Guest Essay by Marshall Foster
As Americans it’s time to dust off our Bibles and rediscover the loving laws of God. As G.K. Chesterton says, “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the 10,000 Commandments.” In America today as the Ten Commandments have been ignored, the 10,000 Commandments have grown to hundreds of thousands of laws – resulting in chaos and confusion.
America is at the tipping point between the two major conflicting law systems of men and nations: king’s or ruler’s law vs. God’s Law. America was founded upon a simple and yet profoundly effective infrastructure built upon voluntary obedience to God’s Law. The result was blessing, prosperity and personal liberty as the world had never before experienced. Taxes were low, laws were few and life and charity were focused at the family and community level.
But the past few generations have been seduced back toward the oppressive, top-down ruler’s law which has dominated most nations of the world. Throughout history this system has always enslaved a people through an elaborate network of bureaucracy and ruler’s laws, eventually leaving them dependent upon government for everything. The rulers often make god-like promises, always exempting them- selves from their own onerous laws and taxes.
The answer to this juggernaut of ruler’s law has been the same throughout history: The only source of liberty is God and His Word. Let us briefly track the impact of the earliest Christian believers as they faced the cruelty of Rome on the one hand and the anarchy and barbarity of the pagan tribes of Europe on the other. They ultimately outlasted and defeated the Roman Empire and laid the foundations for Western Civilization. They turned the world upside-down by following their Lord’s strategy of servant leadership. They started by first living out their faith through obedience to God’s laws in their homes, businesses and church fellowships. Then they extended charity in many ways, including feeding the poor and saving abandoned babies, left to die. They evangelized the unbelievers, and established God’s Law as the basis for all of their societal institutions.
In the first century, when these believers first came to evangelize the British Isles, England was still a Roman colony. Over time, Rome and its Ruler’s Law crumbled and the Roman legions left England. But the Celtic believers continued to follow the laws of the Scripture to create a simple, fair legal system and societal structure. These English believers followed this biblical infrastructure to progressively displace the pagan traditions of the Celtic clans and the heavy-handed tyranny of the Roman Empire.
In the fourth century, pagan barbarians from Ireland attacked and destroyed a village of Celtic Christians in England. They captured a sixteen year-old boy named Patrick. For six years Patrick was a slave who tended sheep for a cruel Druid chieftain in the frozen fields of Northern Ireland. Patrick had not taken seriously the deep Christian faith of his family. Now in his despair, he cried out to God. He prayed over one hundred times a day and nearly as much at night. He grew close to Christ in his suffering. Patrick became repulsed by the witchcraft and human sacrifice of the Druid priests. Eventually, God provided an escape back to England where he prepared for the ministry.
Later, Patrick returned to evangelize the lost people of Ireland who had enslaved him. His fearless courage and faith in Christ impressed the king so greatly that he was given free passage to minister throughout the island. Patrick led in the conversion and baptism of over 120,000 Irish people and planted over 300 churches. He converted the nation of Ireland to Christianity without bloodshed. Patrick was the first public figure in history to speak and write against slavery. He virtually abolished slavery in Ireland.
Wherever he set up a church, along with the books of the Gospel, Patrick gave them “The Book of the Law of Moses” (Liber Ex Lege Moisi) which compiled Scriptures to be applied to civil matters. This book became the basis of all social organization, including the family, welfare, economics, and government. This Celtic Book (Liber) was the first essential civil document of liberty that led Christian civilization to far surpass Rome.
What was the result of Celtic Christianity in the British Isles? The Irish, who had been barbarians controlled by Druids, now became Christians. The Scottish, English and Irish believers became the founders and evangelists for the conversion of all of Europe from barbarism. For the first time since ancient Israel, God’s Word became the law of the land. The results were civility, charity, monogamous marriage and successful family life, limited civil government, private property rights, the development of education, and the publication and preservation of the books of antiquity.
America was built on this same foundation which was the fundamental reason for our unprecedented blessings. May we be encouraged that if God can use a formerly unbelieving, teenage slave to bring liberty and civilization to the barbarous Irish, He can use us to restore liberty to the most well-established Christian nation in history.
Abraham Kuyper was the Christian prime minister of Holland in the 1890s and led the revival of that nation, which had been mired in skepticism and modernism. He left us this challenge:
“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”
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