A Responsibility to History
© 11.12.08 By D. Eric Williams
Since my last installment in this series our nation has accelerated its move toward the left at the national level of government with the election of a leftist Democrat (I know, I'm repeating myself), as president and an increase of the Democratic majority in the House and Senate. This is not to say that the political climate in Washington was conservative prior to November 4th, 2008. Not at all. As I have written elsewhere, the Republican party is just as left wing as the Democratic party. Governmentally, fiscally and socially there is no significant difference between the two major parties. Individual members of each party may be either more leftist or rightist as the case may be. Yet, when a Republican president orchestrates a 700 billion dollar bailout - a nearly one trillion dollar redistribution of wealth - only a fool would claim that Bush and his party are conservative. There are no truly conservative politicians currently on the national stage, Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal notwithstanding. The only exception to this trend seems to be Texas Representative Ron Paul.
The truth is, if the Republican party hopes to be relevant in the future it must jettison the moderate wing of the party and dump what passes for a conservative element as well. There is no positive component in the GOP for the Christian citizen. If we hope to salvage the Republican party we need to embrace radicalism. You see, according to the Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, "radical" means:
1: relating to or preceding from a root 2: of or relating to the origin: FUNDAMENTAL
Even better is the definition provided by Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
1. Pertaining to the root or origin; original; fundamental; as a radical
truth or error; a radical evil; a radical difference of opinions or
2. Implanted by nature; native; constitutional; as the radical moisture of
3. Primitive; original; underived; uncompounded; as a radical word.
4. Serving to origination.
Thus, as Christians we should be more radical than conservative. There is little that is worthy of conservation in the contemporary Republican party and if we chose to throw in our lot with the Constitutional party then we are truly getting back to our roots - hence radical.
So, Christians must commit to radical politics as members of the Republican party or as participants in the Constitutional party. In either case we need to start at the bottom and capture the party as we move up. In other words, in order to radicalize the Republican party or to legitimatize the Constitutional party we need to take over at the local level and start winning local races; city council, county commissioner, sheriff and so on. By the way, it should be obvious that it is much easier to win local races as part of a radicalized Republican party, a "third" party candidate or as an independent than it is to win national contests. Here in my neck of the woods more than one independent won a local office (or did quite well while losing), in this latest election. Even some non-aligned write in candidates were successful. The point is, political reformation must be a grass roots phenomena.
Now, the question we need to deal with in this article is whether or not we have an obligation to our national history. We have seen that at least eleven of the thirteen original states were Christian commonwealths. Yet, does that have any bearing on our approach to politics in this modern era? The answer is a resounding yes.
In Ezekiel, chapter seventeen, we read about God's displeasure with Judah concerning
their failure to keep a particular political agreement. After presenting a parable to illustrate the issue, God tells Ezekiel:
(12) "Say now to the rebellious house, Do you not know what these things
mean? Tell them, behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and took
her king and her princes and brought them to him to Babylon. (13) And he took one of the royal offspring and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath (the chief men of the land he had taken away),(14) that the kingdom might be humble and not lift itself up, and keep his covenant that it might stand. (15) But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he thrive? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape? (16) "As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant with him he broke, in Babylon he shall die. (17) Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in war, when mounds are cast up and siege walls built to cut off many lives. (18) He despised the oath in breaking the covenant, and behold, he gave his hand and did all these things; he shall not escape. (19) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, surely it is my oath
that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. I will return it upon his head. (20) I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the
treachery he has committed against me" (Ezekiel 17:12-20).
In other words, political agreements are important in the eyes of God. In
this particular case it was God's will that the king of Judah should submit to
the king of Babylon. It was God's will that he be true to his oath of loyalty. Because the king of Judah did not remain true to his secular agreement, God brought the Babylonians to Judah to inflict punishment. In a nut shell, Judah was required to keep its pact with Babylon; they had an obligation to their political legacy and they were punished for their failure to keep that obligation.
How much more so are we obligated to our forefathers' oath of allegiance to God Himself? Certainly the Judeans had despised God's oath and God's covenant when they rebelled against the Babylonian king (Ezk. 17:19). But in the case of the original republics which constituted the fledgling United States, there was no intermediary. Nearly all of those thirteen sovereign states either required a Christian oath, a declaration of allegiance to the (protestant) Christian faith or included in their constitution words that clearly recognized God as the sovereign to whom they owed fealty.
We may approach this argument in any number of ways - and support those arguments with various Bible passages. However, I have chosen to cite this section of Ezekiel because it relates to an agreement that was purely political. The prophet does not cite a portion of the Decalogue in bringing this indictment against Judah. He does not tell them that God is displeased because they have violated a particular command found in the case law. Ezekiel's announcement against the people of God is based upon their failure to abide by an oath of loyalty made to a pagan king.
Our forefathers covenanted together before God to establish thirteen Christian commonwealths. They did not abandon that vision when they agreed to join together under a new federal constitution in 1787. Indeed, that new constitution was immediately amended to specifically exempt the federal government from any involvement in the religious life of the various states. It did nothing to hinder the establishment of official churches in each of the variuous states. Thus:
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The Wikipedia entry under "Sate Religion" reminds us that;
The First Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly forbids the U.S. federal government from enacting any law respecting a religious establishment, and thus forbids either designating an official church for the United States, or interfering with State and local official churches — which were common when the First Amendment was enacted. It did not prevent state governments from establishing official churches. Connecticut continued to do so until it replaced its colonial Charter with the Connecticut Constitution of 1818; Massachusetts did not disestablish its official church until 1833, more than forty years after the ratification of the First Amendment; and local official establishments of religion persisted even later.1
Hence, the oaths of allegiance to Almighty God, the acknowledgment of Christianity as the official religion of the individual states and the general acceptance of the Bible as foundational to the law of the land remained in force. Our religious heritage has not been abrogated by the federal constitution and it has not been renounced by "we the people" of the various states. Certainly there are many who are vehemently opposed to any connection whatsoever between Christianity and the state: But remember, there were only 7000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal and yet the nation as a whole remained in covenant with Yahweh.
No doubt we have a responsibility to our Christian heritage. Failure to take this responsibility seriously is the primary reason we are in the fix we are in.
John Calvin, The Institutes Of The Christian Religion, IV:XX
Russell Kirk, The Roots Of American Order, Third Edition, (Washington D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1991).
Rousas J. Rushdoony, This Independent Republic, (1964 Fairfax: Thoburn Press, 1978)
__________________The Nature Of The American System, (1965 Fairfax: Thoburn Press, 1978).
__________________Politics of Guilt and Pity, (1970 Fairfax: Thoburn Press, 1978)
C. Gregg Singer, A Theoligical Interpretation of American History, Revised Edition, (1964 Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1981).