Re: Shapes of a Wedge

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Wed Jun 09 2004 - 12:53:30 EDT

Hi, Dennis

Innovatia wrote: ...
>From: "Peter Ruest" <>
>>Those of us who are privileged to live in democratic societies also
>>participate in bearing some of the responsibility for its laws, whether
>>this is by means of voting for constitutions and electing parliaments or
>>other law-making bodies, or even by means of initiatives and referenda
>>regarding specific laws.
>I am not sure it is a privilege to live in a democratic society
because that
>means, as Francis Schaeffer used to put it, that the society is under the
>tyranny of the 51 %. Majority does not make right.

What is better: tyranny of the 51 %, or tyranny of the 10 or 1 %? Of
course majority does not make right. But democracy is still the best
political system I can conceive of for the modern world. Old Israel had
theocracy, in principle, but usually (like all the other peoples of
antiquity) tyranny of a few % or of one person. No non-Israelite people
has ever had a functioning theocracy, at most a few weak attempts at it,
and all of them misfired (think of the murder of independent Christians
by various state churches in Europe!). I don't think God wanted to
institute any such system in A.D. times; he foresaw that in virtually
all societies, Christians would be in a minority.

>I would agree that the people need some means for interacting with
>government. It is law-making in particular that is the problem. Nowhere in
>scripture are we encouraged to make up our own codification of right and
>wrong, for that is what law is. I see it as the essence of original sin,
>where Adam "knew" right and wrong for himself. When we make up our own
>we do as Adam did in the Garden. I opt for a govt in which God's law
>in the NT perspective) is the law, period. Numerous wise men down through
>history have commented on the folly of a multitude of laws, but that
is also
>a result of legislative activity.

This argument would be applicable to states with Christian majorities
only (or perhaps Christian absolute monarchies or oligarchies - but I
consider such political entities as a contradiction in itself). I don't
know of any government of the last 2000 years in which "God's law (taken
in the NT perspective) is the law, period". And even if there were such
a government or nation, there would be a constant need of legislative
activity regarding new matters arising, like urbanization, ecology,
nuclear, reproductive and gene technologies.

>>By the way, I don't see a principal difference
>>between legislative law and case law, as human sin represents a problem
>>in both areas.
>Yes, human sin occurs in all areas of life, but there is a significant
>difference. "Case law" really isn't law as such, though that is what the
>legal community calls it. It is simply a set of precedents in judging
by the
>law. It is not, if done rightly, law-making. The BC Jews had long-standing
>case law but did not consider it to be adding to God's law. By the time of
>Jesus, they were; hence his differences with the Pharisees.

I understand that case law is (or should be) based on existing basic
(and constitutional) law. But in practice, in a complex modern society,
there is much leeway for either justice or corruption in applying
existing law.

>>And any existing body of law is a result of humanity
>>determining right and wrong, with only some of the legislators taking
>>God's laws into account.
>The problem is deeper than making laws in conformance with God's laws.
It is
>the act of usurping God's sole prerogative to make and give us law to live

I don't think making laws is in itself usurping God's sole prerogative.
Jesus (and the OT prophets up to John the Baptist) applied the divine
law to the practical world of their days, corrupted as it was by sin.
Soldiers, tax collectors, proconsuls etc. were not enjoined to give up
their jobs, but to work responsibly in their actual situations (although
all of them were working for a thoroughly corrupt government).

>>On the one hand, we must recognize that there
>>is no such thing as a "Christian state", as a majority of the citizens
>>are not following Christ.
>There have been governments, albeit few, who have acknowledged (in
>the sovereignty of God over the govt. That's critical. The early American
>colonies and some kingdoms during the Middle Ages would fall in this
>category. Ancient Israel was one, though the Israelites were mainly
>unfaithful to God. Several could be found from 500 - 1000 AD east of the
>Roman empire.

I suspect that most of these (I don't know about the early American
colonies) submitted to God's government in theory only (I am most
skeptical about those of the Middle Ages and Byzantine times). But even
if some did so in real practice, they still would have to legislate
novel practical matters arising, not dealt with explicitely in God's Word.

>>Thus, we cannot expect to be able to provide
>>for a law system fully in accordance with the intent of God's laws.
>We cannot under the current circumstances from any of the major
>nation-states. They are thoroughly commited to humanism. But new countries
>could. The Constitution of Panama, for instance, while also under the
>of democracy, comes close in acknowledging the lordship of Christ in its
>constitution. There are Christians who are also working nowadays on a new
>country of that kind.

Why do you equate democracy with humanism? Of course, literally, it
means "government by the people" or "power wielded by the people", but
there is no reason to link it indissolubly with (modern) humanism's
atheism and rebellion against God. In fact, much of the basis for
democracy is derived from biblical principles. Think of humans, as God's
representatives on Earth, using the power, delegated to them, of
responsibly subduing the Earth. Or, all Christians constituting a royal
priesthood. Or, the Christian conviction that all humans are of equal
worth. Or, Christians fighting for religious freedom, freedom of
conscience, abolition of slavery and race discrimination, organizing
medical care, literacy, schools for all, workers' rights, orphanages and
other institutions helping the poor - all this requires political
influence, virtually requires democratic liberty. Why is it that
democracy, like modern science, is virtually a fruit which slowly grew
after the Reformation? Just as God has given us humans the
responsability of doing science, he equally charged humans with the
responsabilities of legislation and government.

>>But on the other hand, trying to avoid participating in the law-making
>>process is not a live option for us, as it is not possible to
>>disentangle oneself from the evils of the world-system in this way.
>Sure it is. I am doing so. I know other Christians (such as Mark
Ludwig; see
> who are. That doesn't mean our influence on rulers of
>nation-states is silent as a result. It means that we are not trying
to work
>for God by taking upon ourselves humanist presuppositions. Mark Ludwig
>explains this in detail in his books/booklets. (I do too, in XLM.) It is
>certainly a paradigm rattler at first, because we have been thoroughly
>steeped in various ideas that trace back to humanist (Enlightenment,
>Greek) and not biblical roots. I would encourage you to get Ludwig's book,
>True Biblical Government, and think through a radically different paradigm
>than American Christians have been defeated under, time after time,
for the
>last 100 years or more. It is becaue they are accepting the humanist
base of
>their spiritual enemies.

Jesus talked about Christians as the "little flock" (Lk 12:32) of those
who entered by the "narrow gate" (Mt 7:13f), saying nothing about their
forming a majority in any future nation, but rather indicating that they
will be persecuted. Where, then, is there an opportunity to form a
(utopic, IMO) "Biblical Government"? And this is in accord with history
- there never was a biblical government, simply because genuine (not
nominal) Christians have always been in the minority. At best,
Christians can use political influence wherever possible to improve
politics in a Christian way - but even there respecting the same rights
of the non-Christians. This is possible in a democratic setting only -
and this without any reference to any "humanist presuppositions". I
tried to show above that the roots of democracy are largely biblical,
not humanist, fruits of the Reformation, not the Enlightenment.

>>Abstaining from politics in a democracy is also a political action,
>>which may have negative consequences. Experience shows that even
>>minorities can exert a political influence.
>I am not arguing for opting out, but for rooting our efforts in true
>biblical teaching rather than be encumbered by the humanism of "we the
>people" as the source of right and wrong.
>Dennis Feucht

I agree with you that our efforts have to be rooted in true biblical
teaching. But success of any such efforts depends on democratic freedom.
In principle, "we the people" could be "under God", rather than in
rebellion against Him (although in practice it will never be more than a

Peter Ruest

Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Wed Jun 9 13:21:56 2004

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