Mortal Remains by S. M. Hutchens

Column

Mortal Remains

Foundational Error
Why Pascal Rejected the God of the Philosophers

Irf a state declaration wishes to bring endowments by the creator into consideration, it cannot rightly do so apart from revelation of his character through nature and special revelation. A nation that defines God to its own ends, even if these ends have good names, has established itself in idolatry. No rights of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness are found in nature, for in that sphere they are subject to the contingencies of embedded laws that know nothing of them. Nor are they found in the revelation of a gracious God who gives life to man, lays the ways of life and death before him, grants him the liberty to choose between them, and desires his eternal happiness, for in this revelation these do not appear as rights, as though man has a claim against his Creator or powers subject to him for the lack of them, but rather as gifts that God grants betimes of his grace and kindness, and may be withheld for reasons of his own. He does not give these as inalienable rights, but may in justice and for the love of man not only grant, but withhold any or all of them. Any religion claiming a basis in divine revelation that denies this denies itself; any state that claims to transmit them in his name acts beyond its powers and in contradiction of his character.

A nation may be rightly established before God in the proposal to pursue the justice and righteousness in which it expresses the will of God that men be granted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the highest degree conducive with that will. It cannot, however, bestow the gifts of his grace, much less make them, or recognize them as inalienable, but can only make its prayer for them by obedience to divine law.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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