The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Christian's Role In Politics

My good friend, Larry Johnson, the editor of wrote the following outstanding article.

In the last article (Government is not the problem…however) we discussed the Founders’ beliefs with regard to politics and government which are radically different from what most people believe today. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined politics as: The science of government; that part of ethics which consists in the regulation and government of a nation or state, for the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity; comprehending the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest … and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals.
Politics in the founding era included a belief that regulation and government of a nation had a moral component and that its responsibilities included the preservation and improvement of the morals of the citizenry. Contrast the Founders’ beliefs with modern antiseptic attitudes and the resultant cleansing of any hint of religion or moral absolutes not only from politics and government but from all institutions of American life.
This attitude is prevalent throughout America including a large segment of Christianity. The attitude has grown from decades of misapplication of the First Amendment and an erroneous understanding of Thomas Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. The First Amendment is an “establishment” clause, not a “separation” clause. It was meant to prohibit the government from establishing one specific sect as the official church of the nation. The Establishment clause was not meant to banish religion and its influence from the public arena, politics, government, and the institutions of American life.
Jefferson’s words with regard to a wall of separation between church and state were merely to assure the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut that no one church would be established as the official church of the United States. Effectively, it was meant to protect the church from the state, not the state’s protection of the people from religion. Who better to explain the Founders’ intent than a Supreme Court Justice of the era? Joseph Story was appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, regarded as the father of the Constitution. Story wrote of the Establishment clause:
The real object of the [First A]memdment was not to countenance, much less advance Mohometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy (a denominational council) the exclusive patronage of the national government.
This meaning was clearly understood by the vast majority of Americans and the courts until Jefferson’s words were taken out of context by the Supreme Court in 1947. In the Everson case the Supreme Court extracted eight words (“a wall of separation between church and state”) from Jefferson’s speech with total disregard for its original meaning and context. This was the beginning of the systematic removal religion from the public square and the nation’s various institutions.
From this misunderstanding of religion’s rightful place in government, many Christians have generally shied away from any significant involvement in politics and government over the last three decades. To dispel this notion, Wayne Gruden published a pamphlet titled, “Why Christians should seek to influence the government for good.” Gruden presents a strong biblical basis for Christian involvement to significantly influence law, politics, and government …according to God’s moral standards and God’s purposes for government as revealed in the Bible.” At the same time Gruden cautions that Christians “…must simultaneously insist on maintaining freedom of religion for all citizens.” How is this balance achieved?
…the overarching moral suasion (influence or persuasion) of Christian principles under which our nation was founded made possible religious freedom for all faiths. Such moral suasion of Christian principles is not coercive as humanists would have us believe. The moral suasion of Christian principles provided the nation with a central vision and resulted in stability and unity by working through the individual as he voluntarily chooses the manner in which he orders his soul. [Johnson, Ye shall be as gods, p. 224.]
As a result of the over-arching Christian worldview, the nation exhibited an exceptionally strong religious sanction at its founding. This religious sanction was the power of Christian teaching over private conscience that made possible American democratic society. The religious sanction resulted because colonial and founding-era Americans held the biblical worldview and were significantly involved in government and politics. To confirm the existence of this strong religious sanction that still held sway over the nation forty years after the Constitutional Convention, we look to the words of Alexis De Tocqueville’s 1831Democracy in America, one of the most influential political texts ever written about America.
Americans so completely identify the spirit of Christianity with freedom in their minds that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive the one without the other…
On my arrival in the United States, it was the religious atmosphere which first struck me. As I extended my stay, I could observe the political consequences which flowed from this novel situation.
In France I had seen the spirit of religion moving in the opposite direction to that of the spirit of freedom. In America, I found them intimately linked together in joint reign over the same land.
Tocqueville went on to say that the peaceful influence exercised by religion over the nation was due to separation of church and state. Unlike the modernists’ separation of church and state, Tocqueville’s separation was a separation of the spheres of power and not a separation of government from ethics and moral guidance supplied by the moral suasion of Christianity.
In twenty-first century America, the Christians’ role in politics and government should be the same as the role played by Christians in the founding of America. They were significantly involved in government, politics, and law such that the power of Christian teaching over private conscience made possible American democratic society. To restore the biblical worldview as the basis for governing the nation, Christians must become significantly more involved in government and politics, and it must happen now before it is too late.
Larry G. Johnson
Noah Webster, “Politics,” American Dictionary of the English Language 1828, Facsimile Edition, (San Francisco, California: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1995).
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, & Co., 1833). Vol. III, p. 728, paragraph 1871.
Wayne Gruden, “Why Christians should seek to influence the government for good.” Booklet adapted from Wayne Gruden, Politics – According to the Bible – A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010).
Larry G. Johnson, Ye shall be as gods – Humanism and Christianity – The Battle for Supremacy in the American Cultural Vision, (Owasso, Oklahoma: Anvil House Publishers, 2011), p. 224.

Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Gerald E. Bevan, Trans., (London, England: Penguin Books, 2003), pp. 343, 345.

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