My Weekend with the Facebook Covenanters

Some time ago (months? weeks? I don't know) I was invited to join a Facebook Group called "Christians for the Civil Recognition of Christ's Kingship." It was an eye-opening experience. Here is the description of the group (group material is on the left, my comments on the right).

  • Christians for the Civil Recognition of Christ's Kingship
    By joining this group, you are confessing that Jesus Christ, the God-man and only Mediator of the Covenant of Grace, is truly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God the Father has given Him all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, nations have a duty to recognize and submit to his Lordship over every human institution. This fundamental Christian doctrine is officially taught by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) and various other Reformed Presbyterian bodies throughout Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and beyond. Moreover, every Church holding to the Westminster Standards is dutibound to confess with us that "Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that AS GOD-MAN he is advanced to the highest favour with God the Father, with all fulness of joy, glory, and POWER OVER ALL THINGS in heaven and earth" (WLC 54).
Christ is King over every person, "legal person," corporation, and institution. There is no field of human action over which Christ is not King. There is no human action which is outside of Christ's jurisdiction. The Law of God governs every human action. Every human being must obey God's Law in every thought and action.

Christ is King NOW. Postponing Christ's Kingship for some future eschatological event, as in pre-millennialism, is a denial of Christ's Kingship. It says Jesus is not yet the Christ.  Premillennialism is antiChrist. (The link goes to WLC 54)

To make a long story short, I got kicked out of this group after a weekend of conversation. I'm writing this page to process the event. My head is still spinning -- it happened rather quickly, and in the process I read a ton of their material and listened to a few of their sermons. Unfortunately, since I've been kicked out, I no longer have access to that conversation, so I can't review it.

There are many lessons to learn, both theologically and personally.

Some of the theological lessons are found below.

Personally, I again see the wisdom and dignity of R.J.Rushdoony, who made a point of never spending time answering his critics. Answer genuine inquiries, sure; but ignore hard-hearted critics. I'm still learning this lesson. The temptation to waste time responding to ("casting pearls") (or perhaps I should say "one-upping") a critic can be as overwhelming as it is futile. PBPGINFWMY.

Fifteen or so years ago I came across a website called "Still Waters Revival Books." (Their webpages today look exactly like they did 20 years ago. More primitive than mine, even!) I printed out four three-ring binders of their stuff. It's very interesting.

In case you're not familiar with the terms above (like "RPCNA"), these are "Covenanters." They believe in "social covenanting," which means a society (whatever that is) needs to covenant together to obey God's Law. The sine qua non of this commitment is that the civil magistrate must punish theological deviants. If you disagree with that single claim, you are not a true "Covenanter," but are an "antinomian," even if you agree with my comments above on the right.

That's right: Reconstructionist Theonomists are branded as "antinomians" by Covenanters.

I entered the conversation this weekend on a post of a Covenanter critique of the U.S. Constitution, written in the early 1800's (again, I can't check this, since I've been banned. Nobody but group insiders can access these interesting documents). Covenanters want civil constitutions to contain verbose, flowery acknowledgments of Christ's Lordship. If they lack the required theological precision and magnitude, they will be branded -- as this post branded the U.S. Constitution -- as an "atheistic" constitution.

I pointed out that there wasn't a single "atheist" who signed the Constitution, or (as far as I know) had a hand in ratifying it at any of the state ratifying conventions. The Framers would consider it a personal slander and a legal blunder to claim that their Constitution was "atheistic."

And it is a legal blunder. It is the same jurisprudential slander that the ACLU makes. If you understand how the Constitution is to be interpreted -- in terms of legal history, original intent, and subsequent legal actions -- then you conclude as the Supreme Court of the United States did in 1892: "this is a Christian nation." I admit that by 1892 it was no longer a Calvinist nation, but the Constitution was never "atheistic." The ACLU lies. The Covenanters -- well, do they lie? or are they just mistaken? a little of both? It is clear that the Framers of the Constitution did not prevent America from becoming the secular progressive nation it has become. But the Framers were not secular progressives. And calling their constitution "atheistic" is a violation of the Ninth Commandment.

And sort of juvenile.

I mean, I understand their point. The Covenanters find the seeds of destruction in a failure to foresee the future and guard against it. But I think the Framers would be more appalled at what has happened to the government they created than today's Covenanters (who grew up under that secular progressive government, and are awash in contemporary culture).

What follows is actual excerpts from my conversation with the Covenanters.

After I got kicked out, I reflected on the meaning of "civil government," and created this draft.

Andrea Schwertley 8:51am Oct 24
It's more than just the absence of naming Christ as King of the nation. The First Amendment clearly was intended to and as lead to pluralism in this country, not just acceptance of multiple Christian denominations but also of false religions. Furthermore, the explicit rejection of a religious test oath to hold office is telling as to the Framers' intent.

No state wanted the federal government to determine what a "false religion" is. James Madison is called "the father of the Constitution." He said that state legislators should oppose any bill if:

the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift, ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of (revelation) from coming into the Region of it; and countenances, by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it, with a wall of defence, against the encroachments of error.

All legislation should promote the true religion, and lessen the number of people trapped in the darkness of false religions. But this is outside the enumerated powers of the federal government.

The concept of a "test oath" is vague, but I would say that the majority view at the time of the ratification was that it prohibited a test of denominational loyalty, such as existed in the colonies under Britain's state-church. See the records of ratification among the states.

Andrea Schwertley 12:19pm Oct 24
Understood, Edgar. I was trying to address Mr. Craig's assertions that this is an explicitly Christian country. A Christian country has explicitly Christian rulers and suppresses rather makes provision for false religions.
As I said earlier, nothing in the Constitution prohibits explicitly Trinitarian oaths of office. I oppose suppression of false religions by the federal government as outside its enumerated powers.
Adam Kuehner 4:41pm Oct 24
Kevin: When we speak of "human institutions" in this context, it is understood to mean "God-ordained human institutions," such as the family, the church, and the state. While I am not opposed to Christian bowling leagues, I think your comment misses the point. Last time I checked, the Scriptures never refer to the president of the bowling league as "a minister of God for good."

In a perfect world, men who took theocratic oaths would not subsequently enact laws that violate and/or undermine those oaths. Sadly, however, we do not live in a perfect world. Americans in the church and the state are notorious oath-breakers. Just ask the Native American community.
This is a critical point. If bowling leagues don't have to have certain Christian/Theocratic language, neither does a "League of Nations."

If Virginia and Pennsylvania are "God-ordained human institutions" which require certain language in their Preambles, then if they form a compact for mutual self-defense, it doesn't mean they are no longer "God-ordained human institutions" and now only the administrators of the defense compact are. If the U.S. signs a treaty with Cuba (an atheistic state) to allow U.S.-Cuba trade, the treaty does not have to bind Cuba to Trinitarian Christianity as a precondition to free trade. The U.S. federal government sins by not allowing Christian missionaries and businessmen access to Cubans. Is the European Union a divine institution? Or is it only necessary for Germany and France to acknowledge Christ's Lordship? The U.S. Constitution is the EU of America, standing above the states as a bowling league stands below them.

It was precisely the fact that oaths can be broken that some Christians opposed any oaths in the federal constitution. Even flowery Christian ones.

Adam Kuehner 5:27pm Oct 24
I was going to suggest that America's decline cannot be blamed on the federal constitution. It was already happening. Flowery language in the Preamble would not have stopped this apostasy. Christians did not take advantage of the freedoms they were given under the Constitution. Further apostasy would have seen the flowery language trampled on as well.
Adam Kuehner 5:32pm Oct 24
Also, check out these sermons, which eerily recount the American apostasy that was brewing even a hundred years prior to Edwards. Kevin: Your position contradicts that of the American Puritans themselves.
American Presidents practiced Trinitarian corporate repentance after the ratification of the Constitution.
Michael Daniels 6:18pm Oct 24
The Constitution is a godless document.. There is not a single proof.. All the supposed proves (date, The Sunday argument, etc) have all been disproved centuries before.. And it matters not that it is a Federal Document.. Federal Constitutions are to recognize God as much as State Constitutions.. And for the record, States ceased being sovereign after the Articles of the Confederation. The Federal IS a national government.. I would recommend the following works in the proceeding links that I will post...
The question of federal vs. national was and still is debated. Even if all the Framers could rise from the dead and we could take a poll, the federal government is not in any meaningful or rational sense being governed by the Constitution. The Constitution did not permit the government we have now, so flowery theological language would not have prevented apostasy.
Michael Daniels 6:20pm Oct 24
Testimony against the U.S. Constitution, And the Moral Evils thereof. by the RPCNA, 1839
Here's a line from that document which captures the big issue in this debate:

As there is no such confession, nor any allusion to his law in the Federal constitution, it is plainly a rejection of the written Word, as the rule by which they profess to be governed.

This is a violation of the Ninth Commandment. There is no evidence of such a self-conscious "rejection" of the Bible. It just didn't happen that way. The federal constitution is the equivalent of the "by-laws," and the Declaration of Independence is the Articles of Incorporation. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," which are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures, according to Locke, Blackstone, and everybody else who had a hand in framing and ratifying the Constitution. There is a sufficient legal basis to act in manner subordinated to God's Law, but this freedom was not utilized in subsequent generations. Don't blame the Constitution for that. Blame those who allege its "atheism."

Here's another paranoid exaggeration:

Christ's Lordship over the United States is not acknowledged by the people in the constitution of their government. How could it be, when many of those who framed, and who have administered it, have held him to be an impostor, and his Bible a cunningly devised fable?

"Many?" Name two. This just isn't true. It is an exaggeration.

I just don't have time to go line-by-line to show that this document is filled with rhetoric which does not meet the standards of God's Law. 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 requires more precision and demands that we put the best possible construction on our "opponents'" words.

Michael Daniels 6:20pm Oct 24
Bible Magistracy, Christ Dominion Over the Nations with an examination of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 1842
That link is broken. I found it here:‎
Here is a quote:

No Infidel, Deist, Socinian, Sabbath-breaker, profane swearer, whoremonger, or even Atheist, has ever alleged that the constitutional arrangements of the United States impose upon him any undue restrictions. 

This may have been true in 1842, but by the 20th century it was no longer true. Here's an example. That link completely disproves Willson's thesis. Atheists were complaining that even the crumbs of Christianity which Willson would acknowledge could be found in the Constitution "imposed upon them undue restrictions" and were being challenged by atheists upon legally and constitutionally spurious grounds which none of the Framers -- not one -- would have accepted. This proves that the Constitution was sufficiently Christian, and that no amount of Christian verbiage in a document can prevent apostate liars from evading it.

I generally sympathize with Willson theologically, but his analysis of the Constitution (legally and historically) is wrong. To put it uncharitably bluntly, Willson is a paranoid liar. He imagines conspiracies and overstates his case. Christians should not do this. I've done it enough to know it doesn't work. Not in the long run.

Michael Daniels 6:20pm Oct 24
The Two Sons of Oil by Samuel Wylie, 1803
If I'm not mistaken, this book argues that the Civil Magistrate has the authority to judge ecclesiastical assemblies and intervene in the administration of the sacraments.

That's too frightening for me. Statism.

Michael Daniels 6:22pm Oct 24
Argument for Jury Law, Published in Overture in Synod, 1834 by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) which also goes and proves that the Federal Government is a National Government that super-seceded the states...
In my opinion, these arguments against the body of the Constitution are invalidated by the 10th Amendment. A parallel can be seen in footnote 16, which argues from the Treaty with Tripoli. The line quoted was removed by Congress because it was inserted into some (but not all) copies of the Treaty by an apostate chaplain, and the words are plainly false. Quoting this statement is like trying to pin the Dred Scot case on the Constitution. The Constitution must be interpreted in light of the Amendments -- Amendments that came from the States, not "the People."
Michael Daniels 6:23pm Oct 24
James Willson declared only 32 years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the USA the following:

“Britain and the United States are colonies within Jehovah’s government; and if they refuse to acknowledge the authority of Messiah, he will treat them as rebel provinces of his empire. In the United States, the refusal to acknowledge God, has probably been more explicit than it ever was in any other nation. Soon after we had obtained, through the beneficent providence of God, liberation from the dominion of a foreign power; soon after the most eminent displays of Jehovah’s goodness to our land; the convention, elected to form articles of fundamental law for the commonwealth, rejected the government of God, and with a degree of ingratitude, perhaps without a parallel, formed a constitution in which there is not the slighest hint of homage to the God of heaven; in which God receives no more honor than the devil. They force all within their territories to bow before them, but they refuse to bow before the throne of God. This is a species of national atheism, almost as enormous as that of the French republic, whose representatives voted, that there is no God. It is to all intents practical atheism; and we cannot doubt that those who planned such rebellion against the King of kings and Lord of lords, were practical atheists and professed infidels.”

_The Subjection of Kings and Nations to Messiah_, p. 65 in _Political Danger_ published by Crown and Covenant Publications.
I think there are numerous violations of the Ninth Commandment in this excerpt. Exaggerations abound.

I've already cited Daniel Dreisbach, writing in the Baylor Law Review, and Frederich Gentz, who showed the contrasts -- not the comparisons -- between the French and American revolutions. To say God received "no more honor than the devil" is just rhetorically sinful. See this.

If ACLU atheists were transported through time back to the Founding era, they would not find "practical atheism." This is just an unChristian exaggeration.

Michael Daniels 6:23pm Oct 24
James Madison the Father of the Constitution stated the following,

"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?

The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles"

James Madison, Detached Memoranda, 1817.
I agree with Madison (even though Madison became increasingly cranky and deistic in his old age, long after the Constitution was ratified). I don't want my taxes going to a chaplain with whom I'm not theologically aligned. Churches should pay for chaplains, not the civil government.
Michael Daniels 6:26pm Oct 24
"The Constitution of the United States contains the infidel and anti-Christian principle, that a nation as such ought not to support, nor even recognise the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." -Argument for Jury Law, Published in Overture in Synod, 1834 by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)
But the United States did in fact recognize the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ for at least a century after ratification. And diligent Christians could have increased that recognition. Nothing in the Constitution stopped them. Instead of advancing Christ's Lordship, they spent their time slandering the Constitution.
Michael Daniels 6:28pm Oct 24
Regarding the Date “in the Year of our Lord” Bible Magistracy Christ Dominion over the Nations by James Willson answers this objection in 1842,

“Now there is no reference to the Messiah in the Constitution. Neither in the phraseology of that instrument, nor in any of its provisions, would any alteration be required, were there no such person as the Saviour of sinners. The only allusion to Christ, is in the date appended to it; it is dated "in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twelfth." If this be a profession of subjection to the Messiah, or even an acknowledgment of his being, then will it be exceedingly difficult to find man or woman in all western Europe, or in the greater part of this western world, who is not a disciple of Jesus Christ, not in profession only, but in reality, for all date their deeds, their correspondence, their ages, &c., in the same form. Then would Socinians, Infidels, and even Atheists, be every day of their lives, and every time they write "Anno Domini," acknowledging that the Saviour of sinners is their Lord and Saviour! The truth is, that the prevalence of the Christian religion in Europe has introduced there, and among the descendants of Europeans, the custom of reckoning the lapse of time, and of marking its intervals, from the incarnation of Christ. It is utterly absurd to suppose that the use of this era makes all who do so, Christians. 

To return to our argument. Did any one ever think of charging an Infidel with inconsistency in swearing to support the Constitution? Could such a person be rejected if offering to swear the oath? Could an officer be impeached for blaspheming the Saviour? None of all these were ever thought of. Indeed, those very persons who endeavour, on the one hand, to make us believe that the United States as a nation acknowledge Christ, are as clamorous, on the other, against any arrangement which would exclude from office Socinians, Infidels, &c. "The legs of the lame are not equal." Would Infidels, be eligible to office, provided this nation had made in its constitutional arrangements an acknowledgment of Christ? Decidedly not. The conclusion is manifest. The nation has made no such acknowledgment. “
As Dreisbach noted, the atheistic French removed "year of our Lord," and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution could have done the same, but did not. There was no anti-Christian impulse operating in the framing of the Constitution, only a practical recognition that adopting specific theological language from any of the various ecclesiastical forces in the states would jeopardize acceptance of the Constitution by rival ecclesiastical forces. The states were left free to acknowledge Christ and operate Christian Theocratic governments. Those who administered oaths could have kept atheists and infidels out of federal office.
Michael Daniels 6:28pm Oct 24
The Testimony against the Moral Evil's of the U,S, Constitution states regarding the Sabbath day off, 

“In reply to all this, it has been urged that Sunday is mentioned in the constitution. True, it is so. But in what connection? "If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law." (Art. I. Sec. vii. specification 2.) Is it a violation of the tenets of a Jew, Deist, Mahometan, or Hindoo, to retain a bill, in some cases, eleven or twelve days, instead of ten? Does he thereby acknowledge the Sabbath to be a divine institution? Were two merchants to enter into partnership, on condition that their store should not be opened on Sabbath, a deistical partner would not violate the contract by spending the whole of that day in some other secular employment—as many Presidents have done, their oath of office notwithstanding. The mention of the Sabbath, and by its pagan name too, is no more a recognition of that day as set apart by God in his word for devotion, than the naming of Thursday for any transaction by christians, is a recognition of the worship of the pagan idol Thor, to whom, among the heathen, that day was sacred.—Besides, it was not the intention of those who framed the constitution, to exclude christians from the office of President. They intended to put all on an equal footing. Had they not excepted the Sabbath, an advantage would have been given to an infidel President, over a christian, who might entertain conscientious scruples as to the examining of bills on the Lord's day. After all, were there, as there is not, a recognition of one precept of the law of God, would that be an acknowledgment of the whole law? It might as well be pled that the punishment of theft, by the government of China, is a recognition of the Christian religion, and proves that government {45} to be Christian, because one commandment of the Bible is—"Thou shalt not steal." By this argument, all the governments of the world might be proved to recognize christianity, and to acknowledge Messiah as their prince! The advocates of the christianity of the United States' government must be hard pressed in the field of argument, when they are compelled to rear the superstructure of their advocacy on so narrow a basis.”


The choice of Sunday rather than Friday or Saturday has legal significance, according to the Supreme Court of the U.S. (1892), thus refuting the claim of the RPCNA.

Michael Daniels 6:34pm Oct 24
The sinfulness of the United States and state constitutions. 

The Constitution of the United States comes first in order. And before the value of this part of the argument can be appreciated, it may be necessary to show that the constitution and government of the United States are properly national. Without entering upon a lengthened proof of this, the statement of the following facts will it is hoped, be considered satisfactory. 

1. The federal constitution was framed in the name of the people of the different states. In this respect, it differs from the articles of confederation, which were originally entered into amongst the states. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice; insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." The people by their representatives, assembled in convention, did "ordain and establish this constitution." Being established by the people of the United States, it is not a confederation of sovereign nations, but a national government. 

2. The federal government does not operate on states as such, but on the people individually. It is upon the people, and not on the state governments, that the constitution and laws of the federal government take effect. Mr. Hamilton, in his commentary and vindication of this part to the federal government says, "It must carry its agency to the persons of the citizens. It must stand in need of no intermediate legislations; but must itself be empowered to employ the arm of the ordinary magistrate to execute its own resolutions. The majesty of the national authority must be manifested through the medium of the courts of justice. The government of the Union, like that of each state, must be able to address itself immediately to the hopes and fears of individuals."[1] The fact that the federal government operates on the people individually, is evidence that it is a national government. 

3. The federal constitution, the laws ,of the United States, and treaties made by the United States, are the supreme law of the land. "This constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws a of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."[2] This furnishes us with another proof, that the government of the United States possesses a national character. The residuary power, which is reserved to the state governments, and allowed by the federal constitution, does not in the least interfere, nor is in any way inconsistent with the national character of the latter. If it did interfere with this, then the reserved rights of individual citizens, which are as clearly preserved by the federal and state constitutions as that of the residuary sovereignty of the states themselves, would be an unanswerable argument against this residuary sovereignty of the states. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."[3] Did we adopt the opinion, that the federal is not a national government, because the state governments have certain residuary powers; then, also, we must admit that the state governments are not national governments, because the people have reserved certain rights, which they have not delegated to either. And thus we would be forced to admit the absurdity, that there is no national government, whatever, in the United States. A view of the subject, which would lead us to such a conclusion, is not worthy of being further exposed. 

It will now be admitted, that the federal government is national; and that an acknowledgement of it, involves an acknowledgment, of its moral character, whether righteous or impious. Nor is this remark to be understood as an admission, that there would be nothing sinful in acknowledging the Constitution of the United States, if it did not possess a national character. We disclaim such a conclusion. If the Constitution of the United States contains immoral principles, the acknowledgment of these is sinful, and utterly at variance with the duty and obligations of a witness of Jesus, whatever may be its peculiar political character. And all attempt to cover sin, or even to apologize for it on the ground of any such nice political distinction, is unworthy of a Christian, and merits unqualified reprobation. Whatever may be the nature of an association, if it includes immorality in its constitution, it comes under the command, "Say ye not the confederacy to all them to whom this people shall say a confederacy." -Argument for Jury Law by the RPCNA, 1834

I think I read this already. I'm not persuaded. I had a long discussion on this topic years ago. Don't have time to drag it all out and re-post here. I'm no Hamiltonian.

Michael Daniels 6:40pm Oct 24
Again regarding the Federalism of the Constitution and the issue of State Constitutions,

"In justification of the disregard of the law of God, in the constitution, it is said to be a treaty of confederation, among independent state sovereignties, and not a national, magistratical government. It is further pled, that what may seem to be defective in its provisions, is supplied in the constitutions of the several States; and that several of these recognize the being of God, and some of them, the holy scriptures. This apology is of late invention, is more subtile, and more skilfully devised to mislead, than any of the other pleas that we have refuted above. But when it is analyzed, it is found equally defective.

1. While it is admitted that the national constitution is a federal compact, it claims to be a magistratical power. It provides for the organization of the three departments of government—the legislative, the judiciary, and the executive. The powers conferred on congress are called legislative, or law making. "The legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a congress." (Art. I. sec. 1.) They are such as belong to civil power only. The exposition and application of the laws are styled judicial, and the officers of this department are called judges.—"The judicial power of the United States—the judges of the supreme and inferior courts." And their powers are co-extensive with the laws of the United States. "The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under this constitution." (Art. III. sec. 1,2.) The judges are empowered to try crimes, and the punishment of death is inflicted by the decisions of the United States' courts. The President is invested with executive power. "He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." (Art. II. sec. 3.) Legislation, judicial trials, and the execution of punishment, even to death, are functions of the United States' government, according to the constitution. The convention that framed it was called to form a national government, that might supersede the old Articles of Confederation. The President is by the consent of all, styled the chief magistrate, and it is called the government of the United States, by all except those who defend it with a zeal extending even to its annihilation. Either the United States is not a nation, or it is a nation without a government, if the federal constitution does {71} not erect a national magistracy. But if it were a mere treaty, why should there be no mention of God in a compact so solemn, involving the interests of numerous, young and flourishing commonwealths? [i.e., the several states united.] Treaties between christian nations, in affairs of incomparably less interest, are usually ratified by a recognition of God's authority. So, after all, as it claims the powers of true and proper magistratical authority, this apology will not avail to acquit it of the sin of dishonoring God. It is evident that a plea of this kind never would have been made, were it not so evidently preposterous to constitute an ordinance of God for the government of men, without any recognition of his authority. 


It is true that God and his word are acknowledged in some of the state constitutions; and the federal constitution provides that "Full faith and credit shall be given, in each state, to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state: and that the congress may, by penal laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof." (Art. IV. Sec. 1.) But does this bind him who swears to support the federal constitution, to believe in the being of God, and in the truth of the holy scriptures, because they are recognized in some states? Not at all. For that would be to introduce a religious test. All that he must believe is, that these are acts and proceedings of the states, embodied in their constitutions. If necessary, congress is bound to aid in carrying them into effect; not because they are true in themselves, but because they have been decreed by the majority of the people in some {72} state, in the institution of their state government. This is evident; for had the state constitution ordained the very reverse—that no God should be acknowledged, and that the Bible is a cunningly devised fable—he would be equally pledged by the constitution to give full faith and credit to these impious enactments. All this is based on the principle, that the will of the people is absolutely supreme, and that, as they can do no wrong, whatever they determine must be carried into effect. We shall see presently, that on this principle, congress and the federal government are pledged in fact to sustain acts and proceedings, directly contrary to each other. If there is any immorality in the constitution or constitutional laws of any state, "full faith and credit" must be given, and congress may aid in rendering them effectual.

Having demonstrated the futility of all the pleas set up in justification of the constitution on the ground of its not recognizing the being or authority of God, we proceed to specify another immoral feature of the instrument." The Testimony against the Moral Evil's of the U.S. Constitution , 1839






I don't have time to interact with all the constitutional fallacies here.

Suppose (just for the sake of argumentative analogy) that the RPCNA's "Christian Nation" amendment is up for a national vote. Polls show it going down to defeat by a large margin. On Monday, the day before the election, a coalition of Hollywood Celebrities sends out a message on Twitter and other social media that the election is on Wednesday and everybody is invited to go to their local theater on Tuesday morning for get-out-the-vote rallies. The pro-Hollywood press is confused by the celebrities announcement. Then, inexplicably, the Internet goes dead for 24 hours. All the atheist morons in America go to theaters on Tuesday, while the Christian America voters go to the polls and the Amendment passes.

So now we have flowery theological words in the Constitution. Does this mean that America is now "acknowledging the Lordship of Christ?" Not at all. All the atheist morons who followed the celebrities' advice are outraged, but there's no legal basis for changing the results of the election. America is just as lost as it was on Monday. The Constitution is "Christian" but American culture is ripe for God's judgment.

The new words in the Constitution do not really give Christians any more freedom than they had in 1789. They were free to implement Christ-acknowledgment in 1789 just as much as they are today, now that the Christian Nation Amendment has become law. Will anything really change in America because of the Amendment? I don't think so.

I think there are more substantive things to work on than a formal "acknowledgement."

Michael Daniels 6:42pm Oct 24
State Constitutions? "In the state constitutions, magistratical authority is ultimately referred to the will of the people, irrespective of divine institution; nor does this appear to be simply an oversight, but a deliberate expression of opinion, that civil government flows from the will of the people. This is a radical evil that pervades every individual state constitution without exception: and an evil, too, of incomparably greater magnitude than may be imagined upon a mere superficial view of the subject. To show the nature and magnitude of the evil, we introduce, in this place, two passages; one from the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and the other from that of Ohio. "All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded in their authority; and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends, they have at all times an indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish their government, in such manner as they may think proper."[19] All men are born equally free, and every free republican government, being founded in their sole authority, and organized for the purpose of protecting their liberties and securing their independence; to effect these ends, they have at all times a complete power to alter, reform, or abolish their government, whenever they may deem it necessary."[20] 

Governments thus founded on the "sole authority" of power "inherent in the people," irrespective of the will of God, and in opposition to the plainest statements of scripture, which declares that there is no magistratical "power but of God;" and that "the powers that be are ordained of God" may, indeed, be the ordinance of men, but are not in any wise the "ordinance of God." "They have set up kings, but not by me—they have made princes, and I knew it not," is, perhaps, the best description that can be given of such governments.[21] 
Very different is the view given in our subordinate standards. "God the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good, and to this end he hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers."[22] "The primary origin of political government is the will of God." He "has elevated civil government to a place among divine institutions, by recognising its existence, defining its objects, and prescribing its general principles."[23] This is the ground upon which the conscience of an enlightened Christian feels the obligation to obedience. Whatever may be the political character of a government—however prudent may be its adaptations to the state of society—whatever provisions it may make for the political rights of men, if it has no regard to the authority of God as the origin of government, it has no claim upon the conscientious obedience of the Christian. That cannot be the ordinance of God which make no acknowledgment of him, either as having instituted it, or given rules by which it is to be regulated; but which, on the contrary, bases the institutions of government on the will of man. 

2. The state constitutions do not acknowledge the Bible as the supreme standard of government. While they found civil government on the "sole authority" and "inherent power of the people," and bring it down from the rank of being a divine institution, they exclude also, the Bible as the standard of rule. They do not acknowledge it in their civil relations; but, on the contrary, bind themselves to the federal constitution and Laws of the United States as the supreme law of the land. We are disposed to interpret this as favorably as possible, and admit that the supremacy of the United States’ Constitution and laws, has relation to the constitution and laws of the different, states. That the former are supreme, and the latter are subordinate to them. 

But when all reference to the Bible is carefully excluded from the United States and the state constitutions—when not even an allusion is made to the Bible as the standard of civil government, by which all its arrangements ought to be directed, we cannot conceal from ourselves the painful conclusion, which must be drawn from this expression, "supreme law of the land,"—it does and must signify "supreme" to the utter exclusion of tile revealed will of God in the Bible. 

continue in next post...


I have disproven this atheistic "will of the people" argument here.

Michael Daniels 6:45pm Oct 24
,Continuing from last post on State Constitutions ,

3. There is no acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of the kings of the earth, in any of the state constitutions. There is no expression of that homage, which the nations owe to the Mediator, and which they are commanded to render him, lest they be broken in pieces, when his wrath is kindled but a little.[24] 

4. According to the state constitutions, infidels are qualified to hold office and bear rule. 
In none of the states are infidels excluded from office, with the exception of Massachusetts, in which, the governor, lieutenant governor, and the members of both branches of the legislature, are required by their oath of office to declare their belief in the Christian religion. But when it is recollected, that the avowed Socinian, with only the name of Christian, without any of its peculiar distinguishing characteristics, is admitted to be a Christian, and call be qualified to hold the highest offices in the commonwealth, Massachusetts will scarcely be deemed an exception.[25] 
In the constitution of the other states there is no restriction in the oaths of office; and in practice, the declared infidel and open enemy of the gospel has as unreserved an access to office, as the sincere and enlightened believer in the truth and doctrines of the Christian religion. In the Constitution of Pennsylvania, this infidel principle is not only expressed, but expressed in the most offensive manner, "No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office, or place of trust or profit, under this Commonwealth." This is decreeing iniquity by a law. Where the light of the gospel is enjoyed, "States are bound to select for their rulers only men who possess the several qualifications prescribed in the volume of Revelation. They are not left to their own discretion, their own judgment, or their own inclinations in this matter. They are not referred to the provisions of their own charter, which may be defective, or to the practice of other countries, which have received no better guide than the light of human reason. But, they are required to look into their Bible, the ultimate criterion,—to observe what qualifications it demands, in rulers worthy to preside over Christian countries, and to fix only upon those candidates in whom a considerable portion of these qualifications is found to exist."[26] The Reformed Presbyterian Church declares it to be an error, "That infidel, heretical, or immoral persons may be lawful civil magistrates in a land enjoying the Bible," and against it they have lifted a testimony.[27] In the scriptures, the following description is given of magistrates, "able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness;" and such only nations are commanded to choose as their magistrates.[28] Constitutions of government that set aside these dictates of moral duty and Christian obligation, are certainly far from possessing the character of being "the ordinance of God, for good to man." It contains immorality against which we are bound to testify. ...

We have in the preceding pages given a brief, but we hope, at the same time, a convincing view of that part of the argument, which arises from the immorality of the United States and state constitutions. The former has been demonstrated to be a proper national government, and ought, therefore, to possess the moral features of such. If it is defective in its moral provisions; if it contains positive immoral principles, and both of these we presume have been proved, it necessarily follows that it is an immoral constitution of government. ... That the state constitutions are defective in great moral principles, and also contain immoral provisions, has been demonstrated. " Argument for Jury Law, RPCNA, 1834





So here we have the example of a "religious test" but liars pass under it. The same argument was made in the Constitutional convention. Oaths don't guard against liars. But political power does screen out politically incorrect opponents of the corrupt establishment. That's why the power was not intensified.

I'm sorry, but I'm way too tired to go line by line through all of this.

If the federal government were to truly acknowledge Christ, it would have the same effect as if the Mafia were to truly acknowledge Christ: the federal government would disappear. There is no Biblical mandate for "our" federal government, and history shows its corruption was inevitable because the motives for its creation were corrupt. Those motivations, however, were not religiously corrupt as much as they were politically corrupt. They were Hamiltonian errors, not French deistic errors.

If you had been present during the Constitutional debates and predicted that the federal judiciary would reach into the Maryland state constitution and amend it where it prescribed religious oaths, not a single person there would have believed you. It is a claim so preposterous that it appears utterly irrational. But that's exactly what happened in 1961. It is constitutionally ludicrous. It is insane. The meaning of the First Amendment could not have been clearer: the feds cannot interfere with the states on matters of religion. But they did. The Supreme Court amended the Maryland state constitution where it touched on religion. Unbelievable. The First Amendment means nothing.

The opposite would be true, only worse: if the federal government were given power to adjudicate religious controversies, it would have exercised that power in a corrupt and insane manner.

The Framers of the Constitution had unwarranted confidence in their checks and balances on the government -- and they had far less trust than we do today! Our commitment should be to mortify the State, not to baptize it with "we acknowledge Christ" language. No they don't.

Jesus said there is a fundamental conflict between a true Christian disciple and the "kings of the Gentiles." Power corrups, as a famous Christian historian wrote. Politically powerful men tend to be corrupt, unethical men. Those who hold political power will always move in an unChristian direction unless they are self-consciously committed to using their power to abolish that same power forever.

Michael Daniels 6:47pm Oct 24
I could go on and on.. But enough "historical" evidence has been presented...
No evidence has been presented that the federal Constitution prohibits Christians from expanding the dominion of Christ's Kingdom. What we see is evidence that Christians failed to be good stewards of the freedoms they had, and Christians allowed infidelity to spread. If Christians stand idle, no flowery formal "acknowledgement" of Christ in a constitution will save the nation.
Steven C. Kettler 7:18pm Oct 24
The first 15 years of my Christian life were in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. So I was heavily influenced by Neo-evangelicals at the time -- more than I realized. While their zeal is to be admired, the fruit of their work is nearly always less than would be hoped for. Their weakness, generally speaking, is that in their zeal they push sound theology to the background, and at the same time aim toward political solutions. And I think, with time, they become blinded to that fact. It is like they give up on God and work toward political solutions, an approach that God just can not honor.
Caleb Allen 5:40am Oct 25
1. Supporting Christianity and not oppressing it are not the same.
2. I think it is reasonable to expect that had the founding father of this nation intended it to be a God-fearing nation, they would have made that explicitly clear in its documents.
3. One way that could have been done was to affirm the Solemn League and Covenant.
4.Christ said that if you are [not?] for him than you are against him. There is no middle ground with his and I think this includes and serves as the underlying presupposition that Michael, George, ad Edgar have been arguing from.
I took the liberty of numbering the propositions.
I agree with #1
I agree with #2, but disagree with the implication that they did not
• intend America to be God-fearing
• make that explicitly clear in the founding documents
• the "founding documents" includes more than just the federal constitution.
I agree with #3, but don't believe that's the ONLY way.
I agree with #4 [Matt. 12:30; Luke 11:23], but there's also Mark 9:38-41: "For the one who is not against us is for us." The key is whether the person in question is part of "our group" or not. I don't consider the Empire to be part of "my group" (see Mark 10:42-45), so if it's not persecuting Christians, Christians can carry out the Great Commission, which is not the State's job.
Steven C. Kettler 9:32am Oct 25
Nothing better governs depraved man than the Word of God incarnate in the Second Person of the Trinity. Nothing is more destabilizing to society than declension from the highest ethical standard known to mankind. LEX, REX,
I consider myself a "Theonomist," so I don't disagree with this, but the implication is that the U.S. government is officially committed to increasing disobedience to God's Law. In fact, I would argue that Christians had the right to move the government to increasing obedience to God's Law. See examples here. America from its beginning was Theonomic, and this position was never officially repudiated.


I added a couple of lines just now, but otherwise, that's what I posted to the group, and I was kicked out.

I have concluded that "Covenanters" are to Reformed Theology as Ayn Randians are to Libertarianism.

See this on "Civil Government."