2/21/2020

IS THE BIBLE AMERICA'S TRUE FOUNDING DOCUMENT?

A ten-year study to determine where America’s Founders got their ideas for the nation’s founding documents, found that they quoted, not Enlightenment philosophers, but the Bible, far more than any other source. Yes, they quoted Blackstone, Locke, Cicero, Montesquieu and other intellectuals, but as Cleon Skousen stated, “The linchpin that united their thinking on every important principle was the Bible.”
This truth concerning the Bible’s profound influence on America’s founding was acknowledged in a December 1982 article in Newsweek entitled “How the Bible Made America.” It contained this insightful statement:
For centuries [the Bible] has exerted an unrivaled influence on American culture, politics and social life. Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of the powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model of society, a beacon to the world (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 7).
A Biblical Worldview
America’s founding generation held a Biblical worldview. They viewed the world and interpreted all of life through the prism of Biblical truth.
From the beginning, the Bible had been incorporated into all the learning of the schools in Colonial America. For example, The New England Primer coupled Bible verses and church doctrine with the learning of the ABCs. The letter “A,” for example, was associated with “Adam” and the statement, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” Children in early America learned to read with their primer in one hand and their Bible in the other. 
America's founding generation was, therefore, Biblically literate. This was still the case when the French sociologist, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited America in 1831. He saw the influence of the Bible everywhere and said, "The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me.” In describing the pioneers who opened the western frontier, he said that they, “Penetrated the wilds of the New World with the Bible, an axe, and some newspapers.”
America’s founders saw no dichotomy between the Bible and the Enlightenment's emphasis on reason. Because they held a Biblical worldview, they interpreted Enlightenment teachings in the light of Scripture. This is why the well-known Catholic scholar, William Novak, says,
Everywhere that reason led, Americans found the Bible. If they read Francis Bacon, they found the Bible. If they read Isaac Newton or John Milton, they found the Bible. In Shakespeare, they found the Bible. In the world of the founders, the Bible was an unavoidable and useful rod of measurement, a stimulus to intellectual innovation.
The Bible and George Washington
George Washington read his Bible on his knees. This was confirmed by his nephew, Robert Lewis, who served as his secretary and lived with him duing his presidency.

Lewis said that he had accidentally witnessed Washington’s private devotions in his library both morning and evening and that on those occasions he had seen him in a kneeling posture with a Bible open before him. Lewis believed such to have been Washington's daily practice.
Washington insisted on taking the presidential oath of office with his hand on a Bible and, thereby, declared his respect for the Bible as the ultimate guide for his personal life and his administration. By taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible:
1)      He also declared his belief that the presidential oath of office is a sacred oath. One swears an oath by that which is greater than one’s self, and for Washington, the Bible was the most revered and honored object on which to swear before God to uphold and defend the Constitution.
2)      By linking the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution with the Bible, he declared his conviction that the Bible is the foundation on which the Constitution rests. 
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), America’s 33rd president, understood this and he warned the nation,
The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the right for anybody except the state.
The Bible and the Continental Congress
Understanding the prominent role of the Bible in America’s founding generation, it comes as no surprise to learn that the First Continental Congress opened with an extended time of Bible reading and prayer. The delegates, including George Washington, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton and Patrick Henry, invited Rev. Jacob Dusche to lead them in prayer; but before praying, the white-haired Dusche read the entire 35th Psalm.
The Bible reading had a powerful impact on all present. John Adams, who became America’s second president, wrote to his wife, Abigail, back in Boston,
I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seems as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read that day. I saw tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave pacific Quakers of Philadelphia. I must beg you to read that Psalm (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 108).
The Bible and James Madison
James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, had a thorough Christian upbringing and training. At the College of New Jersey, he was mentored by the school’s president, John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian Reformer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who once declared, "Cursed is all education that is contrary to the cross of Christ." 
After completing his studies, Madison remained at the college where he worked on a project translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. His estimation of the Bible was demonstrated when as president, in 1812, he signed a federal bill that provided economic aid for a Bible society in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible.
Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe were right when they said, “Madison’s worldview was one shaped by the Bible more than any other source” (Hyatt, 5 Pillars of the American Republic, 14). The same could be said of every Founding Father.
The Bible and Benjamin Franklin
Franklin was reared in a devout Puritan home where he was daily exposed to Bible teachings and prayer. Although he toyed with Deism for a time in life, he eventually returned to an orthodox view of the Scriptures as the ultimate guide for life and faith. This became clear when he defended the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member, who was dismissed in 1735 for allegedly emphasizing good works over Christ’s atonement.
In his defense of the pastor, Samuel Hemphill, Franklin demonstrated an impressive depth of faith, understanding and respect for the Bible. He wrote,
Let us then consider what the Scripture Doctrine of this Affair is, and in a Word it is this: Christ by his Death and Sufferings has purchased for us those easy terms and conditions of our acceptance with God, proposed in the Gospel, to wit, Faith and Repentance: By his Death and Sufferings, he has assured us of God’s being ready and willing to accept of our sincere, though imperfect obedience to his revealed will; By his Death and Sufferings he has atoned for all sins forsaken and amended, but surely not for such as are willfully and obstinately persisted in . . . and that the ultimate End and Design of Christ’s Death, of our Redemption by his Blood, was to lead us to the Practice of all Holiness, Piety and Virtue, and by these Means to deliver us from future Pain and Punishment, and lead us to the Happiness of Heaven, may, (besides what has been already suggested) be proved from innumerable Passages of the holy Scriptures (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 139-40).
Congress Recommends the First English Bible Printed in America
The Founders’ respect for the Bible was highlighted when the first English Bible printed in America in 1782 included a recommendation from Congress. The producer of the Bible, Robert Aitken, had written a letter to Congress in which he asked for that government body’s sanction on his work. In the letter, Aitken called this Bible, “a neat Edition of the Scriptures for the use in schools.”
Congress enthusiastically responded to his request and offered the following recommendation to be included in this first English Bible printed in America.
Resolved: That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion as well as an instance of the progress of the arts in this country, and being satisfied from the above report, of his care and accuracy in the execution of the work they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.
Regarding the Bible’s influence on America’s Founders, Andrew Jackson, America’s 7th president, declared, “That book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests.” This was echoed by America's 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, who said, “No other book of any kind ever written in English has ever so affected the whole life of a people.” America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, declared,
In regards to this great Book, I have but to say that it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it.
The Shredding of Our True Founding Document
In recent days, we have heard accusations from both sides of the political aisle about their political opponents “shredding the Constitution.” Perhaps we should be more concerned about the shredding of our true founding document—the Bible!
President Barak Obama once derisively referred to those who “cling” to their guns and their Bibles. Indeed, the Democrat party has made it clear that they do not look to the Bible as their guiding north star for truth and morality. It also appears that the Democrat nominee for president could be a socialist who admires Marx more than Jesus and prefers the Communist Manifesto over the Bible. It is a serious time!
The Church must lead the way in a new Back to the Bible movement. Let us remember the words of Martin Luther who led a Back to the Bible movement in the 16th century and changed world history. He wrote, “Every institution that does not unceasingly pursue the study of God’s word becomes corrupt.”
A “Back to the Bible” Movement
The famous historian, Philip Schaff, declared, “Every true progress in church history is conditioned by a new and deeper study of the Scriptures.” Indeed, virtually all the great revivals of Christian history have begun with a new and in-depth study of God’s word.
The Great Awakening that transformed Colonial America was very much a “Back to the Bible” movement. George Whitefield, who was the firebrand of the Awakening and "America's Spiritual Founding Father," spoke of his preparation, saying,
My mind now being more open and enlarged, I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books and praying over, if possible, every line and word” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 76).
Jonathan Edwards, the pastor and theologian of the Awakening, is said to have spent as much as eleven hours a day studying God’s word. He also said that at the height of the revival there was no book so esteemed as the Bible and that he had known of people being overcome in their feelings at the mere sight of a Bible. He considered this renewed love and respect for the Bible as a sign that the Awakening was truly from God.
Perhaps our esteem for the Bible should parallel that of John Wesley who led the great Methodist revival that transformed 18th century England. The revival began with him, his brother Charles, Whitefield and others at Oxford University studying the Greek New Testament each evening from 6–9 p.m. Wesley declared of the Bible,
Oh, give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God. Let me be: “A man of one book.”
It is time to recover and restore America’s true founding document. It was the Bible that made America great in the first place, and only by returning to her guiding principles and values will America ever be truly great again! 

This article was derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Dr. Hyatt is also teaching a free course entitled "Think Biblically" and it is streamed live each Tuesday evening and can be accessed at his website.


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