America’s Freedom is Founded on the Application of the Bible to Civics (part I)
by Pastor Earl Wallace 1/11/2020
This article is the first in a series of three articles which delves into the foundations of the United States of America – the American Republic – based upon the understanding of the biblical basis for government.
In the book Sacred Fire, scholar Peter Lilliback explores the biblical fountain from which George Washington drew his inspiration and built a character so strong his legacy stands still today.
One of Washington’s favorite biblical references was Micah 4:4 “…they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” Washington saw this as a metaphor of what America could become – a place where everyone who wanted to live in peace could sit under his own vine and fig tree.
But the foundation for freedom and the government which allows and fosters it goes back much further, to the first laws God set out, and hundreds of years before Washington, the spiritual forefathers in our not too distant past who committed themselves to not only following these laws but often sacrificing their lives to make sure others might have the ability to worship and live in peace under Godly laws.
America’s very freedom is based on the application of the Bible to Civics. Our forefathers didn’t just believe, they brought their belief into every aspect of their lives. When they founded ours, the most successful government and nation in recent history, they wove Biblical principles into its very fiber and others fought to keep it spiritually strong and faithful to God’s principles.
Under the true and original American view of law and government, all law, and therefore all rights, originate in God.
Therefore, what is not in accord with God’s law is not law.
The acknowledgment of this first principle of law and government is foundational to our lives and to our liberties.
We are informed of this principle in Scripture, and we are the beneficiaries of centuries of application of this view by those on whose shoulders we are privileged to stand.
If we want to keep their vision and sacrifice alive, and have the peace and freedom God speaks of in Micah 4, the freedom we have loved and rejoiced in as Americans for more than 250 years, we must stand and fearlessly take God’s principles into the public square and our government just as our forefathers did.
How do we do this? What does God require of us, all of us, regardless of job title or our station in life?
Again in Micah in chapter 6: 6-8, scripture says, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
God requires, meaning he demands by his divine right and authority to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God
This is easy to say, but how is it achieved?
And how does it relate to our government and the daily civic exercise we need to take to honor our God and our fellow man with it?
Our forefathers give us not just a clue, but a clear path in which to walk.
In Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, to do justice means we conform accurately to the truths and facts of God’s law.
To love kindness and mercy means we exercise that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves – the disposition that tempers justice and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries and to forbear punishment or inflict less than the law or justice will warrant.
In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy – that which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion and clemency, but exercised only toward offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.
To walk humbly means to reduce arrogance and self-dependence, to acknowledge our sinfulness and submit ourselves to God’s will in repentance and contrition.
What does this mean for us today? Where is the path on which our forefathers found their way, that we need to clear and blaze again for future generations?
As it is now in the 21st Century, there has been a historical struggle between man’s authority and God’s authority and whose laws – man’s laws or God’s laws – governments, and their people will follow.
There are two Latin phrases that bear out this struggle. Rex Lex means the king (or man) is law. (Man can change his concept of right or wrong at will and make laws based on this.) Lex Rex means the law is king. There have long been people who stood for God and acknowledge He is the supreme ruler who establishes that law and any authority of government.
More than 1000 years ago, governmental leaders were taking God’s guidance to heart and writing it into law.
In the Ninth Century, King Alfred the Great, who ruled over the English from 871 to 899, introduced law codes based on traditional Old Testament legislation, beginning these with a recitation of the Ten Commandments. His royal court became a magnet for eminent scholars who became the nucleus around which a great resurgence in Christian learning developed.
This English foundation eventually grew and matured over time, not without setbacks. However, it eventually brought forth fruit in a new land, yet to be settled by European descendants. In the next installment, this series will examine the more immediate history leading to the American Republic.