The British Enlightenment
How Puritans used Greek Reason to incorporate democracy and theology into government and Christianity. SOME OF THE TOPICS COVERED: *King Henry VIII. *The rise of Calvinism. *Queen Elizabeth I. *King James I. *Sir Edward Coke. *King James the teacher. *Review of Bible versions. *John Donne & "Ring around the rosy". *Ugly tactics used against King James. *King Charles I. *Oliver Cromwell. *The Oxford Decree. (15 Pages)
THE BRITISH ENLIGHTENMENT
Martin Luther initiated a rebellion when it seemed right in his own eyes. He was living proof that rebellion could succeed. But there were some loose ends. Because the Protestant Reformation was a fight over religious issues, each side believed God favored it. Therefore arguments by each side justifying or condemning rebellion were not considered necessary and were quickly rendered moot by the ensuing bloodshed. Although Luther had established a precedent, his rebellion was never justified during his lifetime and he lived as an outlaw.
Now we come to the political version of Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, whose rebellion against his authority would launch generations of religious and philosophical debate.
KING HENRY VIII
King Henry VIII (1491-1547) served at the pleasure of the pope, who bestowed upon him the title “Defender of the Faith” for having written a treatise condemning Martin Luther’s rebellion. (The monarchs of Britain have continued using the title to this day even though they are Protestant and the title means defender of the Catholic faith.) In spite of the dedication to his religion expressed in his treatise, when Henry wanted a divorce and the Vatican wouldn’t grant him one he forgot his treatise, divorced, was excommunicated, declared his independence from Catholic authority, and became both an independent monarch and head of the new Church of England (which remained Catholic in practice). He easily got away with his rebellion because the Vatican was busy with a very bloody Protestant Reform Movement.
Doctrinal and ideological arguments began in earnest and would last for three hundred years: Was the pope supreme or was the king? Was the king supreme or were his subjects? When God established a monarchy in Israel did that mean all monarchs – or at least Christian monarchs – ruled by divine right? Had God changed His mind about monarchy and now favored a democratic form of government? Was it blasphemy, mockery, and hypocrisy for a powerless figurehead of a king to be ruled by a parliament?
The Catholic “Church of England” quickly moved toward Protestant ideology for a very important reason – politics. Because Protestantism was born in rebellion and witchcraft, one of the fundamental doctrines of philosophy that it would never renounce was “just cause rebellion.” Therefore in Protestantism England had a Natural ally against the pope. And for that reason, in one of the ironies of history, Henry VIII caused the Roman Catholic Church, which sainted Aquinas and adopted his liberal doctrines, to become more conservative, just like liberal French Pope John XXII hypocritically assumed a conservative stance against German Emperor Louis IV. With Protestants rebelling against it on one side and Henry VIII rebelling on the other, the Vatican rejected the parts of Aquinas’ philosophy that justified rebellion as it desperately tried to hang onto the status quo. Three hundred years after making Aquinas a saint and requiring that philosophy be taught in school, the Vatican was reaping what it had sown: It could not stop Reason from growing and building upon itself. So Roman Catholicism futilely tried to do to Protestants what it had done to the Cathari. She banned books and burned heretics…but could only watch as the liberal and liberated Protestant denominations wholeheartedly embraced the Age of Reason, science, progress, revolution, and democracy, and built empires that would rule the world for almost three hundred years.
During the late Middle Ages in Europe progress in farming (more efficient plows and more horsepower via draft horses) freed some of those who labored on farms so they could go to town and become merchants of the abundance being produced. At first they were called “middle” men but this later became “middle” class because they were neither laborers nor aristocracy. The growing wealth and influence of the “middle” class caused Henry VIII to look for a way to gain their support. So he took land previously belonging to the Vatican and gave it to them so they could live like the “landed gentry.” Even though all landowners had previously been taxed, Henry exempted the new “middle” class because he was hoping to buy their “loyalty.” (This irresponsible fiscal policy would cause an economic crisis during the reign of his daughter, whose own mismanagement and lack of courage would mortally wound the authority of the monarchy by providing the Protestant Puritans with an excuse for beheading King Charles I.)
In an attempt to more cleanly break with the Vatican, Henry got rid of many symbols of Catholicism. Statues of people in the Bible were replaced with secular statues of government officials, war heroes, Greek philosophers, etc. Catholic holy days became secular “holidays” with non-Biblical themes. Many of the furnishings in the churches were removed. And society, with less religion in its life, became more secular.
I have treated King Henry VIII as the father of political rebellion, just as I treated Martin Luther as the father of religious rebellion. It can obviously be argued, however, that Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, the Greek philosophers, Adam at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and Lucifer, all took part in spreading the doctrines of equality/individualism and its offspring, rebellion. In other words, because history is often complex it can be risky to tie it up into a neat little package because somebody can always object by saying, “I disagree because I think Thomas Aquinas was at fault.” Others may say they think John Calvin deserves more of the blame than do Martin Luther and Henry VIII. Because they would have an excellent point, I’ll briefly attempt to put Calvin – and Calvinism – into perspective. I hope to help you understand that Luther and Henry VIII were, indeed, beginnings; but they were only beginnings. Calvin had more of a direct – or perhaps I should say, more of a hands on – effect on Western civilization than perhaps any other single human being. The reason he is not considered one of the main pillars of Western civilization is he is to Aquinas and Luther as Plato and Aristotle were to all of the other philosophers – he merely refined what he learned from them.
John Calvin (1509-1564) was a French Roman Catholic at a time when philosophy had Catholicism in a state of chaos. Catholicism had made philosophy “Christian”, only to find that Reason produced rebellious offspring like Luther, Henry VIII, German King Louis IV, and William of Ockham. So the Vatican, contrary to the liberal Reason it unleashed upon society, became more conservative. It (hypocritically) became a staunch advocate of submission to authority and Christian endurance of persecution.
As a young man, Catholic Calvin went to Paris to study law, but he fell in love with philosophy. In fact, his studies resulted in his publishing a book in 1532 dealing with the ideas of the Roman philosopher, Seneca, which revealed Calvin to be a philosopher and humanist in his own right with a clear understanding of ancient philosophy, literature, and history. His philosophical beliefs were to have a powerful impact on his later efforts as a “Reformed” Protestant, but their immediate effect was to put him in the company of other liberal Frenchmen – some Catholic and some Protestant – who shared ideological differences (based on philosophy) from the now-conservative Catholic Church and government of France. In about 1534, two short years after he published his book about Seneca, Calvin split with Rome, converted to Protestantism, and published a major treatise on Christianity that summarized Protestant doctrines. Protestants quickly accepted it as a dogmatic and authoritative manual of Christianity, and it was the single most influential theological treatise of the entire Reformation. Calvin’s explanations of Biblical doctrine (which were not all incorrect) became popular simply because Protestantism was so new no other references were available – and Christians certainly didn’t want to study the Bible itself!
Calvin was a man of intelligence, integrity, and courage. Those three attributes allowed him to understand philosophy’s foundation of equality (which Aquinas had made Christian), realize there were areas in Protestantism and in society that contradicted God’s Natural Laws, and decide to make changes to Christianity and to all of Western civilization. Calvin believed the flaws in the young Protestant denominations were impeding the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. One of the most ungodly aspects in Christianity, Calvin decided, was that bishops and elders had ruled the churches ever since the Apostles (1 Ti 5:17; He 13:7,17,24). He believed that directly violated God’s Natural Law of Equality that had been discovered by the pagan philosophers, and was convinced he needed to make all churches democratic. And, of course, Calvin for the same Reasons decided the dictatorships of kings like David and Solomon were evil and inequitable, and that the governments of all countries needed to be made democratic in order to conform to the self-evident will of God. That sounds like a larger task than it actually was: Remember, all of Christianity had already been leavened with philosophy for about 350 years, which is why Calvin had been required to learn philosophy. So all he needed to do was come up with a way to present the evidence to Christians that authoritarian civil and ecclesiastical governments were inequitable according to Reason. Because most Christians were ignorant of the Bible and therefore had no choice but to use their carnal minds to evaluate Calvin’s clear explanations of Greek philosophy, it was Natural that Calvin won large numbers of converts, which he considered to be proof God was blessing his efforts.
Calvin settled in the Protestant and democratic city-state, Geneva, and quickly organized it into a militant and highly-effective training ground for Christians from abroad who were, upon completion of their studies, sent back to their own countries to gain more converts. His “Reformed Protestantism” spread to France (Huguenots), Scotland (Presbyterians), England (Puritans), America (Pilgrims and Congregationalists), Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and many other countries. He even started a panel of arbiters that, as a supreme court, settled religious problems from other countries, and Geneva came to be called the Protestant Rome. His main teaching institution was the Geneva Academy. Another successful proselytizing tool was his Geneva Bible Version, which was published in 1560. It was a study Bible with many marginal notes explaining Scripture from an Enlightened viewpoint. Calvin’s plan was to establish a grassroots program of international evangelization that would Enlighten more and more Christians until they grew numerous enough to become effective political forces in their countries in the hope of eventually replacing monarchy with democracy. His proselytizing machine in Geneva was very efficient at making Reasonable men “experts” on Christianity without having – or needing – a complete understanding of the Bible.
Calvin’s plan was so successful that over the next two centuries wherever Calvin’s “Reformed Protestantism” was in the majority, such as America, Scotland, and Switzerland, democratic governments in both church and state were quickly forged. (The only Protestant denomination in the thirteen American colonies that was not immediately infected by “Reformed Protestantism” was the Church of England: All other Protestant denominations adopted the Calvinist doctrine of establishing democratic governments in both church and state.) And wherever denominations (Catholic, Lutheran, Church of England) that had not yet accepted Calvin’s philosophy were in the majority, such as in England, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, governments of church and state remained authoritative. To help make my point about Calvin’s impact on history I’ll use some quotes: American historian George Bancroft said, “[Calvinism] established a religion without a prelate, a gov’t without a king…he that will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.” Noted German historian von Ranke said, “John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.” And President John Adams said about a related subject, “Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised: Religious liberty owes it most respect.”
Make no mistake about it, the growing Hellenization of Western civilization that Aquinas legitimized would have eventually resulted in the rise of democratic institutions even without John Calvin. But in practice Aquinas merely allowed scholars to use Reason without a guilty conscience. Those scholars then taught John Calvin. And Calvin went beyond merely recognizing that society and religion had “ungodly” inequities in them; he actually implemented an effective grassroots system that would apply the doctrines of philosophy to society, governments, finance, churches, and schools all over the world. The brilliance of Calvin’s method was he didn’t just use military conquest to spread philosophy like Alexander had done, and he didn’t just use scholarly discussions to spread philosophy like Aquinas had done: Calvin tapped into the religious zeal of Christianity. He turned the spreading of philosophy into a Christian crusade and had Christians all over the world devoting their lives to his cause. More than anyone else, Calvin is the reason so many Christians over the centuries have believed it was part of their Christian duty to God to spread democracy, overthrow dictatorships, establish freedom of religion, separate church from state, separate church from economics, separate church from work, separate church from school, promote women’s suffrage, promote women’s liberation, send women out of the home into the workplace, and exalt morality until it displaced the Bible as the foundation of modern Christianity.
The Age of Reason eventually conquered all Christian denominations. In fact, “Reformed” Protestantism’s democracy would become so much a part of “Christianity” that if you look at anti-Catholic Protestant literature of the mid 1900s and earlier, you’ll find a frequently mentioned “proof” that Catholicism was unchristian was the Vatican’s support for monarchy and its opposition to democracy.
Calvin’s most important success was in Great Britain, where his followers established a democratic government patterned after that in ancient Athens – and then later used Reason to hatch capitalism. Britain would export these humanistic ideologies all over the world (most notably to the United States of America, which would quickly become the world’s leading propagator of pagan philosophy and democracy). Therefore, even though Henry VIII caused England to secede from the religious and political authority of Rome, it was Calvin – through Puritanism – who did more to revolutionize, to modernize, England than any other person. He modernized it by bringing it out of the medieval world of religious monarchs who presided over an agrarian-based economy, and by turning it into a secular democracy with an industrial economy.
I am not saying Calvin intended to hurt Christianity. He and his fellow Reformed Protestants wanted to make Christianity and society more Christian by implementing the ideals of the Enlightenment. In practice, however, they made Christianity more Pharisaical. By that I mean the principles behind Bible doctrines were lost amidst the Calvinistic flood of morality. Puritans wanted to help Christians become more disciplined and more holy with a lot of well-intentioned rules, but the very Liberty they believed was part of God’s Natural Law caused the church to gradually lose its ability to effectively punish its own wrongdoers. In that and in many other ways discipline slowly disappeared from Christianity, from the family, and from society. As a result, today in our churches it is not only permissible to be a leavened, slovenly, do-nothing Christian who is completely ignorant of the Bible, but those kinds of people are actually welcome because they make the church look larger and more “successful”, they are potential sources of revenue, and it is stupidly assumed by preachers that the several thousand sermons they preach during their lifetimes on a single topic – salvation – are going to somehow help slovenly apostates become doctrinally sound pillars of Christianity.
Again, neither Calvin nor Calvinism nor any Christian denomination was trying to do anything wrong. On the contrary, they were all trying to do what was right – in the eyes of man. They denounced humanism – not knowing they themselves were humanists whose religious zeal for Reason was instrumental in spreading humanism to all of Western civilization. Calvin detested the half-baked Christianity he saw in Roman Catholicism and in the Protestant churches; they only partially and selectively embraced Reason, and he believed that was as bad as partially and selectively embracing the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy word. He intended to “reform” Protestantism. For centuries after Calvin’s death, men continued finding inconsistencies between Reason and life, which they rectified by doing that which was right in their own eyes: Monarchs had no “human right” to rule over their subjects, so the people had to be set free by democracy; bishops had no human right to have the rule over their flocks, so church governments had to become democratic; democratic governments had no human right to control the economy, so capitalism would put the economy into the hands of the people; husbands had no human right to rule their wives, so Women’s Liberation would do what Calvin hadn’t yet thought of; governments had no human right to dictate religious beliefs, so freedom of religion would allow people to have no religious beliefs; governments had no human right to ban same-sex marriages, so… And today we continue to use Reason to “correct” – as we become aware of them – all of the inconsistencies that have resulted over the centuries from our lack of Biblical discernment.
Upon Calvin’s death in 1564, a fellow Frenchman, Theodore Beza, succeeded him as the Geneva “pope.”
Theodore Beza (1519-1605) was another Catholic who converted to Protestantism and went to the Republic of Geneva so he could join Calvin in his work of Hellenizing religion, government, education, and society. Beza became a noted scholar of his time and his writings, which mostly reiterated Calvin’s teachings, were widely read. But in 1572, the Catholic St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of many of Beza’s fellow French Protestant Huguenots (Calvinists) in and around Paris caused Beza to let his emotions make him carnally ignore the Bible and decide Calvin hadn’t read the Bible correctly about not violently resisting authority. So Beza wrote and published in 1574 his famous book, De Jure Magistratum, which said the people had a right to violently revolt against what they perceived to be “tyranny.” His book was so popular among the masses it quickly became a major political manifesto of Calvinism.
Most churches back then had bishops who ruled their flocks, but because ruling bishops violated the Greek philosophers’ belief that the sheep should rule themselves, and because Beza believed self-government was part of Nature’s Laws, which meant it was also Christian, he took a firm stand for democratic church government.
Other fruits of democratic Calvinism included, quite logically, its placing more emphasis on the individual than on the church. Personal salvation of individuals would become more important than the doctrinal correctness and welfare of the church as a whole. This would result in Christians no longer striving to master the Bible.
Because Calvin was the first major Protestant leader who did not condemn usury (interest) among Christians, people who wanted to charge interest began to defend themselves by accurately saying, “Hey, even learned Bible scholars aren’t in agreement about usury!” Christians, who in one century were punished for defrauding the brethren with usury, would in the next century find that nobody even mentioned usury. A law had been passed in Britain in 1552 that prohibited all interest as a “vyce moste odious and detestable, as in dyvers places of the hollie Scripture it is evident to be seen.” But when the Puritans got control of the House of Commons under the secular-minded Queen Elizabeth, things quickly changed. For example, in 1571 when usury was being discussed in Commons, Calvinism had so muddied the waters about the topic that when someone referred to the Church of England’s laws about usury he was met with the protest that the church laws “should be no more remembered than they are followed.” The ignoring of this and many other Bible doctrines quietly and gradually made Christianity cease being a living and vibrant part of everyday life as part of a conscious effort to obediently glorify God and love His church, and Christianity became just another compartment to be opened when it was “appropriate.”
The emphasis on the salvation of the individual rather than on the doctrinal soundness of the church as a whole, had tremendous effects on social theory. The individual and his “rights” became supreme, which in turn made socialistic countries and monarchies “evil.” And the revolutions and wars fought over those pagan philosophical ideas would dwarf in size and scope the earlier wars fought over the Bible. Private (rather than communal) property would no longer be widely regarded as sinful and would become almost sacred. (The early Protestant reformer, Zwingli taught that the concept of private property was sinful because Christians are but God’s servants husbanding His property.)
The democratization of the churches and the increasing importance of individuals and their “opinions” also caused Biblical church discipline to vanish. Ruling bishops were replaced by servant preachers, and the very idea that the church could have rules and standards different from those out in secular society – and that the church could actually enforce those rules – also vanished as the church began to, quite idiotically, allow society to determine its standards of conduct. Usury is but one convenient example. The fact is, any church without an authoritative source of doctrines and standards (e.g. no universally-accepted Bible version as the inspired word of God and/or no authoritative ruler), must inevitably accept society’s rules and values. That is why “fundamental” Christians today pride themselves on being “conservatives” rather than “liberals.” By definition liberals are those who accept or cause change rapidly. Conservatives are those who drag their feet for a “respectable” length of time and then embrace the old liberal values. In the “roaring twenties” (the 1920s), for example, Coco Chanel made short hair, jewelry, and knee-length skirts fashionable for women. Conservative “fundamental” Christians raged against all three from the pulpits. But, like all conservatives, they would eventually follow Satan himself – as long as they had enough time to make Satanism “respectable” to society. History reveals conservatives to be spineless, hypocritical losers who are constantly giving up ground.
We are shortly going to be dealing in more detail with English Puritans (Calvinists). Pay attention, because in practice the Calvinists (whether you call them Puritans, Separatists, Nonconformists, Pilgrims, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Dutch Reformed, etc.) did more to spread the teachings of Thomas Aquinas than did the Roman Catholic Church. The successes of these denominations began to bring to maturity the Enlightened philosophies of Calvinism – which would eventually revolutionize all established Christian doctrines about national government, economics, society, church government, and the family. That is why Christians who are knowledgeable of the Bible and of history might have objected had I ignored Calvin’s impact on Christian apostasy by concentrating solely on Luther and Henry VIII. With all of that in mind, let’s jump back into the flow of history.
Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI (1537-1553), succeeded him as king for a brief reign. Under Edward England became more Protestant. He was succeeded by his sister, Queen Mary I (1516-1558), who never approved of her father’s rebellion against the Catholic Church, and therefore reestablished papal authority over England and executed dissenters.
To give you an idea of how shallow and opportunistic early Protestants were, consider what happened to Miles Coverdale, a famous Protestant bishop (of Coverdale Bible fame) who pastored a cathedral in Exeter. When the news reached Exeter that Catholic Mary had just become queen, Coverdale happened to be right in the middle of one of his riveting sermons. Most of his congregation stood, turned their backs on him, and walked out. Just like in Luther’s Germany, the Protestant Reformation in England had very little to do with Bible doctrine; it was about nationalism. Remember, anyone who embraces rebellion against authority is not motivated by the Bible: he is motivated by the spirit of antichrist, the emergence of self.
Queen Mary’s sister, Elizabeth, like the people in Coverdale’s church, didn’t care about religion. So when Mary became queen, Elizabeth recanted her belief in Protestantism, swore her undying belief in Catholicism, and thereby avoided execution. Because she was a potential rival for the throne, however, Queen Mary threw Elizabeth into prison.
THE “SLUTTISH HOUSEWIFE”
When Queen “Bloody” Mary died, Elizabeth I (1533-1603), who was to be called the “virgin queen” because she never married, went straight from prison to palace. Because she was power-hungry like her father, Henry VIII, she did not want to be under any religious authority, so she quickly adopted Protestantism again and passed a law that made England a Protestant kingdom. And, since she was the product of the second – and therefore invalid – marriage of Henry VIII, Elizabeth felt insecure in her position because her aunt, Mary, Queen of Scotland, who was Henry’s sister, had a legal claim to the throne of England. Elizabeth imprisoned and later executed her.
Feeling more secure, Queen Elizabeth embarked on a deliberate campaign to secularize society. History says this was because she had “a fine Renaissance education” that taught her “the need for strong secular leadership.” But that is a biased, Enlightened viewpoint from my biased, Biblical viewpoint, and is only part of the reason she did it. She was unquestionably a believer in Reason, but she also wanted to distance society from religion in general and Catholicism in particular in the hope that religion would not again threaten national stability and her reign.
In accordance with her program of secularization she reduced the number of preachers on her privy council to one, John Whitgift, a preacher in name only whom she appointed because he was a “yes” man and because Elizabeth felt she couldn’t get away without any preachers on the council. She even encouraged secular thinking in purely religious matters by tinkering with the membership of the High Commission for Ecclesiastical Affairs until it, too, had a lay majority.
Public schools for children had always had a strong emphasis on the duty to serve and obey God and to avoid sin. All of that began to disappear as schools, too, became secular. God, religion, sin, and Bible doctrines were removed and replaced by secular moral and ethical development. The emphasis shifted to secular character based on the Greek philosopher’s views on such things as honor and virtue. All Protestant countries have continued to leave religious instruction of any kind out of public education. If you want your child to receive his education in a religious environment you’ll have to move to a Roman Catholic country or pay for him to attend a private denominational school.
Theatrical plays had previously been restricted to religious themes as an instructional tool for the masses. Elizabeth changed that and made them secular – and they became quite popular. Before Elizabeth’s reign all ships had Bible-oriented names. She ended that and gave ships “neutral” names such as Hart, Lion, Triumph, Swallow, Greyhound, etc. (Later in the 18th century when Britain and her American colonies were approaching their peak of interest in pagan philosophy and culture the ships would be given well-known popular names like Agamemnon, Alcmene, Amphion, Archimedes, Bellerophon, Bellona, Boreas, Euryalus, Leander, Medusa, Minerva, Neptune, Orion, Pegasus, Thalia, Theseus, etc.)
During the two decades of 1570-1590 in England a sort of revival broke out as a reaction to the dead formality of Elizabeth’s brand of Christianity and her increasingly secular society. Groups, or “cells”, of disgruntled Christians appeared. They sometimes had differing agendas, but all shared a common dislike for what Protestantism was becoming in England and agreed it needed to be purified. (Eventually some of these “puritans”, who were mainly Calvinists, would be granted charters from kings James and Charles to start English colonies in North America.) In order to make their voice heard the puritans organized a lobby in the House of Commons because its members were of the “middle” class. This was the first political lobby in English history. The House of Commons would gradually be taken over by the Puritans who became increasingly anti-monarchy and pro-democracy (for reasons we’ll look at shortly), and who began a campaign for “Freedom” that would include rebellion, revolution, and murder. As one English historian says, “It is as safe as any broad generalization of history can be to say that without the [Enlightened] ideas, the organization, and the leadership supplied by Puritanism, there would have been no [British] revolution at all.” The next generation of these Enlightened Puritans in the “middle” class House of Commons would include Oliver Cromwell.
Because Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary I had ignored the increasing economic problems in England, Queen Elizabeth was advised to increase taxes. But she was too interested in being popular to attend to serious matters of state, especially unpopular measures like raising taxes, so she did nothing to tax the “middle” class landowners her father had created. She continued to enjoy being called the “virgin queen” and being courted by both English and foreign nobles. She flattered members of Parliament and made them think they were more important than they were. That, combined with her incompetence, as well as the growing democratic sentiment among the Puritan “middle” class in the House of Commons, resulted in her subjects going from deferentially asking permission to speak with her about some topic at the beginning of her reign, to demanding their “right” to speak late in her reign. Many people were offended by this democratic assertiveness of the Puritanical House of Commons and complained “the foot taketh upon itself the part of the head, and Commons is become a king.”
By the time Elizabeth died English society was full of apathetic apostates, Parliament was full of professional politicians bloated with democratic self-importance, and the treasury was bankrupt. She was one of the worst rulers England ever had but remains one of the most popular. General history texts have concluded she was “the splendid though involuntary betrayer of the cause of monarchy.” More in-depth texts say, “Some compare Queen Elizabeth to a sluttish housewife who swept the house but left the dust behind the door.”
KING JAMES I
Into this political, social, religious, and economic mess stepped King James I (1566-1625). His mother was Henry VIII’s sister, Mary, Queen of Scots, who’d been executed by Elizabeth. James had ruled Scotland as King James VI for thirty-six years before Elizabeth died and he inherited the throne of England. He was somewhat introverted, aristocratic, distant, book-wormy, highly intelligent, well educated, a devout Christian, a diligent student of the Bible, and a very popular king in Scotland. However, the many problems in England, the power-hungry Puritans, and even England’s cultural prejudice against Scotland, would cause this sincere Christian to have a difficult and unpopular reign in Britain. A good example of how popular it was to ridicule Scotsmen even for trivial regional differences is this definition of oats that appeared in dictionaries in England: Oats: A grain that in England is fed to horses, but in Scotland is eaten by people.
In order to set the stage for his reign we should also understand that monarchs faced increasing antagonism from Enlightened Christians whose philosophic doctrine told them “tyranny” was evil and “Freedom” automatically made rebellion a “just cause.” During James’ lifetime Calvinistic Holland was involved in a long, drawn-out rebellion against its Spanish king, which intensified the debate over rebellion that had existed ever since King Henry VIII. With the notable exception of the Puritans, who were very liberal, most preachers in England were still against rebellion under any circumstances. Let’s join in a worship service and listen to a common sermon of that time:
An Homily Against Disobedience and Wylful Rebellion
As God would have man to be His obedient subjects, so did He make man subject unto man. Lucifer, formerly God’s most excellent creature, and most bounden subject, by rebelling became the blackest and most foulest fiend and devil, the first author and founder of rebellion and the reward thereof. Thus you do see that neither heaven nor paradise could suffer any rebellion in them, neither be places for any rebels to remain. After this breach of obedience to God and rebellion against His majesty, lest all things should come into confusion and utter ruin, God, by laws given unto mankind forthwith repaired the rule and order of obedience by, besides the obedience due unto His Majesty, He ordained that in families and households the wife should be obedient unto her husband, the children unto their parents, the servants unto their masters, but also by His holy word did ordain governors and rulers unto whom His people should be obedient. In reading the Holy Scriptures we find in very many places, as well of the Old Testament as of the New, that kings and princes, as well the evil as the good, do reign by God’s ordinance, and that subjects are bound to obey them, and that the subject who provokes said ruler to displeasure sins against his own soul. [Here is quoted Ro 13 and 1 Pe 2.] By these two places of the Holy Scriptures it is most evident that kings are ordained of God, are to be obeyed and honored by their subjects; that such subjects that are disobedient or rebellious against their princes disobey God and procure their own damnation. It comes therefore neither of “chance” and “fortune” (as they term it), nor of the ambition of mortal men that there be kings over men. But the office of king is specially appointed by the word of God. What shall subjects do then? Shall they obey only valiant, stout, wise, and good princes, and condemn, disobey, and rebel against indiscrete and evil governors? God forbid. As though the foot should judge the head: an enterprise very heinous, and must needs breed rebellion. For who else be they that are most inclined to rebellion but such haughty spirits from whom springs foul ruin of kingdoms? Is not rebellion the Greatest of All Mischiefs? And who are ready to do the greatest mischiefs but the worst men?
James became king of Scotland at the tender age of one. Regents therefore governed Scotland until James came of age. That was not a problem because the monarchy in Scotland got along very well with the people because early Calvinist doctrine (until Beza changed it) maintained that all authority – especially royal authority – was to be obeyed unless doing so would renounce God, in which case the believer was to passively allow himself to be thrown to the lions like Daniel if the authority so ruled.
Taking his responsibility seriously, James applied himself and was a devoted student of the Bible, which kept him from embracing the Catholicism of his mother Mary, Queen of Scots. His studies also allowed him to see through the Enlightened marginal notes in the Geneva Bible, which was widely used in Presbyterian Scotland largely due to reformer John Knox (1505-1572) who was a disciple of Calvin.
One of the problems King James tried to deal with was the equality-based democratic church government by presbyteries in Scotland. He believed the level, or horizontal, church governmental structure in which the sheep ruled their shepherds – thus turning the congregations into multi-headed beasts – was contrary to the God-ordained vertical hierarchy throughout society in which all bodies were ruled by a single head, such as kings, bishops, and husbands. King James wasn’t the first Christian ruler who had to deal with carnal church members full of equality rising up and declaring that governmental structure needed to be democratized: On pages H2-4,5 we examined several examples (“Aaron and Miriam”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, and “Korah and Aaron’s Rod”) of God’s people angering Him by trying to rob some of Moses’ authority and give it to the congregation. Korah’s rising up is especially revealing, partly because of his little egalitarian speech to Moses in Nu 16:3. In fact, just as Moses had to deal with his equality-minded Korah, so did King James have to deal with his equality-minded Andrew Melville.
Andrew Melville (1545-1622), one of King James’ subjects, was a Scotsman who attended the infamously liberal University of Paris and became so infatuated with the doctrines of the Enlightenment that he left there and went to the Republic of Geneva where he sat at the feet of Theodore Beza at the Geneva Academy for five years. Thoroughly indoctrinated and full of zeal, he returned to Scotland in 1574 and set out to “reform” it with philosophy, beginning with its schools so that at least the next generation would be Enlightened. John Knox had died two years before, and Melville decided to take over as leader of the Reformed Church of Scotland. He attracted many students from other countries, trained them as he had been trained at the Geneva Academy, and then sent them back to their homes to spread their new doctrines.
Because the young King James objected to the democratic presbyteries of the Scottish church ruling over the bishops, he began using his royal prerogatives in an effort to reverse those new – and unscriptural – liberties and to put shepherds back in charge of their flocks. That resulted in a face-to-face meeting with Melville, who saw himself as successor to Knox, disciple of Calvin, faithful student of Beza, and champion of Enlightened religion. Sadly, Melville’s Protestant theology also made him share Korah’s belief in equality and democratic clamoring – for which God damned Korah (page H2-5).
Melville had become accustomed to awed acceptance of whatever he said about religion, and he expected the same from this young king who was 21 years his junior. But the young sovereign, who had already impressed his subjects with his great knowledge, was not your typical lukewarm Christian, and Melville found himself in the presence of a young man who knew the Bible and could think on his feet. Melville therefore embarrassingly found himself on the losing end of a Biblical debate. (Note: The debate had nothing to do with salvation; James agreed with most major Protestant doctrines. But he correctly viewed the democratic teachings of Protestantism as unscriptural. That is what the debate was about.) Melville’s Enlightened rhetoric was unable to effectively refute his king’s Scripture-based arguments. His pride and his frustration got the better of him and he physically grabbed the slightly-built king and heatedly and pompously said James was nothing but “God’s silly vassal.” He went on to say Christ was the true king in Scotland – not James – and that His kingdom was the church, which meant James was not Melville’s or anybody else’s king, but rather a mere democratic fellow church member! King James understood Melville’s democratic arguments were specious and that they danced around Scripture while ignoring Scripture. James did nothing about Melville at that time, presumably because he was not experienced and mature enough as a Christian to be completely sure he was right and that all of the “respected” Christian leaders like Melville, Knox, and Calvin were wrong. But more discussions with Enlightened Christians like Melville would ultimately prove to James that the truth of Scripture always prevailed – even over famous leaders of the Protestant Reformation.
So when King James traveled south to London in 1603 to become king of Great Britain, he had absolutely no intention of promoting Presbyterianism, Puritanism, republicanism, or the Geneva Bible. The sad state of Bible versions in general led him to the obvious conclusion that a new version was necessary. But the English didn’t know these things about their new king. In fact, when Queen Elizabeth died and James became king of England the English Puritans were very happy; finally they were getting a ruler who, as a devout Presbyterian (they thought), would agree with the anti-monarchy doctrines of the Age of Reason and authorize the Geneva Bible’s use in England. However, they were disappointed to find James was a devout Christian – not a devout Presbyterian. And in spite of his obligatory public support in Scotland for Presbyterianism, James actually detested all forms of democratic government because he was a believer of the Bible – not a believer of the marginal notes in the Geneva Bible. James detested both the Enlightened Presbyterian system and the subversive Geneva Bible whose many political notes were based on philosophy instead of faith in God’s word. Thus the Puritans, who had complained about an apostate queen who cared nothing about Christian doctrine, found themselves complaining about a mature Christian king who was well grounded in the doctrines of the Bible, which proved it wasn’t good or bad religion the Puritans really cared about – they wanted to get rid of monarchy.
After James became king of all of Britain, Melville continued his subversive agitating in Scotland. James summoned him to London and, because Melville continued to demonstrate a lack of respectful submission toward his king, sentenced him to four years in the Tower of London. After his release, Melville moved to France, where he lived until his death.
Because of the battle raging among Christians in England over which type of church God preferred, the monarchy-supporting Church of England with its governing episcopacy, or the monarchy-hating Enlightened religion of the Puritans who wanted Christianity to become democratic, King James quickly ordered a Christian Conference at Hampton Court in 1604 to hear the various arguments and to take action. The Puritans were delighted because they thought King James’ heart, like theirs, looked to the Republic of Geneva for doctrinal guidance because they knew most people up in Scotland used Calvin’s Geneva Bible. And King James’ bishops of the Church of England were alarmed at what this new Presbyterian king might do. But during the conference they all found that James was no longer the young – and possibly intimidated – king of Scotland. He was his own man and a mature Christian whose incisive arguments devastated the Puritans’ complaints – and delighted the English bishops. Skillfully maneuvering the Puritans into stating that all arguments depended on which Bible version was used (because James knew the Puritans desperately wanted him to authorize the subversive Geneva Bible as the Bible of the English church), James boldly declared that while he agreed with the Puritans about the deficiencies of the existing Bible versions in England, he strongly disagreed with the Puritans’ belief that the Geneva Bible was a good one, made it clear that it had no chance of receiving his favor, and said he would therefore appoint a committee to produce a new version of the Bible. King James said he believed the Geneva Bible to be “very partial, untrue, seditious, and savoring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits.” He believed the Geneva Bible to be the “worst of all” of the Bible versions. King James made those harsh statements because he correctly believed Enlightened Christians wanted the Geneva Bible only because they wanted its subversive marginal notes to help convince other Christians that single-headed monarchy was evil and multi-headed republicanism and equality were Biblical. In 1616 King James stopped the printing of the Geneva Bible in England. It would never be printed there again.
SIR EDWARD COKE
Increasingly, educated men didn’t care what the Bible said because its validity could not be proven. For them the Age of Reason was a Godsend. One such Enlightened gentleman was Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), an English lawyer and founder of English antiquarianism. Because he believed what he was told by Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, Coke spent much time researching old documents such as the Magna Carta in an effort to find something that might be used as a legal authority to which the monarchy would have to submit. Coke would read between the lines in order to find suggestions and traces of the Natural Laws spoken of by the Greek philosophers. He wrote a compilation of what he thought the old law cases he reviewed revealed about the Natural Law by which man was to live. Coke’s work was a commentary of sorts on what he thought the law should be. And, being no more an original thinker than anybody else, he was boringly predictable in spouting the philosophical party line: He challenged the king’s power because he thought the real power belonged to the “people.” He called on judges to nullify any act of the king that seemed to impinge upon an Englishman’s Natural “rights” or was against “Reason” or was “repugnant.” Coke could write a commentary and pass it off as “authoritative” because nobody who used Reason could say he was wrong without exposing himself as uneducated, unsophisticated, or blinded by too much “enthusiasm” (as they used to call sincere Christian dedication). Natural Law (from which supposedly came Common Law, which is itself nothing but traditional local customs), after all, could not be read anywhere because its cosmic guidelines were “registered nowhere but in the memory of the people and written only in the heart of man.” These invisible cosmic Natural Laws were believed to be “the root and touchstone of all good Laws” and did “far excel written laws.” In fact, “no human law, written or unwritten, has more certainty in its rules and maxims, more coherence, or more harmony of Reason than Natural Law” which was considered supreme because “it cannot possibly be ruled by any other law.” Coke was promoted to high position under Queen Elizabeth before her death. He became a constant thorn in James’ side because the Christian king had analyzed and dismissed Natural Law as invalid. Eventually James fired Coke, but the man was on a humanistic crusade and just wouldn’t go away: He was elected to Parliament and became the champion of its liberal members who opposed the authority of the monarchy.
It is easy for us now to dismiss the cosmic or mystical idea of Natural Law. But the problem is the foundation of democracy rests squarely upon it. We know now it is nothing but another bit of Greek mythology, but our founding fathers thought it was real because that’s what the authors of the books they read in their day said. The founding fathers were, like Coke, too weak to stand up and reject the seeming erudition and sophistication of other men. King James didn’t have that problem; if it contradicted the Bible it was wrong.
One of Coke’s contemporaries was an Enlightened Dutch Calvinist lawyer, Hugo Grotius (1583-1645). Grotius’ works on Natural Law were to be used later to establish modern international law. He studied St. Thomas Aquinas and used his works as a Christian precedent upon which to build. Since we know from Aquinas that human Reason can reveal the Natural Laws programmed into life by God, Grotius concluded these truths are evident even to pagans who believe “God does not exist or is not concerned with human affairs.” Because of this he (along with many others of his day) taught that all religions have a common basis of truth to them. This underlying Truth that is available to all men should be used to construct a modern and humanitarian system of laws based on Equality as revealed by the Natural Reason in all men. This type of law, he said, would be superior to any theology, including Christian theology, because theology was uncertain and therefore changing. Grotius said not even God could change or act contrary to the Laws of Nature. (King James’ response to Grotius would be to say the same thing he said in response to similar nonsense: It was permissible for people to discuss what God would do in certain circumstances, but it was blasphemy to say God couldn’t do something. James said the miracles in the Bible prove God is not bound by the Laws of Nature.)
Reason and Natural Law turned out to be a boon to international law. Previously all international laws had to conform to the various religions of the many countries around the world with the result that no one agreed on anything. But with Grotius’ work as a precedent, international Enlightened scholars and lawyers could put aside their religious bias and use Reason to find common ground that was “self-evident” and therefore obviously in harmony with all of their various divine creators of the universe. That’s how the modern laws of the international community, including the United States, came into existence. They were built on secular “precedent.” When you follow these precedents they will lead you back to Blackstone, then to Locke, then to Descartes, then to Grotius, then to Coke, then to one of the Protestant Reformers, then to Aquinas, then to Augustine, then to the Greek philosophers who wrote down what their self-evident carnal Reason told them was right and wrong based on Equality, which they did not get from the “Prime Mover” of the cosmos; they inherited it from their father, Adam, who got it from the forbidden fruit of the tree of carnal knowledge, which originated in Is 45:7.
KING JAMES, THE RELIGIOUS ENTHUSIAST
All of this gives you a glimpse of the political, intellectual, economic, religious, and social climate in England when King James traveled south from Scotland to London with his wife and three year old son. As king of both countries he united them, allowed them to keep their original names, and began looking for a name for his united kingdom. James approved Francis Bacon’s submission of “Great Britain”, and began the work of cleaning up Elizabeth’s mess.
As he saw it there were three problem areas that needed his attention – Christian apathy, a dangerously bankrupt treasury, and a growing democratic movement. His overall objective was to create a Bible-based, deferential, strictly hierarchical, socially stable nation under a benevolent Christian monarch. Although introverted, he took his responsibility as king seriously and tried to help his subjects by both preaching and teaching. For example, his first speech to Parliament in 1603 included, “What God hath cojoined then, let no man separate. I am the husband, and all the whole island is my lawful wife; I am the head, and it is my body; I am the shepherd, and it is my flock.” The following year the House of Commons responded by concluding: “The voice of the people, in the things of their knowledge, is said to be as the voice of God.” King James dismissed Enlightened nonsense like that. The king also wrote a famous tract on the evils of tobacco in order to share with the members of the body that which their head had learned. (At that time many people believed smoking tobacco to be good for the brain for two reasons: First, the smoke would keep the brain from going bad – just as meat cured in a smokehouse was preserved. Second, it was thought the aromatic smoke would drive away addled thinking.) This mature, sincere, and openly Christian king came as a shock to a country that had just spent forty-five years under the rabidly secular Elizabeth. Therefore almost from the start Christians snickered and rolled their eyes behind his back because their new king was a religious “enthusiast” from the backwoods of Scotland.
James was, indeed, a religious enthusiast – unlike any monarch the English had ever seen. He was renowned throughout Europe as a Christian who was an expert on the Bible and who went solely by the Bible. That was unusual for a Christian and unheard of in a monarch. James was so dedicated to the cause of Christ that he actively participated in Christianity on a daily basis. He discussed, argued, and taught doctrine to preachers. He studied long treatises on theological problems. He wrote prodigiously on Biblical topics. (He is the only British king whose Christian writings have been gathered and published for the benefit of the church.) He translated the Psalms, and he was endlessly writing Christian tracts. He wrote essays for his sons with instructions on how to be good Christians and rulers. He wrote a book defending monarchy as a valid and Christian form of government. If he liked a sermon he got a copy of it and studied it – even tucking it under his pillow as he slept. In church he listened to the sermons with keen interest, and if any sermons were too insipid he’d go into a fit of coughing until the preacher got the hint and shut up. His advisors wrote none of his royal proclamations; every word was his.
The fact that King James was constantly trying to teach his subjects brings up an interesting point – one that we Bible believers who are in training to rule and reign under the Lord Jesus Christ would do well to take to heart: A truly good ruler should have the ability to teach those in his care. Examples from history include kings David, Solomon, and James. (But remember, we’d all prefer to model ourselves after David and James rather than Solomon. Solomon was more willing to compromise in areas he shouldn’t have than were David and James – which generally resulted in Solomon’s being more popular with his people than the other two.) A lot of effort went into their becoming able to teach the populaces around them: They all mastered the Bible and lived it…which resulted in their growing into Christian warriors. They became knowledgeable and confident in their walk with their heavenly Master, and they gained the strength to teach and lead like all good shepherds, parents, and rulers. Their ability to see the principles behind the events of daily life enabled them to understand where their subjects erred – and to try to help them. These men did not set out to become teachers; teaching was but one of the many side effects of Biblical love. Yes, the most important quality these men shared was their love for the Lord. Love is the all-important result of learning and doing the word of God, and it is the foundation for anything and everything good we ever do. Love for God results in Bible study, submissive obedience to the word, strength, confidence, and humility…as well as an increase in love for the brethren, which includes righteous anger and disgust for the constant inexcusable ignorance and slothfulness in the church (which show those selfish Christians lack the kind of love for the Lord I’m talking about). If we have the right kind of love for God, we, too, will become good teachers and leaders like the men above. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if we are neither expert on the Bible nor actively striving to be so, we are lacking in the kind of Biblical love for God that pleases Him and are in dire need of repentance. Repentance and growth require work in order to become qualified to properly serve Christ and edify His church. Love itself requires work because Biblical love doesn’t magically and irresistibly take over our lives. The seed of the word of God will not flourish in the dry, rocky, weed-choked soil of our natural carnal hearts. We must create a garden environment – a way of life – that effectively curtails weeds and fosters growth of the word of God in our hearts. The Christian walk requires much work on ourselves in order to become self-disciplined enough to rule our spirits (Pv 16:32); keep our bodies in subjection (1 Co 9:27); to become unselfish, energetic, courageous, and strong enough to humble our souls with fasting (Ps 35:13); and to have the discernment and love necessary to be students, workers, teachers, and leaders. Because today is a day of preparation for the coming day of the Lord, and because our carnal, natural hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Je 17:9), we must prepare the soil of our hearts so we can properly mature and bear fruit (including Biblical love) lest we ourselves should be castaways (1 Sa 7:3; Jb 11:13; 2 Ch 12:14; 19:3; 20:33; 27:6; Ezr 7:10). Let’s get back to our brother, King James.
It is not surprising, therefore, how deeply King James was involved in the creation of the detailed instructions and guidelines to the translators on his Bible version committee. Because of his intimate relationship with the Bible and his knowledge of the problems with the various translations, James did something unheard of at the time. All Bible versions had been the work of from one to several men, but James had fifty scholars assigned to the task. Nothing had a higher priority than the King James Bible; it was to be the bedrock and unifier of British society. No one at the time knew God was manipulating events in order to make the Authorized King James Bible His holy word, inspired and inerrant.
In order to symbolize his intent to create a Christian nation, King James asked that a new national flag be designed with the Christian cross on it. His advisors balked and suggested his idea might be seen as a return to popery because King Henry and Queen Elizabeth had removed public religious symbols. A compromise was reached when King James approved the stylized cross design that remains the official flag of Great Britain to this day. In order to demonstrate to the people that he – as head of the Church of England – was to be identified with the cause of Christ, James ordered his royal coat of arms to be attached to the crosses in the churches. He made other minor changes to the churches’ interiors and to the order of the worship service. And he strictly charged his bishops, including William Laud, with the rebuilding of religious culture in English society. Bishop Laud, who had been very frustrated under Elizabeth, was delighted with his new king. When King James’ doctrinal conversations revealed the Elizabethan preachers to be weak in Bible knowledge, he made changes designed to increase the learning – and therefore the prestige – of the clergy. James also decreed that anyone who publicly opposed and slandered the clergy instead of rendering them due respect was to be treated as if he’d maligned the king himself (Mt 25:40) and was to be tortured and imprisoned. Because of his care and guidance, James’ clergy became “the most learned of the world.”
WHY THE KING JAMES BIBLE WAS NEEDED
King James had good reasons for rejecting all Bible translations of his day and for wanting a new Bible version. Let’s review the state of Bible versions during the New Testament period – from the time of the Apostles up to the time of King James:
405 A.D. Latin Vulgate Version: Because Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire, it was decided to provide a Bible version most people in the empire could read in their own vulgar Latin. The Latin Vulgate utilized the Septuagint, a dubious Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. It also included the apocryphal books from the Septuagint. It was completed in about 405 A.D. and various versions of it were used in the Roman Catholic Church. In the 13th century there was a need to standardize Catholic doctrine, so the radical University of Paris produced the most important version of the Latin Vulgate, which became the basis for most of the early Bible versions by Catholic and Protestant translators. The rise and fall of the Vulgate would exactly coincide with the waxing and waning of the dominating power of the Roman Church.
In 1516 Erasmus compared the Vulgate with the sources from which it was supposed to have been translated. His findings were devastating because for the first time people saw that not only did there appear to be serious translation mistakes in the Vulgate, but also that these mistakes “accidentally” provided the only “Biblical” foundation for Catholic doctrine. For example, the Christian word “Repent” in Mt 3:2 was changed to the Catholic “Do penance”, which justified the Catholic priesthood and its sacramental powers because penance could not be assigned unless you went to a Catholic priest for confession.
Another example is Lk 1:28, in which “Hail, thou that art highly favored” was changed to read, “Hail, O one that is full of grace!” This wording seemed to justify Rome’s contention that grace is not merely being in favor with God: grace is an invisible substance we need to obtain in order to be saved. And this verse also “proved” Mary is, indeed, a reservoir of this saving substance.
1381 A.D. Wycliffe Gospels: John Wycliffe (page H8-5) believed the Catholic Latin Vulgate should be available in English. So he translated the corrupt Latin Vulgate gospels into English.
1516 A.D. Erasmus’ Latin New Testament: Having researched his church’s Latin Vulgate translation and finding it was deceitfully biased towards Roman Catholic doctrine, Erasmus produced his own Latin New Testament from his own research into the Greek manuscripts. He did not translate the entire Bible.
1522 A.D. Luther Bible: Martin Luther went a step further than Erasmus by translating the Greek manuscripts into a German – rather than Latin – New Testament. But Luther’s Bible did not number the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation among the other books of the Bible because he did not believe those four books were inspired Scripture from God. He did put them in his German Bible, but he put them in the back in their own separate category for reference – as it would later become fashionable to do with non-Scripture such as the Apocrypha and maps of Bible lands. Luther (and many others) despised those four books of the Bible because they contained verses (such as He 3:6,14; 4:11; 6:4-6,8; 10:23,26,27,29; 12:13,15,17,25; Ja 2:14,17,21,24-26; Jude 5-7,21,23,24; Re 2:5,7,21,22; 3:4,5,16,21; 13:7; 19:7b) that contradicted his doctrinal beliefs. Christians today despise those same books because they also do not understand salvation, authority, sex, marriage, fornication, divorce, law and grace, faith, works, works of the law, dissembling, and dissimulation – which are all covered in the doctrinal section of this book.
1526 A.D. Tyndale New Testament: William Tyndale (possibly using Luther’s German New Testament as his source) published in Worms, Germany in 1526 the first complete New Testament in the English language. Tyndale’s first printing of his New Testament followed Luther’s doctrine that Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation were not Scripture.
1535 A.D. Coverdale Bible: The first complete Bible version (both Testaments) in English was published in 1535 by preacher Miles Coverdale. It relied mostly upon other versions like the Latin Vulgate and Tyndale’s work rather than the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts like Erasmus and Luther had done. It became popular in England because it was readily available.
1537 A.D. Matthew’s Bible: This version was similar to the Coverdale Bible in that it, too, was based mostly on other versions without consulting the Greek manuscripts. It was published in Antwerp and shipped to England. Matthew was a pseudonym to hide the identity of its editor, John Rogers, who, like his associate William Tyndale, rejected certain books of the New Testament as Scripture. Matthew’s Bible displaced Coverdale’s Bible because the latter was too small to be effectively used on the big preaching lecterns of that time, while the Matthew’s Bible was published in the huge old lectern format. But there were problems with Matthew’s Bible. It was published in Europe where Enlightened Protestants were more liberal than those in the Church of England. Matthew’s Bible therefore contained many marginal notes that explained what the Bible “meant.” These notes were too radical for many English Protestants, so they began looking for a new Bible version. It also bothered many conservative English Protestants that Matthew’s Bible refused to acknowledge Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as Scripture.
1539 A.D. Great Bible: Needing a new translation, England turned again to Miles Coverdale. Coverdale agreed to revise Matthew’s Bible, delete its Enlightened and anti-monarchy marginal notes, and restore Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation to their rightful place alongside the other inspired books of the New Testament. And, as was the custom then, it included the Apocrypha in a non-Scripture reference section. Because it was published in the oversized lectern format it was called the Great Bible. But it was just a slight revision of other earlier versions.
1560 A.D. Geneva Bible: Geneva became a haven for persecuted Christians. For example, in 1553 when Bloody Mary became the Queen of England and started killing Protestants in an aggressive effort to make England Catholic again, many English Protestants fled to liberal European cities that welcomed Protestants, such as the Republic of Geneva where they encountered John Calvin’s brilliant proselytizing regimen. In 1558 Bloody Mary died and Queen Elizabeth restored a lukewarm version of Protestantism, so many of Calvin’s Enlightened English left the Republic of Geneva and returned to their homeland where they found ready acceptance among the Puritans who were increasingly unhappy with the apathetic Church of England. Two years later (1560), in order to guide those and other Enlightened Christians, Calvin’s Geneva press published the Geneva Bible in English and sent it to England. Although it contained errors, the text of the Geneva Bible made it perhaps the best English version then in existence. It was translated with heavy reliance on Tyndale’s work and on the Great Bible. But its popularity was due to one thing and one thing only – its marginal notes. Because of the Republic of Geneva’s evangelical zeal for spreading anti-monarchy republicanism, the Geneva Bible contained radically Enlightened marginal notes that did much to make English Protestants (most notably the Puritans) militantly liberal. Had Elizabeth cared more about the Bible she would have known about the subversive doctrines that were quietly spreading in her kingdom because of the rise in popularity of the Geneva Bible and its marginal notes. The ample notes made it clear that “tyrannical” kings should not be obeyed, and might need to be overthrown. In fact, the notes in the Geneva Bible frequently used the extra-Scriptural Enlightened word “tyrant” in its evil sense. This was probably the second most common version – a distant second behind the KJV – taken to the American colonies.
1568 A.D. Bishops’ Bible: The Bishops’ Bible was produced by a committee of English bishops to counter the growing popularity of the Geneva Bible and its radical notes. This version, mostly a revision of the Great Bible with some use of the Geneva text, varied in quality but was an improvement on the Geneva Bible – but liberal Christians cared more about the Geneva’s notes than about Bible text.
In short, the Bible versions of the time all had problems: They were full of errors, they were “Catholicised”, and they contained notes based on the very philosophy the New Testament warned about. King James’ intimate knowledge of the Scriptures caused one of these problems to really bug him, and it resulted in one of his specific instructions to his translators: He knew it was normal for New Testament verses where Bible characters quoted Old Testament verses to be slightly different because we often paraphrase Scripture during our conversations. But until James came along and did something about it, Bible translators had thoughtlessly and carelessly misaligned the several meanings of Old Testament Hebrew words and the several meanings of New Testament Greek words, and therefore often made the New Testament quotes radically and fundamentally different in meaning from the Old Testament Scriptures. James ordered his translators to make sure they selected words that would not make the Testaments contradict each other.
King James wanted to lead his subjects into an era of Christian harmony in which the Bible was the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. One of the important early steps toward religious agreement was to put the same Bible into everybody’s hands and to demonstrate to the people that the king and his governors and bishops all submitted to the ruling authority of God’s Book. His plan would eventually fail because Christians were beginning to accept the Calvinistic notion that any type of authoritative government was of the Devil. They did not want James’ ideal Christian nation because they believed it was unchristian. The church had been divided into denominations for about a century and it was already beginning to fall apart. In the Old Testament whenever God wanted to get His nation of Israel back on the right track all He had to do was put a good Christian on the throne. That Christian authority would then require his subjects to live by the Bible. King James tried to be such a king. (I do not believe God put James on the throne for that purpose; I think He put James on the throne so He could use him to produce the King James Bible.) Anyway, from Satan’s perspective the brilliance of democratic forms of church and civil governments is that the people are in charge! In practice that means no single man – no matter how doctrinally correct and Biblically motivated he may be – will be able to make any meaningful and long-lasting changes in order to reverse apostasy because the apostate/unsaved majority wants to continue to have a secular nation. In other words, revival in this democratic age has been reduced to the level of the individual; national revival is no longer possible because the majority is made up of apostates and non-Christians. To run with the majority during the race of life is to be mediocre all of the time and wrong most of the time.
All societies, governments, economies, churches, families, businesses, and militaries had been authoritarian for all of the history of the world. The Age of Reason, however, revolutionized Western civilization. Today Western civilization is doing what it honestly and sincerely believes is right and good by spreading (with Calvin’s zeal) the philosophic doctrines of the Age of Reason to Eastern civilization by eradicating authoritarian forms of government, communism, and religious “intolerance.” In short, the Age of Reason has been changing the world from authoritarian (with its accompanying unselfish emphasis on being a contributor to the good of the whole, the nation, the church) into a selfish world filled with people who view themselves as individuals rather than as parts of a whole. This can be seen in our churches: The emphasis is on proselytizing – nothing more. Pewsters never talk about Biblical doctrine; they talk instead about social morality and conservative social issues. They never discuss studying the Bible. They never know if others are growing or backsliding, and therefore they never exhort and help one another doctrinally, financially, socially, and emotionally, and they never help each other by correcting, reproving, and rebuking. In short, Christians now think “love” is being socially civil with each other. This complete and appalling lack of interest in the spiritual welfare of one another is merely a Natural outcome of a society in which self-interest, self-sufficiency, self-evidence, and self-love have gained the ascendancy. All of the above have caused us to stress a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ, and we have experienced a dwindling interest in the welfare of the church. I say again, our support for the welfare of our churches consists mostly of religiously tithing and religiously sitting in a pew two or three times a week. Way too many Christians are not involved in serious Bible study at home. Because of that they are – at best – children in their doctrinal understanding. And that is why they have no clue that Christianity consists of much more than putting something into the collection plate, sitting in a pew, and not using the “f” word.
One of the weaknesses of this book in its effort to help you recognize and repent from apostasy and become a better Christian may be that I don’t dwell more on the lack of a vital and important sense of community, of unity, and of family in the modern church. And I’m not just talking about local congregations; I’m talking about worldwide Christianity. I’m talking about really understanding that we are members of Christ’s body – and that our several duties (including learning the Bible, maturing, helping our households learn and grow, helping our fellow pewsters learn and grow, resisting the leaven of wicked Christians, and identifying and resisting the influences of the Age of Reason) must occupy most of our time and energy because we are fighting for our everlasting futures and have the privilege of carrying Christ’s baton and handing it to the next generation. The baton we were given by previous generations is unclean; let’s pass it on in better doctrinal shape for God’s sake.
The church, the body of Christ, has become merely one of the many facets in our lives. It should not be that way; the church must consume our lives. Most Christians aren’t even interested in the Bible, in doctrine, or in the church. If you ask a fellow pewster what his life’s work is he’ll probably say “tentmaker” or some other occupation. And if you then ask him what his interests and hobbies are he’ll probably say “sailing” and “gardening.” Christianity isn’t even in his top ten! It isn’t real to him; it is dead formalism; he’s not part of a body at war – he’s an individual complacently wrapped up in self! He is a product of the Age of Reason. That’s why he didn’t reply that his life and his passion are the Lord and His church.
In this book I often say, A man’s relationship with the Bible is an exact picture of his relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps I should also stress, A man’s relationship with the church is an exact picture of his relationship with Jesus Christ (Mt 25:37-40). In spite of what we say with our lips, I believe modern Christianity has failed to recognize and convey the critical importance of the fact that we are the corporate body of Christ. I can’t help but think of John Donne and something he wrote.
John Donne was an intellectual, an adventurer, a theologian, and a poet who lived during the reign of King James. Donne is more famous today for his poetry, which he stopped writing when he became a preacher. King James, also an intellectual, traveled comfortably among Europe’s intellectual, theological, and literary elite. And he became aware of some of Donne’s theological writings, read them, and some time later urged Donne to become a preacher. Donne did so and was by all accounts an excellent one. His sermons are considered to be some of the best during a time (the reign of King James) when England had some of the best preachers in its history. King James was favorably impressed with Donne’s performance, made him a royal chaplain, commanded Cambridge University to bestow upon him a doctorate of divinity, and later made him dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. (As a youth Donne had attended Cambridge before he converted to Protestantism (his parents reared him Roman Catholic), and Catholics weren’t given degrees in divinity.)
During Donne’s lifetime there were several plagues that struck London. The carts that came and went piled high with bodies were accompanied by a man ringing a bell. The bell was to let people know the cart was passing so they could come out and see who had died, pray, and let the men know if they had another body that needed to be picked up. Therefore, preacher Donne, who’d lost loved ones, including his brother, to the plague, penned the following famous lines in his Devotions of 1623:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, [so it is that] Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved with mankind. And therefore never send forth to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
(You knew you had the plague when you got raised reddish (rose-like) boils with a whitish line of tight skin around the base. Many people carried flowers such as posies in their pockets to preserve their health. The posies didn’t work and the bodies of the dead were burned. British children of the time, therefore, invented the grim-but-real and all-too-often-true playground rhyme: “Ring around the rosy; pockets full of posies; ashes, ashes: We all fall down.”)
If a Christian brother is plagued with sin, or with apostasy, or anything else – we, too, are afflicted; the church needs help. Christ needs help – and we are His helpers. This business of actively helping each other is important if the church is to survive. It is so important that to not actively help our brethren is to be damned (Mt 25:45,46).
Even though I’m not going into the importance of rediscovering our corporate relationship with the body of Christ and the imperatives that result from it, I’m praying that once you fully understand how apostate today’s Christianity really is you’ll mature rapidly to the point where your love for Christ will cause you to fight for Biblical Christianity rather than denominational Christianity. Your growth and experiences will help you see more clearly that discerning members of our Household are our friends and carnal ones are our enemies (Mt 10:34-39).
Any effort to determine how doctrinally sound and how motivated Christians are will go over like a lead balloon. If a man were to tell a preacher he and his family wanted to join the church and the preacher asked, “Are you an expert on the Bible?…Oh, you’re not. Well, based on your present routine of Bible study, how much longer do you think it’ll take until you are a mature Christian properly armed for the war?”, in all likelihood the man would take his family and go join another church. But that’s exactly what we need: Let the slovenly apostates who don’t want to grow go be a carnal influence in some other congregation! We’ve got a war to fight and we don’t need people in our ranks who are not striving to be soldiers.
Well, as usual I’ve started preaching. It’s a good habit of mine. And I hope it is a habit with you, too. Let’s get back to 17th century Britain.
As a result of King James’ leadership a revival broke out in the Church of England, but not all Christians were pleased. The Puritan “cells” were upset – a reaction that caught everyone by surprise, including Sir Edward Coke and the other Enlightened liberals who were working to overthrow the king’s authority. It became evident the Puritans wanted some religious pretext to complain about in order to mask their political and economic motivation for wanting governmental power to reside in the Parliament. So they loudly complained about the new British flag, the coat of arms on the crosses, and some of the wording in the Book of Common Prayer, saying it all “smacked of popery.” They objected to the parts in the Book of Common Prayer that said it was a Biblical Christian duty to render submission and obedience to the king. And they objected to the clergy wearing robes during church. King James responded by asking them to show him where the Bible made it a sin to wear robes. The Puritans, just as unable to answer James as the Pharisees had been Christ, stooped to the tactic of smearing his character by telling people that James was secretly a papist. John Selden, who worked with Coke, recognized the Puritans’ tactics because he and Coke had used them on occasion when it suited them politically: “We charge the clergy of popery to make them odious, though we know they are guilty of no such thing” in order to manipulate the masses.
As time went on the Puritan tactics against the king got even uglier: James was fond of the hunt. So it was reported that he was so lazy he wouldn’t come down off his horse when he felt the call of nature, but would instead piss and shit all over himself. An introvert who spent time in private and with a few close advisors, he was also rumored to be a homosexual. (The death penalty for homosexuality in England was carried out by jamming a red-hot iron bar up the tailpipe.) Another “proof” used by the anti-monarchy gossipmongers of the day that James was a homosexual was that – unlike most of the other kings – James never had a mistress (because he was a Bible believer). Many historians repeat the gossip about King James merely because the allegations were put into print after his death by his enemies who despised his stalwart defense of monarchy as a Christian form of government. There is no credible information to suggest that he was anything but a faithful husband.
One of King James’ attempts to educate his subjects on the topic of rebellion included this excerpt from one of his many tracts:
And for the similitude of the head and body, it may very well fall out that the head will be forced to cut off some members to keep the rest of the body in integrity. But what state the body be in if the head be cut off, I leave to the readers’ judgment. So if it is well for children to rebel against their father, cut him off, and choose another whom they please in his stead, and if the body may, for any infirmity that can be in the head, strike it off, then I cannot deny that the people may rebel, control, and displace or cut off their king at their own pleasure. But it is a sure axiom in theology that evil should not be done that good may come of it. The wickedness therefore of the king can never justify them that are ordained to be judged by him to become his judges. Where a wicked king reigns, say they, there cannot be a more acceptable deed in the sight of God than to free the country of such a curse. Whereunto, for answer, I grant indeed that a wicked king is sent by God for a curse to His people for their sins. But I deny, and may do so justly, that it is lawful for them to shake off that curse of God by their own hand. It is certain then (as I have already by the law of God sufficiently proved) that patience, earnest prayers to God, and amendment of their lives, are the only lawful means to move God to relieve them of that heavy curse…
At the time of the king’s coronation, say they, there is a mutual paction and contract betwixt he and the people. [I haven’t specifically mentioned this philosophical idea yet. King James is addressing the “social contract” that John Locke and others would pass on to our founding fathers.] Whereupon if part of the contract be broken by the king, the people are no longer bound to keep their part. As to this alleged contract made at the coronation, I deny any such contract is made. Not that I mean a sovereign prince ought to escape all punishment. But when I say, The king should be remitted to God (who is his only judge), I remit him to the sorest and sharpest schoolmaster because the higher that God prefers a king above all other ranks of men, the greater is his obligation to his maker. My only purpose and intention in this treatise is to persuade all good Christian readers to keep their hearts and hands free from such monstrous rebellions that ye may stand up with clean hands and unspotted consciences, having proved yourselves in all your actions true Christians toward God, and dutiful subjects towards your king, having remitted the judgment and punishment of all his wrongs to Him, to whom only of right it appertains…
I conclude then by saying that God has made monarchy the supremest office upon earth, and as it is blasphemy to dispute what God can do, so is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do. I will not be content if my power be disputed. But I shall ever be willing to make the reason appear of all my doings, and rule my actions according to my laws.
United in their attempts to topple the king, the Puritans and Enlightened liberals used flank attacks and end-arounds to disguise their treasonous objective. For example, they raised a stink about one of the bishops in an attempt to have him fired. If they were successful they would later use that incident as a “precedent” that “proved” the power and authority really did reside with the people, and therefore they had the right to unseat any ruler, whether he be a bishop or a king, if they thought him to be unfit. But the insightful King James suspected what might be going on and concluded they were going after his bishop only because they couldn’t (yet) confront the king himself. He firmly rebuked them and stopped them in their tracks with his famous retort, “No bishop. No king.” Bishop Laud, concurring with his king’s analysis of the situation, said: “They that would overthrow the seats of ecclesiastical government will not spare, if ever they get power, to have a pluck at the throne of David.”
Parliament, or more correctly the House of Commons, led the crusade against monarchical power and used the issue of “unfair taxation” as a rallying cry. The Puritans in the House of Commons were in that body rather than in the House of Lords because they were not lords, they were the “middle” class; they were the sons of those who’d been given Vatican land by Henry VIII, and they were the only ones in England whose property was not taxed. In addition to common greed these “middle” class Puritans had another reason to fear and resent the arbitrary authority of a monarchical form of government: The king could not only tax their property (1 Sa 8:10-18), he could also take it away, and they did not have Job’s Christian attitude (Jb 1:21). And that was the crux of the matter: These Puritans wanted a democratic government because they were afraid their will might not be done on earth. And they did not want to lose their new social position. The monarchy was a threat and had to go.
James and his son, Charles I, brought peace to the British Isles. In general everybody got along and the economy was improving. In spite of some popular misconceptions that the Pilgrims sailed for the New World because life in Britain under James and his son was unbearable, the fact is the Pilgrims were extremist radicals who complained so loudly about such trivial matters that their own neighbors were happy to see them go, and even the Puritan leaders didn’t think the Pilgrims had legitimate complaints. This is not to say the Pilgrims were not good and decent people who were genuinely sincere about wanting to serve the Lord; they were just a lot more modern (Enlightened) than most people in Britain at the time. The Puritan movement in Britain wouldn’t get aggressively ugly until King Charles’ reign, but James still needed to discipline them from time to time.
Parliament used speeches and propaganda campaigns to convince the masses that the economic reforms of King James were “tyranny”, and it became such a problem the king disbanded Parliament and sent everybody home. He ruled without a Parliament for ten years before he let it resume. In spite of some indications that James began to suffer from senility late in life, his accomplishments make him one of England’s best kings. However, because he lived during the dramatic time in history when Christians were struggling to brand monarchy as evil and to replace it with democracy, this Christian defender of Godly order and government is almost never given his due by Enlightened authors and historians. After ruling for thirty-six years over Scotland and twenty-two years over Great Britain he died and was succeeded by his son, Charles.
THE ADVENT OF DEMOCRACY
King Charles I (1600-1649) played into the hands of the Puritan rabble-rousers right from the start by marrying a Roman Catholic whose brother was the king of France, Louis XIII, a man dominated by Cardinal Richelieu. Charles, the rumors said, was selling out to the Vatican.
But in fact Charles wanted to continue his father’s efforts to make the Bible a part of every facet of society. He appointed preachers as justices of the peace throughout the nation. Even his Lord Admiral and his Lord Treasurer were preachers. The famous motto, “Fear God and dread naught”, can best describe Charles’s policy. Charles also began working with Archbishop Laud to remove some of the troublesome Puritans who had positions in the Church of England.
In order to maintain good international relations and smooth over minor problems it was common for governments to placate other countries with business deals. King Charles granted France, which was famous for its soap, the courtesy of being the sole provider of soap to British markets. The Puritans loudly clamored that Charles wanted to force the British to use “popish soap.”
Charles, as had James, took minor steps to curb the growing practice of usury. They revived the old office of Royal Exchanger and made it a minor offense for gold and silver to be loaned by unauthorized persons. And the authorities of the Church of England punished some illicit Puritan moneylenders, who responded by complaining that the bishops were interfering with affairs that were purely secular! Did you get that? The Puritans, in spite of their claims with their lips that they wanted the Bible to be “the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice”, revealed by their actions they thought God’s Book should be kept from “interfering” with their everyday lives.
In spite of his best efforts to keep the peace, Charles found himself faced with an increasingly aggressive and democratic-minded Puritan political party. It was well organized and well financed, and this smoothly-professional political machine portrayed a democratic Parliament as the savior that would rescue the people from a king they said was evil and greedy and who was secretly trying to make England Catholic. Knowing the Christian masses hadn’t been interested in reading King James’ excellent tracts containing Bible lessons on topics like rebellion, the Puritans cunningly utilized gossip and catchy slogans that appealed to the people no matter how trivial and unfactual they might be. Against King Charles the slogan was, “No pope and no wooden shoes!” It meant the Christian masses wouldn’t let Charles make them Catholic and wouldn’t let him tax them into having to wear paupers’ shoes. The slogan was a big hit.
Because both Charles and his father clearly understood the specious Reasoning used by Christians to label monarchy evil and democracy good, they were disgusted and impatient with the unscriptural actions and arguments of those who promoted Freedom. As a result both kings were despised by the Enlightened as stubborn, arrogant, and overbearing. When Charles finally realized his enemies were craftier than he’d thought, and that the real issue was neither taxes nor popery, but his throne, he mobilized the army – intending to have it arrest Oliver Cromwell and other Parliamentary rebels.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was a “middle” class Puritan politician and member of the House of Commons. His schoolmaster, Thomas Beard, at the Huntingdon Free School, had steeped him in the ideology of the Enlightenment. (That school is now the Cromwell Museum.) Cromwell was a better general than was King Charles, and having anticipated that the naïve king would wake up sooner or later, had his own army ready to fight the crown. The Puritans’ professed desire to purify the Church of England was now the English Civil War with its sinful goal of displacing the king and crowning themselves.
Siding with King Charles were the people who were content with the Church of England, and the English Catholics, and the nobles. Siding with Oliver Cromwell were the Puritans and the bulk of the “middle” class. Because historians have found “no important economic or social differences” between the king’s ideology and that of the parliamentarians, history has concluded the real reason Parliament rebelled was its desire for power. And, of course, knowing all along what their ultimate objective was, the Puritans waited until they had sufficient military might to achieve their objective.
The Church of England’s support for the king had the curious effect of making it uniquely conservative among Protestant denominations, a fact that affected history. For many years Enlightened Christians even refused to call the unenlightened Church of England a “Protestant” church because it espoused rule by a single head (monarchy) rather than by multiple heads (democracy). All of the other Protestant churches embraced as divine those Enlightened principles of Natural Law that justified rebellion and rule by the people. During the American Revolution the Church of England was the only denomination in the colonies to take a stand against rebellion and democracy. (There were, however, plenty of individual Christians and preachers in those other Enlightened Protestant denominations who advocated Biblical discernment and submission rather than Natural Reason and rebellion.) The American Revolution happened in large part because the Church of England in the American colonies was – unlike in Britain – outnumbered by the other Protestant denominations. Therefore the British living in the thirteen British colonies heard pro-rebellion Protestant sermons on Sunday, and the British living in Britain heard pro-submission sermons in the Church of England. After the colonists won the American Revolution, the American branch of the Church of England found itself truly out of step with its new democratic nation and it began rapidly losing members. So it adopted the Natural Law ideology of its new government, changed its name, and revised the doctrinal statements in the Book of Common Prayer that were offensive to the new “free world.”
Cromwell did a brilliant job organizing his army. He originated their splendid uniforms – their “redcoats” – by which they became known the world over. As Cromwell’s forces began defeating King Charles’ forces in battle he was ecstatic. A casual remark by one of his generals, however, as they sat on their horses watching their redcoats rout the king’s army at the Battle of Newbury probably changed history: His general said with a British clip, “You may defeat all his forces, but Charles will still be king, and you and I will still be rebels.” Up until that moment the rebels, including Cromwell, were very adamant that the king must not be killed – even by accident. Regicide was simply not an option because it is repeatedly and specifically condemned in the Bible. But now Cromwell realized many Christians – including, apparently, his general – would always view the king as some kind of authority, just as your father is still your father even if you have him imprisoned. In a sudden turnabout Cromwell began pushing for the execution of the king. As he did so he realized he could have it all; he could rule.
He had charges prepared against the king and pushed for a capital trial. A shocked Parliament (mostly the aristocratic House of Lords) refused. Cromwell responded by having his army forcibly evict all conservative members of Parliament who were suspected “royalists.” This was going to be a democratic trial and execution – at least on paper. Parliament, now completely liberal, authorized a monkey trial, which sentenced King Charles to death.
King Charles was convicted of the vague crime of being a “traitor, a tyrant, and an enemy of society” – and the justification was that he bore arms against his own countrymen! Cromwell’s tampering with Parliament paid off: Charles was convicted by one vote. The vote was 68 guilty and 67 not guilty. Charles resolutely refused to participate in the “trial” because he believed a king was not subject to any earthly jurisdiction. He would not even dignify the proceedings by entering a plea of guilty or not guilty, and bravely went to his execution as a lamb to the slaughter. His only request the morning of his execution was that he be given two shirts to wear; he did not want the chill air to cause him to shiver because he did not want anyone to think he was trembling with fear – he was ready as a Christian to die wrongfully (1 Pe 4:13-19) at the hands of his own people. He calmly knelt and bowed his head, exposing the back of his neck to the executioner’s axe. His severed head was held up to show all Christians their king was dead. Democracy was born in the blood of the innocent. The authority structure ordained by God had now been overthrown and reversed for the first time in history.
If you understand that God ordained rule by kings as not merely a type of His rule over the church, but as a type of godly order in society (such as the husband being the head of the household), and if you understand that democracy is not merely the exact opposite of monarchy, but is rebellion, witchcraft, and Satanic social and governmental order, and if you understand that God often punishes His people by giving them exactly what they want/deserve, and if you understand God’s use of symbols as types, then the shocking implications of not just the regicide of Charles but the method of execution must horrify you: He was decapitated; the head was separated from the body. When the blade of rebellious Christian subjects severed the Christian head of King Charles I in 1649, Christianity, officially sprinkled with the blood of rebellion and murder, turned to democratic self-rule – which symbolized the modern church’s rejection of the Headship of Christ (“thus saith the Lord”) and its preference for the self-based knowledge of good and evil (“theology”). The beheading of Charles I is one of the most sharply-defined turning points in history. It is when Christianity used forbidden philosophy to justify forbidden rebellion so it could utilize forbidden regicide in order to establish governmental rule based on what is right in the eyes of the people – also forbidden in the Bible. The carnal members of the plural body (British subjects/the church) had rebelled against their own singular head (Charles/Christ) and replaced it with themselves, and had thereby become a multi-headed beast. Servants now ruled, and the Christian world had been turned upside down. And Christians were just getting started.
The rest of the world – both pagan and Christian countries – was shocked and outraged. “O! what a fall was there, my countrymen; then I, and you, and all of us fell down, whilst bloody treason flourished over us.”
But let me remind you again that many who were involved in the rebellion or supported it did not knowingly and deliberately cast aside their Bibles: They did not stop praying, stop going to church, and make multiple decisions to sin – just as the saints we studied in the Old Testament didn’t. It never happens that way. They simply failed to apply what the Bible says to everything in their lives. Therefore, when they thought their king was bad they simply did that which was right in their minds rather than in the pages of the Bible. In a nutshell their carnal thinking went this way: 1) The king is evil and will harm me. 2) If I am godly I will resist evil. 3) Resisting evil is good. 4) Therefore if I resist this king I am doing good.
That thought process is one hundred percent right according to Reason – it is self-evident. And no Rational atheist on God’s green earth will argue against it. But our job is not to do what we think is right; our job is to obey God by living in accordance with his word.
After King Charles was beheaded in 1649, many members of Parliament continued to be “unprogressive”, so Cromwell forcibly dissolved Parliament and called himself “Lord Protector.” He thought it necessary to be a “democratic dictator” in order to preserve the new precarious democracy. Also, because the populace outside of London was stunned and horrified to learn the Lord’s anointed had been executed (1 Sa 24:6,10; 26:9; 2 Sa 1:14), Cromwell feared there might be a backlash uprising. In 1650, therefore, anyone who had any doings with the government, whether it was at the post office, court, government-related job, church affairs, etc., had to take the Engagement Oath. A huge part of society had to take the Oath or starve. The Oath said you approved of the Civil War, the trial, the verdict, the execution, and the new republic/commonwealth.
The Engagement Oath ensured the survival of democracy in two ways: First, the Oath was a crushingly humiliating experience. Very few took it voluntarily and no one wanted to mention it later for fear of shaming themselves or their friends and neighbors with the fact that they’d been wrong to swear to a lie. Second, because it was a shameful Unmentionable most people went to their graves without mentioning the subject again, which meant their children heard nothing from their parents about the Oath…so they grew up secure in the assumption that democracy had had a principled beginning any Christian could be proud of.
Society became democratic just like the government. Churches also became democratic and were controlled by committees of bishops (Church of England) or laymen (Presbyterian). Because these committees and congregations now ruled, preachers had financial reasons to make them think they were daring to preach against sin when they were really only tickling ears in order to keep their jobs. He 13:7 became of none effect once these shepherds of the flocks, the old church rulers, found themselves subject to their own sheep! Democratic churches are perhaps the best example of how seriously wrong democracy is: Can you imagine a bunch of cigar-sucking, splinter-bottomed, Biblically-illiterate deacons telling the Apostle Paul – or any man who dedicates himself to the Lord and His church – what to preach? That’s even worse than a bunch of beer-swilling, pot-bellied, soap opera-watching high school dropouts voting in a political election. (And if you just said, “Yeah, but those kinds of people don’t vote anyway”, you are just the kind of person I’m trying to help with this book because you don’t know how to consider the principles behind things and you get side-tracked by insignificant details.) Today all Protestant churches are democratic organizations.
During this period a parade of philosophers had their moment on the brief stage of life.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was Enlightened but not fully committed. He said the king did get his power and authority from the people, but once he was crowned the people had to submit to him and could not rebel. He got that nonsense by blending philosophy with the Bible. Hobbes’ views were countered by popular, best-selling philosophical works such as: England’s Miserie and Remedie said if the king made the people unhappy they could rebel and get rid of him. Another work, Killing Noe Murder, said killing a bad king was not rebellion; it was your Christian duty. Most Christians then, as now, ignored the Bible and looked for something or someone proclaiming stuff they agreed with and rallied around it.
Hobbes researched the issue of rebellion against authority and concluded that the justification for the rebellion against and murder of King Charles I did not come from Scripture, it came from “the reading of the books of policies and histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans.” He was right, of course, but was outnumbered by carnal cries of “Mankind is endowed by Nature with the Right of Freedom from all subjection, and therefore is at Liberty to choose and refuse any form of government.” The word “regicide” was deliberately dropped by Enlightened scholars, who instead adopted the term “tyrannicide.”
Hobbes’ correct observation that so many Christians got their doctrines from the teachings of men was not just true in his day; in every era Christians would rather take the easy road by reading some human book, like this one, and see if they agree with the author (because that makes them equals; two people with opinions), rather than devote the years required to study the Bible.
Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), like many Enlightened scholars, enjoyed belittling the Bible, which was becoming a Book favored mostly by the uneducated lower classes and by those who lived in rural areas. Not only did the Bible not come from God, he said, but its contradictions and errors showed that modern men were better educated and more intelligent than the writers of the Bible. His most important work was contained in his famous book, Ethics. Spinoza said much of the Bible’s utility was past, and mankind was entering a new era in which mankind must utilize Self to create governing morals and ethics. This should be done because: Fact 1: The two words God and Nature actually refer to the same entity. Fact 2: Divine law is merely what God/Nature establishes. Fact 3: Man is part of Nature/God. Conclusion: Morals and ethics established by man are divine laws because Natural Law comes from within us, which means morals, ethics, Natural Law, and divine law are all the same. He also stressed the importance of “Happiness” to society, and said “Happiness” had three parts: Abundant material possessions; ego gratification; and sensual gratification: “The things which are esteemed as the greatest good of all: Riches, Fame, and Pleasure; with these three the mind is so engrossed that it cannot scarcely think of any other good.” He urged that the right of men to use their human Reason be zealously protected because it was an important component of “liberty” and “piety.” And, since this philosophical method of thought is what puts man in contact with the eternal truths of Natural Law, he said it is an acceptable and reliable form of religious expression.
These modern philosophers thrilled their generation with their writings, which were simply the same things the ancient philosophers dreamed up. For example, another famous modern philosopher, René Descartes (1596-1650), merely took the teachings of Protagoras and Socrates and said the same things in different words. He said the foundation of knowledge, of truth, had to be something you knew to be true. And since a man could be absolutely certain of his own existence (Descartes’ quote is, “I think, therefore I am”), man was the foundation and starting point of all truth, and man was the measure of all things, so to thine own self be true. All truths, therefore, had to be self-evident or built on self-evident truths because Self was the most reliable source of truth on earth. For this crap Descartes is called the Father of Modern Philosophy.
When Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 he was buried at Westminster Abbey, where a statue now honors him. But when he died the generation of people who had grown up in the more Christian society of kings James and Charles was now in power. They deeply regretted the regicide and tried to set things right by doing three things: First, Cromwell’s body was taken out of Westminster Abbey and publicly hanged as a rebel and a traitor. Second, the exiled sons of Charles I were recalled and put on the throne. Third, Christians publicly acknowledged their sin with sermons, speeches, pamphlets, and decrees. A good example of the convictions of that generation is the Oxford Decree, passed and published by the scholars and theologians at Oxford in 1683. It condemned “certain pernicious and damnable doctrines repugnant to the Holy Scriptures, the faith of the church, destructive of kingly government and the bonds of all humane society.” The Oxford Decree stated: 1) All civil authority is not derived from the people. 2) There is no “mutual compact” between a prince and his subjects that would excuse them from their duty of submission if he did not perform his duty. 3) If governors become “tyrants” or govern contrary to the laws of God, they do not forfeit the right to govern. 4) Birthright and inheritance are legitimate Scriptural means of transferring rule. 5) Self-preservation is not a fundamental law and it does not supersede the obligation to all other laws when there is a conflict. 6) The doctrine of the Gospel concerning patient suffering of injuries and wrongs precludes any violent resisting of higher powers for any reason including persecution. 7) King Charles I was not lawfully put to death. 8) Positions contrary to these decrees are false, seditious, heretical, blasphemous, infamous to the Christian religion, and destructive of all godly government and order.
In spite of these superficial displays of repentance the people, in practice, proved to be afraid and unwilling to give up their new power and authority. So when they put King Charles II (1630-1685) on the “throne”, he was expected to rule as a “limited monarch” (two words that, by definition, cannot go together) by agreeing to be subject (!) to the decrees of Parliament. By the way, I’ve not mentioned that parlia-ment is a French word that means voice of the people (1 Sa 15:24!) However, to his delight King Charles II found that British society contained many “Jacobites” who favored true monarchy and opposed regicide, so he became more confident in his role as time went on.
Charles II was succeeded by his brother, James II (1633-1701), who also acted like a real king. James, while living in exile in France, had married a Roman Catholic, so he entertained thoughts of restoring official toleration of Catholicism in Britain. Since the current generation in power in Britain did not share the religious guilt of the previous generation under Charles II, it began to look for a “more Protestant” replacement for James II. James’ adult daughter was found living in Holland where she had married a Protestant, William of Orange. William was asked to be the king of Great Britain. But because it was his wife who had a claim to the throne, and because he would be ousting a sitting king, William insisted that he and his wife, after they got rid of her father, rule jointly as William and Mary. The couple agreed to the Declaration of Rights, which officially limited their power and said all laws must go through Parliament. This ouster of King James II was called the Glorious Revolution of 1688 because no blood was shed: James, fearing his daughter would chop his head off, fled into exile. The fact that Parliament the very next year, 1689, under William and Mary made religious toleration official in Britain, coupled with the Declaration of Rights William and Mary signed, makes it plain that the real objective in getting rid of James II was not so much the loathing of his wife’s religion (because British Christians were prepared to tolerate Catholicism), but rather the hatred of monarchy. In other words, the Glorious Revolution used religion as an excuse to get rid of monarchy just like the Puritans had done during the English Civil War.
Because the Declaration of Rights officially made the monarch subordinate to Parliament, a group of babysitters from Parliament was created. These men were called “ministers” and they were to minister to the king in his small London apartment or cabin, which was called a cabinet. These cabinet ministers were to advise the king and act as liaisons between him and Parliament. When George I from Hanover (Germany) became king of Great Britain he spoke no English. This and certain political difficulties led to one of the cabinet ministers (who spoke German) becoming the king’s right-hand man – the “prime” minister. In spite of the Declaration of Rights, however, tradition was hard to ignore, so in practice the monarchy continued to exercise great power.
Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837-1901, was the last of the powerful monarchs in Britain – at least during the first half of her reign. When her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, she was so grief-stricken she completely withdrew from public life and largely withdrew from governmental affairs for a number of years. Two Prime Ministers, William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, filled this power vacuum by becoming the practical rulers of the empire. This situation resulted in widespread cries for the abolition even of the limited monarchy. Queen Victoria later emerged from her seclusion and found that her power had been taken from her. She was now nothing more than a public ambassador for good will. No monarch since Victoria has recovered any of that power. The “monarchy” is now a powerless figurehead that represents the faded glory years of the worldwide British Empire. Today the British “monarchy” is valued only as a public curiosity; it is the largest tourist attraction in the nation. When its costs exceed what it brings in from tourism it will be eliminated.
Historians therefore agree that, broadly speaking, two very popular queens, Elizabeth I and Victoria, destroyed the power and authority of the British monarchy – Elizabeth because she so loved men and wanted to remain popular with them, and Victoria because she so loved her husband she had nothing left for Britain.
Have ears that hear...
and endure to the end, comrades!