Richard Cameron Wylie on measuring the American Constitution by a Christian standard

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... But a careful measurement with our moral standard already agreed upon will reveal a very serious defect. It declares that “We, the people . . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution.” This statement is objectionable, not because of what it contains, but because of what it omits. It is admitted that the people do ordain, and have the right to ordain constitutions of government. Peter says: “Submit your selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” Striking out the words above quoted would not make the constitution Christian, and therefore their presence does not make it secular.

But this preamble does not measure up to the Christian standard. Had the expression, “We, the people,” been followed by some such words as, “Acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all power and authority in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler of Nations, and His revealed will as the supreme standard to decide moral issues in national life,” its Christian character would be placed beyond all doubt. But while the people are recognized as ordaining civil government, there is not a hint given that the authority to do this comes from God, or that the nation and its government exist in the sphere of divine authority and are subject to the moral law. To make prominent the human and to ignore the divine element in civil government is of the very nature of secularism. ...

For more, see Richard Cameron Wylie on measuring the American Constitution by a Christian standard.
 

CovenantPatriot87

Puritan Board Freshman
... But a careful measurement with our moral standard already agreed upon will reveal a very serious defect. It declares that “We, the people . . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution.” This statement is objectionable, not because of what it contains, but because of what it omits. It is admitted that the people do ordain, and have the right to ordain constitutions of government. Peter says: “Submit your selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” Striking out the words above quoted would not make the constitution Christian, and therefore their presence does not make it secular.

But this preamble does not measure up to the Christian standard. Had the expression, “We, the people,” been followed by some such words as, “Acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all power and authority in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler of Nations, and His revealed will as the supreme standard to decide moral issues in national life,” its Christian character would be placed beyond all doubt. But while the people are recognized as ordaining civil government, there is not a hint given that the authority to do this comes from God, or that the nation and its government exist in the sphere of divine authority and are subject to the moral law. To make prominent the human and to ignore the divine element in civil government is of the very nature of secularism. ...

For more, see Richard Cameron Wylie on measuring the American Constitution by a Christian standard.
Why does the american system of government receive so much flak from our reformed folk yet they are happy to extoll pagan and secular governments (as long as they enforce the true religion, whatever that means to them) as lawful citing Romans 13. The reformed churches have only received protection and peace under the US constitution until the last several decades only because the three branches of government disregard the constitution and the people are wholly ignorant of the terms by which their governors were elected to abid by. This seems like a base ingratitude to me. Am I wrong here?
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Wow, this is one of the longest sentences I have had to decipher in awhile. Can you break that up a bit so that this poor simple mind can digest your thought a bit better?
Why does the american system of government receive so much flak from our reformed folk yet they are happy to extoll pagan and secular governments (as long as they enforce the true religion, whatever that means to them) as lawful citing Romans 13 while the reformed churches have only received protection and peace under the US constitution until the last several decades only because the three branches of government disregard the constitution and the people are wholly ignorant of the terms by which their governors were elected to abid by. Seems like a base ingratitude to me. Am I wrong here?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Why does the american system of government receive so much flak from our reformed folk yet they are happy to extoll pagan and secular governments (as long as they enforce the true religion, whatever that means to them) as lawful citing Romans 13. The reformed churches have only received protection and peace under the US constitution until the last several decades only because the three branches of government disregard the constitution and the people are wholly ignorant of the terms by which their governors were elected to abid by. This seems like a base ingratitude to me. Am I wrong here?

I think it is a reasonable question at one level. The important thing to remember, however, is that the above source is not slating the U.S. Constitution completely, but pointing out its deficiencies. To claim that there is nothing good about the Constitution would be ingratitude. It is not ingratitude, however, to point out where it falls short of biblical standards.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I think it is a reasonable question at one level. The important thing to remember, however, is that the above source is not slating the U.S. Constitution completely, but pointing out its deficiencies. To claim that there is nothing good about the Constitution would be ingratitude. It is not ingratitude, however, to point out where it falls short of biblical standards.

What I have always said about the US Constitution is that it is like two people living together out of wedlock. They may have a wonderful relationship, but they still lack a legitimate marriage license. Britain, on the other hand, while equally ungodly as the US, has such a marriage license, but do they do not live according to it. They are Covenant-breakers. But we rejected the Covenant from the beginning.

Words matter.

Edit: a good friend of mine considers the United States as the Northern Kingdom of Israel which never had a legitimate Covenant relationship from there beginning. There was not one righteous King in the north ever.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I personally look at our Constitution a bit different than most people. By the time the Colonies were fed up with the issues they had with the King America was basically a despot of Hard Working irreligious persons. The King's Church was just a formality and true Christians were mostly persecuted. I gleaned a lot of that from Arnold Dallimore's 2 volume biography of Whitefield. Yes, a lot of people had some informal knowledge of the scriptures but it wasn't understood through converted eyes. The Great Awakening helped American's out of blindness of the soul and many conversions and true Churches sprung up. Many of the wealthiest were Deists and not Christians. The framers of our Constitution were mostly of that ilk.

The Constitution of America had a basis with some heritage of persecution against the religious mind that was secular. Many of those who were colonists were forced to give taxes to the King which supported the parish church of the area. They also funded the ignorant unconverted Clergy. The Clergy were seen as oppressors who basically were the eyes and ears of the King. The Puritan Separatists had to apply for License to worship and were persecuted. The taxation really did not support the people and they were tired of the yoke they were bearing. Thus the Revolution.

To take a step back and define things a bit clearer let me explain the difference between a Pilgrim and a Puritan. Not all Pilgrims were Puritans but all of the Puritans seeking the freedom of worship they desired were Pilgrims. If you read the Mayflower Compact you will read a lot of religious talk that were compromises in my Estimation. There is a lot of homage to the King of England as a defender of the faith. The Puritan Separatists were fleeing persecution from the King. I believe the reason for that is because the language was important to the Strangers or unconverted men of the Mayflower ship. They were all under contract to the King to settle the new world. The Mayflower Compact or Covenant was basically an agreement to carry on in the midst of a lot of unrest. It was an important covenant to be held in esteem if they were going to survive. The Separatist Puritan William Bradford is usually falsely given credit for authoring the Mayflower Compact. I use to believe that. He is credited for writing the only surviving copies of it in his diary. The original is gone.

The Constitution is a lot like the Mayflower Compact in my opinion. It is a group of men who were religious Deists mixed with true Christians who desired to live together in peace and freedom after having developed such a sour taste for the things they had experienced. It is Not A Christian Document even though many Christians desired for it to be. Thus to revile it for something it should be in light of something we wish can be a worthy pursuit. It is wrong headed to criticize it for something it wasn't meant to be. We should not revile the Constitution for lacking something we wish upon it. It truly doesn't have the foundation nor heritage we tend to romanticize. Yes, the Influence of Christ may be seen in it. But like the unconverted Child who has the heritage and residue of his parents, I believe the American Constitution is basically the same thing. It is a document with true residue from heaven but it is not the romanticized document we so desire.

Well, those are my thoughts. Yes, I can make the promise to uphold and protect the Constitution with a good conscience.

The Constitution is not a Solemn League and Covenant unto God. We are not bound by that document here in America.

I need to learn how to write and spell again. Don't beat me up Chris. lol
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Well, those are my thoughts.

I think you raise some good points, Randy. As time goes on, I find it more and more remarkable how many deists relied upon and invoked God's providence. They plainly did not want to speak of King Jesus, but they also acted as if they feared some god, and acknowledged that he was in control of history.

It amounted to political compromise among sinners--in a day when even nonbelievers could understand sin.
 

CovenantPatriot87

Puritan Board Freshman
What I have always said about the US Constitution is that it is like two people living together out of wedlock. They may have a wonderful relationship, but they still lack a legitimate marriage license. Britain, on the other hand, while equally ungodly as the US, has such a marriage license, but do they do not live according to it. They are Covenant-breakers. But we rejected the Covenant from the beginning.

Words matter.

Edit: a good friend of mine considers the United States as the Northern Kingdom of Israel which never had a legitimate Covenant relationship from there beginning. There was not one righteous King in the north ever.
Is the United States therefore an unlawful government?
 

CovenantPatriot87

Puritan Board Freshman
I personally look at our Constitution a bit different than most people. By the time the Colonies were fed up with the issues they had with the King America was basically a despot of Hard Working irreligious persons. The King's Church was just a formality and true Christians were mostly persecuted. I gleaned a lot of that from Arnold Dallimore's 2 volume biography of Whitefield. Yes, a lot of people had some informal knowledge of the scriptures but it wasn't understood through converted eyes. The Great Awakening helped American's out of blindness of the soul and many conversions and true Churches sprung up. Many of the wealthiest were Deists and not Christians. The framers of our Constitution were mostly of that ilk.
How did you come to the conclusion that the founders were "mostly deists"? Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration, the majority, perhaps all, identified themselves as Christians, and all but one were Protestants. He was a papist and the wealthiest of the founders. Four were either present or former ministers, and a number of them were the sons of clergymen. At least half of them had studied divinity at their various universities. Btw, excellent biography of Whitefield!
The Constitution of America had a basis with some heritage of persecution against the religious mind that was secular. Many of those who were colonists were forced to give taxes to the King which supported the parish church of the area. They also funded the ignorant unconverted Clergy. The Clergy were seen as oppressors who basically were the eyes and ears of the King. The Puritan Separatists had to apply for License to worship and were persecuted. The taxation really did not support the people and they were tired of the yoke they were bearing. Thus the Revolution.
I don't understand how you concluded that taxation was the cause of the revolution when the declaration lists 27 grievances against the king with taxes making number 17.

To take a step back and define things a bit clearer let me explain the difference between a Pilgrim and a Puritan. Not all Pilgrims were Puritans but all of the Puritans seeking the freedom of worship they desired were Pilgrims. If you read the Mayflower Compact you will read a lot of religious talk that were compromises in my Estimation. There is a lot of homage to the King of England as a defender of the faith. The Puritan Separatists were fleeing persecution from the King. I believe the reason for that is because the language was important to the Strangers or unconverted men of the Mayflower ship. They were all under contract to the King to settle the new world. The Mayflower Compact or Covenant was basically an agreement to carry on in the midst of a lot of unrest. It was an important covenant to be held in esteem if they were going to survive. The Separatist Puritan William Bradford is usually falsely given credit for authoring the Mayflower Compact. I use to believe that. He is credited for writing the only surviving copies of it in his diary. The original is gone.
When the English threatened permanent imprisonment for those who criticized the corrupt practices of both the state and the church, the church of Scrooby England fled to Amsterdam to take refuge from the growing persecution. Following a decade of relative peace in Holland, the religious climate became volatile due to a potential looming war with Spain (and its ties to England) and the worldly behavior of the Dutch, so the Pilgrims therefore decided to start a new English colony in America. They obtained a land Grant from King James I for Virginia to get them out of his hair and set sail on Sept 6, 1620.

The Constitution is a lot like the Mayflower Compact in my opinion. It is a group of men who were religious Deists mixed with true Christians who desired to live together in peace and freedom after having developed such a sour taste for the things they had experienced. It is Not A Christian Document even though many Christians desired for it to be. Thus to revile it for something it should be in light of something we wish can be a worthy pursuit. It is wrong headed to criticize it for something it wasn't meant to be. We should not revile the Constitution for lacking something we wish upon it. It truly doesn't have the foundation nor heritage we tend to romanticize. Yes, the Influence of Christ may be seen in it. But like the unconverted Child who has the heritage and residue of his parents, I believe the American Constitution is basically the same thing. It is a document with true residue from heaven but it is not the romanticized document we so desire.

Well, those are my thoughts. Yes, I can make the promise to uphold and protect the Constitution with a good conscience.

The Constitution is not a Solemn League and Covenant unto God. We are not bound by that document here in America.

I need to learn how to write and spell again. Don't beat me up Chris. lol
Again with the religious deists... I read the Mayflower Compact and the constitution, I don't see how they are alike, lol. Especially as the constitution spells out the specific functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial and all their enumerated powers. What they do both have in common is the people coming together as a body politic and to create laws and rulers for their own safety and welfare.

I have to ask how do we define a "Christian document" for governing a nation? examples? and by the way, England's doesn't have a written constitution, its unwritten oddly enough. I think that would fail the test as well with the United States.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
How did you come to the conclusion that the founders were "mostly deists"? Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration, the majority, perhaps all, identified themselves as Christians, and all but one were Protestants. He was a papist and the wealthiest of the founders. Four were either present or former ministers, and a number of them were the sons of clergymen. At least half of them had studied divinity at their various universities. Btw, excellent biography of Whitefield!
Just because they identified a Christians did not make them Christian. The insistence of 'Son's of Clergy' does not make them carry the torch. Yes, there is a residue that would cause many to claim their heritage, after all, I am assuming a lot of them were baptized as infants therefore they would include their beliefs to be in line with much of what they knew. Many Deists would not separate themselves from a doctrine of Christ but would be a lot like Jefferson.


I don't understand how you concluded that taxation was the cause of the revolution when the declaration lists 27 grievances against the king with taxes making number 17.
I mentioned specific taxation above that was a thorn to the religious community and how that taxation was being used. It was overly repugnant to the people to support England in that endeavor. It was used to promote the eyes and ears of the King as a way of suppression. It was a heavy yoke upon the Colonists and the requirements to be involved with the Kings Church were overly oppressive.


When the English threatened permanent imprisonment for those who criticized the corrupt practices of both the state and the church, the church of Scrooby England fled to Amsterdam to take refuge from the growing persecution. Following a decade of relative peace in Holland, the religious climate became volatile due to a potential looming war with Spain (and its ties to England) and the worldly behavior of the Dutch, so the Pilgrims therefore decided to start a new English colony in America. They obtained a land Grant from King James I for Virginia to get them out of his hair and set sail on Sept 6, 1620.
Okay, I don't understand why you are bringing this up as I noted the the attachment to the King in the endeavor. I also noted that it was a compromised document. It called the King a Defender of the Faith which was a contradiction to the thought of the Puritans. They were fleeing the King for different reasons than the Strangers (or Pilgrims who were not Puritans). I also am not sure about your thought of getting the Puritans out of the King's hair. They were being pursued and persecuted. The King benefitted from stealing their properties over and over. They were foreigners who had just finally started to get a better foothold in the Netherlands. They were being pursued.


Again with the religious deists... I read the Mayflower Compact and the constitution, I don't see how they are alike, lol. Especially as the constitution spells out the specific functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial and all their enumerated powers. What they do both have in common is the people coming together as a body politic and to create laws and rulers for their own safety and welfare.
That is my whole point. They are alike as people coming together for various reasons to put together a goodly living arrangement for survival for their safety and welfare. Neither one is a Christian document as the Solemn League and Covenant is. It has a residue of Christ but not the full heart of Christ. We are not bound to the Solemn League and Covenant here. I bring that up because of your first question. Some Christians think we should be.
Why does the american system of government receive so much flak from our reformed folk yet they are happy to extoll pagan and secular governments (as long as they enforce the true religion, whatever that means to them) as lawful citing Romans 13. The reformed churches have only received protection and peace under the US constitution until the last several decades only because the three branches of government disregard the constitution and the people are wholly ignorant of the terms by which their governors were elected to abid by. This seems like a base ingratitude to me. Am I wrong here?
We are Constitutional Democratic Republic who has to deal with other Nations and their ways like we have to here from household to household. It can be a sticky wicket. I was trying to help others understand where things grew out of historically. I was trying to explain where they have gone and why. There is flack given based upon our heritage. Things have vacillated back and forth historically. We can be grateful for a lot of things and become very concerned over other things. It is the same way with the Church. We need to be concerned over the abandonment of our heritage in the Standards. They are living and breathing documents but they should not vacillate as some want to redefine or define a living breathing document. Yes, we should be concerned and be grateful for our heritage. But we should not be grateful for wickedness.
 
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Haeralis

Puritan Board Freshman
Wylie's insight was acknowledged by people in the Founding generation. At the Constitutional Convention, Connecticut delegate William Williams proposed this more Christian Preamble to the Constitution:

We the people of the United States, in a firm belief of the being and perfections of the one living and true God, the creator and supreme Governour of the world, in his universal providence and the authority of his laws; that he will require of all moral agents an account of their conduct; that all rightful powers among men are ordained of, and mediately derived from God; therefore in a dependence on his blessing and acknowledgment of his efficient protection in establishing our Independence, whereby it is become necessary to agree upon and settle a Constitution of federal government for ourselves, and in order to form a more perfect union...

Sadly, his proposal wasn't even considered by the rest of the delegates. They probably shared the sentiments of Alexander Hamilton, who commented that "America doesn't need foreign aid" when he was asked about why he didn't support Franklin's motion to open the proceedings of the Convention in prayer.
 
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