So i have often pondered the events in history & the evolution of thinking that got us to this point. I see the beginnings of america in the roots of the reformation. There was a backlash to the establishment religious institution, & the idea that the authority of religious instruction should be in the written texts, not the edicts of the hierarchy. Many religious groups & philosophies went to the new world to be free to practice their version, or dream of a religious utopia. Many of them were no more tolerant to alternate views than the oppressive system they left. But the idea was born. The new world became a place where tolerance to other religious views was the norm.. it was institutionalized, & eventually stated clearly in the 1st amendment of the constitution.
But before that, the magna carta emphasized the concept of Law. Law is something deeper.. an inner morality & sense that everyone has. It does not need to be constantly spelled out, or especially, arbitrarily changed at the whims of the king. This also has its roots in the biblical texts, specifically, the writings of Paul the apostle.
Ro2:14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,…
So Law was something internal.. something that EVERYONE had to respect, not just the serfs of the kingdom. Even the king was subject to the Law of God. But the concept of freedom was more obscure.. the 'powers that be' were not keen on telling people about that part. They loved to tell them about submission to the king, & respecting the law of God, but didn't talk much about freedom.. until the reformation. More & more people were becoming literate.. the central reason was to read the sacred texts of the bible. And what did it say?
Gal5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Freedom?!? We have been set free?!? But wait! There's more!
Gal5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Ok, so there is responsibility, too. We are free, but still must live under the Law of love.. We can live as free men.. in harmony if we follow the golden rule that Christ taught.
The very first point in the magna carta had to do with freedom.. for the church, & the local leaders.. they were pleading (threatening) for liberty from an oppressive monarchy.
1. In the first place we grant to God and confirm by this our present charter for ourselves and our heirs in perpetuity that the English Church is to be free and to have all its rights fully and its liberties entirely. We furthermore grant and give to all the freemen of our realm for ourselves and our heirs in perpetuity the liberties written below to have and to hold to them and their heirs from us and our heirs in perpetuity. ~magna carta
By the time we get to america, it is phrased like this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.. ~declaration of independence
Now we've got the concept of human equality.. no divine right of kings. We are ALL equal, & govt exists solely to secure our freedoms. The concept of america has been born!
Here's a summary of the progression:
1. Mat7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
2. Law, not edict, is supreme. The inner Law trumps human edicts.
3. Christ has set us free. The inner law provides liberty.
4. The purpose of govt is to secure our rights & freedoms.
So thank you, Jesus, for the gift of American Freedom. We would not have it but for your teachings.. oh, & Happy Birthday!!