I don't mean to revive the debate between Jim Babka and Dr. Gregg Frazer over whether the principles of our Founding are consistent with the Bible and orthodox Christianity. But I have uncovered a couple of interesting sites which might shed light on this issue.
I am debating a fundamentalist from the Caribbean named Gordon Mullings, infamously known on the Evangelical Outpost comments section for writing book length posts.
In Mr. Mullings's world, everything in America's Founding principles matches up perfectly with his fundamentalism. I pointed out that arguably the American Revolution was un-Biblical because Romans 13 seems to state that revolt is never justified. After all, that's what John Calvin taught. Further, I noted that our key Founders and the Unitarian ministers from Founding era New England like Mayhew, West, Chauncy and Gay who preached pro-revolutionary sermons, were Enlightenment rationalists who took a cafeteria like approach to the Bible and elevated man's reason over revelation. Their unorthodox theology and reliance on reason is relevant because it made it easier to "explain away" controlling Biblical texts, like Romans 13.
Mullings disagreed and wrote "MAYHEW ETC ARE WITHIN THE BIBLICAL, REFORMATION ERA TEACHING ON THE MATTER ON THIS POINT." Jim Babka raised a similar point which deserves answering. Though our key Founders and the Unitarian minister whom they followed were not "orthodox" in their theology, there was a pro-Revolutionary sentiment that had developed (which may or may not have influenced our Founders) in Protestantism among thinkers who seemingly were orthodox, some of them Calvinist, in their theology. Works like, for instance, Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex, the Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (English title: A Vindication Against Tyrants), and the Dutch Plakkaat van Verlatinge (a.k.a., the Dutch Declaration of Independence)(1581).
Mr. Mullings argues that, though the Unitarian ministers' entire theology may not have been orthodox, the pro-revolutionary messages of Mayhew et al. were Biblical. I replied that one could view it conversely -- that even Christians who claim/seem to be orthodox (or evangelical/fundamentalist/inerrantist, whatever term is proper) also use the "cafeteria" method when it suits them. Samuel Rutherford et al., like the Unitarian clergy in New England, sought to "explain away" what is clearly written in Romans 13.
When researching this issue, I discovered this post by Brad Delong from 2002 which references this article in First Things by Justice Scalia directly on the subject.
While Scalia doesn't speak of the American Revolution, the thesis of his article is that Romans 13 demands that Christians obey the civil magistrate. Delong rightly concludes that according to Scalia's "literal" reading of Romans 13, the American Revolution would be un-Biblical.
In a speech last May--"God's Justice and Ours"--published in First Things, Scalia--approvingly--quotes St. Paul on the Principate, the form of government of the Roman Empire in its first two centuries: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)"
Notice that what Scalia approves of is not praise of a healthy representative democracy. It is not praise of a wise, merciful, and saintly king. What is praised by Saul of Tarsus and Antonin Scalia--what is "ordained of God" and is "the minister of God... for good... [and] to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil"--is the Principate, the government of the Roman Empire under the Julio-Claudian dynasty, than lurching its downward progress from Augustus to Nero. Yet Saul--and Antonin--tell us that even this government must be obeyed: "Ye must needs be subject... for conscience sake." To fail to obey the government is (as long as the government is not more tyrannical than Tiberius, Caligula, or Nero) morally blameworthy, and contrary to the will of God. As Scalia says later on, this prohibition extends not just to revolt or secret transgression but even to open civil disobedience, which is, in Scalia's view based on the false assumption that "what the individual citizen considers an unjust law... need not be obeyed."
My first reaction upon reading this was to think, "Whoa!" And then to think, "What about the American Revolution?" Wasn't the moral obligation to obey George III and his ministers, not very tyrannical compared to Tiberius and Nero, much stronger than the moral obligation to obey Nero and his proconsuls? Does Antonin Scalia really think that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were moral cretins, whose deeds of rebellion against the ordained-by-God George III were unholy, immoral, cursed by God? Is Antonin Scalia about to abjure his oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, swear allegiance to Elizabeth II Windsor as the rightful heir-general of George III Hanover, and fall under the tyrannical sway of the handbag of monarchy? We know that Scalia condemns Martin Luther King, Jr. as a moral cretin for failing to obey the segregation laws of his day. But how much further does he go? There seems to be no stopping point before the equivalent of Nero. Thus Charles de Gaulle for his rebellion against the collaborationist French government of Philippe Petain and Pierre Laval stands, in Scalia's eyes, condemned as an enemy of God. The milestones of English liberty--the barons' rebellion that brought us Magna Carta, the Long Parliament claiming powers of right rather than privileges of grace, the Glorious Revolution of 1688--all of them, all of them much worse than the acts of civil disobedience that Scalia condemns expressly, and all of them revolts against God's will.
Of course, one can explain away Romans 13 with context. But almost any text, including the prohibitions on things such as homosexuality, can be explained away by context. I have nothing against such "cafeteria Christianity"; such is, from my perspective, a more desirable form of the faith than the "fundamentalist" strain, one better suited to modern "liberal democracies." But when fundamentalists invoke "context" -- and then proceed to explain away inconvenient Biblical texts -- it seems to me that they try to have their cake and eat it too; that is, they engage in cafeteria Christianity and at the same time deny that they so do.
In any event, whatever the context, Romans 13 offers no support to the "Christian Nation" myth. If Romans 13 really stands for the proposition, as Mr. Mullings argues, of "just government under God," then psychopathic Pagan Tyrants like Nero and Caligula had "just government[s] under God." With a standard that low, it's hard to imagine what wouldn't qualify as a "just government under God."