Subject: Christianity and the Constitution Part 2 – The Freedom that makes America Exceptional
John 8:36 “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
For the first time in American politics, both presidential frontrunners have pledged to do something that no one has been able to do: alter our Constitution. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton wants to alter the 2nd amendment (the right of all Americans to bear firearms), while Republican frontrunner Donald Trump wants to alter the 14th amendment (the definition of American citizenship). Both of their positions are telling us one thing about them: they both believe governmental authority is the key to restoring America exceptionalism.
Only one candidate promises to not only protect the Constitution, but also return it to its former prominence as the basis for American freedom – the Republican candidate Ted Cruz. His agenda is to enforce the Constitution, which means limiting the role of government in the lives of American citizens. I wonder if we understand what is at stake in this election. In order to see the threat looming over us with the agendas of Clinton and Trump, we need to first understand why we must view America as an exceptional nation.
English writer G. K. Chesterton once famously explained what it means to be an American: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” That creed is the Declaration of Independence, whereby our founders not only separated from Great Britain but declared for posterity that we as a people cherish one thing above all else – our freedom. The Declaration of Independence also defines our rights as free citizens of America and the limitations we must put on the government’s authority over our lives.
What was the underlying principle upon which our founding fathers based this document? That there are “self-evident” truths (truths that everyone, regardless of your social, economic or ethnic background, naturally knows) that make us free. These “self-evident” truths are that first, “all men and women everywhere are created equal”, and second, that “all men and women are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, and third, that “among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
And what document gives American government the authority to secure our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as laid out in the Declaration of Independence? It’s our Constitution, which details the three branches of government that make, enforce and judge the laws of our nation! What is the ultimate purpose of securing these rights and of limiting government? To protect human freedom! It is this freedom that is the cornerstone of the American way of life, allowing our families, schools, businesses and churches to thrive. But why did our founding fathers choose freedom as the cornerstone of our nation’s principles?
Our founding fathers were by vast majority Christian – they were followers of Jesus Christ. And as our verse this week explains, true freedom to thrive as both an individual and as a nation can only be achieved through the freedom that comes not by might nor by majority but by faith in the living God. The context of John 8:36 is not freedom to do what you want, but rather freedom from the sin that so ensnares people, so that now you are free in Jesus Christ to do what you should. This conviction by our founding fathers is implicit in our Constitution, as it has references to our Christian faith and our Lord Jesus Christ.
To prove this point, look at the wording in the Constitution’s Article I, Section 7: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law….” Why Sundays? The government shuts down on Sundays. Why? If this was to respect Jews, it would have read “Saturdays excepted.” If for Muslims, it would have read “Fridays excepted.” If our founding fathers wanted to be multi-cultural and politically correct, they would have chosen Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. But our Constitution chose Sunday – the Christian day of worship. They gave political recognition to the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Another proof of our Constitution’s Christian foundation is in the closing after Article VII: “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the 17th Day of September in the Year of our Lord 1787….” Their work was done “in the Year of our Lord.” Again, if they wanted to be multi-cultural and politically correct, they would have used religionless designations like C.E.,” Common Era, and “B.C.E.,” Before the Common Era. Instead, they used the dating method that pointed to their Christian worldview. And the specific reference to “our Lord” is to God the Son, an explicit reference to Jesus Christ!
Do you know this? Are you teaching this to your children? You can be sure our schools are not.