Sunday, April 16, 2017

Today's Christian Complacency is Tomorrow's Captivity

By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

Today is Easter.  As Christians we enjoy Easter as an opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) advises us to share that good news to all that we can, through the means available to us.  Our works produces fruit, and good fruit is the beginning of our opportunity to share the Gospel, and witness to others about the good news of Christ.  Therefore, why is it that we have become complacent, and satisfied with keeping our Faith inside the four walls of building we call a church?

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in the 1830s to observe our penal system, he learned more about the American experience than he expected.  He came from secular France, where the separation of church and state was fiercely enforced.  With a history of the church and the monarchy (before the French Revolution) intertwined in an unholy marriage used as a weapon of tyranny against the people, one can understand their point of view.  So, when de Tocqueville arrived in America, he was surprised by what he saw.  The politicians prayed, and the pastors preached politics, yet the government did not control the church, and the religious community did not have any iron grip control over the government.  He saw that the true power of American freedom was through the churches, and the Faith of the citizens.  The government largely complied with the authorities granted by the U.S. Constitution - largely because of the Christian influence on those who were in a position to govern.  The American politicians had maintained their Christian values, and applied those values to their decisions as politicians.  In short, America was great because America was good, and because American churches were engaged in American politics.

A poison, however, had been injected into the judicial branch.  John Marshall, as Chief Justice of the United States, was chipping away at the Constitution, using his rulings and judicial opinions to compromise the system, and strengthen the power of the courts.  Nine decisions*, in particular, had established through case law the unbridled supremacy of the federal government.  While in Article VI. of the U.S. Constitution the law of the land indicates that the laws of the United States pursuant the Constitution are the supreme law of the land, it was Marshall's goal to establish that all federal actions and laws (and rulings) are Supreme, regardless of constitutionality.

After the War Between the States the poison was beginning to spread to the point that State Sovereignty had been largely disarmed, and tyranny was on the horizon.  The Progressive Era led the newly re-calibrated country into the new millennium, a new central bank operated by international bankers (federal reserve) was created, direct taxation was established (16th Amendment), and yet another attack on State Sovereignty was launched (17th Amendment).

In the 1930s the Christian Church was all that stood between the Christian foundational blocks of the U.S. Constitution and the forces of tyranny.  The anti-constitutional segment of our society took full advantage of the situation.  As socialism was injected into the American System through the New Deal, the communists had also infiltrated the church and convinced the clergy that political involvement is no longer good for the church; that all of the church's energy must be focused only on reaching new souls.  While evangelism is a good thing, and the primary job of Christians is to share the good news of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20), the duty of the church to also participate in civics is also among our paramount obligations as Christians.

As Christians, when it comes to our political involvement, first it is for us to pray for all of our representatives and political figures.

The Gospel has implications on all areas of our life, including politics.  As Christians, our worldview is based on God's understanding of reality, which we should extend to all parts of our lives.  A godly society leads to a virtuous government.  In the Old Testament, Joseph and Daniel served in civil government, and through that service they exerted significant influence that led to the flourishing of their nations through God's plan.  In the New Testament, Jesus engaged in a ministry that went beyond caring for the spiritual and physical needs of people.  He challenged the leaders of the era.  He engaged them in debate, and revealed the truth about their established system, which was that they had swayed from God's plan, and instead followed the rule of man rather than the rule of God's law.
John, Chapter 8, Verses 1-11; New King James Version (NKJV) 
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 
Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.” 
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Paul stated that our duty is to all arenas, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10). And: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Our "works", and "fruit" extends to more than our personal lives, whether we realize it, or not.  Our fruit is how we are judged as Christians, and our “good works” should also include participating in the political process because of the legitimate and significant role of government in our lives.  If we don't influence politics, politics will influence our lives, and through the political system the government can be used against the interest of Christians.  The decisions made by government have a substantial impact on the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike, and as Christians we must recognizes that every area of life must be included in the “good works” of believers, especially when it comes to politics.

In the United States, sometimes we have trouble recognizing the importance of being involved politically, partially because many Christians have adopted the mindset of our secular governing systems, and we have come to believe that the acceptance of the secular establishment without Christian influence upon it is inconsequential.  How could it, we tell ourselves, interfere with the task of furthering the gospel, or my ability to live my Christian life?  While I am not suggesting we pursue a theocracy, which can be just as tyrannical as a secular dictatorship, we must also not allow the system to completely abandon godly principles.  In countries where the church operates underground the Christians in those countries know full well what happens when Christians cannot influence the system, and as a result their religious liberties are taken from them.

The world of politics has real-world implications on Christian evangelism, and religious freedoms.  Therefore, Christians must engage in the political process by leveraging their rightful authority, advocating for laws and policies that contribute to our country being a virtuous society.  After all, we have seen throughout history that godly government and laws based on Christian virtues and principles directly contribute to the prosperity and freedom of a society.  Politics is a means of effecting great change and must be engaged by Christians who love their neighbor, while also wishing to protect their religious liberties.

Government derives its authority from God to promote good and restrain evil. This mandate is expressly stated in Romans 13:1-7. Elsewhere, Paul urges that prayers be made “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Paul understood the need for Christian participation in government.

Government plays a vital role in the work of God’s kingdom on earth. Good government encourages virtue and the population to living peaceably among each other.  When we move away from godly principles in government, however, that is when we will surely see the rise of unrest and instability.  

Without a godly government, and without Christians engaging in politics, we see the normalization of that which was once considered unlawful.  When Christian principles are not defended in government the laws outlawing infanticide, child abandonment and public indecency are abandoned.  Christianity was the force that ended the practice of human sacrifice among European cultures, led to the banning of pedophilia and polygamy. William Wilberforce, a committed Christian, was the force behind the successful effort to abolish the slave trade in England. In the United States, two-thirds of the active abolitionists who were making an impact were Christian pastors. In the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, helped lead the civil rights movement against racial segregation and discrimination.

It is the duty of Christians to use civics to advance godliness, which leads to justice and a successful culture.

Jeremiah 29:7 says: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  Jeremiah was referring to Babylon, and in his words it is apparent that Jeremiah recognized that secular government served a legitimate purpose in God’s plan for Israel. This is still true, today.  In our modern society, good government promotes literacy, advances justice, preserves and establishes just laws, provides an environment that fosters religious liberty and does not act as an obstacle when it comes to what churches to preach and teach. Good government provides the opportunity for the furthering of the gospel and human flourishing.

If Christians do not participate in politics, it creates a vacuum of which will be filled with political practices outside the purview designated by God. Politics affects government, shapes society and influences culture. If pastors and Christians keep their Christianity only within the four walls of the church, the inevitability of our society chasing after ungodliness is inevitable.

It is important for Christians to care about politics.  Knowing what we know, would not refusing to participate in politics be the sin of omission (James 4:17)?
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

* Nine Judicial Decisions that Changed America

  • Marbury v. Madison (1803), Judicial Review
John Marshall: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each…Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void

Coffman, Steve (2012). Words of the Founding Fathers. NC, USA: McFarland. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-7864-5862-2.

Note: Marbury v. Madison was also the first and only case in which the Marshall Court ruled an act of Congress unconstitutional, and thereby reinforced the doctrine of Judicial Review.

  • United States v. Peters (1809), States could neither annul the judgments nor determine the jurisdiction of federal courts.  

"If the legislatures of the several States may, at will, annul the judgements of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgements," wrote Justice Marshall, "the Constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery, and the nation is deprived of the means of enforcing its laws by the instrumentality of its own tribunals."

United States v. Peters - The Fate Of The Active - Court, Pennsylvania, Rittenhouse, and Olmstead - JRank Articles

  • Fletcher v. Peck (1810), First time (and it established a precedent) the federal   courts struck down (and made negative) a State law as unconstitutional.

  • Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816), Federal Supremacy in Civil Cases

  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), Limited State Authorities regarding corporations/corporate charters.

  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Federal Supremacy/Necessary and Proper

  • Cohens v. Virginia (1821), Federal Supremacy in Criminal Cases

  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), Commerce Clause

The "Steamboat Case," was decided in the year 1824. The background of that case was the grant to Livingston and Fulton of an exclusive privilege to operate steamboats on the waters of the state of New York during a fixed number of years. Ogden was the assignee of that privilege. Gibbons operated a steamboat between a New Jersey port and New York, and he held a federal coasting license for his vessel under the act of Congress providing for the licensing of coastal vessels. Ogden applied for and obtained an injunction against Gibbons in the New York courts,' and the case eventually came up on error to the Supreme Court. The question before the Court was whether the commerce clause invalidated the act of a state purporting to grant an exclusive right to navigate the waters of that state. The case was a critical one because several states-New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ohio-had passed retaliatory statutes excluding from their waters any vessel licensed under the Fulton-Livingston monopoly. But the case presented a political aspect also in that it brought into sharp focus the contest between the upholders of statesrights and the believers in a strong federal government." Two important legal points were involved in Gibbons v. Ogden. The first was the meaning of the term "commerce" as used in the commerce clause, specifically whether it included "navigation." Although it was contended by counsel for Ogden that "commerce" meant merely "buying and selling," Marshall held that the power to regulate navigation was "as expressly granted, as if that term had been added to the word 'commerce.' " And he also stated that "commerce" not only comprehended every species of commercial intercourse among states and nation but the power to prescribe rules for carrying on that intercourse." The second legal point was whether the power of Congress over commerce invalidated what had been done by the state of New York. Marshall held that, under the commerce clause, an act of Congress dealing with the subject matter of the clause is superior to a state statute inconsistent therewith and dealing with the same subject matter.It is hardly an exaggeration to say of Gibbons v. Ogden, as does Senator Beveridge," that few events in our history have had a larger and more substantial effect upon the well-being of the  American people. But the importance of the decision lies less, perhaps, in the actual holding, than it does in the broad view of commerce that permeates the opinion. Marshall saw what the framers of the Constitution recognized and sought to effectuate, that the United States is an economic unit and that commerce--interstate as well as foreign-must be under national and not state control. Herein Marshall undoubtedly owed a substantial debt to Daniel Webster, who argued the case for the appellant. Although we must discount somewhat Webster's statement that, as he spoke, Marshall took in his words "as a baby takes in its mother's milk," '1 and that the opinion of the Court "was little else than a recital of my argument," the impact of the argument is apparent from a comparison thereof with Marshall's decision. Of especial note is the broad perspective, the imaginative awareness of problems, that Webster exhibited. Nothing, he said, is more clear than that the purpose of the commerce clause was to rescue commerce "from the embarrassing and destructive consequences resulting from the legislation of so many different states, and to place it under the protection of a uniform law." He referred to the political situation at the time of the Federal Convention, specifically to the "perpetual jarring and hostility of commercial regulation" that obtained when each state was free to regulate commerce. "It is apparent," he said, "from the prohibitions on the power of the States, that the general concurrent power was not supiposed to be left with them." " Webster urged that the notion of a general concurrent power over commerce in the states and in Congress was both "insidious and dangerous" and that the power of Congress over the "high branches" of commerce is exclusive.

  • Worcester v. Georgia (1832).  The last of three cases regarding indigenous American tribes (also Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) which established Federal Supremacy over Tribal Affairs.
As a note: one that Marshall Got Right:

Barron v. Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833), the Court held that the Bill of Rights was intended to apply only against the federal government, and therefore does not apply against the states. The courts have since incorporated most of the Bill of Rights with respect to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was adopted 33 years after Marshall's death.

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