Guest Essay by Dr. Marshall Foster
Across America, great frustration and anger are rising, as productive Americans feel that they are buried in hundreds of thousands of laws and tax codes that dominate their everyday lives, families, property and businesses.
Our nation not only has too many laws, but they are overly complex and often impossible to understand or comply without the help of expensive attorneys. Journalist Radley Balko documents that “the federal tax code covers over 17,000 pages and requires over 700 different forms. The IRS estimates Americans spend 5.1 billion hours annually merely preparing their taxes. The Tax Foundation estimates that those wasted hours drain some $194 billion annually from the U.S. economy….The Federal Registry which records all of the regulations the federal government imposes on businesses, now exceeds 75,000 pages. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that merely complying with these regulations – that is, paying lawyers to keep educated on them, interpret them and implement them – costs U.S. business another $500 to $600 billion per year.”
Why is this happening? America is at the tipping point between the two major conflicting law systems of people and nations: King’s or Ruler’s Law and God’s Law. America was founded upon a simple and yet profoundly effective infrastructure built upon voluntary obedience to God’s Law. The result was blessing, prosperity and personal liberty as the world had never before experienced. Taxes were low, laws were few and life and charity were focused at the family and community level.
But the past few generations have been seduced back toward the top-down Ruler’s Law which has dominated most nations of the world. This system always enslaves a people through an elaborate network of bureaucracy and ruler’s laws, eventually leaving them dependent upon government for everything. The rulers often make god-like promises and always exempt themselves from their own onerous laws and taxes.
The answer to this juggernaut of Ruler’s Law has always been the same throughout history. The story of the rise of liberty has repeated itself for two millennia. First a people find themselves in misery under the strong arm of their government. Then God raises up a small minority, sometimes one individual, who rediscovers that the only source of liberty is God and His Word. Working together with God, they then proceed to liberate millions with His truth. Be encouraged that we can restore our nation against all odds. There is no better place to start to see what can be done than to track the impact of early believers as they faced the cruelty of Rome on the one hand and the anarchy and barbarity of the pagan tribes of Europe on the other. They ultimately outlasted and defeated the Roman Empire and laid the foundations for Western Civilization. They turned the world upside down by following their Lord’s strategy of servant leadership (Mathew 20:25). They started by first living out God’s Law in their homes, businesses and church fellowships. Then they extended charity in many ways including, feeding the poor and saving abandoned babies left to die. They evangelized the unbelievers, and established God’s Law as the basis for all of their societal institutions.
When these believers arrived in England in the first century to evangelize the Celtic people, England was still a Roman colony. Over time, Rome and its Ruler’s Law crumbled and the Roman legions left England. But the Celtic believers continued to follow the laws of the Scripture to create a simple, fair legal system and societal structure. These English believers followed this Biblical infrastructure to progressively displace the pagan traditions of the Celtic clans and the heavy handed tyranny of the Roman Empire.
In the fourth century, pagan Druid pirates from Ireland destroyed a village in England of Celtic Christians, capturing a 16 year- old boy named Patrick. Patrick became a slave tending sheep for a cruel Druid chieftain in the frozen fields of Northern Ireland for six years. The boy, who was a near atheist when he was captured, cried out to God in his despair. He prayed over one hundred times a day and the same all night. He grew close to Christ in his suffering and became repulsed by the witchcraft and even human sacrifice of the Druid priests. Eventually, God provided an escape back to England where Patrick prepared for the ministry.
Three decades later, Patrick returned to evangelize the lost people of Ireland who had enslaved him. Patrick’s fearless courage and faith in Christ so impressed the king that he was given free passage to go throughout the Island. Patrick baptized over 120,000 Irish people and planted 300 churches. He evangelized all of Ireland, and in his lifetime he ended the Irish slave trade. Wherever he set up a church he left them with an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (The Book of the Law of Moses), along with the books of the Gospel. The Liber begins with the Ten Commandments, and continues with selections from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. From that time forward, this book became the basis of all social organization, including family, economics, welfare, and government. The Liber is the first essential document of liberty that led Christian civilization to far surpass the Roman Empire. The decentralized, God-centered worship of the Christian Celtic peoples avoided hierarchy and gave glory to God.
What was the result of Celtic Christianity in the British Isles? The Irish, who had been barbarians controlled by Druid priests, now became Christians. Then Scottish, English and Irish believers became the founders and evangelists for the early development of the Christian world. For the first time since ancient Israel, civility, charity, monogamous marriage, successful family life, limited civil government, limitation on the power of kings, private property rights, the development of learning, including the publication and preservation of the books of antiquity – all of these became the law of the land and were accomplished with few laws.
Could God and His people rebuild nations today as He did then? Of course! In fact, He did it again and again through the centuries with Alfred the Great, William Wallace, John Knox, John Calvin, the Pilgrims, and America’s Founders and others. May we be encouraged that if God can use a former unbelieving, teenage slave to bring liberty and civilization to the barbarous Irish, He can use us to restore liberty to the most well established Christian nation in history.
Abraham Kuyper, the Christian prime minister and preacher of Holland in the 1890s, who led the revival of his nation which had been mired in skepticism and modernism, left us this challenge: “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” Let’s do it.