"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ?If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, ?We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?' Jesus replied, ?I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" - John 8:31-36
Embedded in a recent article by Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus is an excellent lesson on the foundation of American liberty. Oh, he did not intend such a lesson, for the article is on the emerging Islamist parties in post-uprising elections throughout the Middle East. Notes Mr. McManus:
"A lot of [the Islamists] aren't democrats at heart," [Saad Eddin Ibrahim] said. "But you cannot get rid of these people. You have to deal with them."
And that, in a nutshell, is the dilemma facing the U.S. and anyone else who worries that the Arab world's Islamists could turn out to be like the Muslim revolutionaries who seized control in Iran 32 years ago ? authoritarian, hostile and democratic only in name.
Many of the Islamists aren't liberal pluralists at heart. They want Islam to be their countries' official religion. They want some form of Sharia to be the basis of civil law. They don't like Israel, and they don't like U.S. policy on Israel.
Herein lies our lesson. How is it that some 230 years ago the emerging nation of the United States of America did not fall into either religious or secular totalitarianism? The form of government experienced by American colonists, after all, was a monarchy. Yet our Founders did not establish a New World monarchy. Nor did they establish a theocracy.
Amazingly and miraculously, they established liberty.
How did those men accomplish what no one else before them had been able to do? The most succinct answer is found in our fundamental founding document, the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes 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.
As stated in this document and then so eloquently by so many of our Founders, the freedom, liberty, and rights of mankind are derived from God, not from human endeavors or institutions. Humans enslave; God frees.
Their experience of God through the testimony of Jesus Christ led our Founders to establish a government conceived in liberty.
Religions such as Islam bring slavery. Secular humanism, a driving force of the French Revolution, brings slavery.
Christianity brings freedom.
Father, thank You for the gift of liberty granted by You to our Founders. When we study the history of Your world, we marvel that so many men in such a position to assume inordinate power created, instead, a government that they intended to be founded upon the consent of the governed. Because this is miraculous in scope and nature, it is Your miracle. By Your hand, we were delivered. And so we pray yet today, that You would continue to deliver us from those who seek once again to enslave. We pray for those who have sacrificed greatly in their own lands only to see themselves trapped once again in the nightmare of totalitarianism. May we turn our stiff necks and hard hearts toward You so that we can be mended by the grace of love. For only through the gift of Christ our Savior can we find the gift of freedom that You seek to bestow upon us. In the name of Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.