"Murder, which is a wilful man-slaughter, not in a man's just defence, nor casually committed, but out of hatred or cruelty, to be punished with death. Ex. 21:12,13, Num. 35:16,17, 18-33, Gen. 9:6." (Abstract of the Laws of New England, 1641, Section VII.17.)
Slowly arising amidst the humanist and materialist floods that have engulfed western civilization for almost 300 years is the beginnings of another wave of another Biblical reformation, building its force to eventually beat on the shores of this world's political and cultural continents. This wave of Biblical Christians will again reintroduce freedom to a world that forgot what freedom was. It will once again remind the world that God's order is the only real order for life and that God's law is the only law by which cultures progress. We propose that there will be a second Mayflower, and that the preparation for this next great venture has already begun.
In order to understand the future, we must study the past. Although history does not repeat itself word for word, there are certain recurring patterns from which we can learn valuable lessons. For instance, there is blessing for obedience to God and judgement for disobedience. In America we see a definitive blessing from God for early obedience and commitment to Him, and we will see judgement for apostasy if there is no repentance to be found in the house of God (I Peter 4:17).
To make out the faint signs of this Second Mayflower, we will draw certain distinct similarities that exist between this age and that of our Puritan and Pilgrim forefathers. Many Christians today are committed to Christ just as Christians were in 1620 England. They may not all be from the same denomination, but they all will wholeheartedly attempt to live out their lives in accordance with the demands of the Bible. This author has had opportunities to associate with many Christian people who have committed their lives to God, whether they be Reformed, Baptist, Brethren, Presbyterian, or Charismatic. There are common threads among these groups as well as with our 17th century Christian forefathers.
Even pagan historians could not argue that Pilgrims and Puritans were the founders of America. They may try to hide the matter -- something they have done very effectively -- but the facts are clear. The Pilgrims and Puritans are our forefathers. Hence, it should be one of the most important and basic tasks of education to teach our children about the Pilgrims and Puritans.
Here we will contrast the Puritans and Pilgrims. (We will use rough generalities as there was a variety of Puritan and Pilgrim groups in the 16th and 17th centuries.)
1. The Puritans and Pilgrims shared great similarities in doctrine and in personal holiness. To see these similarities one needs but read John Bunyan's Defence of the Doctrine of Justification or Reprobation Asserted and John Owen's Death of Deaths and the Death of Christ. John Bunyan was a Separatist, certainly in the tradition of the Pilgrims, while John Owen is one of the foremost Puritans. Their acceptance of the law of God as a rule of obedience was taught by John Bunyan in The Law and a Christian as well as in the Puritan Samuel Bolton's True Bounds of Christian Freedom.
2. The Puritans and Pilgrims shared a strong commitment to raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. They believed in corporal punishment although as Cotten Mather wrote, "I would never come, to give a child a Blow; except in Case of Obstinacy; or some gross Enormity." They were committed to teaching their children to read the Bible, a valued treasure to Christians who stressed the "Berean spirit." Both Puritans and Pilgrims were strong in family government. Parents taught their children faithfully in the home, particularly in the areas of Biblical doctrine and the law of God (including the civil codes).
3. The Puritans and Pilgrims were both appalled at the corruption that characterized the state church. The Pilgrims maintained a separatist position from the state church and differed somewhat on the form of church government. Meantime, the Puritans preferred staying within the state church while hoping to "purify" it. The Puritan form of church government favored Episcopalian or Presbyterian.
4. The Puritans and Pilgrims were not ashamed to apply the Bible to all areas of life. We may see imperfections in these fine people and some disagreements between them, but one thing is for certain: they were self-consciously trying to use the Bible to determine right and wrong, establish government laws, organize church, and train their children.
Because the Puritans and Pilgrims shared such a strong commitment to the Bible as the inspired, infallible, and sufficient Word of God, there was a sense of political unity that formed almost from the beginning. (The more radical separatist Roger Williams was an exception for the time.) This general unity allowed them to live peaceably in community, while differing in matters of church government and to some extent on the particulars of civil government.
It is becoming evident today that there is developing a deep, strong commitment to the Bible within certain strains of the Christian church in America and among many professing Christians. The age of luke-warm churches is turning into the age of cold and hot churches. There are those churches that have turned into bastions of heresy and humanism, and conversely, there are those that preach regularly from the whole Bible (Old and New Testament) and claim that the Bible speaks authoritatively on all areas of life. There are those churches that have high rates of teen pregnancy, child molestation, abortion, and divorce, and there are other churches that have high rates of sanctification, obedience to God, harmony in the homes, and well-raised children.
Many of the newsletters, magazines, books, tapes, and Christian churches and schools that have arisen around the country mark a rising tide of modern-day Pilgrims and Puritans. Througout the 1970's and 1980's we have seen this tide developing and strengthening, to be used by God again in history (which, after all, is His story). Several obvious indications of this great movement are listed in succeeding paragraphs.
1. The growing home school movement. Just as the Puritans of old, families no longer depend on the church or the statist schools to teach their children Christian doctrine and a proper world view. The recent home schooling convention in Denver (on June 10, 11, 1993) reported that attendance had tripled from the previous year! Some estimates place home-schooled children at over a million in the United States alone. Many of these home-schooled students, who have learned the disciplines of life and the solid truths of Scripture, are in college by fourteen years of age. These students may very well be our future statesmen, business leaders, authors, and educators.
The home school movement today is made up of a great many Puritans and Pilgrims. They would agree that the whole Bible is the Word of God and ought to be practiced in their lives. As such, they inevitably will all run against the claims of the statist, humanist governments on their children and their family spheres. Here is where the Puritans and the Pilgrims share their common ground. They may not altogether agree on the proper role of Christians in government, but they all have some understanding of sphere sovereignty.
The issue in 17th century England was the state-controlled church. The issue in 20th century America is the state-controlled schools. The throne of England insisted that all participate in the state-controlled church system which both the Pilgrims and Puritans insisted was corrupted and almost entirely unworthy of Christian support. Conversely, the bureaucrats today are increasingly insistent on state control of education and that all families participate in government educating. Meanwhile, there has been a break from the government schools since the fruition of the Christian school movement of the 1960's and then the home school movement in the 1980's. These are the modern day separatists, no longer interested in "purifying" the state schools. They have broken away first from state-controlled education, recapturing that area of sphere sovereignty that God has commissioned to families. Although Christians today are certain that the state has no business running churches, they are not as conscious of the fact that the state has no business running schools. Nevertheless, Christians are at least aware of the deplorable condition of the state schools. They are aware that these schools have become bastions of humanism and cesspools of rebellion and crime. And they are increasingly conscious of the government's unjust usurpation of family powers in the funding, mandating, and control of education.
2. Many Christians are becoming increasingly interested in cultural and political involvement, particularly since the 1960's. They no longer relegate welfare, art, philosophy, psychology, and government to pagans and statists. They are recognizing the importance of applying Christianity to all areas of life. This activity has been spurred on to a great extent by writers such as Francis Schaeffer, R.J. Rushdoony, Chuck Colson, and George Grant, among many others.
3. Christian television, radio, and newspapers are beginning to proliferate about the United States. Perhaps it is a reaction to an increasingly profligate, dishonest, and lewd mainstream media. Although there are varying degrees of faithfulness to the Bible found in the array of Christian programming and literature, the very existence of Christian media is a promising sign. A major Christian media executive, Bob Briner, laments that "In the culture-shaping arenas of our society - those areas that influence how we all think and act - Christians have abdicated their role as salt and light" (Colorado Christian News, August, 1993, P. 23).
4. The reformed churches have been growing steadily since the 1960's. This has been labelled by some as the "Neo-Puritan" movement. Orthodox Presbyterian churches, Reformed Baptist and Reformed Presbyterian churches all over the United States have been faithful in "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I [the Lord] have commanded you" (Great Commission, Mt. 28:20) The emphasis of these churches is Christian maturity, teaching God's requirements for the Christian life, personal holiness, law, art and media, family government, church government, education, and business. Without maturity, the Christian church will never be culturally relevant in government, art and media, or in other leadership positions in business or academia.
5. Recently, Christian intellectuals like Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Dr. Cornelius Van Til provided Christianity with the most powerful intellectual defense of the faith since the Reformation.
6. Christians have been self-consciously active in science. It was just in 1963 that Dr. Henry Morris wrote The Twilight of Evolution, and this movement has shaken the very core of evolution and higher criticism in the church. The Scientific Creationism movement continues to grow, now expanding into Russia.
7. Christians are more and more realizing that there is no neutrality on the issues of God's laws, especially when society endorses baby-killing. Though not all those who are active politically are Puritans or even Reformed in their theological perspective, there is now a deep respect for God's law -- at least the one that says "Thou shalt not murder." Abortion has awaken many Christians from their ethically-neutral slumber and forced them into an uncompromising public stance that would preach God's law on murder to the unregenerate. The law we recall is important to preach because it convicts people of sin. The law is part of the gospel that would lead people to Christ for salvation.
The pro-life movement is huge and many of these people are self-consciously committing themselves to the Bible as the rule for faith and obedience.
This second Mayflower is a new movement in America. In the early part of the 20th century the second Mayflower did not exist. Reformation and repentance in the church was not considered necessary. The Christian lifestyle was a moral lifestyle of sorts but not necessarily a Biblical one. Christians sent their children to government schools where they had little control over the curriculum. The only activity in the political realm was a prohibition movement, a civil law that was an autonomous expression of Christians who didn't care what God's civil laws were. They wanted their own laws. In 1913, Christian protestants were busily working for laws against alcohol but gave very little resistance against a system of unjust weights and measures (through the establishment of the Federal Reserve). They would have had our Lord arrested for making wine and would have rejected His endorsement of the civil law, "Whosoever curseth mother or father, let him die the death" (Matthew 15:4).
But today, 80 years later, the lines are being drawn. The homosexuals, the abortionists, the feminists, and the socialists have come completely out of the closet, proudly claiming their laws and their ethics as proper and right. Christians must stand on something today. We cannot stand on our own opinions anymore. We are forced to self-consciously take hold of the Bible and claim God's laws as our laws. The lines are becoming clear between good and evil. Christians will no longer be able to play both sides of the fence. They will be forced to take sides. They will be forced to defend the Bible.
The social condition of 1600's England was very much like that of 1990's America. Despite the growing movement of solid Puritans and Pilgrims, the society around them had gradually sunk to deplorable levels of public immorality and civil tyranny. Today we share common ground with those dedicated Christians who founded the early colonies in New England according to the following points of contrast.
1. Today, we are increasingly persecuted by the state. Before, separatists like Robert Browne or John Bunyan were thrown into prison for preaching without state licensing. Not many Puritans were actually thrown in prison although Thomas Hooker came very close before he escaped to the Netherlands and then to America in 1633. Today, pastors and churches are sued for great sums of money as a result of recent court decisions such as Nally v. Grace Community Church of the Valley which held that counselling based on Biblical principles is inferior to secular counselling. Pastors and churches are being fined if the church takes a role in opposing state policy or some issue that the state considers "political." In the 1980's, Pastors Everett Sileven and Ed Gilbert from Nebraska and others have already been imprisoned for their strong stance against state licensing of churches and church schools. The tyranny in America is analagous to that of 1600's England. Many Christians still teach children publicly, but with state licensing. Others who refuse to have their consciences bound by the state risk the consequences of fines and imprisonment.
2. Today, we see great public immorality. The Puritans in the 1600's witnessed "a bar on every corner." Public drunkenness was rampant. Government tyranny and intolerance, particularly to Christians, was ripening. According to J. Steven Wilkins, the two things that moved John Winthrop to leave England were, "the persecution of godly ministers" and "the ungodly policies of England", particularly towards population growth. Cotten Mather records this to be a reason why the Puritans were persuaded to leave Holland: "They beheld some of their children, by the temptations of the place, were especially given in the licentious ways...many young people, drawn into dangerous extravagancies."
3. The established "Christian" churches in America have become profligate in doctrine and practice. I remember overhearing a complaint from a young lady in California who had friends who were counselled by a professor at the "Christian" Westmont College to live in fornication before marriage. Adultery is prevalent in churches today, even among pastors and elders! Fornication is not uncommon in churches and seldom becomes a matter of church discipline. Some mainline denominations allow homosexuals to be members, and yet others will have them as leaders.
So too, the Puritan, John Winthrop, wrote, "All other churches in Europe are brought to desolation,...and who knows but that God hath provided this place [America] to be a refuge for many whom he means to save out of the general calamity, and seeing the Church hath no place left to flee into but the wilderness... The fountains of Learning and Religion are so corrupted as...most children...are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples and the licentious government of those Seminaries..." Even Winthrop watched his son Henry degenerate into the profligate culture of the day.
4. Christians are becoming less and less effective in the political realm, while at the same time they are beginning to participate more in the political realm. By the 1620's, the Puritans had successfully achieved solid control of parliament. In 1629 they even demanded the elimination of taxation with representation and voted to quell the doctrines of Arminianism (humanism) in the state church. The king responded by dissolving parliament. This became the feather that broke the camel's back as Puritans on a national scale began their mass exodus to a new haven of freedom, America. Morgan writes this about John Winthrop: "Responsibility for England's wickedness lay heavy on Winthrop's shoulders. He had shared in the government of his county as justice of the peace, of his country as attorney in the Court of Wards. The utmost he and his Puritan friends could do in their various offices was not enough to stem the tide of evil. If God should descend in His wrath to punish England, as she so justly deserved, John Winthrop knew he would suffer with the rest. Not even if he resigned his offices and led the holiest of lives as a private citizen could he escape responsibility, for where governors failed to uphold God's laws, God held the governed accountable."
Twentieth century Christians have tried to work with the Republican party, achieving the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 who promised to appoint pro-life justices and reduce government regulations. Instead, we received Sandra Day O'Connor, more government programs, more funding to the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood organizations, and far more Federal Government growth through government spending than any previous administration.
Then the Christians turned to endorse the Republican, George Bush, who proposed budgets that funded homosexual art, grants to prostitutes, increased funds for Planned Parenthood, and we received the first abortionist to ever serve on the Supreme Court, David Souter. Taxes went up, unlawful search and seizures burgeoned, Federal Government regulations and spending grew exponentially, and not many could vote for Mr. Bush in 1992 with a clear conscience. Twentieth century American Christians have become supremely unsuccessful in the political realm.
5. True Christians are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities before God. We read the command to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," and we begin to rest from our work one day in seven. We read the commands in Deuteronomy 6 to teach our children, and we begin to home school at least as a supplement to classroom teaching. We have family devotions with our children daily. We consistently discipline our children with the rod. We begin to tithe. We take care of our elderly parents. We read the commands in the Corinthians to apply church discipline, and we begin to excommunicate those who are publicly unrepentant. We read the commands of God to appoint men to leadership positions who are "able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness," and we support principled statesmen and principled political parties.
In short, we begin to take our God seriously. We diligently search out the Bible for His commands so that we may obey them. We recognize His authority and lovingly and painstakingly endeavor to obey Him in all areas of life. For it was the Son of God who said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
The Puritans and Separatists were realizing (at varying degrees) the importance of church government separated from the control of civil government. This was an important application of Biblical law to human government. As was mentioned earlier, Christians today are beginning to see the importance of separating civil government from family government, and Christian parents are beginning to control the education of their children through home schools and parent-run private schools.
So when America was founded, the new civil covenants (like the U.S. Constitution) committed to allowing NO government control of churches, avoiding the institution of state-run churches.
In the next civil covenant made by Christian freemen, we will commit to a new point of obedience to the Bible. We will totally eliminate the concept of state-funded and controlled schools. This evil will be eradicated forever as families are empowered with this God-given right once more. Instead of bureaucrats indoctrinated in socialism, it will be parents who will fund and control the education of their own children. The props of government schools will be taken away. Christian columnist, Cal Thomas writes, "Public education is not about education. In too many instances it is about propagandizing and controlling the minds and hearts (and bodies) of the next generation. Without public schools, liberalism would qualify as an endangered species. With them, liberals hope to train sufficient numbers of left-thinking drones to replace them when they are gone."
The Bible commissions the family and the church to the sphere of education. The state is nowhere in the Bible allowed to take on the role of educator. Throughout history, when families and churches have neglected this responsibility, the state has entered and gradually corrupted the minds of the people. Government education is the necessary first step to socialism and government control of the family and church. Government systems of education only tempt parents to shirk their responsibility to actively raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
All education is religious, based on certain presuppositions of life, origins, purpose and the order of the universe. All education assumes a certain anthropology and theology. To take God out of education as the humanists have done in America is to assume and promote atheism. Therefore, just as the civil government has no business funding and controlling the religious churches, so the civil government has no business funding and controlling education. Government education has become the strongest tool in the support of socialism, fornication, and atheism in America.
The first church formed in Salem in 1629 covenanted together under this very succinct script, which thoroughly epitomized the early puritan heart:
"We covenant with our Lord, and one with another, and we do bind our selves in the presence of God, to walk together in all his ways, according as he is pleased to reveal himself unto us in his blessed word of truth; and do explicitly in the name and fear of God, profess and protest to walk as followeth, through the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"We avouch the Lord to be our God, and our selves to be his people, in the truth and simplicity of our spirits.
"We give our selves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word of his grace for the teaching, ruling and sanctifying us in matters of worship and conversation, resolving to cleave unto him alone for life and glory, and to reject all contrary ways, canons, and constitutions of men in his worship...
"Promising also unto our best ability to teach our children and servants the knowledge of God, and of His Will, that they may serve Him also; and all this not be nay strength of our own, but by the Lord Christ: whose blood we desire may sprinkle this our Covenant made in his name."