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An Allodial God

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What the Heck is Allodial?

Allodial is a term that relates to land ownership.  It is a term that originated during the Middle Ages.  It refers to land that is held “in allodium” (which in Latin means the total property of a person, especially real property), or freely held, without any obligation of service to any overlord.

This differs from the common law notion of holding property “fee simple”, which denotes the highest possible form of ownership, in perpetuity limited only by the government’s powers of taxation, compulsory purchase, inherent police power and escheat.  There are certain other encumbrances under US law, regulatory restrictions and the like.  Most people in the US like to think that they have absolute title to their  land, but in fact, it is the US government that maintains this Allodial title to all land in the country.  Try and not pay your taxes and see how well your land ownership claims hold up.  This gives the US government, and all state governments except Nevada, and Texas, the de facto, if not the de jure allodial title to all land in the United States.

This is not an essay about arcane real estate concepts.  The point is to briefly explain that allodial title is absolute, complete, and exercised by the sovereign without having to answer to anyone else.  The religious implications should be clear.

God’s Allodial Claim

God is the sovereign of the universe.  As Scripture puts it in many places, He has put the earth under Him as His footstool.  God answers to no one.  In short, God owns everything.  This is the distinction between ownership and stewardship.  Owners control and can do with, as they please.  Stewards only manage and care for things in the name of the owner, typically until the owner returns.  In the terms we have laid out, God’s claim is absolute, it is an allodial claim.

There is an appealing logic to this.  If God is the first cause of existence, and is the sustainer of that creation, then of course it all belongs to Him.  To whom could it belong to other than the creator and sustainer of it all.  Scripture backs this up.  Psalm 24:1 makes it clear “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;”.  This in fact is the key starting point for thinking about Christian stewardship.  It’s all God’s, and so are we.  All that we do, or more properly, try to do, is in stewardship to the God that has an allodial claim on us and everything in all of creation.  All of our thinking about stewardship should proceed from a clear understanding of God’s allodial claim on our lives, as well as His creation.

Our Faithful Response

We come to God with the faith that He has given us.  All that we possess, including our faith, is a gift from God.  It is His gifts of grace upon grace that creates in us the trust that His word is true, the resurrection is real, and that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is what erases any chasm between us and God, and assures us of our salvation.  It is also that which makes us understand at a visceral level that our God is an allodial God.

This realization should be a key driver of our response to God’s gifts.  We respond, as best we can because we have been saved, not in order to be saved.  Yet, we can do this more effectively if we acknowledge God’s allodial title to us and all of that which He created.  If we constantly remind ourselves of this reality we can be ever more effective stewards of that which God has placed in our care.

This also means we will be more effective at sharing the Good News with those in our lives.  Living a life of profound meaning under an all-loving allodial God, who has complete title over us, and His creation will make an impression on those we interact with.  Complete devotion and submission to His will is the best evangelical tool we have at our disposal.

A heavenly Father who is an allodial God with absolute ownership of all of creation, including us, who has given us absolutely everything freely out of His love, is owed no less than all we have to offer.  Believe this, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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