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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lawful Assasination, Part 1

As you may have been able to tell by now, I enjoy discussing topics relating to freedom and tyranny. Before I continue, here is what I would define a tyrant as: a person, thing, or idea, which is elevated to a status equal to or above the law of God. As Christians, we should look at government as a covenantal agreement (you saw that one coming!), that as long as the head of state leads us in accordance with God's Word, we will be subject to him. But if the government makes laws that are contrary to God's Law, it is our duty to disobey those laws and to remove that leader from office, by force if necessary. I like the way Manegold of Lautenbach, an ancient scholar, describes it:
"[I]f the king ceases to govern the kingdom, and begins to act as a tyrant, to destroy justice, to overthrow peace, and to break his faith, the man who has taken the oath is free from it, and the people are entitled to depose the king and to set up another, inasmuch as he has broken the principle upon which their mutual obligation depended."
This past year I was introduced to an interesting term/idea pertaining to how Christians should combat tyranny.

The term "tyrannicide" was first introduced to me by Col. John Eidsmoe. Basically, it's a term used to describe the assassination of a tyrant. Interestingly enough, the idea of tyrannicide was advocated by John of Salisbury, a member of the Roman Catholic clergy, which was known for its tyranny. John's magnum opus was Policraticus ("Statesman's Book"). It changed the Western political thought towards government forever. In the book, he states:


[I]t is not only permitted, but it is also equitable and just to slay tyrants. For he who receives the sword deserves to perish by the sword.

"But 'receives' is to be understood to pertain to he who has rashly usurped that which is not his, not he who receives what he uses from the power of God. He who receives power from God serves the laws and is the slave of justice and right. He who usurps power suppresses justice and places the laws beneath his will. Therefore, justice is deservedly armed against those who disarm the law, and the public power treats harshly those who endeavour to put aside the public hand. And, although there are many forms of high treason, none is of them is so serious as that which is executed against the body of justice itself. Tyranny is, therefore, not only a public crime, but if this can happen, it is more than public. For if all prosecutors may be allowed in the case of high treason, how much more are they allowed when there is oppression of laws which should themselves command emperors? Surely no one will avenge a public enemy, and whoever does not prosecute him transgresses against himself and against the whole body of the earthly republic."

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6 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

Can we look forward to a discussion of Judges 3:15ff in future posts on this subject?

Keep up the good work!

Sic Semper Tyrannis!!

August 26, 2008 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Awwwww! You stole my thunder!

I don't know how intellectual I can be in that discussion, but your input will be looked forward to!

August 26, 2008 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Oops! Sorry!

I guess you could delete my first comment if you'd like...

August 26, 2008 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Son3 said...

Interesting and enlightening!

*holding breath for part two*

August 26, 2008 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Gravelbelly said...

Question:

When the US Constitution calls itself the Supreme Law of the land, is it not elevating itself above God and His Word?

Then, by your definition, is not the Constitution tyrannical?

Great discussion, by the way.

September 1, 2008 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

I have firmly believed, for quite some time, that the Constitution steps out of it's jurisdiction in several places. I do believe the Constitution is tyrannical. But I also believe that any standard is better than no standard, at least in this situation, and we should work to bring the Constitution under God's Law.

Thanks for the comment!

September 1, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

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