Christianity has played a major role in American history. You cannot read our founding documents or study our history and ignore this fact. It is the Christian faith and biblical principles that laid the foundation for our nation. The Bible is the most quoted or referenced work in our founding documents. You cannot read early writings and speeches of the presidents and founders and not notice the numerous biblical references or principles in their works. These foundational principles allowed America to rise to prominence and become the beacon of freedom for the world today.

 

There are critics who argue that the founding fathers were slave owners and that Christian teaching was used to promote slavery and many racial injustices in America. I do not defend American perfectionism but despite our past failures and current shortcomings, we remain an exceptional country. There have been many dark moments in our history when we failed to live up to our founding principles. However, Newt Gingrich points out that, “…it was our very commitment to moral and biblical principle, to an authority and law higher than our own, that impelled us to self-correct and to use our greatest mistakes as the greatest opportunities to reassert the dignity of every human being and the cause of human freedom.”[1]

 

There have been several major reformations in our nation’s history. Two of the most prominent are the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. In both of these reformations, it was the teachings of the Bible and our founding documents that played the most important role.

 

The Civil War and The Civil Rights Movement

 

Many may not know that a great event occurred before the Civil War, the Second Great Awakening. The First Great Awakening (1730-1740) and the Second Great Awakening (1790 – 1840), were spiritual revivals that took place in America that changed the spiritual and political landscape of the country. Historians believe the ideas presented during the Second Great Awakening bolstered the abolitionists and political leaders to rise up against slavery. This spiritual revival renewed the biblical teaching that all men are created equal in the eyes of God. The majority of abolitionists were Christians who appealed to the Bible, the highest law over all mankind, and our Declaration of Independence, the highest law in our land. Leaders such as, William Lloyd Garrison, Fredrick Douglas, John Quincey Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and others appealed to God, the Bible and our Declaration. These documents were the authoritative works they appealed to in defending their cause as righteous and just.

 

Before President Lincoln, President John Quincy Adams fought for the end of slavery in America.

 

The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the Southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself. No insincerity or hypocrisy can fairly be laid to their charge. Never, from their lips, was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country; and they saw that, before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the memoir of his life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not far distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. “Nothing is more certainly written,” said he, “in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free.” My countrymen! it is written in a better volume than the book of fate; it is written in the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.[2]

 

President Adams appealed to the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. He highlighted the intent of its founding fathers, especially its noted author Thomas Jefferson. In His famous Gettysburg Address Lincoln stated, “…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Gingrich states, “Like Washington before him, Lincoln understood that America’s new birth of freedom would require that the nation seek the source of its liberties in the same place it had prior to the Civil War—under God.”[3]

 

The Civil Rights movement was led by Martin Luther King. Dr. King also appealed to God, the Bible, and our founding documents to defend their cause as righteous and just. In his profound speech “I have a Dream,” he appealed to the Bible several times.

 

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Amos 5:24 

 

I have a dream that one day “every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”    – Isaiah 40:4-5

 

Rev. Dr. King also appealed to our founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence. He stated:

 

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

 

Both the abolitionists and the civil rights leaders appealed to the Bible and America’s founding documents as the basis for their cause and the standard they held our nation accountable to. Have we eliminated our nation of racism? I believe most people will agree we have moved forward but we still have work ahead of us. There is a movement today referred to as “Black Lives Matter.” Is this similar to the abolitionist and civil rights movement? Is this group moving us forward in making positive and lasting reforms for America?

 

Black Lives Matter

 

The organization Black Lives Matter (BLM), is very different from the abolitionists and civil rights movement. There is a different ideology that drives it that is resulting in different outcomes. On their webpage, the BLM movement states their beliefs. The last four paragraphs of their “What We Believe” page state the following:

 

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

 

The statement “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement ….” is disturbing. Marriage and the family are institutions created by God, not by man. Biblical marriage and the biblical family are the cornerstone of all civilizations. “We disrupt” God’s design at our own peril. The next paragraph states:

 

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

 

God created man and woman in His image. These are the only genders God created. It appears BLM seeks to end the biblical definition of gender. This is an attack on the image of God. In these statements, it appears that BLM is seeking to undermine God’s institution and deface God’s image.

 

In their final paragraph they state, “We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.” We must ask the question, “justice but on whose terms?” On what grounds do they seek justice? The abolitionists and the civil rights movements measured justice by the Bible and our nation’s founding documents. What is the standard for morality with BLM? What makes their standard the true standard for the nation?

 

In their statement of belief, there is no mention of God, or our founding documents. Positive and lasting reform will not come through lawlessness and anarchy. Reform will not come by removing our Christian faith and heritage. Reform will not come by erasing our laws, tearing down our government, the Constitution, or our history. Reform will come when we do as Lincoln and Luther did, hold our nation accountable to God’s laws and our founding documents that were founded on God’s law. Without those standards, who do we appeal to as our authority? What standard allows us to know if we are reforming for the better or the worse?

 

Many have described this movement as anarchist. It is not possible to bring about good change without a clear definition of what is good and just. For this reason, the fruits of this movement have been lawlessness and increased division in our nation.

 

The Pillars of Freedom

 

Our founding fathers understood that in order for a nation to be free, the people must be a morally good people who can govern themselves. However, you cannot have a morally good people unless we have a universal moral law code that all people know is true and agree to abide by. A universal moral law code requires a moral law giver who is supreme over mankind. God and morality are indispensable pillars that uphold freedom’s foundation. Our founding fathers understood this and gave a warning for all generations of Americans:

 

George Washington in his Farewell Address in 1796 stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.”[4]

 

John Adams wrote. “Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[5]

 

Dwight Eisenhower stated, “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.”[6]

 

Faith and morality are indispensable foundations. For over two hundred years, the Bible and the God of the Bible have served as these foundations. There is a battle to keep or remove this foundation from our country. We must heed the warnings of our presidents and founders for if these foundations fall, our house cannot stand.

 

Conclusion

 

God and morality are indispensable foundations for a free and prosperous America. God and His word have played a key role in our nation throughout her history. Our founding documents have been built on biblical teachings. Although there have been times where our nation has failed to live up to her founding principles, it was these very principles that led to our nation correcting herself in our major reform movements.

 

Today our nation stands divided and there are movements to reform our country by removing religion and tearing down our Constitution. True reform and defeating sins such as racism will come when we follow the path of Lincoln and Luther in returning our nation to God, His word, and our founding documents.

 

If we are to keep our nation strong, I believe there are three things we must do. First, churches must remain the proclaimer and defender of God’s truth. Second, we must teach the whole history of America. Our textbooks have been revised and have erased our Christian heritage and the vital role Christianity played in our history. Third, we must elect men and women in our government who will fear God, properly interpret our founding documents and uphold the principles that build a strong nation.

 

Every generation must fight to keep our nation strong and free. History shows that false ideologies are what bring a nation down. Destructive ideas are within our gates. The church plays a key role in defending and proclaiming truth and defeating false ideas. To reunite America and build for a greater future, we must remember, return and build the foundation that made and keep her strong and free.

 

[1] Gingrich, Newt. Rediscovering God in America (p. xxx). Center Street. Kindle Edition.

 

[2] John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837 (Newburyport:
Charles Whipple, 1837), 50.

 

[3] Gingrich, Newt. Rediscovering God in America (pp. xxxi-xxxii). Center Street. Kindle Edition.

[4] George Washington, “September 17, 1796, Farewell Address.”

 

[5] John Adams, “Address to the Military,” 11 October 1798, in William J. Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, Tex.: Fame Publishing, 1994), p. 10.

 

[6] Eisenhower, Dwight D. (1959). “Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955”, p.274,

 

 

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