Speaker and Consultant to state and federal legislators
B.A., Religious Education, ORU
David Barton: Wisdom in the Constitution
The 700 Club
Our Constitution is a wonderful document. Under it,
America has become the longest ongoing constitutional republic in
the history of the world. Most Americans believe that our wonderful
Constitution governs America, but it doesnt. I say that because
our Founding Fathers themselves said it. During the Constitutional
Convention, while they were framing the Constitution, their discussion
was best summed up by delegate John Francis Mercer, who declared:
"It is a great mistake to suppose that the paper we are to
propose will govern the United States."
In other words, if you think the Constitution governs America, thats
a major league error. Mercer continued, It is not the Constitution, but "[I]t
is the men whom it will bring into the government, and interest [they have]
in maintaining it, that are to govern them. The paper will only mark out the
mode and the form. Men are the substance and must do the business."
In other words, the Constitution gives us the power to elect our leaders,
but if we elect the wrong kind of leaders, the Constitution will be absolutely
worthless in their hands.
Notice this same lesson taught in the Scriptures. Was there any nation in
the history of the world that had better civil laws than Israel? I dont
think so; God Almighty wrote their laws, and thats as good as its
going to get. But how good were their laws when they had rulers like Ahab
and Jezebel, or Manasseh, or Jeroboam, or Rehoboam, or other wicked leaders?
Their superb laws were absolutely worthless under such corrupt and deficient
Our Founders understood this, and the most frequently quoted Bible principle
that I have seen in their writings is the one set forth in Proverbs 29:2,
which declares, "When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the
wicked rule, the people groan."
Our Founders understood that the key to good government is not how good our
documents are, or how good our laws are; its how good our leaders are.
And in America, that verse, Proverbs 29:2, has a significance that it doesnt
have in many other nations around the world. For example, if you woke up this
morning in China, or Cuba, or the Middle East, or so many other nations, there
is nothing at all that you can do about your leaders. In those countries,
Proverbs 29:2 is nothing more than a statement of fact. But here in America,
Proverbs 29:2 is a statement of responsibility its a statement
of opportunity. In America, whether the righteous rule or whether the wicked
rule depends totally on the will of the voters. We have our choice!
But in recent years, Christian voters have not taken their voting stewardship
seriously. In fact, in the last four elections, Christian voter turnout has
fallen by forty percent. Today, there are 60 million Evangelicals in America,
but only fifteen million vote. In fact, of the 60 million Evangelicals in
America, 24 million are not even registered to vote! To have been given the
power to determine the quality of our government and its leaders and then
not to use that power is reminiscent of the servant in Luke 19 who received
a trust from the Master and then decided not to do anything with it
not to get involved. Remember that none of the servants asked for the trust
they had received from the Master; but the Master gave it to them anyway,
and they became responsible to the Master for what they did with that trust
despite the fact that they had not asked for it. Similarly, we did not ask
to be born in America; we did not ask to be given a government of which we
are the stewards; nevertheless, God has given it to us, and He will call us
to account for our stewardship of this important trust.
The Rev. Charles Finney, a leader in Americas Second and Third Great
Awakenings in the early and mid 1800s, reminded Christians of a lesson that
we need to remember today. He warned:
"The Church must take right ground in regard to politics. . . . God
cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless
the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such
a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part
of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation
are becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they think God does
not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it, and He will
bless or curse this nation according to the course [Christians] take [in politics]."
This is a profound and a timely warning from one of Americas great
ministers. Psalm 33:12 declares that blessed is that nation whose God is the
Lord; and if America does not stay blessed, it will be because Christians
did not stay involved! So lets get involved; lets make a positive
difference again in America! Get your friends and church members registered
to vote, and then go out and vote for Godly leaders in this upcoming election.
Spirit Behind '76
Washington is "The Father of our Country"
Looks at U.S. History and Asks: 'What If?'
Henry, A Christian Nation
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