America's Christian History

The Principle Approach

Teaching and learning from a Biblical perspective

Examine the Principles upon which our nation was founded - as taught in the Holy Scriptures

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Implementing The Four R’s

 

Applying Biblical Principles To Civil Government

 

 

The Principle Approach is America's historic Christian method of reasoning which makes the Truths of God's Word the basis of every subject....(Miss Rosalie Slater)

 

As we consider how principles can be used to found a satisfactory kind of civil government and how our Founding Fathers did that it is necessary to know what a principle is.  Dr. Archie Jones stated, "The word "principle" signifies "a general truth; a law comprehending many subordinate truths."

 

He further states that,

 

To speak of Christian principles is to speak of principles in, or easily (logically) derived from, Christian doctrine-that is, from the teachings of the Bible....  It is to affirm that such truths or laws are Biblical and have been acknowledged through the centuries by orthodox Christianity to be fundamental to the ethical outworking of the Christian faith.  Similarly, to speak of Christian political and legal principles is to discuss political and legal principles which are clearly derived from the Bible-the fully, infallibly inspired Word of God.  (Italics mine)

 

The Pilgrims' pastor, Rev. John Robinson, in a letter as they were departing for America, told them:

 

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politik, using amongst your selves civill governmente, and are not furnished with any persons of spetiall eminencie above ye rest, to be chosen by you into office of government, let your wisdome & godlines appeare, not only in chusing shuch as doe entirely love and will promote ye comone good but also in yeelding unto them all due honour & obedience in their lawfull administrations; not behoulding in them ye ordinarinesse of their persons, but Gods ordinance for your good, not being like ye foolish multitud who more honour ye gay coate, then either ye vertuous minde of ye man, or glorious ordinance of ye Lord.  But you know better things, & that ye image of ye Lords power & authoritie which ye magistrate beareth, is honourable, in how meane persons soever.  And this dutie you both may ye more willingly and ought ye more conscionably to performe, because you are at least for ye present to have only them for your ordinarie governours, which your selves shall make choyse of for that worke.

 

Note that I have italicized several phrases.  Robinson correctly identifies what we often simply refer to as "government" as "civil government" as distinct from self, family or church government.

 

Following the Scriptural example in Deuteronomy and other places, he notes that they are to choose from among themselves men to represent them, men who would have the kind of character that would truly protect their property: shuch as doe entirely love and will promote ye comone good.

 

Here is how Moses expressed these same thoughts in Deuteronomy 1:13-18:

 

Take you (choose) wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you....  And I charged your judges... judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great;. for the judgment is God's....

 

These same principles: people’s choice, representation, Christian character, and the protection of property (the reason for judges) are all principles woven into our history and constitutions from the Mayflower right up to the Constitution which was ratified by the delegates September 17, 1787 and then taken to the several states so that the people could decide whether to ratify it or not.

 

Miss Rosalie Slater states: "The Pilgrims (having) learned Biblical reasoning from Pastor Robinson.... were prepared to extend Christian principles into civil government and to deal with the problems that confronted them in the New World.  Challenged on the Mayflower by rebellious ‘strangers,’ they wrote the Mayflower Compact, so that every man might voluntarily share in making and keeping the laws....  The ability to reason from the Word of God and to relate its principles to every area of life was characteristic of the American clergy prior to the American Revolution.  The ministers of the Gospel understood civil government because they knew church government.  Their... sermons identified "the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."  (Slater, Rosalie, Teaching & Learning America’s Christian History-the Principle Approach, 1976, pp. 88-89 )

 

All Christians ought to want to incorporate Christian political and legal principles into the political orders or systems of law and civil government under which they live.  This is an important way of glorifying God, of obeying His laws and precepts.  The civil magistrate, the ruler in authority in civil government, ... (occupies that office because) ordained by God.  (Jones, Archie P., America's First Covenant Christian Principles in the Articles of Confederation, Plymouth Rock Foundation, Marlborough, New Hampshire, 1991, p. 1 )


Question: Who said: "The only Way whereby any one devests himself of his natural Liberty, and puts on the Bonds of civil Society is by agreeing with other Men to joyn and unite into a Community...."?

 

Answer: John Locke is the author of the above statement. The full quote is: "MEN being,..by Nature, all free, equal, and independent no one can be put out of this Estate, and subjected to the political Power of another, without his own Consent. The only Way whereby any one devests himself of (gives up) his natural Liberty, and puts on the Bonds of civil Society is by agreeing with other Men to joyn and unite into a Community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable Living one amongst another, in a secure Enjoyment of their Properties, and a greater Security against any, that are not of It."


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