and repeat their insistence that Caesar is their lord and savior. Their suppression of the truth is so great that they demand that Pilate remove Christ’s title from Christ’s cross but Pilate’s inflexibility (and maybe a degree of conviction) prevent him from displaying this crucifixion as nothing short of regicide.

According to the Mishnah, at the Temple in Jerusalem at 9 in the morning, the first lamb of the daily Tamid would be sacrificed, which focused on atoning for sins and the restoration of relationship with God. According to the account of the written gospels, at the hill of Golgotha at 9 in the morning, the first-born of creation and the Lamb of God, was self-sacrificed to atone for the sins of those in “the world” and restore the repentant to the Kingdom of God. By noon, the second lamb of the daily Tamid would be presented and tied to the altar in the Temple to be sacrificed three hours later at 3 in the afternoon, for atonement for the sins of the community and for the restoration of fellowship with God. By noon at Golgotha:

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom… Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:45-54)

Regicide

The impeachment of Christ is coupled with more than a few supernatural assertions, but maybe the most significant for this discussion is the tearing of the temple veil, removing any excuse for the people to continue to perform their religion through a temple made of human hands. As we have discussed elsewhere, the altars of God were always meant to be “built” with living stones, referring to an adhocratic network of righteous people who sacrifice their charity to sustain their neighbor. This is to contrast against the temples of pagan kingdoms which were government buildings of bureaucratic function, where the sacrifices are compelled by taxation and distributed in socialism. Even the temple in Jerusalem was this way, and it is obvious that the building of it was never in God’s design. However, due to the increasing idolatry of the Jewish people to be like the pagan kingdoms of the world, they traded in their pure and undefiled religion for institutional bastions of civic satanism where they raised up human rulers to be their lords and saviors. As we discussed in the first installment, these rulers were invariably “sons of God,” claiming divine right to rule over the people.

A few things are important to note regarding the death of Christ as it relates to the good news of His political campaign on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Firstly, the tearing of the temple veil does not only herald the destruction of the necessity of the inherently useless government building and federal reserve in Jerusalem, but it is also a metaphor for how the consummation of Christ’s ministry at the cross reveals that all bureaucratic institutions in all worldly kingdoms are erroneous usurpers to how God prescribes society should be maintained. The veil separates the initiated higher class of politicians from their uninitiated subject citizens, creating a dependency of the latter onto the former to perform the weightier matters of the Law through authoritarian policies and bureaucratic compulsion. The tearing of the veil intimates that God is not a respecter of persons, and restores to all men the responsibility to perform the weightier matters through justice, judgment, mercy, and faith, and therefore restores their God-given rights to their land, labor, property, and family without the meddling of human civil government.

Secondly, the record of the centurion’s realization that Christ was the Son of God is a competing truth claim to the legitimacy of the authority of all human rulers. A citizen cannot serve two masters, belong to two kingdoms, or believe two gospels simultaneously, and the supernatural power emanating from Christ’s death is as much a testament to his Divine right to be a servant king as the Father’s proclamation at his baptism, and as Elijah’s summoning of divine fire to consume a drowned altar atop Carmel. The majority of miraculous events recorded in Scripture are related to the competition of the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of Satan, and naturally its victory over them. This is especially true for the ten plagues against Egyptian nationalism (which will be expanded upon shortly), the marching around Jericho during its moon festival, and the aquatic transportation of Jonah to delegitimize the ocean deity of Nineveh.

Thirdly, that His ultimate self-sacrifice as a servant-king entirely contrasts the sacrifices made on the altars of “public servants” and ruling kings over pagan nations. While those false gods sacrifice the blood of their subjects through taxation and inflation which lead to economic dearths and society-wide pestilence, and sacrifice the lives of their subjects through statute labor and military service which lead to lifelong slavery and literal death, Jesus Christ instead sacrifices His own life to rescue the lives of those who would follow Him as King, to liberate them from the kingdoms of bondage, and make them a prosperous nation as free souls under God.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Scripture everywhere declares that the covetous practices that entice people to subject themselves to human authority through contracts to receive benefits at their neighbor’s expense are actually a self-destructive snare that makes them merchandise of ruling men. It is because they lack self-control that their flesh is not consecrated to God, and it is the pursuit of the comforts of the flesh that lead them into bondage. Sin leads to death, so to speak, but Christ voluntarily subjected himself to the ultimate expression of that death: capital punishment. Even though He was an innocent man, Jesus of Nazareth underwent the worst of the torment that is inherent to all pagan governments so that those who found themselves under their power through sin by running headlong into destruction for socialist benefits would not have to experience such justice for their sin. As such, he not only forgave the sins of the idolaters who transgressed God’s Perfect Law of Liberty, but also crucified the very legalistic administrations that kept the people in bondage under the heavy burdens of bureaucratic elements. If “love conquers all,” then it was Christ’s selflessness that triumphed over kings, presidents, and tyrants and gave the deathblow to their self-destructive selfish kingdoms. The Kingdom of Heaven naturally follows His example, inspiring the love for one’s neighbor and personal servanthood as the redemptive and preservative agents of a free society.

There is a historical significance for these implications. When the Israelites coveted their neighbor’s goods by receiving Pharaoh’s benefits, they found themselves in the bondage of Egypt (the undisputed world power of its day) for generations before God liberated them. He did this through a supernatural invasion, as evidenced in the plagues of Egypt being a series of opposing fronts from God against the superstitions of Egyptian civil and economic society. Each one is a testament that He, and not their pantheon of rulers, is sovereign over the elements represented in their institutions and pagan gods. The plagues culminate in a literal wave of death washing over the nation, only to pass over the repentant, sparing them for salvation unto a free society. They were to sacrifice their Passover lambs and coat their wooden door frames with the blood to be eligible to be counted in the Exodus from their bondage. These events and their purpose are galvanized in Hebrew history as a sort of Independence Day which memorializes their being taken out of bondage and into the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder then why the crucifixion of Christ occurs during the annual Passover celebration? The blood of the Lamb of God is coated on the wooden door frame of the cross to make Christ the doorway out of the civil bondage of Rome (the undisputed world power of its day) and into the Kingdom of God, leading the repentant sinners of the world into a free society. All of those who chose to receive this sacrifice were made eligible to be counted in the second Exodus at Pentecost.

The miraculous imagery does not end with the afternoon of Christ’s crucifixion. A man dead after three days is hardly ever expected to come back from the dead, but the dead have no jurisdiction over the living and the kingdom of Heaven must be reduced to wishful thinking and blind belief in Neverland in the absence of a living King to lead it, so it is necessary for Jesus Christ, the servant king of freemen, to be raised from the dead on Sunday morning in order to lead the people who are to be liberated by his death. Christ’s resurrection is a testament that the kingdoms of the world have no lasting power over the innocent and the righteous because they find supernatural Providence in God. While the jurisdictions of darkness provide only debt, death and destruction, the jurisdiction of light brings life, liberty, and the restoration of all that has been sacrificed on the altars of the jurisdictions of darkness. Not restoration of the principle only, but with interest too.

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-26)

The resurrection of Christ, Paul says, is a prerequisite for being allegiant to the Kingdom of God. One puts their faith into that which they are faithful, and a vain faith belongs to an unfaithful citizen. There is little hope to be faithful to God without being in a free society, and there is no free society without a risen King to lead it. So, without Christ’s resurrection, there is no remission for sin, which is the reason why one even find themselves in civil bondage in recompense for sin. Always mingling the tangible with the ephemeral, Paul declares the victories of King Jesus over the kingdoms of the world, his political enemies, physical death, and the spiritual death inherited by wordly jurisdictions. Christ’s resurrection is a promise of physical resurrection for those who are born again under His jurisdiction, just like physical death is a guarantee for all of those who are born from Adam’s lineage of mortality. And if literal death has no lasting power for those who follow Christ, then what lasting power do the kingdoms of spiritual (and capital) death hope to have over true believers in Christ’s Gospel? Their rules, authorities, and powers are under His feet. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10)

Resurrection

Before His ascension to the spiritual realm at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus Christ gave “many infallible proofs” for forty days after being resurrected. He continues right where he left off in teaching the people what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and how to maintain it. The most significant of these recorded teachings is perhaps what we call The Great Commission:

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

The word worship here is inherently a political one that means to show homage to men of superior rank, as all men do for whatever magistrates they recognize in their respective kingdoms. This makes simple sense considering that to be an apostle is to be an ambassador for a Kingdom, on behalf of a King, and as we see in this instance, to spread a message of political reconciliation amongst citizens of kingdoms in rebellion. It is to these citizens, and not to their governments, that is referenced in the word “nations,” or “ethnos” in the Greek. It refers to a multitude, as in a tribe or people group, or individuals of the same nature, like a family. This is fitting considering those in bondage under a certain form of government all share the same civil father, which is the meaning of the word patriot. The point of teaching God’s way to those in bondage under a civil father is to adopt them through baptism into the Kingdom of God the Father. It was in the second installment of this series where we tackled the meaning of baptism as an expression of exchanging one’s civil citizenship. That adoption comes with its own house rules, so to speak, which are centered on keeping the weightier matters by obeying God’s Law. This includes organizing the citizens of God’s Kingdom into adhocratic networks of families accountable to each other in faith, hope, and charity, so this kingdom could last from generation to generation. Christ ends the Commission with the promise that He would remain with them until the end of the age, which could very well mean eternity.

The Great Commission is also mentioned in Mark’s gospel account, with some notable details to consider:

“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)

The first thing to consider here is that the word used for “world” is not the same as the “world” used in the Matthew account meaning Age. This world is, in fact, the same “world” with which Christ explained to Pilate that His Kingdom had no affiliation or political treaty or logical compatibility: the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government” of Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. This is also the same “world” from which James later warns Christians to remain unstained as they practice their pure religion. This is especially important because the word for “creature” in this passage is not some idiomatic expression referring to all living things including trees, birds, and mammals as a synecdoche for mankind. Rather, it is the word used for founding, establishing, or building ordinances and political corporations, which are the very civil institutions that make up “the world” and enslave the worldly. The King of Heaven desires that His ambassadors go to where the captives are and preach the two-sided coin of repentance and liberation in the shadows of the very bastions of their bondage. Essentially, this is a callback to Moses who marched into Pharaoh’s palace and demanded that he “let my people go” so that they may be given an Exodus and restored to the liberty under God’s jurisdiction to keep His commands and organize themselves into a free society. Those who repent, Mark records, will be baptized into the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore saved from their civil bondage. Those who remain faithful to the false gospels of human rulers, however, will not be saved, but will be given over to the inevitable self-destruction of those kingdoms when they receive their reckoning of fiscal and moral bankruptcy, culminating in weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness of social, economic, and political collapse, as is the fate of all pagan and socialist societies. Mark also records that these evangelists will be supernaturally protected and supplemented as a testament to their message and the Magistrate that sent them, making the implication that it is those within God’s jurisdiction, and not those who merely call themselves Christians, that can expect to see miracles and divine intervention.

It is true that many fans of Christianity and enthusiasts of scriptural scholarship will limit the notions of salvation and damnation to some after-life experience, basically professing that those who have an emotional instance of short-lived contrition where they recite some incantation of mental belief in the existence of a creator god, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are guaranteed to be ushered into a Heavenly place the moment they die, and that those who do not recite this incantation will go to the other place. While not a complete falsification of the Gospel message, this superstitious collection of wishful thinking and veritable witchcraft certainly truncates the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. A more accurate simplification of the truth might could be expressed thusly: Whichever kingdom one belongs to in this life determines the kingdom he will go to in the next. If you are property of the State, belonging to authoritarian kingdoms characterized by contracts, entitlements, and taxation, then you are in bondage under Satan’s jurisdiction, both literally and spiritually. If you have repented and are seeking or have entered into the literal Kingdom of Heaven, which is for free souls under God, and binds them in faith, hope, and charity, then you will be saved from both the present and the future fate of the former, and be given life and life abundantly.

The early Christians understood this relationship, and it was only a week after Christ ascended to the Heavenly realm when they experienced its political and supernatural effects in real time. The Jews would be observing the Feast of Weeks, a celebration commemorating the ratification of their Constitution as a nation, when God had given them the Law with which to maintain their embryonic free society after their declaration of independence from Egypt through Passover and an exodus from bondage. But just like the experience of Passover was renewed and repeated with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so too was the transcendent experience of Moses on Sinai with his divine constitution renewed and repeated at Pentecost.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance…

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2)

There is much more to the second chapter of Acts than we have presented here, and the content omitted for time and ease should be reviewed and appreciated as a display of supernatural proof accompanying Peter’s logical dissertation regarding Biblical prophecy, as well as the legitimacy of the Kingdom of God, and the servant King who was sacrificed to secure it. Those who believed in Christ’s Gospel before Pentecost had been put out of the temple administrations and barred from its services and civil enrollment. They were excommunicated and banished from the “free bread” and welfare offered by the socialist society of Herod and the Pharisees. They were marked and declined any benefits offered by Herod’s social security schemes. This also meant that they were free from any of the civil encumbrances tied to the bondage of his citizenship, which is why Christ said it made the word of God to none effect. In turn, they would have to be sustained by a voluntary network of assistance, as instructed by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, it is recorded that three-thousand souls proclaimed that Jesus was their King, which guaranteed their exile from the kingdom of the Pharisees, Herod, Rome, and any other. This also meant that they could be counted and enrolled through baptism into the Kingdom of God, thereby saving themselves “from this untoward generation” by sustaining each other through the redistribution of charity containing their daily bread. Their salvation was not merely from some afterlife punishment, but from the very form of bondage that Moses had saved their fathers centuries prior. Every man that believed on the political campaign of Jesus Christ was restored unto his family and his possessions and his power of choice, into a kingdom of freemen who experienced the abolition of both death and taxes by the only magistrate who has the power to truly abolish anything. History attests to the success of this Gospel in recording the overtaking of the Roman Empire by the Christian Kingdom. History also attests to the reason why this Gospel was superior to that of Rome:

“Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To the inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But, as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose; we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission to ask not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church. It will perhaps appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:

I. The inflexible, and if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth. III. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christians. V. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire.” (Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2. 1781)

It was the Christian Gospel that enabled the early Christians to abolish the dominion of Rome over their lives, exactly how the Israelites abolished the dominion of Egypt over theirs in their repentance. It is on this same consistent message of abolition that the worldview of Abolitionism rests. It is not by coincidence that the Gospel fits in the center of the five tenets. ERGON reveals that every other tenet pivots on and revolves around the message and mission of King Christ. Without the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no abolition of the human archism of every other kingdom. The injunction is a simple one: Call on the name of the Lord, not on the names of other politicians, to save you from the fears, dangers, and maladies of this life and the next. Pray to God for the Providence of His daily bread, and not to the false gods for their socialist benefits. Come together to form a network of adhocratic congregations or abolitionist societies of daily ministration in the keeping of the weightier matters through faith, hope, and charity. Be rescued from the unequal yokes of bureaucratic bondage and authoritarian jurisdictions that keep you in a competitive ouroboros of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. These are not new injunctions. This is the message that permeates all of scripture, and with it, all of history: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

The Price We Pay for Negligence

The Price We Pay for Negligence

Below is a short writing titled “The Price We Pay for Negligence” by Francis Schaeffer. For the most part, we are in agreement with his major points: that professing Christians are apathetic and self-destructive, that they do not know Jesus Christ or are willing to keep his commands in any way whatsoever. There are some of Schaeffer’s points on which we do not agree, however: the deist philosophy of the American fathers did not come from the God of the Bible, christianity did not “underpin” the creation of the United States, and the legislation of morality is wholly a bad idea, as we have expressed elsewhere, which means that using “constitutional channels” is forbidden. Rather, Christians should be seeking to keep God’s Law, to do justice and love mercy, and not outsource those injunctions to the institutions of human civil government. Nevertheless, there is a lot of wisdom in Schaeffer’s paper if you take his residual statist presuppositions with a grain of salt:

“If the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. ”

As I state in A Christian Manifesto, America was greatly influenced by Reformation ideals. This is not to say that all the founders were Christian. Nor that the Christians were totally consistent in their political theories. However there was a Christian underpinning which distinguished America’s birth from the French and Russian Revolutions. Even the non-Christians recognised a Creator who gave the “Inalienable rights” in contrast to man or the state being the giver of those rights.

Today, however, we are a nation “under man”—centred around man’s self-appointed autonomy, governed by man’s fluctuating opinions and chiefly existing, it seems, to give man personal peace and affluence. In other words, the Judeo-Christian ethos, based on God’s absolutes, has been supplanted by a secularistic, humanistic, arrogantly arbitrary philosophy.

This worldview is spreading rapidly, and our legal system is a prominent perpetrator of it. Law in this country has become situational law, controlled by a small but dangerously powerful elite. The courts are dangerous because they pontificate arbitrarily what they personally consider to be “good” for society, yet they demand—and aggressively enforce—absolute allegiance to their arbitrary decrees.

But what did we expect?

The humanistic, secularistic thinkers have merely carried their philosophy to its logical end. They have remained true to their worldview in both words and actions while, unfortunately, Christians have equivocated. They simply have not taken the Lordship of Christ seriously.

Instead, Christians have largely shut up their spirituality into a small corner of life—Sunday church or their Bible studies—instead of realising that the Lordship of Christ is to permeate the whole spectrum of life. They have coasted along complacently, often serving up such dogmas as “you can’t mix religion and politics,” or “you can’t legislate morality,” or “we just need to pray and witness to people”—when what they really meant was “we just don’t want to be disturbed.” They were content in their “comfort zone.”

But Christians are paying for their negligence. We have permitted the dominance of a philosophy that sanctions the killing of an unborn child for the mother’s convenience. A philosophy that deems it acceptable for parents to allow a “less than perfect” newborn child to die—again, because it is convenient. A philosophy that can talk of euthanasia of the aged and a general devaluation of all human life. A philosophy that has euphemized a wrong and self-destructive sexuality into “alternative lifestyles.” A philosophy that drives its proponents to unashamedly seek the banishment of all religious influence from the stream of public life, leaving a totally relativistic value system and law.

This secularistic worldview has engulfed every area of society which Christians have chosen to ignore—the government, the courts, education, the media. And it is now threatening the areas which Christians naively took for granted as being beyond its reach: the family, the Christian school and the church. More and more the state is opening the door to restrict the free exercise of our faith through increased regulation.

And if the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. Christians largely sleep on, as step after step is taken. It is not too late to change this destructive situation, but it is too late for mere words. It is time for Christians to fight this materialistic, humanistic tide and provide Christian alternatives. It is time that we came out of our cloistered, compartmentalized existence and took our place in the political and legal arenas.

We must continue to pray and witness to people of salvation in Christ. But we must also fight for the sanctity of human life, fight for the protection of the family, fight for the proper education of our children, fight for our right to speak and worship freely, and fight for a church that is bound to the tenets of God and not the state as though it were an autonomous authority.

We must protest. We must resist. Yet we must not move with zeal without also moving in wisdom and scriptural authority. We must understand how God’s Word applies to the whole spectrum of society, and we must know how to use our constitutional channels to work toward change.

We must use the law effectively in the coming years if we are to see any positive change. Our system of law has veered so far from its original mooring that it is going to take aggressive challenges in the courts to thwart the destructive trends. We cannot afford to sit back and allow humanism to increasingly roll over us.

That is why I am glad to see organizations such as the Rutherford Institute come into being. If there is any hope, it is in doing the faith. And by doing the faith, we can be the witnesses Christ desires.

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Prooftexts and Contexts of the New Testament

Prooftexts and Contexts of the New Testament

It is fairly common for those who attempt to argue against the validity of Abolitionism to offend its adherents by either taking scripture out of context or by oversimplifying concepts described in scripture. Granted, the most common and (dead) traditional interpretations and sophistry have served to confuse professing Christians for almost two thousand years, leading them away from the truth, not to mention the thousands of years of perverted scriptural dogma inherited by the Pharisees which are still repeated today. This article will endeavor to catalogue many of these blunders projected onto New Testament scriptures, and express them as they are intended to be interpreted: as compatible with the Kingdom of God and the liberty inherited by those who seek it. For a look at Old Testament scripture please read this post. To budget space on this post, and to assuage the attention span of the average reader, an analysis of Romans 13 is not included within this content. It can be found here instead.

Doth Not Your Master Pay Tribute?

“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:24-27)

Many statists will require that this passage means that Jesus was either in favor of taxation or that He and the early Christians were subject citizens of governments who existed by taxation, but these interpretations would require a lazy understanding of the context. Because Capernaum rested on the border between two administrative regions, it was a prime location for the collection of the yearly national and temple taxes. Moses had inaugurated a tithe like this in Exodus 30:11-16 among all males over the age of twenty, for the maintenance of the tabernacle as an administrative tool for the Levites, and to contribute to the offerings which were welfare for the Israelite community as a nation. This half-shekel, repeated as a concept often in the Old Testament, was partially an idiomatic synecdoche, meaning that it was not a tax for the sake of income for the Levites, but was a renewal of registration for the patriarchs of the congregations of Israel. Its purpose was a form of tallying those who were counted as standing members among the adhocratic network of charity, so the Levites could better organize their efforts to serve the people. After the temple had been built, this half-shekel imposition was adopted, perverted, and codified into the legal system of the Jewish state and, while losing its original purpose, became a burden on the people.

“According to Edersheim (The Life and Times of Jesus), the yearly tax was collected during the Passover season. About a month before Passover, Jewish tax collectors would set up their tax booths to collect taxes from residents in Israel and near Jerusalem. Jews living in foreign lands also had to pay the ½ shekel or the two Attic drachmas tax. But, they could do so at one of the other pilgrim feasts such as the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in the month of Sivan (June) or the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) in the month of Tishri (September/October). Late payments were collected by distraint as late as the month of Adar (February/March). The tax confrontation of Peter by the tax collectors could have happened as late as the month of Tishri, or it could have been much earlier in the summer when the confrontation took place.

I conclude from observing the above facts that this was the Temple tax required by Moses and that because Jesus was not at the Passover the previous spring, the Jews were aware that Jesus had not yet paid the didrachma. They were probably not as much interested in the tax as trying to find an accusation against him.

Therefore, the fact that the tax collectors confronted Peter about Jesus’ tax policy does not appear to be out of custom with the times. Apparently, the tax collectors kept tabs on Jesus and were aware that they had not yet received a didrachma from Jesus.” (Was Jesus Christ Tax Exempt? (2009, August 16). Family Guardian.)

Peter, an impetuous apostle who habitually spoke rashly and in ignorance, obviously acted in haste here when addressed by the tax collectors at Capernaum. Christ was quick to rebuke him, however. His correction includes a contrast between the members of the royal house and the civil subjects of rulers. The word for “strangers” in this passage is allotrios, meaning “belonging to another,” and “foreign, strange, not of one’s own family, alien, an enemy,” but Jesus was born into a regal rank as “the son of David,” through a royal bloodline, making him the rightful king of Judea and heir to his Father’s house, which made him the Lord and owner of the Temple at Jerusalem. As sovereign, He was not subject to the tax law because he was the source of the law, even though it had become perverted through generations of dead tradition. Peter’s indiscretion afforded him the liability to make his “yes” yes in order to not offend the tax collectors and make himself a liar, especially to bring undue suspicion onto Jesus. The tax would not be applied to the other apostles who did not foolishly speak out of turn, nor would it be taken from the troop’s purse. Christ himself did not handle the coins, but knew where Peter could obtain the tribute through some flotsam. Jesus Christ would later dismantle this tax system in the Temple of Jerusalem, and preach the establishment of a new one based on adhocracy and freewill offerings, taking the Kingdom of God from bureaucrats and giving it to those who would produce the fruits thereof. We have written about the implications of that event here.

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Render Unto Caesar

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Matthew 22:15-22)

This is probably one of the most common passages that statists attempt to raise up against the claims of Abolitionism in order to legitimize their idolatry. In order to do this, they must dismiss the context created by the scheming Pharisees, and their statist guilt directly repeated in the statism of today. Because there were several Greek words translated “tribute” in the New Testament, it is important to recognize that the tribute referenced in this passage is not the same tribute referenced in the temple tax relevant to the account of Peter’s indiscretion. While that latter tribute originally applied to people whose Lord was God alone, the former tribute only applied to those who made Caesar their lord, through the application of citizenship for his pragmatic providence as their god in their sin. We have written elsewhere about the implications of rendering unto Caesar that which is God’s and how it brings one under the eligibility to be taxed by him. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24)

To bring those concepts into the context of this passage, it is necessary to examine a few of its details. Namely the implications of the contrast between the image of God and the image of Caesar. The coin in the possession of the Pharisees was most likely a variation of the Antiochian tetradrachm. In this case, one reflecting Tiberius with the inscription “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus” on the front and “Pontif Maxim” on the back, therefore delineating him as the “son of God” on one side and “the high priest” on the other. In the most basic and obvious sense, this coin was a perfect example of a graven image, which was in violation of the very laws that the Pharisees pretended to follow, interpret, and enforce. The false god of Augustus Caesar was not only superstitiously considered divine, but was also an appointer of gods because he retained the role of installing the supreme court justices of Rome. He was also the father of the earth over the civil citizens of Rome as their provider and protector, who gave them an allowance through income, but also could extract taxation from them, which is the patrimonial right of kings, or civil fathers, contrary to Christ’s command. This exact idolatry is perfected by Americans today, for American civil government is identical to Roman civil government.

The Pharisees had completely bought into the false gospel of Augustus, worshipped him both literally and figuratively and, as blind guides, lead the people astray into civil bondage all the while calling that bondage the Kingdom of Heaven. They were under social contracts to the Pax Romana, and taught this practice as righteousness despite it explicitly breaking the Law of God. When it came time to choose between Christ and Caesar, they compounded their sin in confirming that they had “no king but Caesar.” They were made in Caesar’s image after all, as legal persons at law, and refused to be born again as freemen in God’s image, under His jurisdiction in His Kingdom.

In calling out their hypocrisy as those who say they serve God but serve human magistrates instead, Christ demolishes their pretense at some moral high ground. It is the position of Christ and abolitionists that one should not owe anything to Caesar and that taxation is a recompense and a justice for the debt that comes with making Caesar your lord. You first had to render unto Caesar that which is God’s, giving up your dominion and placing yourself under the dominion of ruling men. In the transaction, you receive things of Caesar’s like legal titles, legal tender, legal employment, and therefore legal obligations to maintain those things. The purpose of this passage is to compel you to realize that you should not have anything belonging to Caesar to begin with, and to give it back to him so that God may become your provider instead. If you had not sinned by abandoning that which is God’s, you would have retained your rights and responsibilities rather than traded them in for civil privileges and legal liabilities. You could have kept the fruits of your labor rather than subjecting them to Caesar in corvee bondage, for the empty promises of welfare and other boons of civil citizenship obtained at the expense of your neighbor’s taxation. Now that you are trapped by the words of your mouth in your own covetousness and sloth, you must make your “yes” yes, and pay for the consequences for your sins. This, and only this, is what is meant by “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” identical to the tale of bricks that the Israelites had to pay Pharaoh in their Egyptian bondage, before they received salvation through an Exodus, by God’s mercy in their repentance for going under Pharaoh generations beforehand.

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But Romans 13 Says…

Due to the popularity of this excuse and the length of its content, this prooftext has its own post located here.

Remember Them Which Have the Rule Over You

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)

The word for rule here is not the typical one for authoritarian office, which is “arché,” meaning “comes first and is therefore chief” which means it “has priority ahead of the rest.” It is the word “hégeomai,” which means “to lead the way” and “carries important responsibility and hence ‘casts a heavy vote’ (influence) – and hence deserve cooperation by those who are led.” This scripture is not referring to men in positions of authoritarian government, patterned after the world, but the servant ministers of God’s titular government, the pastors who lead the people in dedicated, literal service and moral example. They, explicitly according to Christ, did not “come first and are therefore chief.” Christ instructed that they come last in Luke 22. This notion is expanded upon ten verses later.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

The word for “obey” here is “peithó” which is related, not to a relationship characterized by subordination, but by persuasion and confidence in one’s wisdom, to assurance, taking advice, being “won over” and idioms of similar connotation. Likewise, the concept of submission here is a voluntary one, from “hupeikó” “to resist no longer, but to give way, yield,” as in to willingly agree to defer to one’s direction and advice. This is because the ministers “watch for” their congregants in being vigilant in ministering to them “without any unnecessary ‘time off.'” Part of their role in maintaining a free society is to “give account” to the rest of the organized christian network in a record to better distribute the daily ministration. These verses are establishing the importance of a willing cooperation with the ministers as an alternative to enforced social contracts that the people suffered under with the bureaucracies of the world, for their socialist welfare schemes. The whole chapter is a warning against the latter, and an injunction to not be remiss with the former.

Pray for Rulers

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

It is not uncommon to see this passage used to attempt to dismiss the abolitionist worldview. Granted, this is never as a result of careful study, but rather because it is much easier to just flippantly repeat base prooftexts when confronted in one’s idolatry than it is to work through the implications of an opposing viewpoint. We see over and over again that a “plain reading” of scripture (as if scripture was plainly written in modern English) is a lazy reading of scripture, and that there is no “plain reading” that is not tempered by the personal interpretation of presupposition based on hearsay, personal experience, imagination, or some combination of the three. In regards to this passage, interpreting it in the typical statist fashion requires that one presupposes that the early christians had literal kings to rule over them, or men to exercise authority over them. This presupposition denies the fact that Christ did not allow such a model for His kingdom, and that history attests the opposing theme.

The term we see for “king” in this passage is “basileus” which means “leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king,” and “a sovereign (abstractly, relatively, or figuratively).” When the term is used in the New Testament to refer to literal civil rulers, it is often (though not exclusively) in reference to Christ whose kingship was characterized by service and restoring the power of choice to the people after they had sinfully concentrated it into the hands of human rulers by covetous contract and careless consent. In the Kingdom of God, the people recognized no kings of the world who could exercise civil authority over them. Neither did they have a standing army, the power to legislate each other, judges who could rule over them, enforcers of taxation, or any other institutional vice so common to pagan societies. According to the dominion mandate, every patriarch was to be king and priest in his own house. Every person was to legislate themselves, because God writes His Law on the hearts and minds of freemen. Every elder collects taxes of his own family through freewill offerings in a charitable network of free assemblies. This reality is maintained by keeping the natural order of the family, where every wife was one flesh with and civilly covered by her husband, incorporated as one person at law, and every child remained wholly intact under their parents’ authority and dominion. This positioned the power of choice of society into the hands of patriarchal elders who retained the equitable rights to their property and family as natural positions of authority over the fruits of their labor and the products of being fruitful and multiplying.

The phrase “that are in authority” is extrapolated from one Greek word “huperoché” meaning “superiority, excellence, preeminence,” and even “with excellency of speech or of wisdom.” The only place it is translated “authority” is in circular reasoning in this passage, and is not the usual word Greek authors used to describe literal authority. It is from the word “huperechó” which is translated “higher” in Romans 13. We have detailed a more thorough analysis of the word here. It is most often used to reflect excellence of character, especially in regards to service, morality, and humility. There is a form of rank in the government of God, but it is never positional, and always based on reputation and the minister’s performance of his duties. The only authority they had was, not over the people, but over the freewill offerings entrusted to them by the people. Those offerings were consecrated to God to be redistributed to those who had need, as a form of God’s Providence.

Paul describes why supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving should be made for all men, but especially “the elders, and for those that are held to a higher standard of moral excellence (pastors),” and this is so “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The Elders were to lead their families and the Pastors were to network them together in congregations of faith, hope, and charity by their service. Praying that they may carry out their duties in humility and good character seems like a no-brainer, because this was the nature of a free society: the family unit was the political party, coming together in adhocracy, and the called-out servant ministers were a titular government to organize them. Societies in bondage require that the families are broken up so that their members are dependent on and assimilate into the socialist fleshpots, who all share the same civil fathers and false gods, to have mediators in politicians and lesser magistrates between them and their rulers. For the Christians, however, because they were themselves responsible to keep the weightier matters and organize themselves voluntarily, they only had “one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” When the passage describes Him as savior, it is because they were saved from the wrath of kings to enter into the free society characterized by the Kingdom of God, and only because Jesus Christ gave up everything in order to ransom a repentant people to go under his life-giving jurisdiction in restoring them to the original liberty given to God’s favored creation. It is for this reason Paul had been ordained a preacher of this Gospel message and an apostle (ambassador) to Gentiles who were still in civil captivity.

Submit Yourselves

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1 Peter 2:11-18)

Even though the beginning of this chapter describes Peter’s audience as “disallowed of men” (as in cast out from their civil societies), “lively stones” in a “spiritual house” as a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (as opposed to hewn stones in a carnal, worldly jurisdiction, as civil slaves, who give up forced sacrifices through taxation), a “chosen generation” (as in a nation of one kind of people), a “royal priesthood, an holy nation” (as in a kingdom of priests, freed from former civil slavery), “a peculiar people” (which will be examined shortly) who have been called out “of darkness into his marvellous light” (left the civil jurisdictions of the world to enter the Kingdom of God), those contentious against the Gospel of God still use this passage to legitimize going under the power of human civil government. To coincide with the notion of being “a peculiar people,” Peter also describes his audience as being “strangers and pilgrims” in verse eleven. This idea of God’s people being “in the world, but not of the world” is one that encompasses both testaments, as we have already touched on in the previous blog post:

“To further compound this point, in Daniel 2:25, he is referred to as a ‘captive’ or ‘exile’ of Judah. Often throughout scripture, this concept is coupled with the word ‘stranger’ which sometimes means ‘resident’ or ‘alien‘ as opposed to ‘citizen’ and sometimes means ‘without a share,’ as in possesses no entitlement to the strange nation’s provision.”

It is this same sort of provision and entitlement that Peter recalls with the phrase “fleshly lusts which war against the soul,” because socialist provision from Benefactors who exercise authority brings one into civil bondage. If you abstain from taking government benefits your soul will have peace, because you will be free from bondage, under God’s jurisdiction and eligible for his Providence instead. It is because Christians belong to a separate civil society with its own laws, customs, system of welfare and method of organization that it even becomes relevant to instruct them to have their “conversation honest among the Gentiles.” The word Gentiles comes from the greek “ethnos,” referring to “a race” or “nation,” as people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” Compared to God’s people, anybody belonging to another god in another civil society separate from their own, would be considered a gentile. The world of Rome, under which the early Christians were not subject citizens, was a gentile nation. The word for “conversation” in the same verse is from the Greek word “anastrephó” which simply means “conduct” or “behavior,” but is curiously translated “turn upside down” when described of the early Christians in Acts 17:

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” (Acts 17:5-9)

This connection helps to reveal just what kind of honest “conversation” that the Christians were having with the Gentiles. Their conduct upset the Roman and Herodian Jews because they were not counted among Roman and Herodian citizenship, and preaching repentance unto citizenship of the Kingdom of God. They were not subject to the decrees of Caesar. They had another king entirely. It was for this reason that the gentiles spoke against the Christians as evildoers, and we see in Acts 19 that they were accused of robbing the temple of Diana at Ephesus. Because this temple was actually an international bank, with one of the most secure depositories at the time, it is impossible to consider that this accusation against the Christians was literal. We have written more on the “evildoing” of the early Christians here and here:

“There was a sense in which the ministers were robbing the church of Diana, however. By preaching citizenship of God’s Kingdom, and baptizing ex-patriots of worldly governments into their network of liberty, there were less members of the collective surety to make deposits for the welfare schemes maintained by the temple. Fewer sacrifices on its civil altar means that there was less stability in its function as a Federal Reserve, which hurt its ability to make revenue off of its usury. By all accounts persecution occurs, not because Christians have different superstitious rites and beliefs than pagan societies, but because they have a different political and economic way of life than those maintained by human civil government.”

With this history and exegesis serving as a backdrop, it would be beneficial to examine just what Peter means when he tells his audience to submit themselves “to every ordinance of man… unto governors” who are “for the punishment of evildoers.” Surely, if Peter was known for doing “contrary to the decrees of Caesar,” because He had “another king, one Jesus,” then this concept of submitting to governors and human ordinances must mean that he was inconsistent in advocating that Christians attempt to serve two masters. This, however, is untrue and for a number of reasons starting with the fact that the word for “submit,” grammatically and conceptually following the topic of Christian “conduct” among the Gentiles, is “hupotassó” meaning “to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection,” and “to yield to one’s admonition or advice: absolutely.” These definitions are frequently used for military usage, but there is another definition that should be applied to this passage owed to the fact that Christians had no place in Roman or Herodian military: “In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.'” (“Strong’s #5293 – Ὑποτάσσω – Old & New Testament Greek Lexicon.”) This is the same word and definition used in Titus 3:

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)

The concept of submission here does not mean to go under legislative authority or judicial oversight of worldly magistrates. It means that the christian conversation (conduct and behavior) with the gentiles is to reflect humble cooperation with local customs and to voluntarily respect municipal authority. Paul suggests something similar when he says:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

As “strangers and “pilgrims,” christians should cooperate with local law enforcement voluntarily, even though they belong to another political society entirely, so as to be a witness to the native population who remain civil slaves, under administrative civil law. It should be noted that the word for “ordinance” here is not the usual word “dikaioma,” referring to the sort of ordinances to which Christians were not subject. It is “ktisis,” which is also translated “creature” in the Great Commission when it refers to the injunction of preaching the Gospel to every “civil institution,” in the pursuit of redeeming man from the dominion of man. In 1 Peter 2, christians are merely advised to voluntarily cooperate with the institutions (ktisis) when relevant, even though they are not under their literal authority.

To summarize these concepts: the voluntary cooperation that Christians are to have is with the very civil institutions from which they are politically free, and from which they are preaching repentance in order to make more men free. They do not submit to the laws themselves, because they are free from them, but neither are they creating violent unrest in prideful immaturity, or inciting arbitrary social chaos. As expressed all over scripture, it is these authoritarian “governors” and legalistic institutions that are “the punishment of evildoers” as an ouroboros of self-destructive bondage over their subject citizens through their contracts, covetousness, and taxation, from which the Christians remain civilly separate. Peter elucidates on this punishment for evildoing when he says “And through Covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3)

An added benefit of this voluntary and sober cooperation with local customs and pagan magistrates is that it “may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” The jealousy of civil slaves towards freemen tends to resemble the sort of backbiting that is inherent to raising up strawmen in defamatory accusations. There is no doubt that Christians were rebels against the world order, turning it upside down as they preached the alternative Kingdom of God, but their weapons were spiritual, and not carnal, in their revolution. They did not revolt or instigate physical violence or call for insurgent coups against the status quo. They preached repentance, recognizing that oppression and institutionalism were consequences for the sins committed by the people when they oppressed their neighbor by initially raising up the institutions. These foolish men did not “abstain from fleshly lusts” and, not only did their sin lead them to bondage, but it also led to them to becoming reprobate in their foolishness. We have written on that subject and its parallel sentiments reflected in Roman 1 here. Peter drives home the voluntary cooperative relationship of unregistered christians with another nation’s magistrates by describing them “as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Their liberty is intrinsic to their amicable ambassadorship to foreign governments, not unlike Jonah’s role in turning Nineveh upside down, reforming their entire civil and political structure just by preaching true repentance. With this bold meekness, prophets naturally honour all men, love their brotherhood of fellow believers, and honour King Jesus, the Christ, walking a fine line between protest and humility to cause a peaceful revolution and revival unto the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 2

And Despise Government

“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption…” (2 Peter 2:10-12)

Even though the context of this chapter is exclusively a warning against false teachers creeping into the Christian community to promote human civil government, many idolaters will still twist this one passage to justify the same form of government it is condemning. The beginning of the chapter begins by warning against false teachers bringing “damnable heresies“, denying Jesus as lord in favor of some human ruler, and how those false teachers will use “feigned words” to stoke “covetousness” which turns people into civil property, or “merchandise,” leading both the blind guides and the blind followers into “damnation” that “slumbereth not.” Peter goes on to compare these heresies to the sin of Sodom, which was initially socialism, necessarily institutionalized by the existence of human civil government, which eventually enabled the people, in their hardness of heart, to commit other misdeeds contingent to the breakdown of the family unit. You discard the relevant importance and use of the family in the creation of civil institutions, dissolving natural relationships in the pursuit of perversion. There is no human civil government without “the lust of uncleanness.” This process of idolatry leading to all manners of social ills is fleshed out here. The word for “government” in verse 10 is “kuriotés” which means “dominion, power, lordship” as “one who possesses dominion.” This is the only place in the New Testament this word is translated “government.” Everywhere else it means “dominion.”

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8)

The dominion expressed here is not one to be instituted over men by Benefactors who exercise civil authority. Rather, it is those who raise up rulers over themselves that despise their own dominion. They must speak evil of their inherent dignity, granted to them by God by being made in His image, forsaking the Dominion Mandate in abandoning their divinely given rights and responsibilities to steward their own land, property, and families. When they are tempted by covetousness for the comforts of the flesh, to be made in the image of, and as merchandise for ruling men, abandoning their natural and supernatural inheritance like Esau or the Prodigal Son, they become like “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed… and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” They give up the dominion inherent to their birthright, granted by their heavenly Father and natural fathers, and create a power vacuum to be filled by the dominion of civil fathers, no different than the error of Balaam, as expressed by the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We have written extensively on the subject of Dominion here.

But Romans 13 Says…

But Romans 13 Says…

In the two previous blog posts we covered many of the prooftexts commonly used to legitimize human civil government, both in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. Because the subject of Romans 13 is uniquely exhaustive and tedious, we have decided to give it its own space here. The relevant scripture is as follows:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: or he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7)

This passage is probably one of the most commonly misunderstood portions of scripture and that is only owed to the treason of translators and the laziness of the vast majority of Christians who are hardly ever concerned with the pursuit of truth, but rather the justification of their own idolatry using twisted scripture to assuage the fact that they take Christ’s name in vain. In context with the rest of the message of Scripture however, this passage is probably one of the strongest in favor of an anarchist political science, and therefore of abolitionism. The initial confusion hinges on the phrase “higher powers,” which is the most accurate translation in all of the english versions of the Koine, while “governing authorities” is the most antonymous because it is not just an oversimplification of the Greek phrase “exousiais hyperechousais,” it is an irresponsible subterfuge expressing the opposite of the intent of the passage.

Hyperechousais” comes from the word “huperechó” which means “to hold above, to rise above, to be superior,” “to stand out, rise above, overtop,” “to excel, to be superior, better than.” According to Strong’s it is “from huper and echo; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior, superiority — better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.” There is a definition that means “to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power,” but this understanding is only applied in circular logic to Romans 13:1, or to a contradictory reference in 1 Peter 2:17, calling King Christ the “superior in rank, authority, power.” The most common place this word seems to be used in the New Testament is in Philippians, referring to the idea of esteeming others as better than ourselves, or of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, or the excellence of the knowledge of Christ as one’s Lord. None of the times the word is used does it convey that human civil government is a “higher,” “excellent,” or “supreme” concept. In fact, it is the testament of scripture that authoritarian positions are, and the idea of going under them is, “lower,” “inferior,” and “reprobate,” as can be exampled in the actions of Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the declarations of Gideon, and Samuel.

Romans13Skeptic

Exousiais” comes from the word “exousia” which means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave or permission,” “physical and mental power; the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises,” “the power of authority (through influence) and of right,” and “the power of rule or government.” Nowhere in scripture is this last definition qualified with the adjective of “higher,” because that concept exclusively refers to the things of God rather than man-made governments. Exousia is a combination of two words: “Ex” meaning “of” or “from”, while “ousia” means “what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate.” This simple description reveals a simple fact: whoever possesses the dominion retains the right, liberty, or power of choice in how to use it. That will be discussed shortly. There are many words for “power” in the Koine Greek, from Dunamis, dunamai, didomi, arche, ischus, ischuros, kratos, and energes. Many of them could have been used to help convey the notion of human civil government in Romans 13:1, but the nature of the term exousia expresses a competing notion entirely, by both Scripture and history:

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right [exousia] to eat.” (Hebrews 13:10)

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right [exousia] to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)

“But take heed lest by any means this liberty [exousia] of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

“After further analysis he defines the citizen as a person who has the right (exousia) to participate in deliberative or judicial office (1275b18–21). In Athens, for example, citizens had the right to attend the assembly, the council, and other bodies, or to sit on juries.” (Miller, Fred. “Aristotle’s Political Theory.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 Nov. 2017.)

“Aristotle says that… The right (exousia) to do anything one wishes…” (Paul Bullen: Lawmakers and Ordinary People. 1996.)

“Brancacci notices that the term used by Enomaos to refer to human freedom is not the typical Cynic one ( ἐλευθερία), but ἐξουσία [exousia], which expresses ‘the new concept of freedom in opposition to the already defunct and unhelpful ἐλευθερία [eleutheria]…'” (Boeri, Marcelo. Bryn Mawr Classical Review. 19 Aug. 2001.)

“This is implicit in Socrates’ observation that ‘where there is such an exousia, it is also [the case] that everyone would privately construct his own life for himself in a way that pleases him’ (577b). Shorey and Bloom translate exousia as ‘license,’ a term that seems appropriate in light of Plato’s presumed objections to democratic disorder. Yet exousia is surely one of democracy’s contested symbols, for it can also represent the capricious richness captured in the image of the multihued garment.” (Mara. Gerald M. The Civic Conversations of Thucydides and Plato: Classical Political Philosophy and the Limits of Democracy. State University of New York Press, 2009.)

Romans13Exousia

In Romans 13:3, the word for “rulers” is “archon,” meaning “a ruler, commander, chief, leader…” which could have replaced the phrase “higher powers” if Paul had wanted to intimate “governing authorities” by that phrase. The same word is used by Jesus Christ in the context of appointing the Kingdom of God to his apostles, and barring his followers from holding civil office. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes [archon] of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” (Matthew 20:25-27) Christ did not want the servant-ministers of his adhocratic government to be like the “public servants” and “prime ministers” of the bureaucratic governments of pagan nations because His Kingdom was one bound together in faith, hope, and charity rather than yoked in the unbelief of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. In fact, it was Christ’s purpose to fulfill God’s Law and, by the power of His Gospel, set man free from the dominion of man, making him a free soul under God alone, as is repeated all throughout scripture:

“For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:10-11)

“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus 25:10)

In every case, subjecting ourselves to the higher law of God explicitly means that we retain our original liberty and rights to our property and relationships, because it is only when we have forfeited God’s providential liberties and responsibilities to the arbiters of human civil government that we find ourselves under their lower powers to regulate our lives and bring us under tribute. When we give up our dominion, we deposit it into the centralized hands of rulers who bear dominion over us. God made man upright, in His image, with the natural responsibility to maintain a natural family, work the land, enjoy the fruits of his labor, and to thereby obey the Dominion Mandate. Only when his wealth is his own, without the burdens of legal encumbrance or property and income tax, is he subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God. It is only when his family is his own, without the illusions of legal guardianship and marriage licensing, that he is subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God.

However, God also gives man the liberty to squander his liberty by establishing human civil governments and going under their lower powers, though without impunity. It is not God that institutes rulers, unless it is as a recompense for those who no longer desire to be ruled by Him. Men raise up rulers, which Scripture describes as false gods because they become the providers and protectors, and lawgivers and judges, and saviors and lords over the people who are within their jurisdiction. “The people always have some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness…. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” (Plato, The Republic, bk. 8, sct. 565) As Romans 13:2 declares, the people receive to themselves damnation… because rulers are a terror to the wicked works that reject God in favor of human rulers. Those who do not give up their rights and liberty, and do good works to retain them, will not find themselves subject to human rulers, so their jurisdictions are not a terror to good works. In fact, because only sinners will find themselves trapped into the fleshpots of human rulers, they are a safeguard for the righteous who remain set apart from their encompassing black holes of covetous and slothful singularity that compresses their wicked with their wakes of temptation and imprisoning mass.

Human civil government is an ouroboros of debt, destruction, and damnation for anyone who legitimizes it, and the Bible says that all of the terrors and maladies contingent on man-made governments occur by consent of the people who partake in their citizenship. “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they [are] deceitful meat.” (Proverbs 23:1-3) This temptation to yoke together with unbelievers and eat of their socialist provision makes one a surety for that provision. “Let their table become a snare before them: and [that which should have been] for [their] welfare, [let it become] a trap.” (Psalm 69:22) This is because governments are not ever interested in doing good by their subject slaves, unless of course it is to bait the hooks of temptation to acquire their wealth and rights through citizenship and consent to partake in socialism. “The real destroyers of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits.” (Plutarch)

When the Israelites decided to go under the lower powers of Pharaoh, he did not bear his sword against them in vain. They gave up the rights to their property, including land and livestock, and gave up the rights to their labor through a twenty percent income tax. When they petitioned Samuel for a king of their own, they consented to God’s revenge and received the wrath of their “public servant” by having to give up their land and fruits of their labor, concentrating their wealth into the coffers of the king, having their sons drafted into a standing army, becoming employees of the government, and raising up men with legislative and judicial authority to bind them in legal burdens, under heavy administrative yokes. In addition to all of that, their idolatry, paganism, and statism afforded them one more blow of God’s wrath: God would no longer hear their prayers, or their cries of salvation from the just desserts of their rejection of Him. “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)

Romans13-1Saumel8

Even though Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome is a dissertational proof for the efficacy of the Christian worldview as a redemptive solution to the bondage of human civil government and the sins that lead people into that bondage, it is easy to forget that Paul often employs the first person or second person points of view, not as reflections of personal anecdotes, or as direct descriptions of his actual audience, but as rhetorical devices in technical writing. In the case of Romans 13 (and most of Romans), we are witnessing a second-person imperative mood directed at a hypothetically implied situation that might have applied to some of Paul’s direct audience, and maybe even none of them, but are relevant only if the right conditions are met. Those conditions will be revealed in the following:

At Pentecost, those that followed Christ who previously had political affiliation with the social security administrations of Herod and the Pharisees, were kicked out of the temples and synagogues and were barred from receiving the socialist benefits afforded in subjecting themselves to their legislative authorities. These Jews were then free to bind themselves together in freewill congregations, to keep the weightier matters as free souls within Christ’s Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of being baptized into Herod’s citizenship, they were born again into God’s adoptive society. The early Christians had their own political structure, their own customs, their own laws, their own system of welfare and even their own (servant) government. This means that even though they were “in the world” of the Pax Romana as unregistered inhabitants and unenrolled residents, they were not “of the world” of the Pax Romana as civil citizens and numbered persons. It was Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire who commended “the union and discipline of the Christian republic” which “gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire.”

Although the Christian faith promised civil liberty and delivered that liberty to thousands of Jews at Pentecost, as a sort of second Exodus, many who repented of their worldly civil citizenships after Pentecost, and sought to uphold the pure religion of the Christians and be counted in their networks of charity, still had debts and legal obligations to their former civil masters. In short, they still had political liabilities as consequences for the sins that had initially brought them under bondage. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24) This made the international Christian community an amalgam of freemen and slaves who bore each other’s burdens and had to navigate serving two masters until either they were freed of their debt or their old “marriage contracts” were nullified by the death of their “former husbands,” referring to the collapse of Rome’s civil and social structure, as is the end result of all socialist societies and unrighteous mammon.

So when Paul starts speaking in the second person imperative in Romans 13, from verse five through verse nine, he is talking to a mixed audience. If any of them were still slaves, then they should continue to pay taxes. For it is this wrath that makes human rulers the servants of God in spite of themselves, punishing the wickedness of sloth, covetousness, and idolatry merely by existing and exercising authority. If tribute is owed, those punished should pay it. If custom is owed, those punished should pay it. If fear is owed, those punished should be afraid. If honor (obligations, burdens) is owed, those punished should pay (fulfill, bear) it. He goes on to explain the end result of this arrangement: Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) Paul himself did not have civil obligations and professed himself to be subject to the original, higher liberty given to man by God, and expressed the inopportune and enslaving nature of discarding that liberty and going into bondage: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

It may still be the recourse of the multitude to appeal to the debate in the same way as most professing christian theologians as they take the conventional approach to dissecting this passage. If that is the case, then there is minimal debate on what this prooftext means, and how it is in favor of a statist interpretation. However, with a little thought, it would show that this is a conflict of interest. 501c3 churches and state-sanctioned seminaries can only ever produce scholars who sympathize with Balaam or the Nicolaitans to justify the worldview that legitimizes their authoritarian organizations. Just like the scholars and Pharisees of Christ’s day appealed to generations of compounded dead tradition and adopted presuppositions through generations of “church history,” so do pharisaical scholars of today. Just like those pharisees said “no King but Caesar“, these pharisees legitimize political office through democracy. Just like those pharisees ruled over the people with religious fervor and political enthusiasm, these pharisees are proud of their government-sponsored degrees and express their self-importance from their pulpits. These are blind guides leading the blind, and so any notion of true liberty, as repeated over and over throughout scripture, must be stricken from churchian dogma.

It should be expressed that the Koine Greek was developed during a similar time period of Greek history as most languages are established during their respective cultures: as Greece and Rome were moving from a period of free republics to a more centralized, authoritarian, and even autocratic empires. Languages change along with those changing social conditions, but those empires were establishing the very same wrath as the rulers described in Romans 13 were supposed to conduct: from heavy taxation, to wars, to food shortages, to oppression, to mass murder of their own citizens, to many other atrocities contingent upon Empire. The Pharisees legitimized civil rulers then just like the Pharisees legitimize civil rulers today, under the same conditions. In every era, there will be scholars who presume to have the answers and deny any possibility of being in error. They are educated by the best professors and attend the best bastions of institutional education, and they all belong to an elite fraternity of historical pedigree and intellectual echo-chambers. Even Saul had belonged to this demographic while he was persecuting Christians for refusing to subject themselves under Caesar’s dominion. It was clear that he did not actually know the God he had prided himself on studying. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) It is true that word meanings will change to be palatable to the sensitivities and political correctness that evolve with the “sophistication” of Empire, but God’s plan for humanity never changes. Since creation, man was always meant to be free souls under His sole authority, rather than property of the State as human resources for the Cains, Nimrods, Pharaohs, Caesars, or Constantines of the world. Anybody peddling a different message, usually for greedy gain and puffed up accolades, is invariably preaching a false gospel“ever learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)

If There is No Struggle, There is No Progress

If There is No Struggle, There is No Progress

The speech “If There is No Struggle There is No Progress,” is extracted from Frederick DouglassWest India Emancipation speech delivered at Canadaigua, New York, August 4, 1857:

…The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up. It is useless and cruel to put a man on his legs, if the next moment his head is to be brought against a curbstone.

A man of that type will never lay the world under any obligation to him, but will be a moral pauper, a drag on the wheels of society, and if he too be identified with a peculiar variety of the race he will entail disgrace upon his race as well as upon himself. The world in which we live is very accommodating to all sorts of people. It will cooperate with them in any measure which they propose; it will help those who earnestly help themselves, and will hinder those who hinder themselves. It is very polite, and never offers its services unasked. Its favors to individuals are measured by an unerring principle in this—viz., respect those who respect themselves, and despise those who despise themselves. It is not within the power of unaided human nature to persevere in pitying a people who are insensible to their own wrongs and indifferent to the attainment of their own rights. The poet was as true to common sense as to poetry when he said,

Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.

When O’Connell, with all Ireland at his back, was supposed to be contending for the just rights and liberties of Ireland, the sympathies of mankind were with him, and even his enemies were compelled to respect his patriotism. Kossuth, fighting for Hungary with his pen long after she had fallen by the sword, commanded the sympathy and support of the liberal world till his own hopes died out. The Turks, while they fought bravely for themselves and scourged and drove back the invading legions of Russia, shared the admiration of mankind. They were standing up for their own rights against an arrogant and powerful enemy; but as soon as they let out their fighting to the Allies, admiration gave way to contempt. These are not the maxims and teachings of a coldhearted world. Christianity itself teaches that man shall provide for his own house. This covers the whole ground of nations as well as individuals. Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations. In the great struggle now progressing for the freedom and elevation of our people, we should be found at work with all our might, resolved that no man or set of men shall be more abundant in labors, according to the measure of our ability, than ourselves.

I know, my friends, that in some quarters the efforts of colored people meet with very little encouragement. We may fight, but we must fight like the Sepoys of India, under white officers. This class of Abolitionists don’t like colored celebrations, they don’t like colored conventions, they don’t like colored antislavery fairs for the support of colored newspapers. They don’t like any demonstrations whatever in which colored men take a leading part. They talk of the proud Anglo-Saxon blood as flippantly as those who profess to believe in the natural inferiority of races. Your humble speaker has been branded as an ingrate, because he has ventured to stand up on his own and to plead our common cause as a colored man, rather than as a Garrisonian. I hold it to be no part of gratitude to allow our white friends to do all the work, while we merely hold their coats. Opposition of the sort now referred to is partisan position, and we need not mind it. The white people at large will not largely be influenced by it. They will see and appreciate all honest efforts on our part to improve our condition as a people.

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Hence, my friends, every mother who, like Margaret Garner, plunges a knife into the bosom of her infant to save it from the hell of our Christian slavery, should be held and honored as a benefactress. Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people. The fugitive Horace, at Mechanicsburgh, Ohio, the other day, who taught the slave catchers from Kentucky that it was safer to arrest white men than to arrest him, did a most excellent service to our cause. Parker and his noble band of fifteen at Christiana, who defended themselves from the kidnappers with prayers and pistols, are entitled to the honor of making the first successful resistance to the Fugitive Slave Bill. But for that resistance, and the rescue of Jerry and Shadrack, the man hunters would have hunted our hills and valleys here with the same freedom with which they now hunt their own dismal swamps.

There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave. Joseph Cinque, on the deck of the Amistad, did that which should make his name dear to us. He bore nature’s burning protest against slavery. Madison Washington who struck down his oppressor on the deck of the Creole, is more worthy to be remembered than the colored man who shot Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.

My friends, you will observe that I have taken a wide range, and you think it is about time that I should answer the special objection to this celebration. I think so too. This, then, is the truth concerning the inauguration of freedom in the British West Indies. Abolition was the act of the British government. The motive which led the government to act no doubt was mainly a philanthropic one, entitled to our highest admiration and gratitude. The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. “Though slaves, they were rebellious slaves.” They bore themselves well. They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression. What Wilberforce was endeavoring to win from the British senate by his magic eloquence the slaves themselves were endeavoring to gain by outbreaks and violence. The combined action of one and the other wrought out the final result. While one showed that slavery was wrong, the other showed that it was dangerous as well as wrong. Mr. Wilberforce, peace man though he was, and a model of piety, availed himself of this element to strengthen his case before the British Parliament, and warned the British government of the danger of continuing slavery in the West Indies. There is no doubt that the fear of the consequences, acting with a sense of the moral evil of slavery, led to its abolition. The spirit of freedom was abroad in the Islands. Insurrection for freedom kept the planters in a constant state of alarm and trepidation. A standing army was necessary to keep the slaves in their chains. This state of facts could not be without weight in deciding the question of freedom in these countries.

I am aware that the rebellious disposition of the slaves was said to arise out of the discussion which the Abolitionists were carrying on at home, and it is not necessary to refute this alleged explanation. All that I contend for is this: that the slaves of the West Indies did fight for their freedom, and that the fact of their discontent was known in England, and that it assisted in bringing about that state of public opinion which finally resulted in their emancipation. And if this be true, the objection is answered.

Again, I am aware that the insurrectionary movements of the slaves were held by many to be prejudicial to their cause. This is said now of such movements at the South. The answer is that abolition followed close on the heels of insurrection in the West Indies, and Virginia was never nearer emancipation than when General Turner kindled the fires of insurrection at Southampton.

Sir, I have now more than filled up the measure of my time. I thank you for the patient attention given to what I have had to say. I have aimed, as I said at the beginning, to express a few thoughts having some relation to the great interest of freedom both in this country and in the British West Indies, and I have said all that I mean to say, and the time will not permit me to say more.

DouglassMaskPowerConcedes
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Prooftexts and Contexts of the Old Testament

Prooftexts and Contexts of the Old Testament

It is fairly common for those who attempt to argue against the validity of Abolitionism to offend its adherents by either taking scripture out of context or by oversimplifying concepts described in scripture. Granted, the most common and (dead) traditional interpretations and sophistry have served to confuse professing Christians for almost two thousand years, leading them away from the truth, not to mention the thousands of years of perverted scriptural dogma inherited by the Pharisees which are still repeated today. This article will endeavor to catalogue many of these blunders projected onto Old Testament scriptures, and express them as they are intended to be interpreted: as compatible with the Kingdom of God and the liberty inherited by those who seek it.

Joseph

Sold into bondage by his own brothers out of jealousy, competition, and strife, eventually becoming an arbiter of Egyptian civil government, Joseph is often heralded as a convenient example to justify statism and the good that can be done by those who hold political office. Although he was a righteous man, whom God’s providence blessed in turning a wicked thing for his personal benefit, in spite of the sins of his brothers, a more conventional examination will put this figure’s political actions into a Biblically consistent light.

Although Joseph’s brothers had committed kidnapping and manstealing against Joseph, he was rescued by his distant cousins and, as such, he was in debt to them for his life and for twenty pieces of silver. That debt was eventually purchased by Potiphar, a military commander in Egypt. Debt is slavery, as scripture says. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7The bonds of contracted slavery are also reflected in the concepts of guarantees, vows, oaths, pledges, and promises all referring to outstanding debt and its future payment, typically as unpaid labor or income tax, as corvee. Joseph, making friends of the unrighteous mammon of Egypt by using his talents charitably, was eventually given all of the authority over Egypt by Sesostris III for his prudence and wisdom.

And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.

Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.” (Genesis 47:16-26)

Along with the totality of Egyptians, the patriarchs of Israel had not prepared for a predictable famine in their sloth, which was a reflection of the wicked characters they expressed years earlier. As such, they found themselves needing rescuing from economic despair by their own brother whom they had kidnapped and sold into bondage. To continue in that parallel, they also found themselves in debt through guarantees, vows, oaths, pledges, and promises to Egypt, for a twenty percent income tax. Salvation always comes at a heavy price, and with most “saviors” that price is extracted from those who need saving. In this case, the government of Egypt, in exchange for protection and provision, had received rights to all of the wealth of Egypt, and one fifth of the property acquired by the people thereafter. This wealth was then a storehouse, with guaranteed contributions by contract, from which the people were fed and provided for. Because the people were too slothful to prepare for a famine, they became covetous for their neighbors goods, extracted by Joseph and redistributed as federal benefits. “Protection draws to it subjectionsubjection protection.” (Coke, Litt. 65) This was the gospel of Pharaoh, as we have written about elsewhere, because it was the providence of a false god under a social contract that saved the people from economic hell, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” (Psalms 69:22) That gospel tempted the Israelites to sell themselves into Egyptian bondage for socialist security. The same bondage from which God would later send Moses to free their descendents and into a free society, by the authority of a freeman’s constitution.

In short, statists are quick to point to Joseph’s employment under Pharaoh as a legitimate example that professing christians can follow in seeking political office, or even to just vaguely declare that God wants to use magistrates for good. This is in spite of the fact that Joseph clearly instituted socialist policies in Egypt and brought both foreign and domestic peoples into contracted slavery and corvee bondage. So, what exactly was God’s role for Joseph in securing him a political status that fulfilled a prophetic dream to rule over his brothers? That purpose is reflected in the existence of all civil magistrates: justice for sloth and covetousness and recompense for sin. People who do not love God will not love their brothers, and people with competition, selfishness, and violence in their hearts do not deserve to be free. People who take by force, either literally in keeping one’s brother in a hole and selling him to merchants, or figuratively in coveting government benefits at their neighbor’s expense, deserve the judgment of God, which entails abandoning them to their own devices to go under the power of false gods who will tax them into slavery. This is the lesson afforded by Joseph’s story, and this lesson is repeated all throughout scripture: Sin leads to bondage. Perhaps if God knew Joseph’s brothers to be good men, worthy of prosperity, Joseph’s fate would have allowed his prophetic ability to be a boon to Israel, rather than a curse. If the patriarchs of Israel had inspired righteousness, diligence, cooperation, and charity, maybe God’s providence would have made Israel prepared for the famine, as a testament that God blesses good people who then can bless those in need in times of strife and economic instability. While it is not certain that good people deserve good things, what is certain is that bad people do deserve bad things.

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The Elders of Congregations

To understand what elders were, according to both Testaments, it is necessary to understand the Dominion Mandate. When a man loves God, he is a good steward of the things God has given him. Essentially, this means land-ownership, retaining equitable rights to property, taking a wife, and having children, retaining the equitable rights to them too. Every family acquires wealth by God’s Providence, and therefore rights, as they exercise dominion over that property. Those rights, like the wealth, like the power of the family, all rest in the hand of the patriarch, or Elder. Every man is king in his own home, in a free society, and because the wealth of society is not concentrated into a centralized system of government, the people themselves retain the power of society’s State, separate from its Government (which will be talked about shortly.) Because of this, elders could not exercise civil authority over their fellow citizens, but only natural authority over their families. The Elders represent the State in an anarchist society because the most fundamental unit of liberty is the family. The word translated “elder” from the Hebrew zaqen, just means “old, aged, or ancient man.” The Israelites were instructed to “honor their Father and Mother” and we have expressed elsewhere how this was a loaded statement, referring to the preservation of society by maintaining the functions of the family unit. By isolating elders from the rest of the congregation, one could hold an adhocratic council for the voluntary redistribution of wealth, the formation of militias in times of emergency with minimal confusion and chaos, or even the expedient dissemination of information: “Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and [seen] that which is done to you in Egypt…” (Exodus 3:16)

And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone… And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. (Numbers 11:16-25)

The phrase “over them” in this passage is non-existent in the Hebrew. This does not mean that these seventy elders were not officers, only that they did not exercise official authority over the people. The same word for “officer” of the Elders here in free Israel is the same word translated “taskmaster” of the people in Exodus 5:10, who also did not exercise authority over the people in Egypt, but rather over the distribution of Pharaoh’s straw. The seventy elders mentioned in Numbers 11 did eventually master their own tasks, as in Numbers 35 where they were to form forty-eight Cities of Refuge, which were appeals courts in the pursuit of justice and mercy. This ad hoc designation of responsibility did not include exercising authority over the people, but rather was a cooperative effort to prevent chaos and injustice should some member of some congregation receive an unfair trial from a jury of his peers. Only free societies can perform true justice, and even they have systems of appeals courts to protect the innocent from false verdicts or corrupt sentencing. The phrase “that they may stand” in the above excerpt from Numbers 11 is from the Hebrew yatsab, meaning “to set or station oneself, take one’s stand” “so as servants or courtiers, with implication of readiness for service.” This standing is a figurative one, implying a sense of separateness, standing on the side of righteousness, and is connected to a more divine relationship in matters of discernment and obedience to God’s will. As such, the stand these men were to take in establishing a system of appeals courts was not to rule over their fellow men, but to be a safeguard against men ruling over each other through corrupting the justice of their civil disputes. This safeguard was recognized voluntarily by the people, and its legitimacy was given weight by the fact that they prophesied to the people by the supernatural power of God. Unlike other nations, this “Supreme” court did not make them gods (judges) and this Senate (elders) did not give them legislative authority over the people.

The Levitical Priesthood

Another early presupposition most people have about God’s people is about the role of the Levites as a government for free Israel. It is understandable that many people imagine that a government is necessarily always an authority over the people, but not only is this fundamentally untrue, it is not even the normative connotation of the concept throughout history. Many governments, exampled in the Levitical Priesthood, have often consisted of servant-leaders, called-out from the congregations of the people, or the State of society. They are sustained by freewill tithes from the elders of those families according to the Levite’s character and service. That service was to connect congregating family units in a network of charity, redistributing their freewill offerings, or sacrifices, among the people as they have need. One Levite typically ministered to ten families, and other Levite ministered to ten of those Levites, and so on until the whole nation was networked together in this adhocratic system. Because the Levites had given up the right to hold private property, this gave them an inherent accountability to the people. They could not exercise authority over the people themselves, but only over the what was given to them in “burnt” offerings. And if they were not good stewards in redistributing those offerings, then that put them in danger of no longer receiving the tithes to sustain them. The people could always, at any time, choose another minister to serve them instead.

“An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” (Exodus 20:24-26)

All Hebrew words have multiple meanings; at least one literal and at least one figurative. This gives much of the old testament opportunity to express allegory, which is often stripped of its spiritual meanings by those who read it without spiritual eyes. The first altar advised to Moses, the altar of earth, mentions the same “red clay” or Adamah that God used to form Adam, and is often used in metaphor to reference mankind as sons of Adam. When men come together in a freewill association in congregations to sacrifice for each other, they become an altar of earth. This image gives the relationship a sort of loose, but amalgamated mixture with individual dirt clods representing each family, and that altar of combined dirt clods representing a nation of families coming together to form an adhocratic society bound by charity, or love.

Burnt offerings were items given in charity, no longer in the possession of those who gave it and who were no longer able to exercise authority over its use. The grantor treated his charity as though it were burned up and gone, given wholly to his neighbor as though it were given to God. To give your gift at the altar is to give up your property rights to it. More specifically, a peace offering was a conciliatory event, owed in propitiation for some offense against one’s neighbor. This was not a general exercise of charity like a burnt offering, it was a direct expression of justice and conscience to right some wrong and pay some recompense in order to keep peace with your neighbor and make your relationship whole again in the event of some property damage or incurred debt. Both of these concepts do exist in authoritarian societies of pagan cultures, but the difference is reflected in that those cultures extract those offerings by force through taxation and statutory penalties. Charity is replaced with the entitlement of social security and other socialist welfare programs. Propitiatory amends are replaced with begrudged and embittered penalties.

The second altar mentioned to Moses, an altar of stone, is described with a cautious set of conditions. Stones were also a metaphor for men, with different Hebrew words referring to “friend” (stone) or “council” (a gathering of stones). This altar reflects the servants of society, attendant priests making up God’s government with its own structure and purpose. The act of hewing stones was forbidden for this altar because it is immoral for the people to place regulations and restrictions on their ministers in relation to the performance of their duties. They too were ruled by God alone, but consecrated to Him as His body politic. The people could govern the system of welfare and temper the wisdom of the ministers only by regulating their own intervals of charity, or its contents, but they could not control the men themselves through legislative or constitutional oversight and puppeteering. The ministers remained whole men, voluntarily working in a private and natural capacity as friends of the people, rather than as public “servants” who are just rulers with the ability to force the contributions of their congregations. Another condition placed on this altar of stones is the proscription of it “going up by steps.” This is a metaphor for hierarchy within the government of God. There is no artificial tier or degree system amongst the ministers as you might naturally find within a family unit. Such a pyramid scheme would necessitate a centralization of power and a concentration of wealth as one ascended the altar. This would be counterproductive to legitimately serving the people, creating a vacuum to be filled by power hungry politicians who desire prestige and a guaranteed income. Such a system can only ever produce corruption in a ruling elite, and a sense of slothful entitlement in the people. The nakedness warned against in this passage is a metaphor for a lack of authority to cover the ministers who had no personal estates or inheritance to take care of them and therefore no way to protect and sustain themselves. It is the concept of dominion that gives mankind his covering, so long as he stewards that dominion in accordance with the will of God. It was the duty of parents to cover their own children by the produce of their own labor, and as such, their children could only ever act under their authority and jurisdiction. But this dominion and natural authority was not applicable to the servant ministers who lived by the freewill tithes of the people. They could not cover themselves. They were covered daily by the people and by God according to their service and character. To attempt to create a hierarchy would be to no longer have eligibility to be covered by the people or by God because they are betraying one and disobeying the other. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they too realized their own “nakedness” in going out from under His authority, rejecting His protection and provision as a consequence for their misconduct. A different metaphor for this authority and covering is expressed in 1 Corinthians 11 concerning how women are uncovered without the authority of their fathers or husbands and how, contrariwise, men can only be free without a covering. We have talked about this concept elsewhere. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach…” (Exodus 28:42) It is not as though the Levites were literally naked, requiring that the people actually made their clothes for them. It is that the ministers had no personal estate or inheritance and owned all things in common, receiving protection and provision from free families through charity, and those who served best were covered most. “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” (Matthew 20:26-27)

Judges

“Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.” (Exodus 18:19-23)

Unable to distinguish the role of ad hoc judges in free Israel from the concept of ruling judges that exist in western society today, statists will do a disservice to the Biblical concept and champion it as an example of positional authority like they do the Levites, or like the Sanhedrin did much later. But the context expresses a different interpretation. A distinct qualification for the role of these judges was that they were to be men of service, rather than covetousness, because ruling judges are men of covetousness, whose income is guaranteed through taxation, compelled by force from the people, and they necessarily become arbiters and representative of the tax system. In this case, the tax system would have been represented by Egypt from which God liberated the Israelites, and to which God instructed them never to return. The phrase “over them” in the above passage is also translated “steward,” “among,” “beside,” and “between.” The term for “ruler” is also translated “leader,” but is also often a reference to the Elders and patriarchs within congregations. In fact, this same model of organizing society into “thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens” is commanded by Christ in Mark 6 when it comes time to maintain a structured society into an adohractic system in order to redistribute the charity of the people. This model was also practiced by early christians in their congregations, and was already made familiar to the Israelites in the recognition of Elders and the calling out of the Levites. To have members of society set apart for specific tasks and roles is not necessarily to make them literal rulers who compel submission and obedience of the rest of society, and it is only a consequence of our own idolatry that makes it so easy to conflate the two concepts. These men fulfilled a voluntary, added role for a people who were newly free and did not yet know how to navigate their liberty through social virtues and community ethics. They did not need more rulers like they had in Egyptian bondage, because this would defeat the purpose of the Exodus. Rather, they needed men of wisdom to blaze a trail, navigating God’s Law so that free people could strengthen each other in performance of the weightier matters.

It should be noted that the same Hebrew word used for the noun form of “judge” is also interchangeable with the word used for “god” meaning “ruler, judge”; “applied as deference to magistrates” according to Strong, making all rulers and most judges “gods” by definition. This is especially true in American government. However, the historical account of these judges particular to free Israel shows that they did not exercise authority over the people themselves, but only over those “small” matters voluntarily entrusted to them by the people. Which is in the same spirit of the charity entrusted to the Levites. Easton’s Bible Dictionary has this to say:

“The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21). Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson, and the latter stood in the peculiar position of having been from before his birth ordained ‘to begin to deliver Israel.’ Deborah was called to deliver Israel, but was already a judge. Samuel was called by the Lord to be a prophet but not a judge, which ensued from the high gifts the people recognized as dwelling in him; and as to Eli, the office of judge seems to have devolved naturally or rather ex officio upon him.”

There is a lot to unpack here. While Easton does declare the judges to be “rulers,” closer inspection reveals that the nature of their rulership was fundamentally different than what we experience in civil courts today, which are based on Roman Civil Law, which ultimately finds its foundation in Babylonian tradition. That tradition is only complete as long as the people are subject citizens of an authoritarian state rather than free souls under God. The power of the Israelite judges was apparently so limited, that it was dwarfed, and basically titular. It appears to be a more functional enterprise, as an added voluntary responsibility that some members of the congregations aspired to hold, and made personal sacrifice in order to fulfill its roles. Their authority was limited to interpreting matters that the people presented to them, through the Law of God. A further limitation to their function is evidenced in that each judge’s recommendations only applied to the families that “elected” them to serve them. This is not referring to election into an office of authority, but rather a selection of designation and freewill choice that could be rescinded based on their quality and conduct in the performance of their function, much like the attendant priests in the network of charity. They had no guaranteed income like the judges of pagan societies do. They had no positional recognition. They were adhocratic functions according to the needs of the people, limited to the context of those needs, as based on their knowledgeability of the framework of God’s Law, and their wisdom in applying that Law to the matters presented to them. Without income or positional authority, there was no way for them to rule over the people or enforce their interpretations and advisory decisions. The people had to choose whether to cooperate with this relationship to the judges at every single instance, based on their own knowledge of God’s will and their sensitivity to His Spirit. The judges were not infallible, as we will see, and so their judgments had to be careful, or a righteous people would begin to mistrust them and look to other peers to function as their judges. In short, like the Levites, the judges were reflective of a true republic, holding a titular office, and a function characterized by service, wisdom, and good character rather than by authority, legalism, and position.

The Kings

A common argument we face in defense of idolatry and statism is this idea that, because kings existed in ancient Israel, that must mean God ordained them, or that they were a part of God’s original plan for his people, rather than a concession for the hardness of their hearts. However, this passage from 1 Samuel 8, makes God’s position clear on human authority:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.” (1 Samuel 8:4-22)

This account begins with a deceitful pretext as an excuse on behalf of the patriarchs of Israel in asking Samuel for a king. Their reasoning is saturated in hypocrisy and non sequitur. By declaring that Samuel’s sons were unsatisfactory to the people as judges, they are admitting that the people themselves were not diligent enough to hold those judges accountable or to appoint new judges, as was their responsibility in this free republic. They were confessing their own sloth and apathy. Corrupt servants cannot prevail against a free people because a free people are a righteous people, so their servants reflect their spirit. Another unsensible angle expressed about this request for a king is this idea: if the people are complaining about a few social duties going unfulfilled when concentrated into the few hands of the judges, then what did they think was going to happen when they concentrate many social duties into the hands of a centralized ruling authority? The answer, as the rest of the passage elucidates, is that they did not care. Their complaints were pretense and their excuses were lame. They had the same attitude when Samuel warned them of the consequences of statism in rejecting God as their king as some of the Jews in the New Testament did when rejecting Jesus Christ as their king: “Nay, but we will have a king over us” or, in other words, “His blood be on us and our children.”

The warnings that God gave to the Israelites about having human rulers like all the other pagan nations are just as common to those nations: they have standing militaries, they have forced labor, or income tax, in service to civil bureaucracies, they concentrate wealth into the political institutions, abandoning the dominion prescribed by God, and they establish a property tax for the property that is left in the hands of the people, consistent with distributing legal titles. While the wealth and power of choice of the people used to rest in the authority of the patriarchs and heads of families, now that wealth and authority was going to be concentrated into a civil office and its bureaucracy. What should be noted here is that the Israelites are predicted to pay only a ten percent tax rate to the king for which they are begging, while they had to pay twenty percent while they were in bondage to Pharaoh, and God still considers it an abomination. Professing christians in bondage today still have the audacity to say that God prescribes human rulers while they pay anywhere between thirty percent and fifty percent on income tax alone, not including their other property taxes, or through the hidden tax of inflation.

Nevertheless, just like how these statists stubbornly run headlong into destruction and seeks ways to justify it, the Israelites did get their king in spite of God’s and Samuel’s warnings. In His patience, in spite of the idolatry of the Israelites, God established decrees to limit kingly power over the people. If these decrees were followed faithfully, the role of a king would be merely titular and powerless, encouraging the people to retain their power of choice. In fact, scripture records times where Israel’s earliest kings attempted to bend or break these rules, and God promptly rebuked them, and their actions were called foolish. Saul comes to mind, because he illustrates the notion that power corrupts. Only in his second year of reigning as king, he was foolish to force the people to pay for his troops so that he could defend the nation against the Philistines. Later, Saul’s thirst for power corrupted him and drove him to despair, as human authority influences all of those who possess it to despotism, suspicion, madness, and destruction: of the people over which they rule, and also of themselves. Saul would eventually commit suicide after years of debasing himself under the weight of his own crown. When it comes to usurping the liberty of the people and being called foolish for it, David also comes to mind. It is the habit of statists to attempt to give David a pass as a human ruler because Scripture does have a lot of good things to say about him as an individual, even that he was “a man after God’s own heart.” But power corrupts even the best men, and the unnatural burden that is civil authority will turn a good man wicked. Scripture describes that David’s actions were satanic when he took up a census of the people in order to establish a standing military. He later repented, citing his own actions as foolish. The thirst for power later inspired David to commit infidelity and murder, forever tarnishing his name as a champion of the people. It is true that all men fall, and sin, and must repent. It is also true that when you give them power, falling into sin is much more certain, and repenting from it is much less so. It might be beneficial to note both that David engaged in much imperialism on behalf of Israel, but was also not a great liberator, and ended up placing the lands he conquered under heavy taxation.

“Although Saul failed as the first king of Israel, his successor David, as a great warrior, was able to conquer much of the territory belonging to the Promised Land.

David’s son Solomon extended his sway until he put under tribute most of the area originally mentioned to Abraham [Gen 15:18] from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates.” (Major Bible Themes: Revised Edition [1974] Lewis Sperry Chafer)

David’s successor, Solomon, although described as the wisest man that ever lived, committed more foolish atrocities than Saul and David combined. He was a pragmatist in instituting idolatry in Israel, he made treaties with pagan nations, taking their women to be his wives in exchange, and was instrumental in pushing the nation into civil war as a veritable tyrant, which culminated during the reign of his own son. History squashes any notion that a ruling king over Israel was either something God condoned, or something that was instrumental for the good of the people:

“While the Hebrew judgment of David seems to be ambivalent, his accomplishments in his forty-year reign are undeniable. After centuries of losing conflicts, the Hebrews finally defeat the Philistines unambiguously under the brilliant military leadership of David. His military campaigns transform the New Hebrew kingdom into a Hebrew empire. An empire is a state that rules several more or less independent states. These independent states never fully integrate themselves into the larger state, but under the threat of military retaliation sent tribute and labor to the king of the empire.

Most importantly, David unites the tribes of Israel under an absolute monarchy. This monarchical government involved more than just military campaigns, but also included non-military affairs: building, legislationjudiciaries, etc. He also built up Jerusalem to look more like the capitals of other kings: rich, large, and opulently decorated. Centralized government, a standing army, and a wealthy capital do not come free; the Hebrews found themselves for the first time since the Egyptian period groaning under heavy taxes and the beginnings of forced labor.

It is the third and last king of a united Hebrew state, however, that turned the Hebrew monarchy into something comparable to the opulent monarchies of the Middle East and Egypt. The Hebrew account portrays a wise and shrewd king, the best of all the kings of Israel. The portrait, however, isn’t completely positive and some troubling aspects emerge.

What emerges from the portrait of Solomon is that he desired to be a king along the model of Mesopotamian kings. He built a fabulously wealthy capital in Jerusalem with a magnificent palace and an enormous temple attached to that palace (this would become the temple of Jerusalem). All of this building and wealth involved imported products: gold, copper, and cedar, which were unavailable in Israel. So Solomon taxed his people heavily, and what he couldn’t pay for in taxes, he paid for in land and people. He gave twenty towns to foreign powers, and he paid Phoenicia in slave labor: every three months, 30,000 Hebrews had to perform slave labor for the King of Tyre. This, it would seem, is what Samuel meant when he said the people would pay dearly for having a king.

…Groaning under the oppression of Solomon, the Hebrews became passionately discontent, so that upon Solomon’s death (around 926 to 922 BC) the ten northern tribes revolted. Unwilling to be ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, these tribes successfully seceded and established their own kingdom. The great empire of David and Solomon was gone never to be seen again; in its place were two mighty kingdoms which lost all the territory of David’s once proud empire within [two] hundred years of Solomon’s passing.” (Jewish Virtual Library, The Monarchy, 1050-920 BC)

One of the last excuses that statists will cling to in order to justify ruling kings as God’s will for Israel (or anybody) is the notion that, in spite of all of the predicted moral failings of Israel’s kings, they were instrumental in fulfilling God’s will, and that will included the building of the Temple of Jerusalem. This is a common misconception but is, rather, entirely untrue. God never wanted a temple made of literal stones. God’s way, as we have already touched on, was in the opposite direction of institutionalism characterized by government buildings, towards an aerobic adhocracy, where the people were responsible for their own welfare through the body politic of God, the Levites. The building of a literal temple, as a concept, contradicts the notion that our bodies are temples and that God’s temple is built with living stones (us).

“Yet it stands that the building of a temple for God was David’s idea – something he came up with while relaxing in his palace (2 Samuel 7:1-2). Similar to the concept of a human king, this idea no doubt came about after noticing that neighboring nations [had built] beautiful temples for their gods.

The God of the Hebrews, on the other hand, had a simple tent that was to house the Ark of Covenant and other miscellaneous items of worship – granted, by this time, the Ark was hanging out in a separate tent pitched by David at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17) while the Tabernacle was miles away at Gibeon (1 Kings 8:4). This tent, or Tabernacle, was a war-tent originally built during the [wanderings] of the Hebrew people through the desert during the time of Moses and was to remind everyone that God dwelt among them as their Lord and King.

Unfortunately, David and his son Solomon were not content with such an arrangement so they decided to build God a temple that would wow the nations. For some reason, God decided to go along with this plan – probably because of the same reason He allowed the Hebrew people to have a human king, and most likely, because He understood the heart of these men to love and serve Him.” (Joshua Hopping. “Did God Really Want a Temple?Wild Goose Chase, 17 Oct.)

In a free society, temples are places where the people of a nation gather for specific events, purposes, projects, and voluntary social duties. They are a bastion of adhocracy and freewill cooperation, in a system of national charity, and in focal points for social gatherings and reunions. For Free Israel, their temple was not a building made with literal stones, but it had been a tent that was ministered to by living stones. In societies of bondage, however, temples were physical buildings as establishments of authoritarian governments serving as storehouses of records, contracts, socialist welfare, federal banking (which we have written on extensively), public libraries, education, and other offices of bureaucratic institutions. This latter description would eventually become the fate of the temple that David desired to build. It is also reflected in the temple Herod had built, which is relevant to Christ’s ministry. But there is plenty of evidence to say that it is not the temple that God wanted.

“As we have seen, the temple originated with David, not God, and God clearly rejected David’s proposal to build it (1 Chron. 17:4).  Yet David did much or nearly all of the work, under the guise of extensive “preparation,” even giving the first command to begin its construction.  God never asked for an “exalted” (1 Ki. 8:13) or “exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious” (1 Chron. 22:5) temple and Stephen includes the building of the temple in his list of examples of how the Israelites had resisted the Holy Spirit.  Nonetheless, at some point God permitted David to continue, even blessing him in his preparations with guidance from the Holy Spirit (1 Chron. 28:12) and ultimately filling it with his glory (2 Chron. 5:13; 2 Chron. 7:1-2; 1 Ki. 8:10-11).” (Shawn Nelson. “Evidence The Temple Was NOT God’s Will.” Geeky Christian, 27 Feb. 2018.)

Daniel

After Israel’s civil war, and after the split kingdom started devolving into downward spirals of idolatry and tyrant-kings, the people were eventually invaded and taken into captivity by the Assyrian Empire, and then into Babylon which had been a tributary to Assyria, but overthrew it. This is when the young nobility of Jerusalem were taken into bondage. It should be noted that there are no victims in captivity. It is always sin that leads to bondage (Rom. 6:20). It is only ever the slothful who are under tribute (Pr. 12:24). When the Israelites asked for a king, they sealed their fate. God does not rule the wicked, but rather gives them up to a reprobate mind and the ouroboros of self-destruction. He removes his hand of protection and provision, and allows the wolves and other predatory nations to come in and wreak havoc. He does this to encourage sinners to repent, and seek Him to be their God and ruler instead, so that He may redeem them from civil bondage and restore them to His image, where they may inherit dominion as free souls under God.

Among the young nobility now subject to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire is Daniel. “Nebuchadnezzar” is a title given to the ruler of this nation, which means “may Nebo protect the crown.” Nebo, a god of education and wisdom, may represent a tree of knowledge. But as we can see from the person of Daniel, while he is often misrepresented as a crutch for the idea of seeking political authority and of the good that can be done through civil office, he consistently chooses to eat from the tree of life. The biggest argument in support of this view is the fact that Daniel remained separate from partaking in the benefits of Babylonian civil citizenship.

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.

Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1:8-17)

Daniel’s refusal to eat at the King’s table and refrain from eating meat or drinking wine does not reveal that he was a vegetarian or a teetotaler. What it does reveal is that he was not an idolater who coveted his neighbor’s goods. “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.” (Psalms 141:4) Often throughout scripture, provision like meat and bread are images used to refer to the socialist welfare provided by human institutions. Even wine is used to describe the intoxicating effects that partaking in those benefits yields.

“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. (Proverbs 23:1-8)

In going out of his way to remain separate from Babylon’s system of socialist benefits, Daniel consecrates himself to God to be his provider instead. These worldly benefits are a snare that change men, making them always hungry and never full, twisted by covetousness and lust for their neighbor’s goods, which in turn makes them emaciated because their neighbor covets their goods in return, all through the mechanism of bureaucracy and civil extortion. This is the deal with the devil that forfeits one’s soul, making one immoral, on the slippery slope of continued destruction. By Daniel’s obedience, God sustains him, keeps him healthy, and obviously set apart from those cannibals who sit at the king’s table. His healthy face remains a reflection of his moral character, and the benefits he receives from God are supernatural.

To further compound this point, in Daniel 2:25, he is referred to as a “captive” or “exile” of Judah. Often throughout scripture, this concept is coupled with the word “stranger” which sometimes means “resident” or “alien” as opposed to “citizen” and sometimes means “without a share,” as in possesses no entitlement to the strange nation’s provision. This is the quintessential meaning of “being in the world and not of the world.”

While Nebuchadnezzar did give Daniel authority over part of his kingdom, it is still clear from Daniel 3 that the “captives, exiles, and strangers” refused to partake in Babylonian citizenship and receive its contracted benefits. For when the king made a central bank, in the form of a statue to be the “one purse” of the people, these “residents” did not worship the idol by paying into it or receiving from it, or worship its gods by being subject citizens to their legislative authority. These “aliens” refused to serve the national economy, and the many institutions that were formed to maintain it. They refused to become a surety of the collective debt inherited by those who belong to the idols that reflect federal reserves, thereby making them employees of that system. They were directly persecuted, cast into the furnace, and miraculously spared by God.

In the most famous account about Daniel in chapter 6, he was also directly persecuted for refusing to apply to king Darius for provision and benefits, and disobeyed his decree by applying to God for providence instead. These circumstances are almost an exact mirror to the chain of events in chapter 3. For relying on God’s providence, remaining unstained from Darius’ compelled citizenship and entitlements, Daniel is miraculously spared a gruesome death in the den of lions. It is because Daniel chose to be separate from civil bondage that he found prosperity and peace even though he was a captive due to the sins of his fathers.

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Esther

Another common prooftext to support the idea that Christians should seek office, and seek to do good through institutionalism is found in the person of Esther. It was under Darius’ son Xerxes I that many of the Israelites still found themselves in captivity in Persia.

“And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.” (Esther 3:8-9)

When statists attempt to legitimize political pursuit using Esther’s example, they tend to overlook this context which clearly describes the Jews as a political society, rather than merely an ethnic group. “And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” (Esther 8:17) They, like Daniel in Babylon, were in the world of Persia, but not of the world of Persia. They were strangers and exiles with their own laws, customs, cities and way of life, as sovereign captives rather than subject civil slaves under a ruler’s legislative authority. People in captivity, obedient to God, do not assimilate into whatever civil society by which they find themselves surrounded. What we also see from this passage is that civil power corrupts and makes minds of rulers suspicious, which means that anyone not under that civil power easily becomes a target to someone wielding that civil power. This is the seed of all persecution committed by tyrants. People free and independent from government’s cult of personality are necessarily an outlet for the bloodlust of the cult.

Esther may have endeavored to preserve the lives of the Jews, but she did so without compromising the liberty that they were already practicing, remaining separate from the covetous and idolatrous customs of socialist empires. The Jews would not acknowledge worldly civil institutions or their arbiters, as we can see from Mordecai’s behavior and controversy. It might be beneficial to suggest that there is nothing in the book of Esther saying that God’s providence would not have protected the Jews miraculously if she was not involved in the situation. This is because neither God nor his providence are ever even mentioned in the story, and God’s will must be inferred and projected onto the plot. This means that the actions of Esther and Mordecai are purely descriptive rather than prescriptive. What we do know about Esther is that she attempted to “make friends of the unrighteous mammon,” which is what Christ commands those in civil bondage to do. This means that she used her position, not to legitimize human authority, but to make sure her people remained free from it. An implication of this is exampled later in the story, and is prescribed all over scripture:

“As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9:22)

Part of the custom of those in captivity is the same as those in true liberty. They regularly maintain love feasts of charity, taking the personal responsibility to be counted among a network of freewill offerings that sustains the poor, as a daily ministration to keep the weightier matters. In this way, they bear one another’s burdens, keeping each other free from going under civil bondage for the socialist providence of false gods. Loving our neighbor covers a multitude of sins because it takes away his need to look for his protection or provision from the deceitful offers made by would-be Benefactors, which would bring them under their civil power in their idolatry. This model is actually an explicit command of God for those in captivity:

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

Not only were they to retain their own land, and work it in self-sufficiency, they were to be fruitful and multiply, forming a strong, independent nation within the nation of their captivity, depending on each other out of charity, rather than remaining weak and depending on some foreign power and nation-state for their survival. What does it mean to seek the peace of a city under which God’s people find themselves as residents? It does not mean to infiltrate its power centers (the opposite of seeking peace), or to become assimilated into its citizenry as subject inferiors. Especially since the former almost always can only be done under the premise of the latter. It does mean to turn the city’s world upside down by establishing a better way to maintain society and be a stumbling block to their idolatrous worldview. It is through unstained religion, and a sense of humble obedience to God, that a surrounding pagan nation has cause to convert their way of life to reflect the Kingdom of God, as occurred when many of the Persian people “became Jews.” This is the difference between the false “peace, peace” of yoking equally together with the unbelievers and the real peace of living a better way and calling unbelievers to join you in repentance.

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After having discussed few of the many Old Testament prooftexts commonly used in defense of human archism, and reviewing them in the light of the purpose of Scripture, we will endeavor to perform the same feat in our next article concerning commonly misconceived prooftexts of the New Testament.