THE FIRST WORD
THE SECOND WORD
THE THIRD WORD
THE FOURTH WORD
THE FIFTH WORD
THE SIXTH WORD
THE SEVENTH WORD
THE EIGHTH WORD
Thou shalt not steal.
It isn’t just about filching. Robbery comes in many forms.
Among the duties required in this law, Westminster Larger Catechism question #141 includes “faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to everyone his due; . . . a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; . . . avoiding unnecessary . . . suretiship, or other like engagements.” As it pertains to property rights, the eighth commandment is intrinsically bound up with both the fifth and tenth commandments. For in the fifth we find that the inducement toward honoring our fathers and mothers is that we might thereby live long in ‘the land which our God gives us.’ The tenth, of course – a prohibition against coveting anything which is our neighbor’s – forbids even the confusion of property in one’s own heart, including all ideological views which might otherwise dilute ownership or undermine natural boundaries.
The term ‘faithfulness’ in catechism question #141 suggests much in itself, especially in terms of the present collision of Alienism with Kinism. And incredibly, ‘rendering to everyone his due’ strikes a chord, because Alienists insist that what is due from White Christians to non-Whites, Christian or otherwise, is our time, treasure, land, and children, and often our lives. Everything. Which is to say their standard goes far beyond God’s law. However, the words ‘a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition’ grants Christians individually, but also familially, tribally, nationally, and racially, the prerogative to secure their own existence with an eye toward the preservation of their respective natures. More than that, it actually mandates it.
Among other things, the Westminster position on the eighth word requires the self-defense of property, territory, and borders for the maintenance of our physical safety pursuant of our God-ordained peoplehood. This is so inasmuch as the case-law entailment of this commandment prohibits ‘the moving of thy neighbor’s landmark’ (Deut. 19:14; 27:17), for which Hosea strongly indicted the princes of Judah, as they would not maintain the borders between the tribes or against foreign incursion (Hos. 5:10). Paul likewise drew upon this principle when he affirmed the continued demarcation of bounds between the nations (Acts 17:26). Even if this concept of property lines has its primary application to one’s own estate, it is nonetheless treated in the text as extending unobstructedly to macro-territories of kinship groups as well. As the refrain goes, “races are but families writ large.”
The ‘sustentation of our nature, suitable to our condition’ referenced in the catechism means self-preservation. This was the rationale behind Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Solemn League and Covenant, the Stamp Act, and the Declaration of Independence. This blood-and-soil principle is evident, too, in Cotton’s Abstract of the Laws of New England, wherein we read that land grants were protected by allodial title “to such persons and to their heirs and assigns forever, as their property” (IV.1) and that “inheritances are to descend naturally to the next of kin, according to the law of nature, delivered by God” (IV.5), This aspect of Christian ethics is precisely the argument historically leveled in America for segregation and in South Africa for apartheid. As Griffin has summarized it, “Almost from their arrival in 1630, the Puritans instituted laws and practices designed to ensure that blacks would never be a part of their holy cities. . . . Their homes could not be next door to whites, but only in non-white residential areas. Blacks were excluded from the military, prohibited from serving on juries, and denied full citizenship, thus preventing them from voting.”1
For the alternative – neglect of ‘the sustentation of our nature’ – necessarily produces results ‘[un]suitable to our condition.’ This is why even presently, White Alienists insist on raising their families in ‘good neighborhoods’ (read ‘majority White’): because they know in their hearts that the alternative is to needlessly consign their children to social and physical conditions which White people find intolerable, and plainly unlivable. What seems to Black and Brown Christians normal life is to White Christians abject savagery, for Whites in proximity to large numbers of non-Whites experience a level of violence and rapine known to us nowhere but in historical theaters of open warfare.
Beyond the positive admonition to sustain our respective natures, question #142 lists among the sins forbidden in the eighth word, ‘removing landmarks’ (i.e., property lines and borders) and forbids ‘depopulations’ of peoples from their rightful territories. This explains Moses’s having asked permission for the children of Israel to pass through the territory of their cousin-nation, Edom (Num. 20:16-21). He even offered to pay a toll for passage. This makes no sense at all unless Moses understood national borders as the legitimate property line of a people. Hoffmeier confirms just this:
The obvious question is, were ancient territorial borders taken seriously and was national sovereignty recognized? The answer is emphatically, yes. . . .
It is worth noting that even a traveler, a foreigner, passing through the territory of another had to obtain permission to do so. . . .[N]ations could and did control their borders and determine who could pass through the land. On the individual, family, and clan level property was owned and boundaries established. . . . For this reason Mosaic law prohibited the removal of landmarks (Deut. 19:14).2
It is no coincidence, therefore, that wherever and to whatever degree Calvinism has held sway in any land, so too have ethno-nationalism, segregation, and paternalism. As Vos states it, in his commentary on Babel and the Table of Nations,
Nationalism, within proper limits, has the divine sanction. . . .
Now it is through maintaining the national diversities, as these express themselves in the difference of language, and are in turn upheld by this difference, that God prevents realization of the attempted scheme. . . . [T]here was [also] a positive intent that concerned the natural life of humanity. Under the providence of God each race or nation has a positive purpose to serve, fulfilment of which depends on relative seclusion from others.3
This is to say that apartheid, in some fashion, has ever been the purview of Reformed Christianity, because when our fathers defined the Scripture as ‘the only rule for faith and practice,’ they did not shrink from the prophet Nehemiah’s rallying cry to his kinsmen as they rebuilt the walls (borders) of Jerusalem, one hand on their trowels, and one on their swords: “And I looked, and rose up, and said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your clans” (Neh. 4:14). Irrespective of subscriptionist pretensions on the part of Alienists, Kinists are the sole remaining heirs and testators to the substance of the Westminster standard here and the doctrine of boundaries as it lies in Scripture.
This is certainly the case as Alienists in Reformed circles popularly argue, in the culture-of-critique fashion of the mid-twentieth century communists, that borders, like the nationalism which they presuppose, are but an artifice of eighteenth-century colonialism. (Never mind that the word ‘bounds’ appears eight times in Scripture, or that the word ‘borders’ appears forty-two times, nor even that there are one hundred and fifty-six mentions of the singular term ‘border’ in Scripture: clearly, borders are no Enlightenment novelty.) Or, as I heard one OPC minister out of Long Beach, CA, absurdly argue from the pulpit back in the year 2001, “Israel’s foremost sin, and the sin for which God judged them, was maintaining borders.” Most Alienists flit back and forth between these two arguments like caged birds with only two perches from which to choose. Despite the precariousness of each, both of these excuses are subservient to the central liberal conviction that secure borders are exclusionary and prejudiced, and therefore, somehow contrary to Christian ethics. But Hoffmeier has rebuffed them:
Even in ancient times there were clearly delineated lands or countries, some large and others tiny. This is why the Old Testament speaks of the border of the land of Canaan (Ex. 16:35), Egypt (1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chron. 9:26; 26:8), and the borders of Israel (1 Sam. 27:1). . . .
Israel’s borders are given at different times and places in the Bible, sometimes in general terms, sometimes in great detail. For example, when the land is first promised to Abraham . . . ‘from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates’ (Gen. 15:18). In Joshua’s day, however, when the twelve territories are divided up among the Israelite tribes, each territory within Israel is described in incredible detail, occupying seven chapters of the book of Joshua (13-19).4
It wasn’t just the borders of Israel which were considered sacrosanct under God’s law. As Bahnsen argued so decisively, “Israel’s obedience to God’s law was intended to be an example to the nations. . . . The law morally binds the nations, and that means the magistrates of the world kingdoms are as much under ethical obligation as the fathers, craftsmen, or children of those nations.”5 Concluding this point Bahnsen says, “The moral obligation for rulers to guide and judge in terms of the holy law of God remains identical for both Israel and the world nations.”6
If the applicability of Theonomy to contemporary nations outside Israel was Bahnsen’s central thesis, he everywhere presupposed a legitimate plurality of nations preceding, persisting contemporaneously beside, and extending beyond the era of the Israelite Republic into the Christian age. Bahnsen’s view of nations and borders then comports with Calvin’s classic passage on the subject:
Now, we see, as in a camp, every troop and band hath his appointed place, so men are placed upon earth, that every people may be content with their bounds, and that among these people every particular person may have his mansion. But though ambition have, oftentimes raged, and many, being incensed with wicked lust, have past their bounds, yet the lust of men hath never brought to pass, but that God hath governed all events from out of his holy sanctuary. For though men, by raging upon earth, do seem to assault heaven, that they may overthrow God’s providence, yet they are enforced, whether they will or no, rather to establish the same. Therefore, let us know that the world is so turned over through divers tumults, that God doth at length bring all things unto the end which he hath appointed.7
Aside from Calvin’s and Bahnsen’s perspective here, Isaiah’s descriptions of the Millennial age would be unintelligible: “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders” (Isa. 60:18). Such, too, is the case with the words of David: “My Son art Thou; today have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations as Thine heritage, and as Thy possession, the bounds of the earth” (Ps. 2:7-8). Christ is the Lord of all boundaries. His law institutes and maintains them. And as He swore to Israel (Deut. 28; Lev. 26), He has reserved the fall of their borders to aliens as the great curse to wipe unbent nations from the earth. Or as Isaiah says it, “Your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (Isa. 1:7). “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Isa. 60:12).
Of course, the inverse corollary of the prophet’s words there is that the nation which serves God’s Kingdom and keeps His law will live, and their land shall not be stolen by alien peoples. Which is to say that Theonomy intrinsically connotes nationalism.
Slightly oblique, however, to the matter of nationalism is monetary policy. Suffice it to say that the connection between them is still evident in everyday issues of national economy, national debt, GDP, exchange rates, interstate commerce, etc. Inasmuch as money matters are matters of property, they are a clear concern to the eighth word as well. If the catechism cites among things forbidden under the eighth word “fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, . . . oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, . . . ingrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him,” it would seem to indict the entire monetary apparatus of our day.
A seminal aspect of modern finance is fractional reserve banking. Much ink has been spilt and many tomes dedicated to this subject, so I will not elaborate overly much here. But I would offer a couple points for consideration: first, it is a sublimated species of usury – a matter worthy of discussion in itself.8 Because inflation necessarily acts as a covert form of interest as well as a hidden tax. As the money supply is enlarged, wealth is quietly extracted from every man’s savings. This is enslavement of the Gemeinfrei.
But the language historically applied to the subject of fractionalized currency is quite familiar to our broader discussion here; our fathers spoke of it as ‘adulteration’:
Nations have sometimes, for the same purpose, adulterated the standard of their coin; that is, have mixed a greater quantity of alloy in it. . . . The adulteration of the standard has exactly the same effect with what the French call an augmentation, or a direct raising of the denomination of the coin.
An augmentation, or a direct raising of the denomination of the coin, always is, and from its nature must be, an open and avowed operation. By means of it pieces of a smaller weight and bulk are called by the same name which had before been given to pieces of a greater weight and bulk. The adulteration of the standard, on the contrary, has generally been a concealed operation. . . . When King John of France, in order to pay his debts, adulterated his coin, all the officers were sworn to secrecy. Both operations are unjust. But a simple augmentation is an injustice of open violence, whereas the adulteration is an injustice of treacherous fraud. This latter operation, therefore, as soon as it has been discovered, and it could never be concealed very long, has always excited much greater indignation than the former. The coin after any considerable augmentation has very seldom been brought back to its former weight; but after the greatest adulterations it has almost always been brought back to its former fineness. It has scarce happened that the fury and indignation of the people could otherwise be appeased.9
This strikes at the substance of the biblical admonition to “just weights and measures” (e.g. Deut. 25:15; Lev. 19:36; Prov. 11:1) and raises the question of why Americans seem to have consented to the mass larceny and ostensible enslavement of our nation, especially since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. But it also establishes the correspondence between the the eighth word and the seed and yoking statutes which primary fall under the seventh word. The matter of adulteration transcends not only Rushdoony’s emphasis on murder (the sixth word) and the question of illicit unions (the seventh word) itself, but by way of fraud and counterfeit, it is, as Smith testifies, an especially pernicious subset of theft also. Admittedly, this interpretation of inflation as a violation of multiple commandments is not a novel one. Among others, Franklin Sanders has made the same point:
Inflation is easy. That’s just outright theft by fraud and adulteration, so start with the Eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” and the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Then work your way through all the applications of those commandments to honest weights and measures.
But Weaver has identified real property in land and borders as a seminal bulwark in society against the ethereal anti-national monetary schemes, saying, “While we are looking at the moral influence of real property, let us observe, too, that it is the individual’s surest protection against that dishonor called adulteration. If one surveys the economic history of the West for the past several centuries, he discovers not only a decline of craftsmanship but also, a related phenomenon, a steady shrinkage in the value of money. . . . A familiar term for this process is inflation, but, whatever it may be called, it represents the payment with depreciated media.”10 “[P]roductive private property represents a kind of sanctuary against robbery through adulteration, for the individual getting his sustenance from property which bears his imprint and assimilation has a more real measure of value. . . . There is, moreover, a natural connection between the sense of honor and the personal relationship of property. As property becomes increasingly an abstraction and the sense of affinity fades, there sets in a strong temptation to adulterate behind a screen of anonymity.”11
Albeit fiat currency and its consequent – inflation – are evident as unjust weights and measures, covert usury, and theft, we see that they have also generally been spoken of in the exact same terms as crossbreeding and adultery of seeds: adulteration. This intimates the near entwinement of the eighth word with the seventh; aside from theft, fractional reserve currency is an unequal yoking of media, an alloyed and fraudulent instrument, bastardized lucre, and in this oblique sense, adultery. Not only is adulterated media an enticement away from the land, but that initial turn toward fraud necessarily inaugurates a predatory economy resulting in the matricular cannibalization of all real property, and the dispossession of houses and nations. On the individual scale, this turn of heart to ascend, by hook or by crook, is an immediate renunciation of the life communal. This dynamic creates its own feedback loop, like a grassfire producing its own winds, which in turn whip their originating flames into a many-times-hotter conflagration. So laissez-faire capitalism, Marxism, and all intermediary subcategories of economism only compel neighbors and societies to the same predation with exponential effect toward total discorporation. Decoupled from the land, men feel the greater inducement to social anonymity and familial atomization, and nations trend toward further compromise and disintegration. When land or money recede from their true natures and functions – as Yeats poetizes – “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
As Weaver notes, “Adulterated currency is a political weapon”12 renowned in history as ‘a destroyer of nations’ as it thrives on perpetual war and the incremental estrangement of peoples from their ancestral lands. Its power as a political weapon has been the principal means of economic warfare at least since the 1630s; and it has since been used to divest, overthrow, enslave, and uproot whole peoples from their homelands – just the sort of depopulations warded against in the catechism. Herein we see the intimate overlap of adulteration of currency with the moving of thy neighbor’s landmarks: these twin forces of theft act in a macabre synergy of macroeconomics to purge unworthy families, tribes, and nations from the land. Rushdoony’s words on property and landmarks are poignant here, as he reconnects the eighth commandment contra theft to the sixth contra murder:
If it is a crime to alter property landmarks to defraud a neighbor of his land, how much greater a crime to alter social landmarks, the Biblical foundations of law and society, and thereby bring about the death of that social order? If it is a crime to rob banks, then surely it is a crime to rob and murder a social order.13
Theft, no matter how petty, creates a cascading effect in the world which, if not redressed according to biblical law and penology, ultimately culminates in the overthrow of societies, and causes the land to vomit out whole lineages of men. As Rushdoony’s a fortiori argument runs, the cumulative macro-effects of normalized petty theft are murderous unto genocide.
Because the Bible is a land-based book, and our faith tied to the earth as the Lord’s (Ps. 24:1), the question is not an academic one. For modern man, land has become a commodity and an investment, not essentially a faith inheritance. Our modern outlook thus warps our perspective. For this reason, our federal government thinks nothing of allowing in as immigrants an increasing number of people who are religiously and racially hostile to us. They see no relationship between faith and land. As a result, the United States and the Western world have embarked on a suicidal course. They reject the concept of Christendom and embrace instead the humanistic “family of man,” and thus immigration policies in the U.S. and Europe are based on myths and illusions of a destructive nature. Because neither land nor inheritance is now seen from the perspective of faith, we have problems in these spheres. The modern state sees itself as the primary owner, and hence eminent domain is basic to its life, and it therefore views itself as the primary heir with death taxes. Both a tax on the land and death taxes are anti-Biblical.
A disregard for ties to the land has been one of the most destructive forces of the twentieth century. In Africa, artificial nations were created after World War II without regard for the fact that they encompassed rival warring tribes. Artificial unions such as Yugoslavia were created after World War I, bringing together differing peoples and religious groups. All such efforts have simply created chaos and conflict. The rationalistic planners of our time are Hegelians: for them, the rational is the real, and their rational ideas become a Procrustean bed on which humanity is tortured.14
As much as our identity in property and territory bespeaks our creaturely connection to the soil, it also reflects the imago Dei in man. For property and its governance are the recapitulation of God’s sovereignty and providence. The Christian man must be provident over his own jurisdictions, which are, in keeping with his finite nature, limited. This, in conjunction with the reality that the mishpachah (clan-family) is presented to us as the central social unit in Scripture, depicts a dominion mandate of blood and soil. Again, this was well recognized by the Puritans, who stipulated, “Inheritances are to descend naturally to the next of kin, according to the law of nature, delivered by God.”15
In principle, this was but a recapitulation of Levitical law, which specified that though aliens might lease a parcel of land from an Israelite clan, they could never own it; for at the year of Jubilee “each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (Lev. 25:10). All tracts of land sublet to strangers (and even to the neighboring tribes of Israel) were restored to the clans and tribes originally bestowed them by allotment. This protectionist measure secured all the Israelite lines against dispossession by strangers. As the Son of God is the Inheritor of all His Father’s dominion, the same economy is reflected in the laws governing the sons of men: inheritance is defined by heritage and heirship. Even if some should be disinherited through unfaithfulness, the condition of inheritance through kinship was not fungible, and could not upon prescription to any creed be contracted to an outside party. In the common law of England this principle was understood as encompassing even the magistrate, as even kings were not allowed to trespass against the estate of any common man. This famed Anglo-Saxon concept of ‘castle law’ came about only by the undergirding principle in biblical law where the use and jurisdictions of property could no more be adulterated or compromised than could their currency. The alternative in both cases was fraud and theft.
The concept of property – private, familial, communal, and national – removes objects and relations from all bids of contention. Property is then essential to the framework of genuine peace, laying to rest the anarchical contest which everywhere obtains in the absence of blood-and-soil dominion. The alternative to the Kinist view is what we have now – property tax, usurious mortgages, eminent domain, no-knock warrantless searches, usurpations by alien peoples, and depopulations of our folk, all facilitated by foreign banking clans who adulterate our money as a means to rob us of everything we have. The alternative to the Kinist view is that there are no areas or things over which one can truly claim dominion and moral custody under God. Aside from the Kinist understanding of these matters, there are only anarchistic or Marxian conceptions of property and value: barbarism.
THE NINTH WORD
- Paul Griffin, Seeds of Racism in the Soul of America, p. 22f. ↩
- James Hoffmeier, The Immigration Crisis, pp.32, 33 ↩
- Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 60 ↩
- James Hoffmeier, op cit., pp. 29-30 ↩
- Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, 3rd ed., pp. 346-347 ↩
- Ibid., p. 354 ↩
- John Calvin, commentary on Acts 17 ↩
- See S.C. Mooney’s Usury: Destroyer of Nations, and Michael Hoffman’s Usury in Christendom, and Calvin Elliott’s Usury: A Scriptural, Ethical, and Economic View (free PDF). ↩
- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, p. 728 ↩
- Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, p. 139 ↩
- Ibid., p. 141 ↩
- Ibid., p. 140 ↩
- R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 332 ↩
- R.J. Rushdoony, Numbers, p. 290 in the Scribd version. ↩
- John Cotton, An Abstract of the Laws of New England, IV.5 ↩