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Sources of Constitutional Principles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Friday, 30 September 2011 08:20


The Larger Historical Context

The Norman Conquest, the War of Roses, the Glorious Revolution; the Civil Wars of the 1640's, the 18th Century debates and conflicts about what are the rights of Citizens and, of course, the 150 year relationship between the Colonies and England and specifically the growing conflict with the Crown over the Rights of the English Citizens who were the Colonists during that period.  Our Constitution and its origins can not be understood apart from all this English History. Other Landmarks include-

The Charter of Liberty 1100 (also called the Coronation Charter) forerunner of Magna Carta

"The Charter of Liberties was a landmark document. What is more important, no barons were known to participate in its creation. The Charter of Liberties was entirely the fruit of the activity of the church in opposing Henry I’s brother William who abused his royal power. Upon his coronation, Henry presented the Charter. It started with (this) clause:

'Know that by the mercy of God and the common counsel of the barons of the whole kingdom of England I have been crowned king of said kingdom; and because the kingdom had been oppressed by unjust exactions, I, through fear of God and the love which I have toward you all, in the first place make the holy church of God free. .'  The church was not the only beneficiary of freedoms. All the liberties we know today as indispensable for a free society were included in it. A Christian society was a free society, and the Church of Jesus Christ was there to assure that Christian liberty was protected.' "

Magna Carta 1215  Arguably the primary Source for much of what is in our Constitution

"Whether the textbook [about the History of England] is a Christian or a non-Christian textbook, you will learn that (1) in the early 13th century there was an evil king of England named John, (2) his barons rose in rebellion against him, and (3) in 1215 the barons forced King John to sign a document known as Magna Carta where his power over his barons was limited by law, and the barons’ privileges and freedoms were established and protected. In those textbooks that have a little more romantic view of English history you might learn that (4) the liberties listed in Magna Carta came from the traditional Saxon Law which defended the freedom of the individual. Later, (5) Magna Carta was applied to all citizens and became a sort of constitutional law for the kingdom of England. Not much more is said about Magna Carta.

"While certain details in the picture the textbooks reveal are correct, the above picture about the history and the origins of Magna Carta is incorrect.  Since Magna Carta is a document of unrivaled importance in the history of the West, the damage caused by the revisionist representation of its history is of major significance, especially if you are a Christian.  The historical truth is that Magna Carta was not drafted by the barons, the barons didn’t initiate it at all, and that the Carta had a completely different ideological origin and political and legal intent than what our modern historians presume. Far from being a generally political or legal document, the Carta was a Christian document first, and then everything else.

"Magna Carta starts as a religious document, concerned with the “health of the soul” of the King, and with the “honour of God,” and with the “exaltation of the Holy Church.” In addition to that, the King acknowledges that the “advice” for signing the Carta comes from the bishops first, and then from the barons.

"The main text of the Great Charter [the M.C.] starts with. "... we have granted to God, and by this present charter have confirmed ... that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.

"The liberties of England came from the Church, based on the ideological foundation of the faith in Jesus Christ, and the application of His Law in the English society. The signing of Magna Carta was the culmination of a centuries-long war between the pagan and the Christian concepts of law and power.

"In 1213, when Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, reminded the barons that they had liberties and rights secured in the Charter of Liberties signed by Henry I, the barons decided to act. By that time both the barons and the King were sure about one thing: The Christian Church in England won’t submit to any king, won’t agree to any expansion of royal power, and won’t agree to any return of the old pagan laws that favored the powerful over the common people. The Church, with its unrelenting fight for liberty, had won a position of a check and balance on the power of the powerful. From now on every king, every ruler, and every baron would have to consider the Law of God as declared by the Church as his first obligation. Every other law had to be based on that higher law.

"And thus, in 1215, with Stephen Langton’s name at the head of the list of bishops, King John acquiesced, but not to the nobility. He submitted to the Church and to her higher law, the law of Christ. After 1215 England would still see kings and queens who tried to usurp absolute power. But the seed of liberty was planted, and all England—king, barons, and commoners—knew that the seed was the Christian religion.



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