Scriptures—other than those already cited to show that the church and state are not to wed or to enter into any kind of relationship, especially for persecution of those who do not submit to the official religion–teach that the church is not to enforce spiritual laws in society in general, even with the help of civil government; some of those Scriptures have already been cited and more are given in this lesson.
The Lord commanded that men not remove the tares “lest [they] root up also the wheat [the children of the kingdom]” (Mt. 13.24-30, 37-43). Instead, they are to be permitted to grow together until the harvest when the Lord shall send forth his angels to gather the tares and cast them into a furnace of fire (Ibid.). The Lord commanded His disciples to leave the Pharisees, whom He referred to as the “blind leading the blind,” alone because “every plant, which [His] heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Mt. 15.13-14). He told his disciples: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch” (Mt. 15.14). As Roger Williams noted, “This sentence against [the blind Pharisee], the Lord Jesus only pronounceth in his church, his spiritual judicature, and executes this sentence in part at present, and hereafter to all eternity. Such a sentence no civil judge can pass, such a death no civil sword can inflict.”[i]
Some other relevant scriptures dealing with the actions of a Christian against his enemies, those who curse, hate, despitefully use, persecute and disagree with him include:
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so” (Mt. 5.44-47)?
The Lord said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in they synagogues; [a]nd ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Mt. 10.16-18). What sheep ever attacked a wolf or anything else?
“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk. 9.38. See also Lu. 9.49-50).
The Lord Jesus said to his disciples, James and John, who desired to command fire down from heaven to devour Samaritans who would not receive Him, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye be of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Lu. 9.55-56).
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life of the sheep” (Jn. 10.10-11).
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [i]n meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [a]nd they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.24-26).
As mentioned many times, Catholicism, behind perverted doctrine, viciously murdered fifty million or more “heretics” when in power over the middle ages. Protestant churches continued the persecutions when in power.
The reason for not attempting to remove heretics, the tares, from the world seems to be, as Roger Williams noted:
“because they who now are tares, may hereafter become wheat; they who are now blind, may hereafter see; they that now resist him may hereafter receive him; that that are now in the devil’s snare, in adverseness to the truth, may hereafter come to repentance; they that are now blasphemers and persecutors, as Paul was, may in time become faithful as he; they that are now idolaters, as the Corinthians once were, 1 Cor. vi. 9, may hereafter become true worshippers as they; they that are now no people of God, nor under mercy, as the saints sometimes were 1 Pet. ii. 10, may hereafter become the people of God, and obtain mercy, as they.
“Some come not till the eleventh hour, Matt. xx. 6: if those that come not till the last hour should be destroyed, because they come not at the first, then should they never come, but be prevented” (Williams and Underhill, pp. 11-12).
Persecution of “heretics” is contrary to many New Testament teachings. True believers were promised that they would be persecuted, and never were told to persecute anyone. Jesus told the disciples that “the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16.2. This was spoken directly to the apostles, but the Bible and history show that it is applicable to all believers who have been persecuted or will be persecuted for Christ’s sake. Christ is actually speaking to all who are not of the world, but are the chosen of God. See, e.g., Jn. 15.).
The promises to the Jew in the Old Testament were significantly different than the promises to the Christian in the New Testament. No greater example can be cited than the contrast between the Old Testament promises that Israel would prosper and be blessed materially if they would keep God’s commandments and statutes or that they would be judged if they failed to do so (See, e.g., Ex. 15.26; 19.5-8; 24.3, 7; 34.18-35.3; Le. 18.3-20.27; 20.22-23; 26 (read in conjunction with De. 28-30); De. 4-11; 12.30-31; 28-30; 28.1-68; I S. 12.1-5; 1 K. 6.12-13; 9.1-9; 2 Chr. 7.12-22; 15.1-7; etc.) and the New Testament promise to Christians that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12).
Other New Testament verses on the matter of treatment of enemies and others include: Mt. 5.10-12, 38-48; Mt. 6.8-13, 18.21-35; Lk. 6.27-46, 9.51-56; Ac. 26.17 (what to preach to the lost we love); Ro. 8.28, 12.9-21; 14.13, 19 1 Co. 6.1-20; 2 Co. 6.3-10; Ga. 6.10; Phill. 2.15-16; 1 Thes. 5.14-15; 1 Ti. 1.8, 2.8-10, 3.1-7; 2 Ti. 3.1-12; Ja. 3.17; 1 Pe. 2.9, 2.15-16, 2.20-25, 4.1-19 (Spiritual warfare weapons and methods);
[i] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. 97, First published in 1644.
The history of the First Amendment is a history of persecution of those who stood against state “establishment of religion.” The established churches persecuted those true born again believers and others who stood against union of church and state and establishment of religion. In general, those believers who adhered to the apostolic doctrines and stood against union of church and state and its dogmas can be referred to as historic Baptists. Their unrelenting stand resulted in the adoption of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says, “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.” The religion clause of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” legislates the Bible principles of separation of church and state and “soul liberty.” This brief article presents the history of the First Amendment in a nutshell. See Endnote for links to more detailed histories.
Christians, since the beginning of the church age, have, generally speaking, always been persecuted to one degree or another. They were persecuted because they obeyed God rather than men (man’s law) when man’s law required them to disobey God’s law. Of course, Americans have yet to suffer more than some inconveniences which, to this point cannot be called persecution; but Christians are, this very day, being severely persecuted in many countries.
Jesus Christ was crucified since He came to lay down his life for the sins of the world. After the crucifixion of Christ, the Jews persecuted the Christians. All the apostles except John, who was persecuted but not killed, were martyrs as were many other Christians. Roman Emperors, off and on, persecuted Christians.
In the early fourth century some of the pastors or bishops went to Rome, at the invitation of Emperor Constantine, and agreed to unite church and state, to make “Christianity” the official religion of the Roman Empire. Not long after that, the official church/state establishment began to viciously persecute dissenters, those labeled to be “heretics” by the establishment. For over a thousand years thereafter, established churches persecuted dissenters.
Augustine early on developed the Catholic theology that was the basis for the brutal torture and murder of at least 50 million people labeled to be “heretics” by Catholic/state establishments. The Protestants—Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Church of England etc.—continued the persecutions as they accepted and implemented Augustine’s church state theology.
The persecution by established churches continued in the colonies, mainly under the Puritans in New England and the Anglicans in the South. The Catholic Church had no or insignificant influence in the American colonies and the early Republic since Catholics were few and far between. Had the Puritans and Anglicans had their way there would never have been a First Amendment; church/state establishment of one most powerful church would have been enforced by man’s law in America.
Due to the circumstances of colonization, the persecution in the colonies was severe at times, but not as severe as it had been in the Old World. Forces came together in the colonies which gradually eroded the power of the establishments. Generally speaking, the establishment of one church gave way to the establishment of multiple churches.
A theological warfare went on in the colonies between the dissenters, mainly the Baptists, and the established churches. The Baptists were the primary foes of establishment, of “union of church and state” which, as always, came about through man made law. Men such as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, and John Leland fought and wrote extensively against establishment and Protestant theology. Many Baptists and others labeled “heretic” by established churches were persecuted.
As a result of Baptist efforts in the colonies, from the early 1630’s to the adoption of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment was adopted. The spiritual warfare in the colonies gradually eroded the concept of the establishment of only one church. By the time the Constitution and First Amendment were adopted, only seven states still had forced “multiple establishment” (more than one established church). The other states had already moved to choice—churches could choose whether to become established under the law of the state.
The continuing efforts of Baptists after that led to Massachusetts being the last state to do away with forced establishment. Since that time, all states, though their constitutions, provide every church a choice: remain under God only or become established, that is, submit to the law of man. In 1954, the federal government passed into law 26 United States Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508. Since passage of that law, a churches chooses either to remain non-taxable under the First Amendment or to establish under 501(c)(3) and 508 federal tax exempt law.
Once one reads the following very insightful letter, he should listen to the following sermon: “Counterfeit Christians Filling The Church Of Antichrist,” on sermonaudio.com (071515)(Click here for Youtube of this sermon.)” Most churches, even fundamental Baptist churches are prepared to accept the anti-christ. In fact, they have already succumbed at least partially by becoming legal entities such as incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 churches. Additional betrayals follow an unrepented of initial betrayal. Unchecked erosion of the foundation results in destruction of the house.
Some one wrote to me today about
Here is my reply:
Dear Concerned Church Member:
My work for nearly thirty years has been in and out of two communist countries, and we have spent our years planting underground churches as well as training men to pastor underground churches in authoritarian regime-run countries. Nothing I say about these matters comes from “conspiratorial theories” in the wild-eyed sense, but from observation with our own eyeballs, and from studying the verbiage and dogma of the communists. I am not a young man; I am nearly 60.
If the Lord does not return soon America will also see a day when Bible-believing churches will be subject to the kind of scrutiny that will force them to operate without government permission or exemptions; hence, “underground”. Our own country is settling in to a state of NON-resistance against tyranny, and toward a tolerance for socialism. The rise of Islam, the rise of Marxist-style and European socialism, the rise of the sodomite agenda, the dismantling of national borders, the disrespect toward our Christian history and heritage in both the educational system and the courts, all speak to a day when government will ask, “Why do these churches operate without our control?” “Why cumber they the ground?” “Why are they tax-exempt?” “Why aren’t their properties on the tax rolls?” “What are those preachers preaching behind those walls?” “Are those sermons violative of public policy?” Etc.
It is not a wild-eyed conspiratorial mind set, but to the contrary, it recognizes that ” . . . in the last days, PERILOUS times shall come . . . ” We are not guaranteed exemption from this. New Testament churches in regions all over the earth must meet underground NOW in OUR generation.
Brother Randy Pike, 60-year veteran independent Baptist missionary, served 40 of those years in South Africa (a continent with many thug-run Marxist regimes). Unknown to most Americans was that the communist party of South Africa (to which Nelson Mandela belonged) threatened the freedom of the fundamentalist churches of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s (while Brother Pike was still there). Churches that had operated freely for a hundred years were taking courses on how to survive as underground churches. You can hear Brother Pike’s own instruction on this subject by way of the Internet. Brother Pike is still living today in Greenville, SC, and still deals with these issues to prepare missionaries. Brother Pike is not a wild-eyed conspiratorialist, but rather a highly-regarded independent Baptist veteran, and a very godly man.
Our response to these things is not a bunker mentality, but rather to encourage American believers to use what liberties we have remaining to get out publicly into the markets and civic places to boldly preach Jesus Christ and the Cross. Our response is to do all we can to plant brand new Bible-believing Baptist churches around America. Our response is to do all we can to instill a missionary spirit into our young people. Our response is to encourage American Christians to write often to their elected representatives and make it known that there is still a people of God left in this country.
We also need to remember, when we speak of conspiracies, that the Bible is FULL of them, from the Garden in Genesis 3 to the reign of the antichrist in Revelation 13. Absalom conspired against David. Study the conspiracies of Ahab, Jezebel, Atahaliah, Judas, the Jews against the Saviour, Saul (Paul) against the Churches in the early Acts period, the Jews against Paul in the latter Acts period, and so many more in Scripture. Read 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and consider. See if you can not find there a conspiracy there against the souls of men and the word of God. The conspiracy of the god of this world is to blind the minds of them which believe not (2 Cor. 4:4). Then, in church history, the conspiracies of Rome against the Waldenses, Albigenses, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Lollards and Wycliffe. Consider the conspiracies of the Protestants against the Baptists in New England (1600s & 1700s), and the conspiracies of the Anglicans against the Baptists of the North Carolina Piedmont and the battle of Alamance (early 1700s).
The word “Conspiracy” occurs in American law and American documents of juris prudence literally THOUSANDS of times. Law and diplomacy both recognize that conspiracy exists, it is not theory: Conspiracy to kidnap; conspiracy to commit murder; conspiracy to defraud; conspiracy to commit treason.
Conspiracy is defined as: “a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act.” cabal – “a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act.” confederacy – “a group of conspirators banded together to achieve some harmful or illegal purpose.” Those things happen all around us every day of the calendar, from the world of the lowliest citizen to the top echelons of government. The Bible is chock full of these; history is full of these; todays news is full of these.
There are INDEED conspiracies against the Lord’s churches today in our generation, in the spiritual realm, in the religious realm, and in the political realm. After serving in communist countries, I suppose our ears and eyes are more acute to these things, and it can tend to make many professing Christians uncomfortable to hear us talk about it.
To walk circumspectly and to be prepared while we wait to see Christ in the air is very simply prudent.
In the Surety of His Blood,
____________________ (awaiting permission to publish name of author)
Philkippians 1:6; 2:13
Veteran Missionary Randy Pike gave messages in the late 1970s, in South Africa, on “The Underground Church” using the following three-part outline to guide the messages:
1. The Suffering of the Underground Church;
2. The Strategy of the Underground Church;
3. The Silence of the Underground Church;
Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 9 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment.
I. Introduction: the dissenters, mainly Baptists, led the fight for religious liberty.
II. Virginia colonial government controlled by religion (Episcopal church) and law (covering both Tables), Presbyterians First Amendment.
III. Presbyterians settle in Virginia, some were licensed, kept their promises and oaths under the Act of Toleration.
IV. Regular Baptists applied for license and took oaths; Separate Baptists stood for religious freedom, had success because of the power of God and the immorality of the established clergy; Separate Baptists grew in number and power; the ministry of Samuel Harris.
V. Severe persecution of Baptists from 1768-1774.
VI. Baptists petitioned Virginia House of Burgesses for relief, Presbyterians petitioned for favors; James Madison writes on the persecutions, establishment which leads to pride, ignorance, knavery, and corruption, freedom of conscience, etc.
VII. Intolerance and persecution were ended because of the Revolution; the Baptists push for religious freedom and the end of the establishment; Virginia became the second colony to recognize religious liberty in a new Constitution in 1776 (Patrick Henry proposed tolerance, but James Madison pushed religious liberty-which he learned from the Baptists-and explained the difference).
VIII. 1776-1786 the battle for soul liberty was on;1776 compromise bill sounded the death knell of Anglicanism; 1776-1779 assembly daily contests between the “contending factions” with a flood of undeviating and uncompromising Baptist petitions as well as watered down Presbyterian and Methodist petitions; Jefferson introduced his Bill for Religious Liberty; a ‘bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion,’ sponsored by Patrick Henry, opposed by Madison who prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance” (quoted below) in opposition; legislature passed a bill incorporating the Episcopal church in 1785; January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, passed.
IX. The Baptists continued the struggle to remove all vestiges of the establishment until the glebes were sold and all religious societies were placed on an equal footing.
I. Introduction: the dissenters, mainly Baptists, led the fight for religious liberty
Although the final expression of religious freedom that would be incorporated into the Constitution came from Virginia, the final motivation came as a result of the convictions of the dissenters, mainly the Baptists, and the thrust for their growth and influence came from the Great Awakening.
“[T]he early Baptists of Virginia, … while they could not boast of great wealth, or culture, or refinement, they possessed some things of more real value, and which the Commonwealth greatly needed. In the first place they had religion—genuine religion; not a sham, nor an empty form, but the old time religion of the heart. Then they had a personal worth or character, that character which always follows from having genuine religion. And then, again, those early Baptists had an unquenchable love of liberty. The truth of the New Testament makes men free indeed, and it inspires them with a love of freedom, not for themselves only, but for all men. And it was because they possessed these traits that they resisted the temptations of the General Incorporation and General Assessment, and stood their ground amid the general desertion. They resolved to continue to fight” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), Appendix A, pp. 207-208).
The conflict in Virginia originally involved the Anglicans and Presbyterians, neither of which originally believed in either religious freedom or separation of church and state. Religious freedom and separation are owed mainly to the Baptists who believed in both. What Jefferson and Madison wrote about and did for religious freedom[, although leavened with enlightenment principles,] resulted from their observance of the conflict among “Christians” and is not to be found in the pages of philosophers of the enlightenment (See, e.g., William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 89-90.).
“The Presbyterians [in Virginia] won religious liberty for themselves against the opposition of the Episcopalians. Next the Baptists won religious liberty for themselves against the opposition of the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians. By 1775 about three quarters of the people of Virginia were outside the Church of England, but many of the most influential Virginians were inside. When the war started, there were ninety-five Anglican parishes in Virginia. The war killed off at least a quarter of them. Nowhere in the colonies was Tory sentiment stronger than among the Anglican clergy of Virginia, and they found themselves at the gravest of odds with their flocks” (Ibid., p. 93).
II. Virginia colonial government controlled by religion (Episcopal church) and law (covering both Tables), Presbyterians First Amendment
The Episcopal church, the Church of England, in Virginia was established from the founding of Jamestown in 1607:
“It was known, also, as the ‘Established Church,’ because it was made, by legal enactment, the church of the State and was supported by taxation. Not only so, but it was designed to be the established church, to the exclusion of all others. Rigid laws, with severe penalties affixed, were passed, having for their object the exclusion of all Dissenters from the colony, and the compelling of conformity to the established, or State, religion. Even after the Revolution of 1688, which placed William and Mary upon the throne of England and secured the passage of the ‘Act of Toleration’ the following year, the ‘General Court of the Colony’ of Virginia construed that act to suit themselves, and withheld its benefits from Dissenters … until they were compelled to yield to the force of circumstances” (James, pp. 10-11).
The Church of England was stronger in Virginia than in any colony.
In Virginia, the established Anglican church was controlled by the state, unlike in New England where the established church controlled the state. From the beginning of the colony, the “company knew not how to control the members composing the colony but by religion and law” (Ibid., p. 17). The original “Lawes Divine, Moral and Martial” which were decreed in 1612, were severe. Speaking impiously of the Trinity or of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, blaspheming God, incorrigibly cursing, a third failure to attend religious services, and a third “Sabbath-breaking,” were punishable by death. Other spiritual offenses were punished by whipping and other penalties (See Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 69 for the text of this law.).
These laws were repealed upon appeal to England, and the laws enacted in support of the Anglican establishment were less severe. Still, the Anglican church was established (and this establishment continued until the revolution with one short interruption), nonattendance at church services was the subject of fines, the payment of tithes were mandatory, every parson was entitled to the glebe—a piece of land—parish churches were built by taxes, and ministers were required to “conform themselves in all things according to the canons of the Church of England.”
“Puritan clergy were banished for failing to conform to Anglican services; Quakers [and Baptists] were fined, imprisoned, and banished. Catholics were disqualified for public office, and any priest who ventured to enter the colony was subject to instant expulsion. Penalties were imposed on those who having scruples against infant baptism, neglected to present their children for that purpose” (Ibid.; see also, James, pp. 17-20 for a more comprehensive overview of the laws of Virginia which provided for religious persecution and the established church.).
A 1643 law forbade anyone to teach or preach religion, publicly or privately, who was not a minister of the Church of England, and instructed governor and council to expel all nonconformists from the colony (William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 105). In 1643, three Congregationalist ministers from Boston were forced to leave the colony. Also in 1643, “Sir William Berkeley, Royal Governor of Virginia, strove, by whippings and brandings, to make the inhabitants of that colony conform to the Established church, and thus drove out the Baptists and Quakers, who found a refuge in … North Carolina.” Quakers first came to Virginia in “1659-60, and … the utmost degree of persecution was exercised towards them.” “During the period of the Commonwealth in England, there had been a kind of interregnum as to both Church and State in Virginia; but in 1661, the supremacy of the Church of England was again fully established.” Only ministers of the Church of England were permitted to preach, and only ministers of that church could “celebrate the rites of matrimony,” and only “according to the ceremony prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer” (James, pp. 17-20).
III. Presbyterians settle in Virginia, some were licensed, kept their promises and oaths under the Act of Toleration
Although some Presbyterians settled in Virginia from 1670 to 1680, the number & influence of Presbyterians in Virginia was small until the mid-1700s. In the mid-1700s an influential body of Presbyterians settled in Hanover County as a result of a 1738 agreement between the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia and Virginia governor William Gooch which allowed “emigrants to occupy the frontier portions of Virginia and enjoy the benefits of the Act of Toleration” (Ibid., pp. 11-12).
The first non-Anglican minister to receive a license under the Act of Toleration passed by the British Parliament in 1689, which instructed liberty of conscience for all but Papists, was Francis Makemie, a Presbyterian minister in Accomac County. By 1725, no more than five conventicles, “three small meetings of Quakers and two of Presbyterians,” were licensed, and these in poorer counties who were unable to pay the established minister enough to stay. In 1725, a similar license was granted to “certain parties (doubtless Presbyterians)” in Richmond County (Ibid., pp. 20-22).
Presbyterian families from Pennsylvania and Maryland began to move to remote parts of Virginia on the western frontier in 1738. The Presbyterian Synod of Pennsylvania wrote Governor Gooch of Virginia asking for religious freedom for those Presbyterians. Governor Gooch, knowing these people “to be firm, enterprising, hardy, brave, good citizens and soldiers,” and desiring “to form a complete line of defense against the savage inroads,” welcomed them. “At so great a distance from the older settlements, he anticipated no danger to the established church.” The conditions of settlement were that they “were not only to settle in the frontier counties as a buffer between the Churchmen and the Indians, but they had to swear allegiance to ‘His Magesty’s person and government,’” pay the taxes levied in support of the Established Church, and never by word or deed seek to injure the said church…. “Houses for public worship could not be occupied without permission from the civil authorities, and each application for a house of worship was heard on its own merits.” “[Those early Presbyterians] did not break their promise nor violate their oaths.” Up to the Revolution, “they never demanded anything more than their rights under the Act of Toleration, and … not until the Revolution was accomplished, and Virginia had thrown off allegiance to Great Britain, did they (the Presbyterians) strike hands with the Baptists in the effort to pull down the Establishments.” However, with the fury of the French and Indian War which broke out in 1755, Presbyterians east of the Blue Ridge occupied houses of worship without license or molestation (Ibid., pp. 22-25, citing Foote, “Sketches of Virginia,” pp. 99, 160-162, 307, 308).
IV. Regular Baptists applied for license and took oaths; Separate Baptists stood for religious freedom, had success because of the power of God and the immorality of the established clergy; Separate Baptists grew in number and power; the ministry of Samuel Harris
Different bodies of Baptists came to Virginia during the colonial period. The “Regular Baptists,” like the Presbyterians, “applied for license and took the prescribed oaths.” As for the “Separate Baptists,” the “body spread so rapidly throughout the State from 1755 to the … Revolution,” and “did not recognize the right of any civil power to regulate preaching or places of meeting.” They were the “most active in evangelizing Virginia and most severely persecuted, and … had the largest share of the work of pulling down the ‘Establishment’ and securing religious liberty for all.” “While yielding a ready obedience to the civil authorities in all civil affairs, in matters of religion they recognized no lord but Christ. They were truly apostolic in refusing to obey man rather than God” (Ibid., pp. 12-14, 26).
Conditions were favorable for the rapid growth of Baptist principles. “First, the distress of the colonists, consequent upon the French and Indian wars, inclined them towards religion.” Secondly, the distressed people could find no solace or comfort in the immoral established clergy.
“The great success and rapid increase of the Baptists in Virginia must be ascribed primarily to the power of God working with them. Yet it cannot be denied but that there were subordinate and cooperating causes; one of which, and the main one, was the loose and immoral deportment of the Established clergy, by which the people were left almost destitute of even the shadow of true religion. ‘Tis true, they had some outward forms of worship, but the essential principles of Christianity were not only not understood among them, but by many never heard of. Some of the cardinal precepts of morality were discarded, and actions plainly forbidden by the New Testament were often proclaimed by the clergy as harmless and innocent, or, at worst, foibles of but little account. Having no discipline, every man followed the bent of his own inclination. It was not uncommon for the rectors of parishes to be men of the lowest morals. The Baptist preachers were, in almost every respect, the reverse of the Established clergy’” (Ibid., pp. 26-27, citing Robert B. Semple, “History of the Baptists of Virginia,” 1810, p. 25).
The bad character and actions of the established clergy are proven by their own authorities. Many of that clergy came to Virginia “to retrieve either lost fortune or lost character….” “Many of them had been addicted to the race-field, the card-table, the theatre—nay, more, to drunken revel, etc….” “They could babble in a pulpit, roar in a tavern, exact from their parishioners, and rather by their dissoluteness destroy than feed the flock” (Ibid., pp. 27-28, citing Foote, p. 38 quoting from the Bishop of London; Bishop Meade, “Old Parishes and Families of Virginia” (Vol. I, 118, 385, etc.; Dr. Hawks, “History of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia,” p. 65.)).
The Baptists grew stronger and more numerous in Virginia. The first Baptist church in Virginia was established in 1714 by Robert Nordin who arrived from England. By 1755, there were six Baptist churches in Virginia (James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 140-142). 1758 to 1769 was a period of slow but persistent growth in the face of a determined popular hostility. The early opposition to the Baptists came from the lower classes and was based upon prejudice.
The Virginia expansion was intimately tied up with the ministry of Colonel Samuel Harris. Harris who served at various times as church warden, sheriff, justice of the peace, colonel of the county, and captain and commissary of Fort Mayo and its military garrison, was the first person of prominence to join the Separates in Virginia and was just one of many examples of the power of this movement. He was saved at a house meeting after hearing a sermon preached by a Separate Baptist from North Carolina. He resigned from his official positions and narrowed his business interests almost to the vanishing point in order to preach. He began to preach throughout Virginia, and many were converted as a result of his ministry (Lumpkin, pp. 48-49).
Harris was a fearless preacher. “The excellence of his preaching lay chiefly in ‘addressing the heart,’ and Semple holds that ‘perhaps even Whitefield did not surpass him in this’” (Ibid., p. 90, citing A. B. Semple, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists of Virginia (Richmond: Pitt & Dickinson, 1894), p. 380). He had the assistance of several North Carolina itinerant evangelists planting the earliest Separate churches in south central Virginia. The Dan River Church was started in 1760 by Daniel Marshall and Philip Mulkey with seventy-four charter members, eleven of whom were Negroes. Other churches were soon constituted from the Dan River Church (Ibid., pp. 90-98).
Wherever the Baptist itinerants preached, great crowds came to hear them. Many were converted in Virginia, and many Baptist churches were started. In 1770, there were only two Separate churches north of the James River, four south of it. The General Association of Separate Baptists of Virginia was held in May, 1771 in Orange County with twelve churches represented, and three not represented.
By 1772 the Separate Churches outnumbered those of the Regular churches. In that year, as many as forty thousand Virginians may have heard the gospel. By 1773 thirty-four churches were represented at the General Association meeting, and they reported a combined membership of 3,195. By May, 1774, when Baptist expansion and Baptist persecution were at high tide, the Southern District in Virginia had twenty-seven churches with 2,033 members and the Northern District had twenty-four churches with 1,921 members. By the end of 1774, there was at least one Separate Baptist church in twenty-eight of the sixty counties of Virginia. During the Revolution, Baptist growth continued, but at a much slower pace (Ibid., pp. 90-103).
V. Severe persecution of Baptists from 1768-1774
From 1768 through 1774, the Baptists were persecuted severely. “Baptist preachers were whipped, arrested, fined, imprisoned on bread and water, although the authorities sanctimoniously denied that punishment was for ‘preaching’; the crime they said, was ‘breach of the peace’ (Pfeffer, p. 95. citing Edward F. Humphrey, Nationalism and Religion in America (Boston: Chipman Law Publishing Co., 1924), p.370).” The first instance of actual imprisonment was on June 4, 1768 when John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh were arrested at Craig’s meetinghouse in Spotsylvania and charged with disturbing the peace. The magistrates offered to release them if they would promise to preach no more for a year and a day. They refused and were jailed. Many more were jailed and otherwise persecuted until 1774 (James, pp. 29-30. Included is a listing of some of those jailed and otherwise persecuted. See also, Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 230-250; Lumpkin, pp. 105-120; Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), Appendix A, pp. 593-598 citing Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, (Galatin, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1987), pp. 516-520 (lists many Baptists and the persecutions they endured in Virginia; persecutions such as being jailed for preaching, civil suit, being annoyed by men drinking and playing cards, being jerked off stage and head beaten against the ground, hands being slashed, beaten with bludgeons, being shot with a shotgun, ousted as a justice for preaching, being brutally beaten by a mob, severely beaten with a stick, etc.)).
“[The persecutors] seemed sometimes to strive to treat the Baptists and their worship with as much rudeness and indecency as was possible. They often insulted the preacher in time of service, and would ride into the water and make sport when they administered baptism. They frequently fabricated and spread the most groundless reports, which were injurious to the characters of the Baptists. When any Baptist fell into any improper conduct, it was always exaggerated to the utmost extent” (James, p. 30, citing Semple, p. 19).
“The enemy, not contented with ridicule and defamation, manifested their abhorrence to the Baptists in another way. By a law then in force in Virginia, all were under obligation to go to church several times a year; the failure subjected them to fine. [Little action against members of the Established church was taken under this law, but] as soon as the ‘New Lights’ were absent, they were presented by grand jury, and fined…. [Others were imprisoned for preaching without a license.] ‘When persecutors found religion could not be stopped … by ridicule, defamation, and abusive language, the resolution was to take a different step and see what they could do; and the preachers in different places were apprehended by magisterial authority, some of whom were imprisoned and some escaped. Before this step was taken, the parson of the parish was consulted [and he advised that] the ‘New Lights’ ought to be taken up and imprisoned, as necessary for the peace and harmony of the old church…’” (Ibid., pp. 30-31, citing William Fristoe, “History of the Ketocton Baptist Association,” p. 69).
“[An Episcopalian wrote,] No dissenters in Virginia experienced, for a time, harsher treatment than did the Baptists. They were beaten and imprisoned, and cruelty taxed its ingenuity to devise new modes of punishment and annoyance” (Ibid., citing Dr. Hawks, “History of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia,” p. 121).
VI. Baptists petitioned Virginia House of Burgesses for relief, Presbyterians petitioned for favors; James Madison writes on the persecutions, establishment which leads to pride, ignorance, knavery, and corruption, freedom of conscience, etc.
As a result of the persecutions and oppressions, Baptists began to petition the House of Burgesses for relief. Their first petition in 1770 requesting that Baptist ministers “not be compelled to bear arms or attend musters” was rejected. Other petitions from Baptists in several counties were submitted in 1772 requesting that they “be treated with the same indulgence, in religious matters, as Quakers, Presbyterians, and other Protestant dissenters enjoy.” The petitions continued until 1775 (Ibid., pp. 31-35). The Presbyterians petitioned also, but for the right to incorporate so that they could receive and hold gifts of land and slaves for the support of their ministers. One of the Presbyterian petitions was improperly hailed as proof “that the Presbyterians anticipated the Baptists in their memorials asking for religious liberty.” An examination of that petition reveals that it “contemplate[d] nothing more than securing for Presbyterians and others in Virginia the same privileges and liberties which they enjoyed in England under the Act of Toleration,” and contained no “attack upon the Establishment, or any sign of hostility to it” (Ibid., pp. 42-47).
During this time, James Madison wrote to his old college friend, Bradford of Philadelphia in a letter dated January 24, 1774. He expressed his belief that if
“uninterrupted harmony had prevailed throughout the continent [in matters of established religion as practiced in Virginia] it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…. Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough; but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience…. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all” (Ibid., p. 36).
[In another letter to Bradford dated April 1, 1774, Madison wrote that he doubted that anything would be done to help the dissenters in the Assembly meeting beginning May 1, 1774.] He spoke of “the incredible and extravagant stories [which were] told in the House of the monstrous effects of the enthusiasm prevalent among the sectaries, and so greedily swallowed by their enemies…. And the bad name they still have with those who pretend too much contempt to examine into their principles and conduct, and are too much devoted to ecclesiastical establishment to hear of the toleration of the dissentients…. The liberal, catholic, and equitable way of thinking, as to the rights of conscience, which is one of the characteristics of a free people, and so strongly marks the people of your province, is little known among the zealous adherents to our hierarchy…. [Although we have some persons of generous principles in the legislature] the clergy are a numerous and powerful body, have great influence at home by reason of their connection with and dependence on the bishops and crown, and will naturally employ all their arts and interest to depress their rising adversaries; for such they must consider dissentients, who rob them of the good will of the people, and may in time endanger their livings and security.
“… Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits if for every enterprise, every expanded prospect” (Ibid., pp. 35-38, citing Rives Life and Times of Madison, Vol. I, pp. 43, 53; Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 299-301).
VII. Intolerance and persecution were ended because of the Revolution; the Baptists push for religious freedom and the end of the establishment; Virginia became the second colony to recognize religious liberty in a new Constitution in 1776 (Patrick Henry proposed tolerance, but James Madison pushed religious liberty-which he learned from the Baptists-and explained the difference)
1775 closed the period of “Intolerance, Toleration, and Persecution.”
“The colony is involved in trouble with the mother country. Virginia has denounced the ‘Boston Port Bill,’ and made common cause with Massachusetts. The First Continental Congress has already met in Philadelphia. Patrick Henry has electrified the country by his memorable speech in the popular Convention which met March, 1775…. The Battles of Lexington and Concord have been fought (April 19), and Virginia has taken steps to enroll companies of volunteers in every county. The war of the Revolution is on, and the times call for union and harmony among all classes. Hence, there is no more persecution of Baptists. There are no more imprisonments in 1775, and that obnoxious Toleration Bill is indefinitely postponed. The same ruling class that admitted the Presbyterians to Virginia and to the benefits of the Act of Toleration, on condition that they occupied the frontier counties, and thus protected them against Indian raids, are now inclined to tolerate, not only the Presbyterians, but the Baptists also, with all their ‘pernicious doctrines,’ if only they will help in the struggle with Great Britain. The Baptists will help, and not a Tory will be found among them. But they will strike for something more and something dearer to them than civil liberty—for freedom of conscience, for ‘just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty’” (James, pp. 47-48).
The Baptists were ready to push for religious freedom and abolition of the establishment. In their Association meeting on the fourth Saturday of May, 1775, “they were to a man favorable to any revolution by which they could obtain freedom of religion. They had known from experience that mere toleration was not a sufficient check, having been imprisoned at a time when that law was considered by many as being in force.” They decided to circulate petitions throughout the state calling for abolition of the church establishment and freedom of religion, and also to appoint commissioners to present their address for military resistance to British oppression and “offering the services of their young men as soldiers and asking only that, so far as the army was concerned, their ministers might enjoy like privileges with the clergy of the Established church” to the State Convention which was the House of Burgess under a new name and in a different character. The Convention, still controlled by “the same class that had, a few years before made concessions to the … Presbyterians on condition that they settle on the western counties forming a line of defense against the Indians, resolved to allow those dissenters in the military who so desired to attend divine worship administered by dissenting preachers. This first step towards placing all Virginia clergy on an equal footing, came as a result of the need for the numerical strength of the Baptists in what was considered by the establishment in 1775 a “struggle for their rights ‘in the union’ [with England].” The Convention maintained their “faith and true allegiance to His Majesty, George the Third, [their] only lawful and rightful King.” “It would have been very impolitic, even if their petitions had been ready, to have sprung the question of disestablishment upon [the Convention] before they had committed themselves to the cause of independence” (Ibid., pp. 49-57).
Virginia adopted a new constitution in 1776. The Convention of 1776 was, by its act, made the “House of Delegates” of the first General Assembly under the new constitution. There were twenty-nine new members in this meeting that were not in the 1775 Convention. “[W]hen there was anything near a division among the other inhabitants in a county, the Baptists, together with their influence, gave a caste to the scale, by which means many a worthy and useful member was lodged in the House of Assembly and answered a valuable purpose there” (Ibid., p. 58). Among those favorable to Baptist causes was James Madison. On May 12, the Congress met in Philadelphia “and instructed the colonies to organize independent governments of their own. The war was on.” On May 15, the Convention resolved to declare the “colonies free and independent states” and that a committee be appointed to prepare Declaration of Rights and a plan of government which would “maintain peace and order” and “secure substantial and equal liberty to the people” (Ibid., pp. 58-62).
Other than Rhode Island, Virginia was the first colony to recognize religious liberty “in her organic law, and this she did in Article XVI. of her Bill of Rights, which was adopted on the 12th day of June, 1776” (Ibid p. 10.). In 1776 the Virginia state convention was beset by petitions from all over Virginia seeking religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Patrick Henry proposed the provision to section sixteen of the Virginia Bill of Rights which granted religious tolerance (Marnell, pp. 94-95; James, pp. 62-65). On June 12 the House adopted a Declaration of Rights. The 16th Article provided for religious tolerance. However, [o]n motion on the floor by James Madison, the article was amended to provide for religious liberty. In committee, Madison opposed toleration because toleration “belonged to a system where there was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a dominant religion, to construe what ‘may disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society,’ and he ventured to propose a substitute, which was finally adopted” (James, pp. 62-65). He probably moved to change the amendment before the whole house in order to demonstrate his position to the Baptists who were viewing the proceedings. The proposed amendment read:
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other” (Ibid., pp. 62-64; Pfeffer, p. 96).
“The adoption of the Bill of Rights marked the beginning of the end of the establishment” (Pfeffer, p. 96).
Where did Madison learn the distinction between religious freedom and religious toleration?
“It had not then begun to be recognized in treatises on religion and morals. He did not learn it from Jeremy Taylor or John Locke, but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witnessed, and who persistently taught that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with matters of religion” (James, p. 63 quoting Dr. John Long).
Madison studied for the ministry at Princeton University, then the College of New Jersey, under John Witherspoon. When he returned to Virginia, he continued his theological interests and developed a strong concern for freedom of worship.
“At the time of Madison’s return from Princeton, several ‘well-meaning men,’ as he described them, were put in prison for their religious views. Baptists were being fined or imprisoned for holding unauthorized meetings. Dissenters were taxed for the support of the State Church. Preachers had to be licensed. Madison saw at first hand the repetition of the main evils of the Old Country. But he also saw a deep dissatisfaction among the people—the kind of dissatisfaction that would grow and that would serve as a mighty battering ram for religious freedom” (Cousins, p. 296).
It appears that the Baptists were the only denomination of Christians that addressed the 1775 and 1776 conventions on the subject of the rights of conscience. Not until the Revolution in Virginia were the Presbyterians free from the agreement with Governor Gooch. When the Assembly met in October 1776, they were “powerful allies of the Baptists and other dissenters in the war against the Establishment” (James, pp. 66-67).
VIII. 1776-1786 the battle for soul liberty was on;1776 compromise bill sounded the death knell of Anglicanism; 1776-1779 assembly daily contests between the “contending factions” with a flood of undeviating and uncompromising Baptist petitions as well as watered down Presbyterian and Methodist petitions; Jefferson introduced his Bill for Religious Liberty; a ‘bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion,’ sponsored by Patrick Henry, opposed by Madison who prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance” (quoted below) in opposition; legislature passed a bill incorporating the Episcopal church in 1785; January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was passed
“From that time down to January 19, 1786, when Jefferson’s ‘Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom,’ became the law of the State, the battle for soul liberty was on” (Ibid., p. 10), and the process of disestablishment gathered momentum. The legislature of 1776 repealed the laws punishing heresy and absence from worship and exempted dissenters from paying taxes for support of the Church. Although this bill was a compromise, it sounded the death knell of the Anglican establishment. A later statute removed the law fixing the salaries of clergymen, and the position of the Established church was limited more and more until the Declaratory Act of 1787 ended establishment in Virginia (Marnell, pp. 94-95; Pfeffer, p. 96).
“From 1776 to 1779 the assembly was engaged almost daily in the desperate contests between the contending factions” (Pfeffer, p. 97). Whereas only one Baptist petition had been presented to the first Convention in 1776, and that after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the Legislature which assembled on October 7, 1776 was immediately flooded with petitions both for and against establishment. “None of the petitions against establishment were from Baptists as such. However, historians of the times admit that Baptists ‘were not only the first to begin the work, but also the most active in circulating petitions for signatures.’” “Among the signers were some of all denominations of Christians, and many of no denomination. This explains why the Baptist petition or petitions were from dissenters in general, instead of from Baptist dissenters in particular” (James, p. 74. See pp. 68-74 for the petitions against establishment.). The Reverend E. G. Robinson, in his review of Rives’ Life and Times of James Madison, Christian Review of January, 1860, said, “The [Presbyterians] argued their petitions on various grounds, and indeed sought for different degrees of religious freedom, while the [Baptists] were undeviating and uncompromising in their demands for a total exemption from every kind of legal restraint or interference in matters of religion” (Ibid., p. 82).The Methodists and the established church presented petitions for establishment (Ibid., pp. 75-78. The petitions of the Methodists and the established church are quoted and the author comments on the petition of the established church.).
The established church did not give up. Thomas Jefferson gave an account of the struggle through which the Legislature, meeting in late 1776, had just passed:
“The first republican Legislature, which met in 1776, was crowded with petitions to abolish this spiritual tyranny. These brought on the severest contest in which I have ever been engaged…. The petitions were referred to a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Country; and, after desperate contests in the committee almost daily from the 11th of October to the 5th of December, we prevailed so far only as to repeal the laws which rendered criminal the maintenance of any religious opinions (other than those of the Episcopalians), the forbearance of repairing to the (Episcopal) church, or the exercise of any (other than the Episcopal) mode of worship; and to suspend only until the next session levies on the members of that church for the salaries of its own incumbents. For, although the majority of our citizens were dissenters, as has been observed, a majority of the legislature were churchmen. Among these, however, were some reasonable and liberal men, who enabled
us on some points to obtain feeble majorities. But our opponents carried, in the general resolutions of November the 19th, a declaration that religious assemblies ought to be regulated, and that provision ought to be made for continuing the succession of the clergy and superintending their conduct. And in the bill now passed was inserted an express reservation of the question whether a general assessment should not be established by law on every one to the support of the pastor of his choice; or whether all should be left to voluntary contributions; and on thus question, debated at every session from 1776 to 1779 (some of our dissenting allies, having now secured their particular object, going over to the advocates of a general assessment,) we could only obtain a suspension from session to session until 1779, when the question against a general assessment was finally carried, and the establishment of the Anglican church entirely put down” (Ibid., pp. 80-81; See also, Pfeffer, p. 96).
Legislative meetings from 1776 to December 1779 were presented with memorials both for and against establishment (James, pp. 84-91 quotes those memorials).
When the House met in June 1779, petitions presented to the Assembly showed that the old establishment and its friends were fighting for some sort of compromise on the basis of a general assessment. In 1779, the assembly repealed all laws requiring members of the Episcopal Church to contribute to the support of their own ministry (Pfeffer, p. 97). In December 1779, a bill passed which “cut the purse strings of the Establishment, so that the clergy could no longer look for support to taxation. But they still retained possession of the rich glebes, and enjoyed a monopoly, almost, of marriage fees” (James, p. 95). It took until 1779 to pass a bill taking away tax support for the clergy because the dissenters, with the exception of the Baptists, “having been relieved from a tax which they felt to be both unjust and degrading, had no objection to a general assessment” (Ibid., pp. 96-98).
“Jefferson sought to press the advantage, and introduced his Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, but Virginia was not quite ready to formalize the separation which had in effect taken place, and the bill was not voted on” (Pfeffer, p. 97). Instead “a bill was introduced which declared that “the Christian Religion shall in all times coming be deemed and held to be the established Religion of this Commonwealth.” This bill required everyone to register with the county clerk stating which church he wished to support (Ibid., citing R. Freeman Butts, The American Tradition in Religion and Education (Boston: Beacon Press, 1950), pp. 53-56).
Although various petitions were presented to the Assembly during the period from 1780 until the end of the Revolution on September 3, 1783, the General Assembly did very little regarding the cause of religious liberty. In 1783 “the project … of incorporating, or establishing as the religion of the State, all the prevailing denominations, and assessing taxes upon the people to support the ministers of all alike, was now warmly advocated by Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists, and becoming quite popular. To this scheme the Baptists still gave the most determined opposition, and sent up against it the most vigorous remonstrances.” The Baptists also continued to petition for the adoption of the Act to Establish Religious Freedom (James, pp. 112-121 citing Dr. R. B. C. Howell, “Early Baptists of Virginia” for the quotation which is on p. 120).
After the Revolution, numerous petitions and memorials were presented to the House of Delegates in 1784 and 1785 by the above-mentioned denominations in support of their positions (Ibid., pp. 122-133). The Episcopalians sought to recover lost ground. “In the late spring of 1784, a resolution was introduced in the Virginia Assembly seeking official recognition for the Episcopal Church. The resolution was debated for two days, with notable opposition from Baptists and Presbyterians” (Cousins, p. 301). Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated July 3, 1784, wrote concerning this resolution:
“The Episcopal clergy introduced a notable project for re-establishing their independence of laity. The foundation of it was that the whole body should be legally incorporated, invested with the present property of the Church, made capable of acquiring indefinitely—empowered to make canons and by-laws not contrary to the laws of the land, and incumbents when once chosen by vestries, to be immovable otherwise than by sentence of the Convocation” (Ibid., p. 302).
The Baptists continued their uncompromising stand against any vestige of union of church and state. They gave their reasons for their position against a general assessment:
“First, it was contrary to their principles and avowed sentiments, the making provision for the support of religion by law; that the distinction between civil and ecclesiastical governments ought to be kept up without blending them together; that Christ Jesus hath given laws for the government of his kingdom and direction of his subjects, and gave instruction concerning collections for the various purposes of religion, and therefore needs not legislative interference.
“Secondly, should a legislative body undertake to pass laws for the government of the church, for them to say what doctrines shall be believed, in what mode worship shall be performed, and what the sum collected shall be, what a dreadful precedent it would establish; for when such a right is claimed by a legislature, and given up by the people, by the same rule that they decide in one instance they may in every instance. Religion is like the press; if government limits the press, and says this shall be printed and that shall not, in the event it will destroy the freedom of the press; so when legislatures undertake to pass laws about religion, religion loses its form, and Christianity is reduced to a system of worldly policy.
“Thirdly, it has been believed by us that that Almighty Power that instituted religion will support his own cause; that in the course of divine Providence events will be overruled, and the influence of grace on the hearts of the Lord’s people will incline them to afford and contribute what is necessary for the support of religion, and therefore there is no need for compulsory measures.
“Fourthly, it would give an opportunity to the party that were numerous (and, of course, possessed the ruling power) to use their influence and exercise their art and cunning, and multiply signers to their own favorite party. And last, the most deserving, the faithful preacher, who in a pointed manner reproved sin and bore testimony against every species of vice and dissipation, would in all possibility, have been profited very little by such a law, while men-pleasers, the gay and the fashionable, who can wink at sin and daub his hearers with untempered mortar, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace, who can lay out his oratory in dealing out smooth things mingled with deception, the wicked, it is clear, would like to have it so; and it follows the irreligious and carnal part of the people would richly reward them for their flattery, and the undeserving go off with the gain” (James, pp. 132-133, citing William Fristoe, “History of the Ketocton Association”).
The Presbyterians took “a sort of middle ground, which caused confusion in their own ranks and compromised them in the estimation of others.” It appears that the Presbyterian clergy advocated a plan of general assessment supporting all denominations who believed in union of church and state, but not those who believed in religious liberty and absolute freedom of conscience. James Madison commented on the position of the Presbyterians:
“The laity of the other sects (other than Episcopalian) are generally unanimous [against the general assessment]. So are all the clergy, except the Presbyterian, who seem as ready to set up an establishment which is to take them in as they were to pull down that which shut them out. I do not know a more shameful contrast than might be found between their memorials on the latter and former occasions. Rives, I., 630” [Quoting a letter to James Monroe, April 12, 1775] (Ibid., p. 130; Cousins, p. 306)
Thus, “[i]n [these] later stages of disestablishment there was a curious alliance formed between the Episcopalian and Presbyterian clergy with an eye to creating a new line of defense” (Marnell, p. 95). “In 1784, the Virginia House of Delegates having under consideration a ‘bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion,’ postponed it until the next session, and directed that the Bill should be published and distributed, and that the people be requested ‘to signify their opinion respecting the adoption of such a bill at the next session of assembly” (Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 163 (1879); see James, p. 129 where the preamble to the bill is quoted.). This last action was a result of a resolution offered by the Baptists and adopted by the Legislature. The Baptists, appearing to be losing ground as the only opponents of a general assessment, the majority of the Legislature being churchmen, the only hope of the opponents of the assessment was an appeal to the people (James, p. 135).
The bill—which was proposed by Patrick Henry and supported by George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and John Marshall—provided for the establishment a provision for teachers of the Christian religion, in effect providing for the “establishment of Christianity, but without precedence in such an establishment to any particular church” (Marnell, pp. 95, 96). The bill required all persons
“to pay a moderate tax or contribution annually for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship” (Pfeffer, p. 98, citing N. J. Eckenrode, The Separation of Church and State in Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1910), p. 86. Pfeffer notes in Chapter 4 fn. 102 that the text of the bill is printed as an appendix to Justice Rutledge’s dissent in Everson, 330 U.S. 1.).
Leo Pfeffer noted that:
“the bill was predicated on the legislative determination in its preamble that ‘the general diffusion of Christian knowledge hath a natural tendency to correct the morals of men, restrain their vices, and preserve the peace of society; which cannot be effected without a competent provision for licensed teachers.’
“The preamble is of great significance, because it recognized the widely held belief that religion was not within the competence of civil legislatures. It sought to justify intervention not on any theocratic ground but on what today would be called the ‘police’ or ‘welfare’ power. Government support of religion is required to restrain vice and preserve peace, not to promote God’s kingdom on earth” (Ibid.).
Pfeffer does not understand, nor does the modern Supreme Court, that God has given civil government the choice of whether to honor His principles. The government is to intervene, according to God’s Word, to control and restrain certain crimes. Government does not support religion in order to do its job. Government merely makes a choice of whether to honor God and His principles for the purpose of restraining vice and preserving peace.
James Madison, among others, opposed the bill. Mr. Madison had witnessed and opposed the persecution of the Baptists in his own state.
“Madison wrote to a friend in 1774: ‘That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some…. This vexes me the worst of anything whatever. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.’ I Writings of James Madison (1900) 18, 21” (Everson, 330 U.S. fn. 9 at 11; 67 S. Ct. at 509).
Mr. Madison prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” in which he maintained “that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator,” was not within the cognizance of civil government. The “Memorial” presents fifteen arguments against the assessment bill (Pfeffer, p. 101. Pfeffer, a secularist scholar states that “[i]t is important to note the emphasis the ‘Memorial’ places on ideological factors.” His comments following that quote ignore the references to our “creator,” and the “Governor of the Universe.” A reading of Pfeffer’s writings emphasizes the need for Christians to read and analyze themselves from a biblical perspective the issues of the day and to become involved deeply in those issues.). One historian says of this document, “For elegance of style, strength of reasoning, and purity of principle, it has, perhaps, seldom been equaled, certainly never surpassed, by anything in the English language” (James, p. 135, quoting Semple). “Dr. George B. Taylor says: ‘It may certainly be called a Baptist document this far, that they only, as a people, held its views, and pressed those views without wavering’” (Ibid., p. 135, quoting Dr. George B. Taylor, Memorial Series, No. IV., page 19). Dr. E. G. Robinson wrote of the document:
“In a word, the great idea which he [Madison] put forth was identical with that which had always been devoutly cherished by our Baptist fathers, alike in the old world and the new, and which precisely a century and a half before had been perfectly expressed in the celebrated letter of Roger Williams to the people of his settlement, and by him incorporated into the fundamental law of the colony of Rhode Island. By Mr. Madison it was elaborated with arguments and wrought into the generalizations of statesmanship, but the essential idea is precisely the same with the ‘soul liberty’ so earnestly contended for by the Baptists of every age” (Ibid., p. 135).
One must keep in mind that although the document advocated freedom of conscience, something for which Baptists had long struggled, the tone was that of deistic or humanistic arguments based upon reason and natural law. As pointed out supra,Jefferson and Madison and other deistic separatists “were interested in leaving the mind free to follow its own rational direction.” A trust in man’s reason without consideration of principles in the Word of God is a leaven which eventually totally pollutes. Tragically, the pietistic arguments of Isaac Backus never prevailed in America. America never fully proceeded upon the lessons taught by the Bible, and implemented by Roger Williams, John Clarke, and the other founders of Rhode Island.
Some excerpts from Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” follow:
“Because we hold it for a fundamental and unalienable truth, ‘that religion, or the duty which we owe to the Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence,’ the religion, then of every man, must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. The right is, in its nature, an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men. It is unalienable, also, because what is here a right towards man, is a duty towards the Creator…. The duty is precedent both in order and time, and in degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe…. We maintain, therefore, that in matters of religion, no man’s rights is abridged by the institution of civil society; and that religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance….
“Because if religion be exempt from the authority of society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the legislative body. The latter are but the creatures and viceregents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited…. The preservation of a free government requires, not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power, be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people. The rulers, who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it, are governed by laws made neither by themselves, nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.
“Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties, we hold this prudent jealousy to be first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late revolution…. Who does not see that the same authority, which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions, may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects; that the same authority, which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property, for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment, in all cases whatsoever?
“Because the bill violates that equality which ought to be the basis of every law; and which is more indispensable, in proportion as the validity or expediency of any law is more liable to be impeached…. Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those, whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man. To God, therefore, and not to man, must account of it be rendered….
“Because the bill implies, either that the civil magistrate is a competent judge of religious truths, or that he may employ religion as an engine of civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension, falsified by the extraordinary opinion of rulers, in all ages, and throughout the world; the second, an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.
“Because the establishment proposed by the bill, is not requisite for the support of the Christian religion itself; for every page of it disavows a dependence on the power of the world; it is a contradiction to fact, for it is known that this religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them; and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence: nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a religion not invented by human policy, must have pre-existed and been supported, before it was established by human policy: it is, moreover, to weaken in those, who profess this religion, a pious confidence in its innate excellence, and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in those, who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its faculties, to trust it to its own merits.
“Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. Inquire of the teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect point to the ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state, in which its teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall….
“Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of civil government…. If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary for civil government? What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances, they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in more instances, have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the publick liberty, may have found on established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion, with the same equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another.
“Because the proposed establishment is a departure from that generous policy, which, offering an asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every nation and religion, promised a luster to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens…. [The proposed bill] is a signal of persecution. It degrades from the equal rank of citizens, all of those whose opinions in religion do not bend to those of the legislative authority. Distant as it may be, in its present form, from the inquisition, it differs from it only in degree; the one is the first step, the other the last, in the career of intolerance….
“Because it will have a tendency to banish our citizens…. Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm to extinguish religious discord, by proscribing all differences in religious opinion….
“Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the light of Christianity. The first wish of those, who ought to enjoy this precious gift, ought to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those, who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominion of false religions, and how small is the former? Does the policy of the bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of truth, from coming into the regions of it; and countenances, by example, the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them….
“Because, finally, ‘the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience,’ is held by the same tenure with all our other rights…. Either then we must say, that the will of the Legislature is the only measure of their authority; and that in the plentitude of this authority, they may sweep away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to leave this particular right untouched and sacred: either we must say, that they may control the freedom of the press; may abolish the trial by jury; may swallow up the executive and judiciary powers of the State; nay, that they have no authority our very right of suffrage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary assembly; or we must say that they have no authority to enact into a law, the bill under consideration. We the subscribers say, that the General Assembly of this Commonwealth have no such authority; and that no effort may be omitted on our part, against so dangerous an usurpation, we oppose to it this Remonstrance, earnestly praying, as we are in duty bound, that the Supreme Lawgiver of the Universe, by illuminating those to whom it is addressed, may, on the one hand, turn their councils from every act, which would affront his holy prerogative, or violate the trust committed to them; and on the other guide them into every measure which may be worthy of His blessing, may redound to their own praise, and may establish more firmly the liberties, the property, and the happiness of the Commonwealth” (Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 512-515; Cousins, pp. 308-314).
Madison, who led the opposition, was able to obtain a postponement of consideration of the bill from December, 1784 to November, 1785. Before adjourning, the legislature passed a bill which incorporated the Protestant Episcopal Church,
“deemed necessary in order to regulate the status of that church in view of the severance of its subordination to the Church of England that had resulted from the Revolution. The bill gave the Episcopal ministers title to the churches, glebes, and other property, and prescribed the method of electing vestrymen.
“Even Madison voted for the incorporation bill, though reluctantly and only in order to stave off passage of the assessment bill. Nonetheless, the incorporation bill aroused a good deal of opposition” (Pfeffer, p. 99, citing Eckenrode, p. 100).
The people were against the assessment bill, and the Presbyterians reversed their position, opposed the bill, and for the first time, on August 10, 1785, the whole Presbyterian body supported Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom,” “although that bill had been before the Legislature since June, 1779.” The Baptists asked all counties which had not yet prepared a petition to do so and agreed to prepare a remonstrance and petition against the assessment. Thus the Presbyterians and Baptists stood together, but for different motives. Mr. Madison’s opinion was that the Presbyterians were “moved by either a fear of their laity or a jealousy of the Episcopalians. The mutual hatred of these sects has been much inflamed by the late act incorporating the latter…. Writings of Madison, I., 175” (James, pp. 134-139. Madison’s quote was from a letter to Mr. Jefferson).
Patrick Henry, the leading proponent of the assessment bill was elected governor, “depriving the bill of its ablest legislative leader.” The Memorial and Remonstrance had received wide distribution. At the next session the General Assembly was flooded with petitions and memorials from all parts of the State, overwhelmingly against the bill. The bill was defeated by three votes.
On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was passed instead. That bill provided for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It stated:
“I. Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such, endeavoring to impose them on others hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than [on] our opinions in physics or geometry;
that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; …
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with, or differ from his own;
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt [open, or public] acts against peace and good order;
and, finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors [cease] to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
“II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
“III. And though we well know that this assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to her own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet, as we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural right of mankind, and that if any act shall hereafter be passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural rights” (Cousins, pp. 125-127; see also, for an edited version, Living American Documents, Selected and edited by Isidore Starr, Lewis Paul Todd, and Merle Curti, (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Burlingame: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961), pp. 67-69).
The act included three factors: church, state, and individual. It protected the individual from loss at the hands of the state incursion into his church affiliation, and implicitly banned church establishment. “It did not attempt to define the relations between Church and State except in terms of the individual” (Marnell, pp. 96-97).
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the above bill, never swerved from his devotion to the complete independence of church and state. He wrote:
“The care of every man’s soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well, what if he neglect the care of his health or estate, which more clearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he shall not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills” (Pfeffer, p. 94, citing Saul K. Padover, The Complete Jefferson (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1943), p. 943. Keep in mind that although Pfeffer’s quotes of Jefferson and others often spoke of God and His sovereignty and freedom of conscience, Pfeffer passes over God as though He had not been mentioned.).
“But our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God….
“Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth” (Pfeffer, citing Joseph L. Blau, Cornerstones of Religious Freedom in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1949), pp. 78-79).
According to biblical principles, the bill was right about some things and wrong about others. It was right about its position on freedom of conscience from interference by civil and ecclesiastical governments, about compelling contributions to opinions to which one is opposed, about forcing any contributions to any pastor whatsoever, and about its assertion “that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”
However, the act was wrong in four ways. First, it was wrong in not recognizing that the Word of God is the source of all ultimate truth. Second, it was wrong in not recognizing that God desires all nations to be under Him, and that judgment is the ultimate fate of all nations which are not under Him. Third, it was wrong in not recognizing that the only way to determine what acts against peace and good order against one’s fellow man is through God-given conscience and the study of the Word of God as led by the Holy Spirit. Fourth, the act was also wrong when it asserted “that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, [for] errors [cease] to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.” As mankind has proven over and over, truth never prevails. Ultimately, mankind always reverts to satanic principles instead of truth which is of God. Not recognizing this accelerates the ultimate deterioration and judgment of a nation.
IX. The Baptists continued the struggle to remove all vestiges of the establishment until the glebes were sold and all religious societies were placed on an equal footing
The Baptists continued their struggle to remove all vestiges of the establishment until 1802 when the glebes were sold and all religious societies were placed on equal footing before the law. The glebes were tracts of land and buildings built thereon for the accommodation of the minister and his family, all at the expense of the people within the parish. The Baptists fought to have the act incorporating the Episcopal church repealed. Reuben Ford and John Leland attended the first 1787 assembly meeting as agents in behalf of the Baptist General Committee (James, pp. 142-146). On August 10, 1787, the act incorporating the Episcopal church was repealed, and until 2001—when Jerry Falwell and trustees of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, who were joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Virginia Constitutional provision forbidding the incorporation of churches in federal district court—no church in Virginia could be incorporated (See Falwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002)).
“The Baptists continued to memorialize the Legislature … and in 1799 that body passed an act entitled ‘An Act to Repeal Certain Acts, and to Declare the Construction of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution Concerning Religion,’ which act declared that no religious establishment had legally existed since the Commonwealth took the place of the regal government, repealed all laws giving to the Protestant Episcopal church any special privileges, and declared that ‘the act establishing religious freedom’ contains the true construction of the Bill of Rights and of the Constitution; but no order was given for the sale of the glebes” (James, pp. 142-145).
As the Anglican establishment in Virginia yielded to pressure from Baptists [and to a much lesser extent Presbyterians] so that religious liberty was established in that state, “[t]he same pressure, reinforced by the conditions of frontier living, ended the Anglican establishment in the Carolinas and Georgia…. [T]he conditions which made establishment possible never existed in the states admitted after Vermont, nor in the territories with the exception of unique Utah” (Marnell, p. 130).
By the time the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787, “three states, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia granted full religious freedom. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland demanded in different degrees adherence to Christianity. New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia demanded Protestantism” (Ibid., p. 98).
Romans 13:3-4: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” God, in these verses and many others in the Bible, lays down the jurisdictional boundaries of civil government. Romans 13 and other portions of the Bible limit civil government, and give directions for the believer’s behavior within that jurisdiction.
No born-again believer who has studied the issue can reasonably believe that Romans 13 or any Scripture supports total submission by believers and churches to civil government in all things or in all matters except perhaps a decree that would prevent Christians from preaching the Gospel. As this article will show, The Old and New Testament contain many accounts of violtations of civil government and religious laws by God’s people, including such disobedience by the apostles. By acting thus, these people violated the false teaching that Romans 13 requires submission to civil government in all matters; nonetheless, Romans 13.1 is often taken out of context by some “Christians” to support that position. Neither the verses immediately preceding or following Romans 13.1, nor the rest of the Bible are considered by those who promote a violation of the true meaning of Romans 13. The author challenges one who believes that the Bible teaches such submission to civil government to study the issue and show him where he is wrong.
The Bible teaches the Supreme hierarchy of law, not the hierarchy found in state and federal law in which is declared that the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land with the hierarchy descending down to local laws and ordinances. God is the Supreme judge, lawgiver, and king. His law is the Supreme law. Below His law is the law of civil government. After all, He ordained civil government and laid down the parameters thereof. Thus, the local, State, and United States Constitutions and laws are below the law of God. Therefore, any Constitutional provisions or laws which are not in line with God’s principles and laws are illegal and the Highest law is to be observed at all costs; for the believer to do otherwise results in the loss of his liberty. See First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations)for more information on the hierarchy of law and also on true liberty; one may also listen to Jerald Finney’s lecture on “Hierarchy of Law” to gain more understanding of this matter.
Romans 13.1-7 says:
“1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
Americans are witnessing the proliferation of civil government use of pastors, Christians in general, and churches to address problems, disasters, and emergencies. When that happens, those pastors, Christians, and churches are required by civil government to violate certain biblical principles. Romans 13 is used more than any other verse to justify such cooperation. In addition, other verses are, to a lesser degree, utilized out of context to support submission to civil government in every conceivable way (To fully understand the issue of separation of church and state, see God Betrayed, Part One which is also in the process of being reproduced on the on this website (“Separation of Church and State Law.”)). Indeed, believers, of all people, should be there to help others in times of disaster or need, but not under the auspices of civil government. Of course, everyone, including the believer, is and should be subject to civil government with regard to those matters within its God-given jurisdiction.
Both church and state should submit to God and His principles. The Bible lays out the jurisdiction and duties of both the the church and civil government, and makes clear that church and state are to be separated. It is wrong to believe that individuals and churches should work under, with, or over civil government for at least two reasons. First, to believe that Romans 13, 1 Peter 2.13, and 1 Timothy 2.1-6 teach blind obedience by individuals and by churches to civil government would make those verses inconsistent with the biblical teaching concerning the hierarchy of law (See “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”) and separation of church and state. For example, Scripture tells us that the authors of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13 consistently violated these verses as wrongly interpreted by civil government and many “Christians.” Second, Romans 13 would be inconsistent within itself. The Word of God is never inconsistent.
Romans 13.1 first makes clear that every soul is to be subject to the higher powers. Thus, even human leaders, since they also have souls, are subject to a higher power. According to the Bible, God is the power higher than all other governments. As shown in Part One, Section I, of God Betrayed which is reproduced on the web at The Biblical Doctrine of Government, God ordains all governments, is above all governments, and lays out the jurisdiction of all governments. Man is to be subject to civil government concerning those earthly matters over which God has given civil government jurisdiction. According to Romans 13.3-4, civil government was ordained by God to be a minister of God to execute judgment over evil doers and to reward those who do good. Man is to be under God only, regardless of what the rules of civil government declare, concerning those spiritual matters for which God has retained jurisdiction for Himself.
Romans 13, consistent with Old and New Testament principles, proclaims the God-ordained purpose of civil government, and that God—the highest power—ordained and is over civil government. According to Romans 13.7, Christians are to render to civil government tribute, custom, fear, and honor—where due under the God-given jurisdiction of civil government.
Romans 13.3-4 and 1 Peter 2.13-14 lay out, consistent with the rest of Scripture, the God-given jurisdiction of civil government over man. In those verses, God grants civil governments jurisdiction over certain earthly, not spiritual, matters, and instructs man to do good and to refrain from doing evil. Many Christians point to those Scriptures and incorrectly declare: “That settles it. The Bible orders blind obedience to civil government in all matters, period;” or they proclaim that those verses require Christians to obey civil government in all things with the possible exception of the preaching of salvation.
Even with the establishment of the church, as recorded in the New Testament, God found it necessary to continue the institution of civil government. The original God-given purpose and jurisdiction of Gentile civil government was to continue. In Romans 13.3 He proclaims that “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil” since if citizens “do that which is good,” rulers will praise them. The word from which “evil” in Romans 13.4 is translated means “generally opposed to civil goodness or virtue, in a commonwealth, and not to spiritual good, or religion, in the church” (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848),p. 133). Romans 13.4 proclaims that this is because a ruler is a “minister of God to thee for good,” just as he is “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Many civil governments go beyond their God-given jurisdiction. Was Rome a minister of God for good when she executed untold numbers of Christians before the marriage of church and state in the fourth century? What about those governments during the Middle Ages that worked in conjunction with the Roman Catholic “church” to persecute and kill millions of Christians labeled as heretics for refusing to bow down to a false theology? Was Hitler a minister of God for good when he forbade, on penalty of imprisonment and/or death, authentic biblical teaching which condemned his actions against the Jews and true Christians? How about Lenin and Stalin who were not only responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Christians, but who also required the teaching of atheism and established atheism as the official faith of the Soviet Union? How about the governments of Red China, Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and many others at the present time? Are such civil governments legitimately operating under God and His principles? Is the Christian who lives under such civil governments expected by God to follow all their rules?
How does God feel about Christians who obey God and thereby disobey civil governments which go beyond their jurisdiction? Were those Christians who conspired against Hitler wrong? Were Corrie Ten Boom and others wrong to save Jews from extermination? Were Moses’ parents wrong to save their son against the order of Pharaoh (Ex. 2.3)? Was the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews wrong to praise them for hiding Moses, not being “afraid of the king’s commandment” (He. 11.23)? How about the Egyptian midwives when they “feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them but saved the male children alive” (Ex. 1.17)? Was God wrong in dealing well with those midwives for saving the male babies and lying to Pharaoh (Ex. 1.20)? Was Moses wrong when he “refused to be
called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; [c]hoosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; [e]steeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (He. 11.24-26). Was God wrong when He told Moses to defy Pharaoh (Ex. 3.2-12; 3.15-22; 4.21-23)? Was Moses wrong to exercise his faith, obey God, and defy Pharaoh (Ex. 5.12; He. 11.27)? Was
Rahab the harlot wrong to lie to the authorities about the whereabouts of he Jewish spies in her land in order to save their lives (Jos. 2)? Was Joshua wrong for allowing her to live as a reward for defying her governing authorities (Jos. 6.22-25)? Was God wrong to include Rahab in the hall of faith, along with such people as Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and other heroes of the faith (See He. 11 and 11.31)? What about Ehud who killed King Eglon (Jud. 3.15-26); Joshua who attacked the governing authorities by God’s command (See the book of Jos.); Jael, who nailed her governing authority to the ground with a tent stake (Jud. 4.17-22); Samson who revolted against the governing authorities (Jud. 13.24-16.30); David who ran from Saul (See I S. 18.8 through chapter 31); Mordecai who refused to bow down and worship Haman (Est. 3.5); Elijah who ignored the order of a wicked King even when fifty soldiers showed up, then stood against King Ahab, Jezebel, and their false prophets (1 K. 18.17-41; 2 K. 1.9-16);
Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (See the book of Daniel); the apostles including Peter who said, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Ac. 5.29);” Paul who disobeyed many of his ruling authorities; all those down through the ages since Jesus’ resurrection and return to glory who have suffered persecution and death for the cause of Christ, including all the apostles, eleven of whom were ultimately martyred for the faith;Christians down through the last 2000 years from Christ to this very day who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed because they would not submit to the governing authorities in spiritual matters, many times religious organizations such as the Lutheran or Catholic churches, or renounce Christ, or quit rebaptizing, or quit street preaching, or succumb to false doctrines and/or worship the governing authorities; and those contemporary Christians in the underground churches of China, Cuba, Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam,, Laos, Malay, the Sudan, Morocco, Libya, Somalia, Algeria, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Colombia, the former Soviet Union, and many other nations (An excellent source to keep abreast of the ongoing persecutions of Christians throughout the world is “The Voice of the Martyrs,” 1-800-747-0085; e-mail: email@example.com; web site: www.persection.com; children’s web site: www.kidsofcourage.com; address: The Voice of the Martyrs, P.O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443)?
Did the blessed Savior and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sin when He chose to continue to do His miracles, to preach to the people, to condemn the religious leaders of His day and their errors, to proclaim that He was the Messiah even though He was upsetting the religious rulers of His day who ultimately used the governing authorities to crucify Him?
The Bible, history, and reality show that some rulers, according to Romans 13, exceed their God-ordained power. America does not honor God and His principles. America is a pluralistic nation. All religions are regarded equally, except for Christianity which is now attacked from all quarters. America allows abortion, the murder of unborn babies, to go unpunished (Jb. 31.15: “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” Is. 44.24: “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; …” Is. 49.1: “… the LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.”Je. 1.5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”). Abortion is the ultimate attack on God (Ge. 1.27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”) and the legitimacy of God’s supreme rule. Abortion is an attack on the first institution ordained by God in that it tells men, and especially women, that they can discard God’s rules concerning sex before marriage (See, e.g., Ro. 1.29; 1 Co. 5.1; 6.9-10 (“… Be not deceived: neither fornicators … shall inherit the kingdom of God.”), 13; 18 (“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”); 7.2; 10.8; 2 Co. 12.21; Ga. 5.19; Ep. 5.3; Col. 3.5-6; 1 Th. 4.3) and engage in sex outside the marriage vows with impunity. (In Mt. 19.4-6 Jesus confirms the Genesis narrative of creation ([Jesus said to the Pharisees who were attempting him,] “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”). See Ge. 1.27 and 2.23-24 (God created male and female in his own image). See also, for example, Mt. 5.31-32, 32; Mk. 10.1-12; Lu. 16.18; and 1 Co. 7.10-15 which deal with dishonoring the marriage relationship.). Abortion attacks individuals by tempting them to ignore God’s rules regarding fornication and adultery. Women who have their babies killed risk great emotional, and spiritual damage. Likewise, men who allow their babies to be murdered suffer, at the very least, spiritual and emotional harm. Abortion is the ultimate attack on the God-ordained institution of marriage, the basic building block of society.
America has also redefined marriage and the family contrary to biblical definitions and principles. In fact, what authority has the state to define marriage other than it is defined by God? Who—the state or God—ordained marriage? America has redefined marriage as a contract between two equal people. God said marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God (See, e.g., Mt. 5.31-2; 19.3-9; Mk. 10.1-12; Lu. 16.18). America has redefined the family to be a group of people living together all of whom should have an equal voice, even children. Are fathers and mothers wrong to structure and operate their
families according to biblical principles, denying their children an equal voice? Perhaps they are if the state married them since they willingly submitted their marriage and family to the authority of the state. If married by the authority of the state, perhaps they are also wrong to operate their family according to biblical principles because they willingly submitted their family to state authority. Are couples wrong to choose to marry under the authority of a God-ordained minister who refuses to pronounce them man and wife by the authority given him by a God-hating government which operates under Satan’s principles (See God Betrayed, Section VI for more insights into this civil government attack on the marriage of man and woman and the family as well as the marriage of Christ and His church. That section will be reproduced in its entirety on “Separation of Church and State Law” website in the days ahead.)?
America has enticed churches, as will be developed, to operate by the authority given them by the state. Are pastors wrong to continue to operate solely under the Headship of God? By the way, a church can still preach, teach, and operate solely by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in this nation. Yet, most pastors choose the government cheese and ease over the principles and promises in the Word of God. Why? The Christian who walks in the flesh does not cherish at least one of the promises of God for the Christian—persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12). Most American “Christians” reject suffering instead of accepting it as instructed (“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Ph. 1.29), as mild as it would be compared to the suffering of Paul, Peter, and other apostles and millions of Christians down through the last two thousand years. Those “Christians” do not know what they are missing: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Ph. 3.10). And how almost non-existent is the persecution to be suffered by the church and the Christian who refuses to put himself or herself under the American civil government in spiritual matters. What would the American Christian today—who bows down to civil government despite the very mild inconveniences that would result from doing things God’s way—do should he face the persecutions endured by the early Christians; persecutions by, for example, the Apostle Paul and otherswho lived in a society in which Paul, before his conversion, had “imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on [the Lord]” (Ac. 22.19), and the persecution of Paul and others after Paul’s conversion. Paul noted, shortly before his martyrdom, that he had endured many persecutions (2 Co. 11.23-27: [speaking of the persecutions he endured for serving the Supreme Ruler]:
“… in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mineown countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….”), but that “out of them all the Lord delivered [him]” (2 Ti. 3.12).
Let it be emphasized that despite the fact that America is no longer a nation under God, Christians are required by Scripture to obey, for the Lord’s sake, every legitimate biblically consistent American law dealing with wrongdoing against one’s fellow man.
Although the early colonial dissenters such as the Baptists were persecuted by the established churches in the colonies, they were nonetheless free. On the other hand, today’s Americans, including Christians in churches which place themselves under civil government, are in bondage. The eighteenth century words of Isaac Backus apply to Americans today:
“Now how often have we been told that he is not a freeman but a slave whose person and goods are not at his own but another’s disposal? And to have foreigners come and riot at our expense and in the fruit of our labors, has often represented as to be worse than death…. But how is our world filled with such madness concerning spiritual tyrants! How far have pride and infidelity, covetousness and luxury, yea, deceit and cruelty, those foreigners which came from Hell, carried their influence, and spread their baneful mischiefs in our world! Yet who is willing to own that he has been deceived and enslaved by them? … All acknowledge that these enemies are among us, and many complain aloud of the mischiefs that they do, yet even those who lift up their heads so high as to laugh at the atonement of Jesus and the powerful influences of the Spirit and slight public and private devotion are at the same time very unwilling to own that they harbor pride, infidelity, or any other of those dreadful tyrants. And nothing but the divine law … brought home with convincing light and power, can make them truly sensible of the soul-slavery that they are in. And ’tis only the power of the Gospel that can set them free from sin so as to become the servants of righteousness, can deliver them from these enemies so as to serve God in holiness all their days.
“… Therefore the divine argument to prove that those who promise liberty while they despise government are servants of corruption is this: For of whom a MAN is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage, 2 Pet. ii. 18, 19. He is so far from being free to act the man that he is a bond-slave to the worst of tyrants. And not a little of this tyranny is carried on by such an abuse of language as to call it liberty for men to yield themselves up to be so foolish, disobedient and deceived as to serve divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3” (Isaac Backus, “An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty,” Boston 1773, an essay found in Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, Pamphlets, 1754-1789, Edited by William G. McLoughlin (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968), pp. 311-312).
The biblical truth is that God gives Gentile civil government control only over certain earthly sins involving man’s relationship to man as is attested to by Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13 in their immediate context and in the context of Scripture as a whole. As at His original establishment of civil government at the flood, God never mentions one act which involves man’s relationship to God in any Scripture involving the authority of civil government. In Romans 12.9-20 and 13.8-14, the verses immediately surrounding Romans 13.1-7, the Word of God, speaking to Christians, elaborates upon the Christian responsibility to his neighbor and to civil government. Nothing the Christian’s responsibility to God is left out (Notwithstanding, treating one’s neighbor as God desires is a responsibility to God.). For example, Romans 12.9-20, the verses immediately preceding Romans 13, state nothing about man’s responsibility to God and spiritual matters:
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Those verses state that believers are to bless those that persecute them. Believers been persecuted for Christ’s sake down through the centuries until the present day. They have been persecuted by civil government for not bowing down civil government and the official state religion in certain matters.
Romans 13.8-14 which follow Romans 13.1-7 says:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Notice in those verses that, in regard to obeying the ordinances of men, Paul only dealt with the law of love toward one’s neighbor; that is, with man’s relationship to man, and not man’s relationship to God. God did not give Gentile civil government responsibility for exercising authority over spiritual matters, over the first four commandments dealing with man’s relationship to God.
Civil government has no authority over matters dealing with man’s relationship to God since such matters are spiritual. Spiritual matters, according to God, the Supreme Ruler of the highest government, include both our duties, as individual believers and as members of a church, to God and to man. Christians are to love both God and their neighbor.
Religious and secular rulers, being led by the god of this world to satisfy their own lusts, have always been concerned with their authority. Not knowing God, they are their own gods. We see that over and over again in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus faced that problem.
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone [Jesus]. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods (The Lord here quotes Ps. 82.6a: “I have said, Ye are gods[.]”).If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jn. 10.31-38).
The apostles always obeyed God in regard to spiritual matters, even when, in so doing, they violated ordinances of man. Disregarding threats, imprisonments, and beatings, the apostles continued both to do good for their fellow man and to preach, both in the name of Jesus, repeatedly violating Romans 13, and I Peter 2.13 as interpreted by most contemporary “ Christians.” Peter wrote: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pe. 2.13-14). Notice that Peter pointed out the purpose of civil government and therefore the ordinances of man—to punish evildoers, and to praise those who do well. According to him, Christians were to obey every “ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,” and civil government was to deal only with earthly matters. More is said about this in the next article.
Punishment by civil leaders did not cause Peter and John to violate the biblical principle of separation of church and state which was at odds with the worldly principle of separation of church and state. The people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon Peter and John, laid hands on them, and held them (Ac. 4.1, 3), after they performed the first apostolic miracle, healing the lame man. The “rulers, and elders, and scribes” brought them in and asked them, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this” (Ac. 4.5, 7)?
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, … [B]y the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Ac. 4.8, 10-12).
Their response: “[T]hey conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Ac. 4.15-20).
These rulers would have had no complaint had Peter and John and the other apostles done what they did under the authority of the rulers. Obviously, Peter and John had not yet been taught that Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13 required them to obey the earthly authorities over them in all matters, including spiritual matters. Of course, the apostles, under the authority of the rulers, would not have been able to heal and do other miracles, nor to preach in the power of the Holy Ghost. They still understood that the Highest Power, God himself, told them to do what they were doing and gave them the power to do it, that no earthly power was given the authority to direct them concerning spiritual matters, and that even had an earthly power given the authority to do those matters under earthly authority, they could not have done the miracles or preached the true gospel with power. Many “Christians” today believe that they and the church can simultaneously achieve God’s spiritual goals while operating under the authority of the god of this world. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Ti. 3.5).
After their release, the response of Peter and John and their Christian friends was quite different from what can be expected of “Christians” today, who now have America’s interpretation of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13 at their disposal. Peter and John then went “to their own company” and prayed:
“Lord, thou art God, which hath made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word. By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Ac. 4.24-31).
These men knew their Bible. Within their prayer they quoted from Isaiah 51.12, 13 and Psalm 2.1-3. They did not take Scripture out of context so that they could forego confronting the rulers. They just asked God to give them boldness to remain under His authority while speaking the Word of the Lord and doing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. They were concerned with not only preaching the Word but also with “doing” for their fellow man under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew that they could not do any good for their fellow man without the power of God and that they could not have the power of God should they operate under the authority of the state or anyone else.
The apostles continued to violate today’s perverted interpretation of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13, accompanied by God’s own angel; and they were so presumptuous as to do so in public places, which is improper according to many of today’s state indoctrinated “Christians” who advise Christians not to preach on the street, or do door-to-door evangelism or any public ministry because they “feel” that to do so is offensive to others and wrong and the proper place for these activities is within the four walls of the church. The apostles continued to do signs and wonders among the people (Ac. 5.12), “healing many sick folks and them which were vexed with unclean spirits” (Ac. 5.16). Because of this, the high priest and all they that were with him, “laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Ac. 5.17-18). The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, released them, and told them to “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Ac. 5.19-20). Here God’s own angel was instructing the apostles to violate America’s false version of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13. The apostles did what the angel told them to do: “[T]hey entered into the temple early in the morning and taught …” (Ac. 5.21, 25).
Notice, as a side note, that they were not going into their own meeting-place, but were going into the temple—all through Acts they are depicted as not going into the four walls of their own meeting place, but are preaching and helping their fellow man in synagogues, in public places, and going door to door. Maybe the Lord in His wisdom did not mention that a church should own property for a reason—if a church has to operate in the world, outside the four walls of a building, that church, if its members love the Lord, will probably do what God commissioned her to do: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15). Luke recorded the words of Jesus:
“Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promises of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Lu. 24.46-49).
Obviously, God’s intent for the church was to get His message to the whole world, not for the church to seclude itself within four walls. Notice that Christians were to begin at Jerusalem, then to go
to all the world, to all nations. Because of persecution in Jerusalem for speaking and acting in public in the name of Jesus, the governing authorities forced them to leave Jerusalem and go to the world. God’s will was accomplished through persecution.
The apostles continued to operate under God regarding spiritual matters. They were again apprehended and brought before the counsel who said to them, “Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Ac. 5.28). “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Ac. 5.29-32). [Bold emphasis mine].
“When they heard that they took council to slay them” (Ac. 5.33). Gamaliel talked them out of killing the apostles (Ac. 5.34-38). Instead, they beat the apostles and “commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go” (Ac. 5.40). The apostles “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Ac. 5.41-42). and continued to do for their neighbor: Peter healed Aeneas of palsy of which he had been in bed eight years and raised Tabitha from the dead in Jesus’ name (Ac. 9.32-41). Later, the angel of the Lord violated the popular Americanized version of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13 by breaking Peter out of prison (Ac. 12.5-11).
Paul was determined to obey God, not man and not civil government, in regard to spiritual matters. Paul wrote on this matter in Romans and many other books in the New Testament. For example, he instructed the Christian: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Co. 10.5).
Because of the power of God upon Paul as he was challenging the religious leaders, they took council to kill him:
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket” (Ac. 9:20-25).
Paul simply did not obey the civil government laws which contradicted God’s laws relating to spiritual matters, nor did he teach submission to civil government in spiritual matters. He and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison after casting out a demon from a damsel (Ac. 16.1-24). The masters of the damsel, because they lost the gains of her divination, brought them to the magistrates, charging that they “teach customs, which are not lawful for [them] to receive, neither to observe, being Romans” (Ac. 16.19-21). Paul was frequently imprisoned as a result of ministering for Christ (2 Co. 11.23). He was concerned with obeying God and with “casting down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”
Paul, inspired by God, understood that the true Christian was in a warfare initiated by Satan who would do everything in his power to usurp the God-given duties of Christians and churches to love God and to love one’s neighbor. His understanding is reflected in instructions he gave:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ep. 6.10-18).
Notice that the armor he mentioned was totally spiritual—loins girt with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
As to the prayer mentioned in the above verses, Paul instructed Christians to pray in the Spirit that all men, including kings and others in authority, would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Christ died for all, including rulers, but he gave everyone a choice of whether to submit to Him.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Ti. 2.1-5).
He instructed Christians to include rulers in their supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks so that Christians could lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. In other words, a ruler who is saved and comes to the knowledge of the truth will provide an atmosphere, under God his Supreme Ruler, in which Christians can live quiet and peaceable lives. By implication, and as shown consistently throughout history, lost rulers and others in authority likely will not provide such an atmosphere. This is discussed more in Chapter 6, infra.
Paul knew that Satan would continue to come against the church through earthly powers, through civil government. He also knew that God wanted His children to fight this warfare using only spiritual, not earthly, means. His goal was the glory of God, not the happiness of man.
Distinct Differences between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive
Combining church and state has had dire consequences, as history shows (See (1) Section 4 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in both PDF and online form or may be ordered in softback and Kindle by going to “Order information for books by Jerald Finney”; (2)the section on the history of the First Amendment; and/or (3) An Abridged History of the First Amendment.). Catholic and Protestant theology historically justified (and continue to justify) the union of church and state by examining Scripture not literally, but allegorically or spiritually, when and where convenient to support a desired conclusion. Thus, those religious organizations interpret Scripture in such a way as to apply the principles for Israel and Judaism to Gentile nations and the established church of that nation.
Many of America’s founding fathers, most especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, understood that church and state should be separate. From a worldly common sense point of view they arrived at their understanding by studying the consequences of such unions both historically and also contemporaneously. Isaac Backus and some other Baptists understood both the problems created by combining church and state and the true reasons for those problems. Backus wrote: “Christians must be careful not to apply God’s principles for the Jewish religion and the nation Israel to church and state. The principles for the two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. The government of the Church of Christ is as distinct from all worldly governments, as heaven is from earth” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 561)! Indeed, union of church and state is contrary to biblical principles; and, therefore, the consequences of church-state union have always been dire and will be so until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom.
God gave both church and state certain powers. God gave the state earthly and temporal power within jurisdictional boundaries which He set out.
“EARTH’LY, a. Pertaining to the earth, or to this world.
Our earthly house of this tabernacle. 2 Cor. v.
“2. Not heavenly; vile; mean,
This earthly load
Of death called life. Milton. “3. Belonging to our present state; as earthly objects; earthly residence.
“4. Belonging to the earth or world; carnal; vile; as opposed to spiritual or heavenly.
Whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Phil. iii.
“5. Corporeal; not mental. Spenser”(AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)).
The power given a church was meant to provide a spiritual and eternal good.
“1. Consisting of spirit; not material; incorporeal; as a spiritual substance or being. The soul of man is spiritual.
“2. Mental; intellectual; as spiritualarmor.
“3. Not gross; refined from external things; not sensual; relative to mind only; as a spiritualand refined religion.
“4. Not lay or temporal; relating to sacred things; ecclesiastical; as the spiritualfunctions of the clergy; the lords spiritual and temporal; a spiritualcorporation.
“5. Pertaining to spirit or to the affections; pure; holy.
God’s law is spiritual; it is a transcript of the divine nature, and extends its authority to the acts of the soul of man.
“6. Pertaining to the renewed nature of man; as spiritual life.
“7. Not fleshly; not material; as spiritual sacrifices. 1 Peter ii.
“8. Pertaining to divine things; as spiritual songs…. Ephesians v. (Ibid.)”
Spiritual beliefs determine earthly actions. Much of God’s spiritual word deals with actions of individuals, families, churches, and nations here upon the earth. Civil governments are not given jurisdiction over many areas of life which are governed by the Word of God. A civil government which ignores God and His Word is setting itself up for judgment.
God ordained a church under God, not a business under civil government, an entity that is to work hand in hand with or perhaps over the state to bring in the kingdom of God, or an entity that is to work under state rules. Admittedly, the ultimate God-given purpose of both a church and a civil government is to glorify God, each acting under God, but neither acting with or under the other. However, the underlying purposes of a church and the state are significantly different: the underlying purpose of a church is heavenly or spiritual; the underlying purpose of a civil government is earthly.
The purpose of the Gentile civil government is fleshly or earthly. See the section “The biblical doctrine of government” for more on the jurisdiction and purposes of the various God-ordained governments including civil government. Gentile civil government, according to God, was ordained by God to deal with those temporal earthly matters assigned it by God. God gave man certain authority over man. He gave man the responsibility to rule over man under His rules. Gentile civil government has authority to punish those who commit certain crimes against their fellow man and to reward those who do good. The purpose of the Gentile civil government is to control evil men thereby maintaining some degree of peace in this present world. A civil government, as defined by God, is made up of men under God ruling over man in earthly matters.
A church is a local autonomous body of believers; and, as such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one Husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23). See the section “The biblical doctrine of the church” for a thorough examination of the doctrine of the church.
Neither a church nor the state was given authority from God to rule over or with the other. Christians are told to obey civil government as regards certain earthly matters. But Christians and churches are not to be under the civil government with regard to spiritual matters, which include many activities and actions as shown in the Bible. God gave churches free will, and churches can therefore choose to disobey God and voluntarily put themselves under the authority of civil government.
Civil government does not meet the qualifications needed to rule over a church and those matters assigned the church by God. Civil government does not have the authority given it from God to oversee or rule a church. Since civil government is usually led by the unregenerate, it does not have the nature or wisdom to handle spiritual matters; and, therefore, when a church combines with the state, both are corrupted. Christians do have such nature and wisdom, as proclaimed by Paul: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself” (Ep. 1.9).
Paul was a very well-educated man. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. Before his conversion, he studied in Tarsus under Gamaliel (Ac. 22.3).
“Tarsus was actually the center of Greek learning to that day. The finest Greek university in Paul’s day was in Tarsus, not in Athens or Corinth which had passed their zenith. Tarsus was a thriving Greek city and an educational center. Undoubtedly Paul had been brought up in that university in Tarsus and had a Greek background, but he had also been in Jerusalem where he had studied under Gamaliel. He had worked on his doctorate in Jerusalem under the outstanding scholar of that day, Gamaliel” (J. Vernon McGee, Acts, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1984), p. 258).
Despite his worldly education, which he obtained before his conversion, Paul declared:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching wasnot with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world,nor of the princes of this world,that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, eventhe hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they knownit, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, becausethey are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co. 2.1-16). [Bold emphasis mine].
Thus Paul first made clear that, as a spiritual man, he discarded his worldly education gained as a lost carnal man. After he got saved he relied only upon his knowledge of God; and he made clear that only the born-again believer, led by the Spirit, was qualified to handle spiritual matters. Paul also asserted that rulers, “the princes of this world,” do not possess spiritual wisdom, indicating that most leaders are not Christians (undoubtedly, almost all leaders, and almost all leaders of civil government when he wrote the above words, are not and were not Christians) and are blind to spiritual matters.
“InScripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which isfrom above. Ps. xc. Job xxviii”….
“The wisdom of this world, mere human erudition; or the carnal policy of men, their craft and artifices in promoting their temporal interests; called alsofleshly wisdom. 1 Cor. ii., 2 Cor. i” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “WISDOM.”).
Persecuted Christians down through the ages have understood this and therefore have refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly, usually the civil government, and/or the state-church. This was apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after. Roger Williams correctly observed, as have other students of unrevised history:
“Scripture and all history tell us, that those Caesars were not only arrogant, without God, without Christ, &c.; but professed worshippers, or maintainers, of the Roman gods or devils; as also notorious for all sorts of wickedness; and lastly, cruel and bloody lions and tigers toward the Christians for many hundred years.
“Hence I argue from the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus in his house, it was impossible that he should appoint such ignorant, such idolatrous, such wicked, and such cruel persons to be his chief officers and deputy lieutenants under himself to keep the worship of God, to guard his church, his wife. No wise and loving father was ever known to put his child, no not his beasts, dogs, or swine, but unto fitting keepers.
“Men judge it matter of high complaint, that the records of parliament, the king’s children, the Tower of London, the great seal, should be committed to unworthy keepers! And can it be, without high blasphemy, conceived that the Lord Jesus should commit his sheep, his children, yea, his spouse, his thousand shields and bucklers in the tower of his church, and lastly, his great and glorious broad seals of baptism and his supper, to be preserved pure in their administrations—I say, that the Lord Jesus, who is wisdom and faithfulness itself, should deliver these to such keepers? …
“[W]hen the Lord appointed the government of Israel after the rejection of Saul, to establish a covenant of succession in the type unto Christ, let it be minded what pattern and precedent it pleased the Lord to set for the after kings of Israel and Judah, in David, the man after his own heart.
“But now the Lord Jesus being come himself, and having fulfilled the former types, and dissolved the national state of the church, and established a more spiritual way of worship all the world over, and appointed a spiritual government and governors, it is well known what the Roman Caesars were, under whom both Christ Jesus himself, and his servants after him, lived and suffered; so that if the Lord Jesus had appointed any such deputies—as we find not a title to that purpose, nor have a shadow of true reason so to think—he must, I say, in the very first institution, have pitched upon such persons for thesecustodies utriusque tabulae,keepers of both tables, as no man wise, or faithful or loving, would have chosen in any of the former instances, or cases of a more inferior nature…” (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered(London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 204-205).
“Christ never delivered His sheep or children to these wolves, his wife and spouse to such adulterers, his precious jewels to such great thieves and robbers of the world, as the Roman emperors were. Paul never appealed to Caesar as judge appointed by Christ Jesus to give definitive sentence in any spiritual or church controversy; but against the civil violence and murder which the Jews intended against him, Paul justly appealed. For otherwise, if in a spiritual cause he should have appealed, he should have overthrown his own apostleship and power given him by Christ Jesus in spiritual things, above the highest kings or emperors of the world beside…” (Ibid., p. 209).
“A civil magistrate may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, which thousands want; and where it is, it is commendable and beautiful, though godliness, which is infinitely more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true church the holy nation, Ephes. ii.; 1 Pet. ii” (Ibid., p. 212).
How can it be that a Christian can be godly, while a non-Christian as a hopeless lost sinner can only have some degree of virtue? Once a person is born again, he becomes a new creature, a spiritual being who is instructed by God to walk in the Spirit:
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.3).
“Except a man be born of water (SeeEN1) and ofthe Spirit (John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mk. 1.8. See also, Mt. 3.11 and Lu. 3.16), he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.5).
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3.6).
“Therefore if any manbein Christ, he isa new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Co. 5.17).
The Word of God instructs the believer as to his walk:
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised usup together and made us sit together in heavenlyplaces in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.1-6).
“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which arethese;Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told youin time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Ga. 5.16-25; see also, Ep. 5.1-17, Jn. 6.63, Ro. 8.1-13).
Thus, the lost man, the man who has not been born again, is a fleshly man, who walks in the flesh without the indwelling Spirit of God. He is subject only to the law. The believer, a member of a church, a part of the body, is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth who is told to be led of the Spirit. He is told that if he is led of the Spirit, he is not subject to the law.
“Blessed bethe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1.3).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly placesin Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.4-5).
“If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell youofheavenly things” (Jn. 3.12)?
“WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (He. 3.1).
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2.11).
The word “heavenly” signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is “earthly”:
“‘The heavenlies’ [or ‘heavenly places’] may be defined as the sphere of the believer’s spiritual experience as identified with Christ in nature (2 Pet. 1.4[‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’]); life (Col. 3.4 [‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’]; 1 John 5.12[‘He that hath the Son hath life; andhe that hath not the Son of God hath not life.’]); relationships (John 20.17[‘Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’]; Heb. 2.11[‘For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified areall of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,’]); service (John 17.18[‘As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.’]; Mt. 28.20[‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, evenunto the end of the world. Amen.’]); suffering (Phil. 1.29[‘For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;’]; 3.10[‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;’]; Col. 1.24[‘Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:’]); inheritance (Rom. 8.16, 17[‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’]); and future glory in the kingdom (Rom. 8.18-21[‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time arenot worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’]; 1 Pet. 2.9[‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:’]; Rev. 1.6[‘And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’]; 5.10[‘And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.’]). The believer is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb. 3.1[‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;’]; 1 Pet. 2.11[‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;’])” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Ep. 1.3, p. 1249).
The church is made up of believers. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47). The church, made up of spiritual beings, is a spiritual or heavenly body whose ultimate purpose is to glorify God. “The word ‘spiritual,’ found 23 times in the Bible, always means heavenly minded, godly, holy, never self-centered” (Questions and Answers, The Berean Call, January 2007, Volume XXII, No. 1, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org.). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co. 10.31). As was pointed out in “The biblical doctrine of the church” and further explained in “God Betrayed/Church Corporate-501c3 Status: Union Of Church and State”, a church, as the spiritual body of Christ, is told to be subject to Christ, the Head of the body, in all things.
Spiritual matters include all things involving a church, such as the use of (not ownership of by the church) property for the assembly of the saints. These matters are all related to the primary purpose of loving and glorifying God and the Lord Jesus Christ who is likened to the Head, the Husband, and the Bridegroom of the church, and loving our neighbor as well. Jesus stated, concerning the commandments concerning man’s relationship with God, in response to “[A] lawyer, [who] asked a question, tempting [Jesus], and saying Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second islike unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28).
Love is shown by action—that is, it is an act of the will and not lust or just an emotion or a verbal profession. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14.21). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.10, 14).
Only God’s people can exhibit God’s love. Again, the first and great commandment of God is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;” and the second, like unto it, is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28). This is repeated to emphasize God’s greatest commandments. These commandments were also in the Old Testament (See De. 6.5, 30.6 and Lek 19.18). If one loves God and his neighbor as commanded by God, he will automatically keep the Old Testament Commandments. Thus, rulers, when they forbid a church and/or individual believers to perform their God given functions to love God and to love their neighbors and usurp that role for themselves, have not only assumed an illegitimate role not given them by God, but also have assumed a role they are unqualified to assume because of both a lack of spiritual wisdom and a lack of the most important ingredient—love given the believer by the Spirit of God.
“They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Sonto bea propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world…. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.5-14, 18-21). [Emphasis mine.]
John Robinson, one of those called Separatist (one who withdrew from the established Church of England), defined the difference between civil and ecclesiastical government leaders in 1610:
“Civil officers [are, and] are called in the word of God, princes, heads, captains, judges, magistrates, nobles, lords, kings, them in authority, principalities and powers, yea, in their respect, gods; and according to their names so are their offices. But on the contrary, ecclesiastical officers are not capable of these, or the like titles, which can neither be given without flattery to them, nor received by them without arrogancy. Neither is their office an office of lordship, sovereignty or authority, but of labor and service, and so they, the laborers and servants of the church, as of God. 2. Cor. iv.5; 1 Tim. iii.1. [This same principle applies to government entities such as incorporated churches which, by secular or earthly law, must have officers with certain non-biblical titles. See Section VI.]
“Magistrates may publish and execute their own laws in their own names. Ezra i.1 &c; Esther viii.8; Matt. xx.25. But ministers are only interpreters of the laws of God, and must look for no further respect at the hands of any to the things they speak, that as they manifest the same to the commandments of the Lord. 1 Cor. xvi. 37. [Officers of incorporated churches are subject to and must apply the laws of their sovereign, the state. See Section VI.]
“Civil administrators, and their forms of government, may be and ofttimes are altered, for the avoiding of inconveniences, according to the circumstances of time, place and persons. Exod. xviii.13 &c.But the church is a kingdom which cannot be shaken, Heb. xii.28, wherein may be no innovation in office, or form of administration, from that which Christ hath left, for any inconveniency whatsoever.
“Civil magistrates have authority by their offices to judge offenders, upon whom also they may execute bodily vengeance, using their people as their servants and ministers for the same purpose; but in the church the officers are the ministers of the people, whose service the people is to use for the administering of the judgments of the church, and of God first, against the obstinate, which is the utmost execution the church can perform…. But here it will be demanded of me, if the elders be not set over the church for her guidance and government? Yes, certainly, as the physician is set over the body, for his skill and faithfulness, to minister unto it, to whom the patient, yea though his lord and [or] master, is to submit; the lawyer over his cause, to attend unto it; the steward over his family, even his wife and children, to make provision for them: yea, the watchman over the whole city, for the safe keeping thereof. Such, and none other, is the elder’s or bishop’s government” (John Robinson,A Justification of Separation from the Church of England (1610), quoted in Isaac Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 19-20). [Bold emphasis mine.]
Mr. Robinson’s distinctions between civil and church government are relevant in America today.
A church is to sit together in heavenly places. God wants His churches to be run according to His spiritual principles. Sadly, most churches are not run according to God’s principles. A “church” run as a corporation, unincorporated association, corporate sole, or charitable trust with an Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) 501(c)(3) tax exemption is, to a greater or lesser degree, earthly. It is designed and operated, at the very least partially, under the earthly rules of man which are contrary to the spiritual rules of God.
The contrast between how God treats earthly and heavenly concerns is shown in many ways. This article will examine a few: first, the contrasts between the manner of redemption of the nation of Israel and the manner of redemption of the individual; second, the contrasts between the new law of Christ in the renewed heart and the external law of Moses; third, the contrasts between the weapons and means of nations to attain their ends and the weapons and means of a believer and a church to attain their ends; fourth, the contrasts between the different punishments ordered by God for the church and for the state; fifth, the contrasts between Old and New Testament prayer; sixth, the contrasts between the hope of nations as seen in the Old Testament and the hope of the church as seen in the New Testament; seventh, the contrasts between the promises to the nation Israel for obedience and the promises to the Christian for obedience; eighth, the contrasts between the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church; and ninth, the contrasts between the different houses of God for Israel and the church—the Old Testament tabernacle was earthly, the New Testament church is spiritual. A discussion of each of these contrasts follows.
First, the manner of redemption of the nation Israel and that of the individual are different. The book of Exodus teaches that:
“redemption is essential to any relationship with a holy God; and that even a redeemed people cannot have fellowship with Him unless constantly cleansed from defilement.
“In Exodus, God, hitherto connected with the Israelitish people only through His covenant with Abraham, brings them to Himself nationally through redemption, puts them under the Mosaic Covenant. In the Commandments God taught Israel His just demands. Experience under the Commandments convicted Israel of sin: and the provision of priesthood and sacrifice (filled with precious types of Christ) gave a guilty people a way of forgiveness, cleansing, restoration to fellowship and worship” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, headnote to Ex., p. 71).
In Galatians, Paul demonstrates: “that justification is through the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15.18), and that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after the confirmation of that covenant, and the true purpose of which was condemnation, not justification, cannot disannul a salvation which rests upon the earlier covenant.” Paul [also vindicates] the office of the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier.”
Second, the new law of Christ and the external law of Moses are significantly different:
“The new ‘law of Christ’ is the divine love, as wrought into the renewed heart by the Holy Spirit(Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.’];Heb. 10.16 [‘This isthe covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.[.]]’);and out flowing in the energy of the Spirit, unforced and spontaneous, toward the objects of the divine love (2 Cor. 5.14-20 [‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And thathe died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we himno more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he isa new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new….’]; 1 Thes. 2.7-8[‘But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.’]).It is, therefore, the law of liberty (Jas. 1.25[‘But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.’]; 2.12 [‘So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty..’]);in contrast with the external law of Moses. Moses’ law demands love(Lev. 19.18 [‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.’];Deut. 6.5 [‘And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’]; Lk. 10.27 [‘And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’]); Christ’s law is love (Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”]; 1 John 4.7, 19, 20[‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’]), and so takes the place of the external law by fulfilling it(Rom. 13.10 [’Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore, love isthe fulfilling of the law.’]; Gal. 5.14[’For all the law is fulfilled in one word, evenin this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’]. It is the ‘law written in the heart’ under the New Covenant(Heb. 8.8,note)” (Ibid., n. 1 to 2 Jn. 5, p. 1326). [Bold emphasis mine.]
The old law kills, the new law saves. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life…. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (2 Co. 3.6, 17). When God told Moses to get down from the mountain, he brought the law down, and three thousand were killed (Ex. 32.28). When Jesus rejoined his disciples after the resurrection, He told them to “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Ac. 1.4-5). They waited, the Holy Spirit came down, and three thousand were saved (Ac. 1.6-2.41).
Third, the weapons of a church and Christians, who are fighting a spiritual warfare against a spiritual enemy, are spiritual, not carnal, and their goal is spiritual:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare arenot carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)” (2 Co. 10.3-4).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of he devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ep. 6.10-18).
“For the word of God isquick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and isa discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (He. 4.12).
The weapons of Israel as a nation were carnal, although the real secret to success in their earthly battles was obedience to and faith in God. Their goal as a nation was earthly—possession of and prosperity in the land promised them by God (See, e.g., De.). When they entered the land they had to take it by force. For example, they “utterly destroyed all that wasin [Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Jo. 6.21). The children of Israel, under Joshua, continued to do battle and “took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war” (Jo. 11.23). However, they did not expel all the inhabitants as instructed, nor did they possess all the land God had given them (See, e.g., Jo. 13.13). Joshua, before his death, instructed the children of Israel to expel those remaining of the nations in the land, with penalty of banishment from the land should they fail to keep his instructions (Jo. 23.4-16). They did not drive out all the inhabitants of the land as instructed nor did they take all the land the Lord had given them to possess (Ju. 1).
Weapons used for spiritual warfare are not suitable for earthly warfare and vice versa. Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history to have religious liberty (See Section IV, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed) pointed out:
“[T]o take a stronghold, men bring cannon, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, &c., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable.
“On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, &c., (where these seem to prevail with some cities or kingdoms, a stronger force sets up again, what a weaker pulled down); but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience, or else to bind fast the soul with chains of darkness, and lock it up in the prison of unbelief and hardness to eternity” (Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, pp. 119-120).
Roger Williams maintained that the civil power has five proper political means to attain its end:
“First, the erecting and establishing what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, according the general rules of the word, and state of the people…. The magistrate has power to publish and apply such civil laws in a state, as either are expressed in the word of God in Moses’s judicials—to wit, so far as they are of general and moral equity, and so binding all nations in all ages—to be deducted by way of general consequence and proportion from the word of God.
“For in a free state no magistrate hath power over the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of a free people, but by their free consents. And because free men are not free lords of their own estates, but are only stewards unto God, therefore they may not give their free consents to any magistrate to dispose of their bodies, goods, lands, liberties, at large as themselves please, but as God, the sovereign Lord of all, alone. And because the word is a perfect rule, as well of righteousness as of holiness, it will be therefore necessary that neither the people give consent, nor that the magistrate take power to dispose of the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of the people, but according to the laws and rules of the word of God….
“Secondly, the making, publishing, and establishing of wholesome civil laws, not only such as concern civil justice, but also the free passage of true religion: for outward civil peace ariseth and is maintained from them both, from the latter as well as from the former.
“Civil peace cannot stand entire where religion is corrupted, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 5, 6; Judges viii. And yet such laws, though conversant about religion may still be counted civil laws; as on the contrary, an oath doth still remain religious, though conversant about civil matters.
“Thirdly, election and appointment of civil officers to see execution of those laws.
“Fourthly, civil punishments and rewards of transgressors and observers of these laws.
“Fifthly, taking up arms against the enemies of civil peace” (Ibid., pp. 212-213. See pp. 219-223 concerning the power of the magistrate in making laws.).
On the other hand, according to Mr. Williams,
“the means whereby a church may and should attain her ends, are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five. First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his word.
“Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ, and the publishing of his laws.
“Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only as Christ hath appointed in his word.
“Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved, and inflicting spiritual censures against them that offend.
“Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.
“So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures; but to see the church doth her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches, as churches, have no power, though as members of the commonweal they may have power, of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting civil punishments—no, not on persons excommunicated—as by deposing magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the people against them, to their laws, no more than to discharge wives, or children, or servants, from due obedience to their husbands, parents, or masters: or by taking up arms against their magistrates, though they persecute them for conscience; for though members of churches, who are public officers, also of the civil state, may suppress by force the violence of usurpers, as Jehoiada did Athaliah, yet this they do not as members of the church, but as officers of the civil state” (Ibid., pp. 213-214).
Fourth,the Bible lays out different punishments to be administered by church and state. As to the church, there is no example in Scripture of the church physically punishing anyone for any type infraction or of the church turning either one guilty of sin (not classified by the state as penal) or one guilty of spiritual wrongdoing over to the state for punishment:
“But as the civil magistrate hath his charge of the bodies and goods of the subject: so have the spiritual officers, governors, and overseers of Christ’s city or kingdom, the charge of their souls, and soul safety. Hence that charge of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may learn to fear.This is, in the church of Christ, a spiritual means for the healing of a soul that hath sinned, or taken infection, and for the preventing of the infecting of others, that others may learn to fear, &c” (Ibid., p. 99).
Paul instructed the church at Corinth to deliver a church member who was guilty of fornication with his father’s wife “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Co. 6.1-5). He goes on to tell them that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” and that they are not to “company with fornicators” “or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters” “or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (1 Co. 6.7-11). The Corinthian church did expel the man and he repented and was restored (See 2 Co. 7.8-11). As Roger Williams points out, “Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c., Deut. xiii.5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor.  v.13, Put away that evil person, &c” (Williams and Underhill, p. 62).
Paul tells the church that members of the church are not to go to law against each other for non-criminal actions, rather to take wrong, to “suffer [themselves] to be defrauded” (I Co. 6.1-8). He tells the church that they are to judge among themselves (Ibid.). Titus was instructed by Paul: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Tit. 3.10). Roger Williams’ insights into this verse are instructive:
“[F]or an erroneous and blind conscience, (even in fundamental and weighty points) it is not lawful to persecute any, til after admonition once or twice” (Williams and Underhill, p. 20).
“First then Titus, unto whom this epistle and these directions were written, and in him to all that succeed him in the like work of the gospel to the world’s end, was no minister of the civil state, armed with the majesty and terror of a material sword, who might for offenses against the civil state inflict punishments upon the bodies of men by imprisonments, whippings, fines, banishment, death. Titus was a minister of the gospel, or glad tidings, armed only with the spiritual sword of the word of God, and [with] such spiritual weapons as (yet) through God were mighty to the casting down of strongholds, yea, every high thought of the highest head and heart in the world, 2. Cor. x. 4.
“Therefore, these first and second admonitions were not civil or corporal punishments on men’s persons or purses, which courts of men may lawfully inflict upon malefactors; but they were the reprehensions, convictions, exhortations, and persuasions of the word of the eternal God, charged home to the conscience in the name and presence of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of the church. Which being despised and not hearkened to, in the last place follows rejection; which is not a cutting off by heading, hanging, burning, &c., or an expelling of the country and coasts; neither [of] which (no, nor any lesser civil punishment) Titus, nor the church at Crete, had any power to exercise. But it was that dreadful cutting off from that visible head and body, Christ Jesus and his church; that purging out of the old leaven from the lump of the saints; the putting away of the evil and wicked person from the holy land and commonwealth of God’s Israel, 1 Cor. v. [6, 7.] Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c.,, Deut. xiii. 5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor. v. 13,Put away that evil person,&c.
“Now, I desire the answerer, and any, in the holy awe and fear of God, to consider that—
“From whom the first and second admonition was to proceed, from them also was the rejecting or casting out to proceed, as before. But not from the civil magistrate, to whom Paul writes not this epistle, and who also is not bound once and twice the admonish, but may speedily punish, as he sees cause, the persons or purses of delinquents against his civil state; but from Titus, the minister or angel of the church, and from the church with him, were these first and second admonitions to proceed.
“And therefore, at last also, this rejecting: which can be no other but a casting out, or excommunicating of him from their church society.
“Indeed, this rejecting is no other than that avoiding which Paul writes of to the church of Christ at Rome, Rom. xvi. 17; which avoiding, however woefully perverted by some to prove persecution, belonged to the governors of Christ’s church and kingdom in Rome, and not to the Roman emperor, for him to rid and avoid the world of them by bloody and cruel persecution” (, pp. 61-63).
A heretic in the church who continues in his heresy after the first and second admonition “is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Tit. 3.11).
The state, on the other hand, is to punish men for certain carnal infractions against their fellow man, not for spiritual infractions against God.
Fifth, Old and New Testament prayer are distinct:
“Prayer in the O.T. is in contrast with prayer in the N.T. in 2 respects: (1) in the former the basis of prayer is a covenant of God, or an appeal to his revealed character as merciful, gracious, etc. In the latter, the basis is relationship: ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father’ (Mt. 6.9). (2) A comparison, e.g., of the prayers of Moses and Paul, e.g. will show that one was praying for an earthly people whose dangers and blessings were earthly; the other for a heavenly people whose dangers and blessings were spiritual” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Hab. 3.1, p. 957).
Whereas, in the Old Testament, prayers were made for temporal destruction of those God had a purpose to pluck up, Christians are to pray for all men:
“Jeremy had a commission to plant and build, to pluck up and destroy kingdoms, Jer. i.10; therefore he is commanded not to pray for that people whom God had a purpose to pluck up, Jer. xiv.11, and he plucks up the whole nation by prayer, Lament. iii.66. thus Elijah brought fire from heaven to consume the captains and the fifties, 2 Kings i. And the apostles desired also so to practise against the Samaritans, Luke ix.54, but were reproved by the Lord Jesus. For, contrarily, the saints, and servants, and churches of Christ, are to pray for all men, especially for all magistrates, of what sort or religions soever, and to seek the peace of the city, whatever city it be, because in the peace of the place God’s people have peace also, Jer. xxix.7; 2 Tim. ii., &c (Williams and Underhill, p. 86).”
Sixth, nations as seen in the Old Testament and churches as seen in the New Testament have different hopes. Every nation is on probation (if it violates its probation, it loses its land and identity as a nation); believers in a church are a family awaiting glory:
“The scene that happened while Moses was on the mount where the children of Israel broke the law, made a golden calf, etc., affords a striking contrast between law and grace. Cf. Moses’s intercession with Christ’s (John 17). Israel was a nation, under probation [earthly] (Ex. 19.5,6); believers under grace are a family, awaiting glory [heavenly] (John 20.17; Rom. 5.1, 2). For them there is “an advocate with the Father,’’ whose propitiatory sacrifice never loses efficacy (1 John 2.1, 2). Moses pleads a covenant (Ex. 32.13); Christ points to a sacrifice (John 17.4)” (See Ex. 32 and 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ex. 32.10, p. 113).
Seventh, the promises to the nation Israel and its people and the promises to the Christian are different. The Christian was promised, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12). Israel was given conditional promises of material blessings for obeying God’s commands, for keeping His statutes and judgments. Under the Palestinian Covenant, they were told that they would prosper materially if they kept and did all the words of that covenant (De. 30.9). God repeated this promise to other leaders of Israel. For example, the LORD spoke to Solomon, King of Israel saying,
“And if thou walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, andwilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. Butif ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments andmy statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, whichis high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done this to this land and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (1 K. 9.4-9).
Eighth, the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church are distinct. God called the nation Israel the wife of Jehovah to be restored on this earth; the church is symbolized as the bride and wife of Christ:
“That Israel is the wife of Jehovah (see [Hosea 2.] 16-23), now disowned but yet to be restored, is the clear teaching of [Hosea 2:14-23]. This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the Church to Christ (John 3.29, refs.). In the mystery of the Divine tri-unity both are true. The New Testament speaks of the Church as a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Cor. 11.1, 2); which could never be said of an adulterous wife, restored in grace. Israel is, then, to be the restored and forgiven wife of Jehovah, the Church the virgin wife of the Lamb (John 3.29; Rev. 19.6-8); Israel Jehovah’s earthly wife (Hos. 2.23); the Church the Lamb’s heavenly bride (Rev. 19.7))” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ho. 2.2, p. 922).
Ninth, the different houses of God for Israel and the church are distinct—the tabernacle was earthly, the Christian and the church heavenly, a spiritual house, not an earthly house:
“Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein wasthe candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary…. But Christ, being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building” (He. 9.1-2, 11).
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Co. 3.16-17. “In the N.T. the usual Gk. word for sanctuary(naos) is used of (1) the temple in Jerusalem (Mt. 23.16); (2) of the believer’s body (I Cor. 3.16, 17; 6.19); (3) and of the local church (2 Cor. 6.16; Eph. 2.21). But in all these instances the thought is simply of a habitation of God. No reference to the structure of the temple, as in the case of the tabernacle (Heb. 9.-10), is traceable.”
“Now therefore ye [church members] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-22).
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make themthe members of an harlot? God forbid…. know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit… What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which isin you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? …” (1 Co. 6.15-20).
“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.6).
“[Y]e are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Co. 6.16).
“To whom coming, as untoa living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, andprecious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pe. 2.4-5).
John the Baptist announced the coming of something new. He spent no time in the temple. With him, a new system that required a decision began. “Jesus’ real temple—as … with John the Baptist—was the desert” (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 61). “Some of the negative miracles he performed (e.g., the cursing of the fig tree so that it withered) were a reflection of his attitude toward the temple and the concept of which it was the rallying point” (Ibid.). Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple (Mt. 24.2), and failed to endorse Jerusalem and the Jewish system of worship stating that the time was coming when she would neither worship in “this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,” but that “the hour cometh, and now is when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4.21, 23).
The resources and manpower needed to build the temple (earthly and tremendous, provided by man) and the church (heavenly, provided by God) are distinct (He. 9.1-2, 11). In the Old Testament, we learn that the shekinah-glory of the LORD came to fill the house of the LORD, built by man’s hands. The Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, who is born again by the spirit of God. As has been shown, the church is a spiritual building, made up of spiritual stones (believers) built on the cornerstone (Jesus Christ).
America has seduced most churches to submit to the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. The civil government has convinced Americans, saved and lost, to embrace its illegitimate authority, and has taught them that people are to worship and glorify God and spread the Gospel only within the four walls of a building. Today, in America, the civil government has made it impossible for an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization and Christians to exercise, in many instances, the second great commandment. For example, the state will not allow a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization to run a home for children without being licensed and controlled by the state.
Observing most churches—with no civil law purportedly requiring state control of churches as in Communist China and other nations throughout the world—running to seek affiliation with the state, and born-again believers putting churches under state control is vexing to the Christian who knows that such actions displease God. A church in the United States is not required to affiliate with the state. No one will be persecuted if a church refuses to affiliate with the state unless the church, in some circumstances, attempts to exercise the second great commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Many, probably the majority of born-again church members, love the Lord and would reject civil government entanglement with the church if taught by their pastors and other teachers the biblical truths about the matter. Yet the vast majority of churches affiliate with the state. Why? Because of false teachers—“Christian” lawyers and unregenerate pastors as well as saved pastors who have never studied biblical principles concerning separation of church and state—and the itching ears of some of God’s people; because some church members love the world and what it teaches and offers more than they love the Lord and what He offers; and because some “Christian churches” led by false theologies such as Calvinism and Catholicism teach that church and state are to combine and work together. Of course, they dislike the present state of the church relationship because the state controls the church whereas they believe the church should control the state; they like to say, “Incorporation in America today is not what it should be or “Incorporation is not what it once was.” The Lord taught us:
“Love not the world, neither the things that arein the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that isin the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jn. 2.15-17).
EN1. The water which is spoken of here is the Word of God. This is consistent with all of Scripture, and is specifically stated in the Bible. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Pe. 1.23. Jesus, in talking to the Samaritan woman said, “If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water…. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosover drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4.10, 13-14. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Ep. 5.26
EN 2. Why should believers, and especially pastors, be concerned about the area of church and state law? Because only through knowledge can they avoid dishonoring the Husband/Bridegroom/Head of their local church body and thereby failing to achieve their God-given goal—glorifying God and pleasing Him.
These articles systematically examine the biblical doctrines of church, state, separation of church and state and the application of those doctrines in America. For believers and churches, the information presented is—according to God’s Word—of great importance to our Lord. By reading and studying each article using the Bible as the standard, a believer will discover that the biblical principles are correct as presented. By studying the historical and legal facts presented—without bias, prejudice, illicit motive, or an overriding opposing agenda which has a vested interest in maintaining a status quo due to loss of finances, support or something else—and examining those facts in light of biblical principle, a qualified believer (a believer who has the necessary biblical, historical, and legal qualifications and education) can understand that the conclusions are correct.
That said, understanding the biblical principles, relevant history, and legal principles and facts is, first, impossible for one who is not a born again believer who is walking in the Spirit, and, second, daunting for even the spirit filled follower of Christ. Years of honest, open minded study is required to achieve the correct knowledge and understanding of all facets of church and state law. First, one must interpret Scripture correctly (See 2 Ti. 2:15) as to the relevant topics. After mastering the biblical principles, one must then labor through the annals of history, and the intricacies of law. In order to be qualified to comment upon the law, one must have an extensive legal education. He must understand how to do legal research and how to reach correct legal conclusions. Legal commentary by a pseudo lawyer can sound good to the untrained, while he may be correctly understood as frivolous and unlearned and probably heretical by the educated believer.
This is not to say that a non-lawyer cannot understand the legal and historical aspects of spiritual matters. In fact, the author knows some pastors and other believers who, having already correctly divided the Word of Truth and determined to seek to please God in all matters, have open minds and who have eagerly sought truth in the historical and legal church and state law arena. He is working with such a young pastor at this very moment. He is a brilliant young man who had mastered the Scriptures and Baptist history before the author met him. He excels the author in those matters, as do some other pastors and believers known by the author. Unlike most pastors, he does not have the disadvantages of having gone to either a secular or ecclesiastical (Baptist or otherwise) institution of higher learning. Secular colleges and universities usually corrupt even the most devout child of God; and religious colleges, institutions, and seminaries generally (with few exceptions, one of which the author has personal knowledge of)—by either mixing an ample dose of humanism with whatever biblically correct teaching they dose out; or by having totally having abandoned truth—likewise usually corrupt their students to one degree or another.
On the other hand, the author is vexed by what he reads in some books and websites concerning church and state law; particularly by some vicious, unfounded attacks upon the Biblical Law Center Declaration of Trust by unqualified, biased assailants who are attempting to mislead believers and churches through incorrect biblical and legal analyses and personal attacks upon and outright lies about those with whom they disagree in such matters.
Being a believer alone, even a pastor, does not by itself qualify one to teach on church and state law. The author has been a believer and faithful member of independent Baptist churches since his salvation. He was called by God to go to law school for His glory and to please Him. As a result of that calling, he obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from one of the best law schools in the country and has practiced law for seventeen years. He has no motive for dishonesty. By design, he has never made a dime above expenses in his work in the church and state law arena. In fact, he has spent tens of thousands of dollars with total income of at most three to four thousand dollars in all the years he has worked in this area of law. Because of this he is beholden to no one and nothing but the truth and his Lord and Savior. Since becoming a lawyer, he has devoted untold thousands of hours in biblical, historical, and legal study and analysis of church and state law.
As always, he declares that if anyone can show him where he is in error, he will recant. Honest, loving believers have taught him much and caused him to modify some of his positions. He has also, in his continued studies, modified some of his conclusions and positions. However, he maintains his primary positions because neither he, through his continued studies, or others have shown him to be wrong about his basic church and state law principles and conclusions.
EN 3 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go toOrder information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.
The story of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins with the first New Testament martyr and includes all the subsequent millions who were persecuted and killed because they placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone. You see, the heroes of the faith had and have life and liberty, unlike millions of contemporary American “Christians.” Martyrs—and those truly willing to give their life for Christ but who have not suffered martyrdom—have life because they have Christ. They also have been made free through Holy Spirit led study of God’s Word: Jesus said “to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8.31-32). Although the religious crowd may persecute and perhaps kill them, no one can take either their eternal lives or their liberty.
These martyrs and persecuted ones, including those in the American colonies, comprise the remnant who have, in every age, kept the light of Christ alive in spite of their sufferings. The climax of the sufferings of the saints occurred when the United States, by adding the First Amendment to her Constitution, made America the first modern nation, and the second civil government, to recognize the God ordained principle of religious liberty or separation of church and state (not separation of God and state).
Indeed, freedom of religion was
“unknown at the time of the birth of Jesus. Even the ancient republics never recognized it…. Early did Christians avow and amplify religious liberty. The blood of persecution brought to the front this doctrine…. Freedom of religion is hardly a Protestant [or Catholic] doctrinal tenet, but it does belong to the Baptists…. The state of Teprice in Armenia, in the ninth century, gave absolute freedom of opinion and conscience for one hundred and fifty years before being overcome. All around them were persecutions for conscience sake – they themselves had lost one hundred thousand members by persecutions in the reign of Theodora – yet here was a shelter offered to every creed and unbeliever alike. The Baptists have always set up religious liberty when they had the opportunity.”
John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas: Bogard Press), pp. 38-41, 51-52.
Religious liberty is a Baptist distinctive; and, historic Baptists are the primary people responsible for this freedom in those modern nations which recognize it. By Baptist is meant those who – regardless of identifying name such as Waldensian, Donatist, etc., adhere to certain fundamental Bible principles – one of those being separation of church and state or religious freedom and freedom of conscience. America was the first modern nation to guarantee freedom of conscience and religion (separation of church and state), and Rhode Island had set the example later followed by America and, later, some other nations. In many nations Christians are still persecuted, tortured, and ruthlessly murdered.
After this introduction and before going to the beginning, I will give the view of one very famous martyr, John Bunyan, as to the relationship between church and state. I will do this by quoting from his trial which occurred at a point in time in which both England and the United States were on the road to the rejection of the heretical biblical teaching that resulted in the union of church and state and the murders by the state-church combinations of untold millions of those labeled as “heretics” [EN1]. From there, I will give an overview of the persecution of believers from John the Baptist until the colonization of America. Then, I will summarize the theological warfare in the American colonies that culminated in the First Amendment.
Please consider that the information you will read is factual. The author is a born-again believer and lawyer who has been, since his salvation, a faithful member of an independent fundamental Baptist Church. Further consider that he has worked many years to try to bring America back under God. Like millions of other American Christians who have worked for this cause, he has experienced much frustration as he saw America continue to deteriorate morally, spiritually, and in every other way. This article presents his findings of fact gained over several years of intense study of the Bible, law, and history—the American history courses he had taken, his First Amendment class at the University of Texas School of Law, and a considerable volume of “Christian” writings censored these facts. These facts must be known, understood, and applied in order for Christians to proceed “according to knowledge” and, therefore, before God will honor the spiritual warfare of Christian soldiers (See 2 Pe. 1:4-10; Ho. 4:6-9; 2 Ti. 2:3-4; Ep. 6:10-18). I am sure that most, like the author before he searched the annals of history, do not know many of these preeminent, actual, and verifiable occurrences and writings.
II. The trial of John Bunyan
The trial of John Bunyan is instructive to one who wishes to please our Lord. Mr. Bunyan was arrested and charged with persistent and willful transgression of the Conventicle Act which prohibited all British subjects from absenting themselves from worship in the Church of England, and from conducting services apart from that church. He refused counsel and admitted that he had never attended services in the Church of England and stated that he never intended to do so. He continued,
“secondly, it is no secret that I preach the Word of God whenever, wherever, and to whomever He pleases to grant me opportunity to do so. I have no choice but to acknowledge the awareness of the law which I am accused of transgressing. Likewise, I have no choice but to confess my guilt in my transgression of it. As true as these things are, I must affirm that I neither regret breaking the law, nor repent of having broken it. Further, I must warn you that I have no intention of conforming to it.” I now continue with the dialogue between Bunyan and Judge Wingate.
“Judge Wingate: ‘It is obvious, sir, that you are a victim of deranged thinking. If my ears deceive me not, I must infer from your words that you believe the State to have no interest in the religious life of its subjects.’
“John Bunyan: ‘The State, M’lord, may have an interest in anything in which it wishes to have an interest. But the State has no right whatever to interfere in the religious life of its citizens.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?’
“John Bunyan: ‘It is, M’Lord.’ “Judge Wingate: ‘Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend to. What is it?’
“John Bunyan: ‘I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have no word from Him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?’
“John Bunyan: ‘No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Very well, then, Mr. Bunyan. This Court will make one further attempt in good faith to accommodate what appears to be strongly held convictions on your part. In his compassion and beneficence, our Sovereign, Charles II, has made provision for dissenting preachers to hold some limited licenses.
“‘You will not find the procedure burdensome, and even you, Mr. Bunyan, must surely grant the legitimacy of the State’s interest in ensuring that any fool with a Bible does not simply gather a group of people together and begin to preach to them. Imagine the implications were that to happen! Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan?
“‘Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think of your flock, who can hear you to their hearts’ content when you have secured your licenses. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it – accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach, and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach. These licenses of which you speak, M’lord, are symbols not of a right, but of a privilege. Implied therein is the principle that a mere man can extend or withhold them according to his whim. I speak not of privileges, but of rights. Privileges granted by men may be denied by men. Rights are granted by God, and can be legitimately denied by no man. I must therefore refuse to comply.’
“Judge Wingate: [Proceeded to sentence Mr. Bunyan to six years in the Bedford jail which ended up costing Mr. Bunyan 12 years of his life behind bars.]”[EN2]
John Bunyan did not suffer the fate of many of his spiritual ancestors who had stood against union of church and state in any manner, although most of them never received a trial. The court did not sentence him to death by beheading, fire, drowning, or some other horrible means. Instead, the court sentenced him to a term in prison; but “the wrath of man was made to praise God; for had not his zealous servant been compelled to this solitude, we should not have had that masterpiece of literature,” Pilgrim’s Progress, a book full of biblical truth and a book for all people for all time.[EN3]
After being released after 12 years in prison, he continued to produce fruit for the Glory of God. For example, many Baptist churches were gathered as a result of his labors.[EN4] Mr. Bunyan followed a long line of believers, from John the Baptist forward, who had died and/or been persecuted for their faith. Starting with the apostles, all of whom except John died for their faith, true believers have always stood on the principle, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Ac. 5.29)”—refusing to give up the life given them when they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and their liberty gained through coming to a knowledge of truth as a result of continuing in God’s Word after their salvation.
III. Persecution of believers until the colonization of America
Historically, Christians, as warned by Jesus and the apostles, have been persecuted for their faith. Their persecutions were usually the result of obeying God rather than a lower earthly authority—the civil authority and/or the established religion. Christians were persecuted from the beginning of the church. After union of church and state in the fourth century, the established “church,” in conjunction with the state, persecuted Christians.
John the Baptist is of utmost importance. With him, “[a] new light had burst upon a sin cursed world. A new era had dawned. Another kingdom was about to be ushered in.” [EN5] He was the forerunner and way preparer of Jesus. “He cannot be made to fit the notion that the church of Christ and the world-that-lies-around-it are ‘of-a-piece’, that Christianity is similar to ethnic faiths.”[EN6] He introduced a thought system at odds with that of the Old Testament in which religion and state were integrated as a theocracy, a thought system that was first recognized in America, first by the governing documents of the colony of Rhode Island and second by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. He preached a baptism that required a choice, and he preached it to all, including Jew and Gentile and including those of every position in society. The change required for his baptism required repentance on the level of the spiritual. Because of his open stand, John the Baptist became the first martyr for the faith. As most Christians are aware, John was decapitated as a result of exposing the sin of Herod—having Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Mt. 14:1-13; Mk. 6:14-19; Lu. 9:7-9).
The next Christian martyr was our Lord Himself who came to earth to be persecuted and crucified, as prophesied in many Old Testament passages. Jesus continued and expanded upon this new system introduced by John the Baptist. Jesus used a modifier with the word “kingdom,” an adjective to keep two-of-a-kind apart: He spoke of the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of earth.”[EN7] He preached two kinds of sermons—one for believers and one for non-believers.[EN8] He even distinguished between two jurisdictions when he said, “Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21). When Jesus felt the need of a sanctuary, He did not go to the temple (the center of the unified Jewish nation/religion); He, like John the Baptist, went to the desert. “His body was a replacement-of-the-temple, not only in the matter of being torn-down and then put-together again, but also as the instrument intended for contact-making between man and Maker.”[EN9] Unlike the theocracy of Israel and Gentile pagan nations which united religion and state in which the religion/state sought to unify all members of the nation walking lockstep for the same goals and which was intended to bring peace and unity through that system, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mt. 10:34-36). The religious/civil system in place was so at variance with Him that the religious leaders, who should have known through Scripture who He was, used the arm of the state to put Him to death. In effect, He lay down His life for those who would call upon His name. The First Amendment was in line with Jesus’ thought system.
“Out of the thought program begun by John the Baptist, and continued by Christ, came the Church of Christ.”[EN10] Jesus’ followers continued the example set by Him and John the Baptist. They had and have the promise of persecution: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12). Jesus preached to the multitudes concerning persecution of His followers:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.10-12).
Jesus warned the disciples that His followers would suffer persecution:
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (Jn. 15.18-21). [Emphasis mine.]
Following the crucifixion of the Savior “in rapid succession fell many other martyred heroes [in addition to Stephen, already mentioned, and Paul, infra]: … Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death….” [EN11]
At first, the persecution of Christians was by the Jewish religious leaders. Paul (then called Saul) was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr after the resurrection of Christ (Ac. 8.1). Paul, before salvation, was actively involved in persecution: “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Ac. 8.3). After Paul’s salvation, he was persecuted and finally beheaded. He was seized by the Jews during his last visit to Jerusalem. They would have killed him, but as they were beating him, the chief captain of the Romans took soldiers and centurions, intervened, and held him. At that time Paul was allowed to speak to the people. He said,
“I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Ac. 22.3-4).
Rome persecuted Christians off and on until the early fourth century. The persecution varied in extent and duration with various emperors.[EN12] Then, some “churches” were recognized by the state and formed a union with the state and became the official state “church.”
“[U]nder the leadership of Emperor Constantine there [came] a truce, a courtship and proposal of marriage. The Roman Empire through its emperor [sought] a marriage with Christianity. Give us your spiritual power and we will give you of our temporal power….
“In A.D. 313, a call was made for a coming together of the Christian churches or their representatives. Many but not all came. The alliance was consummated. A Hierarchy was formed. In the organization of the Hierarchy, Christ was dethroned as head of the churches and Emperor Constantine enthroned (only temporarily, however) as head of the church. “[This was the beginning of what became the Catholic church.]
“Let it be definitely remembered that when Constantine made his call for the council, there were very many of the Christians … and of the churches, which declined to respond. They wanted no marriage with the state, and no centralized religious government, and no higher ecclesiastical government of any kind, than the individual church.”[EN13]
Before the union of church and state, both Judaism and Paganism, using the arm of the state, had persecuted Christians who loved their Lord and refused to obey civil or any other authority which required Christians to violate the will of the Supreme Authority. After the union, “Christians” began to persecute Christians. “Thus [began] the days and years and even centuries of a hard and bitter persecution against all those Christians who were loyal to the original Christ and Apostolic teachings.”[EN14] Some leaders of that new state “church” who had supported liberty, “forgot what they had preached in their youth” and supported persecution of dissenters. The most significant of these was Augustine:
“Augustine made much use of the passage in Luke 14.23: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’ His position on religious liberty has been summarized in the maxim commonly (though erroneously) ascribed to him: ‘When error prevails, it is right to invoke liberty of conscience; but when, on the contrary, the truth predominates, it is just to use coercion.’
“Augustine’s influence on the course of religious liberty and the relationship of church and state can hardly be measured. Fifteen hundred years have passed since his death, yet his teachings are still a potent factor in the position of the Catholic Church on the subject of religion and government. As a result of his teaching, the principle that religious unity ought to be imposed in one way or another dominates the whole of the Christian Middle Ages and finds a concise and rigorous sanction in civil as well as in ecclesiastical legislation.
“Because of Augustine, more than any other person, ‘the Medieval church was intolerant, was the source and author of persecution, justified and defended the most violent measures which could be taken against those who differed from it.’”[EN15]
The Donatists were among the first dissenters persecuted by the church-state union. The Council of Arles, prior to the union of church and state in 325, decided, in a Kangaroo court, against the Donatists; and “the Emperor enforced the decision with the secular arm.”[EN16] After the Council of Nicæa, Constantine issued an edict against all dissenters, including the Donatists, forbidding their meetings in private or public, ordering their places of worship torn down, their property confiscated to the Catholic Church.[EN17]
The purpose of the persecutions against the Donatists was stated by Augustine: “To crush the immodesty and to curb the audacity of the men whose madness had so overrun all Africa that the Catholic truth could not be preached in many places.”[EN18] The Catholic church, using Old Testament passages to justify their actions, committed savage cruelties and violence against dissenters. Executioners “who had obtained favor with secular princes in the deaths of the saints, when very many venerable ministers were killed, others were sent into exile, and the sacred cause of Christianity was harassed far and wide; virgins were violated, the wealthy were proscribed, the poor were spoiled, and ministers who were fleeing from their own churches were taken in their flight.”[EN19]
The Middle Ages reflected the thinking of “Augustine and Aquinas, who taught that salvation could be achieved through compulsion, and that oppression and persecution of heretics was not merely the right but the holy duty of the Church.”[EN20] “Over 50,000,000 Christians died martyr deaths … during the period of the ‘dark ages’ alone—about twelve or thirteen centuries.”[EN211]
The Inquisition was instituted in 1215 A.D. at a Council called by Pope Innocent III:
“[P]robably the most cruel and bloody thing ever brought upon any people in all the world’s history was what is known as the ‘Inquisition,’ and other similar courts, designed for trying what was called ‘heresy.’ The whole world is seemingly filled with books written in condemnation of that extreme cruelty, and yet it was originated and perpetuated by a people claiming to be led and directed by the Lord. For real barbarity there seems to be nothing, absolutely nothing in all history that will surpass it.”[EN22]
The atrocities and heresies of the Catholic “church” eventually led to an effort to reform that “church” from within. Among the greatest of the reformers were Martin Luther, who started the Lutheran church (which became the state-church of Germany), and John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian church (which became the state-church of Scotland). During this period of reformation, there always existed those who dissented from Catholic and Reformation theology. In early sixteenth century Germany, two currents flowed in opposite directions. One, fostered by the established church, was toward a state-church. The other, promoted by dissenters, was toward separation of church and state. When a Protestant church became an established church it continued the persecution practiced by the harlot church. “Both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches brought out of their Catholic Mother many of her evils, among them her idea of a State Church. They both soon became Established Churches. Both were soon in the persecuting business, falling little if any, short of their Catholic Mother.”[EN23]
Martin Luther wrote: “It is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world. Nay, over even one land or company of people since the wicked always outnumber the good. A man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the Gospel would be like a shepherd who would place in one fold wolves, lions, eagles, and sheep together and let them freely mingle with one another and say, ‘Help yourselves, and be good and peaceful among yourselves. The fold is open, there is plenty of food, have no fear of dogs and clubs.’ The sheep forsooth would keep the peace and would allow themselves to be fed and governed in peace; but they would not live long nor would any beast keep from molesting another. For this reason, these two kingdoms must be sharply distinguished and both be permitted to remain. The one to produce piety, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds. Neither is sufficient to the world without the other.”[EN24]
“When Luther was expecting excommunication and assassination, he pleaded that: Princes are not to be obeyed when they command submission to superstitious error, but their aid is not to be invoked in support of the Word of God. Heretics, he said, must be converted by the Scriptures, and not by fire. With passion he asserted:
“I say, then neither pope, nor bishop, nor any man whatever has the right of making one syllable binding on a Christian man, unless it be done with his own consent. Whatever is done otherwise is done in the spirit of tyranny…. I cry aloud on behalf of liberty and conscience, and I proclaim with confidence that no kind of law can with any justice be imposed on Christians, except so far as they themselves will; for we are free from all.”[EN25]
Nonetheless, Luther later, when he had made an effective alliance with the secular power, advocated that the magistrate, who does not make the law of God, enforce the law of God. According to Luther, “The law is of God and from God. The State is the law-enforcing agency, administering a law of God that exists unchangeably from all eternity….
“The need for a state arises from the fact that all men do not hear the word of God in a spirit of obedience. The magistrate does not make the law, which is of God, but enforces it. His realm is temporal, and the proper ordering of it is his responsibility. Included in the proper ordering the maintenance of churches where the word of God is truly preached and the truly Christian life is taught by precept and example. In his realm, subject to the law of God, the Prince is supreme, nor has man the right to rebel against him. But if the Prince contravenes the law of God, man may be passively disobedient, in obedience to a higher and the only finally valid law.”[EN26]
“Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their hands in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.”[EN27]
Luther espoused that coercion by the state to achieve religious unity was justifiable. This was an expansion of Erastian philosophy—“the assumption of state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy.” Erastianism … pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation.[EN28] Erastianism achieved its greatest triumph in England.[EN29]
Luther’s position resulted in persecution of dissenters such as Anabaptists who believed in believer’s baptism. Although there is no reason to believe that the Anabaptists were explicit believers in a separation of church and state and in religious tolerance, opposition to a state-church follows logically from their thinking behind adult baptism:
“Believer’s baptism [was] the key to religious thought of the Anabaptists. Infant baptism implies that a child may be admitted into the Church without his understanding or personal consent. Such a church must be a formal organization, with sponsored membership possible for those whose years permit neither faith nor understanding. Adult baptism implies a different concept of the Church. The anabaptized are the elect of a visible church which is essentially a religious community of the elect. But obviously such a church could in no sense be a State Church. The Prince could neither bring it into being, regulate it, nor enforce membership in it; indeed, any connection between the State and such a church could only be injurious to the Church. Adult baptism on the surface is remote from the concept of a separated Church and State, yet such separation is implicit in the rationale of Anabaptism. The call to such a church can never come from the palace of the Prince; it must come from the Kingdom of Heaven….”[EN30] [Emphasis mine.]
John Calvin pointed out that “‘these two [church and state] … must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other.’ He followed this approach in order to expound the ‘[d]ifferences between spiritual and civil government,’ insisting that ‘we must keep in mind the distinction … so that we do not (as so commonly happens) unwisely mingle these two, which have a completely different nature.’”[EN31] He taught that “the church does not assume to itself what belongs to the magistrate, nor can the magistrate execute that which is executed by the Church.”[EN32]
However, when Calvin established his ecclesiocracy (the author uses this term to denote a civil government in which the church and state work together to enforce spiritual and earthly laws unlike the theocracy in Israel in which God himself was directly over the state) in Geneva, absence from the sermon, and missing the partaking of the Sacrament were punished. “Criticism of the clergy was included in the crime of blasphemy and blasphemy was punishable by death” as was the contention that “it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death.”[EN33] Government had “‘the duty of rightly establishing religion’ and had as its ‘appointed end’ to ‘cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church.’”[EN34] Calvin’s ecclesiocratic relationship of church and state was “based on ecclesiastical supremacy and the use of state machinery to further religious interests.”[EN35]
During this same period, the Church of England arose from a split or division in the Catholic ranks. Henry VIII, king of England, “threw off papal authority and made himself head of the Church of England” when the Pope refused to grant him a divorce from Catherine of Spain so that he could marry Anne Boelyn. Henry’s successor, Mary, reinstated Catholicism, but her successor, Elizabeth, re-established the Church of England.
“Thus, before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches—churches backed up by civil governments—the Roman and Greek Catholics [the Greek Catholics separated from the Roman Catholics in the ninth century] counted as two, then the Church of England; then the Lutheran, or Church of Germany, then the Church of Scotland now known as the Presbyterian. All of them were bitter in their hatred and persecution of the people called Ana-Baptists, Waldenses and all other non-established churches, churches which never in any way had been connected with the Catholics…. Many more thousands, including both women and children were constantly perishing every day in the yet unending persecutions. The great hope awakened and inspired by the reformation had proven to be a bloody delusion. Remnants now [found] an uncertain refuge in the friendly Alps and other hiding places over the world.”[EN36]
Sometime in the early seventeenth century, the Congregational church began. That church repudiated preacher rule and returned “to the New Testament democratic idea” while retaining many other “Catholic made errors such as infant baptism, pouring or sprinkling for baptism, and later adopted and practiced to an extreme degree the church and state idea. And, after refugeeing to America, themselves, became very bitter persecutors.”[EN37]
IV. Religious freedom recognized in America
A detailed history of the theological warfare and persecution of dissenters in the colonies is beyond the scope of this article. You may read a much more comprehensive account of the facts that led to the adoption of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in the book, God Betrayed [EN38] or by clicking the following link: Online version of Section IV of God Betrayed, History of the First Amendment.You may also listen to much more detailed audio teachings on this subject on this blog by clicking the following link: History of the First Amendment.
Spiritual warfare in America resulted in the first and second civil governments in history (first, the colony of Rhode Island and second, the United States of America) which had complete religious freedom. In the United States, that liberty was declared by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which says:
“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 peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Established churches in the American colonies persecuted dissenters. The struggle over separation of church and state moved from the old world to the new, and is probably the most important topic in the history of America. For the first time, God’s truth concerning government, church, and separation of church and state was destined to prevail, first in Rhode Island and then in the United States. Prior to this struggle and since the union of church and state in the fourth century, both Catholic and Protestant sacral doctrine which had seen church and state as a single entity working in unison for the same goals had tried unsuccessfully to stamp out all “heretics” who had never deviated from the true biblical doctrine of “separation of church and state.”
Jesus said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16:2.). In fulfillment of prophecies of the Lord, the established churches thought they were doing God’s will. “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn. 16:3). The Old World patterns of church-state union and religious oppression were transplanted to the New World with all their rigor.[EN39] Eleven of the original thirteen colonies established a church prior to the Revolution. One of those eleven was Massachusetts which was founded by Puritans who were Congregationalists. All New England colonies, except Rhode Island, had established churches based upon the same theology. As noted by the Rhode Island Baptist, John Callender, in the early nineteenth century:
“[The Puritans] were not the only people who thought they were doing God good service when smiting their brethren and fellow-servants. All other Christian sects generally, as if they thought this was the very best way to promote the gospel of peace, and prove themselves the true and genuine disciples of Jesus Christ—‘sic,’ who hath declared, his kingdom was not of this world, who had commanded his disciples to call no man master on earth, who had forbidden them to exercise lordship over each other’s consciences, who had required them to let the tares grow with the wheat till the harvest, and who had, in fine, given mutual love, peace, long-suffering, and kindness, as the badge and mark of his religion.”[EN40]
The fight for religious liberty started in the New England colonies and then spread throughout the other colonies. The seventeenth century ended with firmly established church-states in all New England colonies except Rhode Island. The ecclesiocracies there were as absolute as the world has known, with persecution of “heretics”; but, because of intervention by England, not as brutal as past ecclesiocracies in Europe.
The Church of England was established in the southern colonies. There, “the church enjoyed the favor of the colonial governors but it lacked the one pearl without price which the Congregational Church had. No Anglican ever left England to secure freedom of worship; no Virginia Episcopalian had the fervent motivation of a Massachusetts Puritan. In Massachusetts the church was the state. In Virginia and, to a lesser degree, in the rest of the South the Church was formally part of the State although hardly a part that loomed large in southern minds.”[EN41]
The theology of the established churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire led to a combining of church and state with the established church controlling the state; enforcement of all on the Ten Commandments to include the first four; infant baptism; taxing for payment of clergy, church charities, and other church expenses; persecution of dissenters such as Baptists; and many other unscriptural practices.[EN42] Persecution of dissenters followed the example of the theocracy in Israel where, for example, Moses killed the three thousand who turned from the Lord into idolatry and immorality while he was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:27), and Elijah had the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal killed (1 K. 18:40).
The settlers at Jamestown arrived in the New World in 1607. They set up a civil government modeled after that in England. The king was to head the state church, and those of other religious beliefs were not to be tolerated, much less be granted religious liberty.
The Pilgrims landed at what was to become Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Although admirable in their quest for religious freedom for themselves, they were at first only grudgingly tolerant of those with other religious sentiments. They were few in number. “Plymouth was a Church-State ruled by a governor and a small and highly select theological aristocracy, a Church-State with various grades of citizenship and non-citizenship.”[EN43] By 1651 the government of Plymouth colony was enforcing the laws of Congregationalist Massachusetts. “By the time Plymouth was united with Massachusetts in 1691 all major differences between the two had disappeared.”[EN44]
The Puritans, unlike the Pilgrims who wanted to separate from the Church of England, wanted to purify the Church from within. “The State, in their view, had the duty to maintain the true Church; but the State was in every way subordinate to the Church.” [EN45] King James I was far more belligerently opposed to the Calvinistic church-state than even Queen Elizabeth had been, and his “determination toward the Puritans was to make them conform or to harry them out of the land.”[EN46] The Puritans who suffered under the combined pressure of accelerated persecution and the advanced moral decay in their society began to flee England for the new world.[EN47] “There was no ground at all left them to hope for any condescension or indulgence to their scruples, but uniformity was pressed with harder measures than ever.”[EN48] Cheating, double-dealing, the betrayal of one’s word were all part of the game for London’s financial district. Mercantile power brokers loved, honored, and worshipped money, and accumulated as much of it as possible and as fast as possible. The ends justified the means. “London was an accurate spiritual barometer for the rest of the country, for England had become a nation without a soul.”[EN49] England was morally awful, and this came about under the auspices of a state-church practicing its theology.[EN50] 1628 marked the beginning of the Great Migration that lasted sixteen years in which twenty thousand Puritans embarked for New England and forty-five thousand other Englishmen headed for Virginia, the West Indies, and points south.[EN51]
The Puritans landed at Salem at the end of June, 1629. They were motivated by religious principles and purposes, seeking a home and a refuge from religious persecution.[EN52] Having suffered long for conscience sake, they came for religious freedom, for themselves only. “They believed [in] the doctrine of John Calvin, with some important modifications, in the church-state ruled on theocratic principles, and in full government regulation of economic life.”[EN53] The Puritan churches “secretly call[ed] their mother a whore, not daring in America to join with their own mother’s children, though unexcommunicate: no, nor permit[ed] them to worship God after their consciences, and as their mother hath taught them this secretly and silently, they have a mind to do, which publicly they would seem to disclaim, and profess against.”[EN54] In 1630, 1500 more persons arrived, several new settlements were formed, and the seat of government was fixed at Boston. Thinking not of toleration of others,” they were prepared to practice over other consciences the like tyranny to that from which they had fled.”[EN55]
Roger Williams, like the Puritans, fled tyranny over thought and conscience and sought refuge for conscience amid the wilds of America. He arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631. He was highly educated and well acquainted with the classics and original languages of the Scriptures, and had been in charge of a parish in England. Although a Congregationalist, he had been exposed to and convinced of some non-congregationalist doctrines such as soul liberty or religious freedom. Immediately upon arrival, Mr. Williams, not being a man who could hide his views and principles, declared that “the magistrate might not punish a breach of the Sabbath, nor any other offence, as it was a breach of the first table.”[EN56] He also, contrary to the practice of the church at Boston, hesitated to hold communion with any church who held communion with the Church of England. “He could not regard the cruelties and severities, and oppression, exercised by the Church of England, with any feelings but those of indignation.”[EN57]
Although loved dearly by the church at Salem where he acted as pastor after he arrived, he remained at odds with the established church and government ministers in Massachusetts. In spite of the fact that “Mr. Williams appears, by the whole course and tenor of his life and conduct …, to have been one of the most disinterested men that ever lived, a most pious and heavenly minded soul,”[EN58] the Court soon summoned him “for teaching publicly ‘against the king’s patent, and our great sin in claiming right thereby to this country’” by taking the land of the natives without payment;[EN59] “and for terming the churches of England antichristian.”[EN60] Charges were brought. “He was accused of maintaining:
“(1) That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table of the law, otherwise in such cases as did disturb the civil peace.
“(2) That he ought not to tender an oath to an unregenerate man.
“(3) That a man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though wife or child.
“(4) That a man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor after meat.”[EN61]
The ministers of the Court, when Mr. Williams appeared before them, “had already decided ‘that any one was worthy of banishment who should obstinately assert, that the civil magistrate might not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostasy and heresy.’”[EN62] The “grand difficulty they had with Mr. Williams was, his denying the civil magistrate’s right to govern in ecclesiastical affairs.”[EN63]
He was banished from the colony and ordered to board ship for England. Instead, he went, in the dead of winter, to what was to become Rhode Island where he was supported by the Indians whom he, throughout his long life, unceasingly tried to benefit and befriend.[EN64] He bought land from the Indians and founded the town of Providence where persecution has never “sullied its annals.”[EN65] “[T]he harsh treatment and cruel exile of Mr. Williams seem designed by his brethren for the same evil end [as that of the brethren of Joseph when they sold him into slavery], but was, by the goodness of the same overruling hand [of divine providence] turned to the most beneficent purposes.”[EN66]
Another leader instrumental in the formation of the government of the Rhode Island colony was Dr. John Clarke, a physician. Dr. John Clarke of England moved to Boston in November of 1637. He proposed to some friends “for peace sake, and to enjoy the freedom of their consciences, to remove out of that jurisdiction.”[EN67] Their motion was granted & Dr. Clarke and eighteen families went to New Hampshire which proved too cold for their liking. They left and stopped in Rhode Island, intending to go to Long Island or Delaware Bay. There Dr. Clarke met Roger Williams. The two “immediately became fast friends and associates, working together in a most harmonious manner, both socially and politically, throughout the remainder of Clarke’s life.”[EN68] With the help of Mr. Williams they settled in that colony at Aquidneck. “The first settlement on the Island was called Pocasset; after the founding of Newport, it was renamed Portsmouth.”[EN69]
The first government in history that was to have complete freedom of conscience and religious liberty also declared that the government was to be under the Lord Jesus Christ. Signed on March 7, 1638, the Portsmouth Compact read:
“We whose names are underwritten do here solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a bodie politick, and as he shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those perfect andmost absolute lawes of his, given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.” [19 signatures followed: … Three passages were marked in support of the compact: Exodus 24.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3; and II Kings 11.17.[EN70]
This compact placed Portsmouth, Rhode Island under the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ and His principles and laws given in the Bible. That Dr. Clarke “sought to help establish a government free of all religious restriction, one which in no way infringed upon the freedom of any religious conscience” is “evident from his remarks to the leaders of the established colonies upon his first arrival in Boston and by his subsequent activities throughout New England.”[EN71]
In August of 1638, the people of Providence approved the first public document establishing government without interference in religious matters, the Providence Compact:
“We whose names are here underwritten being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active or passive obedience to all such orders or agreement as shall be made for public good to the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.”[EN72] [Twelve signatures followed.]
As James R. Beller proclaims, the document was “the first of a series of American political documents promulgating government by the consent of the governed and liberty of conscience.”[EN73] Thus, liberty of conscience was the basis for legislation in Rhode Island, and its annals have remained to this day [when Underhill wrote this] unsullied by the blot of persecution.[EN74]
Rhode Island was ruled according to the original covenant, “til on January 2, 1639, an assembly of the freemen said:
“By the consent of the body it is agreed that such who shall be chosen to the place of Eldership, they are to assist the Judge in the execution of the justice and judgment, for the regulating and ordering of all offences and offenders, and for the drawing up and determining of all such rules and laws as shall be according to God, which may conduce to the good and welfare of the commonweal; and to them is committed by the body the whole care and charge of all the affairs thereof; and that the Judge together with the Elders, shall rule and govern according to the general rules [rule] of the word of God, when they have no particular rule from God’s word, by the body prescribed as a direction unto them in the case. And further, it is agreed and consented unto, that the Judge and [with the] Elders shall be accountable unto the body once every quarter of the year, (when as the body shall be assembled) of all such cases, actions or [and] rules which have passed through their hands, by they to be scanned and weighed by the word of Christ; and if by the body or any of them, the Lord shall be pleased to dispense light to the contrary of what by the Judge or [and] Elders hath been determined formerly, that then and there it shall be repealed as the act of the body; and if it be otherwise, that then it shall stand, (till further light concerning it) for the present, to be according to God, and the tender care of indulging [indulgent] fathers.”[EN75]
Thus, Rhode Island became a government of religious liberty. “As a servant of the people, Dr. Clarke [along with Roger Williams] would steer the colony toward a government of unprecedented civil and religious liberty—convinced that any other move would be in the direction of a self-centered autocratic theocracy.” [EN76] Under his leadership, the people followed him as he steered a course between democracy with its “attending threat of anarchy and all of its evils of disorder, violence, and ultimate chaos,” and aristocracy and its restrictions on all forms of liberty.[EN77]
In 1651, Dr. Clarke, Obadiah Holmes,[EN7] and John Crandall went to visit a friend in Boston. They were on “an errand of mercy and had traveled all the way from their church in Newport to visit one of their aging and blind members, William Witter.”[EN79] They stayed over, and held a service on Sunday. During that service, they were arrested and jailed. A friend paid Dr. Clarke’s fine and Clarke and Mr. Crandal were released.
Mr. Holmes was beaten mercilessly. His infractions were denying infant baptism, proclaiming that the church was not according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, receiving the sacrament while excommunicated by the church, and other spiritual infractions.[EN80] Mr. Holmes refused to pay his fine, prepared for the whipping by “communicat[ing] with [his] God, commit[ting] himself to him, and beg[ging] strength from him.”[EN81] Holmes was confined over two months before his whipping. He related the experience of being whipped for the Lord as follows, in part:
“And as the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, and my spirit should fail, yet my God would not fail. So it please the Lord to come in, and so to fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full, and with an audible voice I broke forth praying unto the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge; and telling the people, that now I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not; for in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence as the like thereof I never had nor felt, nor can with fleshly tongue express; and the outward pain was so removed from me, that indeed I am not able to declare it to you, it was so easy to me, that I could well bear it, yea, and in a manner felt it not although it was grievous as the spectators said, the man striking with all his strength (yea spitting in [on] his hand three times as many affirmed) with a three-corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, You have struck me as with roses; and said moreover, Although the Lord hath made it easy to me, yet I pray God it may not be laid to your charge.”[EN82]
Mr. Holmes “could take no rest but as he lay upon his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereupon he lay.”[EN83]
In November 1651, Dr. Clarke went to England with Roger Williams to promote the interests of Rhode Island. Mr. Williams returned to Rhode Island in the summer of 1754, but Mr. Clarke remained in England until, on July 8, 1663, he secured a new charter from Charles II. The charter granted:
“unprecedented liberties in religious concerns. Moreover representation for the people and the limit of power to public officials provided a basic check and balance to popular sovereignty. The Royal Charter of 1663 proved to be distinctive, installing safeguards in the election process through the governing body of the State Assembly, made up of a governor, deputy-governor, assistants, and representatives from each of the towns,”[EN84] each elected by the people.
“Congregationalism claimed a large class of inferior church members by 1720, baptized into the churches without conversion.”[EN85] Generally speaking, by 1740, religious decay had spread throughout New England. However, “the relentless preaching of Jonathan Edwards of complete surrender to the will of God introduced the novel phenomenon of revival in Massachusetts.”[EN86] Although the revival spread down the Connecticut Valley into Connecticut[EN87], the initial revival was of short duration … and did not touch the people of New England generally.[EN88] Then, George Whitefield, the world-famous English evangelist arrived at Newport. Great crowds greeted Whitefield wherever he went to preach. In Connecticut, he was greeted with great enthusiasm. All Connecticut was at his feet.
As a result of that great revival, many were converted and churches experienced unprecedented growth. The Great Awakening emphasized individual conversion and the new birth.[EN89] Many itinerant preachers arose as a result of this revival. Consequently, the General Court of Connecticut “forbade all itinerant preaching under penalty of loss of the right to collect one’s legal salary and imprisonment. Itinerant lay preachers or strange ministers were to be silenced or expelled from the colony.”[EN90] “In Connecticut, legal action was taken against the revivalists, their churches were deprived of legal status, and some of the preachers were thrown into jail.”[EN91]
A number converts, who were dubbed as “New Lights” and who initially tried to influence the church to return to the concept of the pure church were forced out of the established churches. The term “Separates” referred to those who believed that the church should only include regenerate members and those who separated from the state-churches on this conviction. The Separate movement started in Connecticut and moved to Massachusetts. Separate churches began to appear at various towns.
One of the most prominent of the Separates was Isaac Backus. Although he spent much of his ministry in Massachusetts, he was a native of Norwich, Connecticut. He was saved in 1741 and became the leading figure in the new movement. His shift from the Separate to the Baptist camp is central to the religious history of New England.[EN92] Mr. Backus was an ardent leader and writer for the cause of religious liberty in New England and in America. His efforts for religious liberty and other causes were non-ceasing.
Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, both members of Congregationalist churches in Connecticut, separated from the established churches, later became Baptists, as had Isaac Backus, and became chief instruments in carrying the Great Awakening to the South. The Separates were subject to persecution—fines, imprisonment, placing in stocks, and whipping—for their defiance of the laws of the commonwealth. They were subjected to a more intense persecution than the dissenters such as Baptists and Quakers, and many of them were imprisoned for practicing their beliefs.
George Whitefield’s preaching had a grand effect on his converts. Stearns in 1754 and Marshall in 1751 or 1752, possessed with missionary zeal, left Connecticut as missionaries. Marshall first ministered to the Indians in New York. Then he moved to Connogig, Pennsylvania and then to Opekon, Virginia. Stearns at first went to Cacapon Creek, Virginia, but due to Indian hostility there, moved to Sandy Creek, North Carolina. There the settlers constituted the Sandy Creek Church with Mr. Stearns as minister and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as assistant ministers.
The work at Sandy Creek soon began to produce much fruit. Mr. Stearns and the other preachers in his church were in great demand to go preach at other settlements. He and Daniel Marshall decided, before having been at Sandy Creek a year, to go on a preaching mission all the way to the coast. Converts were being called into ministry, and the Separate Baptist movement was seeing the birth of new churches. Within three years, there were three churches with a combined membership of over nine hundred, and these churches had numerous branches. Young evangelists were “beginning to occupy the land of promise.” In 1758, the Sandy Creek Association was organized. The plan for the association “required careful planning, for the associational movement would usher in a grand new chapter in Separate Baptist expansion.”[EN93]
The movement exploded. Ministers and converts went all over North Carolina, then into South Carolina and Georgia. The power of God was with these Separate Baptist preachers. Churches were planted and many were converted. In North Carolina, the Anglicans and the Presbyterians were displaced by the Baptists. Daniel Marshall went to South Carolina with some others in his church and started a church there. From there, he went on preaching trips into Georgia. He was so successful in some of his forays there that he was arrested, convicted, and commanded to preach no more in Georgia. “The arresting constable and even the magistrate who tried Marshall were soon converted and baptized.” In 1771 Mr. Marshall moved to Kiokee Creek, Georgia and formed the first Baptist church in Georgia at Appling in 1772.[EN94]
In 1771 the so-called War of the Regulation broke out. The government of North Carolina tried to suppress the Separate Baptists, but succeeded only in spreading their movement all along the southern frontier. Before the suppression began, the established church, the Anglican Church, was ineffectual in North Carolina and only had five ministers in the state in 1765.
Before 1765 the western counties, made up of frontiersman, a large percentage of whom had become Baptists, were disproportionately taxed and represented in the Assembly. “Sheriffs, judges, and other officials of county government, were notorious for their injustice, and in the western counties they were, as a rule, dishonest, haughty, and overbearing.”[EN95] A license was required for teachers, and no place of higher education could be administered, except by ministers of the Church of England. The Church of England was given exclusive rights to perform marriages. In 1755, poll and vestry taxes were imposed upon North Carolinians.[EN96] The settlers mounted protests against these injustices.
When William Tryon became governor of North Carolina in 1765, the troubles moved quickly to a crisis. Governor Tryon set out to strengthen the position of the Church of England. He called for twenty-seven more Anglican clergymen, increased taxes, and raised a military force. By 1770, Governor Tryon had established eighteen Anglican priests in thirty-two parishes in North Carolina. Property was seized for back taxes, people accused of rioting were arrested and set for trial, and others were fined and imprisoned. “In several places the Regulators yielded to mob spirit, broke up courts, and whipped the officers” and “some court records were destroyed.”[EN97] Armed conflict finally broke out. On May 16, 1771, a poorly trained and supplied force of two thousand regulators was routed by the state militiamen. Although Shubael Stearns and the Sandy Creek Association forbade Baptists to take up arms against the government, many did.
After the defeat of the regulators, Tryon “laid waste to plantations, burned homes, and sent numbers of men in chains to Hillsboro. The countryside was terrorized.”[EN98] Tryon seized Benjamin Merrill, who appears to have been a church leader. Merrill was convicted as a traitor, hung publicly, cut into pieces—quartered—and his body scattered.[EN99]
The Baptists had a mass exodus from North Carolina. By 1772, Sandy Creek Church had only fourteen members, down from six hundred and six. Little River Church went from five hundred to a dozen members. But as with the persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem, the persecuted spread to other parts and carried out the Great Commission—the departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.
Shubal Stearns, the chief light and the guiding genius behind the Separate Baptist movement, died on November 20, 1771 at the age of sixty-five. Forty-two churches and one hundred and twenty-five ministers had sprung from the Sandy Creek Church by 1772. Fires had been started in North Carolina and in other states, which could not be quenched.[EN100]
Although the final expression of religious freedom that would be incorporated into the Constitution came from Virginia, the final motivation came as a result of the convictions of the dissenters, mainly the Baptists, and the thrust for their growth and influence came from the Great Awakening.
In Virginia, the established Anglican church was controlled by the state, unlike in New England where the established church controlled the state. From the beginning of the colony, the “company knew not how to control the members composing the colony but by religion and law.”[EN101] The original “Lawes Divine, Moral and Martial” which were decreed in 1612, were severe. Speaking impiously of the Trinity or of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, blaspheming God, incorrigibly cursing, a third failure to attend religious services, and a third “Sabbath-breaking,” were punishable by death. Other spiritual offenses were punished by whipping and other penalties.[EN102]
These laws were repealed upon appeal to England, and the laws enacted in support of the Anglican establishment were less severe. Still, the Anglican church was established (and this establishment continued until the revolution with one short interruption), nonattendance at church services was the subject of fines, the payment of tithes were mandatory, every parson was entitled to the glebe—a piece of land—parish churches were built by taxes, and ministers were required to “conform themselves in all things according to the canons of the Church of England.”
“Puritan clergy were banished for failing to conform to Anglican services; Quakers [and Baptists] were fined, imprisoned, and banished. Catholics were disqualified for public office, and any priest who ventured to enter the colony was subject to instant expulsion. Penalties were imposed on those who having scruples against infant baptism, neglected to present their children for that purpose.”[EN103]
In 1770, there were only six Separate Baptist churches in Virginia, but the number had increased to fifteen in 1771. The number of Separate Baptists increased dramatically through 1774.
From 1768 through 1774, the Baptists were persecuted severely. “Baptist preachers were whipped, arrested, fined, imprisoned on bread and water, although the authorities sanctimoniously denied that punishment was for ‘preaching’; the crime they said, was ‘breach of the peace.’”[EN104] The first instance of actual imprisonment was on June 4, 1768 when John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh were arrested at Craig’s meetinghouse in Spotsylvania and charged with disturbing the peace. The magistrates offered to release them if they would promise to preach no more for a year and a day. They refused and were jailed. Many more were jailed and otherwise persecuted until 1774.[EN105]
As a result of the persecutions and oppressions, Baptists began to petition the House of Burgesses for relief in 1770. 1775 closed the period of “Intolerance, Toleration, and Persecution.” This came about because the American Revolution was on. The Baptists and others were tolerated in return for their help in the war against Great Britain. The Baptists did help, and not a Tory was found among them. But they struck for something more and something dearer to them than civil liberty—for freedom of conscience, for “just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.”[EN106] The battle for soul liberty continued until January 19, 1786, when Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” became the law of the state.
During the period of intense persecution in Virginia, leaders such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were observing what was going on. These men were also familiar with the history of persecutions which always accompany a church-state union. They stood against union of church and state which was proposed by Patrick Henry in 1784. Here is one of several examples from Madison’s writings (from a letter to an old college friend, dated January 24, 1774):
“uninterrupted harmony had prevailed throughout the continent [in matters of established religion as practiced in Virginia] it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…. Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough; but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience…. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.”[EN107]
On June 12, 1776, the House adopted a Declaration of Rights. The 16th Article provided for religious tolerance. However, [o]n motion on the floor by James Madison, the article was amended to provide for religious liberty. In committee, Madison opposed toleration because toleration “belonged to a system where there was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a dominant religion, to construe what ‘may disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society,’ and he ventured to propose a substitute, which was finally adopted.”[EN108] He probably moved to change the amendment before the whole house in order to demonstrate his position to the Baptists who were viewing the proceedings. The proposed amendment read:
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”[EN109]
“The adoption of the Bill of Rights marked the beginning of the end of the establishment.”[EN110]
Where did Madison learn the distinction between religious freedom and religious toleration?
“It had not then begun to be recognized in treatises on religion and morals. He did not learn it from Jeremy Taylor or John Locke, but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witnessed, and who persistently taught that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with matters of religion.”[EN111]
In 1784, Patrick Henry proposed a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and John Marshall supported the bill. The bill required all persons “to pay a moderate tax or contribution annually for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship.”[EN112]
Mr. Madison opposed Mr. Henry’s bill and prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” in which he maintained “that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator,” was not within the cognizance of civil government. The “Memorial” presents fifteen arguments against the assessment bill.[EN113] A small sampling is offered here:
“… Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. Inquire of the teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect point to the ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state, in which its teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall….
“Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of civil government…. If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary for civil government? What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances, they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in more instances, have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the publick liberty, may have found on established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion, with the same equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another.…
“Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the light of Christianity. The first wish of those, who ought to enjoy this precious gift, ought to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those, who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominion of false religions, and how small is the former? Does the policy of the bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of truth, from coming into the regions of it; and countenances, by example, the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them….
“Because, finally, ‘the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience,’ is held by the same tenure with all our other rights…. Either then we must say, that the will of the Legislature is the only measure of their authority; and that in the plentitude of this authority, they may sweep away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to leave this particular right untouched and sacred: either we must say, that they may control the freedom of the press; may abolish the trial by jury; may swallow up the executive and judiciary powers of the State; nay, that they have no authority our very right of suffrage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary assembly; or we must say that they have no authority to enact into a law, the bill under consideration.…”[EN114]
On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was passed. That bill provided for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It stated, in part:
“I. Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;
“that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such, endeavoring to impose them on others hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
“that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than [on] our opinions in physics or geometry;
“that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; …
“that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with, or differ from his own;
“that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt [open, or public] acts against peace and good order; ….”[EN115]
As the Anglican establishment in Virginia yielded to pressure from Baptists [and to a much lesser extent Presbyterians] so that religious liberty was established in that state, “[t]he same pressure, reinforced by the conditions of frontier living, ended the Anglican establishment in the Carolinas and Georgia…. [T]he conditions which made establishment possible never existed in the states admitted after Vermont, nor in the territories with the exception of unique Utah.”[EN116]
By the time the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787, “three states, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia granted full religious freedom. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland demanded in different degrees adherence to Christianity. New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia demanded Protestantism.”[EN117]
A convention was called in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, a new Constitution was drafted. After the drafting of the Constitution, it was submitted to the states for ratification. The Baptists of Virginia were against ratification because the Constitution did not have sufficient provision for religious liberty. Patrick Henry had declined to serve at the Convention and was against it. He posed as the champion of the Baptists in opposition to the Constitution. Of course, Madison was for ratification. However, John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about “the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy” and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison.[EN118]
The Constitution was ratified and election of the officers of government was the next order of business. Patrick Henry, using his influence in the Legislature, prevented Madison from being elected as Senator. In addition, the Legislature drew the lines for Representative district so as to prevent Madison from being elected as Representative. However, he was able to “relieve Baptist apprehensions as to any change in his principles, and assure them of his readiness to aid in securing a proper amendment to the Constitution on the subject of religious liberty.” He was elected.
His first act, after the First Congress was organized in 1789, was to propose, on June 8, certain amendments, including what is now the First Amendment. His purpose was to “conciliate and to make all reasonable concessions to the doubting and distrustful”—to those, the Baptists, who were concerned about the issue of religious liberty. “Of all the denominations in Virginia, [the Baptists] were the only ones that had expressed any dissatisfaction with the Constitution on that point, or that had taken any action into looking to an amendment.” The Baptists of Virginia had also corresponded with Baptists of other states to “secure cooperation in the matter of obtaining” a religious liberty amendment. No other denomination asked for this change.[EN119]
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on September 25, 1789 and was approved by the required number of states in 1791.
V. Post disestablishment and conclusion
The First Amendment religion clause was not applied to the states until 1940.[EN120] When the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut still had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.
Nonetheless, the states still provided for incorporation of churches. However, after disestablishment, incorporation became something entirely different from the corporate state-church unions of the past. The new type of incorporation did not create an established church that worked with the state to enforce the first four Commandments. Actually, under the new type of incorporation, the corporate church became a creature of the state.
For a full explanation of the ways post-disestablishment incorporation of churches violates biblical principles, one must go to other sources.[EN121] Just a few characteristics of the new type of corporate church status are listed here. Incorporation became a means for the state to control churches in many ways. For example, a corporation is legal entity created, designed, and organized by statute. The sovereign of the corporate part of an incorporated church is the state. An incorporated 501(c)(3) church gets part of her powers from God and part from the civil government. She is under two heads. Part of the church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage.
In spite of the fact that American churches may now incorporate and obtain Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”)[EN122] status, they may also operate as New Testament churches outside civil government authority, without persecution and with less exposure to liability than the state incorporated, 501(c)(3) church. Because of the efforts of “Christian” lawyers and the ignorance of pastors and Christians, this truth has been much compromised; most churches and Christians have been convinced that they should incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status; and, as a result, churches which choose to remain totally outside civil government authority face some inconveniences which hardly amount to persecution. The main technique of the unscrupulous lawyers who seek to convince churches to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status is fear mongering through lies. Biblically ignorant Christians are easy prey for these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In conclusion, because of the First Amendment, and because of state constitutional provisions and laws, a church has a choice in America. She can operate, without persecution but with some inconveniences, either in a manner pleasing to her Lord, Bridegroom, Husband, and Head or in a manner which dishonors and displeases Him. The church who does not love the Lord will choose to dishonor Him, thereby causing Him much grief. Most American churches have chosen to dishonor our Lord, and the chickens are now coming home to roost.
 “Heresy,” in its modern sense, means “any opinion which is repugnant to the doctrines of Scriptures. However, as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of Christians, may be deemed orthodox by another.” See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “heresy.” Of course, Scripture contains truth and all at variance with truth constitute lies.
One needs to consider the original sense of the meaning of “heresy” and “heretic.” Established churches have killed millions of those whom they labeled “heretics.” They did this because they denied choice to those who disagreed with the state religion. Thus, harlot religious organizations have perverted Scripture in order to force unity. State religions, heretics themselves according to the modern sense, falsely labeled even true believers “heretics.” “The word “heresy” is derived from the Greek very hairein, which translates: “make-choice-between-alternatives” or “to exercise choice in the presence of alternatives.” See Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964), p. 72 and Leorard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), pp. xiii-xiv, 20.
The Word of God teaches that God gives everyone freedom of choice to choose truth or error, regardless of civil government laws which require imprisonment, persecution, and death for “heretics” or for those whose beliefs are deemed dangerous by the civil government or by an established church or religion.
 Pfeffer, p. 63. Bill Bradley, Purified Seven Times (Haines City, FL: Landmark Baptist Press, 2001), pp. 88-92. For more information on the John Bunyan story, see Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (New York: Bryan, Taylor, & Co.; Chicago: Morningside Publishing Co., 1887), pp. 474-539.
 Armitage, Volume 1, p. 477.
 Ibid., Volume 2, p. 538.
 J. A. Shackelford, Compendium of Baptist History (Louisville, Kentucky: Press Baptist book Concern, 1892), p. 17.
 Leonard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), p. 50.
 Ibid., p. 64.
 Ibid., p. 85.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 11. See also, Thieleman J. van Braught, Martyr’s Mirror (Scottdale, PA and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press), pp. 67-78 (This book is the best and most comprehensive book on persecution of Christians through the seventeenth century.); John Foxe and The Voice of the Martyrs, Foxe, Voices of the Martyrs (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), pp. 1-46.
 Thieleman, pp. 63-186; Carroll; Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 10-12.
 Carroll, p. 16; Thieleman; David Benedict, History of the Donatists (Pawtucket R.I.: Nickerson, Sibley & Co., 1875; Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.,); Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964; Reprinted by permission by Paris AK.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.); Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976).
 Carroll, p. 17.
 Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 14, citing Bates, M. Searle, Religious Liberty: An Inquiry, New Your and London, International Missionary Council, 1945, p. 139; Rufinni, Francesco, Religious Liberty, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 36; and Carlyle, Alexander J., The Christian Church and Liberty, London, J. Clarke, 1924, p. 96; See also, Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), pp. 105-111 and other excerpts.
 Armitage, Volume 1, p. 202.
 Ibid., p. 204.
 Benedict, p. 99.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 Pfeffer, p. 18; Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid.
 Carroll, p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 28.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 Works of Martin Luther, Volume 4 (Philadelphia: A. H. Holman Co., 1931), p. 265 cited in Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 22.
 Pfeffer, p. 21, citing Acton, “The Protestant Theory of Persecution,” in Essays on Freedom and Power, p. 92, and Wace, Henry, and Bucheim, C. A., Luther’s Primary Works, Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1885, pp. 194-195, quoted in Noss, John B., Man’s Religions, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 92.
 William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 13-14.
 Acton, pp. 102-103, quoted in Pfeffer, p. 21; see also, Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid, pp. 158-160, 163-168, 186-198; Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdsmans Pub. Co., 1964) and Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1977 Reprint).
 Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.
 See Ibid., pp. 24-25 for a concise history of Erastianism in England.
 Marnell, pp. 18-20; Armitage; Verduin (both cited books).
 Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:847 (IV.xix.15) 2: 1486 (IV.xx.1), trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) cited in Hamburger, pp. 22-23, “[Calvin] also wrote: ‘But whosoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between the present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom of Christ and the civil government are things completely distinct.’” Ibid., 2: 1488 (IV.xx.1).
 Pfeffer, p. 22, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion¸ quoted in Stokes, Anson Phelps, Church and State in the United States, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1950, I. p. 110.
 Pfeffer, p. 22.
 Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 23, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2: 1211 (IV.xi.1; ibid., 2: 1487-1488 (IV.xx.2-3).
 Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.
 Carroll, p. 34.
 Ibid., pp. 37-38.
 Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008 and Xulon Press, 2008), Section IV. Go to the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com for ordering information.
 Pfeffer, p. 63.
 John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), p. 71.
 Marnell, pp. 63-64.
 Lumpkin, William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 1; Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston, Mass., Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1958).
 Ibid., p. 48.
 Pfeffer, p. 66, citing Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America (New York: The McMillan Co., 1902), pp. 70-71.
 Marnell, p. 40.
 Ibid., p. 42.
 Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146.
 Callender, p. 66.
 Marshall and Manuel, p. 148.
 Ibid., pp. 147-148.
 Ibid., p. 148.
 Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. v (The Bloudy Tenent was originally published in 1644. Roger Williams was the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history with complete freedom of conscience. Due to the efforts of Mr. Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and others who followed America has the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which gives freedom of conscience. A brief history of the efforts of Roger Williams and others is recounted in Section IV of God Betrayed.).
 Marnell, p. 48.
 Williams and Underhill, p. 244.
 Ibid., p. vii.
 Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 41; Williams and Underhill, p. ix, noting in fn. 1 that “Such is Governor Winthrop’s testimony. Knowles, p. 46.”
 Williams and Underhill, p. x.
 Callender, p. 72.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 44-46. Williams and Underhill, p. xiii. (The colonies held their land under the royal patent. Under the royal right of patent, Christian kings (so called) were given the right to take and give away the lands and countries of other men); Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2 pp. 638-639.
 Williams and Underhill, pp. xiii-xiv.
 Ibid, p. xiv; Callender, p. 72; Backus, A History of New England…, Volume I, p. 53 (Backus adds item 2, as, according to footnote 1, p. 53, his is from Governor Winthrop’s Journal, Vol. 1, pp. [162, 163]).
 Williams and Underhill, pp. xv, 387-389.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 53; Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 627-640.
 Williams and Underhill., p. xxiii.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 59.
 Ibid., p. 71. See also, John Clarke, Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution (Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1st printed in 1652), pp. 22-25.
 Louis Franklin Asher, John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religious Liberty (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.), p. 27; Clarke.
 Asher, p. 29; Clarke.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 77, 427. On p. 427 is the exact copy from Rhode Island records. In the margin are citations to Exodus 34.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3, and II Kings 11, 17.
 Asher, p. 27.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 74; cited in James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), p. 13; Armitage, A History of the Baptists, Volume 2, p. 643.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 13.
 Williams and Underhill, p. xxviii.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 427-428.
 Asher, p. 35.
 Ibid., pp. 35-36.
 Obadiah Holmes moved from England to Massachusetts. He and several others decided the Baptist way was right and were baptized. He and others were excommunicated in 1650. They moved to Rhode Island where Mr. Holmes became a member of the church pastored by Dr. John Clarke.
 Asher, p. 57; See Clarke, pp. 27-65 for a full account of the event.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1,, fn. 1, p. 189.
 Ibid., p. 190.
 Ibid., p. 192; Clarke, pp. 50-51.
 Ibid., fn. 1, p. 193. (This from a manuscript of Governor Joseph Jencks).
 Asher, pp. 78-79.
 Lumpkin, p. 2.
 Asher, p. 21: Between 1635 and 1640 Congregationalism had been planted in the Connecticut colony. Callender, pp. 67-68: “As the country was more fully discovered, the lands on Connecticut river grew so famous for their fruitfulness, and convenience to keep cattle, that great numbers from New-Town, Dorchester, &c., removed there, under the conduct of Mr. Hains, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. Hooker, &c., and through inexpressible hardships, through famine, and weariness, and perils of the enemy, they at length settled at Hartford, 1635 and 1636, which was the beginning of the Connecticut colony; and, in 1637, New-Haven colony was begun by a people directly from England[.]”
 Lumpkin, p. 2.
 Ibid., pp. 3-5.
 Ibid., p. 8; see also, for the actual wording of the act against itinerant and other preachers, Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, pp. 44-46.
 Marnell, p. 87.
 William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), pp. 60-61.
 Lumpkin, pp. 41-45.
 Ibid., p. 55, citing J. H. Kilpatrick, The Baptists, (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Convention, 1911), pp. 37-38.
 Ibid., pp. 72-74.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 181-182.
 Lumpkin, pp. 78-79.
 Ibid., p. 83.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 197.
 Lumpkin, p. 59.
 Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p., p. 17.
 See Pfeffer, p. 69 for the text of this law.
 Ibid.; see also, James, pp. 17-20 for a more comprehensive overview of the laws of Virginia which provided for religious persecution and the established church.
 Pfeffer, p. 95. citing Edward F. Humphrey, Nationalism and Religion in America (Boston: Chipman Law Publishing Co., 1924), p. 370.
 James, pp. 29-30. Included is a listing of some of those jailed and otherwise persecuted. See also, Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 230-250; Lumpkin, pp. 105-120; Grady, What Hath God Wrought, Appendix A, pp. 593-598 citing Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, (Galatin, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1987), pp. 516-520 (lists many Baptists and the persecutions they endured in Virginia; persecutions such as being jailed for preaching, civil suit, being annoyed by men drinking and playing cards, being jerked off stage and head beaten against the ground, hands being slashed, beaten with bludgeons, being shot with a shotgun, ousted as a justice for preaching, being brutally beaten by a mob, severely beaten with a stick, etc.).
 James, pp. 47-48.
 Ibid., p. 36.
 Ibid., pp. 62-65.
 Ibid., pp. 62-64; Pfeffer, p. 96.
 Pfeffer, p. 96.
 James, p. 63 quoting Dr. John Long.
 Pfeffer, p. 98, citing N. J. Eckenrode, The Separation of Church and State in Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1910), p. 86. Pfeffer notes in Chapter 4 fn. 102 that the text of the bill is printed as an appendix to Justice Rutledge’s dissent in Everson, 330 U.S. 1.
 Pfeffer, p. 101.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 512-515; Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 308-314.
 Cousins, pp. 125-127; see also, for an edited version, Living American Documents, Selected and edited by Isidore Starr, Lewis Paul Todd, and Merle Curti, (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Burlingame: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961), pp. 67-69.
 Marnell, p. 130.
 Ibid., p. 98.
 James, pp. 150-158; Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 166-167.
 James, p. 167.
 See, God Betrayed, Section V, Chapter 3 for the history of how the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was used to apply the First Amendment to all levels of civil government.
 See, e.g., Jerald Finney, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 2 and 7; Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009), Chapters 3 and 7.
 See, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 1, 4, 5, 8, and 10 and Separation of Church and State, Chapters 1, 4, 5, and 8 for an explanation of 501(c)(3) status for churches.
Churches under Christ Ministry is under the authority of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas, Benjamin Hickam Pastor. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22).