CAN ANY MODEL OF GOVERNMENT SURVIVE IMPERFECT, FALLEN MEN?
By Pastor Dan Gayman
Millions of disillusioned Americans anguish as they watch the decline of their country, the open disregard for the U.S. Constitution, and the flagrant rise of a totalitarian police state in the country their ancestors bled and died to give them. Often students of history and politics turn this rage upon what they perceive are inherent weaknesses of the Constitution itself. If only the Founding Fathers had created a model of government built from Sola Scriptura, the Bible alone, we would enjoy tremendous freedom and prosperity, secure in a land defended by free men under Jesus Christ and His Law. But the question we must address is this: do the problems that face America reside with a faulty Constitution, or must we look deeper into our hearts and souls and measure our spiritual standing with God?
Pastor Dan Gayman
Every area of life is touched by the failures of government, which were accompanied, if not preceded, by the spiritual and moral freefall of “we, the people.” The falling economic fortunes and plunging standard of living once so prevalent in America now impacts all but those who live at the top of the economic ladder. There is not a single woe that befalls America that does not have a root cause that can be traced to the spiritual and moral disconnect from God and the absolute truth of His Word. Amid this growing national crisis, our political leadership has become a circus, and our educational systems reek with the gods of human reason and the exclusion of biblical Christianity.
Few voices have the courage to champion the cause of truth. Secular humanism is moving like a tsunami over the land, and biblical Christians everywhere are struggling to remain anchored as they watch so many people including many of their loved ones swallowed up in the flood waters of paganism. Good is now pronounced as evil, and evil masquerades as good. The celebration of sin has become the favorite past time for growing millions of Americans.
In the midst of this moral carnage and the elevation of human reason as the god of this world, millions of Americans are beyond frustration as they watch the country they love slowly dying before their eyes. It is only natural that many Americans, particularly those who are still anchored to a belief in the triune transcendent God of Scripture and His eternal and unchanging Word try and point the finger to the culprit responsible for our national slide into oblivion.
Who must bear the blame for the decline and ultimate fall of America? Who must bear the responsibility for the plunder and theft of the Christian values that once characterized our nation? Whom do we blame for the egregious sins that are now openly displayed in this country? Who must bear the blame for the falling political, economic, military, and foreign policy fortunes of America? Will the guilty please come forward?
Among the many moving targets that have been blamed for America’s free fall into spiritual and moral oblivion stands the U.S. Constitution drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1789 and made the law of the land. Fifty-five White, mostly Protestant men gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to draft the constitution. Some forty stayed on to see the process finalized and offered to the Colonial population of America. The Constitution and the men who wrote it have come into the gun-sights of those looking for a place to lay the blame for America’s growing plunge into the abyss.
There seems to be an unleashing of attempts to defame the U.S. Constitution and its framers. Included in this article are two of the many quotes that I have seen in recent months that confirm the increasing opposition and frustration so many feel about the Constitution. My intention is not to give the author’s name or quote the source document, because I do not question the sincerity or motives of these people. These are good men with sincere hearts and deep love and concern for America. Give careful thought to the following quotes:
“I’m an unapologetic and fanatical opponent of the Constitution, because I’m Protestant Christian and believe in sola scriptura [sic], not the Bible and the Constitution. I just think if we’re going to use or even discuss the Constitution we should be completely candid about just what it is. We should not try to blend Christianity with the leaven of secular proceduralism, because we are unwilling to separate ourselves, as God commands, from this corrupting leaven. Let’s let Christianity be what it is and the Constitution be what it is, and not try to confuse the two. Legalized fagrimony (referring to homosexuality) is not the result of some malfunction. It’s the result of the Constitution working successfully. So too is abortion, replacing prayer in school with evolution and sex education, banning the Ten Commandments in the courthouses, and decriminalizing prostitution, dope, and gambling—all are the result of the Constitution functioning successfully. You see, the problem isn’t the Constitution not working properly; the problem is that the Constitution is working properly. The reason Christian values have persisted up to about a century ago despite the encroachment of secularism is because these values restrained the Constitution from working successfully. The problem is the Constitution itself, which is why we need a Christian revolution and not ‘original intent’.”
To my reading, it is clear that the above quote blames our plunging moral standards squarely on the Constitution, especially with this statement: “The problem is in the Constitution itself, which is why we need a Christian revolution and not ‘original intent’.” The ultimate solution to the problem, according to this writer, is a Christian revolution.
Consider still another quote that blames our problem on the Constitution:
“What we need is to burn the U. S. Constitution and replace it with the Holy Bible (KJV). Then, and only then, will we see justice and peace and true happiness throughout the U. S. Then, and only then, will we see pedophiles and those who practice bestiality executed. Then, and only then, will we see segregation return to America. Then, and only then, will we see mosques and synagogues destroyed and false religions eradicated. Then, and only then, will we see the Lord Jesus Christ exalted as He should be in our national life.”
This quote echoes the heart-felt feeling of many who yearn to see the Theocratic Kingdom of God, with Jesus Christ, the Greater David, ruling upon the throne of world government and His law supreme over all. If this noble ideal could have been achieved among mortal men, surely it should have been possible when God granted Moses, in direct communion, the authority to establish a theocratic kingdom ruled by Sola Scriptura. Could mortal men achieve this aim then? No. Why? Because we are just that: mortal, sinful men. That is what we have always been.
A Lesson from the Past
Jehovah granted this experiment with pure organic law free reign with Moses and the Israelites who gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai in B.C. 1491. If you have read Scripture, you will know that this attempt to establish a theocratic kingdom failed—and failed miserably. The attempt back then only exposed the inveterate sinfulness of the Israelites and became a ministry of condemnation rather than a euphoric experience in the freedom to live exclusively under God’s law. The adult generation that witnessed the receiving of this divine constitution directly from Jehovah all perished for the sin of unbelief at the end of their forty years of wandering in the Sinai Wilderness.
The heart and soul of this debate centers around this question: are the decline and falling fortunes of America because our Founding Fathers chose an imperfect and flawed model for the government of the United States, or does the fault lie in the sinful nature of the successive generations who were left as custodians of the Constitutional Republic given them by the Founding Fathers of the late 1700s? The fault lies not with the covenant/contract called the U.S. Constitution, but the flawed sinfulness of human nature. If you cannot sign on to this idea, please be patient and read on.
The divine constitution to which Israel assented (Exodus 19:5-8; 24:1-3) and which was sealed in sacrificial blood (Exodus 24:6-7) was a covenantal instrument that issued from Jehovah Himself. Israel was given a model for government based exclusively on Sola Scriptura. Subsequent history demonstrated that the children of Israel, first under the strong hand of Moses and later Joshua, were unable to meet the demands of this covenant. Should we be surprised that subsequent generations in America were not able to live within the terms of the human constitution written by the White Anglo-Saxon men in late 18th Century America? If the original intent of the U.S. Constitution had been adhered to, many of the problems that now vex America would not be present.
For example, the tenth amendment limits the power of the Federal Government to that which is explicitly granted with all other rights and powers being reserved to the States and to the people. The Federal Government has morphed into a centralized dictatorship over the States and has become a monster never envisioned by the men who drafted the Constitution. Moreover, the many adverse amendments added to the Constitution in the decades that followed have largely altered the scope and intent of the original Constitution. In the case of ancient Israel, they did not attempt to amend the divine constitution given them; they simply lapsed into disobedience and reckless abandonment of the covenant under which they agreed to live.
Our inveterate, depraved, and sinful nature further demonstrated itself under Joshua and the series of Judges who followed him for more than 300 years. From the death of Moses (about 1451 B.C.) to the end of the reign of Judges about 1095 B.C.), Israel attempted to live under God’s pure and organic law. At the close of Samuel’s life, however, the Israelites demanded a king (I Samuel 8), and the rest is history. The question that must be asked is this: did the problem lie with the divine constitution, or with the depraved hearts of the people? The Bible confirms that there was nothing wrong with the covenant (Hebrews 8:7-8); rather, the fault lay with the people. Is it fair to ask this same question with regards to the U.S. Constitution? Does the fault lie with the Constitution and the men who framed it, or must the plight of our country be laid at the depraved nature of the people who have consistently, for several generations, disconnected from God and His Word?
The prominent John Adams said this about the U.S. Constitution after it was written: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” When the majority of Americans were moral and the culture reflected it, the Constitution worked well. The more “we, the people” departed from demonstrating truly Christian character and morality and strict interpretation of the Constitution as it originally was written, the less effective this instrument of government became. A majority of the amendments reflect the diminishing wisdom and moral character of the people and those elected into public office.
Without moral integrity and a commitment to the principles of Christian character and Bible law, no model of government or constitution can long sustain a people. The benefits and blessings of the divine constitution given ancient Israel at Mt. Sinai in 1451 B. C. were conditional on our forebears’ commitment to love, serve, and obey Jehovah by observing His immutable law. To the degree that we have lost our Christian and Puritan character, we have diminished the blessings and utility of the U.S. Constitution.
If the answer to our present national problem lies in a full restoration of a biblical theocracy directed from Scripture alone, perhaps we can revisit another time in our racial history when our people attempted this, at least in some form. On a cold and dreary day in 1649, King Charles I, son of James I, walked before a hushed crowd of Londoners, ascended to the scaffold, gave his last respects to his executioner, knelt, and thrust his head onto the chopping block. The executioner’s axe fell, severing his head. Could this happen in a land renowned for its Christianity? The king’s bitter political opponents could behead a king who heretofore had ruled under the aura of the divine rights of kings? In the years preceding his execution, England had been torn asunder with religious strife. The push for greater religious liberty by the growing influence of the Puritans met headlong with the resolute authority of the English king, Charles I. By 1642, the differences between the two parties became irreconcilable. Both Parliament and the king assembled armies, launching the first English Civil War. By 1646, Parliament had defeated the king’s armies, and King Charles agreed to a compromise settlement wherein he shared power with Parliament, allowing limited liberty of conscience and replacing bishops with a Presbyterian government.
Charles I, not content with relinquishing more religious liberty to the Puritan forces, worked steadily behind the scenes and ultimately enlisted the aid of both Scotland and Ireland to help him in another civil war to suppress the Puritan opposition. With the bloody and costly second Civil War underway, this time the military leadership of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was well established. Under his leadership, this war ended with the complete defeat of the king and his armies. In January of 1649, Parliament tried Charles I for treason, found him guilty, and ordered him executed.
Cromwell and his followers then proceeded to replace the king, with Parliament trusting that a time of tranquility would come to England, and that under full religious liberty and Christianity, England would rise to new spiritual heights. To the contrary, however, Parliament drifted into endless quarreling and reached a point where it simply could not rule. Cromwell seized power and ruled from 1653 until his death in 1658. During this time, Puritan principles flourished through much of the realm. Refusing Parliament’s offer to extend him the crown, Cromwell ruled as Lord Protectorate over England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Cromwell’s son Richard succeeded him as Protector; but after nine months of turbulent rule, he resigned.
Following Oliver Cromwell’s death and the resignation of his son Richard as Protector, the English people yearned for peace and stability. They had endured two Civil Wars, the execution of their king, and had failed to achieve the goals they sought in the years that preceded and followed the execution of Charles I. Parliament proceeded to call Charles II, son of Charles I, from exile on the continent and assume the crown his father had previously lost. Charles II ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland until his death in 1688. Following his death, Parliament passed a number of laws known as the “Glorious Revolution.” This marked the overthrow of King James II of England, VII of Scotland, and II of Ireland.
The successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to the ascendance of William of Orange to the English throne. Known as William III of England, he ruled jointly with his wife, Mary II of England, in conjunction with the Bill of Rights of 1689. This document institutionalized the principles for which Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans had endeavored to fight in two civil wars. Sadly, even with the tremendous religious liberty won and confirmed by the Glorious Revolution, the English people were never able to establish a truly biblical society. If revolution were the answer for the restoration of a more biblical State, please explain why it ultimately failed. Even with the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and the rise of a Puritan dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell, a biblical Pax Romana was elusive for the English, Scots, Welsh, and Irish.
Even with a revolution that ended with the execution of the English king and the opportunity to install a Puritan and biblical theocracy, success did not come. The pushback on this statement would be that tremendous religious reform and freedom followed in the wake of this revolution. Still, these reforms fell far short of establishing anything close to a biblical theocracy.
The Puritan Experiment in America
While the English were enduring religious and civil strife and even eventual civil wars, the Puritans who came to America were working hard to establish a biblical Commonwealth in New England. Arriving in America and now separated three thousand miles from their English king and the religious strife and bloodshed, they could launch a biblical theocracy in the New World. The Puritans had gained notoriety in their efforts to reform the Church of England. The more ardent Puritans were called Separatists because they had given up trying to reform the Church of England and were content to completely separate from the Church of England. Weary and disillusioned that the religious freedom would be even more repressive after James I became king of England in 1603, the Puritans began to look beyond the Atlantic to the New World, where they could express their religious freedom from government oppression.
The Pilgrims came first, establishing the Plymouth Bay Colony in 1620. Successive waves of Puritans followed them, emigrating from England. Massachusetts Bay Colony was established in 1628, New Hampshire in 1629; Connecticut in 1633; Maine in 1635; Rhode Island in 1636; and New Haven in 1638. The Puritans exercised strong biblical beliefs and extended their beliefs in the colonies north of Virginia. New England essentially became a biblical Commonwealth, with Bible law prevailing through these covenant settlements.
By 1640, some thirty-five churches had been established throughout New England. These Puritan settlements rested upon biblical pledges and covenantal promises that in exchange for God’s providence, blessing, and protection upon their efforts, they would covenant to love and serve God and one another. Puritanism was alive and flourishing in early 17th Century America. The Calvinist distinction between the elect and the damned prevailed throughout Puritan New England. Membership in the Puritan churches consisted only of those who publicly confessed their experience of conversion and pledged to live a biblical lifestyle as defined by the very devout Puritans. Biblical law was reflected in all the Puritan colonies throughout New England.
As the New England Bible Commonwealth expanded, it became apparent that growing numbers of the population were uncommitted church members or perhaps Puritans who had lapsed into a more secular lifestyle. Accordingly, in 1662, it became easier for the non-converted majority to become church members in Massachusetts with the adoption of the Half-Way Covenant. Puritan clergy exercised diminishing influence and power as New England expanded and opened frontier settlements. The Bible Commonwealth exercised diminishing influence, and by 1692, the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote a new charter expressing the change from a theocratic to a political, secular state. In the process, suffrage was stripped of religious qualifications. Prior to this, anyone seeking to hold public office had to meet religious qualifications.
While the Christian foundations laid by the Puritan Bible Commonwealth (theocracy) was to have enduring influence upon the character, expansion, morality, spirituality, and civility of America, any idea of a biblical theocracy for America died when the Bible Commonwealth of New England withered and eventually faded. The long-standing biblical statutes that banned contraceptives, abortion, sodomy, miscegenation, divorce, and multiple other immoral practices through the mid 1900s were largely the influence of the Puritans during the formative covenantal foundations they established between 1620 and 1650. It would be difficult to name a single group of people in America that left a larger spiritual and moral footprint than the Puritans.
So, Whom Do We Blame?
Who must bare the blame for the woes facing America? Can we justify placing the blame on the U. S. Constitution and the men who framed it? Would we have fared any better under any other model of government? Does the Bible clearly mandate any one particular model of government? I know of no clear instruction in the Word of God that compels one particular model of government over another. When Christ returns as the Greater David, He will of course be ruling in a theocratic monarchy. The Israelites tried a theocracy, but failed—even with a Constitution written by God Himself. The Puritans tried to establish a biblical theocracy in the Commonwealth in New England, but it did not last long, because of sinful men. No king or governmental power stopped them from making this theocracy a thriving success. The Puritans eventually watched their theocracy turn into a secular state. Whom do we blame for these failures? Surely we must humbly acknowledge the inveterate depravity of the race of Adam. Only men and women who are truly regenerated in Jesus Christ can build and maintain a theocracy, or for that matter any other type of government.
The promise of a perfect and lasting model of government will be fulfilled only with the return of Jesus Christ when the government will be upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-9). The redeemed children will all either through translation or resurrection dwell in Christ’s Kingdom in glorified bodies, or will be fully redeemed men and women living without sin and wholly given to a life of love, service, and obedience to God and one another. Until that glorious day, let us not look for a scapegoat upon whom we can blame our problems. Pogo fans will recall that it was he who said, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” We need look no further for anyone to blame for the loss of our country and the spiritual and moral mess in which we find ourselves. We would not be one whit better off if we burned the U. S. Constitution and attempted a biblical theocracy any more than ancient Israel. Our problem lies in the moral depravity of our race. A perfect model of government is dependent upon people who are born from above by the power of the Holy Spirit and made a new creation in Christ (John 3:3-8).
Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with the promise of a future theocratic Kingdom that will fill this earth: that Kingdom will be possible because Jesus Christ will at the helm. Until then, we must “Occupy Till He Comes” (Luke 19:13) and live every day in full compliance with the law of our King, knowing that those who live to serve Him will ultimately be victorious over all who oppose Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
The Grievance Culture
We live in the midst of a grievance oriented culture. Everyone is a victim. No one wants to stand accountable for his problems. Children blame their parents. Wives blame their husbands. Husbands blame the government. Who wants to assume the blame for personal failure? It is easier to play the victim and blame your problem on someone else than to look in the mirror and take responsibility for your own problems.
Professional counselors listen to people blame life’s problems on everyone around them. People seldom assume responsibility for the mess they have made of their lives. We are accustomed to a grievance culture that thrives on being the victim and holding everyone but our own selves responsible for our problems.
Democrats blame Republicans, and Republicans blame Democrats. Blacks blame their high murder rate of Black-on-Black crime and ghetto slums on Whites. Unemployed Whites blame the government because they cannot find a job. Liberals blame guns for the violence in America. Presidents blame Congress. Congress blames the President. Everyone wants to be the victim. No one is the villain.
Everyone can find someone to blame for everything that goes wrong. Is anyone willing to assume responsibility for his own problems and truly repent of his personal failures? Is anyone willing to make things right and not focus on the perceived wrongs of others?
As for this author, I am unwilling to blame today’s moral debauchery in America on the perceived failures of the Anglo-Saxon men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution. I would rather blame our moral decadence, racial genocide, and celebration of every sin named in Scripture on those who have willfully broken covenant with God, repudiated His law, scorned the name and divinity of Jesus Christ, and erased the Christian landmarks set by our fathers. I would rather blame those of us who disobey God even when we know we are sinning. Sinning willfully is iniquity. Can we just do what the Holy Spirit said we must do some two thousand years ago? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).