Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I found a link to this Chuck Baldwin article on Pat’s blog. Pat, naturally, approved of it — but the article is nonsense from the word go.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, I am reminded of the words of John Quincy Adams. On July 4, 1837, he spoke these words:

“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? … Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth. That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?”

Adams was exactly right: America’s birth is directly linked to the birth of our Savior. In fact, the United States of America is the only nation established by Christian people, upon Biblical principles, and dedicated to the purpose of religious liberty. This truth is easily observed within America’s earliest history.

Where to begin? I suppose we could start with a quote from John Adams, the father of John Quincy Adams, who actually was one of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He says quite the opposite:

The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature;* and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses…

Then there is the treaty with Tripoli, which Adams signed into law, which bluntly declared that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

It is, of course, absurd to claim that the Declaration of Independence had given the world “the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior” when that document was written by one man and edited by two others who did not believe that Jesus was the savior or was divine at all (though Adams may have been a bit wishy washy on that particular claim).

Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration, not only rejected the divinity of Jesus but rejected the notion that he had ever claimed to be divine. As for those alleged Old Testament prophecies of Jesus, Jefferson rejected those who claimed such things, like the author of the gospel of Matthew, as “dupes and imposters.” Somehow JQ Adams would have us believe that the Declaration was based upon ideas that the men who wrote it rejected entirely. That should seem rather silly to anyone with an IQ over room temperature.

America’s forebears first established a written covenant with God as early as November 11, 1620, when they penned The Mayflower Compact. It states in part:

“In the name of God, Amen. … Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”

And where, pray tell, was that “religious liberty” in the Mayflower Compact or in the society those who wrote it built in Plymouth and later Massachusetts? Yes, they certainly had a Biblical society in mind and set out to build one, but that society had nothing even remotely resembling religious liberty.

Not only were non-Christians given no right to believe or advocate their religion, even the wrong kind of Christians were not allowed to do so. To be a Quaker or a Baptist in Massachusetts — forget about a Jew, a Muslim or an infidel — was to find oneself jailed, exiled and sometimes even killed.

Indeed, one must wonder where that alleged connection between the Bible and religious liberty was to be found in any nation with an explicitly Christian establishment, either before or after our nation was founded. They simply do not exist. Jefferson and Madison, the two most staunch advocates of church/state separation, both defended separation on the grounds that history did not provide a single example of an officially Christian nation that had religious liberty. Every single example is to the contrary. As Jefferson put it:

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”

Indeed, the Bible contains no support at all for the notion of religious liberty. In many places in the Bible, God (allegedly) commands his followers to put to death those who openly advocate other religions. The entire slaughter of the Midianites was commanded because two Midianite women had supposedly “tempted” Israelite men to worship other gods. There is not one verse in the Bible that advocates the notion that any government should protect religious liberty — which is perhaps why no nation that used the Bible as a source of law has ever had anything like religious liberty.

And as for the claim that the Constitution was “based on” Biblical or Christian principles, this should be quite easy to prove. All one has to do is point to the various provisions in the Constitution and then to analogs in the Bible or in Christian theology. Good luck with that. The founding fathers certainly did not find any, or at least did not manage to mention any such connections.

This argument was definitively put to rest by the Christian historian Gregg Frazer when debating someone who had made an identical claim:

The fact that some parts of the Declaration and/or Constitution are not in conflict with verses in the Bible does not mean that the Bible was the source. This is especially important when — as in the case of the Declaration and the Constitution — the authors claim other sources, but do not claim the Bible as a source!

In a May 8, 1825 letter to Henry Lee, Jefferson identifies his sources for the Declaration’s principles. He names as sources: Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and (Algernon) Sidney — he does not mention the Bible. Then again, the terminology in the Declaration is not specifically Christian — or even biblical, with the exception of “Creator.” The term “providence” is never used of God in the Bible, nor are “nature’s God” or “Supreme Judge of the world” ever used in the Bible.

In the hundreds of pages comprising Madison’s notes on the constitutional convention (and those of the others who kept notes), there is no mention of biblical passages/verses in the debates/discussions on the various parts and principles of the Constitution. They mention Rome, Sparta, German confederacies, Montesquieu, and a number of other sources — but no Scripture verses.

In The Federalist Papers, there is no mention of biblical sources for any of the Constitution’s principles, either — one would think they could squeeze them in among the 85 essays if they were, indeed, the sources; especially since the audience was common men who were familiar with, and had respect for, the Bible. The word “God” is used twice — and one of those is a reference to the pagan gods of ancient Greece. “Almighty” is used twice and “providence” three times — but neither is ever used in connection with any constitutional principle or influence. The Bible is not mentioned.

As for freedom and liberty in the Bible, it is always SPIRITUAL freedom/liberty — as a look at the verses you’ve listed IN CONTEXT shows. That is NOT to say that political liberty is an anti-biblical concept — it’s just not a biblical one. Arguing that it is a “Calvinist” concept does not make it a biblical one, either. The “disciples” of Calvin did not write inspired revelation.

The key Founders (J. Adams, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Wilson, & G. Morris) — those most responsible for the founding documents — were religious, but not Christians. They believed that religion was essential to produce the morality that a free society required, but that any religion would suffice. Their religious belief was a mixture of Protestantism, natural religion, and rationalism — with rationalism as the trump card and decisive factor. They retained elements of Christianity, but rejected the elements of Christianity (and of natural religion) that they considered irrational. However: of the ten CORE beliefs of Christianity (those shared by all of the major Protestant denominations of the day (and by the Catholics), they held to only one (or two, in some cases). Their belief system was, as I have termed it, theistic rationalism.

If the view of Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin that any/all religions were valid paths to God and that any/all religions would suffice to produce the morality needed was a “minority opinion” among the Founders, why were they chosen to write the philosophical (you say religious) document (Declaration)?

And let me add one more irony here. Baldwin keeps claiming that religious liberty flows from Biblical Christianity, yet he himself is an enemy of religious liberty. Baldwin is the leader of the Constitution Party, which is openly theocratic, for crying out loud.