Stanton R. Herpick
The enclosed paper Authority In A Democracy And The Need For A Spiritual Awakening In America has been written to express the relationship between a Democracy and Christianity.
I have drawn heavily upon the books listed in the Bibliography and much of the writing comes directly from these sources. Therefore, I have put the Bibliography page at the beginning rather than at the end of the paper.
This paper is being sent to the President, Vice President, and every Cabinet official, every member of Congress (House of Representatives and the Senate), the Supreme Court Judges, and the Governors of every state. It is also being sent to the Pastors of America’s leading churches and to leading Evangelists in the country.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support which have enabled me to “put this together”. Please also pray that this paper will spark something in the spirit of every one who reads it.
With all best wishes and love in Jesus Christ, I am
Stanton R. Herpick
All societies, governments, and nations continually fight a downward pull and inner corruption that saps its strength in a slow but steady eating away of the freedoms of its citizens.
The American Democracy is no exception. Our laws, once enacted, to guarantee freedom for the individual are now being twisted and interpreted in such ways as to destroy our liberties.
This pamphlet is written to hopefully call forth a cry from within the American people for the exercise of authority and rule by God’s will rather than authority by man. It is written to sound the trumpet for a return to spiritual values in our country that have been eroded through apathy, diluted faith, and personal selfishness.
Only a great spiritual awakening of the mass populace can “quicken” our moral fiber, uplift us, and reverse the spiral of self destruction that is spreading like cancer in our land today.
It is our prayer that the following pages will clarify the close relationship that necessarily exists between our system of government and the spiritual health and revitalizing of its people.
The purposes of this paper are two-fold.
The first is to show that American democracy originated from spiritual inspiration and remains a governmental system “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in direct relationship to the degree that American citizens recognize the source of their authority for living as originating in God.
The second is to demonstrate that to the extent people are renewed in a spiritual awakening will democratic principles be purified and democracy restored more closely to its original concepts to insure freedom for the individual.
This paper is based on the premise that when more authority is given to God (who is the ultimate authority) and His principles for living then less restraint and control is needed by man over man.
As man relinquishes his dignity under God and gives in to expediency for personal gain, the closer he associates himself with the mass mentality, unconsciously accepting man’s rule rather than God’s guidance. He slips into the modes of selfishness, greed and quest for power which every man in his natural self wants thereby aligning himself in competition with every one else - each one operating at the same level of “me first”. This attitude of living requires more restraints and imposition of laws that necessarily limit our opportunities for creative thinking and action in a free society.
What we are saying is this - noble aspirations, dreams to achieve, initiative and creative action come from within the spirit of man. These are given the greatest opportunity for expression in a free society, in a democracy such as was originally conceived by the framers of our Constitution.
Our system of governing ourselves is only as high and good as the thinking of our elected officials and the populace that they represent. As America is regenerated or revitalized by the Spirit of God then less control by man will be required as more dependence will be placed upon God. In this atmosphere more freedom is allowed for individual initiative...fewer restraints by a bureaucratic red tape system of governing...more opportunities to put God given talents into action...less governmental control by a “dictator” to control the masses...more responsible rule by citizens who recognize the dignity of the individual under God.
This subject is intriguing, mysterious and not really understood in fullness by anyone. Perhaps some of the comments within, while incomplete, will bring some light upon the absolute necessity for a spiritual awakening to occur within our great nation.
The term democracy has been analyzed extensively, viewed from many different perspectives, and referred to in many different ways. In order to come to terms with this word we must first define it, explore its origins and understand what variations it has taken in the modern world.
As long ago as ancient Greece, Plato derived the term from the Greek words for people (demos) and rule (kratia) - literally, “rule by the people”. In the Federalist Paper No. 10 James Madison describes “pure democracy as a society consisting of a small number of citizens who assemble and administer the government in person”. Webster’s Dictionary refers to it as a “government by the people, directly or through representatives”.
Through history all have accepted democracy as one particular way of exercising authority. In this conception, democracy is a process by which questions about the exercise of authority are decided.1 The Encyclopedia Britannica refers to the term democracy in several different senses:
(1) In its original meaning it is a form of government where the right to make political decisions is exercised directly by the whole body of citizens, acting under procedures of majority rule. This is known as direct democracy.
(2) It is a form of government where citizens exercise the same right not in person but through representatives chosen by and responsible to them. This is called representative democracy.
(3) It is a form of government, usually a representative democracy, where the powers of the majority are exercised within a framework of constitutional restraints designed to guarantee the minority the enjoyment of certain individual or collective rights, such as freedom of speech and religion. This is known as a constitutional democracy.
(4) Finally, the word democratic is often used to characterize any political or social system which, regardless of whether or not the form of government is democratic in any of the first three senses, tends to minimize social and economic differences especially those arising out of the unequal distribution of private property. This is known as social or economic democracy.2
The ancient Greece city states operated under a direct democracy which was brief and had little influence on the theory or practice of modern democratic states. From the fall of the Greek city-state to the use of modern constitutionalism, there is a gap of about 2,000 years.
Rome was an oligarchic republic which gradually into an autocratic empire. The successor states were tribal or feudal kingdoms which became transformed into absolute monarchies. The Middle Ages also saw the rise of a number of independent republics, but these were oligarchic rather than democratic in character. Democracy was listed as one of the three basic forms of government but was not practiced until after the French and American Revolutions. Even though this period was void of democratic developments, it gave rise to ideas and institutions which did much to determine the distinctive character of modern western democracies. The concept that men are created equal with certain inalienable rights had its roots in the guilds of the Middle Ages where self government existed. Democracy grew out of these societies and has been shaped by men seeking freedom with an instinct to express inner values related to their Creator which had been previously suppressed. The first major experiment in constitutional democracy was inaugurated as a consequence of the American Revolution and was born out of the desire for spiritual and political freedom.
In the 18th Century the European populace and the American Colonies were stirred by a wave of powerful preaching by evangelists such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and John Wesley which culminated in the Great Awakening of the 1740’s.
This movement unleashed a new spiritual awakening that stirred men’s minds and emotions, quickened their spirits and aroused a questioning of established orders. It instilled a new sense of individualism and equality. Many in the colonies were absorbing this including leaders of our Independence, and it served to vigorously influence the course of American democracy. Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitudes of their intentions, they declared their independence with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence.3
Many parts of our Constitution were drawn from the Constitutions of early colonies. William Penn influenced first laws enacted in Pennsylvania: “Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and end of government...you shall be governed by laws of your own making and live a free people”. Penn endeavored to make his colony a holy experiment and it was to contribute much to the tendency that self government and religious liberty should be the chief constituents of that new and more enlightened society in the making in America.4 So satisfied were the directors of the new government that the two Houses of Congress united to request the President “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer”, so great was their gratitude to God for His divine protection and guidance. Likewise in his first annual message to Congress, Washington set a fashion ever since followed, of referring with thanks to a higher power directing American destiny, mentioning “the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach".5
Left behind were the aristocratic structures of traditional thinking as Americans began to awaken to a new sense of freedom of personal destiny. No longer was one predestined either to be saved or damned in people’s minds. Salvation was not reserved for the elected elite; it became very personal to the individual; was free and available to everyone. Any who repented of their sins, threw themselves upon God’s mercy and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior - for them grace would abound. This was a blessed freedom; it was available to all! This new concept of salvation resulted in a tremendous revolution which took place in America between 1750 - 1850. What a stupendous decree of liberty when men realized that in Adam shall all men die, but in Jesus Christ shall all be made free and alive!6
Real happiness was the accomplishment of this renewal of faith, that faith which could move mountains. No longer was church membership formal and attendance at worship a duty. One went to God’s house to rejoice; there flowed the water of life, constantly refreshing and available to all. This period of recurring religious revival produced a tremendous impact upon American society and upon the young democracy. It produced an equality such as no Declaration or Constitution, no statute, no law or decree could ever prescribe. This spiritual renewal in Europe and later in New England constituted the real root and foundation for the thought of the Founding Fathers and other lawmakers and leaders of the day.7 The definition of constitutional democracy as previously cited demonstrated the desire of this governmental form to insure the rights of the people which was exactly consistent with the message of the new religious revivalists.
The new democracy of representative constitutional government with a Bill of Rights to maintain the dignity of the individual distinctly implies the brotherhood of man and cannot be worked without a constant and practical recognition of this fact. A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” necessitates that people work together for the common good, utilizing the specific God given talents of each individual, that must be allowed for expression. It also implies not only a recognition of the equality of rights, but also the purpose of all to protect the rights of each, and of each to respect the rights of all. The Golden Rule is the real foundation of every political, pure democracy.8
Neither does Christian faith furnish a spiritual rationalization for rugged individualism. Men are created together, judged by God in their relationships whereby every man is a priest for other men and instruments for the means of grace for the common good of one another.
The will of God is not the redemption of the pure from the company of the wicked, but the restoration of the whole creation. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world! It is God’s will that none should perish! The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein - (Psalm 24:1). While Jesus’ primary concern is with the state of the individual as emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount, He also articulated clearly that men are bound together in inter personal relationships and cannot be isolated and judged apart from one another. Jesus knew that because of our humanness the spiritual condition of an individual is strengthened or weakened by that of those around him. We are for one another not merely the sources of physical and psychological security but the very channels of grace itself, Human relationships are so significant that their corruption is capable of working total destruction. It is a Christian conviction that one must seek to help save the souls of others, even at the risk of his own.9
Our democracy, then, is strengthened or weakened by the extent that our citizens are aware of the spiritual needs of another. This is especially critical when in the course of business or politics men come together into units or groups to work toward a common objective. When this happens they must coordinate and administer the power which automatically comes into being. This power cannot be avoided because group action requires planning, which in turn requires decision making, and decisions generate power. If power is not distributed a totalitarian government or monarchy is formed.
On the other hand if the power is distributed utilizing representatives of the people with checks and balances on governing decision making bodies then we have a democracy created to provide maximum flexibility and to insure the rights of the people.
Our American social order embodies many serious and radically diverse interests - a natural outgrowth of man’s finiteness.
The faith in democracy, then, does not spring from its lack of tensions and class struggles, but from its establishment of fair and effective means of handling them. Therefore, we get back to the importance of how the power is handled, distributed and managed. Is it with the motive for selfish personal interest or is it to advance the good of the cause?
The worth and dignity of the individual is all tied together in this and it is so important never to forget that America, the first experiment in representative, constitutional democracy was shaped and fashioned under the inspiration of spiritual principles to safeguard the rights and freedom of the individual.
Even the conscience of our secular leaders understood the great importance of the dignity of the human person. They also knew that the person while being a part of the State, transcends the State because of the inviolable mystery of his spiritual freedom and the fact that man’s ultimate authority is God.
Up to this point we have covered the first part of the proposition; that is, to show the effect of spiritual inspiration on the formation of American democracy. The remainder of this paper will be devoted to explaining the relationship between Christianity and democracy and how democratic principles function for the “good of the People” in accordance to the extent that the American public are renewed in spirit; i.e., experience religious revival and awakening.
Jesus Christ can rightly be called the “center” of history - even our dating system attests to that. This “center” is that elevated central point of view from which one surveys the horizon of history both forward and backward, The New Testament shows us the horizon of history, looking backward from Christ the center, when it declares that the world was created through Christ. This means that in Him it is apparent that from the very beginning the history of the world was designed for salvation. The secret of history is not so much the struggle of one group or nation against another and the rise and fall of empires; but rather the struggle between belief and unbelief, and the struggle between salvation with our redemption versus lostness and evil destruction of souls. So goes the destiny of kings and dictators, world historical leaders and their empires all of which are under the sign of the “passing”, while the Kingdom of God and those that live by faith is under the sign of the “coming”. From the very beginning history is designed for something of which Jesus Christ, from the very beginning is representative; it was designed for salvation through faith and belief in God.10
History seems to be a process whereby nations and empires are allowed to rise and fall in accordance with God’s long range plan for the salvation of His creation and the redeeming back of His fallen people.
The freedoms which Western man enjoys are due in largest part to the influence of Christianity. The free society that we cherish derives its roots in the religion of Christ. A “genetic” relationship exists between Christian faith and the best in what has come to be called the democratic way of life.11
Christianity and Christian faith, however, can neither be made subservient to democracy nor to any political form. That is the result of the fundamental distinction introduced by Christ between the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s. No doctrine or opinion of merely human origin, no matter how true it may be, but only things revealed by God, force them selves upon the faith of the Christian soul.
One can be a Christian and achieve one’s salvation while militating in favor of any political regime whatsoever on the condition that it does not trespass against natural law and the law of God. One can be a Christian and achieve one’s salvation while defending a political philosophy other than the democratic philosophy just as one was able to be a Christian in the days of the Roman Empire. One can also be a Christian while, as in the 17th century, holding to the political regime of the absolute monarchy.
The important thing to know is that Christianity is not linked to democracy and Christian faith does not compel every believer to be a “democrat”. It is to affirm that democracy is linked to Christianity and the democratic impulse has arisen in human history as a temporal manifestation of the inspiration from God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christianity serves as leaven in the social and political life of nations.12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” - Psalm 33:10. It is the renewal of the spirit which tends to restore democracy to its true essence and purify its principles. So far as the historical record goes, the nations which have been able to make democratic institutions work for a period of significant length have beer. countries with strong Christian influences in their culture. Christianity does not insure a democratic form of government, but it perpetuates it.13 It does this by teaching men to love freedom and oppose tyranny. Human liberty is in separable from God and where God is recognized and served man’s dignity shines forth and his freedom finds increasingly full expression in a free democratic society. The mystery is that as Christianity perpetuates democracy citizens are allowed to enjoy the benefits of a free society and in turn are given the opportunity to worship God freely - it all returns full circle.
If a man does not grant God authority, then if he wishes to preserve his society he can do so only at the price of freedom. He can do so only by abdicating in favor of collective man. According to Herman Rouschning in The Redemption of Democracy, as man casts off restraints including the authority of God, he achieves the ultimate in the process of secular humanism and false intellectual emancipation. “Let man lose his love for God. Let him become part of the masses and as masses capable of being collectivized. Let him have no responsibilities toward anything except the public power. It is that utter meaninglessness and worthlessness of de-Christianized, godless life that leads a country to be governed by an absolute, centralized state. It is the shapeless, spine less slothful society of the masses that grows from a negation of the higher self in man".14
Democracy is absolutely opposed to the idea of state rule because the very concept of democracy flatly contradicts it. A democracy lives and functions on inner values, the superiority of the inner over the outer sphere, while a centralized state of necessity becomes stronger and stronger as its people lose their incentive for individual freedom. Democracy is strengthened by Christianity be cause its citizens recognize their source and authority as God in a vertical relationship, thereby requiring less state control from above.15
As less authority is given to God and less discipline given to individual restraints more secular governmental authority is needed from above to maintain society. Why is this? The answer is very clear. All men are subject to temptation, sin, the desire to do things which separates them from the authority of their Creator. In the final analysis it is human sinfulness that makes governments necessary. Perfect man would not need governing bodies. It is the sin nature in man that causes infirmity of his judgment and renders an inability to make pure decisions even when minded to do so - we all miss the mark.16
The root of man’s sinfulness is the will to use his most sacred values and highest faculties as the tools of his own selfishness. Man knows how corrupt is human judgment and how weak our human wills. Because we are limited and dependent creatures whose experiences are only a part of the wholeness of life, man is always making relative judgments about his rights and duties. If man’s authority is God and he is Christ centered, then these judgments will tend to be less selfish and in closer accord with God’s will for the people.
In the Christian Concept Freedom by H. Stob it is pointed out that “God’s will does not speak through the words or deeds of any one man. It is made manifest in the creative relationships which modify and chastise, balance and correct the presumption and error of the individual. It is therefore necessary that interchange of ideas, fusion of thoughts, and free expression be encouraged so that God’s will may be more clearly perceived. And it is the nice balance between liberty and restraint, freedom and subjection that is the essence of the Christian conception of liberty and the basis of genuine representative, constitutional democracy”.17
As has been said, true authority has its source in God and not in man. Authority, or the right to exercise power, is held by the rulers of earthly communities only because the common consent has been manifested in them and because they have received their trust from the people. A single principle of peace, liberation, freedom or hope can release the masses from their servitude and iniquity and triumph over it, because this principle comes down to us from the creative source of the world and is stronger than the world. But what happens when we no longer place authority in God, when man makes the ultimate error in believing that he is saved by his own strength alone and that human history is made without God?
Mr. Jacques Maritain, a French philosopher who wrote Christianity and Democracy, a book written in honor to the people of France during the summer of 1942 at a time when the outcome of World War II was questionable, has some poignant thoughts on this subject. The modern world of democracies was at the point of ruin and liquidation by the power of unjust force. The democracies in Europe were born of Christendom and owed their deepest living strength to the Christian tradition. The author points out, however, that these democracies failed for many reasons but the principal one was of a spiritual nature:
“This form and this ideal of common life, which we call democracy, springs in its essentials from the inspiration of the Gospel and cannot subsist with out it....we saw for a century the motivating forces in the modern democracies repudiating the Gospel and Christianity in the name of human liberty, while motivating forces in the Christian social strata were combating the democratic aspiration in the name of religion. In France the labor movement of 1848 was animated by a Christian flame; however, the free thinking bourgeoisie smothered both the movement and the flame; and at that moment, the social power of religion worked for the bourgeoisie as it had worked in the past for the policy of “the throne and the altar”. The liscensed apostles of social emancipation were no longer able to recognize Jesus in the church and mistook religious orthodoxy for the political and social oppression which set itself up as the upholder of order. The social supporters of religion did not recognize Jesus in the poor and in the confused outcry of their demands, and mistook every call to social justice for the upheaval and the Godless Revolution which proclaimed itself progress...
...The working classes sought their salvation in the denial of Christianity; the conservative Christian circles sought theirs in the denial of the temporal exegencies of justice and love.
Soon panic-stricken guides were pretending to force men to choose between Communism, which sought to expel God, and Fascism, which sought to enslave and regiment Him, to corrupt religion in the souls and dechristianize the church itself! And this absurd dilemma was to reveal the frightful paralysis to which the inner contradiction just mentioned was to lead both the democratic principle and the Christian principle in the temporal life of the peoples, and was to reveal the calamity produced in the modern democracies by the divorce between these two principles. Men were tragically awakened by the war. If the democracies are to win the peace after having won the war, it will be on the condition that the Christian inspiration and the democratic inspiration recognize each other and become reconciled.”18
Maritain further pointed out that the blood of so many men is not being shed in order to impose the democratic form of government upon all people; it is being shed so that there may prevail in all a consciousness in temporal life of the law of brotherly love and the spiritual dignity of the human person, which consciousness is the soul of democracy.19
Democracy, being rule by the people, is as strong as its people. Countries have often been judged in strength, character and contribution to mankind in accordance with the value that each man gives to himself and to one another. The significant point is value verses utility of man. In democracies the country provides free expression to its citizens and therefore the strength of the democracy is in direct accord to the values practiced. Conversely, in a planned, controlled or autocratic state the individual’s free expression is restricted and his utility to the state becomes of utmost importance. This is what happened in Germany and what prevails in communist countries today. The individual becomes a tool in the hands of the State. This situation cannot remain in its present form because God’s children, mankind, cannot remain under the thumb of authority by other men forever. Man is created to worship God and be free! Eventually the Gospel will break through to these areas and His truth will reveal that no man or body of men dare rule over people unless that power be given a mandate from God and is able to prove that it has this authority.
Christianity gives value to the common man. The Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ promotes faith in men’s hearts that they are of worth to God. It also promotes faith in the rights of the human person and faith in justice as a necessary foundation for common life. Christianity gives meaning, purpose and direction because it is an axiom of the Christian doctrine of freedom that only he who finds God truly finds himself. How can man really know the meaning of life unless he knows God who created this life?
Today Americans find themselves heirs to three and a half centuries of a special experience where God and man have joined in the holy cause of democracy. In the book Religion and American Democracy by Nichols it is Emphasized over arid over again that self government under Divine guidance may well be the only salvation for America. The author points out that there are now so many influences at work to drive man back into the mass, separated from his individuality. His belief in a democracy controlled by the authority of God arid if maintained with religious fervor may be the saving agent which will keep him still an individual, strong in his faith, in his dignity, and in his power derived from his spiritual insight.20
Man’s belief in his capacity for self government under God with reliance and dependence upon Jesus Christ may be the only hope for our great nation to remain a democracy. The salvation of America as we have known it rests with our people’s determination to return to God.
May we all join together in prayer for a great spiritual revival of the Church and an awakening of the mass populace within our country to the authority of God over each one’s life.
WHAT IS REVIVAL?
Every great spiritual revival and awakening has been preceded by people praying together in one accord; i.e., in like mind and in one spirit. If we cherish our form of a democratic government with individual freedom then America must turn to prayer.
What is revival’? The word is not used in the Bible but manifestations of it are given with the great out pouring on the day of Pentecost (Acts - Chapter 2) and the many descriptions of miraculous healings and super natural blessings revealed in the lives of the early disciples.
Essentially revival is a “quickening” of the existing Church. It is a lifting up, a reviving, a measure of heaven coming to earth, an outpouring of the very resurrection life of Jesus Christ himself - not as a gentle breeze, but as an onrushing torrent of power.
Revival is not big evangelistic meetings. It is not week long campaigns of evangelism; nor is it missions outreach.
In revival God takes the initiative. It is divine intervention. In evangelism, while this activity is good, mar. is the organizer; man takes the lead while under the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
In revival God reveals Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power. Psalm 47:2 says, “the Lord most high is terrible”; i.e., awe inspiring, to be feared, dreadful in power and holiness. David, in Psalm 145, says, “I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts.”
“Revival”, says Arthur Wallace in Day Of Thy Power, “is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned.” Works of man take the back seat. He goes on to say, “it is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord making bare His holy arm, and working in extraordinary power”.
The great need in the world wide Church today and in our society to preserve our democracy is revival. While sovereign and coming only from God, man plays his part by preparing his heart, praying, trusting God, and obeying. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” It seems that our great need today is to get our own hearts ready for the mighty and “terrible” works of God that are so needed and so necessary to transform our society.
1. C.V. Shields, Democracy And Catholicism In America, p. 31.
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. VII., p. 215.
3. Robert H. Thanless, Authority And Freedom, p. 57.
4. R. F. Nichols, Religion And American Democracy, p. 27
5. Ibid., p. 40.
6. Ibid., p. 58.
7. Ibid., p. 59.
8. W. Gladden, Christianity And Socialism, p. 35
9. William Muehl, Politics For Christians, p. 53
10. Helmut Thielicke, The Freedom Of The Christians, p. 171.
11. H. Stob, The Christian Concept Of Freedom, p. 15.
12. Jacques Maritain, Christianity And Democracy, p. 37.
13. John C. Bennett, The Christian As Citizen, p. 69.
14. Herman Rauschning, The Redemption Of Democracy, p. 186.
15. H. Stob, The Christian Concept Of Freedom, p. 30.
16. William Muehl, Politics For Christians, p. 61.
17. H. Stob, The Christian Concept Of Freedom, p. 30.
18. Jacques Maritain, Christianity And Democracy, p. 27-29.
19. Ibid., p. 36.
20. R. F. Nichols, Religion And American Democracy, p. 101.
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