gold coins that are physical representations of digital cryptocurrency, with Bitcoin and Ethereum symbols on them

Central Bank Digital Currency —15 Free Resources

By Sadie Aldaya

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) have garnered significant attention and debate in economic, social, and political circles in recent years. As governments and financial institutions explore the possibilities and implications of CBDCs, it’s crucial for individuals to stay abreast and engaged with the ongoing discourse surrounding this topic. To aid your understanding, here are 15 free resources covering various aspects of CBDCs, including expert opinions, analyses, and discussions.

Central Bank Digital Currency Resources

Podcast Episodes and Videos

  1. CBDC & Fed Now App Launch Coming In Days. Is it “The Mark?”—Justin Barclay interviews Dr. Kirk Elliot on this insightful podcast episode.
  2. Greg Reese Report: FedNow Launch—This informative video will give valuable insights into the Federal Reserve’s CBDC initiative launch.
  3. Refining Rhetoric with Robert Bortins ends each episode with a Classical Crypto segment.
  4. Leigh Bortins & Kevin Novak’s Unfragmented Book Club series on Thank God for BitCoin by Jimmy Song. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Articles and Reports

  1. Central Bank Digital Currency: What Is A CBDC?Forbes offers an in-depth exploration of CBDCs, highlighting their significance and implications.
  2. Why a Digital Dollar Is a Really Bad Idea—The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) presents compelling arguments against the concept of a digital dollar.
  3. Homeschool Freedom Action Center: The Perils of Centralized Digital Banking Currency—An insightful analysis of the risks associated with centralized digital currencies.
  4. CBDC vs. Crypto: What’s the Difference?—The CATO Institute shares the nuances of CBDCs versus cryptocurrencies in this thought-provoking article.
  5. Federal Reserve—Learn about the FedNow Service and its role in the future of digital payments.
  6. White House Statement—Discover the current White House perspective on responsible digital asset innovation.
  7. CBDCs: The Road To Total Digital EnslavementWide Awake Media explores the implications of CBDCs on digital freedom in this thought-provoking article.
  8. Bank of Korea Governor Sees CBDC Introduction as Case for ‘Urgency:’ Report—Gain insights from the Bank of Korea Governor on the urgency of CBDC introduction.
  9. Donald Trump Vows to ‘Never Allow’ Central Bank Digital Currencies if Elected—This informative article explores Donald Trump’s views on CBDCs.

Finally, navigating the realm of CBDCs requires a thorough understanding of the complex issues at play. By engaging with these resources, you’ll be better equipped to grasp the implications of CBDCs on economies, financial systems, and individual freedoms. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and join the ongoing conversation surrounding the future of digital currencies.

Sadie Aldaya is the Research & Quality Assurance Specialist for Classical Conversations. Sadie and her husband homeschooled for over 20 years. She served as a Classical Conversations field representative for 15 years, providing community and support for other homeschooling families. Sadie’s passions are to stop government encroachment in areas where they have no authority or jurisdiction and to see Christians return to a biblical Christ-centered worldview.

a man holds up a phone to cover his face

Why Gen Z Males Prefer the Right

by Robert Bortins

Gen Z males are leaning more right than left, a recent survey shows. When it comes to political momentum, it is easy to feel intimidated by cultural forces. Especially for younger generations, we are persistently told that revolutions come from youth, and the cultural tides are shifting because of young voices.

Moreover, when touted from the left, this can be disheartening, knowing that Gen Z fills the voter pool with indoctrinated principles planted by far, far leftist public academia.

Is there hope for Gen Z?

However, as politicians, Hollywood, and mainstream media bully conservatives with these empty talking points, the data shows the opposite. And this is especially the case with Gen Z males.

In episode 71 of Refining Rhetoric, Robert explores why Gen Z males are leaning conservative twice as much as liberal, as discovered by a recent survey that contradicts the widely held narrative that Gen Z has a leftist bent. There is hope for Gen Z.

Check out the episode below. Listen to other episodes on Refining Rhetoric or check out “How Civility Can Save Our Country.

Why Gen Z Males Prefer The Right

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining Rhetoric. The company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

a closeup of open hands

Factions & Fractions

by Lauren Gideon

As a classical educator, I can’t hide my enthusiasm when I find connections between the disciplines and realize the opportunity to practice the classical tools.

To set the stage, we are now walking full steam ahead towards securing the presidential party nominations and the November general election. If you are an active participant in politics or even just a spectator, you know that things aren’t just as simple as team red vs. team blue. Even in our system, dominated by two major parties, it’s not as if we’re separated into giant circles, holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

Why not?

Factions.

Factions – What divides us

Factions are smaller groups within the larger group that often have robust disagreements with other factions based on their differences of opinion. They usually take a bad rap but are a strong indicator of freedom. Our copious evidence for diversity of thought (factions) affirms our political tolerance for freedom of thought, speech, association, etc.

The word fraction is just one letter different and simply refers to a smaller part of the whole. These two words have much in common, but they are not related. However, our factions ARE fractions. It is human nature to form factions within our larger groups, like our families, churches, associations such as political parties, our nation, our world, or within all of humanity past and present, which are consequently fractions of different wholes. Madison discusses factions in Federalist No. 10, which explains the inevitability, the necessity, and the problems they can cause, but also how best to control their effects.

The conservative sphere is fraught with factions and, consequently, fractions. Now, what we know of political power in our republic is that when you divide your collective voice into smaller and smaller groups, it loses power and influence. Those concerned with efficacy are frustrated by these factions that fraction the influence of the whole. To consolidate influence, they cry for unity. Unity is nothing more than the combination of these fractions. And the fractions must combine to have any successful operations.

Combining fractions? Operations? That sounds like arithmetic!

Combining fractions requires the operation of addition. To add fractions, however, we must follow the rules of that operation. Step one is to attend to the elements. We know a fraction has both a numerator and a denominator. The denominator is also called the base.

Now, to combine fractions for the sake of an operation, we know that we must have a common denominator. How do we do that? First, we acknowledge that every denominator is the product of several factors. (I know I have yet to connect all the dots, but I hope you can see where this is going!) When we examine our denominator, we must do the diligence of sorting out all the unique factors. To get to a common denominator, sometimes we must let go of a factor and bring in a new one. Still, we must negotiate between fractions until we can develop a common denominator on which to operate.

Do we have to agree with everyone about everything then?

In short, “no.” You need to find a common base only to operate or TO DO something. That means the people or groups we work with can change based on the thing/things we are doing. For example, philanthropy is a factor/value of many groups that may disagree on theology or eschatology. But to operate on the base of philanthropy, we don’t necessarily have to factor in values that we don’t have in common. 

Politically, we all have bases that are the product of several factors. We have analyzed some of these factors and clarified how and why they became part of our base. We still need to analyze others to have that clarity on their value. Only through this understanding (dialectic art) can we be fruitful in our rhetoric. Clarity helps us find commonality, the essential ingredient for successful operations.

Commonality vs. Distinctions

But commonality is not our nature. Factions are notorious for obsessing over our distinctions. While clarity can come through distinctions, without an appropriate value on commonality, we can kiss operating goodbye!

So why do we prefer to focus on our distinctions? I’ll answer a question with a question. If we focus on what we have in common, or what is the same value, how can we prove the value of our factor to be superior?

We can’t. There is no foothold for our pride or ego when we seek to discover that which is shared or equal. Can it be pride at the root yet again? Surly not, and especially not within Christian conservativism. (I jest).

But before we all unify around the unity train, allow me this caveat

Our common denominator is only as valuable as the factors it contains. There will be those that cry out for unity for unity’s sake. Ignore their baseless cries. Unify on factors that are good, true, and beautiful. To do this, we must know these things, love them, and look for them in the world and people around us.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Lauren also contributed The Free-Market Education Table at the Potluck.

Lauren Gideon biography picture

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. The Foundations curriculum brought their family together, provided a scope and sequence that was manageable, and always directed their attention to Christ. Lauren credits her experience as a home educator and as a leader within Classical Conversations for giving her the classical tools to tackle whatever opportunities come her way. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

the Texas capitol building

Get Ready! March & April Homeschool Days at the Capitol!

Homeschool Days at the Capitol, Legislative Days, Capitol Days, Pie Day, and other similar events foster communication between parents and their elected representatives. Seize this excellent opportunity to teach your children the importance of the legislative process. Help them mature into civic leaders who will help protect American freedoms.

The chart below lists March and April Homeschool Days at the Capitol. You can also check your state’s dates here if it’s not listed below.

AlabamaApril 4, 2024
ColoradoApril 11, 2024
GeorgiaMarch 5, 2024
IllinoisMarch 22, 2024
IowaMarch 4, 2024
MarylandMarch 14, 2024
MissouriMarch 5, 2024
TennesseeMarch 26, 2024
A young man bowing his head down on a church alter at sunset

Behold, How Sinners Disagree

by Paul Bright

The following is a modified and expanded version of Isaac Watt’s Behold, How Sinners Disagreewhich was composed for the purpose of discipling our hearts into humility and grace.

Paul Bright also contributed the blog “Swamp Fire: A Reflection” which was published on January 24, 2024.

Paul Bright currently works in the field of Biotechnology. He is a native of Evansville, IN, and an alumnus of Purdue University and The Master’s Seminary. Paul was a Systematic Theology and Ancient Hebrew professor in Samara, Russia. He and his wife, Jennifer, homeschooled their daughter all the way through high school and currently reside in Covington, Louisiana.

A young boy and girl concentrate on their homework, writing together at a table

Oklahoma Bill HB 4130 – A Deeper Analysis

By Elise DeYoung

In recent months, Oklahoma and Michigan, two states that have historically had low regulation on homeschool freedoms, have sought to pass restrictive laws. These states both claim to be passing homeschool registration and oversight laws to prevent the abuse of home-educated children.

Since homeschooling became legal in 1992, many states have tirelessly attempted to oversee and regulate a parent’s right to home education. If you wish to learn about your state’s homeschool laws, you can do so by visiting HSLDA’s website.

You can learn more about the specifics of Michigan’s proposal and its problems here.

In Oklahoma, Rep. Amanda Swope has introduced HB 4130, which would require homeschool parents to send in a letter to the Department of Human Services requesting to homeschool their child, provide the information of every adult involved in the child’s education, and go through biannual background checks performed by the DHS.

While the intentions of Swope may sound noble at first (who wouldn’t want to put an end to the abuse of children?), this bill is founded on a false premise and represents a trend of state aggression towards homeschooling. For these reasons, Americans, especially in Oklahoma, must strongly oppose Swope’s bill to restrict and regulate homeschooling families.

The Narrative is Fabricated

The entire reason for the bill rests upon the premise that there is an epidemic of abuse among homeschooled children, and we need new legislation to address it. Sadly, for Swope and her bill, the statistical facts strongly contradict this narrative.

First, all of the evidence available shows that “homeschooled children are abused at a lower rate than are those in the general public, and no evidence shows that the home educated are at any higher risk of abuse.”(Ray, 2018) What’s more, a Gen 2 Survey found that homeschooled students are actually 257% less likely to be sexually abused than their government-schooled peers.

It is ironic that Swope’s proposed solution to the fallacious low abuse rates among homeschoolers is government regulation. This has yet to help public schoolers who experience constant state oversight. What makes her think it will help the homeschoolers in any way?

Additionally, according to the statistics, if Swope were truly concerned with addressing child abuse in her state, she would turn her attention to the place where children suffer the most—government schools.

Even if there were high rates of abuse among homeschooled children, there are already nationwide laws on the books that protect all children from abuse, including homeschoolers.[1] There is no reason to pass another bill. Oklahoma simply has to enforce the ones it already has in place.

So why do Swope and those who support HB 4130 want to pass it so badly? The answer is increased government oversight and regulation on homeschooling.

Government Overreach

To understand the extent of the government overreach within HB 4130, we must examine the document ourselves.

Letters of Intent

Paragraph F. reads, “On or before the school district start date, parents making the decision to choose homeschooling, podschooling, or microschooling shall submit a letter of intent to the Department of Human Services.”

A Letter of Intent can easily be dismissed as “normal” because many states require homeschooling parents to write a letter outlining their intent to homeschool. However, most states require parents to submit it to their local school district or to their state. The purpose of this is to inform their state schools that it is not responsible for their child’s education.

The difference is that with this bill, Oklahoma parents must submit their letter of intent to the Department of Human Services. Later in the bill, the letter of intent is referred to as “a request to homeschool” and may be denied by the DHS. Denial of a fundamental right to educate one’s child is an egregious abuse of power. Since when did the DHS (the civil government) have the right to determine whether a family has the right to homeschool their children?

The bill continues by explaining what information parents are required to surrender:

  • The names of the homeschooling parents
  • The social security numbers of parents.
  • The names of all the homeschooled children
  • The home address of the family homeschooling
  • The names of all individuals living at the home address
  • The names of “any associated individuals or organizations assisting with the child’s or children’s schooling.”
  • Along with “A brief statement for the decision of schooling”

Furthermore, this bill requires you to “reapply” for homeschooling by sending in a “subsequent letter of intent” every time you make a change in your initial decision to homeschool, whether it is “a result of a move or otherwise.”

Background Checks

Paragraph H. says, “When the Department of Human Services receives a letter of intent, it shall perform an initial background check on parents, other adults within the home, and any adults assisting in the children’s schooling.”

The fact that the DHS wants to perform background checks on parents to decide whether or not they have the right to home-educate their children is Orwellian. It also begs a fascinating question:

Why does this bill not include background checks for the parents of public school students? Those students are home, with no government supervision, for three whole months. Why isn’t Swope concerned about abuse in those homes?

Background checks on “parents, other adults within the home, and any adults assisting in the children’s schooling” is both a disturbing invasion into the homes of home educators and will also cause a multitude of issues for tutoring programs and independent educators who will now be subject to background checks by the DHS.

Biannual Checks

Moreover, parents must repeat all the regulations examined so far biannually. “The Department shall maintain a system to conduct biannual checks of the database and compile a database of individuals, facilities, and organizations that perform and assist with homeschooling, podschooling, or microschooling.”

This regulation means that by the time an Oklahoma homeschool student has graduated, the DHS will have made 24 reviews on that child’s security information, address, family members, homeschool organizations, and teachers.

The bill concludes that the DHS may deny “requests” to homeschool and will deny them if any adult involved in the child’s education has a “pending child abuse or neglect investigation” against them.

Constitutional Home Educators explains the danger of this vague wording: “There are so many loopholes here that could allow DHS to deny your request to home educate. It does not say just an abuse or neglect conviction; it includes a pending investigation. All it takes is an accusation.”

Oppose HB 4130

This bill represents an outrageous abuse of government authority and power. First, it is completely unnecessary and will be totally ineffective. Regulation does not reduce abuse. Second, the bill is designed to empower government-run agencies to dictate a parent’s right to home educate and to regulate that right if it is “approved” by the state. This bill is a blatant abuse of power and must be ardently rejected by the citizens of Oklahoma before it is instated and enforced.

Homeschool freedom is a right that many before us have fought to win. We cannot allow the state to deceive us into surrendering this right for a fabricated narrative and a false promise. All Americans must stand in support of Oklahoma citizens as they fight on the front lines for educational freedom.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. Elise is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!


[1] (n.d.). 2022 Oklahoma Statutes Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-843.5. Child abuse – Child neglect – Child sexual abuse – Child sexual exploitation – Enabling – Penalties. Justia US Law. https://law.justia.com/codes/oklahoma/2022/title-21/section-21-843-5/

a glass cup full of coins with a small plant with green leaves growing out of it

The Perils of Central Bank Digital Currency: A Closer Look

By Sadie Aldaya

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, the financial landscape is undergoing a transformative shift towards digital currencies. While the promise of efficiency and convenience is enticing, the rise of centralized digital banking currency comes with its own issues that warrant a critical examination. Although this isn’t to demonize, today we’ll explore the potential risks associated with centralized digital currencies and their implications for individuals and society.

Government Control and Manipulation

The centralization of digital currencies places substantial power in the hands of governments and central banks. This concentration of authority raises concerns about the potential for governments to manipulate currency value, control capital flows, and exert undue influence over citizens’ financial lives.

Loss of Privacy

One of the primary concerns with centralized digital banking currencies is the potential erosion of privacy. Traditional currencies allow for a level of anonymity in transactions, but centralized digital currencies often require extensive user data to operate effectively. The centralization of this information poses a significant risk, as it becomes vulnerable to hacking, surveillance, and misuse.

Increased Surveillance

Centralized digital currencies enable unprecedented levels of surveillance by central authorities. Every transaction with these currencies can be tracked, creating a comprehensive financial profile for individuals. This surveillance raises ethical concerns and threatens personal freedom and autonomy.

Single Point of Failure

Centralized systems are inherently vulnerable to systemic failures. A single point of control makes the entire financial system susceptible to hacking, technical glitches, or even deliberate manipulation. The consequences of such failures could be severe, leading to financial crises and widespread economic instability.

Exclusionary Practices

Centralized digital currencies may inadvertently exclude segments of the population who need access to the necessary technology or cannot navigate the digital landscape. This exclusionary aspect can deepen existing social and economic disparities, leaving certain individuals and communities behind.

Lack of Redundancy

Like traditional banking, decentralized systems often have built-in redundancies to ensure stability. In contrast, a centralized digital currency system lacks this redundancy, making it more susceptible to disruptions. A technical failure or cyberattack could have far-reaching consequences on the entire financial ecosystem.

Many issues must be considered as many move forward with crypto purchases and investments. In other words, before you invest, count the cost. The dangers associated with centralized digital banking currencies highlight the need for careful consideration of potential risks and implementing robust safeguards. Striking a balance between innovation and security is essential to creating a financial landscape that is both technologically advanced and resilient to the challenges posed by centralization. 

To learn more about the difference between centralized digital currencies and cryptocurrency, read CBDC vs. Crypto: What is the Difference?

Sadie Aldaya is the Research & Quality Assurance Specialist for Classical Conversation’s Special Projects & Policy Research Department and the CC Foundation. Sadie and her husband homeschooled for over 20 years. She served as a Classical Conversations field representative for 15 years, providing community and support for other homeschooling families. Sadie’s passions are to stop government encroachment in areas where they have no authority or jurisdiction and to see Christians return to a biblical Christ-centered worldview.

two boys play in the ocean at a beach

Aim for 10,800 Hours

By Edward Murray

Happy New Year!

January 1st represents a day of goals and ‘bucket-list’ changes for people all over the country. Whether it be diet, exercise, smoking, or Tick-Tock (please put this on your list!), for a week or two, the topic of many conversations will be New Year’s Resolutions. It happens every year—for at least two weeks, gym-goers won’t find good access to an elliptical or stair-climber due to the sudden influx of newcomers. Yet, once the two-week mark hits, the facility returns to normal.

To put this another way, each year, resolutions fail because of nearsightedness. These so-called ‘goals’ are too fickle, short-term, and temporary. Moreover, as many have said before, the problem with resolutions is that they are singular resolutions instead of lifetime habits.

Instead, we make resolutions and household habits that aim for the long term. This year, let’s aim for 10,800 hours with our children.

Aim for 10,800 Hours

In his book Education: Does God Have an Opinion? A Biblical Apologetic for Christian Education & Homeschooling, Christian Educator and Apologist Israel Wayne (referencing Malcolm Gladwell) writes:

           “In 2008, in his book Outliers, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell introduced a new concept to the American psyche. The ‘10,000-Hour-Rule” suggests that if you wish to truly excel in any field, you need to dedicate 10,000 hours of focused and targeted practice, study, and development. Successful musicians, athletes, artists, lawyers, actors, doctors, etc., have all given witness to investing this level of commitment into their craft.

           According to the Center for Public Education, most states require between 175 and 180 days of school or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level. Taking the lower number of 900 annual hours, this calculates to a total of 10,800 hours of seat instruction for students enrolled in a government school for grades 1-12. Can you see where I’m headed with this? The goal of every Christian parent is to seek to utilize those 10,800 hours for the glory of God.1

Think about how little time we have with our children in our homes—considering that at best we may have 18 years, then take out all the time they’re asleep or out with friends (not to mention public school, there goes eight more hours a day during the school year), an eternal perspective will show that our precious moments are fleeting.

Plan for the Last Day

In our culture, most, if not all, energy is expended planning for the first day. Think of how much effort and money we spend on wedding days (i.e., the first day of the marriage). Consider how much preparation young couples endure for the birth of their first child. Or fill in the blank for countless other life events: the first day of school, the first day of college, the first day on the job, etc.

We are good at aiming for the short term but largely miss it culturally for long-term planning. Imagine if we reversed it. Imagine what this would look like if we flipped it. What if, instead of investing in the first day, couples spent all their efforts and resources planning for the last day of the marriage?  

Thinking this way immediately brings to the forefront the need for daily habits rather than singular resolutions destined to fail in the first week or two.

Aiming for the Last Day is Nothing Less than Daily Discipleship

Begin this year thinking and praying about the last day your children will be in the home. Consider the words of the Psalmist:

3Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)

Instruments for war. That’s what the scriptures tell us our children are. But as anyone who has ever served in the military or seen the Lord of the Rings will know, no one innately has the ability to wield weapons for war. Efficient usage requires training, and arrows need sharpening.

Moreover, as Wayne and Gladwell remind us, at best, we have 10,800 hours to invest in these arrows. However, consider that if you have a 10-year-old at home like I do, then your time is already—at least cut in half. With this little time, nothing less than serious stewardship, daily habits, and intentional-planned investment will cultivate what is needed for the last day.

In other words, this year, plan for discipleship, not for resolutions. Even thinking of that last day may pull on your heartstrings. If it does, then use it! Marinate on and pray for that last day! And resolve to invest each hour of each day to the best of your ability by the power of God! And never forget that you are not alone!

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects and Policy Research for Classical Conversations and The Homeschool Freedom Action Center. He is a native of Augusta, GA, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, where he earned his M.Div. He lives in Newport News, VA, with his wife and three children.

  1. Wayne, Israel. Education: Does God Have an Opinion? A Biblical Apologetic for Christian Education & Homeschooling. (2017, Master Books), p. 19. ↩︎
beautifully jeweled crowns sitting on red cushions

The Perfect Monarchy

By Lauren Gideon

As I write this blog on New Year’s Day, I can’t help but take note of the colliding spheres of meaning in our holidays and in our politics. At this moment, firmly nested in between Advent and Epiphany, the entire focus of this season revolves around celebrating the arrival of the Holy Monarchy. Even people, whose consciences are opposed to recognizing December 25 for historical reasons, still revere the significance of the incarnation of the Eternal King.

Where Did Monarchy Come From?

The word “king” first appears in Genesis 14. In this chapter, nine kings are listed in the conflict that transpires. Four kings and their kingdoms wage war on the other five. When Lot and his household are captured, Abram is forced to intervene. At the end of the chapter, we learn about the King of Salem, Melchizedek, who was also a priest of the Most High God. This conflict happened around 1866 BC.

Other historical documents teach us about Namer, the first King in Egypt, who ruled around 3150 BC, and Enmebaragesi, King of Kish, in northern Babylonia, c. 2700 BC.

We have no record of God establishing a monarchy until 1 Samuel 8 (c. 1052 BC).

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9 ESV)

According to this passage, the people initiated the conversation and requested a king, and their request was an act of rejection. When God calls himself the people’s king, one question was whether he was defining monarchy or leveraging a term already a part of the ancient vocabulary.

God’s granting of their request was an act of revelation and consequence. In Samuel 12:17, Samuel gives the people a sign.

17 “Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.”

And the people responded with confession,

19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”

God Still Gave a King

But this did not stop God from giving the people what they requested. This would begin the parade of Hebrew kings.

What is important to conclude is that just because God established a human monarchy does not change the fact that the request was an act of rejection and a wicked act. There is a sentiment among some Christians that because a human king ruled God’s chosen people and God directed the process of establishing the monarchy, this must mean that the Hebrew monarchy was good. However, the text is very clear about how God frames the event. It is essential to distinguish what God allows from what He calls good.

This confusion has continued throughout time. Much of classical liberalism literature was drafted in the 17th century in opposition to the Divine Rights theory. King James I of England (1603–25), who commissioned and was the namesake of the 1611 English translation of the Bible, was the foremost exponent of the divine right of kings.1

Sir Robert Filmer wrote an essential piece of literature on the divine rights theory in the early 17th century (published in 1680). A key aspect of his argument was that he claimed, “God Governed Always by Monarchy.”

John Locke and his contemporaries spent their lives untangling this mess, drawing on their observations of history and human nature. Do you know what they discovered? To summarize, they unpacked what scripture had always been saying:

10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Paul’s words in Romans directly echo both Psalm 14 and Psalm 53.

None on Earth is Worthy

What scripture teaches us is that none on Earth is worthy. We have no non-wicked option to set up as a king! Additionally, all humanity is equal in merit. Each individual is an image bearer of Christ and possesses a totally depraved nature. Thus, these two questions must always be asked, “Who among us is worthy to rule someone else?” and “Who among us deserves to be ruled by another fallen human?”

In Thomas Jefferson’s first Inaugural Address, he deals with this issue: “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

These age-old questions were addressed at the inception of our nation after centuries of debate and historical case studies. In our nation’s oldest official document, the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson penned these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”— a direct affront to the divine rights theory!

Disclaimer: Although articulated and directed towards the monarchy, the elephant in the room is that while the young nation could see the injustice of the monarchy, some did not see the obvious egregious direct parallel with the slave trade. (And let’s not join in the hypocrisy by thinking our generation is the first that neither is ruled nor subjugated. There are many mechanisms of control in place based on the false premise that one “knows better” or that we ought to protect people from themselves.)

If we are to live in civility with equals, how is that possible? How can we honor the reality that no human is worthy to rule another human?

The answer to that question and a philosophical cornerstone for our constitutional republic is that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Our system was one in which we fundamentally confessed humanity’s wickedness and inadequacies and acknowledged the injustice that occurs when one human is subjected to another. With violence, we threw off the shackles and injustice of the British Monarchy, and the United States of America was born.

And here we sit, 247 years later, contemplating and celebrating the advent of the Holy Monarchy, the king born in a stable over 2000 years ago. Is there any chance 21st-century Americans might need to attend to their conflicting thoughts on monarchy?

How Can Christ be King, and Monarchy be Imperfect?

Human monarchies are only imperfect because humans fall short. When God was preparing Adam for Eve, God first paraded all the “not-Eves” in front of Adam.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18-20 ESV)

Throughout history, a similar event has been unfolding from the ancient Kings, through the Hebrew kings, to the modern kings; a parade of unworthy counterfeits march across the pages of time. Their shortcomings cultivate an awareness and a yearning for what is missing. We realize that we must suffer through chaos, which is humans’ best attempt at justice, while we eagerly await the good, worthy and just King who is to come. The stage has been set for us now, the same as God did for Adam.

How do we rectify this as thankful Americans? The beauty within the American system is wrapped up in the humility and confession that no one here on earth is worthy and that each individual has dignity and deserves justice as an image bearer of Christ. As long as we embrace, manifest, and teach these principles, we are a living confession to the truth of our human condition and our need for the True King, and we live out the mandate in Micah 6:8 (ESV).

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

How Can I Embrace the Monarchy That Is?

The advent of the coming of Christ the King is problematic for our human limitations. We know that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit…

Born of the virgin Mary (First Advent)

  On the third day, he rose again from the dead.

  He ascended to heaven (Ascension)

  and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

  From there, he will come to judge the living and the dead (Second Advent)

In all this coming and going and coming again, do we forget that the “Kingdom of Christ is at hand”? That our King stands outside of space and time? That his rule is eternal and that we are eternal souls? Consider this reminder from Colossians 3:15 (ESV).

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”

For in all these things, there is much to celebrate, and we can sing along with this old song with a new appreciation.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

-Charles Wesley

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/divine-right-of-kings ↩︎
a window view of a Christmas store, with Christmas trees, wreaths, and presents on display

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas

By Lauren Gideon

There is something special about childhood. Overlay the beauty and simplicity of childhood with the sacred spectacular atmosphere of the holidays, and that intersection seems nothing short of magical. This wedge, where those two events overlap, is so powerful that grown adults constantly search for ways to replicate that experience and those sentiments. Our song lyrics and storylines are strong indicators of this reality. What changes as we age? Why can’t we always (only) experience that perceived magical atmosphere? Why does everything feel so complicated? 

A few years ago, I was in line at the grocery store, listening to the conversation between the cashier and a customer unfolding in front of me. As the customer prepares to depart, the cashier extends the farewell of “Happy Holidays.” In disgust, the customer replies with a harsh and sharp, “Merry Christmas!” 

Wait. What just happened?

My thoughts started taking inventory. “Did that customer just use a Christmas salutation as retaliation?” In true sports commentary fashion, let’s look at the replay. In this scenario, the cashier was perceived to have been using the “happy holidays” greeting as a way to deny the real “reason for the season.” But was she? Is there anything wrong with “happy holidays”? Was the cashier maliciously trying to cancel Christ? Was the offended customer claiming to be a Christian? The irony of the retort was amusing, to say the least. There was nothing merry about her tone or her intent. And I’m not very confident that Person, whose birth she thought she was defending, would have been pleased by her style. 

However, can we sympathize with both parties? The grown-up world is complicated. We struggle even to greet a stranger this time of year. You see, in addition to the holidays, we have learned there are conflicting worldviews. We have learned that the holders of these worldviews are frequently hostile to holders of other worldviews. As Christians, we know that in this world we will have trouble, but that Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) 

How many times have we met Christians who not only go looking for trouble but also for a chance to be this type of “overcomer.” This customer was clearly frustrated; hopefully, her misstep is a cautionary tale to other Christians. Still, we can understand that navigating a bold allegiance to Christ in a world full of people we are called to love is…complicated.  

A Free Society Will Bring Confusion, and That’s a Good Thing

This year, I was told another story about a workplace DEI book club. The week’s topic was how not to talk about Christmas in the workplace. Contrast this with those who insist that we must speak about Christmas all the more because it’s our “first-amendment right.”  

Highlighted here is the deep complexity of the free market, the civil sphere, limited congress, public-policy-governing employers, confusion over the origin of rights, the Constitution, natural law, and the Creator.  

We confuse spheres of governance vs. mechanisms of enforcement and fail to consider the consequences of misunderstanding and misusing these. Additional elements include mechanisms of the free market, obligations of citizens, obligations of consumers, and labor providers in a free market. Each one of these components is an inescapably complicated layer that adds to the weight of responsibility. This makes our simple childhood memories much more precious and explains why grown adults prefer discovering a path back to childhood than navigating a way forward. 

While it seems that Christians’ primary conflict is with those outside the faith, this is evidently false. Is there an answer to all this madness? 

How to Navigate With Romans 14

Romans 14:5-9 gives us a 3-part navigation process.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

Part One: Be convinced. 

Convinced has nothing to do with opinion. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines convinced as persuaded in mind; satisfied with evidence; convicted. Being blessed with freedom, both civilly and economically, comes with responsibility. Embrace it, steward it, protect it, and afford it to others. Gather and wrestle through the evidence, and put the evidence on trial until you reach a satisfactory verdict. And then, when new evidence presents itself, rinse and repeat.

Part Two: Be gracious with others. 

They bear the same responsibility, and they also will give an account. We know the stakes are high, and the task is heavy; therefore, we should not complicate what is already sufficiently complicated. If anything, we should model the diligence, sobriety, and reverence we have for this responsibility and the ability to stay out of our neighbor’s figurative courtroom. 

 Part Three: Chill out, be thankful, and live and die for an audience of One. 

The whole passage can be summed up with a single parallel text, Micah 6:8. 

He has told you, O man, what is good;

     and what does the Lord require of you

 but to do justice, and to love kindness,

     and to walk humbly with your God?

So, to my friends near and far who may read this: happy holiday, and Merry Christmas.  

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.