In this post, I hope to finish the rest of the book that I started with this post and this post.
In chapters 3 and 4 Dr. Cobin gives us his view of popular Biblical views of government. His key premise is that,
With few exceptions over the course of human civilization, civil government has been relatively evil insofar as mankind’s temporal well being is concerned. Furthermore, in an individualistic sense, civil government is always evil to someone. Certainly, Uriah would not have thought King David’s treatment of him to be a nice or a good thing (II Sam. 11:4, 15).
Wow. Quite a statement for a Christian to assimilate.
But wait there’s more.
Popular thinking that government is always a lesser evil than the extreme case of political anarchy is mistaken. Proponents of such thinking fail to reckon with the brutal record of civil government.
Bet that got your attention.
He gives an example of
those who have faced extermination at the hands of communists might not agree that the tyrannical government that dominated and oppressed them was better than anarchy.
Perhaps, but that wouldn’t mean that all civil government is evil all the time. Even the communists might have done something good.
He may be correct that “the existence of anarchy does not imply that society has neither rules nor order” but that does not mean it would work in this day and age. He believes the market would provide order, but that is too much to hope for that anyone but the most fervent believer in free markets to accept.
There is a danger of power which is why we must be vigilant.
We see an example in Revelation, where government is used by Satan to persecute the faithful remaining on the earth.
But wait there’s more. Joseph, an Old Testament hero seen as a picture of Christ, is criticized by Cobin for
bad, proactive economic policies where people were effectively swindled out of their land by the state (Gen 41:33-44). The state profited handsomely by the craftiness of Joseph.
Whew. This will be more than most Bible believing Christians can accept completely.
His solution? Christians should not actively participate in government.
The Appendix to Chapter 3 purportedly lists all policies of governments in the Bible and classifies them as good ambiguous or evil.
Chapter 4 continues looking at the Bible and government, looking at three key passages, Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Titus 3:1-2. Let’s just say that he practically reverses the commonly held view and does so unconvincingly.
Dr. Cobin believes that good government is the exception rather than the rule. He also feels that Christians are under no compulsion to obey every law. He spends most of Chapter 5 dealing with that. I would agree as long as the Christian is prepared to face the consequences, something Dr. Cobin appears unwilling to do.
Chapter 6 gives a policy analysis of the Christian and American public school. Suffice it to say that he believes
The public school has at once been both the greatest, most pernicious threat to liberty and American Christianity.
Few conservatives would disagree, hence the popularity of parochial and home schools.
The final chapter sums it up and gives a table of issues and how Christians should react.
I’ll have one more post on the book, or more correctly, on the author and my reaction.