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CSSHS Quarterly Journal ^ | Vol XIV, No. 1 | Ellen Myers

Posted on 07/10/2008 2:01:45 PM PDT by Interposition

Very rarely a well written scholarly book directed to the general reader not only corrects profound misperceptions of historical persons and events but also shows the true origin of a basic part of human social action. Such a book is Defending the Declaration by Gary T. Amos.1 This excellent book belongs in the library of every Christian church, college, school, history scholar and teacher, pastor, attorney, and family especially when home schooling. It should be required collateral reading in American history courses (high school and college) dealing with the origins of America. Last but not least it makes a wonderful contribution to the history of Western law and liberty, whose ultimate foundation is man's creation in God's own image and likeness.

Defending the Declaration shows that the American Declaration of Independence is a Christian rather than deistic document as alleged by mainstream and, alas, some Christian historians. Beyond this crucial contribution to the understanding of American history the book lays bare the origin of what the Declaration calls the "unalienable rights" of men. These rights were carefully developed over several centuries by conscientious medieval Christian scholars on the basis of mankind's creation in God's own image and likeness. Defending the Declaration as a whole and its Chapter 4, "'Unalienable Rights' Endowed by the Creator" in particular are therefore vitally instructive not only for Americans but for freedom-loving people everywhere.

In his introduction Gary Amos briefly describes his pilgrimage from being ashamed of America in the 1960s to conversion to Christianity in 1971, which led him to re-examine American history in the light of the Bible and of church history. He found that many ideas he now knew as Christian were falsely ascribed by most historians to non-Christian sources. Amos already had a history degree and had read many books about John Locke, supposedly a deist, who had greatly influenced the Declaration of Independence. He now finally read Locke's own writings for the first time and found that Locke was in fact a Bible-believing Christian. Amos felt "tricked or robbed. ... I had been lied to. And Locke had been lied about," In 1983, after three years of intensive study of the original writings of the American founding fathers and of the impact of Christianity on the growth and development of European law and liberty, Amos found that every key term in the Declaration of Independence had its roots in the Bible, Christian theology, the Western Christian intellectual tradition, medieval Christianity, Christian political theory, and the Christian influence on the six-hundred-year development of the English common law. (p.3)

Both secular and Christian historians have overlooked or denied the Christian roots of the Declaration of Independence. Amos cites the influential books Search For A "Christian" America and A Theological interpretation of American History, both written by Christian historians, as examples. He explores the agreement between Christian scholars from the left, right and center that the Declaration is anti-Christian and deistic. Their view of the Declaration "dominates almost every Christian seminary and college in America. It has fueled a growing sense of shame and guilt about America ... among Christian young people ... In other words, the attacks on the Declaration are not only misguided, they are destructive" (pp.5-6).

Amos says that the typical uninstructed person's view of Christianity and the American Revolution goes something like this;

(1) True Christianity was always a "faith" not requiring the use of reason. Reason was important to the Greeks and Stoics. To give reason a role in Christianity is to mix Christianity with paganism.
(2) In the 1200s Thomas Aquinas introduced rationalism into Christianity by merging Aristotle's thought with the Bible, a perversion of the faith.
(3) Rationalism set the stage for faith to be rejected completely if science ever made faith unnecessary,
(4) John Calvin in the 1500s tried to restore Christianity to "pure faith." He made God totally inscrutable and His will unknowable.
(5) Puritans in the 1600s did not stay true to pure Calvinism but introduced rationalistic links between cosmology, a natural rights theory of government, and faith.
(6) Full-fledged rationalism entered with Isaac Newton and his mechanistic model of the universe.
(7) John Locke placed reason above the Bible, At the turn of the eighteenth century, Newton's science and Locke's extreme rationalism led directly to the Enlightenment, which replaced God with reason.
(8) This development led to Enlightenment thought in America as well so that by the time of the Declaration of Independence the colonies were submerged by rationalism and deism (pp. 11-16),

This, in general outline, is the myth taught with many variations in American colleges and universities, both secular and Christian. However, Amos points out, those who believe and teach this myth have usually failed to see what the Bible itself teaches about the relationship of faith and reason. They often do not recognize when an idea is Christian and thus call many Christian and Biblical ideas deistic or rationalistic. Hence they do not recognize thinkers like Cotton Mother or Jonathan Edwards as Christian and falsely attribute their rational inferences from Biblical principles to "enlightenment" or "rationalist" thought. Then supposedly anti-Christian thought is credited for the emergence of political freedoms when the credit really belongs to the Biblical Christian church and world view.

Amos devotes a lengthy chapter to the Declaration's key idea of "the laws of nature and of nature's God." He believes that this phrase "may be the most misunderstood words in American legal history" (p. 35). Many people today understand them as deistic rather than Biblical Christian, usually for the following reasons: (1) Jefferson invented the phrase to reject the colonies' Christian heritage; (2) the phrase is a product of deism and Enlightenment rationalism; (3) the idea came from John Locke, supposedly a deist; (4) the phrase was a reaction against Calvinism and Puritanism; (5) even though Christians used the phrase long before Jefferson, they took it from the Greeks and Stoics. The highlights of Amos's well researched rebuttal are:

(1) In The New International Commentary on the New Testament. John Murray shows how "the law of nature" is a Christian concept based on the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
(2) The longer phrase "law of nature or God" was used already in the very early 1300s in a debate between rival Catholic monastic orders (Dominicans and Franciscans).
(3) The simple phrase "law of nature" was already part of Catholic theology and canon law at least as early as the eleventh century.
(4) Thomas Aquinas used this phrase repeatedly in his Summa Theologica in the thirteenth century, and he did not make it independent from the control of Scripture.
(5) The term entered the common law of England already at the time of Bracton (d. 1268). The term meant the eternal moral law God the Creator established over His created universe. It was a technical term for "creation law"--the original scheme of things purposed or willed by the Almighty.
(6) Sir William Blackstone, the great jurist who gave us the Com-mentaries on the Laws of England (1765), was widely read in the colonies and required reading at almost all colonial universities. Amos quotes Blackstone at length to show that for him the "law of nature" was Christian, not deistic and indeed meant the same as "the will of God."
(7) In Romans 1 and 2 St. Paul pointed to God the Creator's general revelation in nature and in men's hearts, To restrict His law to the Mosaic law is to repudiate the law of God. St. Paul did not take his ideas in Romans 1 and 2 from the Greeks and Stoics of his time but rather from the Old Testament, written centuries earlier.
(8) Amos's extensive excerpts from John Locke's own writings show conclusively that Locke was not a deist but a Bible-believing Christian.
(9) John Calvin (Institutes), the Westminster Confession, Samuel Rutherford (Lex Rex), and supposedly deistic Matthew Tindal (Christianity as Old as the Creation) are quoted to show that the Declaration in no way opposed Calvinism or Puritanism.
(10) The Declaration of Independence cannot be traced to Greek or Stoic philosophy because the Greeks and Stoics thought law and nature opposed each other, had no concept of Biblical creation ex nihilo, and believed that nature and God were the same. Even when the phrase "law of nature" was used, it did not mean the same as in Biblical creation-based Judaism and Christianity.

The Declaration's words "self-evident truths" have also been widely held to mean that the Declaration was deistic rather than Christian. Yet this concept appears already in English common law, St. John of Damascus (d. 749), the Bible (Romans 1 and 2), the comments of the well-known contemporary Christian Biblical scholar J. I. Packer on man's creation in the image of God according to Genesis 1:27-31, in the epistemology of the Apostle Paul, and finally in the epistemology of Richard Hooker and John Locke.

All the foregoing already makes Defending the Declaration well worth reading, but Chapter Four, "'Unalienable Rights' Endowed by the Creator" is most important. This chapter is a summary of the history of Western rights. The actual historical truth, which should bless, strengthen and liberate Christian believers everywhere, is that we owe our rights and freedoms in the West today not to the "Enlightenment," nor to Renaissance or modern humanistic rationalism, but rather to Biblical Christianity founded upon Biblical creation. This truth, if more widely known among Christians, might revolutionize our world. It should be shared, for instance, with our brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union who are now emerging, in the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's words, "from under the rubble" of socialist-communist totalitarianism, and who are unacquainted with the development of Western rights and freedoms since the separation between the Orthodox and the Catholic (Western) Church in 1054. Here are Amos's principal conclusions in his own words:

Twentieth-century society has lost any foundation for a defensible understanding of "rights," Few today believe that rights are God-given. Most see "rights" as a matter of politics--the government creates rights, and the government can take them away. While there is a great deal of talk about "human rights" and "civil rights," hardly anyone speaks of "unalienable rights." Even in America the concept is all but lost. . ..
Church leaders in America and the West too often disparage or attack any notion of rights. They seem to be unaware that the Bible and the church gave birth to the Western notion of rights. . , .
America was founded on "unalienable rights"-- those that a man may not unconditionally sell, trade, barter, or transfer without denying the image of God in himself. ... For to deny these rights in a man is to deny that he is a human being,. . .
The starting point for a Biblical mode! of rights theory is Genesis 1 and 2. There we find that in the beginning God created the universe. As Creator or Author, God has the inherent right to decide or dispose of all that He has created.... Man is entirely subordinate to God and dependent upon Him for all things. . . .
Not only did God create man in His own image, thus endowing man with certain faculties and abilities, but Genesis 1:28-29 also records that God gave man a decree, a "creation mandate," God commanded man to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and take dominion over the earth and all its resources--the land, the plants, and the animals.... Endowed with God's image and also with God-given authority, man became a lord (small I) over God's earth.
The idea that man is created in God's image and has lordship over the earth is the key to the modern notion of subjective rights. Subjective rights are those that are inherent in the individual; they are inseparably part of the human personality. Being made in God's image makes man a being of enormous value and inherent worth. This notion was foreign to all ancient systems of thought and accounts for the lack of any strong concept of subjective rights outside ancient Israel or in non-Christian cultures. . . .
MEN'S INALIENABLE DUTIES TOWARD GOD TRANSLATE INTO INALIENABLE RIGHTS BETWEEN MEN (emphasis added), ... As a steward, trustee, and protector under God, a man may resist other men's unlawful interference with the performance of that duty. This is the historical analysis and starting point of the church's doctrine of the right of self-defense and of rights generally. GENESIS 1 AND 2 AND THE CREATION MODEL, THEREFORE, ARE THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR RIGHTS GENERALLY AND FOR INALIENABLE RIGHTS PARTICULARLY (emphasis added). . . .(pp. 103-108)

Next, Amos compares the language of rights and the linguistics of Scripture and concludes that the Bible in both Old and New Testament provides for an objectively revealed moral law which lays down objectively ordered relationships and individual rights,

Amos then examines the beliefs about rights among the ancient Greeks and Romans. This section is important because the paganism of antiquity is now again flooding the West. Amos finds that (1) the Greeks had no clear concept of a Creator or creation in the Biblical sense but believed that all men and things participate in the divine essence or are extensions or emanations of an impersonal divine life force or energy. (2) Having no Biblical concept of creation, the Greeks had no place for an endowment of authority or power from a Creator. (3) Man existed at the whim of the gods and fate. Might rather than right prevailed, and "rights" were a product of society and state enjoyed only by the strong; the weak deserved to be the slaves of the strong. Plato and Aristotle shared these views.

(4) The Greeks had no doctrine of equality and believed, as the Romans did later, that some men by nature were superior to others.

(5) Neither the Greeks nor the Romans saw property as a right, much less as an "unalienable right." Amos comments:

The idea of active and subjective claim rights, not merely passive but prosecutable rights, had to come from something other than a Greek or Roman source. Some change in Western thinking had to mark the shift from passive rights to claim rights, where all rights are juridically identifiable and legally redressable. , . .
That shift was initiated in the entrenched Hellenism of Greece and Rome by the coming of the gospel. Prior to the gospel, the state was the religion. The regime was coextensive with creation, and its purpose was to become the "best regime" by making men virtuous. Redemption was to be brought to men through political action and state activism. ...
Christianity meant that the state was no longer the religion. The purpose of the state became completely transformed in Biblical religion. . . . redemption and virtue in man was to be produced by God's supernatural activity. The state became an administrator of justice under God's divine law . . . Christianity made possible the jurisdictional separation of church and state (pp. 114-115).

Amos places the ascendancy of the Biblical Christian model of rights in the period of 1075 to 1122, the time of the Gregorian Reform and the Investiture Struggle. He leans chiefly on historians Richard Tuck, Brian Tierney and to some extent Harold Berman for his account of the development of claim rights in the modern sense, The "unalienable right to life" is based on man's duty to live his life for God Who gave him life in the first place (and this is why man, under God, has no right to harm himself, to commit suicide, or to waste his life), Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans reasoned that to own property was a gift of God given to man before the fall into sin, and this view was officially approved by Pope John XXII over against the Franciscans in 1329, Calvinism and English common law received the Dominican view.

Liberty became a "right" already between the 1350s and Jean Gerson (1402). "Gerson insisted that at Creation, men's ius (right) was not only an auctoritas (authority) but a focultas (ability). Gerson was then able to 'treat liberty as a kind of dominium' (liberty as a property)" (p. 118). Amos adds that

Once liberty came to be viewed as a right, it quickly passed into the category of inalienable rights for those following Dominican theology. Renaissance humanists, on the other hand, building on Greek and Roman ideas, rejected the notion that liberty is an inalienable right (p. 119).

Amos traces the Declaration's concept of the "pursuit of happiness" as an "unalienable right" given by the Creator to Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), where Blackstone had written that God had "so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former" (p. 120). According to Blackstone, man's happiness meant his sense of blessedness in his earthly existence due to obeying the Creator's laws. The word itself comes from the Latin word beatus, immediately reminding us of the "beatitudes" of Christ's Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), and it is also found in the Old and New Testaments.

Amos shows that it is a mistake to trace the rights theory of the Declaration not to the Catholic canonists but to the Renaissance humanists, for "the humanists of the Renaissance did not believe in the creation account, natural law, or rights from nature or creation. They rejected the Catholic ideas, based on the Biblical account of creation and society (but) simply accepted the classical Roman view" (p. 121). While Calvinists and Spanish Dominicans continued to link natural rights to "the laws of nature and God," the humanists "insisted that all rights were state-created, not God-given.... (They) were true naturalists in the secular sense. . . . Law was whatever a particular society determined it to be, They did not believe in a transcendent moral order that binds human laws" (p. 122). Amos quotes Tuck as follows: "The Renaissance concept (of property) belonged to a theory in which the natural life of man was right-less and therefore property-less, while the Thomist believed that by nature man did possess certain limited rights" (p, 123). Amos then quotes Brian Tierney on our precious and for the most part ignored medieval Christian-rights heritage:

The doctrine of individual rights was not a late medieval aberration from an earlier tradition of objective right or of natural moral law. Still less was it a seventeenth-century invention of Suarez or Hobbes or Locke. Rather, it was a characteristic product of the great age of creative jurisprudence that, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, established the foundations of the Western legal tradition (p. 124).

Amos rightly adds that "If Tierney is right. . . then much of what passes for the history of political theory and rights development being taught in colleges and universities in America needs to be tossed in the wastebasket." He also concludes that

Although the West received the bulk of its political freedoms and scientific vision from the impact of Christianity and the church, the church rarely gets credit for its role in the development of Western political freedoms or science. . . .
. . . modern society is trying to act on occidental secular concepts, as well as attribute Western achievements to them, That is why Western society is in the same early stages of dysfunction that preceded the fall of Greece and Rome, Having denied both the source and the rationale for the best in Western culture, we are quickly moving into the twilight era of Western freedom and the ultimate demise of free Christian society. . . .

Personal rights and freedoms are God-given and inalienable; they do not exist merely for civil convenience or at the discretion of those who hold civil power. This is why only Biblical ethics maintain a proper balance between order in public life and individual freedom (pp.125-126),

There are two more excellent chapters on the Biblical origin of the phrase "Government by the Consent of the Governed" and on "God as Supreme Judge and Divine Providence," The latter contains a challenging essay on the nature of language, which refutes the current misconception among historians that the church fathers. St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and even the Apostle Paul adopted Greek or Stoic concepts because they used the Greek language. However, Amos says, the Bible's picture of God, the world, man and nature is entirely different from Greek philosophy and pagan religion, and St. Paul, the church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther and the Reformers transformed the Greek words they used with Christian worldview concepts. "The miracle of the New Testament," Amos concludes, "is that God in His providence chose to use Greek, one of the most religiously and philosophically corrupt languages in history, as the vehicle by which to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . The gospel stands for the proposition that God redeems and restores even man's fallen vocabulary" (p. 163). When you read the Declaration of Independence in Appendix A immediately following Amos's spirited and thorough defense, you read it with new eyes and new gratitude. We received it not from secular-minded deists or rationalists but rather from Biblical, creation-based Christianity.

Be sure you read this outstanding, pioneering book, including the extensive, most instructive end notes. Highest recommendation.

-- Reviewed by Ellen Myers

Gary T. Amos, Defending the Declaration (Brentwood, TN 37027; Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1749 Mallory Lane, Suite 110; Hardcover, 235 pp. incl. 2 Appendices, End Notes and Bibliography). $14.99 single copy ppd. Quantity prices available from Word, Inc., 1-800-299-9673,

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government
KEYWORDS: american; americanrevolution; declaration; government; history; revolution
A Creator exist, or dosen't. If there is no Creator, Jefferson's appeal to the "Supreme Judge of the world" in the Declaration of Independence is pure nonsense and so are your RIGHTS! Without a Creator, your highest appeal is to the State, where might takes rights. Think about it next time you hear someone scream separation of Creator and State. Think about what a person means when they emphatically state, "there are no absolute truths"[1] in contradistinction to Jefferson's: "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...."

 Who is the "Supreme Judge of the world" in the Declaration of Independence? Is he the “Creator” in the same document? Carl Sagan might have said that it’s Mr. Cosmos. But the intelligent design community couldn’t cope with Sagan’s brain-dead Cosmos. So, they gave Mr. Cosmos an irreducibly complex computer to make the universe and all it contains. Many[2] in the intelligent design community miss a very major point: Man was created in the image of God,[3] not in the image of an ape. The difference that makes is easily discovered among those asserting that animal rights are on par with, or superior to, the rights of man.[4]

 When Jefferson, in his old age, was confronted with the newly developing science of geology, he rejected the evolutionary concept of the creation of the earth on the grounds that no all-wise and all-powerful Creator would have gone about the job in such a slow and inefficient way.[5]

 If America was predominately Deist,[6] Jewish or Muslim, why was the Apostle Paul the most cited author in the political media between 1760 and 1805?[7] How do you account for all the Christian Religious Clauses in State Constitutions?[8] How do you explain Justice Joseph Story’s comments?[9]

 "Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it now under consideration [First Amendment], the general if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.
  "The real object of the [First] [A]mendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution (the vice and pest of former ages), and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age. . . ." (Footnotes omitted.)

 This very brief assessment would be remiss without mentioning a text that Christianity, Islam and Judaism have in common:[10] “Franklin and Jefferson read the Torah - what they called the Old Testament - according to its original intention: they read it as a political text.”[11] One particular text in that corpus was cited more than any other written work:[12]

 Richard Niebuhr asked "to what extent did religious and specifically Christian convictions influence the development of American democracy" (126). By focusing on the American founding era, 1765-1805, Lutz (1988) offered a strong case for the influence of the First Testament. Most specifically, using citations to measure influence, he discovered the primacy of Deuteronomy. Even when compared to prominent secular works, "Deuteronomy [was] the most cited book" (1992: 136). The attraction of the Book of Deuteronomy for the founders is hardly a mystery. Scholars have long understood the importance of the biblical narrative.

 “The Old Testament prophets quoted from Deuteronomy frequently.” [13] Is Deuteronomy really a worthwhile book for Christians under grace, not law?

 No knowledgeable Christian would dispute the importance of the Book of Deuteronomy. Certainly we should take note of the fact that this book is cited more than 50 times in the New Testament. Counting allusions to Deuteronomy, the instances of New Testament use would increase to nearly 200 times.
 Deuteronomy was our Lord’s favorite Old Testament book. Henrietta Mears has written: “Jesus often quoted from Deuteronomy. In fact, it is almost invariably from this book that He quotes.”[14]

 If the the Virginia Declaration of Rights did not influence the writing of the Declaration of Independence, then someone should notify the National Archives to correct their mistake: “The Virginia Declaration of Rights strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the first part of the Declaration of Independence. It later provided the foundation for the Bill of Rights.”[15] Virginia's Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776.[16] The last Section, 16, is indisputably Christian: “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.” 

 The “Creator” and “Supreme Judge of the world” is the same person. The Apostle Paul declared who that person was to the Athenians: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17: 30, 31). The 1599 Geneva Study Bible has a note associated with v.31: “By declaring Christ to be the judge of the world through the resurrection from the dead.”

 The most celebrated American historian, George Bancroft, called Calvin "the father of America," and added: "He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty." To John Calvin and the Genevan theologians, President John Adams credited a great deal of the impetus for religious liberty (Adams, WORKS, VI:313). This document includes a justification for rebellion to tyrants by subordinate government officials; this particular justification was at the root of the Dutch, English, and American Revolutions.[17]

 But everyone knows that Christ was born two millennia ago. Obviously, Christ existed prior to human birth - Colossians 1: 15-20: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by [6] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”[18]  The 1599 Geneva Study Bible, Col. 1:15 has another note: “Begotten before anything was made: and therefore the everlasting Son of the everlasting Father.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (1706) is even more explicit about Christ as Creator.

 What does any of this have to do with today? Nothing! That’s why America gets to choose McCain or Obama. Israel had a choice America no longer has: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). America gets to chose between Evil & Evil.[19]


[1] Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual.  But, if we look further, we see that this proposition is not logical.  In fact, it is self refuting. Postmodernism is built upon the belief that truth doesn’t exist except as the individual wants it to exist. Not only is this used in English classes on high school and college campuses, it is being applied to biblical interpretation. There is no truth," there must be at least 14 things that are true before you can even make the statement. They must, in fact, be necessarily true, given the statement itself. When I say necessarily true, I mean there's no way they can be false, given the statement, "There is no truth," uttered in English. If there's such a statement uttered in English, then all these other things must be true. It's impossible for them not to be true. [Postmodernism] affirms that whatever we accept as truth and even the way we envision truth are dependent on the community in which we participate . . . There is no absolute truth: rather truth is relative to the community in which we participate.

 [2] I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think "evolution occurred, but was guided by God."


 [4] Animal Rights and Evolution Properly understood, the concept of a right—and the attendant ideas of duty, responsibility, law, and obedience—enshrines what is distinctive in the human condition. To spread the concept beyond our species is to jeopardize our dignity as moral beings, who live in judgment of one another and of themselves. Meanwhile, Princeton University's Center for the Study of Human Values has appointed the Australian philosopher Peter Singer, author of the seminal Animal Liberation (1975), to a prestigious chair, causing widespread disgust on account of Singer's vociferous support for euthanasia. (Defenders of animal rights not infrequently also advocate the killing of useless humans.) Singer's works, remarkably for a philosophy professor, contain little or no philosophical argument. For three decades, Holmes brought his distinctively Darwinian bias to the Court. He spoke candidly: "I see no reason for attributing to man a significance different in kind from that which belongs to a baboon or a grain of sand." So what would be Dershowitz’s substitute for the God-language of the Declaration and countless other official government documents that mention God and Jesus Christ? For Dershowitz, Nature is our god.

 [5] Thomas Jefferson, reputedly a deist, but nevertheless a believer in God and special creation. Some of his testimonies are actually inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial, in Washington, D.C. For example: Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens . . . are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion . . . .

 [6]  Indicative is the fact that Congress declared at least sixteen national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving between 1776 and 1783; and Presidents Washington and Adams continued the practice under the Constitution. The onset of the so-called Second Great Awakening conventionally is dated from around 1790, but in fact it seems to have begun earlier. New Side and New Light evangelism stirring personal spiritual experience continued throughout the period, and the political sermons often were extraordinary in power and substance. Religious services were routinely held in the newly completed Capitol itself in Washington, in the House and Senate chambers as these became available. President Thomas Jefferson and his cabinet attended, along with the members of Congress and their families, inaugurating a practice that continued until after the Civil War.  Of the roughly 3200 religious congregations that existed in the thirteen English colonies of North America in 1776, roughly two-thirds were either Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Quaker; German and Dutch Protestant congregations constituted about fifteen percent, and Anglican congregations constituted another fifteen percent. Fifty-six of the roughly 3200 congregations were Roman Catholic and five were Jewish. Thus, in 1776 and later, Protestant Christianity predominated, but there was a wide pluralism within it, and Catholicism and Judaism were tolerated. In several of the seceding colonies a particular Protestant denomination was “established” with substantial political and financial prerogatives—for example, in Massachusetts the Congregational church—but even in those colonies other denominations were permitted to exist, and by the mid-1830s establishment of a particular denomination no longer existed in any state of the Union.


[7] Source: Donald S. Lutz, "The Relative Importance of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought," American Political Science Review 189 (1984), 189-97.

 [8]  & Mr. Lutz summarizes the political reality of the Puritan-Judaic parallel in these words:In almost every significant detail the church covenants written in early colonial America resemble Jewish covenants . . .the radical Protestant return to biblical sources for ordering their lives led to their becoming, to a far greater extent than they realized, precisely what they saw themselves as metaphorically--a modern version of the Jewish people.[33]


 [10] Moses was born in Egypt about 3,500 years ago, at a time when the Hebrew people were enslaved and oppressed. After the Exodus he ascended Mt. Sinai and God gave him the Torah to deliver to the Children of Israel. Jews, Christians and Muslims all revere him as a prophet. The Torah is the Law that was revealed by God at Mt. Sinai. The term usually refers to what Christians call the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). In Jewish literature and worship the word is sometimes used to denote certain other things but one cannot go wrong in applying it solely to these books. The Torah, written in Hebrew and on a single Scroll, is read in Jewish synagogues and is central to Jewish faith and practice. The footnote in the King Fahd edition of the Qur’an reads as follows: There exists in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), even after the original text has been distorted, clear prophecies indicating the coming of Prophet Muhammad, e.g. Deut 18:18; 21:21…. In Paul’s interpretation of Deuteronomy, Christ is God’s present revealed truth given to all people in the gospel. Justification through faith in the heart and divine help for obedience to Christ (sanctification) are readily available to all, not just the Jew. Gentiles too can believe in the Lord Jesus and call on Him for help of all kinds. After all, Christ is rich to all that call on Him for deliverance. But first, one must believe in Him before he can call on Him.

 [11] The American Revolution is the best place to begin the exploration, because the American Revolution was the first modern, democratic revolution. If it can be demonstrated that the American revolutionaries turned to the Hebrew Bible - to the Torah - for inspiration and guidance, then this would indicate that the commonly held view about the conflict between Judaism and democracy might be mistaken. Why did Franklin and Jefferson see the American emancipation from England in light of the emancipation of the nation of Israel from Egypt? And where did Franklin get the strange notion that, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God?” All laws must be justified before God's Law, and one can refuse to comply with man-made law upon the grounds that God's Law is superior.

 [12];col1 Covenants and criticism: Deuteronomy and the American founding. Biblical Theology Bulletin, Spring, 2002. In short, the biblical text upon which the American founders relied for their constitutionalism would have been vastly different without the hand of the Deuteronomist. "It very quickly became apparent where the focus of interest was concentrated in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Of the thousands of citations quoted to support their ideas, 34% came from one source -- the Bible. Most of these were from the book of Deuteronomy which is the Book of God's Law. In 1639, the first written Constitution in America was prepared for Connecticut by Rev. Thomas Hooker and his friends. It was based on the first chapter of Deuteronomy. Later, the settlers of Rhode Island copied it for their own constitution. These volumes provide a selection of seventy-six essays, pamphlets, speeches, and letters to newspapers written between 1760 and 1805 by American political and religious leaders. Many are obscure pieces that were previously available only in larger research libraries. But all illuminate the founding of the American republic and are essential reading for students and teachers of American political thought.

. The most quoted source was not Locke, not Montesquieu, not Voltaire, but the Bible – specifically the book of Deuteronomy. Anyone attempting to read comprehensively the newspapers published in America between 1760 and 1805 runs into several problems. An estimated four thousand political essays and letters were examined in the newspapers from the era. Because it was the practice in even the most sophisticated publications to reprint pieces from papers in other colonies, in some instances a political essay was encountered four or five times in various newspapers, from South Carolina to New Hampshire. In the list below, those newspapers that were consulted comprehensively for the period 1760-1805 are marked with an asterisk. The rest are listed to show which major papers were not so examined, and to help provide a reasonably complete list of newspapers for the period.

 [13]  These notes, prepared by J. Vernon McGee, are for the purpose of giving assistance to the listeners of the THRU THE BIBLE RADIO program.

 [14] Israel’s Covenant Renewal

 [15] & The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. In 1823 Jefferson wrote that the other members of the committee "unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. . . I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress." (If Jefferson did make a "fair copy," incorporating the changes made by Franklin and Adams, it has not been preserved. It may have been the copy that was amended by the Congress and used for printing, but in any case, it has not survived. Jefferson's rough draft, however, with changes made by Franklin and Adams, as well as Jefferson's own notes of changes by the Congress, is housed at the Library of Congress.) Jefferson's account reflects three stages in the life of the Declaration: the document originally written by Jefferson; the changes to that document made by Franklin and Adams, resulting in the version that was submitted by the Committee of Five to the Congress; and the version that was eventually adopted.

 [16] Virginia's Declaration of Rights was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights. Written by George Mason, it was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776. Virginia’s first constitution and Declaration of Rights served as models for the Federal Constitution and the Federal Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of Virginia, which predates the United States Supreme Court, served as a model for that Court. During discussions about the judiciary, United States Chief Justice John Marshall noted: “[T]he greatest curse an angry heaven ever inflicted upon an ungrateful and a sinning people, was an ignorant, a corrupt, or a dependent judiciary. Will you call down this curse on Virginia?”42


 [18] Foundation of Christology. The Preincarnate Son of God. An examination of the Scriptural evidence  showing that the Second Person of the Trinity existed as the Son prior to the incarnation, yes, even in eternity past! Positively Stated: In His essential being Jesus Christ never began to be; He existed from eternity as the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. Negatively Stated: In His essential being, Jesus Christ did not begin to exist when He was conceived in the womb of His mother, Mary. Practically Stated: The Second Person of the Triune Godhead made a conscious and gracious decision to lay aside the glories and reputation of deity to take upon Himself the nature of man and the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-11). I think it is abundantly clear from scripture that the theophanies of the Old Testament are clearly the preincarnate Christ. It is, in my opinion, the only satisfactory conclusion we can make given the evidence. This Fourth Gospel begins (1:1) as it ends (20:28), and the Prologue to this Gospel begins (1:1) as it ends (1:18), with an unambiguous assertion of the deity of Christ: "The Word was God" (1:1); "the only Son, who is God" (1:18); "my Lord and my God!" (20:28).[18] In his preincarnate state (1:1), in his incarnate state (1:18), and in his postresurrection state (20:28), Jesus is God. For John, recognition of Christ's deity is the hallmark of the Christian. Protestants bring all doctrinal statements, even Conciliar creeds, before the bar of Scripture. In this case one has to say honestly that nothing in Scripture warrants us in thinking that God the Son is begotten of the Father in His divine, rather than in merely His human, nature. The vast majority of contemporary New Testament scholars recognize that even if the word traditionally translated “only-begotten” (monogenes) carries a connotation of derivation when used in familial contexts--as opposed to meaning merely “unique” or “one of a kind” as many scholars maintain--nevertheless the biblical references to Christ as monogenes (John 1.1, 14, 18; cf. Revelation 9.13)do not contemplate some pre-creation or eternal procession of the divine Son from the Father, but have to do with the historical Jesus’ being God’s special Son (Matthew 1.21-23; Luke 1-35; John 1.14, 34; Galalatians 4.4; Hebrews 1.5-6). I John 5.18 does refer to Jesus as ho gennetheis ek tou theou (the one begotten of God), which is the crucial expression, but there is no suggestion that this begetting is eternal or has to do with his divine nature. Rather, Christ’s status of being the Only-Begotten has less to do with the Trinity than with the Incarnation. A second strand of Trinitarian revelation in the Old Testament is the revelation of the Son in the history of redemption in the person of the Angel of the Lord (Malak Yahweh). When the Angel of the Lord appeared he was treated not as a mere heavenly representative of God, but as God himself; he did not reject worship, but accepted it as only God can. (Typically it is only after one has had an encounter with the Angel of the Lord that one realizes that, in fact, it was no mere angel but God himself; see Gen. 16:9-13; 22:11-18; 32:28-30; Ex. 3:2-6; Judges 6:11-14, 22; 13:22.) Both Augustine and Calvin interpreted these manifestations as wonderfully cryptic revelations of God the Son in a pre-incarnate state. Paul states that the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15). This understanding of the son as the image of God does not apply only to his incarnate state, but also his pre-incarnate state; he has been the image of God seen by sinful man since the Fall in Eden. Does this mean that since the Father is unseen, he is somehow unknown in the OT? Absolutely not. What Jesus said about his incarnate state also applies to the OT: “The one who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9) Our primary understanding of Christ in the OT is one of prophecy, not presence. Oh, we do show some boldness by stating that that the use of the plural in the creation narrative— “Let us make man in our own image”(Wnmel.c;B. ~d'a' hf,[]n: ; Gen 1: 26)—indicates the presence of the Son in creation and that the appearances of the Angel of the Lord are appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ.


[19] Can't see America going for either of those two useful idiots.

1 posted on 07/10/2008 2:01:46 PM PDT by Interposition
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To: Interposition
I'm a believer myself but even athiests can see the value of having your rights come from a power greater then government, even if it is a legal fiction.

A Creator exist, or dosen't. If there is no Creator, Jefferson's appeal to the "Supreme Judge of the world" in the Declaration of Independence is pure nonsense and so are your RIGHTS! Without a Creator, your highest appeal is to the State, where might takes rights.

2 posted on 07/10/2008 2:06:38 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Interposition
I like it because it justifies any action we MUST take against any uppity craphole around the world.
3 posted on 07/10/2008 2:14:35 PM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (Vote For McCain But Trust In The LORD.)
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To: Interposition

read later

4 posted on 07/10/2008 2:25:03 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: Interposition
Most interesting but I don't see the need to bring Obama and McCain into the discussion.
5 posted on 07/10/2008 3:05:35 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: Interposition
Amos says that the typical uninstructed person's view of Christianity and the American Revolution goes something like this; (1) True Christianity was always a "faith" not requiring the use of reason. Reason was important to the Greeks and Stoics. To give reason a role in Christianity is to mix Christianity with paganism.

Faith and reason are not incompatible. Faith comes before reason. Before reason, one needs faith that one's historical or scientific facts are really true. One has to have faith that one's beliefs about the truth or falsity of revelation are correct. One needs faith that one's initial assumptions , axiomatic concepts, and initial premises are true.

6 posted on 07/10/2008 3:12:38 PM PDT by mjp (Live & let live. I don't want to live in Mexico, Marxico, or Muslimico. Statism & high taxes suck)
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To: DManA
I'm a believer myself but even athiests can see the value of having your rights come from a power greater then government, even if it is a legal fiction.

 Are you sure enough to stake your own life on that assumption? There is a website available to explore your assumption: “Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League Homepage.”{1} About a decade ago, “Abortion isn't life, liberty or happiness”{2} was published in the News & Record (Greensboro, NC). The atheist author, James M. Wallace, mentioned the Declaration of Independence, "unalienable rights", "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” being the antithesis of abortion. Wallace, a consistent atheist, avoided mention of any Supreme Being. But he does seem to believe there is a higher power than government. If pressed, he may agree that government is under a Constitution that should be understood in view of the Declaration.

Additionally, some atheists function within a conceptual framework described as the “ethic of reciprocity.” “Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you.” Matthew 7:12 places great emphasis on this command: “this is the Law and the Prophets.” Luke 6:31 reiterates this command. Justice implies that all under the jurisdiction of a particular law must be treated equally; therefore, injustice is the “legal fiction” of a “double standard.” {3}

Romans 2:14,15: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” These verses clearly demonstrate that atheists can function within a society governed by natural law. {4} But Romans 1:18 clearly reveals that people are capable of suppressing truth about good and evil.

 The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. has some quotes inscribed on panels. The following quote is from Panel Three:{5}

 "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever…."

 Mr. Jefferson was correct. Most Christians no longer believe that these liberties are the gift of God. I had a very brief discussion with a conservative Christian professor of philosophy who asserted that man has no God given rights. Several Christians chimed in agreement with the good professor. I opened his Bible; and showed them all where God refuted their vain philosophy. Their only rebuttal was prolonged silence.

 There is one entity that most Christians believe in. That body disdains God and the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court supplanted every person of the Holy Trinity in too many Christian minds. The next four years will prove that Mr. Jefferson was correct about God’s justice not sleeping forever.

 {1} A nontheistic and nonreligious opposition to the life-denying horror of abortion. I'm James Matthew (Matt) Wallace, aka The Compleat Heretic. I'm both a Secular Humanist atheist and a pro-life advocate. All too often, I fear that I'm the only nonreligious person who opposes the genocide of abortion used as a birth control substitute.



{3} I conclude that a more robust interpretation of the Rule is one which is advanced by some natural law philosophers and which offers a philosophical justification for the proposition that doing to others as one would have done to oneself is necessarily a case of doing good towards others. The article ends with some reflections on the implications this version of Golden Rule reasoning for legal policy-making, and in particular for the abortion debate. Luke 6: 32-5: ‘If you love only those who love you…. If you do good only to those who do good to you…. And if you lend only where you expect to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners’ do these things. ‘[Y]ou must love your enemies and do good; and lend without expecting any return’. Samuel Clarke’s Rule of Equity: ‘[w]hatever I judge reasonable or unreasonable, that another should do for me, that by the same judgment I declare reasonable or unreasonable, that I in the like case should do for him’. Clarke’s formulation is important not only because it makes explicit something that we have observed is implicit in the Golden Rule – that we are to treat others as we would have them treat us in similar instances (instances which, though they may differ on their facts, demand from the agent a similar attitude or disposition) – but also because it suggests that the Rule requires us to do to others the good that we would have them do to us (and to avoid doing to them the harm that we would have them avoid doing to us). That this is what Clarke understands reasonableness to mean is absolutely clear: ‘that which is good is fit and reasonable, and that which is evil is unreasonable to be done’.102 The Nazi who desires that all Jews be exterminated might just discover that he is a Jew. By universalizing his moral judgement in this instance, he reveals his extreme fanaticism: as Hare puts it, ‘nobody but a madman would hold’ that, on this discovery, they too should be sent to the gas chambers. Yet, Hare concedes such fanatics may well exist, and ‘golden-rule arguments seem powerless’against them….Most people – leave aside the genuine fanatic – are prevented from accepting certain moral judgements because those judgements entail logical consequences which they cannot accept. Unless we are prepared to disregard anyone’s desires, even our own, we are compelled to give weight to the desires of our neighbours. I have argued already that following the Golden Rule is distinguishable from good samaritanism. A separate question is whether the Golden Rule compels good samaritanism when a potential recipient is in need. Academic lawyers sometimes express dismay over the absence from the common law of a general duty to rescue.212 In civilian systems, such a duty is often set down in the national penal code. But the common law limits the duty to special relationships (parents to children, police officers to the public, and so on). It is difficult to say why this should be the case. =========Golden Rule is itself proof of that there are universally valid natural laws because it is by following the Rule that we grasp that justice requires: 1) respect for fellow citizens and their property; 2) ‘treatment of equals equally and unequals unequally’;258 and 3) ‘[a] shared language’ which, ‘combined with the gift of imagination [Vorstellungsgabe]’, enables us ‘to put ourselves in another’s place.’259 The problem with this argument is that, as we know from the ground covered already in this study, ‘treat others as you would have them treat you’ does not – certainly absent serious philosophical elaboration – serve as a principle for distinguishing between morally right and wrong action. Whereas post-Kantian defenders of the Golden Rule have generally tried to show that there is no necessary connection between our following the Rule and our particular tastes and preferences, Augustine was of the view that there is a connection but that we must distinguish the will, i.e., the open-ended (never fully realized) pursuit of the good,263 from cupidity, i.e., inordinate and unreasonable desire. A former colleague of Dworkin’s is very clearly committed to the premiss. If one accepts that abortion is deliberately killing the unborn, John Finnis argues, and that deliberate killing is wrong, then abortion is a denial of the unborn’s right to the equal protection of the laws against homicide.305 The unborn are others, and since the Golden Rule requires that we treat others as we would have them treat us, the unborn should have the same right not to be intentionally and unjustly killed as the rest of us.


{4} The Universal Moral Code was created by Kent M. Keith in 2003 while writing a book about morality and ethics. Dr. Keith believes that there is remarkable agreement around the world regarding basic moral principles. The Universal Moral Code is a list of these basic principles regarding how we should live and how we should treat each other. Following these principles can provide each of us with the meaning that comes from living our values and doing what's right.




7 posted on 07/11/2008 10:59:07 AM PDT by Interposition (McCain & Obama are two political peas in the same bipartisan pod.)
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To: Interposition

You assumed too much an/or didn’t understand my post. I merely said that you don’t have to be a believer to see the immense advantage of not allowing governments the power to be the dispenser or rights.

8 posted on 07/11/2008 1:45:01 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA


9 posted on 07/04/2009 12:07:13 AM PDT by Buchal ("Two wings of the same bird of prey . . .")
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