Next year commemorates the Reformation’s 500th. Reformation was a wide movement that included both Catholics and Protestants, but Luther’s 95 Theses posted in 1517 marks the traditional date. Luther’s Diet of Worms defense, “Here I stand. I cannot recant,” defines unwavering faith of the individual. God plus one believer makes a majority.
Today, America is embroiled in political donnybrook, and Justice Scalia, defender of originalism, died leaving the possibility of a changed court for decades to come. Liberals laugh at conservatives for defending the original meaning of the Constitution from a time when women couldn’t vote and slaves were 3/5. Maybe we should ask just what do we believe and where did it come from?
Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word that was present in the beginning, fulfiller of God’s plan to rescue sinners like me originates and checks my belief in anything else. But not all that He taught was instantly realized by men. For well over a thousand years after He walked on this planet, Christians continued to live with statism. Kings ruled absolutely. Then in the 1670s an Englishman, John Locke, a man of much personal faith, and the Father of Modern Psychology, wrote Two Treatises On Government in which he asked what kind of governance the minds of men craved. What he postulated was something like no government known at the time or in the past. What humans need most, Locke wrote, is Liberty, that is, the ability to follow inner voice in your head. Christians call this following the Holy Spirit and the mission God gives you As Paul wrote, “For it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Fear not if you are not Christian, this means no infallible theistic thoughts. Indeed we are all bumbling sinners, but we trust in a Divine Guide.) Liberty inherently means limited government. “Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” Sorry, Caesar, some stuff just ain’t yours. Liberty destroys statism. The order of things is no longer God over Kings over men, but men under relationship to God and over the government they establish. “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” wrote the Founders. Government doesn’t bequeath our legitimacy. We bequeath it’s legitimacy. The principle of the humility of Jesus Christ--who though He was God, let those who disagreed simply walk away—frames Liberty. Each person has his own walk and dreams. Liberty thus creates our First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
It also follows that if God has established a relationship with each person, He gives Rights that can’t be revoked. Property (and right to it) is the resource for a personal mission God establishes. “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Free speech follows from The Great Commission and the Shima of Deuteronomy. The living God breathed His life into the world when He created it, and gives us new life (salvation). “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are intertwined into God’s Word.
Lincoln said, “a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Equality was a principle. As scriptures say, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Locke thought Separation of Powers was a vital part of government. After all, Isaiah wrote, “For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king.” Three functions, 3 branches make sense, the Founders reasoned. Actions are thus checked by separation of powers. One makes the law (congress), one arrests the lawbreaker (police), one judges guilt (court).
Tolerance—“Let us not pass judgment on one another…never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” When one’s future is secure, one is free to tolerate. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Natural Law “To assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal Station to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them.” Is how the Declaration puts it God says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do what the Law requires, they are a law unto themselves.”
Liberty, Rights, Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Tolerance, Natural Law, and Equality—all in our Constitution—come via a Higher Power with principles found in scripture. The Constitution, our mutual contract for a federal government, “either means what it says in context of those who wrote it, or it means what you imagine you want it to say” --Antonin Scalia. Some of us still believe in the self-evident truth.
Others may think it’s all a big yawn and should be voided, updated by court whims, twisted in interpretation. But among all social contracts, this one is by far the best to have sprung up. It has not just stood the test of time, but has allowed mankind to thrive more than any other system. There is a reason our Presidents and our foot soldiers take an oath “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” We’ll fight for it. “Here I stand. I cannot recant.”