Righteous Revolution?

7 07 2008

I have often pondered whether the American Revolution was biblically justified or not, and planning for this year’s Fourth of July inspired me to spend some time and energy researching the subject.

Now before we get started, let me make a statement: Oddly enough, Chris and I each wrote about this same subject without any coordination or knowledge of what the other was working on!  I know that this is an emotionally charged issue for some, but I’ve really tried to approach this objectively and do my best to simply hold up the position of the founding fathers to the Bible.  So let’s jump in!

It helps to understand some of the prevailing philosophies leading up to the late 1700’s.  In 1650, a man name Robert Filmer published the book Patriarcha, which was a defense of the notion that kings and rulers had a divine right to absolute authority.  The application of this idea was that kings could do as they pleased, and subjects were required to obey the king no matter what as a matter of religious obligation.  While this was predictably popular with the monarchy, it rubbed a certain theorist by the name of John Locke the wrong way.

Locke’s most influential work was entitled Two Treatises of Government, and it swung the pendulum far in the other direction in the year 1690.  In the first half, he repudiates Filmer’s claim that kings have a blank check due to divine appointment.  In the second half, he describes his belief in an inherent right of man to pursue his best interest, though not at the expense of the collective interest.  He also states that if government effectually and habitually hinders that cause, then:

“the people are at liberty to provide for themselves by erecting a new legislative differing from the other by the change of persons, or form, or both, as they shall find it most for their safety and good” – Paragraph 220

This leaves the door open for rebellion (including violent ones) and brings us to the 1770’s when things are getting heated between the American colonists and Great Britain.  John Locke was arguably the biggest singular influence on the thinking of the eventual authors of the Declaration of Independence.  This much is evident in the wording of the Declaration itself:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” – Paragraph 2

It is noteworthy that in the Declaration, there is a tone of patient forbearance over legitimate grievances and a feeling that the action of independence was brought about as the last resort.

So the question is, how does this hold up to scripture?  Let’s start with the elephant in room, Romans 13:1-7.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

Seems pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it?  Guess again!  There was (and in some areas still is) an argument that this passage should be interpreted as “being subject to the idea of government in general.”  They argued that we should be subject to government, though not necessarily the current one.  In this framework, a people could rise up, overthrow authority, install a new government, then submit to that.  Proponents of this argument will typically use the example of civil disobedience in Daniel, David, Moses, and Peter an John before the Priestly council.

I contend that Romans 13 does, in fact, speak to submission in whatever our current situation is (I am joined by Walvoord & Zuck in this).  I come to this position based on a clear reading of the passage as well as the discussion of taxes in verses 6 and 7 (the context is more specific than general), and Ephesians 6:5-9 where our responsibility is expressly directed towards obedience to God regardless of our situation.  In the case of biblical examples of civil disobedience, we should note that in those cases they were either peacefully resisting in light of God’s written commands, or were obeying direct commands from God himself or His prophets.  I don’t think there’s any record of John Hancock claiming he heard voices from heaven.

I also think the framer’s attitudes towards man’s “unalienable rights” is faulty.  “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” are gifts of grace from God, but certainly not rights we are owed.  All have sinned, and the wages of sin is death.  That is all we deserve, and anything different is mercy and grace from God.

The Bible does speak of freedom for the Christian, but it is freedom from the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4:21-5:13), and freedom from sin (John 8:31-36; Romans 6:15-22).  Interestingly, Paul speaks of things more important than freedom, namely the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19).

To summarize, I personally feel that the justification for the Declaration of Independence is not biblical and, subsequently, is sinful.  Those who wrote and signed the Declaration, while many being devout Christians whom I believe wanted to act within the will of God, let their thoughts be consumed with the prevailing philosophy of the times and succumbed to a faulty interpretation of relevant passages of the Bible.  This is based on exposition of God’s word, and is in recognition that if I were in their same position, I might very well have come to the same sinful conclusions that they did.

John MacArthur had the following to say about Romans 13:1-7 in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (1994): “Obviously, [armed rebellion] is forbidden by God, and, judged in light of our present text, it is equally obvious that the United States was born out of violation of Scripture.”

The danger I have found while researching this is that many like to pick a side and declare our founding fathers as wholly good or wholly evil.  That is unfair.  There are many examples in church history of recognized pillars of faith that have obvious flaws.  Luther was disturbingly anti-Semitic and Calvin presided over the execution of a heretic.  We can learn from these flaws as well as recognize the positive aspects of past Christian brothers and sisters.  After all we should be mindful to pull the log out of our own eyes before looking to the speck in the eyes of others.

But does this unbiblical beginning make our country a sham?

In my next post, I’ll examine the second major work by this same group of men that highlights some of the positive contributions we can thank our founders for… the United States Constitution.

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12 responses

7 07 2008
Jessica

Wow!

7 07 2008
Jessica

To clarify, thats a good wow! I never knew that! How cool!

7 07 2008
Dave

You’re too funny, Jessica. Thanks for the clarification. ;)

18 07 2008
Christopher

Dave, do you deny that God ever calls nations to rise against tyranny and oppression? I would ask that you consider the example set by Gideon who was called by God to fight the armies of the Midianites who were oppressing Israel and leading them astray spiritually. I think it has alot of common factors to the American Revolution. At the time, the Israelites were not officially a nation, they had no king but God. The Mideonites (who thought they owned the land) decided to enforce strict policies on the Israelites and they spent seven years under the reign of the Mideonites and spiritual oppression of their people. God called them out of this into freedom. Is it not possible that the men who founded our country were called to the same?

18 07 2008
Christopher

The Bible gives many examples of righteous revolution and the spiritual law taking precedent over the common law of the land.

Read Ex.1:15-22 – Pharaoh gave an order to kill all the Hebrew baby boys (which was genocide) but the Hebrew midwives Shiprah and Puah “feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do and they let the boys live.” Did God treat this as a sin or reward their disobedience. The Bible says that, “God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own” (vs. 20-21).

Furthermore, their civil disobedience was part of a great plan God was working out as their actions preserved the life of Moses. If they had obeyed Pharaoh the deliverer of Israel would have been killed. So, there are some things that take precendent over obedience to tyrantts (no matter if he is king of the land or not)

Consider Obadiah (I Kings 18:4)

The wicked queen Jezebel “was killing off the LORD’S prophets.” In defiance of her orders the prophet Obadiah “had taken a hundred prophets and hid them in two caves … and had supplied them with food and water” The context and manner of the Bible’s presentation implies that God condoned Obadiah’s act because it says he feared the Lord, in other words he obeyed God before he would obey man (vs. 13-15).

In Joshua 2:1-14 we see the example of Rahab saving the lives of two Hebrew spies by hiding them from soldiers who were searching for them. She risked her life in lying to protect their lives and lying to the soldiers. The spies had no legal right to be in Jericho, the soldiers had every legal right to apprehend them. God honored Rahab calling it faith, and God promised, “Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.” (.Josh 6:17) And the spies went and rescued all her family and belongings from destruction.

Interesting side note: we later find Rahab included in the liniage of the Messiah.

18 07 2008
Dave

Here we go! I was wondering when we were going to get into the nitty gritty of all this!

So to rebut against your comments:

I do not deny that God has called nations to rise against tyranny and oppression. I do observe, however, that He has only ever done that within a very specific and limited context – Israel. If you have records of a sequel of Genesis or sightings of burning bushes in the 1700’s, please share your references so I can get up to speed.

I noticed a couple commonalities among the examples you provided. They all can trace their justification to Genesis 15:1-6 where Abraham is promised the specific land of Canaan, and Genesis 12:1-7 where Abraham is promised a permanent lineage. I’m pretty confident the colonists weren’t descendants of Jacob, and I’m also pretty positive they never intended to go on a hike to the Ottoman Empire to retake Canaan.

To get more specific, in the case of the Egyptian exodus, the beginning of the revolution was in Exodus 3:1-10 when God audibly spoke to Moses from the burning bush. In that case, it is also noteworthy that the Israelites didn’t lift a finger… God was the only soldier, fighting on their behalf.

In 1 Kings 18, Obadiah does disobey his rulers, but not in a total revolution. He is safeguarding the lives of God’s prophets, for which I will give him the benefit of the doubt. The colonists weren’t acting in pure self-defense; they actively pushed their leaders off their land. Interestingly, Obadiah was a royal servant during this disobedience. He must of been a good one too, because he was “over the household” and Ahab picked him to lead the famine relief effort.

In the case of Rahab, the justification is an extension of what is found in Exodus. As for Rahab personally, she based her treason on what she had heard told of God’s great purpose for Israel as demonstrated in the miracles he was working in Egypt and Sinai (Joshua 2:8-11).

None of these circumstances are present in 1776!

If the colonists are going to cherry-pick these examples as justification for their acts, I find it odd that they would leave out other initiatives of the Israelites such as total execution of the enemy (Deut. 20:16) and national circumcision (Josh 5:2). Boy that would be a lame federal holiday, wouldn’t it?

Here’s my point. I don’t think anyone can really come up with a “formula” for when you can be biblically supported in disobeying your government, especially on a national level. I think it has to be looked at in a case-by-case manner, and must be measured against scripture. After studying the reasoning for the American Revolution, I believe the foundational justification they leaned on is found in the Declaration itself – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I challenge anyone to find a verse in the Bible that corroborates that statement. Call me unpatriotic if you want, but that line is self-centered, not God-centered.

19 07 2008
Christopher

Dave, for starters allow me to state that I don’t think you are unpatriotic for being careful and critical about what you believe. I find this discussion very intriguing and enjoyable. In the end what we think about America may differ, but what we believe about God’s Kingdom is really all that matters. I’m glad we are on the same side of God’s Kingdom together and that his Kingdom is big enough to include all peoples in every nation regardless of its foundation.

Now, back to the discussion at hand.

I’m not sure that your request for evidence of a post-scripture “burning bush” is entirely fair. In fact, even if I did provide adequate examples of Godly men in the 1600’s and 1700’s who felt God’s personal call on their lives to travel to the contenent of North America for the exact purpose of establishing a government that escaped religious persecution (similar to that of the call of Moses) I am not sure that you would be willing to accept it as enough evidence to support my claim (because it is not in scripture and therefore suspect to errors in credibility).

Instead, I would suggest you consider again the many examples of God’s providential hand in the creation of our country. It seems evident to me that God was very much at work in the foundation of this great and wonderful nation. His protection of the colonists through many trials is more than evidence to me that his hand of protection and purpose was a part of the founding of our nation.

Reconsider the simple story of Increase Mathers I shared on July 4th. Certainly you can’t deny the wonder of God’s work in answering the prayers of his humble servant in the face of great trouble? The response of his congregation to throw themselves entirely in God’s hands to solve the problem is exactly what God expects from his people. What an amazing story of God’s powerful soverignty in the affairs of the nations and the establishment and removal of kings.

Another thing! You seem to want to limit my ability to quote scripture based on the fact that many of the Old Testiment examples are all about Israel and therefore somehow don’t pertain to us as Christians. You even bring up the point of circumcision as if it is something that must be kept if any of the Old Testiment’s examples are to be followed. To think that somehow because the colonists didn’t employ national circumcision they are unable to use the rest of scripture as a basis for their actions is absurd! Certainly this isn’t what you intend, is it? It is my understanding that ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and useful for direciton and teaching and correction. That would mean the examples of the Old Testiment men and women may still apply to certain situations today. Even those of Gideon and Obadiah and Rahab and Daniel and David and Moses and Abraham and anyone in Scripture.

Nevertheless, my point remains simply this. God does allow for civil disobedience in the Old Testiment in select cases and for his own select purposes and it appears he allows his people to accomplish it without being guilty of sin. I believe, after much research, that the founders of this great nation felt the real and powerful call of God on their lives and prayerfully sought his guidence on the matter on many occassions before acting upon it. I believe we see God’s continual providential hand of protection on our nation all throughout the American Revolution. I am willing to believe that God had a special purpose for the creation of this country.

For the record, I also agree with you whole heartedly that all men are sinful and guilty before God. Our founding fathers were sinners like us and prone to make bad decisions and follow worldly advise. We should be careful to put them on a pedistal as much as we should to put the Apostle Paul on a pedistal or any other man of faith. All of us have and will fail the perfect example of Christ. Only he can be the perfect man.

20 07 2008
Christopher

I came across this letter written by David Barton on his website http://www.wallbuilders.com and thought I might share some of it with you…

—begin quote—-

“Some today contend that the American Revolution represented a complete violation of basic Biblical principles and embodied rebellion or a spirit of anarchy. They argue from Romans 13 that since government is of God, then all government decrees are to be obeyed as proceeding from God. Yet, this is only one of two theological interpretations of Romans 13 — interpretations representing a debate that has existed among American Christians for centuries.

On one side was the belief that when government speaks, God requires us to obey. Interestingly, it was this same theological position that resulted in the “Divine Right of Kings” philosophy which reasoned that since the King was Divinely chosen by God, God therefore expected all citizens to obey the King in all circumstances; anything less, they reasoned, was rebellion against God. Historically, this position was supported primarily and almost exclusively by the Quakers.

The other interpretation of Romans 13 was set out forcefully in a theological work first printed in 1579 by Frenchman Philippe du Plessis Mornay. Written originally in Latin, it was titled Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, but was later reprinted in English as “A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants” under the pen name “Junius Brutus.” This treatise took the position that government being ordained of God was referring to the general institution of government rather than to each and every distinct government.

That is, the institution of government was ordained by God, but that did not mean that God approved of every specific government. God ordained government in lieu of anarchy — He opposes anarchy, He opposes rebelliousness and lawlessness, and He opposes wickedness. Yet, there are clearly have been governments in recent years that promote anarchy, rebellion, and wickedness (e.g. Ghadaffi in Libya, Hussein in Iraq, Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Idi Amin in Uganda, etc.). Has God endorsed those specific governments that promote that which He hates? If so, He has contradicted His nature and is commanding submission and support to the very things that He hates — such is not possible.

The Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Congregationalists, and most other Christian denominations during the American Revolution all believed that Romans 13 meant they were not to overthrow government as an institution and live in anarchy, but that this passage did not mean they had to submit to every civil law (note that in Hebrews 11, a number of those who made the cut in the “Faith Hall of Fame” as heroes of the faith were guilty of civil disobedience — including Daniel, the three Hebrew Children, the Hebrew Midwives, Moses, etc.). Furthermore, the Apostles in Acts 4-5 also declared their willingness to be civilly disobedient —they would obey God rather than their civil authorities.

The real key to understanding civil disobedience and Romans 13 under this latter view, then, is to determine if the purpose of opposition is simply to resist the institution of government in general (which would be anarchy and would promote a rebellious spirit), or if it is to specifically resist bad laws, bad acts, or bad governments. The American Founding Fathers understood and embraced the second interpretation of Romans 13, and therefore strongly opposed the “Divine Right of Kings” theology which was an outworking of the first interpretation of Romans 13.”

—–end quote—–

I highly recommend you read the rest of the letter on his site as well. The article continues with many quotes from the founders themselves so you can read in their own words what their spiritual logic was in determinning their actions.

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=128

20 07 2008
Ryan

Here, eager and able debaters, is an interesting article on the issues of divine providence and scriptural obedience in the American Revolution. Thought you might find it helpful.

20 07 2008
Dave

I enjoy this discussion, but for the ease of the reader, I will try to be concise and respond to Chris’ points.

“His protection of the colonists through many trials is more than evidence to me that his hand of protection and purpose was a part of the founding of our nation.”

– Saddam Hussein seemed in relatively good health at the end of a 50 year political career fraught with trials, attempted coups, assassination attempts, and other challenges… I’m not comfortable equating physical protection with a divine mandate.

“It is my understanding that ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and useful for direciton and teaching and correction.”

– Yes, but not always in direct or literal application. I think the founding fathers, David Barton, and you are approaching the scriptures relevant to this issue with faulty hermeneutics. I could take the book of Philemon and make a case that I should return to work for my former employers from which I quit, but that’s not what the book is about. The operative word in my comment was “cherry-pick”. Why does it apply when Daniel refuses to pray to the king, but the fact that he remained a servant of the court after the evil law was written does not apply (and at being released from the den cried “O king, live forever”)? (Daniel 6) Why does it apply when David runs away from Saul and disobeys his wishes, but the fact that David twice spared Saul’s life because he recognized that Saul was put in power by God does not apply? (1 Sam 24:1-7; 1 Sam 26:6-10)

“I believe, after much research, that the founders of this great nation felt the real and powerful call of God on their lives and prayerfully sought his guidence on the matter on many occassions before acting upon it.”

– I would agree they felt strong convictions to do what they did, and that they sought the will of God… I just believe they fell short and came to a wrong and sinful conclusion.

It seems to me that many of those who fall on Chris’ side of the issue (most notably the WallBuilders) regard it as a “sacred cow”. The same scrutiny that would be applied to other theological questions is suspended in favor of a pre-established position. We may just have to respectfully disagree.

Although I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t accept my challenge:

” ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ I challenge anyone to find a verse in the Bible that corroborates that statement.”

Let me know if you find something! And for anyone else reading, you don’t have to be a contributor on the site to comment! We would love to see input from any and all with an opinion on the matter.

21 07 2008
Christopher Miller

I’m not sure which part of the preamble you feel is unjustified by scripture. Certainly I cannot find “one verse” that encompasses the whole of the preamble (as you have requested), but I can find many references to support each of its claims.

Perhaps if we broke it (the preamble) down it would be more easy to identify.

Self Evident Truths
1. All Men are Created Equal
2. All Men are Endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights.

Among these rights are:
1. Life
2. Liberty
3. The Pursuit of Happiness

I will follow the outline above in my response below.

SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS:
———————————–

It is worth noting that these “self-evident” truths were agreed upon by all who signed the Declaration. They did not feel compelled to explain them within the context of the governing document. However, since the “self-evidence” that once existed is now being brought into question I will rightly take the time to evidence their scriptural basis and thereby affirm the preamble as God honoring (which I believe it is and was intended to be). In doing so, I cannot guarantee that these were the exact reasonings of the men who wrote the document – only they themselves could fully affirm that. All I can do at this point is reference Scripture and compare it to the preamble in hopes of affirming its acceptablity before God.

ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL
——————————————–

First off, it is important to identify that the Framers of the Declaration immediately recoginzed the scriptural truth that we are “created beings” who enter the world upon the grace of a Soverign God. We are not accidents of nature nor a result of random happenstance. We are “created” beings.

Furthermore, in acknowledging that we are indeed given life by the same loving creator the Framers affirm each life as equally valuable to God – irregardless of what someone accomplishes with the life that is given.

Job 34:19 “[God] shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands.”

They probably felt this was self evident because it isn’t hard to recognize equality of mans state on earth. All you need do is look at a baby. All babies are born helpless, weak and dependent on others for survival. In this all men are created equal.

Job 1:21 affirms our natural equality before God. “He said,” Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Is there anyman of which this is not true?

Graciously, the Bible also affirms that we are equal in the sense that before God we will all be rewarded or punished for our actions individually irredgardless of the circumstances under which we served him. (Matthew 20) This scripture tells us that the heart of the worker is where the value lies. God measures all men equally irregardless of what circumstances have been awarded to us in which to serve him.

If we are equally human we are also equally sinful. Kings and servants alike (indeed ALL men) are equal in our sin nature and in our need for a savior. (Romans 3:23)

Keep in mind what the preamble does NOT say here is that all men are created to be the same. Nor does it guarantee that our lives will be equally blessed as another. (Romans 9:20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:8)

It simply states that all men are “created equal”. We are all equal in value as human beings before God from the day we are born.

ALL MEN ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN “INALIENABLE RIGHTS”
———————————————-

The word “rights” is a charged word that, I believe, has lost much of its meaning over the course of history. In a world so out of control where everyone seems to claim they have a “right” to something it is no wonder we have grown a bit fed up with the word. It seems we have forgotten that a right is not an entitlement for anything.

There are many references to rights in Scripture. The Old Testament law refers to the
“rights of a daughter” (Exodus 21:9), “marital rights” (Exodus 21:10) and the “rights of
a first born” (Deuteronomy 21:16). The Psalms and Wisdom literature have more to add
on the subject. “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the
poor and oppressed”, declares Psalm 82:3. Proverbs 31:8 adds “Speak up for those who
cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

In the New Testament there are only four references to ‘rights’. The apostle Paul speaks of his “rights as an apostle” (1 Corinthians 9). In Galatians Paul writes that “God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:5) Hebrews 12:16 refers to Esau, who “sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”

So in seems according to scripture that humans definately do have rights – the only question that remains is which ones are they, who gave them and what does it mean to have them?

Rather than create a listing of all the rights the Bible claims men have, I will instead (for the sake of this discussion) focus only on the three in question to see if indeed the Bible grants these rights to man.

But before we go there we need to define what is meant by a “right”. On this, I will defer to a statement made by one of the founders themselves as they would know first and foremost what they meant by the use of the word.

John Adams once said:
“I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government, — Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws — Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe.”

What I take away from this is that the framers recognized the Soverignty of God in granting the rights of men. They name them as “rights” because they are given as a sacred trust between God and man and not to be interferred with from man to man. Something God has given is something only he is allowed to take away.

After all, if God gives you something you are “right” to posses it (so far as it concerns me – your fellowman). The few rights which we are about to explore (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) are those that are God’s alone to grant to everyman (or to be taken away as he sees fit). They are not to be granted by government. They are merely acknowledged in the preamble as God-given rights (in as much as man is concerned) endowed by a loving creator.

In the ultimate analysis, all rights belong to God, the source of all beauty, goodness, truth and reality. God is not only the one who gives rights; God has a right to be glorified by his creatures. Consequently, secular human rights theory is illogical. Unless God exists, how can we speak of rights? Unless God exists, what can the possible basis be for human dignity?

This is why I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence got it right when they first recognize that we are created beings under the Soverign Creator who has granted certain rights to man. It all comes from God.

Now – on to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

THE RIGHT TO LIFE
———————————–

This one seems like a no-brainer. Without Life as a right there is no basis for any societal order. But lets explore it nontheless. The Bible affirms that all human life has value because humanity bears God’s image. One need only look as far as the creation of man in Genesis to understand that God meant for us to live. If he didn’t – existence is meaningless.

God alone grants life. Life comes from God. Therefore it is a right granted exclusively by God and not a man.

Job 10:12
‘You have granted me life and lovingkindness; And Your care has preserved my spirit.

Besides the obivious command of “Thou shalt not murder”, it is evident to me throughout scripture that God greatly values life and condemns those who would rob it from another. In fact God warned the Israelites to protect others against even reckless death.

Exodus 21:29
“If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.”

My point in choosing that particular verse is that the taking of life is never treated with kid gloves in Scripture. Every effort was to be made to protect life. In fact, it is interesting to note that the penalty for the reckless death of the man or woman was capital punishment.

Special care must be taken when considering this right to life. The law forbid murder but it did not forbid taking human life when necessary. Capital punishment is granted to governments (as we have already seen). God also grants governements the ability to go to war (Romans 13:1-5) From these verses we see that governments can elect to bear the sword (go to war) to deal with evil men. Although the act of war is a harsh form of punishment upon evil invaders, the alternative is far worse — the destruction of innocent people by wicked aggressors.

The bottom line is that we are called to value the sanctity of life. The Framers begin by reminding us that our life is a right that only God can give (or take away) and that government should also value life as sacred under the eyes of God.

That’s all the time I have for today – but tomorrow I’ll post about Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

21 07 2008
Dave Allen

Ok, so I made a mistake. I was broad in challenging the whole sentence. I used a larger quote so as to include the tie between “self-evident”, “truths”, and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. My bad.

To be clear, I don’t feel there is biblical justification for rights to liberty (in the sense that they were pushing against here), or rights to the pursuit of happiness (which may require research on the definition of the word).

Again, sorry for not being more specific. Thanks to Chris for your last comment, I would have to agree with pretty much everything you posted.

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