Pastor Roger Anghis
July 25, 2010
Discovering America’s Christian Heritage
Faith of the Founders Pt1
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
When looking at the document that declared our freedom and is the foundation for the government we have enjoyed for the last 234 years it can only be described as a miracle. Not a natural, as in man made, but a divine miracle. It is the most successful document in the recorded history of man. No other document has held a nation together like the Declaration of Independence has held the United States together. Looking at other nations constitutions we see that France, who had their revolution just ten years after the American Revolution and they are now on their 15th constitution; Brazil has had 7 constitutions since 1822; Poland has had 6 constitutions since 1921; Afghanistan has had 5 since 1923; Russia has had 4 since 1918. This is common throughout Africa, Europe and the rest of the world.
In 1831 Alexis De Tocqueville travelled throughout America and wrote about how our nation operates and commented that he could go nowhere where Christianity wasn’t in the forefront of the people’s actions, how they lived and governed. He also stated that he believed that Christianity was the reason that America was as prosperous as it was. This accolade was accepted in humility by America believing that if America was blessed, it was because of the hand of God. President John Adams issued a proclamation stating; “As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensible duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of morality and piety.”
This is an example of American exceptionalism. No other nation has lasted as long as we have on the same founding document. This exceptionalism in not a basis of pride but of humility. We have things in our Constitution that no other nation has in theirs. No other nation calls for inalienable rights. We have drawn a line between government and the people where areas of our life the government cannot touch such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the consent of the governed. This was unheard of in their day. The ruler, king, whoever was in power, told the people what to do. In our form of government WE tell the government what to do. We have seen a movement away from that concept in the last 50-75 years where the government feels it has the right to tell the people what to do and we, the church, must act to reverse that. Our separation of branches of government was unheard of in the days of our Founding Fathers. The judiciary and the legislative arms of government were under the control of a king. We separated them and put all of them under the control of the people. We have elections at the local, state, and federal levels. Never before in history had that concept been tried. No king would allow that type of governance.
The person most often referred to in reference to guidance in the forming of our government documents is John Locke. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush all spoke highly of John Locke. John Quincy Adams stated “The Declaration of Independence was founded upon one and the same theory of government. . . expounded in the writings of Locke.” Modern day revisionist historians have declared that John Locke was a deist when in fact he was considered a theologian in earlier days and wrote a verse by verse commentary on Paul’s epistles called The Common Place-Book. When attacked for his writings in The Common Place-Book he wrote another book called Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity. When he was attacked for that book, he wrote a Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity. His most famous and most widely used book on the subject of government is The Two Treatises of Government. Richard Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, stated that the Declaration was “copied from Locke’s Treatises on Government.” In that book, which was less than 400 pages thick, referred to the Bible 1500 times in the process of showing the proper operation of civil government.
We know that our Founding Fathers were Christians and we know from where the ideas for the Declaration came from. What we do with videos, tapes and cameras today to record history, they did on paper. They kept diaries and even their sermons were written out. Extemporary sermons did not begin until the 2nd awakening. All sermons in the colonial days were written out and then read. We have tens of thousands of written sermons from the colonial era and in those sermons you will find that there is nothing found in the Declaration that had not been previously dealt with in the sermons of those days. Clinton Rossiter is an award winning historian who wrote a book called Seedtime Of The Republic The origin of the American Tradition of political liberty. In this book he discussed the greatest ideas that birthed American Independence and who provided those ideas. He narrowed it down to six people who were the most intellectual and influential in American independence. Of these six two were political and 4 were preachers. One of these preachers is the Reverend John Wise of Massachusetts and by 1687 he had already shown out of scripture that taxation without representation was tyranny, the consent of the governed is the basis of Biblical government, that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.
This book of his sermons was reprinted in 1772 by the men who lead the American Revolution. The first printing went so fast that they had to do a second printing. This book was used to remind patriots of the Biblical rights God instructed us to live by. Today we would never know that it was the sermons in the days of our Founding Fathers that taught us about rights that we now have in our Founding Documents.
There was a study done by the University of Houston to discover the source or sources that were used in developing our Founding Documents. They took 15,000 writings from the era of the Founders and researched them for 10 years. They isolated 3,154 direct quotes and researched those quotes back to the source. The results of that study are printed in a book titled The Origins of American Constitutionalism. They discover that the Founders quoted Baron Charles de Montesquieu most often 8.3% of the time. The second most quoted scholar was Sir William Blackstone at 7.9% of the time. John Locke was third with 2.9%. These were the most cited individuals. The most quoted source was the Bible at 34% of the quotes from those 15,000 documents. When you take into consideration that the ideas espoused by Baron Charles de Montesquieu, Sir William Blackstone, and John Locke came from the Bible, that percentage of Biblical quotes is much higher. For example, the writings of Sir William Blackstone, whose writings were the basis of our legal law and used from the 1760’s until well into the 20th century.
Charles Finney, the great preacher of the 2nd great awakening of the early 1800’s, was studying to be a lawyer and his study material was the writings of Sir William Blackstone. He stated that in studying the writings of Blackstone, he read so much of the Bible that he became a Christian and received his call to the ministry. You will find that in the writings of Baron Charles de Montesquieu and John Locke, the same is true; the basis for what they wrote came from scripture. It cannot be questioned that the Bible was the most influential book in the days of our Founding Fathers.
It is obvious that the concept of independence came from the pulpit. When the fight for freedom began many preachers grabbed their muskets and went off to war. When John Adams was asked who was behind the American Revolution he stated the Reverend Samuel Cooper, the Reverend Jonathan Mayhew, the Reverend George Whitfield, the Reverend Charles Chauncy. In 1765 Reverend Charles Chauncy did a sermon on the un-Biblical Stamp Act. This act was repealed in 1765 and we were all taught that Benjamin Franklin went and argued before parliament to get it repealed but we are NOT told about the person who went with him to argue the case and that was Reverend George Whitfield. We must remember that education was important to the colonies for this very circumstance.
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They wanted the population to be able to read AND understand the Bible and God’s principles so that when government attempted to pass a law that was against the Word of God, the population would know it. This is also why they used the Bible as THE primary source of teaching. Today, too many in the church are not aware of God’s principles to be able to raise resistance to the laws that are against God’s Word. This includes the pastors. When pastors count economics more important than morals, the church has a major problem. This is where we are today. Will we continue down this path or will we turn around and go back to the values that made this nation great?
© 2010 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org