The modern era has seen the collapse of the Protestant liberal inflation of man into a divinity; now it strives against the naturalistic deflation of man into a slave of the state.
Firming up the case for human rights and responsibilities at the local level has become an imperative necessity for the vagabond West. The logic and urgency of the issues of man’s dignity and duty do not grip the man in the street.
The generation of tyranny has driven many Christian churches in the free world to a fuller accent on human worth and liberty. Christianity has long stood guard against both the romantic and the pessimistic misjudgments of man. Neither a deity nor an animal, man is a creature fashioned in the divine image, fallen into sin, bearing a unique dignity and traveling to an uncommon destiny. What is the meaning of this truth for a time of tyranny?
The theme of human freedom throbbed blood-fresh in the veins of America’s Founding Fathers. Alongside the titanic brutalities of our time, the tyranny they deplored as insufferable was perhaps only the shadow of sorrow. Nevertheless, they appealed to the one eternal Preserver of man’s responsible existence, the almighty Guardian of the dignity of man and Definer of the powers of the state. In the words of the Declaration of Independence: “All men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.…”
The Christian conformity of some signers of the Declaration of Independence is definitely debatable. There is little doubt, however, that the great majority were evangelical believers theologically at home in the doctrines of the Bible. True, they disapproved religious sectarian intolerance no less than political intolerance. Devout men, like Roger Williams, an evangelical Baptist, ...1
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