Principles of Property – Outline

I.     Lonang Principles of Property (The Dominion Mandate)

    A.     Delegation of Authority. Gen 1:28.
      1.     God is owner of earth by His creation of it. Ps 24:1; Deut. 10:14.
      2.     He created man in His image – link with dominion authority
        – In other words, part of what makes man unique (in God’s image) is his dominion authority. Gen 1:27.
      3.     He granted (delegated) dominion authority, but not ownership. See, Ps 8:4-8.
    B.     Extent of Delegation (textual exposition of Gen. 1:28).
      1.     Exclusively to man
        a.     Thus, animals cannot own property, i.e., a pet cannot inherit from its owner’s estate.
      2.     Extends to all things and creatures except man
        a.     Property, in the dominion sense, must be tangible.
          1)     Ideas are not property (cmp. intellectual property – copyrights, trademarks and patents). Capable of infinite simultaneous possession. More like a contract right (license) than property.
          2)     Rights are not property (cmp. public school teachers contracts, etc.)
          3)     Intangible property (stocks, bonds, money, etc. are things which represent property)
        b.     Thus, animals are property themselves
        c.     Man is not ever property (slavery)
      3.     Exclusive of heavens
        a.     Common law presumption even against right to light and air.
        b.     Property does not include atmospheric space (analogy to the high seas – man lacks capacity to dominate, thus, governed by the law of nations, not family dominion).
        c.     Colonization of the moon and planets, etc. – These objects are not under man’s dominion authority. We can explore them, yes, but settle on them, no.
    C.     Relation to family
      1.     Authority link to having children (lawfully)
        a.     No dominion authority to churches, associations or civil governments
        b.     Duty Imposed – Dominion is not an option (Gen 11:4-9)
      2.     Lonang examples: Patriarchs, Israel.
      3.     Family and private property rise or fall together
        a.     Communism
        b.     Feminism

II.     The nature of private property

    A.     Private property is the gift of God
      1.     Dominion mandate did not, by itself, convey title to any specific property.
        a.     Title to Eden was a gift. Gen 2:5,8,15.
        b.     Title linked to obedience. Gen. 3:22-24. See also, Matt. 25:14-15,28-29.
        c.     Title not obtained merely by possession. Gen 12:1-2.
        d.     Title not obtained merely by labor. Gen 12:14-16,20.
      2.     Importance of the book of Genesis
        a.     Rejection of man as inventor of private property
        b.     Rejection of ideal original communal nature (all things held in common).
        c.     Rejection of legislative authority to redistribute property
      3.     Other examples:
        a.     Jacob. Gen. 30:37-31:9.
        b.     Israelites. Joshua 1:2-4.
        c.     Job. Job 42:10-12.
      4.     Man emulates God by giving property to others.
    B.     Historical understanding of property
      1.     Early legal commentators
        a.     Locke: “Necessity gave rise to private property” (based on Ps. 115:16). Ownership is justified by, and in proportion to, labor.
        b.     Blackstone: “Necessity begat property.” He saw the civil ruler as the tangible expression of the common interest of society => property comes from the king.
        c.     Kent: “Property is the law of man’s nature.”
      2.     Early American heritage.
        a.     Decl. & Resolves of 1st Cont. Congress, Res. 1.
        b.     Virginia Declaration of Rights, §1.
        c.     Declaration of Independence, “pursuit of happiness.”
      3.     Communist rejection of Genesis account
        a.     Marx & Engels: The goal of abolishing private property.
        b.     If property is proportional to labor, then let the laborers own everything.
        c.     Proletariat state was viewed as the expression of the laborers.
    C.     Modern view of property
      Lonang View Modern View
      Created by God Created by man
      Gift of God Justified by necessity
      Tangible property only Tangible and intangible
      Family purpose Civil purpose
      Presumptively private Presumptively public
      Unalienable right Civil right
      Indefeasible Balanced away

III.     Civil authority over property

    A.     Facilitate family dominion
      1.     Conquest and Title
        a.     The territory of every nation is acquired for the benefit of its families, not its public officials. Civil gov’t is the agent of the people.
        b.     Lands available for settlement: Homestead Acts (U.S.); West Bank and Gaza Strip (Israel).
        c.     Historical example: conquest of Canaan by ancient Israel. The land was subdivided among the individual families. It did not belong to the government of Israel, nor did the government “retain” any reversionary rights. Joshua 14:1 ff.
      2.     Laws of Descent and Inheritance Rights.
        a.     Every man has a moral duty to care for his family. 1 Tim. 5:8.
        b.     Inheritance is the right of the decedent.
        c.     Estate and inheritance taxes violate family rights. Ezek. 45:7-9; 46:16-18. Civil ruler not to conscript land.
        d.     Intestate succession laws – purpose of. Dictated by nature? See, Num. 27:6-11.
      3.     Adverse possession laws – to ensure property is dominated, not left vacant.
    B.     Remedy wrongs
      1.     Theft. Ex. 22:1,4,7,8.
        – Proper weights and measures. Deut. 25:13-15. A check against theft.
        – Recordation statutes and deed req’ts – same.
      2.     Nuisance. Ex. 22:6.
      3.     Trespass. Ex. 22:5,9.
    C.     Limitations on civil government
      1.     Eminent Domain
        a.     Original grants of land were made for dominion purposes.
        b.     Civil ownership of property
          1)     Legitimate objects
          2)     Illegitimate objects
          3)     No original dominion authority
        c.     “Eminent Domain”
          1)     No civil “priority” to property
          2)     Public property is restricted to a public use.
          3)     Urban renewal, Hawaii Land Act – No bona fide public purpose.
      2.     Property Taxes.
        a.     God created property rights, not society.
        b.     Families do not hold property in trust for the public good.
        c.     Government can tax privileges, but not rights. Government cannot tax what it does not create, own, or allow to exist. Since private property is a family right received from God, property taxes inherently frustrate family dominion and purpose.
      3.     Zoning Laws.
        a.     Property rights include control over property use.
        b.     Property rights are individual, not communal.
        c.     Zoning laws often exceed the limits of government power. Neither can government regulate what it does not create, own, or allow to exist. The responsibility to use property in a stewardly fashion is a duty owed solely to God, not government.
        d.     Leave the redress of grievances for trespass or nuisance claims.