Since the ratification of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the United States has made an about-turn as it pertains to the values reflected in the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Anyone examining the Declaration of Independence is immediately impacted by the new nation’s utter dependence upon God, His providence, and its Judeo-Christian worldview.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
The Founding Fathers’ decision to disassociate the colonies from Britain was based upon their understanding of “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” (The phrase, “the laws of nature and nature’s God” is derived from Scripture. Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19-23, show how God uses nature to teach humanity of His ways). It was underpinned by the phrase, “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.”
Hence, the view of Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers was that all civil authority is derivative in nature, and as God’s representatives, they can either lose or gain the right to lead the people based on conformity to His laws. (In other words, civil leaders gain their legitimacy to lead-based on how adequately they represent God’s laws in their principles and policies.)
One of the last things mentioned in this Declaration were these words, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” This is evidence that Thomas Jefferson and the other signers were not deistic. (Many claim that Jefferson, and most of the Founding Fathers were not Christian but believed in deism. Deism is a religion that believed God created the world, but after creation, God was not personally involved with the affairs of men. God was like a person who creates a watch, winds it up, and leaves it alone. They did not believe God answered prayer, intervened in human affairs, did miracles, or died on a cross and rose from the dead.)
Of course, any practicing deist would never appeal to God as the Supreme Judge of the world since it violates their most basic tenet that God as Creator has nothing to do with the world He made. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are not competing documents. The Declaration of Independence is the foundation for the values and birth of the nation and serves as the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution. Hence, there was no need for the Founding Fathers to mention God in this latter document because God and His laws are already assumed as its foundation. All of that was to say that the United States built its view of life, liberty, and justice upon biblical values. They unambiguously declared that the burgeoning nation was dependent upon God for its existence, sustenance and prosperity.
Our New Declaration of independence From God
Over the past century, our nation gradually strayed from our biblical roots and dependence upon God as its anchor and sustainer. It seems that the greatest value many have in this nation is the value of autonomy (independence).
While past generations (during World War II and beyond) celebrated the biblical virtues of self-sacrifice and service for humanity, in my estimation, the present generation values, above all, the right to self-expression and self-will. This is irrespective of how these values negatively impact society at large and on the stability it provides for future generations. How far have we fallen as a nation from the immortal words of President Kennedy, who said in the 1960s, “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country”?
One decade after President Kennedy, we began to change the laws to reflect the values of human independence from God. Such moves away from God are reflected in the following: the “right to choose. This is the so-called right of a mother to terminate the life of her unborn in the womb. It includes partial-birth abortion, (the infant is partially born and then terminated; “no-fault divorce.” This made divorce so much easier and contributed to the rapid decline of two-parent households; alternate forms of family and marriage; gender identification (outside the bounds of one’s natural birth); and soon to come, trans-humanism. This will be seen in instances in which a robot, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), will be considered a humanoid. Many will contend that this is no different from a person born human because their AI gives them a form of self-consciousness and self-awareness. This, of course, will give way to humans marrying robots. Robots, along with their children, will be counted as part of their family. This will undoubtedly further confuse the next generation, which will future erode the biblical concept of biological families.
America is now at the crossroads for survival. We are already a divided nation along political and ideological lines, replete with violent rhetoric and uncivil discord. Its survival will not ultimately depend upon which political party triumphs, but upon which god wins: either the god of self-expression and autonomy, or a return to a dependence upon the biblical God who claims the earth for Himself and who laughs at all rulers, nations, and people who attempt to rebel against Him (Psalm 2, Psalm 24).
May the United States be not just known as a nation which officially adopted a Declaration of Independence, but as a nation whose dependence is upon the Creator God.