02 July, 2006

Preachers with Guns

There is an interesting debate going on over at www.oldtruth.com about patriotic worship services. Some think it has descended into idolatry. I tend to think some churches go overboard with it during worship time. However, I am very grateful to have been born here and not in say...Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. I praise God that I can still worship Him freely here. For now.

The question seems to always come back to: What was the role of Christianity in our founding?

One thing we do know is that there has been some revisionist history going on with both sides of the question. For example: The claim by some that the Founders were Christians. As a student of history I have serious doubts about that. Since we are not to judge a person's salvation we can still be fruit inspectors.


Here are some thoughts on three of our founders:

After reading quite a few biographies of Jefferson, I would describe him as the Bill Clinton of his day. He seemed to be Mr. Situational Ethics. He even went as far to tear out the teachings of Jesus he found objectionable in the New Testament and created his own Bible! And, he railed against slavery all the while continually buying and selling slaves tearing apart slave families even going as far as to give them away as wedding presents. Nice guy.

However, Mr. Jefferson in defending religious freedom gave us the 'Wall of Separation' phrase. This phrase was used in a letter to the Danbury Baptists assuring them of religious freedom. This phrase has been so twisted in revisionist history that I know some college professors who actually think it is in the constitution! I have often wondered if his defense of religious freedom was in some way a rebellion because of his tendency toward Unitarianism. But that is a question for another time.

In his Notes on Virginia, Jefferson wrote:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury to my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. (Dumas Malon, Jefferson The President: First Term 1801-1805. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1970, p. 191)

Yikes! He put that in writing! One can only hope he repented before the end.

Another thing that really bothered me about Jefferson was how he could not control his expensive tastes even during the boycott of English goods. He went to considerable time, deception, expense and trouble to procure his favorite wines, teas, laces, linens and delicacies at a time when he was struggling financially and we were boycotting English goods.

What about Ben Franklin? That lovable rogue and raconteur?

About March 1, 1790, he wrote the following in a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, who had asked him his views on religion. ( A telling question if you have to ask it) His answer would indicate that he remained a Deist, not a Christian, to the end:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble...." (Carl Van Doren. Benjamin Franklin. New York: The Viking Press, 1938, p. 777.)

So, Jesus was a nice guy Who left us with a great system of morals and religion. But he has doubts over His divinity. Gee, I heard that same thing just the other day. Sadly, after writing this, Ben Franklin died a month later on April 17.


George Washington was a bit better on the slavery issue as he refused to break up families and tried to make provisions to free his slaves after his death but it never came about. Washington was always having money problems ( Jefferson, too) so selling a few slaves, as he wrote to Martha once, could have helped him financially but he refused.

Washington was always quick to give credit to "Providence" (as he always to referred to Almighty God) for any successes. However, there is much controversy as to whether he was really a believer. He did attend church (Church of England, ironically) but there was quite a bit of correspondence between clergy (and inquiries from reporters) in those days as to whether or not he ever took communion. As a matter of fact, it was documented in these letters between clergy that he always left the church building (And Mrs. Washington ) during communion!

We could go on and on but what difference does this make? God uses imperfect people for His plans all the time. We make the mistake by trying to elevate these people with some sort of hero worship. As my mom always said, Faith in God--not in man.

On the other side of the the issue are those early american Christians who have been written out of history. An excerpt from an article written by David Barton at Wallbuilders explains:


....What religious issues? In 1762, the king vetoed the charter for America's first missionary society; he also suppressed other religious freedoms and even prevented Americans from printing an English language
Bible. How did Americans respond? They took action; and almost unknown today is the fact that Declaration signers such as Samuel Adams and Charles Carroll cited religious freedom as the reason they became involved in the American Revolution. And significantly, even though Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin (two of the least religious signers) are typically the only signers studied today, almost half of the signers of the Declaration (24 of 56) held what today would be considered seminary or Bible school degrees. ..

.....There were many other significant issues that led to our original Fourth of July; so why aren't Americans familiar with the rest? Because in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, a group of secular-minded writers (including Charles and Mary Beard, W. E. Woodward, Fairfax Downey, and others) began penning works on American history that introduced a new paradigm. For this group, economics was the only issue of importance, so they began to write texts accordingly (their approach is now described as 'the economic view of American history' and since the 1960s has been widely embraced throughout the education community). ...

As a result, God is no longer visible in American history; and His absence is now construed as a mandate for secularism. Texts now forcefully assert that the American founding produced the first intentionally secular government in history - even though the Declaration officially acknowledges God in four separate clauses. (But who still teaches the Declaration - or even reads it?) Similarly, leaders such as John Hancock and John Adams receive credit as being the source of our independence, even though John Adams himself declared that the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mayhew and the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper were two of the individuals "most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential" in the "awakening and revival of American principles and feelings" that led to American independence. ...

....As a further example, consider the legendary Minutemen: even though they are still honored in many texts, their leader, the Rev. Jonas Clark, is no longer mentioned - nor the fact that many of the Minutemen were deacons in his church. And the Rev. James Caldwell is no longer acknowledged as a key leader of military forces in New Jersey - nor the Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (who led 300 men from his church against the British) as one of Washington's most trusted generals.

Regrettably, we no longer know much about the indispensable
role of pastors and Christian leaders in the founding of our civil government....

Preachers with guns....never heard that in history class.

But whether there has been revisionism or not, we are to worship and praise our Heavenly Father. I am thankful for our independence but my allegiance goes to God the Father and Jesus Christ alone.


I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
Psalm 145: 1-3



Pictures and Flags courtesy of: http://www.foundingfathers.com


2 comments:

Brandon Giromini said...

Lin,

Good to see someone who actually sees the truth about many of the Founders. If you check my site, I have a few quotes from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson that you probably won't find on David Barton's website. Also Washington's heavy involvement in the occultic Freemasons greatly concerns me. Jefferson is an easy target because he was fairly wide open in his letters about his beliefs (most heretical), while Washington rarely said anything about religion in public or private. I know on Slice Ingrid posted a supposed excerpt from Washington's prayer journal, but it may have been from an descendant and not from GW himself. I am still waiting to hear from an expert before I research it further.

In Christ,

Brandon Giromini

Lindon said...

Hi Brandon, Thanks for stopping by. You have a nice looking web site.

If I had to choose one founder who came close it would be Adams. That could be because of his faithful, godly wife, Abigail.

Lin