One of the most influential figures in the development of the American government was the English philosopher, John Locke. Thomas Jefferson explained that many of the ideas he drafted into the Declaration of Independence came from Locke.
Joe Locante, who has been a guest on my radio program, has written an insightful essay on “The Gospel According to Locke.” As you might gather from the title, he spends much of his essay showing the connections between Locke’s philosophy and biblical principles.
The first was his insistence “that every human being bore the imprint of an intelligent, personal, and purposeful Creator.” He wrote that we are “the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker.” This is an obvious allusion to Ephesians 2:10 where Paul writes that we are “God’s workmanship.”
Locke rejected the idea of the “divine right” of kings which was used to justify political absolutism. Instead, he argued the government should be based upon the consent of the governed. “If the political authority tries to oppress God’s servants – by threatening their life, liberty, or property – it becomes morally illegitimate.”
Locke also rejected the idea of a national creed (Catholicism in France or Calvinism in Geneva). Rather, government should provide equal justice for people of all faiths. No one should be denied essential civil rights because of religion.
Joe Locante concludes, “The American Founders, supported by the nation’s clergy, thoroughly absorbed Locke’s political principles — from the separation of powers to the separation of church and state.” He also adds that Locke was a “lifelong student of the Bible.”