One of the great themes of human history, dating all the way back to the garden of Eden, is the question of who is sovereign — God or man. Pennsylvania has a great constitutional heritage recognizing the sovereignty of God over Pennsylvania. Yet even if our original constitution were are war with the God of the Bible, it would still be true that Jesus Christ is the king of kings and the lord of lords, whether we choose to recognize His authority or not.
The early days of Christianity saw such a conflict within the Roman government in response to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The church historian Eusebius, writing on this matter, reflected the Christian attitude that Jesus is divine (and therefore sovereign) whether or not Rome chose to recognize Him. He said,
When the wonderful resurrection and ascension of our Saviour were already noised abroad, in accordance with an ancient custom which prevailed among the rulers of the provinces, of reporting to the emperor the novel occurrences which took place in them, in order that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate informed Tiberius of the reports which were noised abroad through all Palestine concerning the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus from the dead.
He gave an account also of other wonders which he had learned of him, and how, after his death, having risen from the dead, he was now believed by many to be a God. They say that Tiberius referred the matter to the Senate, but that they rejected it, ostensibly because they had not first examined into the matter (for an ancient law prevailed that no one should be made a God by the Romans except by a vote and decree of the Senate), but in reality because the saving teaching of the divine Gospel did not need the confirmation and the recommendation of men.
Eusebius then quoted the historian and Roman lawyer Tertullian, who writing on the same matter, mocked the Roman tradition of having the state assign divinity and approval to various gods in various religions. This approval of the state, while tolerating various religions, implicitly affirmed the sovereignty of the state over those religions. He wrote,
But in order that we may give an account of these laws from their origin, it was an ancient decree that no one should be consecrated a God by the emperor until the Senate had expressed its approval… And this is a point in favor of our doctrine, that among you divine dignity is conferred by human decree. If a God does not please a man he is not made a God. Thus according to this custom, it is necessary for man to be gracious to God.
Church History of Eusebius, Book II Chapter II
The Roman state, in examining the resurrection of Christ, elevated itself above Christ in refusing to “grant” Him divinity, yet this arrogance of the state does not change the truth of who Jesus is, and the divine authority He holds over the heavens and the earth. Rome was accountable to Christ, just as are all governments of man, and all will ultimately be judged by Him (Psa 2). Therefore in our age, the state of Pennsylvania must determine if it will bow the knee to Jesus as supreme before the day of judgement, or lift itself above Him as a higher authority, to our own destruction. If the resurrection is a fact of history, then Jesus has in fact received the approval of the living God, one with enough power to raise human beings from the grave, a feat which has never been accomplished by the humanist state or any of its various religions. This affirmation from God vindicates Jesus’ claim of authority over the earth, and the charge He gave to bring people of all nations under His law and rule.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20)
To put the matter simply, if Christianity is true, then the state of Pennsylvania must conform to Christ’s definition of right and wrong, by e.g. criminalizing child sacrifice and sodomy, etc. If the state continues to endorse abortion, homosexuality and other forms of lawless behavior, then it has implicitly declared that Christianity is false, Jesus is not God, and the state is anti-Christian in its nature. Jesus does not leave room for neutrality; as He said in Matthew,
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Mat 12:30)
My Platform: REPENT
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (Jhn 3:16-19)
Separation of Church and State
Discussion of Christ’s rule over the governments of man invariably leads to objections regarding the “separation of church and state” doctrine of Thomas Jefferson, often cited in defense of actions which further and further remove the God of the Bible from American civil government. However “separation of church and state” does not mean “separation of the state from biblical accountability.” Rather, the founding fathers of Pennsylvania explicitly wrote in our constitution that God is “the great Governor of the universe,” and they required all legislators and other officers of the state to affirm the following declaration:
I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration. (1776 Pennsylvania Constitution)
Whatever is meant by “separation of church and state,” the founding fathers clearly did not believe that the state was exempt from all accountability to the God of the Bible. To the contrary, they believed that acknowledging His word and government was crucial to the success of Pennsylvania’s lesser government. Yet even if they had denied the lordship of Christ, that wouldn’t mean that they were right to do so. Man is always fallible, and Jesus is always Lord, regardless of whether or not the governments of men submit to Him in the present age.
Here is what Thomas Jefferson actually wrote on the separation of church and state, in his famous response to a letter from the Danbury Baptist association.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Jan. 1. 1802.
To be sure, there are areas where I would disagree with Jefferson, particularly in viewing religion as a private matter; however in the overall point of this letter we are in full agreement. The powers of the state extend to govern the actions of men; it has no authority to govern internal matters of faith. This in no way tells us that the Bible and the kingdom of Christ should have no impact on the civil government of Pennsylvania, or that of the United States. Rather, it simply delineates the church and the state as two separate entities with two separate governments.
The Bible is not owned by the church; it is not concerned exclusively with matters internal to the church. To the contrary, it also defines the origin and purpose of civil government (Gen 9:6, Rom 13), as well as various other institutions, such as marriage and the family. Whether we are speaking of the church, the state, or the family, officers in each of these institutions must determine on their own whether their institution will be governed by the scriptures, or by secular humanism.
As an ambassador of Jesus Christ to the state of Pennsylvania, I am not ashamed to call the legislature to repent and submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Submitting to Jesus in no way offends the principle of separating church and state government. Rather, like our founding fathers, I recognize that biblical Christianity is crucial to the life, liberty and happiness of our people, in all matters of church, state, family and self-government.
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~ Nate Schmolze