Four Related Thoughts. Of the Self-Evident. Of Hermeneutics. Of the American Political Religions.

We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . .

  1. No statement is eo ipso self-evident. A statement may be admitted as an axiom, but only inasmuch as one acknowledges that it has indeed been admitted—or rather, permitted. An axiom is a chosen means to an end.
  2. Jefferson’s language in the Declaration of Independence exhibits this qualification: the self-evidence of his statements is not “found,” not “discovered,” not “revealed,” not even “known,” but “held.” If they were eo ipso self-evident, he would not need to “hold” them. Rather, they are submitted to the reader as premises: if the reader permits the statements in the abstract, then the reader should permit the conclusions in the concrete. Jefferson’s argument relies on an interpretation of the British king’s actions as tyrannical, so he begins with a series of axioms to facilitate such an interpretation.
  3. The Declaration of Independence furnishes a hermeneutic for defining tyranny. This hermeneutic is still in regular use today, applied to different particulars.
  4. American political discourse—no matter how secularized—often has a religious quality because of the application of various hermeneutics whose axioms are ideals separate from published laws.

Two Counterarguments. Of “Christian Nations.”

  1. One argument against the claim that the United State of America was initially a “Christian nation” is the conspicuous absence of republicanism, or even of democracy in general, from the Bible. But let no one by this statement be deceived into thinking that the Bible recommends any form of civil government. The concept of nation makes a “Christian nation” mutually incompatible with the Church’s mission to gather and make disciples from all peoples.
  2. God himself has only one government—and it is a kingdom. There is only one holy city—and it will come out of heaven from God. For God’s chosen, every nation on this earth is in effect Babylon.

A Criticism. Questions. Of Prisons.

A man commits a crime, is convicted, and is sentenced to ten years in prison. After ten years, he is released. He has “paid his debt to society,” no? No. In this case, society is a usurious bank. The man carries with him a twisted promissory note called a “criminal record” (the record itself is criminal!), and he must continually pay off his debt by remaining in the second class.

Should he not have had his record cleaned once he was released from prison? Should he not have been reformed? One says this is a ridiculous expectation. So we must ask this one: Why did he go to prison in the first place? Did he go in order to come out more hardened? Did he go in order to relieve us of his presence, only to return again with greater hostility and more difficult circumstances?