Do we still “hold these truths to be self-evident”? The short answer no, and it’s the root cause of a majority of the problems we face in America today.
We still “hold these truths to be self-evident” of course is from the Declaration of Independence. Truth has not changed it’s timeless, immutable, because it is of God [God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]. No, unfortunately it is we who have changed. Today a substantial portion of population rejects truth, and in turn they are rejecting God. For many it can be argued, and probably is true, that it’s not their fault. Because they never had proper instruction on the Bible. They never learned about their country’s true history, their God given rights, and principles of (self) government in school. Others however are culpable rejecting God’s Laws, and Commandment. Still others have given themselves over to evil and war against God.
We may ask then what is the truth? That question was answered over two thousand year ago when Pontius Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” [John 18:3-38 RSV] Freedom is truth, and the truth is God’s word.[Father Mark] “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [John 8:32 RSV]
Therefore, if there is truth then there is moral truth. Moral truths make freedom possible. “Free will is the liberty to choose what is right (according to Gods Law) [Father Malachi Martin] “Liberty is from God; liberties, from the devil.” [Berthold Auerbach] What truth, justice, freedom, liberty share in common is they are based on God’s Laws and Commandments.
Back to the topic of Declaration of Independence and “self-evident” truth. The document the country’s mission statement. A new nation that was born in a day. Conceived in liberty, a republican model of self-government entrusted to the hands of the American people.
July 4, 1776: The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, 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 [property]; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to their safety and happiness. …
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
A few important aspects of the document that need to point out. The phrase “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” is known as the Natural Law. Since God is the creator and divine author of the universe, nature, and man, he has established the laws of nature, such as the law of gravity, motion, and thermodynamics has a set forth guidelines for mankind to follow. Founding Father George Mason said, “The laws of nature are the laws of God; whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.” In short, God’s Law known as the Higher Law and The Moral Law is above the laws of man or government.
The document was a public declaration to the world that there is a creator who grants unalienable rights. Since these are God given rights, they can’t be taken away by a King, Queen, tyrant, or elected public officials. So, the purpose of civil government as stated in the document is to secure and protect God-given rights. The Constitution is the frame of government or an incorporation document that protects those rights. The rights of government are limited and defined, or limited government. The later Bill of Rights list five God-given rights, but there can be others. Stated another way, short of running for office or being elected, you have no Constitutional rights. What you have is God given rights protected by the Constitution.
In addition to the document being a covenant between states under a framework of government under God, or “One Nation Under God.” The declaration was an “Appeal to Heaven” for divine assistance, to bring the principles and tenets set forth in the Declaration of Independence into fruition. As duly authorized by their respective states, these men risked their lives, fortune, and sacred honor. It was an act of trust in God that their appeal to heaven [God] would be heard and answered, “thy will be done.” And we know from their testimony, through many miracles their prayers were answered.
John Jay shared, the revolution was “distinguished by so many marks of divine favor and interposition, that no doubt can remain of its being finally accomplished. It was begun, and has been supported, in a manner so singular, and I say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history, they will be tempted to consider great part of it fabulous. … But, however incredible these things may in future appear, we know them to be true.” “They,” the American people John Quincy Adams stated “were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the Laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct. They were bound by the principles which they themselves had proclaimed in the declaration.”
The United States of America, this experiment in time of self-government, requires that citizens have morals [piety, virtue], internal self-control, or internal self-government. John Adams stated it this way warning. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”
Principles of truth, freedom, liberty, justice, self-government can only be found in Christianity. “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.” [Robert Charles Winthrop] “It is only Christianity that enables a nation to be free. Because “the Christianity faith brings the supernatural transformation of in heart. There it gives the ideas of liberty planted in the mind … lays the foundation for self-government and hence for freedom.” [Stephen McDowell from the Providence Foundation]
In closing on this topic on self-evident” would like to go back to Alexis de Tocqueville observations in America from 1831. Tocqueville spent nine months touring the county studying the prison system for the French government. From his work published titled Democracy in America.“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”