Monday, April 30, 2007

Ten Commandments (2) - Old Covenant

The Ten Commandments are not totally relevant to Christian life. The reason is that they were the heart of the covenant between God and Israel. The Bible explains why the Ten Commandments were given.

Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites (Ex 19:3-6).

The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain (Deut 5:2-4).

These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me…..So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess (Deut 5:22,32-33).

The Ten Commandments were the expression of the covenant between God and the children of Israel. To keep their side of the covenant, Israel was required to keep all Ten Commandments. Most of the commandments had penalties for disobedience. This covenant with God was enforced by the civil authorities through the justice system. Under this system, blasphemy was a crime punishable by the civil authorities.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ten Commandments (1) - Adore and Ignore

The Ten Commandments have very widespread acceptance throughout the western world. Even people who have given up on the church, or stopped believing in God, will say that they live by the Ten Commandments. In the United States, the Ten Commandments are often displayed on courthouse wall and other public places.

However, despite all the attention and mention, the commandments themselves are mostly ignored. The people claiming to live by them would be hard pushed to name five of the ten. Despite their place of honour in the United States, they have almost no affect on laws and lawmaking. Even serious Christians are uncertain about what to do with the Ten Commandments. They know that they live under grace rather than law, so it is not clear how the Ten Commandments fit with God’s grace. This is an important issue that we must get sorted.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bollard Blunders On

Alan Bollard, New Zealand's Ben Bernanke, has raised the cash rate to 7.75 percent making it the highest discount rate in the western world. I cannot see anthing unique about our economy that means that we must have higher interest rates than other nations. Floating mortgage interest rates have just gone over 10 percent again.

One Alan cannot match Two Davids.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Universal Laws (12) Conclusion

Over the last week I have posted about three universal laws. The complete series can be found here.

I have derived the three universal laws from common sense using reason and logic. The astute reader will note that these universal laws actually come from the Ten Commandments. some will have noticed that the many of the examples also come from the scriptures. A version with scripture references can be found here

These three laws are universal because they are written on our consciences. This is not surprising, because every human being has a conscience. Since we are all created in God’s image, our conscience reflects his standards. Everyone knows Gods law, because it is written on all human hearts. People repress their consciences with regard to their own behaviour, but they all know what is wrong for other people. These are universal laws, because they are God's laws.

The three universal laws appear to be human laws, because they are accepted by people everywhere. They are actually God’s law, as contained in the Ten Commandments. The reason they appear to be human laws is that God has written his law on human hearts.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Universal Laws (11) Limiting Politicians

Punishment of crime allows a civil government to use force against those who break the law. Very few people will accept the right of an elite to control the rest of our society. We never know when we will end up a part of a minority, so few people would agree to the right of a majority to bully a minority (even they are rich). This means that the civil government must be limited to doing things that everyone can agree on. The highest common denominator provides a constraint on government power, because only thieves, murderers and thugs can be subjected to government force.

Laws that attempt to do more than prevent theft and violence are generally mooted by people who enjoy telling other people how to behave. They usually want to force people to be good. This is dangerous because people disagree about right and wrong. Whereas the three universal laws have universal support, laws that go beyond them produce endless argument and disagreement. Their enforcement results in the views of the politically powerful being forced upon people who do not agree with them.

Politicians are particularly dangerous, because they believe that law can solve every problem. They always want the law to do much more than it can, so they go well beyond the highest common denominator and force a wide range of laws onto society. They use political power to force the laws of the majority onto minorities. Even worse, they often force the majority to obey laws supported only by a minority. Laws that are not universally accepted are dangerous for everyone.

A highest common denominator approach keeps politics humble. The three universal laws are voluntary because people are not forced to do things against their will. This highest common denominator is simple, accepted and effective.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Universal Laws (10) Just Three

That's it.

The three laws are a universal highest common denominator. Some people might debate about the penalties, but murder, assault and theft are crimes in every culture and religion. Even libertarians with no religion acknowledge these three crimes. We do not need politicians and parliaments to tell us that these are crimes. Everyone knows that they are wrong.

These universal laws are comprehensive, because they provide protection for life and property. That is about all that law can do. Laws can influence external behaviour, but they cannot change hearts. They cannot make people be good. The most that the law can do is provide limited protection against theft and violence. Law cannot produce good people or eliminate evil.

Most people will agree on assault, murder, theft. Some will want to include adultery on the list. However, human nature being what is, some people will argue that it is not universally wrong. Adultery cannot be included in the highest common denominator.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Universal Laws (9) Penalty for Murder

Murder is the most serious crime, so it deserves the toughest penalty. In principle, the only penalty proportional to the killing of a human is the death of the murderer. If justice were the only consideration, the death penalty would be mandatory, because no other penalty can compensate for the death of another human? No financial payment can fully compensate for a human life.

Justice understands that the parents of a murdered child might want to kill the killer. However, justice is not justice, if it is not tempered by mercy. Most people will be uncomfortable about applying a death penalty, because they have an abhorrence for taking life. They would be reluctant to kill, even a murderer. Mercy will temper judgment.

The problem with the death penalty is it does nothing for the financial dependents of the victim. It hurts the dependents of the murderer more than it hurts the murderer, so true justice is not really achieved. Payment of financial restitution to the family of the person murdered will generally be a more satisfactory penalty. This payment would have to be large enough to compensate for the loss of the life and to make up for the future earnings lost by the victim’s family. The murderer might have to mortgage his life to be able to make this restitution.

Where a murder is particularly ruthless or cruel, and there are several victims, financial restitution might not be sufficient penalty. A few murderers are so evil, that they have no future in normal society. In these situations, if there are several independent and reliable witnesses to identify the murderer with certainty, justice might require the death penalty. However, situations with independent witnesses will be very rare, because most murders are committed in private.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Universal Laws (8) Murder

Murder is wrong in every religion and every culture. Even soldiers trained for warfare can find it hard to pull the trigger when they meet their enemy face-to-face. Gangsters and thugs may seem to kill people quite casually, but they know it is wrong. Here is another simple law accepted by everyone.

You shall not murder
Murder is deliberately taking another person's life. Intention to kill is an important ingredient.

Everyone understands that accidents sometimes happen. If a person is killed by accident, it is clearly not murder. These situations are not always black and white. Someone may take a careless action that results in the death of another. He did not intend to kill the person, so he has not committed murder, but his action did cause the death of another, so he is partly responsibility.

For example, if the head flies off the axe of person chopping wood and kills someone walking by, the wood chopper is not guilty of murder. However, if the he knew that the axe head was loose and had come off several times before, the axeman would be partly responsible for the death. In these circumstance, a judge would have to decide how dangerous risky it was to use the axe and how clearly the axeman understood the risk.

If he had borrowed the axe from someone else, he may not have known that the head had flown off several times. In this case, part of the responsibility might lie with the person who owned the axe.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New Breeding Ground

Many bloggers quote from news agencies that will interest their readers. I have never done this before, but the following report from CBCZ was too interesting to ignore.

Several terrorist attacks have rocked the security of America. In the first attack, 32 students were killed at a University near Washington DC. Hundreds of other students were terrorized. According to official reports, the attacker was acting alone, but the websites that you need to go to find the truth suggest that he was part of an underground cell with links to cells in other parts of America. This view was confirmed by another attack on the west coast and the most recent terrorist strike was at the Kennedy Space Centre.

UV observers are concerned that America is becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. The UV has offered to send peacekeepers into the area, but President Bash has refused, saying that he cannot guarantee their safety.

The Israeli defence force has offered to drop 3 million cluster bombs on the area. They say that this is the only way to be certain that terrorists do not return when assault troops withdraw.

Several countries are offering an amnesty to political refugees from the area. However, this help might be too late to prevent a humanitarian crisis developing.

The CU has put a moratorium on all economic aid to America. They have set two conditions for aid being restored.

The first condition is that democracy must be restored. According to independent observers, democratic institutions are quite fragile in America. The most recent presidential election was judged to be flawed, but even with the assistance of some dubious practices, President Bash got less than 50 percent support. His support has now dropped to less than 30 percent.

Observers do not see the American parliament as a serious restraint on President Bash. Most representatives have been captured by the Israel lobby. The rest are dependent on big business for their positions, so a really independent opposition does not really exist. This means that international organizations have no legitimate authority with widespread support for them to negotiate with. They are keen to a deal, but there is no one to do a deal with.

The second condition that the CU set for a resumption of aid was a
resolution of the Indian problem. President Bash has never accepted the two-state solution mandated by the UV. The numerous American settlements on the Great Plains area that the UV has declared should be the basis of an Indian state are a serious obstacle to peace in the area. Most independent observers doubt that President Bash has the moral authority to force the settlers to leave the Great Plains area. Right-wing settlers say they have a God-given right to their homes and they will fight to remain.

Leaders of the free world are becoming concerned that a new axis of evil is emerging in the west, stretching from America to Britain.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Universal Laws (7) Penalties for Assault

The penalty for assault must compensate the victim for any damage to their body. They criminal should provide financial compensation to their victim according to the extent of their injuries. Head injuries or the loss of an eye will require more compensation than a black eye or a broken finger.

Assault is a form of theft, because the injured person’s ability to enjoy life or earn money is stolen.

If they injury is permanent, the victim will need compensation for loss of future income. All medical expenses should be paid as well.

If a person is assaulted by someone to whom they owe money, the debt might be cancelled by way of restitution.

The financial compensation for a sexual assault will take account of the physical, emotional and spiritual harm done. Permanent emotional scars will justify extreme financial penalties. If the assault affects the woman’s prospect for marriage, the compensation should also cover this.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Universal Laws (6) Assault

The second universal law is assault.

Hitting or striking another person without their permission is a crime. Kicking, biting head-butting and punching are different forms of assault.

You shall not assault another person
Assault can also involve a variety of weapons.

  • Guns;
  • Knives;
  • An out-of-control car that hits another person.
  • A stone picked up from the side of the road and thrown deliberately at another person;
  • Two men are fighting and thy crash into an innocent bystander, they are both guilty of assault.

However, if the bystander has come closer to watch the fight; they are mostly responsible for their own fate.

Rape is a particularly serious form of assault, as in addition to the physical, harm, it causes spiritual and emotional harm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Universal Laws (5) Punishment for Theft

The penalty for stealing must ensure that the victim is fully compensated for their loss. They should get back the items that were stolen. If the stolen goods have been sold or destroyed, the victim should get sufficient money to buy a replacement. If the stolen item has been damaged, the thief should pay for any repairs that are needed. The victim should get additional money to cover the income that was lost through the theft. They should also get sufficient recompense to cover all the expenses of tracking and proving the case against the thief.

In most cases, the thief would pay three or fourfold restitution to fully compensate their victim for the inconvenience of the theft. If the goods stolen are tools and equipment used in production processes, the loss is likely to be greater, so more compensation will be required. The theft of a power tool that I need for my work will justify greater compensation than the theft of a radio of equal value that I only listen to for my entertainment.

Making three or fourfold repayment for all the goods stolen would discourage a thief from further stealing. To make restitution, the thief will often have to take out a loan at a high interest rate. The hard work needed to repay the loan will make stealing an unattractive proposition.

The level of repayment should depend on whether the level of responsibility for the damage. If two cars crash into each other after being caught by a wind gust, neither driver can be held accountable. If one driver was driving, carelessly, he should compensate the other driver for the damage, before repairing his own car. If both drivers were being careless, they should share the expense.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Universal Laws (4) Theft

In the next few posts I will describe three universal laws that everyone accepts. They are the highest common denominator for human society. The first universal law is theft.

Taking something that belongs to another person without their permission is stealing. This is something that everyone understands. Even small children get upset when another child takes their toys without permission. This is the first universal law.

You shall not steal

Stealing takes various forms.

  • Breaking into a person’s house and taking things;
  • Finding something that another person has lost and selling it;
  • Borrowing something from another person and losing it;
  • Using another person’s equipment without permission;
  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement;
  • Breaking a contract to sell or buy something at an agreed price;
  • Carelessly driving into another person’s car and robbing them of their transport;
  • Driving with an insecure load that falls off and damages passing cars;
  • Allowing a rubbish fire on a property to spread onto a neighbour’s backyard and destroying their garage.

Two questions help determine whether theft has occurred. Did the goods taken belong to someone else? Were the goods or service taken without their permission?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Universial Laws (3) - Penalties

The penalties for crime must have the following five characteristics.

1. Justice
The penalty must fit the crime. The severity of the punishment should match the seriousness of the crime. A serious crime must have a tougher penalty than a minor one.

2. Mercy
Mercy is sometimes more important than justice. If the person breaking a law has made a thoughtless mistake, they should be shown mercy and allowed to make a fresh start. We all make mistakes, so we all need mercy at time. Harsh punishments are not always appropriate.

3. Caution
Innocent people should not be punished. A society should be cautious when applying punishments, so that the innocent are protected.

4. Restitution
The penalty should benefit the victim of the crime. As far as is possible, the punishment should restore the victim to the situation they were in before the crime occurred. If the harm they received is permanent and cannot be restored, they should receive financial compensation to help them cope.

5. Deterrence
The punishment should also deter the criminal from breaking the law again. If the person is incorrigible, this may not be possible. However, the punishment should at least make them worse off than they were before they committed the crime. This will discourage future adventures with crime. Breaking the law should never benefit the offender.

These five elements of punishment, justice, mercy, caution, restitution and deterrence must be balanced against each other, without any one dominating the others. None of these elements is sufficient justification for punishment on its own.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Universal Laws (2) Nature

A law has two parts.

  1. An action or behaviour is forbidden. Laws do not tell us what we can do. They prescribe things that we must not do. The specification of the law must be sufficiently precise that anyone can understand what actions are prohibited.
  2. A penalty is prescribed for non-compliance. Those who break a law receive a negative sanction or punishment. This penalty is applied by a civil authority.

The penalty turns a moral statement into a law. Pride might be morally wrong, but there is no civil punishment for being proud, so it is not a law.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Universal Laws (1) Highest Common Denominator

Which Laws?

Every society recognizes the need for law, but laws only work if they are widely accepted. If too many people disagree with a law, it will be ignored. If people hate enough laws, they will become hostile to the law-makers. For law to function effectively, we need a set of laws that everyone accepts.

The key to the rule of law is to find the "highest common denominator" (to twist a mathematical expression). The highest common denominator is the set of laws that every one will accept, or at best not reject. The aim is to identify laws that most people will support.

Some basic laws are accepted by everyone everywhere, regardless of their religion or cultural background. These laws are universal because they seem to be rooted in human nature. We do not need someone to teach us that these things are wrong. We all know that these laws are right.

In the next few posts, I will define these universal laws.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Doing Good

The world is full of people who love telling others what to do. These people are not a problem. Unless the persson telling you what to do is your parent or wife, you can mostly just ignore them. Because they are mostly ignored, they cannot do much harm. In fact, if they persuade someone to do something good, that's fine.

Hey! I am one of those who love telling others what to do. And most people have no problem ignoring me, but thats fine. I prefer them to be thinking and free than kowtowing to me.

The world is also full of do gooders. These are not people who want to do what is good. They are people who want to force other people do what they think is good. Again, this is mostly not a problem. We can just ignore them.

The problem arises when these do gooders get hooked up with politicians. An lets face it, most politicians are do gooders. Almost all politicians believe they were elected to make laws and regulations that will force other people do do what they believe is good.

People with the political power to force other people to do good are very dangerous, because they cannot just be ignored. Politicians of every persuasion believe that people should be forced to do what they think is good or right.

Most political commentators have no problem with this. It has become normal. Yet these same commentators are horrified by the the thought that a group of Christians might force God's will on other people. I know which I would sooner have. I'd prefer to be forced to do God's will than be forced to do the will of some of the flaky politicians that get to power in this modern world.

Actually both are wrong. God is not interested in imposing his will on people against their will. He does not want his people doing this and he certainly does not approve of politicians imposing their will on unwilling people.

I am puzzled that intelligent men are upset by one form of coercion, but welcome the other. Maybe it is because they hope to be the ones telling us what to do and making us do it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sword and Trumpet

The Civil Authorities have the Power of the Sword
The sword represents the power of coercion. The civil authoritiescan force a citizen to do things against their will.

A sword can hurt and even kill a person, so this power is very dangerous. It must be used rarely and carely. If coercive power is used unwisely, terrible damage can be done.

The role of the civil authorities is limited to:

  • Defence from attack
  • Quarantine sickness (a form of defence)
  • Punishment of crime
  • Reparation to victims.
The Church has the Power of the Trumpet
The trumpet represents the power of the truth. A trumpet does not have coercive power, as you can ignore its sound. You might get tired of the noise and move away from the sound, but it cannot hurt you. The trumpet represents the power of persuasion. The church cannot force people to do things, it can only persuade them to do what is right.

The role of the Church:

  • Preach the Gospel
  • Teach the word
  • Build the body
  • Speak prophetically to the civil authorities.

The Church has always been tempted to seize the power of the sword, so it can force people to do the right thing. The problem is that the church that uses force loses credibility. We must resist the temptation to take up the sword, because it chokes the power of the trumpet.

The church does not need the sword, because the trumpet is annointed by the Holy Spirit. The Sprit more powerful than the sword. The word of God spoken in the power of the Spirit is sharper than a two-edged sword.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Kingdom is not Theocratic

The more that I think about it, the clearer it becomes that theocracy is not a good word for describing the Kingdom of God.

God’s kingdom is his will being done on earth as it is in heaven. To understand what this means, we have to think about how his will is done in heaven. The citizens of heaven do not do his will because the fear him or because they are forced to obey. The do God’s will because they respect him. They understand that his wisdom and his will are perfect, so doing his will is the natural thing to do.

God’s kingdom comes on earth in the same way. His will will be done, but that does not mean that people will be forced to do his will. It will not be done because people are afraid of him. God’s will will be done, because people with new hearts choose to love him. As those who love him begin to understand his will, they will realise that his ways are perfect. They will freely choose to do his will out of respect for him.

Just as there is no fear or force in heaven, there is no room for fear or force in his Kingdom. This means that any word that ends with “ocracy” does not fit with the kingdom of God.

There is only one situation where God will permit humans to use force against other humans in his Kingdom. He allows the punishment of theft, assault and murder to be enforced by human judges. That is the limit on the use of force. And even when punishing these sins, human force must be tempered by mercy.

Almost all humans would accept that force is justified for dealing with theft, assault and murder. Therefore, even the most ardent anti-theocrat would be hard pressed to find anything objectionable about the Kingdom of God.

The other “ocracies” involve far more force being used for a wider range of purposes. For example, democracy allows the majority to force a minority to bow to the will of the majority. Those who fear being forced to do things against their will should fear democracy far more than they fear the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Against Theocracy

Ed Brayton at Talk to Action makes a very reasoned plea for critics to be more careful in their use of the word theocracy.

I also don't think we should use the term theocrat to describe all conservative Christians, evangelicals or fundamentalists; that is simply painting with too broad a brush. A theocrat is someone who wants the country to be ruled by the rules of a particular religion, in this country nearly always Christian of course.

I appreciate reasoned approach and his concern about the correct use of words. However, I cannot support his definition of theocracy. Theocracy is the "rule of God", not the rule of any old religion. Ed makes theocracy sound like the rule of Pat Robertson or James Dobson. What is feared bymost of those who fear theocracy is actually FocusontheFamilocracy, MoralMajorocracy or 700Clubocracy. These do sound scary. They scare me. They probably even scare God (actually nothing scares him, but he is horrified by some things said and done in his name).

We must be clear about one thing. God does not want to rule the world through the church. He does not want to rule the world through Focus on the Family, or through Pat Robertson. He is no interested in forcing his will one the people of the world. He created us to be free responsible and wants us to freely choose to love him. If we love, him we will probably choose to obey him, and that will change things on earth, particularly in the political scene.

God is not interested in is any "ocracy" where one group of people attempt to force their will on the rest. He is not interested in forcing people to become Christians. He is not interested in using the law to force people to live like Christians. More here.

Ed Brayton goes on his comments to say that "accomodationists" are okay. These are "people who support non-coercive public propping up of religious belief in general". He includes George Washington and John Adams in this group. Brayton is very generous in allowing accomodationism, but I have to disagree with him on this one too. The truth is that God does not need anyone to prop him up. He does not the support of the state. Whenever, the church has sought the support of the state it has been on the verge of becoming dangerous, or becoming useless. If the church needs the support of the state, it has probably lost the support of God. We do not need the state propping up a church that is "over the hill".

Monday, April 09, 2007

God and Force

The church must not attempt to control the state. Christians must never use the coercive power of the state to advance its cause or to enforce Christian standards on the world. This has been a strong temptation for the church in every century. For many years, the church used the power of the state to force people to become Christians. During the crusades, "the heathen Moslems" were killed to advance the gospel.

The use of force to advance the gospel did terrible damage and for most the last 400 years, the world has been trying to throw off the control of the church. Hatred of church control has often led to an unnecessary rejection of the gospel, as most people cannot tell the difference.

We are now living in a season where the influence of the church is disappearing and the gospel is at a low ebb. Despite this rejection, we do not seem to have learned our lesson and the impulse to use the state to advance our cause is still strong. The prohibition movement is a recent example, and Christian support for the war in Iraq springs from the same well.

God’s greatest gifts to mankind is freedom, so we must not force our faith on an unwilling world. Our Father will never force sinners to live righteously, if they are unwilling. He will allow them to experience the consequences of their choices, but he will not stop them choosing. God wants people to obey him, because they love him, not because they have to. The most that he will do to make them obey him, is the Holy Spirit’s stirring in their conscience.

Following God’s example, we should never use political power to enforce Christian standards on a non-Christian world. The state is the only institution in society that has the power to force people to do things against their will. This coercive power of the state is very dangerous, so it should be used sparingly. Christians should never use it to force people to live by their standards. (This is one of the features that distinguish Islam and Christianity. Islam has always used force win converts and force and submission come from its heart. While Christianity has sometimes used force to win converts, this has always been a denial of the gospel that weakened the Church.)

We should only attempt to implement Christian laws when the majority of people are Christian, or if the majority of people accept Christian standards. That means that the battle in the marketplace of ideas must be won before we can achieve victory in the political area. We are currently a long way from that goal. While most people accept the wisdom of Jesus, they are very hostile to the idea of Christians imposing their standards on the rest of society. (I suspect that God agrees with them, as he has never forced people to obey him).

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Making Theocracy Work.

The best method of government is theocracy. Theocracy is the rule of God (theos kratos = god rule). Theocracy is the same as the Kingdom of God. Kings rule over kingdoms. God is king of the Kingdom of God, so he rules in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the same as the rule of God. Christians believe in the Kingdom of God, so we should be supporters of theocracy and not democracy.

For the LORD is our judge,
the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
it is he who will save us.
Isaiah 33:22
The rule of God is the best, because it is the only way to blessing.

The difficulty with theocracy is in making it work. Because God is spirit and in heaven, we have to find a practical way for him to rule on earth. People with political and judicial power have to find a way to do God's will.

God is not silent, so they can not his will. He has revealed his will to mankind, so it is hard, but not impossible, for rulers to know his will. If God’s will can be known, rulers can choose to obey God and do his will when exercising political power.

The civil authorities can hear God by studying the scriptures and listening to his Spirit. They can also listen to those who speak on behalf of God. Having heard God's will, they can obey God in their political jurisdictions. When political powers obey God’s will, he rules through them and theocracy comes into being. The Kingdom of god becomes a reality as the rulers of a nation freely submit to God.

Every ruler who has chosen to serve God, should be part of a church (a body of believers, not an organisation). The ruler will be under the oversight of the elders of their church and will be receiving teaching from them about the Christian life, just like other Christians. These elders will have a responsibility to teach their disciples how to serve God in the political life. They can help the the ruler listen to the Spirit.

However, the role of these elders is limited. They can persuade and warn, but they must never control. Political rulers are not accountable to God through the church. They are directly accountable to God for their political activities. The church can only teach them to do right and challenge them when they do wrong. Civil leaders are free to serve God directly. They must not go under the authority of the Church.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Commando Army

Andrew Strom asked and interesting question in his weekly mail out.

The answer is

The answer is that the church is still not ready.

The need for a
Commando army is greater than ever.

Theocracy and Democracy

The modern view is that democracy is the best way to appoint a government. However, enough democracies are doing evil to prove this is wrong. How a ruler gets into power is not the most important question. The critical question is "Do the rulers obey God?"

If a king is ruling according to the will of God, he is part of the Kingdom of God. If a parliament is not applying the will of God, it is part of the kingdom of darkness. Democracy tends to produce leaders who pander to the desires of the people, so it cannot be counted on to raise up leaders who will serve God.

A theocratic dictator could be better for a nation than a democratic parliament that ignores God.

The scriptures say very little about the correct form of government, but they say plenty about how governments should rule. Our focus should be on getting governments to rule according to God’s will.

Friday, April 06, 2007

God's Rule

Most people assume that democracy is a superior form of government, but democracy is rule by the people (demos kratos = people rule). The problem is that sin and the fall means that people can make terrible mistakes so democracy is dangerous. Many of the worst political dictators were voted into power by large majorities. Democracy generally results in the majority group in a society ruling over minority group that loses their freedom.

Winston Churchill’s statement is often quoted, as if it were true. He said,

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.
This statement is incorrect, because the best form of government has never been tried. The best method of government is theocracy. Theocracy is the rule of God (theos kratos = god rule). Theocracy is the same as the Kingdom of God. Kings rule over kingdoms.

God is king of the Kingdom of God, so he rules in the Kingdom of God. This means that the Kingdom of God is the same as the rule of God. Christians believe in the Kingdom of God, so we should be supporters of theocracy and not democracy. The rule of God is the best, because it is the only way to blessing.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ecclesiocracy is not Theocracy

I read of a pastor who is going to preach a sermon against theocracy on Easter Sunday. I hope that he does not say the Lord's prayer, because the third line of that prayer sounds a bit like theocracy to me. The problem is that theocracy is misunderstood.

It has a bad name in the modern world, because it confused with ecclesiocracy, the rule of the church (ecclesia kratos = church rule). The rule of the Islamic clergy in Iran is often incorrectly described as a theocracy, because the clergy have control over the government.

Theocracy is not God ruling through the church or the clergy. Ecclesiocracy is not the same as theocracy. The church must never rule the state. It becomes dangerous when it rules in the political sphere.

Theocracy is God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

He Needs a Better Body

The Church is praying that the Holy Spirit will send revival, but the Father is not holding back the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is limited to working through the Body of Christ. If that body is crippled, deformed or disjointed, he is limited in what he can do. A body with limbs and organs missing is not much use to him, even if the heart is very strong. A body that only comes together once a week is not much more useful.

The Holy Spirit needs a healthy body to work through; one with every organ functioning, every limb in place and every joint working. By refusing to be the body that he needs, we are resisting the work of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Being Jesus

One person cannot be Jesus.
It takes three people to represent God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One person cannot contain the fulness of the Spirit.
It takes two or three to contain him.
Therefore, o
nly "shared leadership" can represent the fullness of God.

The best example of this leadership style is the Trinity. The Father said about the Son, "Listen to him". However, Jesus said he could only do what he saw the Father doing. He also said it was better for him to go away, so that the Spirit could come, but when the Spirit came, he gave glory to Jesus.

Each member of the Trinity has absolute freedom and authority to exercise their perfect ministry. Yet each one honours and submits to the others. No one is in control. The Trinity demonstrates perfectly how three persons bound together by love can work together shared leadership.

To manifest the full glory of the Trinity, the church must have shared leadership with the same free freedom from control and unity in love.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Professional Ministry (3)

When I started in professional ministry, I thought that the problem was with the people doing the job. If we could get the right people into ministry, the situation for the church could be turned round. I soon realised that the problem was with the role itself, and not with the people doing it.

The people are paying the minister, so they expect him to perform. The minister is being paid, so he feels that he has to perform. Because he has to perform, he has to keep things under control. The more the pressure, the greater the incentive to control. However, the more things are controlled, the more the Spirit is shut out.

I feel sorry for anyone who loves the traditional ministry role. I feel sorry for anyone who earns their living in this occupation. They will find it quite difficult to move into a network church. The reality is that it is difficult to earn a living as a pastor and fit into the house church movement. It would be attempting to combine to conflicting models of church and ministry that do not mix.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Professional Ministry (2)

One reason that I resigned from the professional ministry was that I discovered that the modern preaching ministry is quite destructive for the church and the minister. The professional minister spends most of his life preparing for his next Sunday performance. His self-esteem depends on how the last past performance went.

This focus on a Sunday performance also tends to encourage passivity among Christians. Their main contribution to the “main event” is to tell the pastor that they enjoyed it. By encouraging passivity, this style of ministry has made the church impotent.

The preaching ministry had a role when large portions of the population were illiterate. They needed someone who could read to explain what the scripture taught. Those days are long gone. Christians now have access to an immense supply of good teaching through television, tapes and the internet. There is no need for average teaching from a local professional, when they can listen to teaching by the best in the world.

Preaching is a very blunt instrument, because the listeners have different needs, experience and circumstances. The best sermon will still bore some, mislead a few and actually hurt one or two.

I actually found that preaching to Christians is a fairly ineffective method for bringing change. It is like water dripping on a stone. It will eventually wear a hole, but it takes a very long, long time. If you are serious about making stone sculptures, you need a more efficient method of shaping stones.

Judging by what people said, I was a very good preacher. People said that they found my content relevant and preaching style entertaining, which made me feel good. However, judging by the changes in their life, my preaching was mostly ineffective. A church activity that has its greatest impact on the ego of the pastor has to be fairly dangerous for the minister and the church.

The New Testament model for changing lives is to take people with you when you are doing the stuff. When they have watched for a while, you let them do it with you. They can soon do the stuff on their own. Not long after, they can take others with them to learn how to do the stuff. This is real multiplication.