The Majority that Rules?

According to this report, 62% of Americans believe that it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that the government knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks but did nothing to stop them.

In the linked article, Richard Miniter debunks the “evidence” often cited, but this raises another issue. Democracy alone is not necessarily a good thing, if the majority that rules is ignorant, easily manipulated, or fanatic. Thank God that what we have–and what is needed in Iraq, among other places–is a constitutional republic, a rule of law, that checks and balances even democracy.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fwsonnek

    Amen! Finally a post that is a clarion call on this and is good, right and salutary.

    Christians are for the majestic RULE OF LAW in humankind´s affairs. Constitutional, republican government looks the most like this in most ways, even if we get confused about our role by the power of our votes.

    But, interestingly, government by monarch or dictator is not necessarily, by this standard, wrong or immoral. In fact sometimes it is, in fact, preferable to available alternatives.

    Here for your studied consideration, may I present the following quote:

    “The duty of obedience to the State is enjoined in Scripture (Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13). Insurrection and rebellion are forbidden (Rom. 13:2). Changes in the forms and methods of government are to be obtained by legal means. Resistance is justifiable only when those in authority persist in violating the basic principles of the State, and when resistance therefore is really a defense of the State against those who are seeking to revolutionize it from above. ” (consider here our overthrow of Saddam Hussein. My insertion here.).

    (Joseph Stump, The Christian Life [New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930], p. 267; emphasis added)

    “Since the Church possesses an external organization, it is in temporal matters subject to the laws of the State; but in spiritual matters, in those which concern the sphere of the Church as such, the State has nothing to say. On the other hand the Church has no right to interfere in the affairs of the State. She has no right as an organization to take any part in politics. In all her activities she must aim at spiritual results and use spiritual means. Her one fundamental duty is that of administering the Means of Grace. She has no call officially as a Church, therefore, to enter into any purely humanitarian enterprises, to organize plans for social uplift, to take sides in industrial disputes, to line up with a particular political party, or to push political measures of any kind through legislatures or congress. Her members as individual Christian citizens may and often should do many of these things. They have political rights and duties which they are to assert and fulfill in a Christian and conscientious manner. But the Church as a Church should confine herself to that work which belongs to her; namely, the work of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of enunciating the principles of love and righteousness which should guide men in their social and political relations.”

    (Joseph Stump, The Christian Life, p. 246; emphasis added)

    The only part of this, by the way that I disagree with is that the churchs’ PUBLIC and proper role(proper=it´s charter authority) , as church ALSO includes this: “…….and of enunciating the principles of love and righteousness which should guide men in their social and political relations.”

    We MUST do THIS as individual citizens and members of society.

    The church is to proclaim Christ. Period. It has NO other authority given to it by God. In THIS endeavor she MUST condemn sin, not merely “guide.” This is exactly where both Liberal and conservative christians get it all wrong. Fatally so. for christ then is no longer the main course, but becomes merely a means to fix something broken.

    This proper rebuking of sin, done as an “article” of the Gospel and it´s servant, LOOKS like the same activity urged in my quote. I assert that it is, in and of it´s very nature, so very not.

  • fwsonnek

    Amen! Finally a post that is a clarion call on this and is good, right and salutary.

    Christians are for the majestic RULE OF LAW in humankind´s affairs. Constitutional, republican government looks the most like this in most ways, even if we get confused about our role by the power of our votes.

    But, interestingly, government by monarch or dictator is not necessarily, by this standard, wrong or immoral. In fact sometimes it is, in fact, preferable to available alternatives.

    Here for your studied consideration, may I present the following quote:

    “The duty of obedience to the State is enjoined in Scripture (Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13). Insurrection and rebellion are forbidden (Rom. 13:2). Changes in the forms and methods of government are to be obtained by legal means. Resistance is justifiable only when those in authority persist in violating the basic principles of the State, and when resistance therefore is really a defense of the State against those who are seeking to revolutionize it from above. ” (consider here our overthrow of Saddam Hussein. My insertion here.).

    (Joseph Stump, The Christian Life [New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930], p. 267; emphasis added)

    “Since the Church possesses an external organization, it is in temporal matters subject to the laws of the State; but in spiritual matters, in those which concern the sphere of the Church as such, the State has nothing to say. On the other hand the Church has no right to interfere in the affairs of the State. She has no right as an organization to take any part in politics. In all her activities she must aim at spiritual results and use spiritual means. Her one fundamental duty is that of administering the Means of Grace. She has no call officially as a Church, therefore, to enter into any purely humanitarian enterprises, to organize plans for social uplift, to take sides in industrial disputes, to line up with a particular political party, or to push political measures of any kind through legislatures or congress. Her members as individual Christian citizens may and often should do many of these things. They have political rights and duties which they are to assert and fulfill in a Christian and conscientious manner. But the Church as a Church should confine herself to that work which belongs to her; namely, the work of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of enunciating the principles of love and righteousness which should guide men in their social and political relations.”

    (Joseph Stump, The Christian Life, p. 246; emphasis added)

    The only part of this, by the way that I disagree with is that the churchs’ PUBLIC and proper role(proper=it´s charter authority) , as church ALSO includes this: “…….and of enunciating the principles of love and righteousness which should guide men in their social and political relations.”

    We MUST do THIS as individual citizens and members of society.

    The church is to proclaim Christ. Period. It has NO other authority given to it by God. In THIS endeavor she MUST condemn sin, not merely “guide.” This is exactly where both Liberal and conservative christians get it all wrong. Fatally so. for christ then is no longer the main course, but becomes merely a means to fix something broken.

    This proper rebuking of sin, done as an “article” of the Gospel and it´s servant, LOOKS like the same activity urged in my quote. I assert that it is, in and of it´s very nature, so very not.

  • fwsonnek

    King Juan Carlos of Spain tells Chavez of Venezuela to “Shut Up.”

    We anglos miss out on some good stuff sometimes.

    Rule of law, respect and civility ROCK!

  • fwsonnek

    King Juan Carlos of Spain tells Chavez of Venezuela to “Shut Up.”

    We anglos miss out on some good stuff sometimes.

    Rule of law, respect and civility ROCK!

  • Joe

    Democracy is not inherently anything. It is and will be a reflection of nothing more than the prevailing will of 50% + 1 at an given moment. Socrates was executed by the worlds purest democracy.

  • Joe

    Democracy is not inherently anything. It is and will be a reflection of nothing more than the prevailing will of 50% + 1 at an given moment. Socrates was executed by the worlds purest democracy.

  • Bror Erickson

    I think we read too much into Romans 13:2 when we find that there is no reason one should ever rebell against domestic authorities. Or that those that do are automatically the ones at fault.

  • Bror Erickson

    I think we read too much into Romans 13:2 when we find that there is no reason one should ever rebell against domestic authorities. Or that those that do are automatically the ones at fault.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Frank’s quotation includes a profound principle that I hadn’t thought of before: the need to resist those who seek “to revolutionize the state from above.”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Frank’s quotation includes a profound principle that I hadn’t thought of before: the need to resist those who seek “to revolutionize the state from above.”

  • fwsonnek

    #4 Bror

    Interesting Brother Bror
    Tell us more!
    Tell us more!

  • fwsonnek

    #4 Bror

    Interesting Brother Bror
    Tell us more!
    Tell us more!

  • fwsonnek

    Indeed Dr Veith!

    THIS is what lean’t legitimacy to our American Revolution (maintenance of the status quo and rule of law vs arbitrary, unlawful action by authority) and that other conservative revolution, that of the Magna Carta, before it.

    Even monarchs and despots ultimately rule by common consent of their people. Even a dictator does not long survive when he lose the popular mandate.

    Think of Marcos of the Philipines, the fall eastern communist governments, the shah of iran, and in fact some of our own elections, such as the 1994 sweep of the republicans here. Conservative in method and purpose, even if I don´t always agree with the results (eg Iran).

  • fwsonnek

    Indeed Dr Veith!

    THIS is what lean’t legitimacy to our American Revolution (maintenance of the status quo and rule of law vs arbitrary, unlawful action by authority) and that other conservative revolution, that of the Magna Carta, before it.

    Even monarchs and despots ultimately rule by common consent of their people. Even a dictator does not long survive when he lose the popular mandate.

    Think of Marcos of the Philipines, the fall eastern communist governments, the shah of iran, and in fact some of our own elections, such as the 1994 sweep of the republicans here. Conservative in method and purpose, even if I don´t always agree with the results (eg Iran).

  • Joe

    “Insurrection and rebellion are forbidden (Rom. 13:2). Changes in the forms and methods of government are to be obtained by legal means.”

    But insurrection and rebellion can be legal means unless you are willing to toss out the entire doctrine of just war.

  • Joe

    “Insurrection and rebellion are forbidden (Rom. 13:2). Changes in the forms and methods of government are to be obtained by legal means.”

    But insurrection and rebellion can be legal means unless you are willing to toss out the entire doctrine of just war.

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  • http://poststop.wordpress.com Ethan

    I saw some tax data last week which showed the majority don’t pay any income tax so they have no vested interest in controlling spending or the size of govt.

  • http://poststop.wordpress.com Ethan

    I saw some tax data last week which showed the majority don’t pay any income tax so they have no vested interest in controlling spending or the size of govt.

  • fwsonnek

    ETHAN: what about sales tax and gasoline tax?

  • fwsonnek

    ETHAN: what about sales tax and gasoline tax?

  • fwsonnek

    ethan: maybe a consumption tax rather than an income tax would serve public policy better?

  • fwsonnek

    ethan: maybe a consumption tax rather than an income tax would serve public policy better?

  • EconJeff

    Ethan-

    They may not pay the taxes, but they receive the benefits. I’d say that gives them a vested interested in government spending and the size of government.

  • EconJeff

    Ethan-

    They may not pay the taxes, but they receive the benefits. I’d say that gives them a vested interested in government spending and the size of government.

  • fwsonnek

    Interesting how a posting about fundamentals of government ended up about big vs small government, and that being about spending and taxation.

    I am wondering if people here think a tough , law and order government with sweeping powers over morals and other related issues would be ok for them as long as the tax rates were low and there was not income redistribution to the poor. only redistribution by way of tax breaks to corporations under the pretext of job creation.

  • fwsonnek

    Interesting how a posting about fundamentals of government ended up about big vs small government, and that being about spending and taxation.

    I am wondering if people here think a tough , law and order government with sweeping powers over morals and other related issues would be ok for them as long as the tax rates were low and there was not income redistribution to the poor. only redistribution by way of tax breaks to corporations under the pretext of job creation.

  • Joe

    My guess is that you could find “some” who would think that. You could probably also find “some” who would be okay with the same as long as tax policy was progressive redistributed wealth to the poor. Heck you could probably find some who would be willing to accept liberal social policy in exchange for wealth redistribution. Crazy huh?

  • Joe

    My guess is that you could find “some” who would think that. You could probably also find “some” who would be okay with the same as long as tax policy was progressive redistributed wealth to the poor. Heck you could probably find some who would be willing to accept liberal social policy in exchange for wealth redistribution. Crazy huh?


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