In addition to questions concerning 'rights' and the 'state' and how these concepts are read (by many Christians) back into the Bible, there is the whole question of democracy itself. America is of course a Republic, which by definition has a public or democratic element, and yet foundationally rests in the notion of rule by law. There are many forms of Republicanism, but in the United States we have specifically a form of Democratic Republicanism.
So though we're ruled by law, our legislators (our lawmakers, law proposers, law givers) are selected democratically. These legislators have a dual obligation. They are to forge laws compliant with the 'static' foundational document of the Republic (the Constitution) but they also are to represent the 'dynamic' needs of their constituents, dynamic in that they (the needs of society) change with the cultural and historical context.
When the Constitution no longer complies with the present reality, or needs modification or elaboration due to circumstance, there is a process by which it can be changed...an amendment. So far the US Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times, (once to repeal a previous amendment) which of course demonstrates even the 'static' aspect of the Republic is not cast in concrete. Though not easily modified, it can be changed by democratic process. That in itself is a statement about the Founder's understanding of law and its source.
Theonomy in its extremist form acknowledges this problem, that American civil law is specifically 'not' rooted in Eternal law, revealed in or by Scripture. They would change this, but of course in doing so would undo the work of the Founders and establish a different polity.
Though I have no patriotic concerns to speak of, many of these groups market themselves in this way (by appealing to American patriotic sensibilities) and gain considerable followings. Overthrowing the Founder's understanding of law and essentially creating a new country makes for a strange patriotism. Many join with them hoping to restore America or something along those lines. Little do they realize they're being deceived. The partisans of Theonomy would not restore, but replace. Their doctrines applied to the United States are not reformatory but revolutionary. Revolution is usually not considered to be patriotic! It's something to keep in mind when you read of their desire to 'restore' America to supposed Biblical foundations and other such marketing lines.
The idea of democracy, that laws find their source or foundation in social contract or the will of people is completely unpalatable and incompatible with their thesis.
Evangelicals always wish to emphasize the Declaration's language concerning certain 'inalienable rights' coming from the Creator. See, they insist, this is religious language. It's true, Jefferson believed in God, and while many involved in the founding were Christians, the religious sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence are only in general terms, in no way specifically referencing Christianity.
Well, it was a Christian context many would argue. True, but if the argument is correct...that these were Christian sentiments reflecting a Christian worldview...then Jefferson sure chose some pretty odd terms and phrases to use and refrained from using some even more obvious ones.
The 'Creator' is not elaborated upon, other than by appealing to Nature. And if... power comes from consent of the governed, then the inalienable rights are not determined by Eternal Law revealed in the Word of Special Revelation (which would specifically Christian), but by some form of Natural Law applicable to any of the First Adam's seed, in other words to all men.
Functionally this can be compatible with a Christian understanding. As Christians we go much further in our understanding of right and wrong, the laws by which we (as Christians) operate. But the language here is in broad, very general, non-revelatory terms. This is why many people focus on the Deism of Jefferson and others involved in formation of the Republic. Because this language and the associated concepts they're talking about are in perfect harmony with the Deism (and Freemasonry for that matter) many if not most of these men held to.
Regardless of who the Founders were as individuals it must be said again, the founding documents do not appeal to Divine Special Revelation, but 'self-evident' laws of nature. Again, a Christian can be content with this for a Babylon-state construction. But if you're trying to make an neo-Israel a supposed Christian state, then this would be totally unacceptable and the Theonomists will be quick to tell you that. That's no basis for a godly society.
Cameron in this film seems to side with the Theonomic understanding. This is problematic both historically and contemporaneously. I contend if more people in Christian circles understood what's happening and being said, they wouldn't be so quick to support these people.
Some would argue this is America's strength, a Republic that embraces a certain level of legal dynamism. It possesses a law-based system that has some flexibility. Americans often tout the fact that the US Constitution is the oldest in use in the world. This is true, but it could be equally argued that what kept it alive is the fact that is has an amendment process. It has survived because it can change and also the fact that it is less than specific in many key areas has probably helped.
Although the strains and limitations of the political system outlined in the Constitution are becoming more patent, Americans, in particular those on the Right, revere the Constitution as deutero-canonical, nearly Divine in origin, and are unable to do what many countries do...occasionally tear it up and start over, and re-write their constitution to reflect the present situation.
Such an act, metaphorically tearing up a constitution is at its root, democratic. American Republicanism is rooted to the idea of a past social contract...'when' the laws were put together and insists on imposing a historical form on the present. They want the development and modification to stop...but why should it? It's not designed that way.
Cameron and others like him want to argue the United States was built upon a cultural and historical legal foundation all stemming from the law of God....which of course is unchangeable. This is their argument to counter the legal and social changes of our day. I'm arguing the language of the source documents as well as the system itself militate against this.
In addition and of far greater importance is that fact that Theologically this narrative in untenable.
To me the whole argument begins and ends with the Bible. Even if the Founders were establishing a Christian nation, they would have been wrong to do so. For there's no such thing, the Church being the only Christian/Covenanted/Holy entity on earth. But since that's not good enough for many, I'm content to look at the historical and legal arguments. And what do we find? These don't support their arguments either. They would do better to be candid and just admit that if given the chance they would completely overthrow and replace the United States with an entirely different polity. Maybe that's fine to some people. I wish they would just be honest about it.
In terms of history and marketing their vision, this is their real dilemma....they don't believe in Democracy. This is somewhat problematic if you're trying to push the Americanist narrative! As I indicated, the diehard Theonomists will come right out and admit this. I appreciate their honesty, even though they're elusive about what their vision would mean for society, the nation, and for competing Christian theologies.
Many others who don't go quite so far in embracing Theonomy will try and retain the concept of Democracy either due to intellectual inconsistency or an emotional investment and the powerful cultural connotations.
But they have a dilemma, because Democracy means...the law is not based on an eternal absolute....like the Mosaic Law or even the Bible in some kind of general sense. If there's a cultural consensus, people may democratically reflect some kind of quasi-Biblical form of the law. But it's not rooted or founded upon the law as an eternal foundation. At that point it's about a social consensus which is expressed democratically.
Some in the Christian Right realize this, acknowledge it and are content with it. But it hardly makes for an airtight ideological system which is why it's unacceptable to many in more Theonomic influenced circles. If the law is simply a reflection of a Christian dominated society, when that society changes...there's nothing to stop the law from changing with it.
This is pertinent because Cameron is interacting specifically with the more Theonomic end of the spectrum. I don't recall anyone in the film arguing from the standpoint of a Christian Republic meaning...a democratic reflection of a Christian cultural consensus.
Historically in the post-Puritan period and certainly in the post-Constitutional period this (the consensus argument) was the only sense 'Christian Nation' can be applied to America or the United States.
The post-Constitutional result for say much of the 19th century may have looked roughly like a kind of loose 'Christian' culture. But Theonomy will insist this is built on sand (subject to change) unless consciously established on Scripture. The reality is 19th century America wasn't really functioning that way... viewing law through a Theonomic grid. Theonomists admit this and point out that's why it's falling apart today. It rested on cultural consensus which is a rejection of the Theonomic thesis and places a nation or culture in danger of being subjected to cultural trends and as I said above... inevitable legal modification.
So Cameron tries to dance between these two points. I'm not even sure if he's conscious of it. On the one hand many of these people wish to 'look back' on when the nation was 'Christian' and yet many also realize it wasn't really 'Christian' enough and that if things are going to be redone, they must be done differently.