One Nation Under God

The official motto of the United States is more than lip service to ward off the wrath from a potentially vengeful god.  The motto is what I would call a fence, a paradigm for the existence of human institutions and the humanity benefitting from them.  This point—the significance of a corporate, unified belief in the supremacy of the God of the Bible—is underscored this week by Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s response to the cover article from Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. 


In his reply, Dr. Mohler points out that the idea of freedom of conscience depends on a greater reality than man if the concept is to mean anything.  Mr. Meacham had argued that America’s unifying force is not any specific faith; rather, the unifying force was a commitment to freedom, particularly including freedom of conscience.  Yet, the bare notion of freedom is insufficient.  On what grounds might one claim to have the right to freedom?  Why not rather assume one has the right to exercise freedom so long as his freedom does not undermine the well-being of the state?  Indeed, is it not the case that freedom is able to exist only insofar as its limits are understood?


For example, one may be free to play football.  In his playing football, he is free to run as fast and as far as he wishes.  However, there are other free players on the field, too, who wish to stop him.  Not only that, there is a prescribed area in which the player must run, or he is ruled out of bounds and his play is stopped, along with his freedom to run the football.  The player would not be free to play football if there were no boundaries to the field.  Without sidelines and goal lines, football is not a possibility.  Without boundaries, we have no freedom.  To put it another way, unfettered freedom is nothing short of chaos.  No one has unrestrained freedom of conscience, nor should he.  For freedom to flourish, boundaries must exist.  Boundaries provide the rules of the game by which maximum freedom for the individual and the society is realized.  The question, then, is not whether there should be freedom of conscience, but who decides the boundaries of freedom in America?   


The wisdom du jour would have us believe that the boundaries must not be provided by God for this would artificially and prejudicially inject religion into an otherwise non-religious sphere of political machination.  Yet, is this the truth?  The founders—many of whom were not Christians—did not shun the God of the Bible in determining the contours of our freedom.  They referenced Him specifically in the declaration of our freedom—the Declaration of Independence. 


The founders of the United States understood that Christianity provided a foundation for freedom and conscience in a way that other religions (like Islam) could not.  As Dr. Mohler says, “Though the founders included those who rejected the Christian Gospel and Christianity itself, Christianity had provided the necessary underpinnings for the founders’ claims.”  Claims to freedom require foundations somewhere beyond the individual man or woman in order to avoid a disintegration of social order into mass chaos, where every man does what is right in his own eyes.  


Democratic freedom—the kind of freedom that comes from majority rule—will prove (as it has in the past) to minimize freedom and maximize tyranny.  If we are one nation under God, then there will be one God to whom all men must answer, regardless of rank, title, or power.  In other words, when an understandable and knowable God exists who judges all men impartially, then all men can be said to be under the authority of that God’s law ultimately.  Law and order is made possible by the Lawgiver and Orderer of all things—God, meaning the Judeo-Christian God.  Mr. Meacham and many like him are unwilling to yield this point, apparently thinking that if a nation allows God to stick his divine foot in the door, then soon he will own the house and enslave everybody within it.  Again, this is not at all the case.  Our gravest danger comes not from letting God in, but in keeping God out.  Do you doubt this?  {Part 2 still to come}

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