Our Founding Fathers drew many philosophic tenets of government directly from the Bible.  The influence of the Christian faith on what is now America has been long and profound, predating the Declaration of Independence.  The Pilgrims planted what were seen as the first seeds of self-government in the Mayflower Compact, which makes clear their purpose and mission—“Advancement of the Christian Faith.”  Freedom of religion was established to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith without the interference of an overly intrusive government.  One need only look at the conflict between branches of the Islamic faith in the Middle East to see that the faith of our founders spared us from future civil war by separating the authority of the state from the practice of religion.  Despite the openness of our nation, Christianity has flourished the most.  We believe that this has transpired because Christianity is compatible with democracy and freedom.  Radical Islam works against democracy.  In addition, experts in foreign missions have repeatedly reported that Christianity has given rise to economic uplift in every nation that has adopted it.  Above all, the few examples of differing faith communities living peacefully together are predominantly in Christian nations.

Our Constitution offers freedom of religion – not freedom from religion.  Without Christianity, America would never have become the great power it is today.  The bedrock value system, built on the Bible, has allowed our democracy to blossom and grow.  Our nation’s tolerance of other faiths is a legacy left to us by the Founding Fathers, many of whom were men of faith.  The limitation in the First Amendment is upon Congress, not the churches.  It was a wall that prevented the federal government from intruding on religion in the states or denying the people’s right of free exercise of religion.  The founders were concerned that the federal government would try to take over the churches and use them for its own purpose.  They did not fear that Christians would influence the government.  Christians were the government.  The liberals who misread the First Amendment proclaim tolerance of others and are intolerant to Christians. 

Faith that unreservedly embraces the truth is transforming faith.  It begins with the individual and, fully realized, has the power to transform nations.  Daniel attempted to impose no religious requirement or duty upon anyone other than himself.  But Daniel’s testimony led the king to declare that Daniel’s way was the best way.  It was not due to Daniel’s political maneuvering and power moves, but because God honored his faithful service.  (Daniel 6:23-26)  Our goal here in the United States is not establishment but accommodation.  The Bible teaches that man has a free will.  In other words, he can choose to run toward God or away from God.  Freedom of religion is one of the “inalienable rights” mentioned in our Constitution.  See Psalm 139:8-10:  This quotation summarizes David’s experience with God.  The grace and mercy of the Lord were always there for him.  David accepted the negative consequences of his bad choices and the blessings of God upon his correct choices.  America has prospered not because it forced everyone to be a Christian; it has not, but rather America has recognized that we each have a choice.  Of course, historically there has been an understanding that with choice comes both the individual and collective consequences.  Today, however, the threat is not in the government forcing people to accept the Christian faith; the threat is in the government excluding people of faith from serving in government, if that faith influences their decisions.  Instead of accommodating religion, our adversaries want to exclude it. 

Christianity has its roots in Old Testament Judaism.  In addition to this freedom of choice, the Hebrew Constitution had seven additional freedoms, which is also found in the United States Constitution:

1. No man could be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. (Num. 35:9-34).

2. No one could be convicted of a crime without two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:2-13).

            3. No one could be put to death because of the crimes of their fathers, and no one’s children could receive entailed or transferred punishment (Deut. 24:16)

4. Everyone’s home was inviolate (Deut. 24:10-11)

5. A freed slave who acquired his liberty through his own effort was to be protected (Deut. 23:15-16).

6. One’s homestead was inalienable (Lev. 25:23-28, 34).

7. Indentured servanthood could not be made perpetual without the person’s own consent (Exod. 21:2-6)

Many Christians wonder why they should be involved in the defining public policy debates of our day, debates that include the value of life, and the fundamental definitions of marriage and family.  Lately there has been a move among some well-meaning Christians and their leaders to abandon the public arena altogether.  What kind of government do you want?  Do you want an honest, efficient government under which there is security for private property, life, and personal freedom?  George Washington said such government cannot be maintained without morality and religion, what he called the “great pillars of human happiness.”  We preserve these pillars through character, influence, and actions of those who serve in government.  Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”  Our government reflects the people who serve in it.  If you want to change the character of government, you must change the characters in it!  Christians must realize that God has ordained and sanctioned civil government.  It is part of His plan.  The first and most basic is self-government.  Unless individuals govern their own conduct, there is little hope for civil order.  Basic standards of conduct come from the Bible.  The institutions that follow are: Family, Civil, and Church.  For society to be properly balanced, all three must bear their proper load.  Our point is that God has said government is necessary and we are to be subject to it (Rom. 13:1).  But if we want a government that honors God and protects our freedoms, then we have to have a government that is made up of people who honor God and value freedom.

The most frequent objection we hear from opponents of Christianity who fear the presence of believers in government is, “What right do you have to impose your morals on us?”  We should reply, “The same right you have to impose your lack of morals on us.”  Someone’s values will always be reflected in public policy.  Almost every government policy decision is a value judgment.  In this postmodern world, where moral relativism is the philosophy of choice, these value judgments are often based on the conditions of the moment rather than objective, transcendent, biblical truth.  As Bible-believing Christians we believe there is absolute truth, a view, incidentally, that was held by all Christians and many Americans until the turn of the twentieth century.  This view holds that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God even when it speaks to the topics of history or the cosmos.  A Christian worldview says that there is a personal God who is directly involved in the activities of man and who authoritatively communicates to man through His Word and the Holy Spirit. 

John Adams made clear the connection between the Christian faith and government: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.  Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”   “A republic once equally poised must either preserve its virtue or lose its liberty”– John Witherspoon repeatedly asserted that our government rested upon the foundation of faith.  Our liberty and freedom rested on the virtue established by our faith in God.  William Penn expressed a clear understanding of the bedrock foundation of democracy.  He said, “If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.”  His words strike a piercing contrast: either we govern ourselves according to the truths of God or our conduct will be such that tyrannical men will lord over us. 

*The notes from this entry was collected from Personal  Faith Public Policy by Tony Perkins and Harry Jackson*

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