Separation Of Church & State - A Great Experiment
THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT
1a 228 years ago, the forefathers of this great nation met to establish a new nation
1b This nation's government would be unlike any that had ever existed before, it would be a unique and noble experiment
2b Preserving the freedoms of its citizens and giving them self-government, God would establish this to be:
1c An Example of Liberty for all
2c An Example of Compassion for the Needy - including its own enemy
3c An Example of Evangelizing the Lost - of every Nation
2a The element that made this nations so unique, was the equal status of the roles played by the state and religion in governing the people
I. The Need of Dual Government
1a The Lessons Learned from History
1b State Dominance of Government: they had experienced the consequences of such a government
1c When the secular state has full control there is usually a misuse of power:
1d Restricting the rights and freedoms of its people
2d Restriction, Suppression, and Persecution of part or all religions
3d Corruption of the rulers
2c This can be well documented in the words of the Declaration of Independence
“The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance….
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only…..
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone….
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:…..
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:….
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:……..
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands…….
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People
2b The Religious Dominance of Government
1c When a religion has complete control over the secular government there is the corruption of power
1d Repression, persecution of all other religions and ideas
1e Rome and its Inquisition
2e Church of England and persecution of other Christian Groups
3e Muslim Countries today
2d Required support of the State Religion by all citizens regardless of their beliefs
3d Corruption of religious and secular leaders
In the country of England during the late 1500 and early 1600s revival began to spread among the people. Governor William Bradford writes, "with the word of some godly preachers many people became enlightened by the Word of God and began to reform their lives. When they began to live in the light of God's Word they were scoffed and scorned by the multitude. The ministers were told to follow the laws of the church or else be silent. And the poor people were sorely vexed by the spying of the church officers and actions of the courts."
Seeing no hope for improving their lot in life, these Saints of God sought to find asylum in the Country of Holland (Netherlands) where religious freedom was practiced.
Though they found the freedom to worship God, they also found the living conditions severe at best and they endured this poverty stricken existence for 11 years. As one writer has wri tten, Many "preferred and choose the prisons of England to the liberty of Holland. Many were becoming old before their time....they had to press their children into heavy labor...their bodies bowed under the weight and many became worn out in their early youth."
Sailing in cramped quarters with no privacy for nine weeks, the pilgrim landed not in Virginia as they had hoped, but in Plymouth Rock, Mass in Nov. 1620. Their troubles were far from being over yet. Of the 102 who came to shore, 52 of them were dead by March due to the severe winter and the lack of proper provisions. At times during the winter, only 2 or 3 members were well enough to move about.
Yet, even though they endured all this just to worship God, we see no bitterness, no anger toward God, but rather thanksgiving at the help of the Indians and the arrival of the new harvest.
2c Therefore the only type of government that would best serve the people would be one that secured a balance between these forces created by God to govern man
2a The Lessons Learned from Scripture
1b God Establishes Secular Governments to Care for the physical needs of its people (I Pet. 2:13-7; Titus 3:1-2; Rom. 13:1-7))
1c Submit to our Governments in all matters
2c Support our Government in all matters
2b God Established the Church to serve as Government over the Sacred or Moral needs of its People (Matt 16:18)
1c Governed by God himself, through whom we have a heavenly allegiance and citizenship (I Pet. 2:11; Phil. 3:20)
2c Governed through local leadership and his word (Heb.13:17-19)
II. The Implementation of Dual Government
1a The Goal of Implementation
1b Having learned their lessons well, they now applied them in forming this new govern.
2b It would be a government of balance between the secular and sacred elements
2a The Elements of Implementation
1b #1: Co-laboring Forces in Governing: govt. was free to recognize religion and its role and religion of govt. and its role
1c Like two oxen or horses harnessed together, so both have to pull equally hard to have the strength and ability to do what is impossible for just one
2c So as long as both elements of this dual government pulled their own weight and remained separated, all would go well
2b #2: Supporting Forces in Governing
1c State provided for religion the order, protection, and freedom that it may function as it saw fit
2c Church provided for the state the moral fiber necessary to have an orderly, strong, fair, and successful form of government
III. The Demise of Dual Government: people do not understand these facts and that they are the underlying foundation of our form of Govt.!!!
1a Stated: The balance has been broken
1b The secular government has over stepped over Its boundaries by meddling in the realm of religion and by recognizing a state religion (Atheism and Humanism)
1c They remove Christianity from the realms it had freely once gone
2c It would give its approval to moral issues: homosexuality, abortion, obscenities, no moral absolutes
2b The religious element has responded by seeking to over step its boundaries in order to regain what was lost
1c Seeking to legislate moral laws - laws that were not needed to this time
2c Seeking to regain rights through legislation
3c Seeking to elect candidates through the pulpits
2a Cause: the Church of Christ became lax in its duties to carry out the commission of their Lord
1b Getting involved in Government and legislation are important, but these are only stop gap measures at best
2b Restoring the heart of America back to God through the regenerating work of Jesus Christ is America's only hope
1c Psa. 144:15, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."
2c Prov. 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any nation"
3c Dan 9:3-19, "So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. . . . . . 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. . . . . .17 "Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."