Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gems from the North (6) - Decentralization or Terror

God, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, can afford to allow self-government to men and angels. God is not dependent on His subordinates, so He has the ability to delegate responsibility. Because He is absolutely sovereign, He can safely delegate partial sovereignty to His representatives. This is the great mystery of God’s sovereignty: God is totally sovereign, yet He delegates authority. Those under His authority are responsible
to Him.

Satan, in contrast, imposes only one covenant. He imitates God’s sovereignty, but he cannot imitate it to the extent that he can afford to decentralize. He imitates it as a creature must, centralizing power rather than delegating it. Satan’s system of control is a top-down bureaucracy. It has to be. He is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. He has to rely on his subordinates to provide him with information and to execute his commands. Yet they are all liars and rebels, just as he himself is a liar and a rebel. He has to manage incompetents. So he must use terror and coercion to achieve his goals. This is why Satan’s model is always the State, which has the power of the sword, of life and death.

Satan’s attempt at God’s cosmic personalism results in the personalism of the tyrant who seeks to substitute his will for the will of his subordinates. Satan is a rebel against lawful authority. So are his followers. He therefore dares not allow his subordinates freedom. He must control them from the top down, which means that Satan’s system of rule is power-oriented, not ethics-orientated. He exercises power in history through terror; God exercises power through service. Jesus Christ is the archetype servant in history; Satan is the archetype tyrant and terrorist. Thus, Satan has to centralize power. He could govern his hierarchy in no other way.

Initiative remains at the distant top. How can Christians conduct an organized campaign of cultural conquest without becoming either a scattered occupation force or a top-down bureaucracy? Only by honoring the principle of decentralization, meaning local initiative with a bottom-up appeals court for settling disputes. This means that Christians must also honor the principle of lawful jurisdiction. Each institution, as well as each individual, has an exclusive God-given area of lawful authority. To violate these boundaries is to invite tyranny. (Millenialism and Social Theory pp.324,325)

No comments: