Volume 28 | Number 3 | March 2000

Inglés Español

Preparing for Our Appointed Times
Is the First Amendment of Our U.S. Consitution Now Being Viewed Differently?


By Dr. H. T. Spence

We as Christians in the United States of America now stand in obvious, ominous days. An unknown, dark future lies ahead of us as a country. We are far from the shore of morality and righteousness. The billows and engulfing waves of the high seas of humanity are filling up the boat that was launched some 224 years ago when our country became a nation. We have often read the prophesy of Luke 21:25,26, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." We have arrived at such an hour.

Without being a pessimist or an optimist but desiring to be a biblical realist, we must briefly view the sobering hour in which we as Christians live in this generation and at this time in history. Amidst the gathering clouds of darkness and burden for life itself, we must realize that God has prophesied of such days to come. He has given many details of the Satanic drama that would finally unfold into unprecedented power in the final generation. He gave such prophecies to prepare His people for the days that are soon to come upon the earth. But with these prophesies, God has given the Blessed Hope, The Great Expectation of the coming of His Son to claim a people being prepared for Him. To these saints He cries, "Let not your hearts be troubled." The Greek word tarasso for "troubled" carries the understanding of not allowing our hearts to be disturbed, agitated, or subverted with fear. It was in this context of John 14, of troublesome times, that the promise of His coming was given. Though we grieve over what is happening in our nation and are caught in the dismantling of our freedoms, we want to completely trust in God at this time.

America's Founding Government

It is becoming more and more evident that our beloved country is in the throes of an overwhelming collapse. The powers that be are becoming the powers that are enemies of God and His people both in heaven and earth. The spiritual warfare is increasing against the saints as the reality of Psalm 2 becomes paramount. The growing hatred and bigotry against the Christian faith in America is escalating. Though we have greatly grieved over the administration that has been in the White House, we are not so impulsive to state that this president is to blame for the moral state and spiritual condition of our society. Insanity has been setting in for decades in our country. The life, words, and actions of our nation's president are simply making vivid how far we have fallen away from the original principles upon which this great country was founded. Yet the history textbooks and writers of our day are destroying the literary legacy of our past. This is being done through either intentional absence of the truth or a rewriting of our country's history to distort and pervert its spiritual legacy.

Some eight years ago while passing through Washington, Pennsylvania, I visited an old book store and secured for a dollar a book on the life of George Washington printed in 1833. It was written by Aaron Bancroft, a Congregational Pastor. Bancroft's work contains stories of our country's father which continued to appear in American textbooks until 1940, when they mysteriously disappeared. One such story comes to mind which occurred during the French and Indian War in 1755. George Washington, a colonel at that time, sided with General Brodick of the English army against the French and the Indians. The battle took place in the surrounding woods near Fort DuQuane (Pittsburgh). At the end of a two-hour battle, 714 out of 1300 American/British soldiers were shot down; only 30 of the French and Indians were killed. Of the 86 American/British officers, only George Washington had not been shot down. They retreated and went to Fort Cumberland in Maryland. George Washington wrote his mother and brother a letter that evening. Though no bullet had touched him, he told them he had found four bullet holes after taking off his coat following the battle. When he rubbed his hands through his hair bullet fragments came pouring out. Several horses had been shot out from underneath him, but no harm had come to him. He wrote, "God kept me and preserved me through the battle." In 1770, George Washington and a friend Dr. Craig returned to those same woods. An old Indian chief, hearing that Washington had come back, traveled a distance to meet the great American leader. When he met him, the chief said, "Fifteen years ago, you and I were in these woods together. I was the head chief of the Indians who fought. I saw you riding and told my braves if they would kill you, the troops would scatter. I told them to single you out." The chief went on to state that he personally had fired at George Washington 17 different times; his braves kept firing, but none of the bullets were having any affect. He told his braves to quit firing at him. He then concluded his story with these words, "I have traveled all this way to meet the man that God would not let die in battle." Such stories are numerous of our country's beginning.

Some years ago the University of Houston undertook a ten-year research on the founding of our country. This research was to discover what the primary influence of our country's beginning was. Out of some 15,000 documents written by the founding fathers which they collected, 3,154 writings were narrowed down as key writings. The three most often quoted were John Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone. But the research revealed that 16 times more often than any of these men were quotations from the Bible. Blackstone, probably the greatest authority on law, printed his commentaries for Law in 1758. These were a major influence to the founding fathers of our country. Of his quotations, 94% were from the Bible. His commentaries are so permeated by the principles of Scripture that Charles G. Finney became a Christian while studying Blackstone's commentaries in preparation to become a lawyer. No historian can get away from the fact that our country was founded upon the belief of the Scriptures and the principles contained therein.

Separation of Church & State?

In recent days my heart has been drawn to the first part of the First Amendment of the Constitution of our United States: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof." This amendment is being destroyed in our country today by certain individuals and political powers slowly manipulating the people to believe it means that Bible principles are to be separated from the Government. We hear today of "separation of church and state." It has become so common a phrase that a recent survey found that 67% of those polled believed that this statement was found in the First Amendment. But it is not! In fact, the words separation, church and state do not ever appear in the Constitution.

If this is true, from where did the statement come? Before Congress passed the wording of the Constitution, they went through twelve iterations, which were to make the intent of the wording clear. The iteration for this particular amendment was simply that "no one denomination or religious sect was to be above another." They did not want to repeat the religious apostasy of England with a State Church. In 1801, The Danbury Connecticut Baptist Church wrote a letter to then President Thomas Jefferson, as they were concerned over a rumor that the Congregational Church was going to become the National Church. On January 1, 1802, President Jefferson came to Danbury, Connecticut, and addressed the Baptists there. He stated in that address, "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation of church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure Biblical principles will always stay in government." This was his statement: "God's principles were to always remain in government, but the government must not interfere with the Church."

In 1853, a group of citizens came to Congress and stated they wanted separation of the Church and State in the principles used by the State. This request was referred both to the House and Judiciary Committees for one year in order to study if there could be separation of biblical principles from the government. The House Judiciary Committee on March 27, 1854 stated the following:

Had the people during the revolution had any suspicion of any attempt to war against the Bible that revolution would have been strangled in its cradle . . . . At the time of the Constitution and its amendments the universal sentiment was that the Bible and Christianity should be encouraged but not any one sect . . . . In this age there can be no substitute for the Bible and that was the belief of the founders of the Republic, and they expected it to be the belief of their descendants . . . . The Great vital and conservative element of our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of Scripture.

Later, between 1870 and 1890, the question arose again. This time the Supreme Court dealt with it in 1878 in the trial of Reynolds vs. United States. The judges went back to Thomas Jefferson's speech in its entirety. They once again agreed that although the State was not to interfere with the Church, biblical principles were never to be separated from the government.

However, when the issue returned to the Supreme Court in 1947, the court for the first time in our history referred only to eight words out of Jefferson's speech. It was in the court trial of Everson vs. The Board of Education. This was their ruling: "The First Amendment has erected a wall between Church and State. That wall must be kept high and impregnable." This was the first time in our history that it was questioned; in fact the Supreme Court reversed it, to keep biblical principles out of government. This introduced to our judicial system a new philosophy. William James, the Father of Modern Psychology and a key influence upon the members of the Supreme Court at that time, stated, "There is nothing so absurd, that if you repeated it often enough people will believe it." In 1958 one of the Chief Justices stated to the other judges in the case of Bore vs. Coldwater, "If you do not stop talking about separation of Church and State someone will believe it is part of the Constitution." Yet they talked the more about it. Finally in 1962, in the Engel vs. Vitale case, for the first time a ruling was given to separate Bible principles from education. The first separation of religious principles was to be seen in public education. When this ruling was made the judges did NOT quote from legal or historical precedents; this practice was unheard of for a court decision. They simply gave opinion. Even the World Book Encyclopedia, printed the following year (1963), stated this was the first time we have had separation of Church and State. The ignoring of legal or historical precedent must also be realized in the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Law in 1983, when they ruled against Bob Jones University declaring "public policy" as their statute.

Liberty Redefined

Dear reader, in spite of liberal or conservative presidents, we are witnessing the dismantling of every principle our country's forefathers gave us as a legacy. Our American president believes he has political power to change the law of morality. The lines are being drawn by his Attorney General, to use the legal system to get around the Senate and Congress and to try to reinterpret the law in the Courts to do away with the principles of God. Marquis de Sade stated, "The goal of humanism must be the death of God. Man will not be free until God is abolished, until there is total freedom to believe and live anything and everything contrary to the Bible." It is interesting to note that for a century and a half De Sade's writings were forbidden by every civilized country in the world. Even the corrupt French monarchy found him so dangerous, they kept him in prison. Revolutionists worked for his release, and when they found out what he was, they imprisoned him. Subsequently Napoleon did the same. But now, De Sade is being heralded in our country as a liberator and champion of mankind and his works openly published. Liberty is being more and more interpreted as freedom to sin.

Hatred and warfare against God will lead only to death. Nietzsche and De Sade found their final end in suicide. A very moving book I read some years ago was entitled From Under The Rubble written by Soviet Union Christians. One of the writers was a Soviet mathematician, Igor Savavich. He stated, "Humanism and socialism seek the death of property, religion, the family, marriage, and finally the death of man. The revolution accomplished fully would amount to the destruction of man, the withering of all mankind and its death." Another book that should be a warning to us is Samuel Warner's writing, The Urge To Mass Destruction. This contemporary psychologist stated, "What our modern age has become possessed with is the suicidal impulse for self and world. And so we have the politics of mass destruction, the economics of mass destruction, religion of mass destruction _ secular humanism. It follows the tempter, and says to God, `Thou shalt not touch us.'" We must not leave out the famous atheistic poet Shelly, who was expelled from Oxford for publishing a pamphlet defending atheism in 1811. He stated, "Mankind had only to will that there should be no evil and there would be none." The generations have brought us to the longing to sin any sin without consequence—this is really the desired utopia of man. But for man to say there is no judgment or there is no hell will never do away with the reality of both judgment and hell. The brainwashing of the media, music, politics, education, lifestyle, art, etc. have brought the world to the desire to proclaim boldly, "Let God give us up, we will make us a name."

The Christian and End-time Governments

I personally cannot envision America's returning to its former roots of principle and God, but I do pray for America. I believe there has been so much mixture of error with religious truth by the modern American-religious manner that we as a country will never see the purity of the Gospel again. But I dare not look at our times hopeless; for I see a remnant that is desiring to live right, to do right, to fight right, to be militant against the apostasy in all its forms, but seeking magnificence of spirit in the life. There is no hope for this world, for it is to be judged by God Almighty. But I pray for souls plucked out of the burning of this last generation who have left one burning and have been given another burning—a burning heart for God.

An ideal view of government is given to us in Romans 13. We are called upon by the Apostle Paul to "be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." Paul continues to unfold the principles of government in the light of what God intended for government to be to the people. Likewise, I Peter 2:13-17 gives us an ideal view of the government over the people. But what if the government is bad? What if it becomes antichrist in system oppressing its people? If this be the case, then there are other passages of Scripture we must take into consideration. When the government becomes anti-God as in Daniel 3 and Revelation 13, we must consider passages such as Acts 4:18-20:

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

There is also Acts 5:27-29:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

There must come a time in human history when God gives the governments and systems over to the Antichrist system to prepare for his coming. This will include the loss of the First Amendment of our Constitution. When that time comes, and it may happen before the Rapture of the saints, we must turn to Scripture to find out what we must do in such a government context. We must draw from passages such as Daniel 1:8: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." There is also needed truth of Daniel 3:16-18:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As Christians, if we cannot satisfy the law of man by doing what it commands, then we must satisfy the law by yielding to its punishment.

The Christian cause has now become the prey for an "open hunting season" by the powers of the government and media. Only God knows what we must face before the coming of our Blessed Lord. But we must not allow the world to pressure us into change or compromise. If this happens, we lose the protection of God. We must dare to name the Name of Christ in this last, end-time generation. We must save ourselves from this untoward generation and rest in the Beloved, Who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

Let us pray for one another as we now face the deepening, aggressive powers of global assimilation and ecumenicity. When it seems that all of hell is breaking loose upon us and our freedoms are being taken away one by one, may God the Holy Spirit empower us to remain committed to God's Infallible Word and a consecrated life. This is part of the legacy of a biblical Fundamentalist in our time.