"There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God." --Psalm 46:4

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Serving God with His people at Faith OPC has been a great joy and blessing. When I grow up, I want to umpire Little League Baseball. I will revel on that day when I can say to a 10-year-old boy after four pitched balls, "Take a walk in the sunshine." My wife of 30+ years, Peggy, consistently demonstrates the love of Christ and remains my very best friend. Our six children, our four lovely, sweetie-pie daughters-in-law, and our four grandchildren serve as resident theologians.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eat this Book

Read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

“…God sometimes allows people to treat us unjustly. Sometimes He even allows their actions to seriously affect our careers or our futures viewed on the human plane. But God never allows people to make decisions about us that undermine His plan for us. God is for us, we are His children, He delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17). As the Scripture says, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ We can put this down as a bedrock truth: God will never allow any action against you that is not in accord with His will for you. And His will is always directed to our good.”


“Why then do we suffer such disappointment when the hoped for favor that we needed from another person doesn’t materialize? Why do we struggle with resentment and bitterness when someone else’s decision or action adversely affects us? Is it not because it is our plans that have been dashed, or our pride that has been wounded?” TRUSTING GOD, p. 71

G. Mark Sumpter

Machen Conference

Caedmon College sponsors Machen Conference in September

“To bring back truth, on a practical level, the church must encourage Christians to be not merely consumers of culture but makers of culture. The church needs to cultivate Christian artists, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, journalists, attorneys, teachers, scientists, business executives, and the like…Christian laypeople must be encouraged to be leaders in their fields, rather than eager-to-please followers, working from the assumptions of their biblical worldview, not the vapid clich├ęs of pop culture.” J. G. Machen

Conference: September 14-15; Three talks on Machen and His Times

Place: Hope Presbyterian Church, Rogue River, Oregon

Presenter: Chris Schlect, historian at New St. Andrews College

Cost: $10 per person; $25 for household of 3 or more

G. Mark Sumpter


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Met Austin Walking the Streets of Grants Pass

A man in his late 20s spoke openly with me about the Trinity

I saw his license plate was gold and blue letters—he was from Alaska.

I approached him, “So, are you from Ft. Rich or Elmendorf?”

He shot back, “I live closest to Rt. Rich.” An Army base right outside of Anchorage.

“Yeah,” we were starting to grin and what not, and I asked, “Whereabouts near Ft. Rich?”

He admitted, “Well, actually, I live out in the Valley.”

“You’re kidding me, right?...You’re kidding me?” I queried.

OK…fast forward the conversation about 20 minutes in…

I tried to open the conversation a little, “Austin, you’re an articulate man…I mean that…you obviously have done quite a bit of thinking about the Bible and what it teaches. But I want to try to get something out to you…and I don’t know if I can express it very clearly…so hang in here with me.”

I continued, “OK. Here goes. We, who are Protestants and profess the faith of Christianity that’s been believed down through the centuries, have always tried to leave faith as part of the Christian life. God is God. Man is man. The doctrine or the teaching point of the Trinity, that is, 1+1+1=1 requires faith…we are finite creatures.”

Austin jumped in, “Now wait a minute…the Bible tells us we can have accurate knowledge…we can know God, we can know Him, after all, we’re His children.”

“You’re right, Austin….I don’t mean to come across by saying that God is unknowable,” I said.

I went on, “There’s mystery. We have to leave some things to God…like….uh…like, OK, here’s one: like the Bible. Who wrote the Bible—God or man? Somehow God so worked in man that God used man….how…exactly how did God use man to write the Bible? I do not know…I leave room for mystery about that.”

I gave another example, “God is over all things—He’s made everything—and He, at the same time, is all around us.” I then said it this way, “God is up and God is down.”

Then I asked him, “How do we explain that God is both above us and right here with us at the exact same time?” I answered, “We trust Him by faith; we believe what He has said about His own existence—He’s King, who is over us (Austin liked that title for God, “King”), and at the same time, is right here active and in control of all things.”

Austin assessed things and said, “The Trinity doesn’t make sense.”

He went on, “What do you think of the baptism of Jesus…He’s a man…He talked to Jehovah (that’s the name we use)…. And…..what about the other times where the Son talked to God—you tell me, Mark: How does God talk to God?” He summarized, “We’re talking about two separate distinct beings—separate, different, individual.”

The sun was blaring down. He was standing beside his pick-up and was having to go. I was starting to get a little tied up in emotional knots.

I offered one more thing: “Austin, I realize that this is going to sound pretty high minded and philosophical and all, but let me give it shot….here goes: do you know that for us to have this conversation we are both having to assume the reality of the Bible’s teaching on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity? I know that sounds kind of out there. But it’s true. We are working at this conversation, right now, and we are able to have this conversation right now, because we are working with two assumptions. 1) We are two distinct, separate and individual persons. 2) We are one and the same in that we share humanity as God’s creatures, as men made in His image—we come from One Father and God of all.”

I asked him, “Austin, do you follow that?”

Austin kind of smiled.

I mentioned to him, “Think of it…. God is One and God is Three.”

I did not attempt to explain the co-existence, co-sharing of the co-eternal being of the Godhead—the equality of existence of the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I attempted one more time. “Austin, your particular existence, your separate existence allows you to speak with me. And my distinct, separate existence allows me to think of things to say and then say them to you….Also, the only reason we can speak to one another and carry on a conversation is because we share aspects of sameness—we’re both creatures, we’re both seeking to communicate, we’re both dependent image-bearers of God, Who is the One from Whom we originate and live… We must make use of the doctrine of the Trinity for life to make sense, for us to be able to have this conversation…we are borrowing from the reality of God Who exists as One and Three—Unity and Diversity, Oneness and Particularity.”

We shook hands to wrap up the conversation—it was a good firm Alaskan handshake—he remains a Jehovah Witness. He listened well. He was patient. He was gracious. But Austin believes that Jesus Christ is a creature, a perfect man.

G. Mark Sumpter

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trivium Again

In Deuteronomy with Moses and his servant Joshua—see particularly Joshua 1:10-18

Grammar—Moses is given the Law, the Grammar for Israel’s knowledge of God and His ways. In a similar vein, Joshua receives the Law—not as Moses did on the Mountain; but he receives it as the Grammar of the Law—“do all that is written in it…” (Josh. 1:8a).

Dialectic—Moses explains the Law, that’s the Book of Deuteronomy. Usually, Bible teachers tell us that Deuteronomy is three sermons. That’s three times Moses going over the explanation of the Law to Israel and what it means for Israel’s life in the new Promised Land. Interestingly, Moses makes connections for the people between history (the past) and the future—a comparing and contrasting. In a similar vein, Joshua issues forth commandments—“Go… take…you shall possess as was promised….”; these are explanations and applications (…”Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you….” Josh 1:13). Such things are the explanations of the Grammar to Israel as she readies to go across the Jordan R to go into the Promised Land. In Josh 1:10-18, Joshua explains the Lord’s plan to go into the land; and this explanation has as the backdrop the law and the Law-Giver (You shall have no other gods by Me…. ‘drive out the nations…..’), etc. etc.

Rhetoric—Moses died on Mt. Nebo (Duet 31), and before his death, Moses lays his hands on Joshua, transferring leadership and authority. Joshua then acts on the knowledge and understanding by taking on the mantle to stand in the place of his teacher. The rhetoric that Joshua displays comes by way of the people making the connections: 1) they see that the Grammar, what is written, will be followed with Joshua (Grammar w/ Moses; Grammar with Joshua); 2) Joshua commands the officers (Josh 1:10)…. and he explains what has been explained by Moses already----he reviews and applies….. The people listen: “just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you…”; and they acknowledge is persuasive ways… and see the Lord’s provision of knowledge, understanding and wisdom in Joshua… (“Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses…”). Last, note Joshua acting with the people to go over the Jordan R to take possession of Jericho and other cities. That is, Joshua practices and implements the commandments of God.

G. Mark Sumpter

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yank Sumpter, my father; part of his own testimony of enlisting in the USMC

I was weighing cotton in a field near Bakersfield, California, on 7 December 1941. The next day, during the high school gym class, we were told to listen to our president on the radio. President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war. At noon, my buddy and I went to the recruiting office to enlist. He was 17 but I wouldn’t be 15 until the next day, 9 December 1941. My buddy enlisted in the Navy, and I stopped at the Marine recruiting office. Maybe I stopped there because of the dress blues, first to fight, Semper Fi and all that. The recruiting sergeant asked my age, and I told him that was only 15. He said, “You are big enough, but not old enough. Get permission from your mother or dad.” He told me that if I could get a birth certificate or a sworn statement certifying that I was 17, I could enlist. He said that a telegram would suffice.


My father had died in 1934, my mother was in the Midwest, and I was living with an uncle in California. It took a few months, but finally my mother sent a telegram the recruiting sergeant. It merely said that I was 17 and gave her permission for me to enlist. The telegram was stapled inside my record book. I was sworn into the regular Marine Corp on 15 May 1942 in Los Angeles, California. One of the men with whom I was sworn in had figured out that I was underage, but he never told anyone, as far as I knew. My high school coach, the dean of boys, and my mechanical drawing teacher also knew that I was underage, but they wished me well.

As I said, the recruiter knew that I was only 15, but I believe that anyone who could walk and talk could enlist at that time.

Orville E. “Yank” Sumpter—he goes by his nickname, “Yank”

Age 15—United States Marine Corps

From the book, Veterans of Underage Military Service, edited by Ray Jackson

G. Mark Sumpter

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dan Savage and Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry can learn from Savage


The words and works of Seattle sex advice columnist Dan Savage are no different than the other times and activities that have been influential on the rising generation. Fred MacMurray had his Follow Me, Boys!, Hitler stirred his 100,000+ youths in the late 1920s and early 30s, Billy Graham challenged youths at the rallies in Chicago and beyond, and Henrietta Mears influenced 1000s through Forest Home Christian Conference Center—and on and on it goes. Before we move on, let’s not forget about the dad wearing his red cardigan buttoned sweater in the 60s sitting next to his wife on the living room sofa—she’s wearing silver horned-rim glasses and her hair is in a bun—and he’s combing through the Luther League catechism at the family altar after the evening meal. Bessie, Jimmy and Butch are sitting at his feet. We can hear the recitation going on: Do you hope to be saved? Yes, that is my hope. In whom then do you trust? In my dear Lord Jesus Christ. Youth ministry and all, here, flourishes too. Influence happens. The elder shall serve the younger. Dan Savage knows youth ministry is inescapable.

We read of Savage gone savage in Seattle recently and we get upset. He’s been given a venue to practice in a concentrated way what Francis Schaeffer said in the opening paragraphs of How Should We Then Live? that theology comes out of our fingertips. Savage’s theology oozes—a non-Christian one, we know.

But what can we learn about youth ministry from Dan Savage?

1. Church Youth Ministry that tries to mimic his vulgarity and sensationalism shouldn’t. Our vulgarity cannot compete with Savage’s. Ours is too Christian. We’ll only spin our wheels in mimicry. We’ll get fame for 3 weeks, hear from our parents and church elders about it, and that will be that. Vulgarity is attractive to youth pastors. Don’t go there. The same goes for sensationalism. Sensationalism seems fun, but it is like spiritual Listerine—it puckers your lips and must be spit out. Dads, youth pastors, retreat speakers, stay with your strengths: tell stories. Tell them calmly, without the sensationalism of the bizarre and ooh; and without the cheek-grimacing, eye-squinting looks due to the gore—and please, retreat speakers, forgo for the umpteenth time some story about throwing up. A good story about a slice of your life about what you learned will go miles for discussion fodder with young people. Savage wants to light up the scoreboard. Take your cues from Joshua—tell stories about the memorial stones stacked up next to the Jordan.

2. Church Youth Ministry that practices one-person, one-direction influence, like Savage’s, loses. You, dad, in the cardigan sweater can outdo Savage. Youth pastor or small group leader on Wednesday nights, you can own Savage. He speaks from a distance. He’s at a microphone—he stands on a platform at that. Also, as a columnist, he writes at a keyboard. His ministry is one of d-i-s-t-a-n-c-e. Unlike Savage, dad and mom, you live with your sons and daughters. Elders and pastors, you live around the 20-somethings in your congregation. Savage doesn’t. He won’t win because of his distance. He can speak. But he cannot model. His practical theology is absent of Trinitarianism. Not yours. Be with your students. Speak to them, live with them. Teach them, and model alongside of them. Trinitarianism wins. Not Unitarianism—not the one person, one way, influence. No way. Savage loses. Youth Ministry which practices Trinitarian life with connectionalism with life-to-life discipleship, with multiple persons and varied persons, wins. Savage is transcendent, but his immanence is wanting.

3. Church Youth Ministry that lacks the biblically informed practice of circular reasoning will fail with respect to defending truth on the street. Savage does circular reasoning. In his apologetics, he uses an authority to defend authority. We can learn some things from him. Apologetics in Youth Ministry has been popular for decades. Evidence That Demands a Verdict blew wind in our sails for 35 years—and it’s still blowing. It’s been the Youth Ministry Apologetics Thing. Watch Savage. Believe it or not—he appeals to the Bible. There’s nothing new here; many people do. But Youth Pastor, take a cue from Savage. The Seattle Times writes of the recent speech that he gave, “In the speech, Savage, citing Sam Harris’ ‘Letter to a Christian Nation,’ said the Bible gave instructions about how to treat slaves. If the Bible erred ‘on the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced ... What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent,’ said Savage. Students are heard cheering and clapping.” Savage, like Sam Harris, has standards. In this case, interestingly, it’s his use of the Bible. Two questions come to mind—1) How do I know the Bible is true? 2) How can I make proper use of it? On the first, the Bible says it is true. The Bible is the cement upon which knowledge rests. Can we really use the Bible to prove the Bible? You bet. How is Savage proving his points about questions in life? He’s proving his answers with the Bible. Good, Mr. Savage, I say. He knows that no argument proves itself; there must be a starting point. Good for him. For many of us as Christians, sadly, our starting point might be experience. Feelings. Medicine. A parent. Archaeology. The number of extant NT manuscripts. But wait. What happened to using the Bible? Savage does. Why don’t we? If we use something other than the Bible as an ultimate authority then we haven’t proven it to be ultimate authority. We used something outside of and apart from the Bible. Youth Ministry, make your starting point the Word. Second question: How can I make proper use of it? This is where Savage goes savage. He’s dead wrong on this one. He imports feelings or science or statistical information into his interpretation; rather, instead, the Bible should interpret itself. Mr. Savage, let the Bible teach us. You appeal to it, use it—properly. Dad, mom, elder, Sunday school teacher, the Bible has 66 Books. It is one voice with multiple authors within its cover. The voice of the Old Testament is heard in the New. The New speaks and echoes the Old. Scripture, our authority, interprets Scripture. Only God testifies about Himself. Equally biblical, only God is to explain His teaching about slavery, sexuality, marriage, personhood, work, family, calling and more. We must go to the Bible as our final authority, and we must use the Bible properly to prove and interpret ethics for everyday living. On one hand, we take a cue from Savage—we are to prove our points by God’s Book; on the other hand, we must become students of the Word to use it well. Savage gets our attention about these things. When Youth Ministry recovers a practical apologetics, biblically informed about its circular reasoning, just as Savage shows us, we’ll begin to properly equip our students in our churches.

In thinking about tolerance or no—with respect to Mr. Savage and his ways, and in addressing the matter of straight bashing or no, and bullying or no, Youth Ministry is cooking in Seattle. We all get our shot at this. The Savage train is right on schedule. Toot. Toot. Youth Ministry, get aboard.

G. Mark Sumpter

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hebrew Next Fall

Going back to work on Intro to Hebrew I


















It's time to prepare for teaching Hebrew in the fall. The course covers 16 lessons in a basic grammar, and students have a blast with some conversation. Stay tuned and I will give you the details on this course, the costs and what not.

I have offered it as a weekly class in the past; we meet at a facility in Grants Pass.

Shalom.

G. Mark Sumpter

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hockey and One's Love Life

Rangers force game 7

The way these guys are, how close they are in the dressing room, it's hard not to fall in love with this group just the way they work and stand up for each other. It stems from the leadership group, and it's why we stayed calm and collected.

— Chris Kreider, skates a forward
 
NEWS!

Rangers fight back vs. Sens in Game 6


The Rangers live to play another day as Henrik Lundqvist (l.) makes 25 saves and Chris Kreider scores what turns out to be the game-winner in Game 6. The Rangers and Senators will face off on Thursday in a winner-take-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

G. Mark Sumpter

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Law is Not of Faith, Post 2

Notes on the reading material for Presbytery

Bryan D. Estelle, John V. Fesko and David VanDrunen, editors, The Law is Not of Faith, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 2009

Comments on the Introduction from pages 19-20, see also p. 25

With this post, I look at the topic of expectations. Specifically, in what manner do our editors, Estelle, Fesko and VanDrunen  (EFV), want us to take up this study at their side? They
acknowledge that working through the points of this book call for academic sweat. It’s work! We’re urged to read the essays thoughtfully, carefully. They provide a suggested order in which to move chapter by chapter.

I find this paragraph here to be key regarding their approach and expectations:

Here we go, “…we also wish readers to recognize that this volume does not intend to thrust a single, monolithic view of the Mosiac covenant upon Reformed churches. The Reformed tradition has always acknowledged and tolerated a variety of positions on the Mosiac covenant. This volume, therefore, does not wish to squelch debate but instead to encourage and catalyze discussion about what we believe are important issues for the doctrine and life of the church. Careful readers will even perceive subtle differences among the contributors to this book. No particular view expressed by one contributor should be automatically imputed to any other contributor. Though all of the contributors share a general sympathy with the republication idea and a general desire to recover serious theological reflection on issues related to it, not all share exactly the same sentiments on how best to express the relation of works and grace under Moses or the relations of the Mosiac covenant to the Adamic and new covenants. We hope that the various essays in this volume will serve to renew significant conversations that have not been taking places in recent years, toward the goal of seeing Reformed churches come mutually to a richer understanding of the Old Testament in God’s larger redemptive plan.” pp. 19-20.

Sumpter: I like this. We need to jump up and down on this quote. It’s a conversation. That means we can have some back and forth. We can engage point by point with open Bibles. As well, I like that the authors are conversing with each other. The contributors share general convictions about the republication notion. But any one given writer and his positions should not be seen as a perfect match, hand for hand, on the points and applications of another’s. I think, too, we can infer that they’re teachable. They want us to pitch Bible verses and theological points back at them. This I intend to do.

In thinking about the matter of approach and expectations, I went back and pulled up a comment from Mike Horton, who is a contributor to this book. He reminds us that the subject material of this book calls for big boys to play with big theological toys. Listen to what Mike knocked down back in 2006 in Table Talk magazine: “By far the question that has been taken up the most in the history of Reformed theology is whether the covenant that Israel made with God at Sinai is a re-publication or renewal of the covenant of works made with humanity in Adam.”

Boom! There it is! “By far the question that has been taken up the most in the history of Reformed theology…” There are two things on this for me. 1) Sumpter, breathe. 2)  Sumpter, are you ready to play in this sandbox? Big boys play here. They have big toys. Big boys have been playing here for a long time.

Our presbytery has started to play in this sandbox.

The Presbytery of the Northwest of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, some 20-25 churches and chapels that are located in the region of the Northwest USA, will meet soon and matters relative to this book’s topic will be part of our business. Over the past couple of years, we as ministers and elders, serving in our various stations—pastors, evangelists and teachers—have started to express positions about this teaching. What drives us about this? What’s our concern? We desire to honor Christ, God’s Word, God’s Gospel and His people. We want to serve well in preaching and ministering the Word.

Since this 2009 publication hit the book shelves, our men have been taking up the significant conversations hoped for on the part of EFV. Three of our ministers decided it was time to seek Presbytery’s advice about how to proceed. We are accessing study resources and we hope to gain clarity on our approach and how to work well in tackling the subject material. In this pursuit, we want to be the church—the regional church. We want to be men who go to work taking up doctrine for faithful application for faith and life. God has been good to us. I am grateful for the men around me; a good number of these brothers have mentored me since the late 70s. Here’s a web site which provides an overview of what’s before us as a presbytery.

This approach on the part of the editors of the book is a good one. Here are OPC brothers telling us that they don’t want to “thrust a single, monolithic view…upon the Reformed churches.” That’s helpful. When we as church leaders read books like these, with topics like these, we can take a deep breath and say, “Here are positions being explained from Scripture, History, Theology and the Church’s Creeds. Good. My goal is to see them as positions. I am to learn and interact.” And then I can take another deep breath. “Remember, these are brothers. I want to try to understand their views. I want to measure their views against the Bible and confessional theology.” There will be places where I agree and disagree. It’s to be seen as a conversation for learning and for growth.

I will be 55 years old this year. I tell you—I feel like I’m a nine-year-old at second base. The reading I’ve done in the book has been fun—and challenging. I’ve almost completed the full 336 pages of content. I am already forming convictions and pulling together responses.

As an Orthodox Presbyterian for almost 35 years, I’m dialed into what one of the editors, John Fesko, said in reflecting on the historical Presbyterian backdrop, he reminds me:

“Among the Westminster divines [the ones who wrote the historic Presbyterian creeds of the 1640s in London] there were a number of views represented in the assembly: the Mosiac covenant was a covenant of works, a mixed covenant of works and grace, a subservient covenant to the covenant of grace, or simply the covenant of grace. One can find a similar range of views represented in more recent literature in our own day.” p. 25.

Let’s go to work. I want to take up the study aiming at the approach outlined by EFV. Give and take. Give and take. Let’s go to work.

G. Mark Sumpter

Friday, April 13, 2012

Repentance is When the Cows Come Home

Repentance is observable

“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a  day from this work; be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006), p. 50, here is the pdf. This volume is edited by Kapic and Taylor.

The reformed church must always take practical steps to kill sin. Practical steps. I heard a strange word this morning, actionable. Repentance entails actionable, visible change. We, reformed, struggle with this. We are much more given to mental action, not observable. The mind is our specialty, not hands and feet. The 16th Reformation was a seismic shift, mentally. Luther nailed 95 theses; he did not begin a soup kitchen. As a corollary, we who have come to embrace the doctrines of grace, listened and read—or it was a combination of these two—in order to come to a cognitive rest. “Oh, OK. Now I see total depravity.” We wrestled mentally. We are too easily satisified with things like: opening the Word, listening to sermons and participating in a Bible study—we think, therefore we think we repent. Reformation, 99% of the time, is first read and heard, before it is seen.

This is why when we hear of our sin, we wrongly believe that we have repented. When we understand the preacher’s illustration of wrong-doing or doing that is left undone, we believe that we have repented.

Repentance is when the cows come home, not when the cows are thinking about going home.

“Lord, what I just did in this post was mental, give me legs and feet. I want to follow the cows home.”

G. Mark Sumpter


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

As the Election Year Takes Shape

The Westminster Confession of Faith

CHAPTER 23   Of the Civil Magistrate


1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers.

2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

4. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrates' just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less hath the pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

G. Mark Sumpter

One Potato, Two Potato