Western Christian orthodoxy, in which American culture is rooted, came out of the dispute with the eastern Christian Church. There was a time when Christianity was the predominant faith throughout what is now known as the Middle East and it reached all the way to modern China. The eastern Christian empire, however, did not hold to the same beliefs as the western one. Today, except for a few pockets of Christians in what is now an Islamic dominated region, Christianity in that area has all but disappeared. The eastern Christian empire and their different understanding of the nature of Christ are vital, not only to the story of Christianity, but to the understanding of American culture and reasonable expectations concerning the future of our nation given its present political course.
The Law of Nations, which governs how one nation relates to another, was so much a part of our founding culture that the framers of the Constitution only referenced it once in the Constitution, in which it states: “To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offences against the Law of Nations.” Although, only referenced once in the Constitution it was referenced thirteen times, according to Madison’s notes, by Constitutional Convention delegates during the Constitutional Convention and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution referenced it numerous times when expounding on Constitutional clauses dealing with foreign policy. Additionally, one can also see evidence of the Law of Nations articulated in George Washington’s farewell address, the Monroe Doctrine, in every President’s Congressional request for a declaration of war until the Civil War, and in other writings of our founders. The absence of a declaratory statement identifying the Law of Nations as the foundation of American foreign policy should not be taken to mean that its tenants are any less binding today. Just like English Common Law was the foundation upon which the Constitution was written, so too is the Law of Nations the foundation upon which the framers defined the foreign policy powers delegated to our national government from the people.