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Unelected authority

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.        Romans 5:1


This week the States of Jersey appointed the Chairman and members of a body that will conduct an independent review of the current roles of the unelected members of the States of Jersey, namely the Bailiff, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.


Unelected members of the States, Jersey’s unicameral parliament? Yes. Three people unelected by folk in Jersey who have, as it were, legislative power. (However, as the new body will soon note, none of these three have a vote – at any time – not even a casting vote - in the States.)


Very strong beliefs pervade the democratic West. Very strong convictions hold that no-one should have ruler authority, law-making authority, unless those subject to the laws and rules have appointed them in the first place. Folk will only accept laws that they, in effect, have made.


But wait. The deepest underlying world-view that leads to those beliefs and convictions may also influence, very strongly influence, the view we take about a sovereign ruler in the sky.


None of us Jersey folk have elected a “God” to rule over us. Why should we Jersey folk abide by God’s laws? For a very long time the British Parliament has made laws that reflected God’s laws as understood from the Bible and the teaching of Jesus Christ. But this is changing – influenced by the underlying concept that “I” should make my own laws.


The history of the Bailiff’s present role in the States of Jersey is interesting. Edward 1, before he came to the throne, was put in charge of the Channel Islands (by Henry III) and given the title “Lord of the Isles”. He had under him a bailiff in each of Jersey and Guernsey. In 1272 when he became King he transferred the Lordship to his friend, Otto de Grandison (1238-1328), who only visited Jersey in his late eighties.


Otto’s wider roles needed financing and “the Isles” became a revenue stream for him. That’s when the bailiff began, as it were, to fight for Jersey folk and their ancient rights and privileges. The “Lord of the Isles” morphed into “Warden”, “Captain” and “Governor”. Gradually the Bailiff, a Jersey resident, began to have a capital B and the full support of Jersey folk in the continuance of autonomy (as far as could be argued) in law making.


So Jersey folk continue to desire the ability to write their own laws. The arguments need now to be presented more to the EU than to a non-resident Lord of the Isles. But the principles remain: Jersey folk want to make their own laws; absentee law makers are undesirable or worse.


God is like an absentee law-maker, isn’t he? The main barrier to reconciliation with God is our total inability to believe that God loves us. Instead he is a law-maker whose prescriptive laws are unachievable and whose proscriptive laws deny me all pleasures.


A former Dean of Jersey illustrated this view in suggesting that, for some Jersey folk, the thought was present, “I didn’t ask Jesus Christ to die on the cross for me – so why should that matter to me.”


Credit Suisse in Guernsey has erected a statue there to Otto de Grandison (Grandison is near Lausanne, Switzerland) despite his self-seeking extraction of money from “the Isles”. But the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is on record as a giver of all creation to us human beings. Jesus of Nazareth was rejected, in part, because he strongly maintained that his Father had instituted the Sabbath for the good of man and not the other way round. Jesus proceeded to demonstrate this as his position by repeatedly doing good to people on the Sabbath - even when opposed to the death.


What is so very good about our own rule that Jersey folk continue to abhor all absentee, unelected rule? Even when the absentee ruler has been a total giver to us? Even when the absentee ruler has sent his Son so that he, willingly, could give away his life to set us and others free?


So that the words in bold above could apply to many of us?

 ‘God forbids sin not to prevent us enjoying ourselves but to prevent us destroying ourselves.’ (John Blanchard, speaker and writer)
‘The man who does not set himself under the law of God sets himself above it.’ (John Blanchard, speaker and writer)
Richard Syvret

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