Saturday, September 22, 2018

"Foundation of American thought"

There is much unrest in America as well as the "Church in America" these days. People taking the Knee to protest their idea of injustice. Social concerns permitting much thought within the American Church. I understand people want to do whatever they can to draw attention to their particular cause. I also understand they just want to make things right as they understand it. However, I would suggest we may have lost our way from the original American manner of thinking.

The original intent of the American experience was not about fixing every wrong and making every injustice go away. There was an overarching idea that pervaded human thinking that produced an American society and experience of freedom that had never been known before in History. That experience did not fix every problem the world had. The human condition continued to be in it's fallen state. However, it did open the door to a way of thinking that gave us a remarkable manner of government and personal freedom linked to personal responsibility. This did not come from the minds of men, nor can the people of American claim right to its brilliance.

 "In the formative days of the Republic, the directing influence the Bible exercised upon the Fathers of the Nation is conspicuously evident. . . . This book continues to hold its unchallenged place as the most loved, the most quoted, and the most universally read and pondered of all the volumes which our libraries contain. . . . We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a Nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures. . . . For a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this Nation has achieved." ~ President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 

These words come not from the lips of the clergy or some religious institution. They come from the highest civil office in this land in recognition of the fountain source of our great principles of life and liberty. It is suggested that our people not only read but ponder the principles within the Holy Writ.

This thinking is not isolated to one President, one political party, or some movement as we have today. It was the fountain source of our society and understanding of freedom and justice. Another of our Presidents stated, "America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of  righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." ~ President Woodrow Wilson. (1856-1924) If we were to hear such words today coming from our government officials the cry would be foul. They would be accused of trying to form a theocracy and force everyone to be Christian. That is how far we have departed from our original understanding. This kind of speech and reasoning is not only conducive to a Republic but is the only way it can be maintained for any great length of time.

"The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally, I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally impossible for us to figure ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals, all the standards toward which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves. Almost every man who has by his life-work added to the sum of human achievement of which the race is proud, of which our people are proud, almost every such man has based his life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible." ~ President Teddy Roosevelt. (1858-1919)

President Roosevelt suggested that if we abandoned the principles we discover in the Holy Writ, we would lose our ability to judge our morality in both public and private life. Our present state of movements demonstrates that very standard has been lost. And what have we done? We have tried to remove these teachings from social and civil life, making it as President Roosevelt suggested, impossible to figure out how life should be.

"It was for the love of the truths of this great book that our Fathers abandoned their native shores for the wilderness. Animated by its lofty principles, they toiled and suffered till the desert blossomed as the rose. . . . The Bible is the Best of books and I wish it were in the hands of everyone. It is indispensable to the safety and permanence of our institutions; a free government cannot exist without religion, nor religion without the Bible. Especially should the Bible be placed in the hands of the young. It is the best school book in the world. . . . I would that all of our people were brought up under the influence of that Holy Book." ~ President Zachary Taylor. (1784-1850)

President Taylor suggested that a government such as that of the United States cannot exist without the influence of the Holy Writ. However, we have not headed President Taylors advise, we have gone directly in the opposite direction. Even so far as to attempt to keep this book out of the hands of our youth and bar it from our schools. America has not been perfect, it was never intended to be. Justice in America has been flawed as it was approached by a flawed human heart. American has not even been a Christian nation in the sense of a Theocracy. Yet the principles embedded in its foundation from the Holy Writ and its influence upon the heart of man produced what never before in history existed, an experience of freedom never before known to man.

The injustices that arose in this American experience were exposed by those principles ever before us until our consciences demanded their demise. They pierced our fallen hearts, made demands upon our character, forced us to rise to that greatness we see in the American experience. The Gospel preached changes men's lives, the principles of Holy Writ restrain social injustices. Yet we despise the Gospel preached and reject any reference to Holy Writ upon our laws of justice. So in place of this, we bow the knee and cry aloud of all our injustices within our land. Will we not see? Will we not hear? The words of our American foundation cries out to us! We are lost in ourselves, we have forgotten our past, we are as men born of yesterday. May the Grace of God shine once more upon our land!

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David

4 comments:

  1. It is true that there is unrest in America. Nothing new. Your ultimate point of this blog is that Americans need to read the Bible. Unrest is not because of the lack of reading the Bible or anything to do with religion.

    Unrest is the result of a lack of education and because of misinformation or lack of information. Some of the unrest is because some like to agitate and cause other people grief, it gives them power.

    Americans have lost their way from the original American manner of thinking? Initially, people from Europe and from England were seeking religious freedom and perhaps just the idea of a great adventure to an unknown land. I'm sure not everyone went to North America for religious reasons.

    However, let's jump forward to our Founding Fathers. Many of those who signed our Declaration of Independence were deist and not Christians. So for them, the Bible was not their guiding document. Thomas Jefferson made his own Bible and removed Jesus from his Bible, that defeats the purpose of Christianity.

    There is not one thing that America has accomplished that could not have been done without any knowledge of what the Bible says. Our Constitution only mentions religion once when it prohibits the establishment of religion in Amendment 1.

    The "human condition" is not in a "fallen state." A "fallen state" from what? That implies there is a God when there is no evidence of a God. The existence of God argument is for another time so let me continue about the "human condition."

    Humans are the product of the environment upon the planet we live on. The "human condition" is in an ongoing learning process. We are continuing to learn how to live with each other, to explore and learn about our planet, our solar system, our universe.

    As you provide, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures. For a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this Nation has achieved."

    Eternal truths and majestic principles? The Bible supports the act of owning slaves. The Bible boasts about stoning a man to death for the simple act of picking up sticks in the forest. The Bible promotes the idea of an Earth less than ten thousand years old. There are numerous other examples of a Bible that teaches flawed concepts and supports actions that are inhumane. The Bible is not a book of eternal truths and majestic principles.

    You quote President Woodrow Wilson as saying, "American was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." What? Where did that come from? There was not a "holy war" with England that drove our Founding Fathers to declare independence from England. America was born seeking freedom from a tyrant and unfair taxation.

    You said, "If we were to hear such words today coming from our government officials the cry would be foul." No, it wouldn't. Because there is a large number of Christians, who would support such an inaccurate account of American birth.

    Your assertion that we have departed from our original understanding of the Bible and that is the reasoning for our unrest is simply not accurate. There has always been unrest in America, i.e., the Civil War. The Civil War wasn't a "holy war," it was a war because of slavery and slavery was condoned in the Bible.

    You say that "This kind of speech (President Wilson's words) and reasoning is not only conducive to a republic but is the only way it can be maintained for any great length of time." Again, not true. America's democratic republic is maintained by laws and our Constitution, neither of which supports and promotes the Bible.

    Yes, read the entire Bible. Take off the rose-colored glasses that blind the truth of the Bible of those who relinquish their reasoning and logic to a blind faith of a non-existent Christian God.

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    Replies
    1. Gene, Thanks for your reply and the time you took to read my thoughts. I so appreciate your direct approach and pointed expressions. It makes it easier to read without working through watered down arguments.

      I will first start with my agreements, your accessement that everyone who came to America did not come for religious reasons is absolutely correct. I don't think you we can even find a quote from a Founding Father who thought so.

      Now to move on, I have also heard for years like you that many if not most of those original key players of which amounts to a hundred or more influential people were Deist. However, I find that hard to maintain from their writings. You know my work here mainly relies upon original writings and quotes rather than commentaries, biography's, and writings about the Founders. I prefer to go to the original source and try to arrive for myself their intent.


      When you take a good look at Deist beliefs and their understanding, they do not match with the words of the Founders themselves. It may popular to refer to them as Deist, but they did not talk like Deist, or believe like Deist in their writings. If you would like to discuss this in deeper detail we can consider examples if you like.

      As to Jefferson, he was a complicated individual. However, the Jefferson Bible as it is called did not remove Jesus from it. It has been said that he removed all the miracles of Christ from it, but if you go and read it you will find that is an untrue claim.

      He states himself the reason for the so called Jefferson Bible was a means for his own personal study. It consisted of the words of Jesus cut and pasted in a little book to assist him in his studies. It was never intended to be printed or made public.

      There was also a work of his I think called the "Morals of Jesus" that he produced to be used in the teaching of Christian morality to the American Indians at that time. I suppose this may be where the idea came from he produced a Bible without the miracles since his intent was only a moral intent.

      That being said, he did become un-orthodox in his beliefs in the later part of his life. That accounts for some of the conflicting statements he made about religion. His earlier quotes are mostly consistence with orthodox Christianity, but some of his later quotes takes on a more hostile tone toward religion. This is not because he abandoned the faith, but his statements coincide with an erroneous teaching that arose during his time. It seems many became influenced by this sect and it is know to have been prominent in his area.

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    2. It taught that the Gospel had been corrupted by men (not a new idea) and they (these teachers) new the pure Gospel. They focused on the words of Jesus and rejected much of Paul's teachings. It created a hostility toward the clergy of orthodox Christianity which would explain those harsh statements in the last 20 years or so of his life.

      However, that does not qualify him to be a Deist, only one of many Christians who over the centuries have been drawn off by erroneous teachers. We have many proclaiming erroneous teachings across the airways today, so it's nothing new.

      I must also disagree with your accessement that America could have achieved and become what it did without the Bible. I do so simply based upon the fact, in my reading of our Founding era, that is the basis upon which the Founders themselves laid claim. They are the one who point to it's influence, not me. I was not there, so it is incumbent upon me to rely upon their accessement and not yours.

      "I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design (in Providence) for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth." ~ John Adams

      As to your suggestions that the Bible supports, condones, embraces, the owning of slaves, comes from a misunderstanding of scripture. Those scriptures were used by Christians during a period of our American history to support an institution that was deemed critical to their culture.

      Do not think that Christians cannot fall prey to vices and be found promoting scriptures they can use to justify those vices. We did it then, we do it today, it has to do with that nature we were talking about.

      Slavery in Old Testament Israel was not the institution of American slavery. It consisted of indentured servanthood. A person was not stolen and sold under Levitical Law. The New Testament addressed the issue of slavery directly and condemns it.

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    3. The issue between Paul and his letter to Philemon and his slave is a letter inquiring not for servitude but for freedom. The slave Onesimus had run away before completing his commitment to Philemon, beyond that, he had stolen something upon his leaving. We are not told what, it could have been an idem, or simply the wages of servanthood he owed to Philemon. Nevertheless, this cannot be viewed as a support for the American Institution of Slaver.

      We make errors in judgments many times when we apply cultural practices of one era to those of another. I simply cannot accept your application of American Slavery to the Scriptural practice of servanthood. It is comparing Apples to Oranges as they say.

      However,even if you wanted to lay that argument aside and assume they were the same thing. There are many instances and practices in the Bible that simply are there because of the hardness of our hearts, (that fallen nature) not because they are supported. One such example is divorce. Jesus was asked why Moses gave a commandment for divorce. His reply was first, it was not a commandment, but it was given because of the hardness of our hearts. But that in the beginning it was not so.

      So, even though there are instructions in scripture to govern divorce, it does not imply that it supports divorce, but the contrary.

      Again Gene it has been a pleasure,

      David

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