THE DIVINE CONSTITUTION:
                       A RADICAL RETHINKING OF THE
                         CHURCH/STATE DISTINCTION
          4-1.  I shall define the church here as that set of social relations guided by the
        principles of unconditional altruism and non-retribution implicit in agápe love,
        whereas the state will be defined as that set of social relations guided by the principles
        of egoism and retribution (including those contractual relations guided by the profit
        motive and based on a norm of reciprocity, enforced by violence or coercion).
             So defined, church and state are not confined to institutional entities or boundaries.
        Furthermore, these definitions imply that all imperfect individuals sometimes operate
        within both realms, not by changing their formal roles or institutional settings, but by
        changing their modes of relating to other persons.
             The boundaries of church and state, then, are too ambiguous to conform to the
        usual institutional and legal niceties: wherever the ends and means are those endorsed
        by God, there is the church.  Wherever the ends (valid or not) are promoted by violent
        or coercive means, there is the state.  
             So defined, there can be no accommodation between the two realms, for they are
        differing realms of spiritual awareness and moral action, not two sets of institutions
        with differing legal jurisdictions.  
          4-2.  As for jurisdictions, God has jurisdiction in all realms, both material and
        spiritual.  Yet, those who act under divine sanction are constrained in the methods or
        means that they may employ in any realm: they may not employ the coercive and
        violent methods of the state in the name of advancing either their beliefs about God
        or religion, on the one hand, or their beliefs as to how social and material good should
        be allocated, on the other.
             That is, God does not endorse the use of imperfect means to advance even the
        most perfect ends, for God is a Perfect Being, and a Perfect Being would have us
        aspire to perfection in the way that we relate to one another, on every scale and in
        every situation.
          4-3.  The church writ large is simply the realm of God in human affairs.  It is the
        moral community endorsed by God.
             The church, so defined, does not and cannot depend upon the state for its
        protection.  The methods used by all who are within the realm of God cannot be the
        same imperfect methods or means employed by the state.
          4-4.  It is sacrilege to suggest that the state can "protect" religious freedom: the
        truest of true religions must find itself in constant opposition to the means employed
        by the state.  The church could not endorse or invoke those coercive means or
        methods without losing its identity and becoming indistinguishable from the realm of
        the state.
             This loss of identity is the present condition of Christianity.
          4-5.  The church cannot affirm that the methods of the state have any lasting power
        without thereby conceding that its own methods have no power.
             The church survives by the power which comes of God: the power to change
        minds and hearts.  Such power does not come from violence or the threat of violence.
             The church is not that which is called "church."  The "church" and the "state"
        represent two antithetical moral realms.  No reconciliation between the two realms
        is possible, for the apostles of each realm invoke different types of power to create
        their respective communities.
          4-6.  Let no person fear being excluded from the communities represented by the
        state, strictly understood as a mode of action based on egoism and retribution.
             Exclusion from the realm of the state is the beginning of all freedom, for one
        cannot belong simultaneously to the realm of the state and the realm of God, and one
        cannot be free apart from God.
          4-7.  The idea of "church" is meaningful without being easily identifiable or
        localizable within any enduring institutional setting: some who work for the
        organizations created by the state actually use the methods of the church, and some
        who claim to be "in the church" are actually far outside it in the methods that they
          4-8.  The traditional definitions of church and state are based upon legal
        distinctions.  Thus the traditional distinction between church and state is typically
        defined and given meaning within the context of statist institutions.  This should not
        surprise us, since disputes between church and state (as usually typified) are usually
        refereed by the state.  An even greater irony comes from the fact that, as I have
        defined "church," it can scarcely make appeals within the legal context without itself
        leaving behind the norms governing "church" (as I have defined it) and embracing
        those norms usually thought to exist within the realm of "state."  I am assuming, in
        so saying, that the principles of ag pe love governing those relations defined here as
        "church" are incompatible with the use of coercion and threat implicit in state
             The true church is thus a precarious and sometimes ephemeral social entity,
        surviving largely within the interstices of society.  Attempts to protect the church by
        force tend to make it into its opposite.  Its institutionalized existence is fragile.
        Conflict within religious organizations indicates just how fragile, since religious
        assemblies are often characterized by the kinds of power struggles which one might
        expect within overtly statist forms of organization.  
             Indeed, when power politics intrudes, nominally religious organizations are statist
          4-9.  We are told that the U.S. Constitution is the world's best, as well as the most
        enduring.  These claims are more than hyperbole: they are false.
             A constitution in the most general sense is the ethical foundation for a social order.
        It is more than a legal order, much less a mere legal document.
             The U.S. Constitution is a fallible document, written by fallible men.   It was
        intended primarily as device for protecting property, including persons as property.
        Even as amended, it justifies war and other violent and punitive institutions.  It is thus
        fundamentally flawed as the foundation of a social and ethical order.  Yet, one might
        make a strong argument that the U.S. Constitution is the best constitution for a
        retributive legal order ever written.  
             It is a shame that it was obsolete almost two thousand years before it was written.
          4-10.  The world's best constitution is found in the Sermon on the Mount
        (Matthew, chapters 5-7) and associated teachings.  The Sermon on the Mount, it may
        be said, is not a constitution: it is not even a political document but a "religious" one.
            Yet, if the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount were constitutive of our entire
        society, we might be justified in being proud of our constitution.  To be proud of the
        present order, or to suggest that we could not do better, is not only to be pessimistic,
        but profoundly reactionary.
          4-11.  Consider the teaching, "If a man strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the
        other." (Matthew 5:39)  Since the Kingdom of Heaven is to be a perfect realm where
        persons do not assault others, the teaching is clearly intended for this world: the
        recommendation to turn the other cheek would be meaningless if there were no
        possibility that one would be struck in the first place.
          4-12.  Consider the teaching, "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7:1)
        Such a teaching is antithetical to the entire spirit of legal orders, which institution-
        alize punishment and war; for what is judgment, if not the logical prerequisite to all
        forms of retaliation, retribution, and domination?
            The state is the realm wherein persons make and execute judgments of the worth
        of other human beings.
          4-13.  Biblical inerrantists, who will quibble over sprinkling or immersion, will not
        take seriously, much less literally, the most radical of ethically constitutive teachings
        of Jesus.
             Christianity seems to have given up on its founder's goal of replacing all
        constitutions conceived out of greed and violence: nominal Christianity is like salt that
        has "lost its savor" and made its "peace" with the state.  Indeed, it has become little
        more than a prop for the state.
          4-14.  The person who is always predisposed to return good for evil, and to refrain
        from judging others, must be ready for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Yet, if one's
        "constitution" were so perfect that one would be disposed toward perfect goodness
        even in the face of widespread evil, one would be ready not only for perfectly moral
        action in the next life, but in this one as well.
             One would, in a word, have become "Godlike."
          4-15.  The Messiah's concern was to exemplify a constitution which is practicable
        for this world, this life.  Such a constitution would be a guide for human conduct at
        a stage in human development where the constitutive behavioral disposition is still far
        from perfect.  Although the "kingdom" will only be realized in all its fullness in the
        next life, it is nonetheless already in existence and already in competition with the
        secular constitutions of earthly princes, dictatorships, democracies, and every form
        of man-made government.
             The Kingdom of Heaven is also already in competition with our natural constitu-
         tion: our dispositions to return evil for evil, and to throw off all limits on the
        satisfaction of our various appetites.  When that struggle has been completed, perhaps
        we shall be ready for the next world, the next life.
          4-16.  Our overarching goals, if we take Christian ethical teachings seriously,
        should be to recognize the competing claims of earthly and heavenly "kingdoms," to
        accept the necessity to choose between them, and to choose the more noble and
        enduring.  The correctness of the choice will be justified in the end, and the derision
        we are likely to receive in the present age will someday seem to have been a minor
             In any case, let no one think that I speak metaphorically when I suggest that the
        original (pre-Pauline) Christian ethical teachings represent the constitution which we
        all ought to live by, and to which we ought to affirm our unqualified allegiance.
          4-17.  The constitutive foundation of the secular state is based upon reciprocation
        and exclusion to varying degrees.  Judgmental tendencies quickly follow, as one has
        to decide who is included and who is not.
             While it is true that the Sermon on the Mount requires the full context of Christian
        ethics and the Christian example for its understanding, it does seem to contain within
        itself the general foundation for a social order, and thus to be worthy of the label
        "constitution."  It is the only constitution to which I would give unqualified allegiance:
        it is not based on judgment, violence, or exclusion of one person by another.
             The U.S. Constitution is a travesty by comparison.
          4-18.  The lawyers might say, "But your so-called constitution gives us no
        structure, no basis for allocating goods."
             Thus resting the case in their own minds, they exhaust their days trying to decide
        who will be excluded from the allocation of certain goods and privileges.
             Exclusion: Is that not what the secular law is about?
          4-19.  One sometimes hears it said that, although a particular course of action is
        not strictly "just," it is nonetheless "justifiable."  This way of speaking is, of course,
        nonsense.  The only justifiable course of action is that which promotes justice.  The
        only just action is that which is justifiable.  The terms would be synonymous in
        common usage if the concept of justice were always used in its proper sense of that
        which is morally right ("justifiable").  The just action is simply the right action, and
        the just social ordering is simply the right social ordering.
             If we are genuinely in quest of "justice," we shall simply try to act in accordance
        with right principles.  We shall give up forever on trying to give others what we think
        that they are worthy of, and leave such judgments entirely up to God.
          4-20.  What if divine justice requires that Hitler or Judas should be our companions
        in the next life?  Are we capable of fathoming the limits of divine forgiveness?  
             If not, shall we be ready for the next life ourselves?
          4-21.  Was Jesus a political philosopher?  Perhaps he was in fact quintessentially
             Yet, his teachings directly address questions about the individual's relation to those
        in power, as well as the problems of equality, hierarchy, domination, service, and
        other problems of political theory.  In addition, the pervasive emphasis upon "peace"
        in Christian ethics raises questions as to what kind of social order would indeed em-
        body the full significance of the biblical concept of peace: shalom.
             Whatever else Jesus was, I think that it is thus correct to see him as a political
        philosopher, but with one important caveat: whereas traditional political philosophy
        almost always tries to justify the state and its methods of violence and coercion, Jesus
        espoused a social and political philosophy which would give us an alternative to the
        violent state.
             Those who deny this fact deny the real significance of his mission.
          4-22.  Two basic questions have driven this work:  First, if society can be
        constituted on divinely-ordained ideals rather than on human limitations (the Madiso-
        nian premise), then what would such an ideal society require of us as ethical actors?
        Second, is it possible for an individual to operate rationally and practicably in the
        present non-ideal world without violating the divinely-ordained ideals.
          4-23.  Every legal system and every statist conception of justice contain the seeds
        of their own corruption.  They do so because the law's retributive solution to injustice
        and violence is always more injustice and more violence, always in the name of justice,
        but in reality for the sake of someone's interest at the expense of someone else's.
             The civil law and its punishment are corruptive of the society they would purify.
        Compassionate acts by persons are redemptive.  We have heard quite enough
        nonsense about the "rule of law."  No such thing ever existed.  Only persons make
        decisions and act upon them.
          4-24.  Consider the possibility that God has so ordered the world such that the
        coercive state is indeed ordained and used by God.   Perhaps, that is, God has so
        ordered the world that evil checks evil: on this view, the state as Leviathan (an evil
        creature) is nonetheless useful in the divine scheme because it allows a way for evil
        to be destroyed by itself, rather than by the forces of good.
             Unfortunately, such a view suggests that the house of God is supported by the
        house of evil--albeit evil checking evil.  Could such a house stand?  I think not.  God
        may be capable of bringing good out of evil, but this is far from saying that he uses
        evil.  That is far too cynical a view of the nature of God.
          4-25.  The major framers of the U.S. Constitution thought that evil checked evil,
        whether they operated from theistic assumptions or not.  Not only is this doctrine
        visible in the basic structure of checks and balances, but it was explicitly stated in
        Madison's philosophy of power checking power and ambition checking ambition.1
        This assumption is the most basic and fundamental of all tenets of American political
        thought, and it is the reason that the United States is a dangerous force for instability
        in the world and is likely to remain so for a long time to come.
             The theory of "checks and balances" implicit in the U.S. Constitution is very much
        along the lines of balance of power theory as formulated by the great German war
        theorist von Clausewitz.  So much for the view of the divine sanction of the U.S.
        Constitution: Jesus was a theorist--and prince--of peace, not war.
          4-26.  So you are inspired by martial music and feel goose bumps when you hear
        "Hail to the Chief"?  
             Who is the "Chief," anyway?
          4-27.  The global historical legacy of checks and balances is balance of power
        theory in general: it is the history of Soviet nuclear weapons checking American
        nuclear weapons, Israeli tanks and airplanes checking Arab tanks and airplanes, ad
        infinitum, ad nauseam.
             Wherever the battlefield, the ruling god of retribution is invoked, and the God of
        mercy and forgiveness is forsaken.  Billy Graham had his prayer breakfasts with
        Richard Nixon, even while a powerful advisor was calling for the Christmas bombing
        of Hanoi to "put the fear of God" back into North Vietnam: the assumption on the
        part of both advisors seemed to be that God was clearly an American, a balance of
        power theorist, and a man of war, although not necessarily in that order.
          4-28.  When I think of the Madisonian civil religion, of evil checking evil through
        "checks and balances," the metaphor which comes to mind is that of a serpent
        consuming itself, or of two intertwined serpents consuming each other.
             Or are the serpents only mating and multiplying?
          4-29.  Even as the civil realm is given over to the faith of "evil checking evil," each
        individual life is a journey wherein the carnage of evil checking evil is finally found to
        be unsatisfying, a journey which finds one "lost in the wilderness" crying out for a
        better way.  Life is thus a journey whose ultimate destination is unknown and
        inconceivable except that one likes to think that one will not find evil, but goodness,
        ruling and keeping order.
             Is that too much to ask of an ultimate ideal?
          4-30.  Even hell, it is said, has due process.  In a better "place" (or state of mind),
        one hopes not only that there is no longer a perceived need for due process, but an
        outright repudiation of it: its true nature as camouflage for judgment and retribution
        will have finally been revealed.  
             That veil of camouflage, once torn asunder or cast aside, can never successfully be
        replaced: the image which is uncovered, of the dead corpse of retributivism, is finally
        too horrible and too graphic to be erased from memory.
          4-31.  It is not incumbent upon me to imagine or describe how a non-retributive
        society or culture would work in either its particulars or its totality.  
             God does not demand of me that I change the entire world.  He would, I think, be
        more than satisfied if I sought and found the courage and the reason to change myself,
        found a way in my own daily affairs, that is, to respond to evil with good, in the face
        of whatever contingency.      
             Such behavior--universalized--would change the world.
          4-32.  If Gibbon was correct in saying that early Christianity weakened the Roman
        Empire, leading to its ultimate downfall,2 it is reasonable to ask whether or not a
        pacifism based upon an interpretation of early Christian writings might not do the
        same thing to the United States.  
              Since Jesus himself clearly said that his kingdom was not of this world, even sug-
         gesting that his own kingdom existed in conflict with the rule of "those who lord it
        over their subjects," it is not unreasonable to say that to weaken the structure of
        domination ought to be the valid aim of any person who calls himself or herself "paci-
        fist," and that, if this implies subversion, so be it.
          4-33.  Since the U.S. shows unmistakable signs of the arrogance of power which
        has always afflicted the mighty, and since the U.S. is the author and maintainer of the
        doctrine and practice of nuclear terrorism (nuclear "deterrence"), one should have to
        give thanks to God if, by his Spirit, one can share in the actions which might reduce
        such a power to the rubbish heap of has-been empires.
          4-34.  What does the cross have to do with the Constitution of the Peaceable
        Kingdom?  It has everything to do with it, for the life, teachings, death, and
        resurrection of Jesus established as the core constitutive principle of that "kingdom"
        the agápe idea of unconditional altruism, with its non-judgmental and non-retributive
             This idea of non-retribution is manifested most succinctly in the golden rule.  For
        in refusing to retaliate, even in self-defense, we do indeed place the welfare of an
        enemy above our own welfare.  
             That is what the cross is ultimately all about.
          4-35.  There is no greater love than this, that one lays down one's life not merely
        for one's friends, but for one's enemies.  Jesus taught the one, but he lived and died
        the other.  Yet, did he not consider even his enemies as children of God, as friends?
             "Friend" was the greeting he gave to Judas, the one leading the party that was
        coming to Gethsemane to crucify him. (Matthew 26:50)
          4-36.   The golden rule offers the substantive ethical message that one should
        always respond to evil with good.  There is much more in the principle than some
        recommendation of a procedure of empathic identification prior to action, as R.M.
        Hare,3 Paul Weiss,4 Alan Gewirth,5 and other modern ethicists want to emphasize.
        Indeed, if one insists upon a purely procedural interpretation of the golden rule, then
        one must of necessity fail to see the fullness of its non-retributive substantive content,
        for the message of non-retribution is the message of forgiveness, and that message is
        truly divine.  Nor can it be comprehended in purely secular terms, for it comes from
        God and can only make complete sense if conjoined with belief in the existence of a
        perfectly non-retributive God.  
             The golden rule qua the ag pe principle of unconditional commitment to the
        welfare of others is the core constitutive principle of the divine, peaceable kingdom.
          4-37.  What is the church if not the "body of Christ" or the "community of co-
             What, indeed?  Co-believers in what?  A divine Messiah who came to punish and
        rule with a flaming sword?  Or a Messiah who came to show the obsolescence of the
        sword and every coercive order and institution which it supports?
             If the Messiah did not have the latter mission, that of exemplifying perfect peace,
        would his claim of divinity really be worthy of consideration?  In what way would he
        be unique, distinct from secular rulers or other religious teachers?
          4-38.  A failure to understand the view that Jesus was pacifistic and did not accept
        the legitimacy of the coercive state has a grave consequence: continued acceptance
        among both religious and secular thinkers of the bifurcated concept of "realms of
        authority" in the essentially legal distinction between "church" and "state."  This
        simplistic dualism is associated with a resultant loss not only of awareness of the evils
        of hierarchy and coercion in both realms, but a loss of the original, non-hierarchical
        meaning and significance of "church" as well.  That is, the church in its fullness is
        simply a perfect moral community, one in which all persons finally share in a valid
        ethical consensus, and from which no one is excluded.
             The church is still being built upon the solid rock of the divine example of Jesus of
        Nazareth and his first convert, Simon Peter.
          4-39.  Moses recommended a punitive order.  Jesus did not.  Moses ordained a
        punitive order and called it justice.  Jesus called this conception of justice mistaken:
        "You have been taught an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  But I say unto you,
        that to him who strikes you upon the right cheek, turn to him the left." (Matthew
              The Mosaic Law, the basis of a theocratic society, combined what we would now
        call "church and state": it relied upon the sword to uphold sacred values.  The Law
        of God, in its fullness, denies the justice of using the sword to uphold sacred values.
             Sacred ends require sacred means, and there is nothing sacred about the methods
        the state employs through war, punishment, and domination.
          4-40.  The state relies for its trump card upon war and punishment as the harsher
        half of retribution, although when it relies upon the seemingly more benign half of
        retribution--reward--it can threaten to bring about starvation, or at the very least
        extreme anxiety about potential deprivation of the means of livelihood.
             The church of the Christ relies upon benevolence, both when men are deserving
        of it and when they are not.  It thereby rejects, in its foregoing of retribution, not only
        the institutions of war and punishment, but meritocracies and reward systems of all
        sorts.  Social justice founded upon Christian ideals requires that the basis of
        distributive justice be the criterion of need, not whether one has satisfied someone
        else's criterion of worthiness.  If God would send his rain, his blessings, upon the just
        and the unjust alike, should mere mortals presume to do otherwise?
          4-41.  The "King" who rode into Jerusalem on "a donkey, the foal of a beast of
        burden,"6 surely wanted to distinguish himself from the Romans, riding on or in their
        stallions and chariots, the symbols of warfare and secular domination.
             He offered, that is, a tangible and symbolic expression of the real distinction
        between church and state: those who are disposed to serve, on the one hand, or to
        rule, on the other.
             No one ever "serves" by ruling: this is the ultimate, the most perverse, euphemism
        of domination.  The idea of "serving by ruling" is also the most common euphemism
        in modern organizations.
          4-42.  Very often the state masquerades in the clothing of the church, and calls
        itself Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, or something else.  Much good is
        done by these organizations, to be sure, but their structure of formal accountability
        makes them more compatible with the state than their members think.  The
        Protestants look at the statist and hierarchical tendencies of the Catholics and think
        that they have escaped these tendencies, but these tendencies are always near the sur-
         face in all formal religious organizations, threatening to corrupt them into coercive
        bureaucracies or arenas for power struggles.  
             These dangers are all the more insidious where it is na‹vely thought that a given
        tradition has purged itself of the statist disease through some litany about "the
        separation of church and state."  
             Those who talk the most about the "wall of separation" are often actually the most
        enamored of the state.  They are often its prime supporters.  Like as not, they worship
        its flag alongside the "Christian flag."  They glorify, more often than not, war and
        punishment, and, in spite of protestations about the "priesthood of the believer," many
        glorify human accountability in the church through democratic "rule."  They also
        practice exclusion, banning or barring individuals who have been judged by them as
        wrong or unworthy (quite analogous to the doctrine of excommunication among
        Catholics, although admittedly different in some theological respects).
             In this practice, they also resemble the state, which has a similar way of excluding
        those who do not accept certain criteria for citizenship.  Much of Protestantism, smug
        and secure in its superiority to Catholicism, is in fact an open sore, condemning the
        innocent and poisoning itself with its own bile.  Divided against itself, this kind of
        religion cannot stand indefinitely, and God will take it in season.  
             These believers are, of course, correct about salvation: they will be saved, but only
        after they have converted to Christianity--to the cause of Christ, the cause of peace.
          4-43.  Implicit in the most simplistic treatments of the church-state distinction is
        the idea that God has ordained that the state should govern the material realm,
        whereas the church should govern the spiritual realm.  
             The realm of church cannot, however, be confined to the realm of the spiritual.
        Religious precepts require action which goes over into the realm of the material, and
        all lie under the control or governance of God.
             There is no room for power politics in either the spiritual or material realms.  God
        rules in both.
          4-44.  The redefinitions of church and state in this work require us to redefine or
        re-examine the procedures for effecting social change.  A vote, for example, would
        have to be seen at best as a voice (the expression of an idea) and nothing more--
        certainly not part of a majoritarian coercive threat to carry out its will by force if the
        vote qua voice is disregarded.
             A vote to raise taxes for a specific purpose, on the pacifist view, would only be a
        conveying of the idea that one consents to be taxed for that purpose--that one is
        willing to part with one's money for the good of others.  Voting against a particular
        tax, on the other hand, is the expression of the idea that one would prefer that one's
        money should go for something else.  Since most tax bills are not so specific, and
        since most tax bills are voted on by representatives, then the most that one could do
        in most instances is to try to vote for the person whose ideas most nearly correspond
        to one's own.  In like manner, one would not be prevented from holding office,
        provided that one could do so consistent with the application of ag pe non-retributive
             Or am I rationalizing?  Would Jesus have bothered to vote or hold office if the
        option had existed in that culture?  Would he have in this culture?  The answer is not
        self-evident to me.
          4-45.  As a practical matter, the realm of the true church corresponds to the realm
        of voluntarism, free will, whereas the realm of the state corresponds to the realm of
        violence, coercion.  
             The market, on such a view, ironically falls within the realm of state, since it not
        only operates within a framework defined and enforced by legal coercion, but it
        operates by principles of distributive justice that are based upon the egoistic norm of
        reciprocity.  And, although such a conception implies voluntarism to some, I think
        that it is better to conceive of the "free" market economic system as being based upon
        institutionalized economic extortion and thus coercion: it exploits persons through
        capitalizing on their needs, their vulnerabilities.
             On this view, the market is not something which exists apart from the state: it is
        part of the state, for it is one of the purest manifestations of egoism and retributivism.
             If the "free" market could truly produce in abundance, then the price system of the
        market would collapse.  Its success thus implies its own failure, and it thereby negates
        itself as a claimant to the title of "allocator of justice."
             There is, of course, an "invisible hand" which allocates true justice: it is the hand
        of divine Providence, not the hand of the market.
          4-46.  Since all persons at some time in their lives operate altruistically, and all
        persons at some times likewise operate selfishly, there seems no basis for excluding
        anyone from the realm of church, much less any basis for debating who ought to have
        the right to be labeled as being a "member" of the church.  I should think that it would
        be better to say that all are sometimes members and sometimes not, depending upon
        whether or not they were relating to others on the basis of ag pe principles or
        sentiments at a given time.  I hope that this does not sound too imperial: "church" so
        defined is not something one "joins" so much as it represents a metaphysical status (on
        my view) of being guided by the Spirit of God in one's ethical decisions.
          4-47.  To try to decide who would or would not "qualify" as a member of the
        church would disqualify one's own self from membership, at least insofar as judging
        the worth of another is part of that behavior which is not guided by the spirit of God.
             It seems better to say that all human beings are members of the church, or, more
        precisely, that the good sides of all of us are members.  There is likewise a dark side
        to all of us which would not qualify for membership.  The wheat and the tares grow
        up together in each of us,7 for a time.
          4-48.  Church as conventionally described implies the idea of a mutual benefit
        association.  Those who are members typically are thought to be more worthy of
        benefits than those who are not.  The Southern Baptist Annuity system, a very useful
        retirement system, can thus also be seen as a club.  (Yet, conventional insurance
        companies, which exclude the most needy, would be similar.  That, of course, is the
             I am not prepared to say that it is wrong to belong to organizations which are
        exclusive (although it may be), since all organizations are going to be imperfect in this
        regard to varying degrees.  (Consider the exclusivity implied in being a member of a
        university faculty.)  The point is that we should not define ourselves or our loyalties
        by virtue of such exclusive organizations.  In addition, we should try to make all
        organizations of which we are a part less exclusive rather than more.  
          4-49.  There is a paradox in the concept of a universal church: one must as a
        member of Christ's church advocate and advance values which are not held by all
        persons, while yet retaining loyalty and allegiance to all persons, even those who
        would have us limit our loyalty to some finite segment of the whole.
             This is the unique paradox of Christianity: it requires an advocating of the rather
        specific values of the true church, at the same time that it requires a commitment to
        the most general welfare of all persons, including the enemies of the church.
          4-50.  The church requires allegiance to the good of all, including the enemies of
        the church.  This fact points up the real difference between church and state: the state
        requires one to stand prepared to judge or destroy its enemies, and this disposition is
        the most basic requirement for membership.  The true church, by contrast, requires
        one to love one's enemies, including the enemies of both church and state.
          4-51.  Even the state's much vaunted  claim of "protecting" the rights of expression
        can be seen to be a hollow promise which the state cannot logically keep, for coercion
        is the greatest threat to the exchange of--and rule by--ideas.  
             To have the state be the arbiter and protector of "First Amendment Rights" is akin
        to setting the fox in charge of the hencoop.  Such rights existed long before they were
        recognized by human beings or were codified into the Bill of Rights, and they will
        exist long after the U.S. Constitution has gone the way of all secular orders.
          4-52.  Does ultimate allegiance to the church as nation absolutely preclude the
        traditional allegiance to the nation-state?  The answer is problematic.  After all, it
        seems almost impossible to accomplish anything without holding some office or
        membership of some kind in the civil or religious realms, or both.  Yet, every position
        of power has its stresses, and the temptation is always to respond to these stresses in
        statist fashion.  Yet, if both church and state are not structures but modes of action,
        it is possible to carry the more benign mode of action into any organization, providing
        that one is willing to pay the price for one's virtue.
             It is noteworthy nonetheless that Jesus apparently held no formal office of any
        kind, a fact which ought to give one pause.
          4-53.  In its best and true sense, the church is indeed not only a community, but a
        nation (properly understood).  It is also what Elton Trueblood called an "incendiary
        fellowship,"8 and the statists and militarists do indeed have something to fear from the
        emerging church even in its interstitial social existence.
             Faced with any kind of threat, the state always demonstrates its obsession with
        "security," and it sees quite clearly that the chief threat to security is in the realm of
        ideas.  Thus it is that allegiance to the true church invariably impels one to a critical
        confrontation sooner or later, a crisis in which the state's attempt to control the realm
        of ideas finally brings its role of usurper into evidence.  
             Ultimately, however, the state cannot indefinitely suppress or control the realm of
        ideas anymore than the church itself can be limited, confined by organizational forms,
        or even destroyed.  The church operates and flourishes within the realm of ideas, and
        every repressive act of any regime only makes people think all the more--and the more
        they think, the greater humankind approaches the universal nation, the "kingdom" of
             The state, when it plays its trump card of violent coercion, thus sows the seeds of
        its own destruction.  The seeds of intellectual reaction to force may lie fallow for a
        time, but they are of such durability and vitality that no coercive regime can
        indefinitely survive the plant which springs forth.
          4-54.  As a legal distinction, the counterposing of "church" and "state" serves to
        give the legal authorities (in both realms!) a basis for deciding when an action falls
        within the purview of one legalist institutional realm or the other.  
              Once one has decided to look to the state and its legalistic perspective for insights
        on things ethical and religious, should one therefore be surprised in finding oneself in
        a legal/constitutional impasse?  Legal theory is a fantasy, the product of a blind quest
        in which its high priests strive endlessly, futilely, for coherence.
               God and his church will never be explained away--or confined--by the whim of the
        state.  The realm of God is everywhere.  The "wall of separation" is a legal myth, as
        is the idea of "neutral" legal solutions and procedures.  On things so highly value-
        laden, legal neutrality will never be more than a chimera.
             Yet, the potential for misunderstanding here is so great that one must emphasize
        yet again that one must never use coercion or any other statist method to force others
        to either embrace or support one's own religious beliefs.  
          4-55.  As a valid ethical distinction, the chasm (not "wall") between church and
        state reminds us that there are two general ways of responding to social conflict and
        ethical dilemmas: the way of God, which is the way of peace and freedom, and the
        way of Caesar, which is the way of war, coercion, and economic domination.    
             As elements of a legal distinction, however, "church" and "state" have become
        similar but parallel concepts representing institutional forms which overlap consider
        ably in their methods of operation.  To the extent that the word "church" in fact refers
        to some kind of bureaucracy or other secular (coercive) method of rule, the norms of
        Caesar have tended to govern many of the concerns that ought properly to belong to
        the realm of "church."   
             The irony is that, while the true church itself cannot be properly reduced to any of
        the particular social and institutional forms which are ordained in its names, all
        voluntaristic acts and organizations directed toward valid ends are part of the true
        church, whether their members know it or not.  There is no part of human existence
        which should not be part of the church, properly understood.  The church of the living
        God cannot be confined to some legal category (much less to a building or to a single
        congregation or denomination), nor can it be totally excluded from any segment of
        human affairs.
             The true church has a way of permeating all of social life, and, when it has
        leavened all realms of human action, the usual distinction between "church" and
        "state" will no longer exist, because the state will have been transformed into its
        opposite: force will have given way to thought, Reason.
          4-56.  The idea of an "ordained" minister can mean nothing more than an official
        minister or servant of God.   The ethical teachings of Jesus on servants and masters
        makes clear, however, that all who serve other persons, in whatever capacity, are
        ministers of the truth.  The real church and its real leaders are either the unofficial
        servants or else those who manage to serve in spite of some misbegotten official
          4-57.  Protestants who laugh at the Catholic idea of a "Pope" gulp down the
        concept of "ordained minister" without reservation, and both traditions tend to accept
        the Pauline nonsense of a secular ruler, armed with sword, as a proper "minister" or
        servant of God.  (Romans 13)  
             The Protestant confusion is manifested not only it its reliance upon "ordained
        ministers," but also in its general presumption that adopting majoritarian procedures
        can ensure that the will of God is being carried out.  This reliance upon majoritarian
        procedures can only ensure that the will of the majority is being carried out.  When
        majorities do that which is in error, then the error is multiplied, not sanctified.  The
        error is multiplied a thousand fold when they vote to expel someone from a
        congregation, as if they had the power to decide who was a member of God's family.
              These same people react with horror or even amusement at the Catholic idea of
        official excommunication, without seeing that they as Protestants are doing very
        nearly the same thing.  Both are usurping God's authority on the same point, differing
        only in the mechanism of de facto excommunication: majoritarian sacrilege on the one
        hand, bureaucratic sacrilege on the other.
              As for Catholic atrocities, they have indeed subsided substantially since the days
        of the Inquisition.  Instead, we have now not so much the atrocity as the absurdity of
        the Catholic hierarchy and its formal priesthood.  
              But is the Protestant concept of "pastor"--shepherd--really any better?  
         4-58.  Did Christianity subvert Rome, or was it the reverse?
         4-59.  Ah, Protestantism!  If only the sacrileges of Christianity were confined to
        the Catholics or to others outside the mainstream Protestant tradition.
          4-60.  It is obviously true and yet one must say it nonetheless, so that one is not
        totally misunderstood: there are many true ministers of God who yet work within the
        more or less formal organizations of the Catholic priesthood or the Protestant minis-
        try, as well as on the fringes of both.
          4-61.  Church as the "body of Christ," as an ethical and spiritual rather than as an
        institutional concept, is all of that which embodies the expression of non-retributivism,
        altruism, autonomy, or non-violence: everything derivative of the principle of the
        absolute worth of the individual in the eyes of God.
             Whereas value pluralism would see these as independent virtues, a Christian value
        monism would see them as various facets of the same logical whole, each of which,
        if pursued far enough, would imply the others through the locus of respect for the
        absolute worth of the most worthless individual, a value ordained of God.
          4-62.  If the state is the realm of retribution, it is also the realm of judgment or
        evaluation of persons which is the logical precondition of retribution.  Thus, the state's
        boundaries do not merely begin with overt retribution, but with the evaluative proce-
        dures which are the beginnings of retributive procedures: evaluation and judgment
        may thus both be seen to be retribution, for, although we might want to logically
        factor the evaluation from the execution of judgment based upon that evaluation, the
        fact is that any kind of evaluation of the worth of individuals is part of the realm of
        state, the ethical realm of retribution.
          4-63.  As evaluation is not only logically prior to retribution, but part of its
        essence, can it be any wonder that evaluation for retributive purposes is also
        condemnation and conviction?  The trial--the evaluative process--is the judgment or
        conviction or punishment.  The decision by the jury and the sentence of the judge are
        simply continuations of evaluation and punishment: for human beings, social beings
        that we are, to be accused, interrogated, and evaluated is to be punished.
             There is no such thing as a "fair trial."  The phrase is a contradiction in terms.
          4-64.  Of theocracies we may say that there are two types: direct and indirect.
        That which is typically called theocracy is indirect theocracy: God ruling through the
        state.  This is in fact a variant of statism cloaked in religious language and religious
              The more interesting possibility is direct theocracy, which implies direct rule by
        God and which is not taken seriously by many persons.  (Indeed, because the term
        "theocracy" already has such negative connotations, I hesitate to use the term at all.)
        Yet, to the extent that God rules directly over the lives of individuals through the
        media of their consciences (as well as specific providential contingencies in the
        world), then one should perhaps be happy to be called "theocrat" in some novel and
        ultimately benign sense--although one in fact will probably be called an "anarchist".
              The term "anarchist" is mistaken, of course.  "Anarchism" literally means "no rule,"
        whereas the advocate of direct theocracy is adamant that there is very firm rule
        indeed: rule by God, the most powerful Being in the universe.  
          4-65.  As for direct "theocracy," it is well to look at the etymology of the term:
        "rule by God."  Surely direct rule by God is the least kind of rule to be feared, a form
        of guidance in which to rejoice and give affirmation.  Appeal to such rule, if universal,
        would spell the end of secular and ecclesiastical hierarchies for all time.
              This is another way of saying that the state does not really survive by its own
        sword in a country such as this: it survives only because persons continue to affirm
        either the necessity or the moral legitimacy of such coercive rule.  We are, as often
        as not, responsible for our own enslavement to the violent, coercive state.  It is we as
        a nation who have exalted the state, and we are paying the price for our idolatry.
          4-66.   Like a jealous god, the state tolerates no "blasphemy" beyond a certain
        point.  We may say that the U.S. government tolerates pacifist dissenters, but the
        reality is that it has rarely tolerated them well.
              Those who seriously challenge the state's civil religion or its highest religious
        rituals of warfare and judicial pomposity will find soon enough, during time of war,
        what hypocrisy there is in statist talk of tolerating dissent, or of protecting the right
        to dissent.  If you do not believe that, try burning your draft card or otherwise refus-
        Ing to cooperate with the state-sanctioned military authorities during wartime; or try
        refusing jury duty in the name of "First Amendment Rights" while continuing to affirm
        the right to vote.  Then you will find out what the state is all about, as well as why it
        is ill-equipped to carry out its self-proclaimed mission as the guardian of individual
              The  state--even a democratic state--will forsake us in that cause in the end.  Why
        should we even think to turn to Leviathan to protect us from Leviathan?  What kind
        of madness is this na‹ve faith in the democratic state, this American mythology of
        "checks and balances" and "limited government"?
          4-67.  The term "holiday" originally came from "holy day," for in ancient cultures
        those days which were set aside in suspension of the usual activities were indeed
        religious holy days.  Today, however, we typically make a distinction between
        religious and secular "holy days."  We ought to look carefully at this quirk, for this is
        yet another place where etymological similarities can warn us that we are on dubious
              It can be seen that the  distinction between the secular and the sacred loses its force
        when one looks at the state, for the state as a "secular" institution does in fact have
        its "sacred" personages and its "sacred" days, its high holy days.  All of these, which
        are honored in the name of what has been called the "civil religion," are being exalted
        into something like religious icons, representatives of yet another religious icon: the
        state itself.
              A "secular holiday"?  Whatever can that mean?  An unholy holy day?  No other
        phrase expresses so well our confusion about the distinction between church and
        state--or reflects as well the dominance of the civil religion.
          4-68.  If the state is that set of social repertoires wherein the road to justice is
        believed to lie in evil checking evil ("ambition checking ambition," force checking
        force, etc.), then the church is that set of social repertoires wherein the road to justice
        is believed to lie in good checking evil.
              The two realms are mutually exclusive: one cannot serve God and Mammon.
          4-69.  An expansion of the limits of national loyalty toward true universalism or
        internationalism could only occur through a legal system if there were something like
        a world-state, and this is unacceptable: a world-state would only universalize
        retributivism and rule by the sword, not true justice.
          4-70.  A universal nation, one which includes all human or even all sentient beings,
        is a utopia in more than one sense.  In the first place, it does not exist anywhere (the
        literal meaning of "utopia").  In the second place, it could not exist unless the values
        held to were indeed universally valid, for no nation of such size and scope could be
        founded upon either falsehood or that which is culturally relative.
              A social consensus based on "valid values" is the only possible foundation for a
        society held together by the power of ideas rather than by force.  Nor can such a
        consensus be achieved or maintained by force.  Force is ultimately superfluous for the
        emergence and maintenance of a moral community.
          4-71.  The concept of a universal and non-exclusive "nation" is almost inconceiv
        able in human society in this life, although it is likely that the "Kingdom of Heaven"
        implies the possibility of a society or "nation" of some such type.  
              Such a heavenly "kingdom" (a metaphor one uses with some trepidation) implies
        at least one other thing, however: universal voluntary compliance with its constitutive
        principles (its "constitution"), not simply agreement with those principles.  It might
        be that, if there were a genuine universal consensus of conviction, persons would act
        in accordance with such deeply-held beliefs, and thus the problem of cohesion would
        not be a problem.  
          4-72.  The idea of "heaven" has always implied a sense of final triumph over
        temptation and sin, so that the idea of universal consensus and voluntary compliance
        is not really so far (if at all) outside the mainstream of religious thought as it might at
        first appear.  That is, the idea of a final consensus of belief and a derivative voluntary
        coordination of action is not unreasonable, nor is it unreasonable to believe that these
        would involve a final and universal triumph over sin and temptation; yet, one must
        realize that what is at issue here is the meaning and significance of the final perfect-
        ibility and perfection of the soul.
              Even if one conceded belief in such perfectibility, it seems unlikely that such could
        occur prior to death, especially on the broad scale needed to define universal
        nationhood.  Thus no nation on this earth in this life is at all likely to achieve such a
        perfect sense of nationhood, and, if no limited nation is going to achieve it, then
        certainly humanity as a whole is not going to achieve it.  
              The impracticality of attainment of truly universal transnational loyalty, however,
        does not prevent individuals from extending their loyalty to all of mankind, even
        where the rest of mankind does not reciprocate--as it surely will not in this life.
              Or am I too shortsighted?
          4-73.  Theocratic orders can be seen to fall on a scale from direct theocracy at one
        extreme (the Providential rule of God in each individual life) to indirect theocracy at
        the other (Orthodox Judaism, Islamic fundamentalism, and much of modern Christian
        thought as well).  We see in all of these the claim of the "rule of God" (the literal
        meaning of "theocracy), but only in the early church was there apparently any
        widespread belief that this rule is accomplished without the intermediary of the state
        or official hierarchies in any realm: "direct theocracy."
              The Thomistic view is apparently an example of a conception of "indirect
        theocracy," whereas the view being defended here could technically be referred to as
        "direct theocracy," since God is seen to rule directly through the consciences (the
        minds and souls) of all persons, without the use of intervening hierarchies in any
        realm, secular or ecclesiastical.  
              Even so, I prefer to relabel "direct theocracy" as "providential government," so
        that the negative connotations attached to the term "theocracy" may be avoided.  
          4-74.  It seems bizarre to have to say it explicitly, but I must, so that there is no
        chance that I shall be misunderstood:
               The idea that God does not rule the world through the coercive and retributive
        machinery of the state--that is either what I am assuming or that which I would like
        to prove.  It is certainly that which I want to affirm, that which motivates the present
        work.  I also want to reemphasize that I am advocating neither anarchism nor
        theocracy, as the terms are commonly used.
          4-75.  If God does not rule the earth through the retributive machinery of the state,
        then how does he rule?  To what extent does he allow persons to rule themselves and
        to what extent does his providential rule continue over day-to-day matters?
               My basic assumption in trying to answer all of these is that God, in giving
        Humankind dominion over the earth, did not intend to give Humankind dominion over
          4-76.  The "chain of command" is from God to persons to nature.  It does not
        involve relations between persons, for all persons are created equal of God, and God
        is no respecter of the free and equal persons whom he created.  God did not institute
        domination of persons over persons, and thus God did not ordain or invent the state
        and its hierarchies.
               Are you listening, you Paulinists who parade as Christians?
          4-77.  A student once remarked to me of another professor that "He doesn't even
        believe in government."  Although the student was wrong, and the professor was one
        of the greatest legalists I have ever known, the question still gave me pause.  What
        in the world does it mean to "believe" in government?
              I suppose the student referred to belief in the necessity of a coercive state.  If that
        is what "belief in government" is supposed to mean, then I guess that I am not a
        believer.  I believe instead in God, and I do not mean for that statement to sound
        flippant, or to sound like word play.  In a very essential sense one cannot believe in
        both God and the state: only One truly governs, and God does not rule persons
        indirectly through a chain of command which includes the state, or other persons, as
        the intermediary, as executors of divine authority.  God rules directly through the
        consciences of individual human beings, and, if one believes otherwise, then one
        believes in the state but not in God, whether one knows it or not.  
              One cannot have it both ways.
          4-78.  If one believes in a retributive God, then one believes in a fiction: one might
        as well be an atheist.
             If one does not believe in a providential God, who is in total control of his
        universe, one also does not believe in a valid conception of God; and one is going to
        default to statist methods when one is in a threatening situation.
          4-79.  Believing in God in lieu of the state does not mean trying to smash the state,
        for the state writ large is merely the body of persons who believe in the efficacy and
        necessity of coercive action for the existence of society.   One cannot try to use
        violence to smash the state without joining the state, for the state is the set of all
        violent and coercive relations among persons.
              Yet, to the extent that belief in the non-retributive God and belief in the retributive
        state are mutually exclusive as I would define them (God ruling non-retributively, the
        state attempting to rule retributively), there is a sense in which a defense of this
        conception of God damages the state.  Thus every true believer in the state is a traitor
        to God, and every true believer in God is a traitor to the coercive state.  
          4-80.  Since money itself is a convention in the modern age, having no real value
        apart from state sanction, to yield money to the state is to yield nothing substantial.
        It may be said that the state uses money to fight its wars, but in fact, if money did not
        exist, the state would simply find a more direct, less subtle way of coercing people to
        fight its wars.  Surely this is why Jesus encourages persons to pay taxes--not because
        he believes that every purpose supported by the state with money is just (which would
        be absurd), but because he knows that the state could resort to direct violence if
        money and its tempting manipulations did not work.  
          4-81.  Thomas Hobbes referred to the state as Leviathan, a terrible monster, the
        "King of the Proud."9  As with so many Hobbesian insights, this one bore no final
        fruit, and Hobbes himself worshiped the monstrous state to an extent rare among men.
             We might paraphrase "King of the Proud" as "God of the Proud": the state is the
        sovereign of the proud, by which I mean all those who refuse to submit to the real
        God, the one who is peaceful and non-retributive.  As no one can serve two masters,
        one cannot truly serve both the retributive state and the non-retributive God.
          4-82.  Belief in a retributive, remote, or non-providential God is perhaps not belief
        in God at all, but something else, belief in a fiction.  It may be belief in a false god, or
        at best only the beginnings of the search for the true God.
              This is a way of saying that one cannot determine the percentage of believers in
        God simply by asking the question, "Do you believe in God?"  All that one finds out
        this way, at best, is how many persons believe that a supreme being exists.  If they
        believe in a false conception of God, do they yet really believe in God?  Did not the
        idol worshipers have their "god"?
              This is not an idle theological exercise: to the extent that persons believe that God
        is retributive, they  also believe in the divine sanction of the state, which is also
        retributive.  Those who defend the atrocities of the state, such as the bombing of
        Hiroshima or even the routine threat of deadly force through the police, are actually
        attacking God (as least as I conceive of him).  They thereby also reveal their faith in
        Leviathan, the king, lord, and god of the proud.  
              In so doing, they deny faith in the true God.
          4-83.  The true believer in peace believes not only that there is a God, but in a God
        such that none more benevolent or non-retributive can be conceived.
              Such a belief does not encourage one to have faith in the coercive, retributive state
        as the ultima ratio to social problems.
          4-84.  The state is obsolete, an anachronism, for it is constituted upon the
        superstitious practices of punishment, war, and obeisance to those in positions of
        hierarchy backed up by the threat of violence.
              Those who believe in this anachronism seem to feel the need periodically to offer
        themselves and their children up to the state's highest, most glorious ritual: war.
              Would such madness come from God?
          4-85.  As noted above, any violent act to overthrow the state is a statist act.  The
        "smash-the-state" anarchists in the tradition of Bakunin would mistakenly use coercive
        means to try to abolish coercive institutions.  The violent anarchists are thus not so
        much anti-state (in spite of their protestations to the contrary) so much as they are
        pro-state, for their constitutive principle is still the principle of retribution.  
              The violent anarchists would take revenge upon the structural embodiment of
        violence and revenge, the state as commonly conceived.  In so doing, they contradict
          4-86.  In the course of espousing pacifist and voluntarist views, one sometimes
        comes up against objections which question how social order, security, and the
        delivery of basic services could prevail if there were no institutionalization of coercion
        or systems of organization based upon fear or manipulation of social, physiological,
        or economic need.  These objections then are transformed into an indictment of the
        pacifist or voluntarist as an irresponsible moral agent.  "But how would society sur-
        vive?" is the basic question being asked, and the basic accusation being made against
        those who challenge routinized coercion is that the person who refuses to submit to
        or to promote or participate in coercive institutions (such as the military) is a parasite
        or "free rider."
              One response to all such accusations and assertions is that they rely upon the
        fallacy of misplaced responsibility.  The assumption seems to be that, because a
        person does indeed have a responsibility to all of society, that person also has a
        responsibility to offer (or defend) a plan for an entire society, or else to defend a
        particular man-made, coercive governing order for society.  
              The only obligation one has, however, is to see to it that one's own time and other
        resources are maximally used to promote that which is good.  How one's own efforts
        are to be coordinated with those of others is a separate problem, and, if one does not
        have the full theoretical answer to it, one is not thereby a parasite.
          4-87.  But how would society hold together without the coercive state?  One might
        better ask how it holds together now, for it is clear that no state can hold society
        together where there is a total lack of agreement about basic values.  
              The state is not even holding things together now.  Even in the present order of
        things, I am continually amazed that I can even remember to do the simple things that
        hold my own life together.  I am in such awe over such small things that I could not
        presume to say that I understand what holds the larger order together, short of falling
        back upon the idea of divine providence--admittedly as something of a residual
        category, a category of the unexplained.  Fortunately, doing so does not mean the end
        of keeping promises and other agreements.  One does not want, in emphasizing the
        providential force of divine reason, to separate it casually from human reason.  Yet,
        neither does one want to say that divine reason operates only through human reason.
        God is not only God of our minds and spirits, but of material events in the physical
        and social realm as well: the same God who calmed the waters went immediately on
        to heal the men who were mentally ill ("possessed"), if the biblical account in Matthew
        8 has any validity at all.
              God, that is, is God of heaven and earth, of the spiritual and material realms.
        There is order and purpose in what appears to us to be only chaos, randomness.
        Perhaps the order is only emerging, but it is still there in the mind of God as the plan
        for his creation.
          4-88.  The basic, hidden question behind all of the other questions asked by the
        defender of routinized coercion is thus not "Who would govern in the absence of the
        state?" but "Who governs now?"  To answer quite simply, "God," is not to beg the
        question, although it does beg the question as to precisely how God governs.  That
        he governs partly (but only partly) through human reason does not hide the fact that
        the central coordinating force in every existing society does not lie with any human
        or group of humans.  It is necessary to posit a supernatural force or intellect as the
        locus of authority and obligation, as well as the basis for what is deemed to be good
        and worthy.  Without the positing of such an intelligence who has created a set of in-
        finite benign contingencies (one way of looking at the concept of "providence"),
        there can be no possibility of order, harmony, or the meeting of basic needs.
              To say, therefore, that a providential God holds society together is indeed to affirm
        an article of faith.  Such an answer is indeed a general one.  It is not intended as a
        complete answer.  Even so, to the extent that one believes in such a higher force with
        the power and intellect to coordinate events in the world, including human power and
        intellect, the need to posit a coercive order seems somehow weaker.  Perhaps if faith
        in a providential God were strong enough and general enough, the reliance upon a
        coercive order would wither away completely.
              In the meantime, if one's own individual faith were strong enough, perhaps one
        might at least free oneself from relying upon the use of force or threat--and free
        oneself in the process from that heaviness of heart which comes with trying to plan
        for every evil that could conceivably come one's way by preparing contingency plans
        to respond in kind.
          4-89.  The defender of voluntarism/pacifism ultimately falls back upon the premises
        that God is and that God governs.  There is no room for a detached deism in such a
        view.  Deism is, after all, a product of the Enlightenment's moral schizophrenia: a
        desire to hang onto the idea of God, but to divorce God from any personal decision-
        making in the ongoing operation of his creation.  A God detached from his creation
        is no God at all.  The world is not God's orphan, nor his abandoned child.
              The alternative, that God is and that God governs, provides the basis for individual
        ethical action.  This is the only meaningful alternative to both deism and the
        philosophy of routinized coercion, and it is the only possible avenue of rebuttal.  
              That such a response is not complete is a way of saying that our knowledge of God
        is not complete.  Such lack of knowledge need not, however, impel one to put one's
        faith and one's trust in a coercive legal order: the state.
              Consider instead the teaching: "Blessed are those who wait upon the Lord."
          4-90.  What do we owe to the state?  Are we obligated to justify ourselves to those
        who use threat as the basis of their claim to authority?  
              I do not doubt that it is sometimes necessary and moral to appeal to the state (as
        conventionally defined) or to other persons in one capacity or another.  Yet, moral
        justification of ourselves to the state qua state as I have defined it is more than an
        appeal--it borders on idolatry.  This is a corollary of the more general premise that it
        is idolatrous to try to appeal to retributive practices and procedures in lieu of
        appealing to God.
              We are nonetheless obligated, of course, to explain our values and rationales to
        others where such communication is a prerequisite to a truly voluntary society
        founded on a genuine consensus. Without such explanations, we should never be cor-
        rected in our false conceptions nor able to correct others, and thus we should never
        arrive at a consensus.  But this attempt to explain oneself should never be confused
        with the more significant attempt to justify oneself to another who claims a coercive
        authority relationship with one.  There is a difference, and it is significant.  For
        justification one must appeal to God alone.
              The disciples of the state (and of group dominance in a variety of forms) will dis-
        agree, of course.  They are under the mistaken impression that they own one's soul.
        On this point it is wrong to humor them or their claims to authority.  On this point one
        owes them not obeisance but correction.
          4-91.  Remember the silence of Christ before Pilate.  One man thought that the
        other was subject to him, and a gentle correction was in order.  Thus was the silence
        broken ever so briefly.
              What one would not do by way of legitimizing illegitimate rule can still often be
        done for the legitimate purpose of bearing witness to the rule of God.
          4-92.  It is never right to give unqualified allegiance to any party which lays claim
        to some authority to subjugate one's moral judgments to its own.  Yet, one may go
        further and say that, if one has offered some such unqualified allegiance, the oath is
        not binding: one has been either extorted or deceived into offering such an oath of
              In the military, the ceremony or oath whereby such personal moral sovereignty is
        ceded is perfunctory and lacking in any obvious concern for whether or not the recruit
        really understands what is in the U.S. Constitution (that to which one ultimately
        swears allegiance in the U.S. military).  Indeed there is no concern to find out if the
        recruit has even read the Constitution, so that one could reasonably argue that the pro
        forma exercise whereby so many young men sign away their lives and moral birth-
        rights to principles and persons yet unseen and unknown is indeed a very duplicitous
              One may certainly say that the way that the ceremony is conducted, typically en
        masse and in a setting coercive and threatening, does not encourage the recruit to
        read the "fine print" (if, indeed, the recruit can read at all).  Nor is there reason to
        think that the typical recruit would understand the full moral implications of affirming
        such an oath of loyalty.  Nor are the military authorities inclined to have him do so.
        Indeed, just the opposite is likely to be the case.  To encourage serious enquiry at this
        point could seriously interfere with military socialization down the line.
              More generally, one may justifiably say that such oaths of allegiance in the
        military have no moral force because they contradict the obligation to give
        unqualified and undivided loyalty to God.  In many, if not most, instances, the moral
        obligation may be entirely the opposite of that which the oath requires.  Therefore it
        is not only often permissible to break the oath.  It is typically obligatory.
              There is One Judge to whom one carries such appeals.
          4-93.  If a flag were sacred, then it could only mean that the state is sacred, for a
        flag is the symbol of the coercive, exclusive social grouping we call "state."  If the
        state were holy, then one might speak meaningfully of "desecrating" its symbol, its
        flag.  The deification of a flag parallels the deification of the state.  
              Insofar as neither has any divine sanction, however, the deification of either or both
        is idolatry pure and simple, and the concept of "desecrating the flag" is thereby
             One does not have to be a Jehovah's Witness to see that.
          4-94.  Perhaps the most powerful thing which one can do by way of expressing
        one's revulsion to the notion that a flag is a sacred symbol is simply to ignore it, to
        treat it with neither dignity nor contempt, but with utter indifference.
              One is justified, that is, in continuing to eat one's hot dog while the national war
        anthem is being played, and while the sons of Leviathan are going through their rituals
        of state worship in one's presence.  It is their actions that are revulsive and
        disrespectful toward true authority.
          4-95.  If an official prayer in the public schools is deemed to be unconstitutional,
        then why is not also some official pledge of allegiance to the great god of the sons of
        Leviathan: the state?  Is that not also some religious ritual imposed by the state?
              Ah, yes, of course, but we err greatly if we expect the state to extinguish itself.
        The state and its high priests expect to be worshiped.
          4-96.  Punishing living, thinking, and feeling human beings for the sake of a piece
        of cloth is the ultimate in absurdity, the ultimate in displacement of goals.  Such a
        practice would suggest that the state is more important than the rights and welfares
        of individual persons.  It would also imply that a man-made symbol has more value
        than a child of God.
              Perhaps that is what idolatry is all about.
          4-97.  Many of the veterans' groups seem to be saying that the flag is sacred, that
        the flag is worth dying for.  Yet, I think that what they really mean is that the flag is
        worth killing for: human beings may be shot in the name of the flag, entire cities may
        be vaporized in its name, and hundreds of thousands of souls may be incarcerated in
        buildings flying those colors.  And yet it is the flag which is sacred?  I find such
        arguments unfathomable, incomprehensible.  Surely it is human values which are
        sacred, and the flag is a very obscure and indefinite symbol of such subtle and
        complex values.  If anything, what one is affirming when one says that the flag is
        sacred is that the sword is sacred, for it is the sword of the state which the flag
        ultimately represents.  
              The flag stands not for freedom, but for state coercion and exclusion.
          4-98.  If there is a general affliction of political theorists, it is the assumption that
        valid political theory must address the question, "What ought the state to do?"  Yet,
        this is a nonsensical question, for the state is not a person.  The essential question for
        the ethical realm is "What ought I to do"?
              Law and the state are "reified morality": both law and state are concepts which
        present themselves to us as actors.  This may be a useful shorthand in some contexts.
        In general it reflects a fallacious way of thinking: only persons act.  
              States do not act and laws do not rule.
          4-99.  It is well to remember that, in a given instance, I can only be responsible for
        seeing that my limited resources are used for good, either directly in my own actions
        or in convincing other individuals that their own resources would be better used in a
        certain way.  Any other reference to public policy or group obligation is possibly a
        miscarriage of logical and meaningful usage.
          4-100.  For the apostles of the state, solutions to problems are not to be
        discovered: they are to be created or imposed.  The same is true of their concept of
        peace: instead of trying to discover the peaceable solution which God has provided
        for every situation, they feel that they must "make peace," or impose it by force.
               All such efforts begin, of course, with the basic Hobbesian metaphysical
        assumption of the pervasiveness of natural conflict.  God's harmony (or harmony-in-
        process) is not obvious, but one must believe in it or believe that God is less than
        omniscient and omnipotent.
          4-101.  In cases where an appeal to the state clearly does not involve retributivist
        motives or de facto retaliatory outcomes, then appeals to officers of the state might
        justifiably be made.  Yet, overall, one must caution against appealing to the state, not
        only through formal lawsuits, but through informal complaints (typically to officers
        of the state) which serve to stack the deck against our opponents.  If we feel that the
        problem requires rectification, then we should if possible confront our adversaries
        directly, not call upon some man or woman whose office is backed up by the sword.
              I recognize how frustrating it must be for some to hear this kind of recommenda
        tion, since it seems to put the Christian entirely at the mercy of God and the good will
        of individuals: he has no statist card that he can morally play in most circumstances.
        For those who are truly oppressed, it is apt to sound particularly depressing, since no
        quick solution to their problems can seem to occur but through state action.  Here,
        however, one wants to remind that such a recommendation does not preclude the
        possibility of making persuasive appeal to state officers to use morally legitimate
        means to rectify injustices, and such appeals can be the most effective means of all,
        especially over the long term.
              Yet, one must remember that the "long term" may, by the standards of human
        existence in this life, be very long indeed; and, in some instances, one may never be
        heard at all by those in secular authority.
          4-102.  The general doctrine of not appealing to the state is anathema to the statist
        doctrine, which sees the state as having not only a legitimate monopoly on the use of
        force but which also apparently wants every difference to be voiced through official
        state organs and channels.  That which is peaceably settled independently of the state
        demonstrates the inefficacy and uselessness of the state, tending thereby to vitiate its
        power and to withhold the kind of information which it can use to force compliance
        on any of its members.
              The way of peace typically proceeds "outside of channels."  Every solution so
        achieved weakens the perceived necessity for, and legitimacy of, coercive rulers.
        They become more obviously irrelevant.
          4-103.  Is God a "balance of power theorist"?  That is, does he subscribe to the
        view that the way that evil is to be checked is by other evil?  Has he designed the
        world such that a cosmic system of checks and balances is in place, whereby the
        contingencies of the world are such that evil may be made to check evil, power to
        check power, ambition to check ambition?
              Let it be assumed that he is.  If so, then the authorities, like cancer and heart
        disease, are in his service, for the sake of bringing punishment upon the wrongdoer.
        Let us assume that we, too, who would try to do his will, are to erect and operate
        retributive institutions on such a model, institutions such as military alliances and
        constitutional orders or some such, such that aggressors and violators of the law are
        to be punished.  We who would be officers of the state, on such a view, are thus to
        be in God's service when we check the power of evil by using the punitive powers of
        the state.  Evil as these may be, they are, on such a view, essential to the divine
        purpose, since without them there might not be an adequate check of those deliberate
        evils inflicted by human beings upon other human beings.  
              Let it further be assumed that we are thus virtuous when we check evil with evil:
        we are the instruments of divine retribution, for bringing down punishment upon the
        offender, as Paul says in Romans 13.  Is not such a view plausible enough (not to
        mention biblical enough)?  After all, if a house divided against itself cannot stand, then
        is it not reasonable that God has designed the world such that whatever evil arises in
        the world should be checked by other evil, so that evil is thus divided against itself and
        thus cannot continue to stand for very long?  How else could he possibly deal with
        evil but by being prepared to destroy it by using other, albeit necessary, evil?
              Such a view has a superficial plausibility--and a wide following, and not only
        among the Christian fundamentalist right.  Yet, it is not without its difficulties, for, if
        God has designed the world such that evil may be made to check evil, then God has
        himself created a house that is divided against itself, for his system of justice would
        seem to require resorting to evil in order to check evil.  He would thereby have to
        advocate that we should be disposed to do the same thing in the name of good.
              Why not design the world (and social institutions) such that good checks evil?
        That would seem to be the divine way, and one wants to believe that that is in fact the
        kind of world God actually created.
          4-104.  What does one make of the claim that some acts entailing the virtual
        certainty of evil consequences may nonetheless be just, if the evil is inevitable or
        necessary?  The doctrine of "necessary evils" is, of course, what the balance of power
        (or checks and balances) theorist is advocating: some evils are necessary, some wars
        are necessary, punishment is certainly necessary, and perhaps even evil itself is a
        necessary part of God's creation, essential to its balance and harmony.
              From such premises we have inherited not only the "just war" thesis, but the idea
        of "justice" as some kind of retaliatory practices set up by the state.  In U.S.
        Constitutional theory, we have gotten, by similar reasoning, the idea that coercive
        government is also necessary, since men are not angels.
              It is a seductive doctrine, is it not?  It is still nonsense.
          4-105.  Would God constitute or design a world wherein one evil could not be
        checked unless another evil came into being, a world where two wrongs make a right?
        And, would he advocate that his lieutenants should use evil to check evil, and would
        he call their use of evil "good" and "virtuous"?  
              Was that the intent of the Framer of the Divine Constitution?
              No.  It was only the intent of the framers of a nation conceived in violence, slavery,
        and genocide of native Americans on a scale that makes the Nazi holocaust look like
        child's play by comparison.  When one considers that this country guarantees its own
        security by threatening that of the entire world, one wonders if perhaps one should be
        ashamed to be a citizen of this country.
              Do not tell me to love it or leave it.  God made this land, and it belongs neither to
        you nor to me, but to its Creator.  I love the land.  I only despise the violent and
        exploitative order that destroyed its native inhabitants and which is rapidly destroying
        its natural resources and beauty.
              This evil empire, like all before it, shall go down to the dust, because it was not
        founded on the Divine Constitution, but on a constitution which was obsolete two
        thousand years before it was written.
          4-106.  Why do we teach our children loyalty to the state?  Why have we given
        them a serpent when they have only asked for food?
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