Whose Kingdom, Which Lord? Jesus & Nationalism, part 3 (Give to Caesar What is Caesar’s?)

Whose Kingdom, Which Lord? Jesus & Nationalism, part 3 (Give to Caesar What is Caesar’s?) May 24, 2010

This is part three of a five part series on Jesus and Nationalism.  It reads as one fluid written sermon so you may want to read the rest of the series.  I have never spoken this sermon but figured I would use the blog to get the text out there…


And it is to a question regarding some of these particular kinds of coins that I want to shift our attention for a moment.  In Luke chapter 20 we read:

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.  Luke 20.20-26

Here Jesus is confronted with one of the most direct political questions that we see addressed in the entire New Testament.  Do the Israelites need to pay taxes to the Roman government that has set itself up as God?  How will Jesus answer this question?

What is important to understand about this situation is that Jesus finds himself in a difficult situation.  First of all, a strict observer of the Torah would not have even had the type of coin required for the tax because it had an image of the Caesar on it.  All such coins would have been considered to be a graven image.  But, they were of the impoverished and dominated peoples of the Roman Empire (all with the exception of the Jewish elite who had compromised their standards by becoming in “cahoots” with Rome so to speak), so what option did they have?  Jesus’ answer to “…give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s…” basically meant, as Joel Green has said: “Give to Caesar what is his already.”[1] Because for Jesus, there was a greater issue at stake.  We must give to “God what is God’s.”

Many have assumed that this passage is an attempt by Jesus to split life into two spheres: the spiritual and the public.  This would be a great mistake!  This principle has been used to justify many things in the name of government and empire (especially war) because that kind of activity fits into the public/political box, not the spiritual one.  But the passage here doesn’t allow for any such thing.  Such an idea would be completely foreign to someone hearing this passage in the first century. But this does beg a question that we have not yet clarified: what exactly are the things that are God’s?

If you remember the way the bible starts God’s story, Genesis 1.26-27 sets up humanity as his true image bearer.  If this is true, then Caesar’s claims to allegiance are weak compared to the claim that God has on his image-bearers.  And what are image-bearers to do?  They are called to live to reflect the love of God into the world, in such a unique way that it looks completely different than any nation ever could!  Bearing God’s image means that we are showing the world what God is like.  Greg Boyd paraphrases this passage in the following way:

Why should we who bear the image of God fight over what to do with coins that bear the image of Caesar?  The only thing we should worry about is giving God everything that bears his image—namely, our whole self.[2]

And when we do so, we will be demonstrating to the kingdoms of this world, the Caesars of this world, that only through Christ will this world be saved.  Not through the power of the sword, but through the power of the cross!  Not through the threat of military might, but through peace.

After all, isn’t it true that the kingdoms of this world have been handed over to the influence of Satan?  Jump to Luke chapter four verse 5-7:

5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”  Luke 4.5-7

Even the best political situations are under the influence of Satan.  He has their authority.  Even in the best of nations, like ours, the Devil is at work in governmental systems.  He is at work when a liberal is in power; he is at work when a conservative is in power.  So it seems that putting our hope in any country, even the United States which you may consider its most ideal political scenario, is worthless because Satan is at work.  Remember: we don’t have to worry about the things that bear Caesar’s image, but rather we must live as God’s image-bearers to show our nation and every nation that the way of the cross is better than that of the sword.  The way of Jesus is better because he is the true Lord of the world!



[1]. Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (New International Commentary of the New Testament), 716.



[2] Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution, 26.


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  • Joey

    Good stuff Kurt. There is a great tension. Hard to answer. Thinking.

  • John Holmes

    Kurt, very well written…

    All these posts and questions, made me look at a passage I read the last week, with more care. Acts 4, you really have two colliding governments, you have the Sanhedrin/Sadducees political party, Rome and elite Judaism marriage.

    Than, you have the 12 Apostles, signifying the new Israel, the 12-Government. I don’t think the dichotomy has to be Satan is involved in government, therefore all government is tainted and bad.

    That seems to be Boyd’s fundamental epistemology. Acts 4 has two governments one good, one bad, one filled with jealousy, one filled with the Spirit.

    To me its like saying one person had read theology and he renounced his faith, therefore one could conclude that all reading of theology was bad, tainted by evil.

    Than you have one who studied it, like Martin Luther and liberated Europe with a fresh breath of grace. It depends how and who uses it… There can be godly government, Joseph and Daniel; there can be devilish government, Pharaoh under Moses.. I guess it takes wisdom to discern which one we have..

    • Josh Wise

      I think we have to define what we mean by government. I agree that the culture/community that grew up around the apostles was infinitly better than the Roman culture that surrounded it. The question is was that a government? If you mean by government that it had leaders and people who followed leaders and that sort of thing then yes I imagine it could be considered a government. I don’t think it’s a government as Kurt and Greg Boyd would define a government. A government maintains power by using power or threatening to use power over its people. It can control behavior. The very source of its power comes from violence and the fear of violence.

      Jesus (and the church) on the other hand are to lead by coming under people and serving them. Sure we have Christian leaders and thats a good thing. Some people are natural leaders, but a Christian leader should follow Jesus’s example by leading through washing other’s feet. Maybe a better definition of the early church would be a community.

      I think we can have good governments. I think that the US is a good government. Its just for the most part and it looks out for the welfare of its citizens for the most part. The US, though, cannot be beautiful. Not like a Christian community can be beautiful. Loving your enemy so much you can no longer call them an enemy is beautiful. The US can’t do that. Taking care of the widows, orphans, single mothers, and the homeless is beautiful. The US can’t do that (welfare is just filling in where we’re not keeping up). Following Jesus to restore creation is beautiful. The US can’t do that. The US is good and thats great, but we’re called to something bigger and more beautiful.

  • Heh…I have to wonder why you shy away from the obvious libertarian conclusion of your arguments here!

    “Turning Jesus over to Caesar” is precisely the Christian libertarian critique of both the right wing that wants to legally enforce bans on sin and the left wing that wants to legally enforce participation in charity. At some point Christians have to justify giving Caesar — read: one another — the reins over other people’s pocketbooks. Of course, then you have to make a case that doing so is actually the best way of going about shaping an economy, which IMO has not been done (actually, quite the opposite!).

    • Hi STEVE,

      To start this conversation about libertarianism, I would say that if we go that route, the poor are left on their own. They are victims of a system of injustice, which in many cases leaves them without even the choice to not be poor. This is not because of the taxes imposed by the government, but because of generations of poverty issues that are multifaceted.

      In the same way, the government (Roman Empire) during the time of Jesus had created systems that led to poverty. there was virtually no middle class. You were either rich or poor. Here the government was the source of such poverty. The point being: in both systems, poverty was a major problem. Jesus and Paul both call the principalities and powers to account!

      So, what is my basic point. whenever government systems cause oppression they must be subverted. I cannot see how libertarianism can ever be a system that does not cause oppression. Now, in our current taxation patterns in the US (which are the lowest among any first world country) we need to understand that taxing the wealthy does not cause suffering… it causes a frustration. Frustration and actual suffering are not equals.

      But, let me also add that Jesus says: give to Caesar what is his… This could be looked at as ‘don’t complain about paying taxes, that money doesn’t matter anyways in the grand scheme of things. what matters is that we live to reflect God’s image into the world. This is the opposite of libertarian view of non or low taxation.

      Finally, I do not know of many libertarians that actually believe in “small government” in the true sense that I am getting at here. Most libertarians believe that government should be small, but military should be big. I say, if someone really believes in small government, stop handing over the cross to the sword…

      Shalom Steve!

      • Amy Stone

        My brother-in-law is actually a pacifist Quaker (the best kind of Quaker, I’m told) Libertarian and rather leftward leaning. He’s also a lawyer and lives in Oregon (but I don’t know what those facts have to do with each other 😕 ). Anyhoo…I think he’s on to something. You have your liberty and I’ll have mine, and as long as your chocolate doesn’t get in my peanut butter, we’ll all be okay.

        Of course, and he agrees, this isn’t all about me getting my liberty. It means that we must ensure that others have their liberty as well. Because, if my liberty is impinging on your liberty, which it is if I am free and you are oppressed, then I am compelled to use my liberty to liberate you. This is a necessarily egalitarian system.

        Sounds almost Pauline.

        Unfortunately, this isn’t the variety of Libertarianism that is most commonly embraced in our current climate.

        • Amy, I might be able to embrace a leftist libertarianism but haven’t seen it much. Great insight!

        • Amy Stone

          That is to say, liberty which is gained, directly or indirectly, through the oppression of others is no liberty at all, since it is obtained by force. This forcefully obtained liberty can only be maintained through the use of further force, to which the “liberated” becomes enslaved.

          This is why non-violent resistance is so powerful. It pulls the rug out from under the “liberated”, releasing them from their own enslavement.

          Okay, enough of this hippie talk. Let’s get back to the Bible 😀 .

      • Amy Stone

        I am inclined to agree with you that a Libertarian approach leaves the poor in the lurch. That is, it’s my first reaction.

        While I am not sold on Libertarianism (as I am wary of isms in general), this discussion is revealing to me that, in some ways, I really do place my trust in our government. The idea of embracing an ideology that takes dis-entrusts government to provide help for the poor worries me. Now, I have to ask myself “Why?”.

        Do I distrust the Kingdom to do its rightful work? Am I truly willing to jump into a Kingdom way of seeing the world, or do I want to hold on to old securities?

        • What an admirably honest comment, and something I had to work through myself. Coercing people to behave righteously to institute God’s Kingdom is incompatible with that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is brought to earth by changing lives, and reaching out to people from our own free will is so much more compelling an example of Christian love than writing laws that are enforced by a 500-lb. gorilla.

          I have written before, “The theocratic Christian left and right agree that a central role of our government should be to accomplish in some way the specific concerns of the Christian religion: those on the right typically push sanctions on homosexuality, drugs, and prostitution and those on the left seem to be motivated to give money to the poor, stop war, and cripple big business. Each side is dumbfounded that the other is under the impression that its version of government looks anything like Christianity.

          “But are we supposed to make our political system look like a church? Supplement the Church? Replace the Church? Or should we look objectively at all the political systems and see the one that functions the best and most fairly according to a common, bedrock understanding of morality?”

          Frederic Bastiat, a classical liberal (a term I prefer to “libertarian”) wrote this in 1849:

          The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its mission is to protect persons and property.

          Furthermore, it must not be said that the law may be philanthropic if, in the process, it refrains from oppressing persons and plundering them of their property; this would be a contradiction. The law cannot avoid having an effect upon persons and property; and if the law acts in any manner except to protect them, its actions then necessarily violate the liberty of persons and their right to own property.

          The law is justice—simple and clear, precise and bounded. Every eye can see it, and every mind can grasp it; for justice is measurable, immutable, and unchangeable. Justice is neither more than this nor less than this.

          If you exceed this proper limit—if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic—you will then be lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy, unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop? And where will the law stop itself?

      • 1 Peter 2:17
        Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

        Romans 13:1-2
        Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

        Still not sure how you intend on “subverting” the authority of government but if you mean creating and sustaining effective measures in bringing relief to the poor and defending their cause or developing alternatives to dependence on abusive corporations or otherwise being of service to those in need..I am all for it

  • The contrast of cross and sword seems not to be of peace and war per se but of self-sacrifice over against other-sacrifice. In other words we’re not true pacifists who believe the non-violent way is the only way – we’re cross-bearers who believe in taking the violence rather than making it. Without violence there would be no cross so violence, in a certain sense, is God’s Way.

  • John Holmes

    Good point Marc, man a sixty’s pacifist, was drugged, sexed, and self-worship was his god. So he seems far from I bear the brandmarks, the stigmata of Christ, left or right is still flesh, not the Spirit of the Lord…!

    • Amy Stone

      Seriously, John? No doubt you describe some people, but do you truly intend to lump all “sixty’s pacificts” into this group? Are you implying that all the Anabaptists who continued to embrace pacifism in the 60’s were drug-addled idolaters? I know a few people who would testify to the contrary. Pacifism originated long before the 1960’s and has continued beyond it as well.

      Your argument is fallacious and inflammatory. Is that your intent?

  • Amy and Kurt,

    I don’t know where you’ve been getting your info on libertarians, but almost all libertarians I know criticize the warfare state not a whit less than the welfare state. All forms of coercive violence are to be avoided at all costs. I know of virtually no self-described libertarians who aren’t (often stridently) anti-war — that hack Glenn Beck being a glaring and overly influential exception. Even Sarah Palin has described her beliefs as “libertarian”, and that’s just outright laughable. These two claim a libertarian streak, but full libertarianism seeks to diminish and decentralize the power of the state for both parties.

    To start this conversation about libertarianism, I would say that if we go that route, the poor are left on their own.

    See, it’s comments like these throughout your comments that make me scratch my head and remind me of Inigo Montoya’s famous observation: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 🙂

    Libertarians absolutely do not think the poor are left to fend for themselves. Voluntary organizations such as churches and other charities are vital to our society but are stifled by competition with the welfare state. We believe that most of the exploitation of the poor is enabled if not caused directly by states — and no less from the state that sells its services to the largest bloc of voters than the type that exercises open tyranny. Socially conscious libertarians – which, I emphasize, are the vast majority of those I regularly interact with – warn about the deleterious effects of outsourcing charity to what is at best an inefficient organization based upon legislation of morality and attempted subversion of inexorable market mechanics (such as supply and demand). At worst, those who make up governments tend toward being a cabal of self-styled benefactors of humanity, riding in on whitewashed horses, whose primary concern is seeking reelection maintained by guaranteeing promises and trumpeting apparent results. Politicians who style themselves as leftists will too often be able to get votes from voting ideologue leftists; anyone who speaks on behalf of the poor, promises that they’ll give away free stuff, and criticizes big businesses will get the leftist’s vote.

    Libertarians are harshly critical of all government/business partnerships that leftists voters unwittingly support. For instance, government-funded healthcare is a bonanza for left-wing politicians. It is a foregone conclusion among most Democratic politicians due to its potential to seem beneficent and get them reelected, but its details are debated to defend the interests of their big business backers, the medical and insurance communities. Leftist voters don’t pay attention to any of that, or to the warning cries of people fleeing such systeme. If there’s some sort of “free” healthcare, the poor are provided for, right? But doesn’t it matter if in so doing the entire economy tanks? That’s not a conversation they’re interested in engaging in; they’re content to write libertarians off as Glenn Beck crazies.

    Libertarians see the political divide as chiefly twofold: statists and libertarians. Left-statist Christians like to think the government is wonderful so long as it satisfies their sense of morality by redistributing its minority constituency’s wealth, which necessarily includes fining or imprisoning those who resist; right-statist Christians think it’s wonderful so long as it satisfies their sense of morality by fining, imprisoning, executing, or waging war against those who offend their morality. Libertarian Christians think that the Kingdom of God cannot be enacted via coercion (viz. the threat of fine, imprisonment, or other violence) for any cause however righteous. We believe that a society composed of individuals who are all free from the government’s favoritism toward the whims of voters and funders will, especially when empowered by the Judeo-Christian ethic of social concern, be one in which we are free to care for all by protecting one another from the manifold evils of unbridled democracy. Government is necessary and legitimate only insofar as it ensures such a society can exist.

    As I’m sure you’ve figured out, my point is that consistently taking your stand against Christians lobbying for the government’s strong arm to enforce morality will make one a libertarian, not a statist — right or left. 😉

    • Amy Stone

      Thanks for the clarification, Marc. It is always a pleasure to hear from someone who clearly knows their topic. I’m not really sure what you take issue with in my post, except maybe the use of the term “leftist”. I admit that was a misnomer. I am not well-versed in the vocabulary.

      I am very attracted to the notion of rejecting the right-left dichotomy. This has echoes of systems theory (psychology) that requires members of the system to choose disequilibrium over homeostasis in order to affect change. I have a friend that calls this “stepping out of the system.” As long as everyone stays “in”, the system wins, and all the members of the system lose because they are controlled by the system (save the Matrix metaphors people 😉 ).

      One of the problems in our public discourse right now is that so many people are appropriating the name “Libertarian”. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin do not represent, but they are some of the loudest voices on the popular political stage right now, and many others are jumping on board. Theirs is the rhetoric that gets the most airtime, literally, because they use force and violence (Beck is one of the most violent voices on radio) to promote their agendas. Due to the plasticity of the English language, the word Libertarian no longer sufficient to describe a discrete ideology. It requires a modifier.

    • Steve,

      I have to say that I have NEVER heard this version of libertarianism expounded. A movement that is anti empire both militarily and socially. I suppose that this makes a bit more sense out of why Ron Paul was against the Iraq war. If I were ever going to not lean towards the “left” although I really avoid this as often as possible and prefer to be an “independent” (as my voter registration indicates 🙂 ), I suppose that I can honestly say that this is attractive in many ways. You have expounded a new political paradigm for me. I thought that libertarians were all like Glen Beck and maybe Ron Paul… but nothing like you have taken the time to articulate. However, and this for me is a HUGE ‘however…”

      I am worried that the Christian influenced version of libertarianism is open to something that is a big problem: Social Darwinism. I am concerned that in such a non-regulated “free market” system as you described, that the weak will be dominated over by the strong. In our current economy this is evident and we actually have government regulations on trade, etc. For me this is not simply a “local” issue, but it is drastically simultaneously a “global” issue. Without some kind of regulations, systemic evil runs rampant and people suffer as a result. For instance, the fact that we as Americans are about 5% of the world’s population, but we consume 40% is bothersome to me (while I also admit that I myself am part of this problem). Without regulations and some “big government” policy to restrain evil, many more people throughout this world will be hurt because of our “freedoms.” Even if this system “fixed” our problems locally, the global impact would be a great injustice. For me, I am not too sure that I trust people to make the right choices all the time when given the “freedom” to do so. I know many people that would rather have the next cool ‘toy’ rather than feed a hungry belly with their surplus. Unregulated systems fuel the freedom to live self-centered rather than other-centered. And this is not a risk I am willing to take for the sake of an individualist American value of “freedom.”

      Finally, this doesn’t mean that I put my “Trust” in the governmental system, but rather that I want to ask a fundamental question when dealing with these issues:

      What will alleviate the most suffering?

      I think that “charity by choice” coupled with “charity by law” is the best option that we have at the moment to minimize suffering (even if the governmental charity has been contaminated by fallen demonic powers). The church should by all means do justice, and simply because a government program exists, it is no cop-out for the church. But, if giving healthcare to every American so that those who are sick and in poverty will be able to get back to health so they can get back to work, then I am all about it. This gets personal for me as my own mom lives in poverty and needs back surgery to be able to ever even have an option to work again. Or, if providing families with Welfare (as broken a system that it is) will allow the real victims (children) to have a better opportunity to live a better life, so that they can themselves attempt to break cycles of poverty (I am that child), then I am also an advocate of “big government.” Now, the second that “big government” leads to more suffering than that which it alleviates, it is time to prophetically call the empire to justice while simultaneously choosing to “do justice” as the people of God. Ultimately our trust is not in “Chariots” “but in the Lord our God.” But, lets relieve suffering wherever possible… even if it means using fallen governments that have been contaminated by Satan.

      Wow… that was long, but wanted to flesh it out a bit Steve, because your view is quite challenging and thought out, even if I am not persuaded at this point 🙂 Thanks brother!

      • Glad to contribute! I hope at least that I can clear up some misconceptions about libertarianism.

        Regarding your concern, let me say (in the few minutes I have) that one factor that must be taken into consideration is the role of government in creating those situations you fear. One thing government is good at is stepping in to be the saviors…when they caused the problem in the first place! Of course, they won’t tell you that last part. For instance, it was the government’s hand in meddling in the banking industry that has caused our current meltdown, but man, if they aren’t Johnny-on-the-spot to lend a hand to get us out of it! Gee thanks! 😀 (Problem is, they’re doing the same things to help us out of it that caused it in the first place…*sigh*)

        Corporatism, the marriage of big business with big government, has caused much of the poverty and virtually all of the burdensome macroeconomic problems we face. When businesses can lobby the government for “protection” against competitors, the people who suffer are the consumers.

        I am sorry to hear about your mother’s situation. I think that, as Christians, we should diagnose the causes of the failings of the Church in those areas rather than just ceding our responsibilities to politicians. As Ed commented, the reality is that in many cities the Church has not placed itself in the position to care for those in need, and we should be concentrating on identifying and remedying the causes for that. Two of those causes are defeatist, escapist eschatology and contentedness with outsourcing our social concern to Caesar.

        Before canonizing the system that helped you out, I’d make sure that 1) that system is not just what was there but is actually the best, most efficient, and most morally justifiable system available and that 2) that system is not inextricably tied to the oppression in the first place.

        I hope you keep reading up on the liberty movement, which runs the gamut from right libertarians to left libertarians to anarcho-capitalists to paleoconservatives to classical liberals…all united under the ideal of resisting and reversing the deleterious effects of the state upon society. 🙂

  • Not sure I follow you Marc. Could we not then say: Without sin there would be no cross so sin, in a certain sense, is God’s Way?

    • Amy Stone

      You might want to flesh out that theodicy a little more.

      God is pleased with sin?
      God authored sin?
      God set a trap for Adam and Eve?
      God is a split personality, fighting against itself?

      • Amy Stone

        I just realized that, Matt, you were asking Marc a question. Not making a statement 😕 . Woops. So I guess my question goes to Marc. Except, Marc framed his statement in different terms.

        Please disregard.

    • I am with you here Matt. That would be my concern as well.

  • Daniel

    Personally, I don’t have any internal tension. I don’t struggle with being suspicious of “Empire”, nor do I worry about whether or not people who belong to the World are going to make an attempt to satisfy any human standards of “justice”…

    Like you said Kurt, putting our hope in Jesus is the only way, not putting hope in earthly governments…

  • Kurt et al.,
    I am a friend of Steve’s, and I would love to just point out what I mean when I say “free market.”

    I live in Michigan…in the winter we get lots of snow. Whenever the snow falls, young men/boys begin knocking on doors. They offer to shovel our driveways and walks. We negotiate a fair price – one I can afford, and one that they are willing to work for – and once there is agreement, they proceed to do their work. When it is done, I pay them the agreed upon amount. Of course, if they did a superior job, I might just kick in a little extra…and invite them to come back when next the snow falls.

    This is an example of a free market. No one had to regulate anything…not the size of the shovel, or the amount paid, or how many breaks the young men would take, or the clothing they had to wear (if they were smart, they would wear the appropriate clothing for the weather)…not one thing.

    Had I offered to little, they could have declined and moved on or they could have negotiated further, or they could have decided to do the work at the price offered. Their choice. Had they turned to walk away or asked for more, I would have the choice to “up the ante” or just let them go, either hoping for another to come by or to do it myself. No coercion, just a mutually agreed upon exchange.

    I know that this doesn’t answer the question of what to do about the big coercive corporations or governments. But, in my mind, it is what makes me a libertarian. Were we to create small, self-governing communities (like a small town…or “the Shire” from Lord of the Rings) we would discover a wonderful thing – people would take care of each other…especially if there were a mutually agreed upon ethic (like the Christian ethic of Love).

    There’s more I could write, but I don’t want to write a book here; and I understand that these things must be implemented a step at a time. E.g., if we want to move toward a private charity model, a good way of doing this progressively is to allow each individual a Tax Credit for all charitable giving (and I don’t mean giving to a church so they can pay their pastor $100,000 a year…). Eventually, the charity from the private sector would be sufficient that there would no longer need to be a Welfare Office…Charity would be based on actual need, rather than Income (there are a lot of income sources that are not considered in the determination…e.g., retirement benefits from the government…therefore, a government retiree who makes $30,000 a year in benefits might still qualify for food stamps, while another working family where both spouses are earning minimum wage wouldn’t qualify).

  • I would like to clarify a few thoughts. In regards to the Social Darwinism concern. Interestingly, while it is certainly true that the strong survive, it is also true that people called by God to a higher calling of love intervene and intercede on behalf of the weak…Christians are not called to “free market economics” but to God’s love. With that said, I believe the best way to express God’s love is through free markets.

    Free markets do not always mean monetary exchange for service. Sometimes a free market involves (using the example in my last post) a young lad going to an elderly couple’s house and shoveling for free…that is still an economic decision, based on the free exchange of labor, and on mutual agreement. With the young man expecting nothing in return, he is fulfilling the law of Christ; however, if he does accept something, whether money or some chocolate-chip cookies, it can still fulfill Christ’s calling…

    When it comes to large corporations, I believe that there is a role for government to play, the ONLY role for government – protection of its citizenry. This can only be accomplished, not through “small government” but “Limited government.” That’s what we had in this country until the Washington elite decided that the limits no longer mattered.

    With a limited government, its defense department would only be allowed to defend against attack. Its police department and courts would only be allowed to apprehend, charge and punish people who actually harmed others (not drug dealers, users or prostitutes).

    With this last limit in mind, the courts would have the authority to apprehend, charge and punish corporations who did things that were harmful to their citizenry – like pollute the environment. It would be that corporation’s responsibility to clean up their pollution, and pay restitution to the victims of that pollution – those harmed by it.

    Where I have a problem with government is in their attempt to centrally plan everything – from business to immigration. They can’t even run a Department of Motor Vehicles correctly; how is it that anyone thinks they can run the health care industry or determine how many laborers (and what kind) that this country needs. It’s insane.

    I’m for freedom. Freedom for each of us to live our lives without interference. If we hurt someone, though, that is where I see a legitimate role for government. If we don’t hurt someone else, they should have no business telling us what to do. Even if we harm ourselves (by smoking, drinking, doing drugs or eating chocolate), they have no business regulating our behaviors.

    I could go on and on…perhaps I should write a book. LOL.

    • Ed… I am intrigued. Not converted, but intrigued. Much to think about, although my earlier concerns still remain. Thanks!

      • Kurt, at this point my greatest hope is that understand libertarianism…to me it is the best form of independent political and economic thought…

        Let me just say one thing about regulation: in your comments you made one point about the evil in men’s hearts, and therefore the need for regulation. To some extent I agree; but I regulate what I do and buy…that, to me, is the highest form of regulation – and it’s me determining what is best for me. It’s called self-government.

        If I disagree with pornography, then I need to regulate myself from viewing it. For me to insist that the government “do something” about it is the weaker choice…and it doesn’t work. Monks moved to places like the desert because they thought they could escape sin that way…their sin remained, in their mind…and we all know Jesus’ words about lusting in our hearts.

        Corporations, like people are evil. They need regulation. But governments are evil too, perhaps a greater evil because they have weapons at their disposal. Look at what governments have done in the past – 20 million Russians, 60 million Jews, 50 million aborted babies. While Progressives want to point out the evils of capitalism, they totally ignore the total poverty and oppression experienced under governments. I think we are foolish to ignore either one.

        One thing I appreciate more than just about anything is an openness to learning. I am so glad that Steve pointed me in this direction. You are someone who values learning and implementing the truth. It is my hope that you can learn from me, and that I can learn also from you. That is the true value in politics – to be able to discuss and adapt. While I am in theory a libertarian, I am in practice a realist…I have to live in the now. And sometimes that involves compromise and discussion…

        Keep one thing in mind – libertarianism is as fluid as conservativism and progressivism. There are all shades of each of the three. Beck and his ilk are only one form of a libertarianism. I embrace something a little more “small community” as espoused by people like Karl Hess. Another writer who I have enjoyed (to a point) is Fritz Schumacher. He advocates “Buddhist economics” which is all about small communities working together, and he doesn’t include land as part of the private property. Hess and Schumacher share many of the same values but differ on several key points. They can (and most likely did) learn from one another. They used many similar phrases to explain the same economic phenomenon. I hope you’ll take time to look them up.



  • i guess I might as well make a few comments, as I’m probably more a ‘former libertarian’ now – though still holding strong beliefs in individual liberty.

    I also was surprised to read Kurt’s statement that most libertarians believe in big military. As Steve said, all libertarians of my acquaintance (and particularly the Libertarian Party) are strict ‘non-aggressionists’; some are ‘pacifists’, while others believe in ‘just wars’ of defense – but all oppose aggression and coercion. They almost to a man opposed the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. In this aspect, I am still ‘libertarian’.

    One of the things that has always ‘concerned’ me about libertarianism is the way its proponents defend ‘greed’ as necessary and good. They make some reasonable sounding arguments – enlightened ‘self interest’ will supposedly guarantee that we will treat others well, as to do otherwise in the end will hurt us as well (laborers won’t work for us, and consumers won’t buy from us, etc.). The problem I have always seen (and it seems ‘self evident’ to me) is that the person acting in ‘enlightened self interest’ (greed) will only treat others well if he thinks he can’t get away with doing otherwise. If he thinks he can get away with trampling on people in the interest of a higher profit margin, he will. In my view, one reason government is instituted is to protect people from such ‘enlightened self interest’ or greed! Historically, it has almost always taken the intervention of government to stop ‘greedy’ businessmen and corporations from trampling on the people. Very often people simply can’t change jobs (for various reasons) so they have to put up with unethical employers without government intervention. And how many people can actually negotiate a contract with an employer before employment? They either have to accept what the employer provides or not take the job. To refuse the ‘contract’ may well mean simply to remain jobless and without income. And that’s one reason we have government. Frequently we don’t realize that a product is defective – because the manufacturer took ‘short cuts’ to increase his profit margin – until we have already purchased the product; and then it’s too late. Sometimes there is simply not another viable source for the product. Or there might be multiple sources, but they’re all operated under the same ‘greedy’ principles and have the same defects produced by the same ‘short cuts’. Each ‘source’ figures “everybody’s doing it that way, so I might as well also; my profit margin will be higher that way”. Only government intervention, or the threat of it, keeps people, businesses, and corporations ‘in line’ in many cases.

    In that regard, the preamble to the US Constitution says: “WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Notice, “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility… promote the general welfare”. All of these are appropriate functions of government.

    According to Biblical doctrine, governments themselves are established and controlled by God – it is a legitimate part of His Kingdom and Government. As such, kings and those in authority are in fact among God’s provisions for the establishment of the justice, tranquility, and welfare of His Kingdom. God has not restricted Himself to dealing only with individuals and ‘the Church’! Daniel noted (2:21) that “He sets up kings and deposes them”. King Nebuchadnezzar sure learned this the hard way (in Daniel 4) didn’t he? Then in 5:18, Daniel reminded king Belshazzar: “O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.” (Why would we believe the ‘father of lies’ when he told Jesus that the kingdoms of the world had been given – presumably by God – into his [Satan’s] authority, so that he can give authority to whomever he wills?)

    How much more should we honor our own government as God given, when He has given us such a delightful blending of democratic and republican governments? “We the people” elect our representatives, who then ‘rule’ in our name. When ‘social programs’ are set up by the government, it is not a tyranny imposing something on us, but ‘we the people’ through our representatives doing something for ourselves. I can see no legitimate reason why the ‘government’ should not be God’s agent in promoting the ‘welfare’ of the ‘people’ with those social programs. If the ‘government’ fails to act as God’s representative (in a moral and ethical manner), then the Church and individuals should step in to ‘fill the gap’ as God’s representatives.

    That is perhaps ‘idealistic’, because ‘sin’ is always present in individuals, and collectively both in ‘the Church’ and government. There is always need for examination and improvement both individually and collectively. But there is no reason, it seems to me, that the government should not be the representative and agent both of God and the people. The Church can be ‘salt and light’ in the world to be God’s agents to bring about God’s Kingdom in all aspects of life (including government) – “on earth as it is in heaven”.

    I also don’t see that this means government imposition of ‘religion’. I believe our government in the USA did an excellent job, in its inception, of recognizing the ‘laws of nature and of nature’s God’ (not necessarily synonymous with ‘the laws of the Bible and the Bible’s God’) as the basis of government, without any establishment of religion or suppression of freedom of conscience and speech.

    • Mystic,
      Amy said it well concerning governments but I’d like to contextualize something and then point out the obvious contradiction in your argument.

      First, Paul was writing to a particular people in a particular time. The Roman government, of which Paul spoke, was about to march upon Jerusalem (within a few years). God was going to use the Roman army as His “avenger.” Tying OT prophecies of the event would indicate that the Roman army would be called “the Lord’s army.” (cf. Joel 2, where he spoke of the Babylonian army attacking Jerusalem). So, this idea that every government that has ever existed is somehow instituted by God to do evil is a bit of a stretch.

      With that in mind, you quote the Romans 12 passage which is clearly an allusion to the Roman army marching on and destroying the city of Jerusalem (the holy city) due to its failure to “acknowledge God nor give Him thanks” (Rom 1). Yet, you take a libertarian view regarding WAR?

      If we want to get biblical, let’s talk about Saul being told by the LORD to wipe out entire nations; man, woman, child and animal. If this is true, and the Roman gov’t was allowed (commissioned by God) to destroy the holy city (the Whore of Babylon), how can we say that war isn’t right? It’s certainly biblical, right?

      Charity and greed are in the eyes of the beholder. What I call a valid transaction (no coercion), you might call greed. Who exactly decides the price of an item? The government? The seller? The buyer? A Pricing Board? We know how badly Pricing Boards do when it comes to public utilities. The government pays $600 for a hammer. What better way to determine a fair price than to allow the buyer and seller to negotiate. If the seller wants to be greedy, the buyer can walk away. It’s that simple.

      And NO, there is NO ONE who is forced to work for anyone else. I may have made decisions that require me to remain employed at a certain income level, but that is MY fault, not my employers. If I choose to go elsewhere, that is MY business. I am free to work wherever I wish.

      The problem with this kind of thinking is that it is a mentality based on the Industrial Revolution, where dads were forced to leave the family farms and work in a factory. In today’s economy, with the internet, anyone can become an entrepreneur; and the world is our market.

      My point about free markets is that we are as free as we want to be. If we want to remain enslaved to a job, that’s our perogative, but don’t blame your employer. No one forces you to work there…

  • I’ve been trying to get caught up with comments here, but to add to what Steve already posted, in order for one to put forward a sound critique of libertarianism, they need to put forth a reasonable definition.

    Perhaps the best and most accurate libertarian creed is put forth by Murray Rothbard in his book “For a New Liberty, A Libertarian Manifesto.”

    Rothbard equally rips modern liberals and conservatives, but he provides a mind-blowing history of classical liberalism (modern libertarianism) in the context of his desire to present a manifesto of sorts for the movement.

    In the classical liberal mind, “war is mass murder, conscription is slavery and taxation is robbery.” THIS is the essence of libertarianism. Anyone not embracing these principles cannot, in my opinion, call himself or herself a libertarian with a straight face…especially Sarah Palin. To quote Rothbard, “The libertarian, in short, is almost completely the child in the fable, pointing out insistently that the emperor has no clothes.’

    So folks, let’s describe and present libertarians accurately 🙂

    • So Virgil, are you saying that the only good Libertarian is an anarchist? If taxation is always robbery, then how could there be a legitimate government? Although contextually I disagree with Mystic on Romans 12, it does say that “this is the reason we pay taxes.” Why didn’t Paul say “this is the reason the government steals our money from us”?

      So, just to be clear, I do not agree that all libertarians agree with Rothbard. I know I don’t.

      • Ed, I try not to infer anything from Paul’s silence on an issue. We could deduce all kinds of things that way. I don’t know what Paul’s reasons were for saying or not saying certain things but one would be hard pressed to conclude that Paul was a statist in any sense of the word. I imagine that he was more of a realist than anything else; he recognized the positive aspects of the Roman empire and used them for furthering the Kingdom. I try to operate in the same way today…we see amazing things created by modern Rome, the Internet being one developed with tax dollars for example, so I have no issue as a pragmatist using the State to further what I see of being a benefit to my family and the Kingdom. Maybe some see that as being hypocritical, I see it being realistic.

  • By the way, For a New Liberty is available for free on Google Books – here is a short link I made for it: http://tinyurl.com/newliberty

  • Amy Stone

    governments themselves are established and controlled by God – it is a legitimate part of His Kingdom and Government. As such, kings and those in authority are in fact among God’s provisions for the establishment of the justice, tranquility, and welfare of His Kingdom.

    This idea comes primarily from Romans 13.1-7. It is certainly an inconvenient passage, considering that so much of human history has proved that few (if any) human governments have truly accomplished justice, tranquility, and welfare. No nation has refrained from exploitation, violence, and warfare.

    If, as you claim, “[All] governments themselves are established and controlled by God – it is a legitimate part of His Kingdom and Government…,” then the government of Somalia (and others that are equally corrupt) is controlled by God, and is doing the work of the Kingdom.

    Convenient or not (and more often not 😕 ), I take Paul’s words very seriously. I believe they speak to us today, and that we must heed the word of God in every way. I’m just not sure that yours is the most appropriate reading of the text.

  • Thanks to Ed Burley and Amy Stone for your comments. I really appreciate the fact that you’re THINKING and aren’t shy about expressing your thoughts, even though they may (at least seem to) disagree with mine or someone else’s.

    For Ed, there is certainly a sense in which you are correct that no one is FORCED to work for someone else (at least in the USA). One can certainly choose not to have a job rather than work at a job he finds either unethical, degrading, dangerous, or otherwise unacceptable. It was my point that this was in some cases at least the ONLY choice one has. To me, this is akin to saying that if someone points a gun at my head and says “your money or your life”, I am not COMPELLED to give him my money. I can choose to let him shoot me (in which case he’ll no doubt get my money anyhow). If I then ‘choose’ to give him my money in order to avoid death, do I then lose my right to seek legal action against the armed robber, on the basis that he didn’t ‘force’ me to do anything?

    As to the other objections against God’s sovereignty over all governments, let me say first that I absolutely reject the notion that God ever commanded Moses, Joshua, Saul, or anyone else to practice genocide. God may, in some mysterious ‘sovereign’ way, have ‘planned’ it and ‘brought it to pass’, but despite what the Biblical authors said I deny he ‘commanded’ it. In whatever mysterious way God may have been ‘behind’ it, those actions (if they ever actually occurred historically) were inexcusable on the part of Moses, Joshua, Saul, or whoever. Assyria and Babylon were ‘used’ by God to punish Israel (as was Rome) also, but their actions were nevertheless punishable by God for being ‘sinful’. They weren’t acting in ‘obedience’ to a ‘command’ of God.

    I didn’t actually refer to Romans 13, though I admit it was one of the Biblical passages in my mind when I wrote. My Biblical reference was to Daniel. In both Daniel and Paul (Romans 13) though, the sovereignty of God in establishing governments is stated in general terms; the specific application to a particular government is drawn from the general principle. For instance, Daniel (in 2:21) says in general terms that God “removes kings and raises up kings” (New King James Version). From that general principle, the specific application to Nebuchadnezzar was made (as in 5:18). Paul,in Romans 13:1, said “there is NO authority except from God, and the authorities who exist are appointed by God.” Specific application could then be made to the Roman authority (who at that time was Nero). Paul didn’t say only that Nero’s authority was from God because God had a purpose to use him to punish the nation of Israel in just a few years. He said that ALL authority is from God; Nero is just a subset of that.

    This of course brings up the tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. I have been both an Arminian and a Calvinist in the past, and am presently actually neither. But the tension is there, Biblically speaking. For instance, the Christians in Jerusalem – after the release of Peter and John – prayed “with one accord”: “For truly against Your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together TO DO WHATEVER YOUR HAND AND PURPOSE DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE” (Acts 4:27 and 28). Does this mean that Herod and Pilate, the Jews and Gentiles were obeying a command of God and were therefore blameless in what they did? Certainly not. In fact, Peter (Acts 2:23) had made this statement: “Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by LAWLESS hands, have crucified, and put to death.” This was made as an accusation against his hearers, saying they were blameworthy and subject to punishment for doing just what God had planned and determined to be done. How is that possible? Paul dealt with that question in Romans 9. In verse 19 he asked the question: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?'” I don’t believe Paul did a very good job of answering that question. Probably it is simply beyond our ability to put the two things (God’s sovereignty and human responsibility) together. We can either hold both things ‘in tension’, or we can throw up our hands and ridicule the Bible as being full of incomprehensible nonsense.

    For myself, I prefer to at least try to hold both concepts ‘in tension’. This means that I will accept that all governments are established by God -even in Somalia and other places where governments are evil beyond belief (Nero, the ‘Beast’ the number of whose name was 666, who was reigning when Paul wrote Romans 13?). Yet I will at the same time acknowledge that they are evil and do evil things; and God will yet punish them for doing things that He had in fact raised them up to do (His determined counsel and foreknowledge). When evil governments command me to do things which are in fact not contrary to God’s ‘revealed will’, then I can obey them with good conscience. If they command me to do things which are morally evil, I can say “it is better to obey God than men” and not be in defiance of God’s command to obey the authorities. Yeah, I admit it’s ‘paradoxical’, or seemingly contradictory; but I’ll stick with believing they’re somehow compatible though I can’t see it clearly.

    • Amy Stone


      Nero, the ‘Beast’ the number of whose name was 666

      You like to live dangerously, eh? 🙂

      • Amy – LOL. But it’s not really so dangerous for me to explicitly make that identification now, is it? If I were living during the reign of Nero, I probably would have been a bit more careful about that. That might be one reason Paul spoke rather enigmatically in his Thessalonian letters about “the man of sin” and “he who restrains”; and John used such metaphorical language in the Revelation (“the beast” and “his name and the number of his name”; and the number of his name being six hundred sixty six).

        • Amy Stone

          I admire how you slipped in your (well founded) opinion on the “beast” in Revelation. Nicely played.

          The danger I referred to was the potential for peer feedback on the matter. This is a topic I tend to tread lightly around. People start to get all “Linda Blair” on you when challenged on pet topics like this. 😮

          • I had to to a web search on ‘Linda Blair’ to figure out that reference (:grin:). I have so many other ‘heretical’ beliefs that my ‘preterist’ view of Biblical prophecy is relatively minor by comparison! I’ve never been very good at hiding my beliefs; but so far people have mostly just strongly disagreed with me – no death threats thus far. In the comments section of another post on this blog, though, one very fundamentalist (and ‘futurist’) reader did take strong exception to the assertion that the Olivet Discourse had reference to the destruction of Jerusalem rather than a future to us ‘second coming of Christ’. When he read an article or two on my blog in which I affirmed eventual universal salvation, he really went ballistic. In comments on my blog he informed me that I would certainly go to hell when I die (if I don’t repent), where I will be held in custody until the final judgment at Christ’s second coming. I’ll then face judgment at the “bema seat”, and be cast into the Lake of Fire to burn forever and ever. All of this because I ‘heretically’ believe in universal salvation, and believe the second coming of Christ to be in our past (a 70 A.D. event). Actually there are plenty of other things I believe which this man would find ‘heretical’ and worthy of eternal condemnation, but those are the 2 things he ‘picked on’. Still, he wasn’t threatening to hunt me down and kill me, or have me tortured until I confessed my sins! 😀 Other than than, fundamentalist friends I know personally just think I’m really weird. They may even be concerned that I’m not genuinely ‘saved’, but they don’t tend to go ballistic like the blog commenter did. They’re more interested in peacefully reasoning with me than ranting at me.

          • Amy Stone

            Too funny. Sometimes I forget that I’m old and my cultural references are obsolete. I recently referred to Max Headroom and got a WHO? in response. I didn’t think the mid-80’s were that long ago. Ha!

            Re: Apocalyptic literature. It’s a common misunderstanding that the genre is entirely future oriented. I was never taught in church that Revelation had any immediate meaning to its original audience (we didn’t actually entertain the idea of an original audience). At the same time, I don’t know that I’d agree with you about the second coming having already occurred. I havn’t gone there, yet. You never know.

            I used to have such a tenuous faith, dependant on all the ducks being lined up just right. Now, my theology and faith are much more flexible and open, and at the same time, more robust. I’m finding an even greater respect and sense of awe for the Bible, while at the same time finding that I don’t need it to say all the things that I used to think were essential.

            I think some people get wacky about it because they can’t tolerate the thought that their system might come crashing down if one brick gets knocked out of place (and it very well might), and then they’ll be left with nothing. Unfortunately, that variety of zeal can result in some pretty un-Christlike behavior. My grandfather once said that C.S. Lewis went to hell when he died because, in the book he wrote about the grief he experienced at the loss of his wife, he dared to question the goodness of God (or something like that). I happen to think that God’s got a little more ego-strength than to be so threatened (but I’m a psychotherapist in training, so I’m a lost cause anyway). I guess we’ll all find out soon enough.

            BTW, nice job with the smilies. Just remember to put a space on either side of the colons. 🙂

          • Amy Stone

            I just checked out your blog. You’re old too. 😀 . I guess we’re working from different lexicons. 😎

          • Amy – First of all I just want to ask: Waddya mean, I’m old too?! When I look in the mirror, I see someone whose youth is being renewed like the eagles! 😆

            Second, thanks for the link to the ‘smiley’ page. I’ve wondered for quite a while how to get all of those icons to show up. Do you know if the same system works for e-mail like juno and yahoo?

            You wrote: “I happen to think that God’s got a little more ego-strength than to be so threatened (but I’m a psychotherapist in training, so I’m a lost cause anyway).” So true. I frequently am aghast that some people seem to think that God has a strong sense of INsecurity! I am convinced that God is so secure that He maintains a great sense of humor; and whether or not that’s so, He certainly has a strong sense of compassion – He ‘remembers that we are dust’. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted” (Psalm 63:9). “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help [not criticize, judge, and condemn] those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

            I am also convinced that in ‘the day of judgment’, when our works we have built upon the Biblical foundation are tested by the ‘fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), much of what is considered ‘fundamental truth’ by Christian orthodoxy will be ‘burned up’, because it’s in fact nothing but the doctrines and commandments of men (formulated in ‘church councils’). 😯

            I’m not upset that you don’t “see the truth” 😆 about a past-to-us ‘second coming’. While ‘preterism’ is apparently a growing phenomenon, the doctrine of a future ‘end of the world’ second coming is so ingrained in Christian theology that it’s extremely difficult to completely put it aside. Therefore, “partial preterism” is the prevailing form of ‘past tense’ interpretation of prophecy. Most “partial preterists”, though, consider ‘full preterism’ to be a terrible heresy, for which a person will burn forever in the Lake of Fire! 🙄 (I’m enjoying being able to use those ‘smiley faces’ – it’s a new toy for me). When David Chilton wrote his book “Days of Vengeance” (a commentary on Revelation from a ‘partial preterist’ postmillenial viewpoint), he took that attitude. A few years later he converted to ‘full preterism’, and was forthwith excommunicated from his church (I believe it was Gary North’s church) and declared to be a heretic himself. He died of a heart attack not too much later, and many people believe that to be a ‘judgment of God’ on him for his ‘apostasy’. I’m glad that people like Kurt and yourself don’t adopt quite that strong a stance. 😀

    • Hi Mystic, interestingly you expect the government to protect you from the robber; yet, it is most often the government who is extracting your capital under threat of violence. Try not paying your taxes and watch what happens…ever seen IRS agents in full military combat gear? You will. 🙂

      While I don’t agree with Rothbard that all taxation is robbery, I do believe that all IRS agents are thieves.

      • Well, Ed, the government assures me that my taxes are paid voluntarily, so it must be true!!! (grin – I don’t know how to get those smiley faces in here, so I just have to write it out).

        Bu actually, I don’t consider taxation robbery, and I don’t believe the agents of the IRS are thieves either. While I’m sure I would be glad to pay less – and I’m sure I would be delighted if our representatives found the way to balance the budget, spend less, and pay off the deficit without raising taxes – I don’t object to paying those taxes. So I don’t believe I need have much fear of IRS agents in full battle gear breaking down my door.

        I believe I OWE taxes to the government; but I don’t OWE my money to just anyone with a gun. If an armed bandit sticks a gun to my head, I do expect legal protection; that’s part of what my taxes pay for.

        • yes, that’s fine; but when you vote for people who insist on taking my money away from me, when I am NOT willing to pay those taxes (mainly because they take the money that I would use to further economic enterprise, thus further impoverishing me, my family and others in whom I might have invested), you transgress my boundaries.

          You see Mystic, I have no problem with you giving all the money you earn to the government. If you want to do something like that – more power to you. I do object when people like you insist that I have to give more of my money to the government. Then it becomes theft.

          • Amy Stone

            You can always make the choice to reduce your income to the point of being exempt from paying income taxes. I know people who do that very thing so that they avoid funding the military.

          • My point was MY income tax per se, I have 8 children at home and avoid the income tax altogether. Some people, like my daughter and son-in-law, don’t have the deductions and pay an exorbitant amount. Single people are even worse.

            My point was that Mystic may be fine with paying taxes, and that makes everything hunky-dory for him; but others, not so much. Excessive taxation takes money out of the market, where it could be used for productive purposes, and puts it into the government, so they can “create jobs.” What jobs do they create? Road work and the military and civil service. While road work seems to be beneficial, there is too much waste in it.

            Everyone has seen road work where one or two individuals are working, while 5 or 6 others are standing around watching…Wow! Government created jobs. Great…why don’t we just pay people to pick their nose?

            Business hires based on need. The more money they have that they don’t have to pay in taxes, the more people they can employ. The more people they employ, the more taxes get paid. That’s why cutting taxes raises revenue. Just ask Canada. A few years ago, they cut the cigarette taxes, people stopped smuggling cigarettes in from the states, and started buying Canadian cigarettes…revenue increased. Problem solved.

            Taxes are necessary, but when used for things that were never intended to be a governmental responsibility (job creation), they rise to a destructive level. That’s why we see businesses leave the states and go overseas. Minimum wage laws are just as destructive. It causes unemployment, especially for teens (70% unemployment in MI) and minorities (who had a hard time getting work due to the piss-poor conditions of the inner city schools).

          • Amy Stone

            You are clearly convinced, and I really appreciate your perspective. But I’m wondering if our discussion is missing the point.

            What is the relationship between Christians and Rome? Can “Caesar” save the world?

        • One more thought: would you endorse the local church demanding that you give a certain percentage against your will? What exactly gives the government, that you claim God ordained, more authority to tax than the church, who is God’s actual kingdom government (a kingdom of priests)?

          Unless of course you are one of those mandatory tithers. I’m not.

          I “give to those in need.”

          We were talking about God’s kingdom here, right? Might want to re-check that title.

          Sorry, a little sarcasm there…

        • Amy Stone


          Put a colon on either side of the word grin and you’ve got a smilie face like this 😀

          • Thanks, Amy. I’ll give a try. 😀

  • Amy Stone

    I most certainly appreciate your affirmation of choice in the matter of employment. Too often we say “I have no choice” when we mean “I am not willing to make a different choice.”

    That said, not everyone has as many options to choose from. Some are very limited: intellectually, mentally, socially, etc. If one has limited intelligence, no capital, no credit, and no supportive social structure, they better keep whatever job they can find. Entrepreneurship is likely out of the question. These are the folks that are at the mercy of their employers (if they are lucky enough to have one), and may need some kind of advocate for their welfare.

    Those of us who have become successful in life, despite having the odds stacked against us, cannot say that we did it by sheer self-will alone. That’s the ideal in a hyper-individualist culture, but it’s not the reality. Even if no one “helped” us, we have internal resources that are not necessarily available to everyone. Let’s face it, smarter, better-looking, more creative, more socially adept, more verbally gifted, more physically healthy, and more mentally healthy individuals are at a sizeable advantage. Add to that, the benefits (socially and intellectually) of quality of education (not available to everyone), and belonging to preferred race/ethnic groups, and you have an even better chance at succeeding. And, I haven’t even mentioned money.

    Yes, we all can make choices. But, we don’t all get the same options to choose from. Some of us get to choose between a horrible job, entrepreneurship, and graduate school. Others get to choose between farm laboring and whoring.

    • Amy Stone

      I meant to address this to Ed.

  • Amy, Mystic et al.

    Thanks for your feedback, but unfortunately you are not following my arguments. With all due respect, you are arguing from a Post-Industrial Revolution paradigm. This is a paradigm that has come and gone. It had its hey-day, but is now largely defunct. Between robots and cheap overseas labor, manufacturing is no longer a bedrock of our economy. To place the idea of “employment” within that paradigm in this day and age is mistaken, I believe.

    We live in “the information age,” or “the internet age.” Do you realize how many people are making a living working from home on the internet? It’s HUGE, and most likely not a factor in the old-paradigm was of figuring unemployment.

    Now, I’m not saying that the economy isn’t bad…I’m just saying that basing the wellness of the economy on number of people employed or Dow Jones Industrial averages is “old school.” Money and good, and even labor, is exchanged on the internet each day…and the government largely knows nothing of it. They cannot put numbers to it – which is why there has been talk for years of “regulating the internet.” They want to take “their” piece of the pie…

    My son-in-law works for the unemployment office here in Michigan (he’s not a libertarian). He told me the story about a lady who called him to cancel her unemployment “benefits.” She explained to him that she recently started selling these apple pies that she makes and is making more money than she is allowed to make while on unemployment. She started selling them at church, and now has a place somewhere in the marketplace selling them to patrons. She told my son-in-law that she is selling so many of them that she might have to hire a couple people to help her…

    That’s the new paradigm. While others whine and complain about why government doesn’t do something, or why the corporations are moving jobs overseas, those in the new paradigm are finding new ways to create work. God is a Creator, His creatures are as well.

    Christians are the first to complain about this materialistic society, but very few of us ever consider not participating. We back big business because we think we have to make $40,000+ per year. Do we really? What if you could live on $20,000 a year, or $15,000 a year? I think that most people would be amazed how cheaply they could live if we didn’t get a whole truckload of debt before we reach the age of 30 – student loans, credit cards, a mortgage, car loan, etc.

    All the while, the only people getting rich are the bankers. They loan us money so we can buy stuff from the big corporations. Then they devalue the currency so that we (those who know nothing of fractional reserve banking) think that our property we purchased is gaining in value – in housing and land we call it “equity.” Usually because of the devaluing of the dollar, we end up borrowing against our equity – which is no value at all…but we end up paying the bankers three times what they loaned us, both originally AND for the “equity loan.” It’s a racket.

    That’s why the bible speaks against usury. But the bankers are charging usury and destroying the economy…when it’s all done, they’ll still be rich, and the rest of us will most likely be destitute. It’s better to create alternate societies now…communities of love – like the Amish.

    I am currently working a job…it is a private non-profit that is affiliated with the state government. I am not trying to make judgments against anyone who is working. What I am attempting to do is encourage people to do what they do well, and join with others to create communities that care for one another, reach out to the people who are the victims of the Unholy Trinity (Banking, Corporations and Government). This “Triad of Evil” is driving this country to ruin – and it’s possibly too late to do anything about it. That’s why creating the alternate societies/communities is, in my opinion, the only answer. Even if I am wrong, and things work out fine, the alternative communities will still be able to exist – caring, non-aggressive, hard-working, etc.

    The Amish have done it for centuries. The Buddhists do it as well. There are many agrarian cultures who do it. It can be done. It is not utopian because there will be problems with it. But in its small structure it can better deal with those problems…rather than having creating a bureaucracy, the community can make the decisions. Some libertarians have spoken of “100% democracy.” That means if the vote isn’t unanimous, it doesn’t pass. Not sure how that would work, but Karl Hess advocated for it in “Community Technology.”

    I want to thank everyone here for allowing me to freely share. Because we cannot see each others’ hearts, nor read the non-verbal cues of communication, sometimes words come across in ways not intended. IF anything that I have written appears to be a sleight or slander, please know that was not the intent. If this disclaimer is not sufficient, please let me know and I’d be happy to apologize for any offense I might have caused.



  • I’m sorry, but in my post, I referred to the “Post-Industrial Revolution.” What I meant to write (there’s no edit feature here) was just Industrial Revolution. I believe we are currently in the POST-Industrial Revolution Age.

    thanks for allowing me to clarify,


  • Oh Amy…I’m sorry I missed your comments. What’s wrong with farming? In fact, in my neck of the woods, many of our farmers make a very good living growing organically and selling, not only in the local farm markets (which we now have going on year round) but on the internet.

    And regards “whoring” I believe that should be legalized…If it were, a young lady might be able to make a very decent living – since she wouldn’t need a pimp to abuse her and steal her money. The police would protect her, for she would no longer be a criminal, but instead an entrepreneur who offers her services willingly to adults who gladly pay her for those services. If they don’t pay, she could take them to court…it’s all good. It’s called a free market.

    I know a young man who makes extra money by picking up pop cans and bottles at big events in our community. He makes a lot of money. And since his “overhead” to live is small, he does all right (he has other income other than the can collecting).

    anyway, I’m done until the next set of posts. 🙂

    • Amy Stone

      “What’s wrong with farming?”

      Nothing wrong with farming, Ed, but in my neck of the woods farm laborer is a term for a person, usually of questionable residency status (but not always), who does the most undesirable work for the least amount of pay. He or she is someone who is vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation. Their work is honest, and can be a source of real pride, but their working conditions can be deplorable and a shame to those who profit from their labors (including those of us who benefit from such low food prices due to their exceptionally low wages).

      To be sure, not all farmers exploit farm laborers. Many are fine people who do honorable work, for which I am grateful.

      • And Amy, again I’m not talking about “farm laborers.” I’m talking about agricultural entrepreneurs. Anyone can grow a garden. Anyone can sell produce at the side of the road (until the Regulators/Revenuers come along to shut it down). This is a way to create wealth. One of many ways.

        That’s what I’m talking about. 🙂


        • Amy Stone

          I was merely defining my own terms, in an attempt to make our discourse more clear.

          I know you aren’t talking about laborers. I was. Remember? I used some imagery that you didn’t relate to (because you clearly misunderstood me, or feigned misunderstanding, that I was referring to farmers, which I was not). Therefore, my subsequent post about farmers (meant to delineate between the terms “farmer” and “farm laborer”) had nothing to do with your argument about farmers as entrepreneurs.

          I hear you, Ed, you promote a free-market economy as the best economic system for everyone. I got it. 🙂

  • I believe Amy is right that we are getting a good bit off topic. Discussion about which is the ‘correct’ political system – Libertarianism, Republicanism, Democracy, or some other system – is not the point of this series of articles. The point, as I read it, is how is God’s kingdom related to politics (no matter which ‘ism’ is in power)? Kurt said this in this article: “Many have assumed that this passage is an attempt by Jesus to split life into two spheres: the spiritual and the public. This would be a great mistake!” I agree with Kurt here. Jesus, God’s anointed, is “King of kings and Lord of lords”. It is not just ‘the Church’ which is the ‘Kingdom of God’, but all of life including politics. It is God who establishes governments, and God who demolishes or replaces governments – at least this is the view of the Biblical writers. Governments, being established by God, are responsible to act as his ‘deacons’; if they fail to do so, He can replace them at His will. Our responsibility to governments is to honor and obey them as God’s ministers. If they fail so miserably that we simply can’t in good conscience obey them, then we can disobey and accept the consequences, or leave to a ‘better’ country if we can find one. If we find we have the ability to replace the evil government (without ourselves being disobedient to God in doing so), we may definitely pursue that option. Here in the USA we can call a Constitutional Convention to non violently replace the form of government we have (if we can’t change things within the present system of elected representation). In all cases, though, we must always recognize that ‘Caesar’ is the minister of God; he is not himself ‘God’ and ‘Savior’.

    It is the responsibility of the citizens of a government to support that government financially through taxes. Taxation is not ‘robbery’. How much taxation constitutes ‘too much’ is not, to my knowledge, established in the ‘law of God’ (either ‘revealed’ law, or ‘natural law’). In our country, the amount of taxation, and how the taxes are spent, is determined by Congress. If I think Congress is charging too high a rate, I have to right to join with like minded people in protesting and seeking to get Congress to revise its ruling (perhaps through electing representatives who WILL lower tax rates, reduce spending, and pay off the national debt, if it’s possible to do #1 and #3 at the same time) – or I can move out of country. I should NOT expect, though, to be able to refuse to pay my taxes with impunity. The cry of our ‘founding fathers’ was “no taxation without representation”, not “no taxation”. We have representation through democratic elections, and we must abide by the will of the democratically elected representatives. If we’re not willing to do that, we take the consequences or leave the country.

    If I am a member of a church, I should expect to support that church from my income. This I believe to be a Biblical injunction. The only Biblical injunction I know of as to how much of my income should go to support the church is the Old Testament tithe (10%). We might argue whether or not the ‘tithe’, as a ‘legal requirement’ has been done away with under the ‘New Covenant”. Regardless, if I find that the ‘requirements’ being imposed by the leadership of my church are more than I’m willing to bear, I can leave that church. There is nothing forcing me to remain within any church. (Freedom of religion is one of the liberties guaranteed by our civil government, which I support through my taxes).

    That’s how I see things. I find myself agreeing with Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians about various things, and disagreeing with each about other things. ( I can’t imagine agreeing with all 3 at the same time though, grin). Whoever is in the majority at any time, though, the government is only a ‘minister’ of God; it is not itself ‘God’.

    • First Mystic, may I ask “are you Bruce?” In case you didn’t know (if you are Bruce) I am Me Again from Talk Grace…if you are not Bruce, then “never mind.”

      Anyway, you wrote “I find myself agreeing with Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians about various things, and disagreeing with each about other things.”

      I am in the same boat. I want you to know that I argue a lot from the “what can be…” (i.e., the Idealist view). I also am a bit of a realist as well.

      In regards to the original question: I believe that the early church functioned within the Roman Empire…but they were not a part of it. They didn’t serve in the army, the government, etc. They walked the Roman Roads; they used the aquaducts; they participated, to some extent, in the Roman economy…but the maintained their own community.

      That’s all I’m saying…really. I know it may have appeared that I got off track, but seriously, I was just saying that we need our own community…

      In some sense, we have that on the internet…we might have it in our neighborhoods, our churches, our families. We are a communal people…I do not believe in “rugged individualism.”

      “No man is an island.” “It takes a village to raise a child.” I agree with these statements…I just believe that we work best within liberty, as a free people. Free to care for others, to bless one another, to love one another.

      To me, free markets are not “make-as-much-money-as-you-can” but rather “be-as-big-a-blessing-as-you-can.”

      I just wanted to add that I value what both you and Amy have shared here. I wasn’t trying to be argumentative at all…seriously. It’s just that God has gifted me as a teacher/trainer, and I have the habit of teaching until someone tells me to shut up. 🙂



      • Amy Stone

        Thanks, Ed,

        I have appreciated the way you have instructed me. I am a very curious person, and mostly “self-educated”, so people like you always challenge me and push me to do research in areas that I wasn’t even inclined to look into before. Thanks for your input.

        I am always having to remind myself of the rules of civil discourse, and am rarely abiding by them all. 😕

      • No, I’m not Bruce – so I’ll have to just ‘never mind’. 🙂 My name is Stephen Parker, and I think some of my comments show up under that name.

        Your wrote: “I want you to know that I argue a lot from the ‘what can be…’ (i.e., the Idealist view). I also am a bit of a realist as well.” I can ‘totally’ empathize with that. I have a bit of a struggle with ‘tension’ between idealism and realism. If you’d like to see some real politically ‘heretical’ idealism, check out this article on my blog: http://mystic444.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/what-do-we-consider-valuable/. Hint: I defend what I call ‘free market communism”! 😆

        I like your thinking about internet communities (and other small communities). I’d like to discover a workable way to ‘work’ online, too. I was declared medically disabled a bit more than a year ago (by a DOT doctor – I drove 18-wheeler trucks over the road for over 30 years) due to neuropathy in my legs and feet. I’ve tried ‘Affiliate Marketing’ (or ‘Internet Marketing’), but all I managed to do was lose money at it; I never earned a cent. I’ve given that up now, and for right now am getting by on my social security disability pay. (As my sons point out, I contributed to social security for over 40 years, so I shouldn’t feel bad about drawing from it now). If I can find a way to at least supplement that, if not earn enough to get off of soc. sec. altogether, I would sure like to do it.

        Theologically/Religiously and Politically, I have been ‘all over the map’ you might say. I was raised as an Arminian/Baptist/Dispensationalist. My first change was to Calvinism (retaining the other 2 labels). Then I gave up dispensationalism in favor of ‘Reformed’ Calvinism, and then changed to Presbyterian (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) and Postmillenialist. Then I found ‘preterism’ (the ‘full’ kind, not the ‘partial’) After that, I embraced Pentecostalism (while still holding to Reformed Calvinism and preterist eschatology, which my Reformed friends said was completely incompatible). All of this time, I was a good Republican. However, while I was ‘Reformed’ I found the ‘Theonomy’ and ‘Reconstructionism’ of R. J. Rushdoony and Gary North, and when Pat Robertson made his brief token run to become a Presidential candidate in the 1980s I supported him. (I guess Pat Robertson is not precisely a ‘Rushdoonyite’, but there are similarities).

        Around 1988, due to things I won’t go into here, I completely abdicated the Christian faith, and began a more than 20 year journey through ‘new age’ and ‘eastern’ philosophies, and all sorts of other alternative ideas. Largely as a reaction to the conservative Christianity which I had renounced, I registered as a Democrat and voted for Bill Clinton for his first term. (Take that, religious right! 😆 ) I figured Mr. Clinton wasn’t too likely to be swayed by Christian fundamentalism, which I saw as rampant in the Republican party. I guess I wasn’t wrong about that evaluation of Bill Clinton. 😀

        Some time during Bill Clinton’s first term, I became aware of Libertarianism, and decided that more accurately represented my political beliefs than the Democratic Party. I’ve voted “straight” Libertarian ever since.

        Although I had renounced ‘Christianity’, I had never rejected Jesus himself. There’s just something very attractive about that man which wouldn’t let me ‘push him away’. Many a time, I’ve almost felt I could ‘hear’ him saying “you couldn’t get rid of me if you wanted to”! 🙂 There have been a number of times over the years that ‘a light has suddenly come on in my head’ and I have realized that things I have found offensive about Christianity are not really Biblical teaching at all. I had pretty much rejected Biblical ‘prophecies’ as a result of seeing how New Testament writers had frequently misused the Old Testament prophets. I still find that many of the references quoted by the New Testament writers as having been ‘fulfilled’ in Jesus Christ have no reference to Jesus whatsoever. However a restudy of my former ‘preterist’ views has convinced me that there ARE in fact many prophecies in both ‘Testaments’ which have been fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension, and past-to-us ‘second coming’ (with its accompanying destruction of Jerusalem and the whole ‘Old Covenant’ economy). As a result, I have a steadily increasing respect for the Bible as an ‘inspired’ book (though I am still a very long way from recognizing it as an ‘infallible authority’. When talking about Christian theology, I’ll frequently ‘hedge’ by saying something like, “at least that’s what the Bible writers believed”. That way I leave myself an ‘out’ if I decide I’m not so sure of the teaching myself). I know ‘futurists’ find this hard to swallow, but its seeing how Biblical prophecies were historically fulfilled in the lifetime of the the 1st century disciples of Jesus that convinces me of the value and ‘inspiration’ of the Bible. The ‘prophecy experts’ of the past and present don’t do much for my confidence in that book. Now, as hard as it is for conservative Christians to accept, I am a Christian who embraces the ‘truth’ that other religions are also of God. “New Age” and “Eastern” thought is still a vital part of my beliefs; when I say “Jesus Christ is Lord” I consider that as calling Jesus the ‘commander-in-chief’ of God’s ‘armies’. I don’t renounce Buddha, Krishna, or Muhammad; I just believe they are subordinate to Jesus, the one whom God has appointed Lord of all (subordinate to God Himself). Does that ‘blow your mind’? 😀

        At any rate, to conclude this account of my ‘wild journey’ thus far, it was around the end of last year that I began questioning some of my ‘libertarian’ beliefs (beginning with the way libertarians seem to join with Republicans in ridiculing human caused global warming, and consider climate scientists ‘quacks’).

        I’m not so sure I should have used the comments section of Kurt’s blog like a ‘true confessions’ magazine 😳 but I guess I’ll go ahead and submit this. I’ve made other references to my ‘heresies’, so I kind of thought it might be a good idea to let you ‘guys and gals’ know ‘where I’m coming from’.

        • What’s incredible Stephen is the similarity in our journeys…:)

          I was raised Episcopalian and Methodist (attended both growing up). Converted to Catholicism to marry my first wife (a Catholic). After a year, I was “saved” at a Church of Christ through baptism. Eventually ended up, through a baptist church, going to a base chapel (I was Air Force) where I met my first charismatics. For years I attended Vineyard churches.

          At my last duty station, I was confronted with the idiocy of Dave Hunt’s Seduction of Christianity. I chance upon, at a Christian bookstore, Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart’s book “The Reduction of Christianity.” I was turned on to David Chilton, Gary North, RJ Rushdoony (one of my adopted sons is named RJ), Greg Bahnsen et al. I became a full-fledged theonomist, joining the National Reform Association, and meeting the Presidential candidate for the National Taxpayer Party, Howard Phillips. Up until that time, I had been a Republican (my dad loved Nixon and Reagan). Now I was a real third party guy.

          I eventually gravitated to neo-conservative Republicanism (stupid me) by voting for George W. in 2004 (I voted for Phillips in 2000). Prior to that, I did vote for Buchanan against Clinton (rather than Dole), but had voted for Bush Sr. (unwillingly somewhat) against Clinton in 1992.

          In 2008, I embarassingly voted for John McCain. Anyone but Obama was my battle cry. I did this even though I could prove on paper that Republicans spent more money than Democrats, and nominated just as many “liberal” justices to the Supreme Court as Democrats.

          Interestingly also I found myself speaking positively about the ACLU in the past few years. And became a Libertarian Party member last year at this time.

          Spiritually, after becoming a theonomist, I embraced the partial preterist label, and began attending Reformed Presbyterian Churches. We sang psalms a capella exclusively. That lasted for a while, until I became a FULL preterist. I remained Reformed (Calvinist) for several years until I encountered a group of “heretics” at New Jerusalem Ministries.

          Eventually I embraced “The Redemption of Israel in AD70.” With that, I also accepted the teaching of Universal Reconciliation. I’ve become more liberal, both theologically and politically, over the last several years.

          I emphasize LIBERAL, not progressive…I will say though that I am not as against programs to help the poor as most libertarians. What ticks me off to some extent is the endless rant about all the money being wasted, while it is a drop in the bucket compared to the money being spent by the Defense Department, the DEA and the Immigration Service.

          My views are basically this: liberalize our immigration policy, legalize drugs, and bring our troops home (only use our military for defense of our nation).I believe that if we do that, we would not have budget problems. Of course there are other things the Federal gov’t spends money on that are idiotic, but those three are the big ones.

          In regards to online work, send me an e-mail at burleywu@yahoo.com and we’ll talk. Seriously Stephen. I would love to help you pursue your dream, even if you don’t yet know what that dream is…