Did you know that our American ancestors and Founders went through the same struggles we are facing today? They endured a stock market and financial meltdown, immigration crises, waves of corrupt politicians, and power grabs at the highest levels pushing for worldwide control of the economy and business. Facing an impossible struggle for liberty, they persevered and birthed the finest constitutional republic in history. Only if we learn and understand what they knew and what they did, can we recover our freedom and prosperity and pass the torch of liberty to our posterity.
This is how it happened.
For nearly a century our earliest ancestors set up their civil society molded around the principles of limited, accountable, representative government.
Their experiment was the culmination and expression of the blood-bought freedom documents including the Celtic interlinear Bible translations in the first centuries A.D., Patrick’s Liber Ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses), English Common Law, Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact.
But we should have no illusions that our colonial ancestors created the exceptional American society with ease. Just as they were becoming successful, the colonists were devastated by the London financial and stock market collapse in 1720, caused by the Parliament’s “regulating” the markets, which destroyed fortunes all over the English Empire. Credit and the real estate bubble collapsed in the colonies.
England began to break centuries of English law, crushing colonial freedom. A series of unaccountable, corrupt, crown appointed governors were sent to overshadow the self-governing colonial legislatures. They lined their pockets with America’s burgeoning prosperity. They perpetuated a system based on tax, spend, and steal. Professor Marvin Olasky says that these governors with “aspirations to dictatorship” filled political power positions in the colonies with “pimps, valets de chambre, electioneering scoundrels, decayed courtiers, and abandoned, worn-out dependents.” For decades these corrupt politicians attempted to control the lives, jobs, money, and religious freedoms of the colonists. A new surge of immigration brought thousands of outcasts from Europe, some of questionable character. As the colonial cities grew, immorality and destructive addictions multiplied. Early Christian zeal lessoned and many youth strayed from the faith.
But suddenly, God rose up a tavern keeper’s son from the English countryside to come to America and ignite the Great Awakening. George Whitefield, the most famous minister in England, became a missionary to the colonies. He and his friends, like Jonathan Edwards from Connecticut, were scholars. For over 30 years they declared an intelligent Christianity that not only converted souls but focused minds on intellectual pursuits that impacted all of society. They united the colonists to limit the power of government to its biblical jurisdiction as had been reasoned in documents of liberty for centuries back to Magna Carta.
Olasky explains, “The Great Awakening had the potential to lead to separation from England precisely because it did not, in general, propose separation from the world: The Calvinist background of most revivalists helped them to avoid the common revival spawned sense that the world is so evil that any political and social reaction within it also is evil. [The withdrawal of Christians from public life is a central reason for America’s decline today.] Revival leaders such as Gilbert Tennett were careful to insist that
Christians are ‘born for Society’ [born to engage in all of culture] and must work for ‘the Good of the Public’ [be involved in government], which we were born to promote. Soon, observers were noting that consistent Calvinists emphasized God’s sovereignty over all, including kings; they strove for holiness in government as well as in their own lives.”
The Great Awakening united the American colonies, not only spiritually, but politically. The believers were challenged to apply the Scriptures to all of life, including civil government and its limited jurisdiction. By the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the colonists were the most literate people in the world. They had received their intellectual training at the feet of hundreds of patriot pastors like Whitefield and were students of the great Calvinist writers who declared the sovereignty of God over everyone, including the king. Yale Professor Harry Stout documents that the “sermon stood alone” as the weekly “medium of public communication.” Stout says that “the average weekly churchgoer in New England …listened to something like 7,000 sermons in a lifetime, totaling somewhere around 15,000 hours of concentrated listening.” According to a ten-year long study done by the University of Houston of 15,000 writings and speeches by the Founders, 94% of the Founding Fathers’ quotes were quoted, either directly or indirectly, from the Bible. America was irrefutably founded as a Christian nation.
The colonists were going to need all of their wisdom and faith as they faced an English government threatening the end ofcolonial freedom. The British brought thousands of troops to New England. They stormed Boston, arbitrarily convicted colonists without trial by jury, taxed and stole the people’s goods and boarded their troops in private homes.
Only after decades of longsuffering, diplomacy and the pleas of their colonial assemblies, did the colonies finally decide they had no choice but to defend themse
lves at Lexington and Concord when the British came for their guns and their leaders. The Declaration of Independence was a reasoned justification of the colonist’s defensive war against tyranny. Every major concept of the Declaration was rooted in the blood bought principles of 1,700 years of historic freedom documents.
In his superb book, Defending the Declaration, Gary Amos defines the clear God-centered nature of the document. He says, “The argument of the Declaration is really quite simple. First, the laws of nature and of nature’s God regulate the lives and relations of all men and nations. Second, these laws make clear that all men are created equal and are endowed with ‘unalienable rights’. Third, the purpose of government is to secure those rights. Fourth, men institute government through consent, or compact. And they consent only to the exercise of just powers. Fifth, tyranny, and despotism on the part of the government break the compact, so that the people are free to alter or abolish the form of government and institute a new one.”
We do not need to abolish our form of government. Our Founders left us a founding charter for the ages. We simply need a crash course on “What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?” To answer this question we must study how they thought, what they did, and the founding documents they left to us as their legacy. Let’s dust these documents off, breathe life back into them and re-ignite the torch of liberty!
- Marshall Foster