IS THE CONSTITUTION SCRIPTURE?
*Joseph Smith Jr.* President of the LDS Church
What is the measure of scripture? Does the Constitution of the United States meet the criteria of holy writ? Scripture, in the purely theological sense, is the “word of God” dispensed through Divine revelation to one called to speak in behalf of the Lord, to lead His people, and to keep a sacred record of His purposes and doings among the children of men. Many religions claim scripture, or holy writings, as the doctrinal center of their beliefs and practices. Scripture is not limited to the Holy Bible, or to the Koran. The Koran is the scripture of Islam. Hindus claim the Vedas, which include numerous works, as their most sacred and authoritative texts. Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Taoists, Shinto, all have unique canon of holy writings that define their faith and guide their observations as well as providing a model for the ideal application of that faith.
Jews and Christians share the “Tanakh” or the Old Testament of the Bible. Christians embrace the New Testament as the exemplar of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. But scripture is not limited to the the most accepted and widely used texts. The Apocrypha, though omitted from the books of conventional Judeo-Christian scripture, are thought to contain important truths as well as some stories and histories that claim a Divine source and purpose. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered to contain several books of the standard Bible, as well as extended content from the book of Isaiah, and previously lost details from well known scriptural stories and historical accounts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims The Book of Mormon to be the modern translation of an ancient book of scripture that is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which supports and extends the historical and doctrinal substance of His message and ministry.
It is reasonable to say that ‘scripture’ can be defined broadly and that its definition is somewhat subjective. I am most interested, not in the theological definition or dogma, or the technicalities of writing and translation. I am interested in the power possessed by a written document, to change and impact the lives of individuals and the course of human history, more specifically, the power to influence the lives of men for a righteous purpose.
The Constitution of the United States was written by men who were called of God, not to lead His church, but to establish a new form of government to be lead by free people. The Kingdom of God could never be consummated on the earth so longs as kings of men enforced upon people limits and restraints to their moral agency. The drafters of the Constitution were not seers nor prophets, but they were appointed for a Divine purpose.
Great religions spread through the dissemination of their teachings. The Bible printed by Guttenberg changed the paradigm of religious practice from one of dictum to one of personal volition. As people read and hear inspired word for themselves, their spiritual government becomes internalized, from the heart of each individual, which is the only true and lasting power of religion. The Constitution of the United States is a secular document, but it, like Divinely inspired scripture, has changed the world by changing the way individuals are addressed as the supreme ministers of temporal law. Any government that attempts to control the individual in every aspect of life, small and large, ends in crushing the uniqueness, potential and spirit of man. The theology that compels, through force, man to follow God’s law is the failed doctrine of Lucifer. All secular and religious truth is intimately connected with the irrevocable stipulations of human liberty.
I assert that, though a secular document, with minimal reference to deity, the Constitution of the United States is a form and type of scripture, a document of holy purpose, created through the efforts of divinely inspired men, established for the most sacred of all precepts, FREEDOM. The Constitution is the written word that has drawn Patriots to its defense, a church of Patriots in a sense. These patriots hail from many faiths; Judiasm, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, atheism, etc. The Constitution is a temporal law which informs their sovereign system of beliefs. The Constitution is the template for civil life, which is a good life, fully compatible with true religion. The Constitution outlines the doctrines of secular agency and accountability. And it limits the power and scope of government so that, when followed with fidelity, neither man nor administration can overtake God as the final authority in all things, both of man and of eternity. The Constitution of the United States is the great, unifying manuscript that summons all within whom liberty is hard-wired into their temperament. The Patriot church gathers around the Constitution, in a great secular congregation of freemen, as the source of the most sound and hallowed rules of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
by Marjorie Haun 9/18/2011
[…] and their roles in our day for our time. I believe that they have the quality and power of scripture, to guide men in the wise use of free agency, and to articulate the immutable principles by which […]