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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Was The Bible The Founding Fathers' Source of Unalienable Rights?

The subject of where exactly did the Bill of Rights come from is a hotly contested topic, especially as the Founding Fathers did not specifically tell us in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution. With that said, this author at american creation writes unalienable rights are not found in the Bible:

It is this concept of inalienable rights thats taken to its logical conclusion in the bill of rights. So, are the bill of rights found in the Bible? No. Did Christian theologians use the Bible and the wisdom of the ages to come up with a rational[sp] for inalienable rights that is unique to Judeo-Christian thought? Yes.

The rationale the author is referring to, is Natural Law; Man's right reason found in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, and 1 Corinthians 11:14. Nature (common sense), impresses upon us there is a difference between right and wrong, this understanding imputed into our minds by our Creator, just as God's image is imputed to mankind by Adam in James 3. Yet, our rights are enumerated in the Scriptures; supporting the fact it isn't Natural Law they are derived from. The rights are written on paper. Without serious inquiry into Aquinas, I doubt he was unfamiliar with these scriptures.

Again, the Founding Fathers understood our unalienable rights are found in the scriptures. Here is the Father of the Revolution, the mastermind of the Boston Tea Party, one of only two framers not pardoned by King George:
"II. The Rights of the Colonists as Christians.
These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament."
-Samuel Adams, The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting. November 20, 1772.

Furthermore, another important Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, believed our rights are found in the Bible by endorsing Adams' report:
The person alluded to by Governor Hutchinson, as "the great director in England," was Dr. Franklin, and it is insinuated that he was in effect the author of the report, but this is in no sense true..To the sentiments expressed in the report of the committee, and adopted by the inhabitants of the town, he fully assented. This is proved by his sending a copy of the proceedings to the press, as soon as he received it in London, with a prefatory notice written by himself. The pamphlet was entitled "The Votes and Proceedings of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, in Town Meeting assembled, according to Law. Published by Order of the Town." -- Sparks.
Interesting, that Adams says our unalienable rights are not only expounded by Jesus and the Apostles of the New Testament, but also written by Moses in the Torah.

Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin were not the only ones that attributed the Bible as the source of our rights. The Penman of the Revolution understood our unalienable rights come from Jesus Christ:
"Kings or parliaments could not give the rights essential to happiness... We claim them from a higher source -- from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth."
-John Dickinson, An Address to the Committee of Correspondence in Barbados, 1766.

Just where are the texts in the Scripture that expound unalienable rights?
Ironically, several rights are in the same chapter of Deuteronomy, listed one after the other, as the framers listed the Bill of Rights:

Property. Ninth and Tenth Amendment: Deut 19:14. "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it."

Trial by Jury. Sixth Amendment: v.15. "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."

Unreasonable search and seizure. Fourth Amendment: Deut. 24:10-11. "When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee."

Right to bear arms. Second Amendment: “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:36)

Free Speech, assembly, free exercise. First Amendment:
John 4:14
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 6:40,47,51,54
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:"
"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 7:37
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."
John 8:51
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
John 11:26
"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
Many State legal codes, the death penalty, et al., are quoted verbatim by the framers. It isn't difficult to see why the framers considered America the "New Zion."
"So Israel under the monarchy always had an armed population (as the 2nd Amendment envisions for the United States). It also had powerful dissidents, the prophets, who were not afraid to use their freedom of speech to rebuke the government (as the 1st Amendment provides). Yet even though ancient Israel might be said to have protected both 1st Amendment and 2nd Amendment rights, these were not sufficient to protect the full scope of liberty and prevent serious abuses by government. The concentration of national political power continued to have terrible consequences."

Thus, the entire foundation of Law: the Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights, are founded upon the Bible, and Natural Law. No doubt, pertaining to religion, the United States was founded an Orthodox Christian Nation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Is Voted Most Responsible For Our Constitution

Jefferson defeated James Madison 12% to 10%. I voted for Gouverneur Morris. He spoke the most at the Constitutional Convention, wrote the preamble, and was principal draughtsman, similar to Thomas Jefferson's role writing the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was in France during the Convention, and did not sign the document.

Monday, May 24, 2010

John Calvin, Locke, Sidney, Interposition, Covenant Theology, and the Founding Fathers

My contention is the Declaration of Independence, thus the basis of this country's existence, is founded by interposition, through what Founding Father John Witherspoon called abdication. The framers contend King George forfeited his right to rule the colonies by breaking the scriptural covenant, they believed, God had made with them and the King.

Witherspoon, the pre-eminent scholar of the Founding Fathers, understood the Declaration of Independence was not a revolt:
"On the part of America, there was not the most distant thought of subverting the government or of hurting the interest of the people of Great Britain; but of defending their own privileges from unjust encroachment; there was not the least desire of withdrawing their allegiance from the common sovereign till it became absolutely necessary - and indeed, it was his [King George III] own choice."
-The Works of John Witherspoon, (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1802), Vol. III, p. 42, "The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men", May 17,1776.

The abdication was carried out by a process called: interposition; a change of government made by lesser magistrates within the government. This theory was begun by John Calvin, and promoted by his successors.
"For when popular magistrates have been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings..So far am I from forbidding these officially to check the undue license of kings, that if they connive at kings when they tyrannise and insult over the humbler of the people, I affirm that their dissimulation is not free from nefarious perfidy, because they fraudulently betray the liberty of the people, while knowing that, by the ordinance of God, they are its appointed guardians."
-Institutes of the Christian Religion

It is true, Reformed theology of the Protestant Reformation picked up where Catholic Scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas, and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) left off. Yet, if a minority of Catholics used PRIMARILY Natural Law to promote Republican government; risking their lives I might add, the reformers turned the world upside down, by directly linking Republican government to the scriptures. Yes, Aquinas' Summa may have quoted scripture, but he, and the schoolmen, had little effect; their efforts, somewhat exaggerated, emphasized Aristotle's Greek Philosophy, instead of "right reason" from the scriptures, ultimately, their church doctrine contradicted their nobel efforts.

Some of the leading tracts by Protestants from the Reformation period that had wide and enduring political impact in support of liberty: The Right of Magistrates (1574) by Theodore Beza, The Rights of the Crown of Scotland (1579) by George Buchanan, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) by Phillipe du Plessis Mornay, Politica (1603) by Johannes Althusius, and Lex Rex (1644) by Samuel Rutherford.

The Reformers believed in "Covenant Theology," that God made with Israel in I Samuel 12:17,25, applied to them, giving protection and blessing for obedience:
Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king..But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.
Important to note, this doctrine may not be enumerated in the New Testament, and should not be confused that the framers adhered to this doctrine for salvation. However, the Founding Fathers believed it.

It isn't a stretch to claim all the signers of the Declaration of Independence adhered to this covenant theology. John Adams quoted Vindiciae contra tyrannos, and noted that Calvin's successor, "[Theodore] Beza explained his doctrines with great pomp of eloquence." Even Thomas Jefferson may have believed it. A monarch's violation of unalienable rights is grounds for separation from the covenant; hence, the monarch is a representative of the people, bringing judgment to the people. The below quote may be out of the particular context, however, the principle applies; that God will judge nations for breaking the covenant [wickedness]:
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."
- Notes on the State of Virginia.

TJ also believed our unalienable rights come from the Bible:
"Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion . . . ."[bold face mine]
-A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Section I.

This holy author had zero to do with other religions, or Roman, or Greek philosophy. The Father of our country, George Washington wrote Jesus Christ is the holy author of our religion [Christianity]:
"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." [italics mine]
-Washington's Farewell to the Army, June 8th, 1783.

With this in mind, TJ wrote the DOI was founded on:
"..the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c..."
-to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825.

No doubt the "&c" includes the Bible, and Reformation Literature. Covenant theology in the Declaration, is specifically enumerated in the Scriptures, only inferred from Natural Law. Yet, Algernon Sidney is only one out of those names who advanced biblical covenant theology. Furthermore, Sidney said, "he preferred to be classified as a Calvinist or a Puritan rather than be associated with the ideas of Archbishop Laud." Locke secularized his social contract and based the contract on reason.

Is there a doubt the Revolution was based on scripture? Our first Professor of the Law of Nature, (James Wilson), understood Natural Law cannot contradict Divine Law. Thus, the "Atlas of Independence":
"The gallant Struggle in America, is founded in Principles so indisputable, in the moral Law, in the revealed Law of God, in the true Constitution of great Britain, and in the most apparent Welfare of the Nation as well as the People in America, that I must confess it rejoices my very Soul."
-John Adams second "Clarendon" letter as printed in the Boston Gazette, 20, Jan. 1766.

In 1776, the two most respected and famous founding fathers were, John Dickinson, and Samuel Adams, who declared our rights are from the Scriptures:
"Kings or parliaments could not give the rights essential to happiness... We claim them from a higher source -- from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth."
-John Dickinson, An Address to the Committee of Correspondence in Barbados, 1766.

Important to note, Benjamin Franklin agreed with Adams, and supported The Rights of the Colonists:
"II. The Rights of the Colonists as Christians.
These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament." [italics mine]
-Samuel Adams, The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting.
November 20, 1772.

The sum of my argument declares the evidence supports: the Revolution, and Declaration of Independence, thus, the formation of the United States, is based on Covenant theology, found in the pages of scripture, brought to light by the Protestant Reformers.