Tag Archives: persecution

VI. The Theology and Goals of the Puritans in America


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 24, 2018


Puritans hung 4 Quakers for returning to Massachusetts after being banished for their religious beliefs.

Although they differed from the Church of England and others on some doctrines, “[t]he Puritans brought 2 principles with them from their native country, in which they did not differ from others; which are, that natural birth, and the doings of men, can bring children into the Covenant of Grace; and, that it is right to enforce & support their own sentiments about religion with the magistrate’s sword.”[1]

John Cotton was called upon to arrange the civil and ecclesiastical affairs of the colony.[2]  They set up a ecclesiocracy in which no one could hold office who was not a member of an approved church.[3] “The civil laws were adjusted to the polity of the church, and while nominally distinct, they supported and assisted each other.”[4]

“‘It was requested of Mr. Cotton,’ says his descendant Cotton Mather, ‘that he would from the laws wherewith God governed his ancient people, form an abstract of such as were of a moral and lasting equity; which he performed as acceptably as judiciously….  He propounded unto them, an endeavour after a theocracy, as near as might be to that which was the glory of Israel, the peculiar people.’”[5]

The goal of the Puritans was to build “city on a hill.” Two modern day Covenant Theologians and historical revisionists wrote:

  • “They determined to change their society in the only way that could make any lasting difference: by giving it a Christianity that worked. And this they set out to do, not by words but by example, in the one place where it was still possible to live the life to which Christ had called them: three thousand miles beyond the reach of the very Church they were seeking to purify.
  • “[T]he legacy of Puritan New England to this nation, which can still be found at the core of our American way of life, may be summed up in one word: covenant…. [O]n the night of the Last Supper, to those who were closest to Him, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins….”[6]

To the contrary, covenant cannot be found, as understood by the Puritan theologians, now or anytime in the past, at the core of our American way of life. The idea of covenant at the core of our American way of life was that of the Baptists as expressed by the Warren Association at the close of the War for Independence:

“The American Revolution is wholly built upon the doctrine, that all men are born with an equal right to what Providence gives them, and that all righteous government is founded in compact or covenant, which is equally binding upon the officers and members of each community…. And as surely as Christianity is true, Christ is the only lawgiver and head of his church….”[7]

Nor is there a Bible principle that allows a nation to covenant with God contrary to the principles laid down in God’s Word. The Puritans incorrectly believed that every nation is in covenant with the Lord to enforce both His spiritual and earthly principles. They misunderstood the biblical teachings that God gives every nation a choice as to whether to follow His rules, and that nowhere in Scripture is there authority for a nation to initiate a non-biblical covenant with God. God alone initiated the Old Testament covenants to which He was a party, thereby, among other things, establishing Israel as a theocracy, and He made no such covenant with any other nation. All other nations called Gentile, and are judged by God primarily based upon their treatment of Israel.[8]

Covenant Theology[9] asserts that there are only two covenants, or three, in the Bible, with the other covenants which came after the Covenant of Grace being only a continuation thereof. The Covenant of Law, according to the covenant theologian, was made in the Garden of Eden. Covenant Theology superimposes the New Testament over the Old. Herein lies some of the fatal flaws in this interpretation of the Bible. In the Puritan formulation of those covenants, the principles and practices of the nation Israel and the Jewish religion were applied to the church and state. As has been shown, this presents irreconcilable conflicts with Old and New Testament teachings concerning law and grace and the relationship of church and state.

God permits a mutual compact or covenant between a ruler or the rulers and the people—a covenant that does not include God and His principles and that is not initiated or ordained by God.  God allowed even the people of the theocracy of Israel to reject Him and, like the Gentile nations, to have a king.[10] Isaac Backus taught as follows:

  • “Now the word of God plainly shows, that this way of mutual compact or covenant, is the only righteous foundation for civil government. For when Israel must needs have a king like the rest of the nations, and he indulged them in that request, yet neither Saul nor David, who were anointed by his immediate direction, ever assumed the regal power over the people, but by their free consent. And though the family of David had the clearest claim to hereditary succession that any family on earth ever had, yet, when ten of the twelve tribes revolted from his grandson, because he refused to comply with what they esteemed a reasonable proposal, and he had collected an army to bring them back by force, God warned him not to do it, and he obeyed him therein. Had these plain precedents been regarded in later times, what woes and miseries would they have prevented? But the history of all ages and nations shows, that when men have got the power into their hands, they often use it to gratify their own lusts, and recur to nature, religion or the constitution (as they think it will best serve) to carry, and yet cover, their wretched designs.”[11]

The Puritan ideal is disproved by correct interpretation of the Word of God, by biblical history and prophecy, and secular history, including the history of the colony of Massachusetts. Israel, populated by God’s chosen race, was directly under God, yet the Israelites rejected His theocracy so that they could have a king like all the other nations. Israel fared ill when they did things their way and were ruled by kings. Under both God and king, Israel refused to do things God’s way, and rejected his commandments and statutes. After the death of King Solomon, the nation divided in two. All of the kings of the northern kingdom, Israel, were bad. The southern Kingdom, Judah, had twenty kings—eight were good[12] and twelve were bad.  Both Israel and Judah, in accord with God’s philosophy of history, experienced religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political anarchy. They failed to keep the commandments and statutes of God and were taken into captivity as a result.

The Puritans failed to correctly interpret both the Old and New Testaments and secular history which clearly show that all nations that have ever existed have been judged by God, are in the process of being judged by God, or will be judged by God. They misinterpreted prophecy concerning the end times to say that the church, working hand in hand with the state will establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. Oh, had and would they (have) realize(d) that the New Covenant for the church had so much better promises and procedures than the Old Testament covenants. “But now hath he [Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”[13]

The Puritans wrongly, but truly, believed they could build the Kingdom of God on earth, in their lifetime—all they needed, they felt, was “the right time, the right place, and the right people” who “were willing to commit themselves totally.”[14] The Puritans did not realize that the philosophy of history in the Bible and the basic nature of man rendered their goal impossible. God describes the cycle of every civil government, Jewish and Gentile.

  • “The book of Judges is a philosophy of history. ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people’ (Proverbs 14.34).”[15]
  • “We see that philosophy in the book of Judges. Israel at first, for a short time, served God. Then they did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Israel then entered into a time of servitude. Israel cried out to God in their plight and distress.  They turned to God and repented. God heard their prayers and raised up judges through whom they were delivered.
  • “This cycle was repeated over and over. The book of Isaiah opens with God giving his philosophy of history. Isaiah outlines three steps that cause the downfall of a nation: (1) spiritual apostasy, (2) moral awfulness, (3) and political anarchy.”[16]
  • “Every nation goes down in this order: (1) religious apostasy; (2) moral awfulness; (3) political anarchy. Deterioration begins in the [church], then to the home, and finally to the state. That is the way a nation falls.”[17]
  • “In Judges 17-21, we have presented that philosophy of history [that was mentioned above]. In Judges 17-18, we see spiritual apostasy. In Judges 19, we see moral awfulness. In Judges 20-21, we see political anarchy. This period ends in total national corruption and confusion. ‘In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21.25).’[18]
  • “If you want to know just how up-to-date the book of Judges is, listen to the words of the late General Douglas McArthur: ‘In this day of gathering storms, as moral deterioration of political power spreads its growing infection, it is essential that every spiritual force be mobilized to defend and preserve the religious base upon which this nation is founded; for it has been that base which has been the motivating impulse to our moral and national growth. History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual reawakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.’”[19]

The Puritans felt that they were dedicated to serving the Lord and to doing things His way. They believed that they could set up a civil government modeled after biblical principles. They did not realize that even had they been upright in God’s eyes, future leaders would depart from the faith and lead the church and the civil government downhill into depravity just as happened in Israel and in all church-state marriages starting with the Catholics and up to the established churches after the Reformation, including the Church of England from which they were fleeing.


Endnotes

[1] 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), pp. 34-35.

[2] 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. xii.

[3] Backus, p. 35; Williams and Underhill, pp. x-xi.

[4] Williams and Underhill, pp. xii-xiii.

[5] Ibid., footnote 8, pp. xii-xiii, citing sources.

[6] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146.

[7] 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), pp. 265-266.

[8] See Section I.A. of these studies.

[9] See Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology and Their Importance to the Issue of Church and State Relationship in America.

[10] See 1 S. 8.

[11] Backus, Volume 1, APPENDIX B, p. 530

[12] Mannessa started out bad, was judged of God, then did good, making him the only bad king in Judah or Israel to repent and turn from his wicked ways. See 2 K. 21.1-18; 2 Chr. 33.1-20.

[13] He. 8.6; See all of He. 8.

[14] Marshall and Manuel, pp. 145-146.

[15] J. Vernon McGee, Joshua and Judges (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 111.

[16] Ibid., pp. 112-113.

[17] Ibid, pp. 113, 203.

[18] Ibid., pp. 203-214.

[19] Ibid., p. 113.

III. Old World Patterns of Church-State Union Were Transplanted to the Colonies through the Puritans, Episcopalians, and Others


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 24, 2018


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.”[1] 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.”[2] The Old World patterns of church-state union and religious oppression were transplanted to the New World with all their rigor.[3] 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:

  • Puritans hung 4 Quakers for returning to Massachusetts after being banished for their religious beliefs.

    “[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.”[4]

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 beating of Obadiah Holmes by the Puritans in Massachusetts

The Church of England was established in the southern colonies. In the Southern colonies, “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” (Marnell, pp. 63-64).

The theology of the established churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire led to a combining of church and state; infant baptism; taxing for payment of clergy, church charities, and other church expenses; persecution of dissenters such as Baptists; and many other unscriptural practices.[5] Persecution of dissenters follows 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,[6] and Elijah had the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal killed.[7]



Endnotes

[1] Jn. 16.2.

[2] Jn. 16.3.

[3] See, e.g., Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 63.

[4] [4] John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838),  p. 71

[5] 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.

[6] Ex. 32.27.

[7] 1 K. 18.40.

Articles on Christian Persecution – The Trail of Blood Continues

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Persecuted Christians and Churches Have Always Stood for Separation of Church and State

Baptists are not Protestants by Dr. Harold Sightler. Click image to go to a reading of “The Trail of Blood.”.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 18, 2018


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


A publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


Click here to go to Distinct Differences Between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive.
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Persecuted Christians down through the ages have stood for separation of church and state. They refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly, to the established church/state. This was apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after, and after the wedding of church and state in the early fourth century. Although they differed from the Church of England and others on some doctrines, “[t]he Puritans brought 2 principles with them from their native country, in which they did not differ from others; which are, that natural birth, and the doings of men, can bring children into the Covenant of Grace; and, that it is right to enforce & support their own sentiments about religion with the magistrate’s sword.”[1].

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“The religion of Jesus has suffered more from the exercise of this pretended right [to make religious establishments] than from all other causes put together; and it is with me past all doubt, that it will never be restored to its primitive purity, simplicity and glory, until religious establishments are so brought down as to be no more.”[2]

“But this people brought two other principles with them from their native country, in which they did not differ from others; which are, that natural birth, and the doings of men, can bring children into to the Covenant of Grace; and, that it is right to enforce and support their own sentiments about religion with the magistrate’s sword.”[3]

The “grand difficulty they [the Puritans] had with Mr. Williams was, his denying the civil magistrate’s right to govern in ecclesiastical affairs.”[4] Roger Williams correctly observed, concerning persecution of Christians by the Roman Caesars:

  • “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…” (, 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” (, p. 212).

Weapons used for spiritual warfare are not suitable for earthly warfare and vice versa. Roger Williams 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.”[5]
Beating of Obadiah Holmes by the Puritans in Massachusetts.

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.”[6]
Depiction of four Quakers being hung by Puritans for returning to Massachusetts after being banned for “heresy.”

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.”[7]

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.”[8] 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.”[9] The Corinthian church did expel the man and he repented and was restored.[10] 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. [5] v.13, Put away that evil person, &c. ”[11]

Titus was instructed by Paul: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject[.]”[12] 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[.]”[13]
  • “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.”[14]

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. A saved man and a church who love the Lord and want to glorify Him and who study the Word of God and specifically the Bible Doctrine of the church will stand for God’s principles regarding the church to the death; at least, that was the case of those martyrs for the faith who joyfully suffered and died rather than betray their Lord.


Endnotes

[1] 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), pp. 34-35.

[2] Backus, Volume 2, p. 249.

[3] Backus, Volume 1,  pp. 34-35.

[4] Backus, Volume 1, p. 53; Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 627-640.

[5] 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. 119-120.

[6] Ibid., pp. 212-213. See pp. 219-223 concerning the power of the magistrate in making laws.

[7] Ibid., pp. 213-214.

[8] 1 Co. 6.1-5.

[9] 1 Co. 6.7-11.

[10] See 2 Co. 7.8-11.

[11] Williams and Underhill, p. 62.

[12] Titus 3.10.

[13] Williams and Underhill, p. 20.

[14] Ibid., pp. 61-63.

New Testament Teaching Against Persecution of Heretics


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 10, 2018


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);

Click here for additional Bible verses and teaching on Persecution and Suffering.


Endnote

[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.