America Was Doomed From Its Inception: “We the People” or “Christ the King”

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Founding Sins

Many are familiar with these words from John Adams in an address to the Massachusetts militia (1798):

“Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

And, of course, Adams was not alone among the “founders” in this sentiment. Washington, in his farewell address (1796), would probably have agreed:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” 

These statements are worthy of consideration; but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. The common reaction might be: “See! This nation was founded on Christian principles and it needs to return to a Christian morality or it’s doomed.” The problem is, while the individuals quoted above may have had a personal fondness for Christian morality, and while they may have recognized the pragmatic necessity of morality for the maintenance of the Constitution, all means and mechanisms to maintain said morality were conspicuously omitted—nay, resisted—in the final draft. So the problem is not so much where we are headed, but where we began.

 

Derivation of Authority

But before going on, it might be wise to recognize the good in the Constitution, lest someone too quickly conclude that I desire its overthrow or abolition. Samuel Rutherford, in his well-known work Lex Rex, addressed the question of where the king (or magistrate) derived his authority. He answered by comparing it to the election of presbyters or ministers in the church—namely, that the office and authority was derived from Jesus Christ, but that the election to that office and authority was from the people (Question IV). This means that the officers of the church are held accountable for their actions in their respective capacities; it also means that their office is a divine institution, and so they perform their duties according to the will of God, and not—ultimately—according to the whims of the people.

So in one respect, the Constitution recognizes the consent of the people, and has in place mechanisms to “check,” or hold accountable, the different branches of government by representatives, elected by the people (while I, as an American, appreciate this type of government, I am by no means arguing that it is the only legitimate type).

On the other hand, the magistrate holds an office by divine institution and approbation, and we are commanded to obey and submit to them as a “minister of God” (Rom XIII:1-7); this means that the magistrate is held accountable for his actions, that he is called to uphold “good” (as defined by the divine Lawgiver), and that the people are obligated to obey. So then, for all the good qualities we might find in the Constitution, there is one glaring omission, and it is a fatal one: there are no moral bounds to the Liberty it professes to secure because there is no recognition of accountability to a higher governor, or lawgiver, than the one given authority by the people.

 

Open to Interpretation

Authorial intent is a thing of the past in today’s culture; if the Bible can be viewed as a living, breathing document, open to personal interpretation, then we can’t expect much more from the interpretation of a fallible document that rejects any established morality.

It’s important to understand that the idea of neutrality by any government on issues of morality and religion are an illusion. No matter what, the government, as a moral entity, will inevitably enforce “someone’s” morality or dogma. In the case of America, where an established morality is rejected, it is left to the whims, autonomy, and caprice of “We the People.”

So when we come to the Constitution of the United States, and we want to own it for our particular position (i.e. Biblical Christianity), we will find it difficult. How can one object to the removal of the Ten Commandments from a government building, and the erection of a statue to the “Church of Satan,” consistently from the Constitution? Think about the Preamble, and all of the questions that could be asked; while we might have Biblical answers to these questions, we are likely excluded from providing them:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice [Whose justice? What is justice? Is there even a standard for justice? Is there a higher law that makes it worth protecting?]and secure the Blessings of Liberty [What liberty? Whose liberty? Liberty to kill an unborn child? Sexual liberty?]…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. 

The term Liberty itself is a free-for-all these days. Even in those times they witnessed the triumphs of so-called Liberty in France. Liberty to do what? How far does your Liberty extend? Does it have defined boundaries? I’m often reminded of the execution of Madame Roland de la Planière, when she was taken to the scaffold for execution (as the story goes), she saw a Liberty statue and exclaimed, “Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name!” All for liberty. What crimes are committed today in the name of liberty? Abortion, sexual perversity, all manner of false worship and idolatry. And to make matters worse, Christian leaders defend this type of liberty, rather than calling on the nation and our magistrates to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and we perish in the way” (Psa. II:12).

 

Christ the King and the Bounds of Freedom

William Symington, in his brilliant book Messiah the Prince (1884), wrote these words after defending the crown rights of King Jesus over the nations from several passages [Psa. 2, 47, 72]:

The proof of the mediatorial dominion over the nations, derived…from commands, predictions, and designations—is so abundant, varied, direct, complete, that we cannot but express our surprise the doctrine in question should ever have been denied or overlooked. After what has been said, there may be few who will venture formally to impugn this precious truth; but it cannot escape observation, that there are many, very many, who are in the habit of constantly neglecting it. This is the case to a mournful extent, not only with the nations and their rulers, whom it greatly concerns to recognize and act upon it; but with private Christians, who profess to be concerned for the mediatorial honors of their Redeemer. That it should be so, is much to be deplored, and is, to a considerable extent, unaccountable. How dishonoring to Christ thus to attempt to tear from his head the crown of the nations! And how blind, even to their own true interests, are those who thus provoke the Lord to anger, and expose themselves to the withering frown of his sovereign displeasure!    

It is indeed a lamentable fact that so few Christians see the glaring oversight in the Constitution; they will spend more time trying to call America back to the rights protected by the Constitution than calling America to acknowledge Jesus Christ in its national character. We are free, this is true, but we are free to the extent that God is acknowledged and honored. Freedom and Liberty are not blanket terms to defend and codify in law any type of immorality or personal opinion. Human nature tends toward the wrong understanding of liberty. That’s why Peter reminded his readers to not use their freedom as a “cover-up for evil” (I Peter II:16).

 

What Is & What Ought To Be

“But the Constitution was written over 200 years ago,” says the objector, “there is no changing it now, we must accept our current circumstances and live as best we can.”  There is some truth to the statement.  We must live in the current context, and we must do what we can within the system presented to us.  But that should never stop us from understanding what ought to be; we must never stop praying for what ought to be; we must never stop calling the Church to defend the crown rights of Christ; we must never stop calling upon the magistrate to “kiss the Son.”  Examples of things that are not as they ought to be could be enumerated, but a careful reader will understand and know how to apply it.

For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.

SDG,

Jon

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~ by TSL on August 18, 2016.

 
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