Was the Declaration of Independence an unbiblical act?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Tim, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. Tim

    Tim
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    Just wondering--was it biblically justified for our founding fathers to declare their independence from their British authorities? Shouldn't they have submitted themselves to every Man's ordinance unless it was opposed to God's? Does taxation without representation fit into that category?

    God Bless America anyway!

    Tim (with my Tory side showing)
     
  2. swaimj

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    If a king rules by divine right, then the colonists were wrong. They had no right to oppose him. However, by the time of the War for Independence it was well established (in the Magna Carta) that kings DID NOT rule by divine right. Even kings were subject to the laws they put in place. The colonists were loyal subjects of the king (well, most of them) and, at first, wanted to remain British. However, when the king refused to act within the law and began to violate their rights, they believed that they were justified in opposing him and even in fighting him.

    There are alot of philisophical elements that go into the founding father's thought. Some are extensions of Christianity and some are not. The result is the best form of government humans have ever devised. The result is also imperfect because humans devised it.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    I have a little tome on "Baptist Patriots of the Revolution", as evidently most were very much involved in the movement.

    I would have been a loyalist, sad to say. :eek:
     
  4. Major B

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    Three things are vital for understanding the thinking of the Founders who were Christian, which, contrary to popular legend, was most of them. (For instance, the majority of Colonels in the Continental Army(not the militia) were Presbyterian elders.)

    1. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 granted most of the rights (at least to Protestants) that the US Bill of Rights set down (including the right to keep and bear arms). Among these laws, the King was made subject to the will of the parliament.

    2. For most of the time between 1630 and 1763, the relationship between the Crown and the colonies was "benign neglect," and this accelerated over time. Each colony had an elected legislature, and the exact form of the executive varied according to the colony. The colonies were, for all practical purposes, self governing.

    3. During this time, several generations of colonials had developed the same concept of representation that we have now--I am represented by Mr. X, and if I don't like him, I will vote to replace him in the next election. He is MY representative. The English concept (then) was: the King represents himself, the Lords represent themselves (in the house of Lords), and commoners in commons represent all the commoners, including the colonials. We said, "no taxation without representation." The Crown said, "silly people, you are represented by other commoners.

    Because of the above, our founders could claim that the attempt to re-impose full royal rule without allowing direct colonial representation was tyranny. As now, we and the British were two people separated by a (supposedly) common language.
     
  5. Tim

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    Thanks for clarifying the historical thought processes of the founding fathers. They, like all men of any time, thought in the historical context of their times.

    But I'm still left with some difficult scriptures to reconcile, like Romans 13:1,2 and 1 Tim. 2:1-3. Those scriptures seem to indicate that it is God's will for believers to submit to kings--without legal exception clauses (such as "natural rights").

    Considering the historical context in which those verses were written (the Roman Empire), human rights didn't even seem that significant when weighed against the authority of rulers.

    Certainly Paul claimed what rights he had as a Roman citizen, but I don't see any hint of approval for revolution in any of the N.T.
     
  6. fromtheright

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    Dr. Bob,

    I would have been a loyalist, sad to say.

    Even a good Baptist? You know that it was Virginia Anglicans who so staunchly opposed the right of Baptist ministers to preach, that some were even horse-whipped for preaching without a license.
     
  7. KenH

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    Yep. Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads had pretty much ended that claim when they took off Charles I's head.
     
  8. Tim

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    Don't misunderstand--I'm glad the U.S. broke away from England. And I understand their historicly-based thinking. But if we lived in their day, could we do what they did in good conscience? Surely the Magna Carta doesn't set aside our biblical obligations to "be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God". Does it?
     
  9. Major B

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    Since in the "social contract", the leaders govern by consent of the governed, and since the 1689 English Bill of Rights made the people sovereign through parliament, the founders considered themselves to represent the true authority--the people. Read the Declaration of Independence, most of it consists of a long list of "tyrannies" by George, proving that his government of the colonies was illegal.

    And for sure, in our republic, the "powers that be" refers to the electorate.
     
  10. Tim

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    Quote from MajorB:"And for sure, in our republic, the "powers that be" refers to the electorate."

    Thank God for that! There is a measure of safety in numbers.

    I like your arguements. I think you're helping my "revolutionary" side feel better.

    Tim
     
  11. Major B

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    I teach Government/Economics and Advanced Placement American Government and Politics.
     
  12. Tim

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    Major B,

    You're one of the few on BB to actually swing my opinion on an issue.

    I don't know if that says more about your expertise or my stubborness. Congrats all the same.

    Made more Fourth weekend a little more patriotic.

    Tim
     
  13. swaimj

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    A couple of nights ago, on PBS, there was a documentary on Martin Luther. I missed the first 45 minutes but caught the climax, when Luther stood before the Diet of Worms and said "here I stand, I can do no other" (apologies if the quote is not exact) and defied the pope. In this case, Luther stood up to a religious ruler the way the apostles stood up to the Jewish leaders in Acts. However, Luther's act was political as well as religious because neither he nor the Pope practiced seperation of church and state. One of the commentators noted that Luther is a notable figure in the history of those who have spoken for and acted for personal freedom. Surely his act must have been a precedent in the minds of the founding fathers.
     
  14. Tim

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    Things seem to get pretty messy when people don't separate church and state. But I would say Luther's act was primarily religious, wouldn't you?
     
  15. Major B

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    What Luther did was theological and faith driven, however, in God's Providence, it was the political and military support of key German princes that enabled Luther to escape the fate of John Huss, who tried a reformation about 102 years before Luther, and who was burned at the stake for it.
     
  16. Peter101

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    &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;Just wondering--was it biblically justified for our founding fathers to declare their independence from their British authorities?&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;

    You have pointed out a real conflict between actual practice and what is required by the bible. But there are many of these, and as far as I am concerned, we must live in the present and not be overly concerned with putting the bible on a pedestal and doing precisely what it says. After all, the bible itself is not always consistent on every issue. The God of the Old Testament did and required many things that we would be jailed for today, things that violate our laws and customs. There is no way that you can keep every custom and tradition in the bible and stay out of jail, is there? Maybe that shocks your sensibility, but if you think about all the brutal things in the Old Testament, even sanctioned by God and custom, then that is a true statement. For instance, I think there is a verse in the bible that says you shall not suffer a harlot to live. On the other hand, there is a verse in the New Testament that says something to the effect that those who are without sin should cast the first stone. These seem to be contradictory attitudes.
     
  17. swaimj

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    Yes, I agree. In Luther's mind and intent, he was acting as a Christian, not as a politician Yet, Christianity, and more specificaly, protestant Christianity had a great influence on western thought in the years following Luther. His act set a pattern which was adopted as a legitimate political act by others.
     
  18. Major B

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    The Bible is perfectly consistent within its covenantal system, and what is in the New Covenant (and Abrahamic and Davidic) and the Noahic Covenant is still fully in effect. In the areas of the Mosaic Covenant that are reiterated in the New, those principles are also in effect. See my study at:
    http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/covenant/toc.htm
     
  19. Major B

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    To continue the above thought briefly, the Old, or Mosaic Covenant had the purpose of governing Israel until the revealing of the Messiah. The New Covenant is of a different type, not including an aspect of secular government which is essentially a theocracy. Instead of a detailed set of laws and case law examples, we have such scriptures as Romans 13, which establishes secular government as an institution for maintaining order.
     
  20. rsr

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    Good points.

    I'll add some ramblings.

    Some of what Paul wrote about government (which is really very little) is to deal with some problems the early church faced.

    Christians were a tiny minority facing slanders about their beliefs. (The authors of the Didache, for example, don't even mention the Lord's Supper, either because it was considered too much of a mystery to commit to paper or because they did not want to provide ammunition to critics who considered the ordinance human sacrifice.) It was important that they walk uprightly so as not to give further offense to the authorities on civil matters.

    And, as Paul wrote elsewhere, Christians were to be law abiding so that critics could not charge them with being lawbreakers and bring the church into disrepute.

    Paul also had to deal with Christians who had decided that since they were not under the Mosaic Law, they were under no law, religious or civil.

    The early English Baptists perhaps set the precedent for the American Baptists. While they recognized civil authority (as in the London Baptist Confession of 1644, written during the English Civil War), they also recognized the legitimate authority to be vested in both king and Parliament.

    When it came to choosing between the two, the Baptists were among the Independents who formed the core of Cromwell's New Model Army, where they were on the "left wing" of the movement in insisting on separation of religious and civil government.

    I saw the episode on Luther and thought it was pretty well done. Although I was mildly amused at the end, when it traced the tradition of religious liberty in America to the Pilgrims.
     

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