by Rob Schwarzwalder
December 7, 2011
FRC’s friend Daniel Dreisbach holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University and a law degree from one of America’s most prestigious law schools (the University of Virginia). He is also a full professor in the Department of Law, Justice, and Society at American University. When Dr. Dreisbach speaks, the academic world listens.
His latest article is titled, “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,”1 and is published as the lead article in the current edition of the American Political Science Association’s Politics and Religion Journal. Dr. Dreisbach reviews in thorough detail in what ways and how often America’s Founding Fathers used the Bible in their political discourse. Putting it simply, they used it constantly. As he writes in his article, “The Bible and biblical precepts penetrated the core beliefs of many founders and the ubiquitous manifestations of those beliefs in public and private utterances.” In another section of the paper, he observes that the Bible “was also a source of normative standards and transcendent rules to order and judge public life.”
Of course, as Dr. Dreisbach also notes, sometimes the Founders quoted Scripture simply because the broad cultural familiarity with the King James Version. “The nature of political rhetoric,” as he notes, means that sometimes they used biblical phrasing “for literary, rhetorical, or political purposes.”
Yet with that said, there can be no doubt that the teachings of the Word of God had a profound effect on the beliefs and actions of those who created our Republic. “Both influential and ordinary citizens drew on biblical language, ideas, and themes in thinking and talking about the political challenges that confronted them,” Dr. Dreisbach concludes.
Biblical illiteracy is widespread in our time. Still, an acquaintance with the Bible is essential to understanding the foundations of our country and culture. Even more, biblical principles are eternal. They were critical at the nation’s beginning, and remain so today.
To listen to Dr. Dreisbach’s FRC lecture on the Christian roots of America’s founding, click here.
1 “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,” Politics and Religion Journal, December 2011.