It doesn’t take much reflection to observe that America today is home to many people for whom the nation’s founding principles must appear odious, even scandalous. Consider how this early line from the Declaration of Independence must read to many in our culture:
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.
Scandal upon scandal! One offense unfolds upon another. First is the assertion that anything should be certain and universal, much less “self-evident”, a defiance of the basic relativism of the postmodern mind. Second is the generic use of the masculine pronoun, a capital offense in contemporary academia. Related (Second, Part Second?) is this concept of a ‘man’, which a fair number of our legislators and academics, and the majority of our celebrities, seem no longer very clear on.
But third–and here I wish to dwell a moment–is the real scandal. The worldview and claim of freedom in this document seems to be explicitly based in theism. And, though this sentence does not specify, I think the historical background is sufficient to assert that this theism is a monotheism of at least vaguely Christian contours.
Doctrines of God, creation, and providence are foundational to the American experiment in freedom. Upon such foundations was built a republican (small r) government that most people no longer understand, and which the Democrats (big D) are trying to dismantle because it has proven a nuisance to them lately. But those who like freedom may usefully contemplate its Christian theistic basis, and the implied danger of our growing trends towards secularism (soft atheism?), atheism, paganism, and religious pluralism.
What sort of society do we want? One where schools outlaw prayer and promote sexual immorality and an atheistic evolutionary worldview (the last two are surely related)? One where Antifa thugs beat journalists in the streets? One with increasing government control and technocratic paternalism? Or one where a responsibly free people inculcate in their children a Christian character, and live out that Christian character in love of neighbor, caring for the needy, and pursuing virtue?
If what we want is the last one, then we have to see that secularism as currently understood is not how our nation was put together, has ushered in the other isms aforementioned with their destructive tendencies, and will never produce a just and good society. The American experiment has had massive failures and hypocrisies (e.g. slavery), but it has also had measured successes. Its best hope for getting back on track is to affirm once again the foundation of responsible freedom: the one true God.
“For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2, NIV)