The Declaration of Independence

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by NaasPreacher (C4K), Nov 13, 2003.

  1. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    There have been several references to the DOI in other posts of late. Since this is the history forum perhaps this is the place to ask this question.

    What, other than the fact that God is the Creator, was biblical about the document?
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Lets start with "All men are created equal" and see what kind of response that brings.
     
  3. Salty

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    To begin with, all men ARE NOT created equal. That was probally the first politicaly corect statement in the USA. It simply means that we have certian rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Note, there is no guarentee of happiness, simply you have the right to pursue happiness.
     
  4. Daisy

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    Ok, but where in the Bible is life (mortal life), liberty and the pursuit of happiness (again, on earth, in this life) mentioned?

    The nearest thing to all men being created equal that I can think of is the vineyard where all laborers are paid the same wage.
     
  5. The Galatian

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    We are all created equal in the sense that we all have equal rights.

    That's probably too PC for a lot of people, but they aren't people who you'd want to have living near you.
     
  6. Matt Black

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    "The pursuit of happiness" has got to be one of the silliest statements in history. nOw if they'd talked about the 'joy of the LORD', that would be a different matter...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Is there any truth to "they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights?"

    Is that true? If so, where is the evidence apart from this one Jeffersonian statement?
     
  8. Hardsheller

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    Life, Liberty and Happiness are themes in the Bible that literally jump out at even the casual reader. The word life itself is found 450 times in the King James Version and more than 500 times in the New International Version. Life is recognized as a gift of God. It is recognized as a serious violation of God's Law and God's purpose for man to take an innocent life.

    Liberty and Happiness while not mentioned as many times as life are firmly entrenched in the Word of God, as conditions that men seek, are rewarded with, with Jesus himself proclaiming he came to "set at liberty them that are bruised".

    The writers of the DOI saw these Biblical values as undeniably stemming from the Heart of a benevolent God toward His creation.

    The parable of the laborers in the vineyard is not about man at all but about the Sovereignty of God and his Right to do with man as He so Wills.
     
  9. Daisy

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    Yeah, but it's not just life, libery & happiness, it's the rights to these. A gift is one thing, a right something else again, don't you think? Are 'rights' to these anywhere in the Bible?

    The DOI doesn't say the right to seek these go to the good or to the holy, but to "all men" and it does not proscribe the form they take. The DOI says nothing about after death (or after this life on earth), but the Bible is all about that.

    Why did it take Christians seventeen hundred years to determine that these were Christian values of more importance than submission to one's government and one's masters?

    But the DOI is all about the rights of man and nothing about the rights of God.
     
  10. Hardsheller

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    Perhaps if we broke it (the preamble) down it would be more easily understood.

    Self Evident Truths
    1. All Men are Created Equal
    2. All Men are Endowed by their Creator with
    certain inalienable rights.

    Among these rights are:
    1. Life
    2. Liberty
    3. The Pursuit of Happiness

    These self-evident truths were agreed upon by all who signed the DOI. They did not feel the necessity to explain them - They simply all believed they were obvious.

    1. All Men are Created Equal - As Babes, helpless, weak and dependent on others for survival.

    2. All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. The first one - Life - is a no brainer. Without Life as a right there is no basis for any societal order. The Law of the Jungle would prevail unless every human has a right to life.

    Liberty - The ideal state of a man is that he be alive and be free. Free to do what? To pursue happiness as he sees fit, as long as it does not infringe upon the basic rights of life and liberty of others.

    Then next sentence in the preamble clarifies the intent of the first sentences - They are laying the groundwork for the main thrust of the DOI.

    These are not rights that are mandated by a king. These are rights that are mandated by a just creator.

    "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

    If you divorce the spiritual and religious implications from the DOI and attempt to make it a secular document it simply doesn't work.

    [ November 14, 2003, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Hardsheller ]
     
  11. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

    This statement is simply not true - read Romans 13.

    The DOI is indeed a secular document, using the religious jargon of the day. The "Creator" to whom Jefferson referred was the god of the deist, not the God of the Bible. The deist God had nothing to do with the everyday affairs of men, hence in that theology it becomes the duty of men to change their government if it does not suit them.
     
  12. fromtheright

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    OK, all these things said about it not having a Biblical basis, is it true? Is it worthless? Are its principles worthy of respect? And if man is not endowed with certain inalienable rights, are the rights listed in the Bill of Rights worthless? Are they natural rights? Or are they granted by government?
     
  13. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    The DOI is a valuable document because it was a rallying point which acknowledged the actions of George III the previous December when he removed the protection of the crown. It was not, of course worthless, but it served a valuable purpose in that regard.

    If man is born with certain inalienable rights, why does a vast majority of the world do without them? The Bill of Rights was to protect the citizens from the government. The Founding Fathers saw the tendancy for governments to grow so desired to protect the privilages established in the constitution.
     
  14. fromtheright

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    C4K,

    If man is born with certain inalienable rights, why does a vast majority of the world do without them?


    I think we have to ask the rest of the world why they do without them. If they aren't natural, or aren't from God, then either: (1) it is what is gained and preserved by force from rulers who would deny them, or (2) they are granted by government. I believe Alexander Hamilton was right:

    The Founding Fathers...desired to protect the privilages established in the constitution.

    I think you would be hard pressed to find Founders who thought of those rights as privileges. If the rights aren't natural, then what effect could a parchment barrier rightfully have? Violation of those "privileges" then becomes a matter of the state's will.
     
  15. Daisy

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    I don't understand the distinction you're making between rights and privileges. I know there is one, but I'd like to be clear that we're all talking about the same thing.
     
  16. fromtheright

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    Daisy,

    Good question.

    Webster's works well for me:

    Privilege: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.

    Right: something to which one has a just claim: as the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled.

    John Adams added:
    "Let it be known, that British liberties are not the grants of princes or parliaments, but original rights, conditions of original contracts, coequal with prerogative, and coeval with government; that many of our rights are inherent and essential, agreed on as maxims, and established as preliminaries, even before a parliament existed. Let them search for the foundations of British laws and government in the frame of human nature, in the constitution of the intellectual and moral world."

    Also from Adams:
    "The poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form a union and exert their strength; ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This, however, has been known by the great to be the temper of mankind; and they have accordingly labored, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter. I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government, — Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws — Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe."
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    First, Daisy and FTR let me say how much I appreciate the spirit of this debate - so far we have avoided name calling or questioning salvation :D .

    I do see and understand your contentions, however I am not certain that man is born with nay "rights." If they are guaranteed by God shouldn't every person have them? Does God institute soem governments (Romans 13) to protect those rights and other governments to ignore them? Is it up to sinful man to sort out what "rights" are his?
     
  18. fromtheright

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    Thanks, C4K, this is just the way I prefer to debate, clean and respectfully. I wish I could say that I always do so.

    I do see and understand your contentions, however I am not certain that man is born with any "rights." If they are guaranteed by God shouldn't every person have them? Does God institute some governments (Romans 13) to protect those rights and other governments to ignore them? Is it up to sinful man to sort out what "rights" are his?

    I think that every person does have those rights but some, unfortunately, don't live under governments that respect them. I'm still not sure how to square Romans 13 with the Declaration of Independence and John Locke, both of which argued that governments are instituted to protect those rights, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that when those rights are abused consistently then citizens have a right to alter or abolish such government. The best way I see to reconcile the two is that Locke and Jefferson et al should have added that government's duty is also to maintain order, but that when rights are continually assaulted the people do retain the right to overthrow such government but with a duty to then restore order. Just as we had the right to do so in 1776, so did Russians in the last century, so do Cubans and Chinese today. I think it is arrogant to say (and I know you're not saying this) that only Americans could claim those rights. And it is also mistaken, I believe, to argue that those rights don't exist until claimed and asserted. Where our Founders had it right, though, was that those rights are given to us by God and that it was their job to protect them, not, as in the case of the French Revolution, that the rights existed and that God did not, so that any means, including slaughter, were allowed in taking those rights back.
     
  19. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I appreciate your perspective FTR. I certainly understand your perspective being something of a history/polysci buff myself.

    I am trying to reconcile what seems right with scripture. I am still looking for where the word of God tells us that God gives us any rights. What rights did the early Christians have in Rome? Would they have been right to try and overthrow the occupying forces in Palestine? Surely Paul had occassion in Romans 13 to stress the rights of man as they submit to government.

    I also always go back to Hanaiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel while under the authority of the Babylonian government. They did not try to overthrow the government, but obeyed God when they had to and were willing to suffer the consequences. Surely, they would have had the "right" to protest the violation of their "rights".

    What do you think? I am enjoying your insight on the isue.
     
  20. fromtheright

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    I'm afraid I don't have much insight on the question posed. You're way ahead of me as to the Biblical history, but you've got an excellent point. Another example that I think of that makes your point is that if anyone had the right to overthrow their oppressors, the Hebrews in Egypt certainly did. I'll have to do some studying of my own. One book that I'll go to is Defending the Declaration: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence by Gary Amos. I know that Algernon Sidney in his Discourses Concerning Government, written againt the argument of the divine right of kings (and for which he was executed as I recall) does cite some Biblical history in support of his arguments. It's been a while since I've read it and even then I must admit my eyes glazed over at his historical citations back to Biblical and classical history. I've also got a 2-volume set from Liberty Fund (GREAT source for early American history books) entitled The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth Century English Political Tracts in which some of these arguments were also made. Will check there also. Another one that comes to mind is Samuel Adams' (?--not sure if I've got the author right) pamphlet "The Rights of Colonists as Christians".
     

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