From Jim O'Brien
October 07, 2016

Hi Friend,

The Rule of Recognition

Buried deep among the news stories today, behind the deaths of well-known stars, was the report of what is becoming a mass exodus of young people from traditional churches. Those who study such things are asking "Why?"

Britt Beemer, former research analyst with the Heritage Foundation, headed a study which included over 20,000 phone interviews with young people who grew up in evangelical churches but left. The surprising conclusion is that they decide to leave in elementary and high school, long before reaching college. The "feel-good Gospel" has failed to hold them in the church because it is heavy on relationships but undermines the authority of the Bible.

I confess that I agree, even while understanding that relationship is at the core of law. The fault lies at the feet of intellectuals within the church who, at least in part, are responsible for undermining the validity of the Bible.

In his book The Year of Living Biblically, author A.J. Jacobs wrote "The Bible isn't just another book. It's the book of books, as one of my commentaries calls it. I love my encyclopedia, but the encyclopedia hasn't spawned thousands of communities based on its words. It hasn't shaped the actions, values, death, love, lives, welfare and fashion sense of millions of people over three millennia. No one has been executed for translating the encyclopedia into another language, as was William Tyndale when he published the first widely distributed English-language edition of the Bible. No president has been sworn in with the encyclopedia."

He makes an excellent point. Any scholar worth his salt should recognize the clear evidence of history, that the singular most important book ever written is the Bible.

One scholar, Daniel Robinson, wrote, "The oldest tradition in philosophy of law is theological." In other words, the law begins with God. Without him there is no basis for law. The first commandment is considered by several scholars to be more than a command because it provides the platform for all commands to exist. When God said, "I am Jehovah your God, who has brought you out from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2) He established the foundation for everything He says to Israel. All law rests upon His authority and extends from His character.

The alternative to this, from which all tyrannies evolve, is a philosophical concept called the Command Theory of Law that ties law into little more than the power of enforcement. By this theory the gun-toting robber who commands a victim to hand over his wallet then qualifies as a lawgiver.

The balancing factor is called the Rule of Recognition, which says a law, to be valid, must pass all the tests of the rule of recognition. For example, is it okay for Wal-Mart to distribute drivers' licenses? Well, it would not be immoral and they may even have a better process than the Department of Motor Vehicles but Wal-Mart isn't the recognized authority. We all agree to recognize a common authority for that purpose.

Americans recognize the right of the federal, state and local governments to collect taxes. If a local department store decided to levy a tax on the local community no thinking person would comply.

The meaning of Professor Robinson's statement is that a law, to be valid, must ultimately be connected to God. As a nation we collectively recognize God as the source of justice. Our President is sworn in on the Bible not the Koran. For several hundred years America has recognized the God of the Bible as God. We fought the Revolutionary War for a simple concept: Our rights come from God. To equivocate on this matter is to jeopardize the entire system of justice by which we operate.

You may have seen a recent email chain that is making the rounds. It quotes all fifty state constitutions in this country which, as a preamble to giving law, express gratitude and dependence on God who is the lawgiver.

When people grow up in Christian churches without learning that God is the lawgiver, they are left without a rudder to understand how they should be governed. They may even vote for the devil-because they just don't recognize the God of Laws.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien