Spiritual Civics: The power of the 'Lesser Magistrates' doctrine

What to do about what appears to be a rising tyrannical world state is the core problem of the freedom movement. How can the individual resist this malicious tide in a practical way and expect to see tangible results?

The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates (previously covered by UK Column) may be at least part of the answer—perhaps a big part of it. It stipulates that when top-level human government breaks its oath of fidelity to God and the people, those with lower levels of executive and judicial authority are not merely entitled but positively obliged by their own oaths to resist the tyranny, in an exercise of duty which at the time of Magna Carta was called diffidatio. Honest citizens are equally entitled and obliged to rally to those lower officers of government.

As Pastor Matt Trewhella of Wisconsin (website: Defy Tyrants | YouTube), who just finished a Northern Ireland speaking tour, explains in this video, brave Christian men some 500 years ago—facing a siege directed by the Holy Roman Emperor—realized what had to be done and put in motion a doctrine that has, time and time again, put tyrants in a bind, forcing them either to show their teeth and reveal their true oppressive colors, or to back down and repeal whatever tyrannical measures that had put in place or were about to implement. Trewhella, who spent a year and three months in jail for ministering and protesting at the clinics of the abortion industry, explains this doctrine in a trenchant manner.

This doctrine’s details mainly stem from a statement of faith and of natural law known as the (Lutheran) Magdeburg Confession of 1550 (of which Trewhella also commissioned a translation from the German and on which he wrote a book), while the 800-year-old Magna Carta is—together with references to Roman antiquity—the doctrine’s basic philosophical touchstone in terms of how the citizen and the state (whether monarchy, democracy or republic) should relate to one another. In Reformed Protestant theology, the state is but one God-given sphere of government that must not presume to encroach on the territory of the others (notably, family and church); but the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates is common heritage to all historic Christian denominations as well as being enunciated in the Old Testament.

Tune in to hear a fascinating discussion that will challenge you as an individual to re-examine your assumptions and will prepare you to preserve and expand human freedom in ways you perhaps never thought were possible.

The campaign against sexualization of children in Northern Ireland referred to in this interview has been described for UK Column by the Province’s longest-serving headmaster (school director), Hugh McCarthy.