Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July

This is a letter that I sent to my family. Hopefully, for the readers out there, you can do this as well:
Hello Family,

As we go into the Fourth of July holiday, I hope that everyone has some good rest and relaxation.

A family tradition that my family will be starting this year is to read the Declaration of Independence on 4th of July.
It didn't work out so well last year for various logistical reasons.

I decided that this would be appropriate, obviously given the nature of the holiday.
But more than that, it will remind my family just what exactly were the issues that brought about the revolution that started our country officially as the united States (plural)... (as opposed to what we now call the United States (singular)).

As we read through the Declaration, we will be reminded of the strains and stresses that the British empire was putting on the colonies and how the role of something as seemingly mundane as taxes had played such a foundational motivation for our revolution. The colonists understood that the issue was not about taxes in and of itself, but the issue was about control, and what authority the British had over the colonists.

Even in Presbyterian churches of that day, there was debate on whether it was exactly biblical to be rebelling against the British government, when this issue is understood in light of Romans Ch 13, in which Paul calls the civil magistrate a minister of God.. (Hence, this is why for instance, in the British govt today, we still refer to top officials as ministers... or for instance, the prime minister. It is the borrowed Christian capital that Britain is still using...)

Ultimately, the presbyterians decided that it was, in this exceptional circumstance, appropriate to rebel given the fact that the magistrate rejected his implied obligation in accordance to Rom 13. 

I understand that there is some debate on whether the Declaration was actually signed on July 4 etc... But, for simplicity's sake, it seems easy to do it on July 4, since that is what is generally recognized today.

In any event, as citizens, and for those who are Christian on this list, may I encourage you to take this same practice of reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4? And through this reading, you can understand just how much of a principled stand our forefathers took, and it should hopefully help us examine our own current political context and how the war that happened several hundred years ago is relevant to us today.

Chris Lee

No comments:

Post a Comment