Theodore Beza On Faithfulness By Dissent

“(Beza) now made the traditional distinction between tyrants who usurped their office and legitimate authorities who became tyrannical. Usurpers were to be resisted fervently, ideally by the authorized lower magistrates. But if these magistrates failed, even private persons, following the example of the ancient McAtee’s (oops — make that Maccabees), could lead the resistance if God opened a way to them. Legitimate authorities who became tyrannical, however, could be resisted only by the lower magistrates, such as the electoral princes in the Holy Roman Empire or the Estates-General in the kingdom of France. Private persons could and should disobey unjust orders and laws, or flee the jurisdiction. But they could not fight or resist on their own. ‘[We] do not cease to beg our brothers to arm themselves only with patience, until God comes to their aid, either in another way, or by raising up a [new] prince.’

These early reflections were ‘an embryonic justification for democratic revolution’ writes Robert Kingdon. Bez’s argument in a nutshell was this: the political office was ‘ordained by God and represents God in the world.’ But the political officers who occupy that office depend for their authority upon ‘the public consent of the citizens.’ When the political officer no longer respect his office and no longer represents God in the world, ‘public consent’ can give way to ‘public dissent.’ When this dissent is expressed properly through the lower magistrates, the political officer loses his authority and must be resisted, and if necessary forcibly removed from office.

John Witte, Jr.
The Reformation Of Rights — pg. 104-105

Now the question that commands our attention is whether our current situation here in these United States is a situation where tyrants have usurped their office or whether it is a case of legitimate authorities who have become tyrannical. Actually, I think this could be argued both ways. The former argument would reason that we have tyrants who have usurped their office because they are in violation of their oath to the Constitution. This violation of their oath to the constitution would de-legitimize any claim they might have to being legitimate authorities. On the other hand one could argue that they are legitimate authorities who have become tyrannical if only because they were lawfully elected to their positions. My instinct is to go with the former argumentation thus allowing more freedom for the individual to resist the tyranny but for the sake of discretion and prudence, I will, at this point, side with the latter argument that our current usurpers are legitimate authorities who have become tyrannical and who can only be resisted in the context of lesser magistrates. I think when we are considering a topic such as ‘faithfulness by public dissent’ we should be err on the side of caution.

The implication of this is that, we as Christians, should be earnestly petitioning God that He would be gracious to raise up lesser magistrates in order to lead His people against the tyranny that we are currently under in these United States. The second implication of this is that if God should raise up lesser magistrates to oppose the current tyranny that we are under it would be disobedience to God to not support these lesser magistrates with oaths of fealty and deeds of valor. If God should be pleased to raise up what some would characterize as ‘lesser magistrates’ to lead against what some would characterize as ‘greater magistrates’ we would need to return to the motto that ‘obedience to tyrants is disobedience to God.’

Until such a time as God changes the equation here we must give Him no rest in making known our desire of magistrates who would rule consistent with His Word. Also, we must be willing to bear all that is levied against us by wicked rulers as God’s just judgment against us for being complicit in arriving at this point where the foundations of righteousness are being decimated.

In the end though we must note this…

Given the right conditions Reformed doctrine requires faithfulness by dissent or to put it another way, should God provide the right conditions a lack of civil disobedience would be disobedience to God.

Concerning Michael Farris

“Make sure and contact your state legislator to register your opposition to this proposed legislation to require home school parents to register with the local school district. Be sure to be nice and respectful when you contact them.”

Michael ‘Augustine is in Hell’ Farris
Speaking at a Home school rally in Lansing Michigan

Now, given that Michael Farris has repeatedly disparaged Calvinist theology, I am not a big fan. Ironically enough, what Farris doesn’t likely know is that historically speaking Arminianism has always been prone to support big Government aspirations while Calvinists have historically been on the side of resisting governmental tyranny. If Mike ‘Augustine has to go’ Farris wants a history lesson in this regard he might want to google ‘Arch-Bishop William Laud’ and look at his theology (Arminian) and his politics (Statist).

Second, what reason, beyond sheer ignorance on the part of the fellow who founded Patrick Henry College, motivated a person, who apparently doesn’t like epistemologically self conscious Calvinists, to name his College after one of the fieriest Calvinist colonialist who ever lived?

Just imagine this scene,

Professor being interviewed for position at Patrick Henry College: “I am looking forward to lecturing at a school named after the premier Calvinist in Colonial America.”

President Farris: “We don’t approve of Calvinism at this school.”

Prospective Professor: “You don’t approve of Calvinism at Patrick Henry College? Isn’t that like not approving of pregnancy at a Lamaze class?”

Well, quite apart from that idiosyncrasy there is something else I want to delve into briefly as it pertains to the above Michael Farris quote.

Can anybody tell me why it is essential to go out of my way to be ‘nice and respectful’ to an enemy who is trying to kill me? I don’t get it.

In the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ Spielberg has a vicious scene of hand to hand combat between two soldiers who are intent on killing each other. Neither one takes the time to be nice or respectful to one another in the course of their deadly encounter. Both understand that this is about life and death and not about social niceties. Now granted, state legislators are not trying to literally kill anybody when they advance ‘kill home schooling’ legislation but with this anti-home school legislation their ultimate goal is to eliminate the home schoolers way of life, which in turn is an attempt to eliminate (kill) their faith. It’s probably just my personality, but I have no intent to be nice or respectful to somebody who is trying to do that to me. That doesn’t mean I am going to go out of my way to be rude or mean-spirited but it does mean that I am not going to mince words when articulating what I think of their fascistic tendencies to want to control what is none of their damn business to control. If Farris wants to be nice and respectful that is his business. Personally, I would rather these nanny state legislators fear me as opposed to thinking me nice and respectful. If they change their minds, I’ll be glad to be nice and respectful but until they quit trying to kill my influence in my children’s lives and until they quit trying to steal the little lambs I am pastorally responsible for they shouldn’t be surprised if I take their behavior personally and respond with my own shiver in the dark.

Witte on the difference between Calvin & Luther & Anabaptists

“Calvin charted a course between the Erastianism (the doctrine that the state is supreme over the church in ecclesiastical matters) of Lutherans that subordinated the church to the state, and the asceticism of Anabaptists that withdrew the Church from the State and society. Like Lutherans, Calvin and his followers insisted that each local polity be an overtly Christian commonwealth that adhered to the general principles of natural law and that translated them into detailed positive laws of religious worship, Sabbath observance, public morality, marriage and family life, social welfare, public education and more. Like Anabaptists, Calvin and his followers insisted on the basic separation of the offices and operations of church, and state, leaving the church to govern its own doctrine and liturgy, polity and property, without interference from the state. But, unlike both groups, Calvin insisted that both church and state officials were to play complementary legal roles in the creation of the local Christian commonwealth and in the cultivation of the Christian citizen.”

John Witte, Jr.
The Reformation Of Rights – pg. 78

A couple notes here.

First, Calvin’s expectation “that each local polity be an overtly Christian commonwealth that adhered to the general principles of natural law,” must be understood in the context that natural law can only yield Christian conclusions when interpreted in a Christian community. Natural law, when pursued in the context of a Christian people and a Christian Worldview, can be expected to fulfill Calvin’s expectations and is the only place where it can really work without the use of raw force to implement it. It is the height of foolishness to think that Natural law will translate “into detailed positive laws of religious worship, Sabbath observance, public morality, marriage and family life, social welfare, public education and more,” when it is considered apart from Christian people living in a Christian commonwealth. One problem with Natural law as the R2Kt people pursue it is the expectation that the Natural law, as promulgated by Christian Natural law theologians, will be embraced by people who do not share the Biblical starting point that the Christian Natural law theologians have. Indeed, what is interesting is that Calvin expected Natural law to translate into detailed positive laws in areas that the current R2Kt Natural theologians insist that Natural law does not speak to at all (i.e. — religious worship, and Sabbath observance).

Second, the appeal to public education must be take into account that public education in a Christian commonwealth will be doing the same thing that public education in Secular humanist pluralist commonwealth does, and that is to catechize children into the guiding dominant mindset. There is nothing wrong with public education when it is pursued in the context of a Christian commonwealth, which is the context for which Calvin and Luther were advocating its existence. (Though I still would never require it through legislation.)

Third, this quote does serious damage to R2Kt idea that pluralism is the ideal societal arrangement. Calvin does not agree with the innovative thinking that is without Reformed historical legs that is coming out of Westminster West.

Calvin’s Two Kingdom vs. R2K Theology

“Calvin’s principle of separation of church and state bore little resemblance, however, to modern American understandings of a ‘high and impregnable law between church and state.’ Despite his early flirtations with radical political implications of the two kingdoms theory, Calvin ultimately did not contemplate a ‘secular society’ with a plurality of absolutely separated religious and political officials within them. Nor did he contemplate a neutral state, which showed no preference among competing concepts of spiritual and moral good. For Calvin, each community is to be a unitary Christian society, a miniature corpus Christianum under God’s sovereignty and law. Within this unitary society, the church and state stand as coordinate powers. Both are ordained by God to help achieve a Godly order and discipline in the community, a successful realization of all three uses of the moral law. Such conjoined responsibilities inevitably require church and state, clergy and magistracy to aid and accommodate moderate each other on a variety of levels. These institutions and officials said Calvin, ‘are not contraries, like water and fire, but things conjoined.’ ‘The Spiritual polity, though distinct from the civil polity does not hinder or threaten it but rather greatly helps and furthers it.’ In turn, ‘the civil government has its appointed end…to cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church…and a public manifestation of religion.’

Calvin’s principles were as much reminiscent of medieval forms of church-state relations as prescient of modern forms. To be sure, Calvin anticipated a number of modern concepts of separation, accomodation, and cooperation of church and state that later would come to dominate Western constitutionalism. But Calvin also appropriated many of the cardinal insights of both the ‘two powers’ theory of Pope Gelasius and and the ‘two swords’ theory of the Papal Revolution. Particularly like his medieval predecessors, Calvin saw that to maintain its liberty, the church had to organize itself into its own legal and political entity, and to preserve for itself its own jurisdiction and responsibility. It had to wield its own ‘sword,’ maintain its own ‘power.’ Calvin differed from his medieval predecessors, however, in insisting on a more democratic form of ecclesiastical and civil polity, a more limited ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and an equality of church and state before God.”

John Witte, Jr.
The Reformation of Rights pg. 76

Now what we are clearly seeing is that Calvin did hold to something that could be called a ‘Two Kingdom Theology.’ However what Calvin developed was far different than what Luther held to and what Westminster West Seminary is trying to sell with their radical two Kingdom Theology. Compared to Luther and Westminster West (which on this score is trying to Lutheranize Calvinist theology) Calvin’s two Kingdom theology is far more nuanced and subtle then the dichotomizing theology evidenced in Lutheran and Westminster West theology. Calvin’s theology eschews pagan pluralism, and embraces the idea of a kind of feudally arranged Christendom, where, because the individual parts that comprise the whole are organized as a Christian community, the whole therefore can be denominated ‘Christendom.’

The Age Of Indistinction

The will, the values, even the faith that has sustained and ordered what we have known of civilization in the era of the Protestant ethic has come to an end. The polymorphous dispensation has arrived, and we know it when men dress as children, and women dress as men. We know it when we reach for a familiar object with a familiar brand but find upon inspection of the small print that is ‘made in China.'”

James O. Tate
Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be — Arriving at Indistinction
Chronicles April Issue pg. — 18

The one guiding star of the Revolutionary West (starting with the fall of the Bastille and continuing on through the countless revolutions that it has inspired) is the pursuit of equality and hence the elimination of distinctions. Most cheered when the distinction between slave and master was erased, chattering on how uncivil such an arrangement was, but now having given egalitarianism its head it demands further erasures. Women can be as ‘Butch’ as any man and men can be as caring and sensitive as any woman. Why recently the news cycle is all agog over the fact that a ‘man’ is pregnant, (though, I can’t seem to understand all the excitement over a being who has female sex organs being pregnant), while Hollywood continues to give us a stream of Movies that have women in roles playing the tough cop or Military commander. Viewing children as belonging to their parents is hardly treating them as equals with their parents and so movements are launched for ‘child rights.’ Cultures may be distinct (for now) but they all must be considered equal in value. My money has it that even cultures are going to eventually be thrown into the great egalitarian blender so that even in culture we will all arrive at a lack of distinction.

Perhaps the place where Tate’s lack of distinction is seen most clearly is in American Pulpits throughout the country. The French have a bit of a maxim about gender, claiming that there are three genders — Men, Women, and


It’s funny because it is so close to the truth. Clergy more then any other career perhaps has reached the apex in the age of polymorphism. The reality of that is seen in how difficult it is to imagine a testosterone heavy, gun loving, Patrick Henry anti-government proclaiming, pro-spanking, former Navy SEAL Commando in a pulpit week in and week out. Our mental picture of Clergy is more typically someone who is soft spoken, vulnerable, effeminate, polite and generally nice. Polymorphism has prevailed in the pulpit, and the ministry has become the poster child for the age of indistinction.

So pull out a indistinct weak beer, invite your local clergy and engage in some colorless conversation and have a drink to blandness, indistinction and polymorphism — the new Three horses of the Apocalypse.