My studies concentrate on showing how “Christian Nationalists” take credit for American Founding ideals on erroneous historical grounds. So why is it important for libertarians to note this? It’s because the Christian Right are not libertarians and they don’t believe in respecting the personal liberty of folks who don’t follow their worldview. If you don’t believe me just watch the clips of the late D. James Kennedy speaking here about the need to impose his morality on society. They may not be “theocrats” in the sense that they want a particular church to run things politically. But they want their “Christian Right” worldview to run things politically.
This is why it’s important to show them that their theology didn’t create the American Founding and consequently, that they don’t “own” it; they have nothing to “reclaim.”
I think America’s Founding ideals are compatible with orthodox Christianity because the Bible (in Romans 13) sets a pretty low standard for which political systems are compatible with it (Paul was telling believers to submit to the pagan tyrant Nero after all). I’d like to see all conservative Christians become libertarians like my friend Jim Babka. I also think Gregg Frazer and John MacArthur, no political or theological liberals, rightly argue the premises of evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity make conversion or evangelical efforts a lot more important than fighting or winning a political-culture war.
Dr. Frazer has done Yeoman’s work in demonstrating that American Founding ideals, in fact, did NOT come from the orthodox interpretation of the Bible. America’s Founders as “Whigs” picked and chose from the Bible/Christian Religion and every other source of history what they found “rational” and ignored the rest. They “understood” ancient history, both pagan and Christian, to suit their Whig-republican agenda. The following quotes his PhD thesis which relies on the work of Dr. Robert Kraynak of Colgate University, himself a devout conservative Roman Catholic:
First, as Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.” Second, “(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….There is nothing voluntary or consensual about the biblical covenant; and the most severe punishments are threatened by God for disobedience.” Third, “insofar as the covenant with Israel sanctions specific forms of government, the main ones are illiberal and undemocratic;” including patriarchy, theocracy, and kingships established by divine right. Fourth, “the Bible shows that God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and supports national liberation, not for the purpose of enjoying their political and economic rights, but for the purpose of putting on the yoke of the law in the polity of Moses.” Fifth, “the content of the divine law revealed to Moses consists, in the first place, of the Ten Commandments rather than the Ten Bill of Rights, commanding duties to God, family, and neighbors rather than establishing protections for personal freedom.” Finally, the combination of judicial, civil, ceremonial, and dietary laws imposed on the people “regulate all aspects of religious, personal, and social life.” The history of Israel, therefore, had to be radically rewritten to provide support for the demands of political liberty and for republican self-government.
– Kraynak, “Christian Faith and Modern Democracy,” 46-49, quoted in Frazer, “The Political Theology of the American Founding,” Ph.D. dissertation, 18-19.