Sovereignty, Authority, and Liberty

17 May 2023

By Dr. Adi Schlebusch

Forsaking faith in the Triune God as revealed in Scripture means forsaking the objective standard on which to base all true rights, duties, and legitimate authority. The net result is complete arbitrariness. After all, if there is no God, there is no moral standard transcending human reason, desires, and passions. If God is not recognized as sovereignly upholding the social order, all authority is effectively reduced to tyranny, and chaos and eventual societal collapse is inevitable. We can see that happening before our own eyes with the current demise of Western civilization. Rejection of divine sovereignty lies at the very heart of Liberalism, while duties, authorities and natural rights make sense only if Christian theism is presupposed. Forsaking the supremacy of the divine, transcendent moral order as authoritative standard for societal and political arrangements in favor of the supremacy of mankind, manifesting epistemically in rationalism and empiricism, conflicts with divinely ordained creation ordinances which shape reality, inevitably culminating in an anarchy based in epistemic arbitrariness. From this anarchy, government or corporate tyranny alone is often presented as offering any kind of liberation. 

At the heart of the Paleo-conservative appeal to tradition, lies the notion that societies and cultures are formed over time, shaped by historically rooted traditions and institutions. This stands in stark contrast to the egalitarian presuppositions of the liberal social contract theory which reduces society to an unrooted and ahistorical abstraction, thereby destroying the very foundations of those natural relationships and property rights that make liberty possible in the first place. Liberalism leaves us with only the choice between radical anarchy and despotism. Because man’s nature is depraved, conservative pioneers such as Edmund Burke and Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer rightly recognized that societies based on rationalist abstractions are bound to fail because of the reality of human sinfulness. By rejecting the biblical understanding of liberty, which entails that people should be granted that natural freedom to employ their God-given abilities, talents, and resources appropriately and to the best of their ability, the liberal idea of freedom actually seeks the overthrow of all legitimate authority and the inequalities which naturally arise from true liberty. Egalitarianism opposes true liberty by virtue of its perpetual fight against the natural inequalities among humans such strength of body and spirit, inclinations and character, zeal, courage, intellect, and perseverance. By fighting natural inequalities in order to engineer an egalitarian society, injustices and abominations such as affirmative action and gender reassignment surgery result. 

Historically, equality was simply understood as entailing the equal standing, without any partiality, before the Law of God. Socio-economic inequalities must be considered a positive good for any society, since the wealth of upper classes offers an insurance against poverty of lower classes. The liberal concept of liberty, put in practice, entails making modern cities hubs for criminals and illegal immigrants, while forcing law-abiding citizens to hide behind walls, fences, and locked doors. The liberal concept of fraternity entails fueling the sin of envy, which in practice manifests in increased hatred. It tears down those natural relationships and social bonds which form the very fabric of our civilization by creating a class war that ends up enriching only the government, the banks, and the trade unions. 

Christian civil ethics proposes that the purpose of the state is the maintenance of the rights and freedoms of its citizens, which of course also means that no-one should be forced to concede his property or God-given rights as implied by the Decalogue to the state. Within the liberal paradigm, however, the democratic will, effectively embodied in the interests of the government which is perceived to be a representative of a free association of individuals, is elevated to the highest good. In the process natural rights are forfeited whenever they contradict the highest goals of the liberal state’s agenda. In such a paradigm a Christian can only live in obedience to God insofar as this doesn’t violate what the state or corporate entities present as the so-called “common interest” of the masses. Subverting the authority of God in practice ultimately effectuates the tyranny of the centralized state itself. 

Without acknowledging the absolute sovereignty of Triune God over all creation, there can never be true liberty.