Monday, July 11, 2022

Christians, Tyranny, and Liberty

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:


  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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.


  1. Re/32-Right of property:
    From Leviticus 25 - 23 “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. 24 Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land."
    Read all of Lev. 25 , especially the 7 year rule and 50 year jubilee.

    1. I would say this is basically a form of welfare. Land ownership was the source of wealth in those days. It made sure no Jewish family became completely destitute as long as they weren't lazy. All they had to do was grow crops or raise animals to provide for themselves. God's law made sure of that.

    2. To see the relevance of Leviticus 25 and especially the social theory of debt forgiveness, my library has a list of posts on 'forgive them debts' which review Michael Hudson's book on the subject, including comments by Vox Day.
      In addition, MH just gave a speech yesterday on the subject which I found at Moon of Alabama. It's in full text at Naked Capitalism.

    3. Are you an Israelite? Do you also follow the dietary restrictions? Any other Mosaic Law codicils to subjugate non-Israel dwellers?

    4. Ask Michael Hudson - he wrote the book and gave the speech.
      If you're really interested - dig into my library to get an overall perspective, but it will take time.
      It took me a long time to discover it's not as simplistic as your question implies. It certainly doesn't negate the Old Testament.
      Patience is the key to discovery!

    5. Not opposed to debt forgiveness. I am opposed to cherry pick an element out of its context in a system and pretend that it will magically work elsewhere. Israel is a small landmass and the land was distributed according to tribes and ownership of land was to be kept in the tribe.
      Did I miss something?

    6. BTW, I am JaimeinTexas. I keep forgetting to add my signature.

  2. Roger actually introduced me to Doug Wilson a while back. I also have a friend that sends me his videos occasionally. He is very pithy and refreshing.

    It is great that he is doing this. I think your suggestion of explicitly stating natural law is a very good suggestion. It implies freedom is needed in order to carry it out. Look at James 1:25. God's blessing comes from freely acting upon natural law. To be against liberty is to be against God's blessing.

    James 1:25 But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does.

  3. Sorry, a little late to the party here.

    I recently saw a video of Judge Andrew P. Napolitano speaking at the 35th anniversary celebration of the Mises Institute in October 2017, and available on the misesmedia channel on YouTube as "How the Constitution Has Been Twisted to Undermine the Free Market".

    He speaks about natural law and how the Framers understood it, among other things. I thought it was very interesting.

    At the conclusion of his remarks, Judge Napolitano said:

    “I expect that I will die, when I do, faithful to my first principles, to our first principles, in my bed in my house surrounded by people that love me. But, not all you, particularly the young people, will have that luxury. Some of you will die in a government prison, faithful to first principles. And some of you may die, faithful to first principles, in a government town square, to the sound of the government’s ‘trumpets’ blaring. When the time comes to make that horrible decision – stay faithful to first principles, or give in to the government – you will know what to do. Because freedom lies in the human heart, and while it is there, no tyranny of the majority and no tyrant can take it away. But you must exercise it. It must do more than lie there.”

  4. I also like Doug. I've been listening to him for about a year now, maybe a little less. He's a Protestant who appreciates G.K. Chesterton, so he is sort of like a mirror of the Catholic who appreciates C.S. Lewis. I love both these sorts of folks. A steady diet of Peter Kreeft and Douglas Wilson would do a lot of good for someone languishing in a 'meaning crisis.' And these two could do a lot of good in building a bridge or confederacy between the great Christian traditions of the West.

    Doug said something that I cannot remember verbatim, but I absolutely loved it. It went something like this: "If you do not fight back against the advance of socialism in your country, then you do not love your neighbor and are in violation of one of Jesus' most important commandments."

    1. ATL, I am 100% with you on the need for Christians of any denomination and tradition who properly see the evil before us to build bridges between their traditions. This is why it bothers me so when those same Christians can't help but make derogatory comments about Christians not in their tradition.

      They don't truly understand the enemy, nor do they understand who is their ally.