Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Declaration of Independence

"The Declaration of Independence . . . is much more than a political
document. It constitutes a spiritual manifesto--revelation, if
you will--declaring not for this nation only, but for all
nations, the source of man's rights. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet,
foresaw over 2,300 years ago that this event would transpire. The
colonies he saw would break with Great Britain and that 'the power of the Lord
was with [the colonists],' that they 'were delivered by the
power of God out of the hands of all other nations' (1 Nephi 13:16,
19).

"The Declaration of Independence was to set forth the moral
justification of a rebellion against a long-recognized political
tradition--the divine right of kings. At issue was the
fundamental question of whether men's rights were God-given or
whether these rights were to be dispensed by governments to their
subjects.

This document proclaimed that all men have certain inalienable rights.
In other words, these rights came from God."



Ezra Taft Benson, "Our Priceless Heritage," Ensign, Nov. 1976

13 comments:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

This is very interesting. I have never read or heard a passage from the Book of Mormon quoted before. Thanks, Cameron.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Living here in the culturally deprived Midwest, the access to such things as your Holy Book is limited. How is it possible to obtain a copy? I really would like to have one and read it.

I dated a Mormon girl in High School, and she offered me a copy (she wanted me to convert so we could become more serious; no offense, but that was something I just couldn't do; please respect my decision as based upon my commitment to my own faith, not any disparagement of yours) and I turned her down. In the years since then, I wish I hadn't. I have several translations of the Bible, the Holy Q'uran, the Baghavad Gita, excerpts from the Buddha, but no Book of Mormon. Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

Hope you had a happy and safe 4th of July.

Ashlee said...

Happy 4th of July Cam! Hope your day was great!

Cameron said...

Geoffrey, you can order a free copy of the Book of Mormon from Mormon.org

You can also read it online at lds.org

On these websites you can also find the meetinghouse in your area where they would be happy to give you a copy and answer any questions you might have.

I appreciate your interest, and keep me posted on your reading.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Thanks. I shall do so.

Democracy Lover said...

Isn't reading the American fight for independence into the passage in First Nephi as dubious as the television "prophets" who find every current event foretold somewhere? I guess in the case of the Book of Mormon it is possible, since it was written after the Revolution.

However, the Declaration of Independence intends to declare that man's rights are not granted by kings or feudal overlords, not necessarily to find a supernatural source for them. The studied and deliberate omission of the mention of a deity in the Constitution and the Preamble of that document makes it clear that a religious foundation was not intended by the Founders.

Anonymous said...

The Book of Mormon was not "written" after the revolutionary war, merely translated.

Cameron said...

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,


DL, the Declaration of Independence states quite clearly that our rights are unalienable because they come from God and not from government.

Cameron said...

Indeed, the Book of Mormon was written before the war for independence. Here is a link to a summary of what the Book of Mormon contains.

Here is a webpage which discusses the LDS view of prophets. Hopefully that, coupled with reading more of the Q&A on that site will help you to understand how passages of scripture are interpreted. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Democracy Lover said...

Cameron, our nation is not and was never governed by the Declaration of Independence. The author of that document, Thomas Jefferson, was certainly not a Christian believer in any sense of the word. The Constitution, which was intended as the foundation of our Republic, was intentionally devoid of any mention of God - a very striking thing for a document in its day.

While you are certainly free to believe as you like, regardless of whether there is evidence to support that belief, it is an affront to our nation to insinuate that our Founders intended that citizens subscribe to any belief as a condition for receiving their rights.

Cameron said...

DL, here is your comment in response to my post:

"the Declaration of Independence intends to declare that man's rights are not granted by kings or feudal overlords, not necessarily to find a supernatural source for them."

I simply quoted the document in saying that it was "self evident" that man is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights". Generally, quoting directly from the source document is pretty good evidence.

Now, as to your most recent comment:

"it is an affront to our nation to insinuate that our Founders intended that citizens subscribe to any belief as a condition for receiving their rights."

This shows that you missed the point. The Declaration declared to the world that mankind's rights were given them by their Creator. Period. Without condition. Regardless of faith or creed. The fact that your "not-Christian" Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration only proves my point further.

Democracy Lover said...

Cameron,

I suggest you read more about Thomas Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and the others before jumping to the conclusion that they were religious, or meant this nation to be religious.

Anonymous said...

DL,

Consider what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the front of his well-worn Bible,

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator."


Thomas was also the chairman of The American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role.