A Time to Act

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Note: If you'd rather watch what follows as a below : ) . . . and if you just want to get to the "action points," scroll down past the portrait of John Calvin to the numbered list.

I'm hopeful.

Two months ago, all eyes were on the White House as information flooded in and we looked for direction in how to deal with a deadly new virus. Faulty models and deceptive reporting from governments, the WHO, and much of the media were combined with dependence on a small group of scientists within the federal health establishment rather than a diverse group of competing medical views. . . . all of which led us to believe that COVID-19 was equivalent to the plague. Clearly, it is not. Real infection and mortality rates are revealing that its probable that 99.9% of people who are infected survive, the vast majority with mild, highly manageable symptoms. There are also now several promising therapeutics that further reduce the threat.

The much greater threat was to liberty. Something felt very wrong …. because it was.

Two months ago, officials within the executive branch (with only a very few notable exceptions) sprang into action and launched emergency powers in order to deal with what they feared was an unprecedented threat. What was truly unprecedented were the measures required of us. When considered in full, they are breathtaking: restrictions on movement, association, freedom of worship, peaceful assembly and petitioning of the government, the haphazard sorting of workers and businesses as “essential” or “non-essential” and subsequent property rights violations, the infringement of personal liberty and privacy rights as “snitch lines” expanded state surveillance powers and Florida’s Department of Health, citing FS 381.00315 announced that “pursuant to Executive Order 20-80 and the Florida Department of Health declaration of a Public Health Emergency, the State Health Officer and Surgeon General can order any individual to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated or quarantined for COVID-19.” This is stunning. And, of course, all of these unconstitutional policies advanced because another fundamental right called “due process” was suspended due to the "state of emergency."

What was also breathtaking….and continues to be….was the lack of “check and balance” actions from legislatures, the judiciary and LOCAL governments. As Charles Kesler of the Claremont Institute wrote “The decrees of mayors, governors, and public health officers are being treated as laws, though no legislatures have enacted them nor courts reviewed them.” John Calvin would call this “nefarious perfidy.” Yes – THAT John Calvin : )

Hang with me… I think we all kind of know somewhere back in our minds that our representatives are there to serve and protect us….but we’ve forgotten that the BIG reason they’re there is to serve as a check against abuse by another branch or higher “level” of civil government….to “rein them in”….to bring them back to the standard of the law. THIS was what Magna Carta was about…..THIS was what reformation-era philosophers wrote about as they resisted tyrannical leaders who sought both their lives and their consciences. . .THIS was what the English Petition of Right in 1628 and ensuing English Civil War was about . . and English colonists (in America by that time) watched and learned as Parliament resisted and prevailed against their tyrant king….THIS was what the American War for Independence was about and THIS is why your constitutional republic was designed as it was.

Many of you may not know that the reformer John Calvin included sections on the biblical principles of civil government in his famous Institutes. Now y’all bear with me here….I want you to be convinced in your minds about this, so I need to “teach” for just a minute.

Calvin wrote in Volume IV, Chapter 20: “It very rarely happens that kings regulate themselves so that their will is never at variance with justice and rectitude; . . . the vice or imperfection of men therefore renders it safer and more tolerable for the government to be in the hands of the many so that. . . if any one arrogate to himself more than is right, the many may act as censors and master to restrain his ambition." Calvin is basically saying that “power corrupts” so it’s better if power is distributed to “the many” who can restrain a leader who’s “off the rails.” He goes on to say that this “has always been proved by experience, and the Lord confirmed it by His authority when He established a government of this kind among the people of Israel….” Did you catch that? God himself, recognizing the tendency for centralization of power and corruption, established a decentralized system of representative government in the twelve tribes of the Exodus and in fact, warned them extensively about establishing a monarchy.

But there’s more. . . Calvin went on to describe the duties of those “many” that held the power of government… "For if there are now any magistrates of the people, appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings…in accordance with their duty, if they wink at kings who violently fall upon and assault the lowly common folk, I declare that their dissimulation (deceit) involves nefarious perfidy (wicked & deliberate breach of trust), because they dishonestly betray the freedom of the people, of which they know that they have been appointed protectors by God’s ordinance.

I know…nobody says it like Calvin, but it boils down to this: When higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to protect the people by refusing to enforce it and may, if necessary, actively resist the superior authority. And if they don't, they've deceitfully betrayed the people they've pledged to protect and serve....."nefarious perfidy!" Many other philosophers came behind Calvin, expanding on his thoughts. Notably Samuel Rutherford, a pastor and diplomat in the mid-1600s wrote Lex Rex, explaining FROM SCRIPTURE, why it was vital to resist tyranny in the civil sphere BUT how to do that biblically (meaning yes, even in light of Romans 13). One of the key elements here is that the officials are not the authority that must be always obeyed….the law is the authority and ALL are subject to it. ….Lex Rex = the Law is King. In a constitutional republic such as ours it is the people who must hold those they have chosen to govern accountable to the law. But another key point by Rutherford….resistance through proper channels: our local representatives. We should all know Rutherford – our founders certainly did.

So, while I have sent my share of emails and tweets to Governor DeSantis, I’ve spent more time contacting my local officials… “lower magistrates.” The good news: they responded personally and kindly. The bad news: the responses were all “we can’t do anything because of the governor’s executive order.” I persisted and so should you. We must urge them to represent our objections “up the chain” and stand up against unjustified infringements. We are in a scary place when our local officials see themselves as “branch offices” of the state government.

Why are we in that place? Because so