Lesson 5: Evaluation of Statism and Anti-Statism
Course: Advanced Worldview Analysis
Now I still have to ask the question, what does the Biblical worldview say about all these? I want to say 1 more thing about this statist stuff other than the fact that statism doesn't work. Why is statism evil? No. 1 it is counterproductive. It is counterproductive. Now, I'm not going to give you the arguments for that today. But my goodness, if you're alert, and you're paying attention, and you're reading the right magazines, this stuff is counterproductive. Secondly, it is dangerous. Because what happens when too much power get centralized in the hands of a few people. Now, right now, I'm thinking of a quotation from a famous British thinker. And I know that at least 1 person in this room can quote this. The author of this statement was a man named Lord Acton. "Power corrupts". Now, what are anti-statists in the business of doing? They are trying to decentralize power. What would the American founding fathers be interested in doing? Decentralizing power. And how did they do that? Through the complex form of government that we have. The purpose of the founding fathers was to give us a form of government in which bad people, and every human being is bad, and which bad people can do the least amount of harm.
Thirdly, why is statism evil? It's dangerous, it's counterproductive, it is expensive. Perhaps the most evil dimension of statism is this. It destroys societies, and voluntary behavior. It destroys it. What is most evil about statists is that they are enemies of voluntary behavior. They are enemies of societies. When, watch this original expression, when push comes to shove, the statist will always vote for more government. He will always vote for bigger government. Take anything you want. Education. What is the conservative alternative to a statist system of education. It is to put education primarily in the hands of parents, and the families. And not let some dictator in Washington DC determine what your children are going to be forced to study. And among the things they will be forced to study when the guys get the power to do it, is that they are going to be forced to read books about Selies???? to mothers. And about homosexual men functioning as fathers and all of the rest. I'm going to give you a sentence here. All politicians are sinners. All parents are sinners. But even though there are parents whose foolish behavior proves to be harmful to the education process, proves to be harmful to their own children and are too, forgive this word, are too dumb to see that. Who are you going to trust more? With these few exceptions. Are you going to trust the government bureaucrats? Are you going to trust the graduates of government teacher schools who had not been taught anything incidentally that they can share with, believe me, this is usually... Now, there is a question of exceptions. I've already admitted to exceptions. There are many fine individuals in the teaching business. But they are usually countermanded?? by the system and by the people who control the system, and by the union that controls the system. So, who are we going to trust? Given the vast majority of parents who are committed to trying to get the best education for their children who are unlike these exceptions that we have noted, I want parents making the final decisions, more often than not. What happens when statists attack societies? What they do is they concentrate more power in the hands of the people who shouldn't have these decision making processes.
The benefits of society over the state include this. That even if you find yourself in a communal setting that is ripe for a disaster, you can always opt out. Right? Let's say you make a mistake and you put your children in the wrong school. You can always take your kid out. You can always recognize that you made a mistake and find a different school. I now want to ask the question what does the Bible have to say about all of this. Now, I have a section in my book. Let's turn to it. It is page 22. The State and the New Testament. I, listening to you for 2 days now, I know that you're not going to be timid. I know that if you think my argument here is inadequate, you're going to attack me. That's why I'm hiding behind the lectern. I can duck. But remember this before we start talking about the New Testament, let's remember what we learn last week about 1 Samuel chapter 8. That's an inspired part of God's word. Even though it warns about the stupidity of the children of Israel who wanted a king.
Let me just see whether we are together on this. Of all the options that we enumerated last week, where on this chart does the political philosophy of the inspired Old Testament prophet Samuel who spoke under the inspiration of no less than the Holy Spirit. Where did Samuel's philosophy of government fit? Hmm. Let me go down the continuum. For you people listening, I'm starting at the statist end. North Korea, Cuba, Communist China. Any takers here that Samuel was supporting extreme statism? No hands up, not one hand of the 500 people in this room. Now, let's keep going here. Here we have moderate statism. Here we even have moderate republican. Any takers here? Not one hand from the 500 people in this room. Now we cross the line and we enter the domain. Let's go to the other end. How many of you think Samuel was advocating anarchism. Not one hand. I'm beginning to really respect you. You are a.. How many of you think Samuel was a libertarian. No takers. There is only 1 position left. It's called moderate anti-statism. Anybody thinks that Samuel's philosophy of education can be described adequately, fairly, truthfully as a version of anti-statism. Let me see your hands. The reason for the laughter is because of the joy that everybody felt, the release they felt as they raise both of their hands. We must have a lot of charismatics in here. They raise both of their hands and they were shouting "Glory!" Let us turn to the marvelous words in this book called "Social Justice and the Christian Church".
And we are going to explore the state in the New Testament. I think first Samuel 8 is a pretty pivotal passage in the Old Testament. Now allow me just to read here because I like to read my own stuff." For the sake of completeness, a possible objection must be considered. Many sincere Christians might object to the critical stand this chapter has taken to the state on the grounds that is incompatible with the basic New Testament passage on the subject Romans chapter 13 verses 1 to 7". Let me read Romans chapter 13. Here it is." Let every person be subject to the governing authorities". That's government. "For there is no authority except from God and those that exist had been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Than do what is good. And you will receive his approval. For he is God's servant for your good. For if you do wrong, be afraid. For he does not bear the sword in vain. He is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore, one must be subject not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you must also pay taxes. For the authorities are ministers of God attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due". That's the end of the quote.
Now, let me offer a tentative opinion, non dogmatically, which is the way I do everything. A lot of people read Romans 13 and they say, "Now, do you know who this ruling authority was? He was Nero". I'm sorry, but I just want to throw out a little dissent there. Remember ruler is not a terror to good conduct but to bad. Does that describe Nero? Of course it does not. Let me suggest here that Paul is talking in very general terms about a theoretical good ruler. He is not describing Nero. I cannot believe that he is. We're talking about what a ruler ought to be, not what we in fact have right now in the city of Rome. Let me make some additional comments. Problems result if this passage is taken as an endorsement of statism. Or as the exclusive and final New Testament teaching about the state. The passage clearly teaches that the state plays an important role in providing for social order. This passage teaches that Christians had better not be anarchists. We have already said that. There is a place in God's program for government. The question becomes how much government? Anarchism is ruled out but where are we suppose to end up? Now, let's keep breathing here. But the previous argument has already acknowledged that point, several times. I am not an anarchists. Remember the quotes I gave you about the founding fathers- John Adams and James Monroe. If men were angels, no government would be necessary. But men are not angels, and so on. A Christian anarchist interested in reconciling his views with the New Testament would have some major difficulty with this text. But anarchism has already been disqualified as a viable political theory. Looking back, I should have kicked anarchism around a little bit more, and if you want me to someday I will. Although kicking anything around is contrary to my nature.
Since nothing in the text entails the kind of statism criticized earlier in this chapter, no obvious conflict between Romans 13 and the view of a minimal state seems to exist. You can't pull statism out of Romans 13. You can't pull anarchism out of Romans 13. Now, students of the New Testament have often pointed out the dangers of taking Romans 13 out of context. This is a good point and I get it from a pretty good scholar. I'll mention his name shortly. When Paul's comments about the state are read in their full context, which begins at Romans 12:1, they appear in a new light. Paul raises the question of the state for one very specific reason. In the preceding verses he had warned the Christians not take vengeance on people who wronged him. The letter Paul wrote "Never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God for it written "Vengeance is mine, I will repay", says the LORD. But, that's the end of the quote. But, if it is wrong for the Christian to pay back evil with evil of his own, it is only natural for the Christian to ask about the morality of the state which does the very thing he is urged to avoid, namely taking vengeance on wrongdoers. You see, put the text in its context and you then understand why this is being discussed. In other words, the subject of the state is raised because of the apparent conflict between the Christian's personal obligations to refrain from vengeance, and the Christian's apparent need to cooperate in the state's exercise of punishment. Paul is teaching Christians that what holds for one case does not apply in the other. Because human beings are wicked. There must be an institution on earth to restrain that wickedness, and that institution is the state. The only way in which the state can fulfill its God given task in maintaining social order is to threaten potential wrongdoers and then carry out those threats in acts of punishment. In short, Christians must abstain from acts of vengeance in their personal lives but in the case of the state, coercion and punishment are necessary. Therefore in spite of the fact that the state does exactly the opposite of what the Christian is to do, Christians are still to submit themselves to the state. They are not to oppose the state just because it engages in some activities forbidden to the believer. The 2 cases are totally different and call for different standards. I think that's pretty good stuff, and I can say that because I borrow it from somebody, maybe Oscar Kumon??? Turn the page. I don't know whether was Kumon??? on the previous page or not. You can check it out on his book.
Now page 24. Many appeal to Romans 13 also ignore other New Testament passages that clearly set forth limits to the state authority. Limits! No limit, too few limits, limits. That's moderate statism. OK. For example, early in the history of the Jerusalem church, representative of the state forbade the apostles to teach, the reply of Peter and the apostles that they should obey God rather than men. Acts chapter 5 was a clear recognition of the limits of the state. The apostle Paul suggested another limitation in 1 Corinthians 6: 1 when he urged Christians to settle their disagreements outside of the courts of the state. And especially significant text is Revelations 13 where the writer uses the imagery of the 7 headed beast rising out of the sea as a scarcely disguised illusion to the Roman state. Here the state is pictured as the totalitarianism instrument by which Satan persecutes the righteous believer propagandizes his lies and slaughters the innocent. According to Oscar Kumon ?? nothing in the New Testament supports the conclusion that the state is divine. Since the state stands in an order which is still willed by God it possess a certain dignity that Christian should respect. As long as states stand in God's order, it is proper to be subject to them to the extent they stay within their limits. Hey, that's moderate anti-statism. For to the extent that they are God's servants and have indeed some judgment over good and evil. Only when they try to free themselves from the subjection which is already been realized and become totalitarian, only then do they demand what belongs to God. Nothing there in the New Testament precludes, justify criticisms of the state in the insistence of proper limits to the state's power. I can say Amen to that. I wish I've written that. I guess I did. So, I believe, ladies and gentlemen, all of you that the theory of the state that we have discussed over 2 weeks is consistent with not only the explicit statements in the explicit teachings of Scripture but it is consistent with the Biblical worldview. Amen.