Ideas and principles seldom come into being spontaneously with no previous or external influence. The same is true of the principles that birthed the United States and founded our government.
Where did these principles come from? From many places and people, but mostly from the Bible. In this clip below from historian David Barton’s American Heritage Series, he says there is nothing you will find covered in the Declaration of Independence that was not already preached from one or more pulpits of American churches prior to 1763.
Ideas such as “government by consent of the governed,” “taxation without representation,” and more can be traced back to Rev. John Wise, a Massachusetts preacher. Clinton Rossiter, who wrote Seedtime of the Republic, traced the ideas of the American Revolution back to six individuals who had the most influence. Of those six, two were political figures and four were preachers. One of those preachers is John Wise. In addition to the aforementioned principles, he had also preached that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with their rights.
Artemas Ward, a general in the Revolution and a Massachusetts congressman, had Rev. Wise’s book on the government of New England churches reprinted and sent out to the patriots fighting for American independence.
Researchers at the University of Houston assembled 15,000 writings from the founders and identified 3,154 direct quotes from the founders. They did a 10 year study and made some interesting findings.
The founders most often quoted Baron Charles de Montesquieu most often at 8.3%, Sir William Blackstone was the second most quoted individual at 7.9%, and John Locke was the third most quoted at 2.9%. The researchers also found that the founders quoted from the Bible 4 times more often from the Bible than from and Blackstone and 12 times more than Locke. A full 34% of the founders quotes came directly from one source: the Bible.
Blackstone’s commentaries came out in 1766 and became a primary legal source for American law for over 100 years to come. Preacher Charles Finney started out as a law student studying Blackstone’s commentaries. In the process of studying Blackstone’s work, he went back to Blackstone’s source which was the Bible. In the course of his study, he became a Christian. (Perhaps that is why secularists run so hard from America’s Christian heritage–they’re afraid that if they look too closely as Finney did, they might end up believing and becoming a Christian, too)
John Adams said that the men behind the American Revolution are Rev. Samuel Cooper and Rev. Jonathan Mayhew are the “most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential [in the]awakening and revival of American principles and feelings that led to our independence.” Two more who greatly influenced the founders were Rev. George Whitefield and Rev. Charles Chauncy.
Chauncy gave a sermon on the Stamp Act (one of the pivotal events on the road to the American Revolution) on July 24, 1765, in which he stated that the Stamp Act was not Biblical.
When Benjamin Franklin went to the British parliament to argue against the Stamp Act, Rev. George Whitefield went with him.
Apparently our forefathers didn’t believe pastors should keep their mouth shut and stay out of politics (that nonsense didn’t come along until 1954).
Most of the founders were well-educated in Biblical doctrine and were serious Christians. Accordingly, when they began to craft our government, they relied on principles found in the Christian worldview.
- Separation of powers, and checks and balances, because they recognized that humans are fallen creatures inclined to wickedness
- Recognizing that the power to tax is the power to influence or destroy, and so no taxation of churches
It was so obvious to previous generations of Americans (before the secularist war on American’s Christian heritage began a few decades ago) that America is a nation founded by Christians on Christian principles that in 1892 the U.S. Supreme Court examined the evidence and concluded as much:
If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find every where a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters, note the following: the form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen;” the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town, and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing every where under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.
A people who don’t know where they’ve come from, what heritage is theirs, why things are the way they are, are not only easily misled about their history, they are easily misled into a different future than their heritage would otherwise dictate. This is why liberals and socialist revisionists have worked so hard for the past 60 years to revise America’s Christian heritage and mislead Americans into believing Christian values were never to have had any influence on our government, our laws, our way of life.
As Americans, our heritage is one that recognizes that our rights come from God, not government. Our heritage recognizes that government which is too powerful will trample the God-given rights of the people. Our heritage recognizes that we owe our stable society to Biblical principles, and that in walking away from our “indispensable supports” we invite disaster.
The Leftist socialist vision of a secular utopia is at odds with the core values of our American heritage, denying all of these truths. Leftists recognize this, and so they have worked to mislead Americans about their heritage…so that we will be easily misled into an illegitimate future.
We must resist this effort, re-educate ourselves on the original works and statements of the founders, and do whatever we can so that our heritage is not forever lost to us, and to future generations of Americans.