Back in 2012, I decided to take part in a 10-week online course on our Constitution, offered by the respected and distinguished Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College. Since this founding document -- and foundation -- of our country is under unparalleled assault, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit what I learned and what I wrote to see where we stand today. The title of the course was Constitution 101:The Meaning and History of the Constitution.
I began that 2012 post by saying, "Dr. Arnn started his lecture with the simple question, 'Why study the meaning and history of the Constitution?' His answer, at the time, was simple and erudite: there are two reasons: 1) How did these men come to the conclusion that all men are created equal, and that checks and balances were a good thing? and 2) It is URGENT that we know the meaning and history, because we are about to discard these principles and institutions and adopt others. There is a vast difference between our founding principles and the new ones we are considering, and they are highly incompatible. We'd better know how they are different!"
Sadly, we have come a long ways down that road in 2020, and we haven't shown any evidence that we plan on protecting the Constitution. If anything, we have let the founding principles slip even further away. Dr. Arnn commented that knowledge of our country (and the meaning behind
its founding) was rare in 2012. Eight years have seen further deterioration of that knowledge; in fact, there is outright disdain for who we are as America and Americans. All you have to do is compare a speech
given by Thomas Jefferson with a modern-day politician, and you can see
how far we have wandered. In his overview of the lesson, Dr. Arnn
stated, "America's Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson
said, was the product of 'the American mind.' Our Constitution was
made with the same purpose as the Declaration -- to establish a regime
where the people are sovereign, and the government protects the rights
granted to them by their Creator."
But what do you do when half the country's idea of what that government should look like is the polar opposite of the other half? And what do you do when half the country wants to destroy the Constitution, doesn't think the people are sovereign, and has no desire to protect the rights granted by God? They don't even understand that the word "constitution" means "to ordain and establish something." It also means "to set a firm thing strongly in place." It is also linked to two other words that give it meaning: statute and statue. "Statute" means a law; ordained and established by a government upon a people as a practice that is mandatory. "Statue" connotes a work of art; something a human being makes, that is firmly established, intentional, and deliberate.
The Constitution of the United States is a work of art; something lasting and beautiful. It gives America its form. And it matters what a work of art is made of! Dr. Arnn used the statue of Michelangelo's David as an example. This exquisite statue is made of marble, and it would change both the structure and the nature of the statue if it was made of bronze or wood or plastic. He emphatically states that marble is one of the "causes" of the statue of David.
So what is one of the "causes" of the United States? IT IS THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE! And it is uniquely crafted; it is like no other nation on earth! This land was founded by people who were willing to leave one of the most advanced civilizations of the world, with all its sophisticated law, art, music and literature, to come to a wild, untamed place. It is important to note that this experiment called America revolved around this vast, wild, and untamed land being discovered by a people who came from a highly developed and civilized place --- it had never happened before, and it is hard to imagine that it could ever happen again. That's what makes America so unique!
One can never understand the making of America without
understanding the land and the people; and you'll never understand the
people without grasping what they thought and what they believed. And it is a miracle, in my mind, that all those people who came from distant lands were able to recognize the concept that America was indeed founded with a unique and distinctive identity, and they all agreed on its exceptionalism. But now we stand at a crossroads. The Land and the People are losing that remarkable identity. No ...it's even more than that! There are vast majorities that want to deliberately cast it off! And we are not in agreement on what America should look like, or her purpose.
But back to Dr. Arnn's imagery of the statue of David ... Our Republic, like the statue of David, was deliberately made; it is a work of art. What gives America its form? Anytime America acts as a nation, it acts through the Constitution. We seem to have forgotten that the President holds his office through the Constitution; the Congress is established through the Constitution; and the Courts are answerable to the Constitution. The way the United States proceeds as a nation was very deliberately designed to be influenced by the Constitution.
But, here we are in 2020, and it seems as if most of our government is treating the Constitution as if it's irrelevant; that there is no place for the Constitution in our national dialogue, or in our governmental processes. We seem to have forgotten that our Founding Fathers were educated men; schooled in the wisdom of history and able to discern the dangers and possibilities of losing their God-given freedoms. It was these ideas that were part of the founding of America; these ideas that made up the American people and constituted our American ideals. Does that still hold to be true?
In concluding his lecture in 2012, Dr. Arnn pointed out that we were close to a time when we would live under a different Constitution than the one we were bequeathed. He stated we were going to have to make a choice, and the choice we made would have a profound effect on everyone in this country and the world. He said the choice needed to be made well, and we needed to understand the consequences of choosing the alternative!
Well, I think we can all recognize that there are those citizens [and members of our government] that would like to choose a radically different alternative to our way of life, and would like to abolish the Constitution altogether. They are, in fact, ignoring its precedence and its primacy, as they seek to change the very fabric of this nation. But the words from 1776 that should be burned into the hearts and minds and souls of every American still ring true today: When in the Course of human events it become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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.
Lord, my heart is grieved to see the separation that has come upon our land! We need to understand that it is our Constitution that holds us together. It is a beautiful document; it's what makes us America. It gives us our structure, our form, and our nature. When it is destroyed or ignored, we are vulnerable to becoming something we were not created to be. We cannot let our differences mold us into something we are not. I comprehend that there are those who think an alternative plan or system will benefit Americans more, but I pray that they are awakened to those false promises before our nation perishes.
Father God, this land is Your land. You have set the boundaries and established Your laws within our founding documents. We pray for protection from those who would alter Your plan for this nation. We stand on our authority as Your representatives, and we declare that this is still one nation, under God, indivisible, and defending liberty and justice for all. We do not believe You are through with America yet, Father! Gird us and guide us for the spiritual battles ahead as we persevere to maintain our Republic. Let all Americans hear Your voice, and let all the people return to You, in repentance and in submission to Your will for this nation. We remain in covenant with You and we will never abandon Your principles or moral laws. Let true freedom in Christ ring out across this land and cleanse us from the physical and spiritual plagues that have descended upon us. Draw us to You, Father. Heal us, restore us, and set us upon paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake. Let the world proclaim, "America belongs to the Lord"!
Deuteronomy 4:6 "Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' "