As American culture has deteriorated over the years, the hue and cry among conservatives and Christians has been “original intent!”
We’ve got to get back to “original intent.” The original intent of the founders was to establish a limited government with only a few enumerated, delegated powers, or so the story goes.
MYTH: If we can only get back to the original intent of the founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution, then God will be appeased and America will prosper once again.
The founders would be spinning in their graves if they saw the bloated monstrosity that their cherished Federal government has morphed into over the years. The bailouts, the earmarks, the “vote first, read later” mentality are only the tip of the iceberg.
The freight train to oblivion has accelerated under Bush-Obama to the point that the slightest disturbance is likely to throw her off the tracks. In fact, the bridge just ahead is washed out and we need to be applying the brakes immediately. Instead the engineer is pouring on more coal. What’s going on here?
Now more than ever the call for “original intent” goes out over the conservative, Christian blogosphere. Entire books are devoted to the subject. For example, David Barton has written “Original Intent”, which purports to document “not only the plan for limited government originally set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights but how that vision can once again become reality.”
But before jumping on the original intent bandwagon, conservatives, and especially Christians, might want to consider what exactly it is they are signing up for. With a return to original intent you may think you are returning to limited government, but consider what else you are getting:
- A governing document based on the authority of man (“we the people”) rather than the governing authority of God (Rom 13:1). This is John Locke’s social contract, grounded in the will of the majority — the essence of democracy. It is the polar opposite of the Biblical covenant model of civil government contained in most of the colonial charters. That’s part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.
- A governing document that makes itself (“this Constitution”) and all of “the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof … the SUPREME law of the land.” The Bible doesn’t even get honorable mention in the entire document. In other words, ObamaCare and all of its bureaucratic baggage holds supreme authority over the Bible in accordance with Article VI of the Constitution. That’s part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.
- A governing document that outlaws the Biblical requirements for holding public office. In many of the colonial charters, office holders were required to believe in the Bible, or be a church member in good standing, or even to believe in the Trinity. That’s all illegal now under Article VI of the Constitution ratified in 1788: “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
James Madison explained in Federalist #57 that “no qualification of wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or of civil profession is permitted to fetter the judgment or disappoint the inclination of the people” (emphasis added). Thus, as far as Madison was concerned, Christianity was a hindrance to good government.
It’s nice window dressing for public ceremonies, national days of prayer and the like, but when it comes to impacting the laws of the state, forget it. It’s too divisive. But “he who turns away his ear from hearing the law even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Pr 28:9). That too is all part of the “original intent” package, like it or not.
The list goes on and on. Pastor Ted Weiland has documented at least 75 points at which the United States Constitution directly contradicts the Bible. To our knowledge his new book, “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution” is the first paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the United States Constitution ever written. He makes the oft-repeated claim that “the founders were using the Bible as their great political textbook” look rather naive.
Yes, we’ve got to get back to original intent, but the question is “original intent of what?” God demands that we return to the original intent of His law, not the original intent of the United States Constitution. “And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the Lord will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand….” (Dt 30:8,9).
Case Closed: If you have been wondering why America is not “plenteous in every work of thine hand”, then look no further. If you have been wondering why almost 40 years of conservative, Christian activism has gotten us virtually nowhere, look no further. It’s tough to admit, but the U.S. Constitution is like the idol buried beneath Achan’s tent. Until American Christians admit that we “have sinned against the Lord, the God Israel” in this matter we will continue to get nowhere fast.
In other words, we have to choose between two original intents. Will we choose between the original intent of the U.S. Constitution or the original intent of the Holy Bible?
The original intent of one is incompatible with the original intent of the other. One sets forth the law of man and the other sets forth the law of God. One leads to national cursing and the other leads to national blessing. One leads to the judgment we are now laboring under and the other leads to peace and prosperity.
We face the same choice as Joshua on the eve of entry into the promised land, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served … or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15)