Timon Cline

But What If We Win?

What is clear from Davenport is that a Christian commonwealth is one of coordinate states wherein rulers fulfill Isaiah 49:23 by helping, nourishing, and protecting the true religion, the true church. None of this implies a dependence of Christ’s objective preeminence on any earthly powers—get that out of your head! It is a matter of duty, justice, and order according to the natures and ends of both powers. More basically, the best form of government is one where both church and state flourish according to their design, mutuality, and end (mediate and final). 

Consternation from certain wings of Evangelicalism over Christian nationalism consistently ignores threshold questions for essential any political theory, thereby exposing they do not have an operative political theory apart from baptizing the status quo. Namely, what would you do if you could start from scratch? What is best and permissible in principle? What is the ideal? Or as one friend likes to ask, what if we win? What if Christians were in charge and the majority of the population was at least culturally Christian? What kind of polity, what kind of church-state relationship, what kind of laws would you set up? I shudder to think how limp and lame many contemporary answers to these questions would be.
Concessions according to prudence and context can only be properly considered once these kinds of threshold questions, the types of questions political theory are most concerned with, have been answered.
This is the entire purpose of the so-called state of nature discourse. It is not, in its best form, concerned with vainly divining primordial existence. Rather, it is a heuristic for determining proper socio-political organization.
A fatal problem with most of our interlocutors is that they do not or cannot contemplate these things. Their entire vision, intellectual frame, is saturated with what currently is, or at least as they understand what is, which is almost never in a functional but rather ideological sense.
That is, the ideological sense—explanations—as proscribed by the incumbent ideology itself. This exercise is unserious because it is unrealistic and lacks utility.
In any case, this, among other reasons, is why reading older political theory from our rich Protestant tradition is essential, even if the reader rejects the conclusions therein, the sources in view reform the mind. John Davenport’s short treatise, A Discourse About Civil Government (1663), is one such text and should be read, for maximum effect, in conjunction with his 1669 election sermon.
To begin, Davenport improves upon the predominant framing of church-state questions.
“the only wise God hath fitted and appointed two sorts of Administrations, Ecclesiastical and Civil. Hence, they are capable of a twofold Relation, and of Action and Power suitable to them both; viz. Civil and Spiritual, and accordingly must be exercised about both in their seasons, without confounding those two different states, or destroying either of them.”
This is, of course, boilerplate. Few disagreements will emerge from it. We have two administrations or polities, spiritual or ecclesiastical and civil. What will appear irregular to some readers is that Davenport elects not to distinguish between the two administrations or powers with a church-state (commonwealth) dichotomy, but rather to speak of a “Christian Communion” with the ecclesiastical and civil administrations being two species of the same Christian communion genus. This makes sense given that God is the author and efficient cause of both, his glory is the end of both, and man is the common subject of both. Differences, indeed, remain. Thus, they are not of identical species and the genus in which they both participate is limited to two species (e.g., Luke 22:38).
The kind or expression of power is a notable distinction. Davenport says the ecclesiastical power has only “oeconomical” power by which he means stewardship given that Christ is the only true head of the universal invisible church. The civil power, on the other hand, possesses “despotical” power (Luke 22:25), or what Baxter would call regal power or Hale would call nomothetical power. Christ has given civil rulers “lordly” power over men (1 Peter 2:13). This is proper since, while there is overlap, the ecclesiastical power primarily concerns itself with the inner man and the civil power with outer man, albeit, again, this distinction is not clean or absolute. For the ecclesiastical power is accidentally, we might say, concerned with the outer man just as the civil power is accidentally concerned with the inner man, but these are auxiliary concerns.
The glory of God is the final end of both administrations of Christian communion. Their mediate ends are diverse. The mediate end of civil order is preservation of society and the common welfare; the mediate end of the ecclesiastical order is salvation of souls and the sanctification of men. But both, as receptors of power from God must glorify God.
These differences explain their difference in operation. But this does not make them contrary to one another or anywise in tension. They are to be “coordinate States,” mutually helpful, reciprocal, aiding the whole man within one Christian communion and honoring the same God.
Here we have the ideal, theoretical relationship between what we now call church and state. This is the vision of a happy, cohesive and coherent society. Now the question arises as to what is to be done in a preexisting society and a newly founded one “wherein men are free to choose what Form they shall judge best.”
Here’s the kicker. Many Christians today take Paul’s advice to the Romans as perennial, delineating the permanent posture for believers (i.e., subjugation and martyrdom) in any and all circumstances. Davenport begs to differ. An extended quote is in order. Be forewarned: it will break some brains.
Read More
Related Posts:

Return to Stigma

Until we unapologetically reassert ownership over our heritage and nation unto a counter stigma, where we shame what is shameful, we cannot expect renewal nor, indeed, peace. Far from cruelty, the construction and assertion of stigma is heroic, an undertaking on behalf of civilization. 

For a long time past, the chief mischief of the legal penalties is that they strengthen social stigma. It is that social stigma which is really effective, and so effective is it, that the profession of opinions which are under the ban of society is much less common in England, than is, in many other countries, the avowal of those which incur risk of judicial punishment […] Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion… [T]he price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.—John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.
Freedom, absolute freedom, especially of thought unto expression, is constrained by social custom, of cultivated, collective disdain. And as Mill notes, the construction of custom is bolstered by, if not downstream of and more powerful than, legal sanction.
We live in a Millian world, one geared toward the erosion of natural association and custom. For these vectors of “social intolerance” constrain independent, individual self-actualization. This, Mill despised. Which is to say, Mill hated what is natural and necessary in every well-ordered society. If we would have order ourselves, we must recover what he shunned and shun what he coveted.
The punishment for the violation of custom is stigma, or social judgment and pressure to conform. Paradoxically, and contra Mill, the suppression of stigma “induces men to disguise” opinion and discrimination. It is social pacification. Worse, forced inclusion and neutrality negates man, his natural diversity and sensibility. While a Millian frame might liberate, for a time, the individual from all constraints, it is diametrically opposed to its opposite, viz., communal self-determination, i.e., that to which sociable man wants to belong.
Stigma is another way of describing the social function of shame. Rationale or justification for shaming what is shameful are usually unthinking, engrained, and uninterrogated. Plato (Republic) describes the worthy guardian of the city as one who will “praise fine things, be pleased by them, receive them into his soul, and, being nurtured by them, become fine and good,” and, in turn, will “rightly object to what is shameful, hating it while he’s still young and unable to grasp the reason.” Cultivation of right preference and taste is a prerequisite not only for exercise of authority—the good ruler must always feel the spirit and mood of his people—but the exercise of mature reason as well because the affections are oriented toward honor and achievement rather than material gain. Self-mastery requires fear of judgment, as Roger Scruton put it in his essay on stigma in City Journal nearly 25 years ago (“Bring Back Stigma”).
Therein lies the power of stigma as a natural social instinct. It is everywhere, always and already, present. Indeed, Mill’s dream cannot be recognized without the operation of stigma. That is, the intolerance of intolerance or shunning of restriction. But this is always a fantasy because a view from nowhere is impossible.
Every society designates things, behaviors, and practices that are shameful contrasted by what is honored. (The extent to which public or social shame corresponds to internal scrutiny is out of scope here.) Whatever is shameful is marked not only by punishment—often it is not overtly or legally punished—but, perhaps, more importantly by mockery. In a thick, healthy society the outlandish and unimaginable is humorous even as it is offensive because it lacks presence and, thereby, remains undesirable. No one is offended by the mockery of what is shameful and deserving of stigma because no one is practicing it, or at least those who are know that they should not and, therefore, dare not object to mockery of objectionable things.
The sacred and the blasphemous are perennial societal elements. Each is determined by the ruling element which is, in fact, the most powerful element. Majority opinion is not an actual thing. It is allusive and fickle. But a conception—a belief, really—of what is fashionable, accepted, sacred governs sociality whether it is objectively measurable or not. Perception rules.
This is the politeuma, the unwritten constitution of the community exemplified in great men or role models, in personification of virtue. And, contrary to colloquial belief, this dynamic governs more thoroughly and effectively than written, positive, civil law insofar as it dictates and compels behavior more immediately. What is shameful is always unlawful anyway. Law codifies and affirms what is already accepted.
What tells a society that cowardice and retreat are shameful actions? Why was the death of Achilles “beautiful”? Who enforces chastity and modesty at scale? In both cases and many more besides, it is stigma. “Principles,” supposedly timeless, develop to reinforce or rather summarize these things. Today, “equality” and “fairness” serve as taglines for acceptance of all manner of levelling and licentiousness today, but for all their promise of “freedom,” they operate as custom and stigma.
Shame corresponds to the law of fashion—literally, what is in style. Locke, in the Essay on Education, observes that it is not good and evil that most powerfully directs men but shame and esteem, that is, fashion. Likewise, Aristotle (Ethics), determines that a virtuous member of society is one who grasps what is shameful and honorable and acts accordingly.
Read More
Related Posts:

Playing Chicken with the Lord’s Day

In December, New York lawmakers introduced a bill that would require all restaurants operating at rest stops on the Thruway, the state highway system, to be open seven days a week. Chick-fil-A, famous for its Christian ownership and closure on Sunday, has restaurants at nine, and soon to be 10, of the 27 rest stop locations in the state. 

More than once in the late 19th century, the New York Court of Appeals upheld Sunday restrictions on economic activity. Per that court, it was doing nothing more than expressing the national consensus at the time—a slew of cases could be cited given the ubiquity of such laws in America up through the 20th century. People v. Moses (1893) declared,
The Christian Sabbath is one of the civil institutions of the state, and that the legislature for the purpose of promoting the moral and physical well-being of the people and the peace, quiet and good order of society, has authority to regulate its observance and prevent its desecration by any appropriate legislation is unquestioned.
Similarly, the court in People v. Havnor (1896) explained that,
ordinary business of life shall be suspended on Sunday, in order that thereby the physical and moral well-being of the people may be advanced. The inconvenience to some is not regarded as an argument against the constitutionality of the statute, as that is an incident to all general laws.
We live in a different world now, one that does not conceive of human wellbeing holistically, or even historically. Rest, physical and spiritual, is rarely the object of marquee legislative agendas. As the wall of separation has risen ever higher between church and state, the body and soul have been split ever further apart.
Read More
Related Posts:

Government Described and Defended

Arbitrary government is where men rule without accountability as to personnel and standard. Pretty straight forward. If people have no “choice or allowance,” meaning active selection or passive confirmation, and where men judge on a whim—with will but without reason—there is arbitrary government. God alone has no accountability beyond himself. Winthrop maintained that Massachusetts in 1644 was no home to usurpation of God’s singular prerogative.

John Winthrop was governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony for twelve years between 1630 and 1648 and was either deputy governor or assistant the rest of the time. At the time of his Arbitrary Government Described and the Government of Massachusetts Vindicated from that Aspersion, he was deputy governor. What we see in Winthrop’s Vindication is a standard by which all governments may be judged. The occasion for the public defense on behalf of the administration of which Winthrop was a part will become clear below but ultimately need not detain us. In a nutshell, the government had been charged with ruling and administering according to whim. Winthrop obviously took issue with that “aspersion.”
Arbitrary government is where men rule without accountability as to personnel and standard. Pretty straight forward. If people have no “choice or allowance,” meaning active selection or passive confirmation, and where men judge on a whim—with will but without reason—there is arbitrary government. God alone has no accountability beyond himself. Winthrop maintained that Massachusetts in 1644 was no home to usurpation of God’s singular prerogative.
Winthrop makes his case with appeal to a true transference or delegation of sovereignty, the right to authority, viz., royal grant. Then there was no other possible basis for Englishmen, and it is worth noting that the inherent, so to speak, authority of the colonies turned states over a hundred years later was predicated on the same basis, at least for the preexistent communities—the later state additions were a different story.
Imbedded in the royal patent or charter of Massachusetts Bay is the structure of colonial governance: the governor and a deputy governor as well as eighteen assistants (the executive and its board), and then the company (freemen or stakeholders, so to speak). The board of assistants was one house of the legislature as well as the highest judicial court. The governor was the president of the board but not an assistant simultaneously, and also functioned as a magistrate in the court. But as Herbert Osgood (The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century) discerned, “the governor had no status apart from the board and the legislature… and therefore was bound by the action of the board…. the system of government in the corporate colony was one in which the weight of the governor among the assistants, as elsewhere, depended much on his personality.” This was only partially true. For as Winthrop had declared in 1632, the patent had to be read in light of common law precedent. Therefore, the governor possessed the powers typically associated with that position. This granted the governor some discretion not afforded to the assistants qua assistants, albeit the highest level of discretion was enjoyed by the governors and assistants as the executive branch.
During the first five years or so of the colony’s governance, the assistants played an outsized role, one later diminished. And they were empowered, as a sort of law enforcement agency, to issues warrants, summonses, and attachments. The board itself issues land grants, wage rates, and the like also. After 1634-1635, with the expansion of freemanship beyond the initial class, the assistants were relegated to more administrative and judicial considerations. And yet, the magistrates (assistants) maintained a negative vote (veto power) in the legislature.
Returning to Winthrop’s text, it is the former body, the governor and assistants, that has authority and the latter, the freemen, that has liberty, says Winthrop. Freeman has the liberty to elect and to counsel the state. This is not a merely passive liberty but of active selection and input. Hence, consent to and participation in lawmaking in the General Assembly via four General Courts annually. Not to mention annual elections of the governor, deputy, and assistants. Therefore, the government, in its foundations, was hardly arbitrary. True authority established it, and true participation was present in its operations. So too are the duties of each part of government explicitly handed down in the charter. None of this had been altered either by the incumbent administration.
Read More
Related Posts:

A Political Primer on Reformed Confessions

Scots Confession, 1560, article 24. Its production was overseen by John Knox by order of the Scottish Parliament. It was ratified in 1560 but did not gain approval until after the overthrowal of Bloody Mary in 1567. Consider here the very conventional appeal to the great reformist kings of the ancient Israel, a common model promoted to Christian magistrates by Reformed theologians to illustrate their religious duties. “We confess and acknowledge that empires, kingdoms, dominions, and cities are appointed and ordained by God; the powers and authorities in them, emperors in empires, kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, and magistrates in cities, are ordained by God’s holy ordinance for the manifestation of His own glory and for the good and well being of all men. We hold that any men who conspire to rebel or overturn the civil powers, as duly established, are not merely enemies to humanity but rebels against God’s will.”

Last year, I compiled a list of religion clauses in early state constitutions. Some brief explanatory commentary was included. Otherwise, I let the documents speak for themselves.
Given that most American evangelicals are, apparently, de facto anabaptist in their political thought, meaning, that they artificially construct conflict between historic Reformed doctrine and Reformed political convictions, I thought a similar exercise with Reformed Protestant confessions—basically drawn from Philip Schaff’s list—might be useful. You could, obviously, look all these things up for yourself, but the consolidated testimony of the confessions below read in one fell swoop has a certain effect. Not all such confessions addressed the subjects of interest here (e.g., Ten Conclusions of Berne (1528) or Zwingli’s Sixty-seven Articles (1523)), but most did.
American Reformed evangelicals all want to claim the doctrines of grace now. They are increasingly interested in, say, classical theology proper, sacramentology, soteriology (of course), and the like. But they curiously depart markedly, openly, and intentionally from the political assumptions of the same authors and ecclesial bodies that conveyed the aforementioned doctrinal formulations to them. Typically, the response from the evangelicals in view is that the magisterial Reformers and their seventeenth century progeny were relatively thoughtless on matters of politics, especially church-state arrangements. And, the de fault evangelical continues, considerations of political authority and adjacent issues are not central to Reformed doctrine. It’s a negligible element to them.  
But as someone recently asked in a different context, what if it’s not that way? What if that hermeneutical-historical assumption about the Reformers—i.e., that they unwittingly perpetuated the Constantinian vision because they were men of their time—is a product of liberal modernity, flippant history, and Jesuit tricks? What if the whiggish semper reformanda approach is bunk? If you are going to say you are a confessional Protestant, rooted in tradition, you had better have a good reason for repudiating aspects of said tradition, whatever your theories about why those aspects were maintained and, well, preached with overwhelming consistency. You better have a good reason for defying the evident consensus. “Confessional Protestantism” cannot be the antidote to the very assumptions and convictions contained therein, regardless of whether Christian nationalism scares or amuses you. It is curious, indeed, that the loudest champions of confessional Protestantism—at least online—seem to believe that twentieth century liberalism achieved a political nirvana providentially consistent with everything imbedded—but not yet revealed—in Reformed doctrine in a sort of seed to tree redemptive-historical fashion. Perhaps, they, paradoxically, hold their confessionalism too tightly such that it encroaches upon divine writ, even if they won’t admit this to themselves or anyone else.
All that said, some readers may simply be unfamiliar with the Protestant Reformed confessional consensus just invoked. A review of magisterial authors could demonstrate this agreement, but it is always best to start with collective consensus documents officially promulgated for popular consumption and ecclesial doctrinal guidance. I will simply say, at this juncture, that the idea that the magisterials uncritically and passively—because their arms were being twisted or something—adopted a “medieval” conception of church and state is completely and demonstrably false. There’s no other way to put it. Gallons of ink were spilled on those and related questions. You do not have to like their conclusions, but you cannot say they neglected this area of doctrine. Moreover, an argument can be made that the formulation of political thought found in the magisterials and the post-reformation Reformed was central, not peripheral, to the Reformation itself. Many commentators much more proximate to the events in question said so. For now, simply note the frequency with which Reformed confessions saw fit to include articles directly pertaining to church-state questions. It is not clear to me why exceptions should be allowed on these matters—church and state, the religious role of the magistrate, the application of both tables of the Decalogue to political life, and so on—but not on others for purposes of ordination and communion.
A few things to notice below.
Most confessions consider questions of temporal or civil or political authority after articulating beliefs about the true church, church order, elders, and the sacraments. There is a reason for this. It is with these matters of ecclesiology that the internal life of the church begins to clearly touch externals, the political (circa sacra), and thereby the duties and privileges of God’s gods on earth, by way of the source and purpose of their authority. This is especially true of things indifferent (adiaphora), but no less true of things pertaining to the proper governance of the church. It was common for Reformed theologians to note that just as the magistrate has purview over other professions in a certain way, he has purview over ministers and elders. He cannot usurp their roles, but he can make sure they are functioning properly, i.e., not committing malpractice. There is a reason why both Francis Turretin and Benedict Pictet organize their treatment of civil authority under ecclesiology and refer to it as the “political governance” of the church.
Again, this compilation is meant to enable the reader to compare and contrast, to trace the confines of consensus, and then evaluate the predominant assumptions of our own day over and against the Reformed inheritance. Debate over modern modifications, and their suspect causes, to some of our confessions (e.g., Westminster and Belgic) will be reserved for another time. But you should, as you peruse, ask yourself why such changes would be proposed. Is it truly the case that the overwhelming agreement of our forebears became so outdated, that a new political nirvana was reached in the late modern era? Why should not the rest of the confessional testimony be similarly questioned and adjusted to suit contemporary proclivities?
Now, one acceptable answer to these questions refers to a hierarchy of doctrine. Of course, it is more important to get atonement correct than it is to get political models right. For one, the latter is less directly determined by scripture, though the general principles basically are. So, prudence is more in play but not solely in play when it comes to politics. Nevertheless, if our theological ancestors could be so radically mistaken—and their anabaptist opponents so radically right—in their codification of these things then we should be at least a little concerned about the rest of the corpus. All I am referring to (again) is the confused and confusing tension introduced by some modern theologians between Reformed theological doctrine and Reformed political doctrine.
The confessional documents do not present full articulation of these things. For that you must go to the voluminous corpus of magisterial texts, many of them not thoroughly mined in this regard. I will add, at the risk of repetition, that central to the Reformation were questions of authority, ones that had been in play at least since Constance. Universal and supreme papal jurisdiction and all that was wrapped up in that was a relatively recent innovation and unworthy of continuance. The recovery of a Constantinian vision was the Protestant response then, it seems to me, that it supplies a distinguishing mark of Protestantism, one that should not easily be discarded.  
The Confessions
Let’s begin with the Gallican (or French) Confession, 1559, compiled by John Calvin (most likely) with help from Theodore Beza and Pierre Viret, and approved by the synod of Paris. Here’s article 39:  
We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates, so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors, but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.
As with many such documents, and Calvin’s own Institutes, the confession is addressed to the king (Henry IV). This is not window dressing. It expresses deeply Protestant assumptions about jurisdiction and ecclesiology which are expressed, in part, within the body of the article quoted above. In short, the Christian prince as religious reformer in the Old Testament vein is in play here. Of course, the French Confession pleads for toleration within an adverse jurisdiction, but the themes just mentioned are nevertheless present. Readers may notice that the Augsburg Confession is not included in this list, and that is because its article of “Civil Affairs” pertains only to Christians holding office, contra the Anabaptists. But remember also the scenario surrounding the Diet at which it was presented, viz., in answer to Emperor Charles’ demand that the German princes delineate the beliefs of their territories. The resultant confession was sanctioned by lesser magistrates and delivered to a supreme magistrate. It was a political document.
Moving on, the First Helvetic Confession, 1536, composed in Basel by Swiss-German luminaries like Heinrich Bullinger, Simon Grynaeus, and Friedrich Myconius to represent the convictions of the Swiss cantons. The Second Helvetic Confession, 1566, built upon the first edition, is much lengthier, and will follow immediately below.
Article 27 of the First Helvetic reads,
Since every magistrate is from God, his duty (unless he prefers to exercise tyranny) is the chief thing, to defend and procure religion, to repress every blasphemy; In this respect, they must chiefly watch over him, that the pure Word of God may be preached to the people pure, sincerely, and truly to the people, and that the truth of the Gospel should not be precluded to any man. He will soon take steps to ensure that the entire youth is found and formed by the upright and diligent training and discipline of the citizens, so that there is just provision for the ministers of the church, and a careful care for the poor. Here they look for ecclesiastical feasibility.
Then to judge the people according to equal laws: to protect the peace, the republic, to promote the republic, to fine the guilty for the reason of the offense, with wealth, body, and life. When she does the duty, she pays homage to God.
To him (even if we are free in Christ) we know that we must be subjected to all our body and faculties, and to the true zeal of mind and faith (so long as the commands of this man do not openly fight with him, for whom we honor him), we know.
Looking to the Second Helvetic Confession, which may contain the most beautiful and profound Reformed explanation of preaching, note first that in article 22, “Of Religious and Ecclesiastical Meetings,” the confession elevates collective worship and public assemblies and then adds,
Meetings For Worship Not to Be Neglected. As many as spun such meetings and stay away from them, despise true religion, and are to be urged by the pastors and godly magistrates to abstain from stubbornly absenting themselves from sacred assemblies.”
Both pastors and magistrates should urge people to attend the gathering of the saints.
The last article of the confession (article 30) addresses the magistrate’s religious role more directly:
The Magistracy is from God. Magistracy of every kind is instituted by God himself for the peace and tranquillity of the human race, and thus it should have the chief place in the world. If the magistrate is opposed to the Church, he can hinder and disturb it very much; but if he is a friend and even a member of the Church, he is a most useful and excellent member of it, who is able to benefit it greatly, and to assist it best of all.
The Duty of the Magistrate. The chief duty of the magistrate is to secured and preserve peace and public tranquility. Doubtless he will never do this more successfully than when he is truly God-fearing and religious; that is to say, when, according to the example of the most holy kings and princes of the people of the Lord, he promotes the preaching of the truth and sincere faith, roots out lies and all superstition, together with all impiety and idolatry, and defends the Church of God. We certainly teach that the care of religion belongs especially to the holy magistrate.
Let him, therefore, hold the Word of God in his hands, and take care lest anything contrary to it is taught. Likewise let him govern the people entrusted to him by God with good laws made according to the Word of God, and let him keep them in discipline, duty and obedience.
Read More
Related Posts:

There Will Be Blasphemy

“Conservatives”—another term for which I have diminishing tolerance—see no need to make a stink about gay marriage today, at least not at actionable scale. This means the issue is thoroughly embedded in the public reason. It makes sense and is unquestioned in any real sense. Even if some people don’t like it there are now bigger fish to fry, fish that coalitions can be built around. And so, the root cause, the first defeat and its externalities, is forgotten.

Last week I wrote about a new case in Oregon wherein a would-be foster mother was denied the privilege because she was deemed an unfit mother with an unfit home, according to the established religion of Oregon. The mother in question is a Christian and she refused to affirm, as part of her foster/adoption application, that she would raise children in an affirming home, i.e., she would not commit to brainwashing them with queer dogma or facilitate the sacrifice of their flesh to the god of liberatory androgyny. I employed some Fustel (Ancient City) to show that instruction in and perpetuation of religion is, even in the ancient world, inseparable from parenthood. It’s part of the job. The Bible says so too. Our law still protects this right, for the time being, at least for natural parents, for now—part of my point was that the slippery slope is currently being greased. We instinctively know it.
My argument was not meant to be comprehensive but polemical, geared toward several provisional arguments, and concentrating on the constitution of familial life to draw out contradictions.
The basic, universal point is that if parents are not inculcating religion they are not parenting and if a family is irreligious, it is not properly a family, only analogously so. Just as Richard Baxter said a commonwealth is only rightly so called if it is oriented to true religion, and that those built on false religion or irreligion, insofar as the latter exists, are only analogously participatory in the essence of commonwealth.
And so, Fustel’s documentation combined with history and tradition of our own country combined with true religion of Christianity equals a proper family in every way, one serviceable to the nation because it is rightly ordered internally. That the family is the foundational socio-political unit, a precursor to and microcosm of, larger units is a basic Aristotelian insight that needs no explication here. (Interaction and interrelation between the little commonwealth and the large commonwealth, or the little church and the larger church, is a separate and later question.)
I did not suggest in my piece that the question of which religion was irrelevant, only that to deny Bates (the Oregon mom) her pedagogical duty was to deny her true parenthood. The two go together. The regime knows this. That’s why they’re doing it. It’s a very forward looking, shrewd sorting strategy too. But I won’t say anything of any replacement theories, of course. That would be crazy. What I will say, as alluded to already, is that the slope is, indeed, slippery. That’s how these things work. If the Oregon DHS policy is not defeated now, and on the basis of what I’m laying out as the proper family, it will soon—sooner than most expect—apply to the natural as well as the adoptive family. Note too that the fact that Bates is, in her case, only attempting to foster and not necessarily adopt, is irrelevant. The same DHS application applies to both scenarios; the same standard is applied to either case. For all intents and purposes, then, we are talking about adoption.
Now, none of this negates a state interest, in this private aspect of religious practice and childrearing, even as there is tolerance. (Ignore, for now, the somewhat artificial bifurcation of public and private.) There are always limits. The only question is one of standards and metrics.
The state has a legitimate interest, of course, in screening adoptive parents. It will do so according to established religion and morality. This is unavoidable. Again, the point I was making is that you can’t have parenthood without religious pedagogy, the perpetuation of the sacred fire.
So, when you deny religious instruction around the hearth you deny parenthood, full stop. Even if, let’s say, Bates had agreed against her conscience to the stipulations in the Oregon DHS application and then gritted her teeth and abided by them while providing all other maintenance for the foster children, she would not, properly speaking, be parenting. For she would not be perpetuating her household gods.
The foster or adopted children would not properly be initiated into the family—Fustel deals with adoption too. Moreover, to draw out internal contradictions in predominant thought, the piece was meant to challenge anti-Christian nationalists. What if the standard was Christianity? You would all howl in righteous indignation. That challenge is for people who still deny the inescapability of the which not whether choice always and everywhere before us.
But all this, at a grander level, is not just about Bates. Her case is illustrative of system level problems already mentioned. The regime is shrinking its range of toleration, and that regarding a key vector of evangelism, so to speak, of the previously predominant and therefore competitor religion. Smart move on part of the regime. People should recognize this. And while I am sympathetic, obviously, to “religious liberty” arguments for the sake of immediate and pressing goals, people should also recognize the relatively short, remaining life expectancy of said arguments. They were designed for a different world and, in some respects, contain the demise of Christian America within them, even as they were coded Christian from the beginning. You either like that end result or you don’t, but if you don’t then you are in a pickle. And this goes even for those less assertive than Christian nationalists. I mean those who still make the Christianity is necessary for liberal democracy and religious liberty but can’t be enforced argument.
In any case, and in this way, the responses went right where I wanted them to: the recognition of the inescapability of establishment.
Read More
Related Posts:

Damned be the Ties that Bind

The majority of Americans remains Christians, even at this late hour. It is depressing and demoralizing to realize that a state once founded on the “Natural right, to worship Almighty God” according to conscience now weaponizes the law against those who would raise children in the fear and admonition of that same God.

William Blackstone called the relationship between parent and child the “most universal relation in nature.” It encompasses everyone and occurs everywhere. It is the natural end of marriage. Like any relation, rights and duties are present. Children must obey and honor their parents; parents are obliged to provide for and protect. In turn, children are dutybound to care for their elderly parents. But the mutual duties and bonds of this universal relation extend beyond mere maintenance. Education is usually recognized as well. Indeed, under our current law educational neglect is actionable. We can go further still, however. Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, and Ephesians 6:4 all situate religion, knowledge of God, true doctrine, even redemptive history, as the pedagogical duty of fathers. The general principle and supposition in play here is not unique to Biblical revelation. It has been ingrained in western culture since its inception.
As Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges describes in his study of the pre-Caesarian classical world, The Ancient City, the family was not only the most basic, primordial social unit, but also the force that conditioned all subsequent organization.
More essentially, it was almost synonymous with the perpetuation of religion. The ancient family was defined by its shared worship and shared (ancestral) gods more than it was by blood. For induction to the family via either adoption or clientship was possible through sacramental initiation to the sacred fire of the familial hearth. Familial longevity was dependent on the priestly line of the father—religion established his authority for religion. So long as worship continued, the family continued. Marriage marked the conversion of the wife to the husband’s hearth family-cult.
Indeed, religion created marriage, says Fustel, just as it established property and inheritance (“I am the Lord, that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land, to inherit it; and to Moses”). That is a way of saying that in the ancient world, domestic religion was the basis of law which, in turn, was the basis of municipal law, and so on.
“Private law existed before the city. When the city began to write its laws, it found this law already established, living, rooted in the customs, strong by universal observance, The city accepted it because it could not do otherwise, and dared not modify it expect by degrees. Ancient law was not the work of a legislator; it was, on the contrary, imposed upon the legislator. It had its birth in the family.”
Extended families, clans (gens), were united by shared gods, and the mixing of tribal gods for the sake of political convenience was inconceivable. Not even natural affection (or generation) was permitted to trump religious ties. Blood did not suffice, albeit blood was expected to correlate. For the family literally died if its religion lapsed. Plato defined family as a community of shared gods.
Of course, the first thing the reader realizes when entering the world Fustel reconstructs is how utterly foreign it is. It was an isolated, parochial existence of preeminent familial allegiance and secret ancestor worship (the eternal flame), however romantic, that cannot be reproduced with any exactitude absent cataclysmic intervention. There is likely no return to that bronze age… and those that claim the bronze age ethos today usually neglect its constituting, unifying, indispensable socio-political element—even the basic, innate desire for hearth and home in Odysseus.
The point, for us, is that even in early Greece and Rome, religion and family were intertwined, and pedagogy was a parental prerogative. No, a necessity. It has always been thus in western civilization, even in its embryonic state.
The right to instruct children in rites and more besides, is not an aberration concocted of twentieth century culture warring, the advent of the “nuclear family,” nor by post-war liberalism.
Read More
Related Posts:

Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian Nationalist

 The real story told by this data is completely missed or ignored by the report. Namely, the strong polarity represented in the data. That is, the divide between the adherents and the zealots. Both occupy relatively the same statistical positioning and they are diametrically opposed to one another in their vision for the American way of life. Each considers the other a political threat and, on this point, they are right.

Neighborly Faith has published a new study on Christian nationalism. It began making the rounds this past week. The report is branded as a “new approach,” an improved measurement. You can read the whole thing for yourself, so an exhaustive breakdown is uncalled for. There are some things worth discussing, however. Most commentary on the report has fixated on the fact that, as the Washington Times put it, “Christian nationalists may not be the demons that some claim.” Whilst that’s obviously true and there are commendable elements to the report, we shouldn’t be so easily impressed. There are deeper problems with the report’s approach, and, in the end, it misses the real narrative of the data completely—and these things are always telling a story.
Groupings in the report are as follows: Christian nationalist adherents and sympathizers, Christian spectators, pluralistic believers, and zealous separationists. Of course, there is an undecided category as well. The percentage breakdown is a fairly even split, 11%, 19%, 18%, 19%, 17%, and 16%, respectively.
Everything in the survey is geared toward openness, tolerance, multiculturalism, and democracy. None of these things are defined but rather assumed as normal. This conforms to the culture, we might say, and mission of Neighborly Faith which, per their website, is dedicated to interfaith dialogue in a pluralist society, the latter being the assumed baseline—that is, an assumed good.
The tenor of the report reveals the apparent audience, the concerned observer. At many points, this posture makes it hard to take the report seriously. Imagery of January 6 MAGA enthusiasts and the like fill the graphics of the document. We will return to this point of partisanship shortly, but note, for instance, that the first topic addressed after outlining the percentage breakdown is the “threat” of Christian nationalism. The first line in that explanation points out that adherents and sympathizers “generally lack the aforementioned commitments so essential to a pluralistic society.” (p. 5). And, “Naturally, CN threatens institutions, legislation, and cultural norms that protect or promote pluralism in its many forms—such as religious diversity, multiculturalism, etc.” Not exactly dispassionate, is it? That does not invalidate the data presented but it is worth noticing.
The report’s executive summary tells us that only 30% of respondents are either adherents or sympathizers to Christian nationalism. The smallest population is that of adherents. Only 11% are true believers and only 5% self-identify as Christian nationalists. The import of these stats, given the reports intended audience, is to assure everyone that Christian nationalism, as (very roughly) defined by the report is probably not a big threat, even though it contains definite threats to democracy et al.
And yet, the survey has some “surprising findings” which amount to the unexpected fact that Christian nationalists are not rabid racists and are willing to work across socio-political and religious lines for the good of society (p. 5).
We must also note the problematic and confusing style of the questions presented in the survey to the some 2000 participants. As with any survey data, there are obvious limitations inherent in any questions included. That goes with the territory and shouldn’t be overly criticized. In this case, however, the report is frustrating for its perpetuation of bad question forms.
For instance, all Christian nationalist surveys to date fixate on the activity of federal government, e.g., “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation.” Participants were asked to answer on the typic “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” scale. I’ve self-professedly embraced the Christian nationalist label, but I could easily disagree with the proposition. I would not disagree in principle. The idea of this federal declaration is desirable. But my answer, given our federalist polity, would be that the proper place for such declaration is the state level. In those jurisdictions I would also be pro-establishment of religion. Again, its not that I would disagree in principle, but what if someone did disagree for these reasons? They would then not fit the Christian nationalist bill per the report, at least in this regard. All that to say, surveys usually lack nuance and are therefore of limited utility.
Similarly, the proposition that the “federal government should enforce strict separation of church and state.” A non-Christian nationalist adherent could easily answer in the negative purely on the basis of constitutional theory. Similarly, asking whether prayer should be allowed in public schools—the survey scale doesn’t specify whether Christian or non-sectarian—or whether religious symbols should be allowed in public spaces gets you almost nowhere.
Read More
Related Posts:

Superior Spirits and Fundamental Law

After covering the ideal qualities of a good ruler, Eliot offers some realist commentary. In this “imperfect state” no one will embody them comprehensively or perfectly. The quest for the exemplar ruler is a fools errand. That said, there are men who are more capable than others. Eliot clearly believes in some sort of natural hierarchy. Some men possess “a larger proportion of understanding and integrity.” They are “superior spirits, men who are born to guide, to instruct, and to preserve; their abilities and their virtues denote that they were formed for the public good.” It’s what God made them for, and they are dutybound to serve their country.

There’s a new resource up here at American Reformer: Andrew Eliot’s 1765 election day sermon. Comparatively, Eliot’s sermon is short and highly readable, and it presents a window into the religious and political expectations of New Englanders just prior to the war for independence. The historically interested and casual laymen alike will be interested in Eliot’s discourse. Albeit Eliot leans toward popular sovereignty, he demonstrates that it can be held in tandem, if in tension, with appreciation for monarchy. Read the brief introduction to the sermon for general background and context. Per usual, some highlights and brief commentary on a few themes in the sermon follows below.
Constitutions and Fundamental Law
“It is necessary they [i.e., rulers] should have a particular acquaintance with the constitution of the country they are called to govern. Reason we say dictates that there should be government; and the voice of reason is the voice of God.” “[C]onstitutions are a sort of fundamental laws, which cannot be violated without the greatest danger to a community.” Later Eliot adds, citing Romans 13, “submit yourselves to every human constitution for the Lord’s sake.” This applies to rulers and the ruled. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, “fundamental law” is a difficult early modern concept to nail down, but it certainly means no less than constitutional expectations, especially as to governmental form.
Constitutions, good constitutions, should be tailored to a people, a time, and a place. This is partly the reason why they should be considered fundamental law, especially if they, being well thought and well applied, are reasonable and conducive to a people’s good. The very thing that makes constitutions good can also cause them to expire, and, thereby, make change necessary.
“Perhaps the same constitution is not best for all societies, or for the same society at all times.” Hence, a key caveat from Eliot regarding the default respect for constitutional arrangements:
“I will not say, that they who are in government may not propose an alteration in the constitution, when they see manifest inconveniences; every member of the state may do this; and there may be extraordinary cases wherein it may be necessary to deviate from common rules; in such cases the safety of the people is to be preferred to every other consideration. But no wise ruler would desire a general power of dispensing with the laws; nor is it possible to proceed with too much caution in making any great alteration in the civil constitution of a state; especially when it has been long established, and the wisdom of ages has been employed to confirm it.”
This is true statesmanship Eliot is calling for. Fundamental law, preexisting constitutional structures should be respected and only cautiously tinkered with. Hence,
“where the constitution is tolerably good, it is generally the wisdom of those in power, to maintain a sacred regard to it themselves; and to endeavor that it may not be violated by others. This is their safety, and very often the safety of those they govern. When a humor of changing once begins, no mortal can tell where it will end.”
But the entire point of such arrangements is, or should be, the safety, good, and prosperity of the people to whom it applies as a mechanism for governance—all good governance must exist for these purposes. A true statesman, then, is not eager for change for its own sake, nor wanton innovation. Yet, the good of the people is paramount. To the extent that preexisting structures do not serve that end they can and should be dispensed with. This is ends-based governance as opposed to the procedural, means-based variety. Too many Americans instinctively appeal to and are pacified by the latter.
Religion and Virtue
“Rulers cannot come up to the character of the text, unless they are men of religion and virtue.” If they are not godly then the very skills and competencies that make men good rulers will degenerate into “cunning” and exploitation, pursuit of private interest over the common good. The temptation is simply too great for men of skill given such vast means. To be clear, by religion Eliot means Christianity. By virtue, he means true piety. Eliot genuinely thinks that a Christian is simply more capable of good and magnanimous rule.
“[The] Christian temper… will more than anything help us to distinguish between right and wrong; when private interests and private views are removed… When rulers have such a happy disposition, they will study the true interest of those they govern, which is the way to understand it; they will watch against a little party spirit and every selfish sinister view.”
And again, “When the love and fear of God reign in the heart, men will rise to nobler heights, and to more distinguished acts of virtue, than from any other motive. When they consider the whole community as brethren, they will naturally seek the common good.”
Of course, prudence, frugality, temperance, and industry are all qualities becoming of a good ruler.
Read More
Related Posts:

Gods, Fathers, and Pastors

Even as magistrates are subject to the correction of ministers, ministers are subject to the governance of magistrates as to temporals (i.e., just laws and sanctions) as citizens. Contra the Papist position, ministers are not above or outside the law. But so too are ministers subject to magistrates as to their “function” per the religious interest of the magistrate. A magistrate cannot alter or dictate true doctrine, Scripture, or sacraments, but he may hold ministers accountable to their own standards, as it were, which implies a certain familiarity with and understanding of Scripture and church tradition and teaching by the magistrate.

Certain (hyper online) evangelicals continue to at least feign shock and concern­—they are so perpetually concerned that I wonder their brows are not permanently furrowed—at a resurgence of decidedly historical yet now intellectually foreign articulations of church-state relations. Albeit the impact of historical sources within the Protestant tradition seem to have exactly zero impact on the most obstinate and presentist of this crowd, that is no excuse to not perform our due diligence, recovering the diversity and continuity of the tradition on this front. Perhaps, one day, the cascade of sources demonstrably disagreeable to baptized post-war liberal assumptions held so tightly by mainstream evangelicals will envelop them, drowning out their ahistorical protestations.
To that end, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) and his Loci Communes (1576). The Loci was translated into English in 1583 as The Common Places, extending Vermigli’s posthumous influence. Along with Martin Bucer (1491-1551) (i.e., De Regno Christi), his impact on the long English Reformation was immense, including but not limited to political thought.
Vermigli’s clarity in expounding a model of relations between the ecclesiastical and civil powers—an historically representative model for Protestants—remains instructive for reconsideration of relevant liberal assumptions about the same found both within and without Protestant academe. What follows is commentary on and investigation and application of Vermigli’s model of what we would now call church-state relations. On offer from Vermigli is not merely mechanical and expedient, but metaphysical and nevertheless practical.   
Deacons, Ministers, Pastors
To get right to it: there are two powers appointed by God, two offices set up as God’s representatives on earth. In a sense both act as fathers and pastors, indeed, as gods. (Notice that Vermigli does not employ “two kingdoms” terminology.) There are spiritual pastors and fathers, and temporal pastors and fathers, though as it happens both are temporally situated and both possess spiritual and temporal interests, sharing the same spiritual end if by diverse means. We are talking about civil magistrates and church ministers (or civil ministers and church magistrates, if you like, the terminology itself overlapping and interchangeable which semantically demonstrates the point). Henceforth we will stick to magistrate (civil) and minister (church) as our terms. 
“Both of them nourish the godly, but diversly. The Magistrate advanceth them with honors, riches and dignities. The minister comforteth them with the promises of God & with the sacraments.” The magistrate works by outward means on the outward man, which does not itself disregard the inward man as such, nor is it agnostic toward inward means of the inward power of the ministers.
For “princes in the holy scriptures are not only called Deacons, or Ministers of God, but also Pastors.” Vermigli cites Ezekiel 34 and also Homer who referred to “Agamemnon the pastor of the people.”
Magistrates are also properly called fathers, “wherefore the Senators among the Romans were called Patres conscripti, that is, appointed Fathers.” He goes on,
“Neither was there a greater or more ancient honor in the Commonweal, than to be called, The father of the Country. Yea also a Magistrate by the law of God is comprehended under this commandment, Honor thy father and thy mother. Princes then owe unto their subjects a fatherly love, and they ought always to remember that they are not rulers over beasts, but over men, and that themselves also are men: who yet should be far better and more excellent, than those whom they govern, otherwise they are not fit to govern them. For we make not a sheep the chief ruler over sheep, but the Bellwether, and then the shepherd. And even as a shepherd excelleth the sheep, so ought they to whom the office of a Magistrate is committed, to excel the people.”
Magistrates can rightly be called pastors and fathers because they, ideally, exude excellence which confirms their distinction and authority. Both by example and just rule, they exercise a pastoral role insofar as they shepherd their people. Of course, even as men set apart for rule should distinguish themselves as truly excellent, such elevated status cannot be justified by a self-referential source of authority.
Natural and Appointed
When we say that magistrates are ordained by God, what do we mean?
Vermigli argues that even as human means of appointment are in operation, that conduit of election does not diminish the proper cause of magisterial authority, viz., God himself. But this does not itself imply some kind of mechanical dictation theory about how human means are employed by God inside of providence.
Vermigli attributes the divine authority of magistrates to a natural, embedded principle or impulse: “God kindled a certain light in the hearts of men, whereby they understand that they cannot live together without a guide: and from thence sprung the office of a Magistrate.”
(Thomas Aquinas says much the same in De Regno.) This is corroborated by Scripture. For if “God ordained that he which shedded man’s blood, his blood also should be shed, not rashly or by every man (for that were very absurd),” then a civil, magisterial authority is implied “that he should punish manquellers [i.e., killers of men].” Hence, “all powers whatsoever they be, are ordained of God. And Christ answered unto Pilate, thou shouldest have no power against me, except it had bin given thee from above.”
Abusus Non Tollit Usum
Now, an important question is in order:
“If all Magistrates be of God, then must all things be rightly governed: But in governing of public wheels we see that many things are done naughtily and perversely. Doubtless, under Nero, Domitian, Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus, good laws were despised, good men killed, and discipline of the City was utterly corrupted. But if the Magistrate were of God, such things had never happened.”
In other words, Vermigli asks whether tyranny negates the legitimacy of the magistrate’s claim to be of God, for his power to be derived either mediately or immediately of God? There are those that say “The wicked acts of Tyrants are not of God, yet doe those things spread abroad into kingdoms and Empires: Therefore Empires and kingdoms are not of God.”
Even today, holders of this position wield it to legitimate so-called classical liberal ends in millenarian, progressivist fashion. That is, government and governance predicated on the limitation of power via its endless bifurcation, as the chief goal of politics. The effects of regimes are translated through liberal political assumptions—liberatory and egalitarian—to legitimate or illegitimate regimes. It is a fundamentally shortsighted and materialist analysis, overly moralistic and chained to an immanent frame.
Vermigli rejects this posture as a false syllogism insofar as it absolutizes the occasional and accidental. It would be equally valid, in this reasoning, to say that because some governments are not tyrannical and therefore legitimate, all governments are legitimate. Those suffering from tyraniphobia essentialize accidental occurrences. Just because the power of a magistrate is from God does not mean that everything in the magistrate is from God, or that the office cannot be separated from the occupant.
Vermigli’s position is simultaneously realist and providentialist. “[K]ingdoms and public wheels, may be called certain workhouses, or shoppes of the will of God. For that is done in them which GOD himself hath decreed to be done, although princes oftentimes understand it not.”
“[T]here are certain tyrants, which destroy public wheels. I grant it, but our wickedness & sins deserve it. For there be oftentimes so grievous sins, & so many that they cannot be corrected by the ordinary Magistrate, and by a gentle and quiet government of things. And therefore God doth then provide Tyrants to afflict the people.”
Vermigli identifies an ebb and flow to the rise and fall of good and bad governments. Whenever there is a bad one, it is a sign of judgment and correction. Whenever there is a good one, it is an indication of blessing. If all power is of God then no other explanation makes sense. Even Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant. Historically, “for the most part [God] tempereth & qualifieth his punishment in placing among them good and godly princes.” In any case, as Vermigli later explains, stripping the magistrate of discretion and judgment proper and essential to his office via mechanistic, proceduralist, and positivist methods is no solution. In fact, arguably, such a limited regime invariably corrupts the magisterial office and degrades into managerialism, a certain form of inhuman technocratic tyranny wherein ius is detached from iusticia, or rather lex envelops both.
Up from Boniface
Returning to our main inquiry, to fail to subscribe to 1) the direct ordination and distribution of power by God to civil magistrates, and 2) to uphold the legitimacy of magistrates on this basis regardless of outcome, is to fall into late medieval papal confusion, argues Vermigli.
Pope Boniface’s Unam Sanctum is, for Vermigli, the source code of said error. Boniface located both swords or powers originally in the church which, in turn, delegated the temporal sword to civil authorities but thereby retained a certain purview and right of reverter over the temporal sword. The civil authority, then, was to, when necessary, be directed by the spiritual power. “The Church (saith [Boniface]) hath two swords, but it useth not them after one and the selfesame manner. For it exerciseth the spiritual sword, but the temporal sword ought to be drawn only at the becke & sufferance of the Church.”
Vermigli explains the import of this doctrine:
“The sword of the Emperor ought to be drawn only at the will and pleasure of the Pope: That when he commandeth, he must strike: and by sufferance, that is, he must go forward in striking, so long as he listeth and will suffer it. These things therefore must be in order: and the order is, that the temporal sword be reduced unto God by the spiritual.”
Through a winding digression, Vermigli shows how the Roman position yielded “all ecclesiastical persons are exempt from the civil Magistrate.” More basically, the problem was a confusion of the relation and interplay between the ecclesiastical and political powers, their jurisdiction and competency.
Interchangeable Arts: Shared Interests and Mutual Subjection
In a narrow sense, the ecclesiastical is to be more favored and stands above the civil or political. This is because “the word of GOD is a common rule, whereby all things ought to be directed and tempered.
Read More
Related Posts:

Scroll to top