Thoughts for the 4th of July

I have never read the Declaration of Independence. That may come as no surprise to you if you know me well enough — I’ve not read many things which I should have by now. So today, I am reading the Declaration, and I am sharing it here for you as well, giving you the opportunity to read it if you have not.

In reading it, I have not only learned what “consanguinity” means, but I have seen that belief in God really is part of our American heritage; in the Declaration He is referred to a number of times in ways which can only be asserted by theists.

These men, who staked their lives on their freedom and who include such men as Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Jefferson, in affirming their independence did so by invoking a most personal God. A God who…

  • is the God of nature who entitles men to just government,
  • is the Creator who entitles men to unalienable rights,
  • is the Supreme Judge of the world, and
  • is the exerciser of Divine Providence upon which the Founding Fathers relied.

In essence, in declaring their independence from Great Britain, these men declared their dependence upon God, from whom proper governmental authority is derived.

Today, this dependence upon God is being challenged everywhere in American government. As the American government forgets its roots and forgets upon whom they depend, we will increasingly see abuses of power and deterioration of freedoms within America, just as is happening even now with our neighbor Canada.

I guess it could be pointed out that our government isn’t based upon the Declaration but rather upon the Constitution. Fair enough. You could also say that the Constitution isn’t as blatantly theist as the Declaration is. Also, fair enough. But to make the leap, then, that America doesn’t have Christian roots is something I do not believe is possible. If anything, the Declaration reveals the mind set of early Americans to be that government is subject to God in a very real way. I do not believe they could have completely ignored such convictions while writing the Constitution lest they have come up with something completely different than what they did. Frankly, secularism does not breed freedom, particularly of religion or expression. Again, just check out what’s happening in Canada.

Anyway, at the very least, today we celebrate the independence of America, an independence which was declared via a document which at the least was theist if not wholly Judeo-Christian.

Read through the Declaration and be reminded of just what sorts of things the founders of America considered to be usurpations of proper governmental authority. Some of the acts, as written, remind me of certain elements taking place today in our government.

“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” — The founders advocated for a very limited federal government, which is just the sort of government we today don’t find in America. We do, however, find all sorts of new offices being established by the government.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.” — The founders believed in the sovereignty of a nation and would not subject Americans to powers foreign to our own constitution. Today, the headquarters of the United Nations resides on American soil and far too few politicians (such as Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin) are calling for America’s complete independence of such unconstitutional powers over American citizens.

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Today we, as Americans, celebrate our Independence Day, but may we do so remembering that the preservation of the Republic and of constitutional government is not something which ended 232 years ago. If we value our freedoms and the ideals of the Founders, we must continually strive for them. That is why what Ron Paul has advocated for has been called a “revolution”; it is a casting off of so much of what Americans have been all but forced to accept and a re-prioritation of governmental powers to better resemble what was so carefully crafted centuries ago.

And if you are a Christian reading this and do not feel it necessary for a Christian to concern himself with such things, I must beg to differ and, in doing so, recommend Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto, which explains the Reformation origins of the American republic form of government as well as the Christian’s duty in regards to governmental powers and abuses thereof. Certainly, we cannot neglect evangelism as the primary mission of the church, but we cannot simply accept the diminishing freedoms associated therewith in America.

Whether you agree with the above sentiments or not, I hope you have a great Independence Day weekend as we express to the Supreme Judge of the world our gratitude for not living under a tyrannical monarchy… and as we express our complete dependence upon the Creator for our life, our liberty, and our happiness. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

11 thoughts on “Thoughts for the 4th of July”

  1. “a “revolution”; it is a casting off of so much of what Americans have been all but forced to accept and a reprioritation of governmental powers to better resemble what was so carefully crafted centuries ago”

    “Forced” to accept??

    I’m sure there are aspects of government that you are “forced” to accept. I know there are aspects that I am “forced” to accept.

    But that Americans in general are “forced” to accept??

    There are a few instances where the majority has been forced to accept things that a minority wished for (end of slavery, minority voting rights, etc.). But even in those cases, the “majority” may not necessarily have been a majority.

    You want to get rid of a government program?? Then organize enough people to force congress to get rid of it. It will take a lot of people, but it can be done (keep in mind the folks who benefit from the program you want to get rid of will fight to keep it, so it takes a LOT of people…)

    Can’t get all those people?? Hmmm, maybe Americans in general are not bearing a burden forced upon them by the government.

    Revolution?? That would just clean things up for awhile, but the problems that caused the federal government to grow would simply reappear and the process would repeat.

    State government has it’s place, but the states are stuck trying to regulate corporations that (in many cases) have more money (read: power) than the state does. Also, the corps have the option of simply not doing business in a given state, so the states can only do so much. This same metric takes place internationally.

    Also, historically, the states have been slower to provide their citizens with equal rights.

    You mention Canada and I can’t help but think you are thinking of your earlier post about the Christian who had to deal with the possibility of breaking the law if he preached against homosexuals.

    And I see the problem there.

    But what about the other side of the coin?? Should he be free to preach so vehemently against gays the some in the congregation are motivated to go out and commit crimes against gays??

    I suspect that that is the principle reason for the existence of the laws.

    In theory that law would protect Christians from Muslim preachers vehemently preaching against Christians to the point that the followers would commit crimes against Christians.

    Balancing religious freedoms is tricky work.

    May you and Alicia have a terrific Fourth!!

  2. Walt Dickinson

    Rick, I do hope you are not suggesting Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were Christians.

    Granted, they were not atheists. Therefore, they did have religious convictions, albeit deistic rather than theistic. But they were not Christians, and a basic knowledge of history can support this.

    Take Jefferson, for example. He compiled what we know as “The Jefferson Bible” wherein is his personal opinion about what Jesus really did teach. In the Jefferson Bible, you will not find a single reference to the deity of Jesus, the Trinity, miracles (including the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus). Why? Because he believed that all these were misinterpretations of Jesus’ teaching added to the Gospels by the four Evangelists. Of course, you and I both know that in order to be a Christian, a person needs to believe in the complete deity of Jesus Christ.

    What about Benjamin Franklin? No, he didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, either. In a letter to Ezra Stiles, he wrote, “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity.”

    Were they religious men? Yes, there is no denying that. But to suggest they were Christians is to turn a blind eye to what history has so kindly recorded for us.

  3. Walt Dickinson

    Rick writes, “If anything, the Declaration reveals the mind set of early Americans to be that government is subject to God.”

    Declaration states, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    The difference? Government, according to the Declaration, is subject to the governed. Not God.

  4. Walt Dickinson: I did not suggest that Franklin & Jefferson were Christians. I know that they were not. I included them because even they accepted & signed a document which claimed authority in a variety ways upon a God who is a whole lot more than the traditional deist concept of Him: He is Creator, nature’s God, Supreme Judge, and He who has dominion over man. The god of the deists can claim none of those attributes.

    I simply find it fascinating that in establishing our nation, these intelligent men moved away from their beliefs toward a Judeo-Christian concept of God. It’s amazing to me because today we see the complete opposite; government is moving away from God in any form as quickly as court decisions or popular opinion will allow.

    Regarding my statement that government is subject to God, I believe the declaration supports this. The whole context of the statement you quoted is the unalienable rights which are endowed by the Creator; to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men — instituted by who? I would say God, and I’m sure the framers had in mind Romans 13:1-7, the first verse using even the same language: “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

    That government derives its powers from men still refers back to the rights; if government violates these unalienable rights, it is no longer exercising “just powers” and must be cast off. That there ought to be human government, however, is an institution of God and all are subject to Him. I doubt the framers would disagree, especially in light of their recognition of Him as Supreme Judge who exercises providence.

    Unless of course the writers of the Declaration were being completely hypocritical in the use of faithful language as men are apt to do… I suppose that is a possibility, but then what I’ve always been taught about these men is that they were of an upstanding character. Hypocrisy doesn’t seem becoming of them.

  5. Walt Dickinson

    Rick, sorry if I offended/hurt you. After rereading my last comments, I noticed I appeared way too antagonistic, which, in hindsight, I think I was.

    I don’t know why I felt the need to lash out at you. I guess it’s just because I think we cannot legitimately say that America (or, rather, the DoI and the CotUSA) is founded on Christianity. You can make the argument that it was founded on Christian-like beliefs, but “Christian-like” and “Christian” are two inherently seperate things. Mormonism, for example, is very Christian-like, but it is, and never can be, Christian. It is a false religion that poses to be truth. (Then again, I’m not exactly a Christian myself, but that’s neither here nor now).

    True, both Jefferson and Franklin had a different concept of God than “pure deists” did, but that doesn’t mean they “moved toward a Judeo-Christian concept of God.” A false god is a false god is a false god, no matter how much it resembles the true God. And because it is this false god that Jefferson and Franklin had in mind when writing the DoI, I’m still skeptical as to whether it can reasonably be said America is founded on Christianity.

    I read Schaeffer’s “Christian Manifesto” (well, a little over half of it. I also read “How Then Should We Live,” which was really fascinating, read it if you haven’t.), so I know about the courts and judges that argue in favor of the “America is a Christian nation.” Of course, a little knowledge in history tells me that the founders were, in large part, Puritans.

    However, just because we start out in some way, doesn’t mean we should stay that way (assuming America was founded on Christianity). Granted, you would disagree. :P

    Either way, this was a great discussion. I love a rousing history debate (which I’m actually thinking of having as a second major once I go to college next year).

    Again, sorry about my rudeness.

  6. Walt Dickinson: “Rick, sorry if I offended/hurt you. After rereading my last comments, I noticed I appeared way too antagonistic, which, in hindsight, I think I was.” — I didn’t think you were; if your comments were you being overly antagonistic, then you’re doing quite well. :)

    I agree that America should grow. However, as argued by Schaeffer in his Manifesto, it is the freedoms & form of government which we have in America which must be safeguarded. It’s less about maintaining the “Christian-esque” aspects of it and more about maintaining the constitutionality of it — that we are a Republic and that the government is subject to a specific law — the Constitution.

    Such a governmental system has its roots in Protestant Christianity, arising out of the Reformation from the work of Samuel Rutherford, who was seen as treasonous in England for daring to question the divine right of royalty, as well as followup work by the (nonchristian) John Locke.

    Schaeffer argues that it is the Christian basis & understanding of this form of government which makes it work and that when it is implemented in nations which do not have a Christian base or worldview, the results are not pretty. Of course, I do not know enough about world history to know what the heck he is talking about. :P

    He also points out that the big challenges to Christianity or separation of church & state or various other things in America didn’t exist until mass immigration in the early 20th Century brought in millions who did not have the same Christian worldview — not necessarily Christian beliefs specifically, but rather a “big picture” view of the world.

    Schaeffer recommended How Then Should We Live about a thousand and two times in A Christian Manifesto, but thank you also for the recommendation. It does seem like a book I would enjoy and benefit from; I just need to get through my current umpteen books that I’m reading.

    Again, don’t worry about the rudeness; I didn’t even notice it. :P

    (And I take it you’re in high school? I’ve been thinking you were at least my age if not older!)

    Take care!

  7. Senior wrote: “Should he be free to preach so vehemently against gays the some in the congregation are motivated to go out and commit crimes against gays??

    I suspect that that is the principle reason for the existence of the laws.

    Unfortunately the law is in place to end the semblence of intolerance towards homosexuals. It is not the radicals they are trying to curb, indeed we have a surprising few right wing radicals, it is the middle-of-the-road conservative-but-do-little-but-talk-about-it types it is levied against.

  8. Walt Dickinson

    Senior wrote, “Should he be free to preach so vehemently against gays the some in the congregation are motivated to go out and commit crimes against gays??”

    I find this a bit ironic, because I am pro-gay rights, but I think every Christian (pastors or congregation) should have the freedom of speech granted within the First Amendment to express their displeasure with homosexuals. I am fiercely against any piece of legislation that destroys an American’s individual right to free speech. If, however, a pastor were to rail against homosexuals in such a way that there is a clear link between his sermon and a crime involving the abuse of a homosexual(s), I would have no problem with the hate-crime bill.

    I agree that silencing a Christian’s belief is wrong, however much I may disagree with it. Civil discussion is the best policy.

    Although, Senior is right. Hate-crime bills are in place because, in principle, they are meant to protect homosexuals from radicals. Sadly, hate-crime bills are, in practice, used against otherwise innocent Christians to further the infamous “gay agenda.”

  9. Walt Dickinson: Just curious about something you said, about disagreeing with the Christian’s belief. I’m curious how that correlates with what you told me on this past April 27:

    For the past five days now, I’ve really felt the presence of God. I’ve kept to my Bible readings, I’ve kept to my prayers. Last night I memorized five passages of Scripture (John 10:10, 1 John 2:1, Psalm 51:1-3, Romans 10:9-10, and Matthew 1:1-4). But the best part of it all is the fact that I feel so free from my sinful nature! God has removed all desire to flee from Him.

  10. Walt Dickinson

    Put two and two together, have you, Rick? Well, I didn’t expect you to take too long. :)

    Just curious, though, where exactly did I say that? Because I didn’t find it at all in your archives.

    Anyway, like you, opinions change. I know we’re talking about me here, but wasn’t it you who said something along the lines, “I’m sorry for having forgotten about Jesus, and telling everyone I know about Ron Paul. Jesus Christ is the only Person that matters?” And look at you now! Somewhere along the way you managed to reconcile your faith with your politics.

    I am on the same road, only instead of politics, it’s human sexuality.

  11. Walt Dickinson: The quote came from a private message on the Hall when you message and said you were through with the “Mr. E. Nigma” account.

    The quasi-quote you gave wasn’t a change in opinion, rather a confession that my priorities were a bit out of whack. I’ve still not fully reconciled faith & politics; people have been trying to for 2,000 years… I don’t reckon I will. As for the bigger issue…

    Reconciling homosexuality & biblical faith is something that is an impossibility; to embrace one is to reject the other. Either God’s Word is truth or it is not, and I would recommend to you The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality by James White & Jeffrey Niell.

    I know you well enough to know that you understand the Truth, and I also know that you know that if you compromise Truth, the only thing that remains is a lie.

    You’re a good friend and I care about you, Justin… and I fear that you are jeopardizing your soul. What profit is it to gain a homosexual relationship if it costs you your soul, and how much of an idol is it that you would refuse to cast it aside to embrace the Father of Lights?

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