Lordship of Christ Over Every Spiritual Inch

Joseph Moore has a new book out on the Covenanters that argues in part that these radical Scottish Presbyterians make the proponents of Christian America look like posers. Covenanters, for instance, refused to take oaths that included an acceptance of the Constitution because the United States’ legal provisions failed to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ:

Many hard-liners, imitating their Anti-Burgher ancestors, refused to swear an oath implying support of an ungodly government. . . . Founding the nation on the authority of “We the People” represented, the RP’s maintained, a flaw in Revolutionary logic: it removed Christ from his rightful place about the state. The US Constitution was a “manifest dethroning of the Lord and his Anointed from the government. As mediator between God and all humankind, Jesus gave legitimacy to civil governments. Governments, in turn, acted to bring people to knowledge of God’s Goodness and law. Law, then, should be based on God’s word even when that law seemed to harsh for liberal American sentiments. (Founding Sins, 62-63)

For a 2k Protestant, US government poses no such difficulty. Christ is king as both mediator and creator. His creational rule over secular government doesn’t now require the ruler to acknowledge Christ’s rule as mediator. But for comprehensive Christians, making the distinction between redemption and providence is a high wire act forbidden to anyone who wants a safe earthly existence.

For that reason, the comprehensive Christian, if the Covenanters are right, could never serve as an attorney in the United States. How, for instance, could a Christian take the oath required of attorneys in Michigan?

I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Michigan;

I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;

I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceeding which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land;

I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law;

I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client, and will accept no compensation in connection with my client’s business except with my client’s knowledge and approval;

I will abstain from all offensive personality, and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged;

I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay any cause for lucre or malice;

I will in all other respects conduct myself personally and professionally in conformity with the high standards of conduct imposed upon members of the bar as conditions for the privilege to practice law in this State.

No mention of God, no Lordship of Christ.

This means that Moore’s point about David Barton may be as relevant for those critics of 2k who jeer from the cheap seats of neo-Calvinism.

America’s original religious Right, the Covenanters’ . . . centuries-long struggle contradicts suggests that the Constitution hallowed Christianity or allowed for the church to influence the state. European nations before and after the founding claimed their nationhood in part from their religious identity. America did not. The implication was clear. Its failure to honor God in the Constitution made the United States the first government in Western history to disassociate itself from Christianity. The Covenanters created the most thorough, logical, and sustained critique of the Christian America thesis in history by assaulting the Constitution on its own terms. Taken as a whole, this logic challenges the religious Right from its own right flank.

The expensive seats are those occupied by the Covenanters. Every other Christian nation advocate is faking.

More Anti-Lutheran Prejudice

You know the republic is off the rails when we have holidays devoted to presidents rather than Speakers of the House. The way I read (and teach) the Constitution is that Congress has more power — way more — than the executive branch. Presidents used to be figure heads that we wheeled out for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Then war happened — whether on rebels, poverty, drugs, or communism. There went the legislative branch as the most important in the national government.

But for anyone wanting to be a little devilish on this holiday, why not rival George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with the First Speaker of the House — wait for it — Frederic Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (and all subsequent Speakers of the House):

MUHLENBERG, Frederick Augustus Conrad, (brother of John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, uncle of Francis Swaine Muhlenberg and of Henry Augustus Philip Muhlenberg, and great–great–grand uncle of Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg), a Delegate and a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Trappe, Pa., January 1, 1750; pursued an academic course; attended the University of Halle, Germany; studied theology and was ordained by the ministerium of Pennsylvania a minister of the Lutheran Church October 25, 1770; preached in Stouchsburg and Lebanon, Pa., 1770-1774, and in New York City 1774-1776; when the British entered New York he felt obliged to leave, and returned to Trappe, Pa.; moved to New Hanover, Pa., and was pastor there and in Oley and New Goshenhoppen until August 1779; Member of the Continental Congress, 1779-1780; member of the Pennsylvania state house of representatives, 1780-1783, and its speaker, 1780-1783; delegate to and president of the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1787 called to ratify the Federal Constitution; elected as a Pro-Administration candidate to the First Congress, reelected as an Anti-Administration candidate to the Second and Third Congresses, and elected as a Republican to the Fourth Congress (March 4, 1789-March 3, 1797); Speaker of the House of Representatives (First and Third Congresses); was not a candidate for renomination in 1796; president of the council of censors of Pennsylvania; receiver general of the Pennsylvania Land Office, 1800-1801; died in Lancaster, Pa., June 4, 1801; interment in Woodward Hill Cemetery.