We are a nation that now pays lip service to God and Christian principles. My, how far we have strayed since our humble origins. ♦
John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States, once referenced the historic event that led to America’s independence as follows: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
It was his and the founders’ strong conviction that God cannot, and should not, be moved from the social and governmental construct of America.
As recent as 30 years ago, Ronald W. Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, sounded this warning to an increasingly secularized nation: “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…. without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure….If we ever forget that we are one Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
While we are not yet “a Nation gone under,” we are certainly a nation that now pays lip service to God and Christian principles.
Yes, we have moved far from our nation’s humble beginnings. Many are unschooled even of our own history. Many today are not even aware of some fundamental facts of our nation’s founding that surround this national holiday known as the 4th of July.
Quick 4th of July Poll
Take a little informal poll at your 4th of July gathering this weekend. Ask people the following questions:
- What is the Declaration of Independence? Answer: a list of grievances and statement dated July 4, 1776 that the original 13 colonies (ultimately the first states) were no longer under foreign rule and were to be a free and independent nation.
- Who were Americans declaring independence from? Answer: England.
- What’s the difference from the US Constitution? Answer: the Declaration proclaimed an independent nation in 1776, the Constitution laid out the legal foundation by which the new country should run and work. It is considered the supreme law of the country and went into effect in 1789.
- What was the approximate tax rate charged to Americans? Answer: 1-3%.
- How many Americans lived in the 13 colonies in 1776? Answer: 2.5 million.
- What hot topic was removed from mention in the Declaration after considerable debate? Answer: Slavery. Jefferson’s paragraph strongly criticizing British promotion of slavery was removed to appease the southern colonies.
While “taxation without representation” was a voiced grievance of the original 13 colonies, there were other dynamics going on.
Believe it or not, Christianity was in play here.
54 of 56 Signers Were Christians
Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Christians (54 out of 56). Twenty-seven (27) of them held theology degrees. The signers intended the document to officiate the separation between America and Great Britain (England). However, they based the Declaration upon a greater foundational belief that God, or as written in the Declaration “Creator,” was the source for men’s irrevocable rights.
By the way, they paid a high price for their boldness. Several (4-5) of the original signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Up to 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. At least 2 lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army while up to 9 others fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
These were principled men with a purpose and vision for the birth of a nation.
One of the signers, Samuel Adams, said “Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty, in matters spiritual and temporal is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, as well as by the laws of nations and all well-grounded and municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former.”
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration, also believed “God who gave us life gave us liberty.”
Yes, But Things Change, Right?
Of course things change. And one should not be so naive as to believe all the signers and founders were saints as men and extremely devout as Christians, or even their families after them. But again, they proclaimed that “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” They translated that freedom to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – including freedom of religion and freedom from state-run religion. Yes, they believed in a Creator and they believed in God’s bestowing human freedom and moral law that arises directly from the Bible. It was George Washington, the 1st president, in his farewell address who stated “forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Sadly, today in America the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians has dropped 8 points in just 7 years, from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. (Pew Research Center, 2014)
Is this because God changed or people’s perceptions of God has changed? Certainly the latter. God has not changed – we’ve moved and strayed away. And it’s getting worse.
According to 2014 research by America’s Research Group (ARG), of those in their 20’s who attend church regularly:
- 35% state the Bible has errors
- 45% said they were not taught to defend their faith in Sunday School
- 45% say either homosexual behavior is not a sin or they don’t know if it’s a sin
- 40% believe “gay couples” should be allowed to marry and have legal rights
- 20% believe there are other books (besides the Bible) that are inspired by God
- 65% believe that if you are a good person you will have eternal life in Heaven.
It’s not surprising that many in this American nation would celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on Gay Marriage this past week. But as mentioned before, Truth is not determined by popular vote, or feelings.
That same Christianity in play at the time of the nation’s founding, as it was during the Reformation, or the Renaissance, or the Crusades, or during the birth of Islam, or the demise of the Roman Empire, was still essentially as follows despite human distortions and manipulation of Biblical Truth:
- Man and the universe were created by God
- Man sinned and was separated from God
- Jesus Christ died a substitute death for our sins to return us to right standing with God
- We can be restored to God through surrendered faith and new identity with Christ.
The world has complicated a fundamental truth of God’s restorative plan for His Creation. Through the thread of human history God has been revealed and manifested through faith-intended human endeavors, including America. Our challenge is to return to God, His Word and Truth, and reevaluate our lives against that standard, not that of a godless culture.
This weekend are you celebrating the birth or demise of a once Godly nation?
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. – 1 Peter 2:16