What Does Biblical Civil Government Look Like – Join us today to hear Stephen McDowell, author of the new bookÂ “Ruling Over The Earth – A Biblical View Of Civil Government” speak on this important topic!
Air Date: 03/23/2020
Guest: Stephen McDowell
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â 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.
Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live and we’re talking about the hottest topics in policy, faith, culture, coronavirus, whatever it might be, we’re addressing those things from a biblical, constitutional and historical perspective and we’re glad to have you along with us today here on WallBuilders Live.
Be sure to visit our website, wallbuilderslive.com, a lot of great tools there for you. We got some videos and other educational tools available, even speaking to the issue of quarantines, whether or not they’re constitutional, up to date information. Check it out there at wallbuilderslive.com. It’s also a great place to make a contribution. Even during these tough times, we need your help as listeners. We appreciate you coming alongside us here at WallBuilders.
Now, we’re going to have a very short segment here because we got a great interview coming up after the break with Stephen McDowell. Thrilled to have him back from Providence Foundation. Had a wonderful series with him a year or two ago on his book about the 10 commandments. I think we did like 10 Shows, yeah, 10 commandments would be 10 Shows if we do one per Show. I think we actually did more than that. Because we did a setup Show, then we did a show on each commandment and kind of a summary deal. So anyway, several weeks with Stephen, that was just phenomenal. We learned so much and he’s got a new book out on biblical duty and citizenship and it’s just going to be a great interview. Looking forward to have Stephen with us. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. In Exodus 18:21, the Bible not only instructs we”re to choose our own leaders at the Local and County and State and Federal levels, but it also sets forth the standards for those leaders. For generations, Americans voted with a full awareness of this passage. Notice, for example, how Founding Father, Noah Webster relied on it.
He instructed students, “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. If our government fails to secure a public prosperity and happiness, it must be because of citizens neglect this scripture and elect bad man to make administer the laws.” In the upcoming elections, make sure not only that you vote, but that you vote for leaders who will rule in the fear of God.
For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Stephen McDowell back with us, it’s been way too long. Stephen from Providence Foundation, appreciate you, brother and thanks for coming back on the program.
Well, thank you, Rick, great to be with you as always.
I think if I remember, right, last time we were discussing this topic, we actually went through your 10 commandments book, one chapter at a time and had a great series on that. And I actually encourage people to go to the website and dive back in the archives to get that. But you”ve got a new book out: Ruling Over the Earth: A Biblical View of Civil Government. What made you decide to do this one?
Well, you know, I’ve been teaching on this subject for 40 years here in the US and many countries. And I have stuff here and there and a lot of our books. So, I said, I need to put this all together in one book, flesh it out, because it’s a very pertinent topic here in America as well as in the nations of the world on what does the Bible say about civil government?
Yeah. And there are some places that might think that, some folks that think it doesn’t say anything about civil government, that Bible and government, you got to keep those separated.
Well, that’s right. That’s another thing that motivated me. I meet pastors all the time and ask them, you know, do you ever teach about this subject of civil government? And I’m surprised at how few do. I’m sure, you know, the recent study that was done. It said that 90% of evangelical pastors believe the Bible speaks to all of life, but only 10% ever teach anything about civil affairs. So, there’s obviously a disconnect there.
And, you know, I think some people say, well, you know, if I teach about government, people are going to accuse me of preaching politics from the pulpit, some people may get upset with me, because I seem to adhere to a certain partisan position on something. And so, there’s a lot of reasons that pastors avoid this subject. But the fact of the matter is, you know, it’s our duty to teach what the Bible says, that we’re equipping the saints for the works of service, Paul writes in Ephesians and a lot of people are called to service directly in government. But I believe all of God’s people are called to choose those who govern us.
I think it’s not just a freedom and right we have here in the United States. But I believe it’s a biblical duty that we possess to find out what the scripture says about this important topic of government that affects every area of our life every day and teach it. Because if we align ourselves, if we adopt and obey the principles that the Bible teaches, the fruit of that is blessing, liberty, prosperity and I think everybody wants that.
So, this is, you know, a compilation of 40 years worth of ideas to home them down, present them in an easily digestible manner, that I think will be a great benefit to every Christian and pastor who wants to teach on this subject.
Well, you actually start off in the book, literally defining what is government, you know, what is the origin of government, which is biblical. So, it really, I think takes a Christian, you know, recognizing, first of all, this is a biblical subject. The Bible does cover government, has a lot to say about how government should work. And so, you go through that. What is government, the premise of government, how should government be designed and what should we do in terms of subjecting to that government or participating in that government?
Yeah, with civil government is a divine institution, God created it for our good. Now, originally, when God created Adam and Eve before they fell, he created them to be self-governed. That is, we had the capacity within us to do what we’re supposed to do, to follow him, obey him. We didn’t need external constraints upon us, because internally, we carried out, acted the way that we are supposed to. But after man fell, he lost his capacity to be self-governed. So as the Bible tells us, his thoughts were evil, the world was filled with violence and so God instituted civil government to deal with evil man. That’s what Paul says in Romans 13. We overcome evil in society through civil government. So, a civil government when it operates according to what the Bible says it’s supposed to do. It’s our friend. It’s for our good.
But when it operates contrary to what the Bible said, it can be a great enemy. That’s why we need to know what is the Bible say? What’s the purpose of government? And if our government is violating the biblical purpose, it’s our duty to change it.
Well, in fact, let’s zero in on one of those things you just said. Because obviously, I wish we could cover everything in the book, but actually, that’s why people need to get the book. We want to send them to Providence Foundation’s website to do that. But I do want to zero in on the purpose of government. First of all, the website for Providence Foundation where they can get copies of the book.
It’s providencefoundation.com. That word just running together: providencefoundation.com.
Providencefoundation.com, we’ll have an easy link today at wallbuilderslive.com for those that are already there. But one of your chapters, you actually answer this question and you have five specific things you say government should be doing. And this is key, I think for a lot of the things that we do, especially with our youth leadership training, pastor training, legislator training, we’re always asking this question of what should government be doing and what should not be doing? How do you figure out those lines? And you point out five specific things. Can you take us through those?
Yeah, I teach the purpose of government by the five P’s of government. This works in English, it”s doesn”t in Spanish and Portuguese, but it’s a good way to remember this. The five Ps of government, what’s the purpose? One, and protect the righteous. Those law-abiding citizens. Two, punish evildoers. Those are the criminals. Three, promote biblical justice. And I must add in the government’s sphere of responsibility. Four, praise those who do right. And five, provide peace. Those five P”s comes from Roman 13, 1st Peter 2, and it’s 1st Timothy 2. So, it’s easy way to learn. Protect the righteous, punish evildoers, promote biblical justice, praise those who do right and provide peace.
Or another way to look at it, basically, when should civil government get involved in, you know, our affairs? It’s when my life, liberty or property is threatened. So that’s a legitimate reason for government to come and assist me if someone else is trying to steal my life, take my liberty, my property, then civil government should be my ally to come and help me to deal with those problems.
So good. Alright. And each of those five, you go into more detail in that chapter in the book so people get a better handle on that. But I just think that’s a great tool, those five keys for, you know, when you hear a policy proposal or something that it candidates for and you’re going well, I don’t know our government should be doing that, here’s a great way to answer that question and have a good biblical position on these issues. Stephen, you also address civic duty or you know, our civil duties. But what is a Christians responsibility with regard to government today?
Well, I list many things in the last chapter, you know, as most Christians know, we’re supposed to pray for our civil leaders, but we pray for them so that we might have peace because God wants us to have a peaceful environment so we can carry on our mission to extend his kingdom and that seem, man and nations transform. So, we do pray and we respect our leaders and pay them the taxes that are due them so that they can accomplish their mission as we’ve talked about before.
But, you know, we must also, you know, educate ourselves and others. And what the Bible says, this is a duty because if we don’t think right, we’re not going to act right. We need to take social action. We need to get involved in preserving the family, liberty, property and other things and we also need to endorse godly civil leaders. The church must take right ground in regards to politics. The evangelists, Charles Finney said, because if the church is not involved and evil man will determine who governs us. And when the righteous rule, the people rejoice; but when evil men govern, the people moan as proverbs tells us.
And then if we can’t find any godly candidates to endorse, then we ought to consider running for office ourselves. Seek public office. So somehow, now that everyone, I believe has a duty to be involved in selecting godly officials. You know, and of course, we do that, not just by voting, that’s the very minimal thing. We need to support godly candidates, you know if we”re going to help them as when they were campaigning, give them money, volunteer. We need to more importantly be involved in local party politics, because that’s really where our voice has the most power, because there”s very small percentage of the American people are involved in local party politics. And it’s through that process that we really choose who are on the ballots that we vote for in November.
So, we should get involved in local party politics. Be involved in choosing who governs us, but of course, those that we choose to govern should reflect the biblical values of civil leaders as well and I cover what those values are in the book.
Which helps you to make a better decision. You got to know what the plumb line is that you’re measuring that candidate by. But all those things you just listed for civic duty. I’m flipping through here in the book and I don’t see the item, do nothing. I don’t see the item, sit on the sidelines, you know, and only you know, stay in your own home, in your own community and not be involved with what’s going on in the government realm. Really, isn’t an option. Is it for us to just do nothing?
You know, tacit consent is still consent. Tacit consent is agreeing to do something by doing nothing. So, if we look in our society, we see evil occurring, which it is. The families under attack. Life is under attack. Biblical morality is under attack. We see these things and we sit back and say, well, what can I do? You know, it’s not my duty or this is dirty business. We are really consenting to that activity.
Now, there are many things we can do, obviously, to address evil in society, but certainly one of those has to be in the area of choosing those who govern us, because government is designed to overcome evil and society and, you know, it’s a minister of God to you for good, Paul writes in Romans 13. And I tell Christians who say, well, I don’t think we ought to be involved in government. That’s dirty business. That’s secular stuff. I say, among many things, I say, well look, civilly, government leaders are to be ministers of God to you for good. And if good people aren’t there, they cannot fulfill that central purpose of civil government. So good people must get involved in the process of selecting those who govern in order for civil government to fulfill its Bible mandated missions.
Yeah, so I was thinking about, you know, some folks say, I just don’t want to have to mess with it. I don’t want to invest the time and studying the candidates or as you point out, really studying freedom and studying what the biblical position is on this. And they don’t want to do those things and they feels like it’s a burden. And I’m sitting here thinking back to when we did the 10 commandments book, you know, every one of those commandments that some people would perceive as a burden, you pointed out on those Shows. This is a blessing. God is given a gift here. And in the same way, just to have a voice in our government. Is a huge blessing that most people in history didn’t have.
So instead of complaining about, I don’t want to have to spend time doing these things, we got to be excited about the fact that we get to do those things and that God’s given us the blessing of a government that we can influence in this way.
Yeah, you’re exactly right. And one of the chapters, I pointed out two important premises for understanding government. One of those is that man is sinful. He’s fallen and can’t be entrusted with too much power. So that has an immense effect on our form of government and how much authority we give to civil government. The second general premise is God created us to live in great liberty. Is God’s desire for man is bring liberty internally and externally. And if Godly people aren’t involved in civil government of a nation, it won’t bring liberty, it’ll bring bondage.
So, we need godly people there who understand God wants to liberate man. But also, we’ve got to understand how, is how do we construct our government? What laws should government be dealing with in order to maximize our liberty? So, that’s a very positive argument for why God’s people must be involved. Because I think most everyone wants to live in liberty, but it doesn’t happen just by doing nothing. We have to understand the principles. We have to exert an immense amount of energy. eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And only then can we see our liberty increasing and not diminishing. Because if you leave fallen man to himself, he’s not going to progress, he’s going to devolve and that includes how much liberty we possess.
Well, if we want all of those results, we’ve got to have a biblical view of civil government. The book is called “Ruling Over the Earth: A Biblical View of Civil Government”. Steven McDowell, another great one, brother. You”re up over 40 books now, right?
I’ve got a whole batch and I’m just thankful I can just give a little to the God’s cause and the nation.
That”s a way more than a little, man. I’m so thankful for what you’ve done in the way that you present the information and the equipping that it gives to people to know how to enjoy their freedom and participate in it. And as you mentioned at the top of the program, not just here in America, but other countries that are hungry for the same results, they want that biblical view of civil government as well.
Appreciate you coming on, man. The website again, providencefoundation.com, where you can get copies of the book and actually make a great study in your Sunday school class or just bringing friends and family over to the house and going through together. Don’t miss out on that opportunity. Providencefoundation.com, Stephen, appreciate you, brother. Thanks for coming on.Â Â
Thank you.Â Â
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hi, this is David Barton. I want to let you know about a brand new book we have out called, “This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your Family and Our Country. Jim, Garlow and I have co-authored this book. And we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now, issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration and race relations and our relationship with Israel and the rising generation millennials and the absence of the church and the culture wars and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provides solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.
These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So, you can grab the book, “This Precarious Moment” and find out what you can do to make a difference. “This Precarious Moment” is available at wallbuilders.com.
We”re back here on WallBuilders Live. Back with David and Tim Barton. Now thanks to Stephen McDowell for joining us. Guys, and just good information.
Yeah, guys, always so good to have Steve McDowell on and get so much of that biblical perspective that he brings us. As you know, Rick, you mentioned he said so many books over the years. He’s been doing this for decades now.
One of the things, I thought was such a good point he made, was that when God created humanity, God’s idea was self-government. Adam and Eve in the garden, it was they”re charge themselves. Civil government didn’t come around until after the fall. Because after the fall, Satan center enters the world. Now that people are doing bad things, now you need civil government help control and restrain the bad.
And this to me is such an interesting thought, because as much as today we promote individual responsibility and we should because that’s the way that God judges and God looks at us. It’s a way that is best for life and humanity. One of the problems I think with a lot of modern conversation around libertarianism is that I should be free to do what I want with my life, my body, right, whatever the argument is. And that would have been a much better argument before the fall.Â Right?
But after the fall and this is one of the interesting things again, I think with McDowell pointing out that God created government for our good, initially, it was individual government. Right? We self-government, we govern ourselves. But there’s a reason we need civil government now, because not everybody chooses the self-restraint and self-control and biblical values and biblical morals. And that’s why we have problems in the world, which is where civil government came from. And certainly, the Bible gives a lot of guidance and the best way for civil government to work.
Well, and Steve went through a lot of that God’s he said, he’s written about this for years. Now, he’s kind of put it in one easy source. And in looking at that, you know, I was struck by the comment, he says, well, you know, there’s a lot of reasons why pastors don’t address the subject. And I thought, no, there’s no reason, there’s a lot of excuses why pastors don”t address this. There’s no reasons.
Well, now they can give you a whole bunch of reasons. But they”re just excuses.
That”s right. Because if it’s in the Bible, if it”s biblical and if God talks about as much as he does, and you know, Steve, he made another comment I thought that was really profound. He said, really, government affects every area of our life every day and is really true.
So, do we think that God is going to be silent on something that affects every area of our life every day? No. The Bible gives guidance on everything. Well, if government is that, if it has that much effect and consequence, God is certainly going to give guidance on it. So, why would we be silent? Why would we hold back God’s guidance from God’s people? Why would God’s pastors not talk about God’s guidance? Because it’s clearly there. And by the way, I’m not going to throw pastors just under the bus. There’s no reason every Christian should know what God says about government, whether your pastor talks about it or not.
Yeah, you know, certainly to that point, alright, if you’re a Christian, it’s not your pastor’s fault. Right. This is, no, you probably have a couple of those in your house, you should open it up and read it some more. And I love what Steve even pointed out, you know, thinking about pastors preaching or teaching on this, like the five P”s of government. This could be a five-week series.
Right? We should protect the righteous. We should punish evil. We should promote biblical justice. We should praise those who do good. We should provide peace. Those are easy sermon, right, kind of you can outline for a five-week service, whatever it else. If you’re a Sunday school leader, right, if you do small groups, this could be a really good five-week study of the role of government of what it should do. And that really should shape our thinking.
The last thing that I’m going to point out, as we’re kind of wrapping this up is, when he said a local party politics is where people can make the biggest difference. This is where so often we see the national political level and we think of Trump and we think of Pelosi or right, President Obama or Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, right, we think of national level people. But, man, Stephen, McDowell was so right, that local level is where you can have the biggest impact and make the biggest difference. And this is where if we will get involved locally, we can help maximize liberty, which is what ultimately, we want more of in this nation, in our lives, in our community. But we have to get involved in the local level to help make that happen.
Yeah, so good. And there’s so much that we can do at the local level. And of course, now with everybody being at home right now, perfect opportunity to be doing things online and reaching out to people across the nation and sharing with them. Call in on those that you love. Check on them, see how they’re doing. There’s a lot you can do right now, don’t be discouraged by what we’re facing. Actually, look for where you can serve others and be a blessing to them. Look for where you can learn and study. Be prepared for when we get on the other side of this, how we can make our nation even stronger.
Part of what we encourage people to do is to study the Constitution during this time. What a great time. I mean, people are actually asking about constitutional powers and jurisdictions and federalism and all those things. So, you can jump online. In fact, right now you can go to constitutioncoach.com and sign up for free to be one of our Constitution hosts. You get to use the DVDs that David Barton and I did in the library at WallBuilders on the Constitution. We went out to Independence Hall, I teach the class right there in the room where it was framed. And you get access to all of that for free. We’re giving away the Constitution host license, which allows you then to host online Zoom classes with people from anywhere. So, get people from across the nation, joining in with you online, it’s a great chance to have some community and get to see each other, there on the video and then go through the classes together. And it’s just a great thing to do with your time right now as you’re working on what you can do there in your local community as well, to be a catalyst for restoring biblical and constitutional values. Check all that out at constitutioncoach.com today. It’s available to you there.
And then be sure and visit wallbuilderslive.com, so much available for you there as well. And again, if you’re one of those, that’s, you know, essentially staying home full time right now, what a great time to listen back in those programs. Such great education right there at wallbuilderslive.com just listening to programs from the last few weeks and months. There’s a ton of great information and programming there for you to enjoy. So be sure and check that out.
And then also please consider even during these tough times, making a one-time or monthly contribution at wallbuilderslive.com. It might be small, but every little bit helps, especially right now help us to stay on the air and keep bringing you this positive programming and this empowering education and also hopefully, entertaining if you enjoy our program. Thanks so much for listening and thanks for coming alongside us and being a part of the solution, giving of our lives, fortunate and sacred honor to preserve this republic for future generations.
We appreciate you being a part of it. Special thanks to Steven McDowell for joining us today on WallBuilders Live and sharing such great information with us. We’ll have links to his book at our website today as well at wallbuilderslive.com. And actually, one of the things will be available on the website today. If you click on the video that you’ll see there, it’s a “Constitutional Minute” program. It’s not actually only one minute. It’s several videos. But I speak to the constitutionality of quarantines, isolation, the powers of the federal government, power of the state government during all of this. And I think it’s important for us to know that. It will somewhat, I think, put you at ease with some of what is happening out there if you just know what the rules are by which these things are taking place.
So, check that out at wallbuilderslive.com. Click on the “Constitutional Minute” about whether or not quarantines are constitutional and it’ll take you to a page where you can watch. There’s two videos, actually three. There’s one little short one and then there’s two videos about 10, 12, 15 minutes long that will really give you a great education on these issues and you can share that with your friends and family as well.Â Â
Sure, appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.
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