By Rus Walton former Exec. Dir., Plymouth Rock Foundation
Excerpted from his great work One Nation Under God
used by permission of Plymouth Rock Foundation, Plymouth, MA
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
~ John 3:16 ~
In the beginning…
At that point in God’s perfect timing, when the Constitutional Convention had completed its work…
The lady sidled up to old Ben Franklin. “Well, Dr. Franklin. What have you given us?”
Dr. Franklin turned to her and replied: “You have a republic, madam—if you can keep it.”
So it was, after thousands of years of false starts and forbidden fruits and wrong turns and tyranny and license, man finally made a true beginning in civil government.
No more graven images.
No more state shepherds.
No more kings, or empires, or emperors.
No more unrestrained authority or State religion or sanctioned appetite or mob rule.
No more tyranny.
The Great American Republic.
Self-Government with Union
Other governments before had gone by that description – republic.
But, those were different. Different in origin. Different in nature. Different in structure. The best of the past was incorporated into this new and true republic. The rest – the evil, the excess – was rejected.
This new creation stood unique. A system of self-government. A government of and by and for the people. A government by the consent of the governed. With union. Not with uniformity. With union. With unity.
One out of many. Mortared with the blood of patriots and constructed by the Spirit of the Lord wherein lies liberty. A constitutional republic with individual liberty, elected representatives, and limited government. A government resting squarely on Biblical principles and limited by the inherent rights of the governed.
A government with its powers nailed down, chained and bound by the Constitution, fastened and confined to the proper defense of the individual’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness— those inalienable rights endowed by the Creator.
A republic in which the power to govern was checked and balanced by devices designed to stop the tyrant in his tracks.
Those early Americans, those individualists, had no easy task agreeing on government. Each in his own way and in his own freedom worshiped Almighty God. Had they not come to these shores “to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purities with peace”?1 They were not about to submit to another king, or men, or mobs. These subjects-turned-citizens were not only mindful of their rights, they were jealous of them, determined that never again would their inherent freedom be usurped, abused, misused, or denied.
And so these cagey sons of liberty joined to erect four fences around their government. Four fences, so government could not get out of hand or out of bounds:
- the Executive
- the Legislative
- the Judicial
- the Individual
Each was to be a check and balance to the other. The final fence, the individual, was to be the greatest check of all. No despot, no tyrant, not even a majority or a mob was to separate him from his individual rights. In the individual’s hand was always to be the power to bring government to heel.
After God, the individual came first. Only by his consent could government govern—and then, only to protect his life, his liberty, and his property. Not just his, but all men’s – equally.
“It is important to note that such toleration (of each individual’s rights) comes about through Christianity—because only the Christian idea of man honors all men be they Greek, Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond, or free. Christianity respects each individual because it honors God and gives supremacy to Him (see Col. 3:11).”
And so the Founding Fathers created a republic. A monarchy? No way!
They had just been down that bitter road. They knew all about the misuse of those so-called “divine rights of kings” And, they knew the Scriptures. They were mindful of the Prophet Samuel’s warning when the nation of Israel had demanded an earthly king:
And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horse- men, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your menservants and your maidservants and your finest young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1 Sam. 8:11-18).
The Founding Fathers knew the Bible. And they knew, firsthand, the striking parallels between the excesses Samuel had prophesied and the bill of indictments against the King of England as set forth in their Declaration of Independence. They were not about to go down that road again.
Collectivism? Communism? Absolutely not!
“Ye taking away of propertie, and bring in communitie into a comone wealth.”2 The first Pilgrims had been forced to make that false start – communism invoked by the financial underwriters of their venture. It was collectivism “under the most favorable conditions, among a people conscientious and bound together by strong religious enthusiasm!”3
And it failed miserably. During the winter of 1620-21 it had almost done them in. “It resulted as such sinking of personal interest must ever result, in dissensions and insubordination, in unthrift and famine.”4 No more of that!
A democracy? Not on your life!
Democracy? Where half plus one can squash the rest? Where a fanatical majority apart from God can deprive the individual of his rights, his life, his property? Not for these people. They knew democracy with its excesses, its leveling processes, its inherent seeds of destruction.
Democracy? Wherein the people see themselves as gods, sovereign over men and nations? The early Americans brought no such idea to this new world. John Cotton, one of the great preachers of the colonial period, put it this way: “Democracy? I do not conceive that God ever did ordain it as a fit government for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?”5
Pastor Cotton was not arguing for an aristocracy. Rather, he understood that in the democratic philosophy, with its emphasis on the sovereignty of the people, it is a fundamental contradiction to the Biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
The very essence of democracy depends upon the absolute sovereignty of the majority. Unbridled, capricious, born of appetite and of envy. Our Founding Fathers could never accept such tyranny. They recognized the seed and foresaw the fruit of humanism. For them there was but one rightful sovereign over men and nations—the Lord God. And under God? The individual—not the State, not the collective, not the majority. The individual. Self governed with union in Christ.
Historian C. Gregg Singer reminds us that Governor John Winthrop also warned his fellow citizens of Massachusetts Bay Colony that a doctrine of civil rights, which looks to natural, sinful man like a source and guardian, would destroy the very liberty they were seeking to preserve and protect. Dr. Singer wrote:
True freedom can never be found in institutions which are under the direction of sinful men, but only in the redemption wrought for many by Jesus Christ. Christ, not man, is the sole source and guarantee of true liberty. This two-fold indictment of the democratic philosophy of government is one of the enduring testimonies to the keen insight which these leaders of Massachusetts Bay had into the theological and practical aspects of an effective type of government.6
Consider this statement: “Each religion has a form of government, and Christianity astonished the world by establishing self-government… the foundation stone of the United States of America.”7
The Great American Republic! A government of law, not of men. Laws based on the laws of God. With a Constitution that set down certain definite ground rules. This was the law of the land:
- the rights of the minority protected,
- the rights of the majority upheld but not permitted to be destructive,
- the process of change provided for but in a manner that prevented capricious act or wanton revision.
And, wonder of it all, the safeguard of representative government and division of powers to filter passion and emotion through the check gates and the balances and divisions of local, state, and federal government.
Further excursion into the field of metaphysics would only emphasize what is too much ignored by contemporary Americans—that their Republic is far more than an administrative mechanism. The authors of the Constitution were eminently practical men. But to consider this political achievement critically is to see that they realized the distinction we have drawn between the condition of freedom and the urge to liberty;
That they realized the impossibility of maintaining freedom unless those who were “at liberty” were able to exercise self-restraint;
That their consequent objective was a political system permitting a happy balance and conciliation between the dynamic and the static.
In short, the problem to which they resolutely addressed themselves was how to integrate a liberty of divine origin with an order of human manufacture.8
The Golden Mean
Article 4, Section 4, of the Constitution of these United States of America states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this union a republican form of government.
There it is! Proposed, adopted, and ratified: “a republican form of government.”
Do you think for one moment the founders of this nation would have guaranteed a republican form of government for the states without having the absolute intent of providing the same for the nation as a whole?
A form of government under a constitution which provides for the election of (1) an executive and (2) a legislative body who, working together in a representative capacity, have all the power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenues and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create (3) a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legality of their governmental acts and to recognize (4) certain inherent individual rights.9
That’s it – the golden mean, the dynamic balance!
All through the realm of nature and of human activity we find examples of the trinity classification—the two extremes and the golden mean. A few of the more striking classifications [in government] are cited [in figure 1] in order to emphasize this fundamental truth and to illustrate the importance and the soundness of the law of the golden mean.
To my mind, the most important event that has occurred since creation was the coming of Christ, for He came to establish the standard of right living for all mankind. The next important event was the founding of this Republic under the Constitution, because it provided for the standard of right for government.11
God gave His only begotten Son, so that those who believe on Him should not perish but have life eternal. Yes! Praise God! But is not Christ to be our King even as He is our Savior? And if He is our King, are we not to be governed by Him, according to God’s laws? We are indeed! James Madison, “the architect” of the Constitution wrote:
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future… upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God[emphasis added].12
Chained to the Constitution
That embryonic power, which had boldly proclaimed its independence from an empire – and backed its words with blood, fortune, and sacred honor, firmly relying on Divine Providence—would not readily hand the keys of freedom to another tyrant regardless of the guise. Even one homegrown. They were tight-fisted with their liberty, jealous of their rights. And they meant to be.
They gave to their federal government just enough power to serve, to defend. Just enough and no more. The citizens were to be the master; the State, the servant.
Even then, with all the checks and balances and fences of that constitutional document inspired by Holy Writ, it was not until the Bill of Rights was tacked on that the states would consent to union. Then and only then would they ratify the federation.
Those precious first ten amendments to the Constitution. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech and press. Freedom to assemble. The right to trial by jury. The right to bear arms for defense and security. The prohibition against unwarranted search and seizure. The right of speedy and public trial by impartial jury. The prohibition of excessive bail or fines or cruel and unusual punishments.
Point by point those vital caveats detailed what government could do and what it could not do. Then, with a final whack of their hammer, those representatives of a free and independent people capped their holy affirmation.
The Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
And, the Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.
Take heed, all would-be Caesars! Government and men of government would be bound and kept in bounds. Restricted, confined to their proper role by the Constitution. A government of laws, not men; of principles, not whim.
All those fences, all those checks and balances were vital. Are vital. Vital to the core of the Republic. Yet in a way they were the superstructure. A wrought-iron superstructure anchored in a master rock.
A greater spirit.
A greater law.
A higher authority.
An eternal truth. A light unto the way.
The rock—the power, the beauty, and the light—that was the spirit of the American Republic, and its Constitution existed even before the beginning of time.
It was there when Christ with God created the heavens and the earth and man. It was there when Christ with God the Father gave man dominion over the land and the sea and the plants and the beasts—but not over his fellow man. In the image of God created He man. A free agent with a free will. Not a robot, not a vassal; a steward only a little lower than the angels. In the final reckoning, man’s accountability is to God. Man’s dominion is not unto himself but unto God as His vice regent.
The genesis—the spark—it was there, too, when Christ with God established civil government, when He ordained it after the flood through Noah (see Gen. 9:5,6).
The power: it was there when God gave men the law through Moses. There on Mount Sinai and in the days that followed. The law and the statutes and the ordinances to govern man’s comings and goings on God’s earth (see Exod. 19-20). And surely it was there through the manifested power and purity and love and light and sacrifice of Christ Jesus, our Savior and our King.
Christ died and rose to make men free. Whosoever will! Praise God!
Through Christ we are freed from the wages of sin. Eternal freedom. Free if we choose to be. Free from the bondage and the ravages of appetite and self. Internal freedom. Free if we choose to be. Free from the savagery of demagogues and the tyranny of kings. External freedom. Free if we choose to be.
Just as Christ Jesus brought us internal freedom (and a rebirth into a new life in Him) so He also brought us a new direction for our external freedom (and a new purpose for our civil government). Internal and external freedom. Self-government with union in Christ. For if Christ would die for men, how could Caesar force men to live and die for him?
There! There was the spark, the flame, the beacon light of the American idea. The power of the Great American Republic. The sense and the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of these United States of America.
The concept of a secular state was virtually nonexistent in 1776 as well as in 1787, when the Constitution was written, and no less so when the Bill of Rights was adopted. To read the Constitution as the charter for a secular state is to misread history, and to misread it radically. The Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order.
Let us consider the obvious rebuttal to such a statement, for it needs to be met: Why then is there in the main, an absence of any reference to Christianity in the Constitution?
The response must be equally blunt: There is an absence of reference because the framers of the Constitution did not believe that this was an area of jurisdiction for the federal government. It would not have occurred to them to attempt to reestablish that which the colonists had fought against, namely, religious control and establishment by the central government. The colonists would not have tolerated power in the Federal Union which they had rebelled against when claimed by crown and parliament.
The freedom of the first amendment from federal interference is not freedom from religion but freedom for religion in the constituent states.13
Separation of church from State control? Absolutely! Divorcement of God from government? Not so!
Both the church and the civil government have been ordained by God—institutions with a distinct division of labor. The ministry of the church is grace; the ministry of the State is justice. Both are answerable to God, the Supreme Sovereign.
Next to the Christian religion, of which America is the most influential advocate, the American government and Constitution is the most precious possession which the world holds, or which the future can inherit. This is true: True because the American system is the political expression of Christian ideas… a nation founded upon the rock of religion and rooted in the love of man [emphasis added].14
So it was that John Quincy Adams, fourth president of the Republic could utter these words in truth: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity” (emphasis added).15
Christian Idea of Government
This nation was founded, its government was conceived and formed, by men who knew God’s Word, men who had a strong, abiding faith in Christ Jesus. They were men who embraced without hesitation the Christian idea of man and, for the first time in man’s history, made it the foundation of civil government.
The Christian idea of man!
Not some pagan idea of man.
Not some proposition that man was an accident of biochemistry.
Not the claim that man was simply some higher form of ape.
But this: the Christian idea, the Christian truth concerning man—his origins, his purpose, his worth. The truth that in the image of God made He man.
And this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16).
God gave His only Son! He gave His Son to die for us. For each one of us. For you. For me. If God loved each man, each woman, each child that much… If each individual counts that much in the eyes of the Lord God, the Supreme Sovereign, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is… Then how can the individual count for any less in the eyes of men and nations?
What our Savior’s blood on Calvary’s tree purchased was not a group life insurance plan. The ransom paid was a one-for-one covenant between God and the individual sinner who believes on His Son. There we have the root, the source, and the power of the Christian idea on which this Republic was founded.
If each individual counts, then each individual is accountable. And because each individual counts and is accountable, God sent His Son the Lamb, perfect, without spot or blemish, to pay the wages of man’s sin. That is the crux of the gospel of salvation. Consider this also: It is the core of the Christian idea of man and the Christian methodology of government!
Christ’s Great Commandment? “Love one another; as I have loved you. you also love one another” (John 13:34). That is the very taproot of selfgovernment and individual freedom under God!
His Golden Rule for life?“Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:12). That is the power that can make men free and force governments to seek their proper place and stay within those bounds.
His Great Injunction? “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Once and for all, that established the balance and the order in self-government and civil government. For men and nations.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). And what does it profit a nation if it gains the world and rejects the Lord?
These were the ideals, the ideas, the principles, the spirit of the men who founded this Republic.
These texts, and many others of similar import, were as guiding lights to the resolute men and women who came to America not merely to worship as they wished, but even more to live, so far as humanly possible, in the manner Christ ordained!16
Perhaps no single man had a greater positive influence on the framers of our Constitution than John Locke, the English theorist and philosopher of the seventeenth century: “Our Saviour’s great rule, that `we should love our neighbors as ourselves; is such a fundamental truth for the regulating of human society, that, by that alone, one might without difficulty determine all the cases and doubts in social morality!17
Years later, in 1851, when Daniel Webster was reviewing the history of this great American family, he reaffirmed the need and role of God in government:
Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self-interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or blind fanaticism. On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness, incites to general benevolence, and the practical acknowledgement of the brotherhood of man, inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.18
More than one hundred years after Webster, Charles Malik, then ambassador to the United Nations from Lebanon, put it this way:
The good (in the United States) would never have come into being without the blessing and the power of Jesus Christ. Whoever tries to conceive the American word without taking full account of the suffering and love and salvation of Christ is only dreaming. I know how embarrassing this matter is to politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and cynics; but, whatever these honored men think, the irrefutable truth is that the soul of America is at its best and highest, Christian. When the tears and joy of Christ come to perfect fruition in this land, then America will utter her word.19
Christ did, indeed, command us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s (see Matt. 22:21).
Just what belongs to Caesar? We are not to render unto him those things that belong to God. Our body, our spirit, our soul, our conscience—those are not Caesar’s. They belong to God; God has made us—not Caesar.
God had a clear and definite purpose when He ordained civil authority. Civil authority was and is to serve God and to protect the life, property, and wellbeing of men and women from those whose lack of moral responsibility and whose disobedience to God’s laws turned them to crime and violence.
Human government was instituted by the Lord God as a protective, defensive agency. Civil government was ordained to serve the Lord God by being a protector—not a provider—of the people. Its laws were established to be in concert with God’s laws.
And what of those laws and the purpose of those laws and statutes and judgments? Those laws that God handed down to man through Moses? They were given to make clear the imperative doctrine of man’s responsibility to God and thus his responsibility to his fellow man. They were given to define and to delineate the purity and the holiness that should characterize the life of a people for whom the law of the nation was, at the same time, the law of God.
“Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always” (Deut. 11:1).
Christians know that civil government is ordained by God. We know that civil magistrates (elected and non-elected) are to be “servants of God to the people for good” (Rom. 13:4). We also know that it is His will that we pray for those in authority and ask that they be receptive to God’s guidance as they conduct our civil affairs
In his book Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting, Derek Prince reminds us that “Christian citizens of the United States should be forever thankful that the basic charter of their nation agrees so exactly with the purposes and principles of government ordained in the Holy Scriptures.”20
Remember Paul’s counsel in 1 Timothy 2:2?Roughly translated, Paul’s counsel boils down to this: “Good government is the will of God.”
In Christ’s teachings and in the writings of His apostles, we find the keys to good government and to its reformation and reconstruction should government cease to be good.
- the Law (Matt. 5:17)
- the Great Commandment (John 15:17)
- the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12)
- the Great Injunction (Matt. 6:33)
- the Whole Spectrum of Love (1 Cor.13:1-13)
- the Whole Armor of God (Eph. 6:10- 18)
Clearly it is affirmed and reaffirmed: Man is God’s servant. He is God’s steward, not Caesar’s. The State is to serve the law-abiding and punish the lawbreaker. Not vice versa. Under God, the individual is to be selfgoverning. “Christianity is a stranger to despotic power.”21
First Christian Congregations
What dynamic ideas, these Christian precepts found in God’s Word! These divine precepts and principles, which had been from the beginning, burst forth as the Master walked and talked on earth. Truths that were propagated as His disciples and apostles spread the gospel.
As these ideas spread from individual to individual to family to group, a secondary transformation began to occur. The power of the Holy Spirit, first internal, took external shape and form and practice. It manifested itself in the Christians’ daily lives and in the structure of the early Christian congregations.
Consider the spirit, the structure, the lovely work of those early Christian churches at Galatia, Philippi, Antioch, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Colosse, Corinth, and Rome. There was true self-government. Christianity applied. The seed and fruit, the patterns for others to follow-to modify, perhaps, but to maintain.
In the beginning Christianity was simply Gospel. Ecclesiastical organization was not the cause but the effect of life.
Churches were constituted by the spontaneous association of believers. Individuals and families, drawn toward each other by their common trust in Jesus, The Christ, and their common interest in the good news concerning the kingdom of God, became a community united, not by external bonds, but by the vital force of distinctive ideas and principles … in every place the society of believers in Christ was a little republic.22
“Christianity, in its essence, its doctrines, and its forms, is republican.”23
Republican. Not in any narrow partisan sense or meaning of the word. Certainly not in any reference to the politics of this day. But republican meaning, “that form of government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the body of the people and is administered by persons holding office with the consent of the governed.”24
Consider the republican features of the early churches. “These churches had officers, which were to be regarded and observed, in their proper spheres, as much as officers of any other republic. But the manner of their ruling was not to be as ‘Lords over God’s heritage’.”25
“Whoever desires to be first among you,” said the Savior, “let him be your slave” (Matt. 20:27).
The churches instituted by the apostles were local institutions. Each local church was complete in itself and was responsible to Christ for its character and the characters of those in its fellowship. The members of the congregations elected their elders and deacons. Through prayer and study, they sought God’s will in their lives and in the affairs of their church. They sought to imbue themselves with the love and light and spirit of Christ. In all things. The whole suit of armor.
Matters of congregational polity were attended to by the members through their chosen elders and deacons. If, upon occasion, the church sought the apostle’s advice or opinion, that was their decision.
Daniel Neal wrote in his History of the Puritans, “If the Apostle Paul, who was an inspired person, had not dominion over the faith of the churches, how came the Roman emperor, or other Christian princes, by such a jurisdiction—which has no foundation in the law of nature or in the New Testament?”26
One Mind in Christ
No regional body, no state board, no national council, no selfanointed hierarchy enforced dictums or edicts or decrees or tributes. Christ was Lord, Master, and Governor of individual and congregational affairs, because faith was strong, vibrant, alive! (As Dr. C. Gregg Singer has pointed out, the weaker the creed, the stronger the hierarchy!)
Hundreds and hundreds of miles stretched between those far-flung churches. But the churches were united. There was no central control, but there was a common bond. Many members, one body. Out of many, one! It was a new heart, a new mind, a new love through Christ. It was the power of the universe, the seed of Creation, the blaze of souls on fire. And it spread!
Against all adversity it spread. In hidden rooms. By quiet shores. Through the marketplace. In the darkest catacomb. Through martyrs and through persecutions. Even when the score read “Lions, ten; Christians, zero;’ it would not die. A glorious, unyielding, lifting faith which would not—could not—be denied. Tyrants would try to snuff it out; hierarchies would try to smother it; emperors would try to subordinate it; demigods would try to pervert or divert it. But it would not die and it would not yield and it would not compromise. Its truth, its purity, its power would prevail. And it would find its form in God’s good time.
Westward to America!
Others have documented the westward movement of that Christian light. Other volumes detail the rise and fall, the contributions and inquisitions of the dark Dark Ages. Suffice to mention here that each regime and every transit added to man’s constantly expanding sum: Pythagoras and Euclid, Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, Galileo and da Vinci; language, laws and logarithm, politics and science, arts and architecture; the outward reach of navigation and the inward quest of introspection—the ability to examine and define the concrete, the intellect to conceptualize the abstract. All increased man’s knowledge of the Creator and His universe, and all were preparation for the development of man’s republican capacities.
The Christian light moved westward through the epochs. Persisting like a blade of grass that shatters through the boulder to flourish in a virgin land an ocean span away.
It came through John Milton’s Paradise Lost and through his Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio:
Our liberty is not Caesar’s. It is a blessing we have received from God Himself. It is what we were born to. To lay this down at Caesar’s feet, which we derive not from him, which we are not beholden to him for, were an unworthy action, and a degrading of our very nature.
It came through Wycliffe, the “morning star of the reformation,” whose love of truth, of freedom, and of independence compelled him to give his English countrymen the open Scripture as their best safeguard and protection during “the thickest darkness of anti-Christian idolatry.”27
Wycliffe published his conclusions “that the New Testament or Gospel is a perfect rule of life and manners and ought to be read by the people.” He then proceeded, before his martyrdom, to translate the New Testament into the English language.
This light spread, too, through Tyndale, the father of the English Bible. Through Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cartwright, and the Presbyterians. God moved in wondrous ways His mysteries and His majesties to perform!
That mysterious influence of that Power which enchains the destinies of States, overruling the decisions of sovereigns and the forethought of statesmen.
A Genoese adventurer, discovering America. An obscure German, inventing the printing press. An Augustine monk, denouncing indulgences, introduced a schism in religion and changed the foundations of English politics.
A young French refugee, skilled alike in theology and civil law … entering the republic of Geneva, and conforming its ecclesiastical discipline to the principles of republican simplicity, established a party of which Englishmen became members and New England the asylum.28
The Christian light came with the growing thunder of a new age dawning in the West. First the Pilgrims, then the Puritans. Followed by the Quakers, the Huguenots, the Catholics, the Dutch Reformed, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Baptists. Joined here in this uncharted land by the Anglicans of Virginia who would raise their voices and lend their arms and give their sons as presidents.
It came on the written wings of Locke and Montesquieu, of Sidney and Blackstone, of Mason and Paine, and of Adams and Franklin – and the Committees of Correspondence. And it rang out from the pulpits of New England, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Georgia.
It came through the crimson tyrannies of king and parliament, through Stamp Acts, writs of assistance, and quartered troops. Impelled by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, triggered by the shot at Concord, impassioned by the words of young Patrick Henry, member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses, speaking. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond:
“Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me—give me liberty or give me death!”
Thus, in the course of human events, the Christian light formed and marched and moved “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” And on that day a Boston man, Sam Adams, stood in Independence Hall as the Declaration was signed and proclaimed:
“We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. And, from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come!”
The Pagan View of Man
So it arrived—the Christian light. Not a birth, but a rebirth!
A continuation, after so long a time, of the seed and fruit, of the courage and persistence of preceding Christians. A propagation of the faith in things spiritual, in things of civil government—and a propagation of liberty wherein Christ had made men free.
Christianity then appeared with the central doctrine that man was created in the Divine image, and destined for immortality; pronouncing that, in the eye of God, all men are equal. This asserted for the individual an independent value. It occasioned the great inference that man is superior to the State, which ought to be fashioned for his use. This was the advent of a new spirit and a new power in the world.29
And Christianity met head-on another value placed on man. – The pagan view.
The old world view “that the social order rested on the assumed natural inequality of men”; that the individual was “of value only as he formed a part of the political fabric and was able to contribute to its uses, as though it were the end of his being to aggrandize the state.”30
Such a humanistic, nihilistic philosophy could not and would not abide the Christian truth that man is created in the image of God, for His glorification; that man is. not a political unit or an economic digit; that man is not an end unto the State. Man is unique, distinct, important—and God’s!
“Socialism’s government is the external control of the parts, as opposed to Christianity’s internal control of the individual.”31 Thus the battle was joined. It continues in this day – at home as well as abroad
- Is the individual the master or the slave?
- Is man created in the likeness of God, accountable to his Maker? Or is he a means to an end, subservient to the State?
The eternal struggle; part and parcel of the eternal war. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: RUS WALTON
The content of this newsletter was reprinted with permission from Rus’ wife Ila Walton. It is excerpted from his great work One Nation Under God. Plymouth Rock Foundation’s first Executive Director was an exceptionally talented and experienced Christian journalist. He had a rare understanding of America’s Biblical principles of self and civil government, and this country’s Christian history. Rus carried these principles Throughout his career. He served as writer-advisor for the Governor of California in 1966 – Ronald Regan. when He was a skilled newspaper editor, radio and TV commentator, and manager of state and federal legislative campaigns.
As executive director of Plymouth Rock Foundation, Rus put his unique background to good use in writing his nationally circulated Letters from Plymouth Rock, some half dozen books (including best sellers One Nation Under God, and Fundamentals for American Christians), and in counseling Christians determined to express true principles of government in the political arena.
- New England “Articles of Confederation,” 1643
- Governor William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1647 (Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1901). See The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1966), 213.
- As cited by C. Gregg Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964), 18.
- Ibid., 19.
- Verna M. Hall, The Christian History of The Constitution of The United States, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1966). iii.
- Felix Morley, The Power in The People (New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1949), 41.
- Harry F. Atwood, Back to the Republic (Chicago: Laird and Lee, 1918), 28,29.
- Ibid., 37.
- As cited in Frederick Nyneyer, First Principles in Morality and Economics; Neighborly Love and Ricardos Law of Association (South Holland, Ill.: Libertarian Press, 1958), 31.
- R. J. Rushdoony, The Nature of The American System (Nutley, N.J.: The Craig Press, 1964), 2,3.
- J.A. Partridge, The Making of the American Nation (1866)
- July 4th, 1821, Fourth of July oration.
- Felix Morley, 47.
- John Locke, “The Reasonableness of Christianity” 1695 (The Works of John Locke, Esq., John Churchill, 3 vols., 1714). See The Christian History of The Constitution of the United States, vol. 1, op cit, 56.
- Daniel Webster, The Works of Daniel Webster, vol.1 (Little, Brown and Co., 1851). See The Christian History of The Constitution of The United States, vol.1, 245.
- Honorable Charles Malik, Ambassador to the UN from Lebanon. Farewell address to the United States upon retiring from the UN.
- Derek Prince, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1973), 42.
- Edwin Hall, The Puritans and Their Principles (Baker and Scribner, 1846). See The Christian History of The Constitution of The United States, 27.
- Leonard Bacon, Genesis of The New England Churches, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1874).
- Edwin Hall.
- Noah Webster, The American Dictionary of The English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828); facsimile edition by Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco.
- Daniel Neal, The History of The Puritans, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1844).
- George Bancroft, History of The United States, 10 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1866). See The Christian History of The Constitution, vol.1.
- Richard Frothingham, The Rise of The Republic of The United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1890). See The Christian History of The Constitution of The United States, vols. 1, 2.
- Rosalie J. Slater, Teaching and Learning American Christian History (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1973), 187.