Sometimes the name of a book is just waaaaay cool, and King Alfred’s Book of Dooms takes the prize.
But that (while showing that I am not totally immune to the coolness factor 😉 ) is besides the main point.
The main issue is that for several weeks now, we have been dealing with radical secularism and its agenda for law, the state and justice. Especially, in light of the triple challenge of state power, lawfulness and sound leadership:
What is justice, what is its foundation, and — where Alfred the Great and his Book of Dooms come in — how was this emplaced at the historical root of the Common Law tradition that the law and state framework of the English-speaking Peoples is built upon.
I think a good way to look at this is to headline an overnight comment [ed, let’s snip names as superfluous to main purpose, apologies extended]:
>>The pivotal issue is justice vs power and does might make right.
Let’s go back to Runnymede, S Bank of the Thames, June 15, 1215.
The rebel barons are there, king John is there, full civil war is in the air, and Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has composed the charter.
[Yes, X the Chief of the Lords Spiritual, to give the name currently used in parallel with the Lords Temporal (i.e. of the House of Lords) . . . and one of the terms was a council of 25 Barons to oversee the Charter, which was the ancestor to parliaments and congresses.]
When boiled down, the heart of the charter that makes it relevant 800 years later, is this . . . and the numbers come from Blackstone:
+ (39) No free man
[–> recognition of freedom, the further question is, who shall be free]
shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions
[–> recognition of rights including property],
or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him
[–> policing power & the sword of state subordinated to justice],
or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals
[ –> peers, i.e. trial by jury of peers]
or by the law of the land
[–> rule of law, not decree of tyrant or oligarch].
+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
[–> integrity, lawfulness and legitimacy of government rooted in the priority of right and justice]
And yes, X, these come from the pen of the Archbishop of Canterbury. They hark back to the Christian king, Alfred the Great and the Book of Dooms, which — as was cited in 57 above but ignored — literally starts the British Common Law tradition by citing the decalogue and other framework law from the Pentateuch.
I wonder why we never hear that when we hear of some atheistical secularist zealots screaming theocracy and trying to rip those lessons out of any place where they may tell the other side of the story on how we got to modern liberty and democracy?
Let me remind X of the wisdom of Bernard Lewis, as he counselled us on the brink of the rising war of civilisations, in his epochal 1990 essay, The Roots of Muslim Rage:
. . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .
In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.
Yes, a more balanced view of Christendom and its heritage is both possible and advisable, even as we foolishly stand on the crumbling brink of an abyss.
Surely, those wonderful multibillion dollar media empires have research staffs and can investigate the history I have highlighted?
Look, it is as close as Google and even Wikipedia, much less the British Library and the like.
Or is it that they willfully suppress the truth that not only directly through the Bible but literally in the opening words of Alfred the Great’s Book of Dooms, the decalogue is the foundation of the common law tradition on which the freedom and just government of the English Speaking Peoples — I here allude to Churchill — rests?
Including, for the United States of America?
Yes, those very same ten commandments that [radical secularists] would rip out of any place of honour or respect near any Court.
Lest we overlook, let me cite from Alfred’s Book of Dooms:
The Lord was speaking these words to Moyse [= Moses], and thus quoth;
I am the Lord thine God. I led thee out of the Egyptians’ lands, and of their
bondage [–> slavery].
1. Love thou not other strange gods ever me.
2. Call not thou mine name in idleness, for that thou art not guiltless with me, if thou in idleness callest mine name.
3. Mind that thou hallow the rest-day. Work you six days, and on the seventh rest you. For that in six days Christ wrought heavens and earth, seas, and all shapen things that in them are, and rested him on the seventh day: and for that the Lord hallowed it.
4. Honour thine father and thine mother that the Lord gave thee : that thou be the longer living on earth.
5. Slay thou not.
6?. Commit thou not adultery.
7. Steal thou not .
8. Say thou not leasing witness.
9. Wish not thou thy neighbour’s goods with untight.
10. Work thou not to thyself golden gods or silvern. [–> scan not guaranteed 100%]
11. These are the dooms that thou shalt set them . . . .
49. These are dooms that the Almighty God himself was speaking to Moses, and bade him to hold, and, since the Lord’s onebegotten son, our God, that is, healing Christ, on middle earth came [–> “In the year of our Lord . . .” and now you know where “middle earth” comes from], he quoth that he came not these biddings to break nor to forbid, but with all good to eke them, and mild-heartedness and lowly-mindedness to learn [ –> teach, Alfred here alludes to and enfolds in the foundations, the Sermon on the Mount of Matt 5 – 7]. Then after his throes [sufferings], ere that his apostles were gone through all the earth to learn [teach], and then yet that they were together, many heathen nations they turned to God. While they all together were, they send erranddoers to Antioch and to Syria, Christ’s law to learn [teach]. When they understood that it speeded them not, then sent they an errand-writing to them. This is then that errand-writing that the apostles sent to Antioch, and to Syria, and to Cilicia, that are now from heathen nations turned to Christ.
The apostles and the elder brethren wish you health. And we make known to you, that we have heard that some of our fellows with our words to you have come, and bade you a heavier wise [way or law] to hold, than we bade them, and have too much misled you with manifold biddings, and your souls more perverted than they have righted. Then we assembled us about that, and to us all it seemed good, that we should send Paul and Barnabas, men that will their souls sell [give] for the Lord’s name. With them we sent Judas and Silas, that they to you the ilk [same] may say. To the Holy Ghost it was thought and to us, that we none burden on you should not set, over that to you was needful to hold, that is then, that ye forbear that ye devil-gilds [idols] worship, and taste blood and things strangled, and from fornication, and that ye will that other men do not to you, do ye not that to other men. [–> Yes, the Golden Rule of Moshe, of Yeshva and of Paulo, Apostolo Mart, is right there too.]
From this one doom a man may think that he should doom [judge] every one rightly: he need keep no other doom-book. Let him thmk [take care] that he doom to no man that he would not that he doom to him, if he sought doom over him. [–> This is essentially the point that Locke cited from “the judicious [Anglican Canon, Richard] Hooker [in his Ecclesiastical Polity 1594+]” when in his 2nd treatise on civil gov’t, he grounded the rights – lawfulness principle at the heart of modern liberty and democracy, cf. OP and here]
Since that, it happened that many nations took to Christ’s faith; there were many synods through all the middle earth gathered, and eke throughout the English race, they took to Christ’s faith, of holy bishops’, and eke of other exalted witan [wise men]. They then set forth, for their mild-heartedness, that Christ learned [taught], at almost every misdeed, that the worldly lords might, with their leave, without sin, at the first guilt, take their fee-boot that they then appointed; except in treason against a lord, to which they durst not declare no mild-hearted ness, for that the God Almighty doomed none to them that slighted him, nor Christ God’s son doomed none to him that sold him to death, and he bade to love a lord as himself. They then in many synods set a boot for many misdeeds of men ; and in many synod books they wrote, here, one doom, there, another.
I then, Alfred king, gathered these together, and bade to write many of those that our foregoers held,—those that to me seemed good: and many of those that seemed not good, I set aside with mine witan’s counsel, and in other wise bade to hold them: for that I durst not venture much of mine own to set in writing, for that it was unknown to me what of this would be liking to those that were after us. But those that I met with either in Ine’s days mine kinsman, or in Offa’s, king of Mercia, or in Ethelbryte’s that first took baptism in the English race,—they that seemed to me the lightest, I gathered them herein and let alone the others.
I then, Alfred, king of the West Saxons, shewed these to all mine witan, and they then said that that all seemed good to them to hold . . .
That, is where it begins, this is the actual foundation on which Common Law, modern liberty and Democracy were built.
Moyse, Yeshva, James and the gathered Apostles and Elders in the Jerusalem Council of Ac 15, AD 48/9, the teachings of Missionary Bishops and Witan made mild-hearted by the power of the gospel.
And yet, this is not in our history books, it is not in the mouths and hearts of our talking head pundits, it is not in our media, I daresay it is likely not in our Law-Schools (I hope, it is in some few).
Let us show respect for those who laid the foundations that many would now so ignorantly undermine and toss on the rubbish heap in rage against “religion,” fed by one sided litanies against the sins of Christendom and smug confidence in the superiority of radical secularism . . . all, duly dressed up in a lab coat? (For in the madness of scientism, so many have been deluded to imagine, that “science is the only begetter of truth”; a claim that refutes itself for it is a philosophical claim and cannot stand its own test. But, we must not look behind the curtains to see who is pulling the strings . . . )
Have the decency to listen to the wisdom of the past and to respect lessons bought hard, with blood and tears!
And the ghosts of — what, coming on 200 million victims of radical secularist and neopagan-influenced tyrannies of the century just past — join in the chorus warning you against a stubbornly mad march of folly.
Anyway, back to justice.
What is it, why is it so important, where does it come from, why should we pay it any heed?
Justice lawfully and duly balances rights, freedoms and responsibilities in the community, the blessed nation with limited and legitimate government, under God.
The root and foundation and chief champion of Justice.
Yes, the one who so many despise today, who inspired Micah:
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee,
what is good;
and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly,
and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God? [KJV]
But, we run ahead.
Justice duly balances rights, freedoms and responsibilities, requiring the active support of citizen and state alike.
Where, a responsibility is plainly a duty, an OUGHT.
Where again, a right is a binding morally grounded expectation for respect in one’s life, liberty, innocent reputation and more.
Again, it points to OUGHT, to our being under moral government.
And where freedom or liberty is well summed up in Webster’s 1828 dictionary (written before the revisionists could get their hands on the dictionaries):
LIB’ERTY, noun [Latin libertas, from liber, free.]
1. Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions.
2. Natural liberty consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.
3. Civil liberty is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty
The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others.
In this sentence, the latter word liberty denotes natural liberty
4. Political liberty is sometimes used as synonymous with civil liberty But it more properly designates the liberty of a nation, the freedom of a nation or state from all unjust abridgment of its rights and independence by another nation. Hence we often speak of the political liberties of Europe, or the nations of Europe.
5. Religious liberty is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control.
6. liberty in metaphysics, as opposed to necessity, is the power of an agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, by which either is preferred to the other.
Freedom of the will; exemption from compulsion or restraint in willing or volition.
7. Privilege; exemption; immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant; with a plural. Thus we speak of the liberties of the commercial cities of Europe.
8. Leave; permission granted. The witness obtained liberty to leave the court.
9. A space in which one is permitted to pass without restraint, and beyond which he may not lawfully pass; with a plural; as the liberties of a prison.
10. Freedom of action or speech beyond the ordinary bounds of civility or decorum. Females should repel all improper liberties.
To take the liberty to do or say any thing, to use freedom not specially granted.
To set at liberty to deliver from confinement; to release from restraint.
To be at liberty to be free from restraint.
Liberty of the press, is freedom from any restriction on the power to publish books; the free power of publishing what one pleases, subject only to punishment for abusing the privilege, or publishing what is mischievous to the public or injurious to individuals.
First occurrence in the Bible(KJV): Leviticus 25:10
In short liberty is also deeply rooted in the moral government of OUGHT, and the insight that we are responsibly free rational creatures.
So, the pivotal issue is what grounds OUGHT, how comes we are under its government, under moral law?
Surely, not the cynically nihilistic and amoral credo, that might and manipulation make ‘right.’
Such, is patently absurdly self-refuting; as, the very point at stake is that might and manipulation generally make wrong, not right.
Indeed they obviously lead us straight down the vortex of tyranny.
This brings us right up against the IS-OUGHT gap and to the challenge that we must find an answer. And, post Hume, it is clear that this can come at only one level: World- Roots, World- Foundations.
If we deny that we are under moral government, it is not only that might and manipulation usually make for wrong, but that the irresistible sense that we are under government of ought would imply that we are under a grand delusion. That is, we undermine rationality and responsible freedom, that is, this view self-refutes and self-falsifies by undermining rationality itself.
We know ourselves to be rational above all else and have no good reason to reject the testimony of hearts, minds and consciences that we are under moral government, under moral law. Moral law that can only have its source in a world-foundational is.
Pace, Dawkins and his self-falsifying declamations:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]
Pace, Crick and his self-falsifying Astonishing Hypothesis:
. . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.
Pace, Provine and his undermining of morality and responsible freedom:
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .
The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .
All these and many more of like ilk only succeed in showing that evolutionary materialism and its fellow travelers are self-falsifying on pain of the fallacy of grand delusion.
No, after centuries of debates there is but one serious candidate to be the IS that grounds OUGHT, thus justice:
the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of ultimate trust and loyalty, worthy of the reasonable — not irrational or superstitious or blind — service of doing the good in accord with our evident, manifest nature. (And this implies that per Lincoln, insistently calling the tail of a sheep a leg has no power to magically increase the number of its legs to five, not even when the magical incantation is solemnly pronounced by black robed judges operating under colour of law and abusing or usurping the power to interpret constitutional instruments.)
That is the real challenge, morality, ontology and cosmology join with one voice to point to the roots of moral government and they point where ever so many in our day refuse to go.
Even, if they have to stop their ears, shut their eyes, silence conscience and heart then cling to absurdities to do so.
Our civilisation is on a determined march of folly over a cliff, and it will take a miracle to turn it back before it is too late.
Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history bought over centuries with much blood and tears, doom themselves to learn the same over and over again, at much the same apalling price.>>
So, where are we? Why?
Where are we headed?
What should we now do, how?
Have we done wisely?
Perhaps, the last word should belong to Jesus: wisdom is justified by her children.
Let us ponder. END