Monday, September 24, 2012

Ruler Qualifications during the Cromwellian Protectorate (Theonomy Applied)

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of
England, Scotland, and Ireland
from 1653-1658.
During the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the Humble Petition and Advice - proposed by Parliament and approved by Cromwell - was adopted on May 25, 1657. 

This was the second and final written constitution to be adopted by England. Included in this constitution are qualifications for becoming a member of Parliament. Below are some excerpts. 

Preface to the Humble Petition and Advice:
To his Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging; the Humble Petition and Advice of the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses now assembled in the Parliament of this Commonwealth.

Qualifications for becoming a member of Parliament:

Roman Catholics disqualified:
4. That those who have advised, assisted or abetted the rebellion of Ireland, and those who do or shall profess the Popish religion, be disabled and made incapable for ever to be elected, or to give any vote in the election of any member to sit or serve in Parliament ...
Integrity and fearing God required:  
And that the persons who shall be elected to serve in Parliament be such, and no other than such, as are persons of known integrity, fearing God, and of good conversation, and being of the age of twenty-one years, 
Public ministers of the Gospel disqualified (separation of church and state): 
and not such as are disabled by the Act of the seventeenth year of the late King, entitled, 'An Act for disenabling all persons in Holy Orders to exercise any temporal jurisdiction or authority, nor such as are public ministers or public preachers of the Gospel. 
Atheists and blasphemers disqualified:
Nor such as are guilty of any of the offences mentioned in an Act of Parliament bearing date the 9th of August, 1650, entitled, ' An Act against several atheistical, blasphemous, and execrable opinions derogatory to the honour of God, and destructive to human society'; no common scoffer or reviler of religion, or of any person or persons professing thereof; 
Disqualification of those married to Catholics/who teach Catholicism - or allow it to be taught - to children/who allow their children to marry Catholics:
no person that hath married or shall marry a wife of the Popish religion, or hath trained or shall train up his child or children, nor any other child or children under his tuition or government, in the Popish religion, or that shall permit or suffer such child or children to be trained up in the said religion, or that hath given or shall give his consent that his son or daughter shall marry any of that religion; 
Those who deny the Bible to be the Word of God, and other basic Christian doctrines, disqualified: 
no person that shall deny the Scriptures to be the Word of God, or the sacraments, prayer, magistracy, and ministry to be the Ordinances of God;
Sabbath-breakers/profane swearers/drunkards disqualified:
no common profaner of the Lord's day, no profane swearer or curser, no drunkard or common haunter of taverns or alehouses.[1]


[1] The Humble Petition and Advice can be read in its entirety at

photo credit:

Statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster
© Elliott Brown / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics).

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