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Sunday, August 22, 2010

U.S. Constitution and Biblical Principles


By Douglas V. Gibbs

"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." --John Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

A liberal commenter left the following: "Can you point out one place in the bible (any version is okay) where it describes anything remotely similar to a democracy in government? I thought not. How about the Constitution. Anything about god or Jesus in there? Nope.. not a word. Nor do you even describe what "Biblical principles" made it into the Constitution. How about just one? Just one principle that went from the Bible to the Constitution."

"Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian." - United States Supreme Court, 1892.

The United States of America is not a democracy, so for the commenter to state such shows the ignorance of this obviously poorly educated individual. Nonetheless, I get what the poor soul is asking, and so that this person has the opportunity to learn, I have decided to address the topic of God in the Constitution, and how the Constitution was inspired by Biblical principles.

Biblically speaking, there is no reference to democracies and republics. But when one speaks of the Constitution being based on Biblical principles, that is not what is meant. Democracies and republics are not Biblical principles, but instead styles of governance. The principles being referred to that are in the U.S. Constitution are how our laws were inspired by the moral principles of the Ten Commandments, and how the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (principles of freedom) were inspired by the biblical principles of free will, individualism, personal responsibility, moral conduct, and so forth.

George Mason was one of the Founding Fathers that insisted on the Bill of Rights, or the first ten amendments, to be added to the Constitution, saying regarding his decision that, "The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth."

Even Benjamin Franklin, the lone member of the group of founders that claimed to be anything but religious, attended every kind of Christian worship, called for public prayer, and contributed to all denominations. In fact, when the Constitutional Convention was finding itself stalling, and the members of the convention were arguing to the point that it was nearly coming to blows, Ben Franklin was the one that proposed that the delegation pray before each session of the Constitutional Convention.

In his request, Franklin stated, "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"

All of the Founding Fathers recognized the providence that must have guided them through the war against the British Empire. They also recognized another truth. Our rights are God-given, and there must be a God for that to be the case. By our rights being God-given, it means that our rights existed prior to the existence of any government. By our rights being God-given, only God can take them away. If God does not exist, then that would mean that our rights are government-given, in which case the government would also have the allowance of taking our rights away.

With those rights comes responsibility, and the necessity to act in a moral manner. Government, however, historically speaking, has a tendency of growing, and when government becomes bigger, the government seeks to diminish such rights. Such a tyranny encroaches on freedom, a concept based on the biblical principle of free will, and a concept the founding fathers found to be among the most important principles of the U.S. Constitution.

The very fact that humanity has the choice to accept Christ as one's Savior, or to reject him, is an example of the God-given principle of free will. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 -- The Scriptures instruct us in righteousness, providing us to every good work. Yet we must apply the Word properly, study diligently, and pray for wisdom (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7). We must learn to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). By being given the opportunity to discern what is right and wrong, we are given the free will to obey or disobey. The ability to make such a decision came with the consumption of the fruit from the tree of knowledge. A constant battle between our sinful flesh and spiritual nature exists, and we have the free will to follow one, or the other.

The basic foundation of our morals is the Ten Commandments, and the Founding Fathers drew from the Ten Commandments the basic principles that would govern our system of laws, and courts.

Understand that this is not to say that our system of governance was founded upon religion. The dangers of the organizational aspects of religion were all too familiar to the Founding Fathers. Religion joining with the State under the lustful control of men was what they had just fought against. This is why in the 1st Amendment the Founding Fathers were careful to ensure that Congress would not be given the authority to establish a religion.

Though the founders disapproved of the man-made concept of religion, this is not to say they were not Godly men, they desired that Biblical principles resonate throughout the text of the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, Patrick Henry said it best when he said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded assylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here."

Freedom of religion meant that the federal government could not interfere with one's worship whatsoever, unless of course such worship opposed the laws of the nation (as in the case of Mormonism, and the practice of polygamy). Even then, the federal government was not able to force Mormonism to let go of the practice of polygamy, but instead offered statehood for Utah in exchange for the Mormon Church abandoning the unapproved of practice.

The Constitution supports the Biblical Principle of personal responsibility. In today's society too often an individual or group of people will deny responsibility for their actions. These people will claim that they are somehow victims, that their actions are the fault of their status, or race, or upbringing. As a result, with progressive styles of governance, such a person who uses the denial of personal responsibility uses government to force the costs of their irresponsibility on to those of us who are responsible. Drug abusers that refuse to reform, and welfare abusers who survive by manipulating and exploiting the system, are a couple examples of people who cost us more by denying any and all personal responsibility for their own health or well being.

By creating a smaller, limited government through the limiting principles of the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers were telling us that it is not the government's responsibility to take care of us, or protect us from ourselves. As Thomas Jefferson famously said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." Thomas Jefferson believed in the merits of hard work and the belief that we are the ones that are most responsible for our own lives and not a government forcing others to take responsibility for us.

The Bible teaches that “the soul that sins shall die” for his or her own sin (Jeremiah 31.30, Ezekiel 18.17,19 etc.). “The son shall not die for the sins of his father!” This means no one can justly compel one to suffer or die for the sins of the other, especially without his or her consent. The Founders also placed that principle in the Constitution, though today's liberal has resurrected the big government practice by forcing taxpayers to pay for the failures of those that demand entitlements.

Biblical teachings also teach, in regards to the principle of personal responsibility, that we should measure carefully (Ephesians 5:15 - Careful, deliberate choices about our lives are important), have moral courage (Joshua 1:9 - It takes the highest kind of courage to do what is right), every action in our lives counts (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 - Each choice we make becomes a part of our character), we should be committed instead of simply "giving it a try" (Luke 9:62 - Are we willing to make and keep real commitments to God?), love what is right (James 1:25-27 - Truly loving good requires doing good, as well as hating evil), understanding the difference between "Want To" and "Ought To" (1 Peter 3:15 - We do God's will because it is right), Joseph: The Secret of His Success, being responsible enough to succeed (Genesis 39:1,2 - This admirable man acted on principle, not impulse). . . all of these being lessons in personal responsibility, moral conduct, and individualism - principles also put forth in the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, the most convincing argument is of the Founders themselves.

George Washington said, "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian." --The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-3

John Adams said, "Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be." --Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.

Adams also wrote: "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever." --Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.

Thomas Jefferson said, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event." --Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

John Hancock said, "Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us." --History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

There is no doubt that the founding of this nation was based on the principles of law, freedom, individualism, personal responsibility, and moral conduct - all of which were inspired by Biblical text, and the personal relationship the Founders had with Jesus Christ.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative news and Commentary

Benjamin Franklin's Request for Prayers at the Constitutional Convention - BeliefNet

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best articles I've ever read. Thank you for posting!

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!!!!!

Jack said...

It is only a shame that every American will not read this article, one of the clearest and most easily understood explanation of the Christian basis of our nation. Of course, the left is doing all it can to eliminate any reference to God from our country's culture. Every day, I pray that God will preserve the USA and deliver us from those who are trying to destroy it. In my view, this includes our president and those who surround him. May God bless and save America.

Anonymous said...

The takeaway from this article is that the Founders created a system of governance which would tolerate the increasing plurality of religious faiths throughout the nation's history, without reference to or preference for any particular sectarian group. Too many Christians today think they can use the Constitution as a club to squeeze their beliefs to the head of the class, when the best Biblical expression is to aggressively defend the divergent religious choices of all people.

Élidi Miranda said...

Great comments!!! Thanks

Anonymous said...

Best article ! Posted in FB, everyone in US should read this !

Anonymous said...

Christians want primacy of their faith in the public space, and that is the danger the founders inadvertantly guarded against by adopting general rather than sectarian wording in the Constitution.

Todd said...

most Christians that i hear treat our founding fathers like Gods (founding fathers?) we have but one Father in heaven. treating them with monuments, statues, heroes. are u kidding me? are they Gods to you? sounds like it. if i asked u to take out the american flag from ur church, how many would leave that church? do u love ur country? either we love and worship God apart from country or we are caught in the world. do u love a fellow american more than someone from another country (whatever country) as u treat ur fellow man, u treat God. give honor and respect when required to our country, but love should not in the sentence. we should be living like we are a pilgrim in this world. not holding to some misdirected notion that the u.s. constitution is equal to Gods word. not even close. anyone of us can break 9 commandments of the 10 legally right now in plain site of a policeman. look, love ur neighbor as yourself. period. please pick up ur Bible and start reading and discerning for urselves what is God's will for you. dont listen to talk show hosts or politicians. these people are deceivers, far from God's laws. Anyone who disagrees certainly has not picked up a Bible, but is full of Pride of this world.

if u disagree, please feel free to email mail with your opinion based from your interpretation of what u read in God's word.

Love to hear from you.

May God bless you all.

Love

Todd