Far right nut Bryan Fischer isn’t actually talking to even further-right nut Gary North, a genuine Christian Reconstructionist, but there’s a clear disagreement between them over the Constitution. Fischer, on a recent radio show, claimed that the U.S. Constitution was really a covenant with God.
When we look at these books of history of the Old Testament, one of the things we need to recognize is God has preserved these for us because he wants us to understand how God deals with nations, nations that have entered into some kind of a covenantal relationship with Him and we have done that. We have done that in the United States of America. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution represents a covenantal relationship with God.
In the Declaration of Independence we told God, look we are building the entire foundation of this political experiment on you … So our whole approach to government, our whole approach to our political life, our shared common life is rooted and grounded in the Bible. We have made a covenant relationship with God.
But North, who may be a religious fascist but is at least an intellectually honest one, has written at length about that very subject and come to the opposite conclusion, that the Constitution was, for the first time, a rejection of the idea of having a covenant with God. From Conspiracy in Philadelphia:
The ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787–88 was not an act of covenant renewal. It was an act of covenant-breaking: the substitution of a new covenant in the name of a new god. This was not understood at the time, but it has been understood by the humanists who have written the story of the Constitution. Nevertheless, they have not presented the history of the Constitutional Convention as a deception that was produced by a conspiracy. The spiritual heirs of the original victims of this deception remain unaware of the deception’s origins. Most of the heirs go about their business as if nothing unique had happened, just as the original victims did after 1788. But a few of the heirs rail against the humanistic historians who have told the story of the new American nation: a “grand experiment” in which the God of the Bible was first formally and publicly abandoned by any Western nation. They have
argued that there was no deception, that America is still a Christian nation, that the Constitution “in principle” was and remains a Christian document, and it is only the nefarious work of the U.S. Supreme Court and the American Civil Liberties Union that has stripped the Constitution of its original Christian character. There is no greater deception than one which continues to deceive the victims, over two centuries after the deed was done.
Political conservatives call for a return to the “original intent” of the Framers of the Constitution. If only, they say, we could just get back to original intent, things would be good once again. America would be restored. Christian conservatives follow close behind, affirming this recommendation…
The thirteen colonies in 1775 had charters or constitutions. Only Rhode Island’s charter allowed men of no trinitarian confession to be elected to civil office, i.e., to serve as part of the voice of civil authority. Therefore, only Rhode Island refused to identify the God of the Bible as the sovereign incorporating agent of the colony.
The Articles of Confederation (1781)served as a halfway national covenant. They identified “the Great Governor of the World” as the sovereign incorporating agent (Article XIII).
The United States Constitution (1788) identifies “We the People” as the sovereign incorporating agent.
This book is the story of this covenantal transition: new covenant, new god…
The Framers knew that religious test oaths were required for testifying in local and state courts. The word “test” in both cases – test oath and testify – refers back to the biblical language of the covenant, i.e., testament. It refers judicially to a witness who testifiesin a court.
The Framers knew that religious oaths were sometimes required for exercising the franchise in state elections. But they made it clear: federal jurisdiction is to be governed by another covenant, and therefore by another god. It is therefore a rival system of hierarchy. It is not a complementary system of courts; it is rival system, for an oath
to the God of the Bible is prohibited by law in one of these hierarchies.
Fischer also tried to argue that the entirely perfunctory dating of the Constitution establishes it as a covenant with God:
We even dated both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we dated them to the year of the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, when the Founders, when they dated the Constitution ‘the year of our Lord, 1787,’ they referred to Jesus as ‘our Lord.” Don’t let people tell you that Christ is not in the Constitution; He’s in there.
North finds that laughable:
They have believed, from 1788 onward, that the United States has been a Christian nation under its Constitution. This is an odd belief on the face of it, since the United States Constitution’s sole reference to God is indirect: the words, “the year of our Lord,” referring to 1787. If this is the sole judicial basis of the Christian American national civil covenant, then the case for America as a Christian civil order rests on a very weak reed.
Indeed it does.