This week we will finish our look at the impact of the Bible and religion on our nation during the founding years. Because these more Biblically literate generations of Americans so understood accountability to God, they were cognizant that they individually would answer to God Himself for their personal stewardship of what He had given them, which included their life, their family, their material possessions, and also their government. Even one-half century after America’s founding, political races still had 99 percent voting participation [ for example…the 1824 race of Daniel Webster for the US House, 4990 out of 5,000 citizens cast ballots in an uncontested election, Austin Ogg, Daniel Webster, Jacobs and Company, 1914, pg.135]. Founding Father Samuel Adams reminded citizens, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is…executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God” [Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, vol.4, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908, pg.253]. Citizens understood that it was their duty to serve others above themselves. If a citizen was asked to serve others by running for office, he was not at liberty to say no [ Benjamin Rush, Essays: Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, Thomas and Samuel Bradford, 1798, pg. 11]. Rush explained that the Bible taught “none liveth to himself'” (Romans 14:7). It is Biblical truth that those who are best suited for public office are frequently the ones who don’t want to be there (Judges 9:8-15); it is the self promoting who make the worst leaders.
Unlike the current generation, previous ones did not suffer from our modern compartmentalization, by which faith is placed into a nice, neat box and then set aside on a shelf so that it does not “contaminate” any other aspects of personal life, living, thinking, or behavior. In their day a thorough knowledge of the Bible and its teaching was so much the norm that to be well acquainted with it was not particularly noteworthy. To not know the Bible was considered shameful. Today, the societal default position is certainly reversed. Current world rankings now show that America’s status is plummeting in numerous categories…Falling economic freedom [ 2014 Index of Economic Freedom: Country Rankings, http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking ] ; Rising government corruption [ “Study: Government Corruption Rampant Worldwide”, Dec 8, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/12/08/cnbc-government-corruption/3872767/]; Declining educational performance [ National Center for Education Statics, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/results/summary/aspx ] ; and Deterioration of national ethics and morality [Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/04/15/global-morality/country/united-states/ , ] ; etc. America’s fall as a nation is nothing more than a reflection of the aggregate fall of individuals within the nation. By no measurement is the overall spiritual and moral trajectory of the nation now moving in a positive direction.
Because the Bible had such a major impact on this nation’s founding, next week I will do a brief outline of the evolution of the Bible. I don’t know about you, but I have often wondered why we have so many versions of the Bible? I hope it will clear up much confusion. That will complete the series on “God, Jesus, the Church, Religion & Society”. As I started this writing, I treated the nation…ship of state…as a vessel that had gotten in to shoal waters and found itself in grave danger. That was not the intent of the original “course” but somehow our ‘officers of the deck'(voters) and ‘helmsmen’ (congress) fell asleep and ended up on a dangerous course. I’ve tried to identify the dangers and the original intents designed to avoid these perils. We must now take a serious look at what we as ‘crew members’ (concerned Christian citizens) must do to get us out of this serious situation. Of course the starting point is always sincere prayer acknowledging our lack of attention and then making ourselves available to respond to God’s guidance. Throughout the Bible, godly men have been the ‘weapons’ God has used to defeat evil. Hopefully the next series of “Politics and the Church” will help us start to vision some of our options and be ready to say, ” Here I am Lord; it is I Lord; send me”.
– Bob Munsey