Enlightment or Christian Document?

Posted: April 26, 2012 in Category - Declaration, Enlightment or Christian Document?

Product of the Enlightenment, or Christian Document

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Akron Religion & Politics Examiner

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”

Though the Akron schools do not teach it any longer, you may recognize this line straight out of the Declaration of independence. In this age of instant everything, it may be tempting to think that the Founding Fathers rashly jumped into war with Great Britain and then won the war at the end of the sixty minute drama, with time out for commercials of course. In fact, the founders deliberated the usurpation of power by parliament and the British crown for years, culminating in the Declaration and a long war for independence. A study of the several parts of the Declaration of Independence reveals that the founders decisions were based on Biblical thinking influenced by the greatest theologians of the reformation.

The preamble is loaded with Biblical thought straight out of the theologies of the reformers. The first of these statements is the reference to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” A simple point that may be overlooked by a generation that has divorced God from the academy is the fact that these terms are capitalized, which indicates that they refer to a specific person. That is exactly how the Puritans would have read that. Nature’s God was a common reference to the Christian God of creation in Puritan parlance.

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident,” is another blatantly Christian statement. If the American war for Independence were a product of the enlightenment, as many try to assert, there could be no self-evident truths, because in the enlightenment everything is relative. It is only the Bible that reveals absolute truths that do not change.

The analysis of the next phrase needs to be broken down into three sections. First, the Puritan population of America believed that the God of Christian scripture was the creator. Second, they believed that the God of scripture endowed men with rights that could not be transferred by governments. Third, they held the right to life, liberty, and property sacred. The term pursuit of happiness was an expansion of the common doctrine of the sanctity of property. It expanded property rights to conscience as well as physical property.

God clearly revealed, in scripture, that he instituted the family, the church, and the state, or government. By communicating that “governments are instituted among men,” the founders were acknowledging the God of Christian scriptures.

In closing the discussion of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence you can combine two statements from the longer statement preparing the reader for the list of grievances against the King of Great Britain. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”, and “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government”. John Knox taught, and Samuel Rutherford expanded upon the doctrine that Christian lower magistrates not only can, but they must resist tyrannical government. Yet as a caution against rashness the reformers made it clear that armed resistance was a last resort, after all other, peaceful means, including long standing patience, and prayer, had been exhausted. This meant that a time of persecution was inevitable, before armed resistance could be considered by lower magistrate standing against a tyrannical leader.

As you read the grievances against the crown you will see many more evidences that the Declaration of Independence is a result of reformed Christian doctrine. The preamble alone lays a crystalline foundation for an understanding of the Christian nature of the Declaration of Independence.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/declaration-of-independence-product-of-the-enlightenment-or-christian-document

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