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A Study of Dispensationalism
by Arthur Pink

"But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation."


Justice Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments, and the Federal Judiciary

Kevin L. Clauson

The case of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and the so-called Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building has touched off a firestorm of church-state controversy, even among evangelical and Reformed Christians. Given that the Decalogue has historically been a significant influence on American jurisprudence and given that the Ten Commandments are a summary of the Moral Law of God (at least as Christians see it), the issue in this case is really something different. The proponents of strict church-state separationism (by which they often mean separation or suppression of Christian words, practices, or symbols in the public arena) of course oppose the display of any meaningful Christian symbolism on "Separation" grounds (using a specious constitutional argument of "Separation of Church and State", instead of the straightforward phrase in the Constitution regarding "No Establishment of Religion".

However, all the opponents of Justice Moore (including some Christians) claim that his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove the monument is a violation of the Rule of Law principle. So the real (and most important issue) seems to be whether the "Rule of Law" has been violated. To answer this, more basic questions must be posed. Is a federal court order equivalent to the Rule of Law (automatically, in all cases)? Or to ask it another way, is it always wrong to disobey a federal court order? The ancient concept which we today call the Rule of Law presupposes some kind of authoritative objective law standing behind a court decree, from which the court order is derived. If the order is not based on this "higher law" (whether a Constitution or some unwritten law) then the Rule of Law does not exist for the issuing judge any more than it would for a legislative or executive body that decreed something which was arbitrary. In other words if a court order has no law upon which it is based (or has faulty law) then what we have is not the Rule of Law but rather the rule of a judge, or as has been said in recent decades judicial tyranny. At least some opponents of Justice Moore's actions claim to have great respect for the Rule of Law and claim Moore has subverted it. There are two points to be made here, one general and the other specific to the Moore situation.

First, generally, these Moore opponents could not (I hope) be arguing that any order or decree by a federal judge (or any federal authority) must be obeyed in all cases (or else the Rule of Law is subverted). That would be to overthrow centuries of Bible-based, Reformation-refined and applied Resistance-to-Tyranny theory, and also reduce the Rule of Law to absurdity. (Such theory was indeed applied in the case of the English "Civil War" and the American "Revolution".) Surely such a well-developed theory (even some of the secularized versions) is even stronger in this case because the resistance comes from a legitimate civil authority (the Chief Justice of the sovereign State of Alabama). Would these opponents agree that if a federal judge ordered all green-eyed people to be shot then that order must be obeyed or the Rule of Law falls? (Of course I have used an "extreme" example. The principle however is indisputable. I think these opponents would say that obviously the order can be disobeyed. But why?) If it must be obeyed then the Rule of Law means nothing and there can never be resistance to tyranny, not even by the "lesser magistrates". Judicial tyranny is no different. I doubt the christian opponents want this, and I am not so sure the "secular" opponents do either (given such events as the civil rights movement and anti-war movements and demonstrations).

Second and more specific to the Moore case, we must know exactly what the legal principle is upon which the federal judge ruled. Does it conform to the U.S. Constitution (as it must) or is it a judicial invention? Moore's opponents act as if there is no issue here: of course the order was constitutional. But Moore claims (among other things) that the order is not based on the U.S. Constitution, but rather on unconstitutional church-state jurisprudence tradition. Moore and others claim that the No-Establishment clause of the First Amendment has been interpreted in a grossly faulty (unconstitutional) way by the federal judiciary over the past 50 years, that generally it is up to the States to decide such issues (and thus the federal court order is an infringement on constitutional--both U.S. and Alabama--powers of the States. Perhaps the issue is debatable. However the federal judiciary, the Alabama Supreme Court (minus Moore), the Alabama Attorney General (who wants to be a federal judge himself), and the Alabama "ethics panel" all acted as if it was evil to even raise the issue. The problem here is that there are really two Constitutions being debated. The one is the written U.S. Constitution. The other is the jumble and myriad of judicial opinions about the U.S. Constitution (call it Judicial Tradition).

Moore says he is upholding the written Constitution. The federal judge (and others) says he is upholding the judicial opinions about the Constitution (although it is rare for a federal judge to actually put it in those stark terms--nonetheless the judge is applying his interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court's previous interpretations of the First Amendment.) Is it not fair to at least give the benefit of the doubt to a genuine disagreement over which Constitution is correct? There must be a clear understanding of the Rule of Law in order to properly resolve the issue. The Rule of Law does not mean that every time a civil officer orders something the ordering itself is axiomatic proof of the correctness of the order. (If it does then why have a Constitution or similar fundamental law at all?) The Rule of Law means that all civil authorities (even federal judges) must conform to the higher legal standard (e.g., the Constitution).

Obviously the underlying problem (or at least one of them) in this case is much more complex and serious than the immediate incident. One such underlying issue is the Rule of Law versus the Rule of Judges. Another is the issue of the correct "constitution" and therefore the correct interpretation of the applicable standard. (On this Moore claims a pre-1950 interpretation leaving most Religion issues to the States and defining No Establishment very narrowly in accordance with the plain meaning of the words in their historical and grammatical context is correct, and this author agrees.) Justice Roy Moore has brought to the surface the more basic issue still, who makes law and how do we challenge unlawful "laws"? Far from usurping the Rule of Law, Justice Moore, as a "lesser magistrate" (Calvin, et al.) has actually attempted to uphold the Rule of Law by challenging the apparently unconstitutional (unlawful) order arising from modern "judicial tyranny".


  Dr. Kevin Clauson was born and lived in Huntington, WV. He graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs and a B.S. in Chemistry in 1978, and earned a M.A. in Political Science in 1982 from Marshall University. Also in 1982, he married his wife Marcia and graduated from West Virginia University with a J.D. (Law). From 1982-1985, Dr. Clauson was Assistant Professor of Political Science at Grove City College (PA). Currently, he can be seen at Christ College, where he is the President and Professor of Political Economy and Law (since 1996) as well as at Liberty University where, since 1985, he is the Chair of the Government Department and Professor of Government. He has four children, ages 19, 17, 12, and 10, and is a Ruling Elder at Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg.

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