Rights and Responsibilities - with Isaac Botkin of T.REX Talk

By Phillip G. Kayser · 12/24/2022

Today's conversation dives deeply into the question of Rights. We are quick to bring up our rights, to affirm them as pre-existing, to appeal to them as unlimited... but what exactly are these human rights, how should we talk about them, and how did America's founders define them? Dr. Kayser speaks about this with Isaac Botkin of T.REX Talk.

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[00:00:00] Isaac Botkin: Welcome to another T.REX Talk. I'm very excited to once again have a guest for you, someone that I'm very excited to have a conversation with, but also introduce all of you too. I guess first, though, I should say Merry Christmas because it is Christmas time. And here with me on the line, I have a good friend of mine, Dr. Phil Kayser, who is a perfect person for this next conversation on rights and responsibilities. Dr. Kayser, I think you're the first theologian and pastor that we've had on the show, and I just believe that you are ideally suited to be part of this conversation to help define some of these things as rights and responsibilities.

[00:00:40] Isaac Botkin: So is there anything that you want to tell the T.REX listeners about yourself before we get into, yeah, a fairly deep topic, I would say.

[00:00:48] Dr. Kayser: Well, I'm honored honored to be with you and love the organization T.REX itself. So I think the, these two topics dovetail very nicely together. I grew up in the mission field. Theology is my love, but I like philosophy and history and politics and have been very involved in politics. But yeah, this topic of human rights, I think is very near and dear to my heart and I'm delighted to be able to share with you.

[00:01:19] Isaac Botkin: And you've written a book called The Divine Right of Resistance, which I'm gonna recommend to folks right off the bat.

[00:01:27] Isaac Botkin: But this, this idea of the divine right of kings goes way back. And it's a terrible idea that kings are divinely given sovereign authority. And we won't get into that. But that isn't actually something that is found in scripture. Rather, we have the divine right of resistance. There are limits on authority, and there is a right to resist unlawful authority.

[00:01:50] Isaac Botkin: And I think that everybody listening to the T.REX Podcast knows that because we all believe in the Second Amendment. We all talk about how the right to keep and bear arms is in fact a right. The T.REX crowd is very comfortable with talking about rights and in assuming that we have rights, but a lot of times I don't think we go much further than that.

Are human rights inherent? And how or why are they inherent?

[00:02:12] Isaac Botkin: So are human rights inherent? And how or why are they inherent?

[00:02:20] Dr. Kayser: Wow, that's a huge question that people have been debating for centuries, haven't they?

[00:02:27] Isaac Botkin: **laughs** Yeah.

[00:02:27] Dr. Kayser: America's founding fathers believed that men intuitively knew their rights and had a sense of injustice being done to them. And it was because God wrote His laws on their heart.

[00:02:38] Dr. Kayser: And I believe that too. I mean, think about it this way. God endowing us with rights. Rights are only privileges that could be granted or taken away. They aren't universal, they aren't inalienable. And that's why America's founding father has explicitly rejected numerous human rights theories in the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.

[00:03:01] Dr. Kayser: And. I believe that they advocated for a very, very self-consistent Christian system in which the right to keep and bear arms can't be taken away.

[00:03:10] Dr. Kayser: I think it's a genius system. When you dig into it.

[00:03:14] Isaac Botkin: Yeah. Now and this is a very interesting, so you mentioned multiple documents, which I think is really important and we've talked about this a little.

[00:03:24] Isaac Botkin: In previous podcast episodes and things, the Bruen decision from the Supreme Court, basically, when we want to talk about the founder's intent, it is worth looking at other documents from the same era or from the same people letters, ideas, books that were being thrown around. And sometimes I think that that is a very helpful way to get some perspective and some context, but sometimes, people assume that because idea A and idea B were both contemporary both being kicked around at the time, both in print at the time that that those are part of the Constitution are part of the Bill of Rights or part of the Declaration of Independence.

[00:04:07] Isaac Botkin: I think it is really important to specify and get a little more specific on some of these things because there's a lot of different theories of human rights floating around at the time of the founding or even before, there's a lot of ideas floating around in the books that the founders would've been familiar with.

[00:04:25] Isaac Botkin: So as we look at their documents and their writings, and their speeches and their letters are they just a product of every idea that is out there? Or are they more specific?

[00:04:38] Dr. Kayser: Oh, wow. Yeah, they rejected quite a number of natural law theories, quite a number of human rights theories that were current in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, I believe they rejected the proto-communism that flowed out of Plato's Natural Law and Human Rights Theory. Believe me, Plato was no hero. Plato advocated communal property. I don't think your hearers would appreciate that too much. And if you take a look at the Third, Fourth, Ninth, and the Tenth Amendments in the Bill of Rights, They clearly rejected the proto-fascism of Aristotle.

[00:05:20] Dr. Kayser: He advocated, believe it or not, state control of education the right of the state to limit the number of children you could have and other things.

[00:05:29] Isaac Botkin: These seem problematic. They seem familiar too, in a way, but go on!

[00:05:33] Dr. Kayser: It is. I mean, how can people appeal to Aristotle for natural law theory? I have no idea. Because he was statist through and through. Third, if you take a look at the writings of the founding fathers they rejected the totalitarian human rights ideas of the Jacobins in France, which ultimately led to the bloodbath of the French Revolution and yes, here we've got the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that really was inspired by that Jacobin human rights declaration. Our founding fathers did not believe in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's social contract idea of human rights that clearly gave up individual rights for the good of the collective. They also rejected David Hume's skepticism about natural law and his total rejection of God.

[00:06:26] They did believe in natural law, and I do too. I can't get into all the theories that they rejected, but I've, I've got a Declaration of Independence right in front of me here. And let me just give you some phrases from that document that stand in contrast to several broad groups of human right theories and actually.

[00:06:47] Dr. Kayser: The Declaration as a whole stood against several contemporary views on human rights, including Pufendorf's very popular view. He was actually a Lutheran he was a natural law guy, but he was way too statist for our founding fathers. For example, Pufendorf believed that citizens must never resist a king, even if it that king has become a tyrant.

[00:07:09] Dr. Kayser: In other words, our founding fathers didn't just critically accept any natural law theory. They thought through the controversies very carefully.

Did the Founders create something new or did they recover what had been lost? Biblical and Collectivist Streams of Natural Law Theories

[00:07:16] Isaac Botkin: Oh, and this is a fascinating thing, and this goes back to that sort of divine right of kings, this positive law idea that the form, you know, once the state is there, the state is implacable, the state is immovable, the system cannot be challenged was extremely common at that time.

[00:07:32] Isaac Botkin: I would say that goes against not only scripture, but a lot of English Common Law, a lot of significant European history. Yeah. That had been a little bit less collectivist, a little bit less monarchical, for lack of a better word. Yeah. And that's another question that I would ask is did the founders create something entirely new that had never before been seen on the face of the Earth?

[00:08:00] Isaac Botkin: Or were they returning to systems and ideas that were tried and tested and just occasionally lost as time goes on.

[00:08:10] Dr. Kayser: Yeah, I think it was the latter because there, there were always two streams of natural law theory and human rights theories. One was. Pretty much just grounded in man's mind, nature, and completely excluded God.

[00:08:25] Dr. Kayser: And almost inevitably those theories, there were some exceptions, but almost inevitably they led to collectivism. And then there were natural right theories that acknowledged God, but did so in theory, and then there were natural law theories that said it's identical to what's in the Bible. And I believe that our founding fathers really were very explicitly holding to that last group of natural law theories.

The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Second Amendment vs. Collectivism

[00:08:57] Dr. Kayser: Anyway, if you just look at some of the phrases, all men are created equal, that rejects several human rights theories that ended up sacrificing certain individual rights which includes the right to keep and bear arms, and they did so for the sake of the collective. When you study human rights theories, you'll see most of them would reject the Second Amendment as written.

[00:09:20] Dr. Kayser: For example, several natural rights theories fall under the category of what some people label as the legal right theory. In other words, the right comes from the government recognizing those rights. Isaac Botkin: Hmm. Dr. Kayser: Well, they they clearly did not believe that. Isaac Botkin: Yeah. Dr. Kayser: The word, "The,"" and the phrase, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Well, that implies the right existed before they even wrote that document, just saying!

And by the way Jeremy Bentham ridiculed and attacked America's Declaration of Independence. I mean, he had a totally different view of human rights.

[00:09:56] Dr. Kayser: Well, anyway, there was another powerful clause against the collectivist idea that was popular at the time in the second paragraph of the Declaration, it says that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In other words, civil governments were to serve the individual's human rights, not vice versa. And if citizens consented to be governed, they also reserve the right to not consent or to resist tyranny, which is exactly what they were doing.

[00:10:26] Dr. Kayser: And that phrase authorizes citizens to not consent in turning in their weapons should that ever happen in the future. And many writings related to the right to keep and bear arms made it clear that this right helped to prevent a civil government from morphing from servant into tyrant. They were supposed to be a servant, but yeah, I think that probably the most important clauses are the ones that rejected many secular views of human rights that tried to come up with human rights without recourse to God.

[00:11:00] Dr. Kayser: Keep in mind, again, I, as I mentioned earlier, there were two quite distinct streams of natural law and a lot of subgroups within both of those streams. So there's the secular version. There's the Christian version. And I think the Declaration lines up with the Christian version.

[00:11:18] Dr. Kayser: And they disagreed with the ancient Greeks as well as contemporaries like Hume, who died, by the way, the year the Declaration of Independence was ratified. Jeremy Bentham was another contemporary human rights theorist wrote a scathing attack on the Declaration and his view was that rights only existed to provide the greatest pleasure for the greatest number, which you can see very logically would lead to collectivism.

[00:11:43] Isaac Botkin: Yeah.

[00:11:42] Dr. Kayser: Anyway. The Declaration of Independence just is unapologetic in asserting men are created, that they're endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. It explicitly references God and the ratification of the Constitution itself declares "Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the State's present the 17th day of September and the year of our Lord, 1787. And of the independence of the United States of America the 12th." So by making the ratification the 12th year instead of the first year, it made the Declaration of Independence, the first legal document of the nation. And people try to brush the Declaration aside as not being legally binding, but the Supreme Court decisions for the first century or more declared it was legally binding document.

[00:12:29] Dr. Kayser: And that section of our Constitution also declares Christ to be the Lord of the nation. So it's a huge clue on the political philosophy of the founding fathers. They could not get a right to keep and bear arms from most natural law theories impossible. But they did find it in the Bible and in their own natural law theory.

[00:12:49] Isaac Botkin: I think that's a huge point. Again, going back to none of these documents exist in a vacuum. It's very important to try to understand these things so that we can see, "Do some of these other enlightenment era ideas shape the founders and appear in our Constitution or not?" And the answer is a lot of times they don't.

[00:13:09] Isaac Botkin: For example, Hobbes I've read people who say that, yeah, Thomas Hobbes is very influential and a lot of his ideas appear in the founding documents. But if you actually read his book, Leviathan, it becomes obvious that the founders were trying to prevent that at any and all costs.

[00:13:29] Isaac Botkin: Like they were trying to do the exact opposite. So not every document of the time is as influential as people assume, but the documents that the founders themselves wrote, those should be put together on a shelf and considered together, and even, I think you made an excellent point, even considered as the same founding documents from a legal perspective, not only the context [of that founding document].

[00:13:51] Isaac Botkin: The fact that they refer back to the Declaration of Independence as the founding document, not just a placeholder document for a future constitution is an extremely important point. So thanks for bringing that up.

[00:14:07] Dr. Kayser: Yeah. I tell you, all you have to do is read what the founding fathers [considered] their favorite books, and they a lot of times would write down the books that they had read in the previous year.

[00:14:18] Dr. Kayser: And you read the kind of documents that they quoted and that they wrote about, you can see an enormous Christian influence upon them. And you know, we might even talk about some of those specific documents, later on. But one of the things that I wanted to point out is that most of the theories that rejected God back in those days ended up eliminating certain rights of individuals in modern times.

[00:14:48] Dr. Kayser: You know, there are some exceptions. Murray Rothbard, I think would be an exception, but he doesn't grant personhood to babies, and so he believes they have no right to life. And so there can be arbitrary definitions that are stuck in that end up allowing for tyranny as well and I'm not gonna get into that right now.

[00:15:04] Isaac Botkin: That's a long conversation for sure.

[00:15:06] Dr. Kayser: Oh, it is. It is huge. Yeah. But there are several authors that have said that our founding fathers, whether sincerely or not, I mean some of them were politicians, but whether sincerely or not, they adopted the predominant Calvinistic views of human rights that were pervasive in most of the colonies.

[00:15:26] Dr. Kayser: With Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, it was likely a political move, but I think with the majority of the delegates and those who ratified the documents in the colonies, they were thoroughgoing Calvinists as even the Lutheran scholar John Eidsmoe, he's not a Calvinist himself, but his book Christianity in the Constitution, it's an absolute must read, I believe.

[00:15:46] Isaac Botkin: Oh, thank you for reminding me of that book. Yeah, I will include links or names of some of these books in the show. I've had a number of people ask for book recommendations recently, so is gonna be a great episode for that. Thank you.

[00:16:01] Dr. Kayser: I'll maybe just mention one more theory that they rejected.

[00:16:05] Dr. Kayser: When the Declaration says that King George "has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good," the Declaration is explicitly rejected, at least in my opinion, a fundamental tenant of Thomas Aquinas's Natural law theory, namely that, well, let me quote him. I've got it right here.

[00:16:26] Dr. Kayser: No one calls in doubt. He says the need for doing good, avoiding evil, acquiring knowledge, et cetera. While they knew full well the doctrine of total depravity in the gross evil, in the massacre of the Huguenots under the King of France, And the evils being spawned by the revolutionary Jacobins and the massacres of the covenanters by the stewards of England.

[00:16:47] Dr. Kayser: They were not naive, and the majority of them believed in the doctrine of total depravity, not Thomas Aquinas's super optimistic view of human nature. And as one of the reasons why they put so many checks and balances into their system of government, they didn't trust anyone.

[00:17:02] Isaac Botkin: Again, this isn't happening in a vacuum.

The English Civil War and the Protestant Reformation Opened the Door for Resisting Church and Civil Authorities

[00:17:05] Isaac Botkin: This isn't happening. Just as colonies and King George come to a head, there has been a civil war in England that really shapes a lot of the thinking of the Puritans. You have the civil war between the Puritans and Charles the First, so already this idea of, "Can you resist a king? Can a king be tyrant?" this is well-trod ground, and the colonies themselves are founded by people who are fleeing from religious persecution from the state.

[00:17:32 ] Isaac Botkin: There's just been a giant reformation. Which doesn't focus on state tyranny. It focused more on the tyranny of the church, but the checks and balances needed to stop these kinds of tyrannical, overruling, crushing sort of authorities, unlawful authorities that come about: These are the dominant themes of the centuries that come before 1776. So yeah, these checks and balances are very important.

[00:18:06] Dr. Kayser: You know what, when I taught a course, I've taught actually several courses at the University of Nebraska on the impact that various immigrations and the religious views that these immigrants brought with them have made to the institutions in America. What a population believes, profoundly, down the road, impacts politics.

[00:18:24] Dr. Kayser: It impacts how business is done. Economics, it impacts a lot. And so when we understand what was the philosophy, what was the predominant religious views of the founding fathers, it makes total sense why they made the kind of system that they made. And as I said, it was a Calvinistic a Calvinistic system.

[00:18:50] Isaac Botkin: And it has those checks and balances believing that people are not naturally good through and through and, that left to their own devices, they will go the other way.

[00:19:00] Dr. Kayser: Yes. For example, their doctrine of total depravity made them not trust people in power, and they didn't trust people out of power. God's law was given to put a restraint to sin, but because of their view of human nature they inserted these checks and balances that you just mentioned.

[00:19:15] Dr. Kayser: And as our country has moved away from Calvinism, those checks and balances have been eroded. And second, Calvinism believed that only God was absolutely sovereign. The individual is not sovereign and the state is not sovereign. And thus both anarchism and collectivism were opposed by them. Wow. In contrast, our modern state has become almost godlike trying to be omniscient with their spying, trying to be omnipotent with their laws, trying to be omnipresent with their agencies, trying to be gracious with their welfare. It's the exact opposite of Calvinism.

[00:19:50] Isaac Botkin: Yeah. That is that is well said. I hadn't even thought about every different. Unlimited attribute of God being a very specific, deliberate pursuit of our current federal government. But yeah, yeah, they're all there.

Are Rights Limited? Is the Second Amendment absolute?

[00:20:06] Dr. Kayser: Yeah. It really is fascinating to read some of the founding fathers and how they saw their view of God and their view of nature and all of these things impacting their politics. Very self-conscious civic theory.

[00:20:21] Isaac Botkin: So did they see, 'cuz we have heard recently, we have heard recently a lot of conversation about limited rights.

[00:20:29] Isaac Botkin: I remember years ago, people talking about the fact that these rights are not individual rights. They're merely collective rights. But now there's some recognition that, yeah, some of these rights are actually individual rights. But the new talking point is: "These rights are not absolute. The Second Amendment is not absolute. The First Amendment is not absolute. No. Right. Is. Absolute." Is that something that the founders, would've had an opinion on?

[00:20:56] Dr. Kayser: Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by limited and absolute. According to Exodus 22, verse two, my right to life. Which is an inalienable, right, it authorizes me to kill someone who's directly trying to kill me. But there are limits to how I exercise that, right? For example, Jesus authorized his disciples to own illegal weapons and even commanded them from that time forward to acquire illegal weapons for self-defense. But when Peter tried to use that illegal weapon in self-defense against the civil magistrate, Jesus told him to put up his sword.

[00:21:35] Dr. Kayser: And He gave us His reason that anarchy is unbiblical and it's self-defeating. So God himself limits how, when, and why our various rights should be exercised and defended. And likewise, even though I have the right to kill a person who's directly trying to kill me, if I'm starving and I say, "Hey, I've got the right to life. I'm gonna steal some food from my neighbor." No, you can't do that. I can't take away someone else's inalienable, right? In order to protect my right. That would put God's law into conflict with itself. And so Proverbs 6:30-31 says, even though we might sympathize with a thief who's trying to survive and he's stealing somebody else's stuff, he still has to justice demands restitution.

Rights are Limited By Checks and Balances, too

[00:22:19] Dr. Kayser: So I'd say, yeah, there are limits, but those limits are all clearly defined by the Bible. We don't have to guess based on some subjective notion of natural law that it takes, you know, experts in the government to figure. It's the beauty of the Calvinistic view of human rights: We see them as written on the heart and so that we can explain why people have sensed the need for them.

[00:22:40] Dr. Kayser: But because God has given very specific applications of that law in the Bible, we don't have to guess. Anybody, citizen or king, we don't need philosopher kings anybody can know exactly what those rights are. And our founding fathers, I think just had a beautiful system. Sadly, I think it's been grossly misrepresented.

Philosopher Kings, Sphere Sovereignty and a Limited State

[00:23:00] Isaac Botkin: Yeah, this is a whole rabbit trail. I try to avoid rabb- No, actually, I don't always try to avoid rabbit trails. But this particular conversation should be a little more focused, but a rabbit trail that we won't take is this idea that you just mentioned: You don't need philosopher kings. When you have the law word of God, that is so short and simple and perfect and precise.

[00:23:23] Isaac Botkin: One of the things that does is it eliminates the need for a gigantic, all-encompassing state because it is something that individuals can do. It also eliminates the need for a gigantic, all-encompassing church. Because it's something that people that have the Word can actually do themselves.

[00:23:39] Isaac Botkin: It is an incredibly decentralizing idea.

[00:23:44] Dr. Kayser: Yeah. It actually did flow out of their Calvinism that they believed God alone could define human rights, not philosopher kings. And when God gives a chain of command, if the state steps out from that chain of command we can disobey the state and still be in full lawful obedience to God because we're staying in the chain of command in our disobedience.

[00:24:09] Dr. Kayser: And here's one of the things I think that they felt so strongly about, is sphere-sovereignty. Between four types of governments: There's self-government, family government, church government, and civil government. And some people like Murray Rothbard, they just park on the first one.

[00:24:26] Dr. Kayser: But all four of those are very very important and each one has its own sphere of jurisdiction. And even within civics there they said there has to be a separation of powers, vertically and horizontally with each one knowing their limits, their bounds, their jurisdiction, and that all came out of the Bible. It was a huge protection of liberties.

[00:24:46] Dr. Kayser: And so they would say the state cannot intrude upon the family's jurisdiction or upon the church's jurisdiction. And in many ways, politics looks very, very similar to libertarianism. It's not quite there, but it's very limited government.

[00:25:02] Isaac Botkin: Interesting. And this idea that there is a system that God has laid down and when the state, for example, cuz that's the easiest one to for I think us to picture in our day and age, it's the one that was the easiest for our founders to picture.

When the State Steps Out of Line

[00:25:16] Isaac Botkin: When the state steps out of line of this system and the people continue to follow the system properly and they are now out of step with the government. I wanna pick up on something that you mentioned earlier, which was Jesus telling his disciples to have an illegal weapon. Could you just go back to that little bit? That Luke 22 passage? Because he recommends to his disci- or, not recommends, he directs his disciples to get swords, even if it means selling his garment to acquire a sword.

[00:25:50] Isaac Botkin: But you mentioned earlier that was an illegal - That would've been an illegal weapon for them to have in that particular part of the Roman empire. So if you could just expand on that a little bit…

[00:26:01] Dr. Kayser: Sure. I've pulled up the Luke 22 passage. Jesus told his disciples, when I sent you without money, bag, nap sack and sandals, did you lack anything?

[00:26:12] Dr. Kayser: So they said, "Nothing." So He had previously been teaching them that they could trust him to provide even when fundamental needs were not being met. But then Jesus gave them what their normal responsibilities should. They needed to protect their rights ordinarily so He said, "but now, from now on, he who has a money bag, let him take it and likewise a napsack. And he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." And so having a sword in Christ's mind was more important than having a change of clothing, which is saying something. Most people have multiple changes of clothing and he said, sell your extra shirt and buy a sword if you don't have one.

[00:26:55] Dr. Kayser: And the fact that he was not talking about metaphorical swords can be seen by the next verse. It says, "so they said, 'Lord, here are two swords.'' And He said, 'it's enough.'" And so Jesus was allowing them the right to keep and bear arms even when the civil magistrate prohibited such ownership. And here's the thing: Peter later used one of those swords against an officer who was seeking to arrest them and arrest Jesus.

[00:27:22] Dr. Kayser: And Jesus was not a revolutionary. And He told them no, that's not the appropriate way to use the sword in self-defense. They could break an unlawful law, but they could not engage in revolution. And the Old Testament did exactly the same thing. David fled from tyranny rather than individually raising his sword against the tyranny of Saul.

[00:27:42] Dr. Kayser: And Jesus commanded his disciples to flee tyranny, which by the way, fleeing is a form of individual resistance as well. He said when they persecute you in this city, flee to another. Well, that would be breaking the law to flee, but it was an unlawful law and therefore it was null and void.

[00:28:00] Isaac Botkin: Now the original, not all, but a number of the folks that came to the new world and started these colonies in America were doing that. They believed that they were doing that. They had started unlawful churches or they were fleeing from various unlawful laws back in England. And so, so then years later in the 1760s and the 1770s, they actually begin to get ready to fight back.

[00:28:32] Isaac Botkin: So, would you say that the War for American Independence which we call the Revolutionary War in popular parlance, is that actually a revolution?

[00:28:41] Dr. Kayser: No, it was a lawful war engaged in by lawful civil magistrates, lower magistrates. And the Bible definitely authorizes that. That's not anarchism, it's not revolution.

[00:28:55] Dr. Kayser: We call it the Revolutionary War. But it was totally different from the war that was given in France. And one of the books that I have written, I think you mentioned it earlier, The Divine Right of Resistance. It goes through what are lawful means of resistance and what are unlawful means, and it definitely helps us to avoid the ditch of anarchistic revolution on the one side and just total passive rolling over on the other side.

[00:29:32] Dr. Kayser: And so I would say no, it is not in any way. It was not in any way a revolution.

[00:29:40] Isaac Botkin: Yeah. And a great example of a revolution would be the French Revolution that happened very soon after a lot of the founders were still alive and able to watch and comment on the French Revolution and to make a clear distinction themselves.

[00:29:55] Isaac Botkin: Cause there were a bunch of French revolutionaries who are, were saying, we just did what America did. We're just doing what America is doing. And the results were completely totally different. So it's a fantastic I mean it's a brutal, horrific thing to read about, but it is a fantastic comparison and contrast.

[00:30:20] Dr. Kayser: It is. Anarchism often leads to the exact opposite: to tyranny, and that's what happened there. It's a fantastic test case of what happens when we don't have any checks and balances or any objective definitions of our human rights.

[00:30:40] Isaac Botkin: So how can you tell it, it's, it's pretty obvious in hindsight when the body count is super high and people are just getting slaughtered in the streets and they set up temples to the cult of science and et cetera. Like in hindsight, it's pretty obvious that was the wrong turn. But when it's happening all around you, how do you generally tell if a state is becoming tyrannical and on that wrong path?

[00:31:05] Dr. Kayser: I would define tyranny as any rule that is not under the restraints of law. And, **chuckles** by that definition, I would say America has become tyrannical because our elected officials, they violate their oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution almost as soon as they get into office by voting things that are unconstitutional. And it's not just Democrats. Most Republicans do that too.

[00:31:30] Dr. Kayser: No restraint. No restraints of biblical law or constitutional law. Oh, for sure. Yeah. And I, I would say, biblically, Romans 13 is what people appeal to that you just need to submit to the government. But in my book, The Divine Right of Resistance, I point out that it does not define the rulers there as tyrants, but as being ministers of God with limited, delegated, specified powers.

The Black Robe Regiment - The Founder's Grassroots Teachers on Resisting Tyranny

And the Black Robe, have you ever heard of the Black Robe Regiment at the time of the American War for Independence?

[00:32:05] Isaac Botkin: I have, yes. Some of the most hated people, the British hated the Black Robe Regiment more than anyone. And yeah, go on.

[00:32:15] Dr. Kayser: And the black robe, came from, the preachers wore these, not priestly garments, but teacher's garments. They were black robes and they preached during America's War for Independence on what Romans 13 meant, and what are the bounds, for our resistance to tyranny.

[00:32:34] Dr. Kayser: Fantastic sermons. Some of these have been collected and reprinted recent years, and they will blow you out of the water. They would preach on a passage like Psalm 94:20 which denies that a tyrant is in any way a minister of God. He's a minister of Satan.

[00:32:53] Dr. Kayser: For example, Psalm 94:20 says, "shall the throne of iniquity which crafts evil by statute have anything to do with you?" So not having anything to do with God sounds more like Daniel's and Revelation's description of such nations as beasts who represent Satan, not God. While you, you read some of those Black Robe Regiment sermons, they're absolutely amazing. And our founding fathers listened to them and were very much influenced by them.

[00:33:20] Isaac Botkin: Yeah. There's a gentleman I I forget his name. I'll have to look him up. I will, I wanna talk to you about him offline, but he is currently going through Jonathan Edwards sermons. And Jonathan Edwards, it predates the War for American Independence by quite a bit.

[00:33:38] Isaac Botkin: He actually wrote and gave sermons on a number of the British wars that were going on at the time, and so he wrote sermons about just law theory when wars are correct and good when you do follow a legitimate civil magistrate into battle, et cetera. And so even though his sermons were on French and Indian Wars prior to that. Wars that American colonists signed up for and went and fought on behalf of the British Empire, those sermons on just warfare still had the limits.

[00:34:12] Isaac Botkin: They still had those checks and balances, the frameworks for what is a lawful and unlawful war. And so those sermons that justified the involvement in some British wars at one time were the exact same sermons, the exact same principles that explained why the American Colonists could resist the British army that was doing unlawful things to them in the 1770s, just a few decades later.

[00:34:39] Dr. Kayser: Yes. Yes, absolutely. There's really a cohesiveness. I think it's like over 80% of the colonies population had a pretty cohesive worldview, a Calvinistic worldview. There were some variations colony to colony. But John Eidsmoe's book and, actually, it's been quite a number of books that have documented the religious background of of those colonies and what's come to be known as the Black Robe Regiment, I think, shows the structure of the whole population's views of civics.

[00:35:21] Isaac Botkin: So, we've already been discussing this topic for some time, and I know you have limited time, but this kind of raises the question: "If your state is becoming tyrannical and if the rights that a human being inherently has been endowed by, by their creator, what do those rights actually mean?"

[00:35:42] Isaac Botkin: At what point is it become, does it become a responsibility, a duty to resist these unlawful these unlawful rulers and rules? Now I think we're actually gonna have to skip that for now, because that is its own show. So I would love to invite you back to talk about that in more detail, the different principles that come into effect when asking that question.

[00:36:05] Isaac Botkin: Is that something that you would like to dig into more more on the show?

[00:36:09] Dr. Kayser: Sure. Yeah. That's a very important question because we've left a lot of issues, kind of untouched. Thus far that, that could guide people on that. But I think the way you phrased it, we've got rights, but along with those rights come responsibilities.

Selfish vs. Self-Sacrificing Rights - The Freedom to Serve and Defend

[00:36:27] Dr. Kayser: And we're not just self-focused creatures, that would be anarchism. But when God gives us rights, it's rights given so that we can better serve him and serve others. And so I would say that defending the lives of other people is an important aspect of this. This is one of the things that bothers me a little bit about Murray Rothbard, even though I'm an Austrian in my views of economics

[00:36:51] Dr. Kayser: But what he sees is so anarchistic that he would say that a, a woman who does not want the baby in her womb, just treated as a parasite, and you can eject it, you can kill it.

[00:37:18] Dr. Kayser: And so the right to life becomes a very self-serving thing rather than looking out for the interests of others and part of the whole Second Amendment was to, yes, be a part of a militia, be ready and prepared to defend the liberties of all, not just your own liberties. And that's a whole subject that we could get into, but it's a beautiful subject in the Second Amendment: Our responsibilities to our neighbors.

[00:37:37] Isaac Botkin: Does every right have an associated responsibility attached to it, would you say?

[00:37:44] Dr. Kayser: I think so because God gives these rights so that we can serve him.


[00:37:49] Isaac Botkin: This has been a fantastic introduction to a lot of really deep, complicated, detailed issues. I will recommend a number of, for people who want to dig deeper immediately, not wait till the next episode, the next conversation that we have with you, Dr. Kayser, I will recommend a number of things in the show notes. Linking them to places where they can hear some of your sermons and and also get a hold of that Divine Right of Resistance book, which is an excellent start as well.

[00:38:22] Isaac Botkin: But there are a whole bunch of different things that we can go in there. And I would love, for those of you who are listening to write to us at team@trex-arms.com, let us know what specific rabbit holes you want to go down on this topic. Now that we have a theologian to ask some of these questions of, where would you like to take this conversation when it comes to resistance, when it comes to rights, when it comes to responsibilities, whether it is the practical application of today, the historical deep dives into the founding of the nation and everything that came before.

[00:38:59] Isaac Botkin: Let us know what you're interested in, because I know that Dr. Kayser is capable of tremendous material on all of those different things, but I know, sir, that your time is limited. And I would love to thank you for an excellent conversation. I'm so glad that we finally finally have you on the show.

[00:39:16] Isaac Botkin: We've, we talked about this in our last couple of conversations, but Christmas is right around the corner. We have talked extensively about the goodness of God in providing us with these rights. The goodness of God is I think, very clear in this conversation. It's something that we would like to talk about more at T.REX.

[00:39:34] Isaac Botkin: It's not that we are shy about it, it just doesn't really have as much of a place inside of a YouTube video on Digital Night Vision or testing .308 rifles. But what, what would you like to add to this conversation? As people go into Christmas on our, and are thinking about the Christmas season and thinking about Christmas itself.

Christmas and Rights

[00:39:57] Dr. Kayser: Well, the whole incarnation is God identifying with us, going through all of the struggles, all the pains that we went through, being denied rights, just like we have been denied. He identified from conception all the way through to death. And God has given us rights and laws as ways of preserving our human dignity, avoiding tyranny, doing justice better serving Him,

[00:40:21] Dr. Kayser: And he's given his own son, the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can justly receive his mercy and forgiveness. But he's also a model, he's a role model for us in how to live, as we already saw with the Second Amendment issue that He instructed His disciples in. And it's been a pleasure to be able to talk with you, and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas as well.

[00:40:44] Isaac Botkin: Yes. Merry Christmas to everyone and I'm looking forwards to future conversations with you, Dr. Kayser, but. Also just future conversations with the rest of the T.REX audience in the podcast in the future. This has been one of the great blessings of the last year was a very fascinating, good, fruitful year for us in many ways.

[00:41:04] Isaac Botkin: Thank all of you who are listening. Thank you, Dr. Kayser, and Dr. Kayser: Merry Christmas. Isaac Botkin: Merry Christmas.