How the Declaration of Independence Reflects Biblical Principles
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most influential documents in American history. It was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, as a statement of the reasons why the American colonies decided to break away from Great Britain and form a new nation. But what many people may not realize is that the Declaration of Independence also contains many ideas and concepts that are derived from or inspired by the Bible, the sacred text of Christianity.
In this article, we will explore how the Declaration of Independence relates the political thoughts of its authors to the biblical teachings on human rights, government, and revolution. We will also examine how these principles have shaped the American identity and values over time.
The most famous sentence in the Declaration of Independence is: "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." This sentence expresses the belief that human beings have inherent dignity and worth because they are made in the image of God, who is the source of all rights and freedoms. This idea is based on several biblical passages, such as Genesis 1:26-27, which says: "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.'"
The Declaration of Independence also affirms that human rights are universal and cannot be taken away by any human authority. This is consistent with the biblical view that God is the supreme judge and lawgiver, who holds all rulers accountable for their actions. For example, Psalm 82:1-4 says: "God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the 'gods': 'How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.'"
The Declaration of Independence also states that governments are instituted among men to secure their rights, and that they derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. This implies that governments are not divine institutions, but human ones, that have a limited and delegated authority from God. This idea is supported by several biblical passages, such as Romans 13:1-7, which says: "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God...For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong...Therefore, it is necessary to submit to
the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience."
The Declaration of Independence also recognizes that governments can become corrupt and oppressive, and that people have a right and a duty to alter or abolish them when they fail to protect their rights. This implies that governments are not absolute or infallible, but accountable and responsible for their actions. This idea is also consistent with the biblical view that God is the ultimate sovereign and protector of his people, who can intervene or judge any human ruler who abuses his power. For example, Daniel 2:20-21 says: "Praise be to
the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others."
The Declaration of Independence concludes by declaring that the American colonies are free and independent states, and that they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. This is a bold assertion of the right to revolution, or the right to overthrow an unjust government by force if necessary. This is a controversial and complex issue that has been debated by many political thinkers and theologians throughout history.
Some argue that revolution is never justified, because it violates God's commandment to obey earthly authorities and causes violence and aa16f39245