Divinely-Inspired Constitution

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This is complete news to me, because I've never been near enough to anything like attraction to Ron Paul's candidacy for president to read his Statement of Faith, but (as if we needed another reason to be leery of him) he apparently thinks the U.S. Constitution is divinely-inspired. [hat tip: Joe Carter]

I suppose we have to wonder which version of the Constitution was inspired, since it's been amended quite a few times. I know he doesn't think the current one is ok, because he wants to remove the right to citizenship that the 14th Amendment gives to people born in the U.S. Is the rest of the 14th Amendment divinely-inspired? If so, why some but not all of it? Presumably he doesn't think it's just what existed before the Bill of Rights, because most of what people consider most fundamental in the Constitution is the Bill of Rights, but that would mean he'd be including at least ten amendments.

But I think all doubt should be removed. Any Christian refusing to vote for Mitt Romney because his Mormon beliefs are heretical should similarly refuse to vote for Ron Paul, because his view of the Constitution also is.

8 Comments

Jeremy, I am not sure if you know it, but Mormons also strongly belief that the Constitution is divinely inspired.

I'm not sure if I've heard that before. So I'll add one more thing: Those who oppose Ron Paul on these grounds ought to oppose Mitt Romney for the same reason!

It's a stupid reason to oppose a presidential candidate given that the president has little effect on amending the Constitution (which is the only way such a view will affect politics significantly anyway). But on the matter of consistency, it's worth pointing out that if Mormons do believe this then the argument goes both ways (for those who would use this as a legitimate reason).

Greg Baus emailed me this clarification:

In an interview with John Lofton (former Republican National Committee official and current Communications Director for the Constitution Party and host of The American View radio program), Ron Paul clarifies his infelicitous use of the term 'divinely inspired' about the Constitution.

JL: I saw a reference about you to your calling the Constitution 'divinely inspired'. What did you mean? Was that a typo... or did God hand that to Moses on Mt. Sinai... or did I miss something here?

RP: What's that, the Constitution?

JL: Yeah, you referred to it in one --I think it was your Statement of Faith

RP: Well, I think the Founders actually believed this. They talked about 'Providential' and 'Divine Providence'

JL: I see what you mean

RP: I do believe that God's hand was in the coming together of our nation

JL: OK, you obviously mean you think the people who gave us our Constitution were divinely 'inspired,' not the actual text of the Constitution itself

RP: Oh no, no, right. I think so many of them talked about Divine Providence, and I don't think the country could have come together if it wasn't providential --and just like it, providentially, may end. We may end too, by God's will

JL: Well, that's right.

In that same interview Ron Paul said that he believed the Bible was alone the Word of God, infallible and inerrant.

Elsewhere, Ron Paul has said repeatedly that he does not think the U.S. Constitution is perfect.

Ron Paul denies that the Constitution is either God's Word, or infallible, or perfect, or inspired as a text.

What he affirms is that in the United States becoming a nation and receiving its supreme law in the form of its Constitution, God was acting Providentially. Man is not autonomous.

Of course, this is a truism. EVERYTHING that happens is guided and governed by God, providentially. But it is not therefore meaningless to acknowledge this as true in a given circumstance.

Well, if that's all he means then I could say that Hitler was divinely-inspired. What he did falls under God's sovereignty in that sense. But the context in the statement of faith indicates something much more positive than that. It's as if God would endorse it in a way that God wouldn't endorse some of the immoral things that in his providence he allows.

Interesting, I did not know that. The only "document" that I would say is divinely inspired would be the Bible.

Was the Constitution written by Christian men?Mostly - that has been pretty well established. Prayerfully? I would assume, it is interesting that it was Ben Franklin, a theist, who led them to pray. I would also say that you can find biblical principles throughout, but it is quite a stretch that it is inspired. When I think of something as divinely inspired I consider...

"For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit," (2 Peter 1:21, ESV).

I think putting the U.S. Constitution in that context - even as great of a document that it is - is quite a stretch.

I would agree with Joe that it would fall under God's sovereignty though.

The Constitution was signed mostly by Christian men, perhaps, but I don't think most of the people who were involved with most of the writing were Christian in any robust sense. Many of the more influential signers in the writing process were deists who denied special revelation. Ben Franklin was one of the deists.

I think "inspired" here has the same sense it has in "I was inspired by the beautiful autumn leaves to write a poem." Not that the leaves wrote the poem, or forordained my writing it; but my perception of the beauty of the leaves was what lead me to write. So I think Paul is saying that the founders' knowledge of God (in particular their belief in his providence) lead them to make the Constitution what it is. Then he goes on to say that, by the way, their belief was true: God does providentially order history. So he's jumping quickly from one idea to the next in a way that, perhaps, isn't as clear as it could be; but that's the way people talk when they're answering questions off-the-cuff.

That's a bit looser than what people usually mean when they say something is divinely-inspired rather than just being inspired.

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