The state, or government, is one of several societal realms God created, established and sustains. These other realms include the following: family, church, labor, community, and the relationship between God and man. All of these social realms are to revolve around and receive their purpose from the One, True God. In other words, the God of the Bible.
Take note of the following Scripture passages as they pertain to one of God’s created social realms: the state.
20 “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:20–22 (ESV)
9 “He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:9–11 (ESV)
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1 (ESV)
Dr. Tel Tackett explains, “God’s perspective on the state, is that it is strictly subordinate to His sovereign dominion and control. Just as the Son is subject to the Father, the wife to the husband, and the elders of the church to the headship of Christ, so the authority of the state, within the economy of the divine design for the political sphere, is subject to and dependent upon the authority of God himself. Governors and magistrates hold their power purely as delegates and representatives of the King of all kings.”
The country in which I am a citizen, the United States of America, is another example of a nation which God caused to exist and institute. Even in its colonial infancy, the founding colonists, and the founding fathers of America’s constitutional government, recognized this as truth; not just for Christian citizens, but for all citizens.
The Mayflower Compact, the New England Primer, and other colonial constitutions acknowledged the biblical truth of God’s sovereignty over human government and that human government was not sovereign in and of itself.
Dr. Tackett continues by saying, “The New England Primer, the second best-selling book (after the Bible) of the colonial era, provides an intriguing window into the attitudes of early Americans. In particular, it reveals an outlook and a way of life powerfully shaped by the teachings of Scripture. The pervasiveness of this outlook is further demonstrated in statements made by America’s early political leaders, legal and social architects, and educational pioneers—people such as Benjamin Rush, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Charles Carroll, Noah Webster, and the founders of Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia Universities. In spite of the fact that not all of them were practicing Christians, these luminaries agreed with President John Adams that the success of America’s republican form of government would prove directly dependent upon the virtue and morality of her people, and that virtue and morality are necessarily founded upon religion—by which all meant the Christian religion. These early thinkers were convinced that the state must be held accountable to the authority of a higher ethical and spiritual standard—the “Natural Law” or the “Law of Nature’s God”—if the human rights abuses they had observed in Europe and throughout history were to be avoided on this continent.”
What has occurred in the world, and particularly in the United States, is that the biblical worldview of God and government has been abandoned? Scholars place several reasons for this occurrence.
To begin with, Darwinian evolutionary theory has made its influence felt in the study and observance of the rule of law. In 1869, Harvard Law School Dean Christopher Langdell advanced the view that law is based not upon the transcendent standard of “Nature’s God,” but rather upon a fluid and constantly mutating body of “doctrine,” a set of purely human ideas that inevitably change “by slow degrees.” In other words, law and ethics, like biological species, are “evolving.”
Secondly, this provides insight into the perspective by many in America that the United States Constitution is a so-called “living document. This viewpoint is in contrast to those, like late United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), who are originalists and texualists in their interpretation of the Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) declared that the law is “simply an embodiment of the ends and purposes of a society at a given point in its history.” Holmes’ perspective thus effectively granted to the state the power to establish society’s ethical norms.
Thirdly, American psychologist John Dewey (1859-1952) implemented these aforementioned ideas into the realm of public education. “There is no God,” said Dewey (nicknamed “The Architect of Modern Education”), “and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion” in America’s schools.
However, there is a biblical reason for what has occurred in the United States, and in many other countries, regarding the rise of the state and its increasing control in the lives of its citizens. What that biblical reason is, and how Christians are to respond to a rising secular government, will be our topic next time at His Word Today.
Soli deo Gloria!