Politics and Religion are Intrinsically Linked

The separation of Church and State is a much-misunderstood concept. It is also a concept that is exploited to insist on removal of religious sentiment from the political arena.

The motivation for such ambition is clear. Political leaders down through history have wanted to displace God and act as the ultimate law, rather than as subjects of a Holy God to whom they must give account. The Pharaohs and Caesars are among the better known of the many human leaders who asserted their divinity.

Three thousand years ago the Psalmist taunted those political leaders who tied to conceive of a world where they were not accountable to God.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD will have them in derision.” Psalm 2:1-4

“Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:10-12

Church & State Are Bound Together

Despite all the rhetoric and emotion that may be expressed against religious reality in state affairs it has always been understood that God is supreme over political process. “By me Kings reign” is the claim made by wisdom, which is God’s handmaiden.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Proverbs 8:15,16

God is the Supreme King and Deity

A clear testimony to the intimate connection between Church and State, or Politics and Religion, is the example of God, Himself.

God is the Supreme King, sitting on a heavenly throne over all the Kingdoms of the world. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But God is also the God above all Gods. He is the ultimate deity. No idol, deity, spirit, icon, or religion can challenge His supremacy.

Church and State, Religion and Politics are intrinsically combined in one person. So how in the world can it be conceived that the two are not completely and intimately related to each other?

The Spiritual Reality Rules Politics

For all the protestations that human government must be free of religious connection the whole argument is based on nonsense. The world and everything in it is first and foremost a spiritual reality. A moral God created us all and is and will judge us all based on how we submit ourselves to Him. So the idea that human government is somehow independent of divine realities is simple self-delusion.

The Bible gives us several glimpses into the heavenly realm and there we see that a rebellious subordinate is seeking to displace and contend with God. That created angelic being which chose to betray God is no match for God’s ultimate and supreme authority as the creator of all, but he goes about as if he has authority and power, seducing people to join him in rebellion against God.

So human politics and society are constantly under the influence of these two spiritual entities. When people submit to God they enjoy God’s blessing. When they submit to the rebel spirit they come under God’s judgement and various slaveries and degradations.

The State Desperately Needs the Church

Any true statesman knows that his authority and effectiveness is totally dependent on God. He will recognise his desperate need for spiritual support and divine authority. True statesmen, then, will recognise that the state desperately needs the church.

God is currently calling a new generation of true statesmen to arise. They are from many nations and divergent backgrounds. They have distinctive callings on their life and they will each have different levels of influence and impact. But they are the new generation of servant of the Lord. God is calling forth men of character and divine authority who will redeem nations and rescue politics, science, religion and culture from the seductions and disembowelment which we have come to think of as normal.

I call you to be part of that new generation of heavenly statesman on the earth.

The Children’s Bread

Citizens of any nation have a special status, based on their inherited right, or chosen right for those who take on citizenship. Jesus Christ celebrated that special status, so it is enshrined in political reality. Sadly we are seeing an erosion of this special status, so it is timely to investigate our God-endorsed rights.

Children

Jesus Christ spoke of the natural national citizens as “children”.

On one occasion Peter made a mistake in his encounter with the administrators of his day. Peter was approached and asked if his master paid tribute money. Peter unwisely said that he did. Jesus then challenged Peter about Peter’s thinking on this matter.

“When they came to Capernaum those that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. And when he came into the house Jesus detained him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Who do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute from? Is it from their own children, or from strangers? Peter said to him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the children are free. However, so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast an hook, and take up the first fish that comes up; and when you open his mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that, and give to them for me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27

Why Children

Every citizen is a ‘child’ of the cultural family to which he or she belongs. That is significant and I will probably discuss that point in more depth at some other time.

Suffice it to say right now that what starts as a ‘family’ really should stay as a family. However, what tends to happen is that our leaders stop being ‘fathers’ to us and become greedy brothers and sisters who sell out the ‘family’ for personal status and reward.

Good government does not penalise its own family, but rewards it. Good government creates a wonderful environment for its own children. Good government then taxes the foreigners (“strangers” in the words of Jesus) for using the resources that really belong to the children.

Oh that it were so in our nations today!

In many western nations today the foreign entities can operate within the country with great tax advantages and privileges, while the children are heavily taxed to pay for the borrowings of their leaders (their ‘fathers’?) who have placed them in an unhappy place of national penalty.

Hmmmm…..

The Children’s Bread is for the Children

Jesus spoke of ‘children’ in a political sense on another occasion. He spoke to a foreigner who was seeking His power for a family need. In that conversation with the Syrophenician woman Jesus affirmed His personal calling to the nation of Israel. His power, miracles and grace were intended for the nation of Israel.

Israel was by that time a nation that had existed for more than a millennium. It is easy to forget, after such a long time, that the nation is really a ‘family’. The original children of Israel were the literal children of a man named Israel. As the families grew over successive generations the ‘children’ grew in number to be a national entity in their own right. But they were still ‘children’ of Israel.

In political terms this foreigner was not a member of the family of Israel. Rather than being a child in the family she was something else, like a family pet. Jesus pointed this out by saying that it was not right for Him to take what belonged to the children and to give it to the dog.

While Jesus’ comments sound offensive to our ears it is important to note two things. The woman was not upset. She recognised that His statement was true. She was outside the Kingdom and had no right to the things she requested. She was not a child of Abraham or a descendent of Jacob (Israel). Jesus’ words were not an insult, but a statement of truth acknowledged by the woman herself.

Further to that, Jesus was happy to hear her appeal and expression of faith and to grant her what she asked.

She said (in essence), “It is true that I am a dog, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which are dropped by the children. Since not all of your blessings will be enjoyed by the children you can spare one of the crumbs for me.”

“a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she begged him that he would cast the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not right to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. And she answered and said to him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the devil is gone out of your daughter. And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Matthew 7:25-30

Your Bread

We have seen that Jesus used the notion of ‘children’ to speak of both political realities (paying tribute) and spiritual realities (claiming the blessings belonging to God’s people).

You too are a child and have your own bread. So, what is your bread? What is it to which you have political and spiritual right?

As a citizen of your nation and culture you are entitled to the freedoms and protections afforded to you. You should not be abused by the fathers of your culture and nation. They should be providing you the special blessings which you are entitled to as a member of the family.

As a child of God you are entitled to an amazing range of spiritual and practical blessings reserved for the ‘children’. In fact, you have the right to walk and live in a state that is described as ‘glorious liberty’ (wonderful freedom), as God’s child.

“Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21

I encourage you to enjoy the bread that is yours, both politically and spiritually. You are fully entitled to those blessings and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve them so that your own children can enjoy them as well.

Sadhu Sundar Singh Takes Christ on Foot

This is the day that … Sadhu Sundar Singh, “The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet”, was born to a well-to-do family in Rampur, Northern India, in 1889.

Sundar was born into a devout Sikh family, a strict religious brotherhood within Hinduism, and as a youngster he memorised the Bagawadgita, mastered the Vedas and read the Koran. His parents sent him to a Christian school because it was closer than the government school three miles away, and the education received was excellent.

He was also influenced by Sadhus who taught Yoga. His mother told him not to be selfish and materialistic like his brothers but to be a Sadhu, one who devotes his life to religion and lives on charity.

Thus Sundar grew to teenage years with a strange aversion to Christianity … he “hated the Christian teachers, their school, their Scriptures and their Jesus” (The Yellow Robe, by Cyril Davey, page 25). He threw stones at the Christian preachers and encouraged his friends to do the same, and he also tore a New Testament to pieces before his school friends and burned it in the school courtyard, when he was but 14 years of age. Then came his vision of the Risen Christ a few days later, and the “Damascus Road” experience. It was 17-18 December, 1904.

Sundar woke at 3am and was in despair. His Hindu religious devotion had left him empty and he contemplated suicide. He asked God to show him the right way. Then a bright light appeared and he saw Jesus, who said to him, “Why have you not followed me?” He did so immediately and felt great joy.
He cut off his long hair, a mark of Sikhdom. When he told his father he had become a Christian “his father’s wrath was dreadful to see”. He was cast out of the family and poisoned! Found by an Indian Christian, Rev. P. Uppal, Sundar was nursed back to health. He was baptised on 3 September, 1905 – his 16th birthday.

He then dedicated himself as a Christian Sadhu, wearing a yellow robe and wandering without any means of support. This way he knew he could reach his people who accepted such holy men.

In 1910 he studied for ministry in the Anglican Church until he found out that upon ordination he would be expected to stay in one diocese. He left and began an itinerant preaching ministry that took him around India and even into Tibet.

The years that followed were filled with incredible suffering and hardship. He travelled all over North India, despite heat and cold, plague, malaria, cholera, facing death more than a dozen times.

Curious tales abound: patting a leopard as if it were a dog; being miraculously delivered from a well, the top of which had been locked; the meeting with the 300 year-old hermit who “told Sundar Christ’s coming was imminent” (Sadhu Sundar Singh, by J. Lynch Watson, page 66).

Sundar’s books don’t always reveal the evangelical image given in the Moody Press biography by Cyril Davey. He was a student of Swedenborg’s writings … and he speaks of “those in hell who will ultimately be brought to Heaven …” due to the intercession of the departed saints. On the other hand he speaks of the sacrifice of Christ “by which we are saved from sin and its consequences”.

He tells the pilgrim bathing in the ‘sacred’ Ganges that “I have already bathed by faith in the blood of Christ and by His grace have been saved …” (With and Without Christ, by S.S. Singh, page 32).

Sundar preached in Madras and Ceylon, travelling all over India and Ceylon, then internationally from 1918 – 1922. He visited Malaya, Japan, China, Western Europe, Australia and Israel.

In 1920 the Sadhu visited Australia – unheralded. And three weeks “of hurriedly arranged meetings gave to thousands the memory of a Presence” (Story of Sadhu Sundar Singh, by Harold Short, page 7).

In 1922 he was happy to be back in his beloved India. The tour of Western lands had distressed him.

Each year he made a trip into Tibet, and it was in 1929 that he set out once again to preach in the forbidden land.

And there the story finishes … he was last seen leaving the little town of Kalka … and never seen again.

One biographer pays the following tribute to this remarkable servant of Christ – “Coming from the presence of Sundar Singh, men forget themselves, they forget him – but they think of Christ!” (The Sadhu, by Streeter and Appasamy, page xv).
What better tribute could be offered?

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Staying Under Command

Westerners have little grip on authority. Most westerners don’t have authority, because they are not under authority. Most westerners have violated their right to rule by refusing to be ruled. Of course they are ruled, or indeed dominated, but their spirit is one of insubordination and independence. So they have lost the right to rule.

This is profoundly significant for the menfolk of the west. They are the ones who are supposed to lead, as the head of their home. Yet they cannot take that lead, since they know nothing of true headship and authority. Their challenge is to stay under command.

I want to help you learn how to do that, so here’s an analogy I recently used to illustrate this principle.

The Chain of Command

Before we dig into my illustration let me remind you how God has set up the command structure. God has created an hierarchical authority structure for us to operate within. God is the head of that structure. The next in command is Christ. So God, as Almighty God and as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the two top positions in the hierarchy. Husbands are given a place of authority directly under Christ. Wives are given a place directly under their husband.

Husbands, then, have a pretty awesome place of authority. They are directly answerable to Jesus Christ. Imagine being directly answerable to the Prime Minister or President of your country. That’s the place of authority husbands have in God’s scheme of things. That’s a pretty elevated place of responsibility and authority.

Abusing the Boss

Imagine being directly answerable to the leader of your nation, and then taking orders from someone else. When you begin taking orders from someone other than your boss you are abusing the boss. You mock the authority of the boss because you do not revere and respect it. You stop being under that authority and so negate the delegated authority given to you.

Every time you let someone change the orders your boss gave you the effect is that of mocking your boss and demeaning the boss’s authority. What does it say about your boss, when you let some person off the street tell you what to do? You are lowering the authority of the boss to being no more significant than that of a stranger or some person with no authority.

Stay Under Command

The most important thing for a person to do is to stay under command. This is especially so if you have been given the privilege of direct access to someone of high authority. You certainly would not want to violate that authority and lose your place under it. You want to remain in direct line of command from the highest officer possible.

To do that you must honour your boss. You must be diligent to faithfully fulfil the wishes and instructions of the boss, so he is pleased with you and retains you in the position of authority he has assigned you.

This is equally as important for husbands as the head of their home. If a man disregards the lordship of God and Christ in his life he loses the effective authority that has been delegated to him. He ends up with a wife and children who have no regard for his leadership and headship, since he has no regard for Christ’s headship over him.

The Challenge

Many men are already starting from a lost position. They have to regain their authority in a context where their wife rules them and their children ignore them. This is a pretty hefty challenge, but it is one that can be met. God is the one who assigned men their authority and so when men move into it they do have God’s backing.

The question I get asked from time to time is about actually activating that authority, especially in a context where it has never been exercised before. That is where this Soldier analogy came from. I hope you find it helpful.

Soldier to Soldier

Imagine two platoons of soldiers from different armies working together in a battle zone against a common enemy. Each group is kitted out with their issue of uniform and equipment. The soldiers from the two armies mix together, but are under the direct command of their platoon leader.

A soldier from one army advises a soldier from the other nation that the way he carries his ammunition belt is not right. One army wears the belt around the waste and the other slings it over the shoulder. The solder being told what to do by the other soldier has to decide what to do.

He can take the advice of the other soldier. If he does so, he is stepping outside the instructions given him by his own army command. The kit which he is issued and trained to use is to be utilised as instructed. If he rejects his own command he makes himself subservient to a mere soldier from a different nation. He is acting outside his chain of command.

However, the suggestion may be a good one. So, could he not follow the instruction if it strikes him as a good idea? The answer is, No! He must operate within the chain of command and stay under the authority of his commanding officer.

What to Do?

What he can do is go to his commanding officer and ask for permission to wear his kit in a different manner to what is prescribed. The commanding officer may happily give him leave to do so. It may not be a significant matter. The officer may allow the soldier to do what he thinks best. Or there may be good reason why the prescribed wearing of the kit has to be maintained.

By respecting the command of his own platoon leaders the soldier is staying in a place of authority. That authority protects him and also empowers him with delegated authority.

The Point

The point of this illustration is to convey the concept of authority to people who have little practical experience in living under God’s authority. The next issue is how to practically apply authority and headship into a home where it has been absent. I’ll tackle that question in a future post about Regaining Domestic Authority.

Charles Finney Waking America

This is the day that … Charles Grandison Finney was ordained to Christian ministry, in 1824.

Thus began – or “continued” might be a more accurate word – a mighty moving of the Spirit of God through this converted lawyer. Immediately the winning of the lost had become his one purpose in life … as he expressed it – he had been given a “retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead His cause”.

Elmer Towns sums up one of Finney’s revival campaigns: “During his meetings in Rochester, New York … 1,200 people united with the churches of the Rochester Presbytery; all the leading lawyers, physicians and businessmen were saved; 40 of the converts entered the ministry, and the whole character of the town was changed. As a result of that meeting revivals broke out in 1,500 other towns and villages” (Hall of Fame, page 102).

It is estimated that “over 500,000 responded to his public invitations to receive Christ” (ibid).

In 1835 Finney became president of Oberlin College, introducing a curious blend of Calvinism and Arminianism into his theological teaching. The Second Great Awakening in America moved away from the Calvinistic focus of men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield, to a focus on man’s responsibility for his sin and man’s need to take moral action in the face of his sin. This could be called practical Arminiansm.

Finney’s autobiography has been republished in paperback (Bethany Fellowship, 1977, 230 pages), and his Revival Lectures are still a classic in their particular field.

“The pastor who ordained Finney later said he regretted this ordination,” writes Jack Hyles in his book Today. “Finney became known as somewhat of a fanatic, embarrassing his old pastor. God give us more fanatics!!”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.