The Injustice of Just Price, Just Wages, Just Compensation, and Value Theory

Labor and Unequal ExchangeMises Institute

By Timothy D. Terrell

 [Recently] I attended a conference on Christianity and economics at Baylor University. I presented a paper of my own, on the necessity of the price system to environmental stewardship, but mostly I just listened. The conference was good for me, in many ways. I intentionally went to sessions that I expected would include papers that would challenge my usual way of thinking about economics. There was no shortage of these.times square

Some of the presentations I heard were restatements of arguments for the “just price.” Most related this in some way to labor markets, so the relevant version of the just price argument was the one advocating just wages or just compensation. The case for just wages has a lengthy history, but some fatal flaws. Problems with value theory are at the core.

busyOne presenter stated, early in his presentation, that in a just exchange, one receives as much value as one gives. He seemed to believe that this was indisputable. Yet, as a little consideration shows, this implies that no exchange can be just. If one receives as much value as one gives, what would be the reason for trade? Why would someone incur even the slightest cost in searching out, negotiating, and concluding a transaction, if he receives nothing more valuable to him than what he gives in exchange?wall street

The reason anyone engages in trade is that there is the expectation of being better off as a result. Both parties to the transaction have the same intention. And both are able to succeed in improving their situations — each receiving more value than he gives — because subjective valuations of the same objects are different from one individual to the next. If I have an apple and you have a banana, and I want a banana while you want an apple, we can set up a mutually beneficial exchange. If the banana is more valuable to me than an apple, I benefit. If the apple is more valuable to you than the banana, then you benefit as well. The same idea of mutually exchange applies to the labor market. The employer and the employee can both benefit from the exchange of dollars for labor services. Exchange is not zero-sum.

Both parties can therefore benefit in any exchange, though sometimes the expected benefits do not pan out. I might buy a car only to find out that it is a lemon, but before the exchange I expected to benefit. Without perfect foresight, this problem will exist even where there is no fraud.

The idea of subjective value indicates that only the participants in the transaction can assess their gains from the trade. No outside observer can measure the gains to the buyer or the gains to the seller. (Actually, the distinction between buyer and seller, or between employer and employee, is not as clear as it may appear on the surface — e.g., an employer is selling dollars.) Therefore, no outside observer can claim that the exchange was unjust if both parties made the exchange voluntarily and without misrepresentation of what is being sold.

I approached the presenter after the session was over and asked a few questions. Though various distractions prevented the discussion from proceeding very far, my aim was to convince him that a low wage is not a prima facie sign of injustice. Some Christians who are persuaded by just compensation arguments liken low-wage laborers to slaves. “Slaving away” for a boss is not merely a figure of speech, in their view. Biblical admonitions to free slaves (e.g. Leviticus 25:39-41) are read as arguments for minimum wages or other interventions into labor agreements.

Perhaps the wage is not high enough to allow the employee to escape from poverty, but that is not evidence of injustice. Scripture does not give the employee a right to an amount of wealth sufficient to maintain a certain standard of living, just as it does not give the entrepreneur a right to success in business. Yet voluntary labor agreements make both parties better off. If a free laborer voluntarily works for 50 cents an hour, the only reason he would do so is because he perceives the wage as better than any other known alternative. As long as the laborer is able to seek alternative forms of employment (i.e., is not a slave), competition in the labor market will tend to push wages to the point where the employee is receiving a little more than his next best option, and the employer is receiving a little more in products generated by the employee than the cost of paying the employee. Both parties benefit.

The employee could not receive more without incurring search costs that he is not willing to bear, or acquiring training or skills that would increase his value to the employer. A second employer who would make 60 cents an hour from having that worker on his payroll would have an incentive to hire that person away from the first employer, and pay somewhere between 50 and 60 cents per hour to the worker (say 55 cents). Both the employee and the employer would benefit. A third employer who expects to make $1.00 an hour from having that worker on the payroll would hire the worker away from the second employer at somewhere between 55 cents and $1.

Trying to eliminate the competitiveness of this market by claiming that the worker has no choice but to work for one employer (“monopsony,” in economics lingo) is unrealistic. People move between jobs to get higher pay all the time. They also move in and out of the labor force, indicating that there is at least something productive they can do with their time without being employed. In any case, monopsony has a limited effect on wages: it can never force the laborer to work for a wage that is less than what he could make if self-employed.

The kind of value theory that is behind “just wage” theories was debunked long ago. Yet the misunderstandings persist, and destructive policies like minimum wages and mandatory benefits follow. What is worse, these ideas foster a cynicism and suspicion of business. The Bible, in contrast, lends support to freedom in labor agreements. The terms of employment are to be determined by mutual agreement between the employer and the worker, with only a few restrictions — the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8), laws concerning bondservants (e.g., Deut. 15:12-18), and the requirement that agreed-upon wages not be delayed (Deut. 24:14). Instead of imposing human ideas of justice on each other, let us not call unjust what God has not called unjust.

*****

Timothy Terrell teaches economics at a small college in South Carolina. He is also director of the Center for Biblical Law and Economics, at http://www.christ-college.edu/html/cble/. Dr. Terrell can be contacted at terrelltd@marketswork.com.

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Discrimination, Rights, and Equal Protection

Ryan Bomberger 1The Inequality of “Equality”

By Ryan Bomberger

Words have meaning. Well, until we decide to strip that meaning from them by expanding their definition to suit our ideology. “Equality” is a concept that is thrown about all the time. Ensuring it has become a religion with the devout willing to do anything to force it upon everyone.

gay paradeRecently, gay “rights” groups continued their attacks on TLC’s Duggar family for supporting our First Amendment freedoms by encouraging the repeal of an intrusive and unconstitutional Chapter 119 city ordinance. Just one provision tells you how far LGBT activists will go to muddle reality:

“Discriminate, Discrimination or Discriminatory means any act, policy or practice that has the effect of subjecting any person to differential treatment as a result of that person’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status.”

Ok, wait. So if someone is black, it could just be a perception thing? Ones veteran status could be real or perceived? The rhetorical acrobatics one has to go through to justify LGBT activism is mind-bending.

In addition to establishing the unscientific assertion that gender is simply a fluid personal choice and that homosexuality is equivalent to innate characteristics like pigmentation and age, the ordinance also declared that transgendered people (with no proof that they are actually “transsexual”) can use the public bathroom of their choice.

The Duggars, churches, business owners and the majority of Fayetteville, Arkansas residents (52 percent) passionately disagreed with the Chapter 119 Ordinance and voted to repeal it.

Homosexual activists are always invoking the Fourteenth Amendment (while conveniently ignoring the First Amendment) and demanding “equal protection.” Well, what about equal protection for women and girls? So, an infinitesimal percentage of the population’s emotional discomfort should overshadow the privacy and safety of females?

Before an LGBT activist spits pink, I’m not saying that every transgender person is violent, but it creates an understandable atmosphere of concern. Most parents understand this.

Laverne Cox, transgender male, who stars in Netflix’ sexually explicit and violent TV series, Orange is the New Black, made a public stand for a fellow transgendered male—a convicted rapist and murderer. Laverne was featured in a video for the Silvia Rivera Law Project supporting Synthia China Blast. The transsexual male’s internal brokenness led him to commit the heinous 1993 rape and murder of 13 year old Ebony Nicole Williams, a young black runaway from Harlem. Her mutilated and molested corpse could only be identified by dental records.

But like most identity politics the person who aligns with your ideology can do no wrong. Once news reports criticized his support of a convicted rapist and murderer, Laverne Cox apparently went into public relations mode and requested that his support video be removed. You would think Laverne would’ve Googled the prisoner’s name to find out why he was actually convicted before he publicly defended Luis Morales (aka Synthia China Blast).

Too bad Ebony Nicole Williams didn’t get equal treatment from Laverne Cox or the Sylvia Rivera Project, which demands humanity for convicted transgender prisoners but ignores the grotesque inhumanity shown toward their victims.

Our hashtag-driven society rarely looks beyond the buzz words to the content that gives context to LGBT issues. The inequality of “equality” is spreading like wildfire across the country, and many of these efforts are led by HRC (Human Rights Campaign), a leading gay “rights” group. I find it interesting how multi-million-dollar LGBT activist groups, who decry “discrimination” against homosexuals, are some of the leading voices in the support of the ultimate violent discrimination—abortion. HRC is even directly funded by Planned Parenthood, according to the abortion chain’s most recent tax filings (2013 and 2012).

Incidentally, the pro-abortion founder of HRC, Terrance Patrick Bean, was recently convicted by a grand jury for allegedly raping a 15-year old boy. Of course, the group he founded is also behind criminalizing any therapy or counseling for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction that is the result of sexual molestation. How convenient.

Mainstream media works overtime to present homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism in the most positive light possible. Anyone who dares to challenge the whitewashed narrative is branded a “hater”. Well, the only thing I hate is a lie. I love people and know how powerfully love can illuminate the human condition. Doesn’t everyone deserve the truth? No one is free when our words are policed, our faith is legislatively dictated, and facts are forced into the closet.

*****

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Suppression as a Means of Liberation?

Political Language and the Lust for Tyrannyhow to think

By Michael Wagner

 Dressing Up Bad Ideas

The human mind is cunning, and so bad ideas continue to appeal to God-rejecting men. Indeed, these bad ideas can be dressed-up in nice terminology so that the most virulent forms of tyranny are advanced under the banner of freedom and liberation. And this is just what is happening today in the western world. Terms such as democracy and tolerance are used to camouflage the most dreadful things.

The word democracy is infused with exclusively positivedome of silence2 connotations. Nobody wants to be seen as opposing democracy. It is used to refer to political systems where citizens are involved in the selection of their rulers, as opposed to dictatorships where they are not. The Cold War was commonly seen in the West as a struggle between democracies on the one side, and communist dictatorships on the other.

the mentalistBut for some thinkers on the Left, the Cold War was actually between different forms of democracy. For example, world-renowned Canadian political theorist C.B. Macpherson presented this view in a series of radio messages broadcast in the 1960s by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Subsequently published in a book entitled The Real World of Democracy ,1 these lectures argued that there were three forms of government in the present world that could legitimately be called democracies: the liberal democracies of the West, the Soviet bloc countries, and the one-party states of the Third World . As Macpherson put it, [D]emocracy is not properly to be equated with our unique Western liberal-democracy, instead, the clearly non-liberal systems which prevail in the Soviet countries, and the somewhat different non-liberal systems of most of the underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa , have a genuine historical claim to the title democracy.2

The meaning of democracy has undergone some change over time. It hasn’t always referred to the kind of constitutional system common in the Western countries. For example, Democracy originally meant rule by the common people, the plebeians. It was very much a class affair: it meant the sway of the lowest and largest class.3 Thus Macpherson argued that Soviet communism and other one-party states can legitimately be called democracies, based on this definition. Indeed, he used this conception of democracy to cover the most brutal and repressive regimes. The dictatorship of the proletariat promoted by Karl Marx entailed genuine democracy in this view. Macpherson noted that many people would find it outrageous to consider the dictatorship of the proletariat as a form of democracy. But to call it democracy was not outrageous at all: it was simply to use the word in its original and then normal sense.4

Democracy a la Lenin

It gets worse. Lenin extended Marx’s theory by arguing that the revolution would need to be undertaken by a relatively small group of class-conscious people he called the vanguard, the Communist Party. Because the vast majority of people in any society are debased by the structure of the old society (in Leftist lingo they have false consciousness), they cannot be trusted to participate in political decision-making. To allow their participation would just perpetuate the problems of the old society. Only the vanguard could bring about the necessary reforms. Lenin, building on Marx, came out for a seizure of power by a vanguard who would forcibly transform the basic relations of society in such a way that the people would become undebased and capable of a fully human existence, at which point compulsive government would no longer be needed.5 In Macpherson’s view, this rule of the vanguard to forcibly transform society is a legitimate democracy.

He justified this view by evoking what he called the broader concept of democracy involving an equality as could only be fully realized in a society where no class was able to dominate or live at the expense of others.6 The so-called broader concept of democracy legitimizes the Leninist state. Wherever the circumstances are such that no motion towards this kind of society is possible except through the action of a vanguard, then the vanguard state, so long as it remains true to its purpose, may be called democratic.7 Thus an out-right communist state is (or at least can be) legitimately called a democracy. Many of the most brutal, bloodthirsty, and repressive regimes in the history of the world were democracies in this sense.

Using a similar line of argumentation, the one-party dictatorships of the Third World can also be justified as democracies. Invoking Rousseau, Macpherson stated that one-party states can be legitimately called democracies because there is in these countries a general will, which can express itself through, and probably only through, a single party.8 As a result, opposition to the dominant party appears to be, and sometimes actually is, destructive of the chances of nationhood. In such circumstances opposition appears as treason against the nation.9 Thus a one-party state, where opposition to the ruling party is considered treason, is a legitimate form of democracy.

Creative Semantics

It bears repeating that Macpherson was an internationally known and respected political scientist. The views he expressed were not the rantings of an activist running wild in the streets. Some elements of the intellectual Left truly believe that a Marxist-Leninist state (or any other Left-wing single-party state) is a genuine democracy. And for those of us who are Canadians, it is a cause for concern that these lectures appeared on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a branch of the Government of Canada.

Of course, this sort of Left-wing extremism and their creative semantics is not confined to Canadian intellectuals. Herbert Marcuse, an American academic and New Left guru, did some interesting work on the concept of tolerance. In his article Repressive Tolerance,10 Marcuse argued for what he called liberating tolerance. Marcuse was concerned about the expression of views that support the Establishment, especially conservative views. Because conservatives are able to make their case in public and in the media, many people are influenced by their perspective. This perspective will reinforce or further develop the false consciousness of people that results from their living within a capitalist society, and which prevents them from supporting the utopian schemes of the Left. Somehow the false consciousness must be overcome in order for the Left to achieve its goals.

The solution proposed by Marcuse was the implementation of liberating tolerance. This kind of tolerance involves stopping the words and images which feed this consciousness.11 The conservative message must be stopped. Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.12 Marcuse promoted intolerance even toward thought, opinion, and word, intolerance, that is, toward the self-styled conservatives, to the political Right.13 In other words, his concept of tolerance was a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right.14 This form of tolerance is red in tooth and claw. In the Marcusian definition, tolerance here means the out-right suppression of conservative political beliefs.

To most people in the Western world, explicit appeals for dictatorship and repression are repulsive. Thus the Left’s most tyrannical proposals are dressed-up to be made more palatable. Beginning with the original definition of democracy, Macpherson reasoned his way into advocating communist dictatorships and other Left-wing one-party states as legitimate forms of democracy. Herbert Marcuse reasoned his way into advocating the suppression of his political opponents as liberating tolerance. Tyrannical ideas are sugarcoated in a kind of semantic subterfuge designed to divert attention from their real implications. The lust for tyranny is hidden behind clever political language. But the deceptive terminology cannot hide the fact that the utopian dreams of these God-rejecting men would certainly lead to a hell-on-earth.

From a Biblical perspective there is no doubt that the political dreams of the Left are impossible to realize. Their assumptions reject God, or at least His real involvement in the world, and view human nature as changeable and unknowable. With such false conceptions of God and man, their most far-reaching efforts at political change are always doomed. Unfortunately, the people who get in the way are also doomed, as history has clearly shown.

*****

Notes

  1. C. B. Macpherson, The Real World of Democracy (Toronto, ON: House of Anasi Press, 1998).
  2. Ibid, 3.
  3. Ibid., 5.
  4. Ibid, 15.
  5. Ibid., 19.
  6. Ibid., 22.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., 27.
  9. Ibid., 26.
  10. Herbert Marcuse, Repressive Tolerance in Robert P. Wolff, ed., A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1997).
  11. Ibid., 111.
  12. Ibid., 109.
  13. Ibid., 110.
  14. Ibid., 119.

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Freedom, Private Property, Justice, and Tolerance

The Biblical Case for Private Property

By Rev. Craig DumontA

Private property is receiving a lot of attention these days. I guess you could say there is a renaissance of thinking and appreciation for, as Tom Bethel puts it, “the blessings of private property.” In fact, Bethel is one of many brilliant and competent men who have recently tackled this topic. His book, The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages is well written and informative. It also is encouraging that one of the last chapters deals with the rediscovery of private property and looks ahead to the trend of acknowledging and strengthening property rights in our country and around the world. Another author, Harvard professor Richard Pipes, has written a marvelous book called simply Property and Freedom.

AlaskaI am very thankful that there are rising up all around us men who are taking up the intellectual defense of private property after years of conceding the battle to socialists, Marxists, Darwinists, and statists. However, there is one great need within these useful works that must be addressed, and that great need is to present the theological foundation, for without a theological basis on which to ground freedom and rights, there is nothing other than toleration. There is a huge difference between freedom and toleration.

Freedom vs. ToleranceS

Freedom is security based upon the unchanging laws of God which all men must obey. It eliminates the uncertainty of arbitrary changes in opinion, pragmatic opportunism, or state control. Tolerance only grudgingly allows for the continuation of a “privilege” that the state may grant today, yet withdraw tomorrow, based upon new thinking, different circumstances, or power politics.

Unfortunately, almost all the books I’ve read mistake tolerance for freedom. For instance, Bethel states:

[T]here are four great blessings that cannot easily be realized in a society that lacks the secure, decentralized, private ownership of goods. These are: liberty, justice, peace and prosperity. The argument of this book is that private property is a necessary (but not a sufficient) condition for these highly desirable social outcomes.1

MIn other words, society in general, intellectuals in particular, and the state specifically should tolerate private property, not as an inherent right in regard to itself, but only to the extent that it contributes to liberty, justice, peace, and prosperity.

Now, everyone would agree that liberty, justice, peace, and prosperity are good things and highly desired. It could also be argued that as long as these terms found their meaning and expression in God’s Word, the Bible, there would be no problem; for all these words or terms are clearly defined and elaborated upon in the Bible. In fact, one theologian points out that when God’s property laws are followed, there will indeed be blessings. “There is also continuity; the promise of posterity, of continuity of possession and security therein, and, with these things, peace and prosperity, is a consequence of freedom and continuity under the Lord.”2 But there lies the crux of the problem I’ll set forth: Today, we are a lawless people, or perhaps a better way to express it is that we are not a people under one law any longer, but rather we have come to a point in time where everyone creates his own law, or his own standards of right and wrong. Judges on a regular basis make up “law” on the spot, making every court appearance a crapshoot. We live in what is called “postmodern times” where each person determines what is good and what is evil. All definitions are blurred; there is no objective reality. Ask ten different people how they define those terms, and you’ll get ten different answers.

In France, Robespierre and the French Revolutionaries rallied the masses under those very words — a revolution that later came to be known more honestly as “The Reign of Terror.” Karl Marx had his own definitions for these as did Stalin and Mao. I guarantee you that President Clinton, while using the same words, meant something totally different than you and I do when we talk about these things.

So the problem is this: If private property rights are tolerated only as they contribute to liberty, justice, peace, and prosperity — tell me, who is going to be the official arbitrator of definitions and levels? Consider, for instance, peace. There’s no peace between Microsoft and Sun. There are times private property creates not peace, but conflict as people attempt to maximize their assets in a free market. If private property is simply tolerated because it contributes to the “peace process,” it is open to attack when peace is defined on these terms, especially because there are times when “peace” and “freedom” conflict.

Private Property and Justice

Justice is also a hazy place to hang your private property hat in today’s world. Again, because today there is no objective law standard to measure ourselves against, justice to the large land-owning farmer or rancher is different from the justice demanded by the so-called “environmentalist.” Prosperity suffers the same fate, for what is prosperity and who has it? Does redistribution of wealth fall under “prosperity” and “justice” as in calls for “economic justice”? Ron Sider, who masquerades as a Christian teacher, is a regular contributor to Moody Monthly, and calls for a radical redistribution of wealth in the name of fairness and justice. I dare say that none here would want to have his definitions imposed upon them.

Professor Pipes, despite an otherwise excellent book, also comes up short in this area. His four arguments set forth are truly historical arguments, but he totally misses the most important one that changed the history of the world. He gives these four arguments for private property:

  • The political argument in favor of property holds that (unless distributed in a grossly unfair manner) it promotes stability and constrains the power of government. Against property it is claimed that the inequality which necessarily accompanies it generates social unrest.
  • From the moral point of view, it is said that property is legitimate because everyone is entitled to the fruits of his labor. To which critics respond that many owners exert no effort to acquire what they own and that the same logic requires everyone to have an equal opportunity to acquire property.

* The economic line of reasoning for property holds that it is the most efficient means of producing wealth, whereas opponents hold that economic activity driven by the pursuit of private gain leads to wasteful competition.

* The psychological defense of property maintains that it enhances the individual’s sense of identity and self-esteem. Others assert that it corrupts the personality by infecting it with greed.3

He then goes on to state:

These four approaches fairly exhaust the range of arguments for and against property articulated during the past three thousand years.4

Now that is an amazing statement, because it omits the most important, persuasive, and influential argument for private property that the West has set forth: God’s private property laws. It was the proper understanding and implementation of God’s property laws that allowed the Christian West to flourish and prosper.

God’s Private Property Laws

This universal truth that flows from God’s property laws is rooted and grounded in the objective fact that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof: the world and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). The Biblical idea of property comes up right at the beginning of Genesis where man was created in the image of God and commanded to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it. “Not only is it man’s calling to exercise dominion, but it is also his nature to do so…. Man was created to exercise dominion under God and as God’s appointed vicegerent over the earth.”5 Rushdoony points out, “An aspect of this dominion is property.”6 The Biblical teaching is that “the earth is indeed the Lord’s, as is all dominion, but God has chosen to give dominion over the earth to man, subject to His law-word, and property is a central aspect of that dominion. The absolute and transcendental title to property is the Lord’s; the present and historical title to property is man’s.”7

God’s declaration that man is entitled by His law, a law which transcends all man-made laws, arguments, and philosophies, to own private property is highlighted by at least two of the Ten Commandments: the Eighth which says, “You shall not steal,” and the Tenth which strikes at the heart of the entire matter, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

A case could be made for private property rights being outlined and protected by God in every commandment, as reflected by James’ insistence that if a man is guilty of breaking one commandment he is guilty of breaking all commandments. But we can clearly see the principle of private property set forth and confirmed in the Fourth Commandment, where a person and his personal property were required to rest; in the Sixth Commandment which restrained a person from stealing the ultimate personal property, another’s life; in the Seventh Commandment which, by outlawing adultery, set personal boundaries which had to be respected; and the Ninth Commandment which prohibited one from robbing a person of his reputation, which is a very important and valuable form of personal property.

The fact is, God created the world and then delegated it, in the form of personal property, to man. The right to own and control private property, therefore, transcends any political, moral, economical, or psychological basis and rests in God’s revealed and declared law.

Let me point out that God takes the issue of private property very, very seriously. For instance, God’s law of securing and maintaining landmarks that define a person’s property is stated and reinforced on at least five occasions. That law, stated in Deuteronomy 19:14, reads like this:

You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

It is cited also in Deuteronomy 27:17; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; and Job 24:2.

When you look at the Tenth Commandment, you’ll see that this is one powerful assertion of private property rights. This commandment deals with both the intents and actions of men to manipulate or control property that does not legitimately belong to them. Martin Noth, in his commentary on Exodus, writes:

[Coveting] describes not merely the emotion of coveting but also includes the attempt to attach something to oneself illegally. The commandment therefore deals with all possible undertakings which involve gaining power over the goods and possessions of a “neighbor,” whether through theft or through all kinds of dishonest machinations.8

Another scholar writes:

[T]he corresponding Hebrew word [for covetousness] has two meanings, both to covet and to take. It includes outward malpractices, meaning seizing for oneself.9

What we’re seeing is the positive assertion of private property rights with boundaries established by God Himself, with a negative condemnation of every attempt to gain by fraud, coercion, or deceit that which belongs to our neighbor.

Let me point out the obvious right here. If God Himself establishes private property rights and “if all desiring and taking by force or by law what is your neighbor’s is strictly against God’s law, [doesn’t it also follow] that the organization of such covetousness into a system is the creation of an anti-God society?”

Let me put it even plainer. Outside of God’s laws governing property use, all attempts to control, manipulate, and dictate what a person can do with his property is antichrist to the core. Therefore, all public planning commissions and zoning boards that meet to consider anything other than what God does or does not allow on property is a lawless example of stealing and covetousness in action. To reiterate, it is antichrist to the core.

This does not mean that we are free to ignore planning commissions and zoning boards because God’s laws are meant to be an expression of faith as well as a rule for life, and today’s Christians are not people willing to put their faith in God. They ignore God’s laws and put their faith in government to solve their problems and meet their needs. The civil government that we have is a direct expression of our society’s faith. It’s not a full-scale rebellion against these commissions that we need, but rather a revival of the true Christian Faith in the hearts and minds of those who call themselves Christians.

Far too many Christians reject God’s laws and declare themselves as god and, therefore, declare themselves able to ignore the Eighth and Tenth Commandment. They actively engage in stealing and coveting and love every minute of it. They seek to manipulate and control their neighbor’s property, specifically through non-Biblical zoning laws. In effect, these Christians show that they hate God’s plan for the future and they seek to impose their own version of predestination on property owners, arbitrarily telling them what can and cannot be done with their property. You get Christians thinking righteously about these things and you would be amazed at how soon we would see the dismantling of Satanic institutions, all without any civil disobedience or rebellion.

By the way, I don’t mean that these zoning decisions have to be just quietly accepted. We have civil recourse through our court system that is designed to be appealed to. It’s true that it’s no longer the law-based system that seeks and upholds the justice that our Founders had envisioned, but by God’s grace it is a restraining force against many true evils. Until the time comes that people no longer feel able to covet openly through zoning boards, we have a responsibility to pray for God’s grace, mercy, and righteousness to prevail in our courts.

There are, in fact, limits to what a person can do with his private property, for ultimately it is owned by God and it is He who sets the parameters for use. But let me stress that property use is governed and regulated by God, and not by those who are neither owners nor the stewards of the property.

*****

Notes

  1. Tom Bethel, The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages.
  2. R.J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, “Theology of the Land.”
  3. Richard Pipes, Property and Freedom.
  4. ibid.
  5. R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1, “The Eighth Commandment.”
  6. ibid.
  7. ibid.
  8. Martin Noth; Exodus, as cited in the Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1, “The Tenth Commandment.”
  9. Gerhard Von Rad; Deuteronomy, A Commentary.

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Biblical Faith and Economics

Biblical Faith and Economics

By Ian HodgeAAB

In an earlier article,1 I argued that the modern nation-state with its emphasis on involuntary but permanent taxation, debt slavery, control of the courts, and encouragement of human sacrifice (abortion) was the establishment of a new god. This contravenes the Biblical injunction: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” the First Commandment. God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and all things in it, is to take the precedence in all matters. This is how the people He created are to acknowledge their Creator.

The essence of sin as outlined in Genesis 3:5 is for man “to know” good and evil. The Hebrew word translated in this text has the sense of “to make” or “to determine.” To know good and evil, said the tempter, was to define for yourself the categories of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error.

10 commandments...Given this background, the rest of the Bible is understandable. God immediately sets out to provide His rules for right living. The Ten Commandments, with their attendant case law explanations, form the basis of the first five books of the Bible. The remainder of the Old Testament is comment upon the Israelites’ failure to obey God, setting up their own rules for life rather than following the ones God had provided on Mt. Sinai. In the language of Scripture, everyone was “doing what is right in his own eyes.”

The New Testament, reinforcing the Old Testament as it does in Matthew 5 (at the commencement of New Testament canon), can only be read and understood properly in the light of the Old olivet discourseTestament. The New Testament tells of the completion of God’s plan of redemption. It makes no attempt to replace the Old Testament Torah with New Testament Torah, but does continually reiterate its dependence for its authority on the Old Testament history and laws of Israel. “We do not worship man-made gods,” said the early apostles. “Our God is the One Who created all things; the One Who saved Noah from the very great flood He caused; the One Who called Abraham and his descendents to 400 years of slavery until He was ready to remove the Amorites out of the Promised Land. This same God was the One Who raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the One Who performed miracles; Who was, in fact, born supernaturally; and Who was indeed the Messiah promised throughout the Old Testament.”

crossThe salvation message, argued the New Testament apostles, includes the notion of repentance. And you cannot repent, that is, stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing, without first of all having the list of right things, i.e., the Ten Commandments. Without the Ten Commandments, repentance, is arbitrary or non-existent. And without repentance, there can be no salvation. For while salvation does not depend on what we do, it does, in the end include a changed life. It includes a life that no longer follows the tempter’s challenge, to know or to define the categories of right and wrong. Jesus affirmed that we know good trees by their fruit, not by their external appearance. We are told to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, because in the end a wolf will act like a wolf, even though he appears to be a sheep. And most of all, if we are truly to build our lives on solid ground, that solid ground must be obedience to the categories of right and wrong that God has provided. This is the Torah, the five books of Moses, the first five books of our Old Testament. The rest of Scripture remains a commentary based on these books, of Israel’s falling away, of Egypt’s falling way, of the falling away of all nations. Falling away being lack of obedience to the Law of God, starting with the very first premise, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Instead, the nations of this world, past and present, have resorted to idolatry. Refusing to obey the God of the Bible in even the smallest thing, they do everything in their power to hinder the spread of God’s Word, preferring to install their own laws which determine how people should live. In Western nations such as the United States or Australia, the hostility to the Ten Commandment is concealed, though very real. And nowhere is this hostility better identified than in the economic realm. For this forms the larger part of our lives. It governs our working hours and, to an extent, our leisure hours.

The Family

The Western notion of family carries with it some of the Biblical definitions of family. The influence of Christianity on the development of the West has real implications in this matter. For example, for a very long time, it was held that a function of the family was to raise children in godly principles. Yet in the nineteenth century, an assault came on the Christian family in the form of compulsory school attendance and the establishment of the public school system.

Children, it was argued, were not the property of the parents. It was claimed they were the property of the state. The argument that children are property is an interesting prospect. If children are property, then we are in the realm of economics, arguing about who owns children. It might be that some parents think of themselves as stewards, and that God has merely “loaned” them children for a short while to be raised the way He wants them raised. Children are, in this view, the property of God, not the parents. But this is not the view of the political order today. The political realm sees itself “owning” all the children within its jurisdiction. One of the demands made, therefore, is to turn children over to state educators, or at least state-trained and -approved educators, so that children might be taught what the political order determines. There is sufficient historical evidence to show that in England, the United States, and Australia the establishment of compulsory education and public schools was a deliberate mechanism to eliminate, or at least water down, the teaching of Christianity to children.2 Parents and church schools, successfully educating children prior to this point, were unfortunately raising their children with sectarian biases, Protestant versus Catholic, High Church versus Low Church. The authorities set out to abolish this.

The do-gooders who claimed religious neutrality suppressed their real religious hostility, not to religion in general, but to Christianity in particular. From a Biblical perspective, the claim that the state owns the child is a false claim. It is a claim to ownership and control that is not granted by God. But it is an effective claim that helps destroy the application of the Christian Faith to the family.

Hence, it can be seen that the claim to property of any kind is an economic claim that must be tested in the light of Scripture. The political order may claim ownership of all children under its jurisdiction; but if God grants ownership, the state is a thief. Those who argue that the state is the true owner of children are thieves along with the politicians who are ready to accept the claim.

Humanism’s Nanny State

It is easy to recognize, therefore, that economics is at the heart of the modern political order. It takes children within its borders under its wing and pretends to be their real parent. Similarly, it takes all consumers under its wing and claims to be their protector from all kinds of real and imagined evils. Adults in the modern nation state are deemed to be incapable of managing their own lives. They need “protection.” They don’t educate properly, even with the help of the church, so the political order will step in to solve the problem. Consumers don’t know the best age for children to be in school, but the political order has solved this with the establishment of compulsory education laws.

Similarly, consumers who do not know what is best for their children are also incapable of knowing what is best for themselves. The protective political order, however, will solve the problem. Legislative act after legislative act treat consumers as little children, incapable of knowing how to act properly. Politicians — ordinary consumers until the day they are elected — somehow instantly gain a new wisdom that allows them to know what is best for everyone. They will pass new laws to make the world a better place. Better to reduce competition by preventing cheap foreign goods from entering our shores, than allowing consumers access to cheaper goods. Better to tax everyone and provide government handouts to those whose vote can be bought with taxpayers’ money.

In the midst of all this, the First Commandment stands clear: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” In other words, stop making up your own rules and live by My rules, says God. This is how we acknowledge God as Lord. Once people are willing to ignore this command, it is easy for them to ignore other commandments too. To take children from parents when God does not sanction such action is theft. “Thou shalt not steal,” declares God. But politicians steal children; they take what they are not entitled to in people, money, and goods; they destroy the value of everyone’s wealth through inflationary policies (such as fractional reserve banking); and they insist that all business owners pay various kinds of levies and taxes for the privilege of being in business.

How did we get into this mess? Life was not always like this. The Magna Carta (1215) was an affirmation of property rights that the highest political authority could not override. At one time, English courts upheld the rights of parents to educate how they liked, and also allowed educators to start private schools.3 The result was a remarkable affirmation of Biblical principles that gave England, and her offshoots such as the United States and later Australia, the same blessed privileges. A man was king in his own castle and ruled accordingly. Now, the political rules in his stead, and we have moved from a familial society to a state-centered one.

The Faith that the Bible demands begins with adherence to at least the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” This is the fulfilment of the first of the Great Commandments, to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Salvation requires repentance, and repentance means to turn from other gods, other sources of authority, and acknowledge God as the True Law-Giver. Until our gospel message embraces this point and converts to the Faith begin to implement God’s jurisdictions rather jurisdictions decreed by the political order, we cannot expect to see righteousness flow throughout the land. And this, at the end of the day, is God’s ultimate goal, the establishment of His kingly (i.e., law-giving) rule throughout the whole earth.

The curious question is why so many Christians today do not want to work to this end.

*****

Notes

  1. December, 2001. See it online at http://www.chalcedon.edu.
  2. E. G. West, Education and the State, 2nd ed. (London, 1970); R.J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education (Nutley, 1976); A.G. Austin, Australian Education 1788-1900 (Melbourne, 1961).
  3. J.E.G. de Montmorency, State Intervention in English Education (Cambridge, 1902), 55ff.

***

Ian Hodge, AMusA, PhD, is a writer, business consultant and piano teacher. He us currently living in the USA and has recently authored Ian Hodge’s Read, Write and Play Music, a program that teaches music theory and composition to young students. See www.readwriteplay.com. He has written four books, and hundreds of essays on applied Christianity, many of them for Chalcedon. As a business consultant, he specializes in working with Christian family owned businesses, developing management systems that improve profitability. He has also worked with church boards and elders on church governance issues and leadership training.

Article from www.chalcedon.edu

 

 

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The Restoration and Fulfillment of Justice

Justice: Restoration and FulfillmentM

“The Direction of the Law”

By Rousas John Rushdoony

In order to understand biblical law, it is necessary to understand also certain basic characteristics of that law. First, certain broad premises or principles are declared. These are declarations of basic law. The Ten Commandments give us such declarations. The Ten Commandments are not therefore laws among laws, but are the basic laws, of which the various laws are specific examples. An example of such a basic law is Exodus 20:15 (Deut. 5:19), “Thou shalt not steal.”A

In analyzing this commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” it is important to note, a), that this is the establishment, positively, of private property, even as, negatively, it punishes offenses against property. The commandments thus establish and protect a basic area of life. But, b), even more important, this establishment of property issues, not from the state or man but from the sovereign and omnipotent God. The commandments all have their origin in God, who, as the sovereign Lord, issues the law to govern His realm. Further, it follows, c), since God issues the law, that any offense against the law is an offense against God. Whether the law has reference to property, person, family, labor, capital, church, state, or anything else, its first frame of reference is to God.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn essence, lawbreaking is entirely against God, since everything and every person is His creation. But, David declared, with reference to his acts of adultery and murder, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight” (Ps. 51:4). This means then, d), that lawlessness is also sin, i.e., that any civil, familial, ecclesiastical, or other social act of disobedience is also a religious offense unless the disobedience is required by the prior obedience to God.

With this in mind, that the law, first, lays down broad and basic principles, let us examine a second characteristic of biblical law, namely, that the major portion of the law is case law, i.e., the illustration of the basic principle in terms of specific cases. These specific cases are often illustrations of the extent of the application of the law; that is, supreme courtby citing a minimal type of case, the necessary jurisdictions of the law are revealed. To prevent us from having any excuse for failing to understand and utilize this concept, the Bible gives us its own interpretation of such a law, and the illustration, being given by St. Paul, makes clear the New Testament’s undergirding of the law. We cite, therefore, first, the basic principle, second, the case law, and, third, the Pauline declaration of the application of the law:

  1. Thou shalt not steal (Ex. 20:15). The basic law, declaration of principle.
  2. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn (Deut. 25:4). Illustration of the basic law, a case law.
  3. For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. . . . Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:9-10, 14; the entire passage, 9:1-14, is an interpretation of the law).

For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward (I Tim. 5:18, cf. v. 17; the illustration is to buttress the requirement of “honour,” or “double honour” for presbyters or elders, i.e., pastors of the church).

These two passages illustrate the requirement, “Thou shalt not steal,” in terms of a specific case law, revealing the extent of that case in its implications. In his epistle to Timothy, Paul refers also to the law which in effect declares, by case law, that “The labourer is worthy of his reward.” The reference is to Leviticus 19:13, “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning,” and Deuteronomy 24:14, “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates (cf. v. 15).” This is cited by Jesus, (Luke 10:7), “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

If it is a sin to defraud an ox of his livelihood, then it is also a sin to defraud a man of his wages: it is theft in both cases. If theft is God’s classification of an offense against an animal; how much more so an offense against God’s apostle and minister? The implication, then, is, how much more deadly is stealing from God? Malachi makes this very clear:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all the nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:8-12)

This example of case law illustrates not only the meaning of case law in Scripture, but also its necessity. Without case law, God’s law would soon be reduced to an extremely limited area of meaning. This, of course, is precisely what has happened. Those who deny the present validity of the law apart from the Ten Commandments have as a consequence a very limited definition of theft. Their definition usually follows the civil law of their country, is humanistic, and is not radically different from the definitions given by Moslems, Buddhists, and humanists. But, in analyzing later the case laws illustrative of the law, “Thou shalt not steal,” we shall see how far-reaching its meaning is.

The law, then, first asserts principles, second, it cites cases to develop the implications of those principles, and, third, the law has as its purpose and direction the restitution of God’s order.

This third aspect is basic to biblical law, and it illustrates again the difference between biblical law and humanistic law. According to one scholar, “Justice in its true and proper sense is a principle of co-ordination between subjective beings.”

Such a concept of justice is not only humanistic but also subjective. Instead of a basic objective order of justice, there is instead merely an emotional condition called justice. In a humanistic law system, restitution is possible and often exists, but again it is not the restoration of God’s fundamental order but of man’s condition. Restitution then is entirely to man.

Biblical law requires restitution to the offended person, but even more basic to the law is the demand for the restoration of God’s order. It is not merely the courts of law which are operative in terms of restitution. For biblical law, restitution is indeed, a), to be required by courts of law of all offenders, but, even more, b), is the purpose and direction of the law in its entirety, the restoration of God’s order, a glorious and good creation which serves and glorifies its Creator. Moreover, c), God’s sovereign court and law operates in terms of restitution at all times, to curse disobedience and hamper thereby its challenge to and devastation of God’s order, and to bless and prosper the obedient restoration of God’s order.

Malachi’s declaration concerning tithes, to return to our illustration, implies this, and, indeed, states it explicitly: they are “cursed with a curse” for robbing God of His tithes. Therefore, their fields are not productive, since they work against God’s restitutive purpose.

Obedience to God’s law of the tithe, honoring instead of robbing God, will deluge His people with blessings. The word “deluge” is appropriate: the expression “open . . . the windows of heaven” recalls the Flood (Gen. 7:11), which was a central example of a curse. But the purpose of curses is also restitution: the curse prevents the ungodly from overthrowing God’s order. The men of Noah’s generation were destroyed in their evil imaginations, as they conspired against God’s order (Gen. 6:5), in order to institute the process of restoration through Noah.

But to return to our original illustration of biblical law, “Thou shalt not steal.” The New Testament illustrates restitution after extortion in the form of unjust taxation in the person of Zaccheus (Luke 19:2-9), who was pronounced a saved man after declaring his intention of making full restitution. Restitution is clearly in view in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:23-26). According to one scholar, (in Eph. iv. 28) St. Paul shows how the principle of restitution was to be extended. He who had been a robber must not only cease from theft, but must labour with his hands that he might restore what he had wrongfully taken away, but in case those whom he had wronged could not be found, restitution should be made to the poor.

This fact of restitution or restoration is spoken of, in its relationship to God, in three ways. First, there is the restitution or restoration of God’s sovereign law-word by proclamation. St. John the Baptist, by his preaching, restored the law-word to the life of God’s people. Jesus so declared it: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not” (Matt. 17:11-12). There is then, second, the restoration which comes by subjecting all things to Christ and establishing a godly order over the world (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 10:5; Rev. 11:15, etc.). Third, with the second coming, there is the total, final restoration which comes with the second coming, and towards which history moves; the second coming is the total and culminating rather than sole act of “the times of restitution” (Acts 3:21).

God’s covenant with Adam required him to exercise dominion over the earth and to subdue it under God (Gen. 1:26ff) and according to God’s law-word. This relationship of man to God was a covenant (Hosea 6:7; cf. marginal reading).

But all of Scripture proceeds from the truth that man always stands in covenant relation to God. All God’s dealings with Adam in paradise presuppose this relation: for God talked with Adam and revealed Himself to him, and Adam knew God in the wind of day. Besides, salvation is always presented as the establishment and realization of God’s covenant. . . this covenant relation is not to be conceived as something incidental, as a means to an end, as a relation that was established by way of an agreement, but as a fundamental relationship in which Adam stood to God by virtue of his creation.

The restoration of that covenant relationship was the work of Christ, His grace to His elect people. The fulfilment of that covenant is their great commission: to subdue all things and all nations to Christ and His law-word.

The creation mandate was precisely the requirement that man subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. There is not one word of Scripture to indicate or imply that this mandate was ever revoked. There is every word of Scripture to declare that this mandate must and shall be fulfilled, and “scripture cannot be broken,” according to Jesus (John 10:35). Those who attempt to break it shall themselves be broken.

*****

This article is an excerpt from part three of the Introduction to: The Institutes of Biblical Law by Rousas John Rushdoony, 1973.

For further studies by R.J. Rushdoony and others, featuring many online references and resources, visit: www.chalcedon.edu

 

 

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Subverting Justice vs. The Blessing of ‘Just Law’

Travel Trend Myanmar TourismSubverting Justice vs. the Blessing of ‘Just Law’

By R.J. Rushdoony

 An offense against justice is an offense against God whose law is subverted. A judge who accepts a bribe or tolerates perjury is as guilty as the offender. The subversion of justice is an offense against God and His court and therefore a great evil. Bribery is called, in Deuteronomy 16:19, wresting or tampering with justice, and the perversion thereof. Because the law is the Lord’s, and justice is the expression of His being, any offense against justice is directly against God and brings about His judgment upon the land and the people who tolerate it.sunset church

The number of laws given by God is a short one; 613 by the rabbinical reckoning which divides one law at times into several, less by Christian reckonings. It was mandatory that this body of laws be read and taught faithfully. In Joshua 8:30-32 we read that Joshua had the laws published in an open place; this assumes literacy on the part of the people. We see an instance of the public reading of the law in 2 Kings 23:1-3, an aspect of King Josiah’s reformation.

bread and wineThe proverb, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” has reference to Biblical law. Statist law, and especially bureaucratic law, requires great libraries to contain, so that ignorance of man’s law is inescapable. First, the laws are too numerous for even lawyers to know; and, second, humanistic law has no basis in the order of things, whereas God’s law is imprinted by the Creator in His creatures.distant sun

Where laws are too numerous for men to know, the knowledge of the law is restricted to specialists in the law; to lawyers. But humanistic law is too vast in volumes for even lawyers to know it all, so that specialization in particular fields becomes necessary. In the 1970s, the vice-president of an international bank said that the laws and regulations governing banking were so many and so contradictory that any banker could be imprisoned at the will of Federal authorities. This is now no doubt true of all of us. It is questionable that a free society can long exist when its laws are unknown to most of the citizens. It is ironic that 20th and 21st century countries must emphasize education while at the same time keeping their peoples most ignorant of the law. This is a precondition of tyranny.

Today, who can know the law? Congress passes laws of more than 2,000 pages in length, which no member of Congress ever reads in full. This is a prescription for tyranny and dictatorship.

The Ten Commandments sum up God’s law in ten sentences. All the laws which develop these Ten Commandments are comprehended in a short number of pages. They are moral premises which all men know, whether they accept them or not. Who can know the law of any state now?

One lawyer has observed that the best and most learned men in criminal law are convicted criminals who spend their time in prison libraries studying the law to find loopholes in it. A society in which criminals know the law far better than the law-abiding citizenry is a strange one, to say the least.

Ignorance of God’s law, a willful ignorance, is rampant in the churches, and by choice. For this ignorance, God will in some way exact His price. God’s law must be studied: Deuteronomy 6:6-7, 20-25; 11:18-19, requires that one teach them to the children and study them constantly; because, God’s law is the way of righteousness or justice for His redeemed peoples.

[Further], there can be no adding to or subtracting from God’s law (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). The law is God’s law, and man has no right to alter it, add to it, nor to subtract from it. It is God’s grace that we are given His law as the way of life. Since we created neither ourselves nor this world, we must obey the Creator’s law as His way of life for us. As Psalm 1 makes clear, those who do not delight in the law of the Lord have chosen death.

 The Appearance of Truth and How We Perceive

 From the time of the Greeks to the present, misreadings of the Bible have been prevalent. The perspective of Greek philosophy predisposed men to reduce everything to abstractions and often to read particular statements in their crudest sense. God is the ultimate Person and power: He is not an abstraction but the Supreme Being and totally personal. His revelation is therefore particular and personal, not abstract. For the Aristotelian and Platonic mind, the Bible is a crude book. For the Biblically governed mind, the Greek philosophers are airy bubbleheads living in the clouds of their foolish minds. Each to the other appears ridiculous, but the important question is not one of appearance but of truth. If the God of the Bible is denied, there is nothing.

Biblical law tells us that there are consequences to all human action, in time and in eternity. Because there is an ultimate right and wrong, good and evil, there is a heaven and a hell. The deterioration of justice in this world follows a denial of justice in the world to come. When man denies the validity of good and evil and the necessity for and the consequences of decisions, then he denies the reality of a future. The future is the consequence of the present. The goal of a static world, the behavior or ant-hill goal of Marxists, socialists, and statists, is a futureless world. The views of such a world envision no religion, no morality, no marriage, and no meaning except “the acceptance of self as God.”

To deny God’s law is to replace it with man’s law, the goal of which is to replace God’s justice with man’s changing, statist whims of tyranny. The purpose of God’s law is our freedom under God whereas the purpose of humanistic statist laws is freedom from God and slavery to the state.

The insistence of humanism, as in the Humanist Manifesto I and II, is freedom from God. But freedom from God is freedom from life and freedom. It is the freedom for death to reign; to deny the validity of God’s law is far worse than denying the validity of medicine and surgery where needed. The society which departs from God’s law leaves behind health, healing, and freedom — for a license to sin and die.

The Western world, once known as Christendom, has abandoned its centuries old adherence to God’s law for an antinomian and modernist position. This antinomianism has been an abandonment of the Faith, because whose law you follow, he is your god. The horrifying premise of church thinking is that the law is bondage!(?) That is indeed true if you are a law-breaker. The lawless man finds the law a fearful handicap. If priests and churchmen create and impose their own version of law upon us, it is a yoke and a hindrance.

But is this true of God’s law, the law of the Holy One? James, the brother of our Lord, in James 1:25 and 2:12 (c.f. Gal. 5:1), speaks of “the perfect law of liberty,” very obviously seeing the law as a blessing to the righteous. Now the giver of law is the god of that society, whatever name he may be given. The law-giver defines good and evil, right and wrong, and he thereby ordains the course of that society; law is a key form of determination, and laws are given by rulers and states in order to set the course for a realm or social order. On the human scene, laws, together with social planning, regulations, and controls, are a humanistic form of predestination. We live in a time of fanatic dedication to humanistic, statist predestination, which, naturally, finds talk of predestination by God intolerable.

The choice for men is anarchy or law. But humanistic law is a form of anarchy because it has no relationship to God’s fundamental order. Humanistic law thus leads to anarchy. By necessity, humanism has chosen the tempter’s program, every man as his own god, knowing or deciding for himself what is good and evil (Gen. 3:5). In humanism, sometimes the individual is his own god; at other times, the state exercises this power for all the people.

Biblical faith means recognizing God’s law as the ground of our freedom. Law is liberty, not slavery. If I am a murderer, the law is bondage and a yoke to me. If I am a godly man, it is freedom for me that law restrains the men who would like to see me dead. The law to me then is liberty from murderers, thieves, and others. How much freedom can any of us ever enjoy if we are suddenly in a world ruled by a Marquis de Sade, where all crimes are legal because they are natural (being the acts of fallen man), and only Christianity is illegal, because it is supernatural and hence anti-natural? Law is liberty, and religious antinomianism is a guarantee of slavery because it exalts the laws of the fallen men over the law of God, and because it makes a holy cause of contempt for God’s law.

Can there be a free society, the professed goal of modern men, when God’s perfect law of liberty is despised? How free can any society be when it drops God’s Ten Commandments, and the whole body of His law? It is no accident that the Western World — no longer Christendom — is moving into statist tyranny.

The cause of freedom is a futile one on anything other than God’s terms, His Son the King, and His law our way of life. For men to seek freedom apart from God is comparable to seeking heaven in hell. The humanistic state constantly expands its power, because its goal, and the goal of its citizenry is to be as God, determining their own laws, lives, and morality (Gen. 3:5). Because it is not God — the humanistic state has a problem — never having enough power to play god as it hopes to do. As a result, by an ever expanding body of law, the humanistic state strives for the total power that is its [ultimate] dream.

 Humanistic law means tyranny, whereas God’s law is liberty. God’s law cannot expand: it is a limited body of legislation, and, in much of the law, God reserves the right of judgment to Himself. God’s law is full of promises of blessings to His people. What freedom can exist in a lawless society? And whose laws alone give justice and freedom? How we answer these questions reveal who our God is.

“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Ps. 94:20)

 *****

This article is derived from excerpts of ‘The Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. III, The Intent of the Law’ by Rousas John Rushdoony, featured online at www.chalcedon.edu

 

 

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