Category Archives: 2. STUDY

Study, Regularly. Like Ezra, who studied the law of the Lord, practiced it, and taught His statutes in Israel (Ezra 7:10), so must we put forth some effort to learn, practice and teach God’s ways. Study the Bible and the Biblical worldview. Become literate in the Biblical understanding of government and its application in family government, church government and civil government.

Self-Evident Truths by Bill Burtness is a resource textbook, written in simple terms especially for all Christian Americans to study and teach, to help renew a practical and Biblical understanding of how America was designed to work. It is about how to have a free nation. It is about philosophy of government, not politics.

Get your copy today at Amazon.com.

July 4th – America’s Birthday!

What was new about America?

America was born on July 4th, 1776, when 55 representatives of the thirteen original American colonies unanimously signed the Declaration of Independence. By doing this, they repudiated the rule of the English monarch over them and honored the rule of God over them. They established that in America, political sovereignty shall rest in the individual under God, not the state, nor the church.

These representatives made the historic shift from the rule of man to the rule of law. This means that instead of the changing and fickle rulings of a man, top authority rested in the stable continuity of written law, i.e. a constitution. The Declaration proclaims that they saw the necessity for this action as self-evidently true, and describes why they came to this decision. This was unique in world history.

The essence of the Declaration was that as a people they were going to stop being dependent on a king, on men, and instead be dependent on God. They ended the Declaration with the words, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

They believed that God was leading them to this separation and would somehow protect them and accomplish it. They personally committed everything to each other to that end. These are men of whom the world is not worthy.

The problem now is we are shifting back to the rule of man.

The question today has become, “When are people of faith going to get serious about their involvement in civil government?”

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Thomas Jefferson

American Civil Government – Are We Desperate yet?

banksy-dreams_00349040Are we desperate yet?

As biblical people we need to remember that politics will not save us.

As we enter a new presidential election cycle, we may be tempted to think, “If only a particular high-power politician who thinks as we do gets into office, then everything will be fine. We will have peace and prosperity.”

But Christians need to remember that politics will not save us. We ourselves are the solution, not a high-powered political individual.

The Bible is clear that the welfare of a nation depends on His people. II Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Christians need to strengthen their focus in prayer to the expansion of God’s kingdom on planet earth. Jesus said we should pray, “Thy kingdom come.” His kingdom is an internal kingdom that reigns in the hearts of individuals, in contrast to the external political structures of this world.

What does the interplay of these internal and external kingdoms imply as to how American government should work?

Looking at the current state of affairs in America – many are repeatedly dismayed by the decisions government makes. It seems as if elected representatives in both parties have no roadmap to guide their policies. Bad decisions made by political leaders impact us negatively, and will continue to have adverse effects on generations to come. This should bring about desperate Scriptural godly action on our part.

At the same time, we see confusion and a staunch complacency among biblical people, half of whom have not voted in recent elections or do not vote at all. They may lack confidence that they could vote according to their beliefs. They may think that whatever is happening is by definition “God’s will.”

Rather than seeing ourselves in a struggle to establish God’s kingdom, there are many who even think we are in the middle of some divine plan that will somehow glorify God when America crashes. Nothing could be further from the truth! God wants to expand His kingdom everywhere.

The result of inaction is that people without any roadmap are elected to all levels of public office by default, and have been for a generation or two. To use an understatement, this is a problem!

What is the solution?

There are three steps Christians can begin to take.

  1. All biblical Christians must vote in every election. To guide our votes, we need a consistent biblical worldview that comes from the study of the Scriptures. This establishes the correct internal roadmap in us, and helps us elect others who also have the proper roadmap for civil government.
  2. We can serve the Lord and the community in the public sphere by the grace of God, and turn things around in America. I believe it can take as little as six years, and I’ll explain that more in future posts. Each of us has a significant part to play personally; first in strengthening our own character and understanding of God’s ways for nations; and second in doing the specific tasks the Lord has planned for us as individuals.
  3. We must remember to have a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” which is what the Founding Fathers wrote into the Declaration of Independence and where they began their thinking. That is where we must also begin.

Christians need to look beyond their physical circumstances and stand in faith that God’s promises for protection, provision and love are true. When we take steps of faith, we will find that He is faithful!

We need to BE the solution in America.

PRAY – STUDY – VOTE – SERVE

Education for Liberty Project

Making Sense of Government Survey

We’re VERY close to finishing our long-awaited online seminar, Making Sense of Government, for release in July.  The webinar is finally ready.

The webinar will be a live, online interactive seminar analyzing the Biblical worldview of government and its application to events and issues today.   It will be a starting point for understanding American government and how it was designed to work.  It is about philosophy of government, not politics.  It will be the first in our series of webinars.

HOWEVER, we need your help.  Before we finalize the webinar for presentation, we need to make sure we have covered everything.

This is where you come in. Please take a few minutes to answer this super-short survey by filling out the form below, or commenting at the bottom of this post:

What are your two top questions about American government, and your involvement in it, that we absolutely NEED to answer in this seminar?

Your Name

Your Email

Thanks!
Bill Burtness
Director, Education for Liberty Project

Just What Are These Self-evident Truths?

The American founding fathers penned to the world, and to the future generations of Americans, some truths they saw as self-evident. These concepts are the foundation stones of western civilization.

The American founders began their list of self-evident truths with the statement that all men are created equal. They were specifically referring to both king and commoner, but knew the principle applied to everyone.  Somehow that idea of equal intrinsic value of all individuals still needs to be pointed out, because we don’t have that thinking today.

We tend to think government officials are more valuable than average individuals.  In their day the king thought this AND the people thought this.  We tend to think bosses are more valuable than laborers, men than women, rich than poor, professors than students. And this thinking directs our lives.  It also tends to make us angry!

Also, it is still necessary to be reminded that man is created at all.  Many think man is a higher form of monkey. That influences how we live.

Also, the founders wrote that God gave certain rights to all mankind, such as the right to live. But many think others can decide that – especially for babies.  Or the aged.  Or the sick.

Also, that God gave a right to liberty was obvious to the founders. But some think they can burn people alive in cages. Though obvious to many, the right to liberty is not self-evident to everyone.

Also, they saw a right from God to property as self-evident (the pursuit of happiness was an expansion of the concept of property in their minds). But some think they know better how to allocate other people’s property (money), or even what other people should buy – how others should use their own property.

Also, the founders thought it self-evident that the proper job and purpose of civil government is to protect all society by securing these God-given rights of the individual. The challenge is to leave the individual free while keeping civil government confined to its proper boundaries, and purpose of protection.  But there are many today who think the purpose of civil government is to rule and control the people – for their own good, of course.

The founding fathers also wrote that if any civil government is destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Many think, however, that civil government is permanent from ages past and cannot be changed – there is nothing we can do.

Who do you suppose would want us to think that way?

Elections are the peaceful way to alter or abolish civil government.

Since civil government is continually being destructive of these ends, we must continually alter or abolish it by voting. Therefore, all qualified Biblical people must vote.  And vote intelligently for Bible ideals.  And vote always in every election.  This is self-evident.

We must begin to prepare now for upcoming elections.

For further study,

get your copy of Self-Evident Truths, by Bill Burtness:

Paperback textbook ($15.99) available HERE.

Also, subscribe below to our Education For Liberty Project e-mail list for notices of upcoming blog posts, videos, reports and learning opportunities.

Get your e-book copy of SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS here.

 

 

PART III – THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

LIFE IN THE NEW WORLD

In the spring of 1621 the Pilgrims began to plant crops. One day a native Indian walked into their midst speaking English. How astonishing that must have been!  His name was Squanto and he had been kidnapped from the area years earlier.  Squanto had traveled far away to North Africa, lived in Spain with Christian monks and learned to speak fluent English while visiting England. He was also familiar with the Scriptures.  Squanto was part of an Indian tribe that had lived where the Pilgrims landed, but had died out years before from a plague during his absence. Squanto taught them how to fish and plant corn, and was a liaison between them and the surrounding Indian tribes. According to Bradford, Squanto had been prepared by God for fifteen years to help this band of Pilgrims get established in the new world.

As had been reluctantly agreed upon with the Merchant Venturers who financed their voyage, the Pilgrims’ arrangement of economics was to be in essence a system of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”[v]

This communal system, however, turned out to have crippling drawbacks, according to Bradford. Those from the upper classes in England simply would not work the dirt. People would pretend to be sick. Attempting to force women and children to labor seemed tyranny to all. Some who actually worked felt it unfair. Then, when the fields had been planted, no one felt responsible to water, nurture and protect the crops from the wild animals through the summer.

The result was that when harvest time came in the fall of 1621, it was virtually non-existent.

That year, fall and winter were extremely difficult for them. The Pilgrims spent their time foraging for sustenance, and some became servants to the Indians or sold them their blankets and goods, what little they had, for food.

A NEW ECONOMIC SYSTEM

In their distress again that winter they sought God for answers. They came to the conclusion that “they should set corne every man for his owne perticuler.”[vi]  In other words, each should govern his own life in the economic sphere as well.

When spring 1622 came they did something new. They divided up the land and gave a piece of property to each family. Each single person was assigned to work with one of the families.  They then gave each family a portion of the seed they had left. They said, in effect, “Here is your seed and there is your land. Do what you like with it.”
_________________________

The Pilgrims decided they should govern themselves under God in the area of economics as in all other areas.
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Bradford wrote that since they were again facing starvation, everyone went directly to work. Along with the able-bodied men the English upper classes, the women, the sick, the children and even the pregnant were all out hard at work preparing their fields and planting seed. Each family nurtured its own piece of property through the summer. The result was that there was a plentiful harvest that second autumn. Each family had enough to eat, store, replant and trade.

This was the seed of an individual enterprise system of economics, the application of Christian self-government in the economic sphere.

Bradford believed that the problem had been the system, not the people. He wrote,

“The experience they had . . . may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (as far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition [non-Christians]. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course [system] itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”[vii]

DEPENDENCE ON GOD

Bradford also notes, however, that lest they become dependent on their new system, “God seemed to intervene against their hopes of a crop –

By a great drought which continued from the third week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain, and with great heat (for the most part), insomuch as the corn began to wither away, part whereof was never recovered. Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indian’s admiration, that lived among them. Though it was hot through the morning and most of the day, toward evening it began to grow overcast and then rain gently in abundance without wind or thunder or violence.”[viii]

It was an answer to their prayer, “as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.”  God then gave them just the weather and rain they needed the rest of the growing season.  That fall they had an abundant harvest.

Bradford wrote, “For which mercy (in time convenient) they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”
_______________________

We must acknowledge our dependence on God both for the system and for the working of the system.
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This first Thanksgiving Day of theirs in the new world was celebrated specifically for this answer to their prayer for rain as they humbled themselves before God. It was recognized as a feast of gratitude to God, who was sovereign in their experience.

Though they recognized that they had a system from God that could bring fourth abundance, it became evident to the Pilgrims that they still needed to recognize their daily personal dependence on God, just as the children of Israel had done in the wilderness they had faced, thousands of years before. We must acknowledge our dependence on God both for the system and for the working of the system.

THE ESSENTIAL PILGRIM CHARACTER

A few aspects of the Pilgrims’ character should be mentioned since they are part of the spiritual heritage of America. In addition to the faith and steadfastness, self-governing, self-educating and entrepreneurial character mentioned, there were clear expressions of faithfulness, charity and forgiveness to those who met and dealt with them.

There is no clearer example of these latter qualities than how the struggling colony at Plymouth dealt with those who had sponsored them in their quest to America. The English merchant venturers had financed the Pilgrim’s voyage via the Mayflower at a usurious 40% interest. In return for this, the merchants had promised the Pilgrim settlers regular support shipments of food, tools, grain and other survival essentials. The unscrupulous merchants literally sent instead, shiploads of freedom-seeking people, who were completely unprepared to deal with the harsh realities of life in the new world wilderness.

As it turned out, the new arrivals were sent without personal provisions and the merchants neglected to include the support supplies they had promised the needy Pilgrims. Though betrayed by the English company several times, the Pilgrims arrived at the decision that they had contracted their voyage with the merchants in good faith and they must keep their word and honor their end of the agreement.  Jesus told them in Matthew 5:37, “Let your yes be yes.”
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The Biblical character qualities hammered out by the Pilgrims were the spiritual foundation of the new American nation.
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The Pilgrim settlement eventually paid off the entire sum with interest. This demonstration of the character of the American forefathers is to us a precedent when tempted to default on financial agreements due to unjust, or even only irritating, treatment. The Bible instructed the early Americans to honor their word and contracts. The Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony saw this integrity as part of the spiritual roots of the new land.

The Pilgrims took in the new arrivals and helped and taught them instead of turning them out to make their own way in the wilderness. This was at considerable strain to their own inadequate provisions and comfort. The Bible instructed them to love their neighbors as themselves, not mentioning circumstances. Jesus taught, “Whatever you wish others to do for you, do so for them.” The context of this care was an attitude of forgiveness towards those in England who were using the new colony to line their own pockets.

God honored the Plymouth settlers. Over the years, the Pilgrims’ ideas of character, civil government and economics became cornerstone foundations of the American political and economic systems.

It took 150 years of preparing the character of the colonists before God released them to break from England and become a nation. It also took the Great Awakening to unite the colonists. The constitution of a land is first internal then external, first real individual character then the piece of paper.

The first Great Awakening in America took place in the period from approximately 1740 to 1780.  Multitudes throughout the colonies came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in a true grass roots Biblical revival. It was a sovereign move of God.  Along with individual surrender to God and an increase in personal righteousness came understanding of God’s ways in government by moral principle and Biblical principles of civil government.

Rather than a general rebellion, the American Revolution was essentially Biblical self-defense against increasingly unjust oppression by the mother country, as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.[ix]  The American Revolution had purpose and design.  It was carefully thought through and not simply anarchy against legitimate authority. In contrast, the French revolution’s lack of this foundation in Biblical principle resulted in a reign of terror, anarchy, great arbitrary bloodshed, and tyranny.

A BACKSLIDDEN NATION

As a nation, America has in our generation turned from God.  We have ceased governing ourselves under God in many areas. We have been turning our freedom into license towards anarchy while at the same time becoming more dependent in character. The civil government has stepped in to take up the slack in education, welfare, health care, safety laws and other areas. This strengthens external government, eliminating freedoms and increasing the potential for corruption.

America needs a new spiritual awakening now in order to turn this downward, tightening spiral around, strengthening internal government so external liberty can be restored and maintained.

______________________

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STUDY QUESTIONS – The Thanksgiving Story

  • Why were the Puritans of Scrooby, England opposed so dramatically by the English church and state?
  • Describe the life of the Pilgrims in Holland and their reasons for finally making the voyage to the New World.
  • Explain the seed ideas contained in the Mayflower compact and their historical significance.
  • Describe the first economic system used by the Pilgrims and its effects.
  • Explain why the system of “individual enterprise” brought forth a new mentality of work and responsibility among the Pilgrims.
  • Explain the first Thanksgiving and the reasons for this Pilgrim festival.  How can you make a tradition of telling the true Thanksgiving story in your family and sphere of influence?

 

[v] Hall, Verna M. The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Christian Self-Government, San Francisco, Foundation for American Christian Education, 1966, p. 211.

[vi] Ibid. p. 213.

[vii] Ibid. p. 213.

[viii] Ibid. p. 215.

[ix] Ibid. p. 346B. Declaration of Independence.

PART II – THE PILGRIMS’ NEW CIVIL STRUCTURE

STORMY VOYAGE

Three attempts to sail to Jamestown were thwarted by weather. Jamestown was an English colony established nine years earlier by another group of Puritans in present day Virginia. The Mayflower finally put in for the winter at a random bay on November 11 to escape the stormy weather.  The Pilgrims named the settlement they planted Plymouth after their home in England.  Their location was in present day Massachusetts, quite a distance from where they had expected to land. The place was cold and desolate and very discouraging after their difficult voyage.

The strangers among them threatened mutiny, recognized they were not under any government here in the wilderness. Before going ashore, the Pilgrims drew up a new government for the whole group.  The document became known as the Mayflower Compact.

The purpose of the Mayflower Compact was to define among them an authority by consent and to establish a promise to obey. It declares that as a civil body they will meet together to frame laws and ordinances needed for the good of the colony and that they promise to obey them.  It is given below as written in Bradford’s history.[ii]

THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT

“In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-writen, loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith &c., haveing under-taken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith, and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solomnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid: and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye 11. of November, in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord, King James, of England, Franc, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano:Dom. 1620.”

This one-sentence covenant marked the first time in history that men voluntarily established a civil form of self-government and agreed to it, both Pilgrims and strangers. It should be marveled that they knew just how to proceed. Actually they had been governing themselves as a church body in this way for years, providing the model for the civil structure they now needed. Bradford said that they saw this act of theirs to be as secure as any patent granted by England, “and in some respects more sure.”[iii]  This was because they all agreed and voluntarily accepted it personally.

Some of the Biblical principles of government involved in the Mayflower Compact included these:

1) The individual has the responsibility to govern himself in every area of life and should be left free to do so.

2) The civil structure exists for protection and the common good.

3) The civil structure exists to serve the individual, not vice versa.

4) Government must be by consent of the governed, not by decree from above.

5) All are equal under the law.

CLASS STRUCTURE CHALLENGED

It should be noted that the Pilgrims approached their new relationship with the local residents, the Native American Indians, with these ideas in mind. They made a treaty with the Indians recognizing that the Indian was of equal value with the Englishman and therefore was equal under the law.  There was no class difference between them.  The purpose of the treaty was mutual protection not control; to help the Indians not rule them. Both Pilgrims and Indians agreed to the treaty (government by consent of the governed) and lived in peace for more than fifty years.[iv] _____________________________

The Pilgrims in Plymouth treated the local Indians as equals.

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This was in contrast to the experience of the Puritans in Jamestown who had not yet arrived at the conceptual changes in their ideas of government. Though Godly and sincere, the Virginia Puritans still possessed the traditional European ideas of government. They retained concepts of class structure, which viewed the value of the individual as defined by his station in life. They viewed the main purpose of civil government as control, rather than protection. Therefore they naturally saw themselves as superior and saw their duty as imposing government control on the native peoples. The natives didn’t appreciate this, and there was therefore a good deal of trouble between them and the Puritans, even bloodshed. _____________________________

The Pilgrims in Plymouth and the Puritans in Jamestown differed in their philosophy of government.

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That first winter at Plymouth was extremely difficult for the Pilgrims.  By Spring a full half of the Pilgrims had died due to hunger, disease and exposure. Yet, when the weather cleared and the Mayflower returned to England, none of the determined band of Pilgrims went back with it. They clung to the belief that God was doing something new. In spite of the suffering they were enduring, they believed they were in God’s will. This was truly a people of whom the world is not worthy.

 

(Next) PART III – THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

 

______________________

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[ii] Hall, Verna M. The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Christian Self-Government, San Francisco, Foundation for American Christian Education, 1966, p. 204, Mayflower Compact.

[iii] Ibid. p. 204.

[iv] Ibid. p. 206.

PART I – IN DEFENSE OF THE PILGRIMS

PART I – TWO GROUPS ON THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGE

Reading many people’s thoughts on the early Pilgrims, there is an important factor that most have not taken into account.  We must recognize that there were two groups sailing aboard the Mayflower – the congregation of Puritans from Scrooby, England, who left England due to persecution, and the people whom they called “strangers,” who were random, seafaring adventurers from England who were not at all connected with the Pilgrims and did NOT share their frame of mind, or their  ideas.  Though only one third of the passengers on the Mayflower were Pilgrims, somehow blame for everything bad that happened gets heaped on them!  This excerpt is the Pilgrim story summarized from Bradford’s History, 1647 in Chapter 8 of the book “Self-evident Truths” about the Foundations of American Political Thought.

 THE SEEDS OF AMERICAN LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

By the late 1570’s in England the common people had been exposed to the Bible for a few generations.  Many had come into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  As these lettered new believers studied the scriptures they began to come under persecution from the state. They were doing things strictly forbidden – holding home Bible studies outside the authority of the English church/state political structure.

From the Scriptures, however, these believers could find nothing wrong with their activities. They were hungry to learn about the living God. Nonetheless, they were raided, imprisoned and relieved of their property by the authorities. The Christians saw this as unjust and began to clamor for the English church to be purified back to its original New Testament base. These Christians became known derogatorily as Puritans. The battle was engaged as the power of the English church/state combination came up against the conscience and courage of the Puritans.

A NEW ECCLESIASTICAL STRUCTURE

In 1594. one group of Puritans in Scrooby, England came to the conclusion that the church/state political combination in England looked more like the anti-Christ than an instrument of God. Finally, they reluctantly decided to break away from the Church of England altogether.  Forming their own self-governing church fellowship they began to reform their lives on their own. They studied the scriptures to find out how to govern themselves, their families and their local church fellowship.
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One group of Puritans in Scrooby, England formed their own self-governing church fellowship.
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This was a radical move.  They were met with both persecution by the state and disapproval from some of their Puritan friends. These friends felt it was wrong to separate from the church, but rather work to reform the church from within.  The Scrooby Puritans were derisively called “Separatists.”  But their conclusion was that the structure – whether civil or religious – should exist to serve the individual not the other way around. So they set up a new structure in accordance with their belief that the individual is to govern himself under God in every area of life including the ecclesiastical or religious area. This decentralization was the result of an increase in self-governing character as they shouldered personal responsibility under God.

This was the tiny, initial seed of local self-government.

ENGLISH SEPARATISTS IN HOLLAND

Under persecution these separatists ultimately left England and went to Holland.  There they spent ten years studying their Bibles and working basically as slaves. It was very hard because the separatists were farmers and the Dutch were sea traders and fishermen. The separatists had left virtually everything they owned when they fled England and were starting over. They hired themselves out as servants and soon gained a good reputation for being hard workers, conscientious and honest, which put them in demand.

Beyond the physical difficulties was their grief over what had happened in England. They were God-fearing, honorable Englishmen yet had been hounded out of England by the church/state in authority there. “Why would God allow this?” they wondered.  “What went wrong?”  During their ten years in Holland they searched the Scriptures to find answers to these questions. They continued together as a local self-governing fellowship, seeking God to learn how they should govern themselves as a church organization as well as personally.

Life was extremely difficult in Holland and ultimately they decided it would be better to go to the “New World” and take their chances there. Their leader, William Bradford, wrote of their reasons for this decision[i]:

1) Their situation entailed such difficult labor that few of their friends from England would join them in Holland, and some of those in Holland were not able to stand their ground, but returned to England.

2) They saw that they were beginning to age and needed to make a move before they were unable.
__________________________________

Some of the Puritans left England under persecution and went to Holland and then the new world, and were known as Pilgrims.
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3) Their children’s bodies were losing their vigor under the load, and though many had the best of dispositions, this grieved these Puritans.

4) Some of their children, as a result of the hardship and the “great licentiousness of the youth in that country” were being drawn into Dutch sin and society, which grieved them even more.

5) They desired to “advance the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea though they should be but even as stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.”

Bradford wrote in 1647 from his diary the history of the Scrooby congregation’s wanderings, entitled “Of Plymouth Plantation.” The vision, integrity, and fortitude of these people challenge us all and are a source of great encouragement and wisdom. Through their time of wandering this group of Puritans became known as Pilgrims.

SEVEN GREAT EXCHANGES

In their Bible study during these years in Holland the Pilgrims came to seven great exchanges in philosophy of government (summarized):

1) From the idea of the infallibility of a church organization, to the idea of the infallibility of the Bible.

2) From the idea of political sovereignty belonging to the King or the Pope, to the idea of political sovereignty resting in the individual governed by God.

3) From the idea of sovereignty as being external, to the idea of sovereignty ruling in the heart of the individual as being internal.

4) From the idea of a class structure, where the individual’s value is based on external things (position, wealth, gender, race, age, ability) to the idea of equality for all, where the individual’s value is recognized as intrinsic, infinite and equal to every other person’s value. Since all are treated by God as equal under His law, all must be treated by man as equal under civil law.

5) From the idea of limited freedoms of the individual as granted by the King, and therefore revocable by the King, to the idea of unalienable God-given rights of the individual to life, liberty and property that may not be taken away by man.
___________________________

In Holland, the Pilgrims exchanged seven historic ideas about God, man and government.
___________________________

6) From the idea of the flow of power in a nation being from the state to the people, making the individual the servant of the state, to the idea of the flow of power in a nation being from the people to the state through the people choosing representatives.  Thus the state is the servant of the individual, the individual being the servant of God.

7) From the idea of compulsory uniformity in the externals in society, to the idea of diversity with unity, recognizing the differences between people in gift, call and character.  Unity is to be maintained within this diversity by virtue of the recognition of equality of intrinsic value and our need for one another.

The Pilgrims set sail August 5, 1620 on two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell.  The arduous 90 day voyage is chronicled in Bradford’s diary.  The Speedwell sprung a leak early in the voyage and returned to England.  The Mayflower trek was long and bleak.

Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, 37 were part of the Scrooby congregation. The rest were seafaring adventurers whom the Pilgrims called “strangers.” They were all confined below deck for most of the voyage.  They lived in an area the size of a volleyball court with a 5-foot ceiling. The hatches were battened down much of the trip due to severe storms that blew them far off their intended course.

 

(next) PART II – THE PILGRIMS’ NEW CIVIL STRUCTURE

 

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[i]  Hall, Verna M. The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Christian Self-Government, San Francisco, Foundation for American Christian Education, 1966, pp. 191-193, Of Plymouth Plantation.

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What Actually Is Liberty?

We need to understand the difference between liberty and freedom.  We generally think of them as equivalent terms.

Noah Webster defines liberty as “the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature.”  He defines “laws of nature” as “rules of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the creator.”  So liberty means freedom limited by the boundaries of God’s law – the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

In essence, liberty is freedom to do what is right.

Thus, the Founders saw that the proper purpose of civil government is to protect liberty, not freedom.

They believed that for every wrong and evil thing to do there are a hundred right and good things to do.  People should be left free to do those hundred good things, and civil government should be bound in chains of law to limit it from interfering and keep it protecting that freedom, and guarding men from doing the one evil thing.

Noah Webster standardized the American language with his American Dictionary of the English Language, published 1828.  He is known as the Founding Father of American scholarship.  He taught Biblical philosophy of government in the Constitutional Convention.

IS THE CONSTITUTION STILL RELEVANT?

Time Magazine, June 23, 2011, issue had a painful cover article entitled One Document, Under Siege by Richard Stengel. The cover showed a shredded American constitution.

The author wondered if the U.S. Constitution is still relevant after all these years. There are so many things today that the Founding Fathers never even thought of. The author states, “Here are a few things the framers did not know about: World War II, DNA, Airplanes, the atom, television, Medicare, derivatives, the germ theory of disease, miniskirts, the internal combustion engine, computers, antibiotics.” [We might add fifty states and one third billion people.] “There has been so much change and growth; how can that old parchment have relevance today?” is his query.

In order to answer this question, it is helpful to analyze it from our presuppositions.

See the YouTube video summary – The Third Alternative

The author is speaking from his government presupposition that  the purpose of civil government is to control the people and that ultimate sovereignty rests in the state. The thinking is that there was little to control at the time of America’s founding, so the document worked. But things have changed radically since then and the document is no longer able to control everything, yielding dysfunctional government.

This idea that the purpose of civil government is to control everything is the socialist or European view of government, from which we departed almost 250 years ago.

But, is complexity the reason for dysfunctional government, or is there something else?

CONTROL OR PROTECTION

The American view is that the purpose of civil government is not to control everything, but to provide the individual with protection.  The idea that came out of the Reformation and was embraced by the founding generation is that ultimately God is sovereign, and that He gave mankind civil government. The individual is to control his own life under God in every area. The proper purpose of civil government from the Bible is to protect his liberty, along with his life and his property.

This view says that far from the civil government being the focus of everything, it is actually only a small part of life with specific proper purposes and functions – to protect and serve – not to educate, not to provide, not to direct, not to take care of the poor, not to decide what the people should buy, not to control the people.

The constitution still is more than adequate to accomplish its proper purpose of protection.

PERSONAL CHARACTER

The condition for it to work properly, however, is that individuals throughout the society must control themselves to do what is right on their own in every area of life, i.e. they must govern themselves under God.  This arrangement takes a high general level of individual character, which has been diminishing over the years in America. As a people, we are now looking for someone to rule and control us rather than protect us and stay out of our lives.

This is the result of the people in America drifting away from being ruled and controlled by God and His word – a voluntary condition. We are therefore asking, “Who is in charge?” and concluding that the civil government must be the top authority, since we don’t recognize God’s presence.  As the character level of the people increases in dependence – we are seeking a king to take care of us. In our hearts, we are trading back the rule of law for the rule of man.

From this view, as we look at the constitution we are listening to people who say it is antiquated and insufficient to control so vast a people in modern times. But the purpose of the American constitution and civil government is not control.

The constitution is still accomplishing its proper functions and purposes. The problem is the declining character of the people of America, and therefore the representatives we choose. Representatives reflect the character of the people in general. Dependent individual character in society opens the door to external tyranny as we seek someone to control things for us.  Socialism begins in the heart.

THIRD GREAT AWAKENING

Therefore, we must pray for a new third Great Awakening to strengthen individual character to be able to handle freedom properly in America. This character includes such qualities as  honesty and love, righteousness and justice, responsibility and initiative, generosity and unselfishness.

The constitution is the law that governs the government. It is not being shredded by the advances of today’s society, but is being diminished by those whose philosophy of government tells them that old parchment is no longer relevant to control everything.  The people elect representatives who feel the same way – that they do not need to obey or uphold the constitution anymore in these complex modern times, even though that is what they vow to do in their oath of office.

THEREFORE WE MUST VOTE

We must vote for representatives who recognize the real purpose of American civil government, and want to uphold it and strengthen it.

We must vote intelligently, Biblically and always.  Doing so is the first step in governing ourselves under God in the area of civil government.

For a full treatment of the American philosophy of government and how to rebuild the United States of America from the inside out:

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 Time Article: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079445,00.html#ixzz1SrYtVGjX

 

WHY SHOULD CHRISTIAN AMERICANS VOTE?

WHY SHOULD CHRISTIAN AMERICANS VOTE?

Christians in general feel as if they should vote but what are the real reasons why Christian Americans should vote? The requirement in America is that informed biblical people vote in every election available. Why?

Many pastors would like to give their congregations basic biblical understanding of American government and politics but aren’t sure where to begin. This post will be helpful as a starting point for that discussion.

AMERICA’S ORIGIN IN THE REFORMATION

The American philosophy of government came from a spiritual movement in Europe called the Protestant Reformation, which started in the early 15th century.

Some professors teach (in accordance with their presuppositions) that America comes from a movement in Europe called the Enlightenment, but actually this is not the case. Although both movements shared some similar values – such as their emphasis on the importance of the individual over the state – there were basic and significant differences.

The Enlightenment brought about the French Revolution because as a whole it did not see God as ultimate value, but man. In France, the Huguenots – the French Protestant Christian middle class – was murdered or driven out starting in 1572, as part of a grand plan to “dechristianize” France. Catholic clergy and adherents were executed and churches were closed and their property destroyed. Ultimately, the Enlightenment there brought about a violent anarchy with a Reign of Terror and resulting tyranny.

This was in stark contrast to the results of the American Revolution. Rather than anarchy motivated by rebellion, the revolution here was in fact a war of self-defense against an increasingly oppressive king. Its result was true liberty that has lasted almost two and a half centuries.

Since then, this American style of liberty has spread to many places on earth, even as it has been diminishing here at home. Still, many Americans don’t understand where their liberty originally came from. Please view The Third Alternative video summary of these American presuppositions (ten minutes in length).

A NEW CONCEPT OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT

The philosophy of government propounded by the American Founding Father generation is often known as Christian Self-government. This concept explains that every individual is to control himself under God’s authority as opposed to having an absolute freedom – anarchy – on one hand or being under absolute civil control – tyranny – on the other.

America at its founding was unique. Christians believe that God ultimately decides the boundaries of nations and that He began something new in America. Americans could choose their leaders. They were not stuck with whomever happened to be in line for the throne and their opinions and whims. This was a new and radical concept on earth.

Therefore we could potentially choose those whom we saw as the best people in the land to govern us. In other words, we could govern ourselves under God in the sphere of civil government.

We must recognize that the only thing civil government does is legislate morality – turn personal morality into law – and then enforce that morality. The question is, “Whose morality is being turned into law?”

The Bible tells us that the institution of civil government – man over man authority – was given by God. It therefore has proper purposes, functions and boundaries, also given by God.

The trick is to keep civil government within its proper functions and boundaries. Therefore we must vote for individuals who can and will do that. Those who believe that there are no limits to civil government should not be voted into office, or should be voted out if they are already in power. This is our challenge today.

RULE OF LAW REPLACES RULE OF MAN

The American founders used the Bible as their “government textbook.” They learned that the people and their representatives must as their first priority govern the government and keep it restrained to its proper functions and boundaries.

The people are the ones to tell the civil government what it can and cannot do. This is called the consent of the governed.  This is accomplished by a constitution. Representatives are to “uphold the constitution.”

The constitution is the law that governs the government and is top civil authority.  This is called the Rule of Law.  This change in the basis of civil government from the Rule of Man where a king or some other grouping of men is the top and final authority to the Rule of Law was historic.

The founders had suffered much under the Rule of Man concept of authority and finally had to protect themselves and their families from future abuses. Though they were reluctant to do it, they finally decided they must separate themselves from England’s king and declared their independence from his government in 1776.

The American founders understood from the Bible that the proper purpose of civil government is to serve its citizens with protection (Matt. 20:20-28).

The English king’s view of his civil government was to rule and control the people. He believed the colonists were his subjects and their lives and property ultimately belonged to him. He could grant or retract the right for them to use that property whenever he so desired, if it fit his purposes of control.

Preceding America’s separation from England was a pervasive supernatural spiritual awakening throughout the colonies that historians call the First Great Awakening, approximately 1740-1780. One result of this awakening was the colonists believed that they were God’s servants not the king’s or, significantly, the church’s. They believed that God was ultimately sovereign in their lives, not the king or the church. They basically loved their king and their church but understood that each institution had proper boundaries given by God Himself in the Bible.

In America, elections ultimately gave the people the ability to renew the civil government’s purpose of protection and service continuously. For that to happen, the requirement is that informed biblical people vote in every election available.

PRAY     STUDY     VOTE     SERVE