Election Day Sermon — 2008

Introduction

Preaching a formal sermon to civil authorities on Election Day is a tradition unique to New England. Election Day in 18th and 19th century New England was a holiday that often began with cannon firing and a martial procession of government officials from the seat of government to a nearby church. There the most important members of the community–the governor and other elected officials, the clergy and socially prominent individuals–listened to a sermon often two to three hours long. It was a ritual in which the male, Christian, voting community (as one contemporary observer put it) “met together in a solemn assembly to give thanks to the God of heaven for the many great and distinguishing privileges, both civil and religious, which we are favored with; and to ask direction and a blessing from on high, upon all the administrations of government in the land.”

I.) Some General Considerations

It is not generally well known that our whole form of government and governmental system originally came to us out of the soil of Reformed Christianity. The their book “Fountainhead Of Federalism” McCoy and Baker trace the origins of the political thought that shaped our Federalism from the Reformation notions of covenant as applied to the realm of political thought. John Witte does something very similar in his book on political thought in the Reformed tradition. This idea of a bilateral covenant (contract) where the people take on certain responsibilities and make certain promises to the Magistrate who likewise takes on certain responsibilities and makes certain promises to the people to rule in keeping with God’s word is the original basis of our system of Federal system of Government. One can trace a line of Reformed political thought from Bullinger which would include Dupleiss Mornay’s well known work “A Defense Of Liberty Against Tyrants,” the writings of Samuel Rutherford, John Winthrop, Johannes Althusius, right on to Jonathan Witherspoon and James Madison. All these men didn’t agree on every detail of their political theory but all were influenced by the idea of covenant as an organizing principle upon which political theory could be discussed.

A.) It has always been the view of Reformed people that God is alone Sovereign.

1 Sam. 2:6-7 The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.

Ps. 103:19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.

Pr. 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

This conviction that God alone is sovereign resulted in political systems of thought that did not allow absolute Sovereignty to be located in any one realm in a culture or society. Since God alone is absolutely Sovereign nothing else may be invested with that kind of absolute Sovereignty that God alone has – not the Church, not the family, and most especially not the State.

Practically what this meant is that Reformed people have seldom been particularly inclined to Monarchy in the Church or in the State, since Monarchy so often slips into absolute sovereignty. Nor have they been particularly inclined to elevate Church or State as one institution over the other as other Christian expressions have. To lift one institution in a culture over all others would be to invest that exalted institution with the kind of sovereignty that only God has.
Historically what Reformed people have thus done is built Republican forms of government, both in the Churches they built and in the States they have created, where sovereignty and power is diffused throughout the society.

The result of this has been the building of equal and co-ordinate centers of power that each exercises a portion of God’s delegated authority in their particular realm. In this way sovereignty was shared with the intent that God would be honored and tyranny would be avoided; God honored because absolute sovereignty remained invested in God alone — tyranny avoided because with God’s delegated sovereignty diffused throughout a society none of the equal and co-ordinate centers of power would be able to rise above the other to seize complete and total sovereignty.

B.) It likewise has always been the view of the Reformed That Man Is Sinful

Scripture teaches that all of us “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Scripture teaches “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Scripture teaches that believers likewise continue to struggle against sin. (Romans 7)

This view of man as sinner reinforced some observations that we’ve already made.

Because Man is a sinner Reformed notions of Government have always been to limit the power of Government and Governors,

“It is therefore most wholesome for magistrates and officers in church and commonwealth never to affect more liberty and authority than will do them good, and the people good: for whatever transcendent power is given will certainly overrun those that give it and those that receive it…. It is necessary, therefore, that all power that is on earth be limited, church power or other. If there be power given to speak great things, then look for blasphemies, look for licentious abuse of it….It is therefore fit for every man to be studious of the bounds which the Lord hath set: and for the people, in whom fundamentally all power lies, to give as much power as God in His word gives to men.”

John Cotton (1584-1652)

This distrust of a Government that does not know its boundaries as expressed by the Reformed minister John Cotton in the 17th century is echoed again by the Deist Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century.

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” – Thomas Jefferson

The Puritans created a worldview that was unknowingly accepted even by their posterity that no longer walked with God.

Since man was a sinner no man should be given to much power. Reformation theology agreed that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Because Reformed people believed with the Scriptures that man was a sinner they introduced checks and balances and plurality of leadership into the forms of government that they built.

Now, these two general considerations should already give us a principle in our voting Tuesday – and that principle is that when we vote we should be voting against any candidate or party that desires to consolidate power into one person or to a centralized location.

We have a need to realize in our voting that when we vote to consolidate and centralize political power we are at the same time voting against the other realms that God has ordained to delegate authority. When we vote for those who will empower the State to be responsible to feed, clothe, and educate our children, we vote against the sovereignty that God has delegated to the Family. When we vote for those who might restrict what can be said in the pulpit we vote against the Church.

As voters we must realize that temporal sovereignty is not infinite and whenever you invest one realm with more sovereignty you at that point divest sovereignty from some other realm where God has appointed it to be.

It is interesting that our Constitution is a document that reflects all of this. It is a document that was intended to limit the Federal Government with specific delegated and enumerated powers. It was crafted to restrict the Federal government to doing a number of very limited things.

It is my conviction that when we vote for candidates or parties that desire to increasingly centralize and grow Government, whether in Lansing or in Washington, we are voting against Scripture which insists that God alone has the kind of sovereignty that the State is seeking to accrue. Such voting by Christians often pursued under the notion that the State will take care of them and their interest belies an underlying attitude that the State is the institution that can provide our salvation.

It is my conviction that when we vote for candidates or parties that desire to increasingly centralize and grow Government, and we do this when we vote for people who desire to increase the funds of Government at the expense of family income, we are voting against the wisdom of Scripture that reminds us that man is sinful.

Now, I hope you realize that in what we have said already we have eliminated a fairly large number of those who are vying for your vote. Increasingly rare is the candidate who intends to go to Lansing or Washington with the genuine intent of limiting and shrinking the size and role of government. Legion is the name of the candidates who believe that the brokenness of our society and culture can be fixed if we will just give Government more power and more wealth. Bloated Government cannot fix our problems because bloated Government is our problem.

II.) Some Specific Counsel From Scripture Touching This Election

A.) Life

Scripture teaches that the power of life and death come from God. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. When man seeks to ascend to the position that he can arbitrarily determine who lives and who dies man is seeking to seize the scepter from God and engod himself.
For this reason no Christian can vote for any candidate who supports abortion in any way. If God is the author of life then it can be nothing but murder when we end life without God’s sanction. Our assumption need always be that life begins at conception. Even if we are uncertain on that point our uncertainty should lead us to err in the direction of protecting life.

We are now somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million murders being committed in the name of choice.

Francis Schaeffer warned us long ago that the next logical step to abortion would be euthanasia and infanticide. We now have a candidate at the top of the ticket who has consistently supported infanticide with his vote (Infant born alive act). Neither of the candidates at the top of the ticket have been universally and unequivocally pro-life. Very few candidates down ticket have a high few of life.

This high esteem for life ought to make an impact on the way we vote in Michigan on proposition 2.

B.) 2nd Amendment

First we would note that the Scripture allows for self-defense.
“If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him,” Exodus 22:2-3

It is interesting when you look at the Scriptural record that the Philistines “disarmed” the Israelites in order to enslave them in I Samuel 13:19-22. In order to control people, they must be disarmed.
The right to keep and bear arms is a right of men to be free. If we really believe that God is pleased with cultures and societies that are free then we will be very leery of anybody or any party that seeks to strip us of means of self-defense.

When the people fear their government there is tyranny, when the government fear the people there is liberty – Thomas Jefferson

C.) Economics

Scripture teaches that the State bears the sword (Romans 13). A general rule of thumb is that the State thus should be restricted to doing whatever can be done with a sword. You do not house people with a sword, you do not feed people with a sword, and you do not give medicine to people with a sword. These functions should not be the function of the State.

Scripture nowhere gives to the State the role of God.

Socialism is a system that steals God’s sovereignty in order to invest it in the state. Socialist systems teach and believe that in the state we live and move and have our being. The State is our provider, or protector, and our omnipotent caretaker. Further, socialist systems are completely predicated upon violating the 8th commandment, stealing from those who work hard producing wealth, in order to redistribute that wealth. The effect of this redistribution of wealth is to shrink the pie of wealth as people lose incentive to create wealth. The consequence of this is not the raising up of people without wealth to wealth, but rather the pulling down of people with wealth to the status of not having wealth. Equality is achieved but it is the equality of the miserable.

As proof for this I offer the reality that in classical theology it is always the right of a God to own everything (The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof) and His prerogative to distribute what He owns as He pleases (God gives them their food in due season). Clearly, we are about to empower legislators and an executive that believes that the State owns everything and as such has the prerogative to re-distribute what the State (god) owns as it (he) pleases. It is the pagan left that is turning this country into an explicit theocracy.

Conclusion

Quoting Doug Wilson

In the colonial era, ministers used to preach what were called artillery sermons—messages leading up to elections in order to teach and inform the saints on their duties in the civil realm.
But this exhortation is a bit more focused on the process of voting itself. First, all that we do is to be offered to God at the fundamental. Ask God to count your vote, and it does not matter who else does. Give what you do to Jesus, and let Him do with it what He wills. You should be like the small boy who surrendered his fish and bread for Jesus to multiply, and not like someone who tried to feed the multitude himself by giving everyone a crumb.

Secondly, confirm it in your heart and soul that the day after the election, God is still on His throne, and Jesus is still at His right hand. Certain things are not on the ballot, as the sovereignty of God is not. When Christians react to elections with despair and panic, they are demonstrated that their faith is in the wrong place. If the election goes badly, do not soak your hair with lighter fluid, set it off, and then run in tight, little circles. Be a Christian. If the election goes well, do not act you have just been saved. Salvation is not something that Caesar holds in his hand, whether to give or withhold.

Third, vote with a clear mind and clean heart, doing so confidently and with boldness. Stand up for the unborn. Strike at every idol. Love God, and hate sin. Stand against every throne built on a foundation of lawlessness. And return here next Lord’s Day for the real work of Reformation.

Shocking

Apparently, the FBI doesn’t fit the bill of what B. Hussein Obama wants. Apparently the Border Patrol doesn’t fit the bill of what B. Hussein Obama wants. Apparently the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) doesn’t fit the bill of B. Hussein Obama wants.

Can you say SS? Can you say KGB? Can you say Cheka? Brown-shirts anybody?

Please, somebody leave me a comment and tell me that I am hearing or interpreting wrongly.

Where is America’s head up that people can’t see the dangers of what this guy is talking about?

So Now, It’s Selfishness

Barack Obama said that McCain / Palin wanted to make a “virtue out of selfishness” because they are against his notion of “spreading the wealth around.” Apparently people who believe that charity should be voluntary or that the Government shouldn’t by means of arms, force one to be charitable are by definition “selfish.”

Obama then went on to say that Republicans are going to end up accusing him of being communistic because he shared his toys when he was little or because he shared his peanut butter sandwich. This whimsical illustration proves more than candidate B. Hussein Obama knows. This illustration proves that Obama doesn’t know what socialism or communism is since he is defining it as voluntarily sharing. Voluntarily sharing is not what socialism and communism is and it is not what B. Hussein Obama is advocating. B. Hussein Obama is advocating the use of governmental force in order to redistribute wealth. It is sweet that B. Hussein Obama was a boy that shared his toys and peanut butter sandwich. But its one thing to voluntarily share your toys and peanut butter sandwich, it is quite another to have somebody confiscate your toys and peanut butter sandwich in order to arbitrarily determine who is better deserving of your toys and peanut butter sandwich then you are, while all the while keeping some of the toys and sandwich for themselves. Either B. Hussein Obama is an idiot or he thinks Americans are.

The charge of selfishness really lands on B. Hussein Obama at this point. He selfishly wants to be the one who determines who has to much and who doesn’t. He selfishly wants to be the one in charge of the force that forces people to give up what they’ve worked so hard to earn. He selfishly wants to reward sloth and punish diligence, thus promoting incentive unto sloth while destroying incentive unto diligence. He selfishly wants to legalize theft in order to countenance class envy.

The hypocrisy on this is so thick it is enough to make a sane man gnash his teeth. Obama wants to exercise charity with other people’s money and yet when you look at his and Biden’s own personal giving habits to charity it is grossly minuscule to the point that I give more in a year to charity on a income that is overwhelmingly smaller then what they make. B. Hussein Obama makes all this noise about being his brother’s keeper and yet he can’t even look after his own illegial alien Kenyan Aunt who lives in the slums of Boston. Listen you Marxist, Racist, Black Nationalist, Infanticidist, heal your self of selfishness before you blather about people opposing government sponsored theft being selfish.

Speaking of B. Hussein’s plan to redistribute wealth, take a look at what this woman thinks is going to happen when B. Hussein is elected President.

R2Kt Virus, Natural Law, And Attacks On Biblical Christianity — Part II

The same sort of argument applies to the doctrine of the sacraments (29:5). The divines assume that we know what bread and wine are and what their nature is. Scripture does not teach us what is the “substance and nature” of bread and wine, only that they remain substantially bread and wine. We need Scripture to teach us what the sacraments are but nature teaches us what bread and wine are.

Does nature teach an anorexic what bread and wine are? Also what if we were pantheist? Would a pantheist who believes that god is everything and everything is god, if he were consistent, think that the nature of bread and wine are what Natural law teaches they actually are or would the suppression mechanism work in such a way that he would worship the bread and wine instead of eating it? No doubt nature and natural law teach a good number of things, but the issue that Dr. R. Scott Clark is not dealing with is the issue of suppression — an issue that the Scripture teaches on. Or would R. Scott Clark accuse the Apostle Paul of being Barthian?

Later in his comments D. R. Scott Clark launches the accusation at Theonomists that we do not believe people can know anything. This is nonsense because any theonomist worth his salt would tell you that a person who insist they can’t know anything has at the same time insisted that they know they can’t know anything. Second, the theonomist does not believe that people can’t know anything. The theonomist heartily agrees that people are culpable for their sin because they sin against a better knowledge. The theonomist does not insist that truth can’t be known. The theonomist insists that that truth can’t be known apart from presupposing God, and that the pagan, because of the suppression mechanism picks and chooses what he will admit to knowing. Dr. R. Scott Clark, in his argumentation denies total depravity. Clark seems to insist that man only suppresses the truth in unrighteousness in spiritual categories but in non spiritual categories he can interpret aright. And Clark believes this in the teeth of the twentieth century which built culture after culture in direct defiance of Natural law. Ask the Soviet Checka about Natural Law. Ask the German Einsatzgruppen about Natural Law. Ask the Chinese who lived through “the great leap forward” about Natural Law. Come visit the Soviet Gulags, or the Ukrainian Harvest of sorrow, or Bergen-Belsen, or the Cambodian killing fields and then make an argument with a straight face about Natural Law theory.

The Canons of Dort (RE 1.4) make a similar distinction between what “the light of nature” can and cannot do. The light of nature is insufficient for salvation, but it is sufficient for the ordering of common civil life. This teaching is explicit in CD 3/4/.4:

Who would ever disagree that the light of nature is sufficient for the ordering of common civil life? Absolutely the light of nature is, considered only in and of itself, sufficient for the ordering of common civil life. However, when fallen man reads that which is sufficient, because fallen man’s epistemology is insufficient, he reads that which is sufficient in such a way to make it insufficient. The problem is not in the light of nature. The problem is with he who reads the light of nature.

What shall we say, then? Is Natural law not true? Certainly not! Indeed Natural Law was one agency that God used to teach me of my sin. For I would not have known what suppressing the truth in unrighteousness really was if Natural law had not proclaimed the necessity of God to think aright. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by Natural Law, produced in me every kind of opportunity to suppress the reality of God wherever such denial became convenient.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the Natural law,
deceived me. So then, Natural Law is holy, and what it teaches is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, and natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God and to true conversion that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. By no means, further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted and hinders in unrighteousness, which by doing he becomes inexcusable before God.

Again, no Theonomist would disagree with this. By the way, don’t miss the parts in bold. Fallen man is incapable of using the light of nature aright even in things natural and civil.

There remains in postlapsarian man glimmerings of natural light but as fallen man becomes more and more consistent in working out the anti-thesis in the direction of God hatred that glimmering, while never completely extinguished, becomes increasingly faint.

WCF 10.4: “…be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess” The Confession assumes that it is possible for human beings to order their lives according to the “light of nature.” A life thus lived is lived according to natural law. This law keeping is insufficient for salvation, but civil life is about law it is not about salvation.

Dr. R. Scott Clark left out the italicized part in the above blockquote. Since Dr. R. Scott Clark suggest that WCF 10:4 proves living a life guided by the light of nature is sufficient for the civil realm, does this mean that living a life guided by false religion is sufficient for the civil realm? If we as Christians are to esteem the light of nature for the civil realm, given Dr. R. Scott Clark’s appeal to WCF 10-4 should we also esteem the “law of that religion the pagans do profess,” for the civil realm? The Divines in WCF 10-4 combine the light of nature with the rules of pagan religion thus perhaps suggesting that they understood that the light of nature would always be read in relationship to “the law of that religion that pagans do profess.” This in turn is suggestive that when the Christian faith challenges “the law of that religion that pagans do profess,” they at the same time challenge their reading of the light of nature in the civil realm. The antithesis lies not only in the law of that religion that pagans do confess but also in the way that pagans read the light of nature because of the law of that religion they do profess.

WCF 20.4: …for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature….” On Christian liberty, the divines connect “the powers” ordained by God to maintain order (which was a problem during the English civil war!) with this troublesome expression, “the light of nature.” This language and way of thinking about civil life was well and deeply ingrained in Reformed orthodoxy in the 16th and 17th century.

Absolutely it was! You would expect no less among a people living in the context of Christendom. It is the unity that Christendom brought to thinking that allowed for a commonly understood appeal to “the light of nature.” Take away the unity brought about by the existence of Christendom (as Dr. R. Scott Clark desires) and you take away the foundation upon which their notion of Natural Law was built. People who have different faith and cultural foundational presuppositions are going to likewise have different “lights of nature,” and different versions of Natural Law.

The contest here is not whether or not Natural Law exists. It does. The contest here is whether or not Natural Law can be used as a basis to build a common sphere among people of genuinely different faith systems and cultures. It can’t, because non-Christians read Natural Law through the prism of their faith and culture system and so distort it.

Unlike our theonomists, the divines believed that there is a natural law, that it can be and is known, that it contains specific precepts that are revealed with sufficiently clarity to be applied, even by the unregenerate, to specific instances. The skepticism that our theonomists have demonstrated toward the perspicuity of natural law is not only downright late modern (who can know anything really?) but contra confessional.

Yes, Yes, let us remember how well the unregenerate Communists applied Natural Law in their legislating against Christian Ukrainians. Let us remember how well the unregenerate National Socialist judges applied Natural Law to the legal realm with their rulings on the non-humanity of Jews. Let us remember how well the unregenerate Americans did in applying Natural Law to the decisions to fire bomb Dresden or Tokyo. Yes, all of these are instances where the Natural Law had sufficient clarity to the pagan so that even the unregenerate could rightly apply it to specific instances.

Those poor stupid Theonomists. Why can’t they just get with the game and see how wonderfully this R2Kt virus stuff and Natural Law works.