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Article 36

 

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The Magistracy (Civil Government)

We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of them that do well.

Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry,* that the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.

Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of whatever state, quality, or condition he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honor and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers, that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.

Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce a community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.

*In the original text this sentence read as follows: "Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also that they protect the sacred ministry, and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship, that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted." The Synod of 1910, recognizing the uniblical teaching, contained in this sentence, concerning the freedom of religion and concerning the duty of the state to supress false religion, saw fit to add an explanatory footnote. The Synod of 1938, agreeing with the Synod of 1910 as to the unbiblical character of the teaching referred to, but recognizing a conflict between the objectionable clauses in the Article and it’s footnote, decided to eliminate the footnote and to make the change in the text of the Article which appears above, corresponding to the change adopted in 1905 by the General Synod of the "Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland." (See Acts of Synod, 1910, pp.9,104-105; also Acts of Synod, 1938, p. 17.)

 
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