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Monday, April 19, 2010
"Here it is, in a nutshell. The state is either under authority or it is not. If the state is not under authority, it has no authority -- only power. That means that prudence might dictate doing what they say, but conscience never could. So the only way conscience can direct the citizenry to obey the state's authority is if the state itself is under authority. No created entity has authority unless that created entity is under authority. But if the state is under authority, this means the state is under limits.

Being under limited authority means that it is possible to know the nature and extent of those limits. If they go past those limits, everybody knows about it.

If there is no God above the state, the state has no authority. If there is a God above the state, then the state has no authority outside the limits that have been set for it. And in either case, there is no reason grounded in conscience for putting up with legalized plunder." - Doug Wilson


Colin said...

Brilliant quotation - really thought provoking.

A state that operates under the law that everyone does is one thing. A state which relies only on its own power and authority is criminal. The law is something we all live under, not a means for the state to push others around.

Chris A said...

Yeah, really good quote. Inherent in the word "authority" is the word "author". Unless the state presumes to be God, it cannot claim ultimate authority.

I have to assume this is a moral argument against excessive taxation since I can't go to Wilson's site. While I somewhat agree with him, I don't know that I can come to the same conclusion biblically. According to the Scriptures, taxation is the prerogative of the state, and I know of know sound theological grounds upon which to argue against taxation as theft. I wish I did. Maybe then I could accept a specific limitation of governmental authority in this area.

Colin said...

Chris, I just heard this today and I thought it was really, really compelling. It doesn't refute paying taxes, but it does refute the idea that Jesus used "render unto Caesar" as a means of telling us to pay them:

Chris A said...

Very interesting. Thanks for posting that link, Colin. It always helps to get some historical context. I can't say that I have a definite opinion about what Jesus meant here, but I'm definitely not going to be using this Scripture to justify paying taxes.

But if we are asking Jesus' opinion on the matter, I think it's best to look at the example he provided in Matthew 17. The reason Jesus gave for paying taxes forever settles the question of whether we should do the same, and it is completely consistent with what Paul wrote on the matter.

I acknowledge that governments have limited authority. Jesus said that the only authority Cesar had came from God, the actual Author. But I cannot biblically justify putting those outside of government in the position of determining the limits of that authority, except when they are clearly prescribed in the Bible - in which case God has actually determined the limits rather than us. Pertaining to taxation, although it may be oppressive and we may be justified in saying so, God alone has to stand in judgment of the state. And historically He has done that by letting governments be overtaken by enemy forces. Eventually He will personally overtake all of them.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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