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APR 26, 2015
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Coweta Particular Baptist Church
Dr. John Suttles  |  Newnan, Georgia
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Government or Gospel?
SUNDAY, APRIL 05, 2015
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
A recent blog post by Chuck Baldwin, former pastor and syndicated radio personality, and a response to that post by author and constitutional commentator Ted Weiland, have reignited (or perhaps simply continued) the ongoing debate concerning the moral foundations of the U.S. Constitution. Baldwin’s blog rebukes many religious conservatives for their Phariseeism and war-mongering, while they fail to recognize that their constitutional liberties are being inexorably eroded.

Ted Weiland takes Baldwin to task for what he perceives as a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution. Weiland argues that the Constitution is actually the source of all modern social/governmental problems because its authors substituted a government of man’s laws for the government he argues was originally established in the colonies – one based upon the acknowledgement of God’s law embodied in Scripture as the only rule for the nation.

Having read both articles, it is a constant source of amazement that so many, including these writers, lose sight of the “forest” of history for looking at the “trees,” or to use another analogy the grand sweep of history is neglected to focus on one particular historical "hobby horse," riding it furiously in the attempt to convince ourselves (mainly) and others that we're actually getting somewhere. While every attempt at historical interpretation is, in the strictest sense of the term, particularized, in that the writer is always sifting, weighing, judging, and choosing some facts over others (with his recognized or unrecognized biases), it is bad historical reporting to argue from narrow circumstances to a general conclusion, which generally misses the point. That is what both of these have done.

Whatever the "founders" did or didn't believe, whatever the original colonists did or didn't covenant to do, whatever the Constitution does or doesn't mean, are all secondary to this reality which existed in the years leading up to the War for Independence and for some period of time thereafter – the general influence of Christianity upon individuals and therefore upon the societies that made up the colonies and later the Sovereign States. This influence permeated families, neighborhoods, towns, and where it did not, men were sent to proclaim the Gospel, so that such influence would be felt in such places. No right thinking person would argue that everyone, or even a majority of the population at that time, was truly converted, but the Gospel's "leavening" power was unmistakable in those decades. It was that influence which gave motive force to the uniqueness of the American “experiment,” whatever might or might not be true about its particular form of government.

Whether Baldwin's or Weiland's arguments concerning government are right are really inconsequential. Let Weiland's theocratic model be implemented tomorrow and the results will be no better than those in ancient Israel if unaccompanied by a general diffusion of the Gospel's converting power among the population. Baldwin laments the state of the churches in our day. Yet what he seems unwilling to recognize or admit is that in general they are heavily populated by the unconverted. Is it any wonder then that they have no influence upon the world - they, in the main, are the world!

In either case it will not be by the promulgation of Biblical law or by the recognition of religious conservatives that they need to preserve their constitutional rights, it will be when there is again the heralding forth of that Gospel which is "the power of God unto salvation" by (as the missionary Eugenio Kincaid so rightly said) "a new order of men, - men just as absorbed in winning souls to Christ, as worldings are in gathering gold." This is what our spiritual forefathers understood. It is not the form of government, it is rather the "form of sound words" accompanied by the "working of His mighty power" to convert the individual, and the conversion of individuals that will ultimately influence the government. When the Gospel has once again permeated our society, as it did in our nation’s early years, then we will see government changed, because there will be again a principle of personal holiness active in our citizens.

Don't misunderstand, we ought to have right laws founded upon Biblical principles. The point is that merely having those will not change hearts or ensure that the nation will exist in perpetuity, any more than it did for Israel. Whatever particular position any one of our spiritual ancestors held concerning the Constitution as a "good" or "bad" form of government, those who were truly Christians agreed on these fundamental principles – the lost (both at home and abroad) must have the Gospel preached to them, they must be made “new creatures” by the irresistible working of the Holy Spirit, they must be formed into local churches who must themselves further extend the proclamation of that everlasting Gospel – or this nation, any nation, would not long survive. "Those who turned the world upside down" in the first century didn't do so by wringing their hands about how to get Caesar to see the value of infusing Biblical principles into Roman statutes, they did it by heralding the Gospel to individuals and establishing churches of faithful believers who were willing even to be made flaming sacrifices to the madness of a Nero.

Should we wish to see a "Christian nation" again, we must labor for it by the conversion of individuals, not by the change of governments. Let Baldwin and Weiland debate the issues of the Constitution. There shall never be an end to that because it deals only a glancing blow to real issue - the necessity of having the stony heart changed for an heart of flesh.
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Marilla's Theology
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
Teaching requires imagination. This is precisely what makes teaching an art. When we teach our children, we are preparing them for what they will become. A classical preparation requires the exploration of the rich heritage from which they have...
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Pastor, Not Parson! - The Life and Legacy of John Owen
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
We stand but a year from the 400th anniversary of the birth of Dr. John Owen in 1616. It is remarkable that with so much biography being written in their own day on the Puritans, it was more than 40 years after the death of Dr. Owen in 1683 that...
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A Study In Contrasts
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20 Recently, a friend of mine asked me a question about a quote from Thomas Babington Macaulay,...
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I Prayed for Strength
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
When young and filled with determined zeal to live for God, I prayed for strength. But I was so much like young Jacob who had pillowed his head upon the stones at Luz only to awaken to the magnificent glories of angels ascending and descending...
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Advice for Melancholy
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
Dear Friends of the Sad and Anxious In 1688, the sunlight of peace was just beginning to break through for Christians in England. A fiercely Catholic monarchy was about to be removed by the so-called Glorious Revolution that resulted in great...
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Justin the Martyr
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
Justin the Martyr was a Christian who died for his faith about A.D. 165. He is most commonly known for being an apologist – a defender of his faith. As he grew up, he had no Christian instruction. At a young age he purposed to find the truth. ...
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When Our Children Divorce Us
FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
Once again, I have heard the sorrowful testimony of Christian parents estranged from their child. Such heartache is inconsolable, and only those whose hearts are breaking in such a way can understand the paralyzing grief. Some of us may be able...
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Behold, I Come Quickly!
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
Rev. 22:7: “Behold, I come quickly.” Rev. 22:12: “And, behold, I come quickly.” Rev. 22:20: “Surely, I come quickly.” These words are nearly the last words of the last book of God's inspired and infallible Scripture. They are the final words...
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To My Fellow Young Reader...
Posted by: Coweta Particular Baptist Church | more..
(The author of the following blog is an eleven year old boy, a member of our church, and the oldest of four siblings. While much of his time is given to his classical, Christian studies, he always finds time to enjoy the wonders of God's creation,...
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