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Paradigm Shift 2000: Covenantal Blessings and Curses in History

By Jay Rogers
Published April 26, 1995

When we view a general outline of world history in the context of God’s covenant with His people, the Church, we see great revolutions occurring every 500 years with world kingdoms being overthrown. Yet God’s people always thrive in times of societal upheaval. The covenant-keeping Church has gained authority in the world as it has withstood and upheld great judgments against covenant-breaking nations. The Church has been empowered through understanding the covenant of God. Increased revelation of God’s Law as a model for society has also brought changes in civil government as the people of God have worked for societal reformation. The Church’s role is to occupy the secular power bases shortly before devastating judgments on pagan world systems. When the dust clears, it is the Church that begins the process of restoration. God’s people as a whole then occupy even higher power bases. Thus the kingdom of God has been advanced through history.

The Roman model was that of a centralized forced union with some representation, which contrasted greatly with the Christian model of self-government. The Church suffered persecutions under ten different Roman emperors. Church government was a decentralized, bottom-up system with bishops in certain regions taking an increasing role of authority over entire cities. The model for worship services quickly became liturgical and sacramental, but the meetings themselves resembled informal family gatherings. The local church was a grassroots movement for over three hundred years, meeting from house to house. Local church government was based on the model of extended families with male heads of households functioning as elders or presbyters.

In the 4th century A.D., Constantine became the Roman Emperor. He officially embraced Christianity. Whether he was genuinely converted to Christ is unknown, but nevertheless, Christianity became a legalized and accepted religion of the Roman Empire. Instead of suffering the persecution of the state, the Church now enjoyed the patronage of the state. Constantine called the Council of Nicea which unified the Church, instituting a catholicism which began through the rule of a synod of bishops. But the era ended with the Roman bishop taking an increasingly imperialistic role. The Church was taken off her guard. The people of God, who had been watchful, prayerful, and faithful in the time of opposition, were now lulled into a false sense of security. Without doubt, imperial favor brought the Roman system of centralized government with forced union into the Church. Thus the conversion of Constantine, with the changes that this brought about – the introduction of practices of pagan origin, the rise of an ecclesiastical hierarchy based on the world system rather than Scripture – led to a swift decline. The Church descended into the “Dark Ages,” and the light of true Christianity was almost extinguished.

The weakness of this system was that it was a top-down, hierarchical ecclesiocracy, that is, a civil government run by the Church. Genuine conversions were rare, because the liturgy of the Church was said in Latin, a dead language by this time, and few clergy emphasized personal regeneration as a requirement for Church membership. Government was enforced through external motivation. The sacraments and church membership became the basis for individual rights. Thus arose the mistaken notion that human rights originate from a civil or ecclesiastical power. The “Divine Right of Kings” arose from the idea that the pope gave the emperor his authority.

Although much of this system of government was pagan in origin, the “Common Law of Nations” continued to be a valid a basis for governing a society during this period. The Common Law was the moral law of God (understood through natural revelation) plus the civil codes of Roman law. It should be understood that Roman law, where specifically sanctioned by Scripture, is a valid a basis for governing society. Some Roman law can be seen to be founded upon God’s moral law, because the Gentiles of the Roman period had some knowledge of Judaism and then Christianity.

In the 1300s, John Wycliffe’s writings and his English New Testament led to the reformation of the laws of English society. Wycliffe wrote in the preface of his English Bible that: “This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Originally, Wycliffe meant this to apply only to church government. But it was soon applied to civil society as well. A society’s law should be God’s law; this was the point; but Wycliffe also included the phrase “by the people.” In other words, the people themselves should read and know the Bible so that they shall be able to govern and be governed by biblical laws. The Church and the kingdom of God is subject to God’s Law, and in turn, God gave the Church her mandate to advance His kingdom on earth independently from any earthly authority. This was a radical departure from the government of popes and kings.

Soon thinking people began to challenge the existing paradigm of feudalism, which was now a thousand years old. Scholasticism introduced of the study of Scripture, and it was the translation of Scripture into the common languages of the people by later reformers which led to the downfall of Romanism. Scholasticism led to the dismantling of the very system which Charlemagne had used the clergy to employ. The idea of individual liberty under the moral law of God began to be recovered. Further restoration of these ideas were promoted through the writings of John Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Locke.

Ironically, the same revolution that brought the Law of God within the grasp of the common man, also gave birth to secularism. When the monopoly of the Church over the affairs of the state was broken, a reactionary tendency set in. This trend can be seen in the French Enlightenment, which was more a reaction against the kings and bishops of France than apostolic Christianity. In throwing off the shackles of tyranny, atheism and deism became the order of the day. The blood bath of French Revolution and the resulting anarchy can be viewed as the antithesis of American independence. The Americans understood that liberty could only be secured by a people who were self-governing under the moral laws of God.

Civil liberty implies that a large portion of the population has been sanctified through redemption and knowledge of the Word of God. Whenever the Bible has appeared in the common language of the people, the people have gained greater liberty. This liberty, however, comes from the Spirit of the living God. The written Law is merely death unless it is illumined by the Holy Spirit. This is why it is dangerous to assume that Law can ever sanctify a society. The Law may take on its proper role in society, only when born-again believers assume roles of civil authority. Unless there is accompanying revival and spiritual awakening, the moral Law can only serve to condemn unregenerate people. The result will be a libertine society under the dictatorship of mob rule. Secularism has become the order of the day in many western states in the latter half of the 20th century .

This culmination of events leaves us today with what some have termed the “New World Order.” There are two viable options for future American statesmen proceeding with foreign policy in the world. America can either push towards a New World Order of messianic statism – one in which the state robs the individual of his natural sovereignty and independence and assumes the role of family, church and, yes, even God. The other role for our nation is a campaign for global reformation – one in which the state assumes a minimal role and assumes that the individual, family and church are sovereignly governed under the moral law of God.

By the 21st century, we will have entered, like it or not, a kind of a New World Order. The question Christians need to ask during this time: Will it be a top-down totalitarian statist order akin to Hitler’s dream of a Third Reich? – Or will it be the realization of the Puritan dream of decentralized Christian theocratic republics emerging throughout the world?

The Puritan Hope

Today, true believers in historical orthodoxy have an opportunity to assist emerging free nations in shaking off the shackles of tyranny. The political role of America during this time in world history can move in only one of two corresponding directions. Our nation can move forward in its current position of agnostic secularism and attempt to secure our status militarily and economically as the most powerful nation in the world; or we can reclaim the Christian heritage of our Puritan beginnings and strive to rebuild America as an example of strength and prosperity built on the ideals of the biblical law and government.

The entire Puritan experiment in America was aimed at creating “a city set on a hill for all the world to see” – a model republic based on biblical law and Christian charity for the whole world to emulate. The Puritans also believed in the concept of “patient gradualism” – that they might not live to see the fruit of the field they had planted. They understood the Kingdom of Heaven as being progressive and having a gradual growth, as a stone cut without hands, which becomes a great mountain and fills the earth. The kingdom of Heaven was to attain universal dominion but through slow degrees with gradual progress. The Puritans understood that the Messiah would thus be gradually magnified until He became the omnipotent ruler in the world. Thus the battle cry of the reformation – “No king but Christ” – would become a temporal reality.

Three and a half centuries later, we seem to be on the threshold of realizing the Puritan hope. Tyrannical dictatorships have been overthrown; former communist bloc countries are looking to the West – and especially to America – for a model upon which to base their political and economic systems. The future course of many nations could be determined by the voice of the Church prophetically warning against personal ambition and entangling alliances; but encouraging instead a historical optimism with the possibility of covenants among Christian nations to ensure lasting peace.

The Church can work for the emergence of decentralized Christian societies throughout the world. If the Puritan Hope prevails, we could see Christian nations working in covenant together for the evangelization and reformation of the remaining non-Christian nations. A positive outcome of Paradigm Shift 2000 could be the division of the world into two spheres: the Christian bloc and non-Christian bloc – with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing (Acts 19:20).


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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

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— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

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