South Land of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 2 Biblical Foundations of Government

II

BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF GOVERNMENT

A Providential View of History and Government

The Christian's basis for knowledge is human reason guided by divine revelation, the Word of God. The humanist's basis for knowledge is human reason apart from divine revelation. The Christian believes that man was created by God in His image (Gen. 1:27); therefore, all men are equal before God. The individual is therefore unique and of inestimable worth; he is not a product of chance. God created man with a free will (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6; Josh. 24:15; Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 28), but He governs sovereignly in the affairs of men, causing even the "wrath of man" to praise Him (Ps. 76:10; 1 Chron. 16:31; 29:12; Rom. 9:17-23; Rev. 19:6). The alternatives to the rule of man under God's Law of love (Matt. 22:35-40) are the rule of man under man's arbitrary law. This results in tyranny (1 Sam. 8:11-20) or the lack of any law; every man is a law unto himself, leading to anarchy (Judg. 17:6).

The humanist assumes men are unequal--that some individuals are more valuable than others and are better equipped to govern. It is their task to determine what is best for society. In their estimation, the individual only has value as he contributes to the welfare of the state. The pagan presupposes that man's actions are determined primarily by his external environment in contrast to the Christian view that man's heart is the source of his actions (Mark 7:20). Consequently, while the Christian emphasises the regeneration of the heart through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), the humanist's efforts are focused on perfecting man and his environment through external controls.

Noah Webster has defined "history" as "an account of facts, particularly of facts respecting men and nations or states; a narration of events in the order in which they happened, with their causes and effects". History admits the observations of the writer, so it must have a point of view. "History" and "story" are the same word. "Providence" is "the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. . . . By divine providence is often understood God himself". The Christian world view perceives historical events as moving in a straight time line from Creation (Gen:1:1) towards the fulfilment of God's purposes (1 Cor. 15:24-25). It is God who controls the course of history (Acts 17:26; Eph. 1:11). The Providential view has best been described by S. W. Foljambe. In 1878, he wrote:

It has been said that history is the biography of communities; in another and profounder sense it is the autobiography of Him "who worketh all things after the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11) and who is graciously timing all events after the counsel of His Christ, and the kingdom of God on earth.

Why Study History?

The study of history is important because it answers the critical questions: "Who is God? What is man? What is God's purpose for man? Who or what is governing or is in control?" The form of government (family, church, civil) is determined by man's idea of God. Every historian, depending on his worldview, has an idea of God and man. A humanistic worldview which holds that man is god, will stress the achievement of man and evaluate him in the light of his usefulness to the state. A Christian worldview will stress God's Providential Hand in history and the value of every individual in the eyes of God.

History is His Story. God controls the course of history, intervenes through Providential events, and uses all events to bring glory to God and to usher in the return of Jesus Christ. God is the author of history and the study of history is the study of God's Providential intervention in the affairs of men.

The study of history gives perspective. J. B. Stockdale (1983) said:

The single most important foundation for any leader is a solid academic background in history. That discipline gives perspective to the problems of the present and drives home the point that there is really very little new under the sun.

As Dame Leonie Kramer, Chancellor of the University of Sydney, points out, the need for perspective is of special importance to Australia because she is a country which has a very short history. History is not the mere study of "dead bones" but of our own ancestors. Just as a familiar physical environment gives us a feeling of belonging, so the study of history gives us a sense of belonging to the movement of God's men and women of faith through the ages. We become more aware of being surrounded by a great "cloud of witnesses" that have gone on ahead of us (Heb. 11:1-12:2). Such a perspective gives us a sense of purpose and perseverance as we look to Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).

Further, to study history is instructive. Moses admonished the Israelites to "remember all the way the Lord your God led you" (Deut. 8:2). It is not surprising, then, that the key word in Deuteronomy is "remember". It has been said that if we do not know our history, we are doomed to repeat the errors of our past. In the Old Testament, God repeatedly told the Israelites to teach their history to their children (Deuteronomy 6). Why? Because He knew that if they did not, they would be doomed to repeat it. And many times they did just that! For example, even though the Israelites swore to obey God, they found themselves repeatedly worshipping false gods. The history of Israel was a history of transgression, followed by judgement and restoration, over and over again. God knew that the Israelites would need continual reminders of their history.

For the evolutionist, a reminder of his history is not as critical an issue. If man is getting better and better, then his past is not as important. Since everything is in a constant state of flux, it obviates the need to study what happened yesterday. Besides, the evolutionist fears that he might find some biblical roots or some absolute values! However, that theory ignores the fact that we are the way we are because of what happened in the past. The end result of the modern lack of emphasis on history has been well expressed by University of Chicago professor and author Allan Bloom. He writes:

What we see today, are young people who, lacking an understanding of the past and a vision of the future, live in an impoverished present. And our universities, entrusted with their education, no longer provide the knowledge of the great tradition of philosophy and literature that made students aware of the order of nature and of man's place within it.

The study of history and its handmaiden, literature, are essential to an understanding of man and Western civilisation. Neither can be understood without a knowledge of its philosophical underpinnings, especially Christianity. It is significant that the historical foundations of Australia bear parallels to those of the United States of America. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution, similar to the Constitution of the United States of America, was based on English common law, which also had its roots in biblical law. The main reason why Australians need to study history is to rediscover the rich Christian heritage which undergirded the founding of the nation. Further, they need to study their history so they can know how they lost the liberties that they once had. If they know where those liberties came from, and how they lost them, then they will know what they need to do to get them back.

It is the thesis of this book that individual and national liberty is derived from Christianity. As God, the uncreated Creator made man in His image, man is to be subject to the government or Laws of God. The extent to which man is obedient to the Laws of God will determine the extent of his liberty. This is liberty under law, that is, under the Law of God. God also made man to rule the earth and its resources (Gen. 1:26-29: The Dominion or Creation Mandate. That applies to all men. Jesus Christ, God's Son, gave His disciples another mandate or commandment: The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 18-20; Mark 16:15-18). Both are valid for today. The Christian's idea of God is related to the person of Christ.

Thus, Christian means "pertaining to Christ" or "relating to Christ, or his doctrines, precepts and example". The word Christian may be used in two ways. The primary meaning is "an individual who has come to God through the work of Christ". However, a nation or institution may be called Christian if it is built upon a foundation of biblical principles embodying the teachings of Christ. For example, though the men who wrote the Constitution of the United States of America were not all Christians in the first sense, the document embodied Christian or biblical principles since the writers of the Constitution lived in a society permeated by the teachings of the Bible, and by the works of its exponents--John Calvin, William Blackstone, John Locke and Samuel Rutherford. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution, similar to the Constitution of the United States of America, was based on English common law, which also had its roots in biblical law. (See Chapter III.)

The Bible as Political Textbook

The Bible was the political textbook of the American Founding Fathers. They understood the biblical principles of government. For them, the direction of the flow of power was God-centred and Bible-based. Government is "direction; regulation; control; restraint; the exercise of authority". It is the direction of the flow of power. The biblical basis of civil government is the covenant or contract between three parties: God, the king, and the elders or representatives of the people (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 16:18; Acts 6:3). Notice that there are two elements to the contract: vertical and horizontal. The king made a covenant with the people (horizontal), but it was ratified before the Lord (vertical)--1 Sam. 16:1; 2 Sam. 5:3; 1 Chron. 11:3; and 2 Kings 11:17. In the same way, in the Coronation Service, the Queen of Australia made a covenant with the people, after she swore allegiance to the Lordship of Christ and His Word. Biblical civil government is a sacred covenant involving three parties and is designed to protect our freedom.

Since man's first disobedience and fall from God's standard, it has been necessary to have governments to hold in check the wickedness of man. But, since governments are controlled by men, they must be subject to a higher law, which the eminent professor of law, solicitor general to Her Majesty, and "father of the English common law", Sir William Blackstone, identifies as "the law of nature and the law of revelation", or the law of nature and of nature's God (the God of the Bible). Man, as a created being, must be subject to the rules laid down by his Creator, just as inorganic matter and the vegetable and the animal kingdoms operate according to His physical laws.

Christ is the origin of liberty; without Christ there can be no liberty. Having the Bible in the hands of the people is the key to liberty. Liberty is born first in the heart of man (internal), as he accepts the freedom from sin that only Christ offers and puts himself under the government of Christ (Prov. 4:23; 16:32; 1 Tim. 1:15). So, internal or Christian self-government is the source of all government. It will have its external expression in family, church, and civil government to the extent that men understand biblical principles of government. The American Pilgrim Fathers understood this concept. The Mayflower Compact was a reflection of their Calvinistic church government. They knew that liberty is God-given, not government granted, and that God had established Christian civil government to protect the inalienable rights of the individual.

There are seven biblical principles of government that guarantee liberty. It is not necessary for every citizen to understand or implement these seven principles in order for a nation to be Christian. God has always worked through a remnant people. It is possible for an individual to be a Christian but not walk by biblical principles in his daily life. It is also possible for a non-Christian to believe and practise biblical principles, such as Thomas Jefferson, who was largely responsible for framing the American Declaration of Independence. But to operate truly under the government of Christ it is important for Christians to renew their minds in biblical principles.

 

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT

A principle is "the cause, source or origin of anything; that from which a thing proceeds". There are seven principles of government, which will be referred to as the Principle Approach. These principles are closely related to, and build upon each other. For ease of understanding, they will be explained separately. Most Christian churches teach these principles in their rudimentary or seed form. The following paragraphs will introduce the seed concept and relate it to the governance of life. There are two keys to understanding these seven principles.

Two Keys

Internal versus External

The first key is the relationship between the internal and the external. The internal is causative; the external is the effect. The internal is the seed; the external is the fruit. The man who meditates on the Law of God (the seed is the Word of God, Luke 8:11) will produce fruit in due season (Ps. 1:1-3). God sees the internal (which means "pertaining to the heart") as causative and primary, though invisible to man; the external and visible are always secondary. "For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). Solomon urges man to "keep [his] heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23); "for as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). See also Matt. 15:18; Luke 6:45; Rom. 10:10; Eph. 3:16; 2 Cor. 3:3.

An example of this internal-external relationship is illustrated in the choice of a king over Israel. Samuel was about to anoint Eliab, but the Lord stopped him and exhorted Samuel to "look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature" (1 Sam. 16:7). David, however, was "a man after God's own heart", but was nearly overlooked because of his youth and menial occupation of shepherding. The Book of Psalms is an expression of David's heart. The heart is at the core of Christian living. A man begins the Christian life by believing in his heart and confessing with his mouth--that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9, 10). "Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 16:45). As the new Christian feeds daily on the Scriptures, the results will be seen in his daily life (1 Pet. 2:2), just as the wind is invisible, but the results of its action are clearly visible. The laws of the kingdom of God work by the same principle (John 3:8). God's operation from internal to external gives order to the universe which is a reflection of the attributes of the character of its Creator.

Righteousness versus Unrighteousness

A second key is the law of separation of the holy from the unholy, the clean from the unclean, the sheep from the goats (Lev. 10:10; Matt. 25:32-33). The entrance of sin into the world through Adam's disobedience separated man from God. The story of the Bible is God's plan to "buy back" or redeem man from Satan, through sending His Son Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for man's sin on the Cross and rose again that man might be made right with God. Christ, through the Holy Spirit, continues to work in the heart of every believer, calling him

to be separated from sin and to be holy like God is holy, because we belong to Him (Lev. 20:26).

The whole of the ceremonial law of the Old Testament is an illustration of this principle. For example, God forbade the Jews to eat certain animals, while He allowed them to eat others, in order "to make a difference between the unclean and clean" (Leviticus 11). The history of the children of Israel also demonstrated this concept. God called out Israel from among other nations, to be His people. He commanded them to cease whoring after idols and give Him their total allegiance.

The call to holiness also runs throughout the New Testament. Paul admonished the Christians at Corinth to "come out from among them and be you separate" and be not "unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

Throughout the Scriptures, God establishes a difference between His people and the children of Satan. That is because we who are in Christ are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people" (1 Peter 2:9). God's plan is to deliver His people from unrighteous living and establish them in righteousness.

 

1. The

Unity Within Diversity: Unique Purpose in All Creation

The first and most important is The Principle of Individuality. Webster defines "individuality" as "a separate or distinct existence; a state of oneness", uniqueness (without a like or equal, one of a kind, being the only one), the qualities that distinguish the peculiar properties of a person from others.The Principle of Individuality is the principle of unity within diversity. The supreme example of this principle is the Trinity. There is one God (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 37:16; 44:6; 46:9; Jer. 23:24; Eph. 4:6), but there are three persons in the Godhead--God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This fact was clearly seen at the baptism of Jesus, when the Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended upon Him and a voice from heaven was heard, saying: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). The three persons of the Godhead were also present at the Creation. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Here the Hebrew word used for God was "Elohim", which is plural, thereby revealing the Trinity at work in creation. While the Holy Spirit brooded over the waters, the Father God spoke the Word, which is Jesus (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:16; Psalm 104:30).

In the same way, there is one church (the body of Christ on earth), but many members. Each member is a different expression of that unity (1 Cor. 12:12). The unity comes through Christ, the Head, to whom every Christian is connected, just like the various parts of the human body take their orders from the head. In fact, everything in the universe reveals God as the ultimate embodiment and expression of the principle of unity with diversity. Everything is created with a distinct and unique purpose. For example, God made the earth to be a home for man (Is. 45:18). He made man to rule over the animal kingdom (Gen. 1: 26-28) and to fellowship with Him (John 14:21-24; 17:20-26). Further, in Genesis 1, God established that He made the sun, moon and stars to give light to the earth and to distinguish the seasons and the days and the years (Gen. 1:14-18). He made the earth to produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees for food for man, animal, bird and reptile (Gen. 1:11, 12, 29-30). And when He created Australia, He placed unique flora and fauna there to help distinguish it from any other country. For example, the kangaroo is unique to Australia.

The Principle of Individuality is not negated by the principle of unity; rather, each augments and complements the other. For example, unity under the Lordship of Christ does not mean that Christians lose their individuality, but rather they gain the liberty to manifest God's diversity by using their God-given talents (1 Corinthians 12; John 17: 12-26). At the same time, they give expression to their uniqueness and individuality. As Francis Schaeffer states:

Only God, not some abstract Force, answers our need to feel special and unique by personalising His relationship with each of us, and by endowing each of us with distinctive attributes (in appearance, personality and talents). When we consider that no two people or two snowflakes are the same, we get a small glimpse of God's pre-eminent concern with the Principle of Individuality (Ps. 139:14-16; Eph. 1:44-46). As the Psalmist David contemplates this marvellous fact, he proclaims, "I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are your works" (Ps. 139:14). Like David, each individual and each nation can celebrate their uniqueness:

Starting with me
God made me special
Like no one else you see.
God made me a witness
To His diversity.

The Christian Idea of Man

Man, created in the Divine image (Gen. 1:26-27), is the crown of God's creation, and is therefore of inestimable value (Matt. 10:29-31). The Christian idea of man is that all men are of equal worth and possess equal rights with all other men. This is in contradistinction to the humanistic view that some individuals have more value than others. Greek and Roman societies fostered a system in which only a few were considered fit to rule. Infanticide was commonplace. India developed the caste system, whereby people are born into one of four hierarchical classes and can never get out of it. In Western society, abortion, euthanasia, and much of the talk about the "human rights" of special interest groups (such as feminists and gays) is a reflection of the same kind of thinking. God, however, does not have favourites (James 2:9). All men are equal before God, even though they are not equal in talents and opportunity. Accordingly, God has a special design for each man and each nation. By the same token, the continent of Australia is unique in its design and characteristics, divinely fitted for a specific purpose. What God creates, He protects, provides for and maintains (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:1-3). We need to be confident that God's special purpose for the people of Australia will be fulfiled for His glory.

Implications for Education

An educational system which recognises man as a reflection of the Divine image will also be a system that eschews either the child-centred or the subject-centred extremes. Rather than being controlled by his social and physical environment, or by a secularised, prefabricated curriculum which has been centralised, the child would be taught by a teacher who knows the biblical principles of the subject, and who by precept and example can teach him how to control and transform his environment.

Implications for Government

The chief implication of The Principle of Individuality for government is that all government starts with the individual. It is the individual's character and conscience--internal qualities of the heart--that determine the success of the external forms of government. Christian character, which is a reflection of God's character, is necessary if man is to effectively govern his home, church and community. Man must avoid the two extremes of anarchy and tyranny. Under the reign of anarchy, the individual does what is right in his own eyes; lawlessness abounds. Under the dominion of tyranny, the individual loses his freedom under arbitrary law. It is important that the proper balance be maintained between federal and state powers. Each state has a unique contribution to make to the nation as a whole. There is unity with diversity.

2. The

The second principle Slater enumerates is The Principle of Christian Self-government. To the extent a man submits himself to God's government, he will not need man's external government. As Christians, we are expected to govern our internal property--our heart, conscience, character, will, thoughts, motives, affections, attitudes (Rom. 12:1-2). If we do, we will be able to govern our actions, deportment, conversation, conduct, appetites, demeanour, posture, walk--that is, our external property. If we control ourselves by doing what is good and shunning what is wrong, we will not need someone to make us do what is right and to punish us for doing evil. The author of Proverbs wrote: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32); and, "Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest" (Prov. 6:6-8).

There are two contrasting types of self-government: one is self or group-centred with the motto, "my will be done", while the other is Christ or God-centred with the guiding principle, "thy will be done". One is humanistic or pagan self-government with man at the centre. The other is Christian self-government with God at the centre. Humanistic self-government is the rule of the individual, either through fear of the state or, by personal self-discipline and willpower. Christian self-government is the result of the believer yielding himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. If humanists or Christians elect rulers who do not operate by biblical principles, the government will inevitably become tyrannical, even though it may be a self-government system.

Man's relationship to God is governmental. The main form of government in the Old Testament was external. Through Moses, God gave man the Law, including the Ten Commandments, which were written on tablets of stone (Ex. 24:12). Under the New Covenant, God's Laws are written on the fleshly tablets of the believer's heart (Heb. 10:16). As he submits himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit helps the Christian to obey God's commandment

--to love God with all his heart (internal), and to love his neighbour (external) as much as he loves himself (Matt. 22:37-40).

God affects His government of man through establishing covenants with him. His Laws existed from the creation of the world, even though they were not written down until Moses' time. Murder, for example, was wrong long before God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments (Gen. 4). Christian self-government has its origins in God's covenant with man. For example, when God made a covenant with Noah and his sons, He in effect gave them police power--the main reason for civil government--which filtered down to the rest of humanity (Gen. 9:6). This shows that God intended civil authority to rest in the people. Once nations were formed, the power of the people was exercised by the people through representatives of the people who acted for the people. Every citizen has a responsibility to see that civil justice is done (Deut. 16: 18-20; 1 Sam. 12:24) and God's Laws are obeyed.

The New Testament church served as a model of local self-government (Acts 1:26; 6:2-3), but by the first century an episcopal centralised form of church government began to replace local control. By the time of Constantine, it was firmly established. The popes ruled the Western world from Rome. It was not until centuries later when the Bible was put into the hands of the people (after Henry VIII's break with the Pope) that Christian self-government and individual responsibility was again emphasised, as the people studied the biblical principles of liberty for themselves.

Within a system of Christian self-government, if parents train their children in the principles of the ways of God, there will be no need for government (that is, through government education, family life education, children's rights, laws against corporal punishment). If a citizen is self-governed, he will not look to the government for hand-outs. If he has legitimate needs, they will be met by his family or the church. When a people rely on the civil government to provide their needs, they see a proliferation of laws and a growing centralisation of government, often accompanied by tyranny. The prophet Samuel warned the Israelites that when man rejects God and His Laws, he will be governed by tyrants (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

But in a system of Christian self-government, God does not simply impose His Laws from above. He sets the standard, but He always gives man a choice--to obey or to disobey. Adam had a choice. When Moses presented the Ten Commandments to the people, he gave them a choice: "Who is on the Lord's side?" (Exod. 32:26) He told them the consequences of obedience and of disobedience to the Laws of God (Deuteronomy 28). He urged them to make the right decision (Deut. 11:26-28; 30:15-19). The consent of the governed is a biblical concept; it is a fundamental concept to the Principle of Christian Self-government.

Christian self-government starts when man submits to God's Laws in his heart, but the key to Christian self-government is the renewing of the mind, for "as a man thinks in his heart, so he is" (Prov. 23:7). "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17). But God says that the heart of man "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). How then can man govern himself? First, his heart must be changed or regenerated. He needs a heart transplant, so that he "may walk in My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them" (Ez. 11:19-20). Once the believer accepts Christ, he gets a new heart with new desires, but he does not automatically get a new mind. He has to go through a constant process of being renewed or changed in his mind, as Paul admonishes the believer: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2). "Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1, 2, 9-13). "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). "Casting down imaginations, and every high (proud) thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). The internal discipline of the renewing or changing of the mind by the Word of God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, has consequences in the external world and is at the very heart of Christian self-government.

3. The Principle of Christian Character

The third principle in Rosalie J. Slater's enumeration is the Principle of Christian Character. The Christian is to be like Christ--"conformed to the image of His son" (Rom. 8:29). It was for that purpose that Christ came to reveal the character of God (John 14:8-11). It is God's plan that the believers "be partakers of the divine nature . . . add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindliness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love]" (2 Peter 1:4-8). See also Matt. 7:24-29; 2 Tim. 4:7; Phil. 4:13; and Acts 24:16.

How does one build Christian character? A look at the definition of the word "character" might be instructive in answering this question. According to Webster, the word "character" means to scrape, cut, engrave. The external pressures and conflicts of life provide the engravings that ultimately define a man's inner character and convictions. We do not have to be overcome by trials and tribulations that assail us. Rather, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed in our suffering, and reflect the glorified Christ, who was also transformed through His suffering. This is the essence of Christian character.

The Bible gives countless examples of men and women who embody the process and glorified result of developing Christian character. David, for example, struggled with all that is abject and reprehensible in the nature of man (pretence, adultery, murder), yet, because he was of a contrite heart, he was able to turn from his wicked ways and become "a man after God's own heart". Likewise, in the "Hall of Faith"--Hebrews chapter 11, we witness a stellar parade of men and women who developed Godly character as a result of the things they suffered.

Many of the early Australian pioneers endured hardships, and in the process developed the strong Christian characteristics which are necessary for the Christian form of government to succeed--qualities such as faith and liberty of conscience. In fact, every true religious awakening or revival of Christianity has not only produced transformed lives embodying the fruit of the Spirit, but has also had a salutary impact on all facets of society--health and welfare, economics, education, science, the arts, the media, and civil government (James 2:17). The Wesleyan revival, for example, led not only to the abolition of slavery through the parliamentary efforts of William Wilberforce, but it also brought about the beginnings of popular education (starting with Mr Raikes' Sunday School movement); the building of hospitals; the provision of help for the poor (inspired by Hannah Moore); justice for the prisoners (led by John Howard); and the commissioning of missionaries to the heathen.

Implications for Education

The teacher who exhibits the Principle of Christian Character is a "living epistle" or letter from Christ. What is written on her heart is "known and read" (2 Cor. 3:2) by all her students. What she is speaks louder than what she says. She operates by the law of love (1 Cor. 13). She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Prov. 31:26). She disciplines her students in firmness and fairness; inspires them by her love of learning to diligently research the knowledge of the Truth, as if searching for silver or for hidden treasure (Prov. 2:4). She helps her students to reason and relate the biblical principles of the subject to their lives, their neighbourhoods, and their nation. She shows them how to record their findings neatly in notebooks, preserved for posterity. She sees each student as a unique individual, believes the best about him, and points him to Christ and His Word.

In essence, the teacher fosters the growth of Christian character in her students by example, teaching and training in the appropriate manners and habits becoming a Christian. The emphasis is on the renewing of the "inward man of the heart" or the unseen motives, attitudes and thoughts; for out of the heart flow "the issues of life" or the actions that reveal the real man.

The teacher writes curricula that "show and tell" Christian character (or the lack of it) through the history and literature of individuals who contributed to the subject. The lives of individuals can be studied from the point of view of their Christian history, Christian influences, Christian character, and their Christian contribution to the subject. For example, a course in botany could include the inspirational life of Georgiana Molloy, the Western Australian botanist. Australian geography, as seen through the eyes of early explorers, would familiarise students not only with the unique physical features, climate and inhabitants of the continent, but also with the attributes of faith, endurance and brotherly love of Charles Sturt, Edward Eyre and other explorers who overcame what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles.

Individuals who model their lives on Christ are the embodiment of the Principle of Christian Character. Young people today are looking for heroes. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to provide them with the right kind of models, founded on The Rock, rather than on "rock". One of the best ways to provide this is to make available biographies of men and women--from the Bible, history, literature, science and the arts--who exhibit the Principle of Christian Character in their lives.

Character development starts in the home. Writing in 1861, Rev. S. Phillips stated, "The character of church and state is formed in the home. The home is a little commonwealth". The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution was designed by and for a Christian people. Christian character and Christian self-government are the heart of a constitutional monarchy. A civil government is as good as the character of the people. It is therefore incumbent upon the people of Australia to develop Christian character in order to promote self-government.

 

4. The Principle of Conscience as the Most Sacred of All Property

Slater's fourth principle is the Principle of Conscience as the Most Sacred of All Property. This principle will be referred to simply as the Principle of Property. "Property" is "the exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing; ownership". The foundation for property rights is God's ownership of the world and everything that is in it. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). God owns the world because He made it. By right of being the uncreated Creator, God says: "All the earth is mine" (Ex. 19:5). "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1). He owns all the silver and the gold, as well as all "the cattle upon a thousand hills . . . and every beast of the forest" (Ps. 50:10-12). See also Lev. 25:23; I Chron. 29:11; Hag. 2:8; and I Cor. 10:26. God owns man because He created man (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:21-22; Deut. 32:6; Ezek. 18:4). He created man for His glory and pleasure. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea I have made him" (Isa. 43:7). John Locke eloquently summarised this principle:

For men being the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker, all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by His order, and about His business, they are His property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during His, not one another's pleasure.

The Principle of Property or ownership also encompasses the notion of redemption. God owns man because He redeemed man. He sent His Son Jesus into the world "to save (redeem or buy back) sinners" (I Tim. 1:15). "You are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which is God's" for "you are Christ's: and Christ is God's" (I Cor. 6:20; 3:23). Even before God made the earth, God had a plan for man. He made us to belong to Jesus Christ so we can glorify Him in our lives (Eph. 1:4; 2:10).

The biblical basis of property is that God owns man by right of creation and redemption. The biblical basis of private property is found in the Creation Mandate (also known as the Dominion Mandate). In Gen. 1:26-29 God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness". He commanded Adam to "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion or rule over all the earth, and over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth". God had authority to delegate duties or responsibilities to Adam because He owned everything, including man. This is the concept of stewardship, which is illustrated in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).

In order for Adam to carry out the duties God had assigned him--including the care of the garden (Gen. 1:27-29; 2:15), and later in agriculture and animal husbandry, he needed tools, land and animals: he needed to acquire property. Even if man was only a custodian, he had a responsibility to care for property (I Cor. 4:2). Ownership of property then becomes a sacred entrustment. God endorses and protects personal property in the Ten Commandments when He laid down the law: "Thou shalt not steal" (Ex. 20:15). As God made man a steward over the earth, man has a right to the proper use of his property so he can carry out the Dominion Mandate. Man has been made in the image of God with a mandate from God, so he has a duty to obey. This is the basis for the biblical model of rights--that is, subjective rights that are inalienable or inseparable from the person. Referring to these rights, James Madison stated: "A man is said to have a right to his property; he may be equally said to have a property in his rights".

Man not only has a right in his external property, but he has a right to the internal property of his conscience, which is the most sacred of all property. It is the most sacred because it is through this faculty that God speaks to man. Conscience is the internal knowledge of what is right and wrong. It has three parts to it, corresponding to the three branches of government (Isa. 33:22). The first is "ascertaining our duty (legislative), before we proceed to action (executive), then in judging of our actions (judicial) when performed".

Every man is born with an innate knowledge of good and evil and an understanding of the character of God, which is "clearly seen" from observing the things God has made. Sadly, however, man often chooses to go against his conscience, which is an inner "knowing" or intuitive understanding of God's standards. He refuses to worship God because he wants to do evil things, even though he knows he will bring the judgement of God on himself. God allows the man to believe a lie instead of the Truth. He also allows him to worship false gods (Romans, chapter 1). This is the essence of liberty, which has been enshrined in the Magna Carta; and the American Declaration of Independence. Man is free to exercise his private property of conscience--that is, to worship as it dictates, to voice his opinions, to exercise his talents and to obey the voice of his conscience.

Implications for Education

What implications does the Principle of Conscience as the Most Sacred of All Property hold for education? First, the child needs to be trained in the Truths of God's Word, so that he may properly exercise his conscience. He should be taught right from wrong. All societies have a knowledge of God from the Creation, but even "Christian" countries like America and Australia have become so permeated with secular humanism that not only children, but adults also are no longer able to discern the holy from the unholy. Second, the child should be taught to recognise the voice of his conscience--to listen to that still small voice; to obey it by exercising his voluntary consent; to discern between righteousness and unrighteousness; and to please God rather than men. Third, the child should be taught how to make decisions independently of the external pressures of his environment. He can be helped to develop his inner property of conscience by being encouraged to exercise good stewardship of his external property, such as notebooks, desks, belongings, and by being faithful in carrying out classroom assignments and responsibilities. "[For] he that is faithful in that which is least, will be faithful also in much" (Luke 16:10). Fourth, Christian educators constantly need to renew their minds in biblical principles. This is a necessary step, not only for the development of their own Christian character, but also to combat the rapid advance of secular humanism in our schools.

The inviolability of private property, including man's conscience, must be protected by written laws made by properly elected representatives of the people. The key to protecting conscience is voluntary consent, but that alone does not guarantee our inalienable rights. There have been times in history when man lost his liberty by tacit consent or silence. This happened during the Second World War. It was the silence of the German church that led to the rise of Nazi Germany. By making no objection they permitted Hitler to murder six million Jews. John Locke said that it is only express or active consent, in word and deed, that can make a man "a member of any Commonwealth". Just as an individual receives Christ by an active confession of faith, the Christian must continue to act on his rights of conscience. He should strive to do as Paul said: "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).

 

5. The Principle of the Christian Form of Government

The fifth principle is the Principle of the Christian Form of Government, which is the best type of government to protect internal and external property. What makes a nation a Christian nation is not whether the constitution is a Christian document and "not whether Christians formed the Constitution, but whether the form is Christian". There is an internal and external form--the spirit and the letter. Without the spirit--the Christian faith of our forefathers--the form of government is just a hollow shell. Such is the situation today in Australia. We have the letter of the law, but the spirit--the Christian foundation--is missing, so the Constitution has become a hollow shell. The Australian Constitution is a Christian document and can only work in a Christian nation. The Christian form or structure of government includes the principles of representation, the separation of powers, and a dual form of government.

Representation: The Consent of the People

Representation is "the act of standing in the place of another". A Member of Parliament (MP) is supposed to represent his constituents. An MP is not to have his own agenda. In the same way, a barrister represents his client. The client would soon get rid of him if he did not. The concept of "representation" is found in Exodus 18:12-27 and in Deuteronomy 1: 13-15. Moses said to the people:

Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you . . . captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.

The principle of representation works through the consent of the people. God ordained government (Rom. 13:1-4), but he uses men to carry it out (2 Peter 2:13). A government is formed by the voluntary consent of men, not by a decree from heaven. A man can only become a lawful ruler by being selected by his own countrymen (Deut. 17:15; 2 Sam. 3:21). Before a man can rule, he must enter into a covenant with the people (2 Sam. 5:1-3; 1 Chron. 11:3). God does not "appoint" kings without the consent of the people. It was because the Israelites rejected God as their King, and demanded their own ruler that God consented to give them a king, so they could be "like all the nations". Although God "chose" Saul to be their king (1 Sam. 9:17), he did not actually become king until (1) the people gave their consent by shouting: "God save the king (or, Long live the king)"; and (2) the "manner of the kingdom", or terms of the covenant were explained to the people and written in a book (1 Sam. 10:24-25). Similarly, David was anointed king many years before the people made him king (2 Sam. 3:21; 5:1-3; 1 Chron. 11:3).

Despite the mandate or consent given to him by the people, the civil ruler does not have an unqualified right to rule. The purpose of government is to punish evil doers and to encourage those who do good (Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14). The king, or ruler, is under (not above) the Law of God. He is to rule "for the people" and not for his own aggrandisement. He is actually a servant chosen by the people to "minister" on their behalf (Rom. 13:4). The "Morning Star" of the Reformation, John Wycliffe, who translated the first Bible into English, recognised this principle. In the preface of his Bible, he wrote: "This Book is for the government of the people, by the people, for the people". When a ruler puts himself above God's Law and the people, he ceases to represent the people so he forfeits his right to rule, as Saul did (1 Sam. 28:16-18).

Separation of Powers: Legislative, Executive and Judicial

The second principle is the separation of powers, or the three branches of government, which is based on Isaiah 33:22: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king". These are the judicial, legislative and executive branches, respectively. In 1695, John Locke wrote:

As men we have God for our King, and are under the Law of Reason: as Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the Law revealed by him in the Gospel.

Because this tripartite function of government originates from God, it is in its essence indivisible because God, who is perfect, is the Indivisible Three-In-One. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, operated in all three offices (Matt. 28:18; Acts 17:7; James 4:12; 2 Tim. 4:2). Man, made in God's image, exercises all three functions through his conscience. However, when man rules over man through civil government, there has to be a division of functions because of the tendency of man to abuse power. The Magna Carta was the first positive body of law passed to limit the powers of the king. In 1628, the English Petition of Right "struck at prerogative taxation, which was the power of the king to exact taxes without the consent of Parliament". This was followed in 1689 by the English Bill of Rights, which placed more limitations on the power of the king.

Dual Form of Government: State and Federal

The third principle is the dual form of government--the state-federal system which is designed to maintain a balance of powers. The biblical basis for this is Matthew 22:37-40:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

These verses consist of two parts: man's relationship with God, which can be represented by a vertical line; and man's relationship with man, represented by a horizontal line. The vertical line can also represent the relationship between the federal and state governments, since the Commonwealth government has authority over the states in some areas (designated by the states), such as defence and immigration. The horizontal line can represent the relationship of love between one state and the other states. (The analogy is not perfect, since the federal government does not, or should not, have authority over the states in all areas.) The purpose of the dual form of government is to provide a system of checks and balances, because of the sinful nature of man. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The maintenance of the autonomy of the states and local control is crucial to avoid tyranny. Increasing centralisation and an ever-expanding unelected bureaucracy are growing dangers in Australian society.

The character of God as a Triune is consistent with the Christian form of government. Though God needs no system of checks and balances, He chooses to work through the Trinity. He is represented in all of His creation because He desires to express Himself in a vertical relationship with man and horizontally through redeemed man to all men.

Implications for Education

The Christian form of government can be practised in the classroom. Many classrooms have weekly assignments, such as cleaning the blackboard, distributing texts, collecting and checking homework, and housekeeping chores. The teacher can have the class elect representatives, and evaluate their task performance for responsible action. The three functions of government--legislating, executing and judging can be applied. These correspond to planning an activity, doing it, and reviewing action taken. Students may evaluate the positions of candidates standing for local, state and national elections. They can correspond with and interview candidates to find out their stand on relevant issues. Students need to be trained in biblical principles of government by precept and practice. They should be able to (1) identify the biblical principles (or the lack of them) underlying critical issues; (2) discern the holy from the unholy; and (3) trace the internal causes to the external effects of a particular public policy. Classroom "elections" can be held and candidates elected. Topics of local, state and national interest may be debated, and evaluated in the light of biblical principles. The structure of local government, state and commonwealth constitutions can be studied, and newspaper clippings discussed, or the students take field trips to parliament, and participate in local government. The best teaching of all is the example of parents who are intelligently and actively involved in local government.

One of the goals of education is to prepare God-fearing citizens, who will be knowledgeable, discerning, and active in the political process, and equipped to protect our internal and external properties. Education, then, involves the moral education of the individual. John Wycliffe, who translated the first Bible into the English vernacular, recognised that government rests on moral principles. He stated that "Dominion belongs to grace; meaning that the feudal government, which rests on the sword, should yield to a government resting on moral principles". Even though a constitutional monarchy is a government of "laws" and not of "men", it is the individuals that constitute a nation who become its leaders. That is why a constitution can only work if it is supported by a moral and virtuous people.

 

6. The Principle of the Planting of the Seed of Local Self-Government

The sixth principle is the Principle of the Planting of the Seed of Local Self-government. The chief instrument is teaching and practising local responsibility and sovereignty. Christian self-government begins with evangelism and education in God's Laws and in the love of God. God's Word is

The key to the Principle of the Planting of the Seed of Local Self-government is local Christian self-government or local sovereignty. In this context, "local" means confined to a particular place or area. This may be a home, church, school or town. Local Christian self-government was the model chosen by the New Testament church. The seed of local Christian self-government can be planted in the heart of the child. It can be expanded on in later grades. Like the growth of a seed, the establishment of God's truth in the nations of the world is a gradual process (Mark 4:28).

Civil Government Modelled on Church Government

The history of civil government is the history of Christian church government, because whatever was reasoned from Scripture concerning church polity was simply extended into the civil sphere. Historically, there has been a difference in the type of local government that has developed in America and Australia. The differences can be traced to the historical/political origins of these two nations. The colony of New South Wales started with a centralised form of autocratic government. Civil self-government developed along the lines of the Anglican church or Church of England and the British parliamentary system. Power was centralised and flowed from the top down. This was to be expected as Australia was a British colony. .Local city governments have never had much power in Great Britain or Australia.

The situation was different in America which started as thirteen separate colonies, settled at different times but each with their own charter from the British Parliament. The seat of government was the town with the church at the centre. Civil government was modelled on church government, which was predominantly of the Presbyterian or Calvinistic type, which is closest to the New Testament model. The first civil covenant, the Mayflower Compact was modelled on the Pilgrims' church covenant. As a result, Americans have always had a tradition of strong local government. This accounts for the great differences between one city and another, one state and another, whereas in Australia, central government is more pervasive as it has followed the British tradition. In America, by the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, the colonists had already been practising local Christian self-government for 150 years.

Local sovereignty

Where there is a strong local government, there will always be an informed, active and involved citizenry. They are naturally more appreciative of the value of their rights and more inclined to do something to preserve them. The local townspeople are best informed and more likely to make laws and intelligent decisions to promote their own welfare than some bureaucrat in a remote city. Another advantage is that the local city officers are known by the church and business community. Naturally, an individual's integrity of character and suitability for office are best judged by those who know him. Participation in local government, be it a church, a school board, a city council, or one of many voluntary associations, is an excellent training ground for citizenship. It is instructive to recall that the majority of significant movements in history started at the grassroots level--from the bottom up. Christians should not abrogate their responsibility to participate in the political process. If they fall into this trap they should not complain when they wake up to find that their birthrights have been sold to the United Nations.

 

7. The Christian Principle of Political Union

The seventh principle is the Christian Principle of Political Union. This is the principle of union within diversity as demonstrated in the political arena. Of course, this principle is Bible-based in its quintessential form. "For we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another" (Rom. 12:4-5). Thus, the Bible espouses the principle of unity within diversity.

But how is this principle applicable to nations? A study of God's dealings with the nation of Israel reveals that God, through the covenantal principle, dealt with Israel as a nation, and not as twelve separate tribes (Ex. 34:10; Deut. 4:6-9; 6:3; 28:1; 2 Sam. 7:23-24). God was concerned with the creation of nations (Acts 17:26), and with establishing Himself as Lord of those nations (Ps. 33:12). God was concerned with establishing nations because He had a providential interest in the destiny of individual nations. In order to achieve a common destiny, a nation or a people must achieve a unity of spirit. Indeed, before there can be external political union, there must be a voluntary internal unity of ideas and principles.

This principle was seen in effect in the founding of America. It was a basic agreement on biblical ideas of man and government that formed the foundation of the union of the thirteen American colonies two centuries ago. In fact, there was a surprising uniformity of beliefs among early American colonists--a unity that had been practised for 150 years before federation. What was not surprising though, was that the founding fathers were steeped in the reading of works that had biblical underpinnings. The "best seller reading list" of the time would contain certain standard works, namely: The Geneva Bible, John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion; Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England; John Locke's The Second Treatise of Government; and Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex.

Operation of the principle of political union has always been the heart of any nation's triumph over threats and crises. For example, George Washington was able to lead the colonists to victory in the War of Independence against England because they were able to unite around common biblical principles. Conversely, lack of political unity within a nation leads to lawlessness and defeat of its people, as was demonstrated when the Hebrew nation was without a strong government and "every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 17:6). To restore a sense of nationhood to Israel, God raised up strong leaders, such as Deborah, and later, Samuel. Samuel's mission was not only to revive a national spirit among the Israelites, but also to rekindle "a common religious feeling", so they would be able to successfully overcome their enemies.

The Christian Principle of Political Union is also illustrated in the history of Australia. When the Australian states decided to voluntarily come together to form a federation in 1901, it was with the purpose of enabling the states to better perform their separate functions. Each state recognised that it had a unique contribution to make to the overall destiny of Australia. As a result of the union, certain responsibilities were delegated to the Commonwealth Government by the states. The national government took on responsibilities that had national impact, such as defence and other matters necessary for the "common good", while all other functions, not specifically delegated to the Commonwealth Government, remained within the jurisdiction of the states. This separation of powers is very important to the maintenance of the balance of powers between the state and Commonwealth governments.

Unfortunately, this balance of power has not been held in place since Federation. There has been a gradual erosion of the sovereignty of the states and a concomitant increase in the centralisation of power within the Commonwealth government. This trend towards centralisation does not auger well for the advancement of the Christian Principle of Political Union in Australia. This became especially evident when the government tabled legislation under S1:29 of the External Affairs Section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution, which provided for the adoption of United Nations' charters. The legislation at issue was the Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. On the surface, this piece of legislation, which was passed in October 1993, does not appear to be insidious, but if implemented, it could override existing state laws. This would further increase the powers of the Commonwealth government and upset the balance of powers so essential to preventing tyranny. The Human Rights' Commission could be turned into an "Inquisition Commission". For example, a person may not necessarily be told who is bringing an accusation against him. The normal rules of evidence would not be applied by the Human Rights' Commission. Not only was this far-reaching legislation already in place, but it was introduced without reference to Parliament and without any publicity (except a small insert in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette), two weeks before it would automatically become law, unless there was a motion to disallow it. No opportunity was given for public debate; no vote was necessary to make it law! This procedure is a breach of the concept of voluntary consent upon which the principle of representation of the people, by the people, operates. The Christian Principle of Political Union can only work when it is backed by a people who understand the biblical principle of active local participation in civil government and who are constantly alert to any attempted encroachment on their liberties. When a federal government becomes more powerful or larger than the individual states, then tyranny from the top down develops.

Implications for Education

Educational objectives can also be built around this principle of union within diversity. As each student builds his life on the unchanging Word through a daily personal relationship with Christ, and contributes his unique talents to the school community, he will develop a sense of being an integral part of the school. Thus, the students can make an impact, as a corporate body and as individuals, on nations, for God.

This short description of .;Slater''s seven principles will be amplified throughout the text by footnotes identifying each principle as it is illustrated by the historical context. This method was chosen to facilitate the chronological narrative flow of the text. Education is crucial, since the first step in restoring liberty to a nation is for its people to know their nation's Christian history.