History, Revisionism, and Judicial Tyranny
We saw last time that one of the things that really irks and frustrates the unbelieving mind, the pagan mindset, is that God interferes with our life. It really wants to exclude God from everything. This is the agenda of the unbelieving mind and it is the agenda of the carnal mind. It is the agenda of the believer when he is in carnality to think that somehow he can live his life without God's interference and apart from divine discipline and consequences for his actions.
Ephesus was one of the key congregations in the Roman empire and in the eastern Roman empire, and as a result of the failure of the believers, not only in Ephesus but also in other areas of the eastern empire, that empire deteriorated into mysticism and degeneracy over the course of the next almost 1000 years. There was the survival of the eastern empire for quite a while, but though it survived it was weak, it was basically destroyed from the inside because there is no true that is the core of the culture and of the society. So as we look at the trends of history what we see is, in contrast to what God told Israel He would act in terms of the five cycles of discipline (which was only for Israel), God will prosper nations where the Word of God is being taught, where there is a significant group of believers who are growing and advancing in spiritual maturity; but when that group of believers shrinks or disappears then there will be judgment in that nation. That judgments will occur in Gentile nations is actually spelled out in Romans chapter one. Part of that is homosexuality. God says, "I will give them over to…" and then there are three cycles of God giving cultures over to different degrees of degenerative behavior. That is part of the judgment that God brings upon nations.
All of that is simply to start us thinking in terms of how God functions in history in relationship to believers. As goes the believer, so goes the nation, is a solid principle. If there is a solid core of Bible-believing Christians who are advancing to spiritual maturity then the nation will be blessed by association because of those believers. We live in an era of our history when that group of believers is shrinking, and that pivot upon which blessing turns is shrinking. It hasn't disappeared but as a result of that shrinkage of solid biblically based Christianity we see devastating things happening in our culture. There have been major cultural shifts that have taken place over the last fifty years. Since the end of World War II American popular cultural civilization has been on a rapid decline as it has become more and more anti-biblical and anti-God. We concluded last time by looking at the overall idea that if you are a Christian you come to the Bible and learn the Bible and it does more than give you information about salvation, it does more than give information about your spiritual life. It provides for each of us a framework for thinking about reality so that we can from the strength of that framework evaluate what is going on around us.
In order to do that we have to learn how to think. We don't just learn what to think, we have to learn how to think because we are all exposed to many different kinds of ideas that everyday come to us though the movies we watch, through the editorials we read through the papers and television shows, just through the ideas in conversations of the peers that we hang around with. We have to have our guard up to make sure that we are not letting ideas come in that are purely pagan ideas that will change and erode our basic thinking. These ideas that come in that are not biblical are what the Bible classifies as worldliness. Worldliness is thinking in a non-biblical fashion. We call it human viewpoint or cosmic thinking. When we come to the Scripture we realize that God presents one unified viewpoint on every area of life. From Genesis chapter one to Revelation chapter twenty-two there is one unified viewpoint on every issue of life, and the Bible addresses everything from economics to music to history to finance to law, ethics, morality, politics. We call that divine viewpoint. Part of what we are engaged in as believers when we are growing and advancing in the spiritual life is that we have to follow the admonition in conjunction with Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to the world. The word for "world" there is AIONOS [a)iwnoj] which has to do with the spirit or attitude of the age. It is not COSMOS [kosmoj] there, which is a synonymous term, but AIONOS which means the spirit of the age. Whatever culture we are living in, wherever we are, there is a spirit of the age which partakes of cosmic thinking.
As believers we have to be able to identify what cosmic thinking is all about so that we can critically think about what goes on around us. This has to start with the creator-creature distinction. We start with God. God is the creator of everything and the Bible describes God as being totally distinct from all creation; He is not part of the process. All paganism that we see, whether is it from pagan mythology, Asian, Indian, Greek mythology, where the gods are the forces of nature, they are part of creation and don't stand apart from creation. The Bible teaches that God is a Trinity and is totally distinct from creation. Everything that goes on in life is within the circle of creation as we have an understanding of history, and history is important because it is God's outworking of His plan for mankind. So the ultimate focal point of history has to do with Jesus Christ and the career of Jesus Christ. The focal point of history is the cross because it is at the cross where Jesus Christ solves the greatest problem that the human race faces. The greatest problem that any of us faces in our life is sin and our separation from God, which is the penalty for sin—spiritual death. So history can only be understood ultimately if we understand that Jesus Christ is the focal point. It is all about, especially in the Old Testament, preparing the human race for the coming of Jesus Christ—Galatians 4:4, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son." What that tells us is that Jesus Christ could not have come in 1000 BC, in 600 BC, in 586 BC, in 150 BC; He could only come when He came because God was preparing the world for the arrival of His Son, and that didn't happen haphazardly. There had to be not only a preparation of people but there had to be, in terms of the nations and the geopolitical situation at the time of the first advent, an established situation where the gospel could be spread throughout most of the known world in a rapid fashion. God had to work through human history to bring about that set of circumstances, but man also had to be prepared spiritually for the arrival of Jesus Christ. It doesn't end with the cross because the cross was stage one, and stage two is the second advent when the Lord comes back to establish His kingdom. That shows us that history is directional, it is linear, it is not just some cyclical thing.
Within the framework of history we understand a lot of different things. Ultimately even science is based on history. When we take a course where they are dealing with historical geology and they are dealing with origins, what are they dealing with? They have some sort of understanding of the history of man, they have interpreted data a certain way so that they come up with a certain view of history that tries to define and give meaning to man. So history becomes the foundation for many different things. We have used the examples of law, science and economics.
History is really foundation to understand everything. Most people have a pathetic experience of history in schools so they just think it is some sort of combination of a bunch of facts and dates and people and that history is not that relevant. But history is foundational to the interpretation of so many other things. We never think about it that way: that we have to have an understanding of history in order to really understand and appreciate what is going on today in terms of law, legal development (or deterioration), politics and economics.
How do you know what you know? This is called epistemology. We have two basic systems of perception. One is divine viewpoint, which is revelatory authority: we believe the Bible. Then there are three other systems that are identified as autonomous systems of perception. The reason they are called autonomous is because the word "autonomous" means independent, totally independent of external authority. These systems of perception start apart from God. They deny at the very core the creator-creature distinction. At the very starting point, as they seek to know anything about the world around them or to explain anything, there is a rejection of God. Whatever data you have in the Bible it is not valid data. So they are just going to start somewhere inside the circle (of creation). They are not going to go outside the circle to get information about the circle, they are going to start with data in the circle.
The first system is rationalism. Rationalism has a starting point of innate ideas but it ultimately operates on faith. Ultimately, if you push a rationalist up against a wall he has a belief in first principles, the innate ideas. Well how do you know that they are right? Well you believe that man has the intellectual ability to properly distinguish between valid and invalid ideas. In rationalism the methodology is the independent use of logic and reason. That is important to understand.
Empiricism is often thought of as the foundation for science. There are a lot of positive things about both rationalism and empiricism. The problem is not rationalism or empiricism, it is when they become autonomous, independent of God. So empiricism begins with sense perceptions. How do you know? Well, through my senses. I can hear things, taste things, touch things, I can learn through observation. Ultimately it is based, again, on human ability to properly interpret the data. All these systems ultimately come down to faith. The method, again, is the independent use of logic and reason. But what is the starting point? It is either the human intellect, innate ideas, or it is sense perception.
But then we get to the real perversion of both rationalism and empiricism. Historically you always have the cycle of rationalism, then it goes bankrupt—can't answer the questions. There has to be meaning in life. Even existentialists who don't believe there is meaning in life can't live as though there is no meaning in life. They can't live consistently with those assumptions. If they do they just have meaningless existence, nothing matters and that is too depressing and so they have to make some existential leap to believe in. If rationalism and empiricism are bankrupt you have to come up with meaning from somewhere, so it is just generated from the inside—mysticism. This is always the cycle. Rationalism and empiricism always end in skepticism. That is why there were the mystery religions dominating the world when Christ came. They were at the end of the cycle. Where do you go after mysticism? You don't; you are at the bottom of the barrel, unless something radical happens from God. That is what happened Jesus Christ came. There was a break because of revelation. And then you have the same cycle again in the Middle Ages and it ends up with skepticism at the end of the Enlightenment into the nineteenth century. Nineteenth century philosophy goes to seed and you are into mysticism now. The New Age movement, postmodernism; all of this is mysticism. Pentecostalism is just secular mysticism with God-words tacked on to it. That is why it is in epistemological crisis. Mysticism at its starting point is some kind of inner private experience. It is based on intuition—"I just know it is true." How do you know it's true? "It just is, it is so obvious, I've had this experience. God talked to me yesterday." How do you know it was God? "I just know it." The hardest thing to deal with in a mystic is because they have rejected rational, logical discourse. That is their method. Logic and reason can't get them anywhere, so now they are going to be irrational and non-logical. They can't verify anything, they just enjoy the experience!
In contrast to this divine viewpoint starts with revelation. God has spoken—Hebrews 1:1, 2. This is one thing that the unbeliever and the pagan mind just hates. It is interference of God. God is involved in history and in our lives. We believe that God peaks; He is there; He is not silent. We have an objective of God and we learn it through the use of logic. We don't reject logic like the mystic. We believe ion logic and reason but it is dependent, it is not independent. It starts with what God said. So if we want to understand history, if we want to understand the origins of man, if we want to understand where race came from, you don't go out and do an empirical study and collect data and ignore the Word of God. You start with the Word of God. The Word of God tells us that at the tower of Babel there was a division made among mankind based on language. All this multitude of languages would isolate different genetic groups, and so by isolating these groups genetic traits would rise to the surface and this was the development of race. It is a physical, biological reality. As a result of that there was also something that developed that was unique to each group, and that is culture. So we have different cultural groups.
Postmodernism as taught in universities is saying that race is a social construct. We laugh because we are looking at the data from a position of revelation-based knowledge. But look at what is dominating the schools, the universities, the intellectual elites of the country and they are coming at this either on the basis of autonomous mysticism, or autonomous rationalism and empiricism, and they are excluding the Bible as having anything to do with the data that they ought to analyze. So the further you get from the Word the further you become divorced from reality, because the Bible is the only thing that can tell you what reality is. That is why as believers the challenge is not to be conformed to the world but to have your mind renewed, renovated by the Word of God—completely overhauled. This is why the phrase "epistemological rehabilitation" is so profound. What most people are doing is trying to change some of then details in their thinking.
It can be likened to someone who buys a house. Then they say there are a few things about the house they don't like, so they decide to change a few things and believe that everything will be okay. That is how most Christians approach the Christian life. They know that they have some problems in their life and whatever it is they are going to "come to Jesus" and they are going to get an answer, thinking that Jesus is going to come in and be like an interior decorator and overhaul a few things and everything seems just fine. But what happens is the Holy Spirit shows up with a bulldozer because He is going to take out the whole house. The job in sanctification isn't just to fix a few things that we think are wrong, it is to overhaul our thinking; not just to change a few details that are contained in the thinking but to overhaul how we think about life. We have to think in terms of revelation and not in terms of rationalism, empiricism and mysticism. One of the problems that we see in our culture is that in the founding events in our culture in the 18th century people thought biblically, they thought with a theistic worldview. Now we've gone from theism to deism to existentialism, to modernism, and now postmodernism, and the average Christian is brought up in a culture in which the thinking is so radically different from the thinking of the Bible that he just doesn't understand how radical the change needs to be. What the Scripture is emphasizing is this radical change.
One evidence of how we see this affecting things in our culture is in the arena of law. That is why when we sit around and watch TV and hear about some of the decisions that are handed down in some of the courtrooms and just scratch our head and ask, What in the world is going on?
Taking up this issue of separation of church and state, which is at the foundation of the debate over whether or not we can have the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, we need to trace this out to get an idea of how this historical revisionism works. It is grounded on the fact that the thinking today is divorced completely from a revelatory idea. The founding fathers, whether they were regenerated Christians or not, believed in objective revelation. Even Jefferson understood to some degree the creator-creature distinction. That is clear in the opening of the Declaration of Independence. At that time even the unbelievers thought within a theistic biblical worldview, whereas today the average Christian thinks within a postmodern worldview. He wonders why he can't get anywhere. And we wonder why if we are teaching the Bible people don't want to come to this kind of teaching. It is because they are looking at the Bible from a postmodern worldview and they think. Well, that's just your construct, somebody else has another construct; the only thing we can do is get together and kind of have a good experience worshipping God, but don't let us get into too much content, analysis or thought. So worship services are designed around the idea of giving people a worshipful experience from music, drama, praise dancing, and all that kind of stuff, and it takes away from teaching the content of the Word. All these things are related to each other.
We have to realize in history ultimate causation come from outside the circle (creation), it comes from the creator. We can do a lot of study in law, politics and economics using rationalism and empiricism but don't forget that ultimately Jesus Christ controls history and that is the ultimate causative effect in history. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If you talk to most people on the street, if they have any intelligence or schooling they will firmly believe that the phraseology "separation of church and state" is found in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. But it is not found anywhere. We have been brought up in an environment where we have heard so often this phrase, "separation of church and state," that we do not know how to think outside that framework. That is because we have been brainwashed by paganism. We all have. We just hear it over and over and over again, and we don't realize how far this nation has slipped in its thinking.
The concept of separation of church and state, as it is understood by most people today and by the courts, has nothing to do with how it was originally known. How do we know that? We know that by going back and looking at historical records of what the founding fathers said. We believe that it is the author's intent that gives something meaning, not the readers. We live in a world today where people think that meaning comes from the observer. Meaning is subjective; you assign meaning to something; someone else assigns their meaning; everything is this social construct, and so there are a lot of different meanings and they are all equally valid. But that destroys objectivity and it destroys truth. One of the reasons modern man is so set against Christianity is because Jesus Christ makes these exclusive claims that "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one can come to the Father except by me." That is just a head-on confrontation with how the pagan mind thinks. The pagan mind, the unbelieving mind, does not want to believe that there is one and only one way to God, and Jesus makes this claim. The Bible presents this absolute view of reality. This is why it is okay to believe anything you want to believe, except the Bible! You can't believe the Bible because biblical thought is automatically going to invalidate all other forms of thinking.
If we go back and look at the US congressional records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, and we discover that the founders' intent was to preclude what they had experienced under the British system. The British church and state were identical, so that the head of the Anglican church was in the person of the king or queen. So every person was taxed to support the church. The government supported one denomination to the exclusion of all others. What the founding fathers wanted was a system where no one denomination would run the nation. One objection often heard from evangelical quarters when we start talking like this—and this just shows how paganism has impacted a lot of evangelicals—is that if we want to give religious discourse that much exposure in the public arena what is really needed is a theocracy. How would we argue that we don't want a theocracy? Because we never had a theocracy. If we read what the founding fathers said about then role and importance of religion, and by religion they meant Christianity, they wanted it to be the centerpiece of public life. They understood that without Christianity there would be no stability in a nation. But they didn't want a theocracy; they were completely against that. So to give Christianity a major place in society doesn't mean that you believe in a theocracy. That just shows you are historically ignorant—but that is because you are a product of the modern education system.
James Madison, one of the founding fathers who also was involved in framing the Bill of Rights, was totally against a national religion. He wasn't against including religious teaching in general in public schools or in public life. Near the end of his life, President James Madison wrote that belief in God was "essential to the moral order of the world." Madison understood the free exercise of religion to mean that there were to be no privileges and no penalties on account of religious belief. He didn't believe that the free exercise of religion meant that it is excluded from public life altogether, which is how it is interpreted today. For Madison the First Amendment was intended to end things like special religious taxes, religious qualifications for public office, and the enforcement of religious orthodoxy through Sabbath-breaking laws. The original intent of the First Amendment was to exclude a single Christian denomination (very important to understand) from dominating the national scene. We understand this by reading what happened as they wrote the First Amendment.
On September 3rd, 1789, we have the original version of the First Amendment. "Congress shall not make any law establishing any religious denomination." By religion they meant Christianity, any one of the Christian denominations. The second draft was changed to read: "Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination." They are thinking in terms only of Christianity. The third version: "Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination in preference to others." In the final version: "Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What we see by looking at the wording that they used in their argumentation, the term religion and denomination were synonymous. What they were talking about was different was different than Christian denominations. So the founding fathers forcefully opposed any national denomination, but they also opposed the removal of Christian thought from public discourse, social considerations or public affairs. For example, Fisher Ames who was one of the founding fathers, on September 20th, 1789, offered the final wording for the First Amendment. Certainly he understood what he meant by what he was saying. Later in 1801 he wrote an article for a national magazine where he expressed concern with the introduction of more and more textbooks in the classrooms of America that the Bible might drift from being at the forefront of the education system to being left out or excluded. He stated that the Bible must always be the foremost book studied in our schools. That was their intent, not to remove it from the schools but that no one particular view would be tax-supported by the government. He goes on to say, "Why then, if these books for children must be retained as they will be, should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble, the reverence for the sacred book that is thus early impressed lasts long and probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes hold of the mind. Once consideration more is important …" and then he goes on to say that one other side benefit is that people will learn to think and talk in good English.
According to Chief Justice William Renquist: "On the day after the House of Representatives voted to adopt the form of the First Amendment religion clauses, which was ultimately proposed and ratified, representative Elias Boudinough proposed a resolution asking President George Washington to issue a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. He said: 'He could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity for all citizens on the United States joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down on them.'"
So if the founders passed the First Amendment and then the next day they say, Let's have a thanksgiving so the whole nation can thank God, they don't view what they have done as something that is excluding the Bible from public discourse.
Continuing the quote: "Within two weeks President George Washington issued a proclamation declaring Thursday 26th November as a day of thanksgiving." Washington said, and this is what they were to pray for on Thanksgiving: "To pray that the government would support wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations, especially such as shown kindness to us, and to bless them would good government, peace and concord, to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue." The role of government, according to George Washington, was to promote the practice of true religion. By religion he meant Christianity. It is clear from reading all the founding fathers that that was the verbiage of the day. Continuing: "An increase of science among them and us and to generally to grant all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best."
Another founding Father was Benjamin Rush who signed the Declaration of Independence and served in the administrations of three presidents—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He was a great policy maker and the first leading educator to call for public education at national expense. In an educational policy paper which he wrote in 1791 Benjamin Rush gave more than a dozen reasons why the Bible should never be removed from public schools. Among those reasons he listed was 1) that Christianity was the only true and perfect religion and that in proportion as mankind adopted it principles and obeyed its precepts they will be wise and happy; 2) that a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquitted by reading the Bible than any other way; 3) that the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world; 4) that knowledge is most durable and religious instruction most useful when imparted in early life.
What we see when reading through what the founding fathers said is that they understood that this education in the Bible had to be early. The children had to read it so they would have good moral lives. If you took the Bible out of the classroom society would collapse because there would be rampant immorality, there would be a tremendous rise in the crime rate, and society would begin to fall apart from the inside out—which is exactly what we have seen.
Another founding father who was an education, who was a soldier in the revolution, and a legislator in Connecticut and Massachusetts, was Noel Webster. He also wrote Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. According to Webster, all the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
They understood that if you separated the Bible from public discourse was to invite political disaster on the nation.
John Adams, one of the founding fathers, addressed the military on October 11, 1798, in which he recognized that there was no government in the world large enough to force or coerce people to do something against their will. Often people will say that you can't legislate morality. What is meant by a phrase like that? You can't force people to be moral. People get the idea that means that laws don't have a moral base. What kind of foolishness is that? Every law has a moral base. When you say it is wrong to murder that is a moral statement. Laws may not be able to force people to be moral but laws are designed and are based on a moral and ethical system. In his statement John Adams argues that, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion." You can't force people to be moral, so if they are not willing to do it from inside their own soul the government can't force people to be responsible, to be ethical, to be moral. So therefore the government should be involved in doing something that is going to teach morality, ethics and integrity, and that came from the Bible. He said our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It doesn't work if the populace is immoral and irreligious. That is the system we have today. One of the
reasons they wanted the Bible taught in the classroom is because just by reading the Bible young people would understand a system of morality and right and wrong. You get that from the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments is the foundation for all law in western history. The law as we know it, that has given then freedoms that we have in western civilization, didn't come from the Roman empire and the Greek empire.
Even Jefferson, the deist, understood the creator-creature distinction and that you had to have some education in this. In the Declaration of Independence he wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the creator with certain unalliable rights." Where did those rights come from? Did they come from inside the creation? No, they come from outside, from the creator. These are endowed by their creator. When you do away with the creator and you do away with the objective external source of our freedoms, and freedoms come from inside the circle (creation), what is inside the circle? Government, politicians, tyrants. So human beings are the ones who define, then, what rights and freedoms are. If we don't recognize that our rights and freedoms come from God then they have to come from man, and government becomes the source of freedoms rather than God. But that wasn't the intent and understanding of the founding fathers. Even unbelievers like Thomas Jefferson recognized that freedom came from God, not from man.
George Washington gave a farewell address which was frequently printed as a separate document and read in public schools, and was required reading for every school child up until the early part of the 20th century. In this address he stated: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars." See how history has been subverted by the pagan thought of modernism and postmodernism. In his address he also reveals how even the founding fathers already had the seeds of their own collapse sowed into their thinking. He said" "Whatever may be conceded to be influence of refined education on minds, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles." This is the introduction of Enlightenment thought. He is using autonomous reason and experience to buttress his argument, not the Bible. That is what eventually ate up and is destroying our nation. People are looking to reason and experience alone for truth rather than the starting point of the Bible.