I have been a Christian for over fifty years. During that time, I have attended two Bible Colleges, listened to thousands of sermons, listened to many hours of Christian radio, and watched hundreds of Broadcast on Christian TV. I have talked to thousands of “born-again” Christians and been personally involved with many of them as family members and close friends. The one thing they all had in common was that they justified their religious beliefs based on what they thought the Bible teaches. Often times, however, I noticed that a lot of their beliefs conflicted with many of my own, which I also assumed I had derived from the teachings of Scripture. At times, this became a source of confusion and discouragement for me. I sometimes doubted if I could ever understand the teachings of the Bible.
I did not begin to understand this troubling phenomenon until the deteriorating state of affairs in America forced me into a study of American history, politics, and our Founding Documents. I soon noticed the same thing happening in the world of politics that I had experienced in the world of Christianity; Every politician, lawyer, and court, when debating issues of public policy and law, appeal to the Constitution as the authority for their opinions and decisions. Yet, when I listened to the politician or read a court decision, I often had to wonder, “Whose Constitution are you reading”? It gradually dawned on me that I was observing two entirely different methods of reasoning used to come to the “truth”. Some base their final understanding of doctrine or law on what they believe to be the implied meaning of passages in the Bible or in the Constitution, others, on the clear meaning of the words used as defined by the dictionary and the context in which they are used.
For example, in “Roe vs. Wade”, the Supreme Court found the “implied” doctrine of a “right to privacy” in the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause. That decision, based on an implied meaning, not only overturned a Texas state law outlawing abortion, it opened the door to a plethora of other laws and court decisions establishing the “right to an abortion” as “the law of the land”. The laws stemming from this newfound legal wisdom protect a woman’s right to “freedom of choice” all the way up to and including, the criminalizing of certain types of protests against abortion, or attempts to persuade a woman not to go through with a planned abortion, within a specified number of feet from the entrance to an abortion clinic.
The ongoing attacks on Christianity in America is justified by the implied doctrine of “separation of Church and State” found in the religious clause of the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Clearly, this is not a demand for separation, but a declaration of independence on behalf of religion from the authority of the federal government. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from passing any law that would make any form of religion, the official, established religion of the nation. At the same time, it prohibits Congress from making any law that would interfere with the free expression of the religious beliefs of any individual, church, place of worship, state or community. Since the first sentence of Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the sole authority for making all laws for the federal government, the same prohibitions would apply to the Courts and the Executive Branch as well.
It is natural that we form our worldview based heavily on the things taught to us by our parents, teachers, professors, mentors and other respected authority figures in our educational and professional lives. They, of course, formed their views the same way we formed ours, from those who came before them. Consequently, the lawyers, judges, preachers, and theologians of today, following the same course, often approach the Constitution and the Bible looking for implied meanings that will support their own preconceived point of view, rather than accepting the clear meaning of the passages read. As generations go by it behooves us to reexamine what we believe and discard the false doctrines we have adopted from others in the past. Considering the condition of our institutions of government, our economy and our culture, now is probably a good time to begin our quest.
The reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries rejected the false doctrines of the then current religious establishment and the ecclesiastical authority of the established state church. Returning to the source document of their religion, the Bible, as their only basis of truth, they brought about the great protestant reformation to the incalculable benefit of later generations. The Founding Fathers went through the same process in forming our government between approximately 1772 and 1787. They rejected the established theories of government and the concept of monarchs and subjects, turning instead to new concepts of liberty and citizen sovereignty. In forming their own views of government, they relied heavily on the Bible and the writings of legal and political philosophers such as John Lock, Baron de Montesquieu, and Sir William Blackstone, all of whom formed their own philosophy largely from the Bible, as had the Reformers.
America today is sorely in need of both a political reformation and a spiritual revival. In fact, without both there is little chance of preserving an America with the prosperity and liberty we have enjoyed in the past. Both reformation and revival means getting back to basics. The only hope for a worthwhile political reformation is a return to the authority of the Constitution as the final rule or law for the operation of our government. Likewise, the spiritual revival of our culture requires a return to Bible principles as our primary source for the moral values John Adams, George Washington and others among our Founders believed to be necessary for the establishment and preservation of real liberty and prosperity in the nation they were forming.