Friday, June 13, 2008

How Many Does It Take?

Adin Ballou
Non-Resistance Tract No. II
Community Press, Hopedale
How many does it take to annul the commandments of God, and render that lawful, which HE has forbidden? How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness?

One man must not kill. If he does it is murder. Two, ten, one hundred men, acting on their own responsibility, must not kill. If they do, it is still murder. But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is no murder. It is just, necessary, commendable and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent.

But how many does it take? This is the question. Just so with theft, robbery, burglary, and all other crimes. Man-stealing is a great crime in one man, or a very few men only. But a whole nation can commit it, and the act becomes not only innocent, but highly honorable. So a whole nation can rob on the largest scale, and perpetrate burglary on an entire city by martial power, without crime. They can do all these things with impunity, and call on the ministers of religion to say prayers for them.

Verily there is magic in numbers! The sovereign multitude can out-legislate the Almighty, at least in their own conceit. But how many does it take? Just enough to make a nation. It did not take many thousands to make Texas a nation. Yet Texas, especially after the battle of San Jacinto, was perfectly competent to decree any of these things, and to make slavery, murder, &c. absolutely meritorious. Whether any smaller number could nullify the divine law, we leave to our great metaphysicians to determine.

Alexander the Great demanded of a pirate, by what right he infested the seas. By the same right, retorted the pirate, that Alexander ravages the world. How far was he from the truth?


His Name Extoled said...

killing is NOT murder. if it were then God would be unjust and unrighteous for commanding people to kill, which is (if killing is absolutely murder) God commanding people to break his law, thus commanding them to sin.

Steven Kippel said...

You must have missed the question. How many people does it take to decide killing someone isn't murder?

If one man kills, it is murder. If two men comspire and kill, it is murder. But if, what, 30 decide to kill it's not murder? It's a revoution, or some sort of comando action.

His Name Extoled said...

if the 30 people have no authority to take life it is murder. if 1000 people have no authority to take life it is murder. 1 man taking life is not necessarily murder. its situational.

Steven Kippel said...

Where do the 30 people get their authority?

His Name Extoled said...

government has some authority from God. that is the only NT authority that has the right to "bear the sword" to exercise justice. there are a few other instances where i see it justifiable, though i havent studied it enough. the governments authority to take life (which can still be abused) is consistent with the OT theocracy and monarchies of Israel.

Steven Kippel said...

What is a government? How many people does it take to make a government? Can I make my own government?

Since US troops killign people is not murder because they're a government entity, is it not murder when Hamas (a democratically elected government) does it? What about Hezbollah?

His Name Extoled said...

these are complex questions i am not in any position to answer properly. i do know that all government is God ordained, and all government has the duty to protect its citizens (punish evil, reward good). i also know that all government will only answer to God ultimately to give an account for how they did their job. i also know that killing is not murder based upon observation of the old testament and God's interaction with men. God commanded the complete decimation of enemies, including women and children. this leads me to believe that even something as "uncivilized" as killing women and children does not necessitate sin, because God cannot command us to sin (though in many, if not most cases, one could quite convincingly and properly argue such actions as sin). looking at how government should be run, there are also instances where the government, or those who ruled the people (in the case of the priests under the theocracy), were justified in punishing one for crimes commited by the taking of his life. this also demonstrates that the taking of life does not necesitate murder. at this point i depart from voicing a defence of any side, as i have none, but i reject any theory that necessitates the taking of life with murder, for the scriptures, from God's own commands, dictate otherwise. likewise i also reject the idea offered by some that whatever a "godly" government does in the taking of life is justified because they bear the sword. the sword (or the punishment, justice, rule, authority, or any other understanding) can be abused as easily, if not easier, than it can be used properly.