What Were the Differences Between the English Revolution and the Glorious Revolution?

ABSTRACT: Both the English Revolution and the Glorious Revolution opposed divine right of kings tyranny. They were fought against the 4 kings of the Stuart dynasty in the 17th Century.  Taken together they are sometimes referred to as Phase I and Phase II of the English Revolution.  James I had been tutored from boyhood by Puritan George Buchanan and assumed the throne in 1603 at the death of Elizabeth I.  James rejected his Puritan upbringing to rule as a profligate tyrant and was succeeded by his son Charles I in 1625. 

Execution of a King

Charles married a Catholic Queen and provoked Parliament with persecutions, taxes, and fees for his ill-advised foreign wars.  This led to his execution in 1649, following the English Revolution of Oliver Cromwell and Parliament.  Cromwell and his son ruled as Lord Protectors for a decade until Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.  Charles II also ruled as a profligate tyrant until his death in 1685.  He was succeeded by James I who was driven out by William and Mary in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Justification for Divine Right 

The Stuarts justified their tyranny on the basis of Richard Hooker’s erudite, natural law treatise on Anglican government in 1593 and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan in 1651. Like Hooker’s Aristotellian tome, it also was based on indeterminate natural law.  Meantime, a group of British Commonwealth Men wrote to justify the regicide of Charles I. They championed the cause of individual freedom, religious toleration, and limited government, all based on a secular, social contract or constitution.  These included John Milton, James Harrington, and John Locke, among others. 

The combined effect was first, the gradual secularization of British society and second, a refusal to embrace a national covenant based on the Bible. The closest they got to a national covenant was the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, but Cromwell opposed its sectarian (Presbyterian) nature. Thus, a great opportunity to restore the Biblical model of Alfred the Great was squandered and a door was opened for the secular, civil religion of the British Commonwealth Men. This is why the 17th Century is known as the Age of Revolution.

I. Introduction

A. The Stuart Dynasty and Divine Right of Kings

The Stuart Dynasty, ushered in by James I in 1603, heralded a turbulent era in English history. Despite early promises of religious tolerance, James’ absolutist tendencies clashed with parliamentary aspirations for greater influence. Embracing divine right theory, the Stuarts believed in their absolute rule as ordained by God.  Their key verse, stripped from its Biblical context, was Psalm 82:6.  This verse reads, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”

This ideology, reinforced by Richard Hooker’s Natural Law treatise and later by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, formed the basis for their claim to absolute authority. A pivotal example is James I’s assertion that “kings are justly called gods,” emphasizing divine entitlement. This divine right justification set the stage for a recurring clash between monarchy and dissenters throughout the 17th century.   One striking incident was James’s imprisonment of the provocative MP Sir John Eliot for his outspoken criticism. This intensified the struggle for power. 

B. James I Rejects His Puritan Training

1. The Fool As King

James I, despite being tutored by Puritan George Buchanan, diverged from his Puritan roots. He opted instead for a doctrine of absolute monarchy. For instance, in the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, Puritans sought reforms within the Church of England. But James dismissed most of their proposals. This reinforced his break from Puritan ideals.  He would tolerate very little dissent from Hooker’s defense of centralization in the Anglican Church.  Another example was the subsequent imposition of the “Book of Sports” in 1617. This encouraged Sunday recreations, which the Puritans did not generally condone.

2. The King James Bible

James’ decision to promote the King James Bible in 1611 was aimed at establishing a standardized version for religious uniformity. More important to James, it was a smokescreen to divert attention from his profligate lifestyle. James wanted a Bible with his name on it to enhance his image as a mature, political and spiritual leader.  He also wrote a book on demonology and witchcraft during this period. Initial Puritan attempts at resolving the problem exploded on the launching pad.

C. Charles I Provokes the English Revolution

1. Persecution Provoke English Revolution

James eldest son demonstrated remarkable character and Protestant faith. Unfortunately, he died of unknown causes in his late teens, probably by poison.  Sadly, James refused to allow his beloved sister to comfort the young man on his death bed. Next in line was Charles I, whose reign, commencing in 1625, was marked by taxation and bloody persecution of Puritan clergy. These objected to liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer forced upon them by Archbishop Laud. The chief objection was kneeling at the altar rail for communion which suggested transubstantiation of the bread as it passed over the rail.

The Petition of Right in 1628 sought to curb the king’s power to raise war funds without parliamentary approval.  But Charles’s continued defiance only made things worse. His dismissal of Parliament in 1629, known as the Eleven Years’ Tyranny, solidified suspicions and entrenched opposition. Many Puritan families fled to Massachusetts during the Great Migration (1630-1641). But, others remained to fight with Cromwell in the English Revolution from 1642-46.

2. Foreign Wars Provoke English Revolution

Charles imposed heavy taxes and fees to fund foreign wars and levied ship money in 1635. This fueled more discontent and clashes with Parliament. The imposition of ship money without parliamentary approval led to the famous case of John Hampden. He refused to pay and became a symbol of the resistance. The legal battle focused on the king’s arbitrary taxation.  The failed attempt to arrest five members of Parliament in 1642, known as the “Five Members” incident, triggered the English Civil War.  The Battle of Worcester in 1651 marked a decisive military victory against Charles II and solidified Cromwell’s authority.

Charles I’s refusal to compromise and adherence to divine right principles led to his defeat, capture, and eventual execution in 1649. This marked a pivotal moment in English history.  Cromwell and others made every effort to restore Charles after he lost the war. However, Cromwell intercepted a secret letter to France, which condemned Charles by his own words.  The Rump Parliament decided to bring the king to trial. This event marked the radical transformation from an absolute monarchy to a republic.  It was the first time an English monarch had ever been tried and convicted in a court of law.

D. Bible Covenant Rejected

1. Rejection of Denominational Establishment

An attempt was made in 1643 to unite England and Scotland under a national church covenant. This would have established Presbyterianism as the state religion of Great Britain. It was called the Solemn League and Covenant. This attempt undoubtably failed because it departed from the several models we have been given for a national covenant in the Old Testament.

For example, we have the Mosaic Covenant of Exodus 20-24, the Covenant of King Josiah in II KIngs 23: 2,3, and the Covenant under Nehemiah in Nehemiah 9:38 to 10: 29. These are all simple, oath-bound covenants to govern according to the commandments, statutes and ordinances of God. They were signed by both civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

The attempt to establish a particular denomination as the state religion did not follow this model and thus seems doomed to failure. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to avoid a factious attitude, with pronounceements like, “I belong to Paul,” “I belong to Peter,” or “I belong to Christ.” In theory, we would hope that all true Christians would be amenable to enforcing obedience to the laws of God in every realm of life. After all, they are called the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions. They are recorded in Exodus 20, followed by 3 chapters of statuatory applications. Then in Chapter 24 is a covenant commitment that binds Commandments and Ordinances together in the “Book of the Covenant.”

2. Acceptance of the Secular Alternative
Religious Pluralism

Not long after this failure national leaders apparently concluded that the only feasible national covenant would have to be secular in nature in order to be universally accepted. In other words, a secular, civil religion, much like that of the ancient Roman empire. In Rome all religions were tolerated as long as everybody understood that they must pay obeisance to Rome above all.

That was exactly the wrong conclusion, but it was enacted into English law in 1669 as the English Bill of Rights. America followed with its Constitution of 1787 thoroughly sanitized of all reference to religion. The result has been a pluralistic nightmare of competing religions. Thus, we stand today on the brink of God’s judgment in violation of His First Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20).

Christian Humanists in the English Revolution

During this upheaval, influential thinkers like John Milton, James Harrington, and John Locke emerged as proponents of a neutral, national constitution. Their writings laid the philosophical groundwork for the eventual establishment of a constitutional monarchy and universal democratic principles. Chief among these were Milton’s “Areopagitica” and Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government.

Not long after the execution of the king, James Harrington published “Oceana,” a utopian allegory of Britain with Stoic overtones. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2801/2801-h/2801-h.htm https://www.jstor.org/stable/3020859.  “Oceana” envisioned a republic with a balanced constitution. It had a strong secularizing influence .

3. British Commonwealth Men in English Revolution
James Harrington in the English Revolution

James Madison in particular was a fan of James Harrington.  Areopagitica reflected his own experience with censorship during the Interregnum.

Harrington’s sources are not easy to divine.  He was a personal servant of Charles I, who enjoyed Harrington’s company immensely. Harrington stood at his side on the executioner’s bloc.  They spoke often of government, but when the subject turned to a commonwealth Charles always demurred.

John Milton in the English Revolution

It seems that he and John Milton, both Christian humanists, were weary of the religio-political conflicts with the Tudor and Stuart monarchies.  Milton’s “Areopagitica,” was an impassioned defense of free speech. He and Harrington turned instead to a secular alternative, divorced from the authority of Scripture. It was based instead on what seemed reasonable and conforming to so-called natural law. 

Supposedly all faiths and creeds could unite amicably under this secular banner. This political philosophy had great appeal for those drafting the English Bill of Rights. Likewise, the U.S. Constitution was crafted from this same template. Both emphasized the social contract and supposed inalienable rights granted by God at birth. Conveniently overlooked was God’s declaration that men are all born “dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Hardly a glowing affirmation of unalienable human rights. Their works collectively shaped the trajectory of political philosophy, influencing the Glorious Revolution and beyond.

E. Biblical Alternative to the English Revolution

1. Freedom of Relgion in the English Revolution

The Bible therefore condemns freedom of religion in a Christian nation that has sworn to order its criminal justice system in accordance with the law of God. This is best summarized in Exodus 20-24. The format of the covenant oath itself is perhaps best summarized in II Kings 23:2,3 – “And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.”

There is, of course, nothing remotely resembling this in the U.S. Constitution. Yet its framers were bold to “proclaim liberty throughout the land.” And self-proclaimed American Christian history experts never fail to lift it up as the epitome of Christian government. Apart from the blessing of the King of kings it will never happen. Only through faith in Christ may any man or nation experience the blessings of obedience and true liberty under His law. Where is Christ in the U.S. Constitution?

In a country that is “so far down the rabbit hole” of incoherant pluralism as the United States in 2024, the best approach might be piecemeal in smaller units of state or local government. It might even mean introducing elements of Biblical law one statute at a time as issues arise.

2. Freedom of Conscience in the English Revolution

God insists at all times that freedom of conscience be protected from persecution as specified in Exodus 22:20 to 24 — “And you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him…If you afflict him at all…My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword….” Thus, minority freedom of conscience is protected absolutely in a Christian republic bound by oath to the law of God.

But freedom of religion is prohibited in such a Christian nation bound by oath to the law of God. We see this in verse 20 of the passage cited above. “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed” (Ex. 22:20). Of course, this verse does not apply to a pluralistic nation like the United States. God Himself executes that judgment on the entire culture which refuses to enforce His law, which is far worse.

F. Cromwell’s Protectorate and His Son

Following Charles I’s execution, Oliver Cromwell established the Protectorate. This was a period of rule characterized by strict Puritan government. His efficient rule faced challenges, notably from Levelers seeking increased political representation.  The Levelers adhered to a variety of democrat or socialist policies.  Cromwell’s suppression of the Levelers, particularly in the Putney Debates of 1647, exposed the challenges of political pluralism.

Cromwell’s son, Richard, succeeded him, but was not well-suited for leadership.  Richard’s inability to navigate political complexities contributed to the decline.  His brief rule lacked military support and political legitimacy, so he resigned. The uncertainty following his resignation paved the way for the Restoration. And so, the Protectorate’s defeat culminated in the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 under Charles II.

III. The Restoration (1660)

A. The Restoration of Charles II

Charles II’s return in 1660 marked the end of the Commonwealth and Protectorate. The Restoration witnessed the joyful return of the king. An intriguing story is Charles II’s famous journey from exile, highlighting the dramatic nature of his return.  This involved a secret route known as the “Royal Escape.” Thus, he was somewhat popular in spite of his tyrannical inclinations.

Charles II’s profligate rule contrasted sharply with the austerity of the Interregnum. His court at Whitehall became a center of lavish entertainment, reminescent of James I. Nell Gwyn, one of Charles II’s mistresses, epitomized the king’s flamboyant lifestyle, pointing ahead to the libertine spirit of the Enlightenment.

B. Pilgrim’s Progress: a Church Isolated From the World

During Charles II’s reign John Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress,” an allegory detailing the spiritual journey of a Christian. It was written while reflecting on his religious persecution in the Bedford County jail. The work contributed to the perception of a separatist church isolated from worldly concerns. Bunyan’s vivid narrative found favor with those seeking a more privatized religious experience.  There is a sense in which private religion often collaborates with power religion to neutralize a sturdy Puritan religion of Christian dominion.

Bunyan portrayed the Christian life more as an obstacle course to be endured than a kingdom to be conquered for Christ.  This probably reflected his disillusionment after serving under Cromwell in the English Civil War.  The failure of Oliver Cromwell’s anticipated Christian republic, discouraged many. That was because Cromwell in some ways reflected the model of centralization that he had replaced.  Cromwell’s letters reflected the tender heart of a dedicated Christian, but he could be brutal as a soldier. Pilgrim’s progress conveyed to generations of Christians the idea that retreat from the public conflict was normal.

C. British Society During the Post-Restoration Period

The post-Restoration period witnessed significant changes in English society. Charles II’s Declaration of Breda in 1660 promised amnesty and religious tolerance that nurtured a sense of relief and stability. However, the Test Act of 1673, barring Catholics from public office, revealed persistent religious tensions.

The growth of science was encouraged by founding of the Royal Society in 1660. Shortly thereafter Isaac Newton’s Principia brought the Scientific Revolution to a resounding crescendo in 1687 Yet, the period also witnessed social disparities aggravated by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Overall, the post-Restoration era was a complex time of rebuilding, a secular shift in public attitudes, and flourishing of arts and science. The latter was gradually replacing the authority of Bible doctrine.

D. Charles II’s Restoration Leads to the Glorious Revolution

Charles II’s restoration in 1660 introduced another period of profligate rule. His actions, such as the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672, sparked concerns due to his tolerance of Catholics. The Test Act of 1673 aimed to exclude Catholics from public office, requiring instead membership in the Church of England.  This appears as an attempt to apply the Bible’s endorsement of freedom of conscience, while condemning freedom of religion as a violation of the First Commandment. 

This distinction is spelled out quite clearly in Exodus 22:20, 21 – “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed.  And you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” 

Notice how that single passage simultaneously condemns freedom of religion and protects freedom of consience in an oath-bound Christian nation. However, Charles’ attempt to secure a Catholic succession with the Treaty of Dover further alarmed Protestants, laying the groundwork for the Glorious Revolution.

IV. James II and the Glorious Revolution (1688)

A. Phase II of the English Revolution

Following Charles II’s death in 1685, his Catholic brother, James II, ascended the throne. This, of coursee, fueled anxieties among Protestants, who feared a return to persecution by Catholics. This event set the stage for the tumultuous period leading to the Glorious Revolution.

James II’s Catholicism became a focal point of controversy. His efforts to promote religious tolerance through the Declaration of Indulgence faced strong opposition from Protestants.  They could not accommodate what from their view were intolerable departures from Scripture. The birth of a Catholic heir in 1688 heightened fears of a lasting Catholic dynasty.

B. The Glorious Revolution That Ousted James II

The Glorious Revolution of 1688, a bloodless coup, ousted James II from the throne. Concerns over his Catholicism and arbitrary rule triggered the coup. Wiliam of Orange’s invasion came by the invitation of key figures in Parliament and the military. The subsequent Bill of Rights in 1689 established constitutional limitations on the monarchy. This cemented the principles of parliamentary sovereignty and individual rights. Thus, the Glorious Revolution marked another watershed moment in British history. It confirmed the trajectory towards constitutional monarchy and the surging Enlightenment of the next century.

C. William and Mary’s Bloodless Revolution in 1688

The Glorious Revolution unfolded as Protestant nobles, concerned about the religious developments under James II, sought a Protestant alternative. William of Orange, married to James II’s Protestant daughter Mary, was invited to invade. The bloodless nature of the revolution was aided by fortuitous events. Interestngly, William was both James’s son-in-law and his nephew. As the invasion force approached Brixham, James’ other daughter, Anne, deserted along with his top general, John Churchill.

The Glorious Revolution had profound consequences. For example, the 1689 Bill of Rights formally limited royal power and established parliamentary supremacy. The Toleration Act of 1689 granted religious freedom to nonconformist Protestants. The revolution solidified a constitutional monarchy. That meant confirming the principle of shared government between the monarch and Parliament in line with John Locke’s social contract model. It was a pivotal moment in British history, paving the way for a more balanced and constitutional form of government. But once again God’s perfect law of liberty was ignored, guaranteeing future problems.

V. Stuart Justifications and Opposition

A. Richard Hooker’s “Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity”

1. Forerunner of the English Revolution

“Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity” published in 1593 was a foundational Natural Law treatise. Written late in the reign of Elizabeth, it justified divine right of kings for the Stuart monarchs. Hooker emphasized the compatibility of the Church of England with reason and tradition. By doing so, he provided a theological basis for monarchial supremacy.  Hooker was even willing to accommodate the deification of man in a throwback to the Neoplatonic chain-of-being with no Creator-creature distinction. 

He wrote the book as a defense of the Anglican Church against Puritan attacks from Scripture. It was a classic case of natural law vs. revealed law. Hooker details elements of natural law theory and asserts universal principles governing both the natural and ecclesiastical order. This has the effect of giving the civil ruler great latitude in creation of law.  Hooker emphasizes the importance of reason and natural law in understanding divine revelation. Thus, by advocating for a balance between reason and faith, he depreciated the authority of Biblical law.

Hooker is defending the episcopal system of church government. This is a top-down hierarchical structure with bishops as a divinely ordained order. This top-down structure, coupled with the tripartite governing authority — tradition, church and Bible – makes Angicanism essentially Roman Catholic light. The Presbyterian bottom-up model favored by Puritans involved nomination of leaders from among the people or congregation.

2. Anglicanism and the English Revolution

Hooker argues for a three-fold authority in the Church, consisting of scripture, reason, and tradition. This is identical to the Roman Catholic position, which dilutes the authority of revelation.  And so, Hooker promotes a spirit of moderation and tolerance between religious factions. His work is characterized by a desire to avoid extremes.

“Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity” was well-received during Hooker’s lifetime. Its influence extended beyond the church to justify the divine right of kings.  Hooker had a lasting impact on the Anglican theological tradition.

However, we dare not neglect its overall impact as an assault on the ultimate authority of the Word of God and its Arian perspective on the Person of Christ.  These deviations from orthodoxy are cloaked in classical style modeled consciously after the soaring rhetoric of Cicero.

“For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption….” (II Peter 2:18,19).

B.  Thomas Hobbes, “Leviathan”

1. Justification for the English Revolution

Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan” in 1651 also defended absolute monarchy, asserting that individuals must relinquish rights for societal order.  This is because man in a state of nature is in a state of war. Life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” because individuals are in a “war of all against all.” It appeared during a tumultuous period in English history, just after the English Civil War and execution of Charles I. 

Hobbes describes construction of a just and stable society given a realistic assessment of human nature.  Among its central ideas is the Social Contract, where individuals are motivated by self-interest and fear. They come together to resist a sovereign authority (the Leviathan) for mutual protection and stability.  As noted, Hobbes’ hypothetical “state of nature” is a condition of perpetual conflict and chaos. Life is “nasty, brutish, and short.” He presents the social contract as the remedy for this condition. God is not in the picture.

The “Leviathan” is a biblical sea monster, symbol of an all-encompassing sovereign authority. Hobbes insists that a strong, centralized government is necessary to maintain order.   Thus, he is an advocate for absolute sovereignty. He asserts that the sovereign’s power must be undivided and unquestioned to ensure social order. This is like Dante on steroids.

2. Leviathan and the English Revolution

Hobbes argues that religious authority should be subordinated to the sovereign power for the sake of political stability. This perspective was controversial in a time of intense conflict between church and state.  For this reason, “Leviathan” faced criticism from the clerics during the court-in-exile of Charles II.

Charles II was also displeased with “Leviathan.”  From his standpoint it was not authoritarian enough.  Hobbes did not argue for arbitrary power for its own sake as “the divine-right-of-kings.” Rather he argued for the necessity of absolute power for the sake of the people.  This didn’t sit well with Charles II.

3. The Social Contract

By introducing the idea of a social contract, “Leviathan” presented a Plausible alternative to the Biblical covenant model. It came at a critical moment, when a strong Christian leader like Cromwell had a weak view of the vital necessity for an oath-bound national covenant with God.

John Locke picked up on the social contract idea later in the century, but used it in support of the more palatable secular constitution, not absolute monarchy. These debates virtually always occured outside the context of the supreme authority of the Word of God.  As the book of Judges describes the anarchy in ancient Israel:  “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). 

C. English Revolution Support of Regicide

As noted earlier, during the English Revolution, Commonwealth Men, including John Milton, James Harrington, and John Locke, wrote in support of regicide in exreme cases.  In particular, Milton’s “Tenure of Kings and Magistrates” argued for the legitimacy of regicide. This, of course, encouraged the revolutionary spirit, although Milton limited it to the lesser magistrate. Harrington’s “The Commonwealth of Oceana” also envisioned a republic that challenged monarchical authority.

John Calvin had articulated a theory of resistance based on the “lower magistrate,” in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.  But citizens are not to rise up in a lawless coup-de-etat against authority. Rather, they are to suffer and pray for God to raise up a lesser magistrate to lead them against the tyrant.  This is the pattern that we observe repeatedly in the Book of Judges in the Old Testament.

D. Key figures Like John Milton and James Harrington

Note the pivotal role of Milton and Harrington at mid-century. We have described Milton’s political prose in “Areopagitica” defense of a free press and “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.” In the latter, he focused on the duty of the lesser magistrate to challenge divine right, not the mob. But Milton’s most powerful work came later in life, when he expressed his political ideas in the epic poem, Paradise Lost. Poetry always trumps prose in the battle for the minds of men. Perhaps because the word pictures it paints challenge the imagination to divine the meaning.

The same was true of James Harrington’s Oceana, an allegory of the Island nation Britain. Harrington wrote as a leader of the British Commonwealth Men with a suggestion for Cromwell. He proposed a republican commonwealth with a constitution of powers balanced between Parliament and Protector. This would replace the failed covenant model under the Solemn League and Covenant.

Oceana emphasized the importance of land ownership for political participation. These ideas were felt almost immediately in colonial America when the charter of Massachusetts was renewed.  Participation in civil government was predicated on land ownership rather than a covenant oath to govern by Biblical law.  At that moment the shining light of the City Set on a Hill was extinguished.  The cliché, “rule of law” means nothing if it is not God’s law, “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).

E. John Locke, The Father of the Enlightenment

1. Locke’s Second Treatise on Human Government

With the stage thus set, John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” in 1689 became a cornerstone of political philosophy for the modern world. Locke argued for a social contract, individual rights, and government based on consent. His ideas influenced the Glorious Revolution and the American Founding documents in the following Century.

In particular, Locke’s “Second Treatise on Government” is a seminal work in political philosophy. John Locke, lived through the transitional period from 1632 to 1704. The work has earned him the title Father of the Enlightenment. Apparently, he had prepared the book earlier but released it in 1689 to influence the writing and/or passage of the English Bill of Rights at that time.

2. Locke’s Social Contract in the English Revolution

In Chapter 8 On the Formation of Civil Government, in his Second Treatise on Government, Locke highlighted majority rule. He said, “this is that and THAT ONLY which is the foundation of any lawful government in the world.”  There is no allowance for the law of God whatsoever.  It is for this reason that John Locke is known as The Father of the Enlightenment.  The U.S. Constitution is a textbook example of Locke’s Social Contract. In the Preamble American’s agreed to create a government based soley on the authority of “we the people” with no reference to the law of God

The Second Treatise is Locke’s detailed explanation of the concept of the social contract. In it he proposed that political authority arises from the consent of individuals in a state of nature who agree to form a civil society for their mutual benefit.  Locke posits the existence of natural rights (life, liberty, and property) in the state of nature. He argues that these rights precede the establishment of political societies. The latter exist only to protect the pre-existing rights.

3. Locke’s Limited Government & the English Revolution

Locke advocates for a limited government with the single purpose of protecting natural rights. He contends that if a government fails to fulfill this purpose, individuals have the right to alter or abolish it.  Thus, the Second Treatise defends the right of individuals to resist tyrannical rule. That means that if a government becomes oppressive, people have the right to revolution. This concept played a key role in the Glorious Revoluton of 1688 and the American Revolution of 1776.

Locke also introduces the labor theory of property, stating that individuals acquire property through their labor. This idea laid the groundwork for the concept of property rights and influenced economic thought, both Marxist and Free Market.

These ideas about natural rights and the right to revolution made a deep impression on the American Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson drew upon Locke’s philosophy in drafting the Declaration of Independence.  Thus, the assertion of many Christians that the Enlightenment never reached American shores is hopelessly naïve.

For reasons discussed earlier the concept of natural rights is suspect. We’ll take another close look in the following section.

4. Locke the Father of the Enlightenment

Locke’s “Second Treatise” contributed significantly to Enlightenment thought. He emphasized reason, rights, and the social contract. These ideas have had a long-lasting and detrimental impact on modern political philosophy. His work remains a cornerstone in the development of liberal political thought that has called down the judgment of God on modern America. 

Reason is fallen, rights are not inalienable, and the social contract excludes God. Only responsible obedience to the law of God, grounded in a covenant oath can secure the blessng of obedience to any man or nation. Locke would have none of that, which is why he is called the Father of the Enlightenment. And so, Locke’s treatise remains as a foundational text in the history of political philosophy. But the free-thinking Enlightenment once again leaves the specifics of God’s law out of the equation, with judgment the inevitable consequence.

F. Foundations of the English Revolution

And so, defeat of the Stuart tyranny centered by default on secular principles articulated by the British Commonwealth Men. Milton’s “Areopagitica” championed the right to freedom of expression. Harrington’s Oceana lauded property rights. Locke’s Second Treatise stressed toleration, natural rights, and limited government.

These became foundational in shaping secular, allegedly neutral, constitutional governments. The collective emphasis on these temporal principles prevailed over the theory of Divine Right. In so doing, they contributed to a shift in political thought based neither on Divine Right nor on God’s perfect law of liberty. Rather they birthed a humanistic English Revolution based on a patriotic, civll religion of human rights, human reason, and social contract.

G. The Law of the Lord Forgotten

The Puritans blew a golden opportunity at the end of Phase I of the English Revolution. They failed to establish an oath-bound covenant to reorder the legal system by the Mosaic covenant of Exodus 20-24. This failure paved the way for the secular musings of the British Commonwealth Men to propose the more palatable alternative of the secular social contract. This secular constitution template was set in concrete with Phase II of the English Revolution — the Glorious Revolution.

Forgotten in the revolutionary hype were the words of King David,

“the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul, the testimonies of the Lord is sure making wise the simple, the statutes of the Lord are right rejoicing the heart, the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether…

“More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honey comb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned and in keepng of them there is great reward.” (Ps 19: 7-11).

VI. The Battle against Divine Right

A. Puritan Opposition Rooted in Secular Humanist Theories

As we have noted, Puritan opposition to divine right was too often grounded in secular humanist theories. John Milton, in his “Areopagitica,” vehemently defended freedom of the press against censorship. This reflected a belief in individual autonomy.  Christian humanists like Milton rejected the notion of a divine monarch, instead emphasizing human reason and human rights.

B. Foundations of the English Revolution

The British Commonwealth Whigs championed unalienable rights, consent of the governed, and social contract theory. In addition to Milton, this included both James Harrington and John Locke. Harrington’s “The Commonwealth of Oceana” proposed a government based on land ownership, ensuring broad participation. Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” advanced the idea of a social contract in the form of a constitution.

These theories gave England a plausible, but volatile philosophical foundation for challenging divine right of kings. They emphasized individual liberties and popular sovereignty.  The great temptation of the Christians was to think that human rights rhetoric would gain more traction in the court of public opinion than Bible theology.  Any short-term gains were far from commensurate with long-term judgments that God visits on all man-made, cultural institutions.

C. Gradual Secularization of British Society

The battle against divine right catalyzed a gradual secularization of British society. The rejection of absolute monarchs in favor of constitutional principles reflected a shift away from religious authority. The Glorious Revolution of 1688, with its emphasis on parliamentary supremacy and individual rights, marked another turning point. This evolution laid the groundwork for a more secular political philosophy. It diminished the influence of Bible law as childish and superstitious. Instead, it established the precedence for modern, allegedly neutral, constitutional governance in the West.  But no constitution is worth the paper it is written on if it does not reflect the Biblical system of criminal justice.

VII. Conclusion

A. Impact of the English Revolution

1. Government without God

The English and Glorious Revolutions left an indelible mark on British history. The Bill of Rights in 1689 was the immediate product of the Glorious Revolution. It became a cornerstone document affirming parliamentary sovereignty, limiting royal power, and proclaiming individual liberties. The enduring legacy of the these revolutions is evident in the constitutional monarchy that emerged. It would shape Britain’s political landscape for centuries. God received a polite, but non-commital “tip of the hat.”

Gradually republican ideals morphed into democracy, manipulated by the elite. The establishment of the Bank of England in 1694 gave the British monarchy a different kind of power. “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.” (Mayer Amschel Rothschild, patriarch of the Rothschild banking dynasty)

2. Democracy in the English Revolution

The form of government outlined under the Old Testament Hebrew republic was anything but democratic.  In Deuteronomy 1:15 the people were required to nominate wise and experienced leaders to be sworn into office by Moses laying on of hands. 

Korah and his 250 followers were swallowed up by the earth in response to their arrogant rebellion against Moses, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”  Even James Madison himself condemned Greek democracy in the Federalist Papers, preferring instead the Roman Republic.

B. Legacy of the battle against divine right of kings tyranny

The battle against divine right of kings tyranny, waged by figures like John Milton, James Harrington, and John Locke, reshaped political philosophy. Milton’s defense of freedom of the press, Harrington’s republican ideas, and Locke’s social contract theory collectively challenged the notion of an absolute monarchy. This intellectual resistance laid the groundwork for modern constitutional thought.

All true, but the sovereignty of an all-powerful monarch had shifted to an all-powerful parliament.  The promise of liberty rang hollow apart from appeal to the higher law of God.

C. Politics and Philosophy in 17th-Century England

1. Constitutional Principles

We have seen how 17th-century in England witnessed a profound transformation of its political and philosophical landscape. The rejection of divine right in favor of secular constitutional principles marked a seismic shift. For example, the ideas articulated by the British Commonwealth Men sparked Phase II of the English Revolution and ushered in the Enlightenment of the following century.

First, they introduced the evolving notions of individual rights. Second, they ensured consent of the governed. And third the idea of limited government represented a departure from centuries-old authoritarian traditions. Together these lofty concepts ushered in an era of increased political pluralism and the gradual secularization of British society. While “pluralism” sounds good on paper, in reality it creates a quagmire of competing law codes. This is untenable for a variety of reasons.

2. The Failure of Pluralism

First and foremost, God is a jealous God, who will not tolerate competition from false gods. Second, every law code is based on a religion. Religion is based on somebody’s perception of right and wrong. And third, these competing perceptions of right and wrong result in endless political bickering and frequent warfare.

These festering wounds did not metastasize overnight.  It has taken over 200 years since 1787 for the evil fruit of this humanistic, Enlightenment dogma to ripen in America.  Only a Great Bible Reset to the restitutionary principles of the Bible’s criminal justice system will suffice to rescue America and the world.


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