On the 4th of July, 1776, when the Continental Congress declared the American colonies independent from the British Empire, not only were they declaring to the world their freedom, but they were declaring their new found identity. It was not that these United States were to be some sort of sister concern of the British Empire, in such a way that they reflected the identity of Great Britain on another continent. No, this was an embracing of an entirely new identity, one which would necessitate the relinquishing of their old identity as colonies of the British Empire. And that is why, in no unclear terms, the Declaration of Independence uses the language of “separation” to declare independence, and to define new identity.
At the crux of freedom and independence is the issue of identity. Who we really are as people, and whether we see ourselves for who we really are, defines whether we are free or not.
If the framers of the Declaration of Independence did not see the people of the then United States (and all people) as— “. . . created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . .”— then they would not have risked the formation of a nation separate from Great Britain. It is because they saw themselves as being enslaved to the tyranny of King George III, that they were then compelled to relinquish this old and false identity and say with resolve that, “all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved . . .” It is because they saw their true identity as resting in the freedom provided by God to man, that they were able to embrace this new identity and, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence . . . mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
In this endeavor for “sacred Honor,” they had to exchange their old identity for a new one. They had to relinquish old ties. The Declaration of Independence lists the atrocities that were being committed, and shows that sacred honor was being desacralized. In order for freedom to be secured, the sacredness that was being taken away had to be restored. So it is not that they were seeking that complete autonomy which leaves God out of life. They were not seeking autonomy from the sacred, but independence and freedom from a human way of life that desacralizes. In true freedom and independence from tyranny, there is a deep and abiding dependence on God. And for the fathers of the United States, their new identity and the gaining of independence were proven by this phrase in the last sentence of the Declaration: “ . . .a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In depending on God, they were gaining independence for the United States. An exchange of identity had been made on a national level. The new identity saw the people of the United States as independent from the British, but dependent on God.
Eighty eight years later, in 1864, this dependence on God was reconfirmed when “In God we trust,” was first engraved on money. And one hundred and eighty years after 1776, in 1956, the identity of America as a people dependent on God, would be further crystalized as a joint resolution was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, that the very national motto of the United States should be, “In God we trust.”
When once that exchange of identity was made in 1776, which caused a colony of the British Empire to become a new nation dependent on God, again a reconfirmation of that identity was made two subsequent times in history, as I have shown above.
For a person to be free his old identity that bound him must be relinquished, and his new identity should be embraced. For a country to be free, their old identity must be relinquished, and their new identity embraced. For that freedom to continue, the new identity that gave them that freedom, should constantly be renewed and reaffirmed. It is high time for another reaffirmation of national independence by reaffirming national dependence on God.
ARE WE REALLY FREE TODAY?
The answer to the question would depend on whether people know their identity or not. As individuals, are we really who we ought to be? As a nation, are people collectively really who they ought to be—both according to principles of Christian Scripture upon which this nation was founded, and according to the Charters of Freedom which were framed upon principles of that Christian Scripture?
Judeo-Christian ethics and morals—the key the Founders used to open the old shackles of tyranny—has today been molded into new shackles and put on the hands of the Savior who sets free, and on the hands of those people who follow Him. And those very people who shackle Christianity and Christians in the United States, have returned to the old shackles and worn them, thinking it is a garland of freedom. They have been deceived to think that revolting against God is freedom. But ousting God is no flowery garland. It is a shackle of bondage that draws blood, and will claim its pound of flesh. The only hope is the same Christian key that the Founders used: the Truth, who sets men free.
Is there something that will allow for national and individual identity to be renewed so that freedom can be celebrated? To know our true identity, we need light. If we don’t have light to see ourselves for who we are, we can never be truly free and independent. We become the people we are meant to be when we have the light of God shining on us. As God once did, He still shines His light, and calls people out of darkness into that light, so that we may become His people, have identity, and know true freedom.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:9-11
This nation badly needs the mercy of God, so that people can turn back to God, and find freedom and know their identity; so that all the liberties that this nation was founded on will not be taken away as they have begun to be; so that the fleshly lusts which are rampant in this nation, that wage war against the souls of people, will be overcome so people can step out of the darkness of bondage into the light of freedom.
Am I advocating for a national religion? Certainly not! But the Christian worldview, with Judeo-Christian principles of morals and ethics in operation, is the only system that truly allows for the freedom and independence of a nation in which people from all nations and religions are welcome. No other religion, philosophy, or worldview allows for this sort of American freedom and independence. At present, the United States which was declared independent on the 4th of July 1776, has drifted far from the foundation that made her free, and has acquiesced to lesser worldviews—lesser not because they are inferior culturally or racially, but lesser because none of them could have ever allowed for this global and historic anomaly that is the United States. While present freedom should be celebrated, those forces which are working to lead this nation away from its founding identity and freedom should be condemned.
Millions of individuals in the United Stated need to find their identity, and be set free. The country as a whole needs to renew and reaffirm the identity that was impressed upon these United States at its founding. Two hundred and thirty eight years later, the Declaration of Independence (apart from George III's crimes) needs to be declared again, in its entirety.