I lay down this maxime of Divinity; Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin either habitul or actual, is not from God; the power that is, must be from God; the Magistrate as Magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsically end of his office,Rom. 13:4. for he is the Minister of God for thy good; and therefore a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God, but from sinful nature, and the old serpent, then a license to sinne. – Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince (1644), emphases added. Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince is available on the Puritan Hard Drive.
Governments have long oppressed religious freedoms. The USA was supposed to be a safe haven for all religions (with the caveat that they did not break the laws of the land, human sacrifice and the like) but many have been oppressed.So how can a “Christian” support the government?
Jesus had an answer:
Does not Christ confirm the lawful authority of the beast of Rome when He says, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21)?
Answer: This question was proposed by the enemies of Christ (the Pharisees and the Herodians) in order to “entangle him” (Mt. 22:15). If Christ were to answer, “Render the tribute to Caesar”, the Pharisees (who strongly opposed Roman complicity) would have slandered Christ as a Roman sympathizer. However, if Christ were to answer, “Render not the tribute to Caesar”, the Herodians (who strongly supported Roman alliances) would have slandered him as being an avowed enemy to Caesar. But the Lord Jesus “perceived their wickedness” and essentially gave them a non-answer to their question. Since it was not an honest question, Christ did not play into their trap by answering their question. In fact, “they could not take hold of his words before the people” (Lk. 20:26). Even they could not clearly understand what He had said about the issue of paying tribute to Caesar. Thus, if the enemies of Christ couldn’t pin Him to an answer one way or the other (though they would have loved to), neither can any one living today conclude whether Christ condemned paying tribute to Caesar or commended it from His answer. Such evasion to entrapment was used by Christ on other occasions as well (cf. Mk. 11:27-33; Jn. 8:1-11). Even if Christ did endorse the paying of tribute to Caesar, that is not an oath of allegiance paid to Caesar, nor a declaration concerning the lawfulness of Caesar’s authority. For tribute exacted by an unlawful government is simply extortion required by a thief who threatens to take all your property if you don’t pay him part of your property. Furthermore, even foreigners and aliens pay taxes to nations in which they work without declaring any allegiance to the civil government of that nation. Thus, the payment of taxes is not an oath of allegiance.
Jesus makes it clear that our duty is to God, but we also have a responsibility to the government God has appointed over us.Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Romans 13:1
I encourage you to read our Sunday’s Sermon Series – Civil Government by using the search box.
With all the “hate” for America being spewed from the likes of Antifa, the so called ‘woke folks’ and many on the far left I often wonder what keeps them from just leaving; do they need help packing?
America may have it’s issues but they care far fewer than most countries. If we could get past the past, the rhetoric of the socialists and the hype of the media maybe, just maybe we could see America for what it is, an exceptional (actually the greatest) country to be blessed and privileged to live in.– Mike
Why American Exceptionalism Is Different From Other Countries’ ‘Nationalisms’
Sound doctrine originates with God; false doctrine originates with someone or something created by God. – Sound Laws and Policy always originates in the Constitution; not someone attempting to change it.
Sound doctrine grounds its authority within the Bible; false doctrine grounds its authority outside the Bible. Sound laws and policy rest solely in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Sound doctrine is consistent with the whole of Scripture; false doctrine is inconsistent with some parts of Scripture. Sound laws and policy are Consistent with the original intent of the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution.
Sound doctrine is beneficial for spiritual health; false doctrine leads to spiritual weakness. Sound laws and policy strengthen the original intent of the Constitution they NEVER weaken it.
Sound doctrine has value for godly living, false doctrine leads to ungodly living. Sound laws and policy have great value only if they have moral and ethical standards consistent with the original intent of the Constitution.
By Pastor Neil Stewart of the Christ Covenant Church, Greensboro, NC
If the fabric of the American experiment isn’t actually torn, it is certainly looking a bit frayed around the edges: George Floyd’s thuggish murder at the hands of police officers, rioters and looters running amok around the White House, all while elected officials engage in endless hand-wringing, virtue-signaling, blame-shifting, name-calling, self-protecting, base-pandering blah, blah, blah.
To any sane observer, however, the problem with America is obvious, and it’s not inequality, it’s not racism, and it’s not white privilege. It’s not the poor, and it’s not Wall Street fat cats. It’s not white supremacists, and it’s not Antifa. These are the symptoms, but the real disease runs much, much deeper. The real problem with America is the problem of US, its own citizenry, the building blocks of the American experiment have begun to crumble. What’s more, the ideas, the constitutional glue which once held us all together has dried up and has begun to crack. It no longer provides the cohesive force to bring e pluribus unum. We have sown to the wind and now we must reap the whirlwind. I fear that it’s more than just our cities that are ablaze this week; the Republic itself is burning.
Precisely, what has gone wrong?
First, it seems to me, we have sown to the winds of secularism only to reap the whirlwind of godlessness.
What is secularism, but the idea that life in the public square can (and perhaps even should) be lived without God. It is to believe that a nation can rip God out of the heart of its civic discourse and continue on, business as usual, without suffering any real loss in terms of the good, the beautiful, and the true.
Having witnessed the mad terror of the French Revolution, we really ought to know better. Godlessness in principle always leads to godlessness in practice. Once, Americans were free for religion. Now, by a hellish sleight of hand, many proudly proclaim their freedom from religion.
With this one move, the secularists have swept our Constitution off its theological foundation and have disconnected all our rights from their heavenly origin. Rhetorically, it’s checkmate; the conservatives just haven’t realized it yet. In a secular world, the Preamble to our Constitution no longer makes any sense. How can we claim an inalienable right to privileges endowed by a Creator whom few believe in anymore?
David sums up my concerns most clearly when he said, “The wicked strut about on every side When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” (Psalm 12:8, NASB)
Second, we have sown to the winds of relativism only to reap the whirlwind of meaninglessness.
Relativism is the idea that nothing is really true – at least, not at all times, in all places, and for all people. Instead of truth, all we have now are social constructs and power plays. Social constructs are the words and rules humans use to play the game of life. In a secular world, we make these mores up for ourselves. And while, they have no higher, transcendent authority of their own, they are useful ploys in the games people play. Games in which the strong abuse their position to oppress the weak. What’s more, with no more meaning than table manners, such rules can be changed at will, and no one can make us stop, at least no one to whom we must listen.
We cannot deny, relativism certainly has its upside. As Aldous Huxley once remarked, ‘I have reasons for not wanting the world to have meaning. And those reasons are mostly sexual and political.’ But there is also a downside: The same logic that renders sin meaningless also renders life meaningless, evacuating our choices of meaning, dignity, and purpose, not to mention the identity and responsibility of the person making them.
Without God and His authorial perspective on human life, what are we? Risen apes? Mud that thinks? Biochemical machines? A mysteriously conscious soup of random chemicals? But how can meaningful reason arise from random chemical reactions? And besides, who really cares what fizzing chemicals think about anything?
Former generations answered these deeper questions of identity, meaning, and purpose by looking up to the Creator, and in so doing, learned to see nature properly, alive with His glory. By contrast, the relativist only knows how to look down to a “nature red in tooth and claw”–a landscape, as barren as it is cruel, where might is right and only the strong survive. As William Murray once observed, “Humanism or atheism is a wonderful philosophy of life as long as you are big, strong, and between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. But watch out if you are in a lifeboat and there are others who are younger, bigger, or smarter.”
If the meaning of life really is no more complicated than survival, how can such a worldview ever hope to lay a foundation strong enough to condemn racism, police brutality, and murder? Are these things not to be expected in such a vicious world? Not only is secularism devoid of any coherent answers to such questions, it is also awash with contradictions. While it rightly and instinctively knows enough to condemn the murder of Mr. Floyd, it can find neither the language nor the will to condemn the cruelest of all euphemisms: Planned Parenthood (which is alone responsible for the death of over 13 million black and brown Americans. Let that number sink in: There are around 40 million African Americans living in America. We have killed 13 million in our abortion mills. Don’t these black lives matter?). On top of this, the secular Left also remains uncomfortably silent when police officers are butchered in the mayhem of a riot. Has it no foundation for acknowledging the value of every human life?
I cannot write these words without thinking of Steve Turner’s blunt postscript, to his satirical Creed of the Atheist, “If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky, and when you hear . . . State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage. Bomb Blasts School . . . , it is but the sound of man worshipping his maker!”
In such a world, I suppose we should not be surprised by riots. The real shock is that they don’t happen much more often.
Third, we have sown to the winds of equality and liberty only to reap the whirlwinds of anarchy, misery, and bondage.
Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité have always been the watchwords of leftist liberalism. The only virtue one needs to join this merry band is tolerance.
At first glance, these words sound almost Christian, and they are. Leftist politics has always been the bastard stepchild of liberal theology. The latter grants society freedom from God (the real God who reveals Himself), and the former grants us freedom to deconstruct words that He Himself defines.
So for the Leftist, egalité mandates equality of outcome. Gone must be any and all oppressive class distinctions separating rich/poor, owner/employee, haves/have-nots, citizen/illegal immigrant, et cetera. It’s the every child gets a government-funded-trophy mindset writ large over a culture.
Liberté represents the gospel of personal autonomy and the freedom to cast off any and all oppressive authority.
Fraternitémeans the brotherhood of those willing to go along with the new rules of the game. These and only these will be tolerated. The Leftist’s motto back in 1789 might have been crude, but it was to the point: “We will strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest.” And when they ran out of guts, they wheeled in the guillotine. We have our own guillotines for dealing with system-buckers. The decapitation levied is financial, not literal, but the effects are just the same.
To understand the way Leftist’s view the world, you have to realize that they view everything through the lens of oppression. To the Leftist, those who cause oppression are villains, and those who react against it are heroes. Such logic appeals to us all. Think of Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot. We all understand his blood lust for revenge. At times its excesses trouble us, but we don’t condemn his rage. Most of the time, if we are honest, we revel in it.
The Leftist has a similar ax to ground with his country. By his reading, America is a story of oppression, not liberty, and she is not the hero but the villain. If I can play with the opening lines of A Patriot’s History of the United States, “Is America’s past a tale of racism, sexism, and bigotry? Is it the story of the conquest and rape of a continent? Is U.S. history of white slave owners who perverted the electoral process for their own interests? Did America start with Columbus’ killing all the Indians, leap to Jim Crow laws and Rockefeller crushing the workers, then finally save itself with Franklin Roosevelts’ New Deal?” From the Leftist’s understanding, the answers to all these questions are yes, yes, yes, and YES!
Do you see now, why Leftists struggle to condemn the looting and burning of businesses and even the murdering of police officers by rioters? The rioters are the heroes in their story. America’s police are the villains–not as individuals, to be sure, but as an entity, they are (we are told) shot through with endemic and institutional racism. Thus the hatred for the phrase, “All lives matter!” From the Leftist’s perspective, they most definitely do not: The lives of the oppressed weigh far more in the balance than do their oppressors!
How should the Church respond to this kind of thinking? Isn’t God the bondage breaker, the friend of the alien and the stranger, the One who sets the captives free?
We should, in the first place, unreservedly condemn the evil of racism and the wickedness of slavery as an institution. This was a terrible blindspot in the eyes of many of our Presbyterian (and Founding) fathers and it has brought a great reproach on the Church. We must never tire of saying this unequivocally.
Second, we should also affirm the unity of the Human Race. We are all sons of Adam, lost and undone by his choice, born under the wrath and curse of God, and yet equal partakers of the image of our Creator. We are also all the same color–the color of melanin. Some of us just have less of it than others. The idea of black, brown, white, and yellow races, etc., is the real social construct, and we must not relinquish its definition to the world. This is Voddie Bauchaum’s point and I steal it shamelessly, but with credit.
Voddie Baucham | the concept of race is not biblical | We are one race
This clip was taken from a sermon by Voddie Baucham in Truth Matters Conference in October 2019 at the Grace Community Church.
Third, we should also pray earnestly for brown and black America. Too many of our fellow countrymen and women are trapped in crime-riddled, drug-infested neighborhoods, single-parent homes, with poor schooling, and have little obvious opportunity to escape. Even when they try, many of their brothers accuse them of acting “white” and of betraying their black heritage. To compound their pain, they often do receive disproportionate attention from Law Enforcement Officers. During the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Roman Catholic members of my own extended family faced similar treatment at the hands of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the largely Protestant police force back in my homeland). I know well how painful and disorientating it can be when the police seem to be your enemy. As God gives us the opportunity, we should lean in hard to befriend and support our black and brown brothers. Pray in particular, that God will raise up godly mentors for the many young, black men who struggle to find their way in fatherless homes without tangible, credible role models to follow.
Fourth, I think the Church needs tremendous wisdom before she buys into the whole notion of “White Guilt,” “White Privilege,” and “Institutional Racism.” The fall touches every culture in different ways. The same holds true for the gospel. God is not an equal opportunity Creator. Some men are more privileged, enjoy greater gifts and talents, and experience the kind hand of providence prospering their efforts more than others do. This principle knows no racial bounds. God’s glory glows through the noblest parts of Black and White America and in different ways. We each, too, have our own ways of radiating the selfishness of Adam’s choice. We are all, furthermore, subject to the reaping and the sowing logic of life. As I tell my own children, “Be Careful: You make your choices and then they return the favor. You become what you repeatedly choose to do.”
With that in mind, there is simply no life to be found in endless rounds of blame-shifting, complaining and grumbling. By contrast, many a man has arisen Phoenix-like from the fires of affliction–they don’t have to lead to the gutter. In the Biblical account, Joseph faced disadvantage and betrayal at every turn, but he escaped bitterness by turning to God and the truth, “My brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good!” My black and brown brothers would be better served by messages inspiring them with this kind of ideology. Instead, too many politicians and pastors prefer to shackle their souls to bitterness with, what Churchill called, “A philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” This only feeds the endemic angst and despair, which I believe, poses a much greater danger to the culture of black and brown America than any injustice they might face from racists. Is not the grace of God able to make us all more than conquerors through Him who loved us? Or is this just a promise for White and Black Americans who have already risen to the top of life’s heap?
In the final analysis, there is a pathway to true liberty, equality, and fraternity, but it is only found in Christ. Outside of Him, there is only bondage, misery, and division. More than anything, this is what terrifies me for our nation. Listening to the rhetoric coming from both the far Left and far Right of our country, I am hearing a lot more of the murderous and bitter resentment that stained the darkest days of the French Revolution, and not so much of the light and liberty that marked our own war against oppression in 1776. May God have mercy on us all.
For the church, I close with words from Al Mohler’s new book,The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, in which he writes,
“Christians must not only confront this storm with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must do so with full faith. Our hope does not rest with temporal political victory though it understands the importance of politics; it rests in the One who sits at the right hand of the throne of God; it rests with the One through whom all things were created. Our faith is in the One who was nailed to the cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and established His unchallenged rule over the cosmos. Death is defeated, and the head of the serpent crushed. The attempt of secularism to usurp the rule of the Son of God amounts to the height of human folly. Nothing will prevail over our God. Nothing can withstand the power of the gospel.” Amen.
Whatever our political persuasion, in this, I trust, we can all agree
Porque vosotros, hermanos, a libertad fuisteis llamados; solamente que no uséis la libertad como ocasión para la carne, sino servíos por amor los unos a los otros. (RVR 1960)
Liberty in the military is normally associated with authorized leave of absence from duty. A 3 day pass, shore leave or part of your 30 days of annual leave. What Paul in speaking about is similar but different. Confused okay, let me try and make sense of it for you.
Paul inGalatians 5:1-15,is focused on what one should be doing with their new found freedom in Christ. The same goes for all those going on authorized leave from the military, prior to departure we are reminded of the expectation for our behaviors and consequences for non-compliance.
For, brethren, Paul says listen up my brothers and sisters in this fight for Christ. The same applies today to our service members and ex-military organizations listen up you are still in the fight.
ye have been called unto liberty; You have been called, not everyone will be called or heed the call, but you stepped up. Today with an all volunteer military (since 1973) this is certainly true. These patriots heeded the call to serve freedom. Less we forget those from the era WWII, Korea, Vietnam before them who didn’t have a choice whose number was called and in many cases and went and served.
only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, Biblically, Paul says just because you are free from sins because of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary you have no excuse to continue sinning as your old self. The military comes under the same constraints, prior to enlisting men and women fell under the jurisdiction of local, state and federal laws. Their enlistment did not free them from the penalty of punishment should they misuse their “liberty.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice(UCMJ) will aggressively be applied if they resort to shall we say excessive worldly behaviors.
but by love serve one another. Paul is encouraging the reader to be Christ like, to serve others with an attitude of love whenever possible. In the military a unit cannot survive if the members do not seek the best for one another. They may not “love” one another but they must look out for one another or the unit is doomed.
Another important aspect of this is the humility in which one must serve. Paul makes it clear it is not about him, (or any individual) it is always about Christ andChrist Alone. In the military I found moreType-A personalitiescongregated than anywhere else on the planet. We are wired from Boot Camp to be that way then 4, 6, 8 or 20 years later when we exit the military told turn it off be humble and all will be well; not an easy task.¹
The bible makes it clear that the only true way to be free for eternity is to be in Christ. It also makes it clear that the freedom we enjoy being in Christ is not a licence to live a life serving worldly desires. In fact anyone truly in Christ, will desire to humbly and faithfully serve others with love.
Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?
Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on LIBERTY?
Application: How does it apply to me?
Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?
¹ If you are having and issues with “turning it off”, PTSD, and just plain coping P L E A S E check out the resources here
Kay Coles James President of The Heritage Foundation – James is a leader in government, academia and the conservative movement.
In fact, the evidence that society benefits as a whole when religious freedom is protected is so impactful that on Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Constitutional Government hosted a discussion with key officials from the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services on the administration’s efforts to protect religious liberty and the effects they are having.
In addition to the obvious spiritual, moral and emotional benefits religion provides to the faithful, nonreligious people realize tremendous advantages when religious liberty is respected. Long before government did it, churches and religious organizations were building schools, hospitals, research centers, homeless shelters and food kitchens for the benefit of everyone, not just believers. They were also providing disaster relief and sending missionaries to aid impoverished people in the farthest reaches of the globe.
We see even more benefits for both believers and non-believers when we study nations that allow a significant amount of religious freedom and see large numbers of people practicing their faith. These nations generally experience lower rates of violence and crime. Moreover, governments that respect religious liberty also display greater peace and stability, which is attractive for business investment and jobs.
Religious freedom also goes hand-in-hand with other fundamental human rights. One only has to look at countries like Iran, China, and Venezuela to see that a lack of respect for religious liberty correlates directly with high levels of oppression and the lack of respect for other rights.
Even in nations where citizens have a great degree of religious freedom, we are seeing that freedom challenged and diminished. When tolerance for religious beliefs wanes, intolerance for other beliefs isn’t far behind. When it becomes acceptable to discriminate against or persecute people for their religious beliefs, it’s a short slide down the slippery slope to justify doing the same thing to both the religious and nonreligious based on their political beliefs, their beliefs on how they raise and educate their children, or some other belief system that doesn’t comport with the government’s.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted or banned. Thousands are displaced or killed annually because of their religious faith. In response, President Trump in his U.N. speech called on foreign leaders to protect the free exercise of religion, to end the persecution of people practicing their faith, and to repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief. He also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to promoting religious freedom here at home.
One part of the president’s announcement that didn’t get much notice was his creation of a first-of-its-kind coalition of U.S. businesses tasked with encouraging the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace and integrate support for religious liberty into their diversity strategies. When religious freedom is respected in the workplace, morale and even productivity can improve significantly.
However, the benefits aren’t just within companies. They can encompass whole economies. According to a 2014 study by Georgetown and Brigham Young University researchers, religious freedom is one of three factors significantly associated with overall economic growth. The study found a positive relationship between religious freedom and 10 out of 12 indicators of global competitiveness.
Demonstrating more than just correlation between religious freedom and economics, the study found that both government restrictions on religion and societal hostility to religion harmed economic growth, driving away business investment as well as home-grown entrepreneurs who decided to take their talents elsewhere. Businesses seek peace and stability when locating facilities or seeking new markets in which to sell their products and services. When religious freedoms aren’t respected, violence and conflict can result.
These are just some of the myriad reasons society benefits as a whole when we protect religious freedom. In the end, the work the current administration continues to do to promote and protect religious liberty here and abroad could result in not only greater religious freedom for believers, but in greater respect for all human rights and greater prosperity for all people. That’s a win for everyone.
Pundits can continue to argue that’s politics, but I will argue that’s just good policy.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times