Archive for July, 2012

It is heartening recently to see some Christian leaders placing themselves in a position of interposition between the people and their evil rulers.

In one example of interposition, Newsmax recently reported that “the Rev. Billy Graham has thrown his support behind embattled Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy and announced plans to stop by the fast food restaurant next Wednesday as part of Mike Huckabee’s “Eat Mor Chikin” promotion.”

In like manner, “Dr. James Dobson is taking a defiant stand on Obamacare and issuing a loud and clear message to President Obama: ‘I WILL NOT pay the surcharge for abortion services. … So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.’”

These are encouraging signs and a departure from the prevailing head-in-the-sand mentality that has characterized most evangelical church leadership for much of the past 100 years.

MYTH:  Christian leaders are obligated to obey every edict of the civil magistrate without resistance of any kind, in accordance with Rom. 13:1.

It is the responsibility of church leadership to inform the civil magistrate when his law does not conform to God’s law.  It may also be the responsibility of church leadership to disobey such a law because the church is a separate legal jurisdiction.  The great failing of church leadership in America today is its refusal to proclaim the law of the King of kings to the civil magistrate.

For John the Baptist, announcing Christ’s authority to Rome was as much a part of “preparing the way for the Lord” as was his ministry of baptism (Ps 2:10-12).  Baptism was John’s “priestly” preparation, but he was also announcing to Rome that a new King had arrived and Rome must obey His law:   Mt. 14:4,5 – “For John had been saying to him (Herod), ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.”  That was the kingly preparation.

This would make proclaiming God’s law to local magistrates as much a part of the job description of church leadership, as baptizing new converts.  This kind of interposition is not an option.  That’s the reason early Christians were sent to the lions: they boldly proclaimed, “there is another king, Jesus and His law is supreme.” Rome could care less how much they baptized.

The Failure of Modern Church Leadership

Our civil leadership today at every level is guilty as Rome in defying the law of God.  How does American church leadership respond to this?  From what I’ve seen across the board, it’s pretty much apathy — none of our concern.  Is not that very apathy and rejecting the duty of interposition that has led to our current desperate plight?

The most energetic response the contemporary church can muster at this time of crisis seems to be scheduling the next church picnic or rock concert.  But, throughout the Bible we see church leaders standing before kings and taking the initiative to instruct civil leaders in the law of God.  We may protest that we have no time, but John the Baptist was probably short on time also.

If we don’t start taking God’s law seriously in the matter of interposition how can we avoid His displeasure or judgment of even our worship, just as He smote Uzza in the midst of a very charismatic worship service (I Chr 13:9,10).  “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Pr. 28:9).

One pastor indicated to me that has denomination had made several overtures to the Obama Administration a while back.  There was no response and therefore that fulfills the church’s responsibility.  That was a good start toward interposition, but refusal of the evil “king” to respond to this and many other appeals leads necessarily to the 2nd Biblical step.  That is appeal to the local or lesser magistrate to fulfill his oath-bound duty to position himself between the people and the evil king.  That is the Biblical answer to tyranny, seen many times in the book of Judges (e.g. 3:9; 4:2,3; 6: 6-12).

Failure to do this leaves the congregation and the community exposed to the wrath of God, as was the case with David’s census.  Almost every day we see outrageous assaults on our freedom.  These are doubtless orchestrated gradually by God in mercy to wake us up.

America is under the authority of a man who 1) defies the law of God in the most audacious manner and 2) is intent on using his executive power to enslave the people.  We have economic insanity, strip searches in airports, the government encouraging people to spy on each other in 4,000 WalMart stores, the FCC taking initial steps to neutralize the internet, and much more.

This is all right out of the “1984” playbook.  Or more specifically the “Rules for Radicals” playbook for Communist takeover as taught by Mr. Obama in Chicago.  This is a direct result of an isolationist church that refuses to represent the Kingship of Christ to the civil magistrate.  It is in danger of being thrown out and trodden under foot by men.

The Biblical Doctrine of Local Interposition

The doctrine of interposition is seen throughout the book of Judges and summarized by Calvin in Chapter XX, par. 31, pp. 1518-1519 as follows:

“For if there are now any magistrates of the people, appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings…I am so far from forbidding them to withstand, in accordance with their duty, the fierce licentiousness of kings, that, if they wink at kings who violently fall upon and assault the lowly common folk, I declare that their dissimulation involves nefarious perfidy, because they dishonestly betray the freedom of the people, of which they have been appointed protectors by God’s ordinance.”

Calvin here denounces failure of leaders to interposition at the local level in the strongest terms.  He is calling for the “magistrates of the people” to refuse obedience to the lawless king and not to “wink” at him as the Nazis blindly followed the orders of Hitler.

Mr. Obama has been advised by the godfather (Soros) to ignore Congress and the courts and impose his will via the agencies.  They are testing our tolerance for tyranny a step at a time.  Would our Puritan forefathers have tolerated this?  Would Patrick Henry or George Washington have tolerated this?  Would John Knox or John the Baptist have tolerated this?

The current strategy of many churches is to raise up future generations who will eventually deal decisively with these problems.  It seems to me we are passing the buck to our grandchildren or great-grandchildren to perform the work of reformation that is staring us in the face.  If we do not take the necessary Biblical action of interposition in the present I think it is more likely that our great granchildren — if any survive — will look back and curse this generation for its passive response to the clear and present danger.

Case Closed:  It is the duty of the lower magistrate, supported by the clergy, to lead the people against a tyrant who refuses to obey the law of God.  How can we expect anything but judgment from God if we refuse this duty?  Like Jonah who fled from Ninevah at first, maybe God will spare us if we turn and carry his law into the heart of our city and warn the rebellious officials.

Speculation about the end of the world leaves the church vulnerable to Satanic deception.   According to Sun Tzu “all warfare is based on deception” (The Art of Warfare).

Thus, one of the most effective techniques of psychological warfare is to convince the enemy that he is defeated, too weak, and that resistance is futile.   The church in America has fallen victim to precisely this strategy of deception related to the end of the world.

MYTH:  The church is too weak to subdue American culture under the Kingship of Christ and must inevitably yield to the anti-Christ before the end of the world.

This myth has left the church impotent and immobilized.  The millions of dollars wasted on books of prophetic speculation have diverted substantial resources from Kingdom advancement.  Speculative prophecy is big business.  Probably more damaging have been the countless lives sidetracked from productive kingdom labor by the sense of futility conveyed in these books about the end of the world.

The most effective historical deception of the past few centuries has been the Devil’s success in convincing the church that defeat in history is inevitable.  As the judgment of God unfolds on America as the necessary consequence of her rebellion, prophecy pundits shift into high gear.

Here’s the latest being promoted by news giant, World Net Daily :

            An author investigating ancient prophecies is again sounding the alarm about numerous  predictions suggesting 2012 could be the beginning of the “end of the age” spoken of in the Holy Bible.

            Last year, WND reported on Tom Horn’s efforts to let everyone to know calendars besides the ancient Mayan one predict the demise of human civilization   in 2012, and he claims a demonic plot bringing about the end date could be   hiding in plain sight inside the U.S. Capitol.

This is but one example among hundreds that could be cited. In light of the fact that the Bible tells us that Satan is a defeated and disarmed foe, his success at convincing the church otherwise has been remarkable indeed.

Biblical Histriography of the Second Psalm

The most effective antidote to this defeatist perspective is the Biblical historiography of Psalm 2.  Psalm 1 lays out the progress of the gospel in the life of the individual and Psalm 2 lays it out in terms of the life of nations.

Histriography has to do with our interpretation of history.  What interpretative grid do we employ to give meaning to the raw historical data concerning the end of the world.  For at least two centuries the church has clung to a pessimistic perspective in contrast to the Bible’s forecast of decisive victory over the forces of evil.  The church has forgotten the historiography of the Second Psalm.

Psalm Two opens with a question, “Why do the nations conspire and the people’s plot in vain against the Lord and against his anointed?”  (Psalm 2:1,2).  The next verse says that God laughs at them, but from the standpoint of man the conspiracies of Satan and his minions appear invincible.

The internet is rife with videos related to this and there is no denying the reality of their existence.  Although it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction there are enough testimonies of Christians converted out of the mystery religions to know that a powerful cabalistic and occult movement does exist at the highest levels and is transnational in scope.

The Biblical Response To Satanic Conspiracy

This has been documented in the research of Chris Pinto, Dr. Stanley Monteith and by personal testimony of converts such as Svali and others.  There are three responses to this reality, two of which are unbiblical:

1)      Deny their existence.  This is a head in the sand approach.

2)      Dread their existence.  This is the hide in the foxhole approach.

3)      Deny their ultimate power, while acknowledging their existence.

The latter is the only legitimate response in light of the Biblical testimony in Psalm Two and elsewhere.  Psalm Two goes on to say that God has given all the kingdoms of the world to His Son and that all the kings of the earth will submit to Him (“kiss his feet”) before the end of the Church age.

Key History Mythbusters Findings:  Stick with the following interpretative principles to avoid being victimized by prophetic sensationalism.  These speculative interpretations discredit the Bible and divert Christians from the task of discipling the nations .

  • Poetic language is to be taken figuratively, not literally.  Only a naive school child (or a dispensationalist) would try to interpret poetry literally.  Peter said that the “the sun … turned to darkness and the moon into blood” on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16,20).   A few days later he applied the Psalm Two conspiracy and submission of the nations to the  crucifixion of Christ and Church Age, not to the end of the world (Acts 4:25-27).
  • Note that the Revelation was a letter to a first century church so the symbolism had to make sense to them.  Thus, if they were told to calculate the number the Beast as 666, the Beast had to be somebody living in the first century.  How could they calculate the number of somebody living 2,000+ years in the future at the end of the world?  To argue a still future fulfillment is to depart from a literal interpretation.
  • Note that the time indicators in the book of Revelation and other New Testament prophesies all indicate the great tribulation was “near” and “soon” (for the first century readers).  Daniel was told to seal up the vision, John was told to unseal it.

Stick with proven commentaries by men such as Gary DeMar, Marcellus Kik, and Ken Gentry to avoid being fooled by sensationalism in the fictional works of self-proclaimed “prophecy experts” Hal Lindsay, Dave Hunt, Tim LaHaye and many others.

Case Closed:  The Mayan 2012 end of the world prophesy directly contradicts the Biblical prophesy of the victory of Christ and His church in the current “Church Age” as clearly outlined in the second Psalm.  We’ll put our money on the Bible over the Mayan Calendar.

Evil may appear invincible for a season, but that is only because the church is temporarily distracted by childish, speculative prophecy.  This results from non-literal reading of Scripture that insists on applying already fulfilled prophetic passages to the end of the world.  When the church finally discards this foolishness, she can move on to complete the task of subduing the nations as required by her Lord in the Great Commission.

John Eidsmoe’s review of Chris Pinto’s “The  Hidden Faith of  Our Founding Fathers” is typical of the pietistic response to America’s founders for the past 200 years.

This is one more in an endless stream of apologies attempting to prove the legitimacy of the U.S. Constitution by demonstrating that the majority of the founding fathers were “real Christians.”   Upon investigation this approach garnered the HistoryMythBusters “yellow flag” rating.

MYTH: If we prove that most of America’s founding fathers were “real Christians” it follows that the U.S. Constitution they drafted is a Christian document.

Even if all of the claims regarding the founders’ personal Christian faith were substantiated, the only thing that matters is the doctrinal integrity of the document that they gave us:  the United States Constitution.  If this principle is not kept front-and-center, the debate inevitably degenerates into a war of quotations.

For example, there are abundant citations on both sides of the question of Washington’s personal Christianity to fill many books.   But the key question is “so what?”, in light of the unbiblical document that Washington gave us in Constitution Hall,

This is like two Israelites arguing – 200 years after Jeroboam set up his golden calves in Israel – whether or not Jeroboam was a true “Christian.”    The question is irrelevant, in light of what Jeroboam actually did to lead Israel away from following God and His law.  Lobbing quotes back and forth is an exercise in futility because Jesus said, “by their fruits you shall know them.”

As Chris Pinto has demonstrated quite effectively in his documentaries, it is very easy to prove by selective quotation that both Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are genuine Christian believers.  Most (but unfortunately not all) Christians are not fooled by these documented quotations because they know their legislative fruits (related to abortion, sodomy, etc).  However, these quotes will no doubt be bandied about by naïve Christians 200 years hence to “prove” the “Christian convictions” of Obama and Pelosi.

To avoid this trap, Christians must constantly remind themselves of the unbiblical nature of the U.S. Constitution.  Pastor Ted Weiland has recently published the first paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the Constitution from a Biblical perspective.  He has documented at least 75 points at which this so-called Christian document is in direct conflict with the Bible.  Here are a few of them:

1) making “we the people” rather than God the source of governing authority. (Preamble)

2) rejecting the Bible in favor of itself (“this constitution”) and all treaties and  human laws “made in pursuance thereof” as “the supreme law of the land.” (Art VI)

3) outlawing all Biblical requirements for public office. (Art VI)

4) contradicting God’s First Commandment to “have no other gods before me” (First Amendment)

In “The Atlantis Connection” Chris Pinto suggests an additional reason why reliance on religious quotations by the founding fathers is problematic. That is the deceptive influence of Rosicrucianism.

According to Chris Pinto, when Elizabeth I assumed the throne in England, the Pope commissioned assassins to eliminate this rising Protestant threat. The intelligence network that united around Elizabeth as a body-guard, also shared esoteric goals that would have been unacceptable to the prevailing Christian culture.

Francis Bacon and his mentor Dr. John Dee were key members of this clandestine coterie. To mask their intentions, they established the Rosicrucian movement, whose icon is a rose (symbol of secrecy) superimposed over a cross. Thus, their writing and speech is a confusing mixture of Christianity and paganism. Nor did they shrink from membership and leadership within the church as a key element in their strategum. From this is derived the term “subrosa”, meaning “in secrecy or confidence” – beneath the rose.

Bacon helped fund and seed the Jamestown expedition with many adventurers of his persuasion in the New World. Many, but not all of the founding fathers were influenced by this spirit, if not formal Rosicrucians, according to Chris Pinto. Franklin was the most egregious example. In many cases this explains their use of Christian terminology, references to Scripture, and church membership, which confuses so many Christians today. Jesus warned us about those who would come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

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Dr. Eidsmoe devotes considerable space to excusing Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoly, which  states that ” …”the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…..”   In spite of all the fancy footwork employed by Dr. Eidsmoe and others to deny the import of the statement, it was never repealed and according to Article VI (noted above) remains “the supreme law of the land.”

Perhaps more perplexing is Dr. Eidsmoe’s admission that “…even if that Article is genuine, there is nothing in that language with which I would disagree.”  In the same paragraph he states that it simply means that “we do not have an ‘established religion’ in the United States.'”  But the all-inclusive nature of Article 11 clearly goes far beyond that.

Moses would never have made such a  statement about the government he established upon the law of God.   Nor would any American official have assented to such a statement  if America was truly founded upon “Christian and Biblical principles” as Dr. Eidsmoe asserts.

This misperception of the nature of Biblical civil government  is also reflected in Dr. Eidsmoe’s assertion that whether one is “fit to be a good citizen or statesman, the question focuses more upon whether his moral values are ocnsistent with those found in the Word of God.”

The problem with that definition  is that it makes Christian government dependent on the fluctuating heart of man rather than the law of God.  This was the approach taken by Abraham Kuyper in Holland and explains why his dramatic cultural reforms died when he died.

The Bible and many of the earlier colonial charters required government officials to be bound by a religious test oath to govern by the Word of God.    As noted above, Article VI of the Constitution outlawed any such oath.

Moreover, Dr. Eidsmoe fails to distinguish between freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.   The First Commandment forbids freedom of religion in terms of public expressions of worship to any false god in a Christian nation.  Elijah showed zero tolerance for the prophets of Baal.  On the other hand, the unbelieving alien (stranger) was given special protected status in Israel and the Israelite was forbidden to coerce him in any way.

Key History MythBuster Findings:

  • When evaluating any historical character find out if what they did lines up with what they said.
  • Be aware of the influence of Rosicrucianism among the intelligencia of Elizabethean England and subsequently the founding fathers in colonial America.
  • Do not ignore the many points at which the United States Constitution is in direct conflict with the Bible.

Case Closed: While impressive in length, Dr. Eidsmoe’s review of Chris Pinto’s “Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers” is seriously flawed.   MythBusters Rating:  Hence our “Yellow Flag” cautionary rating. The review relies primarily on what America’s key founding fathers said, while ignoring what they actually produced. The review naively whitewashes the lack of orthodoxy among many of the key founders. For example, Jefferson’s excising the miracles of Jesus from the New Testament is justified by his supposed interest in “converting the Indians to Christianity.”

Moreover, Eidsmoe stated that “Franklin was a Mason, but there is little evidence that Freemasonry influenced his thinking.” Only if you can swallow the notion that Franklin’s leadership of the Masonic lodge in Philadelphia, initiation of Voltaire into the Nine Sisters lodge in Paris, and his leadership of the London Hell Fire club had no influence on his thinking.

There is much more that could be said of this review, but space does not allow.

In our initial Mythbusters’  investigation of religion and politics we established the important responsibility of the Christian pastor for relating to, befriending, instructing, admonishing and praying for his counterpart in the civil realm.

John the Baptist in the court of Herod was found to be our prototypical example.  John made a conscious effort to appear in the court of Herod in order to secure his repentance and submission to the law of God:  “it is not lawful for you to have this man’s wife.”  This posed no contradiction between religion and politics.

We determined that leaders of church and state are jointly responsible for leading the culture into greater conformity to the Word of God. It’s not all one way either.  There are examples in the Bible where the civil authority admonished the ecclesiastical authority to get off the dime. (e.g. Josiah).  But in the give and take between religion and politics it was usually the other way around .

MYTH:  As a busy pastor I don’t have time to take on one more responsibility, especially related to the civil government.

This kind of instruction and admonishment should flow out of a relationship that has developed over time.  In the court of David it appears to have been an unofficial position occupied by one Zabud:  “…and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend” (I Kings 4:5).

But after so many years of neglect, the trick will be breaking the ice and establishing the relationship.   You’ve heard of the Adopt A Highway program?  You might think of this as your Adopt A Politician program.

The goal of the Adopt A Highway program is a litter-free highway, cleaned up by citizen volunteers.  The commitment is to “preserving the beauty of our landscapes and sense of  pride in our community through a four-pronged approach to litter eradication.  This approach involves Education, Awareness, Pickup, and Enforcement” (York County, SC)

In like manner, the goal of your Adopt A Politician program is a corruption-free local government, cleaned up by Christian volunteers assisting their local elected officials.  The commitment is to “preserving the purity of our judicial landscapes and sense of  pride in our community through a four-pronged approach to eradication of injustice.  Rebuilding the relationship between religion and politics involves Awareness, Education, Pickup, and Enforcement.”

To put it in Biblical terms, the goal of your Adopt A Politician program  is to “hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate!” (Amos 5:15).  The city gate was the public place where justice was administered in Israel.  In more poetic terms, the end result is to “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

1)      You’ll want to start out with a low-key approach of gradual awareness  by inviting your local commissioner, legislator, or mayor to lunch or coffee.  Your request will be to learn more about issues the official is facing in order to pray for them.

2)      At the meeting express an earnest desire to understand the particular burdens the official is dealing with so as to pray and possibly help.  Ask a lot of questions and listen.  This will start out as an education process for you, and then for the official as the relationship develops.

Do what you can to encourage the official and as appropriate let them know that  God takes a particular interest in their work .   Share some Biblical examples that include your role in the in the relation between religion and politics.  Request another meeting in a  month for an update.  Like Daniel and his friends we desire to win the confidence of our leaders as they observe the wisdom of God at work in our lives.

3)      At a subsequent meeting it may be appropriate to offer help to pick up the load of responsibility that rests on this official’s shoulders.   Share another example from the Bible.  You might ask if there anything else we can do to help in terms of research, clerical, physical assistance, or anything at all?  Like Joseph you want to earn the respect of Pharoah by faithful service.

4)      As the relationship develops you want the educational process to focus on the Word of God for the purpose of evangelism, conversion, and gradual implementation and obedient enforcement of the law of God.  It is the responsibility of the lower magistrate to do this even when the higher magistrate does not.  This may occur during the process of casual conversation and eventually formal Bible study.

Initially, the proposed goal of the study might be to discover the practical solutions to political problems that God spells out in the Bible.  You can point out that surprisingly, the majority of the Old Testament is political in nature.

The best way for a Pastor to approach this is to think of it as a mission field.  It is your most important mission field and one that you alone are ordained to cultivate.  There is no doubt already an evangelism element in your ministry and weekly routine anyway.  This new religion and politics initiative will only require some slight adjustment in your schedule with very little time added.

That’s especially true if you recruit the involvement of some like-minded laymen in your congregation.  As the ordained representative of the church and custodian of the “oracles of God” it is your primary responsibility, but there is no reason why you can’t enlist the aid of laymen and women who have a heart desire to restore religion and politics interface.

They can actually do all of the leg work for you if you provide the direction, inspiration and leadership.  There are plenty of tasks to go around:

  •  Companionship.  There are probably people in your congregation with more experience interacting with government officials than you have.  Or they may be better equipped by personality to relate easily to these people.  By all means take them along.  Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor.
  • Scheduling.  An important and time-consuming task for someone with organizational ability.
  • Issues Research.   Here’s where some of the old-timers in the congregation can really shine.  They’ve been around long enough to know what the problems are and may know where to look for solutions.
  • Biblical Research.  Religion and politics will be a fascinating study for your Bible students.  What does the Bible have to say about zoning issues?  What are God’s requirements for Jails and criminal justice?  It’s all in there for the diligent Bible student?  How has the church addressed the issues of religion and politics in history?
  • Volunteer Staff Assignment.  When you ask a government official if there is anything you can assist him with, he just might take you up on the offer.  This could require someone willing to volunteer a few hours a week as an aide to assist the official in some capacity.
  • Prayer Warriors.  When you ask if they have any prayer requests they are also likely to take you up on the offer.  This can be a matter for individual as well as congregational prayer.
  •  Study group leader/assistant.  At some point you are going to want to involve the official in Bible study regarding their responsibility to govern according to the law of God.  Pray that God would cause this to emerge naturally out of the service relationship that you have been building with the official.

Case Closed:  There’s no reason that laymen and women can’t be involved in helping the formerly apolitical pastor make the new religion and politics connection.  Each has a unique gift that can multiply the impact of the official ambassador and make the burden easier for him.

Think of the impact that just a handful of pastors could have on a city if they were to implement the Adopt A Politician program modeled by John the Baptist.  What if all the evangelical churches in a city got together and divided up responsibility for the religion and politics initiative.  To paraphrase a famous soldier, “they’ve got us surrounded – the poor devils don’t stand a chance.”  Adopt a Highway is good, but Adopt a Politician is where the real action is.

If John the Baptist is any kind of model for New Testament church leadership then a lot of Christian leaders have a glaring omission on their resume.

Many, if not most evangelical pastors have a stock answer for sidestepping involvement with the civil magistrate.  They will tell you that they avoid mixing church and state in the pulpit and in their ministry, but encourage members of their flock to get involved in civil government if they are so led.  As for them, they are not so led – but thanks for asking.

MYTH:  The doctrine of separation of church and state means Christian pastors must distance themselves from any involvement with civil leadership.

Most have bought into the Enlightenment doctrine of separation of church and state.  Any slight hint of church influence on matters of state is to be avoided at all costs, as the ACLU is quick to remind everybody.  As we all know, they are not shy about slapping lawsuits on any hapless person who wanders off the reservation.  Although they may chafe on occasion, many churches have been willing to go along to get along with this, the prevailing spirit of the age.

And that works out well for Caesar too – he prefers to pretend he is god rather than acknowledge that he is in any way accountable to God.  Christian pastors are a visual reminder that he might be accountable, so he prefers to avoid them.  In practice, it’s mutual avoidance, not mutual admiration.

Which brings us to a very fundamental question.  What exactly does the Bible say about the subject of political action?  The Bible speaks to every area of life, does it not? — “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished for every good work.”   What — even political action?  How can that be a good work?

Well, when you stop and think about it the only political action recorded in the Bible is that which transpires between leaders of church and state.  Search the Bible from cover to cover and there is no door-to-door distribution of brochures, no electioneering, no formal debates, no fundraisers, no elections.  Nor is there anything else that we normally associate with political action in modern America.  What kind of democracy is that anyway?

Instead, when things go awry in the body politic we see Moses in the court of Pharoah, Samuel in the court of Saul, Nathan in the court of David, Elijah in the court of Ahab.  Many other similar examples could be cited in the Old Testament.

Their message was always approximately the same:   “Excuse me Mr. King, but I’ve noticed that we seem to be getting a little bit off the track here in terms of the law of God.  What were you planning on doing to fix that?”

The clerics of the Bible seemed to ignore the doctrine of separation of church and state somewhat with impunity.  Thankfully, the ACLU wasn’t invented until the 20th Century or there could have been problems.

But that was then, this is now.  That was God dealing with His Old Testament earthly people.  Things are different now under the New Covenant with God’s heavenly people.  Aren’t they?  History MythBusters decided to check it out and upon closer investigation found contrary evidence.

John the Baptist was the first major Christian leader we met up with in the pages of the New Testament.  Perhaps he could be considered a prototype.  The Bible records that John the Baptist was sent “to prepare the way of the Lord.”   In some less dramatic sense we reasoned, are not Christian pastors likewise sent “to prepare the way of the Lord” in their own sphere of influence?

Would it not follow that church leaders should look to John the Baptist as an example for what it means “to prepare the way of the Lord?”  What exactly does it mean to “prepare the way of the Lord?”  That was a key question for the investigation.

What’s the first thing that pops to mind when you hear the words, “John the Baptist.”  Well, probably “baptism” right?  We know that John was a baptist (small b, although some of my friends would claim otherwise).

What else do we know about John besides the fact that he was into organic gardening? This brings us to the other hidden dimension of the life of John the Baptist, which History MythBusters uncovered.  This is the secret side of John’s life that is rarely discussed.  After some careful detective work, we found it hidden in plain sight in the gospel of Mark, Chapter Six.

It appears from the record that John the Baptist had somehow gone out of his way to get himself into the court of Herod.  What in the world was John doing in the court of Herod, the local representative of Rome?

It turns out he was proclaiming the crown rights of King Jesus over Rome in very practical terms.  John insisted that Rome was subject to the law of God.  “It is not lawful for you to have this man’s wife,” is the sum and substance of what we were able to glean of John’s message to Herod.

Most Christians know that John the Baptist was in prison at the time of his death when Herodias tricked Herod into killing him.  But why was John the Baptist in prison in the first place, we wondered.

Most Christians assume that he was in prison because Herod was persecuting him for his faith.  If that was your assumption you would be wrong – it was just the opposite.  Herod was trying to protect John and prison was the safest place for him.  Herod’s prison was the 1st Century version of the Hanoi Hilton.

And who was Herod trying to protect John from and why was he trying to protect him?  If you guessed Herodias, you would be correct.  She was not a woman to forget a snub.  But beneath his gruff exterior, Herod had a soft spot for John the Baptist.  How do we know this?  Strange as it seems, John was building a relationship with the tyrant.  They were actually friends.

He certainly had mixed emotions about John.  In the beginning Herod feared John because his exposition of God’s righteous law pricked his conscience.  He was very perplexed by John, but Mark the evangelist reported that he enjoyed listening to him (Mark 6:20).  That was why it grieved Herod when Herodias manipulated him into having John executed.

Case Closed:  In preparing “the way for the Lord” John the Baptist declared His priestly and prophetic ministry in the Jordan  River.  “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” he declared.  When Jesus came up from His baptism, God Himself affirmed His priestly and prophetic ministry:  “This is my beloved Son…. With whom I am well-pleased.”

Only one thing remained for John to do: He had to prepare the way for the Kingly ministry of Christ and that task could only be accomplished in the palace of Herod.  It is clear that he felt a particular burden in this regard.  Pastor, if you have rejected political action and delegated it completely to your congregation, you are neglecting a major line item on your Biblical job description.

Rather than having no responsibility for “political action,” it turns out that Christian pastors are the key players in Biblical political action.   But you are probably thinking, what do I do?   How do I start?  Like anything else it takes practice.  History MythBusters will be exploring the practical aspects of this responsibility in our next case report:

MYTHBUSTERS CASE#3b: The Apolitical Pastor Equipped

 The Cultural Tactics of Abraham Kuyper

Biblical analysis:    Abraham Kuyper’s doctrine of sphere sovereignty was not tempered or conditioned by the Biblical doctrine of civil covenant and Biblical law.   Consequently, he has been rightly accused of being a pluralist.  Kuyper himself admitted to being an advocate of “principled pluralism”; it was in fact his answer to the humanist drive for cultural hegemony.

MYTH:  Principled pluralism is a viable strategy for Christian cultural renewal.

The doctrine of sphere sovereignty, together with his teaching on common grace and anti-thesis, provided the rationale for his coalition with the Catholics against the humanists.  In the anti-thesis Kuyper recognized the stark contrast of the struggle between the state-sovereignty of the humanists and the sovereignty of God championed by the Christians.

On the other hand, the doctrine of common grace permitted him to unite with Catholics as co-belligerents against the humanist juggernaut.  This was remarkable, given the bloody struggle between Catholic Spain and Protestant Holland during the days of William the Silent, some 300 years before.  However, the doctrine of common grace taught that God held the total depravity of man in check so that even the unregenerate might exercise their natural gifts in pursuit of social stability.

Kuyper’s commitment to pluralism betrayed his poetic dedication to “affirm God’s holy statutes in church and state, in home and school….” cited above.   The third article of the Antirevolutionary Party platform, Ons Program, exposes the frailty of the tactics Kuyper employed for achieving this end.   “…the authority of the state is bound by God’s ordinances, not directly…but only via the consciences of persons in positions of authority.”   It should be self-evident that such a tactic explicitly removes civil authority from the Word of God and posits it in the vacillating conscience of the civil magistrate.

Kuyper’s coalition government was able to assume control from 1888 to 1938 because he had earlier pressed for expansion of the electorate (12% in 1870 to 49% in 1896).  This extension of the franchise based merely on the qualification of paying taxes, produced short-term dividends, but paved the way in the long-term for an even more secularized state.

Following in the footsteps of William & Mary, Kuyper made the mistake of equating political participation (e.g., the right to vote) with freedom.  Perfect liberty under the law of God may exist apart from the right to vote.  It is not the right to vote, per se, that guarantees freedom, but rather the commitment of a nation to rule in terms of submission to the Law of God.  A pirate crew might exercise the right to vote within their society of evil, as when Long John Silver’s band of cutthroats presented him with the “black dot” in Treasure Island 

This does not at all preclude the doctrine of sphere-sovereignty rightly understood.  Kuyper’s conclusions relative to sphere-sovereignty were not consistent with the doctrine itself, which he ably expounded.   Apart from the civil covenant, Kuyper’s doctrine of sphere-sovereignty gave birth to his vision of a pluralistic society.  No covenantal limitations were to be placed on any faction within Dutch society.

In ancient Israel “strangers in the land” were excluded from participation in the civil government.  They were, however, treated as equals under the law of God and thus enjoyed true liberty.  Under Biblical law, Israeli citizens were commanded to give them special consideration.  They were grouped with “widows and orphans” as part of the vulnerable class in society that was worthy of special treatment, such as a portion of the tithe.  Divine sanctions of the severest nature were placed on the Israelite who would dare to mistreat the stranger.

Corrective or prescriptive actions:  The key lesson that emerges from the life of Abraham Kuyper is the futility of even the most effective political reforms apart from covenantal commitment.  As we have noted above, the battle had been conceded over two centuries earlier in the Dutch rejection of the Solemn League and Covenant. At the heart of this issue lie some penetrating questions.   “Should the covenant-breaking humanist be granted the right to political participation in a Biblically covenanted society?”  Should the captain of a ship grant the right to vote to a mutinous crew?  The covenant-breaking humanist is usually not so overtly mutinous; typically he pleads for tolerance – until he is in control.  After that the suppression of Biblical liberty proceeds relentlessly, as 20th century Holland and America bear witness.

Nor did Kuyper’s immediate use of his newly won political liberty contribute to freedom long-term.  Rather than pressing for the abolition of government support of education, Kuyper fought for and won public funding for private schools.  Although the goal was to secure equality for private education, this law ensured the inevitable subordination of private education to the government.  According to professor of history, James McGoldrick, “When the party obtained public funds for private schools it agreed to accept universal suffrage, a democratic goal of the socialists.”  He went on to assert that “Whatever immediate gain public funding of private schools had produced, one eventual effect was to strengthen the socialists.”  (God’s Renaissance Man, p. 225)

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Is the civil covenant merely an anachronism of the Old Testament era?  Does God take the Biblical covenant seriously?  The answer would have to be an unqualified “yes”, judging from the incident in Genesis, in which Moses’ son was very nearly executed for his father’s failure to apply the sign of the covenant.

The individual or the nation that treats God’s civil covenant as irrelevant or inconsequential can expect to suffer the consequences – and the consequences are deadly.  Thus, as we attempt to apply the Biblical principles of war to our culture, we must simultaneously press for renewal of the Biblical, civil covenant, recognizing that its acceptance is impossible apart from widespread personal regeneration in conjunction with and preparatory to, cultural reformation.

Case Closed:  Abraham Kuyper has been called by some “God’s Renaissance Man”.  Tragically, this appellation is distressingly accurate.  While he spoke and wrote the language of “God’s Reformation Man”, in too many cases – government education, natural law, pluralism, national autonomy – Kuyper reverted to the Renaissance.

Abraham Kuyper inherited an admittedly difficult situation from his forbearers and persevered remarkably over a lifetime of service to his Lord.  His life posed a considerable roadblock to the humanist onslaught that had arisen in his day.  However, the life of Abraham Kuyper is a stark reminder that the Christian activist must carefully examine his practice to ensure that it lines up with his belief.  It is all too easy to deviate, not recognizing that consequences for the next generation may be devastating.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Peter S. Heslam, Creating a Christian Worldview (Eerdman’s:  Grand Rapids, MI, 1998)

James I. McGoldrick, God’s Renaissance Man ( Evangelical Press:  Auburn, MA, 2000)

John Bolt, A Free Church, A Holy Nation (Eerdman’s:  Grand Rapids, MI, 2001)

Cornelis van der Kooi & Jan de Bruijn, Kuyper Reconsidered (VU Uitgeverij:  Amsterdam, 1999)

Luis E. Lugo, Religion, Pluralism, & Public Life (Eerdman’s:  Grand Rapids, MI, 2000)

As American culture has deteriorated over the years, the hue and cry among conservatives and Christians has been “original intent!”

We’ve got to get back to “original intent.”  The original intent of the founders was to establish a limited government with only a few enumerated, delegated powers, or so the story goes.

MYTH:  If we can only get back to the original intent of the founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution, then God will be appeased and America will prosper once again.

The founders would be spinning in their graves if they saw the bloated monstrosity that their cherished Federal government has morphed into over the years.   The bailouts, the earmarks, the “vote first, read later” mentality are only the tip of the iceberg.

The freight train to oblivion has accelerated under Bush-Obama to the point that the slightest disturbance is likely to throw her off the tracks.   In fact, the bridge just ahead is washed out and we need to be applying the brakes immediately.  Instead the engineer is pouring on more coal.  What’s going on here?

Now more than ever the call for “original intent” goes out over the conservative, Christian blogosphere.  Entire books are devoted to the subject.  For example, David Barton has written “Original Intent”, which purports to document “not only the plan for limited government originally set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights but how that vision can once again become reality.”

But before jumping on the original intent bandwagon, conservatives, and especially Christians, might want to consider what exactly it is they are signing up for.  With a return to original intent you may think you are returning to limited government, but consider what else you are getting:

  • A governing document based on the authority of man (“we the people”) rather than the governing authority of God (Rom 13:1).   This is John Locke’s social contract, grounded in the will of the majority — the essence of democracy.  It is the polar opposite of the Biblical covenant model of civil government contained in most of the colonial charters.  That’s part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.
  •  A governing document that makes itself (“this Constitution”) and all of “the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof … the SUPREME law of the land.”   The Bible doesn’t even get honorable mention in the entire document.   In other words, ObamaCare and all of its bureaucratic baggage holds supreme authority over the Bible in accordance with Article VI of the Constitution.  That’s part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.
  • A governing document that outlaws the Biblical requirements for holding public office.  In many of the colonial charters, office holders were required to believe in the Bible, or be a church member in good standing, or even to believe in the Trinity.  That’s all illegal now under Article VI of the Constitution ratified in 1788:  “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

James Madison explained in Federalist #57 that “no qualification of wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or   of civil profession is permitted to fetter the judgment or disappoint the inclination of the people”  (emphasis added).  Thus, as far as Madison was concerned, Christianity was a hindrance to good government.

It’s nice window dressing for public ceremonies, national days of prayer and the like, but when it comes to impacting the laws of the state, forget it.  It’s too divisive.  But “he who turns away his ear from hearing the law even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Pr 28:9).  That too is all part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.

The list goes on and on.  Pastor Ted Weiland has documented at least 75 points at which the United States Constitution directly contradicts the Bible.  To our knowledge his new book, “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution” is the first paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the United States Constitution ever written.  He makes the oft-repeated claim that “the founders were using the Bible as their great political textbook” look rather naive.

Yes, we’ve got to get back to original intent, but the question is “original intent of what?”  God demands that we return to the original intent of His law, not the original intent of the United States Constitution.   “And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.  And the Lord will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand….” (Dt 30:8,9).

Case Closed:  If you have been wondering why America is not “plenteous in every work of thine hand”, then look no further.  If you have been wondering why almost 40 years of conservative, Christian activism has gotten us virtually nowhere, look no further.   It’s tough to admit, but the U.S. Constitution is like the idol buried beneath Achan’s tent.  Until American Christians admit that we “have sinned against the Lord, the God Israel” in this matter we will continue to get nowhere fast.

In other words, we have to choose between two original intents.  Will we choose between the original intent of the U.S. Constitution or the original intent of the Holy Bible?

The original intent of one is incompatible with the original intent of the other.  One sets forth the law of man and the other sets forth the law of God.  One leads to national cursing and the other leads to national blessing.  One leads to the judgment we are now laboring under and the other leads to peace and prosperity.

We face the same choice as Joshua on the eve of entry into the promised land, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served … or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell:  but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15)

Many committed Christians struggle with the advisability of voting for a Mormon in the upcoming Presidential election. The choice is between a man who governs as if he were God (Barack Obama) and a man thinks he will be God (Mitt Romney). Once again the specter of voting for the “lessor of two evils” raises its ugly head.

Shall we vote against a man who is actively seeking to destroy America by voting for a man whose policies may delay that destruction? There is of course another question: Shall we vote for either one of them since neither possesses the leadership traits required by the Bible?

In the realm of political action the principle of “coalition” is fraught with difficulty and nuance of application that challenges the most astute theologian, not to mention the political practitioner. The work of Abraham Kuyper in Holland between 1870 and 1920 is perhaps our best modern example of the cultural application of the Biblical principles of war, including the principle of coalition.

This article examines the man and his strategy for cultural reformation and its practical outworking in terms of political tactics and outcomes. Kuyper is often lauded as a showcase model of the application of biblical principles to the political arena in Holland. However, even a man with the leadership traits of Abraham Kuyper may have been compromised by abuse of the principle of coalition.

The Cultural Strategy of Abraham Kuyper

Who was Abraham Kuyper? Abraham Kuyper was a Dutch theologian, journalist, and statesman. For 50 years he edited De Standaard, a journal of political and cultural commentary in Holland. He Founded the Free University in Amsterdam and organized a Christian political party, The Anti-Revolutionary Party. He served in the Dutch Parliament and as prime minister from 1901 to 1905.

MYTH:  During his tenure as Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper applied Biblical law to the legal system of Holland

Historical Context: Kuyper stepped onto the world stage in the late 1800s into the trail of philosophical destruction left by the Enlightenment era. The industrial revolution was well underway. The rationalism of the Enlightenment had transformed the socio-political outlook of the European states. God and His revealed Word were no longer revered as the sovereign source of governing authority. In His place had arisen the sovereign individual and more ominously the sovereign state – the state accountable to nothing other than its own autonomous will. Even in Holland, this humanistic spirit had overtaken a plurality of the electorate, forcing Kuyper’s coalition with the Catholics, especially on issues dealing with educational freedom.

Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and Descent of Man (1871) had revolutionized not only man’s understanding of science, but nearly every other discipline as well. All of life was now seen through evolutionary glasses. Men sought the reins of government to direct the evolutionary process via social engineering. The 19th Century also saw the rise of the Pantheistic romantics protesting the impersonal transcendence of the god of the rationalists.

Summary of Kuyper’s strategy: In the teeth of this secular whirlwind, Abraham Kuyper championed historic Calvinism, the application of the Word of God to every sphere of life. He developed the theory of “sphere-sovereignty” in which every aspect of earthly activity – church, education, business, law, art, etc. – is independent of the others and directly accountable to God for its functioning. The state is limited in scope and likewise accountable to God. The state functions primarily as an “umpire”, deciding disputes between the spheres, but not interfering in their internal affairs.

Thus, Kuyper spoke of “a free church in a free state”. The University he founded was named the Amsterdam Free University, signifying its independence of both church and state. His call to the civil government itself to submit to God was captured in the name of the political party he founded – The Anti-Revolutionary Party. This party was anti-revolutionary in the sense that it stood against the tenets of the French Revolution and its radical rebellion from the God of the Bible.

He was an ardent defender of the sovereignty (authority) of God in the civil sphere, as opposed to both popular sovereignty and state sovereignty. However, he failed to recognize the stark violations of this principle in the Dutch, English and American revolutions. All of these abandoned the civil covenant under the authority of God for a secular republic based on popular sovereignty and perceived leadership traits.

Kuyper’s desire for a Christianized state is capsulized in his famous poetic testimony at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of De Standaard: “One desire has been the ruling passion of my life. One high motive has acted like a spur upon my mind that I should seek escape from the sacred necessity that is laid upon me, let the breath of life fail me. It is this: That in spite of all worldly opposition, God’s holy ordinances shall be established again in the home, in the school and in the State for the good of the people; to carve as It were into the conscience of the nation the ordinances of the Lord, to which Bible and Creation bear witness, until the nation pays homage again to God.”

At least this was his stated goal early in his career. Later he argued that such a goal was quixotic and impossible in a pluralistic society and that civil government must rule according to God’s will revealed in nature; i.e., natural law (Creating a Christian Worldview, p. 164). Moreover, he argued specifically against theocracy, confusing the rule of God’s law in civil government (theocracy) with the rule of the church over the state (ecclesiocracy).

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 In addition, his doctrine of sphere sovereignty precluded any single sphere, including the Christian community, presuming to speak for the entire society. This position coincided with his amillennial eschatology, an eschatology that failed to fully press the crown rights of King Jesus, in spite of Kuyper’s famous slogan, Pro Rege, ”For the King”. These faults overshadowed the powerful example of his leadership traits.

Implications for subsequent history: In the short run, the work of Abraham Kuyper and his leadership traits were a great boon to Dutch society, but after his death it was quickly overrun by the juggernaut of modernity. The model of the autonomous nation-state was adopted by Holland, as by virtually every modern nation. It is the vainglorious image of Daniel 2 writ large, with the beastly characteristics of Daniel 7.

The absence of Biblical civil covenant and an explicitly Bible-based social philosophy in Holland led to a humanist takeover of Dutch society after Kuyper’s death. It was as if the monumental effort and leadership traits of the one man Kuyper– like the proverbial finger in the dyke – was holding back the deluge. When that finger was removed the flood surged in. The humanistic culture of death became firmly entrenched within two generations of Kuyper’s demise in 1920; for example, the Netherlands became the world leader in the “assisted suicide” movement.

It was Kuyper’s foundation of pluralism that created an attitude of tolerance for such atrocities. The stage had been set for disaster at least 200 year’s prior to Kuyper by William & Mary, joint rulers of Britain and Holland, who rejected Scotland’s Solemn League & Covenant in the “Bloodless Revolution” of 1688. Under the Solemn League & Covenant the nation had covenanted with God to govern according to His law.