Wilson begins his critique by exploring the meaning and Biblical importance of limited government, kicking things off with the following verses:
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
Here we find the gospel, with all of its political implications (meaning authority and submission implications), rubbing up against a culture and a system that has its own version of things. And here, where Christians overtly ride tensions with earthly despots, we see a push toward the intended order of things—a rendering of the rendering, we might say.
Here we see a glimpse of why government must be limited, and what or who does the limiting:
Limited government does not refer to the size of government, but rather refers to a certain concept of government. Limited government means that vast portions of human life and experience lie outside the business of the civil magistrate, and that everyone, both governors and governed, understand this boundary. False concepts of government will indeed affect the size of the state eventually, but the size is not really the main issue. Size is the symptom, not the cause. The cancer is one thing, and the fever, fatigue, or dizziness is quite another. Limited government recognizes, and rejoices in, its finitude. Government that has metastasized does not.
So in the absence of a functional limiting principle, every act of legislation is a grasping after the serpent’s promise—you shall be as God. Absolutist governments are therefore anti-Christian in principle long before any decisions are made, whether those decisions are good or bad. If the Supreme Court upheld a law that required all of us to carry an umbrella whenever it looked like rain, the issue would not be the umbrella, or the rain, or the accuracy of the weather report, or the wisdom of taking the umbrella on any given occasion, but rather what such overreach revealed about who on earth they think they are.
The Bible requires limited government because any claim to unlimited government by mortals is a spurious claim to Deity. To make such claims is a fatal conceit, and to acquiesce in them is cowardice in the face of such conceit.
Next, Wilson applies this approach, revealing the “fatal conceits” and “spurious claims to Deity” in Obamacare and the Supreme Court’s upholding of the law—developments that most Americans seem to now shrug off as inevitable ends of Western civilization.
The heart of the problem is that the Supreme Court has now in effect declared that there is no limiting principle in our form of government at the federal level. This means that if we are to live under limited government—the kind of government the Bible requires—that limitation must be enforced at the state and local levels and, failing that, at the level of the church, and failing that, at the level of families and individuals.
Simply repealing Obamacare as a policy matter is no longer enough. Obamacare must be rejected because it is inconsistent with the moral obligation of limited government, and not because it was “unpopular” or “will cost too much.” The problem we are facing is not because of a stupid law. Of course Congress will pass stupid laws from time to time. The problem is the claimed prerogative to a stupidity without limit. We can bear with stupidity from time to time. It is the claim to omnipotent stupidity that has awakened our concern. In a godly form of civil government, we must reject anything that concludes with those fatal words—“without limit.”
Congress is not Jesus, the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and there was no baptism for any of them at the Jordan; there was no fluttering dove that descended. Congress did not die for us, and if Congress were to die, Congress could not rise from the dead. This means that Congress does not own me, or the members of this congregation. We have all been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, and therefore cannot be possessed in this manner by another. We have already been bought with a price—Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Talk about a single payer.
Lastly, the solution:
The great despotic rot that we are dealing with here did not begin in Washington, D.C. The central tyranny is the tyranny of sin, and that tyranny cannot be ended unless and until the people of this nation cry out to God, seeking forgiveness for the sins and iniquities, and put away the idols that they have gathered to themselves. When the people stop blaming everybody else for everything else, and take personal responsibility for their sins, and call upon Jesus to forgive them, then He will forgive them. Having forgiven them, He will also deliver them.
In the meantime, the fight is upon us, and we don’t have the luxury of repenting and then going off to fight at a later and more convenient time. We have to repent while we are fighting, and fight while we are repenting. We have to cry out to God in the midst of the battle, and trust in Him on the fly. We could wish it were otherwise, but this has been done before—“for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him” (1 Chron. 5:20).
We can critique Obamacare from plenty of angles—for its negative economic consequences, for its negative social and moral implications, for its overarching threat to human dignity and religious liberty.
But what does such a breach mean from a deeper spiritual perspective? Have we become so dependent on earthly kings and so ambivalent to populist plundering that we’ve forgotten that authority and decision making are to be aligned with Truth? Have we forgotten that a transcendent order exists? Have we forgotten that Christian obedience necessitates a robust, rigorous orientation around the question, “obedience to whom?”
My fear is that the bait of materialistic security is looking mighty tasty to a country that has thus far stood apart on divine deference. Its hook of debased humanistic reasoning is beginning to catch, and if we don’t swim away quick, it won’t be long till our gums are being yanked ever closer to the feet of some pathetic idol to comfort and quick-fixery. When we get there—when we’ve achieved all those noble material ends our earthly despots have dragged our spirits into—we’ll continue to squiggle and squirm, gasping for air as we continue to search for meaning, hope, peace, and justice in a shallow political promise with insides as earthy as dirt and a scepter that stings.
As Wilson emphasizes, wherever the gospel has gone, pagan despotisms have fallen. Above all other arguments, then—economic, social, constitutional, or otherwise—may the gospel go.
To read Wilson’s full post, click here.