During the latter part of the eighteenth century, a phenomenal political development occurred which created the framework for a new civilization. This was the establishment of the first free people in modern times. It was an epic achievement in the panoramic history of the human race. The whole pattern of human existence was bogged down by three man-made systems which had enslaved mankind. The first was the political system throughout the world which consisted of monarchial dictatorships where life, liberty and property were subject to the more or less fickle whims of individual potentates. The second oppressive system was the economic pattern of the world which was rooted in a variety of feudal contracts where the majority of the people wore out their lives as serfs on vast estates carved from spoils of military conquest. And the third system which dominated the lives of mankind was the over expansion of institutionalized religion. The professional guardians of man’s spiritual welfare had practically choked off all channels of free spiritual expression so that matters of opinion and conscience were often scrutinized and controlled by oppressive surveillance. As I write about the subjects of ‘politics’ and the ‘church’, we must remember that we must keep them separated when it comes to ‘ruling’ people. The church is the people and politics is the way those people interrelate. Religion is ‘a specific system of belief, worship, etc. often involving a code of ethics.’ We might think that religion is something we find in a church…as in a building. Religion can encompass a variety of beliefs, including even devil worship. In history religion has often crossed the bounds of government and tried to force people into a system of beliefs whether they believe in the system or not. I have always believed that religion in the United States…a nation founded on Christian principles…should be the conscience of government in establishing governing policies…but the ‘Church’, an organization, should not be the government. It is a tough line to define and only policies that can present positive aspects to the governed will find generalized willful acceptance. As Christians we cannot force our beliefs on anyone, but by the example we live we can encourage many to at least consider the Christian religion.
For several hundred years prior to the eighteenth century a few ‘liberal’ rebels had struck out fiercely against the ‘Frankenstein’ systems which enmeshed mankind, and many of these ‘liberals’ left their mark. They were called ‘liberals’ because they desired to liberate the race from these man-made systems. They wanted man controlling the systems instead of the systems enslaving man. Today, unfortunately, ‘liberals’ are often those who would like to restore those systems and once more make man their minions. For the time being, however, I shall speak of ‘liberals’ in the original sense…liberators from man-made systems.
The first group of liberals to gravitate together in sufficient quantities to take decisive action was a contingent of visionary men scattered among the American colonies. These few were sufficiently strong enough to chart a blueprint for the first free nation in modern times. In many ways it was a very reckless venture. These American political pioneers risked life, property, and the rights of citizenship by participating in this liberation movement. Nevertheless, they were successful to a degree never exceeded by political leaders at any other time or generation.
So, what was the political philosophy of these American founding fathers? First, they were very uncommon men. They were neither anarchists nor revolutionists but were among the most successful political and business leaders from each of the colonies. They were both physically and mentally equipped to be empire builders, and before the king had made his imperialism completely intolerable, they had, in many cases, been among the most active subjects of the king carrying out the crown’s business among the colonies. By their own standards, they could scarcely be called ‘proletariat’. As a group they were students of economics and political science. When they set their hands to the task of creating a new nation, they drained off the best thinking of men like John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, and Adam Smith, besides adding many ingenious contributions from the inspiration of their own minds. This evolved into a unique political philosophy. The documents these men produced reflect the ingredients of this philosophy.
> They believed that certain inalienable rights of man are derived from God and not from any human agency; therefore, no human agency can rightfully disturb them.
> They believed class distinctions must be eliminated…there is no place among free men for classes or castes. Men of all professions are honorable and necessary, worthy of being treated as equals. They believed the progress of the human race will not be the result of pitting one class against another but will come by uniting all groups or classes in one concentrated offensive against man’s common enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease and war.
> They believed that in pursuing happiness, men must be free to work at any livelihood which their experience, training and native qualifications will permit them to secure and hold.
> They believed that men must be free to enjoy the fruits of their labors…which included the protection of property rights.
> They believed men must be secure in their homes and the privacy of their lives. They believed there must be good will, generosity, and tolerance between those of different professions, those of different religions, and those of different races.
(Please know that the use of the term ‘man’ applies not to just males alone but to ‘homoserines’…that is males and females.)
And to end this week I want to throw in a little of my philosophy on freedom in this life. We have a freedom of choice that is God given. However, we do not have a freedom of action. A certain religion my believe in human sacrifice…and we are free to believe that…but we are not free to act on that belief. We may believe that the stop sign at the end of the street is unnecessary, however, we are still required to stop. We are free to believe whatever religious or political philosophy we want to. We are not free to force that philosophy on someone else. We may believe in abortion, but we are not free to force someone else to pay for it. We may believe in same-sex marriage, but we are not free to force others to accept it. The Constitution provides us with the responsibilities of government, and it is up to us as citizens to support those obligations through our taxes. This is where our nation is experiencing ever increasing conflict. Politicians are trying to force their opinions on citizens whether constitutional or not. These actions will not lead the nation in a positive direction and the enemies of our nation know that. Think about it!
Next week we will see how a philosophy became a reality. Our nation is truly a gift from God, and we are blessed to be citizens or at least residents. But just as our freedoms came with a price, so can recovery once freedoms are given away.
“The Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” (Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1992)