The Christian Broadcasting Network

David Barton: Wisdom in the Constitution
Spiritual Life

More Church History on Spiritual Life

More Spiritual Life on

More from Wallbuilders

Speaker and Consultant to state and federal legislators

B.A., Religious Education, ORU

church history

David Barton: Wisdom in the Constitution

The 700 Club

CBN.comOur Constitution is a wonderful document. Under it, America has become the longest ongoing constitutional republic in the history of the world. Most Americans believe that our wonderful Constitution governs America, but it doesn’t. I say that because our Founding Fathers themselves said it. During the Constitutional Convention, while they were framing the Constitution, their discussion was best summed up by delegate John Francis Mercer, who declared: "It is a great mistake to suppose that the paper we are to propose will govern the United States."

In other words, if you think the Constitution governs America, that’s a major league error. Mercer continued, It is not the Constitution, but "[I]t is the men whom it will bring into the government, and interest [they have] in maintaining it, that are to govern them. The paper will only mark out the mode and the form. Men are the substance and must do the business."

In other words, the Constitution gives us the power to elect our leaders, but if we elect the wrong kind of leaders, the Constitution will be absolutely worthless in their hands.

Notice this same lesson taught in the Scriptures. Was there any nation in the history of the world that had better civil laws than Israel? I don’t think so; God Almighty wrote their laws, and that’s as good as it’s going to get. But how good were their laws when they had rulers like Ahab and Jezebel, or Manasseh, or Jeroboam, or Rehoboam, or other wicked leaders? Their superb laws were absolutely worthless under such corrupt and deficient leaders.

Our Founders understood this, and the most frequently quoted Bible principle that I have seen in their writings is the one set forth in Proverbs 29:2, which declares, "When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."

Our Founders understood that the key to good government is not how good our documents are, or how good our laws are; it’s how good our leaders are. And in America, that verse, Proverbs 29:2, has a significance that it doesn’t have in many other nations around the world. For example, if you woke up this morning in China, or Cuba, or the Middle East, or so many other nations, there is nothing at all that you can do about your leaders. In those countries, Proverbs 29:2 is nothing more than a statement of fact. But here in America, Proverbs 29:2 is a statement of responsibility — it’s a statement of opportunity. In America, whether the righteous rule or whether the wicked rule depends totally on the will of the voters. We have our choice!

But in recent years, Christian voters have not taken their voting stewardship seriously. In fact, in the last four elections, Christian voter turnout has fallen by forty percent. Today, there are 60 million Evangelicals in America, but only fifteen million vote. In fact, of the 60 million Evangelicals in America, 24 million are not even registered to vote! To have been given the power to determine the quality of our government and its leaders and then not to use that power is reminiscent of the servant in Luke 19 who received a trust from the Master and then decided not to do anything with it — not to get involved. Remember that none of the servants asked for the trust they had received from the Master; but the Master gave it to them anyway, and they became responsible to the Master for what they did with that trust despite the fact that they had not asked for it. Similarly, we did not ask to be born in America; we did not ask to be given a government of which we are the stewards; nevertheless, God has given it to us, and He will call us to account for our stewardship of this important trust.

The Rev. Charles Finney, a leader in America’s Second and Third Great Awakenings in the early and mid 1800s, reminded Christians of a lesson that we need to remember today. He warned:

"The Church must take right ground in regard to politics. . . . God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation are becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they think God does not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it, and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course [Christians] take [in politics]."

This is a profound and a timely warning from one of America’s great ministers. Psalm 33:12 declares that blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord; and if America does not stay blessed, it will be because Christians did not stay involved! So let’s get involved; let’s make a positive difference again in America! Get your friends and church members registered to vote, and then go out and vote for Godly leaders in this upcoming election.

Related Resources:

The Spirit Behind '76

Why Washington is "The Father of our Country"

Author Looks at U.S. History and Asks: 'What If?'

Cape Henry, A Christian Nation

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.