Politics and the Church – God, Jesus, the Church, Religion & Society [Part 12]

Today’s society is moving away from Biblical lifestyles and beliefs faster than ever, and there are no signs of an imminent reversal of this pattern.  Originally America was intentionally founded to secure spiritual principles and values.  Americans are generally in agreement despite revisionist historians who disagree.  A major reason for the founding of America was to give people of all faiths the freedom to believe and practice whatever religion they chose to follow.  Nine out of ten adults believe this to be true (American Religious Freedom, “Survey Fact Sheet: American’s Views on Religious Freedom”, Dec 2, 2011, www.religiousfreedom.org/research/detail/survey-fact-sheet-americans-views-on-religious-freedom).

What has changed more dramatically than the shifts in our understanding of the genesis of this nation is the nature of the rel! igious faith that people have chosen to adopt and practice.  Most of us have no sense of the massive gap that exists between early American beliefs and contemporary American beliefs.  Taking a look at the gap will help us to understand we have strayed and what it might take to restore sanity, righteous purpose, and moral order to a nation gone wild.

*  In a nation that largely professes itself to be Christian, traditional Biblical beliefs are now in wide dispute or disfavor.

*  Most Christians today perform their daily tasks without much thought about or intentional inclusion of God or Biblical principles.

*  A profile of current moral beliefs bears little resemblance to what the Bible teaches. Americans do not worry about the moral acceptability of their choices and actions when pursuing life goals.

*  Only one-third of Christians believe there is any absolute moral truth.

*  Biblical notions such as sin and judgment now offend millions of Christians, and the idea of personal judgment by an omnipotent God is widely rejected.  This may be summarized by Jesus’ statement to the church at Ephesus…”consider how far you have fallen!” (Rev.2:5).  Early Americans believed that God’s Word applied to every aspect of daily life.  If something important was in the news, then it was also covered  from the pulpit with a Biblical perspective.  It is easy to find sermons on numerous topics never covered today.

*  Earthquakes, fires, droughts, and hurricanes (A Discourse on Rev. XV.3d. 4th, Nov 1755{earthquakes}; Great Fire in Boston, Mar 1760; First Church in Portsmouth, NH {fire}; Great and Dreadful Fire in Newburyport, MA 1811; Burning of Theater in Richmond, VA given in Philadelphia 1812; Severe Drought in Portsmouth given in Boston 1798; Hurricane given in Newburyport, MA 1808)

*  Execution of murderers (Execution of Henry Blackburn given in Boston 1796; Intent of Capital Punishment given in New Haven 1790; Execution of Joseph Mountain given in New Haven 1790; Love Our Neighbor Explained and Urged given in Concord, MA 1799; Execution of Samuel Smith given in Boston, MA , 1800)

*  Solar eclipses, the sighting of a comet, or discovery of a new planet (Solar Eclipse given in Springfield,  MA, 1806;  Description of a Late Comet or Blazing Star, Cambridge, 1665; The New Planet given in Boston, MA, 1847)

*  National defense and foreign affairs (Obedience to the Laws of God given in Philadelphia, 1798; ! Humiliation on Account of Public Calamities, given in Boston, 1774; Union with France Greater Evil Than Union with Britain given in Haverhill, MA, 1810; Duty of Americans at the Present Crisis, given at New Haven, CT, 1798; Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of Citizens, given in Charlestown, MA, 1799; Present Situation of the Affairs of America and Great Britain, given in Philadelphia, 1782)

*  Issues associated with aging (Sermon to Aged People, given Springfield, MA 1805; Old Age Improved, given First Parrish of West Springfield, MA 1811)

*  Immigration (The Modern Emigrant, or Lover of Liberty: A Discourse Delivered in the City of New York, 1832)

*  Duties of civil rulers and citizens toward government (Duty of Civil Rulers…, given Hartford, CT 1765; Integrity and Piety the Best Principles of Government…,given New London, CT  1770; The Importance of Religion in the Civil Ruler…, given New Haven, CT  1778; The People Responsible for the Character of Their Rulers…,given New York, NY 1895; Our Danger and Duty…, given Salem, MA &n! bsp;1808; The True Meaning of Establishing Public Happiness…,given New Haven, CT  1795; The Duty of Republican Citizens…,given  Boston, MA  1825; The Happiness of a Free Government…, given Springfield, MA  1794; The Happy Nation…, Salem, MA  1825)

*  Education  (Oration on the Advantages to be Derived From the Introduction of the Bible…as Essential Parts of All Education…, given New Haven,  CT 1830; The Organic Development of Christianity in the Direction of Education…, given Boston, MA 1860; A Discourse Given on the Good Education of Children…, given at a funeral Boston, MA  1828; Christianity and Learning, New Haven,  CT  1848; The Influence of the Gospel Upon the Intellectual Powers…, given Philadelphia,  PA   1835)

*  Medicine and medical issues  (The Relation of the Medical Profession to the Ministry…,  given Boston,  MA   1854)

*  Economics and taxation  (A Discourse on the Good News From a Far Country…, given Boston,  MA 1766;  The Stamp Act Repealed…,given Charleston,  SC 1766) John Adams affirmed, “It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times…how much soever it may move the gall…the critics”  (The Works of John Adams, vol. 4, pg.56).  Keep in mind, at one time the largest weekly Sunday church gathering held in Washington, DC, was held in the national capital building.  The references are just a ‘smattering’  of the many sermons.

Next week further evidence of our changing society.

– Bob Munsey

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