God in the Declaration

The recent Sohrab Ahmari-David French exchange reignited a discussion that erupted earlier in conservative circles, stirred by Patrick Deneen's book about the tremendous successes, and worse failures, of liberalism. (For Deneen, the two are often the same, or two sides of the same coin.) The Ahmari-French exchange added an important dimension to the debate, by explicitly involving the religious faiths of the two participants. French is an Evangelical, Ahmari, a fairly recent convert to Catholicism. With them, Christianity entered into the discussion over how conservatives should view liberalism.

As part of his response to Ahmari, French tweeted the famous lines from the Declaration of Independence concerning all men being created equal and those that immediately follow, on the origins of free government, then he asked if Ahmari and his ilk would, or could, subscribe to them? The Declaration was presented as a touchstone of American creed and commitment. Shortly before the nation's 4th of July anniversary, therefore, our attention was led back to this founding document, this "expression of the American mind," this time with specific, and large, questions in mind. How is the Declaration with respect to God? With respect to man? With respect to the formation and ends of government? Can Christians subscribe to its tenets?

In my previous July 4th essays, I wrote mainly about the Declaration on man and politics. Now I will say a few words about the first topic, its theology or presentation of the divine.

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