Gordon Mullings replied to Dr. Frazer with a number of his typical book-length ponderous posts. In particular, he opened himself to a rhetorical jab by informing us:
In short, to say of the use of Locke that Jefferson was not making use of the biblical context, is flat out false and highly misleading. [Indeed I just had quite a little discussion with my almost 8 YO son by going back and forth between my notes and the Bible regarding the exact above!]
My reply follows:
Maybe you can get your 8-year-old son to explain to you the difference between a "biblical covenant" and a "social contract" because apparently, you don't understand the difference between the two.
There is nothing covenantial about the Declaration of Independence as it makes no "covenant" with God -- either the God of the Bible or the "Nature's God" in which it invokes. It does say that "Nature's God" grants men unalienable rights. But those rights are not secured by a "biblical covenant," but rather by a "social contract." The "social contract"/"the state of nature" theory does not come from the Bible or even Locke himself. Rather, Hobbes created the concept of the "the state of nature/social contract," which gave rise to liberal democracy. And such a theory is, as Leo Strauss put it, "wholly alien to the Bible."
Now, it's true that Locke tried to "dress up" the state of nature/social contract in "Biblical terms" -- after all, he was trying to sell his ideas to a largely Christian audience and in a time when one could be executed for heresy or blasphemy simply for saying the "wrong" things. But one has to ask if something wholly alien to the Bible (the Hobbsean/Lockean social contract/state of nature theory) can be transformed into something "biblical" simply by dressing it up in biblical language.
But this is, in some way, besides the point, as our "Lockean" Founding was not Locke as he understood his ideas, but rather, Locke as our key founders -- Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin -- understood him. And they made it clear the worldview upon which they operated. And it was as, Dr. Frazer describes it, "Theistic Rationalism."
And this brings us to Mr. Moeller's point: You've created, to use Gordon's favorite term, a rationalist "strawman." Yes, there are certain forms of rationalism which reject the Bible/Revelation, God, or any kind of "supernatural" ideas -- there is atheistic rationalism, deistic rationalism, etc. And the entire point of Dr. Frazer's work is to show that these aren't the kinds rationalism in which our key founders believed!
Rather, their form of rationalism, similar to Aquinas's, believed that reason and revelation by-in-large agreed, that indeed some revelation was legitimately given by God. But it differed from the "older" classical rationalism of the medieval Church because that rationalism sought to use reason to support the Bible and Church Dogma, whereas the newer Enlightenment rationalism of our key Founders saw reason as Supreme, and revelation was designed to support reason, not the other way around.
And indeed, the theistic rationalism of our Founders, unlike the older Christian rationalism of Aquinas, did so seriously break with the traditional Christian view of nature that arguably their natural law ceased to be "Christian" at all.
For instance, according to John Adams, the natural law of the Declaration demonstrates that God is unitarian not trinitarian in his attributes, that God doesn't burn anyone in Hell for eternity, and that entire parts of the Bible are "fit" to be cut out (especially those miracles which seem to defy the laws of nature and science), as unreasonable.
So if one wants to understand the "worldview" behind the Declaration of Independence, one should look to, in detail, the words of the men who actually wrote the document. To say that "Jefferson [made] use of the biblical context," is itself "flat out false and highly misleading" unless one understands how these key Founders viewed the Bible and the consequent relationship between Reason and Revelation. And when one does this one sees that they thought the Bible contained, in John Adams's words "error[s]" and "amendment[s]" or Jefferson's, that its history was "defective" and "doubtful." As I wrote in a previous post, "Adams and the other rationalist Founders believed in the God of the Bible and Scripture, but only insofar as Scripture was reasonable; to them, parts of it were; parts of it weren't." So the truth is the Bible did influence our Founders and their ideas, but it was a highly qualified influence. It was the Bible and Christianity, minus everything in the Bible and Christianity which man's reason deemed to be "irrational."