Modern governments are full salvation providers.
Roman emperors took the title saviour, but for them it was just a
title. They looked after their loyal elite, but treated the ordinary
people as slaves.
The modern government does not take the title saviour, but it has
taken over the role by promising to solve every problem that arises.
Modern state salvation includes education, healthcare, roads, poverty,
crime and defence. In each of these spheres of life, the state provides
only very average salvation and not surprisingly, it sometimes treats
people as slaves.
Jesus claimed the title saviour by dying on the cross and rising from
the dead. He proved that he was saviour by healing the sick, casting out
demons and raising the dead. Unfortunately his people do not understand
the scope and substance of this salvation. God’s salvation is better
than anything than the state can provide.
To Tell Them What to Do?
There are several answers to this question. Most of them show that we
are foolish to trust in human government and confirm that it is
Some people believe that we need someone to tell us what to do.
Children sometimes need some to tell them what to do, but generally
they have parents for this purpose.
Most adults do not need someone to tell them what to do. Most of us
prefer to make our own mistakes. Anyway free wisdom is plentiful in this
world. There are plenty of people that we can ask for advice, if we need
Christians have God to show them what to do, so they need human
government for this reason, least of all.
Governments throughout the world are saving their people from
sickness by spending more and more and more on health care. The problem
is that sickness came into the world through sin, so dealing with the
cause of sin is the key to healing sickness. Turning back the curse of
sin is an impossible task for the state. When one sickness or disease is
cured, another that is worse pops up in its place. Governments will
always fail to deal with sickness, because they are unwilling to deal
with sin, the cause of sickness.
Modern health technology is so incredibly expensive that health
budgets are “blowing out”. As aging populations make this problem
worse, rationing will be needed. Governments will be unable afford every
treatment that is available for its citizens.
Compulsory funding of health care is morally wrong. If I choose to
pay for the healthcare of another person, that is fine. However, the
government does not have authority to make one person pay for another
person’s healthcare. Taking money without consent is theft.
The only effective solution to sickness is the cross of Jesus,
because it dealt with sin and removed the cause of sickness. The gift of
healing is God’s solution to sickness. It works, because it rolls back
The state also struggles with education and generally turns out
mediocrity and failure.
God has given parents responsibility for educating their children.
(Deut 6:6,7). They are free to delegate that responsibility to schools
with teachers that they trust. If parents are paying for the cost, they
will choose quality education for their children.
When the state controls education, it inevitably becomes more and
more secular. Politicians will generally be unable to agree on religious
and moral values, so they will settle for secular education. State
funded education is generally compulsory, so a world view that is
hostile to God is foisted onto Christian families.
When parents fund and control the education of their children, they
can teach their children within a theistic world view.
State education uses a factory system. I cannot understand why ayone
would want to put a thousand teenage boys together in one place.
Parents-controlled education will be radically different. Young adults
are capable of work, so their education will take place within a work
environment that provides interaction with adults of all ages.
Modern information technology has eliminated the need for teachers to
pass information on to their students. Teachers will become tutors who
show their students how to find and assess information. They will teach
them how to communicate and present information in effective ways.
believe that we need the government to care for us if we fall into
poverty. This is a false hope. The state will never resolve poverty,
because its solutions create dependence. Governments have put enormous
resource into caring for the poor, but their efforts have tended to
increase the extent of poverty in the world. Despite 70 years of
increasing taxation and hundreds of new social
welfare programmes during a period of unprecedented economic growth,
the state has failed to solve poverty.
A solution that has failed so consistently
should be rejected. We should avoid solutions that take a large share of
income to do something so ineffective.
A variety of options are available to people who
fear falling into poverty.
The bible provides options that actually
work. Families should be the primary means of support. Deacons, poor
loans, gleaning and sharing are effective methods for dealing with
short-term poverty, if families fail. The gospel is the best solution to
long-term poverty, because it changes attitudes and capabilities.
- Insurance allows people to share the risk of irregular events.
- Insurance allows people choose the level of risks from which they
- Families should provide for those in poverty.
in the church will often help those who are poor.
- Belonging to a caring
community is a good option.
- Someone might feel sorry for you.
Many governments now provide housing for the poor. There are two
problems with the state taking this role.
There is no shortage of people wanting to invest in housing,
whereas the state is always short of capital. Instead of wasting its
capital on housing, the state should leaving house to the many
people who want to invest in housing.
here is a problem of what to do when the recipients of state
housing no longer need help. If they are allowed to continue to live
on in their state-owned residences, most state housing will be
wasted on people who no longer need it. If they are forced out into
private housing, they will be given an economic shock, just as they
are getting back onto their feet.
It is always better to help people in privately owned housing as they
can then stay on as long as they choose.
Most people believe that we need the government to make laws.
God is our law-giver (Is 33:22). God's Law
is the best that anyone can get. Human
laws are limited in what they can achieve.
Laws can restrain the worst evil, but that is all. There are more
than enough laws in the world, and many are ignored. I doubt that we
gain much from inviting politicians to make more laws.
Protection from Violence
Many people want the government to protect them from violence.
However, a variety of options are open to those who feel vulnerable to
- Staying inside at night and only going out when it is safe.
- Learning a martial art.
- Paying protection money to a local gang.
- Employing a personal body guard.
- Staying close to a group of people you trust. This is the
The civil government is a poor option, because the police do not
undertake to provide protection for individual people. Their only
commitment is to catch people who assault others and fine them.
The worst offenders will be put in prison for a time. The existence
of the police may discourage people from being violent and may take the
more violent people out of circulation. This may assist others, but it
does not help the person who is being assaulted. Even if a person being
threatened is able to call the police, they are unlikely to arrive in
time to prevent an assault occurring.
Those who want government for protection from violence are likely to
Protection from Theft
Several options are available to those who are worried about their
property being stolen.
- Giving possessions away to the poor.
- Placing all valuables in a band for security.
- Employing a personal body guard.
- Purchasing insurance against theft.
- Putting locks on all doors and gates.
- Living in a community of people who are honest.
The civil government does not protect our property, because the
police will only act after a theft has occurred. If they catch the
thief, he will be fined, but the stolen goods will not necessarily be
The modern state claims responsibility, but it is not really
interested in solving crime. Despite enormous advances in technology,
crime is now worse than it was fifty years ago. A crime will often be
too small to justify using police resources for an investigation and
prosecution. Police avoid crimes they consider to be insignificant, but
every crime is significant to its victim.
Justice from Theives
Most people who have something stolen expect two things to happen.
- They expect the stolen goods to be returned.
- They expect the thief to get sufficient penalty to stop them from
Civil government cannot be counted on to do either of these things.
The fines collected by the justice system go to the government. The
victim only rarely receives financial compensation for their troubles.
This is that this is now accepted as normal.
When criminals are caught, they are locked up in prisons. More and
more people are being locked up, but very few are being rehabilitated.
Putting people in prison is another expensive solution that does not
work. The cost is paid by taxpayers, so prison punishes the victims a
law applied by good
judges is a superior system.
Some people believe that the state will defend them from war. There
are several ways of getting defence
- Local communities can form militias, so they can defend
- Communities could employ mercenaries to defend them. The Vatican
City has relied on Swiss guards for hundreds of years.
The government is just one method of getting defence and it is not a
very good one.
The modern state is not seriously interested in protecting people.
Defence forces plan to protect their capital city and military bases,
but the rest of the country is expendable.
Many governments are reluctant to spend money on defence, as there
are very few votes to be obtained from better armed forces. The state
only defends those who support it and any innocent people are harassed
by the state.
The reverse problem is that the modern state also tends to be
over-ambitious at getting into unnecessary wars, so we should be
cautious about giving governments this power.
Temporary military commanders are a safer method of defence.
Infectious diseases are another form of external attack, so
biosecurity is a big issue for modern governments. The Bible teaches
that biosecurity problems are the consequence of sin. They are the first
step down a path that leads to invasion, as God sends a biological army,
before he sends a human army.
The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and
inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew,
which will plague you until you perish.
The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will
come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you
will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. (Deut
The solution to biosecurity problems is to obey God’s law. If a
nation rejects God, then no biosecurity measures can protect its border
from biological invasion.
Modern governments control entry to their country. The biblical
approach is different. Anyone is free to enter the country and refugees
are welcomed. However, migrants can only enter a country, if they can
find a community that is willing to receive them. People who do not love
Jesus will generally want to live among Christian communities.
Running the Economy
A common answer is that we need the government to run the .
Even if the economy does need running (and that is not proved), the
evidence that governments can run an economy successfully is fairly
sparse. There are plenty of counter examples of government stuffing
things up. Those in power usually end up lining their pockets at the
expense of their people.
According to the book of Deuteronomy the state of the economy
fluctuates according to the righteousness of the people. A decline in
the economy is a warning to turn back to God. By attempting to prevent
economic downturns, the state is attempting to hold back the tide of
sin. In the end it will fail.
Rather than relying
on the government to boost the economy is unnecessary. It
is easier and more effective to love God.
Controlling the Money Supply
Many people believe that someone in authority must control the supply
Governments usually believe that they are the ones with the necessary
wisdom. They believe they should manage the money supply through the
operations of a central bank.
Most governments now realise that they cannot control the supply of
money, and the best that they can do is set interest rates. But even
this is too much for them. Interest rates reflect the value that people
place on the future. A central banker can never know the future, so we
should not trust then to set its price. The chances of a political
appointee getting the price of the future right is even less, given that
only God knows the future. Governments generally set the interest
rate too high or too low.
Central banks did not exist before the beginning of the twentieth
century, and economies functioned just as well as they do now. This role
is rooted in a false understanding of the way that money works. All that
is required to prevent the manipulation of the money supply is
punishment of fraud and theft.
The modern state has an immense and complicated apparatus for
collection and spending funds taken from citizens. If the state were to
cease providing salvation, tax collection would be unnecessary.
Contributions to the cost of justice and defence should be by Voluntary
Governments have no need to be in the business of radio and
television broadcasting. Private groups already provide these services,
so there is no need to use taxpayer’s money for entertainment. Public
broadcasting can easily be used for manipulation and state propaganda.
Some people believe that we need the government to build roads and
We tend to forget that most new streets in a city are built by
property developers, as they open up new subdivisions. These new streets
are handed over to the care of local government. The new streets are
generally well built, but the quality of maintenance by city councils is
Most new roads and highways are built by private contractors. The
government maintains roads that have been built by others. Roads are
often not maintained as well as they were built, so this does not
inspire confidence in government.
Some argue that we need to government to pay for roads. The problems
with government funded roading are evident in every large city. Whenever
the price of a good or service is set to zero, demand escalates. People
have to queue to get the good or service. In the Soviet Union the price
of bread was set too low, so there was not enough bread available to
supply needs. Queues for bread were common.
In most large cities, the price for travelling on many highways has
been set to zero. The result is that many people are queuing to use the
highway. We call this traffic congestion, but it is really just a queue
for a government-provided service for which the price has been set to
low. The economic phenomenon is no different to the bread queue in the
Highways can be built for by private companies and paid for by tolls.
Private companies have to build the roads that will be used, before they
can collect any tolls. Governments collect the money before they build
any roads and then often do not build them at all. Paying for a service
before it is delivered is not a good practice.
Most residents have no control over the standard of services provided
to their streets. They just have to accept what the politicians decide
to provide. Residents have no control over what rubbish collection
services they receive, because they are a political issue. When the
government gets involved, freedom to pay for a chosen level of service
goes out the window. Governments always work on principle of one size
The modern government establishes a Building Code that sets the
standard for all buildings. There are four reasons why building codes do
The government does not know enough to set a code that will cover
materials in all situations. New Zealand has thousands of “leaky homes”
that complied with the building code when they were built. The building
code has been modified to prevent this problem occurring. This has
dramatically increased cost of complying, but it will not prevent the
next problem from occurring.
Builders, engineers and architects focus on complying with the code
and stop thinking about quality the buildings they construct. They are
the ones who determine the quality of a building, so the owner really
wants them to be thinking about quality, and not just doing the minimum
to comply with the building code.
Manufactures of building materials can void warranty on new materials
once they get approval by the building code. They focus on complying
with the code, rather than taking responsibility for the quality of
The owner of a building is given a false sense of security. They will
end up being liable for most problems with a building, despite the
building code. If they were more aware of this responsibility, they
would be more careful about buying or constructing a building. They
would protect themselves by paying an expert to check out the building
before taking on a liability. They would make sure they have good
documentation about the quality of the building for when they want to
In most aspects of life, liability and authority go together. The
building code splits these apart. The government takes authority and
tells people what they must do, but it refuses to pay if things go
wrong. Building owners are liable for any problems, so they should be
given authority to make decisions about the quality of their buildings.
It is always better to help people in privately owned housing as they
can then stay on as long as they choose.
Car owners are forced to get a mechanical check on their car twice a
year. The check required is specified by the state. As usual, the state
sets the standard, but takes no accountability for consequences. The
result is that car owners focus on the test and do the minimum
maintenance necessary to pass the test.
If the state got out of car maintenance, people would take more
responsibility for their safety. People who harm others through failure
to maintain their cars would be liable for the full financial
consequences. This would force most people into maintaining their cars
Owners of roads may require a standard of fitness to protect their
other clients from being harmed by people who do not maintain them.
The state should not become a conduit for compulsory donations to
people in other nations.
Foreign Aid is the process by which poor people in rich countries
give money to rich people in poor countries (Peter Bauer).
The problem with government aid is that it is usually channelled
through government agencies in the recipient country. Politicians are
expert at wasting other people's money, so it is a mistake to give
politicians in even more money to control (and waste).
If people want to help people in poor countries, they should give
through individuals or organizations that are accountable for the money
they handle .
Two Groups Benefit
The civil government benefits two groups of people.
The DANG Conclusion
The boundary around the role of government is simple.
If the issue is not theft, violence, murder, false witness or fraud,
the government should not be involved.