Our Magnificent Constitution
In a day in which tradition is in disarray (not least in our theological institutions) and a cacophony of ideological pragmatisms distorts our vision, a document is available for renewing the conversation of present with past in a responsible move away from Robert Bork’s “slouching toward Gomorrah.” Governors and governed, believers and unbelievers, learned and unlearned, the renowned and the unknown, seekers and cynics— all are invited through this document to become involved again—or for the first time in their lives—in what it takes to be and to stay free in America, by beginning at a critical and unavoidable beginning.
It is a superb document—at once timely and timeless! Its theme is the relation between the people and their government both in doctrine and practice, and its purpose is to safeguard liberty from those who would be tyrants. It provides an unassailable condemnation of state theology, recognizing instead the need for a prophetic theology as the authentic voice of the church in calling itself and the secular state to account and in taking responsibility for bringing justice and power together for the freedom, peace, and good of all.
The timeliness of this document is evident from its emergence from within the very eye of the storm as a response from American society to the crisis confronting church and state at home and ineluctably in the world. Its authors’ acute discernment and competent probing of the meaning of freedom has made available a guidebook of such reliable and succinctly formulated insight as to make it an indispensable manual for liberty-lovers worldwide. The cry of suffering that prompted it is a call to renewal and responsibility of church and state, both in themselves and in their dealings with each other throughout the nation.
In a time of social and cultural fragmentation, relativization, and bureaucratization of private and public values, a guidebook is at hand for the discovery of a path toward the rebirth of the American Republic as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. It deserves a major commitment of serious study, reflection, and conversation within the community of faith. Should church congregations and governing bodies take it up for repeated reading; should teachers give it frequent place among their curricular offerings at foundational and graduate levels; should the reading and searching of this document again become the companions of the reading and searching of the Scriptures—then at town hall meetings, in the workplaces of the land, in study centers, in the halls of Congress, and in the ongoing lives of citizens, it is to be hoped that the nation will find itself overtaken by a divine visitation for the renewal of its own faith and practice, of the society for which the church shares responsibility with the state, and thus also of the state itself.
Its message is vital because without understanding the nature and source of our problems there can be no solutions. Clearly we must discern causes from effects and then we must cure the cause if we, and our posterity, are to truly live in the Land of the Free. Many of its truths are being accepted as “self-evident” by hundreds of thousands of Americans across our troubled land today. It is a painfully hard pill to swallow as an awareness grows and eventually becomes self-evident that we have been cunningly deceived and coerced by myriad ways into contracting away our God-given rights in exchange for a pottage of privileges. We have got to wake up to the real facts or we will lose any traces of freedom that we have left.
True freedom bears a price tag, which is eternal vigilance, and our most dangerous enemy is our own apathy. Freedom is not a thing that is granted or taken away from a citizen at the whim of a destructive or benevolent government; it is a God-given right that no man or government has the right to control. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” says the Bible (Hosea 4:6), and we must get the knowledge out to the people now or we will surely perish. Either we put an end to Big Brother government, or Big Brother will put an end to our freedom.
You say, How can I possibly make a difference? First, read the Constitution. Secondly, make sure you understand the meanings of the words you have just read. Third, obey the law as written.
Freedom belongs only to the vigilant—and the informed. Now is the time for patriotic Americans to do what we should have done in the beginning of our nation, and that is to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution and to be vigilant and conscientious that it is not violated.
And this we will do, so help us God!
July 5, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.