Covenantalism and the Fight against Government and Corporate Tyranny

24 July 2023

By Dr Adi Schlebusch

As conservative Christians, we’ve largely been under assault from two major forces over the past decade: government overreach and corporate tyranny, with both of these allying themselves to one another against our best interests. This was perhaps most evident during the lockdown and vaccine fiasco of 2020-2022. Given what we have experienced one thing should be evident to all by now: deliverance from one is not to be sought in the other. In other words, recent history has taught us that big corporations and big government tend to go hand-in-hand. We don’t need more government and we don’t need more big corporations. We need less of both. 

In accordance with the federal tradition rooted in the theology and social theory of John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) and Johannes Althusius (1563-1638), we need to actively work towards a decentralized covenantal social order. Duns Scotus, unlike Aquinas, claimed that all human acts can only be considered good or meritorious within the framework of the pactum or covenant between God and man, whereas Aquinas held that good works are in and of themselves meritorious. Heinrich Bullinger, the great covenant theologian of the Reformation and Johannes Althusius, perhaps the greatest Calvinist political theorist of all time, adopted this Scotist anthropological framework as basic to their advocacy for the covenantal social order.

In the covenantal social order, those social units that are basic to the pactum between God and man always take precedence over the socio-political units which depend on the former for their existence. This does not mean starting with the individual, however, since covenantalism is radically different from Liberalism which effectively sees true liberty as the independence of the crying infant from his nursing mother. Whereas for liberalism, every infant is sovereign, the covenantal paradigm entails viewing the family as the basic covenantal unit for all human society. As Althusius points out:

just as the cause by its nature precedes the effect and is more perceptible, and just as the simple or primary precedes in order what has been composed or derived from it, so also villages, cities and provinces precede realms and are prior to them. For this is the order and progression of nature, that the conjugal relationship, or the domestic association of man and wife, is called the beginning and foundation of human society. From it are then produced the associations of various blood relations and in-laws. From them in turn come the sodalities and assemblies, out of whose union arises the composite body that we call a village, town or city.1

Ultimately, covenantalism therefore entails community-based, decentralized, state-proof and big corporation-proof solutions. Given the radical demographic shifts we are experiencing in the Western world today, it is safe to say that the nation-state model, at least as it has been envisioned and manifested since the French Revolution, is becoming increasingly outdated. We have to find practical, local, clan-based and community-based solutions for the challenges that our children will inevitably face as they live as minorities in post-Western countries. We need to increasingly recover the art of homesteading, yes, but we need to go even further in terms of demographically concentrating in areas where we can build strong, tightknit communities around private institutions such as schools and churches. For many in our generation this will also mean starting family businesses rather than seeking employment with the big corporations so as to leave a legacy for your sons to build upon.

Even more than that, communities need to start taking care of their own energy needs and even basic infrastructure maintenance. Small nuclear reactors are a crucial scientific development in this regard, as is satellite internet, which is well on its way to becoming globally accessible even without government approval. Using gold and silver, a barter system, or even better, bitcoin transactions, can go a long way to reducing the tax burdens of such communities as they grow to become increasingly self-reliant and less dependent on the state and big corporations. In this way, de facto independence can serve as a necessary stepping stone towards de jure independence and self-determination for clan-based covenantal Christian communities.

1. Althusius, J. 1610. Politica Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata. Groningen: Radaeus, p. 715. “igitur cansa sua natura praecedit effectum, eoque, notior est et simplex, seu primum id quod compositum seu ortum a primo est, antecedit ordinare, ita quoque, pagi, civitates et provincia, regna antecedunt et prius quam ea suerunt. Hic enim naturae ordo et processus, ut conjungium, seu consocatio domestica viriet uxoris fundamentum et principium humane societatis dicatur, et ex hac Porro producantur consociationes consanguineorum et adsinium diversorum, ex bis vero sodalitates, collegia, ex quorum conjunctiove corpus compositum, quod pagum, oppidum, vel civitatem dicimus.”