“We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
American Declaration of Independence, 1776
I was recently attending a conference and found myself sitting next to a pastor at dinner. It turned out that he had bought my book “Self-Evident Truths” the evening before, and read the whole book through the night! He enjoyed it, but had a sincere question.
“What is so self-evident about them?” he asked.
The short answer is that the Founding Fathers began their thinking with these truths, and were declaring that they understood them to be obvious. In our day, however, because we have been drifting away from God for a generation or more, they may not be as clear to us.
The fact is that the American civil government is always tending to infringe on the rights of individuals, as do all governments, and we must continually change the civil government by voting, in order to avoid these infringements.
Every time we vote we alter the civil government. By voting biblically we have the opportunity to install excellent leaders who will uphold and protect those rights given to us by God and articulated by our founding fathers.
The American founding fathers penned to the world and to future generations of Americans a series of concepts that became the foundation of western civilization. They called these concepts “self-evident truths.” “Truth” defined is an accurate description of reality and is valid in all times and all cultures for all people. They were distinguishing these concepts from opinion.
“Self-evident” essentially means “obvious to any honest person.”
Certain concepts of government were obvious to the founding fathers who viewed life from a biblical worldview where God is the top authority, not man. In other words, God is ultimately sovereign, not man.
Believing that truth exists and is knowable, the founders began their list of self-evident truths in the Declaration with the statement that “all men are created equal.” They believed that a Creator is responsible for creating and governing the earth and mankind. They were particularly referring to king and commoner being equal but recognized that this truth applies to all people.
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL
This idea of the equal intrinsic value of all human beings comes from the Bible in that God created all individuals of equal and infinite value. It still needs to be pointed out, however, because in our day that concept has faded from view. Many seem to think government officials are more valuable than average citizens or that managers are more valuable than laborers. Some think men are more valuable than women, rich better than poor, professors more important than students, or movie stars more significant than housewives.
This thinking directs our lives. It comes from the secular idea that the individual’s value is not an intrinsic created value, but defined by external conditions such as contribution to the state, position in society, personal strength, money, gender or even good looks. In this way, the secular view actually assumes the natural inequality of all humans.
CERTAIN RIGHTS COME FROM GOD
The founders then wrote that God gave certain rights to all mankind. The first is the right to life. Since God gave life to the individual, He also gave him the right to keep that life. But now many think others can decide that – especially for babies, the aged or the sick.
The necessity today is to be reminded that man is created at all. Many think human beings are only an evolved form of animal. That influences how we live.
It was obvious to the founders that God gave a right to liberty to mankind. This means the right to pursue any good goal unhindered by civil government. Though obvious to many, the right to liberty is not self-evident to everyone.
LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
The “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration is an expansion of the idea of a right to property – to own property but also to use it as one desires, sell it, keep it, improve it, etc. The founders saw a right to property as given to the individual by God. But some think they know better how to allocate other people’s property through heavy taxation or outright confiscation. This God-given right to property was seen as self-evident to the founders.
CIVIL GOVERNMENT GIVEN BY GOD
The American founders thought it self-evident that the institution of civil government was given by God. They saw that civil government’s proper purpose is protection, not control – to protect society by securing these rights to life, liberty and property. Civil government did not evolve to meet a need for controlling people and ruling their lives.
This idea of protection was the core of the American philosophy of civil government stated in the Declaration of Independence. It was agreed upon unanimously by all 55 representatives of the thirteen colonies.
WHAT IF CIVIL GOVERNMENT IS NOT DOING ITS PROPER JOB?
This is where we average citizens come in! The founding fathers then wrote as self-evident, “If any civil government is destructive of these ends [protecting the God-given rights of the individual] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government…”
Elections are the peaceful way to alter or abolish civil government.
In the founders’ day the necessity was to abolish the civil government that had become destructive of these ends. Today we only need watch over civil government, and alter it continuously by voting.
Every time we vote we alter the civil government. By voting biblically we have the opportunity to elect the best in the land who see their job as upholding and protecting these God-given rights.
Therefore all qualified biblical people must vote in every election, and vote intelligently for people who share their biblical ideals as closely as possible. The founders saw this as self-evident.
But what if there are no candidates that fit that description? We’ll talk about that later.
We must begin now preparing for upcoming elections!
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