Things in our public life together are gummed up enough that I believe we can openly call for radical reform. Whether we do or not, I think we are going to get the same treatment. We might as well respond with something that might actually help. Whatever the case, we will not be able to trim or pirouette our way out of this mess. As an insightful sailor on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor might have said, as the third wave of Japanese bombers flew over, “The time for nuance is passed.”
A few posts ago I mentioned the five smooth stones of theocratic libertarianism. This was in the context of an illustration using David and Goliath, and as with David, I think most of our problems would probably be addressed in principle with just the first one.
At any rate, here are the basic features of theocratic libertarianism. Here are my five smooth stones.
1. Jesus is Lord. I have been arguing for years now that what is required is a return to Christendom, but in a form that I call mere Christendom. If you like, you can call it mere fundamentalism. A free civilization is necessarily larger than any of the Christian denominations within it, but at the same time a free civilization will have to be Christian. So I propose no single established church, no tax-supported denominations, but I do propose the formal adoption of the Apostles’ Creed, and without any hermeneutical funny business. I propose that as a nation we formally confess together that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. If you protest that this would kill the great secular experiment that is America, I would reply that the great secular experiment that is America appears to have already gone out behind the barn and shot itself.
2. The libertarian aspect of this insists that most of our practical problems can be addressed through repealing laws and abolishing agencies. When most people hear about a “theocratic” anything, they assume they will soon be confronted with ayatollah-manned death panels. But all societies are theocratic, with the only thing distinguishing them being the nature and attributes of the reigning theos. Since our current theos happens to be a bloodthirsty maniac, and because I am not a devotee of that particular religion, I would urge my fellow citizens to turn away from him, and turn to our heavenly Father. The first thing that would happen in a biblical law order is that the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education, etc. would all be abolished. Legitimate functions of government (Defense, State, etc.) would be significantly downsized or redirected.
3. The positive laws I would like to see enacted would be in the area of constitutional process and reform. The kind of government we are currently abused by is precisely the kind of government that our Constitution was originally drafted to prevent. Consequently I would like to see reform undertaken through “process” laws instead of “content” laws. By this I mean laws of process restraining our rulers, and not any new laws governing the peons. A good example would be term limits, or a law requiring “none of the above” on every ballot, such that if “none of the above” wins, that a new election with new candidates be scheduled. The goal should be to have a government that stays within its appointed bounds. The goal should be to keep the termites out of the woodwork.
4. A formal recognition of the Lordship of Jesus is necessary, but is not sufficient. More is required than paper commitments. All true constitutions arise from the people, and genuine allegiance to Christ is not going to happen unless there is a reformation and revival. In order for any of this to work, we must have countless preachers of the gospel, faithfully declaring the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The role of the government here is to stay out of the way, allowing such preachers free access to the people, and thereby encouraging them to have at it. If you don’t give a heck about the man with the Bible in his hand, as the Staple Singers taught us, just “get out the way and let the gentleman do his thing.” There is a straight line blessing that runs from free grace to free men, and from free men to free markets.
5. Culture wars should be fought in the culture, not in the courts. One of the central reasons for having a constitutionally limited government is so that one cultural faction does not get to cheat, using the force of law to skew the outcomes in their favor. Since law is coercive by definition, the areas in which coercion is allowed should be radically limited. The law should protect life, liberty, and property. After that, the alternative visions for truth, goodness and beauty may freely compete. Using their own money, voluntarily donated, the secularists and atheists may build their own schools, write poems and novels, produce plays and movies, build cathedrals, compose concertos, and so on.
But it will not have escaped your notice that such free competition is a Christian value, and by limiting government in this way we have already decided what is the best way for everyone. There is no neutrality. So I don’t want liberty for secularists because secularism is true — it isn’t. Secularism is an opium dream, complete with flashing eyes and floating hair. I want liberty for secularists because Jesus is Lord.