God Gave Life Not Government, The Principles of Limited Government: Today we are doing special program from David Barton on the The Principles of Limited Government. We are going to be answering your most pressing questions such as, “What does it mean to have a limited government? Is that just money or is that also jurisdiction? How do you get a limited government? How do you reign in an out of control government? And what would it look like if we did things the way that our Founding Fathers envisioned that it would be done?” We’re answering all these questions and more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date: 06/21/2017
Guests: David Barton and Rick Green.
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the politics, this is WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green. You can visit our websites at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com.
Today, we’re bringing you a special program from David Barton on The Principles of Limited Government. Actually, a presentation that he did. You can actually get it at our website WallBuilders.com today if you’d like a CD of it.
Today will be the first part in a three-part series. So, if you’re going to miss, for some reason, the live show tomorrow or the next day you can get them at our website WallbuildersLive.com and download all three when it’s all said and done. But we’ll get started with that today from David.
This is one of the most popular topics that he has been speaking on. So many people wanting to know, “What does it mean to have a limited government? Is that just money or is that also jurisdiction? How do you get a limited government? How do you reign in an out of control government. And what would it look like if we did this thing the right way or certainly the way that our Founding Fathers envisioned that it would be done?
Here’s David Barton on the principles of limited government.
The Founders Answered All Of Our Questions
Government, good government. What is it that makes good government? Why is government sometimes good and sometimes bad? Why is there so much discussion debate over it? And particularly when people start throwing around phrases like “limited government.” What does that mean? What does it mean to have limited government and is having a limited government good or bad?
Well, the Founding Fathers who produced the most successful government in the history of the world have been very clear in their writings about what they consider to be the basis of good government. “What is limited government and is that good or bad?” They answer all those questions.
So we’re going to cover those questions, but let me begin by first going to a very famous and very prominent Founding Father, his name is George Mason. And George Mason is one of the 55 individuals at the Constitutional Convention who framed the U.S. Constitution. As a matter of fact, he is responsible for what we call, “The Bill of Rights” the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He’s actually titled, “The father of the Bill of Rights.”
He had a great grasp of government and he made a declaration concerning government that was so significant that it was included in the original 1776 constitution of Virginia. Now, that declaration still is in the Virginia Constitution today, several constitutions later. It was originally there in 1776 and the principle is so good that it’s remained across the centuries.
George Mason’s Thoughts On Our Free Government
Here’s what he said, “No free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” In other words, the only way you keep free government and the blessings of liberty is to keep going back to frequently recur to fundamental principles.
We’re going to look at the fundamental principles of good government. In doing that, let’s just first recognize the fact that America is a very blessed nation. As you look at where we’ve been the past two centuries under the documents that we have, we are the most successful government in the history of the world, quite literally.
We’re well over two centuries under the same piece of paper, the Declaration, the Constitution. No other nation has come close to that.
If you look at nations like Brazil they’ve had 8 constitution since 1822. You take the 20th century alone, my goodness, Afghanistan had five constitutions in the 20th century. Poland had seven since 1921. Russia had four since 1917. Just nation after nation there are around 200 nations in the United Nations, it goes up and down every year depending on who’s conquered whom, and who’s absorbed whom, and who’s had a revolution. But generally speaking, of all the nations that are there America is the only nation in the world that does not average a revolution every 30 to 40 years.
That’s something we take for granted. We just think national stability is normal. It is not normal. Other nations wish they had the stability we had. Now, that stability was already very visible even 50 years after the American Revolution.
How The Term American Exceptionalism Came About
One of the foreign observers who came to America in the 1830s and wrote about what he saw in America was named Alexis de Tocqueville. He did the famous book called, “Democracy in America.”
Having looked at America- and here’s America 50 years after our revolution we still have our first government. In his country, fifty years later they’ve had several revolutions. And he looked at America and this is what he said about America, “The position of the Americans is quite exceptional and it may be believed that no Democratic people will ever be placed in a similar position. The position of the Americans is exceptional and probably no one will ever have that same exceptional position.” This is where the term has been derived that’s called, “American exceptionalism.”
American exceptionalism is not a term of cockiness, or it’s not a braggadocio type of term where we are saying, “Look at us, we’re exceptional.” It’s just a statement of the stability that America has had and that was a title given us by Alexis de Tocqueville back in the 1830s. So, when you look at American exceptionalism, there’s no question that we’re different from other nations.
Are We A Global Friendly Nation
There’s been a lot of push in recent years through all sorts of channels to make America more global friendly. “We want all of our allies to like us, we want our enemies to like us. We want everyone to like us.”
As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court decides that it needs to have the world like us or we’re going to start quoting precedent from the world to interpret our Constitution. And in a number of cases that have been foreign precedents quoted to justify overturning American policies because “the rest of the world doesn’t do it that way, and my goodness, Europe that’s the oldest part of the Western World so let’s let’s be like Europe.”
Well, 200 years ago when that philosophy was being advocated we were smart enough to recognize at that time that that’s really not where we want to be. I mean, you take a nation like Denmark with a 68 percent tax rate, do we really want to be like Europe? You look at a nation like France who’s had such instability, 15 different constitutions since we’ve had our one. Do we really want what Europe has? And 200 years ago we looked at that and said, “No, we really don’t.”
There’s a great statement from Thomas Jefferson and this is what he declared two centuries ago, “The comparisons of our governments with those of Europe are like a comparison of Heaven and Hell.” In other words, back then we recognized that there’s something distinctly different about America that makes us different.
What Produced American Exceptionalism
We have a different set of ideas. As a matter of fact, our ideas stem from God. I love what George Washington said, this is his declaration in having overseen the formation of the nation, having fought for our freedom and independence, and having secured it, and having helped write the Constitution, presided over the convention, and then presided over the formation of the Bill of Rights, which is the capstone of the Constitution. This is what he said.
He said, “The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith. And more than wicked that hath not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” In other words, if you can look at this and not see the hand of God in this you’ve got to be worse than an infidel that has no faith at all. You’ve got to be more than wicked if you can’t see God’s role in this.
And that’s what they believed. They believed that they had created a philosophy of government that was different from other nations, it was not a secular philosophy of government, it was one built on universal principles that God had set for thousands of years earlier in the Scriptures when he helped establish the first government of His people Israel, a very successful government.
So we saw that and that’s what produced American exceptionalism. Now, we have American exceptionalism, that’s just a statement of fact. Again, that’s not any type of a hottie attitude, but what the specific philosophy is that produced American exceptionalism.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Today we heard that our Founding Fathers were largely atheist, agnostic, or deist. The writings of Founding Father Richard Henry Lee strongly refute that assertion.
Richard Henry Lee was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and he is specifically the man who made the motion in Congress that America separate from Great Britain. Following his death, his papers and correspondents, including numerous original handwritten letters from other prominent Founding Fathers, were passed on to his grandson.
After having studied those letters this was how the grandson described our Founding Fathers. He declared, “The wise and great men of those days were not ashamed publicly to confess the name of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On behalf of the people, as their representatives and rulers, they acknowledged the sublime doctrine of his mediation.”
For more information on God’s hand in American history contact wall builders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.
The Philosophy And Purpose Of Government
You go back to our original national document, our original founding document, the Declaration of Independence. In the first 46 words in that primary opening statement in the Declaration they tell us the philosophy of government that has produced American exceptionalism.
Let me just read you that opening statement, they say, “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. That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men.”
Now, you take those 46 words that is the philosophy of government. Two points immediately become clear in that opening statement of our first national government document.
Number one, they say there is a divine creator, and number two that divine creator gives guaranteed rights to men. So, that’s our philosophy. There’s a God and God gives specific rights to men. That’s the philosophy of government.
But what is the purpose of government? The purpose is different from the philosophy but the purpose is also set forth in those first 46 words. Again, returning to those 46 words, the Founders said, “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.”
That’s point one and point two. There is a God and He gives specific unalienable rights. But here’s the purpose of government, the very next sentence they say, “That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men.” So very simply, the purpose of government is to secure God-given or in unalienable rights to man.
Our Unalienable Rights Defined
Now, when you look at “unalienable rights,” that’s a term we don’t use very often today. But what is an unalienable right? Well, the Founders who use that term defined that term.
A great example is James Wilson. James Wilson is one of only six Founding Fathers who signed both the Constitution and the Declaration. James Wilson was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court as an original Justice by President George Washington. And James Wilson is the man who started the first organized the legal training in America.
As a matter of fact, when he was sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court he was also teaching law school, teaching the first set of law books done for any students in America.
So, here’s a guy who certainly knows constitutional intent. He certainly knows the founding intent, those 46 words because he signed both the Declaration and the Constitution, and now he’s on the court to help interpret that and make sure everyone knows what they intended.
This is what he said in those legal writings that he taught students, he said, “This is an unalienable right.” He said, “An unalienable right is a right to which we are entitled by our all wise and all beneficent Creator.”
Again, he said, “An unalienable right is a right to which we are entitled by our all wise and all beneficent Creator.” So, very simply an unalienable right is a right that God gave you not government.
If God told you that you have the right to do something, that’s a right that comes from God not from government, that’s an unalienable right. John Dickinson, who is also a signer of the Constitution, who was very closely involved in the independence of America, who was a general in the revolution, and who was a governor in Delaware and Pennsylvania after the Revolution. This is what he said about an unalienable right, “An unalienable right is a right which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.”
In other words, it’s a right that God gave you and nothing less than God can take that right away from you. Well, that’s an unalienable right. Very simply, an unalienable right is a right that God has given to man and the purpose of government is to protect.
What would be included in unalienable rights? What can we point to and say, “Hey, God gave these rights to man.”
Our Unalienable Rights In Order Of Priority
Well, they listed some in the Declaration that’s for sure. And when you look at the writings of Samuel Adams, a signer of the Declaration, and actually Sam Adams is called the father of American independence.
When he talked about the inalienable rights, he put a priority on them. He says, “First, there’s a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property.” Now, we say, “Wait a minute, that the Declaration says, ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ How did they get property out of that?”
Well, all the legal commentaries back then equated property with the pursuit of happiness. Today we say that the great American dream is to own a home, well, that’s property.
You see, the pursuit of happyness, the pursuit of that American dream, is the ability to, as they stated, to acquire, to possess, to enjoy, and to preserve private property. So that’s the pursuit of happiness, is to be able to own your own things, to be able to purchase and acquire and and have your own things. Whether that be transportation, or housing, or any of the things that we have, that is property. That’s a God given inalienable right.
As a matter of fact, that’s why one of the first Ten Commandments says, “Don’t steal.” Don’t take someone else’s private property. God does not want private property being violated. The tenth commandment of the Ten Commandments actually says, “Don’t even covet someone else’s private property.”
So, that’s a God-given right, the right to own property. That’s why Sam Adam says, “Number one is the right to life. Number two is liberty. And third is the right to property.”
The Purpose Behind The Bill Of Rights
Now, as we developed the government and we take that philosophy, those 46 words and we incorporate it into the Constitution. And as we finished the Constitution we come with the Bill of Rights, which again is the capstone of the Constitution. And they said, “We’re going to name some other inalienable rights just to make sure that government does not get into these rights.” And that’s the bill of rights.
When you look at the ten amendments to the bill of rights, those are God granted rights that government is not to intrude into. The right of religious expression of the First Amendment. The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, what they call the Biblical right of self-defense. The Third Amendment, sanctity the home. And you work through all the amendments. The Fifth Amendment, the right to private property. Those are rights that are inalienable rights. So, inalienable rights are listed in the Declaration of Independence and in the Bill of Rights.
Bring A Speaker To Your Area
Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional. And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”
Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area.
Does The Right To Life Apply The Same Way Today As It Did Back Then
Going back to what Sam Adams says, “First, is a right to life.” And they put a priority on that. Today we say, “Well, right to life, that’s not used the same way today that they used it then. Because when we talk about right to life today that is the abortion issue. But back then abortion was not an issue.” Oh yes it was.
You see, the Scripture says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And the issues really don’t change, the technology changes, but not the issues. As long as there have been pregnancies in the world there have been people who did not want pregnancies, who wanted to terminate pregnancies.
You’ll find that abortion was a discussed item in the Founding Era. As a matter of fact, we have books in our library of original documents on observations on abortion back in 1808 talking about it.
You’ll find that in early legislatures in the 1790’s they were dealing with the legislation on the right to life, on the abortion issue. Literally they understood back then that abortion was a bad deal. And your first guaranteed inalienable right is a right to life.
Consider how many other Founding Fathers talked about the right to life. Take for example John Quincy Adams. Now, here’s John Quincy Adams, early involved in the American Revolution, was a diplomat. George Washington said that he’s the best diplomat we had, he becomes a president himself. And here’s what John Quincy Adams said, “The Declaration of Independence will tell you that its authors held for self-evident truth that the right to life is the first of the inhalable rights of man.”There it is.
He actually gave the speech 50 years after the Declaration. He said, “No, look, the guys who wrote the Declaration, my dad was one of them, and I know all of those guys. They tell you that the right to life is the first self-evident truth of the inalienable rights of man. And to secure and not destroy that right, the right to life, Governments are instituted among men.” So, he comes back and says, “The first inalienable right is the right to life and governments are instituted to protect the right to life.”
Now, James Wilson we already mentioned him as a signer of the Declaration, Constitution, and did the first legal book in America. This is what he said about the abortion issue.
He said, “With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life from its commitment to its close is protected by the common law. And the contemplations of law life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, that life is protected.”
Now, very simply he said that as soon as you know you’re pregnant, as soon as you know there’s life in the womb that life is protected by law.
Now, that’s where the technology difference is. We can know that there’s life in the womb much earlier today than what they knew back then. But the point was the same. As soon as you know there’s a life there it’s protected by law from the commencement to the close and as he says, in the contemplation of law life began to in the interim was first able to star in the womb, as soon as you know that there is a life there it is absolutely protected.
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. 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.
Moment From America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. In the minds of many today, Government is a purely secular institution and is not in any way to be joined to religious principles. The result is that too often our public policies are now enacted without any consideration of their spiritual consequences.
However, the Founding Fathers believed that even a political act should always be examined from a spiritual viewpoint. For example, in his inaugural address, President George Washington declared, “We ought to be persuaded that the favorable smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” President George Washington believed that the blessings of Heaven would reside on this nation only so long as its national policies embraced godly standards.
For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.
Government’s Role Is To Protect Our Right To Life
John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration, the president Princeton University, who trained so many Founding Father, he commented on the same fact, “A perfect right and a state of natural liberty is the right to life. In America we’ve even denied the power of life and death to parents.”
Hey, parents you didn’t create that life, God did. You don’t have a right to take that life. “It’s my pregnancy.” Or, “I created the pregnancy.” Or, “I’m the father.” “I’m the mother, I can end that if I want.”
No, God is the one who gave life. And we said in America, “We don’t even let parents take the life of that child, of that unborn child. There’s a right to life. And parents can’t even violate that.”
So we recognize that life came from God, that it was a gift of God. It was not a gift of the parents, it came from God. And there was a lot of quotes in that. So, when you look at what Sam Adams and others said, the first of all the animal rights to be protected by government is the right to life.
Now, when you look at the right to life issue, and if you apply that to anyone in government at any level anywhere. They can be city dogcatcher all the way the president of the United States, it is really significant that if you find what their position is on the right to life you have their entire view of government.
Quite frankly, you’ll find that if they are not willing to protect the right to life-and that that’s the first of all the unalienable rights, if they’re not willing to say, “God gave that right and it’s off limits to government.”- And by the way, that’s what limited government means, it means government is limited from getting into certain areas. Life is one of those because God gave life not government.
Where Do Your Beliefs Stand
You’ll find that if they are wrong on the life issues, whether that be euthanasia or abortion or anything else, if they’re wrong in the life issue you’ll find that 99.9% of the time they’re also going to be wrong on public religious expression issues.
“No, you don’t have a God-given right to express your faith in public. We don’t need that stuff in the secular square. Keep that religious expression out of public, someone might see that.”
And if they’re wrong on the life issue then they’re nearly always wrong on the religious expression issue. And if they’re wrong on the life issue, they’re nearly always going to be wrong on the right to keep and bear arms. “No, you don’t have a right to defend yourself. You don’t you don’t have the God given right of self protection.” The founders really go through a lot of Biblical analysis of why that is a God given right, that’s why they put in the Bill of Rights.
But if you’re not willing to protect the right to life you’re not willing to protect the right of Biblical self-defense. And if you’re not willing to protect the right to life you’re going to get the Third Amendment wrong on the sanctity of the home. And you’ll find that nearly everyone that’s wrong with the abortion issue is also wrong on the traditional marriage issue.
“Marriage doesn’t need to be just a man or a woman. Let’s have some other combination.” You’ll find that those people are also wrong on the abortion issue. You’ll find that if they’re wrong on the abortion issue they’re also going to be wrong on the 5th Amendment issue of the protection of private property.
And quite frankly, when they’re wrong on one issue of inalienable right to life they’re going to be wrong on nearly every other inalienable right that’s out there. And if they don’t recognize those are God given rights and it’s not the jurisdiction of government to interfere with those rights then you’re going to lose limited government and you won’t have good government.
So, our philosophy of American exceptionalism was very simple. We said, “There is a God. He gives specific rights. The purpose of government is to protect the rights God has given. And by the way, here are many of the inalienable rights that he gave.”
Stay Tuned For More Programs
Well, that’s all the time we have for today, folks. Thanks for joining us here on WallBuilders Live! You’ve been listening to David Barton on the topic of principles of limited government.
We’re going to get the pick up where we left off today at the beginning of our program tomorrow. It will actually be a three part series, so it’s going to take three programs to get this presentation in on Principles of Limited Government.
So if for some reason you’re going to miss the next couple of days you can get them on our website at WallBuildersLive.com, Principles of Limited Government. You can also get the CD at our website WallBuilders.com if you’d like to just go ahead and order the CD and have the whole program there you can do that as well.
I encourage you to visit the website and look through the articles, there’s all kinds of great information right there, free to download to help you begin to get educated, equipped, inspired, and involved in what’s going on if you’d like to see a more limited government and a government that’s not only within the bounds of what it was intended to do but it does the right things really well.
So, lots of good information there WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. I’ll give you one more website if you want to get into what limited government means from a constitutional perspective you’ll want to get my class on the Constitution and you can get that at RickGreen.com.
Really appreciate you being with us today. We’ll be back tomorrow with more from David Barton on the Principles of Limited Government. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green.