Secular Statism Rebuked By Puritan Missiology

We are living in a day where elected leaders are calling good evil and evil good. There is even a twisting of Scripture from their lips to usurp the church’s role as well as the family. Organizations and individuals are being emboldened to promote unspeakable perversions through media and education. Statism is completely opposed to the Christian faith, and our missiology must reflect the need to bring God’s law and gospel to bear on society, even if in how we conduct our own lives with accountability to God and his church. It would do the reader well to familiarize himself or herself with Joe Boot’s work called the Mission of God. It is no light reading, but it is substantial and as one says, you eat an elephant in small bites. Here is a brief quote under the heading of statism and contemporary missiology:

“In New England in 1646, Puritan ministers summarised their view of an ideal relationship between the church and civil government: “the Churches desire, the Magistrate Commands; Churches act in way of liberty, the Magistrate in way of Authority. Moses and Aaron should go together, and kiss one another in the Mount of God.” There was to be a complementary and not a competitive relationship between the two, where the church ministers the Word and the civil authority bears the sword, both submitting themselves to the authority of God and his Word. Thus, the state was to be God’s servant and any political order that refused to be such was a tyranny that must be resisted wherever it contravened God’s law. This Puritan view continued amongst many Christians well into the nineteenth century in the United States. The noted nineteenth-century minster and Professor of Theology in the Allegheny Seminary, James M. Willson, in his detailed exposition of Romans 13: 1–7 entitled, “The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government,” sets out this view of civil government: Paul here styles them the “ministers of God”–God’s servants. The servant should know his master even among men. And still more he who professes to wield an authority derived from God, in administering an “ordinance of God,” acknowledge, reverence and give due homage to his sovereign. This acknowledgement should be practical. It does not consist in a mere profession of belief in His being, or even in His providence. It implies the study of His will, and a constant aim and effort to please Him. The ruler, or the nation, that claims to be above all other authority, demanding an unquestioning obedience to mere human law–that denies the existence of a “higher law,” is in rebellion against God–is not a “servant,” in Paul’s sense. And more than this, the acknowledgment must be direct, and in express terms–it must be an acknowledgement... of the supremacy of the Most High; of His laws, as the Scriptures teach them. Further still, this acknowledgment must be rendered, not to the God of the deist–but to the only true God–the Christian’s God–to God in Christ. Does the refusal to acknowledge God invalidate the authority of a government as tyranny does? Why not? Surely, if God has ordained this institution for His glory–if He has put it under His law–if He has designed to exhibit in it something of His majesty, it is difficult to see how a government that denies their maker and Lord of all–or withholds from Him, from His law, and from His son, even an acknowledgment, can claim His sanction upon its acts?”

— The Mission of God: A Manifesto of Hope for Society by Joseph Boot