“… Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants…” – Leviticus 25:10 NKJV
The Pilgrims, in their quest to be stepping-stones for freedom, had almost everything go wrong as they attempted to plant a colony in the New World. By the time they reached the shores of New England in 1620, they were poor, had barely enough provisions for the first winter, and began to die at an alarming rate.
Pilgrims historian Dr. Charles Wolfe makes the observation that the Pilgrims took no less then “six bold steps to liberty, that these are steps which each generation of Americans must continue to take…resulting from the application of…Christian self-government.” – Pilgrim Paradigm for the New Millennium, p. 2.
While the Pilgrims were in Holland, Rev. John Robinson taught them to touch the heart of God, trained them to think the thoughts of God, and helped them to practice the government of God in their homes, churches, and civil compacts.
At the time they arrived in Cape Cod, even though they were to face extreme hardships, they were prepared mentally and biblically to face the challenges that lay ahead.
Dr. Wolfe identifies the six steps of Liberty: (The Scripture references are from me.)
1. Spiritual Liberty — the recognition of personal sin and conversion to the Christian faith (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).
2. Religious Liberty — withdrawal from the State-supported Church and the formation of their own church covenant (2 Corinthians 6:14; Isaiah 55:3).
3. Political Liberty — reflected in the contents of the Mayflower Compact. With no other options and no one else to consult, the Pilgrims did the only thing they knew to do—with the principles of self-government firmly in hand, they wrote up their own governing document. Just as they had done under the leadership of John Robinson when they wrote up their own church covenant in 1606 at Scrooby Manor. In the Mayflower Compact they gave themselves the authority to establish a government for their new civil body politic. The difference was that this civil covenant was for Christians and non-Christians alike (1 Kings 4:25 is a central verse in the Mayflower Compact for it demonstrated self-government).
4. Defense of Liberty — expressed in their willingness to protect their lives by building a palisade wall around the plantation (Exodus 22:2; Zechariah 9:8).
5. Economic Liberty —the new colony learned after the first year that socialism, (common ownership of labor), which was practiced in England did not work. Also elementary communism (common ownership of land) did not work even among the most godly people (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).
6. Constitutional Liberty — the writing of their constitution in 1636, securing protection for the freedom they had begun to practice. (In Acts 15:1-35 the elders and apostles sent a letter clarifying the judgment they had made in regard to the freedom believers have in Christ.)
At the end of March, the captain of the Mayflower was leaving and pled with them to join him, saying they could all be back in England within a few weeks. Yet not one of them went back. Every one of them stayed, believing that they had come for a great cause and purpose and that was to spread and live the message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
For Rev. John Robinson, he taught the Pilgrim church to practice Truth in everyday life, and apply that truth to their society, especially to the role of civil government. We also must apply Truth to EVERY ARENA of life and especially the biblical role of civil government and the God-ordained jurisdictions placed on it.
Happy Thanksgiving! You might consider reading and discussing this teaching around the dinner table with your family and friends this Thanksgiving.