Christianity & Civil Liberty

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen. 1:1

You alone are the LORD. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all things, and the host of heaven worships You. Neh. 9:6

The Scripture teaches here that God is. This of course immediately means that materialism, which teaches that God isn’t, is not true. It is this simple truth that God is that leads to so much when it comes to this issue of Christian Liberty/Freedom.

The fact “God is” answers the question; “Why is it that only Christianity can support social orders that can be described as genuinely having liberty.”

And the answer to that is it is only Christianity that provides the religious and ideological framework wherein liberty can be nurtured. It is only Christianity that consistently repudiates the notion of materialism that is so prevalent in the West.

Read your dystopian novels and the one thing you see consistent about them is that the dystopia being described has no place for a personal extra-mundane spiritual being. In brief they are materialistic. When you have materialism for your worldview — when you deny the God of the Bible then only humanist force can provide the principle of order and regulated or ordered liberty as informed by transcendent non-material truth is crushed. Sisley Huddleston caught this in his little record called “France; The Tragic Years.” Huddleston wrote,

Not only had Russia fallen a victim to the conception of a purely materialist universe, in which force alone counted, not only had Russia become a vast prison in which all the liberties of which we were wont to boast were suppressed, in which a group of men, sitting in the Kremlin, had forged a system of terrorism, of totalitarianism, dependent on an army of police and spies, but outside Russia, in almost every country, the missionaries of Bolshevism had made large numbers of converts.

Sisley Huddleston

A generation prior to Huddleston the great Christian theologian and Churchmen J. Gresham Machen could write touching also on the relation to materialism and liberty;

“Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.”

J. Gresham Machen
Christianity & Liberalism

Materialism is the wench mother of all slave orders because materialism is the idea that all that is, is matter and that a personal extra-mundane God does not exist. This materialism in turn leads to the civil bondage that Huddleston speaks of as being directed by “force alone” and Machen doubts, that where present, the remnants of liberty can subsist.Where materialism gains footing then humans are just matter in motion and have no significant meaning. As such the idea that little instantiations of matter in motion should have freedom or liberty is irrelevant to those who see themselves as bringing in the materialist Utopia.

In the kind of world where there is no being who is situated in or relating to a region beyond the material world to whom we will all one day be answerable and to whom alone can provide order, meaning, and definition by His revelation the only option left is Orwell’s boot stamping on a face forever.

So, here we see the connection between spiritual freedom and civil freedom. Men who are in rebellion against God are in bondage to themselves as their own gods. The consequence is the bondage that they have in themselves they translate into everything they touch. Men in spiritual bondage create social orders that are characterized by the killing of liberty and so civil bondage.

R. J. Rushdoony says much the same;

“Society changes only as the members of society change, only as men and women are regenerated by Jesus Christ. Apart from regeneration, a society can have some material progress, but no real advantage or freedom for most men as a rule. The areas of freedom have been the areas of Christian faith, and, as that faith wanes, freedom wanes….

Freedom has only come to a people, as they have become, one by one, free men in Jesus Christ. As a people advance into freedom in Christ, they move their society and country into that freedom, and as a people drift into unbelief and sin, their country declines into slavery.”

R. J. Rushdoony

… as a people drift into unbelief and sin, their country declines into slavery.”

And that is because spiritual slavery translates into civil bondage.

One more from a different voice so that you can see that there is a wide testimony supporting my contention that spiritual bondage always leads to civil bondage. This one from the masterful wordsmith Malcolm Muggeridge;

People, that is to say, are never enslaved unless they have become slaves already. They swim into the Great Leviathan’s mouth (a reference to the Statist Tyrant) He does not need to chase them.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

Farewell to Freedom?

So how can we summarize so far as to the last two weeks?

We have noted that only Christianity can support liberty and this is because only Christianity gives us a extra-mundane personal God who has made Himself and His will known so that we have an authority outside of us by which we can know what ordered-liberty looks like.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible

We have noted that absent this what the West has, generally speaking, adopted are forms of Materialism. Materialism insists that man is not made in the image of God but rather is just matter in motion. Man therefore has no intrinsic value that has to be honored by those who have captured social-orders as gods to run the social order to the end of building a Utopia. Man having no intrinsic value has no need to be given liberty/freedom as authorized and defined by God.

As such all social orders where men are in spiritual bondage will result in civil bondage as sure as night follows day.

Though civil bondage may be the rule, genuine Christians who have been set free from their sin and misery can never have their spiritual freedom/liberty taken away. Their sin no longer masters them and so they are free indeed.

The only thing that can reverse civil bondage is Reformation characterized by heralding Jesus Christ. Political rallies, activism and/or voting campaigns have their place as a “hold my beer” kind of rear guard action. They are useful in delaying the tyrant but they can never of themselves usher in civil order freedom because they are dealing with symptoms and not the disease.

Listen to RJR in support of that statement;

The ballot box has a very important function in a free society, but it can never be expected to do anything more than to reflect the character, the desires, and the will of the people. If the people who vote are of weak or bad character, if their desires are larcenous and envious, and if their will be perverse and evil, the election results will merely reflect their own nature on a broader scope.
This means too that people who expect to reform the state or country by means of the vote, by elections, are headed for failure and disillusionment. Reformation must begin in the lives of the people in order to show up in the ballot box.


Elsewhere he noted;

Freedom is not a natural fact but a religious principle, and the decline of Freedom is an aspect of the rise of false faiths, false forms of “Christianity,” as well as other varieties of faith…. For all too long, those who have believed the most have been Marxists, Keyensians, fascists, and humanists generally. Their ‘freedom’ has been slavery, for ‘the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10)…. If Christians lose their freedom, they will only have themselves to blame, and their indifference to the Author of true liberty, the Lord our King.

Roots of Reconstruction — pg. 55

Written in 1980

However, let us say again that where spiritual freedom begins to multiply in a social order there you can be sure that civil order freedom will soon follow. This is in defiance to R2K reasoning who wants to suggest that though men can be spiritually free their spiritual freedom dare not translate into the civil realm breathing Christian defined liberty into all social order institutions. How do I know this? They tell us.

“I asked David Van Drunen a question that I believe goes right to the heart of this issue. I asked him what God would think of a nation whose magistrate and people had become overwhelmingly (and sincerely) Christian, and who decided to confess Christ in the common realm, in the formerly secular realm. I asked if God would be displeased with that, and Van Drunen said yes, he thought God would be displeased with that. “

Doug Wilson

Talk about the problem of fifth columnists.

Let us add something here. Of course all of this is worldview warfare. Materialism vs. Christianity;

Bertrand Russell has not exaggerated in summing up the present significance of Marxism somewhat as follows: dialectical materialism is God; Marx the Messiah; Lenin and Stalin the apostles; the proletariat the elect; the Communist party the Church; Moscow the seat of Church; the Revolution the second coming; the punishment of capitalism hell; Trotsky the devil; and the communist commonwealth kingdom come.”

― Robert A. Nisbet

The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom

So, yes it can be argued that the Scriptures are primarily about how God has provided the means for fallen man to be rescued from their sin and misery. Yes, the Scriptures are primarily about the finished work of Jesus Christ. Perhaps it can even be said that the Scripture weren’t written primarily to be a cookbook that if followed will give you your “best life now.”

However, having admitted all that we would still say that if people are indeed rescued by so great a salvation Scripture also teaches that people who embrace the whole of Christianity are a people who thirst for ordered liberty in their personal life, their family lives, their church lives, their community lives and their social-order lives.

Christians who are content with civil order bondage should be thought of as being either immature Christians or not Christians at all. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”



“The Scriptures clearly teach that human government is of divine ordination and does not have its origin in any social compact or contract, as Hobbes and Locke taught, nor was it created by man himself to meet the needs of his society. Rather does Christian theism insist that government was ordained of God for man and that its just powers come from Him and not from man. Government is not ordained primarily to defend human liberty but to ensure that kind of society necessary for man to carry out those duties which he owes to God alone.”

C. Gregg Singer

We would only add that any society where man is free to carry out those duties which he owes to God alone is a society that is defined by regulated freedom.







Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

4 thoughts on “Christianity & Civil Liberty”

  1. There’s some overlap on our reading lists. If you haven’t already read it, I’d suggest you’d like Richard Weaver’s ‘Ideas Have Consequences’:

    “There is no term proper to describe the condition in which he [man] is now left unless it be “abysmality.” He is in the deep and dark abysm, and he has nothing with which to raise himself. His life is practice without theory. As problems crowd upon him, he deepens confusion by meeting them with ad hoc policies. He struggles with the paradox that total immersion in matter unfits him to deal with the problems of matter. p. 6. Here [also follows] the assault upon definition: if words no longer correspond to objective realities, it seems no great wrong to take liberties with words. p. 7.

    Multiplying instances show complacency in the presence of contradiction which denies the heritage of Greece, and a callousness to suffering which denies the spirit of Christianity. We approach a condition in which we shall be amoral, without the capacity to perceive it, and degraded without means to measure our descent. p. 9. Hysterical optimism will prevail until the world again admits the existence of tragedy; and it cannot admit the existence of tragedy until it again distinguishes between good and evil. The time to seek this is now, before we have acquired the perfect insouciance of those who prefer perdition. p. 10.

    Richard Weaver, ‘Ideas Have Consequences’

  2. Reading this article brings to mind what James Henley Thorwell sagely opined in 1830:
    “The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slave-holders; they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, Jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground; Christianity and atheism the com-
    batants, and the progress of humanity is at stake.”

    Thank you for reminding us,
    Grandma Ruthie

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