Posted in history

History Lesson: Black Robes and the Nation they Fought For

INTRODUCTION:

History happens every day. Not every moment is of significance to be sure, but there are some moments in our history that are worth noting. Our current slice of history is very agnostic in its outlook. That is to say, “without knowledge.” Or, to use a word that some might consider incendiary, “ignorant.”

Ignorance of our history has devastating consequences. We turn the light on at night to see in our homes, and so I would think that we’d want to turn the light on what came before so that we don’t bumble into the same mistakes committed by those who came before. But sadly, that is not always the case. Some people prefer ignorance. Some take pride in it. Our nation is filled with many such individuals.

What is meant and what is not…

Take for example the United States of America, “Was it founded as a Christian nation?” Depends on what we mean by a Christian nation, doesn’t it? Do we mean founded upon Christian principles, values and laws?1 Or is the phrase intending to convey that the entirety of the nation was Christian? In order to distinguish between the two let us look at a few examples to help us along. Was Hitler’s Germany a Nazi nation during the 1930-40’s? Yes. But were all Germans Nazi in their convictions? No. Is China a communist nation? Yes. But are all Chinese people, at various levels of life, committed to the communist agenda? No. Here’s one last one to consider: “Is the Christian Church, Christian?” Yes. But, not all people who attended services at a Christian church (you pick the denomination) are Christian. Israel was a godly nation. One that was according to Scripture made up of a covenant people who were called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod 19.5-6); and yet, not all who lived in Israel were truly devoted to Almighty God (cf. Rom 9.6-8;10.2-3).

Recently, there has been an outcry against Christian Nationalism in the United States.2 I say recent, but the murmuring against it has been going on for quite a while. I’ve never witnessed a “Christian Nationalist” gathering; nor, have I heard anyone teaching a positive presentation of the professed idea. Well, until about a week ago when Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ’s Church in Moscow, ID made a biblical appeal to the concept of Christian nations—notice the plural here!—from the historic teachings of the gospel and the proclamation of the kingdom of Christ. His message was an encouraging word for brothers and sisters in Christ to acknowledge the true purpose behind the Great Commission (Matt 28.18-20). We call for the repentance, the baptism and the discipling (i.e., teaching them to observe/obey) of the nations under Jesus the rightful heir of all things.

The fact is we are called to proselytize the nations. To bring all human thought captive to Jesus Christ in the acknowledgment that He is Lord over all, in that all things were made through, by and for Him. It is to He that all knees will bow and confess either in this life or the next; better it would be in this life and so the Great Commission and the charge to make all nations Christian in outlook and action. –This was the primary point that Wilson was making. It is also a point that Andrew Torba proclaims as the President/founder of GAB.

Changing gears a bit (but going in the same direction)…

And since I’m on a roll let me get to the real reason for this post. Christians are called to bear arms and if pushed to make war.3 Our forebearer’s understood this. They knew it was biblical to defend life with whatever force was necessary, and this meant you were allowed to be equipped with the best of weapons possible. They also understood that when peaceful terms could not be reached, and when governing agencies stepped beyond their God-given jurisdiction war was inevitable and required.

Views of the Puritans4

“It is well for the interests of civilization and of humanity that the men who had undertaken to enlarge the kingdom of Christ by planting themselves here in this wilderness were not embarrassed at such a crisis by any doubts about the lawfulness of bearing arms in a righteous cause. The sentimentalism which would surrender the whole earth to the dominion of lawless violence, rather than resist force by force, had not yet been born, and was not likely to be engendered in minds like theirs. Hence one of the moral maxima of the New England Puritans was that ‘they may lawfully, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.’ For this end, they kept up, for generations, the most rigid military discipline, and were ready at all times to repel invaders. In the first age of Puritan history, their rigid Christian polity and progress had a military as well as a moral force to make it effective and certain. Freedom and expansion over the wild domains of the savage were secured by the successful wars which the Puritans waged to secure a foothold and a progress to Christianity. This union of the military and Christian spirit was transmitted to their descendants, and was ready for earnest action, when the great war of the Revolution broke out.

“Our fathers, when the question arose, did not initiate a rebellion against an established Constitution; they stood simply for their hereditary English rights, their legal and chartered rights; and when those rights were assailed with armed invasion, they stood in arms for the defence [sic] of their inheritance and their political existence. They did not begin the war, rushing to take up arms before any demonstration in arms had been made against them: they waited in the hope that justice would prevail in the council of the king; they offered no resistance, but by remonstrance and petition, till their king made war on them. They did not commence with an act of secession from the British Empire, nor with renunciation of their allegiance to the British crown. Their declaration of independence was not made till after the king and Parliament had begun the attempt to establish, by military power, new methods of government over them.

“Then war had become to them an inevitable necessity; for they could not tamely surrender their own birthright and the lawful inheritance of their children. Then, in the spirit of the generations which had preceded them, they girded themselves for the struggle to which they were summoned.”

ENDNOTES:

1This does not mean we ignore our many mistakes; and yes, there were many in our past. But we are speaking of ideals here not the failures of sinners. The pursuit by the noble-hearted was of a Christian bent, but even the good sometimes have blind spots in their reasoning and activity. This is not meant to pass over such things as if they were nothing, but if our checkered past was our defining mark then all men be damned. And yes, I used that in a theological sense.

2Here is one of the most recent articles from Christianity Today (although there are others): Bonnie Kristian, “Blessed are the Political Peacemakers: Experts warn political violence is coming. Christians can look to Scripture, not the American Revolution, for guidance,” July 15, 2022, Christianity Today, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/july-web-only/kristian-blessed-are-political-violence-peacemakers.html. The writer of this article would do well to inform herself on the foundation laid before the War for Independence was fought, the convictions of the period, and the manner in which Christian leaders and their people sought to avoid war at all costs. It was only after an antagonistic British invader came—having ignored the laws already in existence between king, parliament and the colonies—that forced our Colonial forefathers to have to fight a defensive war.

3War is more than just “nation against nation in combat/conflict,” it is at its most basic level “a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end” (Def. 2; Merriam Webster). War is the visible demonstration of an antithesis between two opposing set of ideals (ideologies); bloodshed is not required for war to take place, but it does pertain to the destruction of ideas or the aims of the antagonist to which the other is against.

4Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 2nd Edition (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, [2007], 2021, 334-335. Found in the 14th chapter of the book under the title, “The Christian Acts and Scenes of the Army of the Revolution: Views of the Puritans.” This work was originally published in 1864 and holds many of the original sources from our earliest documents as a nation; compiled and sparingly commented on by Rev. Morris in order to keep the original intent of the works cited intact.

Archie P. Jones who wrote the foreword for this newly typeset and revised work produced by American Vision notes the importance of this document for the citizens of this nation; in particular those who claim a Christian heritage. He writes,

“The little-known information that [this book] contains is just as true today as it was in 1864 and is far more needed than it was in the mid-nineteenth century. Moreover, American Christians have long neglected the heritage that God has given us through our Christian forefathers, so the vast majority of American Christians are ignorant of the Christian character of our civil institutions. Furthermore, there has been a long-standing effort of anti-Christian scholars and propagandists to de-Christianize American civil government, law and life. Largely because of their ignorance, many Christians have been misled by the disinformation generated by anti-Christian writers who have obscured or denied the Christian nature of our heritage of civil government and law. That heritage was not perfect but it was superior to the heritage of any other people on earth, and both Christians and non-Christians benefited immeasurably from our God-given heritage of Christian influence upon civil government and law in America. Hence, the interesting information presented by Rev. Morris is must reading for Christians and non-Christians alike” (p. 7).

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