My fifth, and final blog on the Christian foundations, and biblical heritage of America, will move in a direction that was brought to my attention just last night. Like so many homes in America, our home hosts a mid week Bible study. Here a small group meets to pray, have fellowship and study the principles of God’s Word. During our discussion about patriotism and our place as Christians to influence the nation, my wife pulled out her computer and found a copy of “America The Beautiful”. As we sang those stirring patriotic words, I was struck by the phrase “America, America, God shed His grace on Thee…”.
There it was once again, God was at the center of the American culture and our national way of life. This one phrase caused me to rethink some of the basic institutions of America. Was God intertwined in more things and we have simply missed His presence? Thus I began to take another look at our great nation and here is what I found.
In every courtroom in America people are required to raise their right hand, place their left hand on the Bible and swear to Almighty God that they will “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” They don’t swear to Buddha or Mohammed. Likewise, Every President who has ever been sworn into office take their public oath by placing their left had on the Bible and raising their right hand. This is done as a sign of submission to God and as a pledge to uphold our constitution and the laws of the land.
Every session of Congress begins with an opening prayer. Congress itself has a Chaplin who is available to pray with and pray for the members of the House and Senate. History records that Congress itself authorized the funds to print and distribute Bibles to those who were part of the first 13 States. Funds were even provided by the federal government to send Christian missionaries with Bibles into the western part of the nation to help settle that wild region.
Public education in America was established upon the foundation of the reading of Scripture. The “McGuffey Reader” was used for over one hundred years as the basic educational tool in America. It is filled with excerpts from the Bible and practical wisdom for everyday life. Our first universities were founded with the expressed purpose of training up and educating ministers for the spread of the Gospel. Go back and look at the foundations of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. You will be stunned by their clear vision to instruct, develop and send out godly leaders into American society.
Until just recently, every child in our public schools was required to recite the “Pledge Of Allegiance” which states “..one nation under God with liberty and justice for all”. In fact it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who signed into law in 1954 the insertion of “one nation under God” in that pledge. Likewise, until just a few years ago, it was common practice for public schools to provide religion classes, or to dismiss students once a week so they could receive religious instructions at the church of their choice. Prayer was a common practice at the beginning of every school day and at least one Bible could be found on the bookshelf of every classroom.
Go back and look at the original constitutions of the first thirteen states in America. There, for all to see, are bold proclamations of the founders faith in God. Nearly every one of these promoted Christianity as that which qualified people for public office and nearly all of them acknowledge that their state found it’s sovereignty and strength from the God of the Bible. Those who hate God and want to deny our foundations may lie about history, but history never lies about itself.
America has always been a nation that found it’s strength, and embraced it’s heritage, with two strong arms. One arm being it’s fierce love of liberty and the other, a belief in the Bible and dependence on the God of that Bible. Thus, President Franklin D. Roosevelt confirmed this when he called our whole nation to pray, and he prayed on public radio during the difficult days of World War II. If we abandon this source of national strength by our own willful ignorance, we abandon the very foundations upon which we are built. Remove those foundations and we have orchestrated our own demise.
As you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July consider how we got here in the first place. Our nation was not the creation of brilliant men seeking to promote their own agenda of a better life. It was not the concept of a utopia where people would be free to do as it pleased them. America was a divine experiment. God placed it in the hearts of those who were longing for a place to freely worship Him without government interference and control. There they could serve the God of the Bible and serve others for the common good.
America is a unique place unlike any other in the earth. It has been forged in the furnace of affliction and washed in the blood of those patriots who died believing in it’s truths. It is not a perfect nation and perfect people do not live here. However, it’s ideals and vision for the people gives them hope that anyone can be more than what they are. By God’s grace it will continue to be so for generations to come. Happy Birthday America!