Enemies of freedom understood the impact that Christians and Christianity had on America. Alexis de Tocqueville observed long ago:
“On the eve of the revolution, in his last-ditch attempt to stave off impending catastrophe, Edmund Burke reminded the House of Commons of the inseparable alliance between liberty and religion among Englishmen in America.”2
Many Christian pastors today are unaware of this history with the result that they avoid the topic of politics. Politics is said to be dirty. Isn’t the pulpit the place where dirt (sin) is to be exposed and washed away through a redemptive process?
Paul told the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the “whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). When confronted by the Roman government, he declared his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25–30) and later appealed to Caesar for justice (25:7–12). In time the Roman Empire fell and Christianity marched on.
Paul repeats the commandments prohibiting adultery, murder, and theft (Rom. 13:9), and sums up his specific exhortation on the law with the general command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (13:9). These instructions came after he informed his fellow-Christians that the civil magistrate is a “minister of God” (13:4) who is to make a determination between good and evil behavior (13:3). It’s these truths that secularists despise. That’s why they are on the attack and have silent pulpits as their unwitting allies.
These commandments have multiple social applications. The civil magistrate is to love his neighbor by not burdening him with excessive taxation and bureaucratic entanglements to frustrate his God-endowed freedoms to earn a living and provide for his family.
No doubt the magistrate is to work for a civil order that results in a “tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2).
In the first-century, all that these Christians could do was to appeal to God with “entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings” since they had no freedom to petition the Roman Empire with their political wishes (1 Tim. 2:1).
We have that freedom and right. We can “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” It’s written right in the Constitution. God through His mercy has established the United States as a civil society in which we can through our voice and vote make changes for the betterment of all. To remain silent in the face of evil is a grave sin.
- John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution or, The Political Sermons of the Period of 1776 with a Historical Introduction, Notes, and Illustrations(New York: Burt Franklin,  1970), xxxviii. [↩]
- Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding (Indianapolis: LibertyPress, 1991), xiv. [↩]
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