Special Report: Living Documents – How The Constitution And The Bible Survive The Ages

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - In 1787, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania carefully etched sweat, ink, and hope into the parchment that defines our country today.

The Constitution exists as a portrait of what democracy should look like - its features lovingly crafted by quill.

But even though the ink has long dried - the intellect, the passion behind the words still pump through its lines like blood from a  heart.

"This Constitution is such a living document," comments Dr. Anne Smith-Winbush.

She teaches the Constitution at Oakwood University.  She grades papers that are typed, not written by quill.  It's the least of what's changed since our forefathers signed the Constitution.

Smith-Winbush says, "It was a time when we had horses and buggies.  We didn't have a bank.  We didn't have a lot of things that we have today."

Yet the Constitution holds.  Courts use it to rule on cases about text messages and Facebook privacy.

We remember the Constitutional Convention by paintings, because it was decades before photographs.  And still the Constitution reigns over camera phones.

As Smith-Winbush points out, "The Constitution is . . . so flexible, and it's so adaptable."

These lines of text paint a portrait of our country, but in between them is where our country lives, much like another defining document.

The Bible consists of black and white, pen and paper stories, and yet it's more than narrative.

CrossPointe Church Pastor John Dees says, "We look at the writings of Paul and Jesus and all the rest, but the living document is far more than that.  It's not just about salvation; it's about life itself."

And that life thrives well past its own moment in history.

The Bible and the Constitution were both written in the times of slavery.  Both dictate specific rules to govern the ownership of other human beings.  But those rules fade, along with other anachronistic cousins.

Dees explains, "God gave them Levitical laws, dietary laws, to eat certain things and to not eat at certain times.  We're not under those same dietary principles."

Yet still people find their truth in these pages, even if that truth isn't the same for everyone.

Dees says, "I think that's why there's so many different denominations, because people look at this passage of scripture and read it this way and see it that way."

We look to the Constitution and the Bible as portraits of the possibilities of man and government, but maybe they're more like mirrors - that show us our best hopes, our strongest convictions.

We look to the Constitution and the Bible for answers - but maybe it's our purest instincts, our brightest optimism that we find.