In our investigation of a biblical civil government, I have tried to distinguish between the church and the state as two clearly distinct institutions, with two clearly different tasks, both separately accountable to God.
The church’s job is to equip the saints to spread the gospel—the full-on, “nothing-left-to-do” grace of God in our relationship with Him, WHO IS ABOVE US. In that mission, the institution of the civil government is not involved in any way.
The civil government, on the other hand, is to punish evil (Romans 13:4) and protect and encourage the righteous (1 Timothy 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:11) in society as they do their assigned tasks. It does so according to the “not-one-jot-or-tittle-will-pass-away” law of God, with Jesus as Lord over all. The institution of the civil government, WHAT IS BENEATH US, is never involved in “saving souls.”
Along with the family’s contribution (God’s third kingdom-extending institution) of an abundant, endless supply of trained, educated young people, this is how the Lord’s prayer will be answered—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on the earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). What an exciting vision!!
Bringing our nation’s civil government into that kingdom vision begins with a foundational document upon which all the nation’s laws are based and that proclaims how the country functions. This is our United States Constitution.
I would like to begin a proposal for an adjustment to our current U.S. Federal Constitution with a new Preamble that states the necessary truths in that vision. Each of the state constitutions would begin with the same general statement, applied to the state instead of the nation:
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, proclaim that Jesus Christ rules over the United States of America as our sovereign Lord and King from His place of authority at God’s right hand. We recognize that He and His law in the Bible are the source of all justice, domestic tranquility, general welfare and liberty for ourselves and our posterity. We ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The initial reaction to such a Preamble is utter shock! For example, I just read an article this morning by a respected Bible scholar entitled “Christian Influence in Society? Yes. A Theocracy? No.” This scholar, like the rest of us, has been conditioned to believe that pluralism is the only legitimate, civil government, and it should be the goal of all the nations of the world to follow suit. We have been taught (or we have assumed) that the Constitution is on a par with the Bible, and to question that is to question one of our most cherished presuppositions.
However, we have seen in previous postings that the pluralism mandated in the Constitution is impossible, and that we, as a nation, must ultimately choose a god whose laws we follow. We have also seen that, without question, this one true God is Jesus Christ, who is currently ruling over heaven and earth from His Father’s right hand. That is not just theoretical or philosophical, but actual.
The next reaction, after the initial shock, is practicality. “This can’t work. No one will agree to this, even Christians. Even they don’t believe this. It is just too radical.” You are absolutely right. Few would agree to this now, even Christians. But that is only because we have been conformed to the world’s way of thinking about civil government, and we have not yet been trained to think biblically in that area. Thus, the question should not be, “Will it work?” but “What does God want?”
Because of our education and our long-held assumptions about the superiority of pluralism as a political system, it is hard for us to get past this idea that “What I have always believed is unquestioned truth.” Combine that with the historical harshness, bigotry and intolerance of theocracies, both past and present, along with our veneration for the framers of the Constitution, and it is almost impossible. As Paul says in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened.” That is the prayer we all will eventually have in our hearts for ourselves!
God Himself must open our eyes to the truths of Scripture in the area of civil government. When God does this, we will find ourselves—naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously—working to see the Lord’s prayer answered!
Having laid the foundation theologically and philosophically for a constitutionally established Christian nation, I want to mention a few distinctions that I believe will naturally follow when the proper, national foundation has been laid.
For the most part, the current Constitution is a wonderful document, the greatest national constitution in the history of mankind, with many of its ideas and structure based on the Bible. The framers, with their Puritan heritage, recognized the inherent sinfulness of man and his need to be restrained, witness Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote, “Let no more be said about the confidence of men, but bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” Another indication of its biblical heritage is the separation of powers that is implied in Isaiah 33:22: “For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us.”
In this verse the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government are all indicated, as God delegates His authority to these three branches of government. Over the last few years we have ignored this safeguard, instituted to restrain man’s inherent self-seeking, and we are suffering the consequences.
However, as we attempt to use the Bible as our foundation and legal authority, there are adjustments to the Constitution that will be made. The ones in these postings are only suggestions, a starting point for discussion. Once the permanent authority, the Word of God, is established, the application of that word in both federal and state constitutions is determined by the consensus of elected men of God, meeting to seek biblical solutions to solve the problems of the nation.
We are now in the process, as we are being equipped by the church, to think biblically in every area of life, including the political arena. We all won’t get there today, or tomorrow, or probably in our lifetimes, but we all will have an increasing vision of truth. With the Bible as our textbook, we will continue to learn God’s plan for civil government, as we are illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
Next week I will propose several more slight but direction-changing alterations to the Constitution, just as in the adjusted Preamble, that will bring it into a stated acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord of our land.
Robert I can’t help thinking of the “Holy Roman Empire” and the Byzantine Empire. Both empires were Christian theocracies. Both abysmal failures in the civil and church worlds. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” “My kingdom is not of this world”, spoken face to face with a representative of the deeply evil Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate. Would you comment on your next blog? Thanks 🙂