At this point, a little history will be helpful. Imagine if you would the Israelites emerging from 40 years of wandering in the desert and coming into the ancient world as a nation, as a group of tribes that have with them laws that are written by Moses but given to them by God. To the ancient world this was a paradigm shift. The ancient world consisted of monarchies or kingdoms with an aristocracy and the remainder of the population being either slaves or peasants. By many historical estimates, 50% or more of the population of the ancient world were slaves. The Israelites, in having the law, had limited government and had freedoms for every citizen of Israel. Individual freedom and liberty were new concepts to the ancient world.

In the book by Christopher J.H. Wright entitled “Old Testament Ethics for the People of God” he states the following: ‘The law was not explicitly and consciously applied to the nations (as Psalms 147:19-20 says, God had not given it to other nations as he had done to Israel). But that does not mean that Israel’s law was irrelevant to them. Rather, the law was given to Israel to enable Israel to live as a model, as a light to the nations. The anticipated result of this plan was that, in the prophetic vision, the law would “go forth” to the nations, or they would “come up” to learn it. The nations were “waiting” for that law and justice of the Lord, which was presently bound up with Israel (Isaiah 42:4). Israel was to be “light for the nations”. The law of God was given unto Moses, and Moses gave that law to the Israelites prior to their entering into the land of Canaan. We still have that law today. It is the Torah, consisting of the first five books of the Old Testament. Much of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is taken directly from the Torah. Contemporary education refuses to admit that these human rights principles existed and were well known long before the enlightenment and the American Revolution. The law in the Bible and the verses that make up that law have limiting language on the government and the people. Just as the law of the Bible limits us as individuals in our daily lives, it also limits the government.

Robert Charles Winthrop, 22nd Speaker of the House of the United

States House of Representatives, has often been quoted, and one of his most memorable quotes is as follows: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.” Also, George Washington, first President of the United States, is quoted as follows: “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form, so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.”


George Washington and Robert Charles Winthrop


When the founding fathers and others who lived during the time of the American Revolution are quoted, they are often quoted using the term religion or true religion and virtue. When they use the term “true religion” they are referring to a reformed Protestant. If they don’t use the term religion or true religion they use the term virtue. In this respect they are generally referring to I Corinthians 13:13. The three theological virtues are faith, hope and love. Whether you are talking in terms of Cardinal virtues or theological virtues, they are in fact virtues that are derived from Holy Scripture. As Washington pointed out a nation without virtue will lose its human rights.


The Three Virtues