Who is the king in America?
Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defined “king” as: “King, n. 1. The chief or sovereign of a nation; a man invested with supreme authority over a nation, tribe or country; a monarch. Kings are absolute.”
Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
Nearly a century before Europe’s “Age of Enlightenment,” Rev. Thomas Hooker and his church founded of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1636. When his church members asked him how to set up their government, Rev. Hooker preached a sermon, May 31, 1638, explaining: “Deuteronomy 1:13 ‘Choose you wise men and understanding and known among your tribes and I will make them heads over you captains over thousands, captains over hundreds, fifties, tens.’ … The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance. … The privilege of election … belongs to the people … according to the blessed will and law of God. … They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates it is in their power also to set the bounds and limits of the power and places unto which they call them. … The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people.”
Signer of the Constitution Gouverneur Morris stated: “This magistrate is not the king. The people are the king.”
John Jay, the First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793: “The people are the sovereign of this country.”
Signer of Constitution James Wilson stated at the Pennsylvania Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution: “sovereignTY resides in the people; they have not parted with it.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Johnson, 1823: “But the Chief Justice says, ‘There must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.’ True, there must. … The ultimate arbiter is the people.”
James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46, 1788: “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone.”
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in the case of Cohens v. Virginia, 1821: “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will.”
Abraham Lincoln stated in a debate with Stephen Douglas: “The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts.”
President Andrew Jackson wrote to William B. Lewis, Aug. 19, 1841: “The people are the government, administering it by their agents; they are the government, the sovereign power.”
President James K. Polk stated Dec. 7, 1847: “The people are the only sovereignS recognized by our Constitution. … The success of our admirable system is a conclusive refutation of the theories of those in other countries who maintain that a ‘favored few’ are born to rule and that the mass of mankind must be governed by force.”
President Grover Cleveland stated of the United States, July 13, 1887: “The sovereignty of sixty millions of free people is … the working out … of the divine right of man to govern himself and a manifestation of God’s plan concerning the human race.”
General Omar Bradley stated in 1948: “In the United States it is the people who are sovereign. … The government is theirs to speak their voice and to voice their will.”
President Gerald Ford stated at Southern Methodist University, Sept. 13, 1975: “Never forget that in America our sovereign is the citizen. … The state is a servant of the individual. It must never become an anonymous monstrosity that masters everyone.”
Ronald Reagan opened the John Ashbrook Center in 1983, stating of America’s founders: “The Founding Fathers understood that only by making government the servant, not the master, only by positing sovereignTY in the people and not the state can we hope to protect freedom.”
The Pledge of Allegiance is to the flag of the United States of America and “to the republic for which it stands.”
A republic is where the people rule through individuals they chose to represent them. When someone dishonors the flag, what they are saying is, that they no longer want to be the king.
If the people are the king in America, who are the counselors to the king? In 374 A.D., the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I went to church in Milan, Italy, where the pastor was the Bishop St. Ambrose. Imagine what it must have been like to be Bishop St. Ambrose with the Emperor sitting in your church pew. Yet that is exactly what is the case in America.
Nearly 70 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian, according to the Pew Religious Landscape Survey (2015). They are mostly in church on Sundays listening to their pastors. The pastors in America are, in a sense, counselors to the king.
With that in mind, a scene from the movie “The Lord of the Rings” is appropriate. King Theodon’s kingdom was on the verge of destruction as he had been asleep – under a spell. A wicked counselor to the king was Wormtongue, who whispers in the king’s ear to stay asleep even though his kingdom is being overrun. Another counselor to the king is Gandalf, who breaks the evil spell and wakes the king up. King Theodon dramatically comes to his senses and takes his sword.
This scene demonstrates two different kinds of pastors:
- One kind are those who whisper in the ears of the “king-people” to stay asleep even though their kingdom faces destruction
- The other kind of pastors are those who want the “king-people” to wake up and take responsibility to rule – a responsibility for which they will be held accountable before God
Consider an illustration:
Imagine traveling through a kingdom to visit a king, and on the way, you witness the king’s servants committing crime and corruption. As you enter the king’s chamber, he reluctantly asks you, “Did you see all the crime and corruption as you came in here? … I wish someone would fix this mess.” You tap the king on shoulder and remind him that he is the king, that it is his servants who are creating the problems, and that he is the one responsible to fix the mess.
This is like someone in America watching television, seeing politicians committing crime and corruption, and saying “I wish someone would fix this mess.” A finger should reach through the TV screen and tap them on the shoulder reminding them, “In America, you are the king. You are responsible to fix this mess.”
Voting is not just a privilege, but a responsibility for which every American will be held accountable to God.
James Wilson wrote in his “Lectures on Law,” 1790-91: “In a free country, every citizen forms a part of the sovereign power: he possesses a vote.”
Not to vote is to abdicate the throne! Some say, “Don’t Vote, just trust God!”
During the Revolution, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull wrote: “To trust altogether to the justice of our cause, without our utmost exertion, would be tempting Providence.”
Billy Graham stated: “Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.”
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “The Church is the conscience of the State.”
One of the very first instances in history of people choosing their leaders was ancient Israel. When they came out of Egypt, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro gave advice to Moses. Exodus 18:21 states: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”
Deuteronomy 1:3-13: “Moses spake unto the children of Israel. … How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance. … Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.”
Deuteronomy 16:18-19: “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes. …”
One of America’s first elections occurred in Woburn, Massachusetts, which was founded in 1642 by Captain Edward Johnson, a contemporary of Governor John Winthrop. Captain Edward Johnson described the town’s original election in “Wonder-Working Providences of Sion’s Saviour in New England,” 1654: “The number of faithful people of Christ … gather into a church. … Having fasted and prayed … they joined together in a holy Covenant with the Lord and with one another. … Those who are chosen to a place in government, must be men truly fearing God, wise and learned in the truths of Christ. … Neither will any Christian of a sound judgment vote for any, but those who earnestly contend for the faith.”
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of elections in “Democracy in America,” 1835: “If a political character attacks a (religious) sect, this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together, every one abandons him and he remains alone. … Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity.”
President Calvin Coolidge commented on elections in a Radio Address, Nov. 3, 1924: “I therefore urge upon all the voters of our country, without reference to party, that they assemble … at their respective voting places in the exercise of the high office of American citizenship, that they approach the ballot box in the spirit that they would approach a sacrament, and there, disregarding all appeals to passion and prejudice, dedicate themselves truly and wholly to the welfare of their country. …”
Calvin Coolidge ended: “When an election is so held, it … sustains the belief that the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
On Sept. 20, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed Congress after the 911 Islamic terrorist attack: “Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists. … They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote.”
President Calvin Coolidge stated in 1924: “The history of government on this earth has been almost entirely … rule of force held in the hands of a few. Under our Constitution, America committed itself to power in the hands of the people.”
John Adams wrote: “Thirteen (state) governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone.”
President Theodore Roosevelt stated in 1903: “In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country.”
Ronald Reagan stated in 1961: “In this country of ours took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in the world’s history. … Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. … Here for the first time in all the thousands of years of man’s relation to man … the founding fathers established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God-given right and ability to determine our destiny.”
On Nov. 6, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in Hyde Park, New York: “Tomorrow … the people of the United States again vote as free men and women, with full freedom of choice – with no secret police watching over your shoulders. And for generations to come Americans will continue to prove their faith in free elections. …”
FDR added: “In the midst of fighting … our soldiers and sailors and airmen will not forget election day back home. Millions of these men have already cast their own ballots, and they will be wondering about the outcome of the election, and what it will mean to them in their future lives … for the cause of decency and freedom and civilization. …”
FDR concluded: “We need strength and wisdom which is greater than is bequeathed to mere mortals. We need Divine help and guidance. … People of America have ever had a deep well of religious strength, far back to the days of the Pilgrim Fathers. You will find it fitting that I read a prayer. … ‘Almighty God … Thou hast gathered our people out of many lands and races into a great Nation. We commend to Thy overruling providence the men and women of our forces by sea, by land, and in the air. … Enable us to guard for the least among us the freedom we covet for ourselves … Preserve our union against all the divisions of race and class which threaten it. … May the blessing of God Almighty rest upon this whole land; May He give us light to guide us, courage to support us, charity to unite us.'”
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