That was the question presented to Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson on this week's Meet The Press. I find it interesting that more of these political news shows are beginning to consider questions presented by the public, from such sources as Facebook and Twitter, for instance. Although these questions can be more illuminating of a candidate's positions, and tend to be more original and authentic than those presented by the MSM hacks, they can present no less of a trap for the respondents.
OR, could there be a deeper significance to the framing of the question ... such as a subtle effort to point out that neither the Bible nor the Constitution have any authority in our land? And if they no longer exert any power or influence, who should be in control?
The point of my blog today is not to justify or condemn the way Ben Carson chose to answer the question, but to ask you to consider your own position, and look at the significance of who has authority. When it comes to the laws of this nation, how do you view the authority of both the Bible and the Constitution? Is one superior to the other? Is it possible for them to work together to govern this land? When the Constitution was written, did the Founding Fathers give any consideration to the Bible? I'm sure if you conducted one of those "man on the street" interviews tomorrow, you'd be hard pressed to get an intelligent answer to any of those questions; our ability to critically think through such philosophical questions has been seriously eroded. But let's take a stab at it, and see what kinds of considerations we can apply. After all, it is a crucial and consequential concern in these days, don't you think?
Let me first say that I always find it revealing to scan through the comments on controversial subjects like this. And as could be expected, they mostly fell into two camps --- those who felt that the Founding Fathers considered Judeo-Christian principles when drafting the Constitution, and those who defiantly maintained that we are now, and have always been, "a secular nation". They even went so far as to assert that "there is not one mention of God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity in all of the Constitution"... and they are right.
The 40 names that are listed as signers of the U.S. Constitution are a mixture of secularists, Deists, and committed Christians; yet I contend that all would have agreed that the general principles of Christianity drove the desire for independence and individual freedom that resulted in the American Revolution and the subsequent need to form a model of government. In response to why the Constitution is devoid of any Biblical references, I like the answer provided by Bill Flax, a contributor to Forbes.com: "Perhaps, because as James Madison remonstrated regarding inserting “Jesus Christ” into earlier legislation, 'The better proof of reverence for that holy name would be not to profane it by making it a topic of legislative discussion.' "
I think it is quite evident that the Founders of our nation, through the Revolutionary War years, and the succeeding years of establishing a government, never intended for this nation to become theocratic, or a one-size-fits-all religious state. It was never their intention to create a system of government in which the rulers reigned in the name of God. That being said, I still contend that they wanted citizens to live their lives as free men, governed by a system of laws that was written through the Biblical prism; recognizing that Christianity's morals and principles were valuable in creating a stable social fabric.
Need proof? Consider these statements by some of our more famous Founders: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other" -- (John Adams). "I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God Governs in the affairs of men" -- (Benjamin Franklin). "By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects. . . . It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published. . . . All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it [the Bible] must perish, and how consoling the thought, it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself. "The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." [Matthew 1:18]" -- (Benjamin Rush). There ... I think I've made my point. The Founders recognized that 1) our Constitution was designed for a moral and religious people, 2) whose affairs are governed by God, and 3) without the Bible as a foundational support, nations will eventually perish.
So, back to our original question ... Does the Bible have authority over the Constitution? While answering for myself, I must invoke my Biblical worldview, which influences all my decisions in life. I believe that God is the Ultimate Authority in this world that He created. But I also know that it says in His Word that He appoints rulers over nations by His authority, and we are to be loyal to that government... as long as they are loyal to God's laws.
I truly believe that God was involved in the creation of our Constitution through the men that He put in authority. At that time, these men foresaw a nation of individuals who were generally governed by Biblical precepts -- checks and balances and a limited government were at the center of the Constitution, and would serve such a Biblically-minded society well. Then, as now, I believe that the Bible has authority over each of us as individuals, and the Constitution has authority over the government. That combination has worked for us, and contributed to a generally balanced co-existence between the two powers, as long as we continued to embrace Biblical morals and principles.
But as God and the Bible have become more irrelevant in our society -- indeed, despised -- we have seen that both the Bible and the Constitution have lost their place in the governing of our nation. In fact, there is a third player in the game, and it is Government, with a capital "G". Since our society seems to want to eradicate the influence of both the Bible and the Constitution, is this even a relevant question anymore? Clearly, the Bible is being mocked, derided, and re-conceptualized to serve the needs of the ungodly. And, in its tattered state, is there enough of the Constitution left to warrant any real authority?
Perhaps the more appropriate question is this: Is there enough of the Bible's influence in the Constitution to withstand its destruction by the Government? Ultimately, as a faithful Christian, I have to go back to the one Truth that overrides all ... YHWH is Sovereign, Supreme, and the absolute Head of this State. His Word is authority over everything man-made ... whether it is a governing document like the Constitution, or a governing body of men. That might not be the politically expedient answer to give in a national interview, but we are at the stage in this nation (and the world) where it is time to quit playing the political game, and recognize Who has the real Power in this world. Imagine if we had a candidate who had enough courage and the fear of God to make that announcement!
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all."