RELIGION AND POLITICS
by David Hocking
A recent message on this subject has generated a great deal of interest and folks wanted the notes in order to download them and use them with friends. We are happy to provide them – you can also order a CD of David’s recent message on this subject.
Psalm 127:1 says: “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”
Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
Isaiah 60:12: “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”
HOW DID AMERICA BEGIN?
Both the Virginia Colony and the Plymouth Colony were organized to “propagate the gospel in America.” The ship called “Mayflower” was anchored off Cape Cod with the Plymouth colonists drew up a “compact” and organized themselves into a “civil body politic.” It was signed by all the male heads of families and unmarried men not attached to families. This historic document reads:
“In the name of God. Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and bind ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid, and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names, at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James of England, France, and Ireland the 18th, and of Scotland, the 54th, Anno Domini 1620.”
Concerning the spirit and motives of the colonists, the great English writer, John Milton, said: “The Bible doth more clearly teach the solid rules of civil government than all the eloquence of Greece and Rome.”
One of America’s early leaders was William Penn who wrote these words: “I purpose, for the matters of liberty, that which is extraordinary – to leave myself and successors no power of doing mischief, that the will of one man may not hinder the good of a whole country. It is the great end of government to support power in reverence with the people and to secure the people from abuse of power; for liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery.”
During the Constitution Convention, Benjamin Franklin (at the age of 83) gave this inspiring challenge to prayer:
“I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that “except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it” – I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed, in this political building, no better than the builders of Babel.”
THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.”
On 25 decisions of the United States Supreme Court they have used the phrase “separation of church and state” that was a part of a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. Here’s what the letter actually said:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The purpose of this article was NOT to renounce Christianity or give countenance to infidelity or any pagan religion, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian denominations and prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.
In the Delaware Constitution of 1776, we read this quote: “Everyone appointed to public office must say, I do profess faith in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God and blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.”
Patrick Henry was greatly influenced by the preaching of George Whitefield, the British evangelist, and made this statement:
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not by religions, but by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
It was Samuel Adams who led the Boston Tea Party and served in the Continental Congress, who said:
“Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being Who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins.”
John Adams said: “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress that drafted our constitution, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said: “Let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the universe; Let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him Who raises up and puts down the empires and kingdoms of the earth as He pleases.”
John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court said: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Francis Scott Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner” said in February 22, 1812:
“The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness, a “lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his paths.” He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation.”
The author of the McGuffey’s Reader, William McGuffey, said: “The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”
In his book “DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA” the noted French scholar and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in the early 1800’s:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
The American evangelist of the early 1800’s, Charles Finney said: “The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground.”
John Quincy Adams, our 6th President, said:
“The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”
President Andrew Jackson said: “Sir, I am in the hands of a merciful God. I have full confidence in His goodness and mercy. The Bible is true. I have tried to conform to its spirit as near as possible. Upon that sacred volume I rest my hope for eternal salvation, through the merits and blood of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Rutherford B. Hayes, our 19th President, said:
“I am a firm believer in the Divine teachings, perfect example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I believe also in the Holy Scriptures as the revealed Word of God to the world for its enlightenment and salvation.”
Warren G. Harding, our 29th President, made this insightful remark: “It is my conviction that the fundamental trouble with the people of the United States is that they have gotten too far away from Almighty God.”
Harry Truman, our 33rd President, said: “The basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”
Ronald Reagan, our 40th President, said: “The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.”
FOUR ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE ISSUES OF “RELIGION AND POLITICS”
Issue #1 – THE RECOGNITION OF GOVERNMENT
Issue #2 – THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
Issue #3 – OUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO
NOTE: The first three of these issues were dealt with in our first three messages in this series. We now come to the 4th issue and the most important one in terms of believers.
Issue #4 – OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD AND GOVERNMENT
(four principles to guide us)
1.Our POSITION as believers in Jesus Christ
John 17:14-17; 18:36; I Corinthians 5:9-13;
II Cor. 5:17; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 1:13
John 17:14-17 – “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil (one). They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.”
John 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.”
I Corinthians 5:9-13 – “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be aa fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioners; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
II Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Philippians 3:20-21 – “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”
Colossians 1:13 – “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
2.The PREEMINENCE of our commitment to God – Acts 4:18-21; 5:27-29, 40-42
Acts 4:18-21 –“And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.”
Acts 5:27-29 – “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this Name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Acts 5:40-42 – “And to him thy agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
3.The PURPOSE of our witness – Matthew 5:13-16; Titus 2:11-14; II Peter 3:11-13
Matthew 5:13-16 – “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
II Peter 3:11-13 – “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
4.The PRIORITIES of our life – Matthew 6:33; 28:19-20
Matthew 6:33 –“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
1.We should have respect and give honor to all governmental officials.
2.We should exercise our right to vote.
3.We should seek changes through legal and political means.
4.We should refuse to disobey God even if the government commands us to do so.
5.We should be committed to making disciples of all nations.
6.We should pray for our governmental leaders.
7.We should obey the laws of the land that do not require us to violate the laws of God.
8.We should pay our taxes and never cheat the government.
9.We should live a godly lifestyle in the midst of a secular environment that has lost its moral values.