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!
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — 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.)
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.)