Notice: This blog post is taken from some earlier writings (2010) prior to this blogs existence and may have a slightly different format than is typical on this blog.
As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (source unknown)
Foundation. No no, not the sci-fi trilogy. By Foundation I mean, Principle. What is the primary principle that I is foundational? Obviously the Bible, God, Jesus, salvation and all that. But more specifically, what do I feel is a foundational principle through which I can base all of my actions and principles on. Basically, what is my Theory of Everything? To rephrase Wikipedia, what is my putative basis that explains and links all my principles and actions in life. Answer: I think it is surprisingly simple.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
“On these commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets”. Wow, quite the definitive statement. Neither Christ nor the Pharisees took the Law and the Prophets lightly. Nor should the more “modern” person. What exactly does Christ mean by the ‘whole Law’ and the ‘Prophets’? I think, simply put, that the entire foundation for a moral analysis of human action that deals with other people and God can be based on these two commandments. The first one is the foundation for how you should deal with God, and the second with other people. All the other commandments are from this.
To love your neighbor as yourself and to love God are my guiding principles. I’m not perfect, but it doesn’t mean one can’t try.
Personal Actions Based on Stance
Based on what I have learned and how I have logically extrapolated the two great commandments I no longer vote. I will no longer take Christians to a secular court, or even non-Christians if I can avoid it. I disregard, ignore and remove my support from any government that is coercive and illegitimate. I have come to understand that the coercive State is set against these commandments and is thus not the authority Paul discusses in Romans 13, and thus not a legitimate authority. Even there in verse 10 he states “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law”. The coercive state is the anti-thesis of loving your neighbor, and I can not have any voluntary part of it.
In today’s world it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible while maintaining a modern life, to completely do no wrong to your neighbor. In an age of democracy, all actions with the State can be construed as doing wrong to your neighbor. Levying any unwanted tax on any person is not love, does wrong to your neighbor, and is thus sinful and evil. Voluntarily paying taxes that fund a war against people who have done no harm to you, destroys your neighbor, potentially even your Christian brothers. The taxes I pay are no longer voluntary, so I hope to avoid that sin in my life. Any taxes I pay I understand to be utter theft, through fraudulent and coercive means.
Here I hope to expand the great commandments out a little bit in an effort to make it clear how I go from love thy neighbor to abolish the coercive state, including army, roads, and justice department.
To start simply, a few of the Ten Commandments are stated below with a brief explanation how the commandment itself can be extrapolated from the Great Commandments. Then take a look at the remaining commandments, available in the sources section, and you’ll find that they easily fit within the great commandments (excepting Commandment Four, Keeping the Sabbath, that one can be a crime against God but doesn’t easily fit on first look).
Commandments One and Two: No other Gods before Him, and no idols
God wants you to love Him with all your heart. Obviously doing so means you wouldn’t put anything else between you and God.
Commandment Eight: Thou shalt not steal.
The very nature of theft is that it goes against the will of the rightful owner. If you loved your neighbor as yourself, and you prefer to voluntarily use your property, then you shouldn’t steal from your neighbor. Doing so violates the love your neighbor principle.
Commandment Six: Thou shalt not murder.
Easy one. If you don’t want to be murdered, then you shouldn’t murder. It is in no way loving your neighbor, who doesn’t want to be murdered.
Loving thy Neighbor
Easy enough. But let’s continue this train of thought and further extrapolate loving thy neighbor to an expanded foundational principle. However, rather than trying to build an entire theological & philosophical framework from scratch, I will submit to those who have already done this and can explain it better. To do so, I am going to link this commandment to the Golden Rule and the Non-Aggression Axiom. The Golden Rule can be stated as such (thanks to Wikipedia):
1. One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive form)
2. One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative/prohibitive form, Also called the Silver Rule)
There are some debates of whether the two definitions above are the same principle or different, but for the case of this Stance we will assume they are one and the same. The principle of Loving your neighbor as yourself is a perfect fit for the Golden Rule, and is in fact the Christian addition to the variety of independent cultural derivations of the Golden Rule throughout history. The Non-Aggression Axiom is similar and can be phrased a few different ways as below:
1. [That] no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. (Rothbard)
2. [All] acts of aggression against the rights of others—whether committed by individuals or by governments—are unjust. (Britannica)
Where “‘Aggression’ is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.” This axiom can be a little more difficult to link to the 2nd Great Commandment, and while the Commandment will include benevolent acts towards people, the Non-Aggression Axiom further defines the prohibitive side of it (prohibitive meaning Thou Shalt Not…).
Both the Golden Rule and the Non-Aggression Axiom have a large number of extrapolations that I can base my Personal Actions upon. Many can be found here: www.mises.org.
Matthew 22:36-40 The Great Commandments
Romans 13:1-7 Authority
Romans 13:10 Fulfillment of the law
Wikipedia entry: Ten Commandments. References to commandments use Orthodox Division.
Romans 13 Stance – Link (Not written yet)
Wikipedia entry: Golden Rule
Rothbard: Non-Aggression Axiom Taken from For a New Liberty (1973)
As a Christian, any Stance I have, and any actions I take should be in agreement with the Bible and it’s mandates, or if not directly mentioned, done in accordance with the foundational principles derived from the Bible. In this Stance I have described what I view to be my primary foundational principle and through which all of the Biblical mandates are in agreement with.