By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008
Eight Principles That Shook the World
by Cleon Skousen
Editor’s Forward: A Personal Testimony By Wang Jiapu
WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR ONE People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
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 …
- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
Contained in these famous words are the timeless principles that supersede all cultures. When I was 19 years old studying English in a Beijing library, I first stumbled across these sublime concepts, which struck something deep inside me. It caused me to redouble my efforts in English that I might come to America to learn more about the people who would believe such noble ideas.
I have since learned that America, sadly, as a whole no longer believes in these principles discovered by Thomas Jefferson. For this reason, America has experienced great moral and social decline. But the fundamental truth remains that any nation that will embrace the God of these principles will experience justice and liberty.
Jefferson served as president of the United States, first secretary of state, minister to France, governor of Virginia, and a congressman, and was an accomplished architect, scientist, farmer, book collector, patron of the arts, violinist, and horseman. Yet he wanted to be remembered for only three things: drafting the Declaration of Independence, writing and supporting the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), and founding the University of Virginia. These three acts have this in common: They all testify to Jefferson’s life-long passion to liberate the human mind from tyranny, whether imposed by the state, church, or man’s own ignorance.
The following account describes Jefferson’s role in the great years of America’s destiny – 1775 and 1776 – when he went to Congress as a young man and wrote the draft for the Declaration of Independence. It is clearly evident that the “ancient principles,” to which Jefferson constantly alluded, were derived purely from the Bible.
- Wang Jiapu
A Chinese student in the U.S.
It is doubtful that any of the Founders could have brought to this assignment a more profound and comprehensive training in history and political philosophy than jefferson. Even by modern standards, the depth and breadth of his education are astonishing.
He had begun the study of Latin, Greek, and French at the age of nine. At the age of sixteen he had entered the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg as an advanced student. At the age of nineteen he had graduated and immediately commenced five years of intensive study with George Wythe, the first law professor in America. During this period he often studied twelve to fourteen hours per day. When he was examined for the bar he seemed to know more than the men who were giving him the examination.
By the time Jefferson had reached early adulthood, he had gained proficiency in five languages. He had studied the Greek and Roman classics. He had studied European and English history. He had carefully studied both the Old and New Testaments.
While studying the history of ancient Israel, Jefferson made a significant discovery. He saw that at one time the Israelites had practiced the earliest and most efficient form of representative government. As long as the Israelites followed their fixed pattern of constitutional principles, they flourished. When they drifted from it, disaster overtook them. Jefferson thereafter referred to this constitutional pattern as the “ancient principles.”
Writing the Declaration of Independence
For seventeen days Jefferson composed and revised his rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. The major portion of the Declaration is taken up with a long series of charges against King George III. However, these were nearly all copied from Jefferson’s drafts of the Virginia Constitution and his Summary View of the Rights of British America. To copy these charges into the Declaration would not have taken him more than a single day. What was he doing the other sixteen days?
It appears that he spent most of the remaining time trying to structure into the first two paragraphs at least eight of the “ancient principles” that he had come to admire:
1. Sound government should be based on self-evident truths. These truths should be so obvious, so rational, and so morally sound that their authenticity is beyond reasonable dispute.
2. The equal station of mankind here on earth is a cosmic reality, an obvious and inherent aspect of the law of nature and of nature’s God.
3. This presupposes (as a self-evident truth) that the Creator made human beings equal in their rights, equal in his sight. (Of course, individual attributes and personal circumstances in life vary widely.)
4. These rights, which have been bestowed by the Creator on each individual, are unalienable; that is, they cannot be taken away or violated without the offender coming under the judgment and wrath of the Creator. A person may have other rights, such as those that have been created as a “vested” right by statute, but vested rights are not unalienable. They can be altered or eliminated at any time.
5. Among the most important of the unalienable rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue whatever course of life a person may desire in search of happiness, so long as it does not invade the inherent rights of others.
6. The most basic reason for a community or a nation to set up a system of government is to assure its inhabitants that the rights of the people shall be protected and preserved.
7. And because this is so, it follows that no office or agency of government has any right to exist except with the consent of the people or their representatives.
8. It also follows that if a government either by malfeasance or neglect, fails to protect those rights – or, even worse, if the government itself begins to violate those rights – then it is the right and duty of the people to regain control of their affairs and set up a form of government that will serve the people better.
On July 2, 1776, the Congress assembled as an informal “Committee of the Whole” to freely discuss Jefferson’s Manifesto of Freedom. A number of changes were suggested and debated. It was the evening of July 4 when the Congress as an official body finally approved Jefferson’s somewhat modified document. There were over sixty changes but not one of the “ancient principles” was deleted.
Reprinted from The Making of America, by Cleon Skousen, pp. 24-39, available through the National Center for Constitutional Studies, H.C. 61 Box 1056, Malta, Idaho 83342. Used with permission.
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Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
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Running Time: 130 minutes
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
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