Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day and our Christian Founding Fathers (and mothers)

Bob Ellis of Dakota Voice and I got into it about the Founding Fathers again in some back-and-forth comments this morning... Ellis said:
However, only glaring ignorance or brazen dishonesty can deny that the Founders of the United States were predominately Christians and that the country was founded on Christian ideals and precepts with a Christian worldview in mind when they did so.

Bob, I believe you "misunderestimate" the radicalism and promise of the American political experiment. And the power of an idea our brave citizens have fought and continue to fight for (much on my mind this weekend).

Note: If you are reading this and are active duty or a veteran, or have one in your family, THANK YOU!! Especially thanks to you South Dakota National Guardsman serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the family on the home front. I am in awe of your committment to your country and have you in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

The Founders of the USA were doing a totally new thing. They did accept the Enlightenment, and although they were mostly (with the exception of Thomas Paine) Christians of one stripe or another, and decidedly had strong faith and Christian values, they set out to do something entirely new, explicitly invoking the Enlightenment concept of Natural Law above religious and political authority. The genius of America is that this (very brave) act changed history, giving the keys to our society to everyone, not just those that belonged to the currently-favored religious, cultural, social, and economic club.

This was a wonderful gift to the world which we should celebrate always.

Compare the Mayflower Compact:
In the name of God, amen. We, whose names are underwritten . . . having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and the honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.
to the Preamble to the US Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

God bless our soldiers and families, their sacrifice, and the United States of America.


1 comment:

  1. You got it mostly right, Curtis. I think the only caution I'd find with this post is what may be a misunderstanding of natural law. It wasn't a usurpation of Christian values.

    A clue is found in the Declaration of Independence as they referred to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

    The natural law encompasses not only what we commonly understand as scientific laws, but perhaps first and foremost the fundamental order of the universe, as reflected in the character of it's creator, God. As Blackstone said, the natural law is "dictated by God himself."

    In other words, natural law transcends human-made laws; you might say it is that much-maligned "objective truth."

    A manifestation of this law of nature can be found in the "unalienable" state of the rights endowed by our Creator. They remain, whether a government denies them or even if an individual forfeits them and says he doesn't want them.

    The Founders did not reject God or the Bible through their understanding of natural law; rather, they recognized that God is the first and last author of what is right and wrong, and that everything we do (even in government) comes down on one side or the other.

    As their writings and statements illustrate, they were determined to do their humanly best to establish our government on God's principles.

    And as you so aptly pointed out, it has been our brave soldiers who have sacrificed the most to preserve that legacy for more than 200 years.

    I join you in asking God's blessing and protection on our military members and their families around the world!