Independence Day 2019
Today, I want to ask the question: Does America have a Lord? Do the United States of America, do we as a nation, as a corporate body, owe allegiance to anyone other than ourselves? Do we have a Lord?
There are at least two ways to answer this. One way would be to appeal to our own national documents to see if they acknowledge a Lord. We could also look at what the founders believed and said as they were establishing this nation. Another way to answer the question would be to appeal to the nature of reality, logic, truth, or what has often been called natural law. There are other legitimate and important appeals, but let’s just start with these two.
I want to begin with the second appeal to the nature of reality, truth, and natural law. I take it as a given that if there is a natural law then there must of necessity be a Lawgiver. And if we are bound to obey natural law, then we have a natural Lord. And I simply want to make this point by noting that ultimately either truth exists or it does not. But in order for truth to be true, it must, by definition be true all the way down. All the modern nonsense about truth being relative is simply that: nonsense. Does 2 and 2 make 4? Does a square have four sides? And to push this out a little further: do words have meaning? Do our words correspond to reality – such that when we point at a rock or a gun or a truck, we know that we are communicating truth? The answers of course are yes, yes, yes, and yes. But we really need to ask one more question: why? The relativists and secularists are fine with our yes answers as long as we don’t answer why, or as long as we only give some kind of vague answer: that’s just the way it is. But the only reasonable, logical answer is that there is some overarching truth and meaning above it all – there is some foundational truth and meaning at the foundation, underneath it all.
The relativists and secularists have to ultimately say that we create meaning for ourselves and various communities simply agree to go along with certain definitions. And sure, we do invent things and name things and we pass some of those things down to future generations and different nations have different languages, but we are always building with and on top of other raw material. And so you have to ask, where did that come from? No one starts from a completely blank slate or canvass. Everyone is working with a slate someone else made, a canvass and paints someone else made, or at least raw material: wood, metal, glass, stone that has certain properties, certain meanings that they didn’t invent. Therefore, in order for meaning and truth to be completely created/constructed by man, you would have to go all the way back to the beginning and posit some guy creating the world or at least starting it all off. But nobody believes that a man was here before most of this world was here. Everyone believes that a whole bunch of this world was here first.
And this is why the debate over creation and evolution matters so much. It matters because we are really arguing over the nature of the world that is here before we got here, before we ever say anything about it or do anything with it. We are arguing over whether the world has meaning in itself, independent of our thoughts and words or not. If the world accidentally evolved as a result of mindless chance and millions of random mutations, then there is no meaning, no truth, and logic is just a word we use to describe the way the slime seems to us. Math is not true; it’s just the sound certain molecules make when they squirt in various directions.
But everyone knows that the world does have meaning apart from us. Certain things are given, fixed, and immoveable. Like gravity. Like physics. Like logic. And all the basic building blocks of reality. Sure, we name those things, but we are giving names to what already exists. Our names do not confer meaning on these realities; they are short hand names for the meaning that it is already there. Our word “gravity” does not make gravity happen or give meaning to the phenomenon of things falling down. Adam did not think up the idea of falling down and call it gravity, gravity pulled him down and Adam noticed. But all of this simply means that there is a natural law and therefore this nature, this universe has a Lawgiver, a Lord who created it and gave it meaning.
And all of this ties back to the original question since if reality has a Lord, then America has a Lord. America is a subset of Reality. Math, logic, gravity are all given no matter what continent or country you are in. And this would include things like boys are boys and girls are girls. And boys marry girls and nobody or nothing else. And given the days we live in, we also need to add that boys can’t have babies. So quite apart from our founding documents, common sense teaches us that America does in fact have a Lord. Even our ability to reason, think, and breathe implies a Lord and Creator. But it’s always nice when governing documents also state this kind of common sense thing. So, do our nation’s founding documents have anything to say about whether or not our nation bows to any lord?
Yes, in fact, our founding documents do have something to say about this. The Declaration of Independence, signed on this day 241 years ago, in 1776, says that sometimes it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve political bands and to assume a separate and equal station, which the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” entitle them to. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges that Nature has laws and that Nature has a God. That was part of the basis for America deciding to declare independence from Great Britain. The same document closes by stating, “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.” The Declaration of Independence appeals to the protection of Divine providence. Divine Providence and Nature’s God would seem to be America’s Lord.
In George Washington’s Inaugural Speech to both Houses of Congress on April 30, 1789, he said, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United Sates a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes… We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…” Notice that: President Washington explicitly says that no nation may be blessed by Heaven that disregards the eternal rules of order and right ordained by Heaven. There is a transcendent law and lawgiver, an Almighty Being who rules over the universe and presides in the councils of nations. George Washington told the first congress that America had a Lord.
Elsewhere George Washington said, “It is the duty of nations and as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” Washington says that it is a duty of nations to acknowledge their dependence on God. Which God? The God of Holy Scripture, the Bible, in which it says that nations are only blessed when God is their Lord (Ps. 33:12, 144:15).
During the War for Independence, the supply of books printed in London was cut off, and a memorial was brought before congress by a chaplain, urging the printing of a new edition of the Bible in America. Initially, congress thought it would be more economical to import Bibles, and a committee of congress shortly recommended the importing of 20,000 copies of the Bible. But the war concluded before that recommendation could be approved by the full congress. Meanwhile a printer from Philadelphia sought Congress’s approval for the printing and distribution of a new edition of the Bible. One source says, that Robert “Aitken’s Bible was completed by early September 1782. Following a report from congressional chaplains William White and George Duffield commending the “great accuracy” of Aitken’s work, Congress passed the following resolution on September 12: “the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interests of religion … , and being satisfied from the above report, of his care and accuracy in the execution of the work, they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.”
In addition to these clear indications there are two explicit references to the Lordship of Christ in the Constitution itself. The first is found in Article 1 Section 7 where the President is given ten days to veto any law presented to him by congress. But the Constitution explicitly excepts Sundays from the days to be counted. “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be law…” While secularists may merely want to chalk this up to cultural custom, it is an explicitly Christiancultural custom. It is widely known that Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath and Friday is the Muslim holy day. During the French Revolution, an attempt was made to shift to a 10 day week in order to subvert the Judeo-Christian calendar. But keeping the Christian Sabbath on Sunday is not merely a Christian custom. The shift from the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Lord’s Day was monumental, and it happened because it was the first day of the week, the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. And written into the United States Constitution is a recognition that our nation acknowledges the Lord’s Day. If the United States Constitution acknowledges the Lord’s Day, we must acknowledge that we have a Lord.
But there is one more reference that is even more explicit and underlined. It comes in the closing sentence of Article 7, at the very end of the Constitution where it says, “Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the States present in the seventeenth day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.” First, we should not miss the fact that the Constitution of the United States explicitly acknowledges that we have a Lord. Let there be no mistake. The Constitution confesses that we have a Lord. Second, while some may want to once again excuse this as a mere custom of dating, we should once again note that it is an explicitly Christian custom of dating. But not only does it participate in that common Christian form of dating events from the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it does so in a singularly striking way. It does not merely state the date of the signing, or merely say A.D. It goes further. It lays the birth of our nation right alongside the birth of “our Lord.” This is more than a mere calendar custom. It is an explicit acknowledgement and profession that before the birth of our nation came the birth of our Lord. Of all the events that might be remembered in the history of the world, the Constitution acknowledges that the first and most important is the birth of our Lord, and that event links Americans to all men in all nations, but now for those Christians in America, we also mark the birth of our nation. To deny the birth of Christ and His Lordship is to call into question the birth of the United States.
Putting these two references together, we can say with confidence that the Constitution of the United States recognized the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It acknowledges Christmas and Easter. And it formally confesses that He is “our Lord.” Despite this confession, we have strayed significantly. We have not kept His natural law, and we have not obeyed His written word as found in the Bible. We have done exactly what George Washington said we could not do, which is expect the smiles of Heaven while ignoring and abandoning the laws of Heaven. But that Almighty Being still rules the universe and He still presides in the councils of nations. He is still here even though we reject Him, ignore Him, and despise Him.
America is a Christian nation. We have a Lord, and His name is Christ. But we have rebelled and disobeyed. There are now only two options before us: either we will continue on this path of rebellion, and He will judge us for our evil. He will shatter us like clay pots. He will destroy us for our bloodshed, our arrogance, our stiff necks, our insolence. As it stands, we have justly earned God’s fierce wrath. We deserve to be destroyed. We deserve to be invaded. We deserve to be scattered. We deserve to have our peace and prosperity stripped away. We deserve to have our precious freedom taken away because we have turned away from the God who gave us this freedom. But if we will repent of our wickedness, if we will humble ourselves before the Judge of all the Earth, there may still be hope for us. But this means that we must confess our sins not only as individuals, but also as states, and as a nation. We must acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord, has always been our Lord, and acknowledge that He has every right to do with us whatever He will.
It is good and right to pray that God would bless America, but it is only good and right to pray that if we understand that there is no good reason why He should. And if He would bless us, He would give us a deep awareness of our guilt and a deep and abiding shame for our sins.
There is no hope for America apart from Christ. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. It’s Christ or nothing, Christ or chaos, Christ or tyranny, Christ or the void, Christ or destruction.
Many of the colonists fought for liberty under the banner: No King but Christ. American has a Lord. And His name is Jesus.