THE AMERICAN DECLARATION:
ON THE LIBERTIES OF THE CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In view of serious cultural errors and a broad decline presently inflicting and marginalizing the Church, and at a time in the United States of America when our civil society is renouncing, both in law and socio-cultural life, its historic Christian heritage in pursuit of liberty without the Gospel, justice without God’s law, truth without the Scriptures, flourishing without obedience, atonement without the cross, love without faithfulness, peace without repentance, salvation without Christ, and a world without creational norms, it is incumbent upon a faithful Church to set forth to all powers and authorities, the claims of Christ and the freedom of His Kingdom people, the Church (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 3:10; Col. 2:15; 1 Tim. 1:9-11, 17; 3:15; 1 Pt. 2:16-17; 5:11).
In a national cultural context in which ultimate sovereignty is rapidly being seized by – or readily surrendered to – the State, imperiling inherited liberties and exposing our civil government to divine judgment, we must be mindful that freedoms not fought for are soon forfeited.
Therefore, in response to our national spiritual crisis, we declare:
WHEREAS Jesus Christ claims total authority over the nations as the Creator and Ruler of the kings, judges, and governors of the earth (Ps. 2:7-12; Ps. 110; Luke 23:3; John 19:11; Acts 17:7; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-17; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 1:5);
AND WHEREAS the one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal), and apostolic Church has been founded by our Lord Jesus Christ long before all temporal authorities of these United States of America came into existence (Matt. 16:18; Mark 3:13-19; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:7-13; Col. 1:18);
AND WHEREAS the Church of Jesus Christ does not have her position in the nation assigned her by the permission of the civil government, but jure divino – she has her own organization, and she possesses her own office-bearers (Matt. 10:1-15; 18:15-20; 28:18-20; Acts 14:23; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 6:1-7; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:9-13);
AND WHEREAS the sovereignty of the State and the sovereignty of the Church exist side by side, instituted by God and in service to God, mutually limiting each other as recognized in the Scriptures and applied in the Constitution of the United States of America (Mark 12:13-17; Acts 5:29-32; Rom. 13:1, 4; 1 Cor. 6:1-7; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 2:1-4);
AND WHEREAS the First Amendment to the Constitution to the United States clearly, unequivocally, and without reservation of potential for diminution, prohibits the Congress from any law prohibiting the free expression of religion;
AND WHEREAS the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 subjects any law which seeks to burden the exercise of religion to the highest level of judicial scrutiny;
WE THE UNDERSIGNED, members of various Bible-believing churches, denominations, organizations, fellowships, and individuals, DECLARE that the following God-given and historically inherited liberties of the Church are to be observed, maintained, and protected in the Constitution of the United States today and forever;
Article 1. Liberty in all spiritual matters
There shall be no interference from civil authorities in the spiritual matters of the Church of Jesus Christ either by Federal or State legislation, by local ordinances, or by threats and intimidation from diverse arms of the administrative state bureaucracy. We recognize no authority other than Jesus Christ and His Word in the rule, ministry, and teaching of the Church. Spiritual matters include, in particular, the worship of God; the confession, sacraments, ordinances, discipline, and rites of the Church: and the teaching and pastoral guidance of the same.
Article 2. Liberties related to the Holy Bible
The Holy Bible shall be freely printed, distributed (both through electronic media and in hard copy), read, quoted, preached, and taught anywhere in the United States of America without fear of legal penalty or censure. The teaching of this Word is commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ, being Himself attested to us in Holy Scripture, as the one Word of God which all people have to hear, and whom all people have to trust and obey in life and in death.
Article 3. Liberty to preach the Gospel
The churches shall remain free to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ peacefully, proselytize, establish churches, and disciple those who wish to follow Christ without any form of censorship or penalties imposed by temporal civil authorities. We reject all false doctrine asserting that the Church must surrender the content or form of its message to the prevailing ideological and political convictions of our day. The Christian Church is in all things to acknowledge and declare the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose Word upholds all things.
Article 4. Liberty of doctrine
The churches shall be free to define and express their theological and moral doctrines under the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture without any form of interference, censure, or legal persecution by temporal civil authorities. We reject the false doctrines of men which assert there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong and be subject to Jesus Christ but to other lords above or beside Him.
Article 5. Liberty of conscience
Like all citizens, Christians in the United States of America have a right to liberty of conscience. As such, none may be compelled or coerced to act contrary to their conscience. No one may be compelled or coerced to adhere to, or to renounce, any religious, moral, or philosophical belief.
Article 6. Liberties related to the Christian family
Parents in Christian churches are to remain free to disciple, educate, and catechize their children in the faith and confession of the Church without fear of persecution, reprisal, or the seizure of their children by the State. We reject the false ideology that beyond its God-ordained and limited sphere as a ministry of public justice, the State should become the sole and total order of human life and so presume to fulfill the vocations of the family and the Church.
Article 7. Liberties related to ministers of the Gospel
Ministers and officers in the Church shall remain free to carry out the duties pertaining to their office without hindrance or interference from any person or authority as affirmed and protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.
Article 8. Liberties related to gatherings for religious worship
The churches and their members shall remain free to meet in person for religious worship, prayer, the study of the Bible, or any moral or benevolent purpose without disturbance or interruption from any persons. The sacred duties to assemble for worship and engage in Christian ministry are divine obligations laid down in Holy Scripture and are uniquely protected in the Constitution of the United States.
Article 9. Liberties to be enjoyed universally without partiality
Notwithstanding divisions existing within the Church at any particular time, all denominations, jurisdictions, communities, and individual believers are entitled to the full benefit of the liberties set out herein. There should be no partiality in law between different churches and their confessions in the enjoyment of the aforesaid liberties.
Article 10. Rejecting the restriction of religious liberty
We oppose any effort by the Judicial branch of the Federal, State, or local authorities, to re-shape, re-characterize, restrict, or subject the expression of religious liberty to any other human philosophy or other religious belief incongruent with the religious liberty recognized by our forefathers in the Constitution of the United States.
This solemn document – containing an affirmation of scriptural truth concerning Christ and His Church, the inherited liberties bequeathed to us by our forebears, and ten articles duly deduced from them – calls upon all who can stand in solidarity with its Declaration to be mindful of these biblical findings in all their decisions and actions concerning the relationship of Church and State and to passionately defend them when assaulted. This document further calls for all Christians to earnestly pray for all those in civil authority, that God might direct them in all their ways, so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim. 2:1-2; see also Ezra 6:10; Jer. 29:7; 1 Pet. 2:17).
"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Tim. 1:17)
This DECLARATION, promulgated to defend the freedoms and liberty of the entire Church of Jesus Christ in the United States of America, was drafted March 2021 in the Great Lakes Region following a summit meeting of Christian leaders concerning the freedom of the church, by: Rev. Douglas Barnes, Rev. Greg Lubbers, Dr. Steve Tjapkes, Mr. Dennis Schreur and Mr. Douglas Suwyn.
We gratefully acknowledge the great assistance we have received from our Christian brothers in Canada, for much of the work in this document was from their labors. They are: Rev. Dr. Joseph Boot, in grateful collaboration and consultation with Rev. Dr. Aaron Rock, Rev. Dr. Michael Thiessen, Mr. André Schutten, and Mr. Pavel Stroilov.
To God be the Glory.