Where in the Constitution is it Divine Inspiration?

Called Unto Liberty, 20th Century Sermons, Dallin H. Oaks

It was a miracle that the Constitution could be drafted and ratified. But what is there in the text of the Constitution that is divinely inspired?

Reverence for the United States Constitution is so great that sometimes individuals speak as if its every word and phrase had the same standing as scripture. Personally, I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or the minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president. President J. Reuben Clark, who referred to the Constitution as “part of my religion (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Stand Fast by Our Constitution, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, pp. 7, 172.),” also said that it was not part of his belief or the doctrine of the Church that the Constitution was a “fully grown document.” “On the contrary,” he said, “We believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., quoted in Martin B. Hickman, “J. Reuben Clark, Jr.: the Constitution and the Great Fundamentals,” in Ray C. Hillam, ed.,“By the Hands of Wise Men,” Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1979, p. 53).”

That was also the attitude of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He faulted the Constitution for not being “broad enough to cover the whole ground.” In an obvious reference to the national government’s lack of power to intervene when the state of Missouri used its militia to expel the Latter-day Saints from their lands, Joseph Smith said,

“Its sentiments are good, but it provides no means of enforcing them. … Under its provision, a man or a people who are able to protect themselves can get along well enough; but those who have the misfortune to be weak or unpopular are left to the merciless rage of popular fury(History of the Church, 6:57).” This omission of national power to protect citizens against state action to deprive them of constitutional rights was remedied in the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted just after the Civil War.

I see divine inspiration in what President J. Reuben Clark called the “great fundamentals” of the Constitution. In his many talks on the Constitution, he always praised three fundamentals: (a) the separation of powers into three independent branches of government in a federal system; (b) the essential freedoms of speech, press, and religion embodied in the Bill of Rights; and (c) the equality of all men before the law. I concur in these three . . .


Source: Dallin H. Oaks, The Divinely Inspired Constitution, February 1992 Ensign magazine. Dallin Harris Oaks (born August 12, 1932) is an American attorney, jurist, author, professor, public speaker, and religious leader. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He is a former professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, a former president of Brigham Young University, and a former justice of the Utah Supreme Court.


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Called Unto Liberty is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.


The Moral Liberal recommends Ezra Taft Benson’s: The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner