Where does the authority of civil government come from?

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What is the source of authority for civil government, and what are its duties?

For those of us who believe the Bible is the Word of God and the Source of Truth, it is significant that it says all legitimate authority is from God. (Romans 13:1, Matt. 28:18) This is logical. For God to be God, He must be Sovereign, having no authority over Himself. Any claim of authority as autonomous from God necessarily denies the Sovereignty of God.

Romans 13 also expresses the duty of civil government to punish evil and to protect those who do right. It is logical to conclude that the primary responsibility of civil rulers is to secure to each individual their “unalienable” right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness while punishing those who violate those rights.

Certainly theft is an act of evil, it being a violation of a specific commandment and the right of property. But can the law itself become an instrument of theft? Can the law be guilty of “legal plunder?”

In his classic book called “The Law,” Frederic Bastiat explains the difference between “illegal plunder” (one person stealing from another person) and “legal plunder” (using the law to take what belongs to one person and giving it to another). He says: “Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole — with their common aim of legal plunder — constitute socialism.”

It was later in life and by my own research that I learned the proper role of government. I came to realize I had been deceived. After thinking about this I had to ask myself a question: “If I participate in socialistic programs by which the government is using legal plunder, am I guilty of theft?” A brutally honest question for me. Perhaps it is time for all of us to consider such harsh truths.

— Scott Kerr, Moise

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