Review: Under God, Over the People

Reviewed by Les Yates

22 March 2022

Allmand-Smith, Oliver. Under God, Over the People: The Calling & Accountability of Civil Government: A Confessional Perspective. Macclesfield: Broken Wharfe, 2022. 110 pp. £9.99

Under God, Over the People, written by Oliver Allmand-Smith, is of immense value to anyone unsure of the relationship between civil authorities with all its anomalies and Christian faith and practice. Much of the author’s work is based on the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith applied and made relevant to the twenty-first century. Of course, the principle of the relationship of church and state has not changed. However, where this book excels is clearing up much misunderstanding in the minds of many who are unsure of the demarcation line between the state’s authority and Christian liberty.

Is civil government a human idea concocted by philosophers and politicians, or is it a divine institution? What are the limits of subjection to civil authorities for Christian citizens? Are we to obey ungodly rulers? Should Christians pursue a career in positions of authority in civil government? Is capital punishment permitted, or is it too draconian? What are the limitations of the state in imposing restrictions on churches during a pandemic? Answers to these questions and many more are given and explained in this timely study based on firm and sound teaching of the inspired word of the Bible.

As North of England Divisional Organiser of the Lord’s Day Observance Society in the 1970s, I was involved in the fight to keep what remained of Lord’s Day legislation. Some battles we won, but some we sadly lost. Having access to a book of this calibre would have been immensely helpful. It would have made me better equipped in convincing unconvinced Christians of the value of maintaining the Lord’s Day and the hard-fought legislation that protected it from secularisation.

The Christian church in the western world faces even more pressure from the state to conform to their secularistic agenda. In these challenging days, Christians need to know precisely where they stand and what they believe in their relationship to the civil law of the land. In other words, when to obey God rather than men. This book will be of great assistance in determining how we face up to challenging times that lie ahead. May God, by his grace, help us to honour him that he may honour us as we shine the light of truth in a darkened world.