Note: We hope you enjoy, and take time to reflect on this excellent essay from Rick Jore explaining and celebrating the very foundation upon which our freedom and liberties were built. Our sincerest thanks and appreciation to Rick for letting us share it with all of you on this very special day.
The celebration of “Independence Day” on July 4th is special. For me, it is special mostly because I view the Declaration of Independence as one of the finest documents of sound theological principle and doctrine ever to be applied and penned by the hand of man. (The Scriptures being “God breathed” before being “penned” by man.)
In the spring of 1876, as the Centennial of American Independence was drawing near, Joseph P. Thompson — a pastor, Bible scholar and, judging by his lectures, a student of history and a captivating orator — was asked to prepare and deliver six lectures in five leading cities in Europe and Britain. To the overwhelming applause of all who attended, he did so. Those six lectures are contained in a book called “Let the Cannon Blaze Away,” which I have in my library.
One chapter of the book is entitled “Doctrines of the Declaration,” in part of which he contrasts the French revolution with the principles of the Declaration. That revolution, for those who may have forgotten, grew from secular humanist presuppositions (man is autonomous and God is irrelevant) and emphasized egalitarian results. (E’galite’, Fraternite’…”equality and brotherhood,” both imposed by the force of law. The remembered symbol of that revolt was the guillotine. Any man who held his head above the crowd had his head cut off because the French revolution, like its ultimate protege the communist revolution, was a leveling down thing conceived in hate. “Income Inequality” come to mind?)
Of the comparison to the French Revolution to the Declaration, Thompson said this:
“The American Declaration of Independence, on the contrary, makes the essence of freedom not political, but ethical, — the attribute of man as a spiritual person: and the State, which by forms of political liberty is to guard this freedom, which is older and higher than itself, derives from it something of its spiritual dignity; so that the body politic is possessed also of a moral personality. Hence the Declaration does not couch natural rights in political forms, but makes the whole nature of man — physical, intellectual, and moral — the basis of rights for which political society is bound to care, and before which governments must fall when they attempt to destroy the rights, inherent in personality, with which man is endowed by his Creator.”
I hope you will contemplate that.
There was a time when this understanding of the doctrine and theology that birthed the Declaration was fully understood by most Americans. It was thoroughly taught in churches and in homes. Not so much anymore.
Laura Ingalls Wilder conveyed the same theological doctrine pertaining to the Declaration in a simple and understandable manner. Her Little House on the Prairie books contain a chapter conveying the details of an Independence Day celebration in a small town on the Dakota prairies when she was a young girl. After a reading of the Declaration and singing of the hymn My Country Tis of Thee, Laura explains how it all came together in her mind and she fully understood what the document and the day was all about:
“The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: “God is America’s king. She thought: Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why, she thought, when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do. I will have to make myself be good.”
At age 14, Laura Ingalls Wilder grasped the simple but profound Truth that a requirement of freedom is that all just governance begins with self government, ie self control; self restraint; individual responsibility. It is written in the constitution of things that men who refuse to govern themselves can never be free.
Katherine Lee Bates surely understood this principle of self government. “America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law” is how she expressed it in the song.
It truly is an amazing document, that Declaration. The men who signed it, supported it, and sacrificed for it deserve to be honored. To celebrate the day and the document without fully understanding it is to dishonor those men. And I say, to the offense of some, that one must understand the theology which underlies the Declaration to understand its significance and appreciate it appropriately.
Honor those who gave us the Declaration. Read it and grasp its profound principles of Truth as you commemorate the day. And then…lets start rebuilding the foundations of freedom by living the principles of self government.
Happy Independence Day,