Should Spiritual Values Take Priority?


We Americans have been taught in the last few generations that
there is a separation between the spiritual and secular pursuits of
life. In the 1950’s religion was defined as a personal thing, the
implication being “don’t talk about it or try to push it into other
non-religious areas of life.” But the question must be asked: “Are
there any non-religious areas of life?”

I was speaking to a large audience of pastors recently concerning
the strategic need to rebuild our nation to the glory of God. After
my address a pastor from Southern California came up to me and said,
“What you are attempting to do is a worthy effort. But, ultimately
you know, if God wants to restore our nation, He will do it. All we
can do is pray.” I paused and asked him if he had any farmers in his
church and he said he did. I said, “Why don’t we go back to our
churches and tell our farmers not to plant their spring crops, but to
simply pray and believe; if it is God’s will, we will have a great
harvest in the fall.” The pastor got the point. Prayer is important,
but if we do not sow our seeds into every area of life, we will have
no harvest to reap but the destruction of our liberty and the rise of

The philosophy mentioned above must be traced back to the Greek
philosophers who separated physical life from the aesthetic or
spiritual life. The Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, expounded
the view that there was an area of life called “grace” in the realm of
natural activities or worldly pursuits. The implications of this
philosophy are that God is needed to understand the spiritual but that
our human reason is adequate to direct most human activities. The
philosophers of the Enlightenment expanded this concept. Now, in the
twentieth century, many believers see no need for the spiritual
element whatsoever since they see themselves as evolved animals with
no soul or eternal destiny. Many believers, on the other hand, have
little use for “earthly affairs” since they view all but “religious”
activity as secular.

In recent years there has been a great revival of Biblical
Christianity. Some good results from the development have occurred,
including an emphasis on the need for a personal relationship with
Jesus Christ but, unfortunately, the negative of this movement has
been the classification of certain activities as “spiritual” and
others as “secular.”


A great Colonial pastor was confronted by this same attitude
prior to the War of Independence, although in those days it was held
by a small minority. When Jonathan Mayhew, a Congregational minister
at West Church, Boston, heard of the English Parliaments plan to
impose the Episcopal Church on America as its State Church, he was
aroused to vigorous opposition. Around him, men’s hearts were filled
with consternation. Had not their forefathers fled to New England to
escape persecution by the State Church which had thrown ministers and
laymen alike into foul prisons, there to rot and die? What could they
do? Some Colonial ministers preached blind submission to the higher
powers, but Mayhew was outraged at such teaching. Feelings in Boston
were running high when he mounted his pulpit and preached the sermon
that became famous throughout the colonies and was even read with
anger in far-off London.

In this sermon, “Concerning Unlimited Submission to the Higher
Powers,” he attacks such submission head-on. “It is evident that the
affairs of civil government may properly fall under a moral and
religious consideration….For, although there be a sense, and a very
plain and important sense, in which Christ’s Kingdom is not of this
world, His inspired Apostles have nevertheless, laid down some general
principles concerning the office of civil rulers, and the duty of
subjects, together with the reason and obligation of that duty.
And…it is proper for all who acknowledge the authority of Jesus
Christ, and the doctrine which they have delivered concerning this

And not only this matter! For when the sermon was published
later by popular demand, Mayhew commented in his preface that he hoped
few people would think the subject an improper one “under a notion
that this is preaching politics instead of Christ…I beg it may be
remembered that ‘all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.’ Why,
then, should not those parts of Scripture which relate to civil
government be examined and explained from the desk, as well as

Why not, indeed? Why not take the Scriptures and apply them to
all areas of our lives? Mayhew’s words are an eloquent answer today
to the false division that would split our lives unto two mutually
exclusive areas: the religious and the secular.


At last it appears that millions of Americans are remembering the
great truths of the Reformation, such as the priesthood of all
believers (emphasizing the importance of the individual) and the
sovereignty of God over every sphere of life. There is no neutral (or
secular) area of life. When we set up an area or institution not
acknowledging God’s sovereignty we become an enemy of God and are in
rebellion. The public school system in America is a good example. It
is not neutral religiously. It has simply exchanged the Christian
religion for that of humanism. It should be noted that in 1961 in the
Torasco vs. Watkins case, the Supreme Court recognized secular
humanism as a religion. In delivering the unanimous opinion, Justice
Hugo Black stated: “Among religions in this country which do not teach
what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God
are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others.”


The Biblical world-view demands that all human endeavor be a
service to God, whether praying or riveting together a plane. Men’s
vocations, therefore, are holy callings just as are church work or
missionary activity. In Genesis, when the descendants of Adam are
named, their occupations are also given. (Gen. 4:20-22) When all of
life is seen in this context, then important “spiritual” exercises
such as prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with fellow believers,
take on greater importance in our battle for the whole world, both
physical and spiritual. In light of our current crisis, nothing could
be more spiritual than saving our children from humanism, our economy
from deprivation, and our liberty from extinction.

Computers for Christ – Chicago