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The Declaration of Independence: Christian Masterpiece or Humanist Tripe?

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!

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

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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The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 219 pages

Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy

Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.

Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.

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