A Declaration of Spiritual Dependence
THE BIBLE, THE REPUBLIC, THE ECONOMY, AND THE ACADEMY
Meeting at St. Louis, Missouri, in June 2010, the signers formed a goal of seeing the biblical worldview more fully integrated into civic and economic life by the influence of churches and schools. To propose what such integration should involve, we submit this Saint Louis Statement.
1. As followers of Christ Jesus, we declare our utter dependence on the God of the Old and New Testaments for instruction in the way to live, the reason for living, and the discernment of right from wrong in every circumstance. Desiring to walk in truth, we take the inspired word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to human conduct, earthly affairs, and eternal life.
2. In political, economic, and educational matters affecting us as a community, no less than in religious matters affecting us individually, we acknowledge the authority of knowable moral and spiritual truths providing prudential guidance for life in this present world.
3. Among those fundamentals, revealed in Scripture and demonstrated in history, American history particularly, we count (a) individual liberty, (b) personal responsibility, (c) economic freedom, (d) limited government, (e) the Judeo-Christian moral code, and (f) the understanding of rights as granted not by men but by God.
4. Toward validation of Items a-f above, we offer the following:
a & b… Across the biblical record from Deuteronomy 30 and Joshua 24 to Romans 1 and Galatians 5, and conclusively established by Jesus in John 8, we find evidence that every person is divinely endowed with the freedom to choose and with accountability for the consequences of his or her choices. Salvation is to be worked out one by one, not as a collective.
c… From the law of Moses and the proverbs of Solomon to the parables of Jesus and the letters of Paul, we find warrant for property, thrift, work, self-provision, enterprise, exchange, investment, and markets. No warrant is found for coercive charity, imposed redistribution, or a command economy.
d… Righteous restraint upon rulers is counseled in I Samuel 8, commanded in Romans 13, commended in I Timothy 2, and ordained by the Master himself with his “Render to Caesar, render to God” in Matthew 22:21.
e… Right and wrong for the people of God, and for the stranger within their gate, was encoded for the ages by the Decalogue at Sinai and the Sermon on the Mount. Its universality was foreseen at Mars Hill. Moral relativism is disallowed throughout Scripture.
f… The Creator’s authoritative and unalterable ordering of all this, which no mortal dare ignore or controvert, is manifestly an article of faith. The God who “giveth to all men liberally… every good gift,” and with whom is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:5, 17), is our Sovereign. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our God “is not a man… that he should repent” (Num. 23:19). Nor is He a “respecter of persons” (Deuteronomy 1, Acts 10). To presume otherwise is to commit the sin of Babel.
5. To no nation, including the United States of America, can biblical believers attribute permanence, perfection, or special divine favor, for as long as earthly history may continue. We do, however, see evidence of God having providentially used America for the outworking of His intent that institutions of freedom, justice, and material prosperity might be devised for the ever-greater flourishing of people everywhere. Americans are in this sense only, contingent and unearned, what Lincoln called “the almost-chosen people” of this present age. Their self-understanding, politically and academically, should therefore be grateful, humble, and faithful – since much is required of those to whom much is given.
6. The academy holds a special trust in preserving and passing down a biblical worldview as outlined here. “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:10) An educational institution conducted by and for the followers of Christ Jesus will place its academic affairs under the authority of the Bible, not above or outside that authority, on the civic level of politics, economics, and the life of nations, no less than upon the pedagogical level of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Academic leaders will honor the precept, “You don’t criticize the Bible, the Bible criticizes you.” They will uphold Christian scholarship by quelling intellectual pride and teaching spiritual dependence.
7. We conclude, in light of the above, that spiritual dependence on the God of the Bible is the precondition for the earthly independence of persons and nations. We call on others who revere Holy Scripture as we do, to join us in working for restoration of its life-giving and liberating role in America’s public square – politically, economically, and academically.
Barton Winfield * Ganges, Michigan
David Petteys * Littleton, Colorado
Steven Smythe * Pasco, Washington
John Andrews * Centennial, Colorado
James B. Ritchie * Espanola Valley, New Mexico
Tony Parker * Littleton, Colorado
David A. Schillinger * Granite City, Illinois
Note: We welcome discussion of the Saint Louis Statement. Use the comment form and indicate whether or not you want your remarks posted. Additional signers are also most welcome. Simply provide your name, city, and email address. Thanks for your interest in this Declaration of Spiritual Dependence.