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Puritans, Covenanters, et al.  |  Edmonton, Alberta
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Posted by: Still Waters Revival Books | more..
BLOG ON: SERMON A King's Obligation to God 2/4
Still Waters Revival Books
Pastor Steven Dilday

Dr. Reg Barrow's Reply to Christian Renewal Magazine Regarding Their Review of Mike Wagner's Presbyterian Political Manifesto

Friday, March 15, 1996

Dear Friends at Christian Renewal (Letter to the Editor):

I was very disappointed at the conclusions reached by J. Tangelder in his review (CR, Mar. 11/96) of our recently published book A PRESBYTERIAN POLITICAL MANIFESTO by Michael Wagner.

First, he concludes that Wagner's approach is not "Biblically sound." Has Mr. Tangelder ever bothered to study the history of the Reformation? All the major divines in the Reformation from Popery (which took place during the 16th and 17th centuries), whether they were Anglican, Presbyterian or Independent, came to the same basic conclusion as Wagner: this being that the Bible teaches the civil establishment of Christianity (i.e. "establismentarianism"). The question for the Reformers was not whether the true religion should be established civilly; but rather which expression of Christianity should be established (and how would they know who to reward and who to punish).

John Calvin is a prime example of this, as Eire points out in his classic study WAR AGAINST THE IDOLS: THE REFORMATION OF WORSHIP FROM ERASMUS TO CALVIN. He notes that Calvin believed that it was the role of the civil government "to wage war on Roman Catholic worship" (p. 266), "that those in power were the guardians of pure worship" (p. 269), "that earthly Princes ought to govern in the name of Jesus Christ" (p.269), and that it was the civil magistrate's duty before God "to wipe out even the smallest traces of idolatry" (p. 269). Furthermore, "Calvin says that kings should not hesitate to wipe out idolatry in their land, because God has set them on high for the purpose of enlightening the people" (p. 269). If this is not the establishmentarism that Wagner speaks of, I do not know what is; and Calvin has been considered somewhat moderate in his views, especially when compared with men such as John Knox and Christopher Goodman — who were much more aggressive.

Moreover, the establishmentarianism of the Reformation was not limited to just individual divines, "Dr. M'Crie in his STATEMENT OF THE DIFFERENCE, shows that all the Confessions of the Protestant and Presbyterian Churches of the Reformation, both in Britain and on the Continent of Europe, held and maintained the Establishment Principle." M'Crie goes on give extracts from THE CONFESSION OF HELVETIA; THE CONFESSION OF BOHEMIA, called the CONFESSION OF THE WALDENSES; THE CONFESSION OF SAXONY; THE FRENCH CONFESSION; THE BELGIC OR DUTCH CONFESSION; THE CONFESSION OF THE ENGLISH CONGREGATION IN GENEVA; THE SCOTS CONFESSION and THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION, all proving that "these confessions harmoniously agree in declaring as with one mouth that civil authority is not limited to the secular affairs of men, and the public care and advancement of religion is a principle part of the official duty of magistrates." See our publication of Theodore Beza's (Calvin's successor in Geneva) HARMONY OF THE PROTESTANT CONFESSIONS (section 19, "Of the Civil Magistrate") and the Westminster Confession of Faith (chapter 23) to confirm M'Crie's findings. M'Crie, in opposition to Tangelder, then rightly concludes, "Such is the harmony of doctrine in the Protestant churches on this head, expressed in their confessions and public formularies drawn from the word of God; a harmony which deserves great attention, and from which none should rashly depart." The only so-called Protestant group that generally opposed establishments was the anti-covenantal, anabaptists. But seeing that the humanism and pluralism of the anabaptist heresy has permeated so much of what once was Reformed Christianity, I guess I should not be surprised that Tangelder would make such an error.

Furthermore, Tangelder again exhibits his ignorance of Reformation history when he states that "Confessions of Faith are not political programs." Nothing could be further from the truth. This is exactly what the Westminster Confession was, in part. For how will the civil magistrate govern righteously, if not by the law and testimony of God? And who interprets the "law and testimony" correctly, but the ministers and followers of Christ. The Westminster Divines were producing the Westminster Confession as part of the covenanted Reformation sworn to in the Solemn League and Covenant (1643). According to this covenant, the Confession was to bind England, Scotland and Ireland to its pronouncements in both the ecclesiastical and civil spheres. The parliamentarians in these countries even swore this covenant. And lest there be any doubt left in the mind of the reader as to the intent of this covenanted Reformation, I suggest that everyone obtain the WORKS of George Gillespie (who was one of the leading Westminster divines) and read his "Miscellany Questions," chapter 15: "Of Uniformity in Religion, Worship of God, and Church Government," and chapter 16: "Whether it be Lawful, Just and Expedient, that there be an Ordinance of Parliament for the taking of the Solemn League and Covenant, by all Persons in the Kingdom, Under a Considerable Penalty..."

Additionally, in answer to some of Tangelder questions concerning "the diversity of Reformed churches" and our modern disunity (which is the evident judgement of God upon a backsliding "Reformed" community that refuses to walk in the old paths, and is often so blinded as to not even know that the path exists — as can be seen in Tangelder's review, regarding the Reformation doctrine of civil government), history shows that the Reformed Presbyterian churches in the British Isles, during the mid-seventeenth century, were light-years ahead of any churches that I know of (and my company, Still Waters Revival Books, serves Christians in 54 different countries at present). As William Hetherington points out, in his classic HISTORY OF THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES (1856, SWRB 1993), concerning some of the very proposals that Wagner is once again setting forth in his PRESBYTERIAN POLITICAL MANIFESTO, true unity will come (and did during the days of the Westminster Assembly in a limited way, what I would call a foretaste of millennial glory), when Protestants once again understand the meaning of covenanted Reformation. Some of your readers will find the reference (in the following quotation) to the "deep thinking divines of the Netherlands" to be of special interest. Hetherington writes,

"There was one great, and even sublime idea, brought somewhat indefinitely before the Westminster Assembly, which has not yet been realized, the idea of a Protestant union throughout Christendom, not merely for the purpose of counterbalancing Popery, but in order to purify, strengthen, and unite all true Christian churches, so that with combined energy and zeal they might go forth, in glad compliance with the Redeemer's commands, teaching all nations, and preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven. This truly magnificent, and also truly Christian idea, seems to have originated in the mind of that distinguished man, Alexander Henderson. It was suggested by him to the Scottish commissioners, and by them partially brought before the English Parliament, requesting them to direct the Assembly to write letters to the Protestant Churches in France, Holland, Switzerland, and other Reformed Churches. . . . and along with these letters were sent copies of the Solemn League and Covenant, a document which might itself form the basis of such a Protestant union. The deep thinking divines of the Netherlands apprehended the idea, and in their answer, not only expressed their approbation of the Covenant, but also desired to join in it with the British kingdoms. Nor did they content themselves with the mere expression of approval and willingness to join. A letter was soon afterwards sent to the Assembly from the Hague, written by Duraeus (the celebrated John Dury), offering to come to the Assembly, and containing a copy of a vow which he had prepared and tendered to the distinguished Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, wherein he bound himself 'to prosecute a reconciliation between Protestants in point of religion.'. . . [O]n one occasion Henderson procured a passport to go to Holland, most probably for the purpose of prosecuting this grand idea. But the intrigues of politicians, the delays caused by the conduct of the Independents, and the narrow-minded Erastianism of the English Parliament, all conspired to prevent the Assembly from entering farther into that truly glorious Christian enterprise. Days of trouble and darkness came; persecution wore out the great men of that remarkable period; pure and vital Christianity was stricken to the earth and trampled under foot (pp. 337-339)."

Many modern Christians, not unlike Tangelder, seem to want to look to what is "politically feasible" and not to what is "politically faithful," thus their works are cursed and the land suffers increasing judgement. Only when we are politically faithful, as the Westminster Divines were, will we have made any real headway in the civil sphere. Wagner's PRESBYTERIAN POLITICAL MANIFESTO begins to lay out the only course to God's blessing in politics. If you want a temporal cease-fire with humanism and something, syncretistic, Satanic, pragmatic and "politically feasible," in this day of great apostasy, go to one of the parties that compose their policy and draw their pretended authority from the beast (and not the Word of God); the Liberals, the Reform Party, the NDP, the Conservatives, the BQ and yes, even the CHP (who bargain with votaries of Antichrist [the Pope]), will all welcome compromised Christians with open arms. All these parties are, in the words of the Cameronian (Covenanter) political philosopher Alexander Shields, "rotting away under the destructive distempers of detestable neutrality, loathsome lukewarmness, declining, and decaying in corruptions, defections, divisions, distractions, confusions; and so judicially infatuated with darkness and delusions, that they forget and forego the necessary testimony of the day" (A HIND LET LOOSE, 1797 edition, p. 20). For my part you can keep your "politically feasible" unfaithfulness ("he which is [politically—RB] filthy, let him be filthy still," cf. Rev 22:11); I will walk in the "footsteps of the flock," and travel the covenanting road of Reformation and Scripture (with the magisterial Reformers of the past)! For as Greg Price has pointed out, "when the Lord brings that future covenanted reformation it will not be limited to only three kingdoms of the earth, but by the grace and power of Christ our King, it will be a covenanted reformation that will encompass all of the nations of the earth (Ps. 2:6-12; Is. 2:1-4; Mt. 28:1-20) and will bring to the church a visible unity and uniformity that (unlike pleas for unity today) is firmly grounded upon the truth" (Preface to The Duty and Perpetual Obligation of Social Covenanting, SWRB reprinted 1996). Click here to contine reading ...

Dr. Michael Wagner Dr. Michael Wagner

Category:  Civil Government

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And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed...
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Biblical Civil Government Versus Satanic Civil Government, Romans 13, John Calvin, by Jim Dodson
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#1 Biblical Civil Government Versus Satanic Civil Government, Romans 13, John Calvin, by Jim Dodson (Free MP3) http ://ww w.ser monau dio.c om/se rmoni nfo.a sp?SI D=320 17194 9202 #2 Biblical Civil Government Versus Satanic Civil Government, Romans 13...
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12,500+ Reformed Books, MP3s & Videos On An External USB Hard Drive (Classic &...
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One of the most radical French expressions of the right of resistance was that voiced by Phillipe du Plessis-Mornay in his Vindiciae contra tyrannos (1579) (commonly know in English as A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants [this rare book is...
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John Knox John Knox

Educated in Glasgow and possibly at St. Andrews, Knox received minor orders, set up as a notary in Haddington, and then became a private tutor, c. 1544. Soon...

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The Scottish Theory of Ecclesiastical Establishments (1875) by George Smeaton (Civil Government)
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Smeaton notes, I have often said that in the Scottish theory we have the ultimate truth on the whole subject of the relations between Church and State, the result of the prayerful investigations and earnest contendings of some of the clearest...
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REFORMATION BOOKSHELF CD 25/30, Civil Government
Reformation Civil Government (1/2) God's Ordinance of Magistracy Asserted,...
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