Surprised a bit by the title a bit, are you, eh?

Normally, you’d never catch me agreeing with much of anything by the Wrong Reverend Copeland.  Being a Kenyonite, his theology skirts the edge of Biblical orthodoxy – and often tumbles over the divide into what the good, late Dr. Walter Martin rightly called “the Kingdom of the Cults.”  In one of his last two good books, Hank “I’m not a Preterist…I just believe in Preterism” Hanegraaff outlined some of the more egregious, obvious heterodoxies of the luminaries of the Word-Faith Movement, including Copeland.

No, Ken; we’re not “little Christs,” God isn’t the biggest loser in the universe, and Jesus wasn’t “born again” in hell – or at any point. You goober.

That being said, Copeland’s got every right to be dead wrong; and those who are undiscerning enough to keep shoveling their money at him have every right to be…less than wise.

He has that right because this is still America.  America is still (at least in name) a republic – which means among other things that we are, as the second president of our United States wrote in his Thoughts on Government, a nation “of laws, not of men” – meaning that the law is the supreme and final word, the last resort, the ultimate court of arbitration – not the ephemeral whims of any given ruler or, worse “the people” (the founders, incidentally, feared a true “democracy” worse than they did the tyranny of the King of England; they rightly equated true democracy with its more common term, anarchy).  Even the congress, the judiciary (though they currently forget this of late), and the president himself are subject to and must bow before the law.  “The will of the people” is not the ultimate consideration in a republican government – and trust me, you don’t want it to be – the tyranny of the majority is a terrible bus to be thrown under.

Inherent in the idea of republicanism (and by “republican” and “republicanism” I am of course referring to theories of government, not the GOP as a political party, which, along with the Democratic Party, long ago essentially abandoned republicanism as a guiding principle), at least in the American expression of it, is the idea of “separation of powers” – not only between the disparate branches of a particular republican government (ours has three – the executive, legislative, and judiciary, which are at least in theory coequal and sovereign within their respective purviews and which act as checks to each other’s power) but also between spheres of authority external to what we today consider “government.”

One of the legacies that the Protestant Reformation bequeathed to us is the idea of the separation of spheres of governmental power and authority.  To the Reformers, the State was only one of several distinct sovereignties that one owed fealty to; there was also the individual, the family…and, among others, the church.  Having witnessed what happens when the church gains temporal power and the line between State and Church becomes blurred, and having remembered what happened when the pendulum had earlier rested in its opposite extreme and the State itself reigned unchecked and supreme in totalitarian Rome, the Reformers eventually formulated the idea of a distinction and separation of sovereignties.

R. J. Rushdoony, an admittedly controversial figure in the Reformed side of the church, father of what is now known as “Christian Reconstruction,” had this to say in an interview:

We have never had a more top-down culture than for about 1500 years, than since Rome fell. Rome fell because it confused simplicity with efficiency. They simplified the state and centralized more and more as if that were the answer. The more they centralized, the more they destroyed the fabric of society. We are following the Roman pattern. We are centralizing as though that were the answer and we are destroying the pattern of society.

Now as Christians we believe that the basic starting point is the regeneration of man. Then man takes and applies that faith. For Christians the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man. Then the basic governmental unit is the family. This means that every father and mother will be more important in the sight of God than heads of state, because He controls children, property and the future. Then the third is the church as the government, fourth the school as a government, fifth your job governs you, then sixth society governs you with its ideas, beliefs and standards, and seventh, one among many forms of government, is the civil government.

Today, we are implicitly totalitarian. We speak of the state as the government. That’s totalitarian. So we have to rid ourselves of such things. The Christian theonomic society will only come about as each man governs himself under God and governs his particular sphere. And only so will we take back government from the state and put it in the hands of Christians.

Laying aside for the moment the many, many areas where I strongly disagree with the late Rushdoony, his sentiments here are absolutely correct.

And the essence of these is enshrined in our nation’s founding documents, among other places, in the First Amendment, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is the “establishment clause” which wack-job groups like the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State camp on; but it’s the second clause in this Amendment which was intended to forever separate the State and the Church.

It’s well known that the term “separation of church and state” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Instead, it comes from a letter that the third president of the United States wrote to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 guaranteeing them that the government would not – could not, due to the protection afforded by the Constitution – infringe upon their free expression and exercise of religious faith through the “establishing” of a particular denomination to the detriment of others.  In light of the current hostile-to-Christianity climate in our civil government, it’s exceedingly instructive to note that the “wall of separation” that Jefferson speaks of was intended to be bi-directional – that not only could the Church not govern the State, but the State had no authority whatsoever to govern the Church.

The two sovereignties were, are, and forever remain wholly distinct.

I’m not sure when that wall began to erode; symptoms of its continued deterioration include the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” to the IRS tax code which, for the first time in American history, put an effective gag order over the mouths of religious workers and declared political speech to be off-limits to them – contrary to the nearly unbroken tradition in our nation going back to the time of the Puritans and before in which the Church – though remaining governmentally separate from the State, nonetheless acted as a necessary and more often than not effective counterbalance to the corruption and excesses to which any secular government naturally tends toward.

Though the Church could not legislate, she could comment on legislation, watching over the magistrates-that-be and thereby act as a moral compass to the mostly amoral activity of civil governance.

It was the pulpits of America which motivated the colonials in our struggle against the King’s tyranny; it was the pulpits of America which kept our nation on course during the darkest days of the War for Independence.  And until 1954, it was the pulpits of America which served as the moral stabilizers of our government and citizenry.

But then something happened; the wall which not only prevented the Church from dominating the State, but also which prevented the State from interfering in and dominating the Church, began to crack.

It is now in woeful disrepair.

While the Church has been all but muzzled, able only to speak nice platitudes and hazy generalizations, the State has been very aggressive in its invasion of the Church.

The wall has been long-since breached, and the secular barbarians are rampaging across the sacred landscape.

Which brings me to why the Wrong Reverend Copeland is, at least at this one point, absolutely right.

It seems that RINO Senator Chuck Grassley’s decided to forget the separation of powers and initiate an “inquiry” into the practices of several televangelists.

Now, while I in no way want to advance the idea that I am in any way defending the cast of characters being investigated (I emphatically am not), I am very adamantly opposed to some too-big-for-his-britches Senator calling a State-sponsored Inquisition, sticking the State’s already-overlarge nose into the affairs of the Church – ANY church.

Or synagogue.

Or mosque.

Or Kingdom Hall.

Or…or…or…

This sets a deadly precedent (or, perhaps better put, continues a deadly precedent) which must be vigorously opposed.

Grassley’s putting himself in the position of being able to dictate to a religious group how it is to administrate the funds of that group.  The rightness and wrongness of that group or how it functions is not in question (Copeland’s unquestionably a wolf) – the important point to get is that the State now believes it has the right to dictate to a religious group how it is to function.

I can hear the objections:

Dude! Seriously! These nut-jobs are fleecing the flock, living high on the hog, and are taking advantage of tens of thousands of people!

I understand entirely; but, the sheep who willingly fork over their cash to these charlatans are responsible for their own actions (and their own lack of discernment).  The fact that Copeland can exist and even thrive is an indictment on the orthodox churches of America.

Something must be done – but not by the State.

Why?

Because when we cede to the State the power to govern the internal operations of any religious group – whether orthodox or heretical, whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Satanist – we set a boulder to rolling downhill, and it’s only a matter of time before that boulder smashes into us and destroys us.

Right now, the State’s going after dudes we rightly regard as the Bad Guys.  Yay, State.

…but what happens when the State decides that oh, say, teaching on Romans 1 hurts gays, and so any church teaching that, or Leviticus, should be brought up on inquiry, too?

Or what happens when the State decides that a church which supports homeschooling is engaging in political speech…?

Or what happens when the State decides that teaching the Gospel inflicts undue harm to those who don’t believe in the Gospel…?

It is the nature of governments to arrogate to themselves more and more power; and once they gain power, they never willingly cede it back.

Again, quoting from our second president:

Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

We are fools if we think otherwise, and if we think the federal government can be tamed, that once it has done our dirty work for us in applying discipline to the heretic, it won’t turn the torch of Inquisition on us.

So, I take the shocking, historical step of declaring that I agree with Ken Copeland in so far as his stand against an overreaching federal government is concerned. Not for why he stands against it (I have no doubt that he has much he’s trying to hide, and that that’s his true motivation for his stand) but rather for the principle behind that stand.

The Wrong Reverend has gone so far as to set up a website in protest against the inquiry.

In his doctrine, he’s a complete wack-job.

In this fight, however…Ken Copeland’s right.

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