Cultivating Respect for the Informed Consent of the Governed

When John Duns Scotus coined phrasing that gracefully translates to the consent of the governed, he advanced a truly authentic form of liberty. Through his Lectura and Ordinatio of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, Scotus initiated a long process that will clearly and forever differentiate between the legitimacy and the illegitimacy of heads of state and entire governments. The concept was embraced by those signing the Declaration of Independence within what would become the United States. That document further articulated this particular democracy imperative with:

” . . . governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

John Wycliffe, in the preface to his fourteenth century translation of the Latin Vulgate into Middle English, wrote:

“The Bible is for government of, by, and for the people.”

And, when Abraham Lincoln learned of the Wycliffe statement, he decided to include it in his Gettysburg Address with the crescendo paragraph:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”