The fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo (from here (

I have been having a discussion with a commenter on my blog, Citizen Tom. About what? Do we have God-given rights, or does government define and give us our rights? Somehow that discussion grew out of this post, OPTIMIZING THE TRADE OFFS.

Trying to get to the root of the problem, I asked that commenter, tsalmon, a question.

Citizen Tom


You are a Christian, but you don’t know understand Christian theology. We live on a fallen world. What do you think that means?

replied somewhat flippantly, but he made a suggestion.

What doctrine or dogma is it that you think that you have to teach me Reverend Tom? The many levels of meaning in the Eden story? What the mystery of the incarnation really means? Or perhaps one of various theological theories on why Jesus sacrificed Himself?

I’m all ears (or in this case eyes), but you may wish to start this in another post as this one is getting unwieldy. I’m sure it will be enlightening. (from here)

Therefore, here we are. What follows is my reply to .

We are all equal at the foot of the cross. We are all children of the Most High God. Therefore, to proclaim one’s superiority over another is silly, and I am not trying to do that. To observe the ignorance of another about something important, however, is not silly. When we see a brother walking blindly towards a cliff, we have an obligation to say something.

Imagine for a moment that the Bible is true, that what the Bible says about itself is true. The Bible is the Word of God. Then to know what God has said, we need to read the Bible, not what people say about the Bible. We need to read the Bible and study it carefully.

You say you have studied theology, but have you sat down and read the Bible? Have you carefully and prayerfully tried to discern what it is that God wants us to know?

What doctrine or dogma is it that you think that you have to teach me Reverend Tom? The many levels of meaning in the Eden story? What the mystery of the incarnation really means? Or perhaps one of various theological theories on why Jesus sacrificed Himself? (from here)

All I can do is point you to the Bible. I have nothing to teach you.

We live on a fallen world. What do you think that means? Why is it relevant to this discussion? What about Genesis 3?

How are we to read Genesis 3? As what literally happened? Maybe not, but I don’t have a better idea. Was Carl Sagan able to give us a first hand account of Creation? No? Then maybe we ought to consider the account God gave Moses the way we think Moses and the Hebrews of his day would have understood it. Consider what some references suggest about the fall of man.

The expression “fallen” world is not especially difficult to understand. As a practical matter, it means we don’t have what it takes to obey God the way we should. We struggle pitifully against our sinful nature.

Check out Romans 7:14-25. Once we are familiar with the Bible, we begin to realize the Bible does a good job of interpreting itself. Thus, in this passage the Apostle Paul describes his frustration with his — with our — fallen nature.

So how does our fallen nature relate to our discussion? You say government creates our rights? I say that is not true. God gave us our rights, but we are fallen creatures. We refuse — we are unable — to obey God and recognize each others rights appropriately. Therefore, because He is merciful, He gave us government.

This passage describes the purpose of government.

Romans 13:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 Every [a]person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except [b]from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore [c]whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for [d]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Because it can restrain our worst excesses, even a bad government is better than none at all. That is why Peter and Paul told early Christian to obey the Roman Emperor (except when the dictates of Rome required disobedience to the commands of God).

Anyway, this is not one of those chicken and egg questions. This has been one of those who created chickens and eggs questions. Until we admit the role of God — until we admit our need for salvation — both the extent and the origin of our rights is irresolvable.

Therefore, we have a problem. How do we get someone to admit God created both the chicken and the egg, that He created us and we desperately need His mercy and grace? Frankly, none of us know, but God does, and that is why we pray to Him.


  1. You’ll not be surprised that I’ve had that discussion many times, especially with Europeans. I really do believe those rights come from God, but even if I didn’t, I really believe that what the government gives, the government will take away.

    For confirmation all one needs do is look to Britain, whose 1689 Bill of Rights is very similar to our own American one, but because it was part of the settlement between Parliament and William and Mary is now all but a dead letter, sacrificed to the belief that “the government knows best”. So very sad, to see those who fought centuries for those very rights to lose them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @NEO

      Did not know about that 1689 Bill of Rights.

      Our rights ultimately come from our commitment to obey God. We derive our commitment to obey God comes from the faith He gives us. We manifest that faith by living it out and setting an example for the next generation. Not much manifesting going on these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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