The Nativity of Liberty

Birth of Christ

Christmas isn’t a holiday that we normally associate with “liberty.”  Liberty is something you usually think of in terms of a political or economic ideal.  Political liberty. Economic freedom.

Even those of us who are Christians–who understand that what we get, first and foremost, when we come to saving faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spiritual liberty–do not ordinarily associate the soteriological act of being “set free” with the birth of Jesus.  That sense is normally connected with the other miraculous, supernatural event (or combination of natural and supernatural events) which came at the end of Jesus’s life: his crucifixion, death and resurrection (Easter).  That is because we’re continually reminded of our liberation and salvation as coming historically after Jesus conquered death and the grave, after his death on the cross and after he rose from the dead–after he had sinlessly lived his life from childhood to adulthood on this earth first.

But, clearly, we can see the “nativity” of our liberty in the Nativity of our Lord. When we talk about Jesus coming to “set the captives free,” we obviously understand that his coming as a babe in a manger was the necessary first event which set this process in motion, temporally speaking.  Except that we’re so focussed at Christmastime on his birth, the Gospel narratives of his coming, the initiation of the process of his Incarnation–as well as the presents, the shopping, the food, the activities of the season–that we forget there is this close connection between Christ’s birth and the implementation of our liberty.  It is lost even on some of us who love and celebrate both!

It is this connection between Christmas–the historical manifestation of Jesus Christ the Son of God in the world in his first Advent–and our true liberation, that Joel McDurmon is trying to get us to see more clearly in his book, Manifested in the Flesh.

I purchased this book during the summer, along with a number of other titles from American Vision, but I had not bothered to read it until I was prompted this morning by an e-mail I received from the publisher.  So, of course, after I read the e-mail (which included a tantalizing excerpt), I proceeded to download and read the e-book version that I had purchased.

This is a great book!  It is well-researched, well-written and very compelling, loaded with plenty of intellectual and spiritual firepower.  In other words, it is par for the course, coming from Dr. Joel McDurmon.

Manifested in the Flesh draws your attention to how the historical evidence for Jesus acts as a deterrent–and a very effective one once you get your mind (and heart) wrapped around it–against the dual errors of mysticism and skepticism.

Rushdoony warned about these two errors regarding the Incarnation when he said:

The modernist turns the birth narratives of Jesus Christ into a myth; the evangelicals convert the history into a sweet, other-worldly tale.

Joel writes in this same vein of correction when he aims his book’s theme squarely at its stated enemies of “bad history”, “bad theology” and “bad judgment.”

Here is an excerpt from the book, where he deals with “the implications of the incarnation,” specifically with regard to man’s quest for liberty:

A recurring theme of modern man is emancipation, or liberty. In many of the wars and revolutions of the modern period, the rallying cry involved some notion of freedom. Yet we still have a world of oppression, war, and debt. This is because all modern revolutions have been political at heart, and not ethical. They have aimed to rearrange the conditions of society, rather than to renew the hearts of men. Where man seeks to achieve any level of goodness apart from the true revelation of God and man in Jesus Christ, the effort will devolve into some form of coercion or chaos.

Against all the failures of man, Christ has revealed the true path to human liberty: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-2). The foundation of human liberty is found in following Christ, the living Word of God. Thus, a proper understanding of Christ becomes all too important for social order. By understanding Christ alone as truly divine and yet fully man, entered into history, we deny that either divinity or true humanity can be found in mere human institutions. No individual and no institution—State, school, or church— can claim ultimate authority in the earth. Christ rules all of heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18), and His Incarnation makes this possible. Where mysticism leaves open the question of God to each individual, of who shall be God incarnate, or who represents God, Christianity claims that Christ is God Incarnate, and He represents God. If man answers the question for himself, then some collective agent of man will eventually triumph. It will be either the power of the mob, or the power of a tyrannical state. There will be a higher man, but he will be either in a black suit with a tax bill, or in a blue suit with handcuffs and a gun. The State becomes the ultimate representative of man, the highest appeal in the earth, and therefore an incarnate deity. It then takes on a messianic role, claiming to provide for the welfare of its people. Men then become subjects to the care of the State, rather than free men under God. God provided a way out of human tyranny in the Incarnation of Christ: no State has a legitimate claim to ultimate authority, because Christ is the true King of kings in the earth.

True freedom can only be found in the shadow of God’s wings. Likewise, true safety, welfare, and salvation. All of the things that modern man desires, but denies in principle through his self-centered humanism and mysticism, God has provided through Jesus. Only when the State bows beneath the rule of the King of kings will men begin again to experience a free society; for only when the power of both individual and collective man is checked by the ethical rule of law will men be free from the haunt of his tyrannous fellows. The Incarnation lays the foundation of this liberty, for only there is man seen as a new creature, able to follow God’s ethics, and only there is God manifest in history so that no other ruler has ultimate authority in the earth.

Conclusion

We must not follow a man-made god, but rather the One true God-made-man. We must not allow human imagination to intrude upon the “express image” of God in Jesus Christ. The Incarnation of the Son of God meets the needs of human salvation and godliness at all levels (2 Pet. 1:3). It exposes the easiness of a mere “inner” spirituality as spiritual laziness and self-centeredness, in that Christ truly manifested in the flesh in history. Thus the mystic must deal with the historical revelation of God before and ever above his own feelings. As well, the Incarnation denies tyranny and demands that all rulers reign justly beneath the Prince of the kings of the earth (Ps. 2:10–12; Matt. 28:18; Rev. 1:5–6). The law of God is revealed as the path of order and righteousness in the earth, and the lust to rule on the part of mere men is checked by the rule of Christ on earth. If we truly mean it when we pray, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), then we must take the true understanding of Christ as fully God and fully man, and apply that truth to all of life.

This book would have made a great Christmas gift recommendation if it had occurred to me to read it before Christmas!  It’s not too late to order it and read during the home stretch of this end-of-the-year break that many of us are still enjoying.

Manifested in the Flesh is available online from the publisher American Vision.

Incidentally, I truly appreciate George Grant‘s remarks on the meaning of the word “merry” in Merry Christmas.  It, too, serves as a deterrent against thinking of the holiday in a purely seasonal, one-dimensional fashion:

The word “merry” is from an old Anglo-Saxon word which literally meant “valiant,” “illustrious,” “great,” or “mighty.” Thus, to be merry was not merely to be mirthful, but to be joyously strong and gallant.  Thus, we read in Shakespeare of fiercely courageous soldiers who were called “merry men.” Strong winds were “merry gales.” Fine days were marked by “merry weather.”  So, when we wish one another “Merry Christmas,” we are really exhorting one another to take joy in faith, to take heart, and to stand fast! Merry Christmas!

“Restoring America”: The Action Manual We Have Been Waiting For!

Restoring America One County at a Time

This is it.  This is the big one.

For more than 150 years, statists and socialists have had their Communist Manifesto–a puny pamphlet full of revolutionary, rabble-rousing rhetoric that gave voice to the repressive, totalitarian leanings of generations of anti-Christian, anti-free-market despots and their minions.

Now, thanks to this monumental “labor of love” from Joel McDurmon, the anti-statists and God-fearing, Bible-reading, libertarian-leaning folks finally have theirs: a “localist manifesto”!

In Restoring America, One County at a Time, Joel McDurmon has written and published his magnum opus.  It is an absolute masterpiece.  It is a historical, political, theological–and rhetorical–tour de force.

Finally!  A book that very compellingly brings together all the practical aspects of biblical Christianity to bear on the reality of what Sorokin called “The Crisis of Our Age,” what Buchanan called, “The Death of the West”, and the civilizational slide described by Barzunin in “From Dawn to Decadence” and Bork in “Slouching Towards Gomorrah.”

Forgive me for gushing like a teenager, but,… this really is a TOTALLY awesome book!

It almost brings a tear to my eye.

Yes, I know, it’s only a book. But, McDurmon’s jam-packed how-to guide for reforming (some would say “reconstructing”) America through a systematic return to localism, fiscal responsibility and transparency and sound principles of government, law and economics, is so well-written, so tightly-focused, so well-argued, thoroughly-documented, comprehensive in scope and yet eminently readable and understandable–and, above all, actionable–for the average person (voter/citizen), that it almost defies all possibility of any negative criticism, at least from me.

But, I am not writing this as a literary critic.  No, sir.  I am writing as an enthusiastic, RAVING fan of biblically sound, intelligently reasoned and concisely presented information that is both historically faithful and intellectually challenging to the status quo of virtually every other book that treats of the same subjects (except, of course, for those written by fellow reconstructionists who have been arguing for 40+ years the principles behind what McDurmon is setting forth here), such that “Restoring America One County at a Time” has the potential to radically change a lot of people’s lives and even change the course of an entire nation.

That’s a BIG deal.

That makes McDurmon’s book a truly path-breaking work.  It is a new manifesto for a new generation of liberty-loving, tyranny-hating Americans.

A Localist Manifesto

This is a ten-step recovery program for a nation mired deep in the throes of a chronic, long-term addiction to statism, centralized government, coercive empire-building, global governance by private corporate interests and, as of late, advancing stages of executive tyranny.

Joel–or, more accurately (now that he has been awarded his Ph. D.), DR. Joel!–has put together an extraordinary combination of historical causation, political and theological foundations for how we can get back our freedoms and restore, little by little, the nation’s collective cultural and societal health, an abundant array of examples showing our ideological short-sightedness, historical ignorance and political laziness (especially of Christians, who have in their possession the best political science textbook and manual of social theory ever written–the Bible!), with an almost “fool-proof” game plan for us to follow–a highly specific “to-do” list of reform measures and simple technological tools (like WordPress and You Tube) that individuals and communities can use to begin the dual process of exposing the fraud, corruption and systemic problems that exist, and presenting the particular biblically and historically based solutions that will correct them.

The unique thing about his proposals is this: none of them are intended to be applied at the federal level. NONE!

This is a road map to recovery that leads straight to local governments.  It never touches Washington.  It is all about counties and municipalities (with states included only as a secondary objective, the “next level”).  The federal government is left completely out of the loop here because, well, to quote the late President Ronald Reagan, “Government (federal) is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem!”

Think Biblically, Act Locally

The wrong-headed political thinking of so many Americans, and so many Christians, is that the only way to bring about real “change” and national reform and stem the tide of our nation’s decline is by changing the folks in Washington who represent us (or purport to), thereby leap-frogging over and effectively disregarding the state and local government levels because they’re, you know, minor league, and, well, after all, there’s a lot more “bang for the buck” when you head straight to the top and go for the whole enchilada.

McDurmon says this is wrong, wrong, wrong!  That is what got us into this fine, socialist, statist mess in the first place.  We got here and have reaped the whirlwind rewards of “salvation through legislation” the old-fashioned way–we earned it–slowly, progressively, and, alas, as Joel elaborates in chapter 4 on States’ Rights, constitutionally!

The broad scope of this little 400-plus-page book is simply astounding.  That makes it all the more valuable and all the more vital to read, especially for “activist”-minded Christians and the rising generation of libertarians (small “l”) who have been searching for a handbook giving them a detailed strategy to follow of how to defeat the tyrants of the 21st century and their enablers and supporters, as well as the failed philosophies, hare-brained theories, hokey economic principles and academic fantasies that have undergirded them for far too long, once and for all.

I won’t do a full-blown “book report” here.  I just want to whet your appetite to entice you to HURRY up and finish reading this article and then click through to your nearest (or favorite) online bookseller and buy yourself a copy of this fabulous book.

There are so many excellent quotes that could be pulled from almost any page you read.  I’ll just give you a sample:

Education in a free society means exclusively “private” education. We are never free as long as we are subjected to compulsory government education shored up by threats, penalties, fines, and taxes—to any degree or at any level.

So, instead of thinking of Social Security as some kind of investment program, a fund you’re paying into on which you can draw in the future, you need to see it for what it is—a tax now, spend now scheme (tax you now, and spend on others now scheme).

In principle, limited and localized government is an outgrowth of specifically Christian thinking; particularly the demands that 1) rulers are not divine, but are themselves subject to a higher law, 2) private property is to be protected and property owners invested with powers against encroachments even from government, 3) social relationships are based on legally binding contracts, and 4) power enables corruption and should therefore be limited, checked, and safeguarded. In short, we have a society based on religious faith, property rights, honoring of contracts, and individual responsibility—all fundamental things derived directly from the Ten Commandments.

But if taxes must exist, they should be as decentralized as possible. Only the most local municipality should have power to tax the individual.

The biblical prescription for markets and business is very simple: non-violence, enforcement of property rights and enforcement of contracts.

Civil rulers are to be representative servant-leaders of the people, and thus biblical government is representative government.

Civil disobedience in egregious cases—necessary cases—is a long accepted and ancient Christian right and practice which modern Christians need to recover.

What is clear here is that God’s society makes no provision for a standing army and none for military conscription or a draft.

…the Constitution defines the President’s power so broadly that he can essentially create new laws by interpreting undefined areas of existing law according to his own agenda, interpreting how to implement existing laws, or he can perhaps even ignore specific laws of Congress if he thinks they infringe upon the broad interpretations he comes up with.

And so forth and so on.

Joel does a masterful job of laying out and expanding upon all of the ten topics he discusses in his book.

  1. Education
  2. Welfare
  3. County Rights
  4. States’ Rights
  5. Taxation
  6. Money
  7. Markets
  8. Courts
  9. Defense
  10. The Executive

His Epilogue is his final “pep talk” to his team-mates, and he follows it with an Appendix calling for the Repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, which he argues was “an important assault on states’ rights” that ultimately weakened them and “magnified the power of special interests in Washington.”

A Scripture and Subject Index round out his seminal work.  Of course, the iBook and Kindle versions of “Restoring America” contain word-searchable texts with hyperlinked footnotes and links to many of the sources he cites in his dozens of footnotes.

This book is destined to be a runaway non-bestseller among Christians.  That’s because too many of them believe, (a), the Bible has almost nothing to say about politics, economics and the proper role of “biblical” government in our lives, and, (b), what little it does say promotes “Christian socialism” and the welfare state.  (Thank you, Jim Wallis.)   The remainder believe that it is a waste of time to go about trying to “restore’ and reform very much of this world, since, after all, it’s about to be totally immersed in the conflagration of the Great Tribulation, and we (meaning they) won’t be around anyway since ‘Jesus is coming soon’, i.e., any minute now, and the imminent Rapture will make all of this a non-issue anyway. . .  It should be a hit among a large contingent of the libertarians–those who are not seduced by the anarchic, extra-biblical tendencies of so many of the proponents and writers in the liberty and Austrian economics movements.

Be all of that as it may, my advice to you is, get this book (immediately), read it thoroughly and thoughtfully, and then begin to DO what it says.

The nation’s 3,143 counties are counting on you to implement its vision!

Buy it here (Amazon). And here (American Vision).

I bought the e-book version.  I plan to buy the hardcover as well, because, well, like a lot of you, I still suffer (voluntarily) from Picard’s Syndrome. 🙂