Category Archives: Research

Rural Hospital Closures Increasing Nationwide

A recent article in the Journal of Rural Health documents the startling increase in the number of rural hospital closures nationwide. While new hospitals may be started in the country’s major cities, America’s rural communities are facing a disturbing decrease in access to hospitals and emergency care services.

The study found that critical access hospitals that closed had, in general, lower levels of profitability, liquidity, equity, patient volume and staffing.

According to the authors (posted on a University of North Carolina School of Global Public Health website), “Since 2010, most rural hospitals that closed had weak financial performance, suggesting efforts to improve finances may reduce closure rates. About half of the closed hospitals continue to provide access to some health services as outpatient clinics or other type of facilities. The other half no longer provide health services of any kind, and new models of rural health care may be needed to provide essential services for these communities.”

See, Brystana Kaufman, et al.,  “The Rising Rate of Rural Hospital Closures,” The Journal of Rural Health, July 14, 2015.

Here’s an interactive  map of the rural hospitals closed from 2010-2014 from that study:

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Conclusion: Inalienable Rights and Subsidiarity (Part V of V)

By Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
Professor, Taylor University, Upland, IN, USA

Stephen King Ph.D.

(Part five of a series of five articles)

 

 

 

 

Principle 6: Civil government is to protect man’s inalienable rights, which are equality (James 2:1-9), liberty (Lev. 25:10), life (Ps. 139:13), and property (Ps. 8:6).

Inalienable rights are inherent rights, or rights that are granted to man directly by God. Civil rights are granted to citizens of a country by the ruling authorities, such as the legislative body. Civil rights can and often are revoked, changed, or even discarded. Sometimes they are replaced. Inalienable rights are as unchanging as is God (Mal. 3:6). All humans have these rights—among them equality, liberty, life, and property—because we are created in God’s image and likeness. First, equality is the right of all humans to be recognized as creation of God. Second, liberty is to grant to all men the ability and opportunity to make choices regarding his own existence. Third, life is the most precious of all. It is the power of man to honor and revere the concept and institution of life. Why? Because life is made in the “image of God.” Without life man ceases to exist, but he also ceases to manifest the image of God to a spiritually lifeless world. Fourth, property is the right to own or have the ability to own, enjoy, possess, and dispose of something valuable.

God provided us with these inherent rights, and it is the government’s responsibility to protect these rights. Civil governments should not revoke, alter, or attempt to disband them. We will see in the following chapters that when civil government does so, such as in the protection of abortion rights for women, severe consequences result, such as the abortive destruction of over 57 million children in the United States since 1974.

Principle 7: Mankind is to operate in local institutions, such as marriage (Eph. 5:23-24), family (Eph. 6:1-4), and the local church (Acts 2:42), to form cohesive and evangelistic (or “reaching out”) relationships.

Finally, the seventh principle of good government is that the basic operating and learning unit in society is locally based.[i] God did not create tribes, nations, or global institutions first; they evolved later. These national and even supranational organizations and institutions were not God’s first creation. When he created man, he created a single individual, and later he added a helpmate. The two, Adam and Eve, formed the first one flesh relationship. They tended the Garden of Eden, named the plants and animals, and generally cared for all of God’s creation. Thus, they exhibited all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage—the first local institution—and family, which is the second local institution.

The function of these locally based institutions is twofold. First, it is to form cohesion. Cohesion is the social and spiritual cement that maintains integrity to the relationship, and ultimately gives the necessary longevity needed to be effective witnesses of God’s glory. Second, these local institutions are evangelistic, particularly in the broad sense of the term. It includes the common spiritual meaning, while also reaching out to others in practical and even policy-related ways within the local communities. Families, neighbors, neighborhoods, local schools, voluntary associations, and others form interrelationships based upon common purpose to meet the needs of those who live in the community. However, to be effective nationally, regionally, and even internationally these same local organizations and institutions must be networked.

When this principle is overlooked or denied its rightful place in society, culture, and civil government—as has been the case over much of the last 60 plus years in the United States—then the personal and community linkages necessary to meet critical human needs go without. The school shooting disasters of the 1990 and beyond, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and the September 11 tragedy are all excellent examples of how local communities, organizations, churches, and individuals came together for a common cause. Of course, in all of these instances, government agencies, or other governmental entity, led the way. But their job could not have been accomplished without the valuable input of individuals in local communities.

Conclusion

These principles discussed—self-determination, jurisdiction, written constitution, delegated sovereignty, justice, inalienable rights, and local institutions—provide the direction for the development and implementation of public policies. In a postmodern world, though, principles, particularly biblical, are anathema to the undefined collage of ideas and concepts found in the reconstruction and deconstruction of truth. Understanding, most importantly, the application of the biblical principles for civil government provide guidance, direction, and wisdom for the orderly and just distribution of goods and services. The application of biblical principles to civil government does not at all constitute a theocracy. It simply defines what is rational and just from God’s perspective and oversight.

Each of these principles is revealed throughout the discussion of the policy areas of life, family, education, and welfare reform. The policies, as I mentioned earlier, are chosen because, among other substantive reasons, they clearly reveal God’s principle of self-government, the principle that directs and supports the remaining six principles. In addition, each of these four policy areas—sanctity of life, family and marriage, education, and welfare reform—are closely associated, either biblically or historically or both to the moral and doctrinal principles of biblical Christianity. For this reason alone, biblical Christians should directly heed to the development and impact, both politically and socially, of these public policy areas, and where possible activate community action on behalf of these policy areas.

God’s life in the structure and process of civil government, which is revealed through these principles, is critical for the continued life and prosperity of the United States. Deviation from or discontinuance of these principles, and the underlying premises that support each, will ultimately lead to civil and societal destruction. Preservation and promulgation of these principles is critical to the renewal of ourselves, community, and nation.

_______________________

[i] Evangelical Christianity should not embrace the concept of communitarianism. Communitarianism is a response to the dominant theme of individualism, arguing that unless a balance is achieved between the promulgation of individual rights and social responsibility society will continue on a path of “normlessness and self-centeredness” (See “Communitarianism,” www.cpn.org/cpn/sections/tools/models/communitarianism.html). Even though communitarians say they wish to put the “we” back into society, they are opposed to the traditional family unit and community as defined and described in this book. This is not in line with a biblical understanding of spiritual male headship in the home and the emphasis on promoting self-government. See Amitai Etzioni, The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society (New York: Touchstone, 1993); Mary Ann Glendon, Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse (New York: Free Press, 1991); and Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, et al. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985).

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God’s Sovereignty and God’s Justice (Part IV of V)

By Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
Professor, Taylor University, Upland, IN, USA

Stephen King Ph.D.

(Part four of a series of five articles)

 

 

 

 

Principle 4: God alone is the sovereign ruler (Col. 1:16); however, he has granted to man the freedom and authority to rule over men righteously (Prov. 16:12).

Secular humanism declares that only man is sovereign. Secular humanism does not recognize sovereignty outside man himself. Bolstered by the Enlightenment Period thinkers, such as John Locke, David Hume, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and many others, political sovereignty is relegated to the empirical world of rationalism, and is devoid the metaphysical reality of religious faith, for example. This position, of course, is antithetical to the truth of God’s Word. In John 19:11, in response to Pilate’s question of who has power over who, Jesus quietly, but firmly, corrected the Roman ruler. Psalms 62:2 declares that God is the source of all power. Proverbs 21:1 states that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” God rules over his creation, including mankind.

We also know, though, that God has granted authority to man to rule over man in a righteous manner. Proverbs 16:12 reads that “Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.” Further in Proverbs 29:2 the writer states that “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Therefore, God expects his ruling authorities to rule according to the law, even the spirit of the law. Deuteronomy 17:18-20 summarizes this mandate:

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Colossians 1:16 states clearly that God and God alone is the supreme ruler, and that from him all power is given. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

People must recognize and abide by God’s divine sovereignty–divine in that it originates from God, but human in that it is apportioned to man (i.e., sovereignty) to rule wisely over his fellow man. More times than not this challenge is unsuccessful.

Principle 5: Civil government is to apply both justice and judgment to policy issues (Amos 5:24).

According to Plato, justice is the primary function of civil government. Many times, though, the meaning and application of biblical justice is elusive. There are several important meanings. First, it means to be equitable or fair in the application of the law. Deuteronomy 33:21 denotes that Gad “carried out the Lord’s righteous will, and his judgments concerning Israel.” The phrase “righteous will” suggests a process that is done fairly, and that is evenhanded so that no one party is disadvantaged. This is called procedural due process, as described by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

However, there is a second meaning, and that is judgment or retribution. Retributive justice carries with it a penalty that corresponds to a resulting decision or verdict by the judge. In Deuteronomy 33, the judge is God and the recipient of his retribution is Israel. In Deuteronomy 18:19, the prophet is the mouthpiece of God, and the person who experiences the wrath of God is the one who does not listen to the prophet’s words.

So, the first use of the word deals with how the law is applied (process), and the second is concerned with the end result (or punishment). Some, such as Charles Colson, for Nixon Whitehouse aid, and later Christian apologist, argued in favor of restorative justice; justice that compensates the victim and restores the perpetrator to right relationship with the State, and more importantly with God. Restorative justice is not applicable for all types of crimes, in particular, violent felonies; however, for misdemeanors and other non-felonies it may prove far more effective than various forms and application of retributive justice.[i]

Our justice system is largely ineffective today because it fails to find the proper balance between retributive and restorative justice. Our jails and prisons are full because we do not have an answer. God’s answer is to deal with the human heart first; and then second, use government as a means to deal with the unacceptable behavior that results from a heart that remains distant from his loving grace.

________________________

[i] See Charles Colson’s Justice That Restores (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001). For a secular examination on the effect of restorative justice of victims, see Ruth Ann Strickland’s, “Restorative Justice: Its Effects on Victims and Victims’ Rights,” paper prepared for presentation at the Annual North Carolina Political Science Association Meeting in Salisbury, N.C., Catawba College, 5 April 2002.

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“Self-Determination, Jurisdiction & Written Constitution” (Part III of V)

By Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
Professor, Taylor University, Upland, IN, USA

Stephen King Ph.D.

(Part three of a series of five articles)

 

 

 

 

Principle 1: Civil government promotes the right of self-determination (Exodus 24:3).

The first of our seven principles is “self-determination.” Self-determination is the ability to obey or disobey; it is the power to control one’s actions.[i] George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, depicted a life devoid of the principle of self-determination. All non-democratic-republican government systems, such as communism and socialism, do not require, and in fact dissuade, their citizens from engaging in self-determination. Self-determination connotes civil and spiritual freedom, which means the right to disagree with the ruling authorities.

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel demanded that an earthly king rule over them. They wanted a king like the other nations had, so that they would be a symbol of national power and unity, and have safety and security. Thus, they executed their right to determine for themselves what type of executive they wanted. Through Samuel, God granted their request (1 Samuel 8:7-9), but not without a prophetic and stern warning:

And the Lord told him: Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.

The people decided. They rejected Samuel, his sons, and God. Samuel was distraught and saddened by the people’s decision, but he obeyed both God and the people. He told the people what God told him to say, and he anointed Saul as their first king. The principle of self-determination carries a burden of responsibility, while enabling individuals the power and self-evident right to govern themselves accordingly.

Principle 2: Civil government abides by proper jurisdiction between institutions and powers (Matt. 22:21).

A second principle of good government is the proper balance of jurisdiction between institutions and political powers. One Christian legal scholar writes that principle of jurisdiction raises two critical questions:

  • What authority (may) a civil government rightfully exercise?
  • Who determines a civil government’s lawful authority?[ii]

The answer to both questions, of course, is God and godly ordained authority (Romans 13; 2 Peter 2), respectively, such as a constitution or the proper delegation of political power. The overriding concern surrounding each question is the principle of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction, which is defined as the official power to pronounce what is legal or not, is a critical variable surrounding today’s political and policy disputes.

Let’s look again at the Matthew 22 incident, but this time with the emphasis on jurisdiction. Jesus encounters two powerful religious ruling groups. The Pharisees were strong nationalists, opposed to any kind of Roman rule, and desired that Israel return to its glory days under the monarchs. The Herodians supported the Roman rule. In this case, though, the Pharisees enlisted the services of their mortal enemy, the Herodians, to deal with an even more hated enemy, Jesus. After failing to flatter him, they endeavored to trick him into giving the wrong answer to their jurisdictional question. He frustrated their efforts in a decisive manner.

Jesus knew the dilemma his accusers were trying to force him into. If he were to say, “No, I do not have to pay taxes to Caesar,” then the Herodians would arrest him for treason, and he would be executed. If he said, “Yes, I should pay taxes to Caesar,” then the Pharisees would report him to the people as being disloyal to his nation. Jesus, of course, recognized their plot against him, and he refused to allow himself to be cornered. He responded simply and profoundly to each authority—God and Caesar—what is their rightful sphere of authority and power. This is proper jurisdiction, and the proper application of jurisdiction.

Later in John 19:10-11, as he was being sentenced by Pontus Pilate for execution, in response to Pilate’s question, “Don’t you realize I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus responded “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” He informs the ruling authority that God is ultimately supreme, and is even the creator of civil government. Yet, because of the power of the principle of jurisdiction, God recognized and honored Pilate’s position, and thus his authority to mete out punishment, despite the fact it was not justified.

Principle 3: Civil government is to be governed by a written constitution (Exodus 20).

A third principle of good government is governance by a written constitution. A constitution can be either written or unwritten, however, the Founding Fathers chose a written document because it clarified the enumeration and limitation of political powers, while at the same time examining the working relationship between government agencies and institutions (e.g. intergovernmental relationships), and units of government (e.g. unitary, federal, and confederal). The bible itself does not outline the use of a written constitution per se, however, it does identify other examples of written contracts, compacts, or even covenants, such as treaties and alliances that did place in writing the responsibilities of both the governed and the governor.

Exodus 20, for example, describes the Ten Commandments. It is exemplary of ancient Near East treaties or Decalogue among other functions, resembles a constitution. A Decalogue contains three main components of any constitution: 1) a preamble; 2) a historical prologue; and 3) the treaty or covenant stipulations.[iii] The preamble for the Ten Commandments is evident with the self-identification of the monarch, or in this case God himself (“I am the Lord your God”). The historical prologue displays previous actions (“who brought you out…). The treaty or covenant stipulations are stated and expected to be obeyed (these, of course, being the Ten Commandments themselves).

This pattern is similar for the U. S. Constitution, where, for example, the preamble sets forth the functions or purposes of the new government. The historical prologue is really in a second document: the Declaration of Independence. And the third component is the stipulations, which are found in the seven articles and 26 amendments. The U.S. Constitution is only about 7,400 words long. Many U.S. state constitutions are much longer documents. Alabama’s is over 170,000 words long! The U.S. Constitution is a governance document, not a political and policy document. It is designed to provide structure, order, and freedom for citizens, primarily by limiting the powers of various branches of government.

Self-determination, balanced jurisdiction, and a written constitution form the basis for a well-ordered democratic-republican form of government.

___________________________

[i] See Dr. John Munday, unpublished Sunday school lessons titled “God and Government and Responsibilities for Christians” (Chesapeake, VA: Episcopal Church of the Messiah, 14 March 1998).

[ii] Titus, God, Man, and Law (1994), p. 65.

[iii] NIV Study Bible (1984), p. 115, fn. 20: p. 2.

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Higher Education Policy Brief released at annual TRACS Conference

Director Roy Atwood at the Founders Institute's table at the TRACS Conference 2015 in Dallas, TX.
Director Roy Atwood at the Founders Institute’s table at the TRACS Conference 2015 in Dallas, TX.

The Founders Institute participated in the 2015 TRACS convention in Dallas, TX, released its new public policy brief on higher education, Top Issues to Watch Heading into 2016, for college and university administrators attending the annual accreditation meeting. Dr. Roy Atwood, the Institute’s director and a Morthland College professor, represented the Institute at the conference.

Dr. Tim Morthland, one of the Institute’s Research Fellow, and president , as well as  Executive Vice President Emily Hayes and Registrar Beverlee Atwood from Morthland College also attended the TRACS conference.

The brief highlighted four key issues facing private higher education institutions to watch heading into the new calendar year and the next presidential election cycle. They included:

  • Post-Obergefell Fallout
  • Accreditation
  • HHS Abortifacient Mandate, and
  • Free Junior College & Dual Credit

Access to that policy brief, Top Issues to Watch Heading into 2016, is available to Leaders Roundtable Members and supporting and sustaining members who login at Reports on this website. To join, go to the Membership page and sign up for immediate access!

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Thoughts on Christian Principles of Public Policy

Bob Stacey 2By Dr. Robert Stacey
Provost, The Saint Constantine School,
Houston, TX, USA

Christians in America face a new set of challenges for the foreseeable future. For most of the history of the republic, Christianity has simply been a part of America’s shared culture—the atmosphere we all breathed. For some time now however, we have been witnessing the supplanting of Christianity from its central position in the culture. The Christian faith is seen by many as a private affair, something to be observed and maintained away from the public eye. Some scholars have aptly termed it postChristian America. But today, I think even post- Christian America is no longer accurate. What are beginning to experience today is the outright rejection of Christianity as an acceptable belief system, either public or private. Future scholars might one day call it anti-Christian America.

Nevertheless, what is new for America is not new for the Christian faith. The Church has been persecuted and mocked in many different times and places. And yet Christianity continues; not much has changed in this regard. Likewise, the task of the Christian statesman has not changed. The same basic Christian principles that guided Boethius and influenced Constantine can and should guide the contemporary Christian policy-maker in America.

In short, there are two primary sources of knowledge and truth for the Christian statesman to draw upon, the special revelation of Scripture, God’s holy and inspired Word, and general revelation, God’s will and character as revealed in the Creation itself. These two sources, while at times perhaps difficult to fathom, supply us with all we need to organize and govern ourselves justly and efficiently. So in one very clear sense, the Christian statesman, whether in today’s America, or medieval Europe, or second century Rome, need look no further than God’s Word and Creation for His guide and inspiration toward good public policy. It is just that simple and just that complicated.

Policy-makers should also recall always that God did indeed delegate some meaningful authority to the institutions we call government, but He did not delegate all authority to that sphere. Government’s role is vitally important, but it is also limited. Other spheres of delegated authority exist as well, including especially the Church and the family. Sometimes the authority of those respective spheres may even overlap to some degree, but the scope of public policy should always be limited to those aspects of human life that God has delegated to the sphere of government and no more. The great English jurist William Blackstone, for example, cautioned that laws and policy can in many cases rightly constrain illicit action, but they cannot know the heart and the mind. Good public policy, he urges, is always constructed with such distinctions in view.

Finally, we would do well to recall perhaps the greatest Christian thinker of all time, St. Augustine of Hippo, who frequently reminds us that we live in a fallen world. Real justice, real peace will remain elusive during our earthly pilgrimage. We can and should aim for the true mark, but where there is sin, there will always be error and misunderstanding. Good public policy is possible—though even that will often prove problematic—but perfect public policy is not to be found in a fallen world. There is no Heaven on Earth and thus no perfect policy, not at least until Christ returns.

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Understanding the Principles of Good Government (Part I of V)

 


By Stephen M. King, Ph.D.

Professor, Taylor University, Upland, IN, USA

Stephen King Ph.D.Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,
because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life
to make up for the help you could not give me.

Philippians 2:29-30

(Part one of a series of five articles)

 

Introduction

On September 11, 2001 nearly 400 of New York City’s finest public safety and emergency personnel, and an additional 2,500 individuals, lost their lives. It is a day no one will forget. Lives were changed forever. It forced each of us to reconsider the consequences of freedom and life, two of the most precious rights Americans have. In addition, it unleashed a wave of religious renewal.

Even before the attacks, research suggested that nearly eight in 10 Americans saw religion and religious values gaining influence in their lives, the highest level since the late 1950s.[i] After the attack, scores flocked to churches, parishes, and synagogues, all with the intention of seeking spiritual solace in a time of fear and uncertainty. For nearly two months there was a spike of church attendance and Bible reading. However, within two months the statistics tell another story.

By November 2001, the levels of religious observance and church attendance were back to pre-9-11 levels. Women, the elderly, Catholics, and atheists were the four groups of people most likely to attend religious services two months after the attacks. [ii]

According to experts, six other measures of religious behavior were at identical levels recorded in August 2001, including Bible reading, church volunteerism, prayer, adult Sunday school class attendance, participation in small groups other than Sunday school class, and private devotion time.[iii]

Even numbers for evangelical Christians went unchanged. George Barna found no significant change in the number of people who were identified as evangelical and born again. Additionally, people showed no marked change along various theological claims, such as those who contend the Bible is completely accurate. And 68 percent of adults “strongly affirmed the centrality of their faith,” a number that did not change from pre-9-11 levels.[iv]

So what do these numbers tell us? And what should be our concern as evangelical Christians? First, even though recent surveys claim that more Americans are losing faith and trust in institutional religion, including and especially the so-called “Millennials,” religion and the observance of religious and spiritual values are still important, and perhaps even slightly more important since 9-11, to the average American. [v] Second, religion is becoming more important in the development of public policy.[vi] For example, white evangelicals as opposed to white mainline Protestants are far more likely to support faith-based organizations and the distribution of social services through churches and para-church ministries than through government sources.[vii]

What is disconcerting, though, is that talk often does not equal action. Many observers contend that events like 9-11 and President Bush’s faith-based initiative proposal opened the door for greater community action and social involvement, but that evangelical churches and church leaders, especially, did not respond in kind. Why is this case? A brief review of the biblical role of civil government and governmental authority will establish the foundation for developing several guiding principles of civil government.

Biblical view of government and authority

The authority of God is supreme. All rulers have power, because God granted it to them (Prov. 21:1) and with this authority comes the responsibility to rule justly (Prov. 16:12). As Jesus stood before Pilate in the judgment hall, Pilate was afraid of the angry Jewish mob screaming, “Crucify him.” He was perplexed at Jesus’ calmness and sense of personal authority. After inquiring from where Jesus came and receiving no answer, he uttered his infamous statement, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus responded, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:10-11). He knew that Pilate’s authority originated from God—regardless of whether or not Pilate affirmed this truth. Further, he knew that Pilate had the responsibility to rule justly and wisely. Pilate failed on both accounts. He failed to recognize the proper origin of his political power, and instead of judiciously ruling that Jesus be released; Pilate abdicated his executive authority and condemned a just man to die.

In Matthew 22, Jesus encounters disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians. Their intention was to “entangle him in his talk,” but what they encountered was a shrewd and careful strategist. They asked him if it was lawful to give tax money to Caesar. Understanding that their intention was wrapped in deceit, he turned to them and asked to see a coin. He asked, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” After responding it was Caesar’s he authoritatively and confidently replied, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (22:21).

One obvious interpretation is that there are indeed separate jurisdictions of authority for church and state, however, Jesus admonished his detractors, and chastised them through his knowledge and application of Scripture by showing them that both Caesar and God had legitimate authority in their respective spheres of influence and jurisdiction. This separation of jurisdiction of church and state as institutions did not negate the existence of the influence that God has upon government or even upon public morality, i.e. should the state legally sanction actions or behavior that God has deemed immoral? If biblical Christians, though, assume less of a role in influencing government and public policymaking, the public square will be naked, as Catholic philosopher Richard John Neuhaus prophetically declared.[viii]

It is the responsibility of all biblical Christians, then, to be influence (salt) and revelation (light) to the world they live and work in. For we know that, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).” Several years ago Charles Colson argued “that historic Christianity may be on the verge of a great breakthrough” with “the process of secularization (having) begun in the Enlightenment” coming to a halt.[ix] Yet with several setbacks, including and most damning, as the recent Supreme Court ruling legitimizing same-sex marriage, Christians are in danger of losing significant ground gained over the last four decades. It is critical, then, that Christians understand how and why to engage the political and policy world, advocating and fighting for religious freedom and just accommodation.

The four remaining essays will describe and explain seven fundamental biblically-inspired principles of government and policy: 1) establishment of self-determination, 2) proper jurisdiction between institutions and powers; 3) written constitution to guide political actions; 4) sovereignty balanced with freedom to rule; 5) application of both justice (i.e. restoration) and judgment (i.e. retribution); 6) protection of inalienable rights of equality, liberty, life and property; and 7) formation of cohesive relationships at lowest level of governance. However, before we examine the various principles we will establish the need for self-government, which is de facto the foundation for each of the several principles.

__________________________

Endnotes

[i] The Pew Research Center, “Post 9-11 Attitudes: Religion More Prominent, Muslim-Americans More Accepted,” December 6, 2001 report (www.people-press.org/120601rpt.htm).

[ii] “How America’s Faith Has Changed Since 9-11,” Barna Research Online (26 November 2001).

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] See Alfred Lubrano, “Surveys show more Americans are losing their religion,” The Virginian-Pilot (13 April 2002), p. E2.

[vi] “American Views on Religion, Politics, and Public Policy,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (April 2001 report), pp. 25-28.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in the America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984).

[ix] Colson, How Now Shall We Live (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale Publishers, 1999), p. x.

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