Monday, July 4, 2016

The Christian foundation of America

As we celebrate this Fourth of July we must recognize that America is in trouble today. It could be argued that America was once a Christian nation. In fact, in 1892 the U.S. Supreme Court did state that America was a Christian nation. Few would make that claim today. We have wandered far from the Christian principles upon which our nation was founded, and the Supreme Court has played a large part in making that happen.

Our schools no longer teach how the faith of our Founding Fathers was instrumental in creating this nation and the Constitution that governs it. History revisionists have tried to paint the Founding Fathers as deists who held no strong faith in a God who acted in the affairs of a nation. Our Constitution is continually chipped away through presidential Executive Orders and decisions by the courts that ignore the clear intent of the Founding Fathers. Even worse, the Christian values that served as the foundation of this nation are under attack as never before.

Just what did our Founding Fathers believe about God and how did those beliefs shape the founding of this nation? Rather than accepting what today's textbooks and critics say, we'll let them answer this question in their own words.

The Constitutional Convention was not going well, and some delegates were ready to give up and go home. One morning Ben Franklin, who many claim to be a deist, rose up to address the convention and its President, George Washington. He said, "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel...I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

In his first inaugural speech George Washington said, "We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."

John Adams, our second President, said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, asked, "Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."

James Madison, our fourth president, said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of the government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions...upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the 10 Commandments of God."

Patrick Henry wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!"

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty...of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

There are far more examples that could be given, but it should be clear that this nation was founded on Christian principles, values, and teachings. For much of our history the Bible was taught in public schools to sustain the values that shaped this nation. In fact, in 1844 the Supreme Court asked, "Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament be read and taught as divine revelation in the school?...Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or perfectly as from the New Testament?"

Some claim that America is a far different nation than it was at its founding. Of course it is, but is it a better nation? One cannot destroy the foundation of any structure without having that structure destroyed as well.

We are too far removed from our Christian heritage to expect anything less than a true revival to return us to our spiritual roots. No President, no Congress, no court can save this nation. Only God can do that. As Christians we need to take 2 Chronicles 7:14 seriously and begin to pray that God will heal this nation. It's up to the church to humble ourselves, confess our own sins, and pray for revival. If revival is to come to America it must begin in the church.

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