Practical Application of the Word of God
This is personal observation about something that has made me shake my head for years, but each 4th of July it gets trotted out all over the place and I’m reminded of how ignorant Americans are about history and how gullible (and lazy) we seem to be to take whatever mythology we hear or read and accept it as fact and history. This seems to be especially endemic among the “Christian” community – the very people who are supposed to prove all things, use God’s word as the standard against which to measure godliness, holiness, and Christianity, and have the spiritual discernment to recognize bull excrement when they see it.
Around the 4th of July, there are no end of statements in the “Christian” community like “the trodding on the intent of the Founding Fathers.” Every time I hear one of these statements I am appalled that we, as Americans, know so little about the men – and their beliefs and intent – who wrote the founding documents of the United States. Somehow the “Christian” mythology that has somehow been passed on as U.S. history is that they were spiritually inclined and their intent was godly. However, neither is the case.
I recently read John Meacham’s American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. It reminded me of a lot of things I’ve pieced together about the spiritual makeup of the Founding Fathers. They were all products of the 18th Century, which has been defined as the Age of Reason or the Age of Enlightenment. Many of them had more in common with the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their full-page ad featured in papers this 4th of July entitled “In Reason We Trust,” than with Hobby Lobby’s “In God We Trust” full-page ad.
The reality is that the Founding Fathers had no standard concept of God – instead God was remade in the image of each of their imaginations. It was certainly not the God we find clearly defined in the pages of His Word. My point? Just because someone uses the name of God does not mean that he or she believes in God as He is. So to use this as a presumptive statement about the spirituality of the Founding Fathers and basing everything else on that premise is a faulty starting point.
A brief review of their writings and their lives shows that most of the Founding Fathers certainly did not exhibit the godliness and Christianity we see defined in the Word of God. They basically did whatever was right in their own eyes. Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson stand out as womanizers, liars, and practitioners of situational ethics in every aspect of their lives.
As the generation of the Age of Reason (Age of Enlightenment), the Founding Fathers were pretty much the same kind of secular humanists we hear bemoaned today from pulpits all over the country. Just a brief review of their own words shows disdain for and skepticism about Christian theology. Many were Deists, believing that God is the Creator of everything, but basically leaves His creation alone to get by the best way it can on its own.
Thomas Jefferson is an example of a Deist that is hard to forget. Meacham, in his book, reminded me that Jefferson literally tore pages of his Bible that he did not agree with and eventually wrote his own version.
My intent is not to tear down the Founding Fathers. My intent is to show the “Christian” mythology that has been and is being attributed to them and perpetuated by “Christians” today is simply not true.
As Christians, we are required to prove and test everything against God’s Word. We are supposed to seek truth and that means questioning everything and proving whether it is true or not. That is what is so disappointing about these beliefs – which are untrue – regarding both the Founding Fathers and the intent of the founding documents of the United States. The truth is that their intent was to exclude religion, specifically, and God, in general, from those documents.
The citizens of this country are pretty much in step with those founding documents. What has changed is that God’s Word is no longer read as much nor is it as relevant as it was for the first 150 years or so that this country has existed. So, instead of saying something totally inaccurate like “the trodding on the intent of the Founding Fathers,” it would be totally accurate to state that America has mostly abandoned using the Bible as its moral guide for right and wrong.
But it seems that even among “Christiandom,” the quest for truth leaves a lot to be desired.