The American Constitution Is Not Good

Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little deceiving. What I mean is that the American Constitution is not the Good. I find it interesting that many Conservative American Protestants treat the Constitution in the same way as the Bible. Or, actually, they treat the Constitution as an axiomatic foundation of all American political thought. But, true political thought begins and ends with a concept of the Good and to treat the Constitution as that Good is to make a dangerous confusion that causes negative repercussions for any policies founded upon such a principle. What must be done, instead, is to judge the worth of the Constitution upon an objective understanding of the good. This is why there are Amendments; this is why women and African American’s can vote; this is why there is no slavery. The value of the Constitution is not that it is the founding document, but that it in rectitude with the Good. If the priority of the Good is not kept, then the Constitution becomes something it was never intended to be: an idol.


7 thoughts on “The American Constitution Is Not Good

    • In some circles, I’m afraid to. 😦 Actually, one of Wittmer’s comments on my Calvin paper asked “who makes the Bible into an idol?” I think he missed my implicit accusation that those whose who believe that the Bible is Self-Referential (Pre-Supp?) are turning it into an idol. Or, at least he did find it persuasive (I still have to go through his comments at a closer look).

      • One thing I often find to be the case with many is that they make the Bible into something akin to the Quran: that is, that it dropped out of heaven, is the eternal word of God from all eternity, that it stands and falls on the words written within its pages… Christians are not supposed to be Muslims.

      • That’s why Barth distinguishes between the Word of God in flesh (Jesus), the written Word of God (Scripture), and the spoken Word of God (preaching). Some think such distinction is erroneous or dangerous, but I think it is vital, else equivocation runs a muck. Granted, they should not be completely separated, but they should be distinguished. Distinct but not separable. 🙂

  1. Rectitude! A good Anselmnian word. Of course, the elephant in the room is “who’s concept of the Good” but, that aside, you are correct. The actual axioms of American political thought are terrifying, if anyone cares to look at them (French Enlightenment anyone?).

    • Well, my whole post was stimulated by what Blond is saying. To some extent, it doesn’t matter “whose concept of the Good” we have as long as everyone agrees that there is a good and we can debate about that Good. You can’t have that conversation with a certain Conservatives because they believe that the only thing that matters is the adherence to the original intention of the Founding Fathers. For instance, a liberal may argue for Gay Rights on the basis of a concept of the good (more likely based on rights, but some argue philosophically), and the only response the conservative has is that, “that’s not what the Founding Fathers thought.” Yet, I have never heard a philosophical argument for the ultimjate authority of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, which is why it leads to idolatry. Interestingly, Pelikan wrote a book comparing the interpretive methods of the Bible and the Constitution, which may be relevant to this issue.

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