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The Boyer Blog: Rekindling the Fire of The Founders

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rekindling the Fire of The Founders

In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we have come from, or what we have been about.”

The way people view their history affects the way they act. Throughout the book of Judges we hear of the nation of Israel being up and down and up and down. The times they were up is when they remembered why God brought them into existence and what his purpose for them was. Remember when Josiah found the scroll containing the Scriptures and read it to the people? They asked, " Is that how we used to be?? " Understanding their history, led to the nation experiencing revival!! This is having a Providential view of history- seeing and recognizing God’s hand in the events of history!

This is what is lacking in America today. If want to be able to protect the freedoms we have in this country, we must know where we came from. An understanding of the founding era is foundational to what our country is supposed to be all about. It is crucial to understand why God had blessed America. We’re not a special people, but we’ve been the beneficiaries of special blessings. In the U. S. we are not subject to a monarch or a dictator or a king. The Constitution is supreme authority in our land and the Constitution’s opening words reveal to us that “we the people” are responsible. We have a duty to God to elect and then hold accountable those we do elect to uphold the righteous principles set forth in our governing document. By the way, America is the longest ongoing constitutional republic in the history of the world. France, since her revolution is in her 15th form of government, Brazil in it’s 7th constitution since 1822, Poland has had 7 since 1921, and Afghanistan has had 5 since 1923. Italy has had 55 forms of government in the time we’ve been under one Constitution. Why is this?

It is because our Constitution is based on Biblical principles and God always honors adherence to His Word. The founders relied heavily on the writings of John Locke, specifically a book called The Two Treatises of Government. This book although only about 400 pages long, refers to the Bible 1500 times. Political scientists from TX completed a 10 yr project in which they analyzed the writings of the founders to see where they got their specific ideas for the Constitution. They looked at over 15,000 writings from the founding era. As they examined the sources, they found the Bible was quoted far more than any other source. 34% of the quotes were from the Bible.

For instance, did you know that from the founders own writings it is explained where they derived the components of our republican form of government?

For instance, consider these Scriptures that deal with:

Separation of powers- Jeremiah 17:9

Immigration Laws- Leviticus 19:34

Presidents- must be natural born citizens- Deut. 17:15

Capital Punishment- Deut. 17:6

3 Branches of Government defined – Isaiah 33:22

Tax exemptions policies to churches- Ezra 7:24

Allocation of local, county, state and federal legislators- Exodus 18:21

The founding fathers looked to the Bible as having the answers for life. John Adams said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity…. Now I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

Our family has been incredibly blessed and challenged by the ministry of David Barton of Wallbuilders. He has volumes of primary source documents in his library from the founding period and has substantiated the information he shares. I would highly encourage you to check out his website, purchase his CD’s, books, etc. God has raised him up, I believe, for this time in our history to help us uncover the truth of the past that was hidden from us who grew up going to public schools.

It was listening to his presentations where he shows the picture of the signing of the Declaration Of Independence and asks how many people can identify more than two or three of the 56 men who signed the Declaration. I could only identify three and God used that to challenge my heart to begin to research about their lives. I wanted to know, I wanted my children and grandchildren to know and I wanted this current generation of home schooled kids to know who they were, what they sacrificed for our freedoms and what they believed about Jesus Christ. We need to be able to authoritatively answer those who claim that our founders were atheists or deists.

I got counsel from David Barton about where to begin and that was the start of a year and a half of incredible delving into the lives of these 56 men. From this was born For You They Signed . The process was incredible. I felt like I was uncovering hidden treasure, and I was! Many of them in their last will and testament wrote doctrinal statements about what they believed in Jesus Christ, so their posterity would never wonder about it. I was tremendously blessed and challenged by the lives of these men. When I read back over what I’d researched, one thing just stuck out at me and that was character! These guys valued character. They strove to be men of principle and godly character. So, I turned the research I’d done into a book that was a year’s worth of character studies for families to learn together (it can be a study for an individual also). It comes with a free e-book of over 150 pp. that include coloring pages for the kids to work on while Dad or Mom reads each night. This way the kids and family can learn to identify each one as they hang it on the refrigerator for the week or display it in a frame. Since there are 56 signers, it is designed to study one per week. The family then learns a character quality shown in the life of that signer as well as a Scripture verse to go along with it. I also devised family fun quizzes to help the family retain the info they learn. It’s one thing to read a book and say that was great and then forget it. This study is designed to help the whole family retain what they learn and have fun discovering our godly roots together.

The underriding purpose in it all is to inspire the reader to engage our culture today, just as these men did then. They were common, ordinary men who just answered the call to duty and understood what duty meant. John Adams said, “Duty is ours, results are God’s”. It’s not too late to reclaim our country. David Barton points out that the disciples thought they were in the last days and so the “last days” are least 2000 years long. If Jesus is about to return, so much the better that we are following his instructions and answering the call to duty when He comes instead of saying, “Oh we were just sitting around waiting for you , Lord.”

The founders purposed to be useful servants, committed to God instead of spending their lives serving themselves. This is what we must communicate to our children!

The night after the Battle of Bunker Hill John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, I am well aware of the toil and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states; yet, through all the gloom I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.”

His son, John Quincy Adams later wrote, “Posterity, you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” That statement pierced me deeply. We have forgotten what it cost. We, in most cases, never truly learned what it cost. We are ignorant. God grant that we may change that fact and rediscover these truths, teach them to our children and pray that God will once again pour out His blessing on our land.

Our freedom was bought with great personal sacrifice! The founders were ever mindful that God was in their midst. The First Continental Congress opened in prayer. It wasn’t a routine little prayer. It lasted three hours!! It was reported that even the Quakers had tears in their eyes. They read 4 chapters of Scripture and drew strength and direction from Psalm 35. They felt that God had spoken to them, giving them courage that they could succeed.

Throughout the whole struggle for independence they acknowledged the moving of God in their behalf. It was customary for Congress to appoint days of fasting and prayer in giving thanks to God for his direct intervention in their behalf.

In a letter from John Adams to Abigail, he recounted to her the unexpected victories after repulsing the attack on Fort Mifflin. Our “navy” consisted virtually of large rowboats. They had managed to disable a 64-gun and a 20-gun British warship! John declared to Abigail,

In my book I tell an account of a British general who was known to comment, “It appears to me the eternal son of God is operating powerfully against the British nation.”

George Washington wrote: “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge His obligations."

British generals were known to comment that it seemed an invisible hand was working in behalf of the colonists.

The colonists also had the mindset that they were fulfilling their duty to God. One British governor commented, “If you ask an American who is his master, he’ll tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ."

The minutemen were but groups of parishioners who drilled on Sundays after church meetings. They were often led by their pastors or deacons.

Samuel Adams, who is given the credit of being called the Father of the Revolution actually gave credit to the preachers for being the impetus behind it.

I have hanging in my living room a portrait of John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg. He was a preacher in Woodstock, VA who preached from Ecclesiastes. As he ended with there is a time for peace and a time for war, he threw back his clerical robes to reveal the uniform of the Continental army. He proclaimed that this was a time for war and challenged his men to join him. Every man in his church marched out to join him and they became the 22nd Regiment from Woodstock, VA

George Washington had this rule for his men: “every officer and man will endeavor so as to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country. You are placed by Providence in the post of honor because it is the post of danger. And while struggling for the noblest objects-the liberties of your country, the happiness of posterity, and the rights of human nature- the eyes not only of North America, and the whole British Empire, but of all Europe are upon you. Let us therefore be altogether solicitous that no disorderly behavior, nothing unbecoming our characters as Americans, as citizens, and Christians, be justly chargeable to us.”

It is well known that we lost far more men to the prisoner of war ships, like the Jersey where prisoners were treated shamefully. If a preacher was taken prisoner he was treated even more roughly than a common soldier. The British called the preachers the “Black Regiment” due to their black clerical robes. The British blamed them for being the rabble rousers.

More than ½ of the men who signed the Declaration held seminary degrees. And just listen to why Harvard was established:“to train ministers of the gospel, as revealed in it’s two mottoes: For Christ and the Church and “For the Glory of Christ”

The 1636 rules of Harvard declared: Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself in prayer in secret to seek it of Him. Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.”

This is just Harvard. I have in the appendix of For You They Signed, like rules for Yale, Princeton, and The College of William and Mary. It’s astounding. That is how these men were trained!! Even Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, the least religious of the founders, had a deep respect for the principles of Christ. Thomas Jefferson- made the Bible the main textbook for Wash. DC schools while president.

Listen to some of the accomplishments of the signers of our Declaration of Independence:

John Witherspoon was a minister of the Gospel who trained other ministers. He published books of Gospel sermons.

You may have heard of the Thompson chain reference Bible still used today. It was first translated from the Greek Septuagint into English by signer Charles Thompson.

Benjamin Rush was the founder of the first Sunday School movement in America and helped start the first Bible society. He wanted to be able to a Bible in the hands of every American. He helped invent stereotyped printing to help accomplish this goal.

Francis Hopkinson was a church music director and set all the Psalms to music in America’s first songbook!

Thomas McKean was Chief Justice of the Supreme CT of PA. He resided over a case where a man named John Roberts was sentenced to death after being found guilty of treason. Justice McKean delivered his sentence and then preached to him an exhortation to accept Christ as his Savior right away, before his death, so he could spend eternity in heaven rather than hell-right in the courtroom!!!

Just listen to some of the signers own words:

Samuel Adams- “I rely on the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon for all my sins.”

Charles Carroll- “On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for salvation and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.

John Witherspoon-“I entreat you in the most earnest manner to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is salvation in no other”

Robert Treat Paine-“I am constrained to express my adoration of…the Author of my existence, in full belief of.. His forgiving mercy revealed to the world through Jesus Christ, through whom I hope for never ending happiness in a future state.

Benjamin Rush-“My only hope of salvation is in the infinite, transcendant love of God manifested to the world by the death of His son upon the Cross. Nothing but his blood will wash away my sins.”

Roger Sherman- “I believe that there is only one living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.. and that at the end of the world, there will be a resurrection from the dead, and a final judgement of all mankind, when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted before Christ the Judge, and be admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment.”

That is only a sampling of what you’ll find. It was astounding to me!! Yet today we are told that our founders were deists and atheists. Those claims are totally unfounded. The text used most widely in today’s universities is called the Godless Constitution. At the end of the book it states, we have dispensed with the usual practice of footnoting as we all know that the founders were deists. They have no substantiation because there is none. The founders were prolific writers. It is easy to find their writings and they made it clear what they believed.

Back in the 1920’s there was a movement started in part by Charles Beard to re-write American history to make it from a purely economic point of view. That was done, and today we wonder why Christians vote their pocket books instead of principle. Our godly heritage has been plucked away from us, but it is not too late to recover it and we must!! One of the first signs of decay of a society is when their history is taken from them.

Did you know that the American Revolution was not merely about taxation without representation? That was one of 27 reasons, number 17 in the list. Much more important was that King George did not allow them to create Bible Societies, print Bibles, no missionary societies to evangelize the Indians, and he would not let them discontinue the practice of slavery. Religious freedom was premier, not taxation with out representation.

When the signer placed their signatures on the Declaration, they knew they were sacrificing maybe their very lives. They didn’t have to sign it, but they chose to. King George gave orders to capture them. There was a price on their heads. He hoped to stamp out the “rebellion” in it’s infancy by capturing its leaders. Benjamin Franklin was heard to say at the time of the signing. ”We must all hang together or we will hang separately.” If their efforts were not successful they would hang! It was a serious thing and they knew it.

More to come next week...


Also see: Rekindling the Fire of our Founders

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear marilyn, thank you thank you thank you for your time in researching this priceless treasure about the REAL beginnings of our special country! we have recently moved(purchased our 1st home!) and my oldest daughter's first request was that we find your 'For You They Signed' as she had been reading it avidly prior to the move! we read your article together today as a type of devotional. we will overcome!!!!
terry and audrey soergel
wichita kansas
ps how many teens would make this request first? proud of her.

July 5, 2010 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

I'm proud of her. We need mighty women of valor who will raise up children to be leaders to turn this country back to it's godly roots. Thanks for letting us know

August 13, 2010 at 5:26 PM  

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