Sam Rohrer. Building a Government of Integrity

Building a Government of Integrity

-The Essential Elements Necessary for a Constitution of Freedom–

-An Historical Model Chosen by man but Blessed by God –

Hon. Sam Rohrer – Pres. American Pastors Network

 

Introduction: very few times in history does anyone ever have the opportunity to start a new government. In my state of Pennsylvania, a man named William Penn was given a large piece of land – over 46,000 square miles – in the New World in 1680. It was his property in settlement of a debt owed his father by the King Charles II of England. He could have set it up as a distinct and new nation.  He could have made himself king. But, having experienced religious persecution in England for his Christian faith, he had a larger vision. That self-less vision was to set up -with God’s help – a model for other nations to follow who wished to be free. He envisioned a nation where religious freedom outside the state church would be guaranteed.  Because he knew that God’s promised blessings would be on any nation that would establish their civil laws on Biblical principles he committed himself to pursue the Biblical model based on 10 Basic Truths.

In fact, his goal was perhaps like many before him and many around the world today who long for civil and religious freedom. But the question was then and is now for Ukraine and many other nations is, how do you go about it? What are the first steps? What are the principles behind the building of a new nation? What is the goal? Where does God fit into the plan?

While freedom is preferred my most peoples on earth, few understand where civil freedom comes from and what is required to set up a government structure that does what government must do but no more and encourages the people to do what they must do, and no less. You see, freedom is not free, and it is not the default position in life. Tyranny is the natural end for any nation that does not follow God’s principles for civil government.

William Penn worked through these thoughts and developed what is referred to as his “Frame of Government” written in 1682. The principles contained in his text laid the foundation for what came later in the form of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution – documents that next to the Bible itself are perhaps the greatest documents of civil government the world has ever seen.  They are perhaps the best human examples – blessed of God – of fundamental documents of civil law which embody the concepts of limited government and maximum self-government.

Knowing that there was nothing in history that really gave the exact example to follow, Penn went first of all to where He knew the Source of Authority and Government existed. It is the Bible where God the Author of Government and Who is Supreme Authority gives to all who will listen the instruction about God, man, government, family, and church. He then looked at history to see what worked and didn’t work.  I think Penn’s approach was instructive for all mankind and so I’d like to give the essentials as I see them that if applied can work anywhere God’s blessing is invoked – including Ukraine.

 

3 Essential First Steps:

  1. Establish the Vision:That there be room there for such a Holy Experiment…For the nations want a precedent and My God will make It (Pennsylvania) the Seed of a Nation…. That an example may be set up to the nations… That we may do the thing that is truly wise and just.”  William Penn

There must first be a vision for something larger than the moment. There must be a view toward the next generation not driven by fleeting personal gain, but toward the happiness and blessing of a generation yet unborn.

    1. It was an ‘Experiment’ – because an attempt for self-government with religious freedom had never been attempted like this before.
    2. It was ‘Holy’ – because this attempt was driven by a higher and nobler purpose where seeking God’s glory and Biblical principles was paramount.
  • Establish the Goal: “Self-government Under God”

Understand that God does not mandate the form of Government in the Bible, although He did give the basic principles for one that would permit a limited government and strong self-government. He gave man the freedom to choose how to frame it. From God’s perspective, regardless of the form of government, the duties before God of those in government are the same.

  • Establish the Authority:

All civil actions leading to freedom must be conducted under authority with clear lines of accountability. Penn had the lawful authority from the King to raise taxes, appoint governmental officers, etc. In time, because of this common understanding and shared commitment, the lawful authority to change law comes from the people guaranteed under a written Constitution. Every nation or body of people must operate under authority with all under God’s authority. Since God condemns rebellion to legitimate law, it is critical to do God’s will, God’s way.

 

-10 Truths to Understand-

Preface:  Penn in his ‘Frame of Government’ highlighted 10 Truths. All of these had to be understood by citizens and rulers alike. All of them had to be taken as a whole and implemented as a unit. Piecemeal incorporation could not and will not today be able to produce a solid foundation upon which to write and adopt an enduring Constitution. Yet, these ’10 Truths’ formed the basis for the Constitutions of the various early colonies. They then laid the basis for the United States Declaration of Independence out of which arose the United States Constitution.

  • Understand the Nature and Role of God:  “God is Sovereign”
    1. He is the Creator of all things
    2. He is the Sustainer of all Life
    3. Jesus Christ is the Supreme Authority and the King of all Kings
    4. God created man as His highest Creation and delegated to man as His deputy the duty to oversee Creation
    5. God equipped man with the skill and power and integrity to use his talents justly
  • Understand the nature of Man: “Man is Sinful and Depraved”
    1. Man is naturally a sinner and does not automatically do right
    2. Unbridled human lust competes against duty to God. It is what causes a continual struggle to maintain integrity in office or in the pulpit or in the citizen.
    3. The Holy Experiment in self-government could only survive if the people submitted their ambitions and actions to the 10 Commandments of God. (Eternal and Universal Truth).
  • Understand the Purpose for Government: “It is Limited”/ “A Ministry of Justice”
    1. Praise those who do righteously
    2. Punish those who do evil
    3. {Inherent within this to: Enact Justice; Protection and encouragement for those who do right/protect private property/intellectual property –patents etc; national defense and local law enforcement 😉
  • Understand the Purpose for Law: “To Control Lawbreakers”
  1. The law was added because of sin. ( Rom 1-10  )  “Knowing that the law was not made for the righteous man; but for the disobedient and ungodly, for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, and for manstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,etc…” The goal is not to design more and more laws as this competes directly against self-government and violates the limited nature of government.
  2. Understand the need for a right relationship to the law of the citizens and government officials.  Lex –Rex.  The law must be above all the people. No man can be allowed to become a law unto himself.
  • Understand the natural tendency of government:
    1. Without an understanding of God’s Supreme authority, power corrupts and seeks to consolidate control over others.
    2. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    3. This is the fact that leads to the necessity of separating the 3 ‘Branches’ of civil government – Legislative, Executive, Judicial
  • Understand the Components of Biblical Justice: “Truth, Mercy, Equity”

(Isaiah 59:14And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”  David’s command to Solomon: I Kings 2:5-7. Punish Joab. Reward Barzillai.  “Do according to your wisdom. (Justice and mercy)”

    1. Truth = there is an absolute moral standard for right and wrong
    2. Mercy = While punishment for breaking the law must be enforced, there must be an element of mercy involved since the ultimate end of punishment is for Restoration;
    3. Equity = justice. Judgment imparted with impartiality
    4. Understanding the previous 6 Truths is necessary if a government free of bribery and corruption is to be possible.
  • Understand the Need for Maintaining a Republic: “Citizen Duty”
  1. Responsible Citizens:
      1. Must self-discipline their actions. Must take responsibility for their own actions.
      2. Must subordinate themselves to God’s 10 Commandments. Must agree on God’s moral code.
  2. Men and Women of Integrity in Office:
      1. Necessary to make good laws
      2. Necessary to oppose evil laws
      3. Necessary to conduct their actions as under God
      4. Necessary to view their roles as ‘servants’ to the people and ministers of God
  • Understand the Need to build in Safeguards within the System: “Checks and Balances – Accountability”
  1. Because of the nature of man to be selfish and greedy, without firm provisions in the law or personal integrity, the pursuit of power becomes intoxifying and corruptive. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  2. This is why the concept of a separation of powers as originated by God Himself (Prophet=Legislation; Priest= Judicial; King= Executive) is so critical.
  3. This is why the concept of term limits is important particularly for Executive Branch positions. This is why the concept of the importance of the 3 functions/branches is in this order: Legislative/Executive/Judicial
  • Understand the Need to Teach: “Instruct the Youth in all these Things”
    1. Train up a child in the way they should go ….”  Prov. 22:6
    2. Deut. 8 etc. Fathers teach your children. Remember who I am and what I’ve done.
    3. Education is critical. When the past is forgotten, the future will become dark.
  • Understand the Need for Prayer:  
    1. The entire process must be upheld in continuous prayer to God. “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Ps 127:1
    2. The arena of civil government is a spiritual battleground. Freedom cannot be acquired with man’s cunning or achieved by political manipulations. It can neither be purchased with vast sums of money.
    3. This spiritual component so critical to be understood is that no nation rises to power without God’s aid, that God Himself raises up nations and places into positions of authority who He chooses. This understanding is perhaps the most important element of moving a nation from tyranny to freedom, from the rule of man to government limited by self-discipline and to a form or government not assured by the promise of a man but guaranteed by a written Constitution adopted by the people.
    4. The role of the pastors of a nation therefore compose a foundational element if freedom is to be secured and a Constitution written that embodies these “10 Truths”. It is the Truth of God’s Eternal Word and application of its principles of these “10 Truths” that laid the foundation in the United States in its formative years. It was the preaching of these truths from the pulpits of America that made these Truths known. It is why the involvement of the pastors of any nation – including Ukraine – cannot be just a tangential consideration but a fundamental component of the move toward freedom with the Natural and God-given rights of man embodied within a written Constitution as the highest civil law of the nation.

 

Summary:

     In the actual words of William Penn, he states his conclusion of the matter citing the key Biblical Truths and the logical conclusions toward the move from tyranny to freedom, from the rule of man to the Rule of Law.

“For particular frames and models, it will become me to say little; and comparatively I will say nothing. My reasons are:

First. That the age is too nice and difficult for it; there being nothing the wits of men are more busy and divided upon. It is true, they seem to agree to the end, to wit, happiness; but, in the means, they differ, as to divine, so to this human felicity; and the cause is much the same, not always want of light and knowledge, but want of using them rightly. Men side with their passions against their reason, and their sinister interests have so strong a bias upon their minds that they lean to them against the good of the things they know.

Secondly. I do not find a model in the world, that time, place, and some singular emergencies have not necessarily altered; nor it is easy to frame a civil government that shall serve all places alike.

Thirdly. I know what is said by the several admirers of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, which are the rule of one, a few, and many, and are the three common ideas of government, when men discourse on the subject. But

I choose to solve the controversy with this small distinction, and it belongs to all three: Any government is free to the people under it (whatever be the frame) where the laws rule, and the people are a party to those laws, and more than this is tyranny, oligarchy, or confusion.

But, lastly, when all is said, there is hardly one frame of government in the world so ill designed by its first founders that, in good hands, would not do well enough; and story tells us, the best, in ill ones, can do nothing that is great or good; witness the Jewish and Roman states. Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But, if men be bad, let the government be ever so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.

I know some say, “Let us have good laws, and no matter for the men that execute them”; but let them consider that, though good laws do well, good men do better, for good laws may want good men and be abolished or evaded by ill men; but good men will never want {lack} good laws nor suffer{permit} ill ones. It is true, good laws have some awe upon ill ministers, but that is where they have not power to escape or abolish them, and the people are generally wise and good, but a loose and depraved people (which is the question) love laws and an administration like themselves. That, therefore, which makes a good constitution, must keep it, viz.: men of wisdom and virtue, qualities that, because they descend not with worldly inheritances, must be carefully propagated by a virtuous education of youth; for which after ages will owe more to the care and prudence of founders, and the successive magistracy, than to their parents, for their private patrimonies.

These considerations of the weight of government, and the nice and various opinions about it, made it uneasy to me to think of publishing the ensuing frame and conditional laws, forseeing both the censures they will meet with from men of differing humors and engagements and the occasion they may give of discourse beyond my design.

But, next to the power of necessity (which is a solicitor that will take no denial), this induced me to a compliance: that we have (with reverence to God, and good conscience to men), to the best of our skill, contrived and composed the frame and laws of this government, to the great end of all government, viz.: To support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the people from the abuse of power; that they may be free by their just obedience, and the magistrates honorable, for their just administration; for liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery. To carry this evenness is partly owing to the constitution and partly to the magistracy; where either of these fail, government will be subject to convulsions; but, where both are wanting, it must be totally subverted; then where both meet, the government is like to endure. Which I humbly pray and hope God will please to make the lot of this of Pennsylvania. Amen.”

Hon. Sam Rohrer

American Pastors Network

August 5, 2015