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11/21/2015

WHEN OBEDIENCE TO GOD REQUIRES DISOBEDIENCE TO MAN

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
Benjamin Franklin

Here’s kudos to the French government for going all-out to protect its citizens from suffering further attacks from Muslim terrorists. It is sad that the Obama administration does not have the same sort of commitment to protect American citizens, but seems willing to roll the dice with American lives in order to further its own socialist-political agenda.
God’s Purpose for Civil Government
Romans 13:1-5 makes it clear that human government was instituted by God and that government leaders have a moral and divine responsibility to protect their citizens from evil. Human government became necessary because of the fall and the entry of sin and evil into the world (Genesis 3). James Madison, the chief architect of the American Constitution, understood this and wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Men, however, are not angels and Scripture is clear that in a fallen world God places kings, prime ministers and presidents in positions of authority for the primary purpose of protecting the good and punishing the evil. Roman 13:4 goes so far as to call the government official, God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
A Biblical View of the World is Needed
The problem with the present administration is that it holds a post-modern world-view in which evil does not exist. In this fantasy world of left-wing philosophy, there is no absolute right and wrong, no absolute good and evil and no absolute truth and falsehood. In this delusional way of thinking, modern Marxist or Islamic revolutionaries are no different than George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the other American Founders.
This post-modern way of thinking clouds a person’s vision, rendering them incapable of making important distinctions in life. This is why the president could make the ridiculous statement that vetting the thousands of Muslim, Syrian refugees is no different than processing the many tourists who visit this country every year. This is why he and his cohorts cannot bring themselves to utter the words "Islamic extremists."
Power Brings Responsibility
Governmental power is not about privilege, but responsibility. Sadly, this president sees the presidency in terms of personal privilege, not civil responsibility. When asked what he liked most about being president, he immediately replied, “Air Force One.”
Seeing the presidency in terms of privilege, he has used the power of the office to push his own personal agendas and neglected his responsibility to protect the American people and lead the free world. Robert Gates, his first Secretary of Defense, said the only time he saw the president passionate was when he discussed dispensing with “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and opening the military to practicing homosexuals.
Under this presidency, religious liberty and freedom of conscience have been sacrificed for political correctness and promotion of the homosexual lifestyle. Christian business owners—such as florists and bakers--have been prosecuted because they politely refused to provide services for same-sex weddings. Kim Davis, a county clerk, was jailed because she politely declined to sign a same-sex marriage license.
While this president has been preoccupied with pushing his socialist vision for America, he has turned a blind eye to the thousands of Christians in the Middle East who are being slaughtered and their churches and communities destroyed by ISIS. I can't help but believe that this nation has blood on its hands for not coming to their rescue.
God expects those with power to use it responsibly to rescue those who are suffering under evil. Proverbs 24:11-12 makes clear that God will hold accountable those who have the power to rescue those being slaughtered but do nothing to help.
Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
The indifference of this president toward suffering Christians of the Middle East casts a shadow of doubt on his claim of compassion toward the Syrian refugees and makes one wonder what his true motive is for wanting to bring thousands of Muslims into this country? Interestingly, 27 Iraqi Christians who escaped the terror in their homeland and crossed the southern border into the U.S. have been refused refugee status by this administration and are being deported.
Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God
This president is using the power granted to him by God and the American people in a way that is inconsistent with God’s purpose for civil government. Not only is he not protecting American citizens or rescuing those being led away to slaughter, he is using his presidential power in an oppressive manner, especially toward Christians and political opponents. This is known as “tyranny” and rulers who act in this way are known as “tyrants.”
“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” was a phrase coined by Benjamin Franklin that became very popular during the American Revolution and was even considered for use on the Great Seal of the nation. King George was a tyrant who sought to forcefully control the lives of the Colonists without any input on their part. Tyrants are not so concerned with protecting lives as they are controlling lives and having it their way. Tyrants are not to be obeyed; they are to be confronted!
What We Can We Do
Yes, we are to be respectful toward government leaders and pray for them. That is a given and a priority. But called by our Lord to be salt and light, we are also to confront them when they are wrong. Moses confronted Pharaoh. Samuel confronted King Saul. Nathan confronted King David when he sinned. An unnamed prophet confronted King Jeroboam for his idolatry. Elijah confronted Ahab, etc., etc.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist confronted Herod for his adultery. Jesus confronted the religious-civil authorities of His day, calling them hypocrites and white-washed tombs full of dead men's bones. When Peter and John confronted the Jewish authorities for their unbelief and were ordered to stop teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus, they replied, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
It is time for the American Christian to stand up and speak the truth in love. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Pray for the president and all governmental leaders, but stand against the idiocy and ungodliness that is coming out of Washington D.C.

Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian and ordained minister. His latest book, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, demonstrates how even this "nonreligious" American Founder held a Christian world-view and believed Christian morality absolutely necessary for a stable and prosperous nation. For more information on Eddie's ministry and his vision for America, go to his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.


10/29/2015

\WHY THE MODERN CRUSADE TO SILENCE PRAYER IS NOT ONLY UNGODLY, BUT ALSO "UNAMERICAN"

For the first 180 years of this nation’s existence, prayer was as American as mom, baseball, and apple pie. Americans prayed--everywhere. It was part of our heritage. In my own lifetime, I can remember when prayer was a common thing at high school graduations, high school football games, city council meetings, and just about any public venue.
This began to drastically change when the Supreme Court, in 1962, banned prayer in public schools. Since that time there has been a growing hostility toward Christian prayer, and a crusade to ban it in every public venue.
A recent target of this un-American, anti-prayer crusade is Joe Kennedy of Bremerton High School in Washington state, a Marine Corps veteran and coach of the football team. Kennedy has a long tradition of kneeling to pray at the end of each football game and is often joined by some of the players.
He was recently notified by the District Superintendent, Aaron Leavell, that his public prayers must stop, even though it is a personal prayer on his part and no one is required, or even asked, to join him. The notification to cease and desist included the added warning, “Your talks with students may not include religious expressions, including prayer. They must remain entirely secular in nature.”
This is ironic in light of the fact that America was birthed in prayer. Prayer played a vital role in its beginning—at each Continental Congress, with George Washington, with the Continental Army, and with the American populace in general. We might say that prayer was part of being American!
Prayer at the First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to decide how to respond to Britain’s growing attempts to tax and control the lives of the colonists without their participation. Because of growing colonial protests, British troops had been dispatched to quell the “disturbances.”
As delegates traveled from New England in the north, and from as far south as South Carolina, it weighed heavily on their minds how two regiments of British troops had just occupied the city of Boston and closed its port.
At the first meeting on September 5, 1774 it was proposed that they begin their deliberations with prayer. Two delegates opposed the motion on the grounds that they were such a diverse religious group—Anglicans, Puritans, Presbyterians, Quakers, etc.—that it would be impossible for them to pray together.
Samuel Adams, a Puritan from Boston, arose and said that he was not a bigoted man and that he could join in prayer with any person of piety and virtue who loved his country. He went on to say that although he was a stranger to Philadelphia he had heard of an Anglican minister, a Rev. Dusche, who was such a man and proposed that they invite him to come and lead them in prayer.
Adams proposal was approved and Dusche was asked to preside over a time of Bible reading and prayer. As the elderly, grey-haired Dusche stood before the Congress, he began by reading the entire 35th Psalm, which powerfully impacted everyone present. It is a prayer of David for deliverance and begins with the words, Plead my cause O LORD with those who strive against me; fight against those who fight against me. The Psalm ends with praise for God’s deliverance.
As the Psalm was read, a unique sense of God’s presence filled the room and tears flowed from many eyes. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail of the impact of the Bible reading and prayer on the delegates. He said;
Who can realize the emotions with which they turned imploringly to heaven for divine interposition and aid. It was enough to melt a heart of stone. I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seems as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read that day. I saw tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave pacific Quakers of Philadelphia. I must beg you to read that Psalm (Hyatt, America’s Revival Heritage, 69).
After reading the Psalm, Dusche began praying for the delegates, for America, and especially for the city of Boston and its inhabitants who were under siege. As he began praying, the Anglicans, such as George Washington and Richard Henry Lee, knelt in prayer according to their custom. The Puritans, according to their custom, sat with bowed heads and prayed. Others prayed according to their own unique customs. But although their outward manners differed, there was a singleness of heart and purpose as they all united in prayer for God’s assistance and intervention for America.
The Influence of the Great Awakening
This could only happen because there had been a great Spiritual awakening (1726-1770) that created a moral and prayerful tone throughout the colonies. When, for example, the Great Awakening came to Philadelphia, prayer became so prominent that Benjamin Franklin said that one could not walk down any street in the city without hearing prayer and praise coming from houses on every street (Eddie Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin,33).
Through the incessant labors of revivalists like George Whitefield, denominational walls were broken down and the scattered colonists, for the first time, began to see themselves as “one nation under God.” Through the Great Awakening, prayer became a very real part of the American experience. Prayer became as American as mom and apple pie.
George Washington Institutes Prayer
Prayer continued to be vital part of the proceedings of the Continental Congresses. In fact, at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Benjamin Franklin reminded the delegates how that during the war (1775-1783) “we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection” (Hyatt, The Faith &Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 62).
During the Second Continental Congress (1775-1781), where there was daily prayer, it was unanimously decided to declare independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was then issued on July 4, 1776. They also asked George Washington to become the commander-in-chief of the ragtag continental army.
Washington accepted the call and immediately set out to bring a moral discipline to the troops. He issued an order that there was to be no drunkenness or profanity and that each day was to begin with prayer led by the officers of each unit. He also ordered that unless their duties required them to be elsewhere, every soldier was to observe, “a punctual attendance of Divine services, to implore the blessing of heaven upon the means used for our safety and public defense.”
The Congress and the Nation Prays
During the War, the Continental Congress issued no less than fifteen proclamations of “humiliation and prayer” calling on all Americans to set aside particular days to fast and pray for God’s assistance to their cause. The proclamation of 1779 urged the nation “humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God” to ask “that He would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion [Christianity] and virtue.”
At the close of the war, George Washington wrote a circular letter, dated June 14, 1783, to the governors of the various states, which included his “earnest prayer” that I here quote in part. He wrote;
I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens . . .  to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another . . . and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
Here’s How We Must Respond
There is no question that America was birthed in a milieu of prayer. Prayer was such a vital part of the early American experience that in 1787 the “nonreligious” Benjamin Franklin chided the Constitutional Convention for not praying before their deliberations and called on them to pray and ask God for His help and assistance.
So, let us not be intimidated into thinking that prayer is somehow inappropriate for public or political venues. Remember how Tim Tebow was ridiculed by liberal pundits for kneeling on the football field to pray and give thanks to God? Those individuals were obviously uninformed about American history for prayer is American--as American as mom, baseball, and apple pie.
Let us, therefore, be bold in our faith. Let us be salt and light in this generation. Let us pray for another Great Awakening in the land. It is the godly thing to do! It is the American thing to do!

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and ordained minister. His books on Spiritual awakenings in church and American history are available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He is the founder of the Revive America Project, whose goal is to inspire faith and vision for another Great Awakening in the land.

10/22/2015

HOW SOCIALISM ALMOST DESTROYED THE PILGRIMS, AND THE ANSWER THEY FOUND THAT WORKED

Many years before socialism brought about the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the inadequacies of socialism were demonstrated right here on American soil. The Pilgrims who landed at Cape Cod in the fall of 1620 at first attempted a communal type of living, but disbanded it when it became obvious their community could not survive with such a system.
The Pilgrims Experience the Pain of Socialism
The Pilgrim’s journey to America was funded by a group of venture capitalists who provided the ship and supplies for their journey to the New World. In return, the Pilgrims agreed to live communally with everyone receiving the same recompense for their work, and with everything above their basic necessities going into a common fund to be used to pay their creditors.
William Bradford, who served as governor of Plymouth for many years, told of the challenges of this socialist system. Young men, he said, resented getting paid the same as older men when they did so much more of the work. As a result they tended to slouch and slack since they knew they would receive the same no matter how hard they worked.
The older men felt they deserved more honor and recompense because of their age and resented getting paid the same as the youngsters in their midst. Bradford said that the women often refused go to the fields to work, complaining of headaches, and to have compelled them to go would have been considered tyranny and oppression.
This socialist system discouraged work and innovation and almost destroyed the colony. When it became obvious that lack and perhaps starvation would be their lot, Bradford and the leaders of the colony decided to make a change. After much prayer and discussion, they decided to dispense with that part of the agreement with their creditors that required them to live communally until their debt was paid.
They Experience the Gain of Free Enterprise
According to Bradford, they then divided the land around them, allotting to each family a certain portion that would be theirs to work and use for their own needs. Bradford said there was an immediate change. The young men began to work much harder because they now knew they would eat the fruit of their own labors. There were no more complaints from the older men for the same reason. And now the women were seen going into the fields to work, taking the children with them, because they knew they and their family would personally benefit.
Instead of lacking food, each family now grew more food and corn than they needed, and they began to trade with one another for furnishings, clothes and other goods. They also had enough excess to trade with the Indians for furs and other items. In short, the colony began to prosper when they got rid of their socialist form of government and implemented a free, entrepreneurial system.
Of their experience with socialism, Bradford wrote;
This community [socialism] was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . and showed the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s, and applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God (Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 120-21).
No Socialism in the Early Church
Based on a superficial reading of Acts 2:44-45; 3:34-37, some claim that the early church practiced a form of socialism. It should be pointed out, however, that their having all things in common was not the result of a system implemented from without, but a voluntary overflow of compassion from within. This is confirmed by the fact that there is no evidence that this community experience was ever suggested anyplace else, or that it continued in Jerusalem.
That no one was required to share their property and goods with others was made clear by the experience of Ananias and Sapphira. This couple sold a piece of land and Ananias brought a portion of the proceeds to Peter but claimed it was the entire amount. He was struck down on the spot and when his wife arrived later and affirmed his lie, she too fell over dead.
Their sin was not that they had kept back some of the proceeds from the sale of their property. They were completely free to keep it all if they had chosen. Their sin was that they lied about what they had given to try and impress Peter and others of their generosity and spirituality. They were hypocritical!
This is clear from the words of Peter who said to Ananias, While it remained was it not your own? And after it was sold was it not in your own control (Acts 5:4)? In other words, the property belonged to them before it was sold and was theirs to utilize however they chose. And after they sold the property, the money was theirs to use as they pleased.
This clearly shows that there were no rules governing how the people used their property and money in the early church in Jerusalem. Ananias and Sapphira were struck down, not for holding back certain monies, but for lying in the midst of a mighty and powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
Christianity & Capitalism
Bradford believed that socialism did not work because it ran counter to God’s will for humanity in a fallen world. Because of mankind’s fallen state, he cannot be expected to labor for no reward. In Scripture, God rewards individuals for their labor and good works. Capitalism works because it is compatible with the reality of human nature and the world in which we live.
For capitalism to fully succeed, however, it must function in a strong Christian milieu. Otherwise, the strong and powerful will trod underfoot the weak and poor. Capitalism worked for the Pilgrims because they were a compassionate people who looked after those in their midst when they were sick, injured or unable to work.
True Christianity brings a compassion that helps the weak and poor, apart from initiative-destroying government programs. This is what happened in the early church and is what happened with the Pilgrims, who wanted to emulate that church.
Conclusion
Just a few years ago, identifying one’s self as a socialist meant being ostracized from most of American society. It would spell doom for a politician. That Bernie Sanders is attracting huge crowds and grabbing so much media attention under that banner shows the change that has occurred in the American mindset. It shows that much of the American populace is willing to look to government as the answer for the nation’s problems.

As Christians, our responsibility is to call people to Christ and help them live out their Christianity in the real world. Living out our Christianity means a life of responsibility, not looking for government handouts but working and prospering in a way that we can give a hand up to those in need. We desire the best for the greatest number of people which is why we must pray for Bernie Sanders, but reject his vision of a government-mandated socialist system in America.

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and ordained minister. His books on Spiritual Awakening and church history are available from Amazon and his website in both paperback and Kindle. To read about his vision for another great Spiritual awakening go to his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.
  

10/19/2015

CAN A POLITICIAN SAVE US?

For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our King; He will save us
(Isaiah 33:22).

In the past few days and weeks, I have experienced a new sense of urgency about America. I sense that this is a defining moment in our nation's history. I believe the next year will determine if America continues to be “one nation under God” with liberty and justice for all, or if it continues its downward slide into an abyss of moral chaos, political lawlessness, foreign invasion, and the loss of the values and freedoms that made it great.
In God We Should Trust
There is hope but we must remember that only God can save us. Human nature has a tendency to look for a human king for deliverance as Israel did in the Old Testament. God wanted to be their king but they rejected him and chose their own carnal, human king because he was "head and shoulders" above the rest of the people. 

That was well and good until their king encountered a giant who towered over him. It must have been heart-wrenching for them to see their king and his army cower in fear and defeat before Goliath. When we trust in natural human resources and abilities, we will always encounter situations that are beyond are ability to deal. Christians in America must not trust in the flesh at this time in history.

I am happy to see what I believe are committed Christians running for president. However, I am concerned to see prophecies come forth  that could have the effect of encouraging people to put their trust in another human king (politician) to save America. We must realize that only God can save us. We must not trust in a politician. We must not trust in the flesh.

Even if a “Christian” president is elected in 2016 he will be unable to reverse the destructive trends unless there is a new and godly moral force in the land unleashed by a national, Spiritual awakening. During the next year there must be a remnant of committed followers of Jesus who pray in faith for another great Spiritual awakening in our land. That is the answer for America and every other nation.
History is On Our Side
In America’s history God has, again and again, saved the nation from ruin by sending Spiritual awakening in response to the sincere prayers of His people. One example is the Great Prayer Awakening of 1857-58, which carried the nation through the Civil War and saved it from total ruin. In this prayer revival, churches and auditoriums were daily filled with people pouring out their hearts to God in prayer and intercession. 
Charles Finney was in Boston that winter and noted that such a spirit of prayer had come upon the people that they preferred prayer meetings to meetings where there was singing and preaching. Led by lay people, the attitude seemed to be, “We have heard preaching until we are hardened. It is time to pray!”
Finney also described it as a time when “a divine influence seemed to pervade the whole land.” He estimated that at the height of this Great Prayer Awakening fifty-thousand were converted in a single week—and that without the aid of modern communication and technology. Conservative estimates place the total number of conversions at close to 1 million.
In Charleston, South Carolina, the black pastor of the Anson Street Presbyterian Church, John Giardeaux, established a prayer meeting in 1858 and exhorted his people to “wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” The prayer service grew until the auditorium was overflowing with more than two-thousand people. As on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit suddenly fell upon those at the Anson Street Church.
They began to sob, softly, like the falling of rain; then, with deeper emotion, to weep bitterly, or to rejoice loudly, according to their circumstances. It was midnight before he could dismiss the congregation. The meeting went on night and day for weeks. Large numbers of both black and white were converted and joined churches in the city.
Prayer Changes Things
This spirit of prayer did not stop the war. It did, however, spill over into the war and save the nation from total destruction. The noted historian, Mark A. Noll, says, “Revivals were common in both camps of the Blue and the Gray.”
So strong was the spirit of prayer on both sides that in the early part of the war, when the South seemed to be gaining the upper hand, President Lincoln expressed concern that the “rebel soldiers” were praying more than the Northern troops.
The North did not fare well during the early days of the war. Suffering one defeat after another it looked as though the United States might be destroyed. With things looking grim for the state of the Union, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution asking the president to observe a national day of fasting and prayer.
Lincoln then designated April 30, 1863 as a national day of humiliation, prayer and the confession of national sins, which would include the sin of slavery. After this day of repentance and prayer, there was an almost immediate turn of the war in favor of the North. It happened like this.
Shortly after the North observed the national day of repentance, fasting and prayer, a confident General Robert E. Lee led 76,000 Confederate troops north into Union territory, i.e., into Pennsylvania. The populace was terrified and there was much panic. Lincoln, however, having been impacted by the prayer awakening, found solace in prayer. He said;
When everyone seemed panic-stricken I went to my room and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed. Soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands.
The Confederate forces were defeated at Gettysburg on July 3 and that battle proved to be the turning point for the war. Some would say it was coincidental but the change came on heels of the national day of repentance, prayer and fasting.
The Great Prayer Awakening of 1857-58 saved the nation from total ruin. In their excellent book, Firefall, Malcolm McDow and Alvin Reid write, “The Prayer Revival laid the foundation to give spiritual resources that would help the nation survive this conflict.” With over 600,000 deaths from the war (compared to 50,000 American deaths in WWII), it was by far the greatest tragedy this nation has ever endured and only The Great Prayer Awakening enabled America to survive.
If My People
This is another critical moment in our nation's history, and a politician will not save us. We must not be swayed by prophecies or political rhetoric to put our trust in "man." Let us remember the words of Isaiah to Israel at a very critical time in that nation's history. He wrote, The LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; He will save us (Isaiah 33:22). 

Without relinquishing our responsibilities as American citizens, we must turn from any trust in a politician or the next election, and call out to God for His mercy, grace and power on the churches of America. It is time to begin asking God to send another great, national awakening to our land. I am convinced that He is poised and ready to send such an awakening when he finds a people praying in sincere and selfless faith out of love for God and country.



Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is the founder of "The Revive America Project." To read about his vision for another Great Awakening in America and around the world, visit his website at www.eddiehyatt.com


  

10/08/2015

WHY DR. BEN CARSON IS RIGHT ABOUT ISLAM AND THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION

Dr. Benjamin Carson was absolutely right when he said that the American Constitution is incompatible with Islam. The Left, with its naïve vision of the world, went wild in its attacks on the good doctor. They were joined by the Islamic group, CAIR, which demanded that Carson pull out of the race for president because of his comment.
But the facts and history are on the side of Dr. Carson. In Islam, religion and the political goal of world domination are joined together. There is no separation of mosque and state in Islamic thinking. Just look at any nation where Muslims are in the majority--Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.-- and you will NOT find religious freedom. 
The First Amendment is Not Compatible with
Islamic Thinking about Religion & State.
The First Amendment to the Constitution is totally at odds with this sort of thinking. It states that the government will remain neutral in matters of faith but protect the religious freedom of all. This approach reflects the “dissenting Protestant” views of the Founders who wanted a separation of church and state, but not a separate of God and state.
The parents and grandparents of the Founders were godly people who fled religious persecution in the Old World by a state-empowered church. In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin tells how his grandfather, during the reign of Mary Tudor, had an open Bible fastened on the bottom and underneath the cover of a stool. With one of the children watching at the door for civil or religious authorities, he would turn the stool upside down and read the Bible to his family. In case of danger, he would quickly secure the pages and return the stool upright to its place in the corner of the room (Eddie Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 71).
The danger was real for during Mary’s reign 288 Protestants were burned at the stake for their faith. The Reformation with its return to Jesus and the New Testament destroyed the idea of merging church and state and using the power of the state to further a national religion.
The merger of mosque and state, however, is basic to Islam and is why Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is an American citizen of Iranian birth, was arrested for apostasy when he returned to Iran to visit his parents. He was imprisoned by this religious-political regime and remains imprisoned today while his wife and two small children pray for his return and plead for this administration’s help.
The First Amendment is an Expression of Reformation Ideals
Those “dissenting Protestants” who came to America were the ones whose ideas of freedom of conscience and religious liberty ultimately triumphed in America. In the First Amendment they were merely stating that America would never have a state church/religion, sanctioned and empowered by the state as existed at that time in Christian Europe and exists in Islamic countries today.
Although they did not want a state church such as their parents had fled, they knew the importance of building on Christian values. They knew that a nation derives its values from religion, which is why in his Farewell Address George Washington warned the new nation to guard its Christian morality and values, which he called “indispensable supports” for political prosperity (Eddie Hyatt, The Faith &Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 75-76).
Although Christians throughout history have failed to live up to the teachings of their Lord, the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament are the only value system that can hold a diverse nation together. The Founders did not want a state church, but without exception, they wanted Christian values taught in every public venue. Even the “nonreligious” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus” (Eddie Hyatt, America’s Revival Heritage, 73-74).
No Exclusion of God in the First Amendment
That the First Amendment was not intended to exclude God from government was confirmed when the next day after passing the Amendment, the Founders issued a proclamation for a day of prayer throughout the new nation. That they were not excluding their faith in the God of the Bible from government is highlighted by the fact that George Washington took the oath of office with his hand on a Bible and afterwards proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel for a worship service.
That the First Amendment was not an attack on God was confirmed by Joseph Story (1779-1845) who served as a Supreme Court justice for 34 years from 1811-1845. Commenting on the First Amendment, he said;
We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference in religion, and especially to Christianity, which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution.
The American Constitution Designed
for a People with Christian Values
Benjamin Carson is absolutely right that the American Constitution is incompatible with Islam. America was founded on Christian principles and values that emerged out of the Reformation when the church returned to Jesus and the New Testament. Our second president, John Adams, affirmed this when he wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious [Christian] people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other” (Eddie Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 53).
Concluding Thought
America is in need of another Reformation and Spiritual Awakening that will return it to its founding principles and draw the nominal Christians and Muslims in our nation to Christ. I beg you join with me and others in praying for such a Reformation and Spiritual Awakening in our day. It is the only true hope for America's future.


Dr. Eddie Hyatt is the founder of The Revive America Project with the purpose of teaching America’s radical Christian origins and calling the church to pray for another Great Spiritual Awakening. This article was derived primarily from his latest book, The Faith & Visionof Benjamin Franklin, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.

9/24/2015

WHO ARE THE SUCCESSORS OF THE APOSTLES?

One of the major doctrinal divides between Catholic and Protestant is the Catholic concept of apostolic succession. According to this Catholic doctrine, the authority of the original apostles has been passed down to the Catholic bishops through a mechanical, religious rite called “Apostolic Succession.”  
Since Peter, they argue, was the chief of the apostles whom Christ gave the keys, and since he founded the church in Rome, his authority over all the church has been passed along to the bishop of Rome (the pope) through this rite of apostolic succession. Beginning in the latter part of the second century lists began to be made of this succession.
According to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition), since Protestant “communities” do not hold to this Roman Catholic doctrine and practice of “Apostolic Succession,” or maintain a “sacramental priesthood,” they cannot be called churches.
Being able to trace a mechanical, institutional succession back to the apostles is, according to Catholic doctrine, what makes Roman Catholicism the true church and is what disqualifies Protestant “communities” from being called churches.
No Biblical Evidence of Such a Succession
There is, of course, no evidence that either Jesus or the first apostles established permanent church offices that were to be occupied by a succession of church leaders/bishops. Judas was replaced out of necessity because he had been one of the Twelve and by his apostasy he had reduced the number to eleven.
When James, who is also one of the Twelve, is put to death by Herod in Acts 12, there is no attempt to replace him. He held no continuing office that another must fill, nor does any Christian leader in the New Testament. Instead of establishing permanent offices, Paul and the Twelve understood that the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church guaranteed that He would raise up leaders when and where they were needed.
The Idea of an Apostolic Succession Began in the 2nd Century
The idea of permanent church offices occupied by a succession of bishops did not surface until the latter part of the 2nd century with the church father, Irenaeus, who used it as a tool to combat heresy. Irenaeus pointed the heretics to the apostolic churches of his day—the churches of Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Rome and others that supposedly had been founded by Paul or one of the Twelve. According to Irenaeus, if the heretics were not in communion with one of these churches (or a church in communion with those churches), then they had no claim of Christian legitimacy.
The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter founded the church in Rome and passed his authority along through a succession of bishops down to the present pope. The Eastern Orthodox Church, on the other hand, claims that the true apostolic succession has continued in their churches, through their bishops. They assert that, with the division between the eastern and western sectors of the Church in 1054, the true succession continued with them, while the western Church (Roman Catholic) veered from the true faith into heresy.
The Lutheran Church also traces a succession, although their succession of bishops changes at the time of the Reformation. Lutheran historian, Lars Qualben, says, “The Lutherans did not form a new Church after the schism with Rome. They merely formed a continuation of the early Christian Church, as we know it from the New Testament and from the early Christian Fathers.”
The Anglican Church’s claim of apostolic succession would be similar to those above. In fact, all the older churches that claim an ecclesial, organizational succession have continued the model begun by Irenaeus with modifications to fit their own unique historical situation.

No Institutionalized Apostolic Succession

There is, of course, no Biblical basis for an institutionalized, apostolic succession. The New Testament writers, in fact, show very little concern for church offices and organizational structure. This is why the New Testament scholar, Dr. Gordon Fee, says that the New Testament is full of surprises, “but none is so surprising as its generally relaxed attitude toward church structures and leadership.” He and others point out that, excepting Phil. 1:1, Paul never addresses himself to a leader or group of leaders in any of his letters to the churches.
Lists of succeeding bishops, such as that begun by Irenaeus, tend to be based on dogma and expediency rather than factual history. Dr. Hans Kung, who is the most widely read Roman Catholic theologian in the world today, says, “An uninterrupted sequence of ‘laying on of hands’ from the apostles to the bishops of today, an unbroken chain of succession (of the kind cited in later lists of succession) cannot be demonstrated historically.”
John Wesley, who as an Anglican minister, initially held to an apostolic succession through the Anglican bishops, found his views refined in the fires of the 18th century Methodist revival, which he spearheaded. Through his diligent study of the New Testament and after observing the Holy Spirit raise up powerful ministries from the ranks of the common people outside the Anglican Church, he declared that ”neither Christ nor his apostles prescribed any form of church government.”
In his classic work, The Primitive Church, Professor Burnett Streeter agrees with Wesley and says;
"Whatever else is disputable, there is, I submit one result from which there is no escape. In the primitive church there was no single system of church order laid down by the apostles. During the first hundred years of Christianity, the Church was an organism alive and growing—changing its organization to meet changing needs. Uniformity was a later development."

True Apostolic Succession is a Thing of Faith and of the Spirit

The idea that there can be no church without this Catholic rite of Apostolic Succession, diminishes both faith and Christ. It makes a doctrine—and a tenuous one at that—to be predominant and central. It makes both church and the apostolic appear mechanical and doctrinaire.
Jesus, on the other hand, said that where two or three are gathered together in His name, that he would sanction that gathering with His presence (Matthew 18:20). Is His presence not adequate? Paul echoes this in Colossians 2:9-10 where he says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ and that you are complete in Him.
For many Protestants, the Catholic approach to Apostolic Succession, wherein the authority of the apostles is passed along by a programmed religious rite, does not make sense or pass the test of Scripture.
I would ask my Catholic friends to consider the following questions. Should not Apostolic Succession be a thing of substance—of faith and of the Spirit? Should it not be a succession in apostolic faith, apostolic commitment to Christ, and an apostolic experience of the Spirit? Are we not all responsible for adhering to the faith and vision of those first apostles?
Apostolic succession as a thing of the Spirit cannot be restricted to a religious ritual that is mechanically repeated generation after generation--as though the Holy Spirit could be confined to a particular ecclesiastical order. The wind blows where it wishes, Jesus said (Jn.3:8). This is why Henry P. Van Dusen, former president of Union Theological Seminary, declared, “The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to Church officialdom, because He does seem to be unruly, unpredictable and radical.”

The Whole Church Is Apostolic

The apostles recognized all gatherings of believers as true churches. Although neither Paul, Peter, nor any apostle had been to Colosse, Paul recognized the believers there as forming a true ekklesia—a church. Even though the church in Antioch was not under Peter’s authority, as evidenced by the fact that Paul publicly rebuked him when he came there and waffled on the issue of the Gentiles equal acceptance in Christ, there was no question of Antioch being a true church.
Apostolic succession is the responsibility of the whole church—of every Christian. A church is not apostolic because it has a leader who calls himself an apostle, bishop, or pope.  Every believer must seek to walk in the same selfless devotion to Christ as those first apostles. Every believer must live in the same selfless love toward others that characterized the early apostolic Church. And every believer must live in a radical dependence on the Holy Spirit as did those first followers of Christ. Only then can the Church today make any claim to being apostolic.

Apostolic succession is neither mechanical nor automatic. Apostolic succession is a succession in apostolic commitment to Christ and apostolic life in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and Biblical scholar. This article was derived from his book, Pursuing Power: How the Quest for Apostolic Authority and Control Has Divided and  Damaged the Church, available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. To read about his vision for another Great Awakening, visit his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.