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Volume 8, Issue 4: Anvil

The Rattle of Chains

Douglas Wilson

What are Christians to make of the "sovereignty movement?" More and more believers are being attracted to what appears to be a hard-core defiance of governmental tyranny through rescinding national citizenship, driver's licenses, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. The standoff with the Freemen of Montana was not the last national appearance of this kind of thinking.

Fortunately, we may address the question without getting into the minutiae of social security numbers, common law, the illegitimacy of the IRS, and so on. Whenever a bright student begins rummaging around in American history he soon starts discovering all kinds of things that he didn't really want to know. The bottom line is that we do not live in the same republic that James Madison did, and we do not have the same rights. He died a free man, and we are slaves.
But as soon as this is acknowledged, it appears that the "sovereignty movement" has made its case, and it is this reality of our slavery which provides their argument with whatever plausibility it posseses. We are living under tyranny, and we are slaves.
As advocates of the "sovereignty movement" make their case, the hidden premises in all this are that we do not deserve to be slaves, that we have become slaves through the wickedness of somebody else, and that God has not placed this slavery upon us as a just judgment. These premises, however, are all false. The Bible teaches us that slavery is a judgment upon those who are slaves to sin, and it clearly tells Christians who are slaves what to do and how to live.
God is the only sovereign, and in His perfect control of history, He has determined that the American people needed to hear the rattle of their own chains for a while. Our slavery is a judgment from God, and it is just. Instead of renouncing and "rescinding" our chains, we should be confessing the sins which brought them to us.
When we have learned to see that these calamaties are better than we deserve and the fact we are governed by clowns and mountebanks is God's judgment on us, we will have taken the first step toward freedom. But until we have learned to confess our sins, we will never learn what Paul means when he says if we have an opportunity for freedom we should take it. In all the literature that I have seen attacking the current tyranny, the confession of somebody else's sins is always front and center.
"We have Thomas Jefferson for our father. How can you say we are slaves?" The Christian church in America has a threadbare gospel, tired and compromised preachers, bubble-gum worship songs, marketing techniques instead of prayer, and all driven by a pervasive theological imbecility.
Throw off our chains? Why should we do that? We still love our chains.


 

Supreme Court Gags on Freedom of Association, Again

By Douglas Jones

Those uppity Coloradans had played the fool too loudly with this Amendment 2 clatter, so back in May the Mother Court decided to lock them in their rooms. But not just one room. In a stroke of maternal brilliance, every Coloradan had to be stuffed into the same room. That'll teach 'em about tolerance. And finally Colorado will glow and grin with the social harmony of a prison yard.

Those who choose the terms of a debate can hardly lose it. And when the intellectual priests in civil and media realms add a very stern motherly look to it, the masses bow quickly.
The losing side in the (of course) "anti-gay rights" battle, those narrow-faced breeders, have long capitulated to their opponents' language of amorphous civil rights, trying to squeeze out a moral high ground on "special" rights, which still begs the question. In popular intuition, rights of any should never be taken away.
Though it wouldn't matter much rhetorically at this late stage in the battle, the "gay rights" struggle is really a battle against freedom of association and property rights. The owner of a piece of property has the authority to do what he wants with his own things (Matt. 20:15). In polite society under normal circumstances, he can freely invite or prohibit whomever he wishes for whatever reasons. It's his veto, after all. He can't be forced to associate with others. But such a terrifying freedom has long been suppressed in this land -- too much maturity required.
The entire civil rights mysticism has to fight such basic property rights and freedom of association. "Antidiscrimination" legislation means that you may not freely associate with whomever you please. You may not have authority over your own business. You must forfeit your property to another's desires under penalty of law. And remember, this is what is meant by tolerance. Whenever the egalitarian elite smiles and talks about discrimination and tolerance, they're talking about serious coercion.
As many observers have noted, no one, especially the egalitarian, really believes in social equality. Talk of equality is simply a way of transferring power, a way of replacing one political system with another. We should have long abandoned our shock that the Mother Court rejoices as she eats her young.


 

Home Sweet Church

By Douglas Wilson

For those of us who think the modern and postmodern world with all its shimmer and spark is rather boring and inconsequential, the contemporary home church movement stands out as an odd wart. It claims to be oh so ancient and communal, but every self-professed motive fueling the movement is oh so boringly modern.

Now many good, sincere folks are increasingly excited about home church distinctives: anti-authority, anti-denominationalism, anti-church buildings, anti-boring sermons, pro-spontaneity, pro-community, pro-"freshness," etc.
As always, God will surely judge those of us who merely go through the ecclesiastical motions, but the home church demand for an "interesting and fresh" church experience betrays modern shallowness. Modernity is characterized by self-absorption and self-satisfaction. In this, many home church folks follow the secular crowd. If a local church fails to meet their needs -- if it bores them -- they move on like they do on a walk through the mall. Finally, they break off and retreat home, giving "home entertainment center" an ecclesiastical twist. Their first error is that they think Church is for them, their personal satisfaction instead of God's. It's hard to imagine Isaiah being absorbed with the quality of his own experience and his broken relationships while he stood before the throne of God. His first desire was to worship God, and God wants humility not a circus.
Similarly, the demand for spontaneity in worship is painfully modern. Following godless Rousseau, we think that anything structured and ordered is somehow insincere and corrupted. Only pure emotion, unshackled by thought, is sincere. But much of the premodern world, especially the Church, wouldn't even know what we were blustering about. The synagogue system where Christ regularly worshiped had set readings, prayers, etc., and would have bored the aficionados' home church movement to death.
Home churchers are right that evangelicalism is in a sorry state, but instead of joining the ancient battle, they break off and splinter further, imitating evangelicalism more and more in a radical individualism that would make even anabaptists blush.
Instead of aping the modern monotony of self-centered entertainment, spontaneity, and individualism, those in the home church movement should learn to delight in the old paths.


 

Reform, Aye

By Douglas Jones

A number of years ago a friend of mine made an off-hand comment which might appear to some to reflect a deficient faith in American democracy. He said, "Of course he's corrupt. He's running for president, isn't he?"

Time has passed, and I would want to modify his comment only slightly. A number of people, Christians particularly, when they first enter our political process, are in fact not yet corrupt. They have seen the problems with our public life and they want to make a difference. Our botched public affairs finally get enough sideways that some unsullied souls spit on their hands, and determine to get in there and make this thing work. This, as H.L. Mencken once observed, is like thinking that "the remedy for prostitution is to fill the bawdy houses with virgins."
Still it can't be helped. The sun goes up and the sun goes down, and a society in decline will never have a shortage of reformers and patriots clustering round. They either fail, and keep their purity, or they succeed and discover that this whole thing is more complex than previously thought. After all, they came in to make a difference, and they can't make a difference unless they stay around, and they can't stay around unless they learn to play the game. Miss Realistic is quite a seductive little thing, but she always has ugly babies.
When the cancer of corruption is well-advanced in a commonwealth, believers can easily be maneuvered into festooning themselves with the campaign buttons of the less corrupt. Such relative comparisons between "horrible" and "not quite so bad" can appear quite stark, and they do give political campaigns a high entertainment value, but they still do not reflect the standards of the law of God.
Take Mr. Clinton's corruptions. The mendacity of Mr. Clinton is a monument to thoroughness. His lies shine like marble. The man is a scoundrel of the first rank. He therefore presents an easy target for all those who want his job, and who promise to keep their corruptions more or less out of the public view. Consequently, we should not be surprised by, and indeed we should predict, a loyal opposition which strives to sound like John the Baptist, but which continues to carry on like Herod when he had the hots for Herodias.
The religious right, concerned and involved Christians, the Christian Coalition, or whatever it is they are called these days, have not been living in our political cathouse all that long. We can all still remember when they weren't there, trying to make their difference. The motto of Christians for the Reform of Brothels (CRB) is: "What this town needs is some sweet girls!"
The secularists have a chain around our necks. The sweet girls, tender-hearted as they are, want to lengthen the chain a couple of feet.

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