Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kreitzer on Government Force

Mark R. Kreitzer writes:

> Sad . . . you seem to make a fundamental philosophical error at
> the beginning in the major premise: All force is evil.

I think the "non-aggression" axiom is a start, but pacifism is a prima facie reading of Christ's ethical teachings.

> This cannot be justified by Scripture else Joshua,

"Holy War" against the inhabitants of the Promised Land cannot override the pacifist teachings of Christ and justify any government force today.

> David,

David was a "man of blood," hence disqualified from building the temple.

> Abraham rescuing Lot,

Admittedly a problematic instance. Abraham was not sinless. Kidnapping was a "capital crime" under the Old Covenant, but I don't think "capital punishment" is warranted in the New. Nevertheless, rescuing someone is certainly valid, though wanton killing of the captors is unjustified.

> Jesus sending armies against Jerusalem,

Jesus was God. He commands us to leave vengeance to God. He commanded His disciples not to defend Him or take vengeance against the Jews (Matthew 26:52; John 18:35)

> etc would be evil.

Yes, they would be. And they are. At least they are after the work of Christ on the cross.

> ONLY unjustified aggressive force is evil. (Non-aggression principle
> not equal to Non-violence principle).

We don't have to argue over definitions of words. No aggressive force is justified.

If I snatch a wallet out of Smith's hand, that might appear to be violence, but if I just witnessed Smith stealing your wallet, and I am retrieving it for you, it's not violence. If it were Smith's wallet, it would in fact be unjustified violence or aggression.

In our day, justified violence is extraordinary. Unjustified violence is ubiquitous. Governments murdered half a billion people in the 20th century. I'm always curious what motivates someone to rise to defend violence and attack pacifism.

> Second, you make an unwarranted false premise is stating that
> all taxation is the moral equivalent to theft. Then the tenth tax to
> God's Palace and his palace servants with which to help the poor
> and the needy as well is evil.

Yes, any attempt to extort money from someone on that basis is (present tense) evil. God had every right under the Old Covenant to require a tithe, but I don't see the practical mechanics for such a demand in our day. There is no more "God's Palace" after AD 70, and no more "palace servants." There are, arguably, no poor, at least in the U.S. The "church" collected the tithe in the OT; why the State today?

> No, taxation is to support what God
> defines as the ONE necessary function of civil government --
> exercise of completely impartial biblical justice.

The word "ONE" is emphasized, yet there are obviously other purposes, such as "palace servants" and "the poor." No conservative supports a welfare state. Where are the specific Biblical texts which say "no more taxation for the poor" and yet also mandate tax-supported arbitration of disputes (which the Free Market is better qualified to undertake)?

> Who, however, defines impartial justice? Who defines the four
> governments? Who defines justified force? Who defines government
> spheres? Who defines functions and boundaries of each? The God
> of Scripture. Seen in this light and combining Rom 12 and 13
> as this site does, Christian minarchy (i.e., a strictly limited Christian
> Constitutional Republic) is the answer not non-Christian anarchy.

False choice. What about Christian anarchy?

> A strictly limited civil government is only one of four governments
> (ecclessial--rule by elders under Christ), familial (rule by father and
> mother under God-in-Christ), civil (a Christic Republic with the
> framework of the Decalogue under God in Christ), and the
> FOUNDATIONAL self-government by the Holy Spirit in Christ.

I agree about "self-government."
I agree with "familial" government.
I think "ecclesial rule" expired with the priesthood and the temple in AD 70.
I think "civil" functions can be discharged by a Free Market -- capitalism, not socialism.

> Keep thinking! (Read Chuck Baldwin on Rom 13 to see why Ron Paul
> says that he is a minarchist. Then read and refute Gary DeMar
> God and Government. Then re-read Rushdoony. He is not an anarchist
> but a minarchist).

I don't need to re-read Rushdoony to figure out that he is not an anarchist.
I think I've refuted Gary DeMar's position, though I haven't interacted specifically with God and Government. See my response to John M. Frame.
I haven't read Baldwin's book, but I'll bet he hasn't read my site either.


Mark R. Kreitzer, Ph.D. said...

I understand your position. Someone I know is a Christian anarcho-capitalist and is the who referred me to your site. In summary, I see in your site an attempt to merge the classic Anabaptist position with a modified Calvinist position. It is not possible because of foundational presuppositional antitheses between the two. 1) God can and does delegate the right to use capital force in OT and NT to human beings (at least starting with the Noahic covenant but most likely in the Legal Covenant written in the conscience as Luther saw in Cain's desire to avoid the just vengeance for murdering his brother. He realized that Abel's blood was crying from the ground and he deserved to die because of it. 2) Non-aggression (but not pacifism) is found in both the NT and OT. It is substantiated by Jesus' words that He came not to abolish but fulfill the law and prophets. Whatever "fulfill" means it does not mean abolish. Hence we use the OT to interpret the ethic of the NT. There is continuity -- not discontinuity -- of ethic from OT to NT (including the words of Jesus) because morality flows out of a) God's unchangeable character and His creational design-norms. 3) It seems that your position begins with reading and being convinced of anarcho-capitalist (AC) writings (which are based on human wisdom though can be useful to illustrate some biblical principles) and then reading it (i.e., AC) back into Scripture. In conclusion, we have a foundational presupposition difference. My opinion: I love Ron Paul, but the siren song of anarcho-capitalism is pushing some of his followers into a position away from his own position. Again my opinion, something between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution (with an explicit Christian and family-based covenantal basis) is the way forward. Keep thinking through your presuppositions in submission to the Spirit of Christ speaking through all of Scripture. MRK

Kevin Craig said...

It was many years ago that I first started synthesizing Calvinists and the Anabaptists. I wrote a (still unpublished) book on an IBM Selectric that still hasn't been completely digitized. Here's what I've got online so far:

In response to your three points:

1) What you describe as God delegating "the right to use capital force to human beings" is described by the relevant Scripture texts as a ceremonial act of "atonement". See the link on "capital punishment" in the post above. That page links to a larger study on capital punishment.

2) I agree with you on "continuity." I consider myself a theonomist. But I do not believe that we need to shed blood after Calvary. For example, Deuteronomy 21 requires the town elders to shed the blood of a heifer in the case of an unsolved homicide. We all agree this law is fulfilled in Christ; no civil magistrate should shed any blood in the case of an unsolved homicide. If the murderer was convicted, the Old Covenant required the blood of the murderer to be shed to make atonement and cleanse the land of bloodguiltiness. The shedding of blood required in Deuteronomy 21 and Genesis 9 can only be satisfied by the blood of Christ today.

3) I can appreciate how "it seems" to you, having just barely become acquainted with me and my writings, but I did not first become an anarcho-capitalist and then attempt to read it into Scripture. I was a student of the Bible before I read Mises. After reading Mises (and more importantly Rushdoony, who made me a strong libertarian and opponent of statism), I went through the Bible and underlined every verse that directly related to "the government," and this process made me an anarchist.

Bob H. said...

I have read this exchange with great interest, as I, too, was a student of the Bible long before I had heard of Mises and Rothbard and the others. I have been careful (I pray) to not read my current political/economic views into the Bible, but rather seek the Holy Spirit's guidance as I read history, politics, and the human condition, making sure any conclusions I may reach do not disagree with Scripture, but instead are in concert with it. That has been quite a journey for me to my current position

My one contribution to your great discussion would be to say in my view that the Westminster Confession Chapter on the Civil Magistrate really does not belong in the Confession. It's very much tied to its time and place, not particularly timeless, such as God's decree, or election, or other "big" topics like that. Just food for thought in the discussion.

Kevin Craig said...

Thanks for joining in, Bob. I concur: WCF23 on the Civil Magistrate ranks with the line from chapter 25 on The Church:

{6} Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof: but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.

Next to Nobody agrees with that anymore. Check out Gary North's comments here.

It was more than 10 years ago that I started a detailed critique of WCF23. That page needs a lot of re-writing.

Bob H. said...

Thanks for the links, Kevin. Very interesting material.

I know for me, WCF23 has been an obstacle for years as I wrestled with what the divines used as that chapter's main proof texts (Romans 13) with what it appeared the whole rest of the Bible had to say about government and the State. How to reconcile these two seeming opposites when I put a lot of trust in the divines? My conclusion after much thought and prayer was to realize that they lived in a time and place, and were sponsored by the Parliament no less.

Perhaps my experience can be of help to others who rely on the WCF to guide their thinking in matters of theology, faith, and life. In particular, this conclusion has freed me from a sense of enslavement to the State, while at the same time recognizing my need to subjugate myself to it (as you state so well all over your website). In fact, I think a fair reading of Romans 13 is: be encouraged!--that oppressive government is from God, believe it or not. But stay out of trouble, let the state do its thing, because your King is Christ, and you are in Rome on a mission to show others Who He is, not to fight political battles.