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Fighting the Battle where it Needs to be Fought

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Christians want to influence politics. They want to see Christian values replace selfish man-centered values which result in abortion, homosexuality, illiteracy, and crime. They hope to elect Christian statesmen, pass Godly laws, or win well-researched lawsuits which will lead our nation to Godliness, peace, and prosperity.

Obviously they have failed. Their greatest triumphs have been those occasions when they have merely slowed down (temporarily) the relentless march toward destruction. In election after election, they vote for candidates who promise to return us to Christian values, only to have them legislate the same secular "liberalism" once in office.

What is the answer? I would like to suggest an answer you have never heard before. I start with a consideration of the oath of office.

The need for Christian statesmanship will be met when we return to the doctrine of oaths which was held by our Puritan forefathers, and then build upon it. In studying that oath, we will learn much and be open to a new way of thinking.

In this Internet Monograph I argue that the oath of office is as important as it is ignored. When Christians begin to take seriously the Biblical requirements concerning the oath, it will have a profound, radical effect on national politics and on our quest for authentic Christian Statesmanship. It will turn politics upside down.

This claim will certainly strike many as an exaggeration. The oath is widely believed to be a mere formality. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has said the oath is little more than an "amenity."[1] But the Supreme Court has been wrong before. Very, very wrong. The Bible proclaims an altogether different perspective - as do diligent Christians (like the Puritans) who study the Scriptures.

Who Should You Vote For?

It is utterly astonishing to me that anyone -- but especially someone who claims to be a Christian -- could have voted for Bill Clinton. It is disturbing (but I suppose a bit more understandable) how any Christian could have voted for George Bush. I believe the Bible sets forth two general criteria for office-holders. First, he must be a Christian. Second, he must be able to take a Biblical oath of office.

If the Bible says that all politicians must be Christians, then it logically follows that Christians can only vote for candidates who are Christian. Here's what the Bible says (in a minute we'll look at what the Founding Fathers said):

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Exodus 18:21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Numbers 11:16 So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.

Deuteronomy 1:15 So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and made them heads over you, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for your tribes.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. {19} You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. {20} You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of an overseer, he desires a good work. {2} An overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; {3} not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; {4} one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence {5} (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); {6} not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. {7} Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you; {6} if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. {7} For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, {8} but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, {9} holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Seldom in the recent past have Christians had the opportunity to vote for such men (or even such women!).

The Founding Fathers understood these requirements.

From the Portsmouth, New Hampshire newspaper, May 24, 1800 [2]:

On Monday last the Circuit Court of the United States was opened in this town. The Hon Judge [Supreme Court Justice] Paterson presided. After the Jury were impaneled, the Judge delivered a most elegant and appropriate charge . . . . Religion and morality were pleasingly inculcated and enforced as being necessary to good government, good order, and good laws, for "when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice" [Proverbs 29:2] . . .
After the charge was delivered, the Rev. Mr. [Timothy] Alden addressed the Throne of Grace in an excellent, well-adapted prayer.
The New York Times would undoubtedly not find that news "fit to print." Supreme Court Justices are not as likely to be quoting Scripture, either.

Public schools taught what Noah Webster wrote in his textbooks:

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. [3]
And in another text,
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look to his character. . . . It is alleged by men of loose principles or defective views of the subject that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men "who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness" [Exodus 18:21] . . . [I]t is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, peculations [white-collar larceny] and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government.[4]
Speaking before the Massachusetts Legislature, Chandler Robbins declared,
How constantly do we find it inculcated in the sacred writings, that rulers be "just men -- fearers of God -- haters of covetousness." That they "shake their hands from holding bribes," because "a gift blindeth the eyes of the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous."[5]
Sam Adams:
He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. [P]rivate and public vices are in reality . . . connected. . . . Nothing is more essential . . . than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the [private] characters of public men.[6]
Gouverneur Morris signed the Constitution believing that
There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish. The nation is exposed to foreign violence and domestic convulsion. Vicious rulers, chosen by vicious people, turn back the current of corruption to its source. Placed in a situation where they can exercise authority for their own emolument, they betray their trust. They take bribes. They sell statutes and decrees. They sell honor and office. They sell their conscience. They sell their country. . . . But the most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every state that rejects the precepts of religion. [7]
John Witherspoon signed a Declaration of Independence from Britain, not from God:
Those, therefore, who pay no regard to religion and sobriety in the persons whom they send to the legislature of any State are guilty of the greatest absurdity and will soon pay dear for their folly.[8]
But not just the voters. Innocent victims may suffer abuse from those we send to Washington. Assuming Monica Lewinsky was a person of good morals, did Christians do her a favor by putting Bill Clinton in the Oval Office? How will hundreds of millions of people experience the consequences of Clinton's sell-out to the Chinese government for contributions to the Democratic Party?

John Jay was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, and was appointed first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by President Washington. He accurately summed up the meaning of God's commandments:

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." [9]
Chief Justice Jay's suggestion is so politically incorrect that even Christians don't buy it. I have heard many respected Christians -- following Martin Luther -- say they would rather vote for a politically "competent" unbeliever than a politically incompetent Christian. This is idolatrous nonsense. No matter what kind of Constitutions and laws we have, secular men will secularize the institution. We often hear it said that ours is a "government of laws, not of men." This is a fallacy. A man of integrity, virtue, and the Character of Christ with little political experience is to be preferred over a seasoned politician who is a Secular Humanist. The Bible says this; the Founding Fathers said this; Secular Humanists disagree. Guess what?

Let's not care what Secular Humanists think anymore.

Find out More: The Founders on:
[Atheists]  [Deists]

The War of World-Views

Martin Luther said,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be confessing Christ.
The distressing thing about the Christian world in the closing years of the 20th century is that most church-goers do not even know where the battle has been raging, and couldn't say where we are being attacked most fiercely.

Part of this ignorance stems from an ignorance of history. If modern Christians were in touch with the aspirations of the Founding Fathers, and if they appreciated the battles they already fought, they could see that all the good things that the Founders fought and died for are being undermined.

Men of Character and Strength

In the material realm, life in the 1990's consists mainly of a dreary 8-5 job shuffling papers or manufacturing weapons for the New World Order, making interest payments on a mortgage, and keeping the volume down on the kids' Nintendo. This "middle-class" lifestyle differs radically from that envisioned by Thomas Jefferson. His land-owning "yeoman farmer" was much closer to the Biblical ideal of the wealthy Patriarch Abraham (Genesis 13:2), and both are a far cry from the secularized American worker-drone. The televised vision of the "American Dream" effectively serves the agenda of the ruling elites in Washington. As millions of serfs labor, the lords increase their wealth.

Ironically, this loss of power and wealth is a direct result of our frantic quest for it. In the Spiritual realm we have ignored the values of the Puritans and shirked the battles we should have fought. Our lives have been reduced to a secular quest for materialist "gusto."

Whereas George Washington's fabled remark was "I cannot tell a lie; I chopped down the cherry tree," President Clinton tells a nation he "did not inhale." There is not an American citizen over the age of 14 who does not know this to be a lie. The President's brother, commenting on the President's use of cocaine, says he has "a nose like a vacuum cleaner." But who cares? A nation that can more ably quote "Beavis and Butt-head" than Patrick Henry deserves a drug-addicted womanizer for President. The violation of law and subsequent cover-up is winked at in a "trendy" President who mirrors the values of a self-centered glitter-worshipping hedonistic nation.[11]

The importance of righteous leaders is seen repeatedly in the Bible. Godly leaders inspire the people to obey God; evil kings are known to have "made Israel sin."[12] But in spite of this importance, a keen student of American history would be hard-pressed to name a president in recent history who attempted (sincerely, consistently, or effectively) to lead us to God and to follow His paths. The best have "halted between two opinions," wanting to curry the favor of the Godly and the Humanists. The failure of Godly leadership has led us to the brink of death.

The Oath of Office

When a man assumes a public office, he does so by taking an oath of office. He publicly affirms his commitment to a certain path of action. He affirms his support of certain principles of government. Before the ratification of our present constitution, no one in America could assume public office who was not a Christian. The oath of office functioned as a "test" of their commitment to the principles of Christian Statesmanship. All public officers had to affirm their support for Christianity. Atheists were not even allowed to testify in court. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story observed, "infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit."![13]

All of this changed in 1791 - or began to change - when America ratified a constitution which held, in Article VI, that

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.[14]
Justice Story, also the most esteemed commentator on the U.S. Constitution in his day, declared that as a result of this Article, "the Calvinist . . . and the Infidel may sit down at the common table of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship."[15]

Did it matter to Israel that her leaders worshipped idols of gold? Does it matter to America? How should a Christian Statesman view this shift from religious tests to "pluralism" and "neutrality?"

It is not the purpose of this Internet Monograph to argue that only Calvinists should be allowed to assume political office. Its purpose is far more radical. It begins with the simple goal of having Christian Statesmen identify themselves as such by the public taking of an explicitly Christian oath of office. Let Muslims take an Islamic oath, and Infidels take no oath at all. But let the Calvinist take a Calvinistic oath, and see what happens. This Internet Monograph will show three things:

A thorough study of the law reveals that it is now "unconstitutional" for a Christian to hold any public office in the United States of America. A Christian cannot even become an American citizen. Vigorous Christian statesmanship begins with an understanding of how this has come to be true, and what we can do about it. This is certainly one place where the battle is raging, and where the gospel must be preached.

Doubtful? Keep reading!

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1. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676, 685, 92 S.Ct. 1332, 1337; 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972).  [Return to text]

2. United States Oracle, see also The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800, Maeva Marcus, ed., (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1988) vol. III, p. 436. For a discussion of the Founding Fathers' views on the "private lives" of candidates, see David Barton, Original Intent, (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders, 1996) pp. 330ff.  [Return to text]

3. Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832) p.6. Barton, Original Intent, p. 331-32.  [Return to text]

4. Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education (New Haven, S. Converse, 1823) pp. 18-19, Letter 1. Barton, Original Intent, p. 332.  [Return to text]

5. Chandler Robbins, A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq and the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 25, 1791, Being the Day of General Election (Boston: Thomas Adams, 1791), p. 18.  [Return to text]

6. Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., (NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907), vol III, pp. 236-37, to James Warren on Nov. 4, 1775.  [Return to text]

7. Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1821 (NY: E. Bliss and E. White, 1821) pp. 32,34, from "An Inaugural Discourse Delivered Before the New York Historical Society by the Honorable Gouverneur Morris, (President,) 4th September, 1816."  [Return to text]

8. Witherspoon, Works, Edinburgh, J. Ogle, 1815, IV:266-67, from "A Sermon Delivered at a Public Thanksgiving after Peace."  [Return to text]

9. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., New York: Burt Franklin, 1970, 4:393 [to John Murray, Jr., October 12, 1816].  [Return to text]

10. To use a phrase from Francis Schaeffer's trenchant critique of Modern Man: How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (1976). In this context, see Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming Revell, 1979.  [Return to text]

11. Even those who work on remembering the values of our nation's Founders often miss the striking contrasts between the past and the present. For a Christian, the implications of Clinton's public lie are staggering. Law-breaking is utterly trivialized. Polls consistently reveal that the American people know that the President lies, but they support him because they like what he says (for example, that he "feels our pain" [even if he's likely lying when he says so? Go figure.]).
Consider the nature of the President's lie. Not only has the President failed to repudiate his act of possessing a controlled substance ("I deeply regret this action, and following my duty under Article II, Sec. 3 of the Constitution ["he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed"], I urge young Americans everywhere to resist peer pressure to violate the law"), and of putting the substance to his lips as if to use it (the President subsequently told an audience of teenagers that if he had it to do over, he would again try to inhale, presumably with success), but while in office the President has had numerous associations with known drug smugglers, and at the very least appears to have obstructed justice with respect to the smuggling of hundreds of millions of dollars of drugs out of his home state of Arkansas. Mexican authorities are quoted as saying our government is in the back pocket of the Medellin cartel, one of the largest organized criminal syndicates involved in the international cocaine trade. (Documentation can be obtained from Jeremiah Films, Hemet, CA.)
The contrasts between President Clinton and a Christian statesman are as numerous as they are well-known.
 [Return to text]

12. I Kings 14:16; 15:26,30,34; 16:2,13,26; 21:22; 22:52; II Kings 3:3; 10:29,31; 13:2,6,11; 14:24; 15:9,18,24,28; 17:21; 21:11,16; 23:15.  [Return to text]

13. in William W. Story, ed., Life and Letters of Joseph Story (Boston: Little & Brown, 1851) vol. II, pp. 89. Cited in David Barton, Original Intent (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders, 1996) p. 38. "Credit," means here "trust" (from the Latin, credo," I believe").  [Return to text]

14. U.S. Constitution, Article VI, 3.
If you like the Puritans and like the Constitution more than Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" welfare state, keep in mind that the time interval between Johnson and the Constitution is about the same as that between the Constitution and the Puritans' Mayflower Compact. I believe that as far as America had strayed from the Constitution by LBJ's day, so the Framers of the Constitution had strayed from the Puritans by 1789. For a much longer explanation, read Gary North's book, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989). After years of study and a University of California Ph.D. in history, he concludes,

There is no escape from this conclusion: the United States Constitution is an atheistic, humanistic covenant. The law governing the public oath of office reveals this. Unfortunately, this oath is rarely discussed. Christians who do not analyze social and political institutions in terms of the biblical covenant model are not sufficiently alert to this crucial but neglected section of the Constitution. The Constitution is not a Christian covenant document; it is a secular humanist covenant document.
(at 403-404)  [Return to text]

15. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1833) vol. III, p. 383, 400, cited in Barton, Original Intent, p. 34.  [Return to text]