My hope is that my article this month will serve as a call to prayer — prayer for our nation, prayer for our leaders, and even prayer for our world.
As we gather to celebrate the birth of our nation, we would do well to remember what we have lost. I, unlike some, do not believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. I do, however, believe that America was founded on Christian principles and by men that had political ideals that were deeply informed by their Christian worldview. How else can you explain Benjamin Franklin’s call to prayer on June 28, 1787 (as recorded by James Madison) which helped reinvigorate a stalled Constitutional Convention?
And have we forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 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 writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
The men at the Convention couldn’t help but be influenced by a Christian worldview. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists–Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin–this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith. They may not have had faith leading to salvation, but almost all thought biblically, which resulted in them forming a particular type of government.
- The Founders understood that fear of God, moral leadership, and a righteous citizenry were necessary for their great experiment to succeed.
- With a sober understanding of the fallenness of man, they devised a system of limited authority and checks and balances.
- They did not establish Christianity–or any other faith–as the religion of our nation, but they structured a political climate that was encouraging to Christianity and accommodating to religion, rather than hostile to it.
Remembering all this, this is what I mourn: the loss of a Biblical literacy. This is why I weep: the loss of religious liberty. This is why I fear: there is no common underpinning or understanding of the human condition that brings us together so that we believe in “one God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
(I am deeply indebted to Greg Koukl and his article on the Founding Fathers.)