Three Coyotes and a Sheep

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When I say that the Bible requires limited government — because a claim to unlimited government by mortals is a spurious claim to Deity — I do not mean that Christians may not find themselves living under despotic regimes from time to time. Our understanding of these things (given by grace) does not automatically transfer to those despots who do not know and understand that God is the only God.

What I do mean is say is that believers and despots are always, necessarily, on a collision course. A despot is one who recognizes no functioning authority above him, and a believer is one who knows and confesses that there is a final authority beyond the realm of men, and that this final authority is a functioning authority.

Given the nature of the case, at some point the despot is going to demand some form of allegiance that the believer cannot in good conscience render. What the despot requires will seem entirely reasonable to a large number of people . . . just a small pinch of incense. Just a little one.

That is what happened with the early Christians and their obedience to Caesar. They had been obedient to Caesar too, numbered among his best citizens and subjects, but their obedience had built-in limits, and that is why they were on a collision course. That is what happened to the founders of our republic as well. They were obedient to the king, and bore with his depredations lawfully and patiently for years. They exhausted every legal remedy. But their obedience had built-in limits, and when they came to the point, their confession was, “No king but Jesus.” We are at a similar point, and we are going to be tested in a similar way.

If there is no god above the state, then the state is god. But if there is a God above the state — and there is — then we may rejoice to hear the glorious good news that the state is not god.

I have said that Congress is not Jesus, and have grounded our resistance on that footing. But some will say that I am being delusional — “Whoever claimed that Congress was Jesus? John Roberts never said, ‘Congress is Jesus.’ What are you going on about?” No, he did not use those words, but the Supreme Court decision excluded, by definition, any limiting principle.

No human authority is absolute — not the authority of the family, not that of the church and not that of the civil government. When one of those authorities makes a claim that does not admit of any boundaries or limits, then the time has come for an intervention.

Some might want to embrace the way of wishful thinking, the option of shallow thinkers of every era. They may want to say, “Oh, surely, there must a limiting principle around here somewhere. Let’s just hope there is, and leave it to the establishment lawyers to figure one out.”

I, for one, would be delighted to discover that a limiting principle remains. If you are confident that there is one, would you please share it with us? Under these criteria, just now established by the Court, what could Congress and the president not do to us? Provided they use the coercive power of taxation, what is prohibited to them from the outset? You say there are limits on them still. Fine. What are they?

Democracy is not a limiting principle — democracy is one of the central things that must be limited, as the founders well knew. Democracy is three coyotes and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.



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