Christian Roots in American History

“Historical fact and historical record must be sharply distinguished.  The historical fact is indeed what really happened.  The historical record of the fact is what someone believes happened from his own narrow perspective.”  Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:6) ”  We have been given examples so we can learn from the past.  School text books have their own interpretation of history.  Over the years, we have watched the content shrink to a very sparse recollection of distorted historical events.  Thanksgiving has turned into eating turkey and the colonies being founded for economic reasons instead of Christianity.  There has been a deliberate twisting of truth in school text books.  John Calvin influenced the Pilgrims and Puritans who influenced the American Republic.  A Republic which is derived from Latin (Res Publica-a public affair) is a government where elected officials are chosen to represent the people.  Calvin believed that both the church and state are under the authority of God’s word.  He wrote that the independent church should be supported by the state.  Each were to be equally important and independent from each other.  Neither one was to be controlled by the other.  Calvin taught the positive value of law and theocentricism.  Calvin wrote in his Institutes, “The Lord has provided us with a written law to give us a clearer witness of what was too obscure in the unwritten law of nature.”  In his sermons from Deuteronomy he taught to apply the exact judicials of the Mosaic law to his contemporary political circumstances.  Man is a natural law breaker and the law is designed to restrain man’s evil tendencies.  Calvin’s ideas influenced Europe in England, Geneva, France, and Scotland.  Many denominations embraced his teachings:  Baptist, Anglican, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.  They were of one mind.  Their goal was to build a holy Commonwealth to the glory and praise of God.  They desired to maximize liberty and minimize the sinful abuse of freedom.  “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galations 5:13)  The charters were localized and decentralized.  The towns were built up from grass roots that were biblical, Calvinistic, and Puritan in their theology.  They grew into communities that used Old Testament biblical case laws as their standard for legal practices.  The colonists required Christian oaths to take office acknowledging faith in the Trinity and inerrancy of the Bible.  Calvin taught that the duty of the lesser magistrates was to protect the people with an orderly resistance.  There was a representative to the king and representatives in the legislative and judicial branches.  All of the chartered colonies were covenantal constitutional groups under the king.  The Declaration of Independence was an act of separation from England as a result of King George III breaking covenant with the colonies.  The broken covenant resulted in free and independent states.  The colonists did not invade England, but England invaded the colonies.  King George III, who was seen as a nurturing “father” both religiously and civilly, was now a tyrant who was unfit to be ruler of a free people.  New ideas were influencing the colonists as well.  There was a shift from biblical coventantalism to secular constitutionalism.  Isaac Newton was a proponent of natural revelation and natural law (Romans 2:15).  Deism and free masonry were becoming more popular between 1641 and 1788.  John Locke’s Enlightenment ideas had penetrated society.  In 1788, two million out of three million colonists were raised from Calvinistic principles. Yet, it was the Unitarians like Jefferson and not Calvinistic Protestants who helped draft the Constitution at the Conventions.  Traditional Christian government was overturned to secularism.  “I look upon the Constitution as the most fatal plan that could be possibly be conceived to enslave a free people.”(Patrick Henry)  During the Civil War, a new preamble to the Constitution was written and proposed to Congress by the National Reform Association, “We, the People of the United States recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all, the Savior and Lord of all, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  Citizens of American during the Civil War viewed the events as God’s judgement for not having a government ordered according to His word.  In  Jeremiah 51 God did judge the secular state of Babylon for its disobedience to His law word.  How different America would look if these few words would have been added to the Constitution of the United States in 1788.  We press on optimistically to the future though.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,“(Philippians 3:13) 

“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)  Christ’s kingdom continues to grow.

America’s Christian Heritage:  Dream or Reality by Reverend Roger Wagner                 Covenant Media Foundation

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