A Creationist’s Thoughts on Government
|Author: Eric Blievernicht
There are three errors mankind is prone to make in the establishment of governments.
- Believing that humans are fundamentally good.
- Believing that because humans are fundamentally evil they must be carefully controlled to protect others.
- Believing that because humans are fundamentally evil they must not be allowed to have control over others.
The first error is the most rare, for which we should be thankful because it is also the error leading to the greatest atrocities. First of all, despite the teachings of some worldly church leaders and radical theologians, it is a direct denial of God’s Word.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8, NIV)
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22b-23, NIV)
As we should expect, when men deny God’s Word the result is “evil fruit” (Matthew 12:33). But why? Why should we expect terrible consequences just because those in power claim people are basically good?
The logic is simple, swift and unavoidable. It goes like this:
- “I am fundamentally good.”
- “But even I cannot deny that I am not perfect, and do bad things.”
- “But I am good!!”
- “THEREFORE, SOMETHING ELSE must be corrupting me/society.” If we hold as an absolute “truth” that we are good, yet must admit imperfection, then the only escape is to blame someone else!
- At this point, the scapegoating must begin.
Whether moral goodness or evolutionary superiority (another theme following exactly the same logic), the believer takes their basic prejudices and picks a scapegoat as an excuse for evil and imperfection in society – without accepting any responsibility themselves.
The communists annihilate capitalists, as well as Christians and other religious believers who refuse to bend the knee and recite “Karl Marx is god, and Lenin is his prophet.” The atheists of the French Revolution burned churches, priests and Bibles in their drive to create a perfect society based on the “Goddess Reason.” The humanists of America today do all they can to destroy Christian influence and teaching, trying to blame Christianity for every conceivable evil while denying responsibility for the social disasters and decay their dogmas have engendered.
In like manner:
The Nazis declared Germans to be the evolutionary Master Race. Yet this “Master Race” did not dominate the world. Therefore, someone else must have been holding the Germans back. “The Jews, the dirty backstabbing Jews” became the chief scapegoats in the Nazi quest to eliminate “lesser races” and achieve their “destiny” as the Master Race.
Ditto for racial supremacists, whether white (KKK, White Aryan Resistance (WAR), The Order, skinheads, etc.) in blaming blacks and other ethnic groups for everything, or blacks (Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan) who denounce the “white devils,” or whatever.
The next two errors are ones that Christians can make as easily as anyone else if they are not careful in learning from God’s Word. For example, “men are evil, therefore they must be tightly controlled so they cannot hurt their fellow neighbor.” This is the most common error we find implemented throughout history. Those in power perceive the evil which people will commit if they are not strongly policed. The results are totalitarian governments, dictatorships and police states, kingdoms and others states where the rulers have absolute power.
The error here, of course, is simple. It is not just those being ruled who are evil. It is those doing the ruling who are evil too! And such systems provide no easy way to correct abuses and evil coming from those who are in power.
In the Bible we read a clear warning from God against the establishment of human rulers with absolute power over the people. It states (I Samuel 8:6-18, NIV):
“But when they [the Elders of Israel] said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.””
Nonetheless, the people of Israel demanded a king. They had to learn the hard way that God knew what He was talking about.
The third error is rarely implemented but is also one against which we should counsel. Those who advocate the third error clearly perceive the second error, that putting evil people in positions of power over others provides tremendous opportunity for abuse. They rationalize that “people are evil, therefore people should not be placed in positions of power over others.”
The error here is one of anarchy; if no one is in authority over others, then no one is protected from the abuses of their (evil) neighbor. No stable, civilized society could exist in such a state.
Nor could such an anarchy be maintained, for if those who established it refused to allow themselves or anyone else to hold authority over society to forcibly maintain the anarchy, petty warlords and strong men would soon arise from the chaos (leading to the second error). People would flock to these strong men, selling their freedom in exchange for a measure of safety from lawlessness. This is pretty much what happened across Europe following the collapse of the Western (Roman) Empire, as people became serfs to the feudal warrior class of knights and barons in exchange for protection from bandits and barbarians.
In fact, governments with authority over the people are mandated by God. After the Cataclysm God made mankind responsible for the well-being of one another, with authority and responsibility to hunt down and execute murderers. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” (Genesis 9:6, NIV)
The legitimate role of civil government, of human authority over others, is taught clearly by Jesus and the Apostles. Despite the absurd attempt by some “scholars” to make Jesus out to be some sort of ancient Palestinian Marxist guerrilla leader, even He submitted to the authorities and commanded “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” (Luke 20:25, NIV).
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” (Romans 13:1).
This does not mean we should obey human authority when it contradicts God’s Word. If it becomes an advocate for evil and opposes God’s Word, then we are commanded to do what is right and good regardless. The fourth and fifth chapters of Acts provides an excellent example. Peter and John had been preaching and healing the people in Jerusalem, and for proclaiming Christ as they had been commanded to do (Mark 16:15) they were arrested and brought before the rulers of the city (Acts 4:13-20; 5:27-29, 40b-42, NIV):
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.
“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it.
But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened…
…Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” …They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”
When I understood the things I have set forth above, I perceived the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in the establishment of our government. Though no human government will ever be perfect, they avoided the first error (that men are naturally good), which would plague the French Revolution just a few years later. Through the use of a system of checks and balances they sought to balance the power of government between the second two errors, giving it enough power to oppose evil while limiting it’s power should it ever become an agent for evil itself.
For almost two centuries this system, this “grand experiment,” functioned beyond all expectations. Eventually, the sloth of the people allowed those who sought to corrupt it to succeed. From an engineers perspective, the proximal failure mode (“the part that broke”) was in the judicial system.
Through loopholes in the Constitution the judicial system has been corrupted from the original intent. The true purpose of the judiciary is to judge whether a law has in fact been broken. It was not to legislate (create) laws (this power rested with the legislature). Nor was it to judge the constitutionality of laws (this power rested with the president via the veto, and ultimately with the PEOPLE, who have responsibility for removing erring legislators from power and assuring that evil laws are rescinded).
The Supreme Court is not elected by the people, and its’ judges rule for life without any legal means of removing them. It is much easier (and more likely) for one person or a small group to be corrupted by evil than an entire population.
By allowing the usurping of these powers and destruction or evasion of many of the checks and balances in our government we find ourselves drifting towards the second error. In the meantime humanists promote the first error, blind to the follies of the past and the inevitability of their repetition.
On the other hand many libertarians seem blind to the third error, trashing government as if it had no legitimate functions at all.
As I wrote the last section, I opened a copy of David Noebel’s nine hundred page tome, Understanding the Times (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1991). A quote from founder James Madison in the Federalist Papers #51 found therein on p. 624 showed me that my understanding was not new at all:
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.
A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
If we are to maintain a free society, we cannot hope to do so in ignorance of past and present errors. We must work diligently to elevate humble, devout men and women to civil leadership, those who will defend and enforce God’s standards rather than fallen and error-ridden human opinions. We must first pray, then educate ourselves, then educate others and act on our convictions. Improvement in a corrupted, entropic world does not come otherwise, not by whining and complaining, nor wishful thinking; Satan does not sleep.
(C)opyright 1996 Eric Blievernicht