|Robert C. Winthrop (1809 - 1894), a descendant of John Winthrop, served as the 22nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. [Photo public domain, US Congress Biographical Directory. Oil on canvas by Daniel Huntington, 1882.]|
"In any society, only two forces can hold the sinful nature in check: the restraint of conscience or the restraint of the sword. The less that citizens have of the former, the more the state must employ the latter.”
This observation was made by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, in their 1999 bestseller, How Now Shall We Live.
In 1852, Robert Winthrop, 22nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, was more pointed: "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man, either by the Bible, or by the bayonet."
In the early days of our nation, "self-government under God” defined liberty among Christian leaders such as John Winthrop and Robert Winthrop. But the current American notion of "liberty" idolizes the self-government part, while the under God part is under the bus.
The greatest deterrent to human liberty is independence itself. Independence from the God of the Bible, that is. As we move further away from personal recognition of Higher Law, and accountability to The Higher Judge, the less liberty we all have. That's because the more citizens who lack internal control under God, the more calls there will be for external control─under man. And this is not a pleasant prospect. For who will govern our controllers? What will guide their minds and hearts? The Bible?
As external controls increase in number, no amount of legislation will solve the root problem. That's because our problem is internal. Yes, we need God-honoring legislation. But authentic, sustainable liberty within the halls of power, the public square, the marketplace, and the home, must be voluntarily carried into these places by individual players who are controlled by a power within them. We need politicians, plumbers and parents who willingly (and gladly) carry their respect for God and His authority within them wherever they go. This starts with a relationship.
Ken Eldred put it this way, in God Is At Work:
"Cultural change is not something that can be imposed at the macro level from the top...Person by person, hearts and minds must be transformed...In short, it is the Holy Spirit working a cultural transformation from the pattern of this world to the pattern of God. The process starts with...a personal relationship with God.”
A Moravian-Haugian marketplace begs a Weslian-Haugian awakening.