Is the DOI a “Christian” Document?
Of course the answer depends on what the meaning of the term “Christian” is. Here is my post where I explained how libertarians ought to view the religious aspects of the DOI.
Political scientists, historians, and legal scholars of liberal, conservative and libertarian stripes vigorously dispute how the Declaration and US Constitution properly relate to one another.
The problem with the Christian Nationalist understanding is the Declaration is arguably not a Christian/biblical document and doesn’t vindicate their ideal vision for society. It doesn’t mention Jesus Christ or quote verses and chapters of scripture. Its call to revolution is arguably in tension with Romans 13. And it’s not clear that other central principles enunciated in the Declaration have anything to do with the Bible. Moreover, its drafter and principle authors – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin – flunk Christian Nationalists’ “orthodox” qualifications required for believing Christians.
The Declaration is a Providential or theistic document (not necessarily a Christian or a biblical document). It mentions a God of some sort in four different places.
I don’t think my understanding is too far off from Peter Lawler’s. As he writes at Postmodern Conservative:
We see this spirit of compromise in our Declaration and Constitution, in which the influence of the Virginians Jefferson and Madison was as much as prudent statesmen as principled theorists. The theoretical core of the Declaration is all about inalienable rights and not about the personal God of the Bible. “Nature’s God” is a past-tense Creator, and the guidance he provides men now is questionable, insofar as they institute government and many other inventions to move as far away from being governed by nature as possible. But thanks to the insistence of members of Congress who were more under the influence of Christian Calvinism than, say, Jefferson and Franklin, God also became, near the Declaration’s end, providential and judgmental, or present-tense and personal.
The God of the DOI, indeed the God of America’s Founding politics certainly is a best attempt at a consensus, lowest common denominator, be all things to all people God. That begs the question, “is God?”