Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom
Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom

The Bible, Words, and America

by John Rabe

We have all heard it said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

But the truth is exactly the opposite.

From a Christian perspective, words are far more valuable than pictures. When God revealed Himself to His people, He did not do so through a movie, or a photograph, or a painting. He revealed Himself through words, and the Bible still guides and governs us today as the Word of God. It is not coincidental that God’s only son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is called The Word in Scripture. Our God is a speaking God, and He has communicated to us through His Word incarnate and His words in scripture.

The impact of this truth cannot be overstated. Americans live today in a constitutional republic because of the centrality of words in the Christian faith.

In most systems in world history, people were ruled by more powerful people. These rulers governed by fiat, with the “law” issuing from their own whims. These systems—many of which still exist today—are Rex Lex systems, meaning that the law is under the sovereign king. In such systems, the monarch (or dictator) is the law, for all intents and purposes.

But as the Bible gained influence in the Western world, particularly after the Reformation (when for the first time, common people were able to read the Bible for themselves), an understanding of Lex Rex began to grow—the notion that the king is under the law, and that the law governs the people and the leaders. This freedom-giving distinction was crucial. Because of this distinctly Protestant, Biblical understanding, people would be governed by laws rather than by men. And this applied both to the civil and the ecclesiastical realms. Words—of law and Scripture—would have primacy over leaders.

The first modern constitution, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639), was written in line with these principles, ushering in a great era of constitution-writing in the New World, (which ultimately led to the United States Constitution in 1787). It states:

“For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things . . . we [the inhabitants of Connecticut] . . . well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God . . .”

By means of such a written law, based on principles drawn from Scripture, the people could know for themselves what was required and what was forbidden, and could appeal to the objective law when unjustly treated by their leaders. This law stood outside the moods and whims of individuals, providing anchored security for the people against a tyrannical government. This concept was carried forward from the Fundamental Orders through all of the state constitutions in the American colonies and ultimately was imbued in the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, today, in a society that eschews words in favor of ephemeral images and prefers strong personalities over the rule of law, the freedoms granted by a Biblical framework for government are vanishing. Nine unelected judges on the Supreme Court simply wave away the words of the Constitution and substitute their own policy preferences. The executive branch imposes laws of its own making, limiting Second Amendment freedoms and imposing aspects of the president’s health care plan at will. 

The feelings and whims of fickle human nature have superseded the words of the law and the Bible, and we are all paying a price in lost liberty. It has never been more important for the Christian church to assert the primacy of written words—the Word of God and the words of laws. Our freedom depends on it.