Essence of Civil Society: Part I

Abstract of “Essence of Civil Society”

The nature of civil society roots back to the fundamentals that constitute human relationships. It is a reflection of the image of God that He created man and nature in. As man has been given the free will to take dominion over the Earth, society has taken the shape of the beliefs he holds. Civil Government then, is an outer shell that seeks to regulate and protect the internal workings of society. Throughout history, different forms of government have formed, and seen failure. Ironically, it is the ecclesiastical structure of the Christian system that saw the greatest prosperity and success in governing people. The conclusion that the moral principles that all people were created with to live by should not be surprising. The Bible is not a book of religion any more then men make it. It is the words of God spoken in man’s language to communicate their highest prosperity.

Zach Baldwin

Kingdom Society Research


Essence of Civil Society: Part I

  1. Introduction

Law exemplifies the definitions, parameters, and shape of an object in reality. Laws are the framework that give meaning and concreteness to what is seen and understood. It is by them that order, logic, and consequences can result. Laws clarify exact geography. Laws may be pictured as walls or fences, limiting the expanse of one spatial mass from another. Yet the laws themselves are intangible. They do not exist beyond mere precept. They are thus intrinsically bonded to content that is real. Laws without substance would be illogical. They are transparent, yet necessary requirements of an ordered universe. Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England wrote that “…He” (Supreme Being) “…impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and which it would cease to be…” (Blackstone §37) The inseparable factor then of laws and mass is then all that can theoretically exist. Laws are not merely important – they hold chaos at bay.

  1. Nature of God and Man

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

(Isa 43:7)

By God’s very mouth, He declares that He made man for His glory. In the Beginning, He created him from the dust of the Earth. (Gen 2:7) While all the physical matter of the universe was created prior to man, He gave to man the dominion over all of it. (Gen 1:28) God had something special and unique in mind for man. He had made him in His very image.(Gen 1:26, 27; 9:6) Surely God was not referring to His physical form, which is displayed figuratively in Judeo-Christian Scripture for the sake of His finite audience. Rather, I believe He was referring to His non-physical nature. His mind, for which He can reason, image, be aware of himself and God, remember, and hold a conscience. His Will, which enables Him to carry out an internal idea on a reality level; and Emotion, which brought feeling and experiential capacity into existence. These Scripture refers to as: Mind, Heart, and Soul. (Olson 2) From these essential endowments of nature, we see all of society in submission to. In fact, it is by these that man is able to relate with God.

  1. Nature of society

In a most original, theoretical perspective, God existed before any of the creation He was to undertake. He existed not merely as an individual, but as three: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This then, is the first indirect example we have of the setting of a communal society. In God, all members of the society were perfectly outward focused. They all had an abundant love for the other persons of the Godhead, or Trinity. As the rudimentary image of creation began at the words of God, we see it’s prefabricated image already functioning in His very nature. Society, according to John Locke, in his Second Treatise of Civil-Government, begins in the revolutionary concept of “the state of nature”. By this, he meant that all men were equal in creation, and to submit only to the “Law of nature”, which we understand today as physical and moral laws. All had no one but God over them. God had created man in the garden, and man had only known that relationship; yet God had saw that this was not good. (Gen 2:18) At the ground level, mankind began as an individual – governing himself. But a horizontal relationship God saw as beneficial for him, and the first true society was conceived. The family, or more specifically, the marriage covenant, brought in a trust-bound covenant between people. Now God called this new individual (a women, whose name was given by man) a helper. Perhaps the evidence can be brought that God intended man to enter into marriage, but the fact must be presented, that individuals do not function well in isolation.

    1. Property

John Locke identifies that God “…hath given the world to men in common…” (Locke 11) God is the Creator of all things, including men, meaning that men do not have state of license over themselves. They have the ability to use their body, soul and mind, but not the ability to destroy or harm it. Locke presents the case that God is the supreme owner of the essence of men, and yet gave man the ability to use himself within the laws physical and moral boundaries that govern God’s larger creation. (Locke 4) Locke distinguishes two kind’s of ownership then: A State of License, and a State of Liberty. By the former, he means that he has external control over a thing, but not an exclusive right to it’s destruction. By the later, he means the full, uninhibited possession of a thing in it’s essence. In the later case, Locke describes this state of liberty can only come by man mixing his labor with an object presently found in nature. (Lock 11) The labor, in a civil society, has more value then the raw material itself, as the object is already present. The concept of money Locke takes on in with delight. As men begin to fence off property that they have acquired, they are able to trade it for other perishables. In addition to other perishables, precious stones, metals, or rare objects naturally appearing in nature are of value as men ascribe their “fancy” to it. These objects must not rot or rust, so as to be held in perpetual possession in trade for a perishable.

  1. Divine Institutions of Civil Government

As per the language of Locke in his iconic and largely exhaustive narrative of Society, and civil government, it is fitting to place four distinctions in the realm of society. The first 3 are local, and comparatively internal.

    1. Self-government:

This is a principle that the folks at the Foundation For American Christian Education have discovered from the history’s of the Forefathers and founding fathers of the nation of the United States of America. They promote this as the first of seven important principles entitled simply: “Principles of America’s Christian History”. (Slater) This prerequisite principle premises all else in a society. God first was self-governing in the infinite powers of His deity. He chose to subdue His infinite powers of Knowledge, Sight, pretemporal existence, and all-present state into an ordered state. He constrained Himself to the laws of His nature, and of His character. Likewise, It is crucial that man begins with governing himself if he is to govern later more then himself. It is his duty by the instilled conscience of his being to subdue himself, and maintain order at his internal, personal level. The best means of ordering one self is by his Creator, through His Spirit, and the written instruction manual, containing the principles of morality.

    1. Family Unit

Having properly governed himself, man is able to govern his family, which Scripture says he is to be head over, as has been demonstrated to him. (Corinthians 11:3) Family then, is the first institution that Locke calls civil society. This is then the beginning of the formation of community. Without a family unit relating with one another at a close and intimate level, there can be no understanding of properly relating beyond it. Family brings a sense of relationship on a horizontal, human level, that can only be guessed at outside of it. The family begins societies, it is the hallmark of stability, and staple of social structure. It’s solid framework is an indispensable unit.

    1. Church organization

Having acquired evidence of truth by observation, or experiential relationship with God, the resulting family structure that follows by the format given in Scripture is a necessary step. But the formation of a congregation of Children of God is the adhesive that unites society at a level not genetic, nor adopted. (Hebrews 10:25) This unity permits a potential for policy at the deepest level man can perceive – his new life by the work of the Holy Spirit of God. For this reason men unite together to worship the Creator, and Father. Here the presentation is a new kind of family: a spiritual family, of which God is the Father of all his consenting sons and daughters by adoption. (Eph. 1:5, Gal 4:5) In this institution, the proper ordering of people is taken into consideration with certain elements of ecclesiastical government, or church apostolic government. Men are to chose who will government in their local church.

    1. Civil Government

The first three institutions are local, and essentially internal, dealing with individuals at ideally a face-to-face level. In fact, only the second two deal with actual civil society. But civil government deals with the organization of society at a larger, more general and logistical level. Here the individuals of a society have given up their rights native to them in the state of nature, and consented for a representative authority to rule over them as a means of greater protection then they could themselves produce. As the family unit and church body administer organization at an internal level, producing an independently self-governing individual, the significance of an external civil government is necessary only as a precaution to the possibility of disruption of internal order. This final divine institution of society is placed last in order of importance, as all the components of internal order should primarily suffice as far as external peace, and justice are concerned. Just as a criminal attempts to escape the local jurisdiction of a local municipal authority, a larger, more general authority can claim authority over him, as he has given his consent by choosing to live in the society in the first place.

  1. Purpose of Government

Contrary to popular connotation, government itself has a very simple definition. Webster originally defined it with four power-packed words: 1)”Direction”, 2)”Regulation”, 3) “Control”, 4) “Restraint”. By these succinctly-stated terms, government takes on the idea of an abstract, and non-tangible philosophy rather then an official social institution. Additionally, Locke has demonstrated that civil government has the purpose of protection of an individual’s life, liberty, and property. He specifies that a man’s entering “…into society is to be safe and at peace in their use of their property…” (Locke 43) Men would not relinquish their right to protect their own property by whatever means necessary unless persuaded that a better means was available.

  1. Forms of Civil Government

The form that civil government takes is often to follow the tastes and traditions of the society considering it. Many have been tried over the course of history. But, they basically boil down to three: Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. They each have their strengths and weaknesses.

    1. Monarchy

From the earliest days of organized society, a leader was sought after and desired. Nimrod, in Genesis 11 founded Babel and other originating cities. The Egyptians submitted to a Pharaoh. The Persians submitted to a sovereign king. The Romans submitted to an emperor. The Roman Catholic Church put authority in the Pope. This is the image of power in one person. While the chosen king originally is bestowed the privilege of kingship, the divine right of Kings was instituted in the Medieval age signifying that God ordained the king to rule. Thus, succession was to be named, or the closest relative was to take the throne instead.

    1. Aristocracy

Ruling jointly as leaders with equal authority seems to be obviously problematic – but it certainly has been tried. Also known as Oligarchy, this originated from the Greek culture, who disliked the monarchy system. The concept of the senate held all three branches of civil government; legislating laws, enforcing them, and judging the civil disputes of the people. They are able to rule either by concept or tyranny over the people. While the prerogative is in the hands of a select group, much weight is put on the character of those wielding that power.

    1. Democracy

The famously memorable Greek construct is one held in high regard yet today, but has never been fully implemented. The true image of this form would mean every citizen having one or several branches of authority at their finger tips. It would mean every citizen would have to understand the basic legislative, or judicial procedures necessary for functionality. Up till now, the Greeks elevated only 1/3rd of the individuals present in their society into the democratic vote. One of the disadvantages of the whole populace with all power is the question of assembly. When laws must be considered, everyone must be present to vote. The larger the community is, the more likely dissatisfied citizens are liable to evade the assembly.

  1. Separation of Powers

Charles de Secondat Montesquieu wrote definitively and explicitly on the fundamental necessity of of separating the powers of government. He named them at a time when they were yet unofficially distinguished: The Legislative, The Executive, and The Judiciary. He called The Judiciary “…in some measure next to nothing…” (Montesquieu 184) The other two are the essential factors he concluded. Not only is the separation essential simply for a larger governing body exclusively, but also for the sake of balancing and mutually governing the other branches on an equal level.

    1. The Legislative

Being the highest governmental branch, it is imperative that it be limited, and in check by the overlapping rights of the other branches in it’s authoritative jurisdiction. The Legislative holds the preemptive power of defining the legal parameters that a society is to submit to. The balance of such weighty power is that it need only assemble for the modification or abolishment of enacted laws. In the United States of America, this branch is divided into two branches: The House of Representatives and the Senate, jointly called Congress. The Senate is the general representatives of every state, with two from each of the 50 States. The House of Representatives an elected proportionate representation, based on the population of the individual State. In the United States of America, each state has it’s own Legislature, and constitution.

    1. The Executive

This branch has much more direct focus of the people, as it administers the laws enacted by the Legislator. This branch would be expected to operate full time in office, as emergency situations require immediate decision making. John Locke calls this “Prerogative”. This is a special capacity given to the executive, and is only permitted in the direction of benefit towards the people. Citizens would not elect an official that enforces unjustly. The significance is seen in the Executive as it serves in limiting the Legislative, by a Veto power. This power merely halts the advance of a law being enacted. While there is a nationally elected representative, in the United States of America, local States and city’s elect their own law enforcement officers. At the state level in the United States of America, a governor is elected as the full-time executive to oversee the administration of the laws.

    1. The Judiciary

This branch deals most closely with the people, decided the penalty of the criminal acts of individuals based on laws previously established in the land. The judicial system exists at a Federal level, a State level, and a County level. The court system has the power to overturn laws defined by the Legislator. Each county and district court has the ability the potential of being disassembled by Congress, and Federal level Judges, while being chosen for life are capable of being impeached. The Supreme court is the highest court in the United States of America.

  1. Conclusion

Law originates far beneath the surface of the popular connotation with politics and civil government. Their presence dictates the function and order of things. They align matter, as well as social units into place. Law permits freedom as it lays out the details of the original design. With the proper instructions in mind, the greatest efficiency can be expected, and prosperity can be reasonably insured. Law is the form or framework that should be reserved in order to maintain peace and order. Civil government uses laws as a means of producing civil order.


1 Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government. Ed. Jonathan Bennett. N.p.: Jonathan Bennet, 2008. PDF.

2 Blackstone, William, Sir, Lee, Hovenden, and Ryland. Commentaries on the Laws of England. Comp. Christian and Chitty. Nineteenth London ed. Vol. I. Philadelphia: J. B. LIPPINCOTT &, 1859. PDF.

3 Guyot, A. The Earth and Man Lectures on Comparative Physical Geography, in Its Relation to the History of Mankind. Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1849. PDF.

4 Morley, Felix M. 1894-1982. Freedom And Federalism. A Gateway ed. Chicago: Regnery, 1959.

5 Morley, Felix M. 1894-1982. The Power In the People. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1949.

6 Montesquieu, Charles DE. The Spirit of Laws. Revised ed. Vol. I. London, New York: Colonial, 1900. Google Books. Google. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.


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