Family, church, and civil governments reflect the self-government of the people, whether good or bad. At the civil level, a nation gets what it votes for. Civil government, no matter how righteously conceived, cannot make people better. Leadership, like water, rises to its own level, the righteousness or unrighteousness of the people. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, gave this advice to the nation: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports” (September 17, 1796).
No governing document can create freedom, national stability, and security. The best political intentions are no match for the will of the people. Self-governed people who acknowledge the sovereignty of God determine a nation’s future. The choice of autonomous rights over God-prescribed responsibilities will mean the decay of a nation. John Adams wrote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” When self-government is abandoned for self-serving opportunism, we should expect a decline in the health of the nation.
The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahomedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution (the vice and pest of former ages), and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age… Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the first amendment to it… the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State, so far as was not incompatible with the previous rights of conscience and the freedom of religious Worship. An attempt to level all religions and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation. (Joseph Story)
God and Government
With a fresh new look, more images, an extensive subject and scripture index, and an updated bibliography, God and Government is ready to prepare a whole new generation to take on the political and religious battles confronting Christians today. May it be used in a new awakening of Christians in America—not just to inform minds, but to stimulate action and secure a better tomorrow for our posterity.