Guest Author: Pastor Robert Hall, Calvary Chapel of Rio Rancho in New Mexico
In this day and age when the Church is under attack, there are several steps pastors must take to guard our flocks:
-Know our Christian heritage and follow the great pastors from the past 2,000 years – from the Apostle Paul to Charles Spurgeon to Billy Graham.
-Understand our legal rights as pastors and citizens of the United States by forming a relationship with an organization that will champion your religious freedom, like the Alliance Defense Fund – “I appeal to Caesar.”
-Understand the issues of our day and support those standing with us (ADF and allied organizations) – be “salt and light.”
Proverbs 29:2 tell us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” We are privileged to live in a country that has a unique place in world history. The formation of the U.S. was the first time that Christian people sought to establish a nation and government based on the principles of the Bible. It is the grand experiment of freedom as a nation that has never been tried before or since. Renowned Christian author, historian, and pastor, Peter Marshall (1902-1949), proclaimed, “May it be ever understood that our liberty is under God and can be found nowhere else . . . We were born that way, as the only nation on earth that came into being for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
The “American Dream” was born of people seeking liberty from the religious and political oppression of restrictive governments and state-controlled churches. Immigrants came to this continent from many countries and united to form a constitutional republic based on the principles of faith, freedom, and family – and fought for that vision. They wanted a land where they could freely pursue their Christian faith and their personal dreams through responsibility and hard work. They wrote three main documents to secure their own freedoms and the freedoms of future generations, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments are considered to be part of the original Constitution).
The Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” The writers believed that men and women are created beings, made in the image of God, and therefore have God-given inherent rights. This is reflective of Gen. 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Note that the Founders believed our rights are “unalienable” – “Not to be separated, given away, or taken away” – and that these rights were given by God to man, not by human government; and therefore, they cannot be justly removed by any human government. In fact, the basic purpose of human government is to secure and protect these rights.
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are not the only rights that human beings are to enjoy as a gift from God; they are only some of those rights! (“among these are”) These three rights, however, express the heart of the American dream.
The ideological basis for these statements and the other founding documents was the Bible. University of Houston political science professors Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman published a monumental study in 1983 that took them 10 years to complete. They surveyed more than 15,000 documents written by our Founding Fathers between 1760 and1805, and they discovered that the Bible was, by far, the most cited source, comprising 34 percent of all quotations. In fact, the Bible was quoted four times more than any other source. Significantly, the next most commonly cited sources were Barron Montesquieu (1689-1755), William Blackstone (1723-1780), and John Locke (1632-1704). All of these men were strong adherents of natural law philosophy and encouraged the incorporation of biblical law into civil law. Lutz and Hyneman affirmed that the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the constitutional framers all insisted on cementing the connection between law and morals by infusing biblical precepts into the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Important American figures strongly reflect this reasoning.
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." ― John Quincy Adams, cited by John Wingate Thornton, in The Pulpit of The American Revolution
“Our Fathers were brought up by their veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles within the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions – civil, political, or literary." ― Daniel Webster (Dec. 22, 1820) The Works of Daniel Webster
Because of this biblically based beginning, American pastors were one of the main leadership voices in our society. For the 178 years following the founding of our nation, pastors were expected to weigh in on the moral issues facing people in their daily lives and preach Bible principles concerning all areas of life, including politics. From the pulpits of our nation, the current events issues of morality, law, government, politics, elections, war, etc., were examined every week against the Truths of Scripture to either justify or condemn. Leaders were mentioned by name and called into account – by the pastors, to God, and His Word – for their words and actions. From the beginning, pastors fulfilled the role as the voice of conscience of the nation.
With our heritage in mind, looking at our current culture, our nation and its leaders need its “conscience” to speak up and call it into account, as our culture is in a moral and ethical crisis of unbelievable proportions. Paul aptly described us in his letter to Timothy:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” ― 2 Tim. 3:1-4
Today, the results of this godless lifestyle are unwanted babies, sexual immorality (including homosexual behavior), sexually transmitted diseases, breakdown of the family, immoral laws, unchecked greed, dishonest leaders, and a spiritually and financially bankrupt nation. Our nation and government has become so corrupt that it is now legislating immorality and has legalized the murdering of children. When government forgets or turns its back on its God-given role of restraining evil – and begins to stand for evil and to perpetrate evil – the pastors have a God-given responsibility to speak up.
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