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Why Do We Need the Constitution?

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes
The Truth Network Radio
August 6, 2021 1:00 am

Why Do We Need the Constitution?

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes

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August 6, 2021 1:00 am

Dr. Chris Hughes is joined by millennial Constitutionalist Dr. Christin McMasters of the Liberty Belle Blog to discuss the "why" behind the Constitution and the United States government.


Hello, this is Will Hardy with ManTalk Radio. We are all about breaking down the walls of race and denomination. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few minutes.

Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network. Welcome to The Christian Perspective, where we look in God's Word in order to develop a Christian worldview and modern culture. I'm Chris Hughes, and our guest today is one of our nation's leading constitutional experts at the Citizens for America Foundation. You know, guys, we work hard every day to ensure that people remember America's true Christian heritage. We also want people to understand the Constitution. And as Christians, we have a responsibility to know what the Constitution says and how we can apply that to our lives and to culture each and every day. Dr. Kristin McMasters is a millennial constitutionalist, and she's not your typical academic. Dr. McMasters loves our country. That's hard to find in a lot of colleges around the country today, and she's fighting every day to defend our liberty across the nation.

In fact, she loves liberty so much, she's gained the nickname, the Liberty Bell. Kristin, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you here today.

Yeah, thank you so much. Thanks for having me. So tell us a little bit about your passion for the Constitution and how you got where you are today. Yeah, so as a kid, I was always a very kind of, I guess I was a political nerd, and I don't really know why.

And looking back, I think I had American-deemed birthday parties, so I always was somehow into America, which is rather strange for a kid that's, you know, 10 years old. But then I went into college, and I actually was a theater major, so I wasn't going in the political science direction. And then I realized that I can't really do a whole lot with theater. And so I ended up kind of researching, and I found political science, and I realized that this was an area that I was passionate about. And I remember studying, and I remember thinking, like, this shouldn't be legal for this to be so fun for me to do school.

So I just started developing, and I took some really great classes. I went to Clemson University for my undergrad, and I was fortunate to have professors that were teaching not just a kind of liberal progressive philosophy. There was a very strong classic liberal philosophy that was being taught, which is more in the lines of John Locke and Montesquieu and Hobbes. And so I developed a strong passion for that, and I started realizing that a lot of people didn't really know why they believed what they believed when it came to politics. And I then also started realizing that I didn't know why I believed what I believed. And so I started challenging myself, and I was like, well, you know, I don't really know why I'm so passionate about the Constitution, even though I was, but I didn't really know why. So I would say things like, you know, well, the Constitution is being violated all the time.

And then I remember a person asked me one time, well, how? And I didn't know. But I really felt strongly about the statement that the Constitution was being violated, and that that was a big deal.

This was when President Obama was in office. But I really didn't know why or how or what was going on. And so then I went into my doctoral program, and getting your doctor definitely challenges you to strongly assess your beliefs in a way that most people probably don't have to in a normal daily basis. So I had to really, really dig deep. And I, there was a lot, there's definitely a lot of progressive stuff I had to work through. It's five years in a very liberal academic school, you know, so that was a that was a challenging program to work through. But by the end of it, I had really learned how to research and how to develop and how to produce information and how to challenge my own beliefs, and then to start challenging other people's beliefs.

So once I graduated, I wasn't really interested in going in the full academic direction, just that the it's a whole different world going into the university. So I really wanted to be able to develop a way to help reach Americans everywhere with information, basic information and knowledge about the Constitution in a way that I had learned it myself. And I'm not the type of person that, how do I put it, when it comes to me and learning, I have to really simplify things for myself, I need to break it down in a way that is incredibly digestible.

And once I've gotten it, once I've really grasped something, then it's never going to leave me. And so I started doing that as I was studying and researching the Constitution and trying to really build a foundation for myself. And I realized that a lot of people are really lacking some of the basic information and tools about what the Constitution actually is, what it says, and then why it's actually important. And then I, you know, I realized that this why question, and this is why I harp on this why question is sort of neglected in academics. So we look, a lot of times we focus on the what, the when, the where and how. We've memorized terms, we have all these multiple choice things, you know, but we never challenge the why. So and without the why being answered, that what, when, where and how doesn't mean anything. And so students go to these American government classes, they learn all of these facts, but they've never been challenged with the why question. And so because I had to challenge myself with the why question as I went through grad school, and even after grad school, I was developing kind of my own skill sets and my own curriculum just to teach, I realized that Americans don't have that why question answered. And in order for us to actually be fully equipped to hold our government accountable, and to understand the way government is supposed to work, we need to know why we have government in the first place, we need to know why we have a constitution. And then we need to know why it's important that our government follow that. And so, um, the Liberty Bell is a great outlet for me.

And the name itself, I'm going to give credit to my mom, because she came up with that name, which was super cool. Trenton Larkin Well, Kristen, you said something just a second ago, you said that you felt like it's important to know what you believed and why you believed it. And that's a real important tenet that we try to push at the Citizens for America Foundation. In fact, I've toyed with writing a book, know what you believe, and why you believe it. That's a real problem for our Christian listeners right now is in our culture today. There are so many Christians out there who think the Bible might have said this or might have said that or the Constitution might have said this or that, but they don't really know what they believe. So when they're confronted with this cancel culture of, you know, well, is abortion really wrong?

Or is homosexuality really wrong? They think they heard it at a sermon somewhere in the past, but they don't know what they truly believe. And then they can't explain why they believe it.

So that's so important. And particularly with the Constitution, we, we have got to understand the Constitution. I was at a Senate, what really a debate, it was like a forum recently.

And somebody stood up and asked the candidates running for Senate, if they could describe in the Constitution where they got their powers and what the powers of the senators were. And none could, you know, and that's just shocking. I'm sure you're seeing that. I know you speak in schools and other places. Are you seeing a real illiteracy with the Constitution today? Oh, a hundred percent.

Yeah. I'm fortunate to be able to give talks. And obviously when I teach in college, my students don't know any of it, which, and that doesn't surprise me so much just because they're still in high school. A lot of them, they're, they're college students, but they're taking college classes before they get to college. So a lot of them are very young.

And so my expectations are not high for that age group. But what I do find a little more surprising is that when I go give talks around the state and I see that, you know, these are older, middle-aged or older audiences, and I'll ask them basic questions about the Constitution just to sort of prep them to get them, I guess, kind of excited about what I'm going to tell them. And they don't know the answers. And I think that it, you know, frustrates them because they want to know, but they don't know where to find it.

And a lot of Constitution classes that are offered are very, what's the word, they're high academic classes. So even those of us that are, we might know and understand basic words having to deal with the Constitution, but when it comes to these high academic explanations of the Constitution, it gets a little confusing for people. And so a lot of people just want to know, what does it actually say?

Why does it matter in a very tangible, approachable way? And so that's what I'm trying to do is, hey, this is what the Constitution does. It's our government's job description. That's literally it. And people don't get that. And a lot of people, I think, are intimidated when you talk about the Constitution, but it's not a very large document. You could read it in a few minutes. And I would encourage people to Google it and look it up.

So you said, so I'm going to ask you a question here. You said it's a job description. Why don't you just, I mean, because there are people that may not even know what we mean when we say the Constitution. What is the Constitution?

And then what do you mean by it's a job description? Yeah, so I love to give a little context and historical background when I answer questions, so I hope that's okay. But for most governments throughout history, governments existed simply because it was sort of what happened. So the most powerful became the leaders, more or less.

And then those leaders became, you know, their generations from that person that was a leader on became leaders. So if you think of kings and monarchies, you have emperors, so on and so forth. And so the power existed simply because they were the most powerful. And there's this thing called arbitrary power, which was the thing, arbitrary power is this term that I harp on all the time, and it's because the founders harped on it so much. And arbitrary power is basically power that is not derived from anything. So it's an unlimited source of power. And so a king, for instance, has complete and arbitrary power, because he is the final source of power and authority.

Meaning if he decides one day that your head should be, you know, taken off, then off with your head, there's nothing you can do. You can't appeal to a higher source of authority beyond the king himself, or the emperor, whoever it is that's in power. Throughout history, all governments have existed this way. Now, arbitrary power doesn't always mean that the power is going to be abused. There have been some good monarchs throughout history, and there have been bad.

It's just that the potential to abuse is always there. So the Constitution was something that was incredibly unique in world history. And the founders knew this because they wanted to create a government that existed in a limited form.

And this is something that's kind of unheard of, which is this idea that the government's power is actually derived from something outside of itself. In other words, the government has a government. So for the U.S. citizens, right, we created a government to do something, to do a job for us. Essentially, if you look at theory to people like John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, which our founders used, our government was created with the primary goal of protecting our private property from each other, right? So we create government to protect me and my private property from you and you and your private property from me.

That's the law. We need law. We need law and order.

So they're doing a job for us. The problem is that we need government because men are flawed and likely to abuse. And now we take those same flawed, abusive men and women, and we stick them in positions of power to supposedly protect us from each other. But now we've got these flawed people in government governing other people, and the likelihood now that government is going to actually take advantage of my private property or your private property is very high because now they actually have more power to do so. So there needs to be something that actually confines and limits the power of those in government. And so the Constitution, if you think of government as doing a job for us, we created and there are employees, we are the employers, then the Constitution empowers the government. So it tells government, these are the things you can do. And yet while doing that, it also limits government because it says these are the things you can do, and that's it. And so now we actually have a source of the power that our government possesses. So everything that our government does, it does simply because it derives its power from the Constitution itself.

Right? So anything outside of the Constitution would be considered arbitrary because that power is derived from nothing, and therefore it's limitless. And this is why it's so incumbent upon the citizenry to hold their government accountable to the job description we gave them in the first place.

Because once they go outside of that job description, now their power is more like the power of the king or an emperor because that power is derived from nothing. And that's where we are in America today. There are so many powers that have been seized by the federal government, in particular state governments as well. And by the way, for those of you who are listening who don't know, even though there is a United States Constitution, every state in the United States has a Constitution as well. And again, I would encourage you if you live in your state to read that, and anybody that's in the military, any local state or national elected official takes an oath of office and they say they're going to support and defend the Constitution. How can you say you're going to support and defend it if you've never read it? Well, Dr. McMaster, I know that you're a believer as well, and a lot of Christians today, just like we mentioned a while ago, are not armed when they go into culture, and they're being told that America was not founded on Christian principles. In your study of the Constitution, do you see any relationship to some of the articles of the Constitution and what's found in the Bible?

Oh, 100%. So I think that the core connection between what's found in the Bible and the Constitution is the fundamental belief that men are wicked, that men are bad. So all governments throughout history have sort of been founded on one belief or another about human nature.

So you can found a government on the belief that human nature is good, or you can found a government on the fundamental belief that human nature is bad. Now, James Madison studied under John Witherspoon, and John Witherspoon was the president of Princeton when James Madison was there. He actually was, so John Witherspoon followed Jonathan Edwards, and if anybody knows about the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards is one of the greatest orders during the Great Awakening, one of the preachers that was well known along with George Whitefield. So John Witherspoon was actually, took the place of Jonathan Edwards after he passed away, and he directly mentored James Madison. And one of the things that Witherspoon really pushed is the fact that human nature is flawed, is ambitious, will, there's nothing good about human nature, right? Human nature is going to continually strive for ambition, selfishness, so on and so forth. And so this instilled in James Madison this really strong fear of the potential of abuse in human nature.

And so when James Madison, who's considered the father of the Constitution, obviously 55 men in the convention wrote the Constitution, but Madison was probably the most influential character in that constitutional convention. And he wanted to basically create a government based on the premise that human nature is selfish and ambitious. And so he established, he created this unique checks and balances, which we have in the United States. And what he said is, he called, it's ambition counteracting ambition. This is the ambition. This is something he said in Federalist 51, where basically his goal was, he knew that men are going to be ambitious. Men in government, they're going to push for power. And so he was like, all right, well, we've got men that are pushing for power. So how do we prevent a full takeover of power? What if we use that ambition against itself? And so we create these different branches of government, the judicial, the legislative and the executive, and all of that came from the Bible, by the way, the three branches of government. Yes.

Right. Because it's based on this premise, this understanding that mankind is sinful. And this is something he derived from a lot of his own research, Montesquieu included, but also from John Witherspoon, this, this pastor who was a huge influence on him. And so, um, this created this, this, this government that basically counteracts itself at every turn, preventing any sort of potential tyranny, right?

Any sort of total power. And Madison said in Federalist 51, he said, if men were angels, there would be no need for government, which makes sense. If men were angels, why on earth would we need government in the first place? We don't need laws to prevent men from being perfect, wonderful creatures, but men are not angels. And then he said, but if men in government were angels, we wouldn't need checks and balances. In other words, yeah, men are not angels, so we need government, but also men in government are not angels, so we need these checks and balances. And so basically the entire foundation of the way our whole system was created was based on the biblical understanding of human nature without God, which is huge because no other country throughout world history has ever based their government on that understanding, which is why our government has lasted so long because he actually took the core, the, the, the, the flaw of human nature and he used it against itself to his own advantage, which has actually prevented him bank on the, he hoped that men would be ambitious because if they weren't, then the three branches of government can very well figure out that, Oh, we all work together. We could take over, right? But they don't ever do that because the ambition and the selfishness is constantly, you know, rearing his ugly head and all levels of government, which has created the government we have today because there is no one branch that's able to take full and complete power. It's fascinating to me. Yeah. And that's the beauty of the system.

Hey, well, we've got just a few more minutes before we do. I want people to understand one more important aspect of the constitution. So they've heard of the constitution. You've now explained what it is.

And again, I encourage you out there. If you have never read the constitution, take 30 minutes. It's not long and read it. So dr. McMaster's when they hear about the constitution, many times they hear about something called the bill of rights. You know, they hear about the first amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. Second amendment, which is gun rights. What is the bill of rights and how did that play into the constitution? So the bill of rights are amendments to the constitution and the founders fully anticipated that amendments would be needed, which is why they actually, you know, included in the constitution, a article that would allow for amendments to be written and added.

So the bill of rights were not added to the constitution for a couple of years until a couple of years after the constitution was written and ratified. And it was really a anti-federalist addition to the constitution. So for those of you who don't know the historical context of the writing of the constitution, there were those who were heavily against the writing of the new constitution, the establishment of the new federal government, and then there were those who were for it. And those who were for it were considered federalists, hence a stronger federal government, and those who were against it were considered anti-federalists, against a stronger federal government. And the anti-federalists were very afraid of too much federal power. And so they kind of pushed for this addition of the bill of rights. Now the federalist position was pretty reasonable as well in that the federalists did not want the bill of rights to be added. And the reason for this was if anyone has read the constitution, and you can definitely go read it yourself, as Pastor Hughes is saying, I would definitely suggest doing that. But if you go read it, look at Article I, Section 8 of the constitution, because Article I, Section 8 of the constitution lists out the enumerated powers of the federal government.

By enumerated powers, it basically just means, if you consider it a job description, these are the specific things that Congress can make laws about. No other topics can they make laws about. Well, in that list of topics, there is no topic that would ever touch on any of the rights mentioned in the bill of rights, right? It's impossible to list out our rights.

Virtually impossible. We have liberty. It's slightly different than rights. And the founders knew that. So they decided they weren't going to write a constitution or a bill of rights that lists out our enumerated rights. Instead, they decided to protect liberty by listing the enumerated powers to government, thereby preventing any sort of infringement on our rights.

And so the Bill of Rights were very redundant for a lot of the founders. In other words, it was telling government that government couldn't make laws about things that government already could not make laws about. So if government makes laws about the very few topics listed in the enumerated powers, they're never ever going to touch your freedom of speech or your guns or so on and so forth. But if they go outside of that, an unlimited government, an unlimited government needs the Bill of Rights, right? Because an unlimited government can do whatever it wants, and therefore the few things it's told not to do are going to protect the protecting rights. So what we've seen is this metamorphosis of the Constitution, in that the government does not follow the enumerated powers at all, and the citizenry doesn't know the enumerated powers. So we don't pay attention to what the government does unless the government violates or ever starts to touch on the Bill of Rights. This is why I really, I try to harp on this a lot for speeches I give, is that it's really rather dangerous to focus exclusively on the Bill of Rights, because if we do that, we're missing all the ways that the government is violating our rights by violating the Constitution and the enumerated powers. The government is kind of banking on us, only looking at the Bill of Rights, because they hope that they can violate the Constitution and our rights all day long over here in a realm that we don't know anything about. And then if they ever start to touch or get close to that First Amendment, now we're going to react.

The problem is, if they start getting close to that First Amendment, they've destroyed the Constitution. So this is kind of the... That is so true, Dr. McMaster's. And that's really a good place for us to end. We're going to have to have you back. This is fascinating, and I thank you so much.

There's so much more we can delve into, so please come back with us. But I know you've got a lot of great material on your website, and you've got some videos and stuff. So real quick, how can people go to your site? How do they find you, and how do they learn more?

Maybe if they want to have you come speak in their church, how do they get with you? So they can go to my website, which is just The Liberty Bell, and that's B-E-L-L-E-N-C, as in North Carolina, dot com. So you can go to my website. You can also follow me on Facebook. I have a decent following on Facebook and post more things there, and that's at The Liberty Bell NC. And then my YouTube channel, I believe, is just The Liberty Bell.

So if you look up The Liberty Bell with B-E-L-L-E again, then you'll find some videos. I'm still working on that. And I'm also creating a class that I'm going to start selling online on Udemy and a couple other websites. And once that's finished, people will be able to sign up for and take the whole class. And I think that would be great, because it really just answers that why question. I'm not just going to be giving facts.

I'm going to be digging into that why. So I will be posting updates and information about that for anyone who's interested. Well, I'm looking forward to taking your class, and I hope you'll come back with us again. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Chris Hughes, and this is The Christian Perspective. Please subscribe and like our podcast and share it with your friends on social media. Now let's go change the culture for Jesus.

Thank you for listening. The Christian Perspective with Chris Hughes. Learn more about impacting the culture for Jesus. Visit This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-17 10:35:03 / 2023-09-17 10:45:25 / 10

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