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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God Has Confirmed Our Liberty

Magna charta cum statutis angliae (Great Chart...

Magna Carta

Many of the great historic documents of law and liberty are inseparable from the influence of Christianity. The Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are two important examples of this influence. Gary DeMar writes:

If your children study medieval history, or history of England, make the effort to open their textbook on the chapter concerning Magna Carta and read what it says about the origins of Magna Carta. Whether the textbook is a Christian or a non-Christian textbook, you will learn that (1) in the early 13th century there was an evil king of England named John, (2) his barons rose in rebellion against him, and (3) in 1215 the barons forced King John to sign a document known as Magna Carta where his power over his barons was limited by law, and the barons’ privileges and freedoms were established and protected. . . .

While certain details in the picture the textbooks reveal are correct, the above picture about the history and the origins of Magna Carta is incorrect. It is a typical example of what scholars call “historical revisionism”—re-writing history by historians, teachers, authors, and politicians to fit a specific modern agenda, or to comply with specific modern view of the history of mankind. . . . The historical truth is that Magna Carta was not drafted by the barons, the barons didn’t initiate it at all, and that the Carta had a completely different ideological origin and political and legal intent than what our modern historians presume. Far from being a generally political or legal document, the Carta was a Christian document first, and then everything else.

The falsity of the above historical narrative is revealed by a simple reading of the opening lines of the Carta itself:

“John, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, greeting.

“Know that before God, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honor of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric. . . .”

Note carefully: The Magna Carta doesn’t start with barons, and doesn’t start with individual liberties. It doesn’t start with political considerations, and it doesn’t start with the issue of who holds what power. Magna Carta starts as a religious document, concerned with the “health of the soul” of the King, and with the “honor of God,” and with the “exaltation of the Holy Church.” In addition to that, the King acknowledges that the “advice” for signing the Carta comes from the bishops first, and then from the barons.

As if this was not enough, the main text of the Great Charter starts with the most forgotten clause that is very seldom quoted by modern historians:

“First, that we have granted to God, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”

The question here is: If the signing of the Magna Carta was a conflict between the King and the barons, as the history textbooks tell us, then why does it start with a solemn clause to defend the liberties of the church? Why were the barons so concerned with the inviolability of the rights of the church rather than with their own rights?

Continue reading this entire article. . . .

Begin To Read The Bible

J. C. Ryle

Quoting J. C. Ryle:

“Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it, and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it. It is not meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it; that will not advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.”

Minimizing The Power Of The Government To Control People

Quoting President Ronald Reagan:

“Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as ‘the masses.’ This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, ‘the full power of centralized government’ — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.”

The Man God Speaks Through

Martin Luther

Over the years, I have seen Christians run to and fro from one part of the nation to another part and from one church to another seeking to follow the “movement” of the Holy Spirit or to hear some new revelation of God’s Word as preached by the “anointed” man of the hour. People are constantly looking to find the man who is speaking for God. Quite often, however, I get the feeling that Christians are looking for a preacher who resembles closely a character who might be the product of a movie by Cecil B. DeMille. How are we to find the man who speaks for God? Martin Luther offers us some wise advice:

Would to God that we could gradually train our hearts to believe that the preacher’s words are God’s Word and that the man addressing us is a scholar and a king. . . .

If someone announced: “I know of a place in the world where God speaks and anyone can hear God there”; if I had gone there and seen and heard a poor pastor baptizing and preaching, and if I had been assured: “This is the place; here God is speaking through the voice of the preacher who brings God’s Word”–I would have said: “Well, I have been duped! I see only a pastor. . . .

In fact, we do not enjoy listening to any preacher unless he is gifted with a good and clear voice. If you look more at the pastor than at God; if you do not see God’s person but merely gape to see whether the pastor is learned and skilled . . . then you have already become half a Jacob. For a poor speaker may speak the Word of God just as well as he who is endowed with eloquence. A father speaks the Word of God as well as God does, and your neighbor speaks it as well as the angel Gabriel. There is no difference between the Word when uttered by a schoolboy and when uttered by the angel Gabriel; they vary only in rhetorical ability. It matters not that dishes are made of different material. . . . The same food may be prepared in silver as in dishes of tin. Venison, properly seasoned and prepared, tastes just as good in a wooden dish as in one of silver. . . .

People, however, do not recognize the person of God but only stare at the person of man. This is like a tired and hungry man who would refuse to eat unless the food is served on a silver platter. Such is the attitude that motivates many preachers today. Many, on the other hand, are forced to quit their office, are driven out and expelled.

That is done by those who do not know this gift, who assume that it is a mere man speaking to them, although, as a matter of fact, it is even more than an angel, namely, your dear God. (Martin Luther, preaching on John 4:10, in Luther’s Works, 44:526-29)

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