“God has spared us in liberty
and freedom to this hour, but . . .”
As America enters a new century she has a decision to make. She can return to the Biblical principles her Founders supported, or move even further away from her Christian heritage. On that decision rests the future of our nation.
The Bible declares,
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. (Ps. 33:12)
His continued blessing can be expected only when we as a people acknowledge His sovereignty and when our actions and policies honor Him.
In Proverbs 14:34 we read,
Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
The record of history indicates that our country, in a relatively short span of time, has come to an exalted position in our world, and that must be because large deposits of righteousness have been put into God’s bank.
Now, the question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we still making deposits, or have we been drawing on those deposits so heavily that our balance is getting low?
Of course, America’s past has not been flawless; far from it. But from its earliest days, this country has had a deep interest in the things of God and Jesus Christ. It has placed importance on promoting spiritual values and spreading the truth of the gospel. Let us consider our nation from the perspective of its heritage, its heartbreak and its hope.
Preceding the outbreak of World War I, when the world was filled with crises on every hand, all pointing down the road to the inevitable conflict, a British government leader stood one evening at the window looking out over the city of London. He turned to a companion and said, “The lights are going out all over the world, and they may never be lit again in our time.” Fortunately, he was wrong; they have been lit several times since then. And yet his quotation might be appropriately repeated today as we look out over a distraught, troubled and tumultuous world.
Now, there are those who seem set upon discounting our religious heritage. They seem determined to make it appear of no significance whatsoever, even going so far as to say there never was any such thing as a religious heritage in spite of the record. And yet what a marvelous legacy is ours!
Looking back over history, what seemed to have been merely coincidences turned out to be Divine providences. It was no accident that America was discovered just before terrible religious wars broke out all over Europe. God was preparing a haven to which people could flee in their search for the privilege of worshipping Him in liberty and freedom.
It was no accident that the printing press, with movable type, was invented just prior to the rediscovery of the Bible in the spiritual awakening of the early 1500s. The Bible became accessible to multitudes who could read for themselves the truth being presented to them about God’s salvation in Jesus Christ.
We have a rich heritage, and many of our country’s early documents attest to it.
In 1620, the first words of the Mayflower Compact read,
In the name of God, amen.
You cannot start out much better than that. Some of the other phraseology goes like this:
We, whose names are written, having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith. . . .
We do solemnly, and in the presence of God, covenant with each other. . . .
In our New England Compact Agreement we read,
We have all come into these parts of America with one and the same purpose, namely to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1780, the Massachusetts Bill of Rights was written and said,
It is the right, as well as the duty, of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the Great Creator, and the Preserver of the Universe.
John Quincy Adams, the secretary of state in 1821, said,
From the day of the Declaration, they, the Americans, were bound by the laws of God which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all acknowledge as the rules of their conduct.
In 1844 he presented a resolution to Congress to amend the Constitution:
. . . to include a clear and explicit acknowledgment of the Sovereign of this universe as the God of this nation, an entire and avowed submission to the Lord Jesus Christ as Ruler of this nation.
And here is my favorite—Benjamin Franklin, at age 81, wrote:
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writing, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” I firmly believe this. Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of the tower of Babel.
Not only in our beginnings, but in our continuance, God has periodically sent spiritual awakenings to keep this land close to Divine things. Sometimes America went pretty far down the road away from God. In 1775, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, Bishop Madison,
The Church is too far gone ever to be redeemed.
Nevertheless, from New Hampshire to Georgia, religious considerations entered into the founding of every colony. Whether it was the pilgrims of Plymouth, the Huguenots in New England, William Penn in Pennsylvania, or the padres on the California coast, God, Jesus Christ and the Bible were tied into the establishment of this land.
Harvard and Yale were founded to train ministers of the gospel. Six colonial colleges established between 1740 and 1769—the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Columbia, Rutgers, Brown and Dartmouth—all had some relationship (direct or indirect) to the Great Awakening under Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. Of the 40 schools started between 1780 and 1830, 29 were started by Christian churches. Before 1830, all the state institutions west of the Alleghenys were begun under the direction of the Presbyterian Church. The first five presidents of Princeton were evangelical revivalists.
How can anyone successfully discredit such a heritage? I do not say that even a majority were Christians, that any more than a relatively small percent were evangelical, regenerated, born-again people. I am saying that their influence far outweighed their numbers, and that even those who did not have a personal commitment to Christ accepted Christian ethics, morals and values. There was a general Christian consensus by which people knew how they ought to conduct themselves, even though many did not know Jesus Christ in a personal way.
(Read Part 2)
Dr. Bruce W. Dunn (1919-1993) was a pastor for more than 50 years. After serving churches in Wisconsin, Iowa and Chicago, he held the position of senior pastor at the Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Ill., from 1951 to 1991. From there, he reached out to the world through his weekly radio and television programs called, “Grace Worship Hour.” The broadcasts were among the first in the nation to feature sermons recorded live before a congregation as the basis for a media ministry. Dr. Dunn was known for his clear and bold preaching of God’s Word. A herald of the prophetic Scriptures, he continually warned his flock regarding the growing dangers of these last days. Dr. Dunn authored numerous booklets and was a frequent conference speaker. What a privilege it is to list him as a member of the inaugural class of Revived Classics authors for Dispensational Publishing House.
This article originally appeared as chapter 3 in
How Long, O Lord? How Long?: What To Do While Waiting For the Lord’s Return
(Columbus, GA: Brentwood Christian Press, 2002), pp. 32-44.
Copyright © 2002 Dr. David B. Dunn. All rights reserved.
The article is reprinted here by permission of Dr. David B. Dunn.
For more information regarding Dr. Bruce W. Dunn, go to www.TimelessTruthMedia.org.
Other material copyright © 2017 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.