Our Bible and its Effect Upon Government
I am glad to be back. I have been victim of the flu this past week.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2nd Timothy 2:15.
I have been working my way through historian Christopher Hill's book The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution. Publishing the complete and unadulterated word of God and giving it to the English public was in itself a revolution. The King James Bible was to set in motion many conflicts of thought. What the Nicolaitans (clergy who rule over the laity with a heavy hand) and despotic rulers had long dreaded came to pass. Every man who wanted to find the perfect form of government in his bible felt free to do so.
Not only did men feel free to think out the rudiments of government for themselves as they searched their bibles, they felt free to speak plainly about their ideas. I have had the benefit of 400 more years of history to study. I have had the perfectly printed word of God in a easily read and inexpensive format, and I have had innumerable study aids. I firmly believe that the bible does not expressly endorse any form of government. It merely gives us infallible precepts and principles toward which any government should strive regardless of its form, and principles to which any individual should adhere while under a government.
17th century men would have had trouble with that statement. Like the proverbial blind men with the elephant, each man groped through his bible and more often than not found justification for his pet theories for how men should be governed under God. There were men who looked at verses such as Ecclesiastes 8:4; Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?; and proclaimed that men had no right to stand against a king. During the turmoil of James II's reign there were bishops who proclaimed that if he chose to kill us all we should submit.
Bishop Abbot saw in the Book of Jonah that only a king could proclaim a public fast. Others saw in the story of Jehu that a man with a revelation from God could make himself king but he had to kill the existing king. Men saw that locusts were wise for having no king.
The English People, hair splitters of the first order, eventually beheaded their king and established a commonwealth. They tried living with the wisdom of locusts. Despite the virtues of Cromwell's life and despite the fear that other nations had of his might, the Puritan Parliament exhibited far less wisdom than locusts. They banned Christmas, figgy pudding and Maypoles. They meddled in things in which no government should meddle.
Upon the death of Cromwell, they swung the pendulum the other way and restored the monarchy in the person of lecherous King Charles II. They rejoiced in orgies, banished Puritan divines to slavery in the Caribbean and reduced themselves to a second rate power subservient to the French King. In each of those pendulum swings there were men eagerly pointing to passages in scripture justifying their current government.
The wide swings in government along with the violence and oppressions that such swings bring were to continue up through the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Good God fearing men were to thrust their bibles forth in opposition one to another condemning anything but how they read their bibles. It would be another century before the simple Baptist concept of the separation of church and state took hold anywhere other than Rhode Island.
It is to this century of instability that bible deniers and humanists often refer when they condemn any bible principles in government. What they fail to see is that Muslim nations are still caught in that swinging pendulum. Humanistic or atheistic nations tend to dehumanize. It is those lands that endured the maturing agonies of nations getting to know their bibles which were able to eventually establish good and beneficial government for their people.
It is the principles and precepts of the bible that make the difference. It is bible believing men and women who remain the savory pinch of salt in a land. By acting on its precepts they preserve a land. Landscapes shift quickly. Situations change. Bible precepts do not. As the humanists seek to debunk the bible, and the Muslims seek to elevate the Koran (which has never established liberty in any land), the silly bible correctors gnaw away at the faith of those who hold to a perfect bible.
The fight for the King James Bibles is more than just scholars squabbling over minute issues. The defenders of the King James Bible are defending one of the great foundations of civil liberty for English Speaking People.