CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Jan. 16, 2022 – Officials in my local county are almost all professing Christians.
But they do not have faith that God’s Word imposes liability, duty, obligation and constraints in their service as mayors, commissioners, council members, chiefs of police or sheriffs. They appear not to believe they have authority to resist evil laws, claims, edicts and commands from superior – albeit remote – authorities.
It is high time to remove and replace officeholders who refuse to declare themselves earnest enemies of abominations and state-based violence begun here in Tennessee and worldwide in March 2020. These evils include “stay at home orders,” lockdown edicts, mass inoculation programs with for-profit untested shots created by criminal enterprises such as Pfizer and Moderna; the use of police powers and threats to shut businesses, seal off highways, shutter courthouses and city halls, propagandize for the drug industry while the public health authority suppresses cheap alternative remedies, and the use of the courts to deny proper relief to petitioners such as me, seeking to vindicate our constitutional rights in State ex rel David Jonathan Tulis v. Bill Lee, governor, et al.
In Hamilton County, three people are vying for mayor – Sabrena Smedley, Weston Wamp and Matt Hullander. None in public interviews give notice to the overthrow of law and government by Mayor Jim Coppinger nor, beyond him, Gov. Lee. Rather than being drawn into defense of constitution and liberty by the wrongs done, they shrink from the wrong and give no breath upon the remedy.
The doctrine of the lesser magistrate is a biblical doctrine developed most recently in the 2013 book, The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates by Matthew Trewhella.
Pastor Trewhella tells how the doctrine of the lesser magistrate thwarted evil designs of Caligula against the Israelites, as recorded in Josephus’ History and how the doctrine is a righteous tool by God’s people to halt evil from national and state capitals at the county level. “The Authority of a County,” Jan. 10, 2022. https://rumble.com/vs9wb2-the-authority-of-a-county.html
Bible sources for local resistance
The biblical authority for local resistance to tyranny seeks God’s glory in a free society, one best enabling the growth of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus in his ministry makes his primary focus “the kingdom of God.”
For a holder of office, or seeker, to pay no mind to this biblical concept is negligence at the least and rebellion against justice at worst.
➤ Jeremiah and Paul defy claims against their persecutors and show the lesser magistrate concept in action. These are the two prime examples of resistance described in John Knox’s letter to the nobles of 1558.
➤ Jeremiah makes claim under this doctrine for protection by civil magistrates against priestly and ecclessiastical authorities who had sentenced him to death. “But the priests and prophets continued in their cruel sentence, which before they had pronounced, saying, ‘This man is worthy of death; for he hath prophesied against this city, as your ears have heard’ (Jer. 26:11).” Jeremiah appeals to the princes for relief. “Then the princes and the people (says the text) said, “This man is not worthy of death, for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God” (Jer. 26:16-19). And so after some contention the prophet was delivered from that danger.” (Knox, “Appellation *** Addressed to the Nobility and Estates of Scotland,”)
This fact and history manifestly proves whatsoever before I have affirmed: to wit, that it is lawful for the servants of God to call for the help of the civil magistrate against the sentence of death, if it is unjust, by whomsoever it is pronounced; and also that the civil sword has power to repress the fury of the priests, and to absolve whom they have condemned.
➤ “I stand in your presence, whom God has made princes; your power is above their tyranny,” Knox says. The Word puts magistrates above other men, but under God to serve him, as they are subject mortals.
For seeing that God only has placed you in his chair, has appointed you to be his lieutenants, and by his own seal has marked you to be magistrates, and to rule above your brethren, to whom nature, nevertheless, has made you like in all points (for in conception, birth, life, and death, you differ nothing from the common sort of men, but God only, as is said, has promoted you, and of his special favour has given unto you this prerogative to be called “gods” [Ps. 82:2, 6]): how horrible ingratitude were it then, that you should be found unfaithful to him that thus has honoured you?
Our officials are “ordained for the wealth [well-being], profit, and salvation of their subjects, and not for their destruction.” A high calling before God, under their oaths.
➤ Right to remedy from mid-level authority. Jeremiah has clean hands, and John Knox claims clean hands in arguing he deserves rescue by the Scottish nobles.
If I were a thief, murderer, blasphemer, open adulterer, or any offender, whom God’s word commands to suffer for a crime committed, my appellation were vain, and to be rejected. But I being innocent yea, the doctrine which your bishops have condemned in me being God’s eternal verity have no less liberty to crave your defence against that cruelty, than had the prophet Jeremiah to seek the aid of the princes and the king of Judah.
➤ Intervenor and deleting house of Ahab. Jehu, one of the military leaders of king Joram,
took up arms against his own king in order to bring about punishment for him and for the whole house of Ahab, because of the persecution of the true worship and the pious people that they had committed (2 Kings 9). And though he did this by a special calling of God, and also did certain unique things, nonetheless God wanted to illustrate by this example the general calling of pious magistrates, by which they ought to resist their superiors who persecute the true worship and the true Church. – Magdeburg Confession
➤ Power of legal status. Paul interposes his liberty of Roman citizenship against the cruelty of the religious establishment in Jerusalem. His legal status gives him special standing with which to plead – for his own protection.
I stand at the justice seat of the emperor, where it behooveth me to be judged. I have done no injury to the Jews, as thou better knowest. If I have done anything unjustly, or yet committed crime worthy of death, I refuse not to die. But if there be nothing of these things true whereof they accuse me, no man may give me to them: I appeal to Caesar. Acts 25:9-11
His petition as against the lesser magistrate is to the greater for abatement of wrong.
➤ Protecting right worship. The biblical record tells of kings who insisted on proper worship of God among the children of Israel and used their civil authority to intervene and protect. Josiah restores religion and destroys the idols of the wicked. 2 Chron. 34. Hezekiah removes all abominations, reopens the temple and commands the priests to do their duty in worship.
➤ Civil chief condemns top pastor. Moses calls Aaron the high priest to account for the creation of the golden calf as idol, and condemns the act as a sin. He destroys the idol. “What hath this people done to thee, that thou shouldest bring upon it so great a sin?’” he demands. Ex. 32:20-21
➤ Daniel prays in an open window. Daniel will neither bow nor stoop before the golden image at the commandment of King Nebuchadnezzar. As an Israelite high in the administration of a pagan king, Daniel openly prays in defiance of a royal religious edict, his windows being open, against the established law of Darius and of his council. He interposes between an evil edict and the children of Israel, whom he represents.
➤ “Not a hair from his head.” The people en masse save Jonathan from Saul’s superstitious ban on eating anything until the battle was won, an oath Saul enforces with threat of death. 1 Samuel 14. “For they said, ‘As the Lord lives, not a hair from his head shall fall to the ground, since he worked with God today.’”
➤ Won’t lift swords. Saul’s retainers refuse to kill the priests of Nob as the jealous monarch sees perfidy in the priests’ giving David bread and Goliath’s sword. “But the servants of the Lord would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord.” Saul gets Doeg the Edomite to slay 85 “men who wore a linen ephod.” 1 Sam. 22:17
➤ Ignoring a mass death warrant. The Israelite midwives Shiphrah and Puah are bosses in the Israelite birthing assistance guild, having a representative capacity sufficiently recognized for Pharaoh to summon them to his throne room, Exodus 1:15, and order them to watch Israelite mothers squatting on birthing stools. “If it is a son, then you shall kill him,” the king declares. These lesser magistrates refuse to obey. They lie to the Pharaoh when he calls them to account. “Therefore, God dealt well with the midwives.”
➤ Guards dethrone usurper queen. Athaliah is a wicked woman who makes herself queen of the children of Israel. Jehoiada, a churchman of the time, works in conjunction with the captains of the guards – effectively lesser magistrates – to depose her and install Joash, 7, the last surviving son of the late king whose sons Athaliah had slaughtered. After six years of hell under Athaliah, the kingdom rejoices at her overthrow. 2 Kings 11.
➤ 3 levels of magistrates in contest. Ebed-Melech is an official of King Zedekiah, an Ethiopian. He angrily lets his nobles – mid-level magistrates if you will – thrust Jeremiah into a dungeon because the prophet says God wants Israel to surrender to the Babylonians. Ebed-Melech demands the king order Jeremiah be pulled from the prison room, lest he die of hunger amid the siege. The king intervenes; using old clothes and rags, men place them under Jeremiah’s arms and by rope haul him up from the dungeon. In sum: A lesser magistrate bypasses the evil middle magistrates to win relief from the top magistrate, the king. Jeremiah 38:7-13.
➤ The Bible contains examples of defiance that are outside the lesser magistrate framework, but still helpful in giving backbone to resistance to despots. ➤ Moses’ parents ignore the commands of the king of Egypt and save their son’s life. Heb. 11:12. ➤ Jericho’s Rahab, the prostitute who hides the spies, sends the king’s agents on a wild chase as she hides the spiders under the flax on her roof until the way is clear for them to flee. Joshua 2:1-22. ➤ Paul flees arrest in Damascus by slipping out a window and down a wall “and escapes from his [Aretas the king’s] hands.” 2 Cor. 11:32, 33. In Tennessee law, flight is a crime. ➤ The apostles refuse to stop preaching in the name of the Lord Jesus, as “we ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
Duty to interpose
Knox says those in authority have a duty to interpose against wicked mighty ones – kings, magistrates, lords, popes, bishops.
Now if your king is a man ignorant of God, enemy to his true religion, blinded by superstition, and a persecutor of Christ’s members: shall you be excused, if with silence you pass over his iniquity? Be not deceived, my lords. You are placed in authority for another purpose than to flatter your king in his folly and blind rage: to wit, that as with your bodies, strength, riches, and wisdom, you are bound to assist and defend him in all things which by your advice he shall take in hand,
It is betrayal to a king to not demand he act godly amid temptation rather than to harm the people in wickedness without rebuke and resistance.
You are bound to correct and repress whatsoever you know him to attempt expressly repugning to God’s word, honour, glory, or what you shall espy him to do (be it by ignorance, or be it by malice) against his subjects great or small. Of which last part of your obedience, if you defraud your king, you commit treason against him no less than if you did extract [remove] from him your due and promised support, what time he were unjustly pursued by his enemies.
The duty of these candidates is to uphold local economy and free markets by means of support for the Tennessee constitution and the honorable and good laws enacted by the general assembly, starting with the law the abrogration of which I am suing Gov. Lee.
These candidates, if they are genuine Christians, should pause and consider the times in which the county finds itself, with widespread disregard of the rule of law and the effective privatization and cartelization of public institutions.
I believe Weston Wamp, of the three, is closest in his gifts to articulating strong local government, tough-hearted lococentric polity, earnest resistance on our behalf against lawless cartel totalitarianism from Nashville, Washington and other power centers.
He appears more a man of ideas; his rivals well-liked consensus-oriented local personalities.
He and the others, I suggest, consider God’s support for the lesser magistrate concept. I urge they start getting real in their speechmaking and vote solicitations, telling the truth instead of repeating CV-19 propaganda.
More on Wamp
John Knox, “The Appellation from the Sentence Pronounced by the Bishops and Clergy: Addressed to the Nobility and Estates of Scotland,” 1558. http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/appellat.htm
The Magdeburg Confession, 1550. Arranged by Matt Trewhella to be translated from Latin into English by Dr. Matthew Colvin. https://gereformeerd.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Magdeburg-Confession-1550.pdf
Matthew Trewhella, The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates; a Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government, 2013, 115pp. Under F$15 to order from Amazon.
Time to fight