Our free society is a fragile gift from God, granted by the sacrifice of men. He did not give us a wound up clock. He only gave us a structure that is unable to sustain itself. People of faith are necessary to keep it going. They do so by collectively striving towards virtue, not just individually, but in all their associations including government.
One cannot believe BOTH of the following statements, since both cannot be true:
1. God helped establish our free society, America.
2. People of faith should NOT (for whatever reason) participate in keeping it free.
One statement negates the other. You cannot believe God helped establish our nation and at the same time believe that people of faith should not help in the work of sustaining it.
The laws of nature ordain that everything in the universe requires some force to sustain it. Order once established naturally tends to disorder, chaos and decay. A machine, a garden, a tidy room, a relationship, life itself; all require ongoing maintenance. Even if you believe that what happened at the Constitutional Congress in 1787 was solely the work of brilliant men absent the hand of God, the social order THEY established requires sustaining regardless.
Benjamin Franklin emerged from the chambers that day and was asked by Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia “Well doctor, what have we got; a republic or a monarchy?” The man known as the “sage of the Constitution” who earlier had implored God for guidance answered: “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.” A republic is a structure whereby the people are given natural freedom to govern themselves. Since freedom offers opportunity for neglect, abuse and tyranny, Franklin understood their work of the last 100 days or so was a fragile creation.
In the fall of 2016, are Americans about to let go of the fragile gift God and the Founders gave us in 1787?
What makes the American free society work?
While traveling in America 50 years later, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville observed that “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceased to be good, she will cease to be great.”
In America, “faith” or “religion” was never like the organized religions once seen in Europe that controlled and often have tyrannized their flocks. Rather, as Tocqueville noted: “The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due the Creator; but they all agree with respect to the duties which are due from man to man … all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God … Christian morality is the same everywhere.” Religion in America has always been a conscience driven faith where organized churches are servants of the people, not their masters.
Washington said: “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion … national morality (cannot) prevail in the exclusion of religious principles”. Tocqueville echoed him: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor without faith.”
The Golden Triangle of Freedom
Freedom, faith and virtue are the interconnected parts that enable a free country to remain free. Today, all three are under attack. Os Guinness called them “The Golden Triangle of Freedom”. Should one or another part be removed, the country ceases to be a free society. Here is how they work together:
If man is given liberty, he needs virtue lest he abuse his freedom and seeks to oppress his fellow man. The only lasting source of virtue in our culture is faith in God. Liberty is needed for faith to thrive in a society. In its absence, tyranny and evil will eventually succeed in destroying faith, as we see taking place in America today. Thus liberty, virtue and faith are codependent.
It has always been an American tradition to create associations that help our fellow man. Certainly included are our schools and the different branches of government. The interdependence of freedom, virtue and faith applies to ANY association where man comes together.
It is godly virtue to partake in the process that helps sustain a free society that enables our children and fellow citizens to thrive. In all our institutions, when the virtuous hold back, they leave a vacuum of power that is readily filled by the opponents of freedom, virtue, and faith.
In the last 40 years, we have seen such vacuums created as people of faith have retreated. Secular authorities have curtailed the freedom to practice faith by outlawing it from the public sphere and schools. They have mocked faith in our universities and entertainment culture. They have denied Christians the freedom to exercise their conscience in commerce. They have enjoyed success in stopping an older generation from passing on faith to their children, and with that the virtue that derives from faith.
The French Revolution failed quickly because (unlike the American Revolution) newly acquired freedoms were not accompanied by virtue. The obligation in a free society is that virtuous citizens appoint leaders to the halls of government. We find precedence for this in scripture. In the commonwealth of Israel before the kings, the command from God was to appoint “wise and knowledgeable leaders to all your gates”.
God understood that no human leader so appointed would be perfect, but the imperfections of man do not make void the principles of God.