These famous words from the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America were written by Thomas Jefferson. John Adams and others certainly had significant influence in its creation, but his choice of words stand upon a greater premise of the hand of Providence at work. I watched part of Ken Burns film, “Thomas Jefferson”, wherein these words within the larger phrase beginning, “We bear these truths to be self-evident…” were repeated over and over and contrasted against Jefferson’s personal life, most particularly as a slave owner. First Burns, through the mouths of various “historians”, says his life as a slave owner was a contradiction to the belief that all men are created equal, then describes it closer to hypocrisy and finally, after pointing out that Jefferson had drafted and sponsored over thirty bills in the Virginia legislature that would have done away with slavery, concludes he was too weak to act personally by freeing his own slaves. This characterization is very subtlety done in the film and in such a way as to ignore alternatives that might lead to other interpretations. Yes, slavery is abhorrent, but is the topic linked directly to the proposition that all men are created equal as Burns suggests?
Do all men remain equal today, once born, following their own choices, and in light of God’s providence? Isn’t the variety and diversity of culture, individual characteristics, and preference a virtue as to the whole of the human race? Does God’s creative action compel the conclusion that all men will remain equal as Burn’s posits? No, this declaration is about freedom and liberty from tyranny, despotism, and injustice by Government. By parsing the phrases some might suggest that these words actually support the ideal that all people should remain equal, that the government should be the arbitrator and dispenser of education, healthcare, status, wealth, and whatever may be necessary to maintain equality among people. This would appear to eliminate poverty; oppression of the poor by the rich, inequality between all the six or so genders recognized by some today; and sharing of the nation’s wealth among all.
Yeshua said, “You will always have the poor among you.” (John 12: 8). Yet, He was always an advocate for the poor and gave away all He had to them, advising others to do likewise. What is the cause of poverty: catastrophic events, circumstances, bad choices, bad behavior, poor education, innate character flaws, laziness, thieves, etc. Inevitably there are distinctions among people and only a great fool would think these are subject to the control of man and only a wicked man would think they are subject to the control of government. History has yet to finish the great experiment that is a representative republic by the people and for the people, but complete socialism has been shown to be an utter disaster full of tyranny, oppression, injustice, neediness, and captivity. Many historians agree that the American experience is unique, not in its objective of liberty or goal for equality of justice for all, but by a people who subjected their will and government to the Creator God.
Alignment under God’s authority is a foundation of security. Daniel, the Hebrew prophet saw it very clearly. “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Dan. 7: 13-14, see also Eph. 1: 18-23).
John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” When humanists lay hold of our founding documents they only can pervert them, revise history, and separate the clear overriding importance of “one nation under God”. As believers in God we maintain their right to free speech and offer tolerance, because the light of truth will reveal the folly of their aims, and in God’s abundant overflowing mercy they may yet come to faith.