Thursday, August 04, 2005

US is not a covenant nation:

Tonight on Pax and August 6 on TBS, D. James Kennedy's "Christian Nation" special re-airs. I saw it over the weekend. I don't know if I am going to post a detailed review because much of what it told was not new to me and I already answered most of the special's claims here, here, here and here.

One claim that I found especially dubious in lieu of the evidence is that the US is a nation that covenanted with the God of the Bible during the Founding of 1776 and 1787. Donald Lutz, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Houston, whose claim to fame is some study purporting to show that 15,000 documents written during America's founding era quote the Bible, specifically Deuteronomy, more than any other source, made this claim as well on the special. It's true, as noted, that colonial charters of the earlier generation, probably all of them save Rhode Island, did in fact covenant with the Trinitarian God of the Bible. And let us not forget they also imposed religious tests requiring such beliefs for holding public office.

But the distinctive feature of our national Founding is the fact that no such covenanting occurred. Search the documents -- whereas you can point to specific language of covenants in the earlier colonial charters, such covenantial language is entirely absent from the Declaration and the Constitution. And the Constitution, in Article VI, explicitly forbids any kind of religious test for holding public office. This is the thesis of Gary North's Ebook, which despite its shortcomings, is closer to the Truth about whether we were founded as a "Christian Nation" in a public or civil sense than Kennedy's special.

The Constitution is entirely Godless. And even though the Declaration invokes [Nature's] God, His role in political philosophy is clear: God grants natural rights and governments are instituted among men to secure such unalienable rights. The government, however, is a social contract between the government and the people, and receives its ultimate legitimacy from the consent of the governed, not from God. Both the Declaration and the Constitution make this clear.

We were founded on Hobbsean/Lockean social contract/state of nature political philosophy. At best, one could say that such a theory is compatible with Christianity, as Locke argued.

But even though the Constitution and the Declaration do not explicitly covenant with the God of the Bible as the colonial charters from the earlier generations do, the special just ignores reality and claims that our Founding did covenant with the God of the Bible. It boggles the mind. Black is white; up is down.


Michelle Annel said...

Umm.. a closer examination of Dr. Lutz' argument would lead you to conclude that the Judaic God is NOT the God of the declaration of independence or constitution- In fact, Lutz openly teaches that there is NO specific god in the constitution (Common knowledge tells us Jefferson was a deist who studied world religions), BUT the American Constitution's format IS taken from Deuteronomy, a book outlining the Law in the Torah, not the whole Bible. Perhaps the show twisted his commentary?

Jonathan said...

The Coral Ridge Hour is infamous for twisting commentary. I may be able to sign on to what I think Lutz may be saying. What I've endorsed: The Founders, as men of "reason" drew from a variety of different sources, extracting from them what was "rational." They could thus take certain reasonable principles from the Bible and scrap the rest. Proving that they in some way were influenced by the Bible in no way demonstrates they endorsed the whole book thought the Bible inerrant.

Still, the Federalist Papers which explain the principles behind the Constitution in detail do not cite the Bible at all. So it would seem if Lutz is right that the Founders structured the Constitution on the Bible. It must have been subconsciously or inadvertently, like a musician who thinks he is writing a new song but is really subconsciously rehashing a tune he heard sometime earlier in life.

In any event, even if they are Biblical principles, as you pointed out, they are secularized Biblical principles as the Constitution makes no covenant with God and otherwise quotes no Scripture. Though it doesn't demand that religious be banished from government, the document itself is entire secular in what it says and what it does.

Buy Wow Gold said...

WOW Gold, World of Warcraft Gold - Buy WOW gold at our shop, fast delivery of WoW gold and unbeatable prices make us so popular within the World of Warcraft community!

wow Account said...

Wow,great post

Aion Kinah said...

Lovely post