THE MODERN CHURCH

Christless Christianity
The Modern Church, with its “Christless Christianity,” is nothing much more than a sanctified country club. Its membership consists of like-minded individuals who want—although they desire to commune with God and be religious—to be free to exercise themselves as the completely autonomous individuals they view themselves to be. Of course, such independence facilitates a multitude of sins which, in turn, answers the question as to why those who make up the Modern Church live and act no differently than the world.

What does the Modern Church member think about the church? Does he think it just some accouterment to validate his individual autonomy and feel good about it? If so, a church made up of like-minded members could not be “of Christ”—“of Belial,” yes (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:15), but certainly not “of Christ”!

On the other hand, genuine New-Testament Christianity can be true to itself only when its adherents are actively engaged in breaking to pieces the world’s idols. This is accomplished by “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

So, just as it’s clear that one of the functions of Christ’s church in any age is to be iconoclastic (i.e., to unmask the idols and expose them for what they really are, which is nothing more than “sham gods),” it’s just as clear that there’s no other basis for this than the truths taught in God’s word. It was the great apostle Paul who said it was the “House of God, which is the church of the living God,” that serves as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). This means, among other things, that the pathologies that were present in the pre-Christian world, vis-a-vis the economic, social, familial, sexual, and legal aspects of life, are very much alive in our present post-Christian world. (By “post-Christian world.” I mean a culture that has been almost totally secularized, as ours was during the last third of the previous century).

The truths taught in the Bible, particularly those found in the New Testament, are especially meaningful to a post-Christian culture. This is not just because they are God’s truths, but because they are God’s truths written in the midst of a culture much like our own. And although it’s true our present culture is not pagan per se, it is, at best, neo-pagan in its outlook. As such, the invitation addressed to those of the first century to “Be saved from this perverse generation” is still most apropos (cf. Acts 2:40).

The Spacetime Continuum

spacetime

Space, like time, is a product of creation and, thus, all created beings are spatial creatures. This means that both the material and spiritual dimensions are spatial, although not necessarily in the same way. Although spiritual “space” is obviously not like material space, it nevertheless has spatial limitations. Thus, space, of some sort, is characteristic of created beings, whether material or spiritual.

The material universe of which we humans are a part is three-dimensional. Thus, we are limited by the three-dimensional boundaries of the spacetime continuum. Included in these limitations are (a) a material body can exist in only one space at a time, (b) to get from one space to another, a material body must pass through the intervening space, which means that (c) given the limitations of three-dimensional space, it is impossible, when we factor in the fourth dimension of time, for a material body to occupy two different spaces at the same time.

In contrast to this and evidently at the same time, fully spiritual creatures, such as angels and demons, do not normally occupy our space (cf. Jude 6). Consequently, it can be rather safely concluded that these spiritual creatures are not restricted by the limitations of three-dimensional space as we are. But as created beings, they have the limitations of their own spatial dimension. As I don’t occupy that dimension, I can’t tell you what it’s like, but that it exists is evident from Scripture.

Further, the Bible teaches that when pure spiritual creatures interact with material space, they are not totally outside its limits. For example, a spiritual creature, although he can apparently act multi-dimensional, can still only be in one space at a time. This is illustrated by the angelic appearance recorded in Daniel 10. The prophet Daniel had been “mourning” (which clearly included praying) for “three full weeks” (verse 2). When the angel appeared, he said:

Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia (Daniel 10:12-13).

He went on to say,

Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come (v. 14).

So, when interacting with our material dimension, this angel could not be in two places at the same time. He had been sent to answer Daniel and make known to him what would happen to his people in the future, but the “prince of Persia” (very likely another spiritual entity) withstood him for “twenty-one days.” The struggle was so intense that Michael (another spiritual creature) had to come and help him. Then, after administering to Daniel, he still needed to return and “fight” with the prince of Persia, knowing that the “prince of Greece” would eventually be involved (v. 20).

It is clear, then, that a spiritual creature cannot occupy more than one space at a time. This means spiritual beings (angels and demons) are not omnipresent. Even Satan himself cannot be everywhere at once and must use other spiritual entities to represent his interests around the world.

What all this means is that created beings, whether they be spiritual or material, are spatial beings. But in complete contrast to His creation, God, the uncreated Creator, is not a spatial being and, thus, unlimited by space (omnipresent). However, God is not so immensely large as to fill all of space, even to infinity. Such thinking would be totally false and is manifested in Pantheism. God is not too large to measure. He is immeasurable because, as a non-spatial being, He is not the kind of Being that can be measured. As such, all the limitations of space—extension, location, and distance—simply do not apply to God.

 

God’s omnipresence does not prevent Him from manifesting Himself in a localized place. In fact, while it is true that His ontological Being is present to all of space equally, He has, at various times and for various reasons, entered space at specific points and become present in it. These “theophanies,” as they are called, most often involved redemption. There was, for instance, the account of God’s presence in the garden of Eden “in the cool of the evening” (Genesis 3:8ff). There was His appearance before the Israelites as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (cf. Exodus 33:9; 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10ff). Of course, the most dramatic case of God entering time and space was the Incarnation itself (cf. John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16.). But, and this point needs to be clearly understood, in entering time and space, God, in His self-existent, eternal and infinite Being, did not cease to be omnipresent. He was, while existing as Jesus of Nazareth, still present to every point of space and was, in fact, holding everything together by the “word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3; see also Colossians 1:17).

With this in mind, it seems evident that the omnipresence of Immanuel or “God with us” is the real subject of John 3:13, which says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of God who is in heaven.” I’ve heard people say they didn’t know what this passage was saying, but they knew it couldn’t mean what folks like me think it means. This isn’t exactly cogent exegesis if you ask me. Nevertheless, some among us are confident that the ontological presence of the Word, who was Himself God, could not be on earth, in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, and be in heaven at the same time. It could be that this difficult passage is not saying what I think it’s saying, but the teacher of God’s Word who claims that it “can’t be” is clearly not taking into consideration the omnipresence of Jehovah’s ontological Being—a Being not limited by space and time. Yes, I know the concept is mind-boggling, but such is, I believe, characteristic of the magnificent nature of Almighty God. When contemplating the nature of God, it is not detrimental to have our minds boggled a bit.

The Beginning Of Time

On the basis of creation texts such as Genesis 1:1 and Proverbs 8:22-23, it can be argued that time, at least physical time, had a “beginning.” In fact, Genesis 1:1, which is neither a subordinate clause nor a summary title, says,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

According to James Barr, this was an absolute beginning which, when taken with the expression, “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (verse 5), indicates this was, in fact, the very first day, which may well be intended to teach that “the beginning” was not just the beginning of the physical universe, but the beginning of time itself and that, therefore, God may be thought of as timeless (James Barr, Biblical Words for Time, 1962, pages 145-147). In this statement, Barr seems to reflect what Jude said so succinctly:

To the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and power, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen (Jude, ASV of 1901).

When this is coupled with Proverbs 8:22-23, which clearly looks back to “the beginning,” it can be fairly said that the Old Testament implies that time started at the beginning. Add to this Jude’s statement mentioned above, along with John 1:1-3, which says:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made,

and it seems clear that the Bible teaches the beginning of the creation was not just the beginning of space and matter, but the beginning of time as well.

If all this is true, and I think there is much to support it, then the Creator, at least before He created, was neither subject to time (i.e., He was timeless) nor space. In addition, as the immortal, eternal God (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17), He did not, indeed He could not, consist of the material nature (matter) of His creation. He was, in fact, totally other (i.e., transcendent). All this stands in stark contrast with creation, which, by virtue of its creation, owes its existence to something outside itself (viz., God). It is in this regard that we are said to live, move and have our being in the Creator (cf. Acts 17:28).

“Big Bang” Cosmology

It is only God, by virtue of who He is, who is free from the constraints of the spacetime continuum, for it is clear that the God who is not so free can never be anything more than a small “g” god. Thus, Christians must not attempt to transfer any of the creaturely limitations to God, for as the Creator, He is simply not subject to them. It is interesting, then, that modern science, which hasn’t been especially friendly to the Creator, has started bowing in His direction. Although I believe “big bang” cosmology to be inconsistent with the Biblical account of creation, and therefore wrong, nevertheless, it is most interesting to hear scientists conclude that time and space came into existence at “the beginning” of the universe. The British physicist, Paul Davies, typifies what I’m talking about:

If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event, the creation not only of all the matter and energy of the universe, but also of spacetime itself (“Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology and Black Hole Evaporation,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J.T. Fraser, N. Lawrence, and D. Park, 1978, pages 78-79.

Others, addressing this same thing, assert:

At this singularity, space and time came into existence, literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated as such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo (John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, 1986, page 442).

This aspect of current cosmological theory is especially troubling for some scientists, particularly those with atheistic beliefs. For example, the Russian astrophysicist, Andrei Linde, acknowledges, rather candidly, the problem that such a model poses for him:

The most difficult aspect of this problem is not the existence of the singularity itself, but the question of what was before the singularity… This problem lies somewhere at the boundary between physics and metaphysics (“The Inflationary Universe,” Reports on Progress in Physics 47, 1984, page 976).

Sounds to me like Fred Hoyle’s old “steady-state” theory (viz., an eternal universe) with its well-known dictum Exnihilo, nihil fit (“Out of nothing, nothing comes”) has finally bitten the dust. As philosopher William Lane Craig says, “The steady-state model has been abandoned by virtually everyone” (Reasonable Faith, page 103).

So, the theory most scientists subscribe to today is the big-bang model, especially the inflationary version. Again, I am not arguing that this theory is correct. In fact, I totally reject the 15 billion years this theory postulates for the universe. I mention it here only because it argues that the expanding universe necessarily had a beginning and that it did not begin to expand into already existing space, but was, in fact, space itself, with the alleged cosmic expansion creating space as it went along.

Now, if scientists—who are limited, in the things they do, to the material creation—can understand the universe had a beginning, and that such a creation would have to be created ex nihilo or “out of nothing,” then I should think modern-day Christians should not fail to understand the profound implications of such a creation—namely, that the Creator is over and above time, space and all finite reality and can no more be confined to space than He can be measured by time.

In Conclusion

If something exists now, one of three things must be true of it: (a) it is either eternal, (b) it is created by something that is eternal, or (c) it is self-created. The first option is ruled out by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, since an eternal universe would have wound down or dissipated a long time ago. The third clashes not only with the First Law of Thermodynamics, but with logic’s Law of Contradiction, because in order to have created itself, the universe would have had to exist before it existed, an idea that is scientifically and philosophically ridiculous. This leaves only the second option, and the God here extolled satisfies all the necessary criteria of such a Creator. Natural revelation, when properly interpreted, points at a Being whose existence explains why science can explain anything, but why it cannot explain everything. As the famous and erudite Mr. Stephen Hawking said about the big bang theory before he gave up on God, “It would be difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as an act of God who intended to create beings like us” (A Brief History of Time, page 140). Commenting on this, William Lane Craig wrote:

Since everything that began to exist has a cause of its existence, and since the universe began to exist, we conclude, therefore, that the universe has a cause of existence. We ought to ponder long and hard over this truly remarkable conclusion, for it means that transcending the entire universe there exists a cause which brought the universe into being ex nihilo…. This conclusion ought to stagger us, ought to fill us with a sense of awe and wonder at the knowledge that our whole universe was caused to exist by something beyond it and greater than it (The Kalam Cosmological Argument, page 149).

Finally, it was the high-profile astronomer, Robert Jastrow, then Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in an article in the New York Times, asked the question:

Have Astronomers Found God?” His answer was that they had, or had at least come close to doing so. After arguing that the universe had a beginning in time, and after accepting that its creation by an act of God was a reasonable possibility [Jastrow was a professed agnostic], he went on to point out that astronomical evidence points to a theistic view of the world: “The details differ, but the essential elements…are the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy (June 25, 1978).

His final words in this article were most appropriate:

This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians… We scientists did not expect to find evidence for an abrupt beginning because we have had until recently such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time… At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries (Ibid).

Not Of Works, Lest Anyone Should Boast

Not of works

When Paul says, in Ephesians 2:8-9, “not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” and “not of works, lest anyone should boast,” and does so in contrast with salvation “by grace through faith,” he is referring to man’s performance under a system of justification by perfect law-keeping (viz., the deeds, works, or works of law which we, as creatures, have failed to perform perfectly). Having been saved by grace through faith, but not at the point of faith, as many have mistakenly thought, one is able to do, according to Ephesians 2:10, those “good works” which the Father “beforehand” created us in Christ Jesus to do.

These good works are prescribed by the law-code we are obligated to obey “under law to Christ.” These good works are the very same works that James says are done by those who Paul said, and James agrees, are saved by grace through faith. These “good works,” as Paul referred to them, or “works,” as James called them, are not done in order to be saved. Instead, they are works to be done by those who are, and remain, saved.

However, if a Christian refused to do these good works (works he is obligated to do in his Creator-creature relationship), he would no longer be walking in the light and, as such, would no longer have access to God’s grace through the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:5-9). At the same time, and some just can’t seem to get their minds wrapped around this point, for the one doing these good works of the law-code (a law-code that can no longer save because all are sinners), there are, and remain, conditions of grace which must be obeyed. Without obedience to these grace conditions, one simply cannot be, nor remain, saved/justified. This means that these grace conditions, contrary to law conditions, are things (or works) we must do in order to access the grace available to us through the Lord’s sacrifice. It is in this way (i.e., by these grace conditions) that we ARE (by believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized) and REMAIN (by continuing to believe, repent, and confess Jesus as Lord) saved.

Romans 3:28 Vs. James 2:24: Are They Really Contradictory?

Faith and Works

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28).

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (Jas. 2:24).

My understanding of these two passages is that when everything is said and done, Paul and James are not talking about two different kinds of works. Instead, they are speaking of “good works” (i.e., acceptable works, which are the same for both, especially considering Paul’s use of “good works” in Ephesians 2:10). So, the question is: What is the explanation for the different ways Paul and James relate faith and works to justification? The best answer, I think, is that faith and works are both related to justification but in different ways. In other words, Paul and James are referring to the SAME FAITH, SAME WORKS, SAME PEOPLE, and SAME JUSTIFICATION and are, thus, in complete agreement on all of these. The difference is in the way they have chosen, by inspiration, to express themselves, and this derives from how the relationship between faith and works is to be understood.

Paul is emphasizing the IMMEDIATE, DIRECT, INHERENT relationship between faith and justification; James, on the other hand, is emphasizing the NECESSARY, BUT INDIRECT, relationship between works and justification. Thus, like James, we can say that justification is by works, but only in a SECONDARY, INDIRECT SENSE, in that works are the natural, necessary expression and evidence of faith. It is important just here to keep in mind that the works (i.e., “good works”) under discussion are the LAW CONDITIONS, and not those works done in connection with CONDITIONS OF GRACE.

Paul’s effort is to deny that justification is equally related to the “law of faith” and the “works of law” (two completely different systems), while James’ effort is to demonstrate that justification is related to the “good works” of the law, but only in that such works are the natural, inevitable expression of genuine saving faith. So, Paul does (in his context) deny a system of justification by faith plus works, and this because “works of law,” (viz., imperfect works done under a system of justification by perfect law-keeping) are permanently prevented (the legal term is “estopped”) from having any salvific/soteriological value, while James, in fact, affirms justification by a faith that works (and once again, these are the “good works” Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, we are not just talking semantics here, as some think. Paul denies that one is justified equally by the “law of faith” and “works of law,” while James affirms that one can be justified only by a faith that works-viz., genuine saving faith begets or produces the “obedience of faith.” This “obedience of faith” is not just obedience to the GRACE CONDITIONS, which are works we must do in order to be saved and stay that way, but obedience to those “good works” which we were created in Christ Jesus to do—works “of God” that He determined “beforehand” we would do in connection with His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This interpretation, I believe, passes the scriptural litmus test. If not, I look forward to its refutation.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law (Rom 3).

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Vs. The Cross Of Christ

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

In their 2005 book entitled Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton presented the results of a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research project entitled the “National Study of Youth and Religion.” What they “discovered” about the religious views of many teenagers may be summarized as follows:

  • “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth,”
  • “He wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions,”
  • “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself,”
  • “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem,”
  • “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

Their description for this syndrome was “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Deism because the god of the typical teenager is a far-away, distant and uninvolved god. Therapeutic because this god, although distant, still wants everyone to be happy, and is therefore willing, at times, to get involved when a person is embroiled in an unhappy situation. Moralistic because this far-away god who sometimes gets involved personally wants people to be nice and fair to each other, which teenagers think is the sine qua non of all world religions. In a follow-up article that can be found here, Smith said,

Such a de facto creed is particularly evident among mainline Protestant and Catholic youth but is also more than a little visible among black and conservative Protestants, Jewish teens, other religious types of teenagers, and even many ‘nonreligious’ teenagers in the United States.

This is interesting considering a critique H. Richard Niebuhr made of liberal Protestantism back in 1959, describing its core theology as “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross” (The Kingdom of God in America, p. 193). Thus, the “seeker-friendly” mentality that has now been institutionalized isn’t something new at all. It’s been coursing through the veins of “American Christendom” for some time now, wreaking its havoc on that which rightly calls itself after God—namely, the cross of Christ and everything it represents.

God’s Knowledge Is Multifaceted

All things are possible with God

God has foreknowledge and man has free will. This is true because the Bible says so. On the other hand, Calvinists et al. think there is some sort of friction between God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will. Disappointedly, more than a few Christians think the Calvinists are right about this. These have embraced man’s free will by sacrificing God’s foreknowledge on the altar of man-made think-sos. Thus, something which should impress us with God’s infinitude has caused dissension among His people. These intramural debates are well documented and are not the object of this article.

Instead, I want to discuss a different and more mind-blowing type of knowledge that God possesses. The philosophers and theologians call it “middle knowledge.” The terminology is unimportant. What’s important is that this kind of knowledge is so “totally other” that it is mind-boggling times ten.

Among the various places middle knowledge makes its appearance in the Scriptures is Matthew 11:20-24. Here the Lord said that if the “mighty works” performed during His ministry had been manifested in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, they would have repented in “sackcloth and ashes,” with Sodom remaining to His day.

So, I would hope those who can’t get their minds wrapped around the idea of God foreknowing the future, contingent, free will choices of His free moral agents, will spend some time trying to get their finite minds wrapped around the idea of an all-knowing God knowing what free moral agents would have done under circumstances which never occurred and never will. If such knowledge doesn’t blow one’s mind and make him want to fall on his face and worship the Mighty El Shaddai, “the only wise God” (Rm. 16:27; 1 Tm. 1:17; Jud. 25), then I’m not sure what could be said that might cause one who believes that God can’t foreknow the future, contingent, free-will choices of His creatures to rethink his position.

To God be the glory, now and forever!

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit of Happiness Are Not State-Granted Permissions, But God-Given Rights

The American Revolution

As noted in the previous post, the secular critics insist that THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO “LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS” are Enlightenment/secular humanist, not biblical, ideas. It is tragic that so many Americans, even some Christians, have believed this falsehood. In this post, we’ll examine the biblical origin of these concepts.

The Origin Of “Life”

As our Creator, God is the source of all life, “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a). Thus, man, who is wonderfully made in the image of his Creator, has an inherent and inalienable “right to life”—a right which can be justifiably defended against all interlopers. But without God, the Creator and Lawgiver—the God who the secularists diligently and methodically work to diminish—the State becomes the highest moral authority. When this happens, and it’s happening right now, rights, whether they be to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, are no longer thought to be inalienable. Instead, they are subject to the give and take of man-made think-sos. As a result, the inherent, God-given “right to life” has been seriously eroded in our culture, as the triune maladies of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia tragically attest.

Our Founding Fathers knew better than to establish government on the whims of sentiment. Instead, they grounded the government they were founding on the bedrock of eternal truths, truths they believed to be “self-evident.” This, more than anything else, demonstrates that these men were appealing to a biblically based way of knowing or epistemology, as the philosophers are fond of calling it. Such truths, the apostle Paul warns, some men will be disposed to suppress “in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). This was not just something that was going to be limited to Paul’s time. It would be a pattern that would manifest itself over and over again. That such is at work in our culture is something of which we are constantly being reminded.

Paul informs us that these truth suppressors are without excuse, for such truths are “manifest in them” (Rom 1:19), which is just another way of saying “self-evident.” A reading of Romans 1 and 2 with this in view in mind makes it clear that Paul and the Founding Fathers agree that such individuals are without any excuse for trying to obscure these self-evident truths. But when such truths are effectively suppressed in the minds of a people, God gives them over to a “debased mind” (Rom 1:28). In such a condition, they

do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Rom 1:28b-32).

Such an array of sins does not bode well for any nation. Unfortunately, these are indicative of the sin-laden avenue this country is traveling. Any nation that forgets God is headed to the pit, according to Psalm 9:17. That this is a 180-degree turn from the self-evident truths upon which the Founding Fathers grounded this nation is clear from an honest examination of history. Commenting on this, Benjamin Hart, said:

Even if one does not accept the truth of the Christian faith, prudence argues for the promulgation of its moral code in every area of public life, because history has demonstrated that Christian morality is indispensable to the preservation of a free society (Faith and Freedom, p. 15).

Thus, as America continues cutting itself off from its founding principles, it is safe to say that the “right to life,” when considered at all, will continue to undergo the radical modification the secular humanists have envisioned and are even now implementing. But it is clear that no such thinking was evident among our Founding Fathers, for the right to life they spoke of in the Declaration was a gift not of man, but of God.

Having taken a look at the “origin of ‘life’,” we’ll now examine the “origin of ‘liberty’.”

The Origin Of “Liberty”

Although the Bible speaks directly of “liberty” in the Old and New Testaments, it is referring primarily to the spiritual liberty that comes in connection with Jesus Christ, not the physical freedom we are usually referring to when we use this word. However, this is not to concede that there is an absence of this latter idea in the Scriptures, for if man is not free to exercise himself as a servant of God, which is, after all, “the whole duty of man” (Eccles 12:13-14), then he cannot be held responsible for his lack of service. In other words, if man isn’t a free moral agent, then he can’t be amenable to God’s law. Consequently, Genesis 1 is the place to go in order to see the origin and importance of liberty/freedom.

God created man in His own image. In doing so, He endowed him with certain faculties and invested him with the authority to subdue the earth and have dominion over its creatures (Gen 1:26-28.). Therefore, from the creation mandate itself it can be necessarily inferred that man must have the liberty (i.e., the freedom) to obediently exercise himself in the performance of his God-given duties. Man, then, because he is man, ought to be free, and such liberty is not derived from other men, but from God Himself. Thus, liberty is intrinsic and, as such, is a “self-evident” “unalienable” “right,” just as our Founding Fathers believed and said. So then, liberty, freedom, and being free were not just Enlightenment concepts, as the secularists claim, but ideas built right into the very fabric of things from the very beginning.

Sadly, the secular propagandists are firmly entrenched today. As such, they have convinced many, perhaps even most, to think that liberty is something derived from the State and thus a privilege granted by the State. But to the contrary, liberty derives from God and is, therefore, a right that will be protected by God-ordained government. Any government that does not think this is the case is in league with the Devil (i.e., it is a Revelation 13 government) and as such will be a bane, not a blessing, upon its citizens. Thus, just as God’s word teaches and our Founding Fathers believed, liberty is an essential right of man.

Having now observed the biblical origin of “life” and “liberty,” we turn our attention to “the pursuit of happiness’”

The Origin Of “The Pursuit Of Happiness”

Of the three rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, this one, many think, is proof that it was a creation of Enlightenment thought and void of God and teeming with humanistic ideas. To these, “the pursuit of happiness” seems to be more hedonistic than biblical. But, this is simply not true. Jefferson appears to have taken the phrase from the Virginia Constitution of 1776, which mentioned “pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” The term “happiness” had a technical meaning in the English common law and would have conveyed a particular idea to the Founding Fathers. This is mirrored in Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), where he said that God, the Creator, had

so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former, and if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter.

Thus, the “pursuit of happiness,” as used by the Framers, was not something inherently hedonistic at all. It was, instead, an idea well established among the people of that time, an idea that dealt with the self-evident truth that man’s inalienable right to pursue happiness in the course of, and by attending to, his God-given obligations and responsibilities was something that could not be interfered with by the State. On the contrary, the State was to protect such a right with force, if necessary (Rom 13:1-7). I like what Gary T. Amos said about this:

Like other Christian concepts that became part of formal philosophy and the common law, the Biblical notion of happiness runs deep within the channels of the common law. Its use is so obvious and extensive in the growth of English legal thought, one wonders whether those today who call it an Enlightenment term have read anything at all from the source materials of the common law, materials that were well-known and widely read by the American founders” (Gary T. Amos, Defending The Declaration: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence, 1989 p. 121).

Thus, we can see that the Founding Fathers, appealing, as they did, in the first paragraph of the Declaration to “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” (i.e., the natural revelation that comes from the created order and the special revelation found in the Bible), created a government that was grounded in religious concepts best described as totally biblical/“Christian.” I say this because none of the delegates assembled from the thirteen states on that July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration were Muslims, Buddhists, Confucianists, nor Hindus, and almost half had some form of seminary training or degree. It is true that Jefferson had Deist leanings, but all the others would have certainly considered themselves to be “Christians.” But even the Deists of that day, particularly Jefferson, were fervent believers in the Judeo-Christian God who had revealed Himself both in nature and the Bible—hence the reference to “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the Declaration. Suffice it to say that Jefferson, who was the principal architect of the document, wasn’t a thirty-second cousin to modern secular, anti-God, humanists. I like what the late Richard John Neuhaus had to say about this:

The founding creed—“We hold these truths to be self-evident”—affirms truths that have been and are today far from self-evident to the great majority of humankind. The truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a truth that can only be explained as the product of a very particular history. In the eighteenth century, its explication and popular acceptance can only be explained in the context of the taken-for-granted reality of Christian America. This is not to say that the truths affirmed by the Declaration cannot be supported by rigorously secular arguments that are not dependent upon the biblical tradition…. But, in view of the many attempts that have failed, skepticism about that possibility is in order. And there is the inherent difficulty of what to do with the Creator—a reference that in the logic of the Declaration is essential to the claim that human rights are prior to government in the order of both time and authority”(First Things, “The End Of Abortion And The Meanings Of ‘Christian America,’” June/July 2001).

Clearly, then, the words and ideas articulated in the Declaration were biblical, not secular, and came not as a result of the humanism of the Enlightenment, as the secularists falsely claim, but from a long line of thinking that could only be described as “Judeo-Christian.” This is why that in the final paragraph of the Declaration, after a long list of grievances, an appeal was made to “the Supreme Judge of the world” coupled with “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” And even though it can be rightly argued that Jefferson exhibited a decidedly anti-organized religion, anti-clergy bent, he was definitely not anti-God. This is illustrated by a rhetorical question Jefferson asked on another occasion:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that their liberties are the gift of God? (Notes On The State Of Virginia, Query XVIII, in Paul L. Ford, ed., The Writing of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. III, 1894, p. 267).

So, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a secular humanist concept. It’s not. It’s biblical, through and through.