Authorized or Unauthorized?
2 Samuel 15 and 20
Samuel Lesson #222
July 21, 2020
“Father, we are thankful we have the opportunity to come together this evening and to see one another, to be encouraged by one another’s presence, even though we are in this time when most people are staying at home trying to keep from congregating. Father, we pray that You would continue to provide for this congregation as You have in the past.
“And Father, we pray for missionaries, we pray for Jim Myers. I heard today that he does have some new students, may have more new students for the Fall but just like everything else in our lives, there’s a question mark hanging over whether they’ll be able to actually congregate in the classroom or if they’ll need to continue to live stream her and in various ways. Father, we pray for them and provision for the needs that they have.
“Give all of us grace and patience remembering that a lot of times our patience is wearing thin simply because of all of the things that are going on and the uncertainty. May we trust You even more during this time focusing upon You, the God Who never changes, that despite all the chaos and change around us, we know that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Father, we trust You for that, we cast our burdens upon You, and cast our cares upon You because You care for us.
“Father, as we study tonight and continue the study of revolution, help us to think biblically in terms of application of principles as we go through history. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Tonight we’re not going to be doing exposition of Scripture. We’ve done a lot of that in the previous lessons to lay the groundwork, you know there are some ideas and some things that just have to be handled in multiple hours. There are ideas that are too big for 15 minutes or an hour or two hours. Just to remind you what I have done in the previous lessons, we are studying in 2 Samuel, and we studied the two rebellions: the rebellion of Absalom and the rebellion of Sheba. We’ve broken down and looked at various characteristics of rebellion and that rebellion is always first and foremost a matter of rebellion against God. That is a key principle to remember. It is a rebellion against God, and the rejection of God’s plan and purpose.
The second thing that we see about rebellion is that it always comes from arrogance, and as a result, there are so many unintended and unexpected consequences because sin breeds more sin. Sin has horrible consequences in the multiplication of other sins. And so, when we look at some rebellions in history, there are horrible, horrible consequences because of arrogance. Arrogance is going to make it worse.
The third thing that I think we need to remember is there’s no perfect government. There’s no perfect country; there’s no perfect society. We have to recognize that because of total depravity, there’s always something less than perfection, but that doesn’t mean that a country, a nation, a law code can’t be above and beyond everything else, that it can’t aspire to greatness. I think there was a quote by Vince Lombardi that said, “We can’t achieve perfection, but if we aim for perfection, perhaps we will achieve excellence.” I think that embodies what took place in the founding of this country. They were not perfect. They did not make a perfect Constitution; they made provision for changing the Constitution to correct ills in the country that they knew needed to be corrected on through the last two centuries.
But there’s a difference between understanding what you expect of a government when you understand that there’s going to be corruption, there are going to be failures, there can be problems because people are sinners, and they’ll never live up to our complete expectation. So therefore, we can deal with them in grace, have forgiveness and move on, and I think that’s very important to understand.
Last time we went through what the Bible teaches about authority, and we focused on Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 and 3, that the Bible states that government is established by God; that comes out of Genesis 9:6 in the covenant with Noah.
I think it’s important to recognize, I haven’t brought this out before, but the Divine Institution of government is the fourth Divine Institution, and it comes after the Flood. The first Divine Institution is human responsibility. Subsequent Divine Institutions do not override earlier Divine Institutions. Therefore, human government is designed to protect the institution of individual responsibility and especially responsibility toward God, that it is designed to protect marriage and to protect family.
When governments fail to protect the Divine Institutions, then it sets the stage for a nation to implode, and we’re going to see some examples of that as I talk through this tonight. But these were the principles that I have outlined in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 and 3 that were clearly understood by the Protestant reformers as they faced problems with government interference with the Reformation, and I began to talk about this last time.
I want to go back and spend a little more time looking at this tonight, but we’re going to explore this topic of overturning authority, authorized or unauthorized, and look at how these principles of Scripture were applied historically in Western civilization. That’s so important to understand some of these things because we can’t get a proper perspective on some of the things that are going on today unless we understand this as a background. There is so much that is not taught; there is so much that has never been learned. There is so much that is being distorted under historical revisionism today that we really have to take some time to look at historical facts.
History cannot be changed. History cannot be modified. Historical reality and historical facts are set. The battle that occurs is on how you go back and interpret those things. To do that, you really do have to understand the people, the beliefs that were taking place at the time, you have to read their writings, and you have to understand what they were attempting to do within the framework of where they were at that time of Western civilization’s development.
The first thing I want to do is give you little outline of what I hope to accomplish tonight. First of all, I want to go back and review The Magdeburg Confession where I ended last time. I want to review that and bring out some things that I did not bring out last time because it was at the end, and I was in a hurry.
The second thing I want to do is look at the impact of that, what The Magdeburg Confession states is what is called the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, and this has an impact on the English Civil War that was in the 1640s, when Oliver Cromwell led the Puritans and Parliament really against the King of England, against Charles I, ended up defeating him and committing regicide by taking off his head.
You can debate some of these things, whether that was really just or unjust, but it was important in understanding the development of English common law and the thinking of believers in relation to law and authority and unjust war and just war.
So, were going to look at the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Then we’re going to relate this and the importance of the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate to the thinking of the people in the colonies, the American colonists in relation to their view of the king and Parliament at the time of the American War for Independence. Then fourth, we will contrast the American War for Independence with the French, the Bolshevik, the Chinese Cultural Revolutions, and then current events. I will do that in approximately an hour, I hope.
Just to remind you when we think about a biblical worldview, we think about God. How do we view God? God is a personal, infinite God. He is the sovereign Creator of the universe. He is the one who is the absolute standard. He is perfect righteousness and perfect justice. And it is from understanding who He is in His character and His acts in history that we come to understand what biblical justice really is and what righteousness is, and we understand how it relates to love.
Second, we understand who man is. Man is created in the image and the likeness of God; human beings are distinctive. There’s no other creature, not angels, not any animal is created in the image and likeness of God. Primarily, this relates to the soul.
So, we are created in a position of honor, but there’s a problem and that problem is we’ve become sinful and corrupt. Every human being is a sinner. Every human being has a sin nature; that sin nature is never minimized in our whole life. We can control it as believers only through the power of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
The solution to sin is the redemption of Christ. It is not government. Government cannot do what only God can do. Government cannot bring about perfection. Government cannot solve the sin problem. The role of government is to protect the citizens from other citizens who have a major sin problem. It is to protect other citizens from criminality and to encourage responsibility. History, for the Christian is linear.
We believe there is a future Kingdom. Jesus will return and establish His Kingdom on earth, but that kingdom will be populated by those believers who survived the Tribulation. They will enter into that glorious Kingdom, and they will have children who have sin natures. It will be a somewhat perfect environment or perfect environment once removed. The curse is partially rolled back.
There will be some peace between animals and mankind. There won’t be thorns and thistles and things of that nature, but there will be sinners on the earth, and what the Kingdom demonstrates is that the problem isn’t with education. The problem isn’t with government. The problem isn’t with some sort of environmental factor. The problem with man is sin, and this is what is rejected by every other worldview other than biblical Christianity.
So, at the end, there are going to be millions and millions of human beings who rebel against the absolutely perfect justice of Jesus Christ. So, the overriding causative factor in human history isn’t man. It’s not economics. It is not education. It is not war. It is not the environment. The causative factor in human history is the plan of God under His providence. When we evaluate any other worldview, we have to work our way through those specifics.
When we look at Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 and 3, and then Acts 4 and 5 where Peter and John said that we must obey God rather than man, we set up an understanding of the biblical view of authority. God is the absolute authority. We have the triune God in the upper left. He is the absolute ultimate authority. He is a direct authority over human beings so that God’s Word stands over all other authorities.
He has delegated authority under Divine Institution #4—government, and Divine Institution #5—nations, to national governments and their subsidiaries. There are regional and city governments within the nation, and so I have those symbolized by a crown and by a police badge because there has to be an enforcement arm of the law of the land. Police are going to be corrupt and politicians are going to be corrupt; kings and queens are going to be corrupt because we are all sinners, we cannot expect perfection.
Yet, there are movements that are grounded on utopian ideals that are totally divorced from reality. So, we are to obey God instead of man when human authority directly contradicts divine authority. And by that, I mean when God says, “don’t do this,” and government authority says, “do it,” then we obey God rather than man, or if the situation is reversed.
A problem that we will see when we get into talking very briefly about the English Civil War is that there was a claim by the Stuart kings that they had a divine right to authority. They should be followed as absolute authorities. This is James I, Charles I and later, Charles II and James II after the failure of the Puritan Commonwealth. That is Option 1 [see slide]: absolute, total authority in the head of state. That is not what the Bible teaches.
Option 2 is that God is for government, not anarchy. The idea here is that God established the institutions of government, but He does not approve of every government or every act of government. Therefore, there are times when God opposes a human government’s decision. He is in opposition to tyranny, and while He holds human government, He permits it in His will, even though it fails.
The thing that we began looking at last week is what was written by the pastors of a city in Germany in the 16th century, the 1500s, called Magdeburg, and so this is an outline and an expression of why they felt it necessary to disobey the two authorities that they were under: one was the authority of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the other was the authority of the Pope, so we’re going to look at just a little background here.
The Protestant Reformation began October 31, 1517, by Martin Luther, who was an Augustinian monk. At this time, He was not trying to leave the Roman Catholic Church; he was not trying to overturn anything. He simply had come to a recognition that what the Bible teaches is that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is by faith in Christ, and that at that point, we are given the righteousness of Christ and declared just before God, and that became known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
What the Roman Catholic Church was teaching was that you could buy these indulgences, and if you had enough indulgences, that it would shorten your amount of time in Purgatory. The little saying was that for every penny that in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs. So, it was a great abuse of power and authority.
These 95 Theses were debating points about all of the evils and corruptions in the Roman Catholic Church at the time, but the unintended consequence was that Luther was going to be brought up on charges. In 1521, he was going to be tried by Emperor Charles V for heresy. And in 1521, the Emperor Charles V, had brought him to be tried.
Now let’s look at what happened. Prior to the edict of Wörms. It is not the diet of worms; this is not something they were eating—just have make that clear because there are some that will see this and say, “Diet of worms, what’s that?” Well, a “diet” was a formal legal assembly, a convocation for the purpose of making a significant decision, and it was located in the city of Wörms. That has an umlaut over the o (ö), so it is pronounced “Voerms,” not “worms.”
Luther is brought before him, and after going through all of the various arguments, he is called to appear before the young, 21-year-old Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, who was according to his titles, by God’s grace, augmenter of the realm of Germany, of Spain, the two Sicilys, Jerusalem, Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, King—so he is King, all of these places recognize that—Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy. He is the King of Spain and had just two years before been elected Germany’s Holy Roman Emperor, and he presided over more people in more land in Europe than Charlemagne did 700 years before.
When Luther appears on April 18, 1521, he is to give an answer to the question of whether he is willing to recant of all that he has written and recant of what he has taught about justification by faith. So here you have a secular authority who is telling him that he has to quit preaching the gospel, much like we saw with Acts 4 and Acts 5. He can no longer proclaim justification by faith, along with other doctrines that were unique to the Roman Catholic Church and not based upon the Bible.
So, as he is summoned by the Emperor, initially the day before, he had appeared and was asked to have another night to think about just how he would answer. I think that during this time Luther prayed deeply and profoundly that God would give him wisdom so that he could answer in a in a manner like Daniel.
It didn’t work out quite that way. His initial answer was, when he was asked on the morning of the 18th, “Do you wish to defend all of your acknowledged books or to retract some?” When they came into the room where they were holding this, they had put all of his writings out on a table and the Emperor looked at them and said, “Did one man write all this? How could one man write so much?”
Because Luther was quite, quite prolific, and so he was asked if he wished to retract some of them. And Luther gave a non-answer. He looked at them and he said that some of the books outline the problems and the difficulties, the corruptions in the church, and I’m sure that everyone here would agree with all of those insights, and so I don’t want to retract any of those.
Then he pointed out that there were some others that were also somewhat non-doctrinal and that no one would disagree with any of those. But he did say, when it came to the last group, that he would gladly retract anything that was shown to have been contradicted by the Bible. He said he would be glad—once this was proven that he contradicted the Bible—he would be glad to be the first one to throw his books into the fire, but that answer wasn’t enough. The response was that he should speak more clearly and more precisely, and it is at this point, that he made one of the most significant statements in the history of Christianity, in the history of Western civilization, and world history. His next statement changed history.
He said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often aired and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.” Notice his emphasis on conscience. That is what changes things. With this statement, the Protestant movement began.
Luther’s conscience was captive to the Word of God. That was his absolute authority. With the development of Lutheranism and then the expansion to the other aspects of the Protestant Reformation, the French Reformation, the Swiss Reformation, the Anabaptist Reformation, and eventually the English Reformation, the ultimate principal they held was that the believer was to obey the Word of God before all other authorities.
That reality that we stand before God on the basis of our own conscience, that we do what is right before God, and we have the freedom to choose to do what is right before God is the essence really of the first Divine Institution—that we are accountable to God for everything, that we believe in everything that we do, and that there are no civil authorities that can override. Our relationship to God is primary; that eventually becomes the foundation for the First Amendment. It is freedom of conscience that gives us the freedom to worship without government interference.
So, this becomes the very heart of the Protestant Reformation and the very heart of what happens over the next 500 years with the development of the concepts of freedom and liberty. But there’s an inherent problem in this, and that problem is if everybody runs around and claims that I have absolute authority, and says my conscience says this and my conscience says that, then the end result of that will be chaos, anarchy.
Mark Noll, in his book Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity which looks at key events in the history of the church says that “Luther’s conscience was captive to the Bible, but the court was quick to ask, ‘What if everyone simply followed his or her own conscience?’ ” Noll observes, “The result is obvious, you have chaos and nothing certain.” So somewhere there has to be a balance point where people are free to follow their conscience before God, but not in such a way as it infringes on the rights and the freedoms of other people.
But what I wanted to point out there is not to solve that particular problem, but to recognize that it is this issue of the recognition of each individual’s right to serve God the way in which his conscience dictates. That is at the foundation of freedom and is at the core of our first Divine Institution.
As I pointed out last time, Charles V issued his edict and he called for the arrest of Luther and he said: “For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, whereupon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work.”
So, this began a war, basically, that developed in Germany. Remember Germany at that time was not united; you just had duchies; you just had smaller states under various princes, but you didn’t have a unified Germany. That didn’t come until the end of the 1800s, and so this is a time when many of these princes decided that they would follow Luther, and they would not follow the Holy Roman Emperor. So, this caused a division that was at the root of what then developed into a war with these various duchies and the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1531, we had the development of the Schmalkaldic League formed by Prince Philip of Hesse and Prince John Frederick I of Saxony. John Frederick III had defied the Emperor, and he was the one who was protecting Luther, Prince Frederick III of Saxony.
This began people thinking through this issue of sort of a hierarchy, and they began to develop this Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates that pertains to circumstances when a higher authority enacts an unjust law. It is unjust because the Emperor is telling a subject that he must give up the gospel, basically. He must give up the doctrine of justification by faith alone—recant of it and not teach that anymore.
So, Luther is basically saying that, “I have to obey God rather than man just like Peter and John.” “When a higher authority enacts an unjust law, then a lower authority has the right and the responsibility to interpose himself between the higher authority and the citizen to protect the citizen from an unjust law.” This is what Frederick III of Saxony was doing. He was the prince. He was the ruler of Saxony, and he was going to violate the command of the Emperor.
So, there developed in 1531 this league of states called the Schmalkaldic League, to defend themselves against the attacks of Charles V. In 1531, Magdeburg joined the Schmalkaldic League.
In 1546, Luther died. Then after Luther was gone, before that Charles could not get any headway so he didn’t push his edict, but after Luther died, then he pushed it in view of the Lutherans. So, he came up with something called the Augsburg Interim.
The essence of the Augsburg Interim was to demand Lutherans, number one, restore the sacraments. Now sacraments in Roman Catholic theology are the means you receive grace. That is contrary to what Lutherans believe and what we believe. We believe we receive grace through Christ on the Cross. It is not parceled out in increments each time we observe a sacrament.
Lutherans had reduced the sacraments to two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s table. Luther still had a somewhat Roman view of the Lord’s table—it was an odd view. I’m not going to get into consubstantiation and all those different things, but they had to return completely to all of the Roman Catholic ceremonies, doctrines, and practices. So, their doctrinal beliefs were being dictated by the Holy Roman Empire. They were required to obey the pope and to recognize the pope as the head of the church, and they were required to reject and recant of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That is what puts this in the category of Acts chapters 4 and 5. And so as this war goes on, there are various losses and eventually all of the different towns and cities bow the knee to Charles V, except for Magdeburg.
The pope had given Charles V the authority to use force against those who refused to return to Rome, and so the pope got in this authority to prepare for war and to attack those who rejected him. That is the background.
They were defeated April 24, 1547, and he imprisoned Philip of Hesse and John Frederick of Saxony.
What happened at that point after the Augsburg Interim had been set up, the only city to stand against the emperor was Magdeburg.
The pastors in Magdeburg said, “No we will not recant of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the other doctrines.”
They set forth in The Magdeburg Confession, the statement that “When a higher or superior authority makes an unjust or immoral law or decrees, the lower (lesser) authority in government has the right—even the duty in the sight of God—to interpose against that immoral law or decree, to refuse obedience to the immoral law or decree, and if need be, to openly resist the unjust or immoral law or decree made by the higher authority.”
In essence, what happened is that Luther, under the authority of God and the Scriptures, had held to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but the Holy Roman emperor was saying you have to give it up. So, does he obey God or obey man? He did not fight back. He didn’t say nasty things to the emperor. He didn’t call upon his people to rise up in insurrection; he left the castle.
He was kidnapped by Frederick III’s men and taken to a to the Wartburg Castle where over the next year, he translated the New Testament into German, which is still the popular New Testament that is used in Germany.
As things developed after Magdeburg, what happened there is that the people there were not going to bow the knee to Charles, but they didn’t have an insurrection. They didn’t fight; they didn’t go out and try to make problems and make trouble. Trouble was going to come to them. As Charles V’s army approached, they took defensive action, and they burned the fields around the city, and they continued to write, publish, produce tracts explaining their position and putting that out around Germany.
The siege lasted a year. During the siege and the battles that ensued, over 4,000 of Charles’ army were killed, 468 Magdeburgers died, so obviously the holding of that defensive position was good. But they were almost starved out; they didn’t have much food, water, all those things that come along with the siege, but the siege ended on November 4, 1551, with favorable terms from the emperor. Eventually, their resistance was responsible for uniting the German states against Charles and pushing his armies out of Germany. That’s the result.
In the writing of The Magdeburg Confession, they state the following: “The idea of unlimited obedience to the state is an invention of the Devil.” We do not believe that we owe unlimited obedience to any authority, because there are authorities who will tell us to do things that God said not to do and not to do things that God said to do, and so then we have a right to obey God and not man.
They went on to say, “When the state makes laws commanding us to do that which God forbids, or makes laws permitting us to do that which God commands, we obey God rather than the state,” which is what I just said.
“… Whether a Christian magistrate can or ought to preserve his State and the Christian teachers and hearers in it against his own superior magistrate, and drive off by force one who is using force to compel people to reject the true doctrine and true worship of God and to accept idolatry.” That’s the question.
The warning they have is, “… Even good men are sometimes carnally impatient of injuries, and can badly abuse opinions that have been rightly handed down to them by employing them at the wrong time or place.” In other words, there are people who can react to authority and the authorities made a right decision, and they are accused of all sorts of unjust things.
In that they said, “… We will gladly render obedience—as much as we are able and we owe you.”
“That except for the preservation of our religion, nothing else is sought; that when this is gained, our Senate and citizens will be most obedient in all their proper duties according to your Majesty’s laws.”
“We again affirm the from the sure Word of God that when superior magistrates attempt to force Papistical idolatry upon their citizens, to overwhelm the true worship of God and His true worshippers, just as they have now begun to do, by unjust maneuvers with their laws, even if they pretend otherwise—then pious magistrates are not only able, but even have an obligation to resist them as far as they are able, to defend the true doctrine, worship of God, life, modesty, and the property of their subjects, and preserve them against such tyranny.”
Notice also protection of property; that’s important, and the protection of private property and private ownership of property runs through all of the thinking related to just wars. That basically summarizes the essence of the of The Magdeburg Confession.
All of this, as I’ve stated, follows the pattern with John and Peter in Acts 4 and 5. The issue for the citizens and leaders in Magdeburg and for all of the others was whether they would obey God or man.
The king and the pope were demanding that they recant of the gospel of justification by faith alone. This was a clear violation of their Divine Institution #1. And when we make claim of this—let me just put this warning in here like the warning I just read—when we make claims of this, we have to make sure that it is something that is specifically stated in the Word of God, not some abstract theological principle, but it has to be very clear that God is saying specifically in the Bible what to do or not to do, and that the government is legislating on point of the prison or pain or punishment to do the opposite. So, the lesser magistrates in Magdeburg followed the counsel of the pastors and they would not leave.
This is a doctrine that is basically grounded in what was known as “just-war theory.” I’m not going to go through it. I put a couple things up last week from Thomas Aquinas, but this goes back to the fifth century BC in the development of the thinking of the church. Where are the boundaries on authority? When should a Christian participate in war or not?
All of these different questions were coming up and it was Augustine the Bishop of Hippo that first articulates a just-war theory—that there are occasions, just as a person, an individual has the right to defend himself, so it is necessary for a city or a nation to defend itself against enemies, and that becomes the essence of just-war theory.
So, this gets developed even more under Aquinas who is, even today, considered the chief theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, and he articulates the same thing. I’m not going to take the time to go through their arguments and show you those things because we have other things that we need to spend our time on.
We recognize that there are just wars and there are unjust wars. Now pay careful attention to what I’m going to say. There is no such thing as a perfectly just war; the reasons for it may be just, but the people who are involved in the war, even on the just side of the just, are sinners, and they will do things that are unrighteous and unjust, but that does not mean that the cause of the war is unjust.
In the same way, there is no completely just or righteous nation this side of the Millennial Kingdom, and we cannot make there be a perfect just nation because nations are made up of sinners and corrupt people. But remember, if you don’t have a Judeo-Christian worldview; if you’re operating on naturalism; if you are operating on any form of Darwinism as your ultimate authority, as your ultimate understanding, ultimate origin, where there’s nothing but eternal matter, eternal energy, then you have no basis for defining something as good or bad, not in any kind of absolute sense.
You eventually reach that in postmodernism because if you say that something is wrong, it is simply wrong because that’s what society has come up with, that’s what the majority of people have come up with. And you may go to the next country or the next continent and people have come up with a different idea, and they may say that that what you say is wrong over there is perfectly fine and just here because there’s no absolute to appeal to.
In Darwinism, the ultimate causative factor in Darwinism is not the providence of God because in Darwinism there is no God, but the ultimate causative factor in Darwinism is struggle and fight and survival. What is the catchphrase the slogan of Darwinism? Survival of the fittest, which sounds great to most people, but it doesn’t explain one important thing that it’s allegedly supposed to explain: It doesn’t explain the arrival of the fittest. How did they get there to begin with?
But the survival of the fittest means competition, means fighting for certain things, and the stronger one, the one that can win, is the one that has the right to go on and to propagate the species so that you can continue evolution according to Darwin. The basic problem with that is it’s saying that there’s no real right or wrong; it’s just power.
This is actually what worked itself out in what became known as social Darwinism, which was at the very heart of the ideology of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was a major player in the thinking of Europe in the 19th century and early 20th century. Now after World War II, and especially the Holocaust, people came along and said, “No, no, no, no, no: social Darwinism is an illegitimate conclusion from Darwinism.”
On what basis? On what basis can you say that? “Well, see it ended up in something bad.”
“Where do you get the idea of bad? You have no right to the idea of bad; bad and good, righteous and unrighteous, are Bible terms; they’re God’s terms you can’t use them. You don’t have a right to it because in your system, what happens just happens; it’s natural and survival of the fittest is the mechanism to go forward.”
So, we have to recognize that in their view, there’s no such thing as sin, and their view is that everybody is perfectible. But we believe that just as there is no perfect person and no perfectible person apart from the grace of God in eternity, there is no completely just nation; it’s never going to be perfect. And in all of these other systems of thinking—Marxism, naturalism, all these other systems—they all end up thinking that man can bring in some sort of worker’s paradise, some utopic state.
Just as there are just nations and unjust nations, just nations will have examples of injustice within them. Unjust nations will have examples of justice at times within them, but they’re characterized mostly by injustice. So, just because there are examples of injustice in a nation does not mean the nation is not just in the same way.
There is no completely just law code developed by human beings because all law codes developed by human beings will have inequities. But a just code will have a framework within it for self-correction, for correcting the laws within it that need to be rewritten, that need to be corrected, that need to be removed.
This is true of our Constitution. It was not perfect; the people who wrote it knew it what wasn’t perfect, but it was better than anything else that was out there. It was not inerrant; it did not come down from God, but it included the means to modify and correct injustices including slavery. At the time that the Constitution was written though, slavery was an accepted norm throughout the world, and I’m not trying to justify it, but that was an accepted norm.
We have to always interpret people in history within the time in which they were written. We can’t go back in history, and look at somebody like John Calvin and say, “Well, you silly boy; you weren’t a premillennialist.” That really hadn’t developed yet; his battle was on justification by faith, not eschatology, so you can’t judge people in a historical time on the basis of the later developments.
At the time the Constitution was written, which was 1789, you just had the beginnings of a movement of an anti-slavery, the anti-slave trade movement in England by evangelicals such as John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, William Wilberforce, and Granville Sharp, who was a brilliant Greek scholar.
So that was just beginning. But it wasn’t until about 1815 or 1816 that you have the law passed in the British Empire that abolished the slave trade, but other countries were still practicing that. It was practiced by the Arabs in Africa, and it was practiced across the world. It had been the norm across the world for 4,000 or 5,000 years of history. So, we have to understand that. They were really transforming the world, and it came out of white people—white evangelical Christians who were the ones who pushed to abolish the slave trade.
Eventually within the framework of the American Constitution, there were a number of states that abolished slavery. There were states like Connecticut and Massachusetts and other states in the north, so that by the mid-1820s, all of the states north of the Mason-Dixon line had ended slavery in those states, but not in the South. That eventuated in the horrors of the War Between the States, but I’m getting into other things.
My point is that we have to understand that human beings are sinners. There’s no perfect system of justice. There’s no perfect system of government. There’s no perfect legislation, and we always strive though for perfection, hoping we will hit excellence.
Now the next thing I want to talk about is the impact of the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate on the English Civil War, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. I’m not going to say much about this, but it’s important. What happened there was based on their understanding and application of the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate.
In both of these, the issue was calling the nation and the national leadership back to the principle of the rule of law, and for them, that was English common law going back to the Magna Carta in Runnymede in the 13th century, when the barons of England forced King John to submit to them signing the Magna Carta. It established the fact that the king of England served at the pleasure of the lords, the barons of England, so that he was not an authority unto himself. He is not an absolute authority, and in fact this led to the development of the thought in English common law, that the king was under the law.
There were battles and there were fights. It wasn’t a smooth path, but by the 1600s, around 1630 or 1640, there was a Puritan writer by the name of Samuel Rutherford who wrote a book. The Latin title is Lex Rex—the law is king; not the king is law. This was the idea of the divine right monarchy of the Stuarts, James I, Charles I, and James II and Charles II. But this is why you had the English Civil War.
It established the rule of law that the king was not a law unto himself and that he should rule in coordination with the parliament. This is when parliament was beginning to develop during the 1600s, but this set the standard in the 1600s of the English tradition of the rule of law, and that is what eventually made England great. It was based on the influence of Judeo Christianity. It wasn’t about power. It wasn’t about wealth. It wasn’t about prestige; it wasn’t about birthright and aristocracy; it was about the rule of law.
We as Americans are in that tradition; we believe in the rule of law. What we are witnessing today is an attempt to overthrow the rule of law: chaos, the destruction of property, the destruction in some degree of life—that hasn’t happened in recent things that we’ve seen, but it’s happened in some of these anarchist attacks back in the 1960s and back in the1970s.
I want to say a few things about the relation of The Magdeburg Confession to what happened in the American War for Independence. There is an article that I have read and I have done enough study on it, too, that I am grateful for it because it pulls together a lot of different ideas and quotes in history, and is very well done.
It’s written by Eric Patterson who is the Dean of the Senator Robert A. Willis School of Government at Regent University and a research fellow at the Berkeley Center of Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. He’s the author and editor of 11 books. And Nathan Gill, who at the time this was published in 2014, was a candidate for PhD in politics at Hillsdale College and a graduate of Regent University.
It’s entitled, The Declaration of the United Colonies: America’s First Just War Statement, and this declaration of the united colonies is not referring to the Declaration of Independence, but a declaration that was made a year earlier that lays out the real basis for why there was tension and why there was war. Because by the time it was written on July 6 of 1775, it was three months after the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and all the battles that took place around Boston.
They have made a very compelling argument, which I will try to summarize very briefly. The argument that they make is that the king was to be under the law according to English common law, but George III, and Lord North were acting as if the king were a law unto himself. It was that same problem they faced back with the Stuarts in the 17th century. From 1765 until 1775, there were unceasing attempts and petitions and people going to Parliament to solve the tensions between the colonies and the government.
As a result of that, finally it reached the point where it became clear that this just wasn’t going to work. I’m just going to run you through a little bit of history here. Britain’s colonies in America had a high degree of autonomy from the very beginning. Most of the colonies were founded at the expense of private individuals who were risking their capital in order to establish these outposts and trading posts in the Western Hemisphere. They were not founded by the British government. The colonists obtained charters from the crown that, “forever granted Americans the same liberties, and immunities as if they had been born within this, our realm of England.” That is from the first Charter of Virginia in 1606.
Perhaps the most important English right was freedom from taxes to be levied without consent. The colonists understood that their assemblies were to operate independently of the British government, within the colonies. So, all of the colonies’ business within the colony, taxation and everything else, was to be controlled by the local colony government. Anything that involved trade outside of the colony came under the control of the king and was at the interest of the empire.
Disputes began to arise over these arrangements by the latter part of the 17th century, but several times, Parliament agreed and was obliged by law to recognize the legitimacy of the colonials’ claim. Again and again, they backed off and recognized the legal language in the charter. But after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Parliament assumed more power, more authority, and assumed that they were acting as the voice of the king.
So the old consensus that the colonies were sovereign within their internal borders and that England really only had control over things that were going to happen outside of the borders, began to break down. But they were not legally evaluating or examining the laws and the legal consequences of their actions.
By the time you reached the 1760s, one writer stated that the Constitution became precisely what Parliament said it was. You see, they were beginning to act as a dictator; they were interpreting. It wasn’t going through a judicial system. Parliament was just arbitrarily making the law mean whatever they wanted it to mean.
William Pym, who was a member of Parliament, argued that by virtue of this authority,
“the British Parliament can at any time set aside all the charters that have ever been granted” if those charters ceased to serve the general. Although British officials such as Lord Camden, William Pitt, and Edmund Burke argued vociferously against those claims. but after the French and Indian War, the Seven Years War, Britain wanted more money to pay the cost, and they began to house more soldiers here in the colonies. That was not supposed to be part of the deal.
There weren’t any wars going on at that time, so that also because of various problems along with an increase in taxes ... And at the time, Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations, the foundational book for pre-free market economy and economic theory, said that these taxes sacrificed colonial commerce to British mercantile interests. So, the basic question that developed here had to do with this role of authority.
Remember, seventy-five percent of colonies came out of a reformed tradition, a number of the others came out of the Lutheran tradition, only two percent came out of the Roman Catholic tradition. So they were all influenced by the basic thinking of The Magdeburg Confession, arguing that resistance was justified only when it was a violation of basic rights related to their God-given unalienable rights.
So, since law is supposed to be king, the colonists began to appeal on the basis of law over the next years. In fact, they were ignored. They sent petition after petition, and they were ignored by Parliament; they were ignored by the king, even a petition from the merchants of London that supported the colonists’ cause was ignored by Parliament. These guys write that, “similar petitions from major English cities like Bristol, Glasgow, Norwich, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and others met an identical fate.” I had no idea that so many cities in England were coming along supporting the colonial cause and saying, look what you’re doing is unfair to them; if you’ll relax, they’ll do better. If they do better in commerce, we’ll do better in commerce. These things need to change.
The bottom line on this was that proposals for conciliation completely failed. Although influential voices called for concessions, the response from Lord North and King George III were uncompromising. They just ignored it, so the colonists were pursuing every legal avenue possible. In April 1775, you had the outbreak of hostilities there in Massachusetts and the Continental Congress met. In July 1775, they authored a couple of things, one of which was called the Olive Branch Petition. This was a petition to reach an area of compromise with the king to avoid all hostilities at whatever cost. The day after they voted on the Olive Branch Petition, they put forth the Declaration of Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms.
This is rather a lengthy document. I’m not going to go through it, but it is based on this whole Magdeburg Confession. It’s absolutely important to understand that. So, what’s happened here is when the king got the Declaration of Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, then he did what? He responded to it? No, not at all. What happened is that he treated the Olive Branch Petition with contempt and declared that the colonies were in rebellion. This was the problem because they were not in rebellion. They had been doing everything they could to resolve the problem and he ignored them, and this went on and we know what resulted in that was their coming to our country.
In this paragraph, it states that, “The Declaration of Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms in July 1775 penned primarily by the conservative delegate John Dickinson, was a declaration of self-defense. It laid out a history of British oppression and once again made the colonists’ long-established legal case that Parliament’s jurisdiction over the colonies was external and not internal,” as I’ve already gone through.
What do these things have in common? When we contrast, these English wars, the Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, which was a peaceful revolution—no shots were fired—and the American War for Independence, the French Revolution—I’ve heard this all my life—the French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, the Cultural Revolution, this stuff that is going on today were not the same. What’s the ultimate difference? The ultimate difference is that the English were arguing for the rule of law. Second, they were all believers in a Judeo-Christian worldview. They were believers in God as the ultimate Lawgiver.
In contrast with the French, Bolshevik, Cultural Revolution, and what’s going on today in the streets is that they are atheists from Black Lives Matter, to Antifa, to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, to the Bolshevik Revolution, and the French Revolution. The leaders hated Christianity. The leaders hated biblical truth and were revolting against biblical truth.
Second, they all believed to one degree or another that man was improvable, and they could bring in a more perfect government and a more perfect society. They attempted to create this utopia. This is the whole idea in Marxism, and Marxism is leading to ultimately to a worker’s “paradise.”
So, they reject law and they overturn a government and they’re rejecting everything that the prior government held and stood for. They use chaos and disorder and violence to replace the government. And last of all, within all of these systems, whether you’re talking about the French Revolution, or you’re talking about the Bolshevik Revolution, or you’re talking about Black Lives Matter, Antifa, all of these different groups, the Weathermen of the 1960s, any of them: They have no basis for talking about justice or righteousness. They have no basis philosophically; they have no basis for ethics. They have no basis for right and wrong.
Today we’re seeing a complete group that is comprised of a toxic brew of the following elements, some of these you need to look up and learn; some of these I don’t know that much about yet. I’ve been reading a lot about all of them:
(1) cultural Marxism, which is different from economic Marxism, but is at the heart of all of these movements;
(2) identity politics, which says it doesn’t matter what the individual does says or believes; what matters is what group he’s in. It’s a complete rejection of the first Divine Institution.
(3) They believe in social justice, which is based on identity politics; the justice is for the group, not related to the individual;
(4) Critical race theory, which also ties in with social justice and identity politics;
(5) intersectionality, which has to do with all of these different disenfranchised groups, whether you’re talking about an ethnic minority, or women—even though women are in the majority of the population, they’re considered a minority; you have LGBTQ—when two or more of these are working together, that’s what intersectionality relates to; they’re based on an extension of postmodernism, which has no ultimate view of right or wrong;
(6) ecumenicalism in the church—let’s all get together, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya; there’s no difference between them and what’s going on in a couple of significant denominations. The Presbyterian Church of America and the Southern Baptist Convention are all being invaded by social justice warriors, and it’s all built on the concept of white privilege.
Now just quickly because we’re here, I wanted to show you a couple of things because we ought not get away from this tonight. This is Patrisse Cullors, and she is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. Listen to what she says, “We have an ideological frame, myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super versed on sort of ideological theories, and I think that what we really try to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.” So, what she is saying is that they are trained Marxists. They have an ideology and that’s what they’re trying to impose on the country.
This is a recent event that just occurred. It’s a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London just in the last couple of weeks where this individual, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, is basically saying there’s one common enemy: the white man. “Talk about black issues and LGBT issues and exclude them as if they are some individual issue. You need to be looking at this using intersectionality, which is a word, you know, that is thrown around, but what does it really mean. It means recognizing that there is one common enemy: the white man. And the systems that they use are capitalism, patriarchy, and fascism. They were created and perpetuated by white men, for white men, and in the interest of white men.” What we are seeing here is a full-bore assault as we saw last Thursday night when I showed the poster that was up on the Smithsonian. It’s not about the white man; this is not an attack on a white man.
It is an attack on every single Divine Institution.
When you had the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, the American War for Independence, it was a desire to restore the rule of law, and to be more consistent in the observance of the Divine Institutions.
Even in the English Civil War, this was back in the 1630s, 1640s, which was the time that gave birth to what is called the British restoration—it was a movement as they were coming to premillennial convictions and recognizing that God had a plan and purpose to restore the Jewish people to their historic homeland. They were philo-Semitic, they were not anti-Semitic. So all the Divine Institutions were coming into play. But when you get to these other groups, they reject all of them. Black Lives Matter is falling all over itself to build their coalitions with the Palestinian Authority and they are anti-Israel.
One more thing I want to look at as we wrap up is, I have a statement here: This is BlackLivesMatter.com; this is the section of “what we believe”; this is their doctrinal statement. When you get down into their doctrinal statement, not only are they Marxists—that’s the underlying philosophy—not only do they have major players within the movement in the upper echelons of leadership, who began when blowing things up with the Weather Underground and being in prison for a couple of decades back in the 70s and 80s involved in this, but they make certain statements. They say: “We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.” They are very open to all the LGBTQ stuff, which violates both the Divine Institution #2 of marriage, #3 of family. “We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle”—so they want to undo and tear apart—“cis-gender privilege and uplift black trans folk.”
They want to do away with biblical marriage and traditional marriage and “to uplift black trans folk especially black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans- antagonistic violence.”
Next, “we make our spaces family-friendly” and on the next one, “we disrupt the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and villages.”
Next paragraph, “We foster queer-affirming networks.” Bottom line is what they are stating is hostile to the Divine Institution #1 because they practice identity politics, which is all about the identity; it’s all about white people; white men, so that’s number one. Number two, they are against marriage. Number three, they are against family. Number four, they are against government and the representatives of government, because they want to get rid of all of the police.
So, all of this flows from their basic view that man is good and you don’t need that. So that sets it up; that tells us that what is going on today is significantly different from anything that has gone before in American history. They want to destroy America.
I have another video—maybe also next week—of one of the speakers in this riot going on in Portland who said “we want to demand that America be dismantled, and we want to end the United States and get rid of the Constitution.” So, this is what they want.
The enemy is not white men. The enemy is Judeo-Christianity. The enemy is the Bible, because it is the Bible that transformed Western civilization. Because before the New Testament, before the Apostle Paul took the gospel to Europe, they were just as pagan and just as in moral and out of it as any African, any Asian, any Aborigine anywhere. They were as barbaric. What transformed Western Europe was the Bible. What they want to do is take the Bible out of everything. So, essentially this organization is anti-God.
Remember, the rejection of God’s principles is the rejection of God and the rejection of His plan, and if this country rejects, then we’re in trouble and there’s a plan of action. Here we have the most important election in our lifetimes coming up. I just participated in the Texas State Republican convention. We have to work within, find people, get organized, work for candidates, pound the pavement, work the phones, whatever is necessary. We have to get Christians out. We’ve got to get people out and voting because voting is our right, it’s our privilege, and voting is our franchise and we need to exercise it or we may never really have an honest vote or election again.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity we’ve had to look at these things tonight and to understand how your Word impacts history and has impacted our country. Father, we pray that You would help us to be discerning as we take the Bible and apply it to current events and things that are going on, that we may see the truth and not be deceived by the father of lies.
“Father we pray for the many multitudes of Christians that have been deceived, that somehow their eyes would be open to what is going on. But we have little hope if You do not change them because there’s such an attraction, such an ignorance, such a failure to learn, and to know that it befuddles us. But Father, we pray that You would turn things around, and we put this country and our future and its future in Your hands and pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”