The answer to this question is yes, politicians are taking away our freedom. They have been doing so for some time and given the religious nature of modern British society, i.e. acceptance of secular humanism as public truth, this process must necessarily continue until the political authorities have made secular humanism the established religion and Britain has become a thoroughly totalitarian State.
The older Christian view of government is that the nation should be governed according to Christian law (a principle of English common law was that “Any law is or of right ought to be according to the law of God”—see note 1 below for the reference) and that the authority of the State should be limited to its function as the ministry of public justice. This view of the nature of political authority as limited to a specific function, which I shall refer to as the politics of God, since it is based on a Christian view that all political authority should be subject to God’s law (the coronation oath is a good example of this Christian principle), has now given way to the secular humanist view of politic authority. This is the politics of man, in which the State is seen as exercising authority over the whole of society and every aspect of life, and in which the ultimate law of the land is State-enacted and State-enforced law that does not recognise the higher law of God as binding, which was the older Christian understanding of what the rule of law meant. Our nation (and the Western world generally) has substituted government according to the law of God for government according to man’s law. This must always end in the denial of individual freedom for men and totalitarianism on the part of the State.
According to E. C. S. Wade, in his introduction to A. V. Dicey’s Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, “The abandonment of the principle of laissez faire has altered the nature of much of our law. A system of law, which like the common law is based on the protection of individual rights, is not readily comparable with legislation which has for its object the welfare of the public, or a large section of it, as a whole. The common law rests on an individualistic conception of society and lacks the means of enforcing public rights as such. The socialisation of the activities of the people has meant restriction of individual rights by the conferment of powers of a novel character upon governmental organs” [see note 2]. These words were written in 1938. The situation has got much worse since then. Our society is being transformed by legislation passed in Parliament from a society ruled by law to a society ruled by Parliament—i.e. from a free society to an increasingly totalitarian society.
In the politics of man human government takes priority over all else. Man becomes the measure of all things. Man is supreme. This supremacy must manifest itself in the form of human government over all spheres of life. This inevitably leads to totalitarianism and the denial of human freedom in the name of man, indeed even in the name of the rights of man. Well did Jesus say “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). There is no real freedom outside of Christ, only idolatry, and all idols are tyrants that enslave men and crush their spirits. This is no less the case with the modern idolatry of democratic political power in which man rules himself according to his own law in the name of human rights. This kind of human autonomy from God, i.e. the proclamation of the rights of man, can only be achieved by denying the rights of God over all spheres of life. Such a proclamation of the rights of man, because it is a denial of the rights of God, is necessarily in principle also a denial of all the freedoms that God has given to men, and ultimately will inevitably produce a society that in practice denies these freedoms in the name of man as the captain of his own fate. This is a serious problem that we now have to face in Britain. Politics in modern Britain has become a relentless campaign to strip men of their legitimate freedom under God and replace it with State control over the whole of life in the name of human rights that are superficial and ineffective and virtually meaningless to the individual. The antithesis between the politics of God and the politics of man here reaches its zenith in the idolatry of secular humanism, which offers real men, or rather forces upon men, a new kind of salvation, a salvation in which the State, as the embodiment of man’s own idea of himself as God, rules over every facet of human life and provides men with their “rights” and the solutions to all their problems. This is the State as God [see note 3], the new Rome. Hegel even refers to the State as “this actual God” [see note 4]. The only real difference between ancient Rome and the new Rome is the more consistently secularised form in which the new Rome is manifesting its tyranny. “Just as the church organized the faith during the medieval era in Europe, the national state regiments it in the modern era. The state sees itself as performing an eternal mission: it demands to be worshipped, has substituted strict civil registration for the religious sacraments of baptism and marriage, and regards those who question their national identity as traitors and heretics” [see note 5].
This is the religion by which Western societies live today. In the politics of man the State, as the ultimate embodiment of human Will, governs the life of the individual and the society to which he belongs in terms of fallen man’s own definition of right and wrong, good and evil, a definition that rejects God’s word, God’s law, as the touchstone of all truth at the outset and replaces it with the pretended autonomy of human reason [see note 6]. In the politics of God man looks to God as the source of all good and seeks to live in conformity with his will as revealed in Scripture. In the politics of man, the individual and society look to the State as the source of all good. The State provides for man’s education, health care and welfare; it provides work, pensions, runs the economy, controls the raising of children in the home as well as outside the home; it is that in which man lives and moves and has his being. The State is Lord, and as Hegel explained, “It must further be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses—all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State . . . For Truth is the Unity of the universal and subjective Will; and the Universal is to be found in the State, its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth” [see note 7]. In other words the State is the incarnation of divinity, man’s true God. Accordingly, Hegel tells us that “Man must therefore venerate the state as a secular deity” [see note 8]. In the ancient world this ideology of the State (polis) as man’s saviour was sacralised in the figure of the divine-human ruler, supremely in the cult of the Roman emperors. The Church rejected this whole political ideology and confessed Jesus Christ as God incarnate, the divine-human Saviour and Ruler—i.e. Lord [see note 9]—whose kingdom is everlasting and to whom all the kings of the earth must and one day will bow the knee, Caesar included.
“The N[ew] T[estament] writers radically rejected this apotheosis of human beings, particularly the cult of the emperors. The rejection is expressed in three ways. First, they refuse the emperor any sort of divine honours or acclamation. None has the right to claim worship save God and his Christ. Second, the rejection is seen in the names and titles of honour that are bestowed on Christ. Titles taken over from the old biblical tradition and which had become a staple part of the christology of the primitive Church found a new use as providing an antithesis to hellenistic ideas. New hellenistic names and formulae were also added to the Church’s vocabulary, names claimed for Christ alone, and making him a rival to the emperor. Third, and last, the Church expressed its [sic] rejection of hellenism in the far-reaching form of interpreting the ancient world’s adoration of its heroes, its apotheosis of the emperor and its expectation of a saviour in terms of its own theology of history as prophecies and anticipations of Jesus Christ and his saving work” [see note 10].
The politics of God claims that Jesus Christ is Lord (i.e. Saviour and Ruler), God incarnate, and that we are to look to him as the source of all good and govern our lives and society according to his law. God is the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), and the one whom we must worship. With the appearance of the modern godless and God-denying State on the stage of world history, therefore, we have the return of the ancient Antichrist in secular form, since “Antichrist is the strongest world power in history. In him all political power is concentrated . . . In antichrist there is the final revelation of creaturely sovereignty” [see note 11] and the secular State claims complete sovereignty over both the individual and society [see note 12]. In the modern State man incarnates his own Will as sovereign over his world; in other words man becomes, in the form of the secular State, his own God (Genesis 3:5).
Well, what are the consequences? The triumph of secular humanism has led to a complete shift in the way people in British society think, speak and live. Under secular humanism the control and regulation of life by the State will continue relentlessly. It has to because this is the logic of the idolatry of man as his own God. This is why individual freedom is ultimately an obsolete concept for secular humanism. Even the terminology has now shifted decisively away from freedom to rights. This means that there has been a shift from the real, the tangible, the individual, to the abstract and the ideal, which must be embodied in some institution that has absolute control and authority. This move to the abstract is inevitable because individual men disagree and dispute with each other and their rights cannot be harmonised on an individual basis. Therefore the many (individuals) must always give way to the one, the abstract idea of human Will, which is embodied in the State [see note 13]. The one and the many cannot be reconciled on the basis of man as his own ultimate principle, man as God [see note 14]. The question therefore is this: can the abstract, the ideal, as embodied in the State, guarantee the freedom of the individual? The answer is that it cannot. In enforcing the rights of one it must negate the freedoms of another. The State, therefore, must rule as an absolute authority and suspend the liberty of the individual in principle. This is the only alternative to total anarchy for secular humanism. According to Ernst Nolte,
“The word ‘totalitarian,’ in the sense of laying full claim to, and obligation on, a human being, is applicable to every religion, every outlook on the world and on life, even the liberal. But only in the eyes of liberalism is this form really purely formal—that is, not ultimately concretizable and hence Kant’s categorical imperative is its classic formulation. It leaves religions free, tolerates them, because it does not regard truth as demonstrable or personal freedom as definable. The only reason it is non-totalitarian in the material sense, and appears to abandon man to the mere whim of his moods, is because, from a formal point of view, it is more totalitarian, that is, more inexorable, than other ideologies” [see note 15].
But in the West it appears now that the more liberalism has become disconnected from the Christian cultural matrix from which it originated the less its totalitarianism has remained purely formal and the more liberal regimes have sought to realise this totalitarianism in concrete social forms, and consequently the less freedom the liberal political establishment is willing to grant to Christians in the modern liberal societies of the West. Britain’s increasingly institutionalised apathy and even hostility to Christianity and the growing restriction of previously recognised fundamental freedoms stemming from its Christian past are testimony to this fact. It is precisely this trend that gives modern liberal Western States the character of totalitarianism similar to that of ancient Rome [see note 16].
Ultimate authority has to reside somewhere, and if there is no God then ultimate authority must belong to man. But such authority cannot belong to each man. Ultimate authority is therefore embodied in the State as the realisation of the abstract idea of human Will, and the one (the State) takes precedence over the many (individuals), thereby abridging the God-given liberty of the individual. The State, therefore, as Hegel tells us, is its own motive and absolute end; and the highest duty of the individual, over whom the State exercises a supreme right, is to be a member of the State [see note 17]. The State is “the objective spirit, and [the individual] has his truth, real existence, and ethical status only in being a member of it” [see note 18] This is where Great Britain is heading. The increasing control and regulation of life by the State is all part of the religious apostasy of the age, all part of the politics of man. Slavery is the end product of the politics of man. It always has been, and it will be no different in the societies of the Western nations as they increasingly reject the Christian faith. The thin veneer of liberty that we still have in Western society is being relentlessly stripped away by the modern secular State. “[W]hile under the old order the state had recognised its limits as against a spiritual power, and had only extended its claims over a part of human life, the modern state admitted no limitations, and embraced the whole life of the individual citizen in its economic and military organisation” [see note 19].
The consequences for mankind of this idolatry of political power by modern secular States have been immense, from the reign of terror unleashed by the French Revolution to the mass murder programmes of national and international socialism. Leaving aside those killed by the two World Wars, over 100 million people were murdered in the twentieth century alone by secular States in pursuit of the religious ideals of secular humanism. This is a fairly conservative figure, though not the most conservative. Gil Elliot, writing in 1972, estimated the total number of “man-made deaths” in the twentieth century up to that point, including both World Wars, between 80 and 150 million [see note 20] and assumed a mean figure of 110 million, with World War One accounting for about 10 million and World War Two accounting for about 40 million deaths [see note 21]. A more recent conservative estimate, again including both World Wars, has put the total number killed by the State in the twentieth century at 180 million [see note 22]. A less conservative estimate puts the figure at 231 million [see note 23]. According to Jung Chang and Jon Halliday the Chinese Communist State alone was responsible for over 70 million peacetime deaths under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung [see note 24]. Alexander Solzhenitsyn claimed that a similar number perished in the Soviet Union [see note 25]. Commenting on State activity in the twentieth century Paul Johnson writes: “The state has proved itself an insatiable spender, an unrivalled waster. It has also proved itself the greatest killer of all time. By the late 1990s, state action had been responsible for the violent or unnatural deaths of some 135 million people during the century, more perhaps than it had succeeded in destroying during the whole of human history up to 1900. Its inhuman malevolence had more than kept pace with its growing size and expanding means” [see note 26]. Likewise, Niall Ferguson states that the “hundred years after 1900 were without question the bloodiest century in modern history, far more violent in relative as well as absolute terms than any previous era” [see note 27]. The secular humanist State has been responsible for more deaths, both in war and as a result of the various secular humanist inquisitions and witch-hunts carried out in the twentieth century, than any other form of religious establishment in history. In 1957, only half way through the twentieth century, Denis de Rougemont stated that “The wars of this century killed more men than all the other wars of our history” [see note 28]. Even the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm acknowledged that the twentieth century was “an era of religious wars, though the most militant and bloodthirsty of its religions were secular ideologies of nineteenth century vintage, such as socialism and nationalism, whose god-equivalents were either abstractions or politicians venerated in the manner of divinities” [see note 29]. The modern secular State has proved to be the most brutal and murderous form of political rule that the world has ever seen. “Every idol, however exalted,” said Aldous Huxley “turns out, in the long run, to be a Moloch, hungry for human sacrifice” [see note 30].
From the Christian perspective things are very different. Christianity teaches that the Creator is one God in three persons. There is therefore no contradiction between the one and the many in the Godhead. God is a tri-unity. The one and the many are equally ultimate in the being of God. The one does not take precedence over the many and vice versa. Only in the triune nature of God’s being can man find the answer to the conflict between liberty and authority that has plagued the politics of man throughout history. Without the triune God of the Christian faith the politics of man is doomed to a never ending conflict between the one and the many, authority and liberty. Only in Christ can man find true freedom, individual liberty, and at the same time the necessary legitimate authority to guarantee political order in society. Only in the politics of God is there an answer to this age-old conflict between political authority (the one) and individual liberty (the many). All other attempts to solve this conflict have failed or are failing, with untold human suffering as a consequence.
As the one in whom all authority and power in the created order is concentrated Jesus Christ delegates his authority in a limited way to subordinate institutions (Church, State and family) that have specific functions in his kingdom. No one other than Christ himself, and no subordinate institution, possesses ultimate authority and power. Christ alone has all power and authority. Only the politics of God recognises the rights of God and the responsibilities of man towards God and his fellow creatures while at the same time guaranteeing the individual’s true liberty under God and the necessary political authority to maintain order in society. Only by practising the politics of God can man reconcile individual freedom with political authority and thereby establish peace. Liberty and peace are the product of the politics of God.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6–7).
We have become so familiar with these words in one way or another that we miss their meaning. The government of the nations rests on Christ’s shoulder and all nations are under obligation to recognise this fact and bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 2). Those who refuse to do this and reject Christ’s government have perished and will continue to perish. British society will be no different. The writing is already on the wall.
Answered by Stephen Perks
1. Cited in A. K. R. Kiralfy, Potter’s Historical Introduction to English Law [London: Sweet and Maxwell Ltd, Fourth Edition, 1958, p. 33.
2. London: MacMillan, Ninth Edition, 1939, p. lxxif.
3. Cf. Jacques Ellul’s interesting comment that “The state, whenever it expresses itself, makes law. There are no longer any norms to regulate the activity of the state; it has eliminated the moral rules that judged it and absorbed the legal rules that guided it. The state is a law unto itself and recognizes no rules but its own. When, in this way, technique breaks off the indispensable dialogue between the law and the state, it makes the state a god in the most theologically accurate sense of the term: a power which obeys nothing but its own will and submits to no judgment from without” (The Technological Society [London: Jonathan Cape, (1954) 1965, trans. John Wilkinson], p. 299).
4. “The state is the march of God in the world; its ground or cause is the power of reason realizing itself as will. When thinking of the idea of the state, we must not have in our minds any particular state, or particular institution, but must rather contemplate the idea, this actual God, by itself” (S. W. Dyde, trans., Hegel’s Philosophy of Right [London: George Bell and Sons, 1896,], p. 247 [§258 add.]).
5. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People (London/New York: Verso,  2009, trans. Yael Lotan), p. 43f. Sand is here summarising the views of the American historian Carlton Hayes. Sand goes on to say: “There are significant differences between nationalism and the traditional religions. For example, the universalistic and proselytizing aspects that characterize a good part of the transcendental religions differ from the contours of nationalism, which tends to enclose itself. The fact that the nation almost always worships itself, rather than a transcendental deity, also affects the manner of rallying the masses for the state—not a permanent feature of the traditional world. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that nationalism is the ideology that most closely resembles the traditional religions in successfully crossing class boundaries and fostering social inclusion in a common system of relationships. More than any other worldview or normative system, nationalism has shaped both a personal and a communal identity, and despite its high degree of abstraction, has succeeded in bridging the gap and strengthening the union between the two. Identities of class, community or traditional religion have not been able to resist it for long. They have not been erased, but their continued existence became possible only if they integrated into the symbolic interconnections of the newly arrived identity” (ibid., p. 44). However, the era of the nation State—i.e. nationalistic idolatry—may well be coming to an end. Traditional religious forces have begun once more to affect the social life of Western cultures significantly if not always positively, and other forces are at work in the modern world, especially economic forces, that have begun to rival nation States as the primary determinants of mass culture. The decline and even survival of Western cultures is intimately bound up with the interplay of these forces.
6. On the pretended autonomy of human reason see further my book A Defence of the Christian State: The Case Against Principled Pluralism and the Christian Alternative (Taunton: The Kuyper Foundation, 1998), p. 12f., available from the Kuyper Foundation here.
7. G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.,  1956, trans. J. Sibree), p. 39.
8. T. M. Knox, trans., Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (Oxford: The Clarendon Press  1945), p. 285 §272, add. 164]. The word that Hegel uses here to describe the State as a secular deity is Irdisch-Göttliches, which means literally “Earthly-Godly.” According to Knox “Hegel here follows Kant who, e.g. at the end of his essay on Theory and Practice, refers to nation states as Erden-Götter” (ibid., n.), i.e. “Earth-Gods.”
9. Ethelbert Stauffer, New Testament Theology (London: SCM Press Ltd, trans. John Marsh, 1955), p. 114f.
10. Ibid., p. 107.
11. Ibid., p. 213, 215.
12. In 1938 Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy stated the problem in relation to Germany in the following way: “Nobody can understand the German’s exaltation of the ‘State’ unless he knows that it is rooted in the depreciation of a visible church. Today, four hundred years later [i.e. after Luther’s Reformation—SCP], the Hitler régime shows the reverse of the medal: his government commands more religious devotion than was ever asked by any pope or clergy. The balance between Church and monarchy has been upset because the Church has ceased to be real. For that reason German Protestantism has become shallow” (Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man [Norwich, VT: Argo Books,  1969], p. 393).
13. See for example Jean Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the “general will” in The Social Contract, Bk, I, chapters vi–ix; Bk II, i–iv.
14. On the philosophical question of the equal ultimacy of the one and many and the irreconcilable nature of these concepts outside of Christian thought see R. J. Rushdoony, The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (Fairfax, Virginia: Thoburn Press,  1978).
15. Ernst, Nolte, Three Forms of Fascism: Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism [London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1965, trans. Leila Vennewitz), p. 219).
16. Nevertheless, because of its relativism modern liberalism is morally weak and cannot provide a stable foundation for civilisation, as was the case with imperial Rome, and it is becoming apparent now that Western liberalism is a transitory phenomenon, a mere staging post on the road from one civilisation to another, as was also the case with imperial Rome.
17. “The state, which is the realised substantive will, having its reality in the particular self-consciousness raised to the plane of the universal, is absolutely rational. This substantive unity is its own motive and absolute end. In this end freedom attains its highest right. This end has the highest right over the individual, whose highest duty in turn is to be a member of the state” (S. W. Dyde, trans., Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, p. 240 [§258]).
18. Ibid., p. 240f. [§258]. According to Hegel “The State is . . . the embodiment of rational freedom, realizing and recognizing itself in an objective form . . . The State is the Idea of Spirit in the external manifestation of human Will and its Freedom” (The Philosophy of History, p. 37). Bertrand Russell described Hegel’s doctrine of the State as “a doctrine which, if accepted, justifies every internal tyranny and every external aggression that can possibly be imagined” (A History of Western Philosophy [London: George Allen and Unwin, 1946], p. 768f.).
19. Christopher Dawson, Enquiries into Religion and Culture (London and New York: Sheed and Ward, 1933), p. 111.
20. Gil Elliot, Twentieth Century Book of the Dead (London: Alan Lane/The Penguin Press, 1972), p. 1.
21. Ibid., p. 215.
22. Matthew White, “Wars, Massacres and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century” in Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century (originally accessed online 26 March 2007. This can now be found here).
23. Milton Leitenberg, Deaths in Wars and Conflicts in the Twentieth Century (Cornell University Peace Studies Occasional Paper No. 29, Third Edition, 2006), p. 1.
24. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (London: Jonathan Cape, 2005), p. 3. Of all secular political systems it is the socialist States that have proved to be the most oppressive, both economically and socially, and the most murderous. Yet ironically Lenin predicted in 1917 that the Communist State would be transitional, eventually “withering away,” that it would cost mankind less than the capitalist State, and that it would engage in less bloodshed: “during the transition from capitalism to Communism suppression is still necessary; but it is now the suppression of the exploiting minority by the exploited majority. A special apparatus, a special machine for suppression, the ‘state,’ is still necessary, but this is now a transitional state; it is no longer a state in the proper sense of the word; for the suppression of the minority of exploiters by the majority of the wage slaves of yesterday is comparatively so easy, simple and natural a task that it will entail far less bloodshed than the suppression of the risings of slaves, serfs or wage labourers, and it will cost mankind far less. And it is compatible with the extension of democracy to such an overwhelming majority of the population that the need for a special machine of suppression will begin to disappear . . . the state will also wither away” (The State and Revolution [Peking: Foreign languages Press, 1973], p. 107f.).
25. “Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations” in Alexander Solzhenitsyn, ed., From Under the Rubble (London: Collins and Harvill Press, 1975), p. 119.
26. Paul Johnson, Modern Times: A History of the World from the 1920s to the year 2000 (London: Phoenix Giant, 1999 ), p. 788.
27. Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred (London: Alan Lane/Penguin Books, 2006), p. xxxiv.
28. Denis de Rougemont, Man’s Western Quest: The Principles of Civilisation (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1957), p. 156.
29. Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914–1991 (London: Michael Joseph, 1994), p. 563; my emphasis.
30. Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun (London: Chatto and Indus, 1952), p. 375.