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Lesson 7

Answer: The Declaration says that the rules that govern the relationship between a government and its citizens - the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God - are the same rules that govern the relationship between the citizens themselves. The fact that America is founded on God's rules does not mean that you must believe in God to be an American, because even someone who doubts God would want to live in a society where people are honest, don't steal, and value lives and families, both their own and those of others. What makes one an American is their agreement with these rules. The fact that following these rules made America the most free and prosperous nation on earth is powerful proof that God exists and the Bible is truth. Our Founders did believe in God and in his rules. Want to see how that belief shaped their actions and our government and society? Read On!

Not A Revolution

We said before that the Declaration was an act of flight - it was a Declaration of Independence, not of war. What's important to see about the spirit of the people who founded America is that even after their property was taken, their homes were burned, and their loved ones killed, they did not invite war. That is because Christian principles require two steps be satisfied before force is justified: protest and flight.

The fourth and fifth paragraphs of the Declaration make clear that the Founders protested not just to King George and Parliament but also directly to the British People. Both the colonial legislatures and the colonies acting together sent petitions, from the resolutions of the Virginia Legislature and the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 to the Olive Branch Petition transmitted by the Continental Congress after the battles at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Private citizens from Daniel Dulaney in 1765 to Thomas Paine in 1776 also published letters, essays, and pamphlets that were circulated in Britain as well as the colonies. And colonial agents like Ben Franklin and Edmund Burke, who was also a Member of Parliament, represented our cause to the British government and people.

When our petitions failed, the Founders did not say they intended to overthrow British rule by force, which is the meaning of the word "revolution." Even though Britain had already begun hostilities, by issuing the Declaration of Independence America, in essence, walked away. If there was to be a fight, the British would have to press it. The fact that our government was not formed by revolution is a subtle point, but it is only insignificant to those who are too willing to use force themselves.

The Declaration also explicitly embraces the idea of forgiveness. By stating that we would hold all of mankind enemies in war but friends in peace, we stated expressly that our nation would not be like so many other nations in the world, even today, who keep the possibility of war a constant threat by nourishing ancient grievances.

The Fourth and Fifth Paragraphs

of the Declaration

"In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free people."

"Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Tie of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends".

Independence Hall, as it appeared in 1776, when the Continental Congress met to debate the Declaration of Independence.

Question: Under the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, two steps must be satisfied before either an individual or a government is justified in the use of force. Can you name them?

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