July 4, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES: NO ONE BELIEVES hE'S OMNIPOTENT:

Philosophy, faith and the Fourth of July (Jeff Jacoby, July 3, 2011, Boston Globe)

Not only are all persons endowed by nature with the unalienable rights of equality and freedom, it avowed, but "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.''

No lawful government without consent and self-rule: It was an extraordinary doctrine for its time. It had never been the springboard from which a new nation was launched. Yet to pursue this "theory of democracy,'' as Coolidge called it, "whole congregations with their pastors'' had pulled up stakes in Europe and migrated to America.

Steeped in the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the colonists believed that God had led them, as he had led ancient Israel, from a land of bondage to a blessed Promised Land. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1776 that the seal of the United States should depict the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night.'' In that wilderness, Americans knew, God did not simply impose his rule on Israel. First the Hebrews had to give their consent: "And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do.'' Only then was there the revelation at Sinai, the Ten Commandments, and the Law. If God himself would not govern without the consent of the governed, surely King George had no right to do so!


[originally posted: 7/03/12]


Posted by at July 4, 2014 12:44 AM
  

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