Despite secular education’s insistence that there exists such a thing as the “noble savage,” it’s an idea rooted in fantasy and romanticism. A pagan, secular society is violent, bloody, anarchistic, and unjust. Only through the actions of the early Church did the concept of liberty begin to infiltrate society, kindling a desire for freedom from tyranny in the common man and the world at large.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: February 4, 2011
Bill: Welcome everybody, it’s Bill Heid, and I’ve got a very special guest. I guess the joke is every show we say we’ve got a very special guest. It sounds a little bit like Martyn Lloyd-Jones – when you study the Bible with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, every book is the most important book of the Bible. I’ve got another very special guest just like that today. We try to get special guests on and we have Tom Ertl with us today. Tom is a publisher – the head of Zurich Publishing. It’s a publishing ministry with the purpose of publishing books dealing with political theory, law, economics and Christ’s dominion – and I’ll say stewardship as well, Tom – does that sound like a good definition?
Tom: Yeah, pretty accurate.
Bill: For a while, you’ve been a tent maker – you build homes, you’re a construction guy, and you’ve had quite a journey on your faith as well. You’ve been Roman Catholic and you’ve been through a lot of different belief systems. You’ve come to some conclusions about the nature of reality, the nature of theology. It’s those conclusions that you’ve come to that I’m really interested in talking to you about because it has such a point of interest for our listeners who are mainly interested in freedom. This idea of liberty and freedom, and where does it come from. So I want to welcome you and say thank you so much. We’ve become friends talking and we’ve talked a number of times on the phone and it’s always a delight to talk to you. It’s a delight to have you here today.
Tom: Well, Bill, thank you very much. I’m very much looking forward to being with you and talking to you and sharing some things for your audience and hopefully we’ll have a great time.
Bill: Well thanks again. Let’s talk about your most recent publishing and what’s got you excited. I’ve read the books so I won’t steal the thunder, but tell us about Pierre Viret.
Tom: I think first – we’ll get into Viret in a minute – the burden I have with certain publishing is dealing with a Christian world view. We’ve got to look at our country, the United States; we’ve got to look at the whole West, and what is the basis for political freedom, basis for our culture, and it is all based in Christianity. All based on the Christian world view. We look at the blessings of America and you look at when deTocqueville came here and he could not believe the Christian influence in the 1820s of the United States and how it influenced everything else in this country. You look at the fact that it wasn’t as much a political movement as it was a religious movement. For us to restore what we’ve lost in the West, we’ve got to go back to the Christian faith. We’ve got to have it applied to every area of life and thought. My interest in Viret and with Zurich Publishing was the fact that, when I found out about who Pierre Viret was and his influence in the Protestant Reformation, was that his passion and his influence was – theologically – to try and find a way to apply the Bible to every area of life and thought. That’s what he did in his work. That’s a general summary of the philosophy of what we’re trying to do at Zurich Publishing, is get more books from a Christian world view on political theory, economics and that whole realm of political thought, because it really is based in freedom. To answer your question, Viret was John Calvin’s closest associate. He was born in Orbe, Switzerland in 1511, was converted to the Protestant faith while he was at school in Paris and came back and became a minister in his native French Switzerland. Then he and William Farel brought the Reformation to Geneva. Then from there they were able to develop a relationship with Calvin, when Calvin became pastor in Geneva. Then he really ended up as the head pastor in Lausanne, Switzerland, just down the road of Lake Geneva – Lake Lamont as they call it over there. For 23 years he pastured in Lausanne. He started the Lausanne Academy – for that period of time was the most important and critical Reformed theological school in that area. It later became the Geneva Academy. He was a critical figure. He was not only historically important as a leader in the Reformed church in that area at that time, but he was a theological giant. He had over 50 books. The uniqueness of him was his theology was not abstract. It was applicable. He would write on sales tax, which in the French was called the gabelle. He would deal with all kinds of political theory – the role of the magistrate, central bankers. He talked about war; he talked about munitions builders and defense contractors. A lot of his theology was very practical and I hope that’s a quick summary of who Viret was.
Bill: That’s a great summary and I guess the practical application for us in talking about someone that can make applications is, if we’re going to change things, if we’re going to go back to what we had – or even make it better than what we had, which I think is possible – we have to go back and do just what you’re talking about that Viret did. We have to make practical applications of what scripture says to all of life. I wanted to share something else with you, Tom, before – we’ll get to the specifics of Viret and why Viret is a man for his day and is a man for our day as well, and why we can consider him a hero and someone to emulate and someone to say “OK, how did he do this? How did he create freedom in the world that he lived in?” Because he faced, Tom, a world very similar to ours. A world hostile to the faith; a world that was antithetic; a world that was very much a large monolithic thing. We have a more democratized antithesis to what Christians believe today, but he was battling a dead institutionalized church as well as oppressive, tyrannical government. So he walks into this situation and he lived a certain way. He did some things. The results of his life had enormous repercussions that we even benefit from today. Most people don’t realize that because they don’t know what went on. They don’t have a historical background. I wanted to say to you – I was listening to a Rushdoony lecture a while back and he was talking about the 60s. He was talking about the Left and their assumptions about a radical revolution. This one young girl during one of the protests or riots there was interviewed by the news media. The news media said to her they weren’t going to work, they were just going to live this certain way. They were putting down all of the things that their parents did. The reporter said to her “what about food?” And she said this comment that Rushdoony got a kick out of, and I do too, she just looked at the reporter and said, “food is.” She just meant … you don’t have to work at food, it’s just there. What I would say to you, as an analogy, don’t you think a lot of people think that liberty is the natural state of man and that there is no fallenness or something? That we’re just – “liberty is,” would be the kind of statement – something that our Libertarian friends would say as well as the Left or the Right. What’s your response to “liberty is”?
Tom: I think you hit on a critical issue of Orthodox Christian doctrine and that’s man has fallen. Man is naturally corrupt. The more conservative and orthodox you are, the more you understand that in the faith. So if man is corrupt, how is it possible that by nature man – what they would say “the noble savage” – would have freedom or liberty? He would not. He would always try and tyrannize other men. The further we get away from the Bible, which is the source of political liberty, and we can get into that in detail. The further we get away from it, the more we are susceptible to tyranny. The more secular we are and the more we remove ourselves as a people and a country – and as a region, the West – away from the Bible, the more we’re susceptible for all aspects of men controlling other men in the most vile fashion imaginable. We can get into some of these things in history. We can detail them later too, but I always tell people no matter who you are – if you’re Christian, if you’re Conservative Orthodox Christian, you’re evangelical, if you’re Libertarian, if you just love political freedom – you don’t go to the Bible, you run to the Bible. The Bible and the Christian faith is the source of the West, of Western freedom and all of what we enjoy. It starts with the early church.
Bill: That’s great, Tom. Let’s come back. Let’s spend a little time talking about what’s the situation – what is that natural state? And what does that natural state produce? We’re talking today to Tom Ertl and we’ll be right back after this break.[0:10:10 – 0:14:28 break]
Bill: Welcome back. We are trying to talk about some really good ideas for off the grid living. I’m speaking today with Tom Ertl about the depravity of man. I want to jump in to talking a little bit about what was the world that Viret had, but even before that I want to jump in, because again freedom isn’t; liberty isn’t. It doesn’t occur in its natural state. Tom, in ancient paganism, we can go back – we’ve got some good records from Greece and Babylon and Rome – what does ancient paganism produce with respect to liberty?
Tom: Paganism basically … to be pagan is being without God, without religion. Of course they were religious in certain ways. This is a really good question you ask because – in the West we presuppose these things. We presuppose there was always dignity, there was always honor to women, there was always basic respect of representative government and all of this. The colleges, I think, in the United States and in the West have not done a really good job to tell us what was life like before the church, before Christ and his following and the Christian influence. When you get into the stark realities, it is a system, a people, a lifestyle that is very appalling. You look at most of the paganism, and we think of the great societies – that we call great societies, Greek, Rome, Babylon that you just mentioned – all of them were slave societies. All with political tyranny. All with continual war. There was physical idolatry that finally the church dealt with that. Things made with men’s hands that people worshipped. Then of course the worst of all of it that was in paganism before Christ was human sacrifice. Every religion to man demanded blood. Otto Scott did a great review in his book on the Great Christian Revolution. He talked about this. Maybe we could mention a couple of these examples, but he would go through all the great societies like ancient Ur, which is basically ancient Iraq in the Middle East, and you have attendees of a master going to the grave with him in a funeral as a form of human sacrifice. The same thing in India where wives and concubines and officials would go to the grave with their master.
Bill: Well that was true, Tom, up until not too long ago. Wasn’t it – who was the great missionary?
Bill: William Carey changed a lot of that through his efforts in India but that existed recently. It probably still exists in the world today but that was a common practice in India a hundred years ago.
Tom: It existed because of the lack of the Christian influence. When the British missionaries went into India they saw that the animals were treated as honorable as humans. Again, it’s just another form of paganism. Of course then you go before Christ, you had in the Greek society – to Plato, human sacrifice was a common custom and this was supposed to be supposedly the birthplace of democracy. Rome …
Bill: Before you go to Rome, Tom, what was – I just remembered listening to one of those lectures that Otto gave – what was the class of people – maybe you don’t remember either – what was the class of people that the Greeks kept around just for sacrifice? They kept a living people. Was it the farma? I can’t think of the name of it, but they kept a class of people alive just for the sake of sacrifice. The interesting thing was the people that they kept that way weren’t feeling like they were this perilous thing. My guess is they thought they were doing society well by being in this class and by being sacrificed on some level. You didn’t even have the idea that it wasn’t a good idea to be sacrificed necessarily. Talk about antecedents and preconditions.
Tom: Bill, the Romans raised people like animals for human sacrifice. I think the Greek situation – I remember reading somewhere where they would have the ethnic Israel approach of atonement. Instead of a scapegoat it was a human that they would sacrifice for the people. Of course the Roman situation in the time of Christ, that basically human sacrifice was illegal but it was still practiced historians say, up to the 4th Century to the time of Constantine. Caesar would sacrifice prisoners to the Roman gods. The whole situation in Europe was just appalling. Cannibalism in Ireland. All the Germanic tribes up until the 6th Century practiced human sacrifice. The Franks. I think it was said the Saxons were the most brutal of all, up to the 10th Century – sacrificed every tenth prisoner of war. Scandinavia – the last to become Christian – had human sacrifice up to the 11th Century. You talk about this and paganism, outside of the restraints of Christianity and the Christian world view and the Christian Bible, is a life full of blood and cruelty. You cannot presuppose this idyllic philosophy of some of these modern philosophers of the noble savage. There was nothing noble about life before Christianity hit. That was the world that, at the time of Christ, that the church entered into Europe and to the other parts of the known world and to the Middle East. They brought with it a revolution. Changed it.
Bill: The early church did indeed change it, but it didn’t change it overnight, did it? It took a long time and even when it made changes, by the time you got to Constantine, Constantine made human sacrifice illegal. He also made it legal for Christians for – it was illegal for a Christian to even hold public office. He made it legal for Christians to hold public office. He did change the playing field, but even so, he didn’t change the playing field perfectly. I guess we have to get beyond this idea of we’re going to do this in our generation, or we’re going to do this right now. Because we’re not revolutionaries, right Tom? We’re people placed here by God with our roles, our responsibilities, our duties and then where the chips fall is really outside of our pay grade, right? – our metaphysical pay grade. This is God’s business ultimately.
Tom: Again, off of that thought, Bill, if you’re a Christian – Orthodox Christian – even if you’re Libertarian – we didn’t lose this country and we didn’t lose the West to a modern revival of paganism overnight. And we’re not going to gain it back overnight. It wasn’t achieved overnight. If you look from a Christian history perspective, if you look at Luther coming in 1517 on the world scene, you’ve got 250 years of work of preparation before that great event happened. You’re right. You’ve got four centuries of work, of Christians laying the foundation for a Christian society, till the dramatic even – till Constantine came. You mention Rushdoony. Let me do two quick Rushdoony stories that he talks about in the early church of how little things affected the bigger thing over a period of time. He would say that obviously the church – Rome practiced infanticide, abortion and got rid of the babies. The common practice was to drop the unwanted children underneath the bridges. They knew the Christians were there to pick them up. So the church grew exponentially beyond their normal production rates because they took the pagan babies and raised them to live in a Christian home. The other thing he talks about was the church took Paul’s words in the Bible for what he meant when he said “do not bring another brother to court.” So they established their own court system. It got to a point in pagan Rome the only place you could get justice was in the Christian courts from the Christian elders. Rushdoony tells a story where Constantine took the mitre off of the Roman judge, of the secular judge, because everybody’s going to the Christian courts because it’s the only place you could get justice. He put the mitre on the Christian elder. He said to the Christian elder “you are the judges of Rome.”
Bill: Let’s go backwards, Tom, for a second. The reason that Constantine did this – and we’re going to go to a short break and we’ve got exciting stuff to cover when we come back – the reason Constantine did this was, you couldn’t get justice in a Roman court because the Roman belief system – the pagan belief system – the belief system that superficially put its belief in the “gods” could produce nothing but tyranny. Tyranny means rule without god. So our Libertarian friends – when you use the word tyranny, understand what you’re saying. This is Bill Heid. We’re going to take a short break. We’re talking with Tom Ertl about the history of Christianity’s influence on liberty.[0:24:21 – 0:28:35 break]
Bill: Thank you again so much for listening today. It’s Bill Heid here with Tom Ertl. We’re continuing this conversation about what produces liberty; what produces tyranny. Tom, we were just talking about – you had mentioned some Rushdoony stories – we were talking about the fact that it was a joke that you could get justice in a Roman court. What happened was, he made Christians the center of – Constantine, that is – the center of justice by saying – and this, especially for our Protestant friends, have to understand – a lot of the reason for the clothes that Roman Catholics wear in the hierarchy among the priesthood was because he made the Romans – he took that paraphernalia and he gave that to the Christian community so people could recognize you and get justice. If you had a mitre or whatever it was, I you had the cloak or the uniform, of someone that could give justice, people in the street could see you and get justice. Am I right, Tom? Or am I nuts there?
Tom: No, absolutely. Really, you’re talking about, Bill, something deeper, and that is an epistemology – epistemology means source of knowledge. You look at it legally – what is your source of law? For pagan society, when there’s no divine source of law – to what the Christian would view law as – then law is autonomous, it is what you make it to be. The Christian would say, no, our law comes from a transcended God, in his revealed word, which is the Bible, and how we are to live. The early church knew that, obviously, read the Bible, and applied that to their particular world that they lived in. It’s a legal question and it’s a question of what’s the source? Really, so not only what is the source but what is that source – that epistemology of law produce? In the pagan secular society, it produces something totally different than it does in a Christian society. In a Christian society, we have people that base their society off of God’s transcended law word and it looks different. Everything’s different. In the early church, when it hit paganism full square, and by the time the 4th/5th Century hit, idolatry, the works of men’s hands, were dealt with and basically disappeared. All the superstition of the gods, the pagan gods, disappeared. Human sacrifice – they ended it as immediate as they could. Then slavery – sought to end that as quick as they could. What happened was …
Bill: So slavery – stop for a second, Tom – slavery – most people don’t realize, slavery ends here. The beginning of slavery ending here has Christian roots. I don’t think a lot of people know that or understand that. Did you get that when you – did you go to a public high school Tom?
Bill: Did you learn that in a public high school?
Bill: You probably wouldn’t even learn it in a Christian high school, but I wish that they would. We’ve got to get better at this. The slavery issue is a big issue because it’s affected this country in such a profound way. In England, slavery passed with the efforts of Wilberforce and others – Christians. Here’s this strong influence back during this period of time. Did Constantine – I don’t know the answer to this – did Constantine make slavery illegal or how did he …?
Tom: Bill, I can’t tell you that. I don’t know that part of that history. But I know that the Christians obviously, in the church history books, they sought to eradicate slavery.
Bill: Yeah, we even read about that in the …
Tom: Quick as they could. But all these pagan societies were slave societies. All of them were. We talk about the influence of Gnosticism on the early church and this neoplatonic separation of physical from spiritual and that’s of course the Greek society. But even the inventions in ancient Greece – the great inventions – were all done by slaves. These were all huge slave societies that the church dealt with and ended. What we have, from the time of Constantine, or people would say Constantine to Dante, we have Christendom which is called the Age of Faith. It’s not something that’s even taught, sometimes even at our higher universities – the secular universities – because they say it’s basically insignificant era of history, but it changed the world. Christendom, which is the application of Christianity, gave the world a revolution. Gave the world the greatest society that it has ever seen. It was not there before Christendom. It gave us all of our prosperity. It gave us our freedoms. It gave us our civility. It gave us our respect for women. It gave us all of it and we are not teaching it. Not even in the Christian churches we’re teaching this. They don’t even know it. It’s really a shame that that’s going on.
Bill: It’s a terrible shame, Tom. There’s got to be a way that we can at least take efforts in our lifetime to try give an account of how we got from where we were, and again, liberty isn’t, right? Freedom isn’t. It doesn’t spring full blown. But if you inherit something, just like someone that inherits money, because it’s not scarce – when freedom’s scarce I think, Tom, we bring it close and we hug it and we understand the value. We champion it. But when you inherit freedom, freedom that someone else won for you, you just tend to put less value on it. I wish that wasn’t the case in human psychology, the way we think and act. But the laws of scarcity seem to be operative in this area as well.
Tom: It really is assumed – you’re really correct there – and it wasn’t. Let me give you a quote by Otto Scott, Bill. I love this quote. He talks about liberty – here’s this quote – “liberty was born in Christianity and was not in any other civilization known. The church produced liberty unknown throughout antiquity and without precedence anywhere else.” That’s Otto Scott.
Bill: And Otto Scott says that – what book is that from?
Tom: That would be “The Great Christian Revolution,” that I think Ross House Book Company produced.
Bill: Sure, our friend Mark Rushdoony over there at Chalcedon and Ross House Books. Or you could go to Amazon and probably put that into a search engine – “The Great Christian Revolution.” Otto’s a perfect example – and not to rabbit trail you here, Tom – but Otto’s a perfect example of someone who wasn’t a Christian his whole life. When he came to Christianity, he said to Rushdoony and to the other people that were around him “my goodness! What have you got here and why is everyone so quiet about it?” He just went nuts. He was an intellectual but he went nuts – almost like C. S. Lewis saying “what are you hiding under this bushel here? Why aren’t you telling everyone the truth about the nature of reality? Why are you so shy? Why are you whispering Christians?”
Tom: Well said.
Bill: He’s done a lot and his works are to be commended for our readers as well. Otto Scott, for the folks that don’t know Otto.
Tom: Let me say, before we end on this, let me say one other thing that we absolutely have to mention. The church changed societies first. When we talk about the ages of faith and the early church and the 4th, 5th, 6th Century, they changed the first through conversion. This is critical that – and we’ll talk about this in a minute – the importance of self-government – that when God touches man and saves him from his sin, and man can deal with his own personal issues, he can extend that faith and that transcended religious faith into all areas of life that he touches. It’s critical. There are stories that were told in the history books where the Christian bishops used to go out and meet the German tribes dressed in full religious attire. They would talk to the tribes. They would talk to the German tribe leaders. They had the wisdom of the past of all of antiquity – the historical knowledge of the past and all the wisdom of the Bible. They represented a higher moral force and they were irresistible. The arguments were irresistible. You combine the irresistible arguments of the divine word of God presented to pagan Europe and the offer of conversion, that God deal with human sin – you’re changing society.
Bill: Tom, Leo the Great – for the people that don’t know who Leo the Great is – Leo the Great saved Rome because he was willing, he was fearless, and he’s another one of those like Viret. He’s another one of those heroes of the faith that we need to talk about because these men, as you’re suggesting, when they went to confront the hoards, were fearless. They did it out of fear of God and love for their fellow man, including the barbarian hordes, so they were willing to walk into these unbelievable, hostile places, armed with nothing except the confidence in the Lord and confront and try to dissuade the barbarians. I think Leo stopped the attack. Rome was going to be sacked and it was going to be destroyed and his courage saved that city. People don’t realize that either. But we have to take another short break. Tom, things are going very fast on us. We’re going to take another little break here and we will be right back with Tom Ertl, talking about the history of freedom.[0:39:02 – 0:43:20 break]
Bill: We are back. It’s Bill Heid, again. Talking again with Tom Ertl about the history of freedom. Not only the history of freedom, but the antecedence of freedom. The sources of freedom, if you will. Our theme today has been that freedom doesn’t appear full blown. Liberty isn’t man’s natural state. We’ve inherited something here and, to use George Grant’s phrase, we’ve been robbed. We’ve been robbed of our history, especially Christian history. Tom, let’s jump back in to the Middle Ages and the source of what happened in the Middle Ages. These ages aren’t perfect – we’re not stating at any time that all of this development came with perfection. But we’re talking about something that changed the world forever and that we inherited.
Tom: Just to finish up a little on the Middle Ages and the influence of Christendom on the Western world, you’ve got to say in reality the modern world has gotten all of its prosperity, all of its freedoms and all of its civility from Christianity, from the ages of faith, from Christendom. To go into it in a little more detail, you have to ask the question – what did this Christian order, which was an order, very opposite of the New World order if I may say – it was a Christian order. What did it produce? It produced political liberty and all the ramifications of what comes off of that are huge, especially economically. It produced private property rights. It produced the freedom – the political freedom to obtain prosperity. Of course the thing that’s more critical to the aforementioned three items was the fact that it produced public morality through conversion so you had self-government. That’s what it produced in Christendom, in the ages of faith. The other question you have to ask is, what’s the foundation for that Christian order? How is it that this Christian society produced all those good things that we inherited? You’ve got to look into it. Again, like we talked about earlier in the other segments, there was a Christian biblical word of God – Law Word of God epistemology. The source of their life was God’s word. Wasn’t perfect but it was applied like it never has been in any other form of civilization. The first thing I think of is it is limited civil government. All the positive things that come off of that. I remember reading DeTocqueville. DeTocqueville was the French aristocrat that came to America in 1828 and was here for 10 months and he went from Maine or Vermont all the way through South Carolina, New Orleans, up the Mississippi and left Green Bay and then went up the St. Lawrence Seaway. In the 10 months he was here, he was – in his book, which was a classic work, he said he was amazed that there was no visible sign of government. He could hardly find it except a few local magistrates on a local level. That’s a Christian order. In the Bible, there is no allowance for this energetic, despotic, socialistic system.
Bill: What he found Tom – excuse my interruption – what he found wasn’t the absence of government but rather what he found was a Kuyperian model of government where government found its source in God’s word and then in the individual. You didn’t need a lot of – let me state it in street language – you didn’t need a lot of cops because people basically handled themselves.
Tom: Thanks for the correction. What he saw was no visible signs of civil government. You had self-government, you had government within family, government within the business, government within the church. But what I was trying to bring out was that the government in a Christian ordered society has jurisdiction. This is what we’ll get into Viret, where Viret was eventually exiled out of Lausanne because the Bernese government, the controlling power in Switzerland at the time, wanted to dictate to Viret who was going to come to communion, the Lord’s supper, and when it was going to be held. Viret said “no. This is out of your jurisdiction from the word of God. We will not let you dictate to the church.” In other words – that’s a little side story – but civil government is limited and that is a biblical proposition, biblical law. Huge, huge ramifications. Can you imagine if we had a society in America today where we had somebody that said “I can’t see any visible signs of government.”
Bill: What we should do is do a move where DeTocqueville comes back. He sees the world and he sees a police officer with a machine gun on every corner and every TSA. Yeah, Tom, DeTocqueville goes through the TSA security, getting on a plane. He would have written that book a different way or would write his new book a little bit differently, wouldn’t he? After being …
Tom: … molested.
Bill: Molested … anyway, that’s a little bit of a humorous anecdote.
Tom: We have to do a tax every so often at the New World Order for our show here …
Bill: [laughs] We have to do that, Tom.
Tom: The other thing, Bill, to finish up what I was mentioning – what’s the foundations for this Christian order, Christendom? Second thing that comes to mind is sound money. Sound money’s very interesting. In the Bible, and in the word of law, word of God, there is a strong commandment, as we all know, against theft. Theft is not something we come by natural law, we just assume we should do this. This is divine law. Theft extended into all areas of life, especially governments, that clip coins or debase coinage. You had the availability to exchange commerce because there was sound money, because there was a Christian order. Look at our situation now. We do not have a Christian order in America. America is not a Christian country any more. It’s a humanistic, secular country where God has basically been outlawed, and look what’s going on with the money supply.
Bill: You hit it perfect, Tom. So then if government is ultimacy, if Caesar is ultimate, if whatever group at the top is ultimate, and they’re coin clipping and they’re inflating and they’re stealing – but they’re still ultimate, and you’re a little guy, what’s your appeal to? Who are you going to appeal to? Because you’re living in an imminent system whereas the laws are all inside. Who are you to say anything to Caesar? But, if you’re a Christian, you can say there’s transcendent laws that apply not only to the king, to individuals, to all of us, and therefore theft is … thou shalt not steal means you can’t clip coins and you can’t inflate the money supply and print something out of nothing. That’s biblically illegal.
Tom: Yes. Yes. You really hit it. Another area of modern life is that secularism, outside of God and his law, always succumbs to raw political power. You look at, even in modern philosophy, you look at all the philosophers – Descartes, Sartre, all of them that came out of France and Russia and Europe. It comes down to basically they all contradict each other – all the modern philosophers. It comes down to raw political power. Of course, again, in the Bible, there is prohibition against such. We have, again, in a Christian society, prohibition against – we’re talking about it now – against theft, because of the word of God. Then the theft can be extended to all areas of life. There can be, as we know, in the political realm, theft in the ballot box, where you find a politician that will pass some laws to steal other people’s money for your benefit. So we have in a Christian society, a constitutionalism. We have it based on a society based on law, not on men, and that’s a whole other subject we can get into. The other thing that Christendom produced – of course I mentioned it earlier in our other segment – was that addressed the personal issue of sin and gave self-government to people through conversion. When people were converted by the Gospel message, they voluntarily changed and God, and as we know as a Christian working through individual’s life through the work of the Holy Spirit, changed their whole life. It changed their existence, it changed their world view, it changed how they acted and lived. That’s huge. You get quotes out of the American Revolution, out of that – Bill, I can’t remember what was the Adams’ – I don’t know if it was John Quincy or John – who said that “this constitution is made for a religious people and it is holy and adequate for any other.” That’s the Christian position. Our position is we changed the world through conversion and through God’s word. We don’t change it through force and war.
Bill: That’s a great point. Let’s go back to Constantine for a second. We’re going to have to wrap it up here, Tom, we’ve got about a minute left here or there. But let’s go back to Constantine. If you had Constantine taking over and making these edicts to an unconverted populace, there’s at some point in a culture where more people became Christians than not, then it works. But if someone comes along from the top down, and orders you to be a good boy, and you’re not a good boy – and most of the people in the culture aren’t good boys – that top down thing just doesn’t work. It worked in Constantine’s case because he did have the power of the sword, but it worked because of what you just said, that you had a change of heart among the people so they understood where he was going with this and said we don’t want human sacrifices anymore. They were happy to abide by his proclamations.
Tom: Yeah. Conversion is the missing link to a ordered society. You can tell all your programs you want in government schools and you’re not going to change people unless you convert them. One of my – and I know we have to end pretty soon – let me tell you a quick story. I think Rushdoony and Otto Scott talk about this, that after the Knoxian Revolution in Scotland, after Reformation hit in such dramatic form in Sctoland in the 16th and 17th Century, they say there wasn’t a prison built for 200 to 300 years. There was no need, because it changed society. The conversion and the faith changed all aspects of that society. If I can come to a conclusion, knowing that we’re running out of time, it’s like I said before, no matter what you are off this listening audience – if you’re Libertarian, you’re Christian, you’re Evangelical, you’re Orthodox, you’re just a lover of liberty – you do not go to the Bible, you run to the Bible. That is your epistemological source for freedom and liberty.
Bill: Tom, that was brilliantly said. Let’s use that as a launch pad for the next time we have you come back and talk to us. If you’ve got more time, we’d love to have you back. Before you go, how can people get the book on Viret? How can they get that Viret’s a hero? Ladies and gentlemen, if you get a chance to read this book that Jean-Marc Berthoud has written on Viret – Viret was an agent of liberty. He helped bring liberty to Europe. It’s important that you read about heroes – like I said, Leo the Great, and others – you’ve got to read about it and emulate them. So how can they get your book, Tom?
Tom: The book is “Pierre Viret: The Forgotten Giant of the Reformation; The Apologetics, Ethics, and Economics of the Bible” by Jean-Marc Berthoud and you can get it from Zurichpublishing.com. Pull it up on the web and order it through our publishing house. We have more of his books coming out too, in the future.
Bill: Alright, Tom. Thank you again, so much, for visiting us and we really look forward to having you back and continuing this conversation. Thanks again for joining us.
Tom: More than welcome. Any time, Bill.
Bill: That’s it for today, ladies and gentlemen. It’s Bill Heid, signing off. Be with us next time when we continue these dialogues on the source of freedom. Thanks again.[0:56:24]