I have only recently been exposed to Douglas Wilson, a pastor in Moscow, Idaho, proprietor of both a blog and a YouTube channel named Blog & Mablog. I find him funny and not fearful. He speaks strongly regarding the cultural mess we are in. Not to say I agree with all of his comments, but he is entertaining and often spot on.
He wrote a post entitled “A Liberty Catechism,” and I will let him introduce it:
Below I have arranged 52 questions on the nature of liberty as biblically understood. If parents work through these questions with their children, memorizing one a week, by the end of that year, their children may serve as something of a bright spot on our otherwise dark horizon.
I am crowd sourcing editorial suggestions on this one, so comments are open. I want to keep the number at 52, so keep that in mind if you have suggested additions or deletions. Helpful ideas from trolls will be courteously but assiduously ignored.
I offered a “helpful idea,” which I will come to at the end of this post. We will have to wait and see if it is “assiduously ignored”!
In any case, I like the idea of his objective. I also like that he is throwing it out there for comments and suggestions. I have some disagreements, but I want to highlight some of the 52 questions that will resonate with readers here:
- What is entailed by the right of property?
Basic property rights are foundational to all human rights. The right to property means that a man is free to buy, sell, inherit, trade, or invent, and to own and keep the profits from his industry or good fortune.
Wilson has commented favorably about libertarianism in the past, but, like many, he likes the right to life and property stuff but not the social stuff. I don’t blame him for this confusion, as too many libertarians glory in the social license and proclaim clearly that it is a required part of libertarian philosophy.
Libertarianism is not a complete ethical system. Don’t hit first; don’t take my stuff. This is all that libertarianism properly addresses.
- Does this mean there is an upper limit on the power of civil government to tax?
Yes. When the government seeks to tax at a rate of 10% or higher, this means that the government is seeing itself as a rival to God. Taxes should be less than the tithe that God requires.
Amen, brother. Add up federal, state and local income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, taxes inherent in the manufacturers costs in the products we buy and it is easy to suggest that we pay anywhere from 40% - 80% of our income in taxes – with the remainder so heavily regulated that it should be considered a further tax.
- What is tyranny?
Tyranny is arbitrary government, detached from the authority of the Creator.
For you non-believers out there…you must have something “non-arbitrary” (objective truth) in order to label something as “arbitrary.” If there is nothing “non-arbitrary” (if there is no such thing as objective truth), then there is no basis on which to criticize or argue against tyranny.
So…you don’t like “the Creator”? Then call it whatever you like. But something has to be above and outside of man’s control, else there is no such thing as “tyranny.
- What is the duty of Christian citizens when confronted by tyranny?
It is the right and the responsibility of every Christian to resist tyranny as it arises.
This section is getting into a topic raised often at this blog and also in emails sent to me. When, where, how, why can or must a Christian fight against tyranny? Wilson answers one part of this: we have the right and are obliged to do so.
- How may we resist tyranny?
In the first instance we may do so by preaching, protest, or legal action. In the second instance, we may do so by fleeing. And in the final extremity, we may do so by taking up arms, but for defensive purposes only.
Defensive. I read this as in regards to a threat to my physical being and that of those around me. I have yet to find good reason to come up with a different standard or red line.
- How may lesser magistrates resist tyranny?
As lesser magistrates (such as commissioners, mayors, and governors) generally don’t have the option of fleeing, their resistance will be limited to protest and legal action, and taking up defensive arms.
We have seen examples of this in some county sheriffs and some state governors in the last few years. Specifically, not abiding by or enforcing dictates offered from a higher magistrate.
Finally, changing gears to a point I have made a dozen times:
- Why is it important for our liberties for that prevailing worldview to be Christian?
Because it was the widespread acceptance of the Christian faith that recognized these liberties in the first place, and it has been the erosion of Christianity that has resulted in the subsequent erosion of our rights.
What we have come to understand as liberty has only existed in societies transformed by a Christian worldview. Nowhere else. Even if advocates for liberty believe this is just a coincidence or dumb luck (it isn’t), the burden of proof is on liberty-lovers such as these to defend their case.
One and only one time in all of recorded history in all the world; in one and only one place: after Christ and in the West influenced by His teaching. Before throwing out Christianity, this should at least be considered.
So, my idea – which I left in the comments section:
There is a big hole in the list where the ideas of natural law ethics and natural rights should be placed. Not merely the concepts, which are partially included in the list, but the terms. The terms offer a robustness beyond what a concise list can offer.
There is no chance for liberty without a natural law ethic respected – with love of God and love of one’s neighbor as man’s highest purpose. Different from natural rights, which I have only in my person and justly acquired property – also gifts of God.
Natural law commands me to be charitable to my neighbor, but my neighbor has no natural right to force or compel charity from me.
CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man – he captures this concisely, and he demonstrates that by abusing natural law (the Tao), we end up in the meaning crisis now fully consuming the west.
A troll or not a troll? That is the question.