We have one of the really bright young Reformed smart guys who has all kinds of shiny impressive degrees offering advice on how the Church should react to the political climate in which we currently live. I encourage you to read the whole piece because I don’t intend to interact with the whole piece and I want the reader to be sure I haven’t take any of Dr. Littlejohn’s quotes out of context and to make sure I haven’t misrepresented Dr. Littlejohn’s overall thrust.
At the outset let us note that if the American Colonialists in the run up to their hard feelings with the Brits in what became known as the “War for American Independence,” had reasoned the way Dr. Littlejohn reasons in his piece we would still have London has our Capital.
Dr. Littlejohn labors to demonstrate that in our current crisis American freedoms are not really at stake in light of the current actions of the Tyrant State. The State, per Littlejohn, just wants to make sure we are safe and sleeping well at night. The State, per Littlejohn, has no malevolent intent in its current actions and it really is quite wrong for any of us to have our suspicions raised. The State, per Littlejohn, has every right to sequester your Constitutional rights when times are really really pandemic scary. The last thing one wants to deal with is freedom when it is pandemic scary outside.
Littlejohn’s trust in the State is a curio in our time when the State, during the 20th century forward, has given us one long string of proofs that total depravity remains solid ground for Anthropology. Indeed, any familiarity with the role of the American State in the 20th century forward demands that the citizenry be ever suspicious of the State. For anyone, but especially someone nurtured in Reformed thought, to grant the State the benefit of the doubt when it comes to its stated intent is evidence of a willful blindness concerning the continued and routine wickedness of the American State for numerous decades. More on that anon.
Very soon in his piece Littlejohn gets to the hub of the matter,
“We do, to be sure, have a duty to question our governments, though also, as the Scriptures tell us, to cheerfully submit to them—and submission, mind you, happens not when you already agree, but when you’re inclined not to. How to balance the two? That is, of course, the great question of the whole history of Christian political thought, and I will not try to answer it here.“
Just to be clear, Scripture teaches we are to cheerfully submit to our governments when our governments are cheerfully submitting to God’s authority. Christians have no authority to submit (cheerfully or otherwise) to a Government that is rebelling against the authority of God and His Law. I would contend that Littlejohn’s article definitely bends the debate on submission to wicked State authorities definitely in the favor of wicked State authorities. Everything in Littlejohn’s piece is suggestive that the State just wants to do us good and we should just give them every benefit of the doubt and so just submit to their good intentions. So, our disagreements with Dr. Littlejohn are going to be characterized by our assumptions. Littlejohn assumes that the modern state wants to look after us. I assume that the modern state wants to look after itself.
Littlejohn next gives us another of his operating assumptions that many right-minded people will take grave exception,
“But, as someone who has closely tracked the pandemic since it first emerged in Wuhan, it seems clear to me that our leaders are acting on the basis of the best data and research currently available.”
Best data and research currently available? What research and data is that? The research and data as coming from the Chinese Communists? The research and data as coming from the Chinese Communists owned and operated World Health Organization? The research and data coming from other globalist organizations — The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? The politically animated Center for Disease Control? Can Dr. Littlejohn tell me why I should trust any of the best data and research currently available? Keep in mind that this is the best research and data that started this whole hysteria we are currently living in by saying, that 2.2 million Americans would die. Yesterday those people with the best data and research who gave us the original model that predicted 2.2 million deaths readjusted their prognostication to 60K deaths. This represents a 97% reduction from the original prediction. Plus, keep in mind that the original data set used by IHME (our best data and research) for the first two projections included the usage of “social distancing,” and limited public closures. 60,000 deaths also represents that typical annual death total one gets with influenza. So, given this represents our best research and data Dr. Littlejohn won’t mind overmuch if I rudely belly laugh whenever anyone talks about our ‘best research and data.’ By all appearances the statisticians and researchers are making it up as they go and so the tyrant magistrates likewise can only be making it up as they go. Littlejohn is wrong.
We quote Littlejohn again when he argues,
“The first point I want to establish—albeit briefly, since this could easily turn into a political theory lecture—is that the government does indeed have the power to shut businesses and restrict the movements of individuals in time of emergency.“
Littlejohn then goes on to reference Aristotle, Augustine, and Locke as all agreeing on this matter. And that may well be, but Littlejohn needs to move out of theory and show me in the US Constitution or the State Constitutions where that power is granted to restrict the movement of individuals and shut down businesses. Littlejohn talks about enumerated powers but still fails to provide examples of how the States, per their own Constitutions, have the explicitly enumerated power to restrict the movement of its people, to seize up the economy, and to basically seize property without due process. Forget, Aristotle, Augustine and Locke and go to the texts of the Constitutions (Federal and State) and show me where this power is explicitly given to the state in the time of a putative pandemic. Littlejohn can’t do that and so Littlejohn is wrong.
Can anyone imagine John Knox arguing like this?
Littlejohn next offers up this gem,
“But in the present case, the measures proposed have all, to date at least, been directly related to curtailing the genuine threats posed by the emergency.“
But you see Dr. Brad that there is no way of knowing this is true if we do not know for certain what the genuine threat is that is posed by this current putative emergency. Everywhere Littlejohn assumes what has yet to be proven and that is that this Wuhan virus plannedemic is any graver of a threat to human existence than any previous plannedemic — say of SARS, or H1N1, or AIDS for that matter. For all I know this may be nothing but a pestilence version of H. G. Wells, “War of the Worlds,” where untold numbers of people really were convinced that the Aliens were invading Burr Oak, Michigan and other sundry American villages and Hamlets in order to take over the world and who freaked out over such news. “Well, I heard it on the radio Mildred. It must be true.”
Secondly, how can Littlejohn know that the measures taken to curtail the genuine threat are not a greater threat than the putative “genuine threat?” He can’t know that since he can’t know what the threat really is and as such he is just shilling for the Tyrant State. How can Littlejohn know that effect upon people whose lives are affected now by the virus will be greater than the effect upon people who lives are being and will be destroyed by the effects of a global economic shutdown and impending worldwide depression? Littlejohn can’t know that and so can’t say with any certainty at all that “the measures proposed have all, to date at least, been directly related to curtailing the genuine threats posed by the emergency.” Unless Littlejohn has taken up omniscience as well as his prowess in political theology there is no way he can know this.
Pressing on with Littlejohn,
“Indeed, I think that it should be easy to show by extension that the civil magistrate has the authority to close churches in a situation such as this…. In case of emergency, it should not be difficult to see that the authorities can indeed prevent the church from carrying out its ordinary meetings.”
Well, count me as one who is having difficulty seeing that the authorities can indeed prevent church from carrying out its ordinary meetings during a plannedemic. I am known for someone who hates R2K but who at the same time has conceded that there is room for some 2K thinking in the Church and this is one of those times. The idea that the State has no jurisdiction over the Church in relation to when the Church opens and closes its doors comes under the tent of the idea of jurisdictionalism or sphere sovereignty and there is nothing inherent Roman Catholic about the idea as Littlejohn insists. Sphere sovereignty merely teaches that there exist multiple spheres of jurisdictions the authority of which is delegated to differing Magistrates in those spheres. As such the authorities in one sphere may not seek to exercise their authority from another sphere in a sphere that is not under their charge. So, the Church has one jurisdiction over which the Elders rule as the delegated authorities and the State has a differing jurisdiction over which the state Magistrates have delegated authority. State authorities may not impinge upon the proper authorities of the Elders in the Church. By this doctrine of jurisdictionalism alone, the State, contra Littlejohn, does not have the authority to shut down Churches. The State magistrates may make recommendations but they may not, of their own authority, close Churches for they have no authority to that end. The State may no more shut church doors than the State may tax the Church. In both cases — taxation and Church hours — the State is seeking to legislate authority over a realm over which it has no authority. The State dictating the opening or closing of Church doors is like Canada magistrates trying to make laws for people who live in Texas. Littlejohn is in error.
We move on to one of the best knee-slappers in Littlejohn’s piece.
“No, I think we can safely say that, whatever is motivating our authorities (and those all around the world, for that matter–the consensus around the need for lockdowns has been almost global), it probably isn’t old-fashioned lust for power.”
Well, there goes the Reformed doctrines of original sin and total depravity. That Littlejohn could write that with a straight face is staggering. Has Littlejohn never read Machiavelli or has he just forgotten? Has Littlejohn never read Hobbes or has he just forgotten? Has Littlejohn never read the Bible or has he just forgotten? Littlejohn doesn’t really believe that magistrates desire office because they just want to do good does he? Lust for power is why politicians hold office to begin with and to think that lust for power wouldn’t be an animating factor in their decisions in the context of a plannedemic is a naivete that is epic. From the bite of that fruit in Eden the lust for power is ever in the heart of men – how do we dare deny its constant operation in all men at all times everywhere to some degree? How can someone who insists they believe in total depravity make such an observation as Littlejohn is quoted above making?
Next up Littlejohn insists that we shouldn’t listen to those conspiracy kooks out there who see Tyranny in every event, even going so far as to mock the 9-11 truthers. Littlejohn writes,
First, for every genuine Reichstag fire, there are probably at least a dozen persistent conspiracy theories claiming to have uncovered the next such plot. They should be taken with a very large grain of salt. 9/11 Truthers, anyone?
What should be taken with an even larger grain of salt are those who believe in the coincidence theory of history. Does Littlejohn realize that it was a conspiracy theory that said that Jesus rose again from the dead? Truther indeed. Does Littlejohn realize that for decades it was thought that it was a conspiracy theory that the Lusitania was carrying military ordinance? Now we know that it indeed was. Truther indeed. Does Littlejohn realize that for decades it was a conspiracy theory that said that Pearl Harbor was not a surprise attack? Now we know it was not a surprise to FDR. Truther indeed. Does Littlejohn know that for decades it was conspiracy theory that the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened? Now we know indeed that it did not happen. Truther indeed. Does Littlejohn really believe that building #7 on 9-11 fell by magic? Methinks Littlejohn needs to read some history not written by court historians.
Given that Governments “reason for being” is to lie and given that the well known maxim teaches us “never let a crisis go to waste,” it boggles the mind that any educated person would knee jerk in the direction of automatically believing Government explanations or who would think it unnatural to think that governments consistently act out of lust for power or who thinks that conspiracy theorists should go consume some salt.
Littlejohn needs to revisit the idea that Governments are just kindly helpful servants of the people. It is not for no reason that Jefferson said that we needed to tie down our government with the chains of the Constitution. Littlejohn needs to remember that “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force,” and as Government is force it is not to be trusted, not to be given the benefit of the doubt, and not to be left unchallenged in the way it analyzes and governs any given situation.
Littlejohn is wrong.