From Mark Copeland... "THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD" The Work Of The Holy Spirit

                        "THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD"

                      The Work Of The Holy Spirit


1. Thus far we have examined what the Bible reveals about the nature of
   the Holy Spirit...
   a. The Holy Spirit is a personal being
   b. The Holy Spirit is a divine being
   -- I.e., He is the third Person in the Godhead

2. At this point, it may be beneficial to review the work of 
   the Holy Spirit...
   a. As manifested throughout the history of mankind
   b. As demonstrated throughout the revelation of God's redemption of man
   -- That we might increase our appreciation for the Holy Spirit

[We begin by noting...]


      1. God used the Spirit in the creation of the world - Gen 1:2
         Psa 104:30
      2. God used the Spirit in the creation of the heavens 
         - Job 26:13; Ps 33:6
         -- Clearly in conjunction with the work of the Son 
         - cf. Jn 1:1-3; Col 1:16

      1. In the creation of the first man - Gen 1:26-27
      2. In the creation of every man (as in the case of Elihu) 
         - Job 33:4

[From the very beginning, the Spirit was at work.  His work continued,
especially as God began to slowly reveal His plan of redemption 
for mankind...]


      1. The prophets of old spoke as they were moved by the Spirit 
         - 2Pe 1:20-21; e.g., 2Sa 23:2
      2. The Spirit was in them, testifying of things to come 
         - 1 Pe 1:10-11; e.g., Isa 53:4-6

      1. The Spirit was to guide the apostles into all the truth 
         - Jn 16:12-13; cf. 14:26
      2. This the Spirit did - 1Co 2:10-13; e.g., 1Ti 4:1-3

[Thus the Spirit's role in the redemption of man included His work of
revealing the will of God.  In conjunction with the Spirit's work of
revelation, we also read of...]

      1. Jesus was attested by God through the miracles He performed 
         - Ac 2:22
      2. The Spirit worked with Christ to confirm His work 
         - Ac 10:38;cf. Mt 12:28; Lk 4:18-21

      1. Confirming their message, through gifts given by the Spirit 
         - He 2:3-4
      2. As they traveled about proclaiming the gospel of God 
         - e.g., Ro 15:19

[As the Word of God was being revealed and confirmed, it was the Spirit
of God at work!  But as the Word was being preached, the Spirit was also
at work on those who listened with good and honest hearts...]


      1. The Spirit was doing His work of convicting the world 
         - cf. Jn 16:8
      2. For example, consider the events on the day of Pentecost
         a. The Spirit gave the apostles utterance - Ac 2:4
         b. Peter preached Christ to them - Ac 2:22-24,36
         c. People in the audience were convicted of their sins 
            - Ac 2:37
         d. They were encouraged to repent and be baptized - Ac 2:38-39
         e. Those willing to do so, did so gladly - Ac 2:40-41
      -- Thus the Spirit convicts the world through His revealed and
         confirmed Word whenever it is preached; those with good and
         honest hearts will bear the proper fruit - cf. Lk 8:15

      1. Those who obeyed the Spirit's Word were baptized 
         - cf. Ac 2:38-41
      2. In their baptism, they experienced a "washing of regeneration
         and renewing of the Holy Spirit' - cf. Tit 3:5-7; 1Co 6:11
      -- Thus they were being born again (regenerated) not of water
         only, but of water and the Spirit - cf. Jn 3:5

[This work of regeneration by the Spirit in response to the preaching of
the Word does not end the work of the Spirit in the life of the
Christian.  For we also read in the Bible of...]


      1. Sanctification involves the idea of being "set apart",
      2. Sanctification began in conjunction with our washing and
         justification - 1Co 6:11
      3. This washing, sanctification, and justification occurred 
         "by the Spirit of our God" 
      -- In obedience to the Word of God, we are "sanctified" by the
         Spirit - cf. 2Th 2:13

      1. Sanctification is an ongoing work - cf. He 2:11; 10:14
         a. Not in the sense of needing redemption - cf. He 10:10
         b. But in the sense of living holy lives - cf. 1Th 4:3-4; 5:23
      2. The Spirit plays an important role in living holy lives
         a. God strengthens us by His Spirit in our inner man 
            - Ep 3:16;cf. 3:20
         b. It is with aid of the Spirit that we put to death the deeds
            of the body - Ro 8:11-13; cf. Col 3:5-9
      -- Thus the need to "walk in the Spirit" and be "led by the
         Spirit" - cf. Ga 5:16-18


1. In this brief survey we have seen the work of the Holy Spirit in
   regards to...
   a. Creation
   b. Revelation
   c. Confirmation
   d. Regeneration
   e. Sanctification

2. My purpose has not been to provide an exhaustive survey...
   a. The Lord willing, future lessons will expand on some of the themes
      mentioned in this study
   b. My goal is to remind ourselves how blessed we are through the
      Spirit's work in our lives

3. How important is the work of the Spirit...?
   a. Our very being (physical creation) is the result of the Spirit's work
   b. Our eternal destiny (spiritual regeneration) is dependent upon the
      Spirit's work

Sadly, many people resist the work of the Spirit in their lives.  This
occurs whenever one refuses to obey the Word of God revealed and
confirmed by the Spirit (cf. Ac 7:51-53).

How much better to obey the truth, and be born again by the Spirit
working through that "incorruptible seed", the Word of God! 
- cf. 1 Pe 1:22-23

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Morphing Flight: Beyond Irreducible Complexity by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.


Morphing Flight: Beyond Irreducible Complexity

[EDITORS NOTEA.P. auxillary staff scientist Dr. Fausz holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech.]
Researchers and observers have long recognized that birds and various other flying creatures change the positioning of their body structures in flight in order to perform specific maneuvers or adjust their aerodynamic profile to accommodate changing flight conditions. This adaptive orientation of body shape has been dubbed “morphing” in the popular literature. The words “morph” and “morphing” are actually digressive forms of the word “metamorphosis,” which derives from the Greek “meta” (to change) and “morfe” (form). This is an apt description of the ability that birds possess to change the form or geometry of their bodies for increased maneuverability, as well as for stable flight in a wide variety of ambient conditions.
This eagle is pulling its feet against its body to reduce aerodynamic drag. Note also the craning of the wings (normally used to slow descent speed) and the spreading of the wing feathers to break up wing tips vortices that increase drag.
This capability has always been respected and often mimicked by aircraft engineers to the extent that it has been technologically possible to do so. Furthermore, bird observations have often inspired technological advancement in aircraft design and development. The Wright brothers incorporated morphing into their first successfully powered aircraft design. In a letter, Wilbur Wright described the biological observation that was the basis for this morphing design:
My observation of the flight of buzzards leads one to believe that they regain their lateral stability when partly overturned by a gust of wind, by a torsion of the tips of the wings (Wright, 1900, Image 4).
Consequently, the Wright brothers designed their first aircraft to be able to “twist” its wings for lateral stability and control, mimicking bird capability. Another well-known example of morphing in aircraft design is retractable landing gear which serves the same purpose for aircraft as when a bird pulls its feet up to its body in flight. That is, this type of morphing dramatically decreases aerodynamic drag which, in turn, increases energy efficiency for the bird of prey—which translates to fuel efficiency in aircraft. Additional “low-tech” examples of morphing include movable control surfaces used to impart forces and torques on the aircraft for maneuvering and stability, wing “slats,” “slots,” and “flaps” that extend to change the shape of the wing, providing higher lift at lower speeds for takeoff and landing, and variable “sweep” wings that allow aircraft to fly efficiently at dramatically differing flight speeds, such as in transitioning from subsonic to supersonic flight. In contrast with these examples of “low tech” morphing designs of the past, a morphing aircraft has been defined as “one that utilizes innovative actuators, effectors, or mechanisms to adapt its state substantially in order to enhance behavior and performance in addressing multiple environments” (Love, et al., 2007, emp. added). These past examples of morphing technologies were certainly innovative in their time, but are now fairly commonplace—not even considered “morphing” by some.
Nonetheless, research in new innovation for morphing aircraft is once again looking to birds for inspiration and guidance. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin stated:
NASA will open the door to a bold and revolutionary era by using technology to mimic nature. The seemingly effortless flight of birds provides the inspiration for new aircraft utilizing wings that reconfigure in flight. The vehicle changes—or morphs—from a low-speed configuration to one more suited for high speed (as quoted in Levine, 2001).
NASA is not the only organization actively pursuing aircraft morphing technology, however. A recent article described an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) currently under development, called “Roboswift” as “a small, remote-controlled aircraft that changes shape to mimic the aerodynamic profile of a swift” (Simonite, 2008). A researcher at the University of Florida, also studying morphing technology for UAVs, commented:
Despite the past century of innovation in aircraft technology, the versatility of modern aircraft remains far worse than airborne biological counterparts. The shape changing accomplished by birds and bats in flight stands as one of the few examples of true morphing. As such, the aircraft community is devoting considerable attention to the study of biological systems and how they might be implemented on a flight vehicle (Abdulrahim, 2005, emp. added).
Clearly, research in aircraft technology and design continues to draw ideas and inspiration from nature’sflyers. It is also clear that our technical capabilities seriously lag behind their natural abilities.
In spite of the fact that aerospace researchers have birds and other flying creatures to show them “how it’s done,” morphing aircraft design poses some very daunting technical challenges. This fact was discussed in an article describing the Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) project being carried out by the Lockheed Martin company with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA):
Morphing technology development requires integrated research in materials, smart structures, multi-functional airframe, and adaptive control. It is necessary to evaluate these constitutive technologies in a morphing vehicle to establish requirements and assure readiness for technology implementation (Love, et al., 2007).
Another research team, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Northrup Grumman, further stated: “Significant design challenges require advances in smart structures and materials (skins), actuation and power distribution, and feedback control of the morphing structure” (Ghandi, et al., 2007). The implication here is that morphing design is highly multi-disciplinary (structures, aerodynamics, control, etc.) and that all of these areas require additional research before the technology readiness level will be sufficient to actually build a true morphing aircraft. These examples only scratch the surface of the extreme levels of government funding and human resources that have gone into morphing aircraft research, yet there is still much work that must be done before a viable design can be realized, mainly due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the problem.
Given the substantial resources that have been poured into morphing aircraft research without yet achieving the final objective, it seems inconceivable that researchers would look at their biological inspiration and assume that the capabilities they are striving to emulate were derived from an unprompted, undirected natural process. That is, however, what often occurs. Consider what one evolutionist insisted:
This provides a cautionary note for those pursuing biomimicry, direct replication of biological features: essential aspects of those biological features may be driven by secondary characteristics or functions unrelated to the features’ primary functions. The bat wing, with all of its elegant modifications for flight, is an obvious example. It is derived from a typical vertebrate forelimb with all of the associated musculature, skeletal, and neuronal architectural characteristics that were originally developed for terrestrial or aboreal locomotion. That is, it was not designed for propulsive flight a priori as an engineered device might be, but was modified from other structures that originated for other functions (Evers, 2007, p. 10).
Dr. Evers issued a warning here to all those engaged in morphing aircraft research that are proceeding from the perspective of biomimicry (copying nature)—that they may be in fact designing structures that are not optimally suited to their purpose because they are copying from organic structures that, presumably, were not designed for the purpose they serve. Note, however, that Dr. Evers states that the bat wing was “modified from other structures that originated for other functions” (p. 10, emp. added). One might wonder how the bat wing “was not designed for propulsive flight a priori,” but the “typical vertebrate forelimb,” from which it supposedly derived, “originated for other functions.” This type of “doublespeak” is not uncommon, however, in Darwinist writings, and it belies an underlying difficulty with Darwinian thought. Nature’s machines are so good at what they do that it is difficult for even die-hard Darwinists to accept that they all arose as a result of an undirected process even while arguing that they did.
Dr. Evers’ comments also illustrate how Darwinists will often focus on the structural aspects of animal functionality when comparing characteristics of different animals. As we have already noted here, however, morphing flight is an example of a capability that involves so much more than just the structural configurations that give animals such as bats, birds and butterflies the ability to fly. Indeed, morphing flight is a highly multi-disciplinary skill. The different disciplinary facets of morphing may be broken down as follows:


Flying creatures and machines must be able to detect or sense the condition of the atmosphere around them, as well as their own position and structural configuration, in order to be able to carry out the activity of flying in a given environment. Examples of the types of data that must be gathered include air speed, altitude, air pressure, position relative to other objects, and the position and shape of their wings at each moment (especially true if morphing is being employed). This capability can involve highly specialized sensors in aircraft such as angular rate gyros for measuring orientation, and ports along the wing for measuring air pressure. Flying animals are able to make use of typical animal sensing capabilities such as vision, hearing, and smell, but must also rely on some very special sensor systems. Examples of these special sensors in animals include echo-location in bats (Colley, 2004), a bird’s ability to sense linear and angular acceleration with its ears (Pennycuick, 2008, p. 307), and highly sensitive hair-like mechanoreceptors that allow insects to sense the approach of potential predators (Vaidyanathan, et.al., 2001). It has even been suggested, in recent research, that birds can sense the magnetic field of the Earth, providing valuable information for navigation (Brahic, 2008).


The sensor inputs from eyes, ears, etc., as well as specialized sensor systems, must be integrated and processed in the brain for biological flyers, or alternatively, the flight computer if one is considering the sensor systems of flying machines. The processing that must be carried out includes specialized algorithms for flight stability, guidance, navigation, and control. Flight stability is arguably the most important of these functions, since without stability it is impossible to remain in flight, and lack of stability in flying can easily lead to tragic results. In aircraft, flight stability algorithms are executed at the highest possible processing speeds and given top priority for processor usage. Guidance is the function that determines, to the highest possible accuracy, where the flyer is currently located, particularly with respect to where it needs to go. On the other hand, navigation compares guidance information with known geographical waypoints to compute the “best” course for the flyer to follow to end up where the guidance function wants it to go. The control function takes guidance and navigation information and generates commands for the actuation system to steer the flyer along the computed course. In biological flyers, these commands are electrical impulses from the brain that stimulate specific muscles and organs. In aircraft, the commands are also electrical signals that activate electric motors or trigger hydraulic actuation. Given the computational requirements of flight locomotion, it may not be surprising that the size of a bird’s brain with respect to its body size is, on average, 10 times that of the reptiles with whom they are assumed to share common ancestry (Jerison, 2004).


Morphing flight requires highly specialized structures, but it also requires equally specialized actuators to move and position those structures. The very definition of morphing aircraft, given previously, describes an aircraft that “utilizes innovative actuators, effectors, or mechanisms” (Love, et al., 2004). Natural flyers, as well, require a specialized skeletal structure and attached musculature to perform their amazing feats of aerial acrobatics. Mujahid Abdulrahim discussed the wing craning actuator on his morphing aircraft design and the specialized bird structure that it was modeled after:
The wing craning (gull-wing) mechanism is loosely modeled after a set of parallel bones connecting the shoulder and elbow joints of a bird wing. A rotation of the shoulder joint in the vertical plane results in an extension or contraction of the entire wing. The skeletal mechanism provides a geometric ratio between the extension of the inner and outer bones. Such a mechanism allows the bird to morph into a variety of positions using a single movement. Each of the positions is largely stable and affords a unique capability within the flight envelope (2005).
The specialization of this “skeletal mechanism” for morphing flight is clearly illustrated in this narrative, and the muscles that actuate these motions would be expected also to be specialized for the task in their attachments to the skeletal structure, as well as their configuration.
So, each of these “subsystems” require specialized components to fulfill their part in enabling the wonders of morphing flight. The manner in which these subsystems interact, however, is equally critical to the success of morphing in providing a positive contribution to flight capability. The sensory outputs have to provide specific information to be useful for stability, guidance and navigation, and the computational capability has to have sufficient processing capacity and be “wired” in such a way as to operate effectively on that information. Similarly, the computation function has to possess information about actuator configuration and dynamics in order to output appropriate command signals to achieve the objective of flight stability and to successfully execute the desired motion in flight. Finally, the actuators have to possess the dynamic range, as well as force and torque magnitudes, to achieve the necessary changes in body shape and position in a timely fashion.
Multiple components of bird anatomy have been studied in the literature with respect to the irreducible complexity they possess regarding the bird’s ability to fly. For example, Matthew Vanhorn discussed the amazing complexity of bird feathers (Vanhorn, 2004), Caleb Colley pointed out how bats use their ears (hearing) for echolocation (2004), and irreducible complexity has been examined in general terms with regard to various components of bird physiology (Fausz, 2008). These discussions of the various elements of bird physiology are compelling irreducible complexity arguments when one considers the specialized requirements of flight systems (cf. Miller, 2006, 5[2]:5-R).
This block diagram illustrates the interconnection and interdependence of the major subsystems involved in achieving advanced flight capability.
When these physical components are considered in a system context, however, the arguments of irreducible complexity are taken to a whole new level. As discussed, the bird’s brain must have sufficient capacity to carry out the required computations, but this capacity is useless for flight without the required sensor information or the appropriate actuation systems for carrying out the computed commands. Likewise, without the necessary brain capacity the specialized sensing and actuation components would serve no purpose, and would likely be detrimental to survival. Useful flight capability is not possible without flight stability, at a minimum, and this is only possible if the necessary sensor, computer, and actuator components are all in place. Indeed, attempting flight without stability will, with high probability, result in the death of the flyer.
The multi-disciplinary nature of morphing flight has already been discussed, but is further reflected in the following:
To lay the foundation for a truly multi-role aircraft, multidisciplinary research efforts are currently focusing on technologies that enable substantial changes to the wing configuration.... Aerodynamics analysis [sic] (including unsteady and transient aerodynamics) are also important to accurately characterize the vehicle for control surface sizing, engine compatibility, and flight-control design. Despite significant strides to develop wing structure and actuation systems, much work remains to effectively control both the morphing planform as well as the entire morphing aircraft (Ghandi, et al., 2007).
This discussion illustrates that, even in focused research, it is difficult to make sure that all aspects of a significant multi-disciplinary problem are given adequate attention. This is no less true when it comes to biological creatures capable of morphing flight.
The irreducible complexity associated with bird feathers and other components of bird physiology are enough of a challenge to the Darwinian notion of natural selection to render it impractical. However, when one considers the system level implications of morphing flight, and the necessity of simultaneous development of multiple combinations of these physical components, natural selection as an explanation for morphing flight capability is seen to be absolutely irrational. Furthermore, the difficulty of achieving this capability in flying machines, even with substantial resources focused within a significant research effort, illustrates that birds are the product of, not just design, but of an incredibly capable Designer with an unparalleled understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of the problem. That Designer, of course, is God, who spoke to Job on this subject:
Does the hawk fly by your wisdom,
and spread its wings toward the south?
Does the eagle mount up at your
command, and make its nest on high?
On the rocks it dwells and resides,
on the crag of the rock and the stronghold.
From there it spies out the prey; its
eyes observe from afar (Job 39:26-29).
Here God describes the computational capability inherent in a hawk flying by “wisdom” and an eagle by “command.” He also indicates the tremendous acuity of the eagle’s eyes for sensing prey, as well as several other facts about the behavior of these birds. Truly, only an omniscient, omnipotent God would possess this knowledge and the ability to apply it in such wondrous works of design and creation. Few birds have more impressive morphing flight capability than birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles, making them perfect examples of the amazing design ability of the Creator.


Abdulrahim, Mujahid (2005), “Flight Performance Characteristics of a Biologically-Inspired Morphing Aircraft,” 43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, January 10-13, Reno, NV.
Brahic, Catherine (2008), “Birds Can ‘See’ the Earth’s Magnetic Field,” New Scientist, [On-line], URL:http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13811-birds-can-see-the-earths-magnetic-field.html.
Colley, Caleb (2004), “Bat ‘Vision’,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2633.
Evers, J.H. (2007), “Biological Inspiration for Agile Autonomous Air Vehicles,” Platform Innovations and System Integration for Unmanned Air, Land and Sea Vehicles (AVT-SCI Joint Symposium). Meeting Proceedings RTO-MP-AVT-146, Paper 15: 1-14. Neuilly-sur-Seine, France: RTO, [On-line], URL:http://www.rto.nato.int/abstracts.asp.
Fausz, Jerry (2008), “Designed to Fly,” Reason and Revelation, 28[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3599.
Ghandi, N., Jha, A., Monaco, J., Seigler, T.M., Ward, D. and Inman, D.J. (2007), “Intelligent Control of a Morphing Aircraft,” 48th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, April 23-26, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Jerison, Harry J. (2004), “Dinosaur Brains,” Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (CDROM: Elsevier), third edition.
Levine, Jay (2001), “The Morphing Aircraft,” The Dryden X-PressNASA Dryden Flight Research Center, [On-line], URL: http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Newsroom/X-Press/stories/043001/new_morph.html.
Love, M.H., Zink, P.S., Stroud, R.L., Bye, D.R., Rizk, S. and White, D. (2007), “Demonstration of Morphing Technology through Ground and Wind Tunnel Tests,” 48th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, April 23-26, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Miller, Dave (2006), “Bee Flight Physics,” Reason & Revelation, 5[2]:5-R, February, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2839.
Pennycuick, Colin J. (2008), Modelling the Flying Bird (San Diego, CA: Academic Press), first edition.
Simonite, Tom (2008), “Morphing Aircraft Mimics a Bird on the Wing,” New Scientist, March 6, [On-line],URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13419-morphing-aircraft-mimics-a-bird-on-the-wing.html.
Vaidyanathan, Ravi, Roger D. Quinn, Roy E. Ritzmann, and Troy S. Prince (2001), “An Insect-Inspired Endgame Targeting Reflex for Autonomous Munitions,” International Conference on Intelligence Robots and Systems, October, 2001, Wailea, Hawaii.
Vanhorn, Matthew (2004), “Words of a Feather,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2610.
Wright, Wilbur (1900), “Letter to Octave Chanute,” The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, May 13, Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://tinyurl.com/ybropwa.

Deconstructing the Establishment Clause by Kevin Cain, J.D.


Deconstructing the Establishment Clause

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. auxiliary staff writer, Kevin Cain, who holds degrees from Freed-Hardeman University (B.S., M.Min.) and the Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law. A former Briefing Attorney of The First Court of Appeals, his current practice focuses on litigation at the trial and appellate levels in both State and Federal Courts.]
One wonders whether the Founding Fathers ever envisioned the intense...at times, malevolent...discourse these simple, instructive words would evoke throughout the land for over 200 years. Should “In God We Trust” be removed from our currency? Should the opening of Court not begin with an incantation to God to “save the United States and this Honorable Court”? Indeed, should reference to an awareness of God be stricken from the federal Constitutional oath of office? Or from the revered Declaration of Independence? Where does the injunction of the First Amendment lead us? (Doe v. Tangipahoa..., 2009).
I was in my car listening to a talk radio program where the subject of the day was the “separation of church and State.” The callers’ opinions were all across the board from the far left to the far right and everything in between. One gentleman finally called in and had the nerve to assert that the First Amendment nowhere contains the phrase “separation of church and State.” And then the fireworks began. Caller after caller (including the host) blasted this neophyte for claiming the First Amendment did not contain this purported phrase.
In reality, the First Amendment has two religious clauses. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Bill of Rights, 1789, emp. added). The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second is known as the Free Exercise Clause. Not only is the phrase “separation of church and State” conspicuously absent from this short sentence we call the First Amendment, but it is not anywhere to be found in the entire Constitution of the United States (nor in any law passed by Congress).


Why is it, then, that so many people mistakenly, yet sincerely, believe that this phrase is somewhere found within the First Amendment? More importantly, why do so many believe that this phrase means that the government can have no involvement in religion or recognition of God in any form whatsoever? The origin of this phrase can be traced back to an 1802 letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson expressing concern over their lack of state constitutional protection of religious liberty and against a government establishment of religion. Specifically, the Danbury Baptists stated in their letter to President Jefferson, “Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty—That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals—That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions—That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor” (“Danbury Baptist...,” 1801). The Danbury Baptists were concerned that a religious majority might establish a state religion at the expense of the liberties of religious minorities.
Thomas Jefferson responded by letter dated January 1, 1802. He agreed with the Danbury Baptists’ views on religious liberty and the separation of civil government from involvement with religious doctrine and practice. Jefferson wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State” (“Jefferson’s Letter...,” 1802, emp. added). Jefferson’s statement regarding “a wall of separation between Church & State” was a mere recognition that the government would not endorse or back a single religious group to the detriment of other Christian sects. However, the use of that phrase today bears no relation to what President Jefferson meant when he penned those words in 1802.


Many take the view that the Framers of the First Amendment intended for the government to be completely detached from any religious activity and neutral in all religious matters. In other words, they equate the phrase “separation of church and State” with absolute refusal by the government not only to engage in any religious activity, but also to passively allow any religious activity in the public sphere. This interpretation is far removed from the context or meaning of the phrase coined by Jefferson in 1802, much less the First Amendment.
To understand what the First Amendment does and does not mean, it would be helpful to look to the writings and religious/political sentiments expressed by the author and primary proponent of the First Amendment. James Madison submitted the original draft of the First Amendment to Congress, and Thomas Jefferson was one of the key supporters of the First Amendment.
It is clear from Madison’s own writings that he was concerned with the union of church and State as was prevalent in Europe at that time. The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from joining forces with a particular religious organization as a government-endorsed religion. This can be seen in the original proposed draft of the First Amendment submitted by Madison. “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985, emp. added). “[Madison’s] original language ‘nor shall any national religion be established’ obviously does not conform to the ‘wall of separation’ between church and State idea which latter-day commentators have ascribed to him” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). Ironically, when the original draft of the First Amendment was later revised and debated in the House on August 15, 1789, Representative Peter Sylvester of New York expressed his dislike for the revised version, because it might have a tendency “to abolish religion altogether” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). However, Madison stated during this debate that “he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:758). While the Supreme Court has never adopted this interpretation of the Establishment Clause, this is the exact meaning articulated by its own author, James Madison. After reviewing this same historical context of the Establishment Clause, Chief Justice Rehnquist concluded:
It seems indisputable from these glimpses of Madison’s thinking, as reflected by actions on the floor of the House in 1789, that he saw the Amendment as designed to prohibit the establishment of a national religion, and perhaps to prevent discrimination among sects. He did not see it as requiring neutrality on the part of government between religion and irreligion (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985).
Moreover, James Madison was a religious man who strongly believed that all public officials and governmental leaders should publicly profess their belief in Christianity:
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way (“Madison Letter...,” 1773, emp. added).
Madison was also one of the drafters who passed the Virginia Constitution, which carries the phrase, “It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other” (The Proceedings of..., 1776, p. 103). Simply put, Madison was a strong believer that governmental leaders, legislators, and even legislation should recognize and espouse submission to Christ.
In his first inaugural address, James Madison recognized that the destiny and prosperity of a nation are directly linked to the blessings and guidance given by God.
In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future (Madison, 1809).
In other words, Madison subscribed to the position that religion should have a place in the role of government. Moreover, Madison expressed a clear belief that the fate of a government was intertwined with its dependence upon and relationship with God.
Thomas Jefferson was also outspoken and clear in his opposition to a church-sponsored religion that superimposed its will on the people. Jefferson stated that he was unequivocally opposed to the government endorsing a state or national religion, much like the system that so many of our Founding Fathers left behind in England. “I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another” (Jefferson, 1799). Jefferson was especially opposed to Roman Catholicism and any manifestation of entanglement of church and State where the church assumes the role of civil government. “But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion [i.e., Jesus—KC], before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants [i.e., Roman Catholicism, for which Jefferson had little tolerance], and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State” (Jefferson, 1810).
Jefferson was not an enemy of religion; rather, he embraced and promoted religion. In his first inaugural address, Jefferson, like Madison, linked national prosperity to a national dependence on God and religion:
Let us, then, ...enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? (Jefferson, 1801).
In his second inaugural address, Jefferson made similar statements, but with a clearer endorsement of the God of the Bible:
I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations (Jefferson, 1805).
Simply put, Jefferson publically called upon the God of the Israelites and the God of the Bible, and likewise called upon the citizenry of this country to pray to that same God. This is clearly not the wall of separation that so many have misconstrued from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson did not state we should all go home and privately pray to the supreme being of our choice. Rather, Jefferson used the office of the President of these United States to direct this nation to call upon the God of the Bible in prayer to beseech the blessings and guidance of the one true God. Whatever that “wall of separation” may be, it is certainly not what so many scholars and citizens presume it to mean today.
Interestingly, at about this same time in history when the First Amendment was ratified (December 15, 1791), the United States government was engaged in numerous acts that many would presume to be unconstitutional today under a contemporary interpretation of the First Amendment. However, these governmental actions simply demonstrate that Congress did not intend for the First Amendment to be a literal wall of separation between church and State.
The Northwest Ordinance, passed by Congress in 1789, provided that “[r]e­li­gion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged” (1789, 1:52). Like Madison and Jefferson in their inaugural addresses, Congress also drew a direct link between religion and government and recognizing that government and proper education cannot stand without religion and morality.
On the day after the House of Representatives voted to adopt the final version of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, Representative Elias Boudinot proposed a resolution asking the President to issue a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:949). This resolution was passed on September 25, 1789. Within two weeks, George Washington responded:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us (Washington, 1789).
Likewise, in President Washington’s farewell address in 1796, he declared:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.... The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them (1796, emp. added).
President Washington made clear that a government cannot exist without “religion and morality.” These events and actions of the government, near the time the Establishment Clause was enacted, demonstrate that the First Amendment was not designed to extract all religion from the government. To the contrary, the political leaders of the day, the Framers, congressmen, and even the Presidents surrounding the time the Establishment Clause was passed, were clear advocates for governmental endorsement of religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
Contrast the language and endorsement of religion from Washington, Madison, and Jefferson (and nearly every President that followed) with the state of the First Amendment today. Presidents Washington, Madison, and Jefferson used the federal office of the President to persuade the people to submit to the moral guidelines of the Bible and pray to the God of the Bible. Compare that with the United States Supreme Court which held in 1985 that a public school could not allow a moment of silence for students to pray to the supreme being of their choice (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). What has happened in our national history that we have devolved from a point in time where our highest ranking national leader could actively promote prayer and submission to the God of the Bible, but today schools cannot passively even allow a moment of silence at the start of the day? As Justice Rehnquist stated in his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree: “It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years” (1985).


From this simple phrase, “separation of church and State,” much has been presumed and contorted to satisfy the trends and leanings of our culture. When a straightforward application of the First Amendment does not reach the desired result, obscure and complicated tests are fashioned to bewilder and lead to a conclusion that unassuming and sober-minded people would never reach. A multi-pronged and amorphous test can allow anyone to reach whatever conclusion they desire. This dilemma is especially true when looking at the judicial application of the Establishment Clause in the last 50 years.
Over the years, the United States Supreme Court has fashioned several tests when scrutinizing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There is much debate about whether all these tests are still viable, whether one test overrules another, or whether the tests are merely fact-specific as to their application. One thing is clear: these tests do not reflect the sentiment of the Founding Fathers and the states that drafted, supported, and passed this amendment into law.
It is no surprise that media sources, entertainers, academia, and the government have veered further to the left, and grown more liberal and tolerant in the arena of morality. Unfortunately, courts have likewise followed the same path, reflecting the same liberal trends we see in every other facet of contemporary culture. While many who misinterpret the First Amendment clamor for freedom of religion, they have actually traveled down a path toward freedom from religion, which eventually results in hostility towardreligion. Likewise, courts’ interpretations of the Establishment Clause have moved in a direction that is more offensive and antagonistic toward religion (or, at a minimum, allows others to superimpose irreligion over religion).
This simple language known as the Establishment Clause has spawned a flurry of judicially created tests and paradigms that further confuse and muddy the waters of the religious/political landscape. Rather than providing a reasoned interpretation leading to predictable results, these tests serve as the springboard to allow courts to manipulate the outcome of a case when applying the Establishment Clause—an amendment whose meaning was once clear and obvious. However, when a test only serves to further confuse and create more questions than it answers, its usefulness is short-lived, and its purpose is suspect at best.


The first Establishment Clause test created by the United States Supreme Court is a three-part analysis often referred to as the Lemon test. The Lemon test derives its name from the 1971 case styled Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the Court ruled that a state program providing aid to religious elementary and secondary schools violated the Establishment Clause (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971). Under the Lemon test, a court must (1) determine whether the law or government action in question has a bona fide secularpurpose; (2) determine whether the state action has the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion; and (3) consider whether the action excessively entangles religion and government. These criteria are sometimes referred to respectively as the (1) “effects” prong, (2) the “purpose” prong, and (3) the “entanglement” prong. There is a lack of consensus as to how this test is to be applied. Are courts required to satisfy all three prongs, or do they merely balance these factors? Are all elements needed, or are only some needed, and if so, which elements are required and which are discretionary? Moreover, there is a question as to whether the Lemon test is still good law today, or has it been effectively overruled by the many other tests subsequently created by the United States Supreme Court.


In 1997, the United States Supreme Court appeared to modify the Lemon test in Agostini v. Felton. The Court combined the last two elements of the Lemon test, using only the purpose prong and a modified version of the effects prong (Agostini v. Felton, 1997). The Agostini Court delineated three principal criteria to determine whether government action has the primary effect of advancing religion: (1) government indoctrination, (2) defining the recipients of government benefits based on religion, and (3) excessive entanglement between government and religion (1997). In other words, we started with a three-pronged test which has now been modified into a two-pronged test by integrating two of the original prongs and adding a new three-part inquiry to help explain the new prong. Anyone confused yet? But the tests do not stop here.


The “coercion test” owes its genesis to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissent in County of Allegheny v. ACLU. Under the coercion test, the government violates the Establishment Clause if it (1) provides direct aid to religion in a way that would tend to establish a state church, or (2) coerces people to support or participate in religion against their will (County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 1989). What would or would not coerce a person is the subject of great debate among scholars and judges, and is clearly a highly subjective standard. However, the coercion test is more strictly applied when involving grades K through 12. In Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court observed that “there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools” (1992). However, Lee v. Weisman also illustrates the subjectivity and lack of predictability when applying the coercion test. In that case, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent. Both justices are professed devout Catholics and former altar boys. Both applied the same coercion test and came to opposite results: Justice Kennedy found that the prayer at issue in that case violated the Establishment Clause, while Justice Scalia found that the same prayer did not violate the Establishment Clause (1992). Given this lack of clarity, it seems only judicially natural that another ambiguous test should be crafted to further confuse and bewilder the legal landscape regarding the Establishment Clause.


Under Justice Sandra Day O’­Connor’s “endorsement test,” government action violates the Establishment Clause if it amounts to an “endorsement of religion” (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984). Under the endorsement test, government action or legislation is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a “reasonable observer” that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion. Justice O’Connor wrote: “The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community” (1984). A person is coerced under the coercion test “when the government conveys ‘a message to non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community’” (1984). The endorsement test is often applied when the government is actively expressing itself, such as graduation prayers, religious signs on government property, and religion in school curriculum. As expected, there is considerable disagreement as to what constitutes a “reasonable observer” under the endorsement test. Apparently, the reasonable observer is whatever the judge decides this hypothetical person to be. As such, the reasonable observer will vary from judge to judge. However, does the reasonable observer vary based on the jurisdiction? For example, the “reasonable observer” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama will be quite different from the “reasonable observer” in San Francisco, California. Moreover, on what basis is the decision made that the observer in Muscle Shoals is unreasonable, other than the superimposed, yet subjective, opinion of a judge who unilaterally decides that to be the case? With more questions and more unresolved issues, surely another test or two is called for.


The concept of neutrality in Establishment Clause decisions requires that the government neither be an ally nor an adversary of religion. This analysis (not so much a formal test as a relaxed analysis) is often applied in cases involving funding or some form of aid given to religious organizations or schools (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 2002; Mitchell v. Helms, 2000). The focus in this approach is an inquiry into the individual’s or institution’s control over the funds and equal treatment between religious and non-religious groups.


This test, if it can, in fact, be called a “test,” originates from the case of Marsh v. Chambers. After observing the extensive history of government-paid chaplains and legislative prayer, the United States Supreme Court concluded: “In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society” (Marsh v. Chambers, 1983). It is disputed as to whether this is actually a test or, rather, a mere anomaly in Supreme Court jurisprudence, or a unique application of one of the other Establishment Clause tests. Nevertheless, the United States Supreme Court held that prayer to open the Nebraska Legislative Session was not unconstitutional because of its long history. As such, the Court ruled that this practice was a part of the fabric of America and, hence, did not violate the Establishment Clause (1983). According to the logic of Marsh v. Chambers, if a practice was instituted a long time ago, the initiators of this practice must have had a secular or non-religious purpose in mind, but if the practice is more recent, the instigators clearly had a religious purpose in mind. This amorphous and backwards approach would presume that Americans are becoming more and more religious, in spite of every secular indicator to the contrary.


At this point in our analysis, the words of Festus come to mind, when he shouted, “Paul, you are beside yourself. Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). While Paul was clearly not insane, but was speaking words that were reasonable and true (vs. 25), “reason” and “truth” are not the words that come to mind when surveying the dizzying array of Establishment Clause tests that courts have concocted to reflect the leanings and trends of our contemporary culture. While sifting through all this madness—these tests, multiple elements, sub-elements, and new tests—it now becomes clear how we have digressed from a simple, straightforward Establishment Clause with a clear original purpose and history, and how we now find ourselves living in an age where the government has not only sterilized itself from all Christian religion, but is even hostile and adverse toward Christianity. Scholarly smokescreens, guised in complex and multifarious tests created over an extended period of time, hope to eventually erase history and overrule the original intent of constitutional language.
It is important to know the many tests that courts have contrived in an effort to further estrange and remove religion from our government, communities, schools, and way of life. We should be familiar with these tests so that we can combat those who try to use them to justify their anti-religious views. We should combat them with the historical context of our Founding Fathers, even the authors of the First Amendment itself. Without this knowledge, some people may even be convinced that phrases like “separation of church and State” are actually found somewhere in the pages of our Constitution. Rewriting history is a deceptive and popular way to persuade people. While it is obviously inconsistent and insincere to close one’s eyes to reality and history, it is not without precedent. As George Orwell described it:
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became the truth. “Who controls the past” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” (1949, Part 1, Chapter 3).
Or, as Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany under Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, put it:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State (1941).
We should be aware of the historical context and proper meaning of the First Amendment. We should also be aware of the alleged “arguments” and “legal tests” that have mutated over the years, allowing courts to confuse and delude people into an interpretation and application of the First Amendment that would be unrecognizable to its framers.


Annals of Congress (1789), [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwac.html.
Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997).
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County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).
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Doe v. Tangipahoa Parish School Bd., WL 1789425, F.Supp.2d (E.D. La., 2009).
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Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992).
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Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984).
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Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).
Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000).
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Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. (2002).