Libation # 203
Noah Webster
Compulsion of Conscience 

 "When I speak of the Christian religion as the basis of government, I do not mean an ecclesiastical establishment, a creed, or rites, forms, and ceremonies, or any compulsion of conscience."

Yes, as Christians we must shed the "separation deception" and bring Christian values back into civil government. Yet I often hear the concern (and sometimes the accusation) that we are out to establish a "Christian dictatorship" upon the nation. In the quote above, Webster addresses this same concern. This concern rises from a failure to recognize that, even though God has established separate institutions, He is still God over them all.

Even in the institution of the church, a person's conscience cannot be forced or compelled. Compulsion of conscience belongs to God and God alone, though the Christian's witness may certainly be used of God as a tool. We call this "conviction of the Holy Spirit" and this is what leads to a free will choice to serve Jesus. Those who do not freely acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are not true Christians and are disqualified in God's eyes from membership in the church (regardless of what the membership role might say in the pastor's office). God looks upon the heart and certain fruits of a heart that is right with God will be evident to others through forms, creeds, and ceremonies.

However, when Christianity is the basis of a civil government, one can be a member of the society and a citizen in good standing while not being a Christian. There is no compulsion of conscience. Nevertheless, in a Christian civil government, certain Christian values are certainly promoted and expected of its citizens. For example, laws against murder, theft, pedophilia, etc. are moral laws based in Christian values and all citizens are expected to abide by these laws.

The founders of America, like Webster, also understood that moral laws in civil government must have a limit, lest they infringe upon the freedom they are designed produce. That limit is personal privacy and it is embedded in the 4th Amendment (personal privacy is explained further here).

Godly civil government is God's institution designed to maintain order in society, while facilitating the peaceful coexistence of Christians and non-Christians. In such a society, non-Christians are accepted and included while being exposed to and encouraged to freely acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. This is a true picture of good government, freedom and tolerance.

It is our Christian duty to pray and work for such government.

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