Mr. Gary DeMar, Chairman Mr. Colonel Doner, Co-Chairman With contributions by members of the Government Committee of The Coalition on Revival Dr. Jay Grimstead, D.Min., General Editor Mr. E. Calvin Beisner, M.A., Assistant to the General Editor
The Christian World View of Government. Copyright 1986, The Coalition on Revival, Inc. All rights reserved. The Coalition on Revival, Inc., P.O. Box 1139, Murphys, California 95247
"The voice of a god and not of a man!" (Acts 12:22). Herod believed the words of his subjects. He fell for the grand delusionthe belief that those who rule are gods, independent rulers, walking on earth. It did not take God long to remind Kind Herod and the people that God rules in Heaven and earth and that all rulers are subject to His sovereignty and Law. Herod became a diet for worms: "And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:23).
God is not against rulers. He is not opposed to government. Indeed, He ordained it! All authority is "established by God" (Romans 13:1).
What God works against is man's assuming the role of God. God clearly says, "I will not give My glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8). God does not tolerate competition: "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. And who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place'" (Isaiah 44:6,7). The First Commandments reminds us, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). William Penn once wrote, "Men must be governed by God or else they will ruled by tyrants."
We are not to make ourselves gods. Our parents are not to take God's place and rule in the family independently of Him. Our teachers are not to take God's place and teach as if there were no authority that gives all the facts in the universe meaning. Civil government is not to take God's place and rule independently of His one government (Isaiah 9:6,7; cf. Romans 13:1-7). Whenever any government oversteps its proper magisterium, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29; cf. Daniel 3:16-18; 6:10ff).
But don't we act as if someone else is god? We want the state to educate our children, to nurse us when we get sick, to establish homes for us when we get old, to protect us from ourselves, to care for the poor, and to support us when we are out of work. Man often makes the statecivil governmentinto an idol. We might not say that we worship the state, but the Bible says that we know what people believe "by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20).
God is the ultimate and only independent authority. This must be our starting point as we discuss the role God takes in the affairs of men, especially as His sovereignty relates to civil government. "By Me kings reign, and rulers decree justice" (Proverbs 8:15). When a ruler decrees either by words or by deeds that he is independent of God's government or that justice is defined according to his self-made laws, then God acts in judgment. We might not see His judgment in the same way Nebuchadenezzar or Herod did, but time brings all things to light. Choosing man as the sovereign ruler, independent of God, inevitably leads a nation into slavery. The self-made god will rule with an iron fist. As Samuel Rutherford said, we have either Rex lex or lex Rex.
With these thoughts in mind, we offer the following affirmations and denials to enlighten Church and the world about the principles of government set forth by God in His inerrant Word, the Bible.
The Foundations of Government
1. We affirm that the Lord God is the universal Governor of all individuals and nations because He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Daniel 4:17; 5:21; Isaiah 9:6,7; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Colossians 1:17). We deny that finite, fallible, fallen men and women have within themselves the ability to govern in a thoroughly just and consistent manner without inerrant Scripture as their governing authority.
2. We affirm that "the government" in the singular, used of ultimate government, must refer to the Triune God, who alone has unlimited and independent authority (right to govern), power (ability to govern), and jurisdiction (sphere of government) (Isaiah 9:6,7). We deny that any individual, group, or human institution ought to claim to be the government with the attendant implication of independent and unlimited authority, power, and jurisdiction.
3. We affirm that the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant standard by which all aspects of civil government are to be conducted and that God holds man accountable to govern himself by that standard. We deny that any final authority outside the Bible (e.g., reason, experience, majority opinion, elite opinion, nature, etc.) ought to be accepted as the standard of government for any individual, group or jurisdiction.
4. We affirm that God is the Originator, Sustainer, and Judge of the government of man by man. We deny that true government is established by man or sustained by any of his activities except obedience to Biblical Laws and laws soundly deduced therefrom.
5. We affirm that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords; that He has all authority in Heaven and on earth; and that all governments everywhere function by His permission and are obligated to follow His Laws. We deny that any form of government that exalts the individual, the Church, or the state above Jesus Christ is consistent with God's Biblical standards for government.
Jurisdictions of Governments
6. We affirm that God's government is independent and unlimited and that all human governments are established or allowed within His sovereignty (Deuteronomy 4:17). We deny that man's government is independent and unlimited, and that any government can claim independence from God on the basis that governments arise out of "social contracts."
7. We affirm that God has established many governments; that He has given each its own jurisdiction; that all are accountable to God; and that among these are self government (which undergirds all insititutional governments), family government, ecclesiastical (church) government, and civil governments (e.g., national, state, and local). We deny that any human government has ultimate jurisdiction over all or over any other individual, group, or government (family, church, or civil).
8. We affirm that the various governments (including self, family, church, and state) have different God-ordained jurisdictions that exist at the same time and place, affecting the same people, and that God desires that they respect each other's separate God-ordained jurisdictions. We deny that it is possible to separate totally the jurisdictions of these God-ordained institutions, since they constantly function at the same time and place and affect the same people.
9. We affirm that without self government all other governments are destined to fail. We deny that civil government can be used to make evil men good, i.e., to develop godly self government in sinful men and women.
10. We affirm that there is a jurisdictional separation between Church and state. We deny that there is an absolute separation between Church and state, if by this it is meant that God and His Word should be separated from civil government.
11. We affirm that Jesus Christ, supporting the jurisdictional separation between Church and state set forth in the Old Testament, acknowledged and supported the legitimate but divinely limited jurisdiction of civil government when He commanded us to "...render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:22). We deny that the Church ought to reject civil government and advocate a church-controlled state (ecclesiocracy) in which the church rules over the state.
12. We affirm that ecclesiastical government, the church (as an institution with rulers), has legitimate court powers within its jurisdiction (1 Corinthians 6; Matthew 18), and that Christians should settle their disputes within the Body of Christ, following the procedures of reconciliation set forth in Scripture. We deny that Christians should take fellow Christians to civil courts, and that the state ought to usurp the legitimate and God-ordained jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts.
The Nature and Duties Of Civil Government
13. We affirm that there is a vital distinction between state (i.e., civil government) and society, and that society encompasses all governing institutions, of which civil government is one. We deny that the realm of the state (civil government) is to be considered co-extensive with society.
14. We affirm that God holds civil governments everywhere responsible to protect the God-ordained rights to life, liberty, and private property, and to keep the peace by their legitimate powers. We deny that life, liberty, and private property are rights defined by man or granted by the state.
15. We affirm that civil government has the God-ordained power of the sword to punish evildoers and to promote the good, and that this power includes capital punishment. We deny that civil government is given absolute power or flexible jurisdiction for the use of the sword to further its power and influence, and that it may rightly refrain from use of the sword in capital cases as described in Scripture.
16. We affirm that civil government the responsibility of administering justice, which includes and is limited to the commendation of those who do right, the punishment of evildoers by restitution and retribution, and the preservation of peace against domestic and foreign oppressors, and that the fulfillment of this responsibility allows for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the application of the Word of God to every area of life. We deny that civil government by its very nature is unjust and an enemy of individual freedom.
17. We affirm that nations have a right to maintain national sovereignty. We deny that it is right or wise to work toward a one-world government under which all nations would be asked to give up their national sovereignty.
18. We affirm that civil governments have the God-given authority and responsibility to build up and maintain a strong military preparedness to protect their citizens from foreign threats, and that it is right and wise for them to do so. We deny that absolute pacifism, which would resist arming local policemen with guns or maintaining a national standing army equipped with the best weaponry available resources can provide, is Biblical.
19. We affirm that civil governments everywhere ought to follow a Biblical moral order so that citizens can work out their callings under God, and that they should treat all citizens as juridically equal, i.e., equal in the eyes of the law. We deny that civil governments should use any method to coerce or aim for an "egalitarian society" to make all functionally, positionally, or economically equal.
20. We affirm that civil government has the God-ordained authority to collect personal taxes (not property taxes) to support its Biblically stated jurisdictional duties. We deny that taxes should be collected to fund programs outside civil government's Biblically delineated purpose.
21. We affirm that individuals, families, churches, and voluntary associations should care financially for widows, orphans, aliens, and the truly needy through the tithe and offerings. We deny that civil government has a duty to care financially for widows, orphans, aliens, and the truly needy through a coercive tax system, unless the primary providers totally fail to fulfill their responsibility to do so.
22. We affirm that civil governments must maintain just weights and measures. We deny that any civil government ought to overturn its obligation to maintain just weights and measures by issuing any type of fiat currency.
23. We affirm that it is the duty of civil government to protect the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We deny that civil government should always be neutral toward Christianity and treat it as equal with all other so-called religions.
Christians' Relations With Civil Government
24. We affirm that Christians everywhere ought to pray for their civil leaders and to honor the offices they hold. We deny that citizens should show disrespect toward those who hold political office.
25. We affirm that all citizens have a duty to pay a tax because of the services rendered by civil government, and that the Church, the Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, is tax-immune and not merely tax-exempt (the latter of which might imply authority in the state to grant or withhold the status, making the state sovereign over the Church. We deny that the state has any right or authority to tax the Church, and that the state should tax citizens to perform tasks that are unbiblical in nature or unwarranted by our Constitution.
26. We affirm that it is the responsibility of Christians to seek godly influence on the many civil governments, confronting all of them with the Gospel and Law of Christ, and that for Christians to "stay out of politics" or the political process is to disregard our duty to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and dooms society to corruption and judgment, at least in the political sphere. We deny that the Christians ought to "stay out of politics" or the political process.
27. We affirm that it is the duty of Christian citizens to keep informed of issues, candidates, and trends in their civil governments at all levels. We deny that local churches are fulfilling their responsibility to be salt and light in their society if they are not systematically keeping their members appraised of the threats to their people and to the continuance of their churches' ministry that come from such evils as encroaching statism, moral decay, media manipulation, and communism.
28. We affirm that Christians in general and church leaders in particular, like the prophets of old, have a mandate from God to declare society's accountability to God through and according to His Word in every sphere of a nation's activities. We deny that God is concerned only with private morality.29. We affirm that the people of God, no matter what their national ties, constitute a "holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9).
Limitations on Governments
30. We affirm that those who govern, whether in the family, the Church, or the civil realm, are ministers of God and are thus subject to God's Laws. We deny that it moral for earthly governments to establish laws that run counter to God's Biblical principles, and that it is moral for earthly governors to govern independently of those principles.
31. We affirm that, whenever citizens are capable of self government, the power and bureaucracy of civil government should be kept as small and localized as possible. We deny that it is wise or beneficial to citizens for governmental powers to become increasingly centralized.
32. We affirm that, because man is created in the image of God and therefore has God-given worth and dignity, civil governments exist for the benefit of their citizens, not vice versa. We deny that individuals exist for the sake of the state.
33. We affirm that civil government is established in part to protect the freedoms granted to people by God. We deny that civil government has legitimate power to subordinate the individual to the ultimate wishes of the state.
34. We affirm that systematic and deliberate attempts to tyrannize people, such as occur in Communism, ought to be opposed by all Biblical Christians through prayer, speaking out, and taking whatever action God directs one to take. We deny that Christians whose thinking is controlled by Biblical categories can have a neutral or positive stance toward communism, Nazism, or any other human tyranny.
35. We affirm that God defines justice, and that the ultimate, authoritative understanding of justice is to be found in Biblical revelation alone, to which the understanding of justice found in general revelation must always conform. We deny that justice is be redefined by the state, and that the state may rightly force ever-evolving and increasingly arbitrary definitions of justice on society.
36. We affirm that civil servants should be held accountable for their sins, and that there is a relationship between righteousness in one's personal life and one's ability to rule (1 Timothy 3). We deny that anyone's personal life should not be taken into account when he seeks or occupies public office.
37. We affirm that the Triune God is the ultimate Governor for all institutions in all societies, and that all forms of government that exalt either the individual (anarchy) or the state (socialism and communism) as ultimate are contrary to Biblical revelation. We deny that either the individual or the state is ultimate.
A Call to Action in Government
Because of the preceding convictions, we call upon all men and women who name Christ as their personal Savior and Lord to join us in:
1. examining earnestly these affirmations and denials in the light of God's Word to see if they are true, and informing us directly of those points in which they believe we have departed from Scripture or logic;
2. re-examining our own theories and practices of government and asking God to show us where we are falling short;
3. repenting of all known sins, confessing and forsaking them, asking forgiveness both of God Himself and of all those who have been offended, and then making all possible restitution;
4. praying for God to fill all of His people with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in order that we may bring our personal lives and out theories and practice of government into closer conformity to His revealed will on permanent and consistent basis;
5. seeking guidance from our brethren and local church authorities as to how we can mutually support and influence one another to make our practices of government glorifying to God.
Having dealt with our own personal sins and failures, and placing ourselves accountable to the Bible and to the brethren, we now commit ourselves to:
1. influencing any known Christians or Christian associations with whom we work to consider seriously our affirmations and denials with the goal of enlisting their responses;
2. influencing those in the field of government who agree with our affirmations and denials to implement these proposals in their work;
3. mobilizing and networking our Christian resources and working in concert with the other professional spheres both inside and outside COR, to see the behavior of the Body of Christ and our nation changed to approximate more closely the view of reality and morality presented to us in the Holy Scriptures.
To these ends, we commit ourselves to the following specific actions:
1. The Coalition on Revival's Government Committee recommends that the action steps be taken that are listed in the document Educating Christians on Social, Political, and Moral Issues.
2. The Coalition on Revival highly recommends that every Bible-believing church in America put into the hands of all members Bill Bright's little booklet The Five Duties of a Christian Citizen, which encourages Christians to pray, register to vote, become informed, help godly candidates get elected, and vote.
3. The Coalition on Revival recommends that each local church develop a clear, concise, written policy on church discipline and excommunication, based on Matthew 18:15-20; that it distribute copies of that policy to all members and non-members attending the congregation for their information, comment, and understanding; that it officially adopt that policy through whatever policy-making means are appropriate to its form of church government; and that it then develop, in consultation with a Christian attorney committed to the principle of church discipline, a legally binding document for all members, old and new, to sign, declaring their voluntary submission to that policy of church discipline and disavowing any real or alleged right of litigation against the church or its leaders when they or their family members become the objects of church disciple exercised in accord with that official, written policy.
4. The Coalition on Revival encourages all Christians who have a burden for reclaiming our civil governments at all levels for God and justice to participate actively in one of the many fine Christian political action groups now in existence or to get involved in their local political party. Those interested may contact The Coalition on Revival, P.O. Box 1139, Murphys, California, 95247, for names addresses, and telephone numbers of such organizations.
5. The Coalition on Revival urges pastors to encourage all heads of households to take their children through systematic studies of some of the excellent books and studies on early American Christian history now available. A list of such materials is available from our office.
6. Since no man knows the day or the hour of Christ's return, The Coalition on Revival recommends that every family take an evening to discuss, pray about, and then write out its plans in broad outline for the next 25 years regarding training of children and grandchildren, ministry plans, job possibilities, projects, vacations, and how to make their church and city into what they would like them to be. We recommend this to counter the very unhealthy mind set that has captured much of Christianity claiming that in a few years the world will be largely destroyed or Christ will return and so focuses attention on escaping rather than on storming the gates of hell. We must move the Christian Church from a "victim" mentality to a "conqueror" mentality. This kind of productive family evening can be staged with theological integrity whether one in a pre-, post-, or a-millenialist.
7. A national network of prayer for the "key 16" government officials over each citizen should be mounted for the sake of bringing the power of God to bear on every government official in America who has a direct effect on the citizens of every city and congressional district. A game plan is in place for such a network of prayer. Interested persons may contact our office for details.
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