CHRISTIAN GOVERNMENT

A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME



    Throughout history Christian leaders have held widely varying views on government. Some have denied that government could ever be truly Christian, while others have regarded monarchy, democracy, or even oligarchy as the "Christian" form of government. However, our present generation is held in such a grip of satanic delusion that the very mention of the term "Christian government" gives rise to thoughts of religious dictatorship. Nevertheless, because our God is a God of freedom, truth, and justice, that is the opposite of the way things ought to be (John 8:31,32, Psalm 89:14). In fact, a government that is being administered according to the will of God, will not tyrannize the people, but serve them. And it will not serve by giving to some what it has taken from others (Luke 22:25), but by protecting the lives and property of all citizens, while allowing them the freedom to live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty (1Timothy 2:2, 1Peter 2:14, Romans 13:3,4).

    It is safe to say that as long as this world exists no government will ever be Christian in the sense that all of the people, or even all of the rulers, are saved. We might also conclude that since government existed before the Bible was written, it does not derive its authority from the Bible, but from the law God has written on the heart (Romans 2:15). However, while the law written on the heart should be understood in a way that is reasonable and just, it can easily be denied, distorted, and twisted to serve the ends of evil and selfish men. For that reason, rulers usually wind up interpreting it in the light of the religious precepts held by the people they govern. And, for a Christian people those precepts would be summarized in the Ten Commandments.

    The rejection of Biblical morality by many in government is one of the major problems in our society, and it is being driven by the delusion that morality should be separated from government. Those who are of that persuasion assume that freedom can only be preserved by a government that is morally neutral. But what are tyranny and slavery other than moral evils? And, what are governments that tyrannize and enslave other than immoral governments? True freedom, the kind of freedom that comes from God, is not freedom from morality but freedom founded upon morality. In fact, since it is impossible for a nation that allows rulers to take bribes, live above the law, punish the innocent, falsely accuse, rape, kill, or rob to be free, freedom cannot exist without honesty and integrity on the part of public officials. For that reason, a truly free government will be a government that accepts God's moral law. Therefore, let me define a Christian government, as a government which, because of Christian influence, officially acknowledges the divinity and lordship of Jesus Christ, conforms its legal code to Christian standards of morality, and requires those who hold public office to obey the law. [Philippians 2:10, Romans 13:1, Daniel 4:25, 2 Chronicles 19:7]

 "Luther wanted neither autocracy nor mobocracy, but 'lawocracy' book law, a constitution. He admired the ancient republics and Switzerland. If the Emperor broke the law, he was to be fought as a common robber." (Lutheran Cyclopedia, page 598)
 

AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW


    Since the Bible plainly tells us "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow," everyone; angels, rulers, and even devils should and indeed will bow before Jesus Christ acknowledging Him to be their Lord and their God (Philippians 2:10). There are no exceptions! All must bow! All men, and that includes all rulers, are to be subject to God's authority, and are to acknowledge that any authority which they have is a trust from God that is to be administered according to the will of God. (Romans 13:1, John 19:11, Daniel 4:25)

    Although every ruler should acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ and keep the Ten Commandments, the influence of the political laws of Israel upon other nations is voluntary. However, because our natural knowledge of right and wrong has been corrupted by sin, it is right and proper that rulers should look to the political laws of Israel as a guide to good government. Moreover, since every law reflects some standard of morality, we need to realize that it is impossible for any government to be morally neutral. Just as laws that forbid mothers to murder their unborn children reflect one standard of morality, laws that allow them to murder their unborn children reflect another "standard." And, the standard of morality that God wants rulers to follow is set forth in the Ten Commandments. In fact, the Bible tells us that when it says that every soul (rulers included) should "be subject unto the higher powers," for there is no authority apart from the will of God (Romans 13:1).

    Church and state should be separate in the sense that the church is not to use the power of the state, nor is the state to control and use the church. They are to be separate institutions. However, rulers are perfectly free to read the Bible, learn from the Bible, and borrow ideas from the political law set forth in the Bible, and that has been done throughout history. Referring to this Biblical influence upon our law, lawyer and columnist David Limbaugh once said:

"Joe Farah made the excellent point that 'the Ten Commandments form the very basis of Western law.' We should be aware that other Biblical laws were also foundational to our system of jurisprudence. In the Book of Exodus following the Ten Commandments are further laws, sometimes collectively referred to as the Book of the Covenant.  As a lawyer I was fascinated to discover just how much of our law - torts, contracts, property and criminal law - is obviously traceable to this section of scripture."

    If some people think that a Christian government will be tyrannical, part of the reason lies in the fact that in the past there have been misguided churchmen who have attempted to control the state and use its power to impose their authority upon everyone else. However, what many fail to understand is that the abuse of political power is clearly contrary to the Word of God. God has given rulers authority so that they can punish criminals not regulate the law abiding (Romans 13:3,4, 1Peter 2:14, 2Corinthians 10:4, 1Timothy 1:9, 1Samuel 8:10:22). In short, morality should never be used by rulers as an excuse to be immoral (oppressive), instead it should keep them from committing the very crimes that God intended for them to punish. Moreover, God records the criminal behavior of rulers, from David's murder of Uriah to Herod's murder of the infants, and we should learn from that record the importance of requiring rulers to obey the law.

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY


    God instituted government because He loves and cares for people, not because He wants rulers to tyrannize and oppress them (Proverbs 3:31, Romans 13:3, Psalm 72:4). If we did not have a government we would live in constant fear of being assaulted, robbed, or killed. And, if some in our country live in such fear today it is only because our government has drifted so far away from the moral foundations upon which it was founded. Therefore, the very first principle of freedom and of good government is that all rulers, and government itself, must be in subject to the law of God as summarized in the Ten Commandments and reflected in the laws of the land. For that reason, the highest authority in any land must always be the law, not the whims of a ruler. And, that law must be founded upon moral precept, for freedom can only flourish where God, not man, decides what behavior is criminal and what is not.

    The English and American system of free government began when King John was required to submit to the law as set down in the "Magna Carta" or Great Charter. By making the law as set down in the "Magna Carta" an authority higher than the king, an authority to which the king was required to submit, the "Magna Carta" shifted the authority of English government from the king to the law, and thus to God whose authority is manifest in the law.

    Once the "Magna Carta" had been signed, the only thing that prevented the king from ignoring it was the power of the nobility. When King John died, the barons assumed control of the government and made John's son (Henry III) confirm the "Magna Carta." Therefore, while the power struggle between the king and the barons continued for some time, it was this division of power (between king and barons) that made it possible to enforce the provisions set down in the "Magna Carta." In time, the power of English government came to be divided between the king, the nobility (House of Lords), and the people (House of Commons).

    Over the centuries, the laws restraining rulers from the abuse of power were expanded, and two important safeguards against tyranny were added to the body of English law. The "Petition of Right" in 1628, and the English "Bill of Rights" in 1689. These additions to English law helped to define the rights of the people, and like the "Magna Carta", were made enforceable only by the division of power in English government.  Moreover, because the power is divided in English government, we err to think of it as a monarchy. Although the king is a monarch, the House of Lords is essentially an oligarchy (rule by few), while the House of Commons is a democracy. And, since a republic is essentially a mixed form of government in which law is supreme, the government of England would be called a republic if it did not have a hereditary head of state.

[NOTE: Since the word "republic" originated with the mixed form of government that existed in ancient Rome prior to the rise of the Caesars, the difference between a republic and a democracy, is the difference between the government of Athens, and the government of Rome.]

    Because the men who founded our American Republic understood the importance of both limiting and dividing the powers of government, they separated the executive (law enforcing), legislative (law making), and judicial (law interpreting) branches of government (see Isaiah 33:22). Since the President [who, like some kings, was originally to be chosen by electors] was to control the army, his position corresponded to that of the king in English government. Nevertheless, congress had authority over the militia. At the same time, the Senate (whose members were originally to be appointed by the state governments) corresponded to the House of Lords in English government, while the House of Representatives corresponded to the House of Commons.

    Over the years there has been a trend to change our American government from a mixed form of government to a pure democracy. For all intents and purposes, our President and senators are now chosen by popular vote. However, because pure democracies have historically been unstable and oppressive governments we ought to view this trend as a threat to our freedom. Ask yourself. What safe guard to freedom can a democracy provide if the law does not place any limitations or restraints upon the men whom the people elect? Without such limitations a democracy would quickly turn into a dictatorship. In fact, Hitler, who was elected by a democracy, is a prime example of this. I might also point out that it was majority rule that sentenced Jesus to death on the cross. In fact, South America is full of unstable democratic dictatorships.

    Furthermore, what if a democratic government did have laws limiting the power of those who were elected? What good would such laws be if there was no division of power? Who would enforce them? In England it took centuries to bring the power of government under control and curb its abuses. Now, under the name of democracy, the English have higher taxes and more invasive regulations than any monarch ever dared impose. A few years ago their government greatly restricted the right of individual citizens to own firearms — a right formerly protected by the English Bill of Rights. As a result, criminals do not fear law-abiding citizens, for those who use a gun to protect themselves are punished more harshly than the criminals (Luke 22:36). As a result, the rate of crime has shot up far higher than it was in the past.

    The delegation of legislative authority to regulatory agencies, that are neither authorized by the constitution nor accountable to the people, constitutes another trend toward dictatorship. Our media never seems to mention the fact that Mussolini invented regulatory agencies and they are essentially Fascist in origin. Furthermore, the infatuation of our society with democracy is totally irrational because it stems from the naive and foolish belief that all men are inherently good. Frankly, even those who profess to believe such nonsense, usually have enough sense to lock their doors at night. Just as good sense tells us that thieves must be kept from entering our homes, it also tells us that rulers must be kept from committing crimes. If they are not, tyranny and oppression will come as surely as night follows day. And, in my opinion, that is one reason why the United Nations is doomed to fail. [Psalm 127:1, Jeremiah 17:9]

[NOTE: In a purely democratic government the Ten Commandments can easily come to be seen as nothing more than the opinion of the majority. When that happens, those who do not want to be bound by the Ten Commandments will work to change that opinion, thus undermining the very foundation of freedom.]

    The English system of common law originated with King Alfred, whose legal code included the Ten Commandments along with other excerpts of Mosaic Law (871-899 A.D.). The Jewish laws of commerce, as codified by Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, later became the basis for much of English commercial law. The laws of England in turn, (especially as explained in Blackstone's "Commentaries On The Laws Of England") then became the basis for the American system of law. Moreover, the men who founded our American government were intent on preserving, not overthrowing that Biblical system of law. For that reason, the American War of Independence was not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Instead of being carried out by revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the rule of law; it was carried out by the duly constituted colonial governments in order to maintain the rule of law, along with its guarantee of such individual rights as no taxation without representation. [Note: King Alfred saw divine law as a source of first principles, and human law as a reflection of divine law. (“From Alfred to Henry III”, by Christopher Brooke, page 45)]

CONCLUSION


 In this essay I have emphasized these important truths.
1- All rulers should acknowledge the divinity and lordship of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10).

2- The Ten Commandments are a higher law that all rulers should obey, and to which all earthly law should conform (Romans 13:1).

3- In order for freedom to prevail, rulers should be subject to the same laws as everyone else, and rulers who violate those laws should be tried and punished for their crimes.

    I have also sought to make it perfectly clear that a Christian government will be a free government, not a religious tyranny, and need not be radically different from what we have now. To that end, I have summarized the influence of Biblical law upon the English and American systems of government, while pointing out key events of history by which the power of English government was brought under control, and rulers made accountable for their crimes. I have also pointed out that honesty and integrity on the part of public officials is vital to good government, and to the preservation of freedom. At the same time, I do not want to cover up or ignore the wickedness and shortcomings of specific rulers. Since human nature has not changed from the days of Herod, there have been wicked rulers in both England and America and there will be wicked rulers in the future. That is not something that legislation can change. However, when the law is supreme, rulers required to obey it, and the power of government divided it is possible to hold rulers accountable for their actions.

    Therefore, since freedom is a gift of God, if we are to preserve freedom we must not separate God from government, but instead must return our government to God (1 Timothy 2:2). To that end I close with the words of a song that until 1930, was regarded as our national anthem.

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!


The following resources may be helpful to those who would like to learn more about Biblical foundations of our government.

 "The Story Of Liberty" — by Charles Carleton Coffin
 "Sweet Land of Liberty" — by Charles Carleton Coffin
 "Christianity And The Constitution" — by John Eidsmore
 "Faith And Freedom" — by Benjamin Hart
 "America's Godly Heritage" (video) — by David Barton
 "America's British Culture" — by Russell Kirk
 "A Better Guide Than Reason" — by M.E. Bradford
 "Basic American Government" — by Clarence B. Carson
 "Basic Economics" — by Clarence Carson
 "The Roots of American Order" — by Russell Kirk
 "The Law" — by Frederic Bastiat
 "What Is Seen And Not Seen" — by Frederic Bastiat
 "Economics In One Lesson" — by Henry Hazlitt
 "The Revolution Myth" — by Gene Fisher and Glen Chambers
  "The United States: A Christian Nation" — by David J. Brewer, Associate Justice of the    Supreme Court
  "The State vs. The People, The Rise of the American Police State" — by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman