The Nation and the Bible

My good friend at First Things, editor R.R. Reno, ruminates in this month’s print issue on “Christian Universalism and the Nation.” Against Christians who make too easy a jump from the universalism of the Christian church to effectively borderless nations—a camp that includes some Catholic bishops as well as some evangelicals—Reno writes “we need better theology.” He sketches this using several propositions.

Reno’s main thrust is that particular loves, such as love for family, neighbors, and fellow citizens, are the primary means by which God extends his providential care for humanity. I have argued similarly elsewhere. Yet there are some curious gaps in Reno’s sketch of a “better theology.”

The Scriptures include (at least) three signal events important to sketching nationhood in a Biblical key. They are the common ownership of the earth, the creation of the nations at Babel, and the calling of Abraham immediately after Babel. Aspects of these events cut in favor of some of Reno’s claims as well as against some of them.

First, God gave the earth to humanity in general to provide for our needs (Psalm 115.16, Genesis 1.26-30, 9.3, etc.). This and God’s providential superintendence entails the so-called universal destination of the earth and its goods (1 Chronicles 29.12,14, Deuteronomy 8.17-18, Psalm 24.1, etc.).

While sounding vaguely socialistic, it’s not. Private property, families, nations and others are particularistic means by which humanity makes use of its common ownership, and the primary means by which people produce and distribute goods. The teachings operate more as a reserve clause identifying the purposes that things like private property and national sovereignty must serve. These things must be prudentially modified if they do not serve the purposes for which they were created.

The implications of the common ownership of the earth are too vast to discuss in any depth here. One implication to note, however. St. Paul notes in his talk at the Areopagus that national borders are matters of God’s will, answering his providential purposes (Acts 17.26). God is the one who is ultimately sovereign over national borders, not nations.

This does not mean that national borders are or should be entirely permeable to cross-national movement. National authorities, however, answer to a higher power. Importantly, the reason people may need to cross national borders is an important consideration in their permeability. Political theorists like Hugo Grotius (aspects of which I discuss here, here, and here) and Mathias Risse, who develops a secular line of reasoning premised on common ownership of the earth, consider the different implications for the permeability of national borders based on different types of claims.

For example, Grotius draws on events in the book of Numbers to discuss the right to pass through a nation. In chapter 22 (verses 22-24) Moses asks Sihon, King of the Amorites, for permission for Israel merely to pass through the land. Sihon refuses, and Israel enforces her right of passage by going to war. Israel subsequently passes through Bashan and Moab. Interestingly, however, earlier, when the King of Edom refused permission to Israel, Moses simply turned Israel away. (Perhaps Edom was too strong for Israel successfully to fight, Luke 13.41.)

While the common ownership of the earth might auger more for cosmopolitanism than nationalism, the next event in the Bible offers more evidence to support nationalism than cosmopolitanism. Yet, it is a negative argument for nationhood, which may explain why nationalist Christians seems studiously to ignore it.

In the Bible’s story of the tower of Babel, a unified, monoglot humanity seeks to pierce the firmament and storm God’s throne room. In doing so humanity replicates the Original Sin, seeking to dethrone God and enthrone itself as King. In judgment, God divides humanity into different tongues and nations or family groups.

This event of the creation of the nations, narrated in chapters 10 and 11 in the book of Genesis, cannot be discussed separately from God’s calling of Abraham (Abram at the time) immediately afterwards, in chapter 12. God’s calling of Abram is his response to the judgment at Babel. God divides humanity into “nations” or ”families” at Babel—both words are used (Genesis 10.5, 16, 20, 31-32). Yet through Abram, God will bless the very families he just judged in chapters 10 and 11. Just three verses into the next chapter, God tells Abram that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12.3).

God creates a different type of nation out of Abraham than he created at Babel. The differences are instructive.

The Babelian nations are extended families or clans. Their identities are formed primarily by blood. Not so with Israel. Blood relation with Abraham (or, ultimately, with Jacob) is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for national membership in Israel. What makes an Israelite is covenant membership alone. This is indicated (for men) by circumcision. A man who is biologically descended from Abraham yet who does not bear the covenant sign is “cut off” from the nation (Genesis 17.14). Similarly, a man who was not biologically related to Abraham (or Jacob), when circumcised, would become “as a native of the land” (Ex 12.48). Indeed, from the very start, the vast majority of those circumcised were not blood relatives of Abraham (Genesis 17.12, 14.14).

In the biblical narrative, Gentile nations were defined around family or blood, the nation of Israel was defined around covenant. Membership in Israel, with few exceptions (Deuteronomy 23.3), was a biologically open nation in which Gentiles, with receipt of the covenant sign, would become as “natives of the land.”

Reno writes, “The nation is a political community, a way of life in accord with shared loves, not a clan bound by blood.” By Reno’s definition, Israel was the first distinctively modern nation in the Bible. While particularistic, Israel also had universalistic mission to “bless the families of the earth.” She would do this by drawing the nations to the one God.

Because of this mission, the nation of Israel accorded a fundamental equality to non-Israelite aliens (“the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” Leviticus 19.34). Yet while rigorous equality was required, often ignored by Christians pointing to these laws of hospitality is that the law also allowed substantial distinctions between natives and aliens in Israel.

What mattered in Israel was allegiance to YHWH. While this was Israel’s universalistic mission, it was also her particularistic aspiration. While Mosaic law required that aliens and strangers be treated equally before the law, and Israelites had an obligation to love the alien as they loved themselves, because Israel was a community formed by and around YHWH, aliens could not fully be members of Israel, culturally, economically, or politically, without conversion or assimilation.

Despite the laws requiring Israelites to succor aliens (Deuteronomy 24.19-21, and etc.), aliens nonetheless could not own land in Israel (Leviticus 23.25) and could be charged interest on loans (Deuteronomy 23.20). Aliens could sell themselves permanently into slavery, something prohibited to Israelites (Exodus 21.2). While aliens were not required to profess YHWH as their own God, even while living in Israel, they nonetheless needed to avoid religious practices that would be inconsistent with the nation’s Yahwist culture (Leviticus 16.29, 17.12, etc.). Aliens, however, were allowed to sacrifice to YHWH (Numbers 15.14) and were invited to pray to YHWH (2 Chronicles 6.32-33).

There is a theological and a political upshot to all of this. First, theologically, Reno pretty much gets backward the picture of the gathering of the nations in Revelation 7 and the vision in Isaiah 49. Both pictures directly suggest the movement of the nations from Babelian separation to a unity restored by and under the one Davidic king. To be sure, these are pictures fully realized only in the age to come. Nonetheless, even as the nations and their kings bring their distinctive splendor and wealth into the age to come (Revelation 21.24, 26), their distinctive cultural inheritances are offered up to the King of Kings—that is, neither abandoned nor subsumed in new city. The focus of these pictures is not of whatever part of national identity continues into the age to come, but the summing up of those identities, such that, as St. Paul writes, “there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free” (Colossians 3.11). Babel reversed.

The political implications are more complicated. On the one hand, the Bible teaches first that God, and not the nations, is sovereign over national borders. On the other hand, hospitality toward aliens—a fundamental requirement to love the alien as oneself—coexisted along with social, political, and economic limitations on aliens in Israel. These limitations aimed to support and protect Israel’s fundamental allegiance to YHWH. This allegiance, not blood, was Israel’s distinctive trait among nations early in the Bible. National membership was open to those who wanted to convert and assimilate.

Yet assimilation is fundamental. And here, I think, is a political implication from the Bible even Reno might endorse: In ancient Israel there was content actually to assimilate to. But what about the U.S today? Much of the opposition to immigration today derives not from the strength of modern American identity, but from its weakness. Affirmation of autonomy requires no assimilation; it is the rejection of assimilation. The irony is that a thicker American culture—and religion is the heart of culture—could actually be less threatened by, and hence more welcoming of, immigrants than today’s affirmation of an empty center.

Reader Discussion

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on October 10, 2019 at 09:07:53 am

[…] God, and not the nations, is sovereign over national borders, and yet, nations have a real purpose. The Nation and the Bible syndicated from […]

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The Nation and the Bible | Best Legal Services
on October 10, 2019 at 09:57:47 am

"Much of the opposition to immigration today derives not from the strength of modern American identity, but from its weakness."

Methinks, Mr Rogers protests NOT enough!

American identity is not just weak. It has been "gaslighted" by the academy and the progressive Left;

Gaslighting being defined as the following:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief.

Clearly, American identity is cast as the victim.

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on October 10, 2019 at 19:08:38 pm

Rogers starts, “in . . . ‘Christian Universalism and the Nation’ . . . Reno writes ‘we need better theology.’”
Then he explains an Old Testament culture of Israeli love-discrimination toward non-believers who live among citizens, concluding, “. . . assimilation is fundamental.”

It’s a false notion. Before assimilation, there must be consideration, comprehension, appreciation, and acceptance.

At stake in the USA is acceptance of We the People of the United States, an entity that is determined by individual trust-in and commitment to a proposition. It is stated in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, or U.S. Preamble. The essence of the proposition is: willing citizens aid five public institutions in order to approve and encourage responsible human liberty to the continuum of living citizens. The five institutions are Unity, Justice, Tranquility, defense, and Welfare. The standards for aid are left to the individual who wants responsible human liberty.

The fellow citizen who does not appreciate responsible human liberty may face law enforcement if he or she actually causes harm to a fellow citizen. Accepting citizenship in the USA obligates the individual to consider and comprehend the civic, civil, and legal proposition that is offered in the U.S. Preamble. Living as a citizen in the USA implies that the individual either comprehends equity under the U.S. Preamble’s proposition or will reform if not. This principle applies to Bishops who are citizens as well as government officials.

A citizen has the liberty to read into this proposition the belief in a mystery of whatever-God-is, and responsibly pursue that belief. He or she may privately associate with Abraham or Abram, while practicing civic integrity rather than infidelity. Nowhere in the U.S. Preamble’s proposition is allegiance to a religion, a philosophy, a political ideal, or any other human construct suggested.

I think the standard that applies to the five public institutions is the-literal-truth when known, or the-objective-truth when discovered, or acceptance of not knowing when the individual citizen has only opinion to act on.

Individually and collectively ignoring the U.S. Preamble will not help Christianity, Judeo-Christianity, reincarnation, or any other human hopes for the afterdeath, that vast time after body, mind, and person stop functioning. However,the U.S. Preamble does propose integrity, justice, peace, strength, and prosperity in order to secure responsible human liberty.

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Phillip Beaver
on October 11, 2019 at 01:37:57 am


Can I make a sincere suggestion? I note that your comments have a remarkable consistency. I cannot recall a post of yours that did not contain the word "preamble," followed up with a lot of "civic this," and "civil that," and "objective truth other." Despite this consistency, you seem, to me at least. to have gotten little traction with your views. Now perhaps you are on to something with the Preamble, perhaps not. But if you look at your claim that the five institutions of the Preamble are Unity, Justice, Tranquility, defense, and Welfare, it is obvious that something is missing. The Preamble states six purposes for the Constitution, with the pretermitted term being "Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

If I may suggest, given that 1.) the name of this site is Law & Liberty, 2.) that there is currently a popular debate over whether liberty or safety is the preferred condition, and 3.) your contention that the Preamble is substantive, it may benefit the readers of this site if you were to analyze and identify exactly what the "blessings of liberty" are, why they are blessings, and why they are explicitly, but only generally mentioned in the Constitution. Please note that this is not simply a definition of "liberty," but rather an analysis of why liberty provides "blessings." Perhaps then you could stimulate further interest in you other Preamble theories.

Just a suggestion.


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on October 13, 2019 at 18:09:25 pm

Z, I appreciate your suggestions.

As I perceive them, I should: 1) note consistent failure to win attention to the-objective-truth as civic, civil, and legal standard, 2) fill in the gaps to my separation of five public institutions from responsible human liberty, 3) and show appreciation for each “Law & Liberty,” a current liberty v safety debate, and traditional Preamble repression and neglect, paying attention to “why liberty provides ‘blessings.”

Wherein my perceptions err, please correct me.

First, non-fiction writing professors always opined that I had not written for the audience. I think a valid message about human experience and observations should reflect the writer’s human journey toward integrity aided by the audience’s honest improvements or distractions.

My secondary purpose (to promoting the U.S. Preamble under the-objective-truth) is to develop a glossary that transcends identity politics so as to motivate most humans to accept and aid responsible human liberty more than political coercion or force. Thus, “civic” citizens refers to inhabitants who encourage each other to individual happiness with integrity towards each other more than for the municipality, state, or country. For example, if it comes to a neighbor vs the city, interview the neighbor about the difference before taking sides: Neither initiate nor tolerate harm to or from anyone.

My insistence on “the-objective-truth” has heretofore been lessened by the fact that future discovery may change current understanding. For example, understanding that the earth’s rotation on its axis hides the sun each evening forever changes personal meaning of “the sun’ll come out tomorrow.”

However, my post that motivated your suggestions claims that pursuit of the-objective-truth ends with the-literal-truth. For example, respecting the mystery of whatever-God-is, the-objective-truth is that we don’t know if God exists but non-discovery does not lessen the-literal-truth, whatever-it-is.

The U.S. Supreme Court may base opinion on conformity to the U.S. Preamble’s proposition, duly appreciating the fact that it legally ended the 1774 Confederation of 13 States, began the Union of nine states, and has grown to 50 states and 6 territories. The U.S. Preamble proposes a civic, civil, and legal proposition. Its achievable accomplishments are unimaginable: they belong to our posterity.

Second, the people’s proposition in the U.S. Preamble is: “. . . to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .” This is a catalog of predicate phrases, which I reduced to nouns for simplicity.

Thereby, I observed that the first five nouns address public provisions or collectives, whereas Liberty is an individual human acceptance (not merely a choice, because responsibilities are involved). That is, there can be no Union, Justice, Tranquility, defence, and Welfare without the collective action. However, an individual can accept responsible liberty only on his or her own. That is, the public may approve and encourage responsible human liberty but cannot force fellow citizens to accept it and aid the collective. Civic fellow citizens hope dissidents will reform for the dissident’s sake foremost.

I think the U.S. Preamble’s proposition emerged from the discussions that were held over 4 months in the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Benjamin Franklin’s proposal for daily prayer did not receive a second. Conclusions were expressed concisely and subtly by the 4-day, 5-member Committee of Style. Expressing separation of church from state was essential to the responsible human individual.

Here’s the draft preamble the Committee of Style received: ““We the People of the [13 named] States do ordain, declare and establish the following Constitution for the Government of Ourselves and our Posterity.” The Committee of Style added the proposition quoted above. How did 5 members effect the change from “We the People [of 13 states]” to “We the People of the United States”? And what does “blessings” mean?
Madison’s notes from May 29, 1787 report that Edmund Randolph stated: “1. . . . such a governme[nt] ought to secure 1. against foreign invasion: 2. against dissention. . . : 3. to p[ro]cure to the several States various blessings, of which an isolated situation was i[n]capable: 4. to be able to defend itself against incroachment: & 5. to be paramount to the state constitutions.” See https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/farrand-the-records-of-the-federal-convention-of-1787-vol-1#lf0544-01_head_013.

“Blessings” used in the above paragraph seems to refer to advantages not possible as free and independent states per the 1793 Treaty of Paris. In context, it’s doubtful that Randolph referred to prayer for divine favor “to the several States.” On the other hand, George’s Washington’s June 8, 1783 farewell to the army cites blessings from Heaven alongside blessings from the revolutionary soldiers, so both usages were current. Did May’s words by Randolph become September’s “secure the Blessings of Liberty” authored by 5 and signed by 39 convention delegates then ratified by representatives of the people of 9 states by June 21, 1788, establishing the USA as a global nation?

However, by excluding Heaven from the 5 public institutions, the U.S. Preamble proposes pursuit of religion/none in individual liberty.

In claiming the sovereignty to interpret the U.S. Preamble, I consider myself “our Posterity” of my mom and dad and my children their grandchildren or part of the posterity of Mom and Dad’s immediate family. In other words, in “to ourselves” I am one, and Mom and Dad, both deceased gave us advantages, especially if we journaled and now avoid their mistakes.

Third, the reader who has followed my history of posts read my statement that no other forum is as capable as this one to effect the essential reform from colonial-English tradition to a civic culture grounded in the U.S. Preamble under the-objective-truth as a path toward the-literal-truth. They also know that I do so as a civic citizen. I read select posts to read, perceiving that I can and will find a way to promote the preamble in response to almost every essay. I feel lucky to have chosen an essay that would lead to your suggestions, Z.

I have a complete life to live and regrettably miss great opportunities. You informed me of the liberty v safety debate. I will research it and respond. Today, I perceive that my urge for mutual, comprehensive safety and security properly orders its necessity to liberty. For example, a college student who is recruited to soldier for an identity politics is not likely to realize his or her dream as concert pianist. When I consider “why liberty provides ‘blessings’” I can’t help going back to my view of it: With freedom-from oppression such as identity politics the student may practice the liberty-to pursue the happiness he or she perceives rather than the bemusement others would impose.

Thank you again, Z. I hope you will share any corrections to my interpretations and make more suggestions.

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Phillip Beaver
on October 15, 2019 at 07:15:51 am

Delighted and intrigued to hear from Dr. Rogers again. I wonder if his thinking on this topic has evolved since he expounded on it at, say, the Theopolis Institute? (I’d check myself, but the security certificate at theopolisinstitute.com just expired, so I can’t get there from here!)

First, God gave the earth to humanity in general to provide for our needs (Psalm 115.16, Genesis 1.26-30, 9.3, etc.). This and God’s providential superintendence entails the so-called universal destination of the earth and its goods (1 Chronicles 29.12,14, Deuteronomy 8.17-18, Psalm 24.1, etc.).

While sounding vaguely socialistic, it’s not.

What of Acts 2:42-47? (“They [the early Christians] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”) What of Acts 5:1-11?

(Perhaps Edom was too strong for Israel successfully to fight, Luke 13.41.)

I think that’s Luke 14:31-32: “Or what king on his way to war with another king will not first sit down and consider whether he can engage with ten thousand men the one coming against him with twenty thousand? And if he is unable, he will send a delegation while the other king is still far off, to ask for terms of peace.”

But then what of Matthew 19:26? (“With God, all things are possible.”) Indeed, at two places in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21) God punishes Israel and Judah severely precisely because King David has the temerity to count his troops—as if his success had been due to military might rather than God’s favor.

The irony is that a thicker American culture—and religion is the heart of culture—could actually be less threatened by, and hence more welcoming of, immigrants than today’s affirmation of an empty center.

I share this view. In short, it’s easy to feign welcome for people you contemptuously know will never wield the slightest power; it is easy to do what is costless.

In contrast, liberal norms imply that 1) we have a bias toward welcoming the stranger, and excluding them only upon cause (including, perhaps, the cause of finite resources), and 2) except for matters of autonomy and duty, the views of the majority should prevail—even if their views seem alien to you. The liberal recognizes that newcomers not only can, but will, alter our culture—as they always have. Recall West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943):

"Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good, as well as by evil, men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, but, at other times and places, the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity.

As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program … to unite in embracing. Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

[T]he First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.

[W]e apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. [To do otherwise] is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."

Apparently the exception has now occurred to Reno.

For the great majority of us, our ancestors were newcomers at one time. Gabe reminds us of his Italian ancestry. US citizens despised Italian immigrants. As we recognize Columbus Day, recall that President Benjamin Harrison established the holiday in 1892 in a desperate attempt to appease the nation of Italy following the biggest lynching in our nation’s history—a lynching of Italian immigrants.

What exactly would Reno have advised the Americans of the late 1800s to do? Would he have urged them to clamp down on immigration of those swarthy foreigners who speak strange tongues, practice strange religions, and are otherwise uneducated and prone to violence? If he had succeeded, how many people of Italian dissent would we observe in the US today? And what would we eat with our beer on Friday nights?

No. Reno forthrightly acknowledges that he is the beneficiary of immigration to the US—and now that his tribe has arrived, he is only too happy to lock the door.

A final thought: What does Reno make of the Parable of the Good Samaritan? Samaritans appear throughout the New Testament. (For example, of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, the only one to return to thank him was a Samaritan.) But the Parable of the Good Samaritan is noteworthy because it’s a parable: Jesus could easily have omitted mentioning the rescuer’s nationality if it were not relevant to the story. Yet Jesus not only mentions a nationality, but explicitly picks a despised nationality. The message seems pretty clear to me: It is by our deeds, not our tribe, that we should be judged. Moreover, Jesus does not ask us to assimilate to the manners of the priests and Levites; to the contrary, he asks everyone to aspire to a higher virtue—even when that means expressly rejecting the prevailing norms. “You have heard it said… But *I* say unto you….”

So even if you find a dozen citations in the Old Testament supporting nationalism, what significance should Christians give to that?

(You'll be shocked to learn that my comments are no longer welcome at First Things. But give Randy my best!)

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on October 15, 2019 at 09:50:41 am

nobody.really, what a great post!

“There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.”

Are you certain We the People of the United States as defined in the U.S. Preamble consent to govern?

Consider the U.S. Preamble’s proposition. I interpret it as: We the People of the United States hereby specify national discipline respecting 5 collective institutions---Union, Justice, Tranquility, defence, and Welfare---so as to approve of each individual citizen’s development of responsible human liberty according to his or her preferences.

Nowhere in this interpretation is a standard for governance specified, and the articles that follow are stipulated to be amendable. The individual chooses the standard and thereby develops integrity or not. Each citizen may or may not consider the U.S. Preamble’s proposition and if not, he or she has not trusted-in and committed-to a citizens’ agreement to aid equity under statutory justice. My standard for justice is the-objective-truth, the ineluctable evidence that exists and which humankind labors to develop so as to asymptotically approach the-literal-truth. I do not object to Christianity as long as the individual lives under civic integrity while pursuing salvation of his or her soul. Same with other religions including those under a doctrine of reincarnation.

The point is this: The U.S. Preamble suggests that fellow citizens encourage each other to civic discipline according to integrity rather than govern each other on dominant opinion such as a religion. That is, the proposition is about civic discipline and accountability, not governance. Self-discipline accumulates as national discipline.

Living individual citizens have the freedom-from oppression and the liberty-to develop integrity to the-objective-truth rather than to arbitrary rules including "the founders" errors. To collectively accomplish justice, most citizens accept responsible human liberty. In other words, practice discipline to the ineluctable evidence. They discipline for equity under statutory justice. For example, civic citizens do not lie to each other, because each one practices fidelity to the-objective-truth. Hopefully, dissidents learn by observing examples more than by exhortation and punishment. However, dissidents remain free as long as the damage they cause is not noticed and proved.

“You’ll be shocked to learn that my comments are no longer welcome at First Things.”

When bigots shun open-minded people, their brains receive a message. Perhaps eventually the narrow-minded will respond to their own perceptions. I know this, because as a young adult, with East Tennessee Bible-thumping arrogance I spent 16 months in expatriate service in Greece. Fortunately, my Greek co-workers opened my mind, and I am still prying and rarely open my heavily marked book of confusion and contradiction.

Some believers thump to convince themselves he or she solved the mystery of whatever-God-is and thereby have the prerogative to abuse We the People of the United States and beyond. The Christians I know hope to enjoy a favorable, heavenly afterdeath and would not impose a doubt-able-soul on fellow citizens who are convinced that all except their integrity ends when their body, mind, and person stop functioning.

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Phillip Beaver
on October 15, 2019 at 13:02:28 pm

All people are God's children and can love God equally in response to His boundless care and Love for us people! Now is a good time to hear the voice of God in your heart, you just need to open it! Hearing this voice I was helped by the program "about the spiritual Grace" https://allatra.tv/en/video/about-spiritual-grace , the council. all people pay attention to the knowledge that is set out in it, as well as to hear the true call of God!

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on October 16, 2019 at 00:15:40 am

From R.R. Reno's essay:

Modern ideologies seek empires unhindered by national traditions. This allows civic life to be more easily reshaped in accord with truths and principles that purport to be universal. Christianity is not opposed to empires, any more than to kingdoms and republics. But it resists the political impulse toward universality. A conservatism that rests on national particularities cannot be derived from theological principles—but it, likewise, resists universality. It regards the political life of the nation as an end in itself. Politics is about politics—the art of living together as people. It is not the mask or instrument of something more universal. Nation-based conservatism, like Christianity, stands against the modern temptation to treat politics as an eschatological enterprise, a struggle to incarnate the universal.

OH MY GOD: Is Reno declaring his support for married priests in the Amazon? Married religious leaders would be more consistent with Amazonian culture and tradition. True, this hasn't been how we do things in the West--but Christianity stands against incarnating the universal, right?


Is Reno simply engaging in transparent special pleading? It's ok for Reno to apply his values universally because, well, he speaks for GOD--but anyone else expressing support for universal views (such as, say, human rights, including rights for gays) is bad, bad, bad.....

Jonathan Swift tells us that “Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own...." Gazing into the mirror, Reno reports that "Modern ideologies seek unbounded empire"--yet somehow the naked ambition to empire staring back at him remains hidden from his view.

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on October 16, 2019 at 13:01:28 pm

To nobody.really again,

“From R.R. Reno’s essay: ‘A conservatism that rests on national particularities cannot be derived from theological principles—but it, likewise, resists universality.’”

Reno’s observation seems freed-from national and theological oppression by the U.S. Preamble’s proposition to secure individual liberty-to develop responsible human liberty.

The proposition’s authors, the 5-person Committee of Style, reflected the west’s history as played out in N. America from Nordic exploration until June 21, 1788, when the 9th of 13 former British colonies (then globally independent states) established the USA, leaving 4 yet globally free states and a legally dissolved confederation. The First Congress, 1789-1793, did all it could to restore colonial-British tradition in America, and subsequent regimes maintained Chapter XI Machiavellianism.

Although the 55 1787 delegates had debated a people’s proposition, their draft U.S. Preamble omitted the proposition. However, fortunately, the committee of five authored a 52-word abstraction that may be interpreted as I do. To reach my interpretation and its improvements, I communicate, collaborate, and connect (sometimes suffering subsequent disconnection) with over 70 fellow citizens during the past 6 years of biannual public library meetings in Baton Rouge, LA, USA and in public fora such as this one.

The U.S. Preamble’s proposition does not specify the standards by which We the People of the United States (the society of those who accept the self-discipline that is proposed) aid Union, Justice, Tranquility, defence, and Welfare” in order to secure responsible human liberty to living citizens (“to ourselves and our Posterity”). In 2019, I am of “ourselves”; U.S. viable-ova are waiting to be responsibly conceived; and foreign viable-ova may benefit as “our Posterity.” The-literal-truth is basic to human ova!

Voluntary members of We the People of the United States, by the civic, civil, and legal power of the U.S. Preamble, have the achievable opportunity to develop integrity to the-objective-truth rather than to any of a religious or political doctrine, someone’s American dream, “founding fathers’” visions for living citizens, or “signers” visions for posterity, and most of all, 18th century colonial-British doctrine.

Civic citizens accept the U.S. Preamble’s proposition, and when a majority, at least 2/3 join We the People of the United States, the U.S. may begin to psychologically reform from the ruin of colonial-British tradition. The USA may begin to develop statutory human justice under the U.S. Preamble with pursuit of the-literal-truth.

“. . . support for universal views (such as, say, human rights, including rights for gays)” is not exempt from obligations to posterity.

As far as I can reason, finding monogamous appreciation for life is rare, and when two humans find it, no human can lessen their fidelity to each other. However, the partners have no prerogative to deny the human dignity and equity due the viable ovum. Herein, is an illustration of the importance of the-objective-truth as standard for responsible human liberty, the object of the U.S. Preamble’s proposition?

The-objective-truth is the ineluctable evidence which withstands imperfect comprehension and advances on future discovery so as to asymptotically approach the objective truth. For example, civic citizens do not lie to each other so as to lessen human misery and loss more than to follow some rule or doctrine.

I would not lie to a liar. For example, I experienced the perception one evening awakened and finding our back door unlocked that an intruder was between me and provisions for family protection (my guns). I considered shaping my hands like a handgun and pointing to say I was going to shoot. Quickly, I decided that my only option was to make the intruder as human as I could and would say, “How can I help you?”

My family is important to me and they accept me. I think We the People of the United States is important to every President as he or she sees it or he or she could not be elected. I can’t imagine what it takes to protect the people from dogs and pigs but perceive that the Trump/Pence administration is providing historical examples. I'm all set to vote for their ticket a third and fourth time for the sake of the-literal-truth, whatever it is.

One last point. The Old Testament was canonized I understand by 325 AD and the New Testament by 405 AD on the order of Emperor Constantine who intended to control pagan citizens. The incentive to be a Christian is to hope for a favorable afterlife for the person's mysterious "soul." However, the canonizers failed to choose clear and concise instruction to observe the-literal-truth during human life's brevity in order to have comfort that the afterdeath would be secure. This point is plain to every Bible thumper. The 2019 attempt to promote Christian doctrine as representing whatever-God-is seems as foolish as trying to re-establish the Roman Empire.

The U.S. Preamble does not threaten Christianity's plan for salvation. Christians who today plea for mercy need only accept the mercy that is offered under the U.S. Preamble's quest to discover the-literal-truth's standards.

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Phillip Beaver

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