The Biblical Basis Of The United States Constitution -- By: Michael D. Stallard

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 16:2 (Fall 2012)
Article: The Biblical Basis Of The United States Constitution
Author: Michael D. Stallard

The Biblical Basis Of The United States Constitution1

Mike Stallard

Dean of Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


Surprisingly perhaps, the United States Constitution never uses the word God. Such a state of affairs is totally different from the Declaration of Independence, which appeals to God as a major part of its argument on three occasions. First, the Declaration opens with an appeal to “the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” Second, one can note the most famous line of the document: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” These first two references to God appeal to God’s design of nature and of men to justify the existence of an equality that does not come from

those who govern. Instead it comes from the Creator God and is revealed in the work of his design. By using such language the framers of the Declaration are raising the bar, so to speak. To violate these divine designs is a serious charge indeed. Third, the Declaration closes with a statement of faith in God: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Here it is clear that the framers believed in the immanence of God. God is a God of history who governs the affairs of men. There can never be any harmony between these words and a full-blown deistic outlook. God is active in the world now. He is not on the sidelines watching what men do. In such ways, the human authors of the Declaration made major foundational appeals to God and his creation.2

In light of this truth in 1776, the obvious question is why the Constitution does not use similar language just eleven years later in 1787. One could point at the outset to the different purposes of the two documents as a place to start an explanation. The Constitution is a pragmatic text that answers the “how” question. It is intended simply to give the structure of how the government is to operate. On the other hand, the Declaration answers a “why” question. Consequently, it is more philosophical. Furthermore, the young nation is defending its decision for independence in the eyes of a Western world steeped in Judeo-Christian ethics during the Enlightenment with its own twists and turns. Legally and morally, the need to appeal to God should n...

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