Alan Keyes
Taking God's name – blessing or a curse?
By Alan Keyes
January 24, 2017

    With the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president upon us, all the usual suspects from the militant atheist crowd have been trying to block the Bible from being used – a tradition that began with President Washington. Every president mentioned God in his inaugural address, even if speaking of the Lord in their own way, fitting with the times. (Dr. Jerry Newcombe, "43 inaugural references to the Almighty")

    You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

    Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me "Lord, Lord," did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" And then will I declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me you workers of iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)

    For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, wild, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of piety, but denying its power. From such as these, turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)
In the informative article by Dr. Newcombe cited above, he notes examples from the inaugural addresses of every president of the United States to illustrate that "every president mentioned God." For better or worse, however, precedent and tradition have never been the guiding stars of America's political life. We should therefore thank God that, in the Declaration of Independence, America's founders clearly acknowledged His entire authority over humanity, and the universe of His creation. Boldly did they cite "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to warrant the decision of "the thirteen United States of America" "to dissolve the political bands which...connected them" with people subject to the king of Great Britain. Without equivocation, they took the authority of the Creator as self-evident truth, and the basis for the just equality and rights of all humanity.

In keeping with the Scripture's warning, the Declaration of Independence was not an empty form of words. It was an act of good faith, taken under threat of imminent war – a courageous deed predicated upon trust in both the truth of God's authority as the "Supreme Judge of the World" and the efficacy of "the protection of divine Providence." On this the representatives of the United States of America staked their "lives...Fortunes...and...Sacred Honor."

Those "representatives of the United States" did not swear by God. Rather they pledged themselves to action in support of God's rule for justice, right, and liberty. In fulfillment of this pledge, all put their lives at risk of death by hanging (for treason against the British monarch); some risked their lives directly in battle; and more than a few sacrificed some or all of their possessions. By God, they took no oath, but by their actions they proved their allegiance to God's sovereignty.

I realize that in this day and age, beleaguered people of faith, seriously professing their trust in God and Jesus Christ, are inclined to be grateful when a political leader mentions God's name. But we would all do well to remember that God's authority does not depend on our election. He is, was and always will be the Supreme Judge of the World, replete with all power to execute Judgment, as He pleases.

Contrary to Barack Obama's self-evidently false allusion to His will, He is not a God who "calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny." Rather, as the psalmist says, "God knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the unrighteous he utterly destroys" (Psalm 1:6). And as Moses said, explaining the significance of God's commands, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life..." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). And as Christ made clear, in reference to his own Person, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

People of good faith know, therefore, that our human destiny is not uncertain. Our destiny is to choose. We are like the Israelites, to whom Joshua said, "Choose this day whom you will serve..." (Joshua 24:15). By our choice, we may have abundant life (John 10:10), or death and perdition – in accordance with the destination God has determined to be the consequence of our choice of good or evil.

In His Word, God has thus given us a clear sense of the significance of His name, and the consequence of our respect, or disrespect, for it. America's founders plainly acted with due regard for His warning and His promises. As I argued recently with respect to the issues of slavery and racism, this extended to the founders' frank acknowledgment of the threat the institution of slavery posed to America's liberty. The Union was eventually preserved because they acknowledged the truth of God by which their tolerance for that institution had to be condemned. By doing so, they preserved the true sense of right and justice that eventually challenged Americans to heed the better angels of their nature, and to fight for God's justice, though it meant renewing the sacrifice of blood with which our nation began.

In what appears to be this unrepentantly evil, adulterous epoch of America's life, it is unfortunately not enough when politicians evoke the name of God. For when they do so vainly, in support of their own ambition for power, they put themselves and our nation in the way of God's wrath. But if they speak of God as America's founders did, with respect for His authority – and, with fear and trembling, frankly cognizant of our nation's sin – they may evoke God's mercy rather than his Judgment. Joined with the renewal of our willingness to choose the way of life He destines for us, and with prayers in action that firmly trust and rely upon His Providence, we may regain our footing on the humble path our forebears trod, as they secured and exercised the liberty wherewith God's Word has made, and may yet still preserve us, free.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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