This is the time of reflection on the past and resolution making for the future. The best resolutions are usually made with long-term objectives in mind. Several decades ago a great religious leader, David O. McKay, explained that one of the questions we will surely be asked at the judgment day is: What did you do as a citizen to further the cause of liberty and freedom in your community, state or nation? Every citizen who wishes to make a difference must periodically assess his situation and make new resolutions to do more for the cause of liberty. Perhaps a historical example will help us to see what one man really can do in light of overwhelming negative trends. It is a story all should know, but few do. It is a story that didn't happen in America, but surely helped prepare the way for what was to happen in America. It is the story of the greatest king England ever had. Because of what he did, he became known as Alfred the Great.
The Contribution To Liberty of England's Greatest King
We are indebted to Dr. W. Cleon Skousen for his research on the subject. Further details and documentation of the amazing account can be found in Dr. Skousen newest book, The Majesty of God's Law, available from NCCS.
In my personal studies I have concluded that Americans will never really make a significant difference in our country until we, individually and collectively, gain an understanding and appreciation for the perfect law of liberty which God has revealed in ages past. King Alfred apparently gained such an appreciation and then was able to make a significant contribution to the cause of liberty.
Alfred was king of England from 877-899 A.D. In order to appreciate what he did, let us briefly review 2300 years of world history prior to his reign:
- God's Law was revealed to Moses and given to Israel in its purity around 1500B.C..
- Israel apostatized and rejected God's Law and was scattered throughout the world. The Ten Tribes of Israel went north, settled in the Crimea, just north of the Black Sea and then later became lost. (700 B.C. - 100B.C.)
- Rome became the ruler of the world. (133 B.C.-476A.D.). Dr. Skousen describes Rome's effect on God's Law:
Roman Civil Law had largely obliterated the essential elements of God's Law.
- The proclamation of liberty had been smothered under the debris of oppression and tyranny.
- The concern for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the widows and orphans had been replaced by greed and conquest that had created poverty, widows, orphans, and human suffering on a monumental and pervasive scale.
- The statutes that provided for the punishment of crime and reparation to the victims of crime or torts had been forgotten by powerful potentates who perpetrated these crimes themselves and used their religious or secular power to escape unscathed.
- The moral code of the commandments and the statutes had been debauched to the point where Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, describes immorality, and depravity as major factors in bringing about the collapse of the Roman civilization.
- The worst thing that could have happened to people living under the New Covenant of Christianity was to have the Roman emperor, Constantine, take over Christianity and adopt it as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 A.D.. By this means the Christian Church and the Roman Empire were combined and any objections to radical doctrines by traditional Christians were put down by the sword.
- The divine organization of the people both under the Mosaic pattern as well as the Apostles, was completely altered by the gradual adoption of a dictatorial hierarchy structured after the political dominion of Rome.
- The formalized creed demanded by Constantine created theological confusion and sometimes open warfare in the centuries that followed.
- It was apparent to America's Founders that God's Law, in its historical and prophetic sense, had lost its opportunity to radiate the bright human hope for freedom, prosperity and peace which it had produced for the City of Enoch and might have produced for ancient Israel
- In its place the Dark Ages had taken over. (The Majesty of God's Law, pp. 291-2)
- A group called Yinglings leave the Crimea area (where the Ten Tribes disappeared) and migrate to northern Europe. They carry with them elements of law and government from ancient Israel, but religiously, they turn pagan. (65 B.C.-450 A.D.)
- The Yinglings mix with the Sakae tribe and became known as the Yingling-Sakae or Anglo-Saxons. They enter and conquer Britain (after the Romans leave) and change the name of the island to Angle-land or England. (450 A.D.)
- Pope Gregory sends missionaries to England to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. (590 A.D.) England is eventually "Christianized".
- As some of the Anglo-Saxons were taught Latin so they could read the Bible, they were amazed to find that their own traditional laws were recorded by Moses in the Biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The pagan Anglo-Saxons had never written these laws down but had memorialized them from generation to generation right along with their poems and traditional stories that described their earliest history. (590 A.D. -877AD A.D.)
King Alfred Used The Bible and Common Sense To Challenge
Some of the Doctrines Coming Out of Christian Rome
When the famous Alfred became king of the Anglo-Saxons (877-899 A.D.), Christianity was already well entrenched. Alfred had not only become a comprehensive linguist in order to study the Bible, but he had become a diligent student of the Greek and Roman classics. His writings, also demonstrate that he was amazingly well informed about European geography and history.
Alfred translated a number of books into Anglo-Saxon. One of these was the writings of Boethius (Bow-EE-thias), the Roman philosopher, who had raised some serious questions concerning certain doctrines taught by the church in Rome. King Alfred had wondered about these doctrines himself and when Boethius confessed he could not explain them, Alfred proceeded to provide his own conclusions that these teachings were contrary to the Bible and therefore wrong. For example:
King Alfred rejected Saint Augustine's doctrine of "original sin" and emphasized that mankind will not be punished for Adam's sin. Men are only responsible for their own sins. He said:
"God had appointed freedom to be given to men.... If they sin in any thing through this freedom, they shall, by penitence, compensate for it, to recover that freedom; and if any of them will be so hard-hearted that he will do no repentance ... he shall then have a just punishment."
In numerous statements along these lines King Alfred emphasized human responsibility and personal accountability. Contrary to Augustine's doctrine of "election" and "predestination," he insisted that God is not an arbitrary, whimsical deity who rewards or condemns without a cause. Men are judged according to their deeds. Contrary to Augustine's doctrine of "predestination," King Alfred emphasized that God's omniscience and foreknowledge of things to come is not predestination. Here is what he wrote:
"He seeth all our works, both good and evil, before they are done.... But he compels us not to ... necessarily do the good; nor prevents us from doing evil; because he has given us freedom."
Historian Sharon Turner compliments King Alfred for his penetrating insight concerning Augustine's confusing doctrine and says:
"Alfred has hit upon the real wisdom of opinion on this contested subject, which many theologians and metaphysicians have failed to attain. He could not have left a more impressive instance of the penetrating sagacity of his clear and honest mind."
This same purity of theological insight is reflected in his understanding of the attributes of God. Here are samples of his views concerning the Creator:
"God is the beginning of all good things, and the governor of all creatures. He is the supreme good."
"All is present to him.... He never remembers any thing, because he never forgets aught; He seeks nothing ... because ... he knows it all. He searches for nothing, because he loses nothing.... He dreads nothing because he knows no one more powerful than himself.... He is always giving and never wants. He is always Almighty, because he always wishes good, and never evil. To him there is no need of any thing. He is always seeing. He never sleeps.... There never was a time that he was not, nor ever will be. He is always free."
The Most Moral and Best Educated King England Ever Had
We have already noted the remarkable intellectual development and advanced scholarship of King Alfred, and Sharon Turner makes a passing note concerning King Alfred's determination to live a moral life of the highest Christian quality. He even prayed that God might alleviate his temptations to commit any unrighteous sexual act by afflicting him with some physical debilitation sufficient to help him control this powerful instinct.
Indeed, when the affliction did come he thanked God that while it debilitated his sexual urge it did not inhibit his powers in the field of battle or his capacity for wisdom in governing the people."
The quality of Alfred's mind and philosophy is vividly demonstrated in his final instructions to his son who would be the next king:
"My days are almost done. We must now part. I shall go to another world, and thou shalt be left alone in all my wealth. I pray thee ... strive to be a father, and a lord to thy people. Be thou the children's [orphan's] father, and the widow's friend. Comfort thou the poor, and shelter the weak; and, with all thy might, right that which is wrong. And son, govern thyself by law; then shall the Lord love thee, and God above all things shall be thy reward. Call thou upon him to advise thee in all thy need, and so shall he help thee......"
In his classical three-volume work on the Anglo-Saxons, Sharon Turner devotes 150 pages to the life and writings of King Alfred. At this point he pauses to pay him the following tribute:
"We can scarcely believe that we are perusing the written thought of an Anglo-Saxon of the ninth century, who could not even read till he was twelve years old; who could then find no instructors to teach him what he wished; whose kingdom was overrun by the fiercest and most ignorant of barbarian invaders; whose life was either continual battle or continual disease; and who had to make up both his own mind and the minds of all about him. How ardent must have been Alfred's genius, that, under circumstances so disadvantageous, could attain to such great and enlightened conceptions!"
In another place he praises Alfred's skill in writing and says:
"It is clear, easy, animated, attractive, and impressive. It comes the nearest to our preset best English prose style of all the Anglo-Saxon prose writings ... and entitles Alfred to be considered as the venerable father of our best English diction, as well as our first moral essayist.... Has any country, within so short a period, produced in itself an intellect amongst its sovereigns, that combined so many excellencies?" (from The Majesty of God's Law, pp. 300-302, 304-305)
This amazing story of King Alfred is seldom retold in history classes today. And yet, does it not give us a powerful example of what one person can do when he stands for the right? The story of Alfred has many similarities to modern America. While there are those in this land who are attempting to completely secularize America, still many of us, if we do our homework, can see the remnants of God's law shining through. Our task is to so popularize these elements of God's Law that they will one day again be the foundations of our laws and government.
The Message is Packaged, We Must Now Act
How indebted I feel to Dr. Skousen who has devoted his life to packaging the story of freedom. It is now up to us to learn and to teach. My personal desire is that each of you has a copy of this incredible book. It's subtitle gives the reason every American should have this book: The Majesty of God's Law: It's Coming to America.
May this new year bring you happiness and fulfillment as we work to carry out God's command given through Moses to "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof." (Deuteronomy 25:10)
Earl Taylor, Jr.