In July 1776, a new nation was born. She was (and still is) a nation like no other. Her birth was a direct result of the diligent study and courageous action of generations of Godly men of the previous centuries, whose eyes God had opened to His Word and the golden truths found there about how men should be governed. Our founders mined these treasures from God’s Word and set them in place in light of the history of human governments and the countless lessons learned through the ages.
There are many lies being spread today about what was or wasn’t important to our founding fathers, and why they were risking everything to forge a new nation. These lies are propagated by those who hate our form of government and wish to destroy it. These enemies of our nation have diligently rummaged through collateral documents and personal writings of our founders to find nuggets that could be taken out of their original context and twisted to fit their wicked agenda. The lies of these thieves are not the subject of this article. We will instead look at the truth as our founders presented it with beauty and eloquence.
The motives of our founders
In order to find the true motives of our founders and why they did what they did, we have only to look to the document they gave us. In fact, they didn’t just give it to us – they declared it to the world on July 4, 1776. For everyone’s convenience, it is boldly listed in the first document we ever published as an independent nation, the Declaration of Independence, our national birth certificate. The amazing introduction of this wonderful document begins…
“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 entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”Declaration of Independence
If we want to know the causes which impelled our founders to separate from Great Britain… we don’t have to wonder, they are about to be listed… the document continues with what is truly the foundational statement of truth of our nation…
“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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
We can take several important truths from these early couple of sentences:
- There is a Creator
- Our Creator made us equal
- Our Creator gave us rights
- Purpose of government is to “secure” rights already given to us by God
- Government derives its “just” powers from the consent of the governed.
Let’s briefly consider each of these important ideas.
There is a Creator
So many of the lies which threaten out nation today could be corrected if we understood this. Our founders began – literally began the paragraph right after the intro with this idea of our Creator and what He has done for us. Notice this fact is among the first things listed as “Self-evident” truths. They did not feel they needed to explain this idea of our Creator. It was well understood. The fact that we have a God who made us is “self-evident”. I remember once my oldest children and I had the opportunity to meet Michael Farris at an event where he was speaking, and he joked with my children that in 1776, they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, and today we would just say, “duh…”. We laughed together about this, but truly, that’s what this means… “Duh…” of course, we were created by God! That needs no explanation!
Our Creator made us equal
This one is perhaps harder for us to really understand because we have lived in this nation all our lives. Imagine a world that believes all authority and power flow first to an all-powerful king. Then that king divvies out to the people only those privileges and rights that he sees fit. Our nation turned that idea completely upside down. We realized and formed our nation upon the idea that we were all made by God, and He made us equal. There was no royalty or class that had a special access to God, or rights above and beyond what the rest of us had. This idea was radically different than anything the world had seen before.
Our Creator gave us rights
Rights come to people not from government – they come from God. Wow, what a truth! Even now as I write this, our society is either celebrating or protesting the fact that less than two weeks ago, the Supreme Court overturned the murderous legal precedent of Roe vs Wade. Those who are protesting it argue that the Supreme Court is taking away their “right” to an abortion. When we examine the foundation of our country, and the fact that rights come from God – not government, then for us to declare we have a “right”, then that right should be consistent with God’s Word. A casual examination of God’s Word, and verses like “Thou shalt not kill”, clearly show the right protected by God’s Word is the right to live. As Americans, we recognize even from our Declaration of Independence that our legitimate rights come from God – not government. Government has no authority to grant a new “right” that is inconsistent with the rights given by God.
Purpose of government is to “secure” rights already given to us by God
What is the purpose of government? According to our Declaration, the purpose of government is to secure rights already given to us by God. If we continue with the example of life we used above, God gives us the right to live, therefore it is illegal to take life. He does not give us the right to kill, and in fact, He specifically prohibits it. If we take life away from someone else then we take what God has given to that person… that is the definition of murder. For this reason, murder is illegal in our nation. It is in this way that government “secures” the right to life that God has given to each of us. It is illegal for one person to take rights away that God has given to someone else. God doesn’t give a “right” to abortion. He gives a “right” to life. That right to life should be secured by government.
Government derives its “just” powers from the consent of the governed.
This one makes sense, but it has become kind of buried in our modern thinking so you might have to think about it a little. Since God created all of us equal, and He gave us our rights, and the purpose of government is to secure those rights, then the only legitimate, or “right”, or “just” powers of government are those consented to by the people. Since God gave me life and I would like to have that life protected, then I will give my consent to a government that passes laws that make it illegal to kill other people. This also means that if I kill someone, I should expect the government to come after me! As another example, I could constantly watch my home for any evidence of a fire and keep buckets of water and hoses on hand to protect my property from fire. But I might rather pay for a fire department to help manage this for me – or at least be a big ally in the protection of my property. Then if a fire breaks out, they will be here to help very quickly. I would give my consent to this type of service and agree to some city taxes etc. to pay for it.
These principles found up front and early in our Declaration of Independence formed the foundation of our nation. Our Constitution went on to build upon these principles and to outline a form of government that would be effective, while taking into account and protecting these foundational principles. This foundation of our nation is under severe attack today. These principles have been long removed from our education systems and public institutions. Now Americans are unprepared to be able to answer the problems our nation faces in light of the proper foundation of our nation. We need to stop listening to the lies that tell us something new is better. We do not need something new! We need to return to the old that we were built upon!
The Wisdom of Calvin Coolidge
On July 5, 1926, in celebration of 150 years since our Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge made a speech. You can find the complete transcript here. But there is one paragraph I thought I would share with you in this article. On our nation’s birthday today, and really every day, may we understand that this basic truth our nation was built upon is priceless. May we not allow this to be stolen from us. May we return to this idea that we have a Creator who made us equal and gave us rights. May we return to the idea that the purpose of government is to secure rights already given to us by God, and that government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. President Coolidge exhorts us to that as well so I will leave you with an excerpt from his excellent speech.
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”– President Calvin Coolidge, July 5, 1926