July Fourth the Declaration and God
The unanimous Declaration of Independence of the United States of America signed in Congress, July 4, 1776, by fifty-six men, is truly a foundational document of the nation. In his recently published (2012) book, The Founder’s Key-The Divine and Natural Connections Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk By Losing It, Larry P. Arnn makes a sound case for the fundamental principle upon which the Declaration of Independence, as well as The Constitution of the United States of America, rest. Actually, Professor Arnn, who is President of Hillsdale College, says there is “a set of principles” (122) that result in the integral unity of these two monumental documents. However, make no mistake about it, Arnn believes the highest indication of the greatness of both the Declaration and the Constitution is their foundation in the recognition of the existence of God.
“The Declaration of Independence” says Arnn, “is . . . a list of reasons why it came to be” (77). It is the intellectual defense of liberty. The Constitution is how that which is self-evident due to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” will be expedited. The Declaration of Independence provides the “Why.” The Constitution provides the “How.” And the single foundational truth upon which both rest is God.
God is mentioned four times in the Declaration of Independence. He is in the first sentence in the reference to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Secondly, He appears in the very next sentence as “Creator.” The third appearance is when He is identified as “the Supreme Judge of the world.” Finally, in the last sentence, the Declaration acknowledges “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” Professor Arnn insightfully, and eloquently, draws the following conclusion:
God appears, therefore, as each branch of government—legislator, executor, and judge—and as something like a Founder [“Creator”]. And the attitude toward God in the Declaration is as the source of perfection, or rather perfection itself. . . . God can be trusted to judge the “rectitude of our intentions.” No man can be so trusted. Facing war and death, we can trust “divine Providence” to protect us. Our own powers are apparently insufficient. And the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” apply always and must always be obeyed. These are the only laws so applying and so commanding. (36)
Arnn implies that this foundational principle of the acknowledgement of God’s existence is one that “the Bible but also the classic authors conclude that nature points to” (52). And the Founders, without uncertainty, concur. There is no divorce on this point between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, made this clear when he wrote, “[T]he belief in a God All powerful, wise, and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources” (qtd. in Murray, Coming Apart, Crown Forum 2012, 139).
If for no other reason than its deep awareness and defense of the existence of God in a contemporary American culture that manifests an agenda against the very existence of God, Warren Apologetics Center is deserving of your support. As you celebrate the 4th of July, and its connection to the Declaration of Independence, may you be deeply impressed with the most foundational principle upon which liberty rests (God’s existence). And may you seriously considering sending your tax-deductible gift today to Warren Christian Apologetics Center to help affirm and defend the Christian worldview and challenge the growing global influence of atheistic thought. We need your support to do this great and timely work!
-Charles C. Pugh III