People have traditionally drawn their sense of morality, values, and core beliefs from the religious teaching they received through the churches they attended. Core relationships were formed from the pool of people they met at their church. Their children received basic religious instruction from the church, reinforcing the values and morals taught in the home…or should have been taught in the home. The pastor was often a respected public leader who would speak to the issues of the day from the pulpit, based upon the authority of God’s Word. Churches took seriously their responsibilities. During the past quarter century, as American society shifted from being an other-centered to a self-centered culture, the Church has often acquiesced to the expectations of the culture rather than challenging those expectations and providing leadership during a transitional era. While the nation’s churches are still among the most active organizations in helping people with material needs, the general mentality about the role of the Church in society has undergone a wholesale redefinition.
Contrary to what today’s atheists and ‘God haters’ would want us to believe, this nation was built on the foundation of Judeo/Christian principles and if the foundation ever begins to crack or weaken, the entire structure will be in danger of collapsing. Our foundation must be regularly inspected and maintained, but this cannot be done if we don’t know what our foundation is. We cannot rely on the government to provide that information where we are inundated when so many opinions that our representatives can’t even agree on secular issues. Fortunately, those who built this constitutional republic clearly identified its pillars and supports.
As George Washington stated: Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. [ George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States…Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore, George and Henry Keatinge, 1796, pgs. 22-23)]. Similar affirmations were made by other of our nation’s founders. John Adams stated: It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue. [ John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston, Little, Brown, 1854), Vol. IX. p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776]. James Otis, leader of the Sons of Liberty and mentor of John Hancock and Samuel Adams had to say: Has it [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone? I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God…The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God. [James Otis, The Rights of the British Colonies asserted and Proved (London: J. Williams and J. Almon, 1766), pgs. 11, 98]. Further, Benjamin Rush, Declaration signer, went on to say: The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. [ Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), p. 8, “Of the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic”.]
I could go on with more examples but it has been quite obvious that the Founders agreed that religion and morality was the foundation of our country and its unique political system and that the citizens must receive education in this valuable arena. As was pointed out in one of my previous writings, during the Foundation Period the term “religion” did not include Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, etc. It was limited strictly to Christianity and its Judeo/Christian principles. None of the Founders mentioned economics, jobs, or any other material elements, which were certainly of concern during that era, but they all understood that economic prosperity was the result of spiritual and moral strength, and not vice versa. George Washington so believed that America’s prosperity was dependent upon religion and morality that he asserted: In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness…The mere politician equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. [Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States…Preparatory to His Declination, pp. 22-23]. Washington believed that if anyone, especially the “mere politician”, worked to undermine religion and morality in the nation, he/she could not be called a patriot. How do you think George Washington would view many of today’s politicians?
There are two vital ways to protect America’s foundations: (1) Ensure that religion and morality are the true, life-giving foundations of our own personal lives, and (2) elect civil leaders who will “respect and cherish” these twin supports of “religion and morality” as the “great pillars of human happiness”. It is essential that we do both, for “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). In today’s secular environment it is up to the church and its leaders to provide much of the education that strengthens these “pillars”. The Bible is replete with politics and therefore the pulpit is a proper place for both spiritual and political instruction. Unfortunately ‘political correctness’ and the desire not to ‘offend anyone’…I don’t know about anyone else, but the lack of political instruction from the pulpit offends me…has led to a nation that is so confused, that both ‘church goers’ and atheists, don’t know if they are ‘coming or going’ when it comes to politics. They have been fed so many flavors of ‘coolade’ that one day they are for something and the next day they are against that same thing. The ‘foundations’ are crumbling.
Next week we will take a look at how our society views today’s churches and try to figure out why so many churches today are struggling to be the foundations that they once were. The whole effort behind my many hours of writing is not to be ‘anti-church’ but to try to identify what the ‘church universal’ can do to recover its leadership position in a nation that had its revolution, independence, and freedoms ‘birthed’ in the pulpit.