Biblical Citizenship In Modern America, Principles of Liberty-Week 4 Part 1: Let’s get inside the minds of the Founders and study the Declaration with the Constitution. What are the principles of liberty that were sowed in the Declaration? What is the framework that our Country was founded on? Join us for Week 4 Part 1 of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.
Air Date: 8/7/2023
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live, where we’re talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And we are specifically diving into Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. What does it mean to be a biblical citizen? Well, this week we’re bringing you week four out of our Biblical Citizenship in Modern America course. It’s actually an eight week course. You can actually join us for free, you can take it for free if you go to Biblicalcitizens.com.
And on Monday nights, we actually have a live class where you get to join us and ask questions. It’s a really great time, but it also is very encouraging. It gives you hope. It gives you the answers for how to have biblical influence in our culture and save our constitutional republic. So let’s dive right in. This is Biblical Citizenship in Modern America, week four.
BIBLICAL CITIZENSHIP IN MODERN AMERICA
I think biblical citizenship as a Christian would be stewardship, that God has given us this republic to be stewards over… And you begin to love what God loves and hate what he hates in the scriptures because your heart is lining up with the heart of God because of the gospel… If you’re a Christian, a person of faith, you must care about what’s happening in our culture, you must get involved in voting… If you love this country, then what small thing can you do to help save this country?
Remember, in the Old Testament, after the scripture been hidden for so long, and it was brought out and it was read for the people, the people wept with joy, because there’s freedom in law.
Well, you know, we have love of country, love of God, all of this is important, and it’s part of love of family, because if you don’t stand up for the Constitution, if you don’t know your faith principles, then you’re not going to be able to protect your family.
That’s right. Biblical principles are what predicts freedom in society. But you won’t have biblical principles in society in which you don’t have citizens with a biblical worldview… The further we move away from biblical principles, the further we move away from liberty and freedom.
As people are experiencing tyranny, they’re asking why, what has happened? And there’s just this feeling of being lost right now and not knowing where to turn, and you just gave us the foundation. This is truth.
It is time for week four of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. We had a great time last week. We actually had David Barton right here in this room teaching on truth and courage. We were out in Independence Hall understanding a little bit about what the Founders put in place in terms of the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence. This week, we’re going to dive even deeper into that, and we’re also going to get a 30,000 feet view of the entire Constitution. First, we’re going to head back to the WallBuilders library Museum, and then we’ll take you to Independence Hall. Welcome to week four of Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.
Welcome back to the Constitution Alive, we’re now going to talk about the seeds of liberty, what the ideas were that these guys actually sewn into our nation, and how it created such a successful nation. And remember that what John Jay told us, our secret formula for how we’re going to study the Constitution, he said, to make sure that you not only read, but study the Constitution. So if we’re going to study, we got to get inside the minds of these guys, we got to know what that original intent, if that’s going to be our focus as original intent, we got to go back to what these guys actually put in place.
I always think it’s important not just to study the Constitution, but to study the Declaration with the Constitution. In fact, the Founders said, you really had to do that. I like the way John Quincy Adams put it. In my language, h said that it was the slab that the home of the Constitution was built upon, the Declaration was. But here’s what he said, “The Declaration of Independence was the platform upon which the Constitution of the United States had been erected. The principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence were embodied in the Constitution of the United States.”
I call the Declaration of Independence, or at least the first two paragraphs, the frame of America. In my mind and my way of thinking, those were the principles. If you go to that heart of the Declaration, you’ll find the frame for our picture. And you might have a different picture that you would throw up on the screen here. But if you could picture freedom, if you could take some picture of your family or your schools, or your community or your churches, whatever it might be, and put that picture inside the frame of America, know this, if that frame goes, then your pictures go on with it, my pictures going with it.
That frame is what’s holding it altogether. Those principles they put in place, that’s why we’re free. And if we lose that frame, if we allow that frame to be destroyed, or transformed or changed into something that they didn’t give us, then we’re going to lose the picture, we’re going to have a very different America than we were given. So it’s important for us to remember the frame and remember what the principles are in the Declaration of Independence. And I’m going to actually ask for a little bit of help here.
Tonight, I’m going to get one of my sons to come up and share with us those principles out of the Declaration of Independence. He’s going to share with you the first two paragraphs, and then he’s going to describe what those precious 56 words in the second paragraph what they really mean, and what they gave us in America. So you all help me welcome Rhett Green. He’s going to come up and join us. Come on up, buddy. Come on in. He’s even more nervous about crossing this rail than I was so.
Alright, Rhett, let’s come right back here. There’s your spot. Now yours you are standing in the very spot where the guys that wrote the language that you’re about to share with us where they debated it, where they came up with it, where they adopted it. So this is pretty historic occasion. I want you to share the first paragraph where Jefferson actually is telling us hey, here’s why we’re going to tell the whole world what we’re doing, and then the 56 words, and then give us a little description of those 56 words. Go ahead, buddy.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. And to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
In the words of the Declaration, there are four basic principles that make up the frame of America. First, the founding fathers began with the basic idea that truth is real, it is obvious, and it does not change. Second, they may appear that God’s a source of freedom, like the Declaration says, are some come from any elected or appointed officials, they come from God Almighty. Third, the just powers of government can only come from the consent of the governed. That’s you and me. The word consent is used three times in a Declaration and 11 times in Constitution. Obviously, our Founding Fathers didn’t want the government’s use of power without our consent. They wanted us to always remember the government’s use of power without our consent is tyranny.
Now last of the frame is a pursuit of happiness. This is the free enterprise system that made America the most successful nation in history. Thomas Jefferson once said, ““A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circlue of our felicities.”
A wise and for frugal government shall lead men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
Now let’s all do our part to preserve those four principles. Welcome back my, dad.
Good job buddy. Way to go, you take that with you. Alright, our nine year old scholar on the Declaration of Independence, we got to do something about the shy poorly socialized homeschoolers, I guess. I don’t know… Anyway, okay, so I’m just going to touch on one quick thing about each of those things that Rhett was just sharing with you because I mean, I think it’s obvious sometimes when we say it today, truths, we forget what these guys were comparing that to around the world.
In other words, when we say truth today, we mean, obviously moral absolutes are right and wrong, that there is a right and wrong. It’s always right to do right. It’s always wrong to do wrong. Put yourself back in their shoes, and in their day and what those words meant. For instance, George Washington put it this way. He said, “Of all the habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion, and morality are indispensable support.” So he’s saying that if you’re going to have a formula that works, if you’re going to have a nation that successful of all the pieces of that formula that you put in there, you got to have religion and morality; and without those two, it’s just not going to work.
And a lot of my friends are always saying well, Rick, man, I’m in a liberty. You know what, I’m into freedom, but don’t mention God. You know, don’t bring the Bible into this. Don’t do anything. You know, they don’t want any that this hack can be a patriot without that. I said, well, yeah, that’s probably true, but George Washington would have disagreed. Washington actually said in vain will that man claimed the tribute of patriotism that would work to subvert or labor to subvert these great pillars. What pillars? Religion and morality. Why is he saying that? Because when he’s given that speech, he’s watching the French Revolution take place.
So you see, the American Revolution was based on the idea of right and wrong and freedom or liberty under God, liberty with God, the French Revolution was the opposite. French Revolution was liberty without God. It was all about everybody do whatever is right in their own eyes. It’s just two different philosophies. Theirs led to chaos. It led to the guillotine. It led to destruction. Ours led to the greatest nation in the history of the world. So there was something special about our formula and Washington was saying, you can’t have Liberty without morality, you can have morality without religion. You got to keep those things in who you are, the God’s at the center of our equation of freedom.
It wasn’t that you had to worship the same way I do or are be of the same faith that I was, but it was a recognition that there is a Creator in this equation of freedom. And that’s why I think Jefferson had those important words in the Declaration, that we are in fact endowed by our Creator, not by our Commissioner or our president, or Government, but we’re endowed by our Creator.
And that was a distinction really. I think what Jefferson was trying to say there was, hey, we’re not going to be like Europe or anywhere else on the planet. Because if you were again back in their shoes, if you went back to their day, when these guys came in this room in 1776, and adopted this Declaration, every model of government around the planet was different from what they were putting forth. Every model of government in the on the whole planet look kind of like this: it said that power and freedom comes from God, but it goes to the king, it goes to the monarch, and then the monarch decides how much freedom we the people get. So everything in our life really depended upon our relationship to the king. If you didn’t have a good relationship, you didn’t have much at all.
These guys in this room did something nobody had ever done. They flipped that on its head. They totally turned that around, and they said, no, no, we believe freedom comes from God, no doubt. That’s the source of our rights and our source of freedom. But we believe that that freedom from God goes directly to the people, and then we the people, we give power to government only as we see fit. Just like Rhett was saying, consent of the governed, the only just powers of government come from the consent of the governed.
So what Jefferson and these guys put in place with a system that says there’s freedom granted by God, there’s rights granted, and it goes directly to us. And then we give power to government only for one reason, to protect and secure the freedom that God gave us.
It is astounding to me. How many people in America have been indoctrinated into a condition of complete ignorance, a completely unaware of the extent to which the Bible and ancient Jewish wisdom shaped the Founders to these people who came here and set things up. The people we think of as the founders, Hebrew was something they knew. The second governor of the Plymouth Colony was William Bradford, and the first 19 pages of his manuscripts, his history book, the history of the Plymouth Plantation is actually in his own handwriting in Hebrew.
I think we have a privilege like no other nation on the face of the earth for us to study that fact that our nation is founded upon a Judeo Christian worldview, argument which originated with John Locke, for example. And when you look at what our pilgrims were all about, not too long ago we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim fathers stepping off the Mayflower with the Mayflower Compact, which was a two paragraph documents explaining why they came. It’s all about Christ.
And so when we look at our Founding Fathers, the Jeffersons, the Franklins, the Adams, they cited scripture, they mentioned the Bible. This was not some haphazard event. They believe that God had brought this nation together for a purpose. If we know that, then it’s going to align so much with Scripture, and we can move forward with confidence. I just love the confidence that that brings us that we are actually living out a call from God in this nation.
I know Kirk went through this whole thing. But don’t forget, before the American Revolution, America was in debauchery, we had already passed the pilgrims, church attendance was on the decline, alcoholism was rampant until the first great awakening. That all changed. There was a return to the Bible to educate their children. And all of these Founders were educated when they came in with these principles of John Locke and there was an awakening to understand civil government. And the most quoted source of all the founders more than any other, you know this, is the Bible, exponentially more, because they were well versed in it. A leopard can’t change his spots. That’s a biblical statement.
It used to be inundated our vernacular, but most of us don’t even read anymore. We want the pastor do it for us. We want sermons for Christians and we don’t read our Bibles, we don’t educate our children in the Bible. And now we’re awakening going, you know what, it’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m in. I’m ready to go.
And if you look at America, this is a country where the overwhelming majority of people profess to be Christians. And as Christians, you know, they do have a guide book, which is the Bible. We are totally moved in a direction that’s ungodly. The Bible means nothing to many of our leaders, the ones that are making the most important decisions affecting our lives.
And Christians have to get reconnected to the Bible and what the Bible says about the Constitution. That’s right.
And the Constitution, yeah. I think that everyone should read the Declaration of Independence. They should read the Constitution. They should study the Bill of Rights. They need to know all of these things, and they need to hold politicians accountable, and do some cleaning of the house of Congress.
And that’s what’s so brilliant about our form of government and God’s form of government, that we are equal before the law. And that no…
We recognize individuals, not groups.
That’s right, because God says he’s not a respecter of persons. He’s not partial. So why should we? Why should government be partial or respecter of person? It shouldn’t. That’s what I love about the Declaration of Independence is because a Creator God created us equal. That is illusionary. Even today across the world with world governments, it is still a revolutionary concept. It shows the worth of you. It shows that when God made you, when God made me, when God made the viewers, we are so valuable to him that he lifted each one of us up before him, but yet equal.
So I think it is important for us to study history. That’s why I love being here now and I’ve fallen in love with history because of how much it influences where we’re going. But I just, it’s hard for me to imagine these guys were all there. I mean, they knew what had happened in the Revolutionary War, and yet, even though they were there, and part of it, Benjamin Franklin had to stand up and give them a history lesson 11 years after what took place in this room for the Declaration. Here’s how I put it.
He said “In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection. So Franklin says to his colleagues, hey, remember in this room,” so he was one of six that signed both the Declaration and the Constitution, kind of like James Wilson, who we talked about earlier, a bunch of these guys weren’t there for the Declaration.
So he’s really reminding though, I think he was speaking to them, and he was saying, hey, you may not have been in here, let me tell you something, we knew we could do it on our own. So he said in the beginning, so he takes them back to this room 11 years previous, he said our prayers were heard and they were graciously answered. All of us engaged in the struggle must observe frequent instances of a superintendent Providence in our favor. Then he asked the same question from right here that I think we need to ask today. He said, “Have we now forgotten this powerful friend? Do we imagine we no longer need his assistance?”
I think that’s kind of where we are in America. Do we really think we can solve these massive problems we’re making that we’re dealing with just on our own? Do we think we can do it on our own? Franklin said no more than 200 years ago, I would say no today. So he goes on to say, I’ve lived for a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proves I see of this truth that God governs in the affairs of men. You’ve heard as part of a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without notice. Is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
Alright, friends, we got to interrupt just for a moment, take a quick break, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live Thanks for staying with us. We’ll dive right back into Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. We’re bringing it to you this week. This is actually week four of an eight week course that you can get right now. You can get the DVDs at wallbuilders.com. Or you can sign up for our Monday night class where you can join us for free, a live class and you can ask questions and we’ll have interaction. It’s great. Check it out at biblicalcitizens.com. Let’s jump right back in to Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.
BIBLICAL CITIZENSHIP IN MODERN
So here we are, they’re talking about can a nation rise, can they take a Constitution and create a successful nation? He said, it can’t happen without God. He’s saying you can’t do it without God. He said, we’ve been assured in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build that. I firmly believe without his concurrent aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. Then he said something really interesting. He said “I beg mood to lead that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and his blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”
Now, why would this guy that, and I would argue out of all the guys, probably the least religious of our Founding Fathers, in fact, I think, you know, whether you come from a conservative liberal point of view on the Founding Fathers, almost everybody agrees Ben Franklin was one of our least religious Founding Fathers. But least got to be a relative term because hear this, least religious Founding Father if you’re familiar with the Bible at all, you just heard him quote about 11 different scriptures right there in that one short quote. And he’s saying, hey, you shouldn’t even be trying to do this without God on our side.
So here, this guy is calling everybody saying hey, we got to keep God in the equation. God’s an essential part of the equation. And Washington later would write and talk about the fact that he ended up leading everybody here to church and they went to the church service and the pastor there actually preached on and talked about and prayed about the fact that what was happening in this room, God needed to move so that they could reach their compromises, get the Constitution out, so that we could become that beacon on a hill.
And Washington said the attitude really changed when they came back from that, and they were able to work through things. And then once they work through things, several of these guys look back on those moments in this room, and they said they believe the hand of God had played a role in what happened in here. Here’s Franklin later, he said, “I beg I may not be understood in for that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution. Yet I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance should be suffered to pass without being influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent ruler in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being. So he was quoting out of Acts right there to describe what he believed happened.
James Madison, father of our Constitution, he said, “The real wonder is that the Constitutional Convention overcame so many difficulties, and they overcome them with so much agreement was as unprecedented as it was unexpected. It is impossible for the pious man not to recognize in it a finger of that Almighty hand, which was so frequently extended to us in the critical stages of the revolution. So they all remembered how throughout the revolution, they saw God move and give them the autonomy. Think about it, they were taking on the greatest military on the planet. We were a bunch of rabble rouser, there’s no way we could win if there hadn’t been some miraculous thing happens. And he said, just like we saw it in the revolution, we saw it in the Constitutional Convention, couldn’t have happened without God’s hand.
Alexander Hamilton, same kind of thing. He said, for my own part, I sincerely esteem the Constitution a system which without the finger of God never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests. And last, the man that set in that very chair right there, president of the convention, George Washington, father of our country, he said “As to my sentiments with respect to the new Constitution, it appears to me little short of a miracle. It demonstrates as visibly the finger of Providence as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it” Was miraculous, folks. I mean, the fact that these concepts that have never been put together in a governing body, a republic never created like what they put together, he was saying it never would have happened if God hadn’t inspired it.
So the idea, just in summary of truths out of the Declaration, the Creator being the source of our freedom, those were important concepts from the philosophy laid down in the Declaration before they even came to the Constitution itself. And the last thing I’ll comment on what Rhett had said about the pursuit of happiness, this give you a quick example on this whole free enterprise thing for America, why these guys knew that the pursuit of happiness was important, why free enterprise is a bedrock principle of our way of life.
You got to remember, as students of history, they were looking back to how things first started here on this continent. You might remember Bradford tried socialism in the beginning with the pilgrims. And actually, it didn’t work out so well. Now it was socialism. I mean, Karl Marx would have loved this. The way they did it was they said, everybody’s going to work, whatever you work for and the food you grow, you’re going to put it in the public storehouse and then everybody gets to take from an as they need it.
Oh, and we’ll all love each other, and we’ll hold hands and sing Kumbaya. And it sounded great, right? But what happened? Bradford said, it was terrible. It didn’t work at all. He said, you know, guys like me, I’ve been over there saying, hey, why should I work? I get all the food I want. I’m going to play golf. I mean, I don’t think they play golf back then. But whatever you do, you know, with the pilgrims, I’m going to go play some games, anyway.
So Bradford actually said people started faking being sick. They were actually faking illness. They were they were not working and they were complaining. The ones that were working complaining said, hey, man, Green’s over, they’re not working. I’m feeding his family. Why didn’t… So here’s what he said. He said “Community of property was found to breed much confusion and discontent.” So what was the solution? What did Bradford implement that we actually, these guys here said was so important? Free enterprise and private property.
Imagine that he said, okay, everybody, you get your own property, you can grow stuff on that property, and then you can eat it, or you can sell it, you can do whatever you want with it, is totally up to you. And within two years, those guys were exporting corn instead of starving to death. Free enterprise private property, it worked, and these guys knew it. Here’s how Bradford described it afterwards. He said :It made all hands very industrious so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the governor or any other could devise and saved him a great deal of trouble and a far better satisfaction.” So in other words, that system worked, and these guys knew that, and that’s why they put it in our system in the pursuit of happiness.
Last quote on this, one of the guys in this room, John Francis Mercer, he actually told us that this document right here is not enough, that what they were framing would not be enough to guarantee freedom. In fact, he said it’s a great mistake to suppose the paper we are to propose will govern the United States. He said the constitution will not govern the United States, say wait a minute, I thought we came here to study the Constitution, because govern the United States. He said, no, it’s the men whom it will bring into the government. See, it’s going to set up the rules for how we choose our leaders and how they’re supposed to govern.
So it does set up the rules, but it’s not going to govern. It’s the meaning it will bring into the government and the interest they have in maintaining it that will govern them. The paper will only mark out the mode in the form, kind of like that frame, men are the substance and must do the business. What he’s saying is this document’s great, but if we the people put people in office and on the bench, they’re willing to ignore it, willing to shred it, willing to distort it, willing to govern around it, it just doesn’t mean anything anymore. The document doesn’t govern us. The people we put into government is what governs us.
So if we want to uphold this document, then we have to make wise decisions in choosing our leaders. We have to be part of the process even as it goes on even after you choose the leaders, being engaged in our government, watching what’s happening, letting our voice be heard constantly, just like these guys did in their lifetime. So that’s the philosophy that they gave us there is a God. There are truths. There’s right and wrong worth fighting for worth, dying for. Our system of government will work if we’ll just be willing to give or refuse that consent, being engaged will make those seeds of liberty springing forth. They’ll give us a great nation of freedom.
So now that we know the seeds of liberty, now that we know how we’re going to do this, we’re going to dive into the Constitution itself. When we come back in our next section, we’re going to do kind of a 30,000 feet view, if you will, we’re going to step back and look at the entire Constitution all at once and then we’ll start zooming into specific areas that are most under attack or most in question today. Sort of like our quickstart guide, we’re going to look for those places, we need to be plugging things in and making sure that they work. So when we come back, we’ll talk about that 30,000 feet view.
Alright, friends, got to interrupt that we’re out of time for today, but we’re going to pick up right where we left off. We’ll do that tomorrow. This is actually going to be a three part series this week. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we’re going to cover all of the week four program for Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. If you’d like to get the full eight week course, you can do that right now at wallbuilders.com, the DVDs are available in the workbook. You can also join us on Monday nights for free with interaction, so we watch the videos together, and then we take your questions. So check that out at biblicalcitizens.com Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.