The Deliberate Christianity of Our Founders
John Dickinson, Revolutionary War general and signer of the Constitution, made the claim:
“[Governments] could not give the rights essential to happiness… We claim them from a higher source: from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth.”
The Constitution concludes in the subscription clause with the words:
“In the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven…”
Often left out of the newer copies of the United States Constitution, this statement is a significant acknowledgement of the birth of Christ 1,787 years earlier. “Our Lord,” therefore, clearly refers to Jesus Christ.
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In order to marginalize Christianity and the impact that it had on founding and governmental structure of America, my detractors will often assert, “Christianity was just a part of the times but it had no real critical relevance to the founding fathers and their struggle for independence. Why do you attach such significance to it? This was just the status quo during a time of political upheaval and revolutions.”
Well, no. Let’s contrast the “firm reliance on Divine Providence” the founders of America had with that of their contemporaries: the French revolutionaries.
Unlike the French, the Framers of our Constitution had no reservations about referring to Jesus Christ as “our Lord” and using His birth as the central event of history.
In fact, the French revolutionaries’ philosophies included a harsh enmity to Christianity and Christ’s Church. For example:
- The French calendar replaced the birth of Christ with the birth of the French Republic.
- God and Bible were proclaimed dead.
- Christian Holy days were replaced with secular revolution days.
- The Sabbath was eliminated and the workweek was extended to 10 days.
- A nude woman was placed on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral.
- Christianity and Christians experienced a persecution in France antithetical to the cherished support and partnership the American Revolution afforded to the Christian Church.
Contrasting the Biblical wisdom of our Founders with that of the French revolutionaries, one can quickly see the stability Christian thinking offers.
In the same period of time, the United States has had one form of government. France has had over a dozen:
- First Republic, 1789-1792
- Reign of Terror, 1793-1794
- The Directory, 1795-1799
- Consulate, 1799-1804
- First Empire, 1804-1814
- New Monarchy, 1814-1815
- Napoleon’s 100 Days, 1815
- Monarchy, 1815-1848
- Second Republic, 1848-1852
- Second Empire, 1852-1870
- Third Republic, 1871-1940
- Vichy France, 1940-1944
- Fourth Republic, 1947-1959
- Fifth Republic, 1959-
While comparing the American Revolution with France’s numerous revolutions, 13th President Millard Fillmore observed:
“Our own free institutions were not the offspring of our Revolution. They existed before.
They were planted in the free charters of self-government under which the English colonies grew up, and our Revolution only freed us from the dominion of a foreign power whose government was at variance with those institutions.”
Fillmore concluded that:
“Liberty unregulated by law degenerates into anarchy, which soon becomes the most horrid of all despotisms …
“We owe these blessings, under Heaven, to the happy Constitution and Government which were bequeathed to us by our fathers, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit in all their integrity to our children.”
Decades after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in 1854 the United States Congress, House Judiciary Committee, reaffirmed those biblical principles that established American Independence with the exhortation:
“Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle… In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity… That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”
Our founders were deliberate in their foundation and construction of a free government system under the guidance of and supplication to Almighty God. To assume or say otherwise is just disingenuous.
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