Christianity and International Relations 1 – God Created the Nations – All People are Citizens of Two Worlds

This chapter is based on Gary North’s 300 page book, “Healer of the Nations,” published in 1987. Extensive excerpts from it will be followed by the note, “HON,” and the page number. I have followed the book’s ten chapter format, but with each of my five chapters generally being made up of North’s chapters 1/6, 2/7, 3/8 etc, to keep to the Biblical covenant format.

Introduction:

There can never be peace in history outside of Christ. There can be temporary cease-fire agreements, but never a lasting peace. What Christians must understand is that peace is attained through the preaching of the gospel and the discipling of the nations. There is no other way. God will not permit peace on any other terms. War and peace are always covenantal concepts. As long as God and Satan are engaged in a spiritual, historical, and cosmic battle, so their covenanted disciples will be engaged in spiritual, historical, and earthly conflict. Foreign policy must be restructured in every Christian nation to reflect this struggle. It, too, must be reconstructed in terms of the Bible. The goal is international peace, but only on Christ’s terms.1

I. God Created the Nations – All People are Citizens of Two Worlds:

The first part of a Biblical covenant, is the announcement that God is transcendent- the supreme Creator and deliverer of mankind. God is completely superior to and different from men and the world He created, yet He is also present with it: immanent.

A government, Biblically speaking, is a monopolistic institution created by God. Membership in it is established by an oath or vow before God, explicit or implicit (for example, registering to vote). A Biblical understanding of nation does not always require present geographical boundaries, but it requires boundaries as a memory to be revered and as a goal to be achieved. Israel remained a nation during captivity because of the shared faith of the people and their faith in their future restoration to the land.

The modern humanist defines the nation in terms of political power. That geographical and legal entity which possesses supreme political power is defined as the nation. The nation is today incorrectly identified with the State (HON, p.30). The Bible says that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).

Establishing a Christian Nation:

God creates nations, kingdoms, and all other units of civil government. Men, as God’s delegated sovereigns in history (Gen.1:26-28) create civil governments as agents of God, but not as original creators.

What would be the universal features of a Christian nation? The same five features that we see in every government. The Christian nation would be fully aware of what God requires. It must be stressed from the outset that the creation of such a nation could be accomplished only as a result of the widespread work of the Holy Spirit, not through some bureaucratic, top-down, coercively imposed order on a non-Christian majority by a Christian minority.

1. A Common View of God:

All citizens would acknowledge the sovereignty of the Trinitarian God of the Bible. Only He would be publicly worshipped. Only He would be called upon publicly in times of national crisis. Only He would be given public praise in times of national deliverance. His Word, the Bible, would be acknowledged as the source of the nation’s law-order.

2. A Common System of Courts: 

There must be a way of settling public disputes. A Christian nation would follow the example of Exodus 18 and establish an appeals court system. Men would be free to do as they please unless they violate a specific piece of Bible-based legislation, or a specific Biblical injunction that the Bible says must be enforced by the civil government. Government is therefore a bottom-up structure, with the individual operating as a lawful sovereign agent under God and God’s law.

The principle of localism would be affirmed. Local courts would handle most cases. Only the hard cases would be accepted by the appeals courts. Local laws would not be overturned unless they could be proven to be in opposition to a Biblical principle or in opposition to the agreed-upon covenantal (constitutional) terms of the next level of civil government.

3. Common Biblical Law: 

The Bible as the Word of God would be the final standard of justice. All laws at every level of government would be judged in terms of the Bible. The national constitution (written or unwritten) would be officially subordinate to the Bible. The courts would render judgment in terms of the Bible. A body of legal precedent would build up over the years, but precedents would always be subjected to the decisions of juries regarding the proper application of the civil code to circumstances. The Bible would be declared to be the supreme law of the land, and it would be taught in public gatherings on a regular basis (Deut.31:10-13).

4. Judgment by Citizens: 

The judges in Exodus 18 were to be men of good character. There were to have been a lot of judges, and they were to have been much more than an elite group of legal specialists. The essence of citizenship, Biblically speaking, is the legal authority to render judgment. Covenanted citizens alone may serve as judges. People who were residents only, were to be excluded from serving as judges and jurors, because in order to administer Biblical law covenantally, a person had to be under Biblical law covenantally.

The preservation of the integrity of the jury system is probably the most important single domestic civil task facing Christians. It remains one of the bastions against judicial tyranny.

5. Continuity:

Continuity must be over time and also across borders. Continuity over time would be provided by provisions to amend the Constitution and local legal codes, and also by steady changes in common law precedent, as men’s knowledge of God’s kingdom principles improves. Each succeeding generation would be trained in Biblical law by parents (Deut.6:6-7; Eph.6:4), the church (Eph. 4:11-13; I Tim.3:15), and by the civil government through public instruction in God’s law (Deut.31:10-13).

Consistent Christianity:

It is our responsibility as Christians to seek to reform every area of life. The establishment of a godly foreign policy must be part of a program of comprehensive redemption. This requires consistency; no area of life is religiously neutral, and no area of life is outside of God’s two-fold judgment: cursing or blessing. Godly foreign policy begins with repentance, as Solzhenitsyn so aptly stated in 1974:

Repentance is the first bit of firm ground underfoot, the only one from which we can go forward not to fresh hatreds but to concord. Repentance is the only starting point for spiritual growth. For each and every individual. And every trend of social thought.2

All Biblical domestic political policies and foreign policies must begin with this assumption: nations must publicly ally themselves with Christ. The Bible speaks of this in numerous places (see Isa.19:18-25; Zech.2:10-11; Mat.28:18-19; Rev.11:15). Foreign policy in every covenanted nation must reflect this commitment.

Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself (Phil.3:18-21).

Men are always in the presence of God, for He is everywhere. But His presence is always mediated by the covenant. It is not enough that people are always in God’s presence; they must acknowledge Him as sovereign. People are required to make a choice in life between two declared sovereigns in the universe: God and Satan. They must make a covenant. There is no escape from the covenant. It is never a question of covenant vs. no covenant. It is always a question of which covenant. We are born physically into Satan’s covenant, our legacy from Adam. Whether implicitly or explicitly, we affirm his covenant by natural birth. Only by the grace of God are we adopted into God’s family (John 1:12).

Only by grace do we become citizens of God’s heavenly nation. God calls all men to change their “citizenship papers.” He calls them to leave Satan’s covenanted kingdom and join God’s covenanted kingdom. There is no neutrality. There is no third choice of spiritual nations. There are only two: God’s and Satan’s. This means that all people are citizens of a supernatural nation. Everyone works in history to make manifest his particular supernatural citizenship. He works to manifest heaven on earth or hell on earth. There is no neutrality. There is no possibility of any nation on earth not reflecting one or the other supernatural nation. This is why God will judge the nations at the end of time (HON, p.139-140).

This points to the fact of history: the earth is a battlefield between two rival forces, the followers of God and the followers of Satan. This battle is primarily ethical in nature. Two rival law-orders are involved: Christ’s and Satan’s. There can be no ethical neutrality; therefore, there can be no judicial neutrality. Ethical neutrality is a myth. So is natural law. God has already established the basis of citizenship in His kingdom: ethical perfection. Only Jesus Christ has (or can) achieve this perfection in history. Thus, the basis of the Christian’s citizenship in heaven is God’s imputation of Christ’s perfect humanity (though not His divinity) to those whom He graciously redeems. God the Father declares them “not guilty” because of the work of His Son in history.

But never forget: we are citizens of earth, too. We are not of the world, but we are in the world. We are citizens on earth. More to the point, the whole concept of earthly political citizenship is based on the Bible’s concept of supernatural citizenship.  Heavenly citizenship isthe God-required model.

There can be no religiously neutral society in history, or religiously neutral nation. Nations, like people, are either covenant-breakers or covenant-keepers, as Sodom and Gomorrah learned too late. There can be no people who hold citizenship papers in only one nation, earth. In history, we all hold earthly citizenship papers and supernatural citizenship papers, heaven or hell (HON, p.141-142).

1. North, G., “Healer of the Nations,” 1987, p.118-119.
2.
Quoted in North, G., “Healer of the Nations,” p.39.

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