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Affluent Christian Investor | August 23, 2017

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The Message From Colonial Clergy: When Government Doesn’t Obey God, It Is No Longer Legitimate

Old North Church in Boston (Photo by Adavyd) (CC3.0) (Resized/Cropped)

Old North Church in Boston (Completed 1723) (Photo by Adavyd)
(CC3.0) (Resized/Cropped)

Joel McDuram states that

“American liberties we hold dear… derived from the application of biblical worldview. Moreover, it was the pulpit that was the medium for teaching these biblical freedoms to the people, and molding and shaping the American Christian soul to love and embrace them passionately. It is not a stretch to say that American freedom was a child of the American pulpit.”[1]

The American colonial clergy solidified the law of the land. That law was Divine Law, or God’s Law. From their pulpits for 15 decades they forged the fires of law from Scripture into the hearts and minds of Colonial Americans. Through themselves, as elected officials in local, county, and State legislatures, they forged into their laws these Mosaic laws to serve as a foundation for their civil governance. This was their manifestation of governing by the consent of the governed, which was validated from the pulpit by their clergymen. This was not just an understanding of Americans, it was a practice and behavior of them and their society in the New World.

Dr. Alice Baldwin summarized the teachings of the colonial ministers stating

“The restraint put upon Christians by Christ is for the very purpose of increasing their liberty, and so it is in civil government. Without law and obedience to law there would be no liberty…Neither tyranny nor anarchy is pleasing to God.”[2]

It is about how God’s Law and Will manifest in His creation for the governance of His citizens. The colonial clergy understood this commission and worked to articulate it, and the understanding of fundamental law, to the American colonists.

In her 1928 exhaustive research of New England clergy, Dr. Alice Baldwin, noted and gives direct reference to the fact “that the source of greatest authority and the one most commonly used was the Bible. The New England preacher drew his beliefs largely from the Bible, which was to him a sacred book, infallible, God’s will for man.” Dr. Baldwin continues:

Of necessity it colored his political thinking. His conception of God, of God’s law, and of God’s relation to man determined to a large extent his conception of human law and man’s relation to his fellows. If his ideas of government and the rights of man were in part derived from other sources, they were strengthened and sanctioned by Holy Writ. This was especially true of the clergy. They stood before the people as interpreters of God’s will. Their political speeches were sermons, their political slogans were often Bible texts. What they taught of government had about it the authority of the divine.[3]

Americans understood this view as throughout the 1700s clergy preached this position for many years and especially as England intruded upon the colonists’ liberty. It was Biblical to the American colonies. “No obedience is due to them by the law of God,” declares Pastor Stephen Johnson during a 1765 Fast Day sermon. He is referring to Locke, as he affirms a violation of natural rights creates a state of war against citizens. “May we not ask,” Johnson asserts, “who is the aggressor, he that invades the rights of a free people, or they who defend only what is their own?” He continues, “A kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand.”[4]

This attitude of Jefferson, and Madison, as well as others of the Founding era, of invalidating laws which violated people’s Fundamental Rights, was nothing new. It was a moral view which transcended colonial America since its inception with the Pilgrims and other early Puritans. It existed long before Jefferson or Madison, and they were only following the moral view which predated them. It was founded and grounded on Scripture and Divine Law. In 1713, Pastor John Bulkley of Connecticut gave a sermon which was typical of colonial minister during the 1600s and 1700s. To them, God’s Law was absolute and any governing body must abide by God’s Law in any legislative activity or law ratified; otherwise if is unlawful and to be disobeyed. “Tis already Determined in the Divine Law,” says Pastor Bulkley, “that the Enjoyment of them be free & undisturb’d and Rulers may not make any Determinations repugnant here to: Or, if they do, they are of no force. No Law of the Civil Magistrate can bind in Opposition to the Divine.”[5]

Even the very language of these clergymen was the same as Jefferson’s and Madison’s, as well as most of the Founding Fathers. “Of no force!”

This belief and attitude transcended throughout the American colonies, as Jared Eliot in 1738 illustrated the tone set by many colonial ministers; that being societies under the rule of law absolutely meant laws of men must be Laws under God. Eliot’s pulpit message was

“laws should be made by this government which are inconsistent with the laws of God or which sap the foundations of the commonwealth, men must exercise their right of discretion and must obey God rather than men, as the Apostles did.” [6]

Many of Eliot’s peers also warned of governments supplanting the rights of the people in order to increase their own power. Both Chas Chauncey (1747) and Jonathan Mayhew (1754) gave sermons in this regard, warning against this shift of power and usurping of fundamental rights.

[1] Joel McDurmon, 2015, God’s Law and Government in America, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, Inc.), p. 7.

[2] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 47.

[3] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 16-17. Chapter 1 references directly many clergy of Colonial New England throughout the chapter – see pages 5 to 17.

[4] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), pp. 127-128.

[5] John Bulkley, 1713, “Connecticut Election Sermon,” in Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 49. The same tone, language, and moral objectives was repeated throughout the period of early-mid 1600s through the Revolutionary period by clergy.

[6] Jared Eliot, 1738, “Connecticut Election Sermon,” in Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), pp. 54-55.

Jim Huntzinger began his career as a manufacturing engineer with Aisin Seiki (a Toyota Group company and manufacturer of automotive components) when they transplanted to North America to support Toyota. Over his career he has also researched at length the evolution of manufacturing in the United States with an emphasis on lean’s influence and development. In addition to his research on TWI, he has extensively researched the history of Ford’s Highland Park plant and its direct tie to Toyota’s business model and methods of operation.

Huntzinger is the President and Founder of Lean Frontiers and a graduate from Purdue University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology and received a M.S. in Engineering Management from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He authored the book, Lean Cost Management: Accounting for Lean by Establishing Flow, was a contributing author to Lean Accounting: Best Practices for Sustainable Integration.

 

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