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Biblical Citizenship in Modern America – Week 2 – The Separate Spheres Of Government – How should the separate spheres of government work together? Does God care about civil government? What can we learn from history about the effects of not applying His principles in a society? What does the Bible actually say about God’s purpose for creating man? Do we have a Biblical mandate to be involved in government? Tune in to discover the important answers to these questions and much more as we continue sharing from our Biblical Citizenship in Modern America course!

Air Date: 02/28/2022

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

 

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live, we are talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

And we got a special program for you this week, it’s Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. We’re actually bringing you the second class in this eight-week course. And it is an amazing, amazing class, I mean, you’re going to learn so much. There’s going to be a great response to the 1619 project. Tim Barton’s teaching there. There’s so much more that you’re going to learn and we’re excited to bring it to you.

Now you can get the full course at our website, biblicalcitizens.com. And you can actually sign up there to be a coach and host the class in your community, whether in your home or at your church, or wherever that might be. We challenge everyone to do that. It’s totally free to sign up, biblicalcitizens.com. But we’re going to jump right into that class today. It’s going to take us four days to share this entire week two class with you. We think you’re going to really enjoy it. And we hope it encourages you to host a class in your home or at your church.

I’m Rick Green, America’s Constitution coach, normally here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. You’re going to hear from both of them during this class throughout this week. Let’s jump into Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.

BIBLICAL CITIZENSHIP IN MODERN AMERICA

Rick:

Welcome back for week two of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. You’re back. First week must have been good? Yes. Alright. Man, we learned so much last week right here in this classroom about what the Great Commission actually says. We learned about what an Ecclesia actually is. We got to learn about the monument to the forefathers. There was so much that happened last week. It was a wonderful time of learning.

Before we dive into week two, and we really talk about is America worth saving and what are the seeds of liberty that make America worth saving? Once we answer that first question, I was wondering what you guys most remember from our first week when we talked about the monument, when we talked about the beginning of those seeds of liberty being planted here. Anybody remember anything particular from that first week that you want to just kind of help? Remember, repetition is the mother of all learning. And remember what we said about fundamental principles, we need a frequent recurrence to it. We’re going to have a frequent recurrence to even what we learned the first week. Yeah, go ahead.

Guest 1:

What Robert said is, while we were doing church, the rest of the world was an Ecclesia and we retreated from it. And I’ve often wondered, why is that? Why did we just go away? And I think when we escaped to our countercultural ghettos on the sidelines of the culture, the world suffers, just like Jonah went and retreated on the belly of the ship. And they said, you know, hey, throw me over because of the great storm. And I think this is the same situation that we’re in. And I really, just to say this, I think Christian escapism is the stuff that fallen cultures are made out of. And we must rise up to the challenge, and now was the time to do it.

Rick:

I want you to say that, again, Christian escapism…

Guest 1:

Christian escapism is the stuff that fallen cultures are made out of.

Rick:

It’s actually a great way to lead into to this week, because I think sometimes I mean, we all need encouragement. But often, it’s conviction of what we need to change and how we need to act different that’s actually going to make the difference. And we have this lack of courage in the culture. And so part of what we’re going to cover on this week’s class is not only answered this question of is America worth saving? And what some of that true history of where we came from? But how do we as a church have the courage to stand for truth and go out into a culture that sometimes we think does not want to hear truth?

I personally think they’re hungry for truth. I think they’re starving for truth and that they want it. But sometimes we lack the courage that even as Rob talked about last week that previous generations of Americans had, it’s a missing trait in our culture. And I’m praying for God to infuse that and for us to take on Joshua 1:9, have not commanded you be strong and have a good courage. So these truths that we’re teaching, I think as they convict us, they will give us that courage as well to go out and do the right thing.

But we’re going to answer that question. We’re actually headed into the WallBuilders library, and we’re going to answer that question, is America worth saving? And I often say I’m just a country boy from Dripping Springs, Texas. My country boy answer to that is very simple. If you want to know whether or not a nation is worth saving, it’s real simple. Are people trying to get in? Are they trying to get out? Right? A lot of people still trying to get in to America, right? So we’re going to be headed into the amazing WallBuilders Museum and Library for week two of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.

WALLBUILDERS MUSEUM

Guest 2:

I think biblical citizenship as a Christian would be stewardship, that God has given us this republic to be stewards over.

Guest 3:

And you begin to love what God loves and hate what he hates in the Scriptures because your heart is lining up with the heart of God because of the gospel.

Guest 4:

Well, in so many Christians are confused because they’re being told things but from different people such as oh, Christian shouldn’t do anything and government, stay out of that. It’s not what the Bible says. In fact, we’re called to be biblical citizens.

Guest 5:

If you’re a Christian, a person of faith, you must care about what’s happening in our culture, you must get involved in voting.

David:

Biblical principles are what produced freedom of society, but you won’t have biblical principles in society in which you don’t have citizens with a biblical worldview.

Tim:

The further we move away from biblical principles, the further we move away from liberty and freedom.

Rick:

As people are experiencing tyranny, they’re asking why what has happened, and there’s just this feeling of being lost right now and not knowing where to turn and you just gave us the foundation.

Rick:

Alright, friends, got to interrupt for just a moment. We’re going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

AMERICAN HISTORY

This is Tim Barton from Wallbuilders with another moment from American history. Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson originally worked closely together, but later became ardent opponents. This troubled Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, who knew both of them very well.

In the Bible, 2nd Corinthians 5:18 tells us that God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. Dr. Rush believed this and set out to bring the two back together. It took a while but Adams and Jefferson once again became close friends. And looking back on his role in helping bring about this reconciliation, Dr. Rush stated “It will give me pleasure as long as I live to reflect that I have been in any degree instrumental and effectiveness for union of two souls destined to be dear to each other and motivated with the same dispositions to serve their country though in different ways.”

For more information about Dr. Benjamin Rush and his other remarkable achievements, go to wallbuilders.com

David:

Biblical citizenship, that’s a phrase that brings two reactions. On the one hand are those who say, of course, naturally, that’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians. But there’s also a side that’s been out there for decades and even centuries and says, you know, Christians should not get involved in government, shouldn’t get involved in those kinds of affairs, should be only in spiritual affairs.

So really, what is the right perspective? And what can we look at that will help us understand our responsibility as Christians today with civil government? Best thing to see is what’s the biblical foundation for the concept? So let’s go back to the very beginning. If you go back to the beginning, look at the beginning, great place to start is the book of Genesis. Genesis is often known as the seed plot of the Bible because every single major teaching that we believe as people faith as Christians goes back to the book of Genesis.

So when you go back and look at the beginning of Genesis, and it does say in the beginning, let’s see how things begin. You have, In the beginning, God”, and you start with God, and we see that God made creation, and He made man. Now once he makes man, you start seeing the beginnings of government. The first form of government is self-government, we’re supposed to govern ourselves. But we also see that in the first three chapters of Genesis, God takes man and puts him with woman, and they have children and so you have family. This is the concept of family government. This is the first thing that we see in the Bible in the area of corporate government beyond civil government.

The next thing we find is in Genesis 9 we have the beginning of civil government. This is where God steps in and says, okay, here’s what you can do with murderers, here’s what you do with thieves. He starts laying down laws for civil government that came from God, that’s in Genesis. That’s the second form of government. Third type of government, because self-government, family, government and civil government. The last you see is what we would call church government. This is where God gets them together and say, okay, let’s have a congregation. Here’s how you’re going to worship me. Here’s your relationships. We can call that church, but it comes after civil and it comes after family governments. It’s the third institution, so when you look at a Genesis, you say that, yeah, God is in the civil government, He actually gave us civil government before he gave us church government. So there is a biblical foundation for saying that God’s people should be involved in that.

Now, when you look at it, what you have is these three separate forms of government, types of government, and they all are very separate and very distinct. There’s areas that only they are to do. For example, if you look at the area of family, we’re told in Ephesians 5:6, that it is a family who has to raise up children. It’s not the government’s responsibility to raise children. It’s not the church’s responsibility to raise children. They can help cooperate and support. But God says parents, it’s your responsibility to raise your kids. So that’s something that’s given only to that area. He did not give that responsibility to the other two areas.

In the same way with civil government, we say that God gives them the sword of civil justice. They’re to punish the wicked doers and reward the righteous. But only government gets that sword. Now their sword is a self-defense and we can have self-defense in family or church or whatever. But when the church picks up the sword of civil government and starts punishing wrongdoers, that’s where you get into the atrocities we see back in the Middle Ages with the Inquisition and the Crusades, etc. So the sword of civil government is given only to civil government. That’s all belongs to it. He doesn’t give it anybody else.

Same way with the church. We’re told in Ephesian 4, the church is to raise up saints and train them for work of ministry. It’s not parents who’re supposed to train the saints for ministry, it’s not the government who train saints for the work of ministry. That’s something that goes strictly to that area.

So when you look at the Bible, you have these three institutions, and God says, okay, here’s what you guys do, here’s what you guys do, here’s what you guys do. So there are distinct areas that they’re supposed to do. But because man’s involved in it, you can’t have them completely isolated, completely separated. If I’m involved in civil government, I’m going to be involved in my family, I’m going to be involved in the church. You really can’t isolate them all and say, wait a minute, I’ve got to put on different hats and move over here. I’m going to flow between three. And so because I do that, you have to understand that they’re not completely isolated, even though they’re separate spheres. And there’s ways that they can cooperate together.

For example, if you take the area of family, and I’m involved in family, and if I loop that with civil government, there’s areas that government is supposed to do, areas that family is supposed to do, but there’s areas where they can cooperate. Now, what is it that family and government can cooperate? What would help both of them if they both worked in this area?

One answer is strong families. If government works to build strong families and family works to build strong families, they both benefit from that without violating their jurisdictional separation. Now, this is not saying that governments create strong families, because they don’t. But they can create an environment that helps families be strong, which is going to help government as a benefit. So it’s not government’s responsibility to create strong families, it’s their responsibility not to damage what the family is supposed to do with its own family. And that means creating an atmosphere for good policies.

If you look at the area of family and church, what benefits both of them? Well, quite frankly, having strong Christians benefits both. If the family works on having strong Christians, that helps the church and if the church works on having strong Christians, that helps the family, and neither one has violated the jurisdiction of the other.

In the same way, if you take church and government, now we often hear this as church and state, I thought they’re supposed to be separate? Well, they are. They are separate institutions, but there are things they can do to cooperate. What would benefit both of them? What could you get church and government both working on that would help both of them? And the answer is building strong citizens. Now, this is why we teach civics and government and math and sciences, so many other things. You want educated citizens. You want strong citizens. You want citizens who know how the process works.

And interestingly, when you look at strong citizens, one of the best ways to have strong citizens was actually given by the Founding Fathers years ago, and there’s so many founders we could choose from. But I’m going to choose Daniel Webster as the example. This is what Daniel Webster said, great defender of the Constitution. He said, “Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.” And that’s true. It’s not the good Christians that the police have to arrest for drive-by shootings, or violence, or all sorts of abuse. Good Christians make good citizens. But those two things do go together. And that’s something where that actually church and state can cooperate is in building strong citizens. And again, it’s a government that provides the atmosphere for that to occur. Government doesn’t do it, they just provide the atmosphere.

So you have all these institutions, and they do have cooperative functions, they do have things they can do together. Now, going back to Genesis as a seed plot, let’s take another step. We’ve seen kind of how that there’s institutions, and God created all of them, and He gave jurisdictions to all of them, He me gave responsibilities to all of them; they can cooperate, which means we as individual citizens can and should be involved in that.

But let’s go back to the beginning at the creation. When you look at the creation, it’s told in two places. You have the creation told in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. And as you see all the creation, how it develops, He separates the waters above from the waters below. And He separates the firmament. He puts a greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night. He creates the oceans and all they’re in it, and then the land and the plants and the animals. He goes through all of it.

We finally get the man. And a good question to ask is why did God create man? Because we know that God created man, He tells us that, the question is why did create man? And this is a good time to say okay, what does the Bible say about that? And an answer we’ve heard since 1646, this is when the Scottish shorter catechism came out which really affected theology in the Protestant church realm. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. And that’s a really good purpose. I mean, that’s sound.

The question to ask is, okay, what does the Bible say? Can you show me a Bible verse that says that is why God created man? Well, that is something man should be doing. No question. But when you look, that’s not what the book of Genesis tells us about why God created man. When you look in Genesis to see why, you go back to those two chapters. And when you look at the two chapters, after God’s gone through everything in the six days, and He’s got it all created, we’re told in Genesis chapter 2 verses 5 and 15, starting first with verse 5, it said God looked at all He had created and it was very good. And then He saw that He had no one to tend His garden, so He made man. It’s interesting.

Man’s purpose was to take care of God’s stuff. God created all this stuff. He didn’t have anybody to take care of it for Him. And so we’re told in Genesis verse 15, that once God put man in the garden, man tended the garden. What we see in Genesis is very similar to what Jesus told us in Luke 19:13 about tending the garden. Because you remember there in Luke 19:13, Jesus says, you need to do business, you need to be about doing things till I get back.

So taking care of the garden, tending the business, Old Testament, New Testament, we get it. And it’s interesting that when you look today, this is kind of in what’s described as a seven mountains kind of thing. Because what is the Lord’s? What is this garden? What we’re told in the Scriptures, the Earth is Lord and the fullness thereof, everything in it. Today, we say, well, that includes entertainment and education and media and religion and family and government and business. We’re supposed to be taking care of His stuff in all of these areas. And see what we’ve gotten out of so many, I mean, even entertainment, you know till Hollywood couldn’t come out with a movie unless church leaders signed off on it.

Rick:

Hey, friends, one more interruption today. This is Biblical Citizenship in Modern America that you’re listening to on WallBuilders Live. Quick break, we’ll be right back.

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Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Let’s jump right back into Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.

BIBLICAL CITIZENSHIP IN MODERN AMERICA

David:

… and the church said oh, we shouldn’t be doing that secular stuff. Let’s get out of entertainment. How has that worked out over the years? We recently came across an archive of 17 letters back when they did the Academy Award winning movie, “Gone With the Wind”, 17 letters going back and forth over whether they should use the one word in the movie Rhett Butler, as he leaves, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a…” They had a massive outcry. You can’t use a curse word in a movie. Oh, my goodness, look how far we’ve gone.

But see, we used to be involved in all these, education, all of these areas. And so we’ve gotten out of them. And how’s that working out for us? We’ve gotten out of government. Hey, that’s one of parts of His garden we’re supposed to be taken care of. So there is a biblical mandate, a biblical responsibility to do this.

So civil governments one of those areas we’re to operate in, and one of the easiest ways to do that is at least by voting. Now, voting is very significant. But it’s something that a lot of people don’t tend the garden through voting. As a matter of fact, if you look at something like Los Angeles, you take Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the nation, and the Mayor of Los Angeles announced that he had been elected with 2.9% of the adult vote in the city. Oh my goodness, 2.9%! There’s a lot more people that could have taken care of the garden of Los Angeles and you consider the policies they have and so much that’s out there.

Even in Texas, the city of Houston, the population of Houston is such that if you’re the Mayor of Houston, there are 26 states, individual states in the United States who have less population than the population of Houston. So being the Mayor of Houston is like being a governor in 26 states. And the Mayor of Houston is elected with 6% of adults voting. So one of the easy things we could do to tend the garden in the area of government is to be involved in elections. And that’s local elections, and county elections and state elections and federal elections. But there’s more to it than that. There’s more that we can learn about the process. And there’s more that we can do in the process.

And this is where a knowledge of constitutional process is important, a knowledge of American history is important. The more educated and informed you are, the more effective you are and the more you can make a difference in the system. So let’s go to the American founding. When you look at the American founding, and you look at what these guys did and create in their constitution. And by the way, there’s 5,600 years of recorded human history. And when you look at that a question asked is okay, they created a government. But what’s the average length of a Constitution in the history of the world? And history tells us, 17 years. The Constitution we get from these guys is now over 200 years old. It is the longest ongoing Constitution in the history of the world. Every year on Constitution Day, we said another world’s record. We’ve set so many worlds records on stability, we don’t even think about anymore. It’s natural, normal to us.

But the question is, okay, everybody had access to the same set of ideas they had in their day because there were political writers, you have millions of books, you have thousands of years of history, you have a lot of political writers, where did they get the ideas that created our government to be so different? And that question was asked by political science professors at the University of Houston, who said, why don’t we go back and collect the writings from the founding era and see who they quoted, because if we can find out who they quoted, we’ll know who’s important to them. So they did that.

The results were released in this study called The Origins of American Constitutionalism, they went back and found those 15,000 writings they thought were representative. And as they went through them, they found 3,154 direct quotes out of those writings. They said, now, let’s find out where that quote originated. And so it took them 10 years, but they tracked every single quote back to its original source. And at the end of 10 years, they released the report and they said what we now know is the number one most cited individual in the American founding was a French philosopher by the name of Baron Charles Montesquieu. In 1750, he wrote a two volume set called “The Spirit of Laws” that was used heavily by the Founding Fathers. They quoted from him frequently.

The number two most cited individually American founding era was Justice William Blackstone, English Judge who wrote the commentaries on the Constitution, four volume set, it’s a great book. They cited it regularly. Thomas Jefferson said that American attorneys read Blackstone’s like Muslims read the Quran. So that was a big book to them.

The number three most cited individual was John Locke. In 1690, he did a book called “The Two Treatises of Civil Government”. In those two treatises, by the way, it’s a little book less than an inch thick, 400 pages long, he references the Bible more than 1,500 times to show the appropriation of civil government. So if you think the Bible doesn’t say much about government or doesn’t refer to it, read that book from 1690. That’s got a lot in it.

So these are the three most cited individuals. But what surprised them was the number one most cited source out of all sources was the Bible. 34% of all the quotes they looked at from the founding era came out of the Bible. That goes to the concept of biblical citizenship. They use the Bible to help create a form of government that’s now the most stable government in the world. And it was built on these concepts and ideas from the Bible.

So there are grounds for us knowing and being involved biblically. Now, when you look at the document that they did, this document, the Declaration of Independence starts out with 161 words that gives forth six principles of government. After those six principles of government, they then give you 27 grievances showing how those principles have been violated. And then at the end, they have a resolve. They say that we here, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor. And they were doing this with a reliance on divine providence. So that’s the closing part.

But let’s go back to the 161 words. Four of those six principles of government are pretty simple. They start by saying there is a Divine Creator. Then they say, you know, the Divine Creator has given us a fixed moral law. Then they say, He gives us an inalienable right, or what we would call natural rights sometimes, but inalienable rights. And the purpose of government is to protect the rights that God has given us.

Now, if you take this, let me just take the second one for a minute that He’s established a fixed moral law. In the Declaration, they call it the laws of nature, and nature’s God. Let me just take one example of how that this duel phrase, in other words, there’s the laws of nature, what we see in what God created, and there’s the laws of nature’s God, which is written down in the scriptures. Let me just take the area of self-defense for just a minute.

If you take the area of self-defense, it’s interesting to see how the Founding Fathers framed this as an enable right that came from God that reflected the laws of nature and nature’s God. If you take John Adams, John Adams said, “Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature…” There’s nature. There’s laws of nature. He said, “…which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would.” This is a God given right. I can’t give it up. He said, “The maxims of the Law, and the precepts of Christianity are precisely coincident in relation to this subject.”

Now, he says, the law and Christianity, so that’s the laws of nature and the laws of the God who created nature, which we find in the Bible. So he finds self-defense being part of both. And yeah, if we look in the Bible, we can point to Exodus 22:2 as a verse on self-defense. We can point to two passages in the book of Nehemiah. We can point the passages in the Gospel of Luke. So there’s lots there on self-defense.

Now, James Wilson, who was a Founding Father who signed the Declaration and the Constitution and was on the original Supreme Court and started the first law school in America and actually wrote the first law books, his lectures, he said the same thing. Notice how he said it. He says “The great natural law of self-preservation cannot be repealed or superseded or suspended by any human institution. This came from God, and nobody can take it away from us because it came from God.” He says “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves shall not be questioned.” You can’t even get close to challenging that because that’s a God-given right. He says, “Every man’s house is deemed by the law to be his castle, and the law invest him with the power and places on him the duty of the commanding officer of his house”.

Alright now, grab this. He said your house is your castle, and if it’s your castle, you’re the commanding officer of your house, you have a duty to defend your castle. And that’s why he said every man’s house is his castle. And if anyone be robbed in it, it shall be esteemed his own default and negligence. In other words, my house is my castle. If I get robbed in my castle, it’s not the police fault for not being there, it’s my fault for not defending it. God put it in my hands.

So this is the phrase that we sometimes hear called “The Castle Doctrine”, I have no duty to retreat in my home. That’s a God-given right, comes out of the scriptures, comes out of the law of nature. You find it in nature. If you attack the home of any creature in nature, they’re going to defend that home, they’re going to defend their young and their property in their life. That’s a law of nature and it’s a law of nature is God.

Rick:

Alright, friends, we’re out of time for today. This is actually the first part in a four part series of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. Be sure to join us again tomorrow. If you’d like the entire course, it’s available right now at biblicalcitizens.com. Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live.