Because we are Children of God, consent is our holy decree which we, by free choice, relinquish some or enumerate authority from ourselves to others. But we, as Children of God, always hold the power to reassume that authority when those given that authority, by our consent, violate their enumerated authority. “Consent becomes the instrument for establishing authority in the community and for expressing the sovereignty of God,” notes constitutional historian Donald Lutz. “God transmits his sovereignty to the people through the broader covenant,” continues Lutz, “and they in turn convey his sovereignty to the rulers on the basis of the specific covenant creating the civil community.” Therefore, “The rulers are beholden to God through the people and thus are immediately responsible to them.”
The most impactful manifestation of this consent in America would be in the arena of property rights – as property rights, in terms of civil authority, directly impact taxation, finance, business decisions, investment, banking, currency, and so many other financial attributes of individuals and companies. Therefore, consent of governance is also consent of the level of authority over our property and finances. This is a big deal for our abundance and liberty.
The scholar and historian Daniel Dreisbach concurs with Dr. Lutz stating that “Civil magistrates, therefore, rule with the consent of the governed and are accountable to the people.” Dreisbach continues, “Their power is derived, first, from God and, second, from the people. In other words, God has delegated to the people the right to determine who will exercise the public trust for the common good and to fix the boundaries of the civil magistrate’s authority. Rulers […] are accountable to both God and the people who are the sources of their political authority.” Again, illustrating that the people act in God’s stead, although under His authority as well, as servants and as the served. In either capacity, citizens must act under God; that is, under God’s Law, as per the Torah specifically and scripture generally.
Since God created man in the image of God and also gave man dominion over His creation, each individual was the image of God on earth, which gave man self-authority. Moses would convey this notion to the Israelites and it would have “revolutionary implications,” as it put each individual on par with any earthly king. “Each person is a priest and has access to God in much the same way as pagan priests or kings.”
“Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image.” God prohibited the Israelites, and all His children, the worship any artificial images because He had already created man in His image and given His children dominion of earth; thus creating a representation of Himself in man – all man. This understanding would also manifest itself in Colonial America (and the West in general) as the idea and belief that entrepreneurs were behaving and practicing in the image of God by being tektons 6 – creating products and services from the natural resources God created to service their fellow man.
This revolution Moses brought to the Children of Israel carried forward to Colonial America and our ability to serve as proxies to God in our government. All men are created equal so any citizen of the Shining City has the opportunity to serve in civil government. This practice carried forward through millennia from Moses and the Hebrews 3500 years ago to Colonial America and then into the United States. “By making each person equal to the king, God is declaring that no man has the right to rule over another just as no king has the right to rule over other kings.” In his perceptive book, The Gift of the Jews, author Thomas Cahill divulges, “Democracy […] grows directly out of the Israelite vision of individuals, subjects of value because they are images of God, each with a unique and personal destiny. There is no way that it could ever have been ‘self-evident that all men are created equal’ without the intervention of the Jews.”
God enlightened Moses and the Israelites to a level of understanding the world had never seen; hence God’s chosen people, who “rejoiced at the direct revelation of God’s will to Moses on Sinai.” Moses revealed in Deuteronomy:
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so
that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.
Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to
the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great
nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to
have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we
pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous
decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Just as Moses explained the essence of who the Children of Israel are to be, so it was to be at the inception of America – both colonial America and America in Union. This consent is absolutely critical to our liberty, and, as a direct result, critical to our ability for making business and financial decisions.
Jim Huntzinger is the President and Founder of Lean Frontiers, Inc., which develops knowledge and learning communities on the Lean Enterprise for business and industry. With a background and experience in manufacturing and operations, he has also extensively researched the history and development of American manufacturing and also published several books on the lean business model, manufacturing history, and economics.