This article is an opinion piece from Bill Lockwood. Catch American Liberty with Bill Lockwood weekly at 11 a.m. Saturdays on NewsTalk 1290.

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The immortal document of American history and political philosophy, the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, reads more like a theological statement than a political one. Liberty itself is grounded upon the proposition that all men are “created equal,” “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” This is the basis of the founders' appeal: the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

Reference is here made to the concept of "natural law." This is how American historian Carl Becker defined natural law:

That there is a ‘natural order’ of things in the world … designed by God for the guidance of mankind; that the laws of this natural order may be discovered by human reason; that these laws so discovered furnish a reliable and immutable standard for testing the ideas, the conduct, and the institutions of men.

Noting the popularity of these concepts in Jefferson’s day, Becker outlines in his book "The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Idea," that “these were the accepted premises … of most of eighteenth century thinking, not only in America but also in England and France."

“Natural law” is built upon the concept that there is one God and he has embedded his order of things in all of the universe, including the reasoning capacity of man. We are brought to this, that our great nation is constructed upon the premises of the following:

  1. There is a God.
  2. God’s law, or “natural order” is the “immutable standard” upon which we base our concept of rights.

To deny these, as many ill-informed people do today, is to attack the very foundation of American civil society as well as freedom itself.

The Bible is the foundation of natural law.

Expanding our thinking here, consider the English barrister whose legal and historical scholarship was heavily relied upon by the Founders of America. Even until the days of Abraham Lincoln, lawyers carried copies of Sir William Blackstone with them. The English judge explained natural law.

  1. God is the Creator of the entire universe, including man as well as the very concept of law (Exodus 20:11). Blackstone understood that God’s creation was “ex nihilo” (out of nothing), as described in Genesis chapter one. A commentator remarked, “Blackstone was certainly not an evolutionist.” And it is probably this emphasis upon God and his creation that accounts for the abandonment of Blackstone in modern jurisprudence. The twentieth century has been completely poisoned with evolutionary theories about the world.
  2. God’s original laws of nature are antecedent to any human precept. This means that right and wrong are not determined by what men may say about anything, but are encoded into the very nature of the universe which is our obligation to follow. In the language of Paul (Romans 1), “For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived in the things that are made, that they may be without excuse, because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God…”  Blackstone put it this way: these laws “are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil …which He has enabled human reason to discover…”
  3. God’s revealed law (His revelation, the Word of God) agrees with the original law that God engrafted into the universe. The word of God, the Bible, was so important to natural law theorists such as Blackstone, that they frequently referenced the Bible as the “Word of God,” considering it to be a revelation from heaven. No wonder the founding generation in America insisted that the Bible be taught in public schools. Blackstone explains: “The doctrines …delivered (by an immediate and direct revelation) we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found in the Holy Scriptures…upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”
  4. God’s two laws, that of nature and that of revelation, form the basis of all civil society. This is why, according to the founding generation of Americans, the Civil Institutions of the United States were imbued with a “Christian Character” and even Supreme Court decisions of that day reflected the great morality of the Bible.

To simply note these basic concepts is to see immediately where America has derailed itself. These foundational concepts created the greatest society ever organized by uninspired men. Would that we could return to these basics.

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