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The Liberty Bell

Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

  • Leviticus 25:10

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” That passage from Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed around the top of the famous Liberty Bell, a bell that hung in what was then known as the Pennsylvania State House, which we now know as Independence Hall, the place of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Although the bell was cast, or, more precisely, recast in 1753, some 23 years before the Declaration was signed, the inscription from Leviticus reflects the colonists’ understanding of the intimate connection between political and economic liberty and Word of God.   Many Americans, including many American church goers, would be surprised to hear that there is any connection between the Bible and political and economic liberty, but the colonists of the 18th century were not so ignorant as we are today.     

In his introduction to Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville wrote, “Among the new object that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck my eye more vividly than the equality of conditions” (1). Later in the Introduction, De Tocqueville observed, “Christianity, which has rendered all men equal before God, will not be loath to see all citizens equal before the law.” It was the Reformed Christianity of the colonists and early Americans applied to politics that served as the philosophical basis for Americans’ remarkable equality before the law.

The idea of equality before the law was not some idea hatched in the New World either.  Rather, it was a product of the Protestant Reformation brought to America by the Puritans, whose arrival in America, not the American Revolution, De Tocqueville viewed as America’s point of departure.  Writing in the introduction of their translation of Democracy in America, Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop wrote, “Americans did not make themselves democrats but came to America as democrats.”

The American republic is a product, not of Greece and Rome, but of the Biblical Christianity preached and believed by the Protestant Reformers and their spiritual descendants. 

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Betsy Ross

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

    – Leviticus 25:10

Independence Day. July the Fourth. I don’t recall a time when it was anything other than one of my favorite dates on the calendar.

What’s not to like about it? As a kid, it was always a great time. Warm summer days. Family, friends and fireworks. Great stuff.

Oh, and then there was that whole liberty thing. And really, what’s not to love about liberty?

Fast forward forty or so years, and all those things I loved about the Fourth? I still love ’em. But with the passing of time, and growth in knowledge and wisdom, Independence Day has taken on a deeper meaning for me.

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