What is Tyranny? According to the German version of a well-known online encyclopedia, tyranny is the term used to describe a regime of violence and arbitrary rule by a ruler or a group regarded as illegitimate. According to this definition, three characteristics make a regime tyrannical: arbitrary rule, violence, and illegitimacy. Based on this definition, what was the Covid regime?
Covid was tyranny
During the Covid era, the rulers of many states, either out of ignorance and incompetence or out of deceit and malice (or a combination of both), enacted measures with no evidence of their efficacy and on the basis of a narrative of a vastly exaggerated threat. This constitutes a regime of arbitrary rule. These measures infringed on the most fundamental rights of men in a massive and unprecedented manner and were executed under threat of severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment, social ostracism, deprivation of employment and livelihood, and modern “book burning,” i.e., silencing and banning from social media platforms. This constituted a regime of violence. It should go without saying for Christians (or anyone who believes that people have inherent dignity and should not be treated like cattle) that a regime of arbitrary rule and violence is always illegitimate. Illegitimacy is thus not an independent characteristic of tyranny.
People engaging in tyranny are called tyrants
What do you call people who rule in a tyrannical manner? That’s right: tyrants. We need be consistent here, even if it hurts. Those who enacted these covid measures were tyrants. Likewise, those who did not enact the measures themselves, but enforced them in their areas of rule and authority, were also tyrants. For example, Hitler was not the only tyrant in Germany during the 1930s and 40s. So were his henchmen, who, out of the same conviction, implemented the orders of their “Fuhrer” by threats and violence. (Is a German even allowed to make a Nazi comparison? Well, since I can already hear the outcry: No, I am not saying that all leaders of the Western world were exactly like Hitler, nor that all who enforced covid measures were exactly like the SS. I am saying that there is a shared underlying pattern.) This includes policemen, judges, shopkeepers, teachers—and sadly, pastors. Christ teaches us that shepherds who do not protect their flock when the wolves come, even at the cost of their lives, if necessary, are not shepherds at all but hirelings. But what do you call shepherds who not only do not protect their sheep, but side with the wolves and turn against their sheep and those other shepherds who are actually trying to protect the sheep? Tyrant seems fitting. We should dare to speak the truth.
Don’t be a tyrant
It is good not to be a tyrant, whether on a larger scale as a state leader, or on a smaller scale as a pastor, or actually in any circumstance where someone has authority over someone else, e.g., husbands, fathers, employers. For all authority comes from God, and God will demand an account of how one has used his God-given authority, whether in accordance with His commandments or by abusing it and domineering as a tyrant. Those in authority in the state, the Ruler of the kings of the earth calls His servants and ministers (deacons) and commands them to be a terror to bad conduct, not to good, by giving approval to those who do good and bringing the sword to bear against those who do wrong. If they do not, should He not hold them accountable? Likewise, the chief Shepherd commands His under-shepherds to shepherd the flock of God by eagerly exercising oversight; not domineering over those in their charge, but being examples to the flock; by being humble, casting all their anxieties on Him, being sober-minded and watchful, and by, firm in faith, resisting their adversary the devil that prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. If they do not, should He not hold them accountable? He surely will, because He says so. Sadly, most in authority in the State and in the Church in the Covid years have not lived up to these commandments of God. If you are one of them, repent! It is not good to be a tyrant.
Not being a tyrant is not enough
It is good not to be a tyrant, but it is not enough. If you want to obey and honor God, you have to resist tyrants and their tyranny.
Here are four reasons I say this:
- If we do not resist tyranny, we support its lies and obscure the truth that there is a higher authority above the rulers of the earth who determines the scope and limits of their authority and to which we and they alike owe obedience.
- When we allow tyrants to encroach on the realm for which God has given us responsibility, we are no longer fulfilling our duty and are acting unfaithfully toward our Lord and those He has entrusted to our care: A father must not allow the pastor to encroach on his family; likewise, a pastor must not allow the state to encroach upon his church.
- If a pastor allows the state to encroach upon his church, he also denies the exclusive headship of Christ over the Church and its affairs, and gives to Caesar what belongs to God, and what is holy, he gives to the dogs: the fellowship of the saints, the worship and praise of God, the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, etc.
- If we do not resist tyranny, we do not love our neighbor, for it is our duty to stand by our neighbor and open our mouth when those in authority infringe on his rights. When we see that our neighbor is no longer allowed to go about his work and earn a living, when he is forced to inject experimental substances into his body, when he is not allowed to hold the hand of his dying mother, then we are guilty if we do not resist, and speak out against, this satanic tyranny.
Resisting Tyranny by God’s Grace alone
During Covid, the Lord gave me, my co-pastor, and my entire church the grace to resist tyranny. I cannot emphasize enough that this was not my merit; it is God who gave me courage. It is by His grace that we resisted state encroachment on the Church and the family, and it is by His grace that we opened our mouths and spoke out against tyranny: we wrote statements against those in the Church who called for submission to tyranny, we preached sermons, worked out statements, published articles and books, wrote letters to the rulers, etc. We did this to defend biblical truth and to stand by the afflicted brethren. We did this for Christ, our King. And He graciously protected and blessed us. I am very grateful that many of our publications from this period have now been published as a book in English: Resisting Tyranny—A Christian Response to Government Overreach. This book is intended to be an enduring witness to the injustice of the Covid tyranny. And it is intended to help develop a sound doctrine of biblical resistance to tyranny and then to put it boldly into action. For tyranny will be back, whether in the form of a new virus, climate change, sexual perversion, or some other lie of the adversary. As Christians, we must be prepared to give a biblical response and by doing so be salt and light to the world; for the salvation of men and for the glory of Christ, the King. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Resisting Tyranny—A Christian Response to Government Overreach is available at Ezra Press.