What follows below is a quote from Edwin Feulner’s article, “What Is the Role of the People?”:
The stirring opening words of the Constitution proclaim that it is the work of “We the People.” In the Declaration of Independence, the American people had announced to the world that they were sovereign and free. In the Constitution, they sought to defend this freedom by creating a unique government for an exceptional nation, a government that derived its just powers from the consent of its people. In this American republic, what is the role of the people?
The United States is exceptional because of its universal founding principles. At the heart of these principles is the belief that people are free by nature and possess inherent rights. The use each of us makes of these rights will naturally be different, and the outcomes of those choices will naturally differ too. But the choice remains ours. Freedom is thus inextricably bound up with living our lives as we see fit. This is self-government in the truest sense of the term. We the people need not slavishly defer to experts. We can be trusted to govern ourselves.
That is why government must remain limited: The people have given it only limited powers, as described in the Constitution. When government takes more than we have given it, it renders our choices meaningless. At worst, unlimited government is tyrannical; at best, it imposes a dull uniformity that crushes true diversity and saps the independent spirit of the people.
Read the article in its entirety here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary