By Jeff Ziegler
Published January 1, 2000
Christian Masterpiece or Humanist Tripe?
The “Spirit of 76” has been the central rallying point for American patriotism since her violent inception over 200 years ago. This, of course, is in reference to the Declaration of Independence. From the time of our embryonic national birth pains, Christians have pondered just what the “Spirit of 76” means. Are the dominant themes depicted in this historic document born from Christian orthodoxy, or is the anthem of Enlightenment rationalism the clarion cry?
Certainly, if one is searching for an explicit creedal confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ, the Declaration is woefully lacking. Too, the effects of the Enlightenment and of deistic notions give the accent of the day in the wording of our founding charter. However, the acknowledgment of the transcendent Creator-God granting certain unalienable rights and the reliance upon Divine Providence are themes which cannot be ignored. So too, the definition of these rights, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” are concepts older than the Enlightenment and owe their genesis to Christian Orthodoxy as defined by the first four Ecumenical Creeds of the church. Also, the sway of Protestantism regarding the doctrine of the lesser civil magistrate and interposition is a clearly evidenced apologetic throughout the document.
Examining the Nicene Creed, we find strains that surface themselves in the Declaration.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and as crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right of the Father; and he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the world to come. Amen.
As depicted in the First Article, God’s transcendent nature is conclusively rendered. Meaning that God is the sovereign Creator who established all things visible and invisible, and who is distinct and apart from His creation (Gen. 1:1, Col. 1:16,17). Hence, the God who created you is the Lord and giver of life. It is He who sustains your body, your soul, your senses, and your reasoning faculties. It is God who provides your sustenance, your house and home, your family and property. It is God who nurtures you and protects you from all evil. He does all of these things expressly for His divine pleasure and purpose.
The concepts of liberty and freedom derived from the first article or the notion of the transcendent Creator- God are as follows:
#The right to life is a liberty granted by God. It is God alone who gives life. Any unlawful taking of life is murder. Therefore, if state sanctioned, state-sponsored murder in the form of abortion is codified, you have a denial of God’s transcendence and tyranny to the unborn. Yet, this abomination is done under the aegis of a kind of “liberty” whose rhetoric is “pro-choice.” This so-called “liberty” is humanistic and God-denying, and thus ends in the persecution and the death of the unborn. Beyond the immediacy of the horrid deed itself, such tyranny leads to the destruction of whole generations, and thus a culture of death is perpetuated until that nation or culture is annihilated. Therefore, unless liberty under God is recognized, tyranny and death are the results not only for the unborn, but, eventually, for the elderly, the sick, the infirmed, and finally society as a whole.
#Another principle of liberty derived from the first article is that provision, and thus personal property comes from God and God alone. The same God that created the earth gave man dominion over it. Genesis 1:26-28 depicts man possessing, ruling, and reordering the earth. Also, throughout God’s law, the possession of land is a mark of God’s blessing and provision. Therefore, your family, your home, your property, is a freedom and blessing that comes from God and not from the state!
It is plain that the truths articulated in the First Article of the Nicene Creed are reflected in the Declaration of Independence. While this does not make it a Christian confession, it does illustrate that Christianity, in its most crystalline sense, was a powerful influence on the document. This is not confined to mere rhetorical pleasantries which acknowledge the existence of God, but form the backbone and the crux of the revolutionary argument—“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The National Reform Association holds that an explicit confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ is necessary for all of our founding national documents. While such a confession is conspicuously absent from both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the Declaration nonetheless exhibits Christian influences which have a profound effect on the pursuit of liberty.
Your comments are welcome!
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.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)