Gary North recently posted an article on limited liability: it’s worth looking at here:
A man should be held legally responsible for what he does in public, unless he is acting as an authorized agent of a legally immune institution, i.e., Church or State. Nevertheless, he is not to be held personally responsible before any human institution for what those in lawful authority over him do. He is responsible only for his own actions. To say otherwise is to invite anarchy. This is the institutional reason for limited liability. It limits both the Church and the State, each of which possesses a legitimate, God-given monopoly of authority.
The principle of limited liability is an outworking of Deuteronomy 24:16: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” The fathers must exercise authority. if every move they make is challenged by a son on the basis of the civil threat of subordinate liability, family authority will disintegrate.
Of course, this is the intention of the State – to destroy the authority of both family and church. “Only the State and it’s financial buddies, the corporations, should have limited liability!” every secularist declares.
Good thing the State is already in the process of disintegration. It’s coming bankruptcy – in wealth, yes, but even more in legitimacy and idea control – will clear the decks, again permitting the rise of powers not based on guns, badges, and political promises.
Proclaiming the Church’s Independent Legal Status
I have done my best to establish a link between limited liability laws and institutional stability. Deny the former, and you help to destroy the latter.
The reason why the West has experienced such remarkable economic growth over the last three centuries, and especially over the last century, is in large part due to the acknowledgment by the State of the legitimacy of the limited liability corporation. It has allowed the voluntary creation of huge pools of capital; without limited liability status for the capitalists (investors) from creditors (who knew the risks of lending to a corporation), it is far less likely that such a capital base could have appeared. Where did the model for the limited liability corporation first appear? ln the Church. This is what very few historians and theologians ever recognize. To acknowledge this would necessarily involve acknowledging the pre-eminence of the Church in Western history.
The Church is the model tor the world. Christians should never forget this. The Church is the model–not the State, not the family, and not the profit-seeking business. The Church alone is the body of Christ — His corpus. The Church incorporates Christ in history, whose head He is. “And he is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
So, Christians must never cease to affirm the independent legal status of the Church. The State does not create the Church. The State is not the source of the Church’s limited liability legal status. To deny this in any way, except under outright State compulsion–and then only when accompanied by formal legal protests–is to weaken the comprehensive claims of Jesus Christ in history. The State’s claims in this regard must be denied, both in word and deed. A local church must not seek legal incorporation from the State until the State formally acknowledges that the Church possesses this legal status from God, independent of the State. Until the State admits that it simply recognizes the Church’s status as a limited liability institution, the Church should not crawl on its belly to receive a supposed grant of privilege from the State.
Quite a lot of Christians are happy to crawl on their belly before men of wealth and power.
I grow weary of such idolatry: and I am nowhere near as righteous, holy, wise, or demanding as God is.
But one of the great strengths of Christianity is that those who fear God have no need to fear men, however well-connected or media-backed or votes they have gathered or the level of violent viciousness they are able to exhibit.
The failures of the Church today are rooted in our seminary-trained pastors and their fearful, safety-seeking membership.
The success of the Church tomorrow will be rooted in pastors trained in a decentralized manner, outside of the Establishment-certified schools (and the massive debt burden they gleefully place on their students, whether they graduate or not), backed by a laity – a.k.a. Godly family men – willing to creatively use the (increasingly abundant) tools to
- Keep their people informed on what’s really going on;
- Get people organized locally;
- Lay the foundations of Revolution through Noncooperation – something that is going to be increasingly easy, as the State goes bust, it’s promises become openly laughable, and technological advancements accelerate (and so accelerating decentralization as well!)
Freedom is coming for us, just as surely as it came for the Hebrews under Pharaoh, and the denizens of the Communist states. Getting prepped to welcome it is far wiser than wailing and crying for some long-dead culture of childhood memories.