Government, Law, and Politics
State or civil
will use these terms interchangeably, capitalizing State to
recognize its legitimacy as a God-ordained authority. In certain
contexts, “state” will be used to designate a state of the
United States, but mostly it will be used to designate civil
government at all levels: local, state, and federal.
Definition of politics.
From the Greek, polis or state. “The science of
government; that part of ethics which consists in the regulation
and government of a nation or state, for the preservation of its
safety, peace and prosperity; comprehending the defense of its
existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the
augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection
of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and
improvement of their morals. Politics, as a science or an art,
is a subject of vast extent and importance.” (Webster’s 1828
The reader will better understand the following with the
background of law, love, grace, mercy, justice, and equity.
here.) Civil law is a
derivative and particular application of God’s law. Thus, God’s
law is central to salvation and to the peace of a society
on earth. To miss this connection is to miss both the fullness
of Christ’s sacrifice to fulfill the law and the great freedom
for civil society that is made possible by the application of
God’s law in government.
1. Law is inescapably
derived from ethics.
deals with the voluntary conduct of individual man insofar as it
is judged to be good or bad in reference to a single, inclusive,
and determinative principle of moral value grounded in and
validated by ultimate reality.“ (Henry Stob, Ethical
Reflections, page 24. Civil government and law is
unavoidably grounded in ethics, some basis by which right and
wrong is determined. And ethics is grounded in “ultimate
reality”, by definition. Ultimate reality is religious, even
though secularists (and even Christians), may try to avoid or
obscure the issue. As a religious subject, then, government and
law must necessarily be defined and prescribed by God Himself
speaking through His Scriptures. Also, this worldview area
should be understood with the background of Social Justice. (See
2. Law involves force,
implied or exercised. While
all law is based in ethics, behind civil law is a power that
intends to enforce it, while ethics is “voluntary” (above). That
is, the rule of law under the civil government carries the
“power of the sword.” Thus, civil law is “involuntary,” that is,
“enforced.” The large part of this enforcement is functionally
voluntary (for the Christian, this obedience is a duty under
God), as a police force is not stationed in every home or with
every individual. But, the “power of the sword” behind the law
should not be minimized. And, herein lies the great error of
many Christians that State welfare is “charity.” The difference
is free, voluntary decision vs. the threat on one’s life and
property, if not obeyed! See The not-so-great
welfare state... below.
3. The Bible is a book
on civil law.
While the Bible is centrally
about salvation, by definition, as God’s ordained code of
morality, it is a book for the basis of civil law. An expression
that has been bandied about among Bible-believing Christians is
that “the Bible is true in all areas to which it speaks.”
Relative to law, this belief statement reasons that a theocracy
existed under Old Testament Israel, but the New Testament gives
little in the way of a pattern for civil government. This
reasoning is seriously false.
In any area where human
behavior is concerned, the Bible must be central for the
Christian. This limitation of the Bible has not only made it
irrelevant to essential areas of life, but has greatly
contributed to Christianity being irrelevant in the market place
of ideas and to Christianity practically being placed in a
ghetto! The Bible is The Book on Civil Law, as the only
source of ethics for God’s people, as it is
The Book on Psychology.
Again, the background of Biblical law in the context of love,
grace, mercy, and justice is written on this website
here. That discussion is
central to the principles here.
All Christians must
begin active, vigorous studies and debates about the Biblical
application of law to the civil state today.
It is accepted that direct application of many Biblical laws,
especially case laws, to modern times is difficult. However,
with the Bible as The Book on law, it is mandatory that
modern applications be made.
Throughout history, civil
government and religion have been intertwined. With law grounded
in ethics, and ethics grounded in religion (“ultimate reality”),
this union is inescapable. However, Biblical Christianity
separates the power of the sword in the State from the Church.
The States to be influenced by individual Christians in public
debate and through their various positions of authority in civil
government and in society. The Church through its teaching and
preaching is to keep its members informed on moral and spiritual
matters that arise in matters of State policy. At times, the
Church may even need to take formal positions against State
policy that is flagrant against Biblical social justice.
4. Biblical law is the
most basic and important area for mankind to know and
Biblical law is representative of
God’s character, that is, His righteousness. God’s law is
perfect and holy. Biblical law is the standard of responsibility
that God requires of man. Failure to live up to this standard
caused man’s misery and ruin in the Fall. Salvation is made
possible by Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the law in His perfect
life and substitutionary atonement for man’s failure. Biblical
law is the only means by which man may live freely and
cooperatively with his fellow man at all levels of social
Law and Love.
5. “What is” is
the greatest stumbling block to “what ought to be” for
modern Christians in America.
Since the United States was
begun, her great foundation in Biblical law has been gradually
eroded in civil government and law. Now, it is so greatly
distorted by “what is” that the typical American Christian has
virtually no grasp of “what ought to be.” We have moved from the
“inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness” to legalized abortion, ever encroaching restrictions
on freedom, and no real understanding of what “happiness” is.
Failure of preaching
and teaching and to understand grace and love.
The greatest fault in this
erosion is Biblical preaching and teaching that has failed to
preach the “whole counsel of God,” that is, Biblical law. The
paradox of this failure is that the “gospel of grace” which has
been individualized and restricted to mostly an emotional
experience, is greatly elevated in significance by an
understanding that God’s law is a measure of His righteousness
and love. Our inalienable rights, the Bill of Rights, and all
the intentions of the Declaration of Independence will not be
realized in our time until Christians begin to understand the
importance of God’s law in His Providence and Common Grace for
mankind. (See Welfare later in this document.)
Webster’s Dictionary of 1828
states as its first definition of “government,” that of “(an
individual’s) control, restraint. Men are apt to neglect the
government of their temper and passions.” In modern times,
“government” is linked with “civil government.” However, no
society that is not primarily ordered by men who govern
themselves (morally) and who govern their families similarly,
either can come into existence or exist for very long once
The loss of this
foundational view of self-government is a major stumbling block
to Western society today. As long as the concept of “government”
exists outside of men in the form of civil government, their
responsibility of government of self under God will not be
prominent and will prevent the formation of a truly moral civil
7. The Christian’s
duty to understand and apply the Bible in government and law.
Christians who serve in
civil government or work with the interpretation and
application of law in any way have failed in their duty under the
Lordship of Jesus Christ and to those whom they serve, if they
do not have a basic and reasonably complete understanding of
Biblical law and how it applies to their position of
responsibility. Every Christian in every State bears two offices
at all times: elector and juror. He does have these
opportunities to influence the law and the civil government.
8. God’s directives,
brief but comprehensive.
“Let every soul be subject
to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except
from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of
God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For
rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want
to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will
have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for
good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the
sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute
wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject,
not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For
because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers
attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to
all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom
customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:1-7)
These statements summarize
a comprehensive program for both the civil government and its
citizens. These are the skeleton and the remainder of the
pertinent Scriptures are the flesh of the whole system. As a
Hermeneutic, the reader
should note that these verses in the Bible follow Chapter 12, in
which is found government by the church and an individual’s
government of himself.
9. No conflict.
Rightly understood within a
complete Biblical worldview, there is no conflict in what is
right for individuals, families, churches, social groups, and
state governments at all levels. This statement is
earth-shattering in its import, as State policy is often
designed with some special interest group in mind.
10. “All authorities
that exist are appointed by God.”
While there has never been
a perfect civil government on earth, nevertheless they are all
appointed by God in His Sovereignty. “Whoever resists (this)
authority resists the ordinance of God” (above). Differing with,
and going against State policy, is tantamount to resisting God
Himself, and such action will bring not only punishment from the
state, but judgment from God Himself. Citizens are not only to
obey their rulers, but “hold them in esteem and honor.” (John
Calvin, Commentary on Romans 13:7)
colonists understood this concept, derived by John Calvin, so
that the Declaration of Independence established a “lesser
magistrate” of the American colonies that could Biblically
resist the tyranny of England. Thus, a “lesser magistrate” may
challenge a greater one, but the process of duly forming this
entity proscribes revolution, vigilantism, and violent
resistance by anyone or any group who have not form this
There are two
exceptions to this commandment of State obedience. (A) “We
ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Where the
commandments of God to His people clearly conflict with the laws
of the civil government, then God’s commandments are to be
obeyed in spite of punishment that is threatened by the state.
Peter’s commitment to evangelism in one example. The
disobedience of the Hebrew midwives to the Egyptian authorities
is another example. The lying to the authorities by Rahab is
(B) The right of
individuals to protect themselves.
Sometimes, there is not time or opportunity to form a lesser
magistrate. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has regretted that the
Russian people did not resist the night raids of the KGB. He
ponders what might have happened if each family had wounded or
killed one or more soldiers, each time these raids took place.
Over time, this resistance might have weakened the regime or
caused them to reconsider their actions. What does one do when
soldiers come to rape one’s wife or daughter? Clear violations
of God-given rights to life in immediate circumstances may call
for violent resistance in self-defense. In essence, this
resistance is an extension of (A) above, but different in the
violence of the situation. Also, one should ponder the results
of such resistance. When resisted, the State may inflict greater
damage on the person or family than they would have otherwise.
11. Morality can be
epithet, “You cannot legislate morality,” is false on two
levels. (1) Morality is the only source of law, as concluded
above. (2) Civil laws strongly direct overt behavior. Speed
limits slow most motorists down. Many people do not steal
because of the possibility of getting caught. Abortion was
severely limited before it was legalized. Tax breaks on home
ownership greatly influence that industry (not necessarily for
the “good“). Civil law, as Biblically directed, then, is one of
the greatest aspects of the common grace of God.
That civil law does
not necessarily cause moral behavior at all levels is true.
It will not cause a husband to give tender affection to his
wife. It will not make every person generous toward charitable
works. It will not cause children to honor their parents.
However, the effect of civil law on overt behavior, and the
tendency of overt behavior to affect one’s attitude and
thinking, should not be underestimated. Civil law will not make
a “bad” person good, but by threat of punishment, and sometimes
reward, it may influence that “bad” person not to commit acts of evil
and occasionally even to do “good.”
12. Law and its
sanctions are a deterrence to crime.
Christians should not accept the premise that punishment is not
a deterrence to crime. First, it is clear from empirical
evidence that punishment is a deterrence. Speeding for the large
majority of motorists does not occur. Speeding on a military
base (where punishment is severe) is almost unknown! But, beyond
empiricism, God says that punishment is a deterrence. “When the
sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of
the people are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Ecclesiastes
8:11; see Deuteronomy 19:20 and Romans 13:1-7 - above). Where
God speaks, empirical evidence is not necessary, but the latter
should correspond to God’s truth when properly performed.
Law, of necessity,
must be a deterrent to crime. No police
force has ever, nor will it ever, catch every perpetrator of a
crime. A police force cannot be everywhere all the time.
Thus, the fear of punishment is necessary to a "civil" society,
to keep would be evil-doers in check where law enforcement
13. Does the Bible
endorse one form of government?
While the Bible does not explicitly endorse one form of
government, Biblical characteristics of law argue for a
representative form of government. Then, it would be necessary
to have an executive arm to enforce law that was thus
legislated, and a judiciary would be necessary to interpret that
Biblical Characteristics of Government and Law
A. Rule by men
Moses to appoint “able men, such as fear God, men of
truth, hating covetousness” (Exodus 18:21). King David
was “a man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Men
(elders and deacons) who are to rule the church must
meet certain moral requirements (I Timothy 3; Titus 1).
These are men who have learned to govern themselves and
their families, before being allowed to govern others.
God does not allow immoral, or men with disorderly
lives, to govern.
B. Local rule,
Moses in the selection of men to rule small groups
outward to larger groups (Exodus 18:21). Central rule,
especially by one man, was not of God’s choosing (I
Samuel 8). Rule by churches is by local representatives
(I Timothy 3; Titus 1). Only for special situations was
regional rule necessary (Acts 15).
by men, primarily “heads of households.”
Scriptures, God’s method of rule is through men, not
women. Men are to have proved themselves with the
government of themselves and their own families and in
being able to provide for them (success in employment or
by property owners.
As heads of
households, these men would have owned property.
Property in Israel was so important that it was
transferred from one generation to the next.
(A corollary of [A].) The rule of law, lex rex,
mandates that those who govern seek to serve under God’s
law, not under vox populi, the vote of the people
or under their own ideas. While they may be elected by
the people, their allegiance is not to them, but to God.
In fact, the more that such representatives ally
themselves with their constituents, the more that those
who rule are likely to be influenced negatively and
sinfully by the desires of their electorate. "You
shall not follow a multitude (majority) to do evil"
(Exodus 23:2). In
addition, the population in its manifold daily duties
does not have the time to devote to the intricacies that
are involved in governing.
For sufficient wisdom to exist in one man to rule fully
and adequately would be unusual, if not impossible.
Thus, operating under Biblical statute and principle, a
plurality of godly men is necessary for godly rule.
G. Limited law.
The Bible establishes a “pyramid” of legality. From the
two great commandments of Jesus Christ, to the Ten
Commandments, to all the commandments and laws of the
Bible, and finally to the case laws of the Old
Testament, a pattern of laws is established that is
unified and limited.
H. A judiciary
Laws cannot be written for every conceivable
circumstance. Indeed, in general, the fewer the laws
that should be written the better for those governed.
Thus, a judiciary is necessary to interpret and apply
law to specific situations. However, this judiciary must
interpret the law, not define law which is the
responsibility of the legislature.
The leaders of the American colonists who wrote the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
understood these principles (in the main) and
established the United States system of government on
them. Prior to these documents was the Reformation
which focused on the Scriptures as the Very Word of God
Written, and within that, the recognition of laws to
govern man as an individual, family, society, and
14. Laws should be
limited so that they can be understood and obeyed by those who
are governed by those laws.
God wrote the law upon man’s heart. He wrote the Bible which
contains all the laws that He intended for mankind in one Book.
In the same way, positive law should be limited to that which
(in the main) can be understood by the common man who is then
able to live within its parameters and understand his offense
when he breaks it. A reasonably intelligent person should be
able to argue his own case before a judge in most matters of
civil action. All mankind will stand before the Great Judgment
Throne in the Last Day and will clearly understand his
transgressions before a Holy God. If God in His infinite wisdom
can make laws intelligible to man, man is no less required to
make laws that can be learned and known by those subjected to
James Jordan (The
Law of the Covenant, page 63) writes:
Increasingly in our
modern world, law has become a complicated, esoteric matter
which can be understood only by lawyers. This is a
trend away from Hebrew-Christian law, which is simple and
public. In the ancient world, both cultic and judicial
laws were often hidden from the people, but in Israel the
law was to be read to everyone, every seven years
(Deuteronomy 31:10-13). Moreover, since the law is
addressed to everybody, not just to rulers and priests
(indeed, Israel was a "nation of priests"), "everyone is
held personally responsible for the observance of the law.
This leads in turn, to the concept of individual and joint
responsibility. No longer is it the sole concern of
the leader of the community (e.g., the King of Mesopotamia)
to maintain justice and to protect the rights of his
community. This responsibility is shared by every
member of the society..." (Jordan is citing Umberto
Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, [The
Magnes Press, 1967], page 264)
Positive law should be
upon the above, positive law should be minimal and legislated
only where it is imperative for social order. We live in a day
of laws upon laws. For example, there are laws against child
abuse, racial crimes, “hate” crimes, and many others. All these
easily fall under already existing statutes against bodily harm,
murder, theft, and other such laws. Therefore, such particular
laws distort and even change the justice system from its purpose
of justice and equity to that which is not its purpose, social
Rights are given by God. The obligation of the State is to protect
those rights for her people. If a State were to have the
authority to grant rights, then it would also have the authority
to take them away. No State has that authority for it would
exceed God’s authority.
Right to life.
Perhaps, all God-given rights can be summed up in the “right to
life.” Human life cannot be lived in it fullness without
the protection of the State from harm and violence from
perpetrators of evil. Every person must have the have freedom to
live righteously, according to God’s laws. Ownership of
property is established by the Eighth Commandment and
necessary to making physical provision for oneself and his
family and necessary to the preservation and propagation of
life. In order to go about all the tasks that God has assigned
to man, he must have freedom (liberty) to pursue these
tasks, not having to worry unreasonably about threats to his
life and property. For the propagation of life, civil laws must
be designed to enhance family life and severely punish those who
violate its integrity. And, thus is happiness made
property and happiness.
About the time that the Declaration of Independence was written,
the common phrase about “rights” was “life, liberty, and
property.” For some reason, “happiness” was inserted into the
Declaration, instead of property. Its intent and consistency
with Biblical law is better understood as “life, liberty, and
The right to life and the right to freedom may be forfeited.
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for
in the image of God, He made man” (Genesis 9:6). The Bible is
clear that there are capital crimes. What those are is beyond
our purpose here. Suffice it to say that pre-meditated murder is
one. Thus, the right to life is forfeited. For lesser crimes,
such as theft, the right to one’s own property will be forfeited
to the extent that restitution is required. Obviously, in both
these instances some degree of “freedom” is lost because of
irresponsible behavior or criminal activity. See
Crime and Punishment.
Wrong understanding of
rights have been divorced from God, the government believes that
it has the authority to issue rights. Thus, we have in America
today a right to medical care, cradle to grave security,
pornography, family leave, and many others. Perhaps, the
distortion and heinous error of rights is most clearly seen in
the defense of unlimited abortion under a woman’s “right to
privacy,” issued by the Supreme Court of the United States. This
action was a violation of the responsibility of the judiciary
(above) only to interpret law.
16. All governments are
theocracies by definition of ethics and law.
A theocracy is a government which is ruled by God (theos,
God; kratos a rule, regime, strength). Israel was a
theocracy until the anointing of kings, beginning with Saul.
However, philosophically this definition is too narrow. As we
have established, all law comes from ethics (concepts of right
and wrong), and all ethics comes from one’s concept of ultimate
reality. As has been discussed many times on this website,
ultimate reality is one’s most fundamental philosophy of life.
It is religious, whether one actually believes in a supernatural
being or not. Whatever is one’s ultimate reality is that
person’s god, for he bases all his decisions on that reality.
And, given the power to do so, he would govern all men under
laws that were developed under his god (belief system). Thus,
all law is ethics, and all ethics is derived from a god. Thus,
all system of laws and government are god-derived, a theocracy,
an inescapable concept. (I am thankful to Gary DeMar of American
Vision for this concept.)
In modern evangelical circles, theonomy and reconstruction are
virtually anathema even to be mentioned or discussed. But, I
contend that few other Bible-believing Christians are wrestling
with the difficult issues of civil government, law, and social
justice. That theonomists and reconstructionists have their
rough edges and overbearing authoritarianism is accepted. But,
their intent to govern every area of life under Scripture should
be unquestionable to Bible believers. Who else has their
comprehensive scope? For reasonable reviews of theonomy
and reconstruction, see
Reconstruction and Theonomy.
17. God’s pattern:
covenant or constitutional law.
The whole of God’s dealings with men is about covenant.
Covenants that have been named, include the Adamic, Noahic,
Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Christocentric. While the theological
nuances and “problems” with these cannot be dealt with here,
nevertheless God established contracts (constitutions) with
mankind. Some theorists have called government a “social
contract.” A contract, by definition, has obligations (forgotten
in America today), rights, and penalties ascribed to both
18. God sanctions
capital punishment based upon human observation.
An argument is often made against capital punishment that an
error in due process may have been made and an innocent man
would be killed. The Christian, however, cannot take this
position. God has ordained that (1) capital punishment be
exercised by civil government (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:4) on the
basis of (2) two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15-19).
Jesus instructed that a person could be excommunicated on the
same basis, a matter far more serious than capital punishment.
magistrate) is an executioner of God’s wrath; and this
he shows himself to be by having the sword, which the
Lord has delivered into his hand. This is a remarkable
passage for the purpose of proving the right of the
sword; for if the Lord, by arming the magistrate, has
also committed to him the use of the sword, whenever he
visits the guilty with death, by executing God’s
vengeance, he obeys his commands. Contend then do they
with God who think it unlawful to shed the blood of
wicked men.” (Commentary by John Calvin on Romans 13:4)
Capital punishment from
the perspective of eternity.
If the executed person is
a believer in Jesus Christ, he is bound for heaven. If he is
bound for Hell, we just have done society a great favor, for he
was indeed evil, even if not guilty of his crime. On the one
hand, secularists are consistent that if life on earth is the
only life, then indeed they should be fearful of putting an
innocent man to death. On the other hand, they have no reason to
choose any right or wrong, so they cannot even speak to the
matter of capital punishment.
19. Natural law theory.
For centuries, many scholars have advocated “natural law.” It
has its appeal in that it is somewhat divorced from “religious”
concepts and that it is “universal.” Many conservative Bible
scholars were among these advocates. However, natural law is
too vague and arbitrary to be implemented as specific civil law.
For example, nature is “red in tooth and claw,” as well as
showing tender affection for its own “family.” Even murder, in
some societies, has certain justifications, even being
praiseworthy. The bottom line of natural law theory is a rule of
majority or tyranny. That is, either several “governors” vote
for what they believe is natural law or one person arbitrarily
implements his interpretation. Natural law does not escape the
“ultimate realities” of decision-making, which is law that is
derived from within man himself.
The great expositor of
law, William Blackstone, did not make the natural law error.
undoubtedly the revealed law is of infinitely more
authenticity than that moral system, which is framed by
ethical writers, and denominated the natural law.
Because one is the law of nature, expressly declared so
to be by God himself; the other is only what, by the
assistance of human reason, we imagine to be that law.
If we could be as certain of the latter as we are of the
former, both would have an equal authority; but, till
then, they can never be put in any competition
together.” (William Blackstone, Section II, of the
Introduction to Commentaries on the Laws of England.)
20. The not-so-great
The great illustration of how far the American government has
gone astray from its foundations in Biblical law is the cost of
federal, state, and local governments today. Welfare (including
all its auxiliaries, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Aid to
Dependent Children, Social Security, etc., etc.) is far and away
the largest cost to these governments. So, most of the taxes
that an American pays is for unbiblical reasons. And, added to
this fact, is that all these programs have made the situations that
they intended to help, in fact, worse. Then, the trillions of
dollars being spent today on these programs is both foolish
(unbiblical) and ineffective! Truly, this cost, both physically
and spiritually, illustrates the depravity of man’s thinking in
its full development! Violation of Biblical law is costly beyond
measure in both dollars and injustice to the whole of society!
State welfare is not
Biblical mercy and charity. There is nothing right about state
welfare. It steals from one group to give to others. It imposes
a huge administrative cost. (I have seen estimates from 75-90
percent.) It promotes laziness among its recipients. It gives
without regard to responsibility and true need, based upon some
arbitrary category of persons. It dehumanizes its recipients,
making them into helpless victims. It promotes class warfare,
giving “rights” to recipients, as well as establishing groups of
“haves” and “have nots.” It trains recipient children in “the
ways that they should (not) go.” It promotes illegitimate
marriages and weakens the role of husbands. And, more.
Christians, your social responsibility.
While I am making Biblical application to the civil government
and its law, you, Christian, must remember the other area or
Christians and their churches have the responsibility for
“welfare” (acts of mercy under the direction of love and the
law). If that responsibility seems too massive, the reason is
that it is not Biblically understood. The principles of social
justice are not those of State welfare. I have named many of
these in that Worldview Area. I will cite one here, “If anyone
will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
That principle is neither unloving nor inconsistent with mercy.
Its implementation will demonstrate the believers’ comprehensive
understanding of Biblical concepts.
22. Separation of
church and state.
God has assigned bodily restraint and punishment to the State
alone, “the power of the sword.” God has assigned spiritual
authority and judgment to the church alone, “the power of the
keys” (“good” standing within the physical church). The issues
of the Reformation illustrate the abuses of the Roman Catholic
Church and the remedies provided by Biblical scholarship of the
Reformers, in particular John Calvin and John Knox. The States
not to interfere with the authority of the Church in any way.
The Church influences the State through its preaching and
teaching on moral issues, directed at both believers and
unbelievers. This influence, however, is always spiritual. The
Church never has any Biblical authority to coerce the State in
any way other than the spoken word of its ordained men and
individual Christians, as they exercise their political
responsibilities as citizens and government officials (as they
are duly appointed or elected). Those in positions of civil
authority, whether Christian or non-Christian, have a duty under
the authority of God to implement Biblical morality and laws in
the most complete manner possible.
The Church is far more
powerful than the state.
While the State has the power of the sword and has executed
millions of Christians throughout history, the Church has far
more potential power than the state. This power has not yet
been fully exercised because the Church has failed in its role
to teach its members the whole counsel of God (that is, a
Biblical worldview) with only a few exceptions in history.
The power of the Church is the power of the Holy Spirit working
through Biblical truth in regenerated Christians. Examples in
history are Christianity becoming the official religion of the
Roman Empire (with such imperfection that it rapidly
disintegrated), Geneva under Calvin (limited to a city only),
Scotland during the Reformation (for a short period of time),
and most fully realized in the founding of the United States
with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The
Church will never be able to exert this power again until it
once again teaches the whole counsel of God which—does not yet
appear to be happening with any regularity or frequency, as of
this writing (2007).
“The time has come for
judgment to begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).
Individual Christians and churches must ask forgiveness of God
for their failure in the above responsibility. The political
mess that is present everywhere in the world is due to this
failure. Christians cannot point to the news media, liberal
politicians, or anti-God scientists for the present political
condition on earth today (with the possible few exceptions of
military coup d’etats)
23. The Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is the Spirit of God at work in the world to
accomplish His righteous purposes. This work may include both
believers and non-believers and churches and secular
institutions. It works most powerfully under overt Biblical
principles of justice, administered by believers. Evangelism is
a part of the advancement of the Kingdom, but fails in the
purposes of the Kingdom, if it does not teach and implement
comprehensive principles of Biblical justice to all worldview
areas. The Kingdom of God has no identification with civil
government, but the influence and advancement of the Kingdom is
a God-given duty to Christians in government with an overt
understanding that they are to apply these principles of justice
as they have authority and opportunity. The Kingdom of God is
not limited to the Church, but the Church is the major power
towards the advancement of the Kingdom through its preaching,
teaching, and work. While the Kingdom of God will never be fully
implemented on earth, Christians are to work towards that end,
as directed by the King of Kings. See
Kingdom of God.
24. Christians and
churches are to pray for their governments.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers,
intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for
kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good
and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…” (I Timothy
25. The American system
of punishment is largely unbiblical.
The Bible requires retribution in varying amounts where theft or
fraud has been perpetrated. American “justice” does not.
Imprisonment, as punishment, is unbiblical and prevents the
reconciliation of the offender to his victims, the spiritual
“healing” of both parties that comes with that process, and its
model that could possibly lead to spiritual reconciliation to
Crime and Punishment.
26. The civil
government is to provide for a police force.
The police force should be adequate to catch, prosecute, and
punish criminals. This police power should be limited to those
laws that are consistent with Biblical justice.
27. The civil
government is to provide for a military sufficient for national
defense and use in just wars.
Whether this army is best implemented in a standing military or
a citizen military, is open to debate. For sure, citizens have a
responsibility to serve in the military and provide this effort
towards their own defense. Whether this military should be by
draft or by volunteerism is also debatable. I have not decided
on these two issues myself.
military limits the possibility of military adventurism, but
does today’s military complexity require a professional
military? In an all-volunteer military, will it have sufficient
strength in numbers and expertise to be as strong as it needs to
be? What should the penalty be for men who will not volunteer to
protect their families and their neighbors?
The civil government is
to make certain provisions for the individuals and families who
are involved in police and military action.
This provision is limited to injury and disease from actions
that are directly a consequence of their official duties. This
provision includes an adequate income, insurance (life, medical,
and disability) to provide for themselves and their families.
The State is not responsible for the health care or any other
provision for these families beyond the consequences of their
28. The civil
government has a role in public health matters.
This role must consider the best science available and must be
carefully balanced against the rights of individuals and
families. Clearly, today civil governments have greatly
overstepped this role in mandating immunizations (especially
those efforts to prevent harm from sexual immorality), OSHA
regulations, workers' compensation, a myriad of “safety”
prescriptions (seat belts, wheelchair access, zoning, etc.),
Americans with Disabilities Act, and many others. In these laws,
the civil State is functionally asserting its ownership of
industry and business.
29. Marriage and
centuries after the Reformation, covenants were made between a
man and woman engaged to be married. Those covenants should be
re-instituted today with sanctions against the party who breaks
the contract. There should be no particular ownership while the
marriage is intact. The State’s only role in marriage is to
enforce the sanctions of the contract, if violated by either
party and the church is unable to settle the dispute
spiritually. The State has no role in setting conditions for any
marriage before the covenant is established. Current civil law
has greatly promoted the breakup of the family in our times with
easy divorce, based on such nebulous concepts as “no-fault” and
“incompatibility. Divorce should be final: all contact of the
guilty spouse with the children should be cut off. He or she has
divorced himself or herself from the family by their unrighteous
and hardened behavior.
30. United Nations,
national sovereignty, and obedience to God.
Membership by the United States in the United Nations (UN) is
illegal by the laws of the United States, for example placing
our military under the command of foreign officers who are not
subject to the United States Constitution. God requires
subjection to the laws of the state. (See above.) The UN
requires subjection to its laws, many of which conflict with the
laws of the United States. As the President, all other
government officials, and the military swear to uphold and
defend the Constitution, any other allegiance demands violation
of their oaths of office.
31. The civil
government of a people and its laws reflect the moral culture of
that people. In
general, the government of a people is no more righteous or evil
than the people and culture that it governs. A people’s heart is
made known by the moral codes by which it lives, and these find
their way into law. Of course, there are exceptions, such as
foreign invasion or military coups where power is imposed
rapidly from within or without. But, over time, the heart (moral
values) of a people will determine its government and its laws.
32. Civil government is
a servant of the people.
“Magistrates … are not to rule for their own interest, but for
the public good; nor are they endued with unbridled power, but
what is restricted to the well being of their subjects; in
short, they are responsible to God and to men in the exercise of
their power. For as they are deputed by God and do his business,
they must give an account to him: and then the ministration
which God has committed to them has a regard to the subjects,
they are therefore debtors also to them.” (John Calvin on Romans
33. Historical Note on
the State as plaintiff and prosecutor.
“From the fall of Rome (circa 500 B.C.) to after 1200, the
courts of Europe were in varying degrees governed by Biblical
law. True, much barbarian legal practice remained, and true, the
law was far from being fully faithful to Scripture. At one
point, however, the courts were very different. A criminal
prosecution required a plaintiff. Without an accuser, there was
no case and no judgment. The accusation had to be grounded in
God’s law, and the plaintiff had to be an aggrieved or damaged
person. The accusation and charge was in the name of God and His
law.” With Frederick II, “the State now became the plaintiff on
its own initiative, and high treason became a major offense… It
was this step by Frederick II which “introduced the principles
of totalitarian government into the Christian Commonwealth,
contrary to its basic conceptions.’” (Systematic Theology,
Rousas J. Rushdoony, pages 701-702) This historical note shows
the extreme distortion of modern law where virtually all crimes
are “crimes against the state.”
34. Equity and the
common laws of England.
Equity is defined as body
of legal doctrines and rules developed to enlarge, supplement,
or override a narrow, rigid system of law, as in the history of
English common law which had a settled and formal body of legal
and procedural rules and doctrine to protect rights and enforce
duties that had been fixed by substantive law. Equity provided
remedies in situations in which precedent or statutory law might
not apply or be fair. Thus, “common law” is not “common” in the
sense that it is established by “common” society, but is
actually the application of Biblical law to situations that are
“common” to everyday life.
35. Equality under the
law. As far as
is possible within the parameters of social justice and other
applications of Biblical law, all men should have equal
opportunity both to be found innocent or guilty of crimes of
which they are accused. The proof of guilt resides in the
36. Power corrupts and
absolute power corrupts absolutely.
While no dictator ever really has absolute power, many have come
close to it in their own nation. The dangers of State power
cannot be underestimated. While “the power of the sword” is
ordained of God, this power is handled by fallible, selfish
(sinful) men and women. As power increases in a person or
persons, the damage that can be inflicted increases
proportionately. Thus, any government must have a means of
checks and balances, as does the United States, showing the
brilliance of the Founding Fathers. The people must also have
checks and balances in their possession of firearms; the gold
standard for currency; freedoms of speech, religion, and right
to assemble, freedom from unjust seizures, among many others.
Those who do not
fear government power, even in the United States, have neither
studied history, grasped the depravity of mankind, nor realized
the power of the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and certain
other Amendments to protect American citizens.
and laws of partiality that create welfare recipients.
While licensure is sold to "protect the public" from
unscrupulous practitioners, it de facto is a
State-created monopoly. By definition, licensure sets
standards of practice to which these "professionals" have to
adhere, or else they do not get a license. For more, see
Licensure of Medicine.
"Modern laws are
increasingly partial. Special laws are passed to favor or
protect business, unions, farmers, blacks, women, etc.
Thus, our laws have become a means of welfare, with each group
seeking legal favors over against other groups. The result
is a warfare society." (James Jordan, The Law of the
Covenant, page 167.
38. The civil
government has no role in the education of children, public or
private. The responsibility of the education of
children has been given to parents (Deuteronomy 6:1-25,
Ephesians 6:4). Thus, any education is inherently
religious. Any education by the State will have, as its
agenda, the progression and growth of itself, as it currently
exists. That agenda is also inherently religious and is an
abomination to the role of education that God has given to
Further Reading: This Website
The above is really
incomplete unless the following are included. Civil Government,
Law, and Politics is dependent upon a society that is Biblically
just and merciful.
Law, Love, Mercy, Grace, Mercy,
Justice, and Equity.
Principles of Social Justice
Summary Principles of
Economics (under development)
Further Reading: Other Sources
Bandow, Doug. Beyond
Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics. Crossway
Books, 1988. Great review book, but contains some
inconsistencies of principle and application.
Commentary on Romans 13:1-7.
DeMar, Gary. Ruler
of the Nations: Biblical Principles of Government. Dominion
Press, 1987. Also, found online at
Henry, Carl F. H.
Aspects of Christian Social Ethics. Baker Book House, 1964.
Jordan, James. The
Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-12.
Institute for Christian Economics. Also, found online at
www.lonang.org. Website whose URL comes from the
Laws of Nature and Of Nature’s God.
Blackstone’s Commentaries may be found there, as well as many
other historical documents.
www.lexrex.com A website dedicated to the
principles of lex rex and the foundational principles of
the United States.
North, Gary. Healer
of the Nations: Biblical Principles for International Relations.
Dominion Press. Also, found online at
www.freebooks.com . Primarily on international
North, Gary. Tools
of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus. Institute for
Christian Economics, 1990. Also found online at
The Laws of Nature and
of Nature’s God @
www.lonang.com A website
devoted to law and the history of law.
Lectures on Law, Government, and
Additional Notes after
"We are living in a
condition of permanent revolution ... revolutions are here to
stay and will grow much worse in scope and intensity unless men
can be persuaded to return to Christianity, to practice its
precepts and to obey the Gospel in its full implications for
human life and civilized society. Barring such a revival, the
future would belong to socialism and communism which on this
view were but the most consistent sects of the new secular
religion. (Harry Van Dyke, Groen van Prinsterer: Lectures on
Unbelief and Revolution 1989, pages 3-4.)
would not be enough for men to
live as they please, and to have liberty promised them, except a
regular order be established. It would, indeed, be better for us
to be wild beasts, and to wander in forests, than to live
without government and laws; for we know how furious are the
passions of men. Unless, therefore, there be some restraint, the
condition of wild beasts would be better and more desirable than
ours. Liberty, then, would ever bring ruin with it, were it not
bridled and connected with regular government....
That nothing is better for us
than to be in subjection to God; for our liberty would become
that of wild beasts were God to allow us to live according to
our own humor and inclinations. Liberty, then, will ever be
destructive to us, until God undertakes the care of us, and
prepares and forms us, that we may bear his yoke. Hence, when we
obey God, we possess true and real happiness. When, therefore,
we pray, let us learn not to separate these two things which
ought necessarily to be joined together, even that God would
deliver us from the tyranny of the ungodly, and also that he
would himself rule over us.... It is better that the devil
should rule men under any sort of government, than that they
should be set free without any law, without any restraint."
John Calvin's Commentary on Jeremiah 30:9