America's Founding Vision
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A SHINING CITY ON A HILL is a vision of God's will for Good, Just, and Righteous government done in Wisdom, and it is not a Liberal or utopian ideal for government attempting to a leftist Social Justice, but rather it is a practical, moral vision based on common sense and “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” of Thomas Jefferson and the American founders and as seen in the Judeo-Christian worldview. A SHINING CITY ON A HILL is best summed up as “One nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Part of the UNDERSTANDING Series:

UNDERSTANDING America’s Founding Vision

Mark Twain once quipped everybody is talking about the weather but nobody is doing anything about it, and in a similar manner one might say today everybody is talking about America’s founding vision but nobody seems to know exactly what it is. And as Scripture says, “My people perish for lack of a vision,” and this clearly seems to be where our nation is today, and as the old expression goes, if you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.

Understanding Political Science 101

There tends to be in America today a lack of the most basic knowledge of Western civilization and of the political science of Western civilization in particular. Western civilization is composed of a combination of the Hebrew and Greek traditions that come out of Jerusalem and Athens, respectively. The Hebrews did not have to do any political science or come up with any theories of government because God told them at Sinai (in what is called a direct Special Revelation) exactly what he wanted them to do in terms of the law for the nation. The Hebrews therefore spent their time and energy on studying the Mosaic Law and trying to interpret and apply it correctly in order to do Justice and Righteousness in those ancient times.

The ancient Greeks were in an entirely different situation as will be the Americans at their founding in 1776. The ancient Greeks and the American founders had no direct revelation from God for a nation, and they both had to base their theories of government to do Justice and Righteousness primarily on what is called the Natural Revelation of Reason as opposed to the Special Revelation of the Bible.

As is well known the Greeks experimented with various forms of government in ancient times in order to have Justice and Righteousness for all and not have tyranny of one group or one person over the society or the city states of those times. Plato and Aristotle both study this problem of creating a Just and Righteous government and write extensively on it, and we still have their writings. What they conclude is your best bet for a Just and Righteous society is a good king to keep everybody on the up-and-up for a harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic and to keep any group from exploiting any other group, and a good king can do this especially in the simple societies of that day.

The problem is if one has a bad king, he is a tyrant, and he exploits the whole society for himself and for the small group of people around him thus destroying the harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness. Given the fallen human condition, kings are going to tend toward tyranny, so the Greeks try both oligarchy and democracy in order to have a society of harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness. Oligarchy is the rule of upper classes of the society, but the problem that emerges with oligarchy is that the upper classes, given a free hand, tend to exploit the masses of the people economically and otherwise, thus destroying the society’s harmonious and free interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness.

This means oligarchy does not prove to be a desirable system of government to create the free and harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness. However, democracy proves to be even worse to achieve this desired ends of harmonious interaction in Justice and Righteousness because a democracy of the mass of the citizens easily becomes a tyranny of the majority, and it is subject to demagogues seeking tyrannical power by promising the mass of people everything they want.

Aristotle and the ancient Romans after him decide that the best form of government for achieving the harmonious and free interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness for the general Welfare of the whole society is a mixed form of government, meaning a combination of king, oligarchy, and democracy, and this is not to have a mere balance of interests as we sometimes think but rather to have a system of checks and balances to keep any one group from becoming tyrannical and trying to do what is not best for the whole country. What is best for the whole country is creating a society of the free and harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness for the general Welfare or Common Good of the nation as a whole or as a Commonwealth.

The ancient Roman republic, which will be the model for the American republic, will be a combination of king, oligarchy, and democracy. The president or consul is the chief executive officer, and he is like a king, and the Senate is like an oligarchy, and the general assembly or House of Representatives is like a democracy by all the people, and in America the House was originally the only body directly elected by the people, but regardless all three parts of the government president, Senate, and House are to seek to do what is best for the nation as a whole and not what is best for any particular interest group that is well-connected with the president, Senate or House.

Again, this is not a mere balance of interests but each part of the government whether president, Senate or House makes sure that the other parts stay on course in trying to do what is best for the country and not for themselves or their own group whether of the chief executive officer or the upper classes of the Senate or the masses of the people in the House. Not only is this the case for America but it is actually written into the Preamble to the Constitution. Every person running for national office is supposed to be running to establish Justice for the general Welfare of the nation or whole society in order to have a free and harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness for the general Welfare or Common Good of the nation as a whole or as a Commonwealth. And no one is to run for national office by promising any particular group any particular favors at the expense of the larger society.

Conclusion: America Today

Special interest politics are the basis for American politics today, and they are the opposite of Common Good or general Welfare politics as Ronald Reagan correctly said, and this is just as the American founders said reflecting the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero that began the process of Western civilization and the political science of Western civilization in particular.

And when one has a society based on a free and harmonious interaction of all the parts of the body politic in Justice and Righteousness for the general Welfare or Common Good of the nation as a whole or as a Commonwealth, one has a Biblical vision of God’s will for government that creates one nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all, and this is what makes truly for A SHINING CITY ON A HILL of the Bible as opposed to special interest group politics with each group seeking advantage over other groups at the expense of the nation as a whole.

And for lack of this American founding vision, the nation is currently perishing and is actually all but dead, and this death of the American dream and founding vision is probably the greatest tragedy in the long story of the history of mankind on earth seeking a Just and Righteous society, often called “the desire of all nations.” Why? Because America, mankind’s last best hope, is no longer alive and well; indeed America as envisioned at the founding is perishing and virtually no one sheds a tear or takes even the most basic of actions to restore the republic. It is only the Reagan Lincoln Republicans, holding to a founding vision of A SHINING CITY ON A HILL with Liberty and Justice for all, that are at this hour standing courageously and resolutely in the gap to restore the Republic and to make America a light to the world once again based on the moral Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.