By Digital Publius contributor, Christopher Harris
According to folklore and medieval history, the legendary King Arthur was a leader in Great Britain who lived between the 5th and early 6th centuries. As to the veracity of the stories or even the actual existence of a King Arthur...that is a discussion for another time. However, there are many things about his story that have been extremely influential to western culture from the time his story was first written, to the present. One of the most fabled aspects of the story is his knights, and most importantly, their “Round Table”.
These men were reported to be among the most noble and greatest warriors in the land. They came together and sat around a special table in the castle of Camelot. They chose a round table, instead of a regular square or rectangular shaped table, because this was to be a sign that everyone who sat at the table was seen as an equal. They took a pledge that has now become famous, which was, “In Serving One Another, We Become Free”.
It was, and still is a beautiful principle to live by, and it is in fact, rooted and grounded in Judeo-Christian morality. It is also an idea that was influential in the hearts and minds of the Founding Fathers as they wrote our foundational documents forming this nation. Unfortunately, like many of Christ’s teachings contained in scripture, and the words of our Founding Fathers, this maxim has also been misconstrued, misinterpreted and outright twisted.
In the book of Galatians, Chapter 5 (NKJV), it speaks of “Christian Liberty”, explains how “Love Fulfills the Law”, and promotes “Walking in the Spirit”. Specifically speaking, in verse 1, it says “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” And in verse 13, it says “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
As I study American history, I see that same Judeo-Christian vein of philosophy and morality in the words of the Founding Fathers of our nation. I’m struck by the similarity between the sentiment and principles espoused by the Knights of the Round Table, and men like Patrick Henry. In his March 23, 1775 speech to the Virginia Delegates of the Provincial Congress at St. John's church in Richmond, VA, which has been called his “Liberty or Death” speech, he said, "If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!” He went on to say, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!” and of course, he famously ended his speech by saying, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Shortly thereafter, on April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War, also known as the “War for Independence” began with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, in the province of Massachusetts, near the city of Boston. Almost a year and a half later, in the summer of 1776 after enduring more trials and tribulations, and suffering through more tyranny from a ruler who thought himself to be a god with absolute power, a group of men got together as the Second Continental Congress in the city of Philadelphia. They met in the building that was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Colonial Legislature, which was opened in 1753, and has since been renamed as Independence Hall.
During their meeting and deliberations, they came to the conclusion it was time to make an official declaration of their independence, and as honorable, rational men, they decided it was necessary to draft a document to fully explain their decision. So on June 11, 1776, they appointed a "Committee of Five", which consisted of such august men as Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, John Adams of Massachusetts, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who was the only man to sign all four of the great foundational papers of what was to become the United States of America: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
They penned and approved words which have stood the test of time, and also fall right in line with the principles of the Knights who sat at the "Round Table", and their aforementioned maxim. They famously stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And those words have reverberated in the hearts of men and women throughout the world ever since.
Once again showing the influence of Judeo-Christian philosophy and morality, and providing an interesting parallel with the Knights of the Round Table, the 56 signers of this document finished their ‘Declaration of Independence” by saying. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
In this day and age, especially with the rise of Socialism under its noms de guerre, like Progressivism and Modern-Liberalism, the beautiful and Christ-like philosophy of “In Serving One Another, We Become Free" has become bastardize, subverted and perverted almost beyond recognition. Instead, particularly here in the United States of America, what you have is a nation conceived, gestated and birthed under the principles of “Christian Liberty”, where 237 years later, a sizable number of Americans actually believe the Godless Marxist idea of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." is not only similar to “Christian Liberty”, but that they are one in the same.
It is a sad testimony to the lack of education, knowledge and wisdom of the average American today not only of the foundation of our nation, but the historical and Biblical ideals which inspired our Founding Fathers. Just as the Knights of the Round Table were valiant warriors and mighty (but imperfect) men willing to lay down their lives in support and defense of “Christian Liberty”, the Founding Fathers were also honorable (but imperfect) men, who understood the words of the Apostle Matthew, who quoted Christ in chapter 20, verse 28 (NKJV) in the book bearing his name: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Likewise, the Apostle Mark documented the actions and words of Christ in chapter 9, verse 35 (NKJV) in the book bearing his name, that, “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
This belief in Divine Providence also meant they understood the words of 1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) that said, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” They recognized they had been given a gift from their creator, the gift of “Christian Liberty”. They recognized it was a gift that also carried with it a great responsibility to serve others, a responsibility the Knights of the Round Table espoused in their maxim, “In Serving One Another, We Become Free”. And when the Founding Fathers of this nation signed their names to what was essentially a death warrant (and many of them did lose their earthly lives as a result), they finished their grand document for “Christian Liberty” by saying “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
The Founders did this, because they understood and believed in the words the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the churches in southern Galatia when he said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” and “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
© C.L. Harris