Sunday, July 5, 2015


July 4, 2015 is this nation’s 239th birthday.  For the first time in my life, I did not feel like celebrating one of my favorite holidays.  I still love our country, but sometimes there is a time to hang your head down and pray.  This year’s Independence Day is how I felt—hang my head down and pray for our nation.
It may be surprising that a Gallup poll conducted in December 2014 revealed that nearly 75 percent of Americans view themselves as “Christian”.  It is a bit lower; however, the number is higher than I anticipated.  Certainly there are trends that are discouraging, such as the increase of agnosticism and atheism; however, not all has been lost, at least, not yet.  It is also discouraging when elected officials say that we are no longer a Christian nation as if it were a good thing.  There are certainly writers and pundits out there who refer to our beloved country as a Post-Christian nation.  And the “Licenses to Sin” granted by the Supreme Court should give us all reason to be more than a little concerned about the moral fabric of our nation, plus its impact on our ability to evangelize in this country and the world!  Some are calling July 4th as the birth of our nation, but June 26th as the end of our nation.
I would like to take a few moments on the question “How could this Nation’s moral code have been identified any plainer?” or “How could the founding fathers have made the fact that we are a nation based upon belief in God and His Word more apparent?”  Every year we have the same slew of articles attacking people of faith in this nation under the headline of “Did the Founders establish a Christian Nation?”  Sometimes I want to ask them, with frustration, “Did the Founders establish a moral or immoral nation?”  The facts that our nation has an affinity with Christianity is readily apparent to all who can see past the efforts of modern revisionists who are seeking to either destroy this nation or transform it to something else.

The Declaration of Independence – Declared Dependence upon God
We celebrate this nation’s independence on July 4th, and it was signed by “thirteen united States of America”.  We often, and rightfully so, cherish these words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Incidentally, the Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln was a call back to this Declaration of Independence.  “Four score and seven years ago” was stated in 1863 and hails back to 1776.  That precious Address reiterated those precious words with “…dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  Incidentally, some want to debate whether or not Lincoln was a believer or an atheist.  Perhaps they need reminded how Abraham Lincoln closed with words which children used to have to memorize when I was in school—“that 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.”
The Declaration of Independence closes with these words of faith:  “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  The expression ‘divine Providence’ is the protection of Almighty God, it is clearly a reference to God.  Where will our nation turn for help after it has turned her back on God?  Some wonder why George Washington’s name is not on the Declaration of Independence?  He was busy training the military to back it up!  I pray we do not have to hear songs like “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” in our land again.

Only a nation that depends upon God and His word is truly independent and free.  Anything else is but an illusion of independence that will vanish away, either by decay or decimation.  Those who signed that Declaration realized how fundamental that truth was and is.

 The Constitution – The Secular Law not the Spiritual Law
Our Constitution was written in September 17, 1787 and ratified on June 21, 1788.  Some claim that our Constitution does not contain any reference to God, Jesus or Christianity, a claim that is actually false.  But if it were true, does that mean the framers were anti-religious?  Hardly!  The framers did not want a national religion, such as the Church of England.  They delegated these sphere of involvement to the States.  There is a curious statement in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 7: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”  Seriously!  Who could imagine that the 13 States who signed the Declaration of Independence would now all of a sudden be rejecting God Whom they credited for providing them what the world saw as an impossible victory over the strongest empire of the world at the time? 

The Bill of Rights – A Check to Overreaching Federal Secularism
Some fail to take note that the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect “We the People” from an overreaching federal government which was being created by the U. S. Constitution.  One needs to keep this principle in mind when reading the Bill of Rights, a fact that ought to be discernible from a reading of all the Bill of Rights!  These were written by James Madison after several calls from various states.  The pattern he used was based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights by George Mason.  Incidentally, one of these written by George Mason reads:  “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

The first two amendments are perhaps the most contested, but we will read the First Amendment:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  Oh, that people would recognize that the freedom of press and freedom of religion are in the same amendment and the implications of that!  Some think this reads “a separation of Church and State”, but that expression is neither in the Constitution nor in Bill of Rights.  It was in a letter written by Jefferson to a Baptist to ensure that the Federal Government would not be interfering in their work.
While we may not be able (much less want) to force someone else to worship God the way we want, but God has instructed that He expects to be worshipped according to His precepts—“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24, NKJV.)  Too many have taken God for granted on too many things, and our Nation has been taking God for granted for far too long.

The Monuments – From the Heights We Praised God
One of the first things I wanted my father to see when I took him to Washington, DC for the first time was the Washington Monument.  It stands at 555 feet and 1/8 inches.  It is 55 feet wide at the base and has over 36,000 stones.  It is estimated to weigh over 100,000 tons.  I have stood at its base and looked up those 500 plus feet.  My knees have wobbled at the observation deck at 500 feet as I looked out from its height.  The project began in 1854.  There is a clear dividing line in its construction marking the halting of it during the Civil War. 

The monument is in tribute to George Washington, not the city of Washington.  George Washington served as our First President (April 30, 1789 -- March 4, 1793).  It was the tallest structure made in the United States of the 19th century, and it would remain the tallest until the completion of Philadelphia City Hall of the 20th century.  The Washington Monument was dedicated in 1885, thirty-one years in the making.  Incidentally, the resolution passed by Congress to erect such a monument was in 1783, or 102 years prior--an example in government efficiency is not always the best. 
When the structure was completed, an aluminum cap was made for it to serve as a lightning rod.  In the day, aluminum was as rare as silver and quite expensive.  On one side of the cap was the Latin phrase Laus Deo, Praise God.  Apparently this is no longer legible.  Laus Deo needs to be re-engraved in our day!

The Ring of Bells –  Liberty By God Rang in Our Ears
The Liberty Bell resides in Philadelphia, PA.  Annette and I were able to see it when I spoke at the Pottstown Lectures a few years ago.  It was re-casted by John Pass and John Stow right in Philadelphia, after the one ordered had cracked upon its first ringing.  The bell weighed 2,080 pounds and was made of bronze and hung on a yoke of elm wood.  The engraving on the bell reads “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof".  It rang at Independence Hall until it was taken out to be preserved.  The wide crack that is seen visibly is actually a correction, not a crack.  The crack that threatened the bell is not as easily observable unless up close. The correction/repair did not work, so the bell had to be replaced, but people wanted this precious bell preserved.  The inscription was from Leviticus 25:10 which refers to Jubilee in the law of Moses as a time to free slaves.  Why this passage?  “Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris chose this inscription for the State House bell in 1751, possibly to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges which granted religious liberties and political self-government to the people of Pennsylvania.”

Perhaps people need to be reminded that God’s word provides freedom from sin, not freedom to sin!  Too many have perverted “Freedom of Religion” with “Freedom From Religion”.  The true message of religious liberty needs to be rung out again! 
The Corridors of Power – Ultimate Authority Recognized In Heaven

We have three branches of government who are supposed to have respect for God and His word!  In the Congress, right above where the Speaker of the House sits is the phrase “In God We Trust”.  In fact, there are numerous references to Christianity throughout the Capitol building.  Also, the Supreme Court building includes references to Moses and the Ten Commandments.  Even the White House has this inscribed in its State Dining Room by John Adams, "I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and on All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this Roof."

So, when we discuss the construction of buildings, the founders were clear.  Where did they get this concept from?  Could the this thought have come across their mind—“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1, NKJV.)
The Motto of Our Nation – Do NOT Overlook This

Some may not realize this but the official motto of the United States of America is NOT E Pluribus Unum (“from many, one”); although that phrase is on the national seal of the United States by an act of Congress in 1782 and appearing on our money since 1795.  No, our national motto signed into law by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 is “In God We Trust”.  Perhaps we should encourage more people to follow the words engraved at the CIA building-- “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” quoting from John 8:32.  Our fellow citizens should do their homework more carefully!
The Pledge of Allegiance – Its More Than the Flag, But It Includes the Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally approved by Congress in 1942.   The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954 when the words "under God" were added.  The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that people could not be compelled to make the pledge, and later ruled that people did not have to stand when the pledge was being made.  I asked children in school if they say the pledge in school today.

The best commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance I ever heard was by Red Skelton.  The famous Red Skelton said in 1969:  “Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, ‘That is a prayer" -- and that be eliminated from our schools, too?’”  Pay attention!  There are forces arrayed to not only eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance but also the very flag of our Republic.  People are a buzz about the Confederate Flag, the real flag of our Republic is under assault!  If you are not aware of this, then you are not paying close enough attention.  If you think it could never happen, I suggest you probably once thought homosexuals would never be approved for marriage in this country too!
Incidentally, what words of pledge does the Christian have?  How about these words:  “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!”  Now, that is a pledge that we should make not only before we are baptized, but should every day of our lives.  Remember, Jesus said “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33, NKJV.)

The Anthem of a Nation – May We Sing It and Mean It!
The words to our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, are the first stanza of a poem, Defence of Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key.  It has been our national anthem since 1931.  Imagine what the secularists would do if we sang the fourth stanza of Key’s poem—“O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation.  Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Some would like to change the national anthem to “America the Beautiful” which still includes the words “God shed His grace on thee!”  Guess there are those who still respect God in our nation!  Some would prefer we go back to the song popular before our national anthem, “My Country, 'Tis of Thee”; but secularists may want to recall this verse—Our fathers' God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing.  Long may our land be bright, With freedom's holy light, Protect us by Thy might,  Great God our King.”

The Currency of Our Society – A Tool for His Glory
It is no surprise, although an irritant to some, that the currency of our societal lives would contain the national motto—“In God We Trust”.  What might surprise some is that not everyone agreed to have that slogan on the currency.  Well, that atheists would object is no surprise.  However, I was surprised that Teddy Roosevelt objected until I learned why.  Some may think it as a “Separation of Church & State” argument, but it was not.  He said “My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good, but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.  A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit.”  When people point this issue out, such as when people mistakenly thought the presidential dollar coins did not have the motto (being on the edge of the coin instead of the face of the coin), be sure to let them know that Roosevelt’s reverence was for God.  He did NOT object to the motto, just the motto being on money.  Perhaps he was familiar with the warning—“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10, NKJV.)  Be sure to notice it is the “love of money”; i.e., greed or materialism, that is the issue. 

I could list so many other examples on monuments, artwork and quote after quote about the importance of Christianity to the moral fabric of our country; e.g., one of our nation’s prominent leaders, Daniel Webster, said “[T]he Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society.”  The church of Christ is not the United States of America, and the United States of America is not the church of Christ.  The church is a nation itself, and Jesus Christ is the head of that Christian nation.  We have dual citizenship—USA and Heaven.  We, as the apostle Paul who was both a Roman citizen and citizen of Christ’s nation, should use our U.S.A. citizenship to advance our heavenly citizenship!

Has our nation seemed to be losing its way?  Certainly.  President Reagan well noted “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under!”  Is it inevitable that she will be lost?  No, it is certainly possible, maybe even probable, but not inevitable.  What is the remedy?  God!  Notice this passage that one of our esteemed presidents had opened to for his inauguration—“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV.)

While our nation celebrates its independence as a nation, we pray she will renew her dependence upon God and His word!  While we certainly do care about this great country, we want to impress on you the greatest thing you can do for this country is the greatest thing you can do for yourself—become a citizens of that heavenly nation; i.e., be a follower of Jesus the Christ, a Christian!
By becoming a Christian, you can say as the apostle Paul once wrote long ago, but still true—“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippian 3:20-21, NKJV.)  When the United States of America is dissolved, or our mortal bodies are dissolved; we can truly be thankful that we were a part of a nation that sought to save souls, our very souls, the church of Christ!


Doug Indeap said...

1. “Christian nation” and similar claims generally produce more heat than light since what is meant by such claims often is not clear. What for instance in this context is meant by “nation”? Government(s), society, something else? And what does it mean for a nation to “be” Christian or “have” a Christian moral code.

It is important in any such discussion to distinguish between “society” and “government.” To the extent one equates “nation” with “society,” whether it is appropriate to label our nation “Christian” or speak of it having a Christian moral code may be debated on various grounds, e.g., the demographic and religious makeup of the population. To the extent one equates “nation” with “government,” it is an entirely different matter that calls for analyzing the legal nature of our government.

While it is much debated in some circles whether the Constitution separates church and state, it is at least plain that the Constitution (1) establishes a government on the power of "We the people" and not a deity, (2) accords that government limited, enumerated powers, (3) says nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (4) says nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (5), indeed, says nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day (by which governments generally were grounded in some appeal to god(s)), the founders' avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. The founders later buttressed the Constitution's treatment of government and religion with the First Amendment, which affirmatively constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions.

Without explanation, you seem to make much of the "Sundays excepted" clause. Why? While the clause is one way the Constitution reflects the culture of the founding generation, it hardly declares or even suggests Christianity to be the government’s moral code. It does not, for instance, shut down the government on that day or encourage a day of inactivity or even preclude a President from working or vetoing bills on Sundays. It merely excepts Sundays from the count of ten days a President has to veto bills and, thus, assures a President the better part of two work weeks for that purpose. The clause serves, if anything, to protect the President from losing time in effect by the operation of state laws, prevalent at the time of the founding, restricting activities on Sundays, including travel.

While the First Amendment undoubtedly was intended to preclude the government from establishing a national religion, that was hardly the limit of its intended scope. The first Congress debated and rejected just such a narrow provision (“no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed”) and ultimately chose the more broadly phrased prohibition now found in the Amendment. During his presidency, Madison vetoed two bills, neither of which would form a national religion or compel observance of any religion, on the ground that they were contrary to the establishment clause. While some in Congress expressed surprise that the Constitution prohibited Congress from incorporating a church in the town of Alexandria in the District of Columbia or granting land to a church in the Mississippi Territory, Congress upheld both vetoes. Courts have since wisely interpreted it to restrict the government from taking steps that could establish religion de facto as well as de jure. Were the Amendment interpreted merely to preclude enactment of a statute establishing a state church, the intent of the Amendment could easily be circumvented by government doing all sorts of things to promote this or that religion–stopping just short of cutting a ribbon to open its new church.

Doug Indeap said...

2. While some, including apparently you, draw meaning from the variously phrased references to god(s) in the Declaration (references that could mean any number of things, some at odds with the Christian idea of God) and try to connect that meaning to the Constitution, the effort is largely baseless. Important as the Declaration is in our history, it did not operate to bring about independence (that required winning a war), nor did it found a government, nor did it even create any law, and it certainly did not say or do anything that somehow dictated the meaning of a Constitution adopted twelve years later. The colonists issued the Declaration not to do any of that, but rather to politically explain and justify the move to independence that was already well underway. Nothing in the Constitution depends on anything said in the Declaration. Nor does anything said in the Declaration purport to limit or define the government later formed by the free people of the former colonies. Nor could it even if it purported to do so. Once independent, the people of the former colonies were free to choose whether to form a collective government at all and, if so, whatever form of government they deemed appropriate. They were not somehow limited by anything said in the Declaration. Sure, they could take its words as inspiration and guidance if, and to the extent, they chose--or they could not. They could have formed a theocracy if they wished--or, as they ultimately chose, a government founded on the power of the people (not a deity) and separated from religion. While we can and should revere the Declaration for its place in our history, it simply does not have the force of law--and does not control the meaning of the Constitution.

The founders of course would not establish a government that is inherently at odds with their religious convictions, which were more or less Christian in nature. That said, there is no reason to suppose that Christianity or theism is an inherent aspect of our constitutional government. Indeed, any such claim is antithetical to the constitutional principle against government establishment of religion and inconsistent with the Christian principle that people cannot be coerced to believe but rather must come to God voluntarily. By founding a secular government and assuring it would remain separate from religion, at least in some measure, the founders basically established government neutrality in matters of religion, allowing individuals to freely choose and exercise their religions in a marketplace of ideas and thus allowing Christianity (and other religions) to flourish or founder as they will. It is to be expected that the values and views of the people, shaped in part by their religions, will be reflected in the laws adopted by their government. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires or calls for this; it is simply a natural outgrowth of the people's expression of political will in a republican government. To the extent that the people's values and views change over time, it is to be expected that those changes will come to be reflected in the laws adopted by their government. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent this; indeed, just the opposite--the Constitution establishes a government designed to be responsive to the political will of the people. It is conceivable, therefore, that if Christianity's influence in our society wanes relative to other influences, that may lead to changes in our laws. Nothing in the Constitution would prevent that--and moreover the establishment clause would preclude Christians from using the government to somehow "lock in" (aka establish) Christianity in an effort to stave off such an eventuality.

Dan Verble said...

Very thoughtful and well written. Wish more American's would take more time to learn about the founding of our country.

Dan Verble said...

Enjoyed the posting and my hope is that someday all Americans would stop for a minute and read for themselves what the founding fathers had to say instead of relying on the media and school teachers.