“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity,” observed John Adams, our second U.S. president. “I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
So what were these general principles, and what's so "Christian" about them? As modern day philosopher Jürgen Habermas [who describes himself as a "functional atheist"] notes:
Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.
Unfortunately, many who seek to control our historical narrative today seem unaware of these theological and philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment, that of fundamental equality. The mentions of God in the Declaration are not to be minimized or waved away, for without
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rightsthe Declaration is merely the political manifesto that today's secular revisionists sometimes make it out to be.
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?," asked another Founder.
We seem increasingly determined to find out.