Power

When I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor 12:10

Australian cartoonist, Michael Leunig, seems to agree.  “Stay out of the loop, the club, the inner circle.”

What is the difference between church and civil government?  Depends on where and when.  Sometimes the two are indistinguishable.  The theocracy of Israel had the power of civil government and the spirituality of church government.  All civil government stems from a spiritual worldview.  “The history of the Bible in the hands of the individual is the history of Christian civil government.  It can also be said the history of church government is the history of civil government.” – Restoring America’s Biblical Foundations  When the Bible was in the hands of leaders alone, civil government was based on the divine right of kings.  Leaders believed they had the divine right to dictate and enforce law, not much different than kings of the OT.  Principles of democracy were born when the Bible was printed in the language of the people and distributed.  Civil government reflects the government of the church.  Sharia law is a direct result of Islamic government.  Church government that demands absolute obedience without the opportunity (process) for appeal, inspires similar civil government.  Ignorant uneducated/unqualified masses are not fit to make decisions.  Leaders are terrified of hidden agendas and use their power to suppress any and all opposing ideas.

God ordains all governments.  (Rom 13)  He delegates power.  He eventually holds governments accountable but often not until great harm has been done.  Eli’s sons for example.  Eli’s sons refused to listen to him, so the Lord decided to kill them.  (1Sam2:25)  God also ordains democracy where the people have a voice.  Paul exercised his civil right of free speech before the people on Mars Hill and before Caesar.  Free speech is the PRIMARY democratic right evidenced by the FIRST Amendment to the US Constitution.  They [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.  Government (church or civil) can suppress free speech but they cannot revoke the unalienable right.  The ability to address the people is a fundamental necessity of freedom and rulers continually attempt to suppress free speech – from the 18th century printing press to the internet today.

Ever since Constantine used his civil power to implement Christianity, the church has toyed with political power in ways that would make you sick.  Church government grew into a bureaucratic nightmare with the power of life and death.  It is no different today with a constant tension between religious and civil rights.  Do priests have the right to abuse children?  Do religious sects have the right to use illegal drugs in “religious” ceremonies?  Do religious leaders have the right to abuse their supporters?  Religious leaders even lead the masses to their death.

So how to stop the abuse?  Nothing can be 100% effective due to the nature of sin.  However, American Christian founders discerned Biblical principles of freedom for both church and civil government.  So-called “Congregational” governments give the appearance of democratic rule but leaders often find ways to intimidate and coerce thru spiritual abuse.  Other than the strong of heart typically just move from church organization to church organization.  And so the abuse continues.  Sometimes, people leave in such great numbers that the administration gets the message (e.g., Calvary of Albuquerque in 2006 when over a thousand stopped attending).

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