In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, [they actually landed on what today is Plymouth, Massachusetts] do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
William Bradford, William Brewster, Miles Standish, and 38 other men accepted the terms of God’s covenant and entered into this holy compact with the Almighty in November 1620 while still aboard The Mayflower. These were the Pilgrims.
Ten years later aboard The Arbella, Puritan leader John Winthrop preached to his congregation of soon-to-be Americans:
…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the way of God and all professors for God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into Curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whether we are going….
Danger of Disinheritance
The Pilgrims and Puritans understood the implications of covenant-keeping and covenant-breaking. They embraced the concept of the maledictory oath for not fulfilling the terms to which they had agreed; that is, to live according to the Law-Word of the God of the Bible. They also understood that satisfying the terms of the covenant brings blessings and continuity to a people. Then as today, Americans (and all human beings in their respective nations) succeed and fail to the degree that they confirm the deal entered into by the covenanters of their land. Ray Sutton has helpful insight into the reasons for failure and therefore negative sanctions:
Discontinuity or disinheritance results if the covenant is not confirmed. The covenant is dissoluble. It can be broken. And it can be killed. There are three aspects of discontinuity. First, covenant denial: the covenant can be denied and consequently the inheritance will be forfeited. Second, due to disobedience, the inheritance can be lost through defeat. Finally, permissiveness: lack of discipleship results in disinheritance. The wicked end up providing their wealth for the righteous (Prov. 13:22b).
Has America denied and forfeited the covenant? Every preacher who says that the Law of Moses has been abolished is denying the covenant. Of course the law does not qualify anyone to go to heaven after he dies; Rushdoony clarifies this: “What Paul says is that ‘the law worketh wrath,’ [Romans 4:15] i.e., judgment and condemnation, to transgressors…but he does not deny that it has promises for covenant-keepers. The observance of the law cannot save, but it does sanctify the saved.” To say that Christians are under law not grace is to say that they should obey what Jesus taught and not what Moses taught, ignoring that Jesus said “[I]f you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47) Was Jehovah unjust, and Jesus opposed to the Law? If Jesus was God, He was the author of Moses’ Law and the one who gave it to Moses.
Today’s American public education system (to which most children belong, including those from Christian homes) does not recognize the sovereignty and authority of Christ, let alone Moses. Schools want to
repeal…the past in an evolving and “open” universe by means of education, and the creation of a future which is beyond good and evil and beyond law. Man makes his future, his world and his laws. [Emphasis Rushdoony’s] There can be no effective critique of contemporary education until this presupposition is recognized and challenged. And it cannot be challenged by those who hold to the presuppositions of the Enlightenment and modern man.
Another example of denying the past and American covenantal commitment to it is given by Dr. Ivan Bierly regarding the Harvard University shield, which originally read “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae“:
Initially in John Harvard’s own words when he wrote the charter, it referred to the communication of divine truth; later this was transposed to mean the communication of human truth in the Greek sense, and finally to the search for truth [“Veritas”] in the sense that divine knowledge is only mystical, times are different so we can apply little from the past, and so all things are relative to him who searches today.
Secondly, with antinomianism so prevalent in modern churches, it should not be surprising that rampant disobedience is evident, thereby as Sutton would say, losing the covenant in defeat. Again one need not look any further than the church and its leaders’ teachings. As missionary Bojidar Marinov points out, many pastors major on relationships, to the exclusion of purpose and conquering. Consequently, churches are full of congregants who are interested mostly in interpersonal relations (resulting in churches of mostly women of all ages) with few if any young men to be found. What is there for young men to achieve or accomplish if the preaching deals only with being a better son, husband, or father…and not with the purpose of the relationships, such as having many children, teaching them in the Lord, providing for them and showing them that the biblical welfare agency is the family? Pastors should preach and teach how the family is to raise a godly generation that will build a Christian culture in all spheres of life, starting with self-government, then family, church, vocation, and lastly, but not most importantly, civil government.
It is no wonder then that, according to the Barna Group, seventy percent of young people raised in the church leave it when they become young adults. Research team leader David Kinnaman points out that they actually become disconnected well before college age. “The problem arises from the inadequacy of preparing young Christians for life beyond youth group,” he said. “[O]nly a small minority of young Christians has been taught to think about matters of faith, calling, and culture. Fewer than one out of five have any idea how the Bible ought to inform their scholastic and professional interests…” These youth are not leaving their faith; they are being consistent with the faith imparted to them—one of cheap grace based on a mythical religion that does not demand obedience. Seeing nothing worthy to inherit, they go looking elsewhere.
Another aspect of false gospel teaching is that which Rushdoony calls moralism. The problem is not morality, which deals with right and wrong; the problem is moralism, which teaches that one has “to be good to be a Christian.” Especially present in many Sunday school programs, this doctrine is “a menace…that teaches precisely that faith which the pulpit is called upon to wage war against.” This salvation-by-works religious education is an often inconspicuous but always insidious danger to American confirmation of the covenant. It is a product of Horace Mann’s messianic vision of public education, which he claimed “would result in such moral improvement that vice and crime would be eradicated.” Mann’s system of schools as well as American church-taught morality have both failed to save souls but have succeeded in producing rebellion and misery in millions of lives.
Mann’s promise was a logical conclusion of Hegel’s claim that God Himself is manifested in the state. That same philosophy led to John Dewey and his own promise of the Great Community, another messianic attempt to save man through education. These were all humanistic efforts to make the collective man autonomous and sovereign. Hegel, Mann, and Dewey were an unholy trinity that established a new American religion, with teachers as priests and their bible an evolving scientific textbook that changes as new discoveries are made and new data collected. Its sacraments are abortion and sexual perversion, with services held Monday through Friday from eight to four. No Saturday or Sunday school programs or catechism classes are needed, as the national and regional televised sports programing serves the purpose of the Sabbath rest.
That leads to Sutton’s third reason for disinheritance: permissiveness or lack of discipleship. America has been slipping down a godless slope for well over a hundred years. Once upon a time, some Americans dared to deny God and His commands; then more and more began consciously disobeying those commands and losing ground to Satan; and now it is common to hear family and church leaders teaching and showing the youth to deny parts of the Bible and thereby disobey God. As Pastor Kevin Swanson has written:
There is a reason why the divorce rate is twice what it was forty years ago…[and] why the single-parent rate is five times what it was forty years ago. There is a reason why children from certain minority groups have only a 5-percent chance of growing up with both mother and father. There is a reason behind the 500-percent increase in violent crime in this country over the last forty years. There is a reason why children kill other children in bloody rampages in high schools across the country. These heart-wrenching social consequences are not some causeless happenstances in a random universe. These are real consequences, and they are caused by the promulgation of real ideas. The fragmented family, the moral decline of our age, and the social disintegration of the last forty years grow out of the dominant ideas promoted by both school and media over the last several generations.
Poor to no discipling is the norm today. Too many parents do not inculcate in their children the need to be transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Barna says that in a recent study,
most self-identified Christians in the U.S. [51%] are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical…characterized by self-righteousness.
On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven…–seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.
In the middle are those who have some mix of action and attitude. About one-fifth of Christians are Christ-like in attitude, but often represent Pharisaical actions (21%). Another 14% of respondents tend to be defined as Christ-like in action, but seem to be motivated by self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes.
According to Swanson, the great majority of the struggles faced by families in their efforts to educate their children spring from poor character. “Too many parents are woefully ignorant in this area and too many teachers seem to think that there is a dichotomy between packing facts into a student’s brain and the development of character.” [More on character will appear in a later section.]
Another responsibility of parents is to shelter their children. This is not just putting a roof over their head and clothes on their backs; this means protecting them against attacks in the world for which they might not be prepared. Jesus warned in Matthew 18:6 (and Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2) that anyone who led children astray deserved worse than to have a millstone hung around his neck and be thrown into the sea. And the argument that Christian children are missionaries to the public schools presumes that their little light and salt are strong enough to withstand the humanistic stomping and windstorms that will be hurled at them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me (Luke 18:16),” not “Let the little children go to synagogues of Caesar so they can win the culture for me.” Missionaries are not sent out until they have been trained and prepared for their missionary field. Swanson says about sending Christian children into the public schools, “Is this really what God calls seven-year-old children to do? Should we pack their bags and send them off to cannibals in the jungles of New Guinea to preach the gospel?”
However, it is exceedingly difficult to rear godly children, to disciple and nurture them, when parents try to build on the wrong foundation; for if God does not build the house, they labor in vain who labor there (Psalm 127:1). Many of the ills in American culture have come about because many Americans have believed a lie. First, they doubted then denied that the God of the Bible is the true God. That meant that if God is not God, someone else must be; the creation again chose to worship itself or other creatures rather than their creator. And that meant that man could do what he wanted in life, or what his conveniently subservient god would have him do. In any case, there really would not be anything actually right or wrong; for all morality would depend on what man needed or wanted, whatever worked for him at any given time.
But doing what is right in one’s own eyes (Judges 21:25) invariably brings God’s judgment. Since nations and cultures have no life after this one, God’s wrath will come upon them before they die. Such a judgment has visited the United States of America. Unless God’s people repent of ignoring, denying, and disobeying God’s commands, and failing to disciple the next generation in His ways, God’s compact with the Pilgrims and Puritans could be terminated. To God the nations are but a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15); He can establish a new covenant with a people who will produce godly fruit (Matthew 21:43).
A Future and a Hope
Besides attempting to build without a tried cornerstone (Psalm 118:22), parents have been blindly building their families without the blueprint laid out by God’s Word. If the Bible has the answer for eternal life, if what it says about heaven and hell is true and trustworthy, then so is what it says about living in the here and now. It promises that if we have a good attitude and treat others rightly,
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:12)
Two verses later it gives another promise, this time for remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy:
Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father… (Isaiah 58:14)
This passage from Isaiah makes clear the connection between being a faithful rebuilder and receiving the inheritance of the covenant. Such is the privilege and opportunity to rebuild that God has given to His people.
Americans can try to reconstruct their country the way France did from 1789 to 1795, when they suffered through their infamous revolution.
By the end of the 1790s, Napoleon Bonaparte, a ruthless military dictator, had come to power. He marched France into military victories, and then defeat. French political life was disrupted by the Revolution, and it has never fully recovered. Political instability coupled with stagnant bureaucracy have been the marks of French life for almost two centuries.
Or Americans can follow the example of England during the 1780s, when that nation faced the same cultural crises as France did a decade later and the United States is facing two centuries later.
England recaptured its Christian heritage through the great preaching of George Whitfield and John Wesley. Wesley’s preaching literally sobered up hundreds of thousands of the English working class. It made them thrifty, future-oriented people. His message of eternal salvation and earthly responsibility laid the groundwork of the Industrial Revolution….
Ray Sutton gives some basic and concrete recommendations on what God’s different institutions can do to be part of the reconstruction process. First, the Christian family must belong to a local church, but not just any church. It must be a church that teaches the whole Word of God, including the Old Testament and all applicable unpleasant passages. Sutton offers a list of eleven specific questions (basically accepted Christian orthodoxy) to ask pastors and officers before joining a church. Additionally, the church should be actively involved in practicing what its people say they believe. Do any church families have their children in Christian or home school? Are church leaders vocally opposed to abortion? Do they join members in picketing against abortion? Are they strong men who lead the church by example? Belonging to the right church will go a long way in maintaining or returning the authority of the family in or to its rightful trustees.
Secondly, the family’s view and practice regarding the teaching of its children are crucial. Sutton argues that three main ideas should be addressed uncompromisingly:
- Creationism must be taught unrelentingly. There is no place in a Christian home for evolutionary thought, which will eventually lead to paganism. As discussed earlier, believing a lie will sooner or later incur the wrath of God (Romans 1).
- Christian education will maximize opportunities for a moral environment in which to teach and learn. Proverbs 1 and Psalm 1 both emphasize the importance of children’s engaging the right friends and company.
- Christian education will show children and others that the parents are not hypocritical about what they say they believe. They pay property taxes to the civil authorities and still sacrifice to teach their family in a Christian environment.
- Parents are challenging the humanistic civilization. “Parents, not the State, have the responsibility of choosing what method of education they’ll use.” [Emphasis Sutton’s]
Thirdly, Christian families should be activists (not revolutionary, but actively engaged in the cultural war. “A Christian activist acts within the law: he writes his congressman, pays his taxes while opposing taxation that is more than the tithe to God’s house, pickets abortion clinics, works in Christian school efforts, etc.” Prayer has never been enough for the Christian, for God makes it clear that faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
Needless to say, children should also be taught to be active servants. Instead of youth volleyball games, movies, and parties, young people should be shown how to care for the poor, the orphans, the widows, and most intimately, their own elderly friends and relatives.
To assist the family in its task of discipling and teaching their children, God has instituted the church for its own legitimate function. Sutton summarizes his advice for how the church can effect changes in the culture:
I called for true prophetic preaching, the kind that challenges society. It’s the kind of preaching that proclaims and calls down the judgment of God…I pointed out that faithful “weekly communion” would keep the Church from being condemned by the world. And, if the world gets off the Church’s back, freedom comes to the family, especially the families in the Church…I said that Church discipline distances the State from the Church. It’s only when the Church fails to discipline its own members that the State can gain access. God says the Church will “judge the world,” that is, if it disciplines its members.
Finally, the civil magistrate has his place in God’s economy, for he also is subject to the law of God. In fact, according to Romans 13, the civil officer is a minister of God to do good and execute the wrath of God. Only the civil government has a biblical right to carry out the death penalty for certain crimes considered by God to be worthy of capital punishment; thus, in a real sense, the magistrate is a defender of family and church.
What then should the family do with relation to the civil government? For one thing, it must not wash its hands and withdraw from its responsibility to participate in this ministry. According to the Pew Forum for Religious and Public Life, there were almost 247 million Christians in the United States, or 79.5% of the population, in 2010. If enough of those believers began to practice what the Bible teaches about the roles of the family, church, and state, this country would become overnight the city on a hill envisioned by the Puritans.
But though the government legislates morality and coerces obedience, people will do what they believe in their hearts. A national awakening can come about only from the bottom up, or more accurately, from the inside out.
Christian reconstruction begins with personal conversion to Christ and self-government under God’s principles, then spreads to others through revival, and only later brings comprehensive changes in civil law, when the vast majority of voters voluntarily agree to live under Biblical blueprints.
Let’s get this straight: Christian reconstruction depends on majority rule. Of course, the leaders of the Christian reconstructionist movement expect a majority eventually to accept Christ as savior. If this doesn’t happen, then Christians must be content with only partial reconsctruction, and only partial blessings from God. It isn’t possible to ramrod God’s blessings from the top down, unless you’re God.
Sutton gives more specific advice on Christian involvement in the public governmental arena:
- Register to vote.
- Pick a party to work with.
- Get involved in your local precinct.
- Work for your local party and gain influence.
- Never vote “yes” on a school bond proposal.
- Never vote for long-term debt, which is against the Bible (Deteronomy 15).
- If you can’t get elected [on a platform to create an orderly transition to exclusively private education], then become the candidate who wants to reduce waste.
So what is the biblical role of the civil magistrate in education? Pastor and educator Robert Thoburn provides a clear answer:
to provide instruction for military officers. The government can legitimately fund military academies. It may also choose to fund and operate specialized schools that train people for government service, but only in those areas specified by the Bible as legitimate functions of the civil government. In short, it may buy a product—educational services—related directly to the enforcement of its God-given assignments.
And that is all. No legislation for student attendance to any school, no taxation for educating children, and no involvement in pedagogical issues are valid. God expects parents to be responsible for bringing up their own children and teaching them His deeds, commands, and ways at every teachable moment (Deuteronomy 6). Since the state has no children, it has no legitimate business enforcing Deuteronomy 6, or any other part of the Bible that does not give it specific authority and responsibility to carry out.
Though American culture in the 21st century is in the clutches of God-haters, a new age is dawning. Christian men and women are awakening to the authority they have in Christ and as members of His bride. The true wife is about her husband’s business, and one of her responsibilities is to raise godly offspring; that is what God seeks from His families (Malachi 2:15). As Jesus did, that seed will grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). It will take time, but time is the Christian’s friend.
When R.J. Rushdoony founded the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965, he wrote this in his first report to supporters:
The major and minor foundations have been extensively captured by the forces of humanism and statism, and a new age of terror is developing all around us. Scholarship, arts, and literature are being subsidized to serve the purposes of humanism and statism, and our schools and colleges have been largely captured by these forces, as have been most publishers and periodicals.
This movement has been a long time in developing: it cannot be defeated overnight. It cannot be defeated by short-sighted people who want victory today or tomorrow, and are unwilling to support long-term battle. The future must be won, and shall be won, by a renewal and development of our historic Christian liberty, by an emphasis on the fact: the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man, and by a recognition that an informed faith is the mainspring of victory. History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith. [Emphases Rushdoony’s]
May the Puritan and Pilgrim covenant be confirmed, and may God’s remnant in America receive the blessings of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians (1:17-21):
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
 Sutton, That You May Prosper, 118.
 Rushdoony, Romans & Galatians, (Vallecito, California: Ross House Books, 1997), 66.
 Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education, 209-210.
 Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia, 126.
 Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education, 26.
 K. Swanson, Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child (Parker, Colorado: Generations with Vision, 2010), 140.
 Ray Sutton, Who Owns the Family? God or the State? (Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1986), 128.
 Gary North, “What Are Biblical Blueprints?” in George Grant, The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action (Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1987), 195-196.
 Sutton, Who Owns the Family? God or the State? 168-169.
 Robert Thoburn, The Children Trap: Biblical Principles for Education (Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1986), 122.
 Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction, 545.