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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS?

Does God support Human ‘Rights’? Three Proposed Christian Alternatives:

1) Puritan-Calvinist: God is the sole Sovereign over the affairs of the earth. He alone, not men, possesses "rights." The "freedoms" men possess come from their obedience to one Common Biblical Law [i.e. God's Moral and Civil Law] as it is equally and impartially applied to all alike, in every area of life. Therefore (a) the Biblical Common Law gives responsibilities for all to perform, not human rights to be demanded from and provided for by the state. Biblical Law (b) strictly checks the scope and power of the state. It (c) liberates the family and the Church to finance and provide intelligent and compassionate care for the poor and helpless through mandatory tithes and voluntary offerings. Biblical Law provides (d) fair, common [i.e. the same for all], and impartial penalties for each type of transgression of the Law.

2) Revolutionary Anabaptist-Ecumenical: "God" grants every individual "equal rights" because Humanity is one, created in "God's" one image. All the parts of the one Humanity must share equal dignity and rights with every other part because Humanity cannot and should not be divided. Systems creating inequality rob people of the rights of their "humanity." Thus all distinctions/discrimination in the Oneness of Human Nature on the basis of creed, sex, race, class, ethnic group, or age are evil and abnormal. Christ died to reconcile these divisions of humanity. The "true" Church must work with the democratic movement to restore and guarantee in a unitary state the equal rights of a divided Humanity.

3) Antinomian-Pietist: The gospel of the kingdom has virtually nothing to do with external rights, laws, and with changing the secular order because the Kingdom is "not of this world... [and] is within us." Rights, laws, and political action are worldly and divisive. Certainly the Biblical Civil Law (i.e. the application of the Ten Commandments to society) has no applicability to today "for we are not under Law but under grace." The church is a present sign of the future kingdom of unity and wholeness. Therefore it must not give any blueprints for the present divided, carnal/worldly political and economic order. The church must unify all the various ethnic, gender, age, socio-political, and economic groups and opinions in One Visible Church so that every individual there has equal rights. The church now must only witness to the state of the need for "human dignity," and equal rights. Therefore if the state leaves the church alone to preach this "gospel," she is content to obey whatever it says.

The Three "Generations" of Secular Human ‘Rights’
Secular human rights are based on the French Revolutionary watchwords: Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood. They are actually a purely human attempt at saving society and healing sin/evil without any reference to God, His Gospel or Law. Human rights are based upon the idolatrous doctrine of the "inherent dignity and equal rights...of the human family" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). They include the increasingly libertine first generation individual rights of the West (e.g. free speech, privacy, fair trial), second generation collective rights (e.g. state provided pensions, welfare, education) whose source is socialist/Marxian philosophy(1) which stresses that "oppression" comes from socio-economic inequality, and third generation "international brotherhood" rights which are the Third World's demand for an equal share of world prosperity in a New World Economic Order.(2)

A Biblical Critique of Pietistic Human Rights (In)activism
Escapist Pietism has no answer to secular human rights theories because it denies the very dominion/throne rights of the King of Heaven and earth (Mt. 28:l6f; Acts 2:34f; Ps. 110:1; Ps. 2). "God [has] placed all things under His feet" and He is presently reigning, working to bring "every enemy [in Heaven and earth] under His control" (Ps. 8; 1 Cor. 15:24-27; Eph. 1:19ff).(3) How does He reign? Through His people as they "disciple the nations ...teaching them to observe all... [His] commands" in every area of life (Mt. 28:17f; cf. Dan. 7:14f; Ps. 149; Eph. 1:19-2:6). Christ definitely included in all His commands the civil Law of God (Mt. 5:17-20, 15:1-9, 18:16,19:17f, 23:2f; Mk. 10:18-19, et al). Every government [family, Church, civil] must obey God. Romans 13:1-4 and Psalms 2:10-12 state this unequivocally. The "rulers of the earth [are to] serve the LORD with fear...[and] kiss the Son [i.e. Christ]"! Civil government is "God's servant...to us for the good" [lit]."4 "The good" is clearly God's Law (Rom. 7:12-21; I3:8f). Both Testaments state that keeping His Commands in every area of life results in our good (Dt. 10:12f; Jms. 1:25; 1 Pet. 3:10f).

Pietism almost always acquiesces to whatever human rights situation may exist without raising its voice in correction or rebuke as did the prophets of old (Is. 58:1f; Ez. 33; Lev. 19:17; 1 Tim. 3:16f). Why? Pietists don't believe that God has provided any manuals, models, or blueprints for socio-political and economic systems: "...the Bible, because of the decisive spiritual character of its message, may not be used as a manual for solving social, economic or political problems" (Kerk en Saamelewing, para. 42, 43).

Like the heresy of (neo)-Platonism, pietism says Scripture is merely "spiritual" with no Law-Word for "carnal/earthly" things! They say: "We can't rule with an open Bible." Pietism surrenders all of culture to humanist Man who ever desires to be his own evil, self-wise [i.e. "pragmatic"] law-maker/god. Thus, without the absolute rule of God's changeless Law there is no way to check humanist tyranny.(4) God says His "righteous," "wise," "good," "trustworthy," "eternal," "tested," "perfect" Law (Ps. 19,119; Dt. I0:12f, 12:28; Rom. 7:22) is a blueprint for the world: "Observe [these Laws]...carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations who will...say, '...this great nation is a wise…people.' What other nation is so great...as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws l am setting before you..." (Dt. 4:5-8)

Now, because pietists accept only personal New Testament norms and reject the Civil Law of God as "legalistic," "brutal", "primitive," when they begin to become socially active, they must adopt a humanistic human rights theory. They justify this with an appeal to an undefined "love." This is not Biblical love which is defined by the Law of God (Rom. 13:8ff; Gal. 5:14f; Mt. 7:12) and which applies to every human interaction, private and governmental. Pietist "love," thus, has a strong tendency to be a selfish love which demands partial State intervention to create equality/"equal human rights"! (5) This is not Christianity but pagan equalitarian holism! Because holism breaks down the human distinctions revealed in God's Word, historically, socially active pietists usually covertly or overtly co-operate with Revolutionary Anabaptism and its secular wing, Humanism/Socialism.

A Critique of Revolutionary Anabaptist/SACC Human Rights Activism
The SACC has adopted Revolutionary Anabaptism, a rebellious Power Religion. It is the same as the God-defying, idolatrous Humanism of the Equal Rights Movement which actually began in the Garden of Eden. Adam declared himself equal to God by claiming he was able to independently "know [i.e. determine for himself] good and evil" (Gen. 2:5). When confronted with his evil, Adam figuratively thrust a fist towards heaven and blamed God (Pr. 19:3)! Proud, undeserving humans ever since have reacted with bitterness and violence when their self-made "rights" are violated (Rom. 3:10-18; Jms. 3:13-4:6). The SACC, thus, actually deifies Humanity. Only God has rights and can make demands. Man as creaturely, fallen man deserves nothing (Rom 1-3) and has no entitled human right to demand anything just because he is human. Man possesses only duties and limits found in God's Commands. Even when he does these duties, he is not deserving (Lk. 17:5-10). "In view of our great sins, why should any mortal offer complaint— because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed..." (Lam. 3:39, 22). Man's dignity is not in himself but in his dependent relationship with his Creator whether he wants to acknowledge Him or not (Gen. 9:6; Jms. 3:9; Pr. 14:31, 22:2; Acts 17:24-28).

Biblical Common Law is God's Gracious Answer to Man's Cry for Justice
There is only one solution to the present human rights dilemma: "...the Law and the testimony." (Is. 8:20). No man has rights. All he has is God's "right/righteousness": a just common moral/civil Law which protects all law-abiding men by (1) limiting the state's arbitrary power (e.g. detention without trial), (2) providing for regular judicial procedures (i.e. due process of law) for all court cases to ensure a speedy and thorough investigation of all allegations, (3) a common definition of justice applicable impartially to all, (4) exacting just penalties for all criminals.(7)

Contrary to pietists, there is clear Biblical evidence for the abiding validity of this just Biblical Law-order. John Calvin himself (Sermons on Deuteronomy) and Reformed scholars R.J. Rushdoony and G. Bahnsen have documented this carefully in their monumental works Institutes of Biblical Law and Theonomy in Christian Ethics. Dr. Bahnsen begins with a lucid exposition of Christ's words "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.... I tell you the truth, until Heaven and earth disappear, not one jot nor tittle will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom..." (Mt. 5:17- 20).


He shows that "not abolish but fulfil" cannot mean anything else but "not abolish but confirm." (9) Jesus and the Apostles were not antinomian (against God's Law-1 Cor. 9:21; Mt. 23:2f). They believed in the abiding validity of God's Law in exhaustive detail (i.e. "jot and tittle"). The forms of the outward ceremonies are changed but the Moral/Civil Law, being eternal, can never be abolished (Heb. 8:7f; Jer. 31:31f; Rom. 7:1-6 KJV; 2 Cor. 3:1f). When one looks, the New Testament is full of references to the Civil Law, cited by the Apostles as still authoritative (cf. footnote 10).

No "Group Rights" Or "Individual Rights" because Justice is Impartial
"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong... [nor] pervert justice by siding with the crowd... [nor] show favouritism to a poor man in his lawsuit"
(Ex. 23:2). "Do not twist justice: do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the mighty, but judge your neighbour justly" (Lev. 19:15)

God commands civil government to exercise absolutely impartial justice based on His Law. This demands a strictly limited state! Therefore, no biased state granted interventions, privileges, nor "options" in favour of any group or individual is just. While Scripture recognizes the fact that the families of each ethno-covenant group have the duty to govern themselves (and all aliens) in the land they own, in their own language, under God's Law, biblically there are no "group rights" nor "individual rights." "You are to have one law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD..." (Lev. 24:22). If, as in the USA, the state in the name of human rights gives preferential benefits to "oppressed" groups (e.g. gays, feminists, illegal immigrants) leading to legal judgments and wealth redistribution in their favour, then the state operates a sort of protection racket. It steals from some and protects others in return for their support (i.e. a vote). This is tyranny! Samuel clearly warned against this when he told the Jews not to "cry out for kings and princes...to save them...like all the other nations" (1 Sam. 8-12; Hos. 13:9-11).

Conclusion
We must again believe the true Gospel which "establishes the Law" (Rom. 3:31). We must again use the Law "properly..." not to merit salvation/sanctification, but to convict "...lawbreakers..." (1 Tim. 1:8f). Paul cried out: "I delight in God's [holy, righteous, good] Law..." (Rom. 7:12, 22) and said (Rom. 1:28-31) that even pagans know "God's righteous decree that those who [are incorrigible revolutionists/criminals, murderers, homosexuals, etc.] are worthy of death" [i.e. deserve the death penalty as found in the Law (cf. Acts 23:29, 25:11; Dt. 17:19:6)]. Hebrews (2:2) says that "every violation and disobedience [of the Law] received its just punishment." Yet, we despise God's good Law and seek justice in fist-raising human rights!

Every social order must be built on common religious principles (a law-order). If not there is social chaos. Behind every law-order, is a god who legislates and sanctions its principles (Rom. 1:18f). This is true even if the religion is secular (e.g. secular humanism) and the god is Man himself collectively (e.g. democracy) or an individual tyrant. Thus, any living social order must enforce (legislate) its morality on all members of the society— believers or not (cf. Hinduism, Marxism, Islam, Catholicism)! When a religion refuses to legislate its law-order and grants licence for other law-orders to be propagated, then that society is "forsaking" its old god/religion and is "loving" a new god/law-order12 (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn.2:3f; Dt. I0:12f).

At such times there is a breakdown of order in the society. This has lead in modern times to an outcry for a state-enforced human rights order. The result has always been a gradual or rapid descent into bondage to an all-powerful state. History has shown that Calvinist-Puritan societies which sought to live and enforce the just Law-order of God in the power of the Spirit have been the most free and prosperous (the Scots, Dutch, and British as well as the Boer Republics). Calvin's Reformation lead directly to Puritan New England and the original USA Constitution. Spirit-taught obedience sets men free. Humanist rights enslave!

Footnotes:
(1). The Freedom Charter is an example. The 2nd Generation lead to the Social Democracies [West] and People's Democracies [East].
(2). JW Montgomery. Human Rights and Human Dignity, pp. 26-28.
(3). cf. Heb. 1:1f, 2:5f; Gen. 1:26, 9:1f, Cf. Ps. 2, 110 which are quoted in the N.T. more than any other O.T. passages. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's..." means that Caesar is under God's authority because all things are God's (Ps. 24:1). All authority is derived from Him (Ps. 22:27f; Dan. 4:17, 34f; 1 Pet. 2:13).
(4). Cf. F. Schaeffer. The Christian Manifesto.
(5). cf. activist pietist M. Cassidy. The Passing Summer. F. Schaeffer in The Great Evangelical Disaster documents the evangelical sell out to humanist values.
(6). cf. paper no. 3 "...Peace." I. Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon.
(7). RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law p. 533.
(8). J. Calvin, pub. by Banner of Truth. Both Rushdoony and Bahnsen published by Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1973 and 1977 respectively.
(9). Bahnsen. Theonomy pp 39f.
(10). Penalties of the law = just: Mt. 15:4; Heb. 2:1-2; Rom. 1:-31 [cf. Dt. 21:18-21; Acts 23:29]; Need for 2/3 witnesses: Dt. 19:15; Mt. 18:20; Jn. 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28: Law = good: Rom. 7:7-12f; 13:8f; 1 Tim. l:8f; various laws: 1 Cor. 5:13; 9:9; Gal. 5:14, et al).
(11). cf. papers numbers. 2, 4-7 in this series.
(12). RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 4f.

MRK, April 1989

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