Two of the greatest and most enduring documents offering a plan for a human society of peace and prosperity are the Bible and the United States Constitution. Both of these sources share a faith based rather than a human reasoning base as the foundation of their plans. Both documents also share the common principles generally referred to as the Judeo/Christian ethic. This worldview supposes that the world we have now was created by an intelligent being and is not the result of some great cosmic accident. Another foundational principle of the Judeo/Christian view is that while man is capable of great good, he is also prone to great wickedness, and to reign in this tendency, human governments are instituted as the delegated authority from the creator to ensure societal order, and guarantee individual liberties.
While there is similitude of purpose and principle in both sources, they are in fact quite distinct in their method of application. In order to understand how to live by the principles of the Bible, and the Constitution, one must maintain the common principles in both while realizing the mandated distinctions of each.
The Bible is a Divine document. The claim of “inspiration” for all the Word of God sets it above all other sources. While it was authored by God, it was written by men. More than forty different writers over a period of 1,500 years contributed to its pages, and yet there is complete unity of purpose and principle in all of its sixty six books.
The Constitution, while produced over only a few months of debate, was also the product of a large group of contributors. The Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were all involved in expressing strongly held ideas about how government should be formed, and what role it should play the preservation of individual liberty as well as national prosperity and peace. The Constitution was authored by men, who according to their own testimonies felt a Divine hand working among them and guiding their deliberations. The Constitution then is a document authored by men who were assisted by God, and the Bible is a document authored by God, using the instrumentality of men.
The Bible is a book of instruction that covers every conceivable situation man can experience. As dealing with people it offers specific instruction for individuals to follow. As dealing with governments, it offers general principals to guide, but little specific instruction on form and operation. The Constitution on the other hand, offers very specific instructions to government on what it can and more importantly must not do. Concerning individuals, the Constitution offers only the most basic guides of law and order.
The Constitution then is specific instruction for government and general guidance for individuals. The Bible is specific instruction for individuals and general guidance for governments.
I submit that it is the reversal of these two applications that are at the root of much of our world’s struggle today. Governments claiming Scriptural ruling authority have given rise to tyrannical regimes and a citizenry that is chaotic. Also, governments that have Constitutions of specific instructions for citizens tend to be socialistic and overbearing. Both misapplications erode liberty, and explode government oversight.
With all the talk about keeping the Bible and government far apart from each other, I propose that peace and prosperity can best be fostered by a proper view of both as legitimate tools for human growth as long as we understand the proper role of each of these historically significant documents.