Monday, February 15, 2010

US Constitution = Scripture?

I was talking with a friend from the parish a couple weeks back about Glenn Beck. Generally, I agree with him and have learned a lot from his show about how (poorly) our government works. But he keeps saying this one thing over again and again that digs at me, that the Founders of the United States were divinely inspired to write the Constitution.

"You know, that might be a Mormon doctrine," my friend John said. I had suspected as much and decided to check it out. I took a look on the MormonWiki and found this:

The Constitution of the United States of America is considered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be an inspired document. The Founding Fathers are considered men foreordained, or raised up by God, to establish the constitution and a free nation wherein the Gospel could be restored.

The constitution has the following essential characteristics:
  1. The whole philosophy of constitutional government is that all sovereign power rests with the...people.
  2. It is capable of specific interpretation and encourages a course of stability and uniformity of action where governmental affairs are concerned.
  3. It creates an ideal system of checks and balances where the possible exercise of autocratic powers is concerned.
  4. The government has no rights; it has duties only. It is ordained to serve the people.
  5. It preserves the natural rights of man.
  6. Means are provided for the constitution's own change and amendment. [1]

In the Book of Mormon, prophets predicted that America would be a nation wherein no kings would rule (2 Nephi 10:11-14). The people who would possess the land would be "free from bondage and from captivity, and from all other nations (Ether 2:12). The Gentiles were to be "established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father" (3 Nephi 21:4). This, so that the Book of Mormon could come forth and the Lord's church be established. "And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80; 109:54). [1]

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "The constitution of the United States is a glorious standard. It is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun. We say that God is true; that the constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true; that the Book of Mormon is true; that the Book of Covenants is true; that Christ is true; that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true, and that we know that we have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God." [1]

So there you go. The Mormons pretty much believe the Constitution is Sacred Scripture. Does that mean drafters of amendments are sacred writers who are living in our midst? What if they make an amendment to the Constitution that Mormons disagree with?


Moonshadow said...

The Mormons pretty much believe the Constitution is Sacred Scripture.

I just don't see how this conclusion follows from what's been shown above.

"Canonical" is a subset of "inspired." An inspired document is not necessarily canonical.

If you read, say Allert's book, you'll see the difference.

The question of amendments is a good one. I would doubt they are considered inspired. Peace.

Matt said...

I just don't see how this conclusion follows from what's been shown above.

I know my wording wasn't very technical but the reason I put "pretty much believe" is because I was trying to approximate how they viewed the Constitution. We could say "sort of" or even "almost" and it would work too.

As to what Mormons hold the meaning of "Inspired" to be, I don't know exactly. That is another reason to fudge it a little. The brunt of the post was to show why Beck has such a focus on the Constitution which whether Canonical or just plain Inspired - Mormons view it as a sacred thing.

As for amendments I would venture after thinking about it some more, that since their doctrine can change so can their inspired writings. But thats just a theory.

Moonshadow said...

Alright, well, I don't see the U. S. Constitution listed here.

And, if the Constitution were considered Scripture by LDS, I can't imagine what religious dogma could be gleaned from it.

Scripture ought to be revelatory, don't you think?


Brad said...

Read "Our Divine Constitution" on the LDS website for the Prophets views. He has more on this subject if interested.

basically it boils down tothefact that the LDS holds a very different view of inspiration and revelation as this article demonstrates. This requires Christians to redefine vocabulary before attempting to describe Mormon thought.

In other words, it may not mean what it sounds like and it may mean something worse!

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton