Voluntarism and the Separation of Church and State

Voluntarism and the Separation of Church and State

By Peter Coker

One of the main things that brought colonists to the North American continent in the 1600’s was the atmosphere of religious persecution they had been experiencing in Europe. For most Protestant believers, the “new world” meant a fresh-start, to worship freely, without restraint or persecution. The “old world” in Europe was a world of contention, religious wars, and religious bigotries. Old-world religion held to the conviction that ‘uniformity of religion’ must exist in any given society. This conviction rested on the belief that there was one true religion and that it was the duty of civil authorities to impose it on its citizenry, by force if necessary. This general attitude existed throughout most of Europe at that time. Nonconformists could expect no mercy and might even be executed as heretics. In some areas of Europe Catholics persecuted Protestants; in other areas Protestants persecuted Catholics; and in some areas both Catholics and Protestants persecuted other “wayward” religious sects.

Even though the early colonists were fleeing the European persecution-concept, some of the more rigorously orthodox (especially the Puritans) initially brought that same concept to the American colonies. But other religious sects, denounced the persecution concept. The persecution concept was first denounced in the colonies by Baptist leader Roger Williams of the Rhode Island Baptists, as “inforced uniformity of religion.” Also, in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Willian Penn and the Quakers also rejected the European persecution-concept. In addition, the Anabaptists who had previously, while still in Europe, propagated the concept of “separation of church and state” also rejected the old-world persecution-concept. (The Anabaptists had been very harshly persecuted in Europe). The Baptists, Anabaptists, and Quakers new-world ideals soon provided the example for religious freedom, liberty, and tolerance that the other colonies would eventually adopt as well. The seeds of this attitude would continue to grow for over 100 years, from the early colonial period to the founding era in the American colonies.

In the founding era, the Baptists in New England strongly believed that all direct connections between the state and institutionalized religion must be broken in order that America might become, a truly Christian nation. To advance their cause, the New England Baptists formed the Warren Association in 1769. The Warren Association believed their dream for a truly Christian America was not being abandoned, they merely believed its true essence could not be forced or coerced. As they saw it, it should be free and voluntary; just as the “covenant of grace” was not limited to individuals, it also extended to the “covenant people” in general and the American peoples struggle for liberty.

One of the members of the Warren Association was a Baptist minister named Isaac Backus. Backus believed that ‘truth’ is great and that ‘truth’ will ultimately prevail (By ‘truth’ he meant the revealed doctrines of Scripture). He believed God had appointed two different kinds of government which are different in nature; one is civil and the other is ecclesiastical. Backus said the civil legislature does not function as our representative in religious affairs. Furthermore, he said; legislative power is inappropriate for faith. Religion is a ‘voluntary’ obedience unto God which ‘force’ cannot promote. Isaac Backus’s idea of ‘voluntarism’ helped promote the evangelical position on the separation of church and state that both the ‘revivalists’ and the ‘rationalists’ could find common ground. This common ground between the ‘revivalist men’ and the ‘reasonable men’ found mutual agreement in opposing coerced uniformity. Many of the ‘Sons of Liberty’ were men influenced by ‘Enlightenment’ thought, which assumed man could use his ‘reason’ and by it he could arrive at a reasonable or natural understanding of himself and his world. But, Backus’ ‘separation of church and state’ differed from Jefferson and Madison. Jefferson viewed all religious creeds and sects as potential tyrannies over the mind of man and thus explicitly denied that America was or should be a Christian nation … Backus and Baptists wanted to separate Church and State in order to create a truly Christian state in which men rendered to Caesar only what was truly Caesar’s and devote the bulk of their energy to serving God…”

The religious influence revived by the Great Awakening breathed a renewed spark of life into the North American colonies and helped shape the ideals for religious freedom, liberty, and independence in the founding era. Independence from British rule and the desire to be governed by a fixed ‘rule of law’ with the consent of the people became the ideal for the colonists. The phrase, “no king but king Jesus” became a common refrain in the streets.

Fast forward beyond 20th century’s Progressive Era. As a result of Progressivism and its following philosophy, Liberalism, the secular humanists have incrementally coerced and forced by law their particular brand of neo-fascism on its citizenry. Theirs is a “uniformity of anti-religion” as the true-religion and civil authorities are duty bound to impose and enforce these alien archaic beliefs on its citizenry. Under the secularists new rules, nonconformists can expect some form of persecution and can expect to be declared heretics as well as being culturally ostracized.

Yes, today the tables have been completely turned around by secular elitists within government, their allies and by special interest groups sympathetic towards paganistic god-haters. Like an unofficial conspiracy of reality-deficient malcontents their goal is make laws that enforce an anti-God atmosphere in the United States. For the god-haters there is to be no common-ground between secular and sacred permitted in the United States. There is only their way and their fascist-inspired-culture will be enforced by ‘the state’ by reviving the old-world persecution-concept. Any individual or group that will not conform to the humanistic ideals of a secular fascist law-order is fair game for destruction by a new generation of neo-marxist god-haters.

The phrase “separation of church and state” gets thrown around so much that many believe it is found in America’s Constitution. It is not. The Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The basic meaning of this is that the United States Congress cannot establish a federally instituted church (Like the Church of England) nor can it pass any law restricting the free exercise of a church. For non-believers this also means the federal government cannot force someone to be a Christian. This amendment is a limit on the federal government, not on the individual states. For a time after America became an independent nation, some individual states continued to have an “established religion” (established denomination). But they later changed to the federal government concept as a matter of practicality; people of various Christian denominations were moving into their states.

The secular humanists of the early 20th century (and some divisive clergy) often used the tactic of ‘dualism’ to subvert the American idea of voluntarism. Their philosophic tactic of dualism was used to divide faith and reason, thereby doing ‘violence’ to the original intent of the Constitution. This tactic drove a wedge between sacred and secular, religion and philosophy, and created a new (Marxist inspired) definition for the phrase “separation of church and state;” (much like the Soviet Union definition). This new neo-Marxist inspired definition was then legally adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court via the 1947 Emerson v. Board of Education case. This Constitutional monkey-business is exactly what America’s founders had painstaking avoided setting-up. It resulted in giving the Federal Government too much centralized-power over the individual states. The founding authors of the ‘Constitution’ firmly believed each Constitutional amendment and article should stand on its own merit and intent. Therefore, they should not be combined with other amendments and twist its true meaning or application.

The founder’s referred to maintaining the Constitution’s original intent as “the spirit of the law.” Yet today, subverters of the Constitution and of the ‘Rule of Law,’ claim it is the ‘monkeying-around-with’ and ‘changing the intent’ that is “the spirit of the law;” or as they are fond of saying “a living and breathing constitution.” We used to call such people subversives, communists, and socialists – today they are more generally known as Democrats. Their philosophy, politics, and natural urge is to return to the old-world ideas that American independence discarded. It appears if Democrats stand for anything, it is to turn upside-down, destroy and do violence to America’s founding Christian principles, and Isaac Backus’s concept of “voluntarism.”



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Religion and the American Revolution

Religion and the American Revolution

By Peter Coker

By the eve of the American Revolution there were about three-thousand religious ministries in the thirteen colonies. These ministries included; congregations, parishes, missions, societies and stations. One of the major roles the Christian religion played in the American Revolution was by providing a moral sanction for opposing Great Britain. Colonial Christianity gave an assurance to the average American that their “Revolution” was justified in the sight of God. As Revolution leader John Adams explained, “the Revolution was effected before the war commenced…the Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

Just Prior to the American Revolution, a religious revival had spread across the thirteen colonies called, the Great Awakening. The beginnings of the awakening started in the 1730’s and its growth continued through the 1740’s, 1750’s, and even lingered into the 1760’s. Tens of thousands were converted and many new churches sprang-up throughout the colonies. Many believed this was a “new reformation.” Some even believed that the Awakening might be a prelude to Christ’s return to earth. The Awakening also had a tremendous affect on colonial independence and the idea of breaking away from Great Britain’s rulership.

The American colonists believed Britain’s misuse of laws was tyrannical. New England preachers had taught for years that no man needs to obey a government when that government violates the will of God as set forth in the Holy Scriptures. They further understood from John Locke’s philosophy that for anyone to claim the power to levy tax by their own authority, without the consent of the people, violated the fundamental law of property (from God’s word) and subverted a proper, just, government.

Prior to the American “Declaration of Independence” colonists had proposed the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms.” This declaration advised the British government that colonists would not submit to tyranny and had decided to resist. The people of Massachusetts began gathering up arms and ammunition. They trained themselves to be ready to fight on a minute’s notice and became known as minute-men. When George Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief, he issued this order: “The general orders this day to be religiously observed…It is therefore strictly enjoined on all officers and soldiers to attend Divine service. And it is expected that all those who go to worship do take their arms, ammunition and accoutrements, and are prepared for immediate action, if called upon.”

Many colonial leaders had provided a variety of organizations that were formed for some sort of community action. Some were local, some were colony-wide and some were inter-colonial. Some of these organizations would eventually provide the basis for independent government. In response to the ongoing acts against colonial liberties by Britain, a “Continental Congress” was called for in 1774. Delegates from all thirteen colonies were called upon and initially delegates from all but Georgia met in Philadelphia to consider declaring an economic war with Great Britain. Mr. Cushing made a motion to open the meeting with prayer and Samuel Adams suggested that Rev. Duche,’ deliver the prayer. As John Adams described the event in writing to his wife; “I never saw a greater effect on an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duche’ unexpectedly to every-body, struck out into extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced.” Thus, opened the first Continental Congress of the American colonies, the prelude to American independence and the Constitutional convention.

On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence for the United Colonies, absolving them from all allegiance to the British Crown. As many have prior noted, the foundation of the Declaration of Independence is inherently a religious one. The Declaration not only describes how the King of Great Britain acted against their God-given rights, but also pronounces the need for nations to have a religious foundation. The religious, biblical principles outlined in the Declaration are:

  • ”Endowed by their Creator;” The belief in a Creator-God who provides for mankind.
  • “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God;” God ordained laws over His creation.
  • “All men are created equal;” All men are equal before God and His Law.
  • “The Supreme Judge of the World;” God is our ultimate judge.
  • “Divine Providence;” God is our divine guide and ultimate provider.

Most of the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was 33 years old at that time. Some rewording was made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin; and some changes were also made by Congress.

The phrase, “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” came from Sir William Blackstone, an English judge and law professor. As Blackstone described it; “Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being…And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature, dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other; It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all time: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original…The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law and they are to be found only in the holy Scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature…Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”

The founding idea for equality, (“all men are created equal”) came from the English writer, Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), who wrote the book “Lex, Rex or the Law and the Prince. Rutherford challenged the idea of the “divine right of kings.” Rutherford proposed that all men, even kings were under the law and not above it. Rutherford, citing Romans 13: 1-4, said rulers derive their authority from God, but that God gives his authority through the people. Rutherford supported his idea by also citing; II Sam. 16: 18; Judges 8: 22; Judges 9: 6; II kings 14:21; I Sam. 12: 1; and II Chronicles 23: 3.

Many ministers served in the American cause in various capacities during the American Revolution. Some took up arms in leading Continental troops in battle. Others served as military chaplains; as penmen for committees of correspondence; and as members of state legislators, constitutional conventions, and the national congress.

The religious implications of the American Revolution are undeniable. The British often referred to it as a Puritan Revolution. It is well documented that Christianity was a strong and influential factor in America’s Revolution and founding. But, it is also recognized that its founding was not comprehensively Christian, nor was it without its flaws. As in any age, America’s founders were not perfect men. Nor were they always perfectly consistent in developing and holding to their principles. American independence was however, an historic break from the past and a quantum leap in its potential and its possibilities for the future of the western world. America was uniquely, in this sense, an exceptional nation; an exception to all the previous law-orders of the past.




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The Gospel of Marx and Social Justice

The Apostasy of ‘Social Justice Christians’

By Erik Rush

“No mercy for those preaching Marx-tainted Gospel”

Revelations concerning people who call themselves “social justice Christians” have recently become a cause célèbre among conservative commentators. Initially, I was disinclined to tackle the subject, since there have been several worthwhile articles and programs addressing it as of late; however, since the phenomenon so closely resembles another upon which I have expounded with regularity, I reasoned that some elucidation thereupon would be accommodating to civic-minded Americans.

“Social justice Christians” are those who profess Christianity, but who adhere to politically entrenched concepts of equality and redistribution of wealth. These ideas are ostensibly rooted in their faith, but in truth, they have been incrementally and insidiously insinuated into many American churches by Marxists, progressive politicians and pastors whose religion has been tainted by the aforementioned parties.

How can this be? Well, through the misrepresentation of Gospel messages in the areas of charity and egalitarianism, such Christians have been led to believe that:

  • government has a right to enforce religious doctrines (such as those of charity and egalitarianism), and
  • Jesus Christ, as a threat to the existing paradigm, was the “first radical” and essentially commanded this in His teachings.

A preposterous extrapolation, to be sure, but that’s what they espouse. And of course, government only has the right to enforce the religious doctrines of which these folks and their leaders happen to approve.

Organizations such as the Sojourners (founded by communist “reverend” Jim Wallis) and other SJC entities have been flexing their collective muscle since the election of Barack Obama as president. Most recently, a public service announcement campaign led by the Hollywood Adventist Church (don’t laugh; this is serious stuff) via New Name Pictures and entitled “I’m a Social Justice Christian” hit the Web, provoking the condemnation of those who, well, see social justice Christianity for what it is.

Why do I bring this up now – other than because social justice groups have been flexing that muscle lately? Because the methodology in play is precisely how the left corrupted the black community – through their pastors and their churches. In the 1960s, the church was still the bulwark of the black community. Marxists subverted black pastors, then interwove their (social justice) dogma into the Gospel.

It is the same creed that destroyed black families and the character of black Americans; now, the political left is mobilizing deluded Christians in the general population to do their malevolent bidding. President Obama’s “organizers” capitalized on the raw sensitivities of a largely white middle-class subgroup that has been browbeaten with charges of racism for years.

According to SJ Christians, in addition to oppressing minorities (though it remains a mystery as to precisely how), we are destroying the planet; these issues must be addressed decisively and with all due speed – by the federal government. First, it was necessary to advance the notion that the Earth’s atmosphere was going to flash off into space imminently, hence the climate-change fearmongering.

In addition to the discredited (and therefore dubious) evidence supporting climate-change theory, adherents to “environmental justice” wholly ignore the fact that we have managed to engineer automobiles that are exponentially more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly than those produced in the 1970s, when the last environmental panic occurred. American industry has done likewise across the board, and environmental consciousness and our sense of stewardship of the Earth is at record levels across the political spectrum in America.

As with health-care reform, and automobile company and financial industry bailouts, many are aware that social and environmental “justice” issues are not about justice at all; they are calculated to deliver unprecedented levels of power to the federal government. I find it hard to believe that Obama’s former “green jobs” czar Van Jones gives a rip about the planet as he delivers adrenaline-saturated diatribes on how we’ve rammed it to Native Americans, screaming, Give them the wealth! Give them the wealth! Nor was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concerned with immigrants when she told a group of Catholic priests that they should be preaching immigration reform from the pulpit.

In the case of black Americans, many fell prey to Black Liberation Theology, the communistic doctrine championed by President Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. This appealed to the frustration and anger perpetuated by those such as Wright and secular black activists. Other pastors were courted with fortune and glory (such as Rev. Jesse Jackson), as well as a seat at the progressives’ “round table.” These clergymen simply crafted their message into a political one and ran blacks’ faith into a theological cesspool. Black Americans have been pawns of the left ever since; to this day, most don’t even know it.

I declare that “social justice Christianity” is apostasy; its adherents have abandoned their faith for a cause, and their religion has become perfunctory and pretextual. While some are misguided Christians, others (like Jim Wallis) are out-and-out Marxist posers.

Proverbially, they now stand with the Sadducees and Rome, against Israel. While I pray that God will have mercy on their souls, we must show them no mercy politically. They are but another well-organized group of traitors to this nation.


Erik Rush is a columnist and author of sociopolitical fare. His latest book is “Negrophilia: From Slave Block to Pedestal – America’s Racial Obsession.” In 2007, he was the first to give national attention to the story of Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to militant Chicago preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright, initiating a media feeding frenzy. Erik has appeared on Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes,” CNN, and is a veteran of numerous radio appearances.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2010/05/155917/#CDlrZkRAibfCKaGg.99


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Christian Ethics and Communism

The Christian Ethics Behind the Pilgrims’ Rejection of Communism

By Shawn Ritenour

Historically, Thanksgiving has been a feast day during which Americans are called upon to thank the Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us. Richard J. Maybury and Gary Galles both explain the economic lessons to glean from the experience of the Pilgrims and both note that the primary reason for God’s blessing them with relative prosperity after years of famine and hunger was a shift away from socialism and toward private property. In their essays, both authors draw upon William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation to get the story straight from the source.

One misconception that is still with us is that the Pilgrims adopted socialism out of religious conviction, as if Christian ethics requires a Platonic communist utopia. Galles notes that this is a misconception, but it is beyond the scope of his essay to provide the full historical back drop to that initial fateful economic design.

In fact, as Bradford makes clear, the Pilgrims did not desire to establish Christian communism. The Pilgrims’ original communal property arrangements were foisted upon them by their colonial sponsors. The sponsors did this after they learned that they would not be granted a monopoly of fishing rights in Cape Cod. The sponsors’ original agreement with the Pilgrims was such that the Pilgrims were to work for four days for the sponsoring company and then would have two days to work for themselves. The sponsors later changed their deal and told the Pilgrims that they would have to work all six days of the work week for the sponsors. At the end of seven years, the Pilgrims would be granted title to the property they worked. The Pilgrims were not happy with the change, several of them recognizing that the new arrangement would make them virtual slaves of the sponsors, but they went along with the deal because many had already made large investments toward the move and they were convinced that emigrating to the New World is what God wanted them to do.

Bradford’s establishing private property was not a repudiation of any belief they had that Christian charity requires communism. They had no intention of implementing such a system. The Pilgrims’ move to private property was, in fact, a move to a properly Christian ethic as it regards property.

Historically, the majority report from Christians embraces private property as required by Christian ethics. The morality of private property was recognized by many of the patriarchs in the early church and the broader Scholastic tradition. Alas, what is not always recognized by contemporary evangelical Christians is that key thinkers in the Protestant tradition also argued for the legitimacy of private property.

One such figure was Francis Wayland, a Baptist minister and educator who was the president of Brown University for 28 years. An excellent introduction to Wayland and his social thought has been written by Laurence Vance, director of the Francis Wayland Institute. Wayland explained the Christian ethic of property in his treatise on ethics, The Elements of Moral Science. In his chapter on personal liberty, Wayland explains that everyone possesses a physical body, mental understanding, and will. He then argues that if a person uses them “in such manner as not to interfere with the use of the same powers which God has bestowed upon his neighbor, he is, as it respects his neighbor. . . to be held guiltless. So long has he uses them within this limit, he has a right, so far as his fellow-men are concerned, to use them, in the most unlimited sense, suo arbitrio, at his own discretion.”

Such a view of property has clear implications for economic policy. Wayland counseled against usury laws, government trade restrictions, government funded internal improvements, and government intervention in the banking industry. He also opposed confiscatory taxation, government granted monopolies, and government regulation of money. He did so because he believed that interventionist economic policy is not only economically destructive, it also violates Christian ethics.

Bradford’s and the Pilgrims’ move away from socialism and toward private property was not, therefore, a repudiation of their vision of the Christian ideal. It was a move toward obedience to their maker. Bradford interpreted the material plenty they enjoyed as they forsook their original socialist economic arrangement as a blessing from God for adopting a system more in agreement with Christian ethics.


Shawn Ritenour, a former Mises Fellow, teaches economics at Grove City College and is the author of Foundations of Economics: A Christian View.

 Article from Mises.org: https://mises.org/wire/christian-ethics-behind-pilgrims-rejection-communism


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A Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles

A Christian Civil Order:

Religion, Republicanism, and the American Founding

By Dr. Roger Schultz

Rev. Ethan Allen once stopped Thomas Jefferson while the president was on his way to church. Allen, who considered Jefferson an infidel and was surprised at his attendance at worship, asked why Jefferson bothered to go. He was probably even more surprised by the president’s response. Jefferson said, “No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as Chief Magistrate am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”1

Please note that Jefferson does not address his acceptance of evangelical or doctrinal truths of the Christian faith. He was, most likely, primarily concerned with the social and civic utility of religion. (And often accused of infidelity, Jefferson may have been keenly interested in the political utility of church-going.) The historical record, in any event, is clear. Jefferson did attend church services regularly while in Washington, even though worship services were conducted in government buildings. In fact, two days after the issuing of the Danbury Baptist letter, in which he used the “wall of separation” metaphor, Jefferson attended worship services in the U.S. House.2 Jefferson gave money to support churches and cast the public impression of being a faithful and religious chief magistrate, as he did verbally with Rev. Allen.

Today, the received wisdom is that America’s founders were indebted to secular and Enlightenment thinkers and little interested in or influenced by religion or Biblical Christianity. Many historians discount the role of Christianity. An influential contemporary historian, for instance, argues that the Great Awakening never occurred: it was the “interpretative fiction” of nineteenth-century evangelical historians. Others contend that the construction and ratification of a “godless constitution” is further proof of America’s secularist orientation. This is a common understanding of the American past for humanists in academia.

New scholarship, however, underscores the obvious: that Christianity was a vital force in the founding period. A decade ago, James Hutson argued for the importance of religion in America in an outstanding work, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.3 Hutson’s latest book, Church and State in America: The First Two Centuries, continues the story, giving a historical framework for the civil role of religion in America.4 Hutson shows that Americans in the founding generation had shared assumptions about religion: that religion was absolutely necessary for morality and a virtuous republic, that public expressions of religious sentiment were valuable and to be encouraged, that religious freedom was important, that Christian convictions were broadly (often deeply) held, and that the general (or national) government was not to establish or meddle with religion in the states. This article examines a few of these fundamental convictions and practices.

Christianity and the Republic

First, the founders believed that religion, specifically Christianity, was vitally important for the success of the republic and that religion ought to be supported and encouraged. Political leaders repeatedly endorsed principles of Christianity in formal addresses. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress appointed fasts and thanksgiving days, and many of the proclamations were steeped in evangelical language, Biblical imagery, and the familiar refrains of covenant theology. In 1776, for example, Congress urged citizens to pray “through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ to obtain his pardon and forgiveness.” In 1777, Congress urged Americans to confess their sins “that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance.”5

State leaders likewise encouraged passionate prayers and faithful religious observances. Perhaps most remarkable was the Thanksgiving and Prayer Proclamation of Virginia by Governor Thomas Jefferson. In November 1779, Governor Jefferson urged Virginians “to humbly approach the throne of Almighty God, with gratitude and praise,… (and above all) that he hath diffused the glorious light of the gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of his eternal glory.” Jefferson went on to ask for prayer that God “would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; that he would grant to his church, the plentiful effusions of divine grace, and pour out his holy spirit on all Ministers of the gospel; and spread the light of Christian knowledge though the remotest corners of the earth.” Jefferson’s concluding appeal is that God “would in mercy look down upon us, pardon all our sins, and receive us into his favor; and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue.”6 I wish that Governor Jefferson’s passionate prayer—that the United States would be established on the basis of religion and virtue—was the prayer of every civil magistrate!7

States, furthermore, offered formal support for Christianity and churches. Many states maintained ecclesiastical establishments in the Revolutionary era; state-supported churches didn’t wither away until the 1830s. State constitutions included statements about God, the Bible (acknowledging its inspiration and authority), and an afterlife of reward or punishment. A belief in heaven and hell, it was thought, would help guarantee a virtuous citizenry and sustain a republic.8

Many states had religious tests for officeholders or voters. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, for instance, had required that each member, before being seated, “shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.”9

My favorite example of church-state developments is the State of Franklin—a would-be state that sprang up on the east Tennessee frontier in the 1780s but faded away when it wasn’t recognized by Congress. The State of Franklin drafted a constitution (largely borrowed from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina) and principles of rights, and is an excellent example of bootstraps frontier republicanism in an area dominated by Scots-Irish Presbyterians.

The 1784 constitution imposes a religious test oath: “That no person shall deny the being of a God or the truth of the Protestant religion or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testament, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom or safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit within the civil government within this State.” The constitution also guarantees religious freedom: “There shall be no establishment of any religious church or denomination in this State…, neither shall any person on any pretense whatsoever be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his own faith or sense of judgment or be obliged to pay for any [church] or minister contrary to what he believes to be right…, but all persons shall be at liberty to exercise their own mode of worship.” The Declaration of Rights attached to the constitution further affirms the importance of civic virtue: “That a people have a right by their representatives to enact laws to encourage virtue and suppress vice and immorality.”10 These were common features among the states immediately following independence: generic (Protestant) Christianity, religious freedom, and the importance of virtue.

Religion and Government

Christian statesmen and theologians had long believed that the civil magistrate had a duty to support and encourage the true faith. Political theorists and commentators pointed to the words of Isaiah 49:23: “[K]ings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt  know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (KJV). As a passage about the Messiah, commentators agreed, it was perfectly applicable to civil rulers during the gospel age. There was broad agreement in England and the colonies that kings and civil magistrates had a duty to God as nursing fathers to protect religion and the church.11

The “nursing father” metaphor was common in the colonies and lingered into the nineteenth century in America. In 1783, for instance, citizens in Amherst County, Virginia, urged their representatives not to ignore the “Important Business” of supporting religion or “think it beneath your Dignity to become Nursing Fathers of the Church.”12

State and national governments did much to encourage the “Important Business” of religion. In 1782, Congress sanctioned the publication of Holy Scripture to guarantee that Americans would have access to the Word of God and its wholesome influence. Congress even urged missionary activity in the trans-Appalachian west, calling for a fast in 1782 to see that “the religion of our Divine Redeemer … cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.”13 In 1785, as part of provisions for western expansion and later incorporated into the Northwest Ordinance (of 1787), Congress set aside 3 percent of all western lands for the support of schools and religion. The language of that congressional measure is striking: “[R]eligion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

The founders repeatedly stated that religion, morality, and republican virtue were intertwined and vitally important for the new nation. In 1779, Lunenburg County, Virginia, urged the General Assembly to promote Christianity, as religion was the best means of promoting virtue, peace, and prosperity. The preface to the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution states that the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depends upon morality, religion, and piety. The good people of Surry County, Virginia, put it this way: religion is “the great cement of civil society … essential to the prosperity of civil society.”14

Washington’s famous Farewell Address in 1796 simply echoes what Americans had been saying all along. As Washington put it, religion and morality were “indispensable supports” of political prosperity and the “firmest props” of the duties of men and citizens.

“[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion,” he warned, as “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”15

Religion and Liberty

In addition to stressing the civic value of religion, Americans also emphasized religious freedom. Many American colonists were dissenters, or religious refugees, or the descendants of religious refugees. Americans resisted England in the 1770s, they argued, to defend their religious liberties as well as their political and economic freedoms.16

John Adams, in his “Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law” (1765), argued that the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers were the great champions of liberty, who opposed a coalition of ecclesiastical tyranny (canon law) and civil tyranny (feudal law). This conjoined despotism was best illustrated by the Inquisition (church tyranny) and the Bastille (statist tyranny). For Adams, the spiritual descendants of the Reformers were the seventeenth-century Puritans who migrated to America to escape Stuart political and religious tyranny in the 1630s. The spiritual heirs of these freedom-loving Puritans, in Adams’ view, were the American Patriots of the 1760s who resisted the same coalition of tyranny.
Most of the colonies had some form of religious freedom by the time of the Revolution. Even where there was a formal religious establishment, freedom of religion was officially recognized or tacitly practiced. The most curious and atypical case is also the most famous: Virginia.17 Virginia dissenters, mostly Baptists and Presbyterians, maintained a vigorous struggle for religious liberty. Jefferson and Madison made common cause with these evangelical dissenters, leading to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.

The political story of Virginia disestablishment, however, is interesting and illustrates the broad spectrum (and complicated coalitions) of Christian reform. One side (Anglicans) supported a continuation of the established (Anglican) church. The second party (the Moderates), led by Patrick Henry, wanted a generic establishment, with the state providing support for various teachers of religion. This general assessment plan (or voucher system) would allow continued state encouragement of religion. The third party, led by Jefferson and Madison and supported by other evangelical dissenters, favored the outright disestablishment of the Anglican state church.

Madison and Jefferson secured an ultimate victory through some savvy politicking. Historian Daniel Dreisbach describes it this way: “Alarmed at the growing support for Henry’s (general) assessment campaign and the perceived threat to religious liberty, Jefferson uncharitably suggested to Madison: ‘what we have to do I think is devoutly to pray for his [Henry’s] death.’ Madison, however, had a less final solution: remove Henry from the legislature by having him elected Governor.” With the leading advocate of assessment kicked upstairs, the forces of disestablishment in the legislature won the day.18

All three Virginia groups, however, were interested in the continuing religious and moral influence upon society. When he first proposed ecclesiastical disestablishment in 1779, for instance, Madison simultaneously introduced legislation for punishing Sabbath breakers and a bill for sanctioning fast and thanksgiving days in Virginia. Most states combined commitments to religious liberty with concerns about public virtue and support for religion.19 Commitment to disestablishing the Anglican Church was not synonymous with an interest in secularizing society.

Confessional standards were also adjusted to reflect the new freer order. Many communions embraced the Westminster Confession or some variation, although there were concerns about its potentially Erastian character—with the threat of the civil magistrate controlling the church.20 (The original Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, in 23:3, affirmed that the magistrate had a duty to preserve order, unity, and peace in the church, to protect the purity of the truth of God, and to suppress all blasphemies and heresies.)

When the American Presbyterian Church revised the Confession in 1788, the civil magistrate was still called a “nursing father” with a duty to protect the church of our common Lord, but “without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.” All in all, Americans wanted religious liberty so that evangelicals would no longer face persecution from state establishments.

Church and State

Finally, Americans insisted that national or general government was not permitted to establish a national church or encroach on religious freedom. Americans had been highly suspicious of British attempts to control religion in the 1760s. Likewise, Americans in the 1780s wanted no Caesar or papist or Erastian control of religion from Philadelphia (or Washington).

This explains why there is so little about religion in the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution treated religion precisely as the Articles of Confederation had done. It didn’t meddle with it, as religion was considered an affair of the states. The language of the First Amendment explicitly limits what Congress and the general government might do. The founders were concerned about protecting the states and state prerogatives against federal intrusion, and they had no interest in stirring up religious and sectarian strife on a national scale.

National leaders could promote religion in a general way, and they did so with Bible publication, missionary encouragement, and even funding a church for the Kaskaskia Indians (during Jefferson’s presidency). Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation is a good example of the role of religion for the first president. The proclamation gives thanks to God “for His signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence” as well as encouraging prayer to Him “to pardon our national and other transgressions.” As President John Adams faced a possible war with France in 1798, he urged Americans to confess their sins and pray that God, “of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us, by His Holy Spirit, to sincere repentance and reformation.”21

With Jefferson’s presidency, there was a change in the posture of the chief magistrate. He no longer issued presidential thanksgiving proclamations. While this has been attributed to his infidelity and growing hostility to religion, Jefferson as president did visibly encourage religion. A better explanation for Jefferson’s conduct as president is found in his constitutional convictions. As head of the executive branch, Jefferson did not believe that he could officially promote a church or prescribe religious practices. Indeed, he felt constrained by the Constitution, and specifically the First and Tenth Amendments.

Daniel Dreisbach and others have argued that this is a consistent expression of Jefferson’s “federalism” or “constitutional republicanism.” In the draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, for instance, Jefferson affirmed that power over religion is reserved for the states or the people, since under the Constitution this power was not granted to the United States.22 In his second inaugural address of 1805, Jefferson stated: “In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.”23

In his 1808 letter to Rev. Samuel Miller, a famous Presbyterian theologian, Jefferson explained why he did not authorize a day of fasting or prayer. He emphasized limitations on the general government, while stressing the powers of the several states: “I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.” (The last sentence, particularly the last clause, gives a hint of Jefferson’s scruples and real convictions.) In short, whatever Jefferson’s personal preferences may have been, he felt that ecclesiastical matters could only be within the jurisdiction of the states—and not the federal government. At the same time, he believed that religion and individual religious commitment was important for the success of the state.

A Need for Blessing

At the Constitutional Convention, an aging Ben Franklin said: “[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of the Truth—that God governs in the affairs of Men … We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe, that, without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel.” Though Franklin was not an orthodox Christian, he understood the need for divine blessing for national success.

In 1954 Chief Justice Earl Warren put it this way: “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Saviour have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses … Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia … or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay … or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut … the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles.” Warren continued: “I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their express belief in it … I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.”24 Though Warren was a liberal and activist jurist, he could read the basic documents of American history and see their Christian character.

We need the blessing and aid of the Lord now more than ever. During the War for Independence, Congress repeatedly sought prayers for the reformation of religion in America and for God’s support. We could start by praying what Thomas Jefferson recommended for Virginians in 1779: that God would “pour out his holy spirit on all Ministers of the gospel; and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth…; would in mercy look down upon us, pardon all our sins, and receive us into his favor; and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue.”25


  1. James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1998), 96.
    2. Ibid., 93.
    3. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.
    4. James Hutson, Church and State in America: The First Two Centuries (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    5. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, 54.
    6. Quoted in Daniel Dreisbach, Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 138.
    7. A question can be raised if Jefferson really believed what he said in the proclamation. It is possible that he knew the convictions of Virginians and simply clothed the proclamation in religious language since that is what his constituents wanted and expected.
    8. Hutson, Church and State in America, 56.
    9. The RJ&L Religious Liberty Archive, Historical Materials, http://churchstatelaw.com/historicalmaterials/index.asp. Some of these religious tests were diluted in the Revolutionary era; the previous Pennsylvania test was even more explicitly Christian: “[T]hat all Persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this Government in any Capacity, both legislatively and executively.”
    10. Samuel Cole Williams, History of the Lost State of Franklin (Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1933), 341, 345.
    11. Hutson, Church and State in America, 57.
    12. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, 61.
    13. Ibid., 57.
    14. Ibid., 61, 64–65.
    15. “Washington’s Farewell Address 1796,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp.
    16. A good example is the Fincastle Resolutions (January 20, 1775), a patriotic resistance document from Virginia’s southwest frontier.
    17. Hutson argues that Virginia was unique—“an ecclesiastical dinosaur.” One should not make generalizations based upon the colony that was the greatest exception to the American colonial pattern. Hutson, Church and State in America, 75ff.
    18. Daniel Dreisbach, “Church-State Debate in the Virginia Legislature,” Religion and Political Culture in Jefferson’s Virginia, eds. Dreisbach and Sheldon (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 150.
    19. An historical example is Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, for instance, guaranteed a general religious freedom: “That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge One almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World; and profess him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their conscientious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion.”
    20. The concerns were expressed when the General Assembly of Scotland adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1647, and resurfaced during the American Presbyterian adoption debates in the 1720s.
    21. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, 80, 82.
    22. “Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions – October 1798,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/jeffken.asp.
    23. “Thomas Jefferson Second Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau2.asp.
    24. http://www.time.com/time/magaz…
    25. Dreisbach, Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation, 138.

Dr. Roger Schultz is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Liberty University.  He previously served as Chair of the History Department at Liberty and has taught at Virginia Intermont College, the University of Arkansas, and Oak Hills Christian College. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  He holds degrees from Bemidji State University (B.A.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A.), and the University of Arkansas (Ph.D.)

His specialty is American religious history.  His essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications and have been translated into Hungarian and Spanish.  Dr. Schultz frequently preaches in local churches and speaks at academic and Christian conferences.

Article from chalcedon.edu


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Churches Should be Teaching Entrepreneurship

Where’s the Biblical Teaching about Entrepreneurship?

By Kevin Cullis


Has the church lost or abdicated our economic and business roots? Our founding fathers had a classical education. They were expected to know Latin and Greek as a requirement before they went to college.

Jefferson used so many Greek quotes in his letters to Adams (who liked Latin better than Greek) that, on one occasion, Adams complained to him about it. … Students were also expected in these early years, according to the Harvard College Laws, to be able to translate the Old and New Testaments from the original Greek and Hebrew into Latin.”[1]

Such was their educational foundation, steeped in the Bible and its principles.

Ethics and Economics: Classical Business Foundations

Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations (1776), the study of economics, but this was his second book. Nearly everyone I ask fails to mention his first book, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), the ethics and the foundation of economics. Without ethics, i.e. trust and faith between two sides of a transaction, business becomes hard to transact. Loss of trust means loss of business.

Economics used to be a field of study that belonged with religion and theology.

When…great universities moved the study of economics from their religious departments to their science departments, they were actually driving a wedge between the profoundly uplifting activity of business and the moral arguments and spiritual dimensions that underpin the validity of economics.”[2]

After our Revolutionary War, the U.S. economy began it’s recovery and once again became a “startup” national economy. But with the help of the 1824 Supreme Court decision Gibbons v. Ogden, it broke up various state awarded business “monopolies” and broke their state-enabled monopolistic habits. The decision accelerated our entrepreneurial growth in America.

Then, as the pace and size of the U.S. economy grew, industrialization came into being by the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. The captains of industry during the Gilded Age, Cornelius Vanderbilt (shipping and transportation), John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil), Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel), and J. Pierpont Morgan (banking) started businesses. As their wealth grew, they had to create and invent new business systems and processes to handle their largess and growth.

But typical of the pace of the marketplace change, educational institutions are nearly always playing catch up with any market changes, identifying “theories” and content from observing the marketplace. These and other businessmen grew their companies based on the foundations of ethics and economics: but not for long, and not all of them.

Educational and ecumenical institutions follow marketplace mindsets

In the late 19th century, colleges responded to these marketplace changes and offered some of the first business schools with courses in accounting, business strategy, economics, finance, manufacturing and production. In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania. Within a few years the Haas School of Business at the University of California in Berkeley was founded and provided west coast students with the same opportunities. The first school to offer a graduate level MBA program was Harvard University in Cambridge, MA in 1908. But an MBA is a Masters in Business Administration, administering business, which is not the same as entrepreneurship.

While colleges will teach you the craft of your business (law, medicine, writing, computers, etc.), they rarely teach you the business of your craft (marketing, sales, taxes, etc.) with your degree. Most college grads agree with this statement. For example, today a doctor will have six to eight years of medical school, but get a mere eight to twelve hours about business. But even fewer grads and higher education institutions understand what entrepreneurship truly is, let alone being an entrepreneur following biblical principles. But this glacial mindset is changing.

“In God we trust. All others must bring data,” says W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Our problem: Educational institutions collect data, that’s good. But it’s incomplete, fails to provide context, and it is historical, i.e. it’s a lagging indicator. Data tells us where we’ve been, it does not say where we’re going. Data is like looking in the rearview mirror, not the windshield. This means that, in most cases, collecting, sharing, and interpreting the data only gives us a snapshot in time. It tells us of our position, not what direction we’re going or heading, nor what is our speed.

State of Entrepreneurship: Educational institutions

There is a marked difference between the subjects of economics, business and corporations, and especially entrepreneurship. Academic achievement has replaced business performance or, worse yet, fails to solve marketplace problems.

“Instead of measuring themselves in terms of the competence of their graduates, or by how well their faculties understand important drivers of business performance, they measure themselves almost solely by the rigor of their scientific research.”[3]

One of my all time favorite films is Teacher’s Pet with Doris Day and Clark Gable. It’s the story of college professor Day teaching journalism and New York city newspaper “hard charging” editor Gable in the newspaper business of “living or dying selling ads” to stay in business. But even as my sister has been a teacher for over 30 years, this “Blueberry Story: The teacher gives the businessman a lesson” illustrates how disconnected education and the marketplace can be between each other. While businesses can “hire the best” and can turn back any bad blueberries to produce their award-winning blueberry ice cream, K12 schools “can never send back our blueberries. We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.” If the movie Teacher’s Pet highlights this disconnect in 1957 when it came out, it seems like neither side has learned much from the other since then. These issues still remain.

(READ: Financial Literacy For Entrepreneurs)

As a fan of serial entrepreneur and fellow veteran Steve Blank, he outlines problems with educational institutions, “By design, universities are laggards. They don’t want to adopt fads, and so there is a real tension between missing a trend and adopting a fad.”[4] Educational institutions are normally between five to ten years behind what the market is doing while governments can be even further behind.

Now agreeably, educational R&D (Research & Development) happens in the over 4,000 various higher educational organizations in our nation, but the hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial chefs can create a new recipe on the fly in their restaurant, not in a school. Tens of thousands of writers can create a new novel on their computer, not in schools. Thousands of plumbers create a new idea for a product or service in their shop, not in schools.

So every entrepreneur in the marketplace creates new ideas in their own garage laboratory, not schools. Churches could be the next start up incubators, accelerators, and co-working spots teaching ethics for the marketplace to its members and others.

State of Entrepreneurship: Marketplace Mindsets for Ministries

The marketplace never sleeps and educational institutions and churches are laggards behind the market.

So what’s the spark that should light every person, including an entrepreneur’s, fuse? It starts with, “I want to change or improve my world!” For the Christian, it’s their “calling,” using their God-given talents, skills, and experiences for Him. That’s the first step.

The second step becomes clear for themselves, “I want to change your world,” or the customer’s, “Your product could change my world!” it’s to enhance everyone’s life.

And lastly, for the bigger dreamers, “I want to change the world!” As a percentage, far fewer people will ever get to this last step, but everyone starts at the first step, with their innate drive. All of us have it, even if those that “did have it” had it driven or beaten out of us or has been buried beneath negative attitudes or environments. But once this spark, their calling is lit, it guides them along their life’s path.

For a Christian entrepreneur, there are basically two views of serving others: through a non-profit or a for-profit organization. According to National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are over 1.5 million tax exempt organizations in the US with over 313,000 congregations. But non-profits seek donations and sponsorships from the profits of businesses: they help the poor with help from the rich.

(Read: The Forgotten, Entrepreneurial, Man)

John D. Rockefeller “agonized over the judicious application of his money and found it harder to exercise scrutiny over charities than over business.”[5] He and other industrialists worried that charity fostered dependence and pauperized recipients. You can look no further than the documentary, Poverty, Inc., to validate this issue and the need to have a mindset switch from charity to entrepreneurship. Rockefeller often said, “I believe it is a religious duty to get all the money you can, fairly and honestly; to keep all you can: and to give away all you can.”[6]

But based on Jewish thinking regarding charity, I’d change his last phrase to read, “I’d use my money to invest and start many more new successful businesses.” Too often when churches discuss helping others, i.e. the poor, they ask the rich to help the poor out. The Forgotten Man, i.e. the middle class, is forgotten. But the church needs to understand that everyone in the church needs help, whether one is homeless, helpless, middle class, or rich. ALL have problems which require help: no church member is exempt from problems that require help. Especially entrepreneurs.

Depending on who you ask, there are between 18 million (DMDatabases.com) and 27 million businesses in the US.[7] Of significance are the demographics of the number of companies by number of employees.

Most people in business may be aware of this number spread, companies of 10,000+ employees to solo-preneurs, but many new entrepreneurs may not. Seeing these numbers made me have a significant pivot a third and last time with my target audience of my first book, How to Start a Business: Mac Version. However, the percentage of new entrepreneurs by age shows that age is not a significant determinant for startups,[8] despite what the youth-orientated media reports.

It also says that a church is probably no different: more church members are solo-preneurs than Fortune 500 CEOs. But imagine 10 percent of a church becoming new startup entrepreneurs.

Church: A Community of Commerce

How much of a difference is there between the state of entrepreneurship mindsets, skill sets, and assets between starting a non-profit versus a business? Both require a core startup entrepreneur competency: Serving customers with a product or service. However, are you fully aware how much paperwork and investments of time is needed not only to start, but to sustain a non-profit? Both require an adherence to ethics from the Bible. So, forgo the constant fundraising and government paperwork nightmares and headaches and become an entrepreneur and start a business instead.

A large church I have attended has a coffee shop that’s only open on Sundays. Most churches have space available that mostly goes unused Monday through Saturday. Why not start a fish tank startups, putting church assets to good use? For example, a church kitchen could be used by an up-and-coming chef to try out their menu at a church event as well as hire teenagers who need work experience serving event customers. A church coffee shop could become a co-working spot with some rooms for conferences and use white boards for creating new businesses. Better yet, create a Round Table of Christian entrepreneurs in church.

Having lit this fuse to entrepreneurship, this won’t stop. Churches can once again train Christian entrepreneurs to be the ethical light in the secular darkness of the marketplace.

“I have often been asked—What is the best age for producing?…I know only one answer, the age you are now.”

— Milton S. Hershey[9]

So, are you and your church going to start an initiative of creating a Christian fish-tank startup, contrasted with the secular shark-tank, to create a community of compassionate commerce?


[1] Read The Classical Education of the Founding Fathers at memoriapress.com

[2] Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Lapin, pg 163

[3] See How Business Schools Lost Their Way at Harvard Business Review

[4] See Why Business Schools Are Still Missing The Mark On Entrepreneurship at poetsandquants.com

[5] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow, pg 237

[6] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow, pg 191

[7] See  SBA Office of Advocacy  or Survey of Business Owners (SBO) by census.gov

[8] 2016 The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity Nation Trends at kauffman.org/kauffman-index

[9] Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams by Michael D’Antonio, pg 236.

Article from Townhall.com  https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/kevincullis/2018/04/19/wheres-the-biblical-teaching-about-entrepreneurship-n2472548


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Pope Francis Shows-Off His Fallibility Factor

The Many Ways the Pope Is Wrong About Capitalism

By David Gordon

It is hardly a secret that Pope Francis opposes the free market. On what grounds does he do so? Do any of these grounds have merit? What are the sources of his ideas? How similar are his views to those of previous Popes? These are among the questions addressed by the contributors to an important new book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Professor Robert M. Whaples.

The Pope maintains that the free market encourages the false ideology of “consumerism.” People under capitalism want more material goods, but their pursuit ends not in happiness but in futility. Whaples, Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University, points out that in “[his encyclical] Laudatio si’, Francis argues that this excessive, self-destructive consumption on the part of the rich is partly the fault of markets. ‘[T]he market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, [and] people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. . . This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume.’ The market caters to people’s emptiness. ‘When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own, and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.’” (pp. 10-11)

The Pope has missed the target. The free market is a means by which consumers can satisfy their preferences. It does not dictate what these preferences must be. An advocate of the free market can with complete consistency favor a simple style of life. If people want more and more material goods, the market will supply these; but “consumerism” and capitalism are very different things.

Consumerism, the Pope alleges, merits condemnation not only because it leads people astray about the nature of the good life. It also makes people treat with indifference the plight of the poor. In arguing in this fashion, the Pope turns a blind eye to a fundamental point. The rise and development of capitalism has resulted in a massive decrease in global poverty. As Lawrence J. McQuillan and Hayeon Carol Park aptly note, “Wealth must first be created before it can be given to others. Capitalism is the greatest wealth creator the world has ever seen, lifting billions of people out of abject poverty. The pope’s anti-market fervor stands at some distance from the facts.” (p.95)

Whaples reinforces this point. “According to economists. . .the numbers simply don’t support this [anti-capitalist] position. Branko Milanovic has traced out the worldwide income distribution in recent decades as people in countries around the world have used markets to expand trading and as technology—largely developed by the world’s profit-driven firms— has spread to poorer countries. His numbers are stunning and show that the whole world is getting richer.” (p.25)

Opponents of capitalism might respond in this way. Even if it is true that capitalism has helped the poor, this fails to prove that capitalists are beneficent. The benefits to the poor arise from the superior productivity of capitalism. The entrepreneurs who drive the system aim for as much profit as possible. Self-interest, not good feelings for the needy, motivates them.

This argument is vulnerable at two points. First, even if self-interest motivates capitalists, so what? Would not the poor care much more about their better lives than the purity of the capitalists’ motives? (By the way, why is it taken for granted that self-interest is “bad”?)

In his failure to take adequate account of this point, Pope Francis ignores a line of thought stressed by the seventeenth-century Jansenists. As A. M. C. Waterman explains: “The market economy. . .is a powerful instrument for bringing ‘personal interest’ and ‘the interest of society as a whole’ into ‘fruitful harmony.’ Jansenists of the late seventeenth century were the first to see this confluence clearly, and their insight was fully developed in the classical political economy of the English School. Jansenist theology was deeply Augustinian. . .The institutions of human society, such as the market economy, are conceived in sin and must always be imperfect. Yet under Divine Providence they may become a remedy for the ‘wound of original sin’ by recruiting self-interest to the common good.” (p.148)

The second point at which the response of the opponents of capitalism is vulnerable challenges more directly their main contention. It is false that capitalists are motivated entirely by self-interest. The opponents of the free market ignore charity. In fact, McQuillan and Park note, “There is ample evidence that capitalism and its core institutions—private-property rights and economic freedom—are key drivers of private charitable giving. The link is important because private charity is the most effective form of charity for uplifting the poor, whereas government redistribution is inefficient, largely ineffective, and often counterproductive.” (p.111)

Pope Francis criticizes the free market for yet another alleged failure. It despoils the environment. Precisely the opposite is the case, as Robert Murphy reminds us in a characteristically excellent article. ”How can we ensure that unborn future generations have access to tin, copper, natural gas, and so on?. . .The short answer is that so long as there are secure property rights—a condition that rules out the government imposing a ‘windfall profits’ tax when resource prices rise—-then normal market operations, especially in advanced economies with sophisticated futures markets, provide an elegant solution to the problem.” (p.209)

Murphy answers alarmism about “climate change,” another feature of the Pope’s encyclical. Drastic restrictions on production are defended as “insurance” against an environmental catastrophe. Murphy responds: “Yet if the proper justification for aggressive climate change policies is insurance for unlikely events ‘just in case,’ then it should be clear that the public has been misled all this time. Nobody sells a homeowner fire insurance by saying, ‘We can see the ravages of the fire on your property as we speak!’” (p.218)

However well-meaning Pope Francis may be, he has failed to understand how a free economy works. Economics is a science, and to ignore economic law is futile. As Mises trenchantly observes, “it is futile to approach social facts with the attitude of a censor who approves or disapproves from the point of view of quite arbitrary standards and subjective judgments of value. One must study the laws of human action and social cooperation as the physicist studies the law of nature.” (Human Action, Scholar’s Edition, p.2)


David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, and editor of The Mises Review.

Article from Mises.org. See, https://mises.org/wire/many-ways-pope-wrong-about-capitalism



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