The Christian Nature Of The American Experiment
In the last post in this series, MUST THERE BE CHOICE BETWEEN GOD AND GOVERNMENT? — PART 2, we left off with a conundrum.
For the sake of our souls, each of us must voluntarily take up our cross and follow Jesus. When people must voluntary take up their cross, and follow Jesus, what is the role of government? What role does government have in a Christian society?
Since we have so much separated the study of history from the study of religion and ethics, I suppose most people these days think the Constitution is our nation’s founding document. However, we celebrate Independence Day, not Constitution Day. Until we take the time to carefully study The United States Constitution, it is a dry and spiritless thing. The Constitution is merely a set of carefully constructed rules, but those who read the Declaration of Independence know immediately the purpose of that document. The Declaration of Independence exists to explain itself, to explain why men risked the lives and fortunes in a long and difficult war.
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. (from here)
Note that there is nothing in the Declaration of Independence about spreading Christianity or ennobling the human race. Did some of the men who drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence use government for such purposes? Yes, but for the most part they realized government does not exist for that purpose.
Consider what two of my favorite blogs say the Bible has to say about the role of government.
- The Role of Our Government. In his study, Rob Barkman focuses upon Psalm 72:1-14 (KJV). Nevertheless, he considers both Old and New Testament passages. He focused on how we choose our leaders.
The need for us, as Christians, to let our voices be heard in the election process cannot be overemphasized. We should be voting for those who we believe best understand the role of government from God’s perspective. But also, we should be voting for those we believe will look to the Lord for guidance and strength as they attempt to lead our country in these troublesome days.
wants us to understand that the laws of a society reflects the values of the people. When we do not elect Godly leaders, they do not do a good job of protecting our rights because they don’t care what God thinks.
- Lesson 4: Dealing with Government. Don Merritt‘s post looks at Romans 13:1-7. With gritting teeth, explains why the Apostle Paul told us to be obedient to the authorities.
Paul’s message, simply stated, is that human government is ordained by God, and that’s all I should have to say about it. Yet even though human government is ordained by God, human government exists in a corrupted world environment, and we should not pretend to be shocked when it turns out to be corrupt: It happens. What is really instructive in this teaching is that the government Paul was referring to had a nasty habit of persecuting Paul and his readers; yes, maybe we should reflect on that for a while.
When we choose our leaders, we choose people like ourselves to lead us. These people may be highly intelligent and very persuasive, but they are not likely to be any wiser than the rest of us. Therefore, there is not much point in giving them more power than is necessary to protect our rights, especially our right to spread the Gospel of Christ.
So what then is the Christian nature of the American experiment? When the Declaration of Independence was written, much of the population of the American colonies could say they had either come to the colonies to escape religious persecution or they were descended from people who had done so. Therefore, instead of seeing government as an aid to the practice of religion and following the dictates of one’s conscience, they saw government as a hindrance. Such people therefore had good reason to make certain that the First Amendment to our Constitution included the free exercise of religion.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
To Be Continued (next Monday, I hope).
What is to follow? I decided to add a post.
- Church Versus State
- Why All Our Songs Are Laments.