Monday, July 16, 2018

America is a Christian Nation

Yesterday at Church Acadiana we watched a special message by Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, called "America is a Christian Nation."  You can view it HERE.  It's a sermon you definitely want to see.  Here is an outline of Dr. Jeffress's message.

INTRODUCTION:

  • Myth:  America was founded by a group of men from a wide diversity of religious beliefs with the goal of being a completely secular nation devoid of any Christian influence.  
  • Truth:  Dr. Jeffress said, "America was founded predominantly by Christians who wanted to build this Christian nation on the foundation of God’s will.  And furthermore these men believed that the future success of our country depended upon the fidelity of our Christian beliefs.  And that’s why we can say, though it is politically incorrect to do so, we say without hesitation or apology, that America was founded as a Christian nation.  And our future success depends upon our country being faithful to those eternal truths of God’s word."

1. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE CHRISTIAN FOUNDING OF OUR COUNTRY

Consider the spiritual beliefs of the framers of the Constitution:  Were they neutral?

  • 52 of the 55 men who attended the Constitutional Convention were orthodox Christians. 
  • Two of the founders, Elias Boudenot, and John Jay (who went on to become the first Justice of the Supreme Court), went on to become the leaders of the American Bible Society.  They wanted to distribute the Bible to as many people as possible.  They believed that the message of the Bible could transform lives and set the nation on a proper moral course.  
  • Two of the founders were Deists.  Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin; but even these deists did not ignore the spiritual foundation of our country.  
    • Both of these men worked together to propose a national seal for the new United States of America.  Their proposal was a drawing of Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, following God as the pillar of cloud.  
    • Ben Franklin believed that the Continental Congress should seek God’s blessing in an opening prayer every time they met.  Franklin said, “I have lived, sir, a long time.  And the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth:  that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid.  We have been assured sure, in the Sacred writings, that except the Lord build, they labor in vain that built it.”
Consider the State Constitutions in the early years of our country:
  • Every delegate to the Constitutional Convention had to be elected by their state.  To hold office in these states, you had to subscribe, in most cases, to a religious test for office.  These were qualifications to be a member of the House or Senate in each individual state, and to attend the Constitutional Convention.  Today, Article VI of the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, but the argument is that the founders were Christian.  For example, a delegate from Delaware would have to testify to the following to qualify for the Constitutional Convention:  Article 22: “Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, shall make or subscribe to the following declaration:  I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son; and in the Holy Ghost; one God blessed forevermore.  And do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.”
  • In 1996, Two professors from University of Houston, Dr. Donald Lutz and Dr. Charles Heineman did a study to discover who the founders quoted the most in their writings.  They started with 15,000 documents.  Spent 10 years.  They found that the three men our founding fathers quoted the most were British Philosopher John Locke, French Philosopher Barren Montesquieu, and English Judge Sir William Blackstone.  However our founders cited the Bible four times more often that Montesquieu or Blackstone; and 12 times more than John Locke.  More than a third of all their quotes came from the Bible; and another sixty percent came from those authors who had based their writings on the Bible.  The founding fathers referenced the Bible more than all Enlightenment authors combined.  Ken Woodward, writing in Newsweek Magazine, in an article called “How The Bible Made America,” said, “Now historians are discovering that the Bible, even perhaps more than the constitution, is our founding document.”
Consider some of the things our founders said:
  • George Washington, First Speech after election as President, April 30, 1789:  "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations; and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United states, a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States." 
  • John Adams, second President:  “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.  I will avow that as I then believed, and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and the attributes of God and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.”
  • John Jay, first Chief Justice Supreme Court Justice and coauthor of the Federalist Papers:  “Providence has given our people the choice of their rulers; and it is the duty as well as the privilege of interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
  • John Quincy Adams, son John Adams, and sixth president:  “Why is it that next to the birthday of the savior of the world your most joyous and most venerated festival returns this day, that is July 4? Is it not that in the chain of human events the birthday of the nation is indisolluably linked with the birthday of the Savior.  Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon the earth; that it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
  • John Quincy Adams:  “The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this, that it connected in one indisolluable bond, the principles of civil government and the precepts of Christianity.  If it has never been considered in that light, it is because its compass has not been perceived.”
What about the separation of church and state?
  • There is no such statement in the Constitution.
  • 69% of Americans believe that phrase is found in the Constitution.
  • Where did it come from?  
  • In a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut.  In 1801, nine years after the ratification of the First Amendment.  At this time, most states still had state sponsored churches – certain Christian denominations.  And your tax dollars went to support the state church/denomination.  In Connecticut it was the Congregational Church.  A group of Baptists were upset.  They didn’t want their tax dollars going to the Congregationalists.  They had to petition every year to have their money redirected to the Baptist church; they got tired of that hassle and wrote a letter to the newly elected President, Thomas Jefferson.  Jan 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the fee exercise thereof” thus building a wall of separation of church and state.”  The context is obvious.  It is the elevation of one Christian denomination over another.  Never in their dreams did Jefferson or the founders ever believe that the First Amendment would be used to separate our country from its Christian heritage.  
  • As President, one year later, Jefferson authorized a bill to use tax revenues to support a priest going to minister to the Caskakea Indians.  
  • Just two days after writing the letter, on January 3, 1802, he went to a worship service in the capital building, authorized by him.  It was Jefferson who believed in the separation of church and state, and who authorized the use of the capital building for the founding of the first Christian church in Washington D.C. That church met there for decades and decades.  He saw no conflict with the use of the federal government to promote the Christian faith.  
  • The first amendment was never meant to restrict religious freedom; but to protect it.  It was never meant to keep religion out of government, but to keep government out of religion.  It was never meant to keep prayer out of graduation ceremonies, or to keep the Ten Commandments off of the walls of public school classrooms and court houses, or to prevent nativity displays in the town square.  
Consider the early court rulings in our country's history:
  • Runkel vs. Winemiller, 1799; seven years after the ratification of the First Amendment; the Supreme Court of Maryland said, “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established the religion.  Yes the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
  • Church of the Holy Trinity vs. The United States, 1892.  A church was being sued by the government b/c it hired a minister from England and violated federal immigration law.  The Supreme Court rejected that suit against the church.  “No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.  This is historically true, from the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…  These and many other matters which might be noticed at a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”  
    • The SC in that case reached back to a previous case from 1811, the People vs. Ruggles.  A New York Supreme Court case.  The NY SC said, “Nor are we bound by any expressions in the Constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all or to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Muhammad, or of the Grand Llama (Buddhism), and for this plain reason that the case assumes that we are a Christian people and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines of worship of those impostors.”
  • Vidal vs. Girard’s Executors, 1844:  A wealthy man died in Philadelphia, leaving his proceeds to the starting of a school for orphans.  There was one stipulation; no Christian minister could teach in the school if he was funding it.  The people of Pennsylvania were upset, because they felt that if there were no Christian ministers, then Christianity wouldn’t be taught.  The SC upheld this man’s will.  They said, the fact that you can’t have a minister teaching doesn’t mean that Christianity can’t be taught.  They said, “Why may not the Bible and especially the NT without note or comment be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college, its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?”  They went on to say, “It is unnecessary for us however to consider what the legal effect of such a device in Penn for the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism, or deism, or any other form of infidelity.  Such as a case is not to be presumed in a Christian country.”  
    • The Justice who delivered the majority report was Joseph Story.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1811 by James Madison.  Later in his career he wrote an entire commentary on the American Constitution, used for decades in law schools around the country.  In his notes on the First Amendment said, “The purpose of the founders in the first amendment was to put all Christian denominations on the same level; to keep one Christianity denomination from being elevated above the other; but our founders never meant for Christianity to ever be subservient to other religions in the world.”
Consider the early education system:
  • For the first 150 years of our nation’s history (until the mid-1800s) a school book was used in grade schools called the New England Primer.  It included prayers, creeds and bible verses that children had to memorize.  The following is the beginning of an acrostic that they had to memorize to pass the third grade, an acrostic for every letter of the alphabet:
    • A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. 
    •  Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith. 
    •  Come unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest. 
    •  Do not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord. 
    •  Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 

2. OUR DETOUR FROM THAT CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION (The past 70 years.)
  • 1947.  Everson vs. The Board of Education.  The first time the US SC ever used the phrase “the separation of church and state.”  The State of New Jersey was using tax dollars to support religious schools.  Back then the only religious schools were Catholic schools.  Justice Hugo Black delivered the majority opinion.  He said, “This breaches the separation of church and state which is high and impregnable.”  He was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  The only people they hated more than blacks were Catholics.  Really what he was doing was exhibiting his anti-catholic bias.  Two recent justices, Scalia and Clarence Thomas said this was a bigoted ruling.  Clarence Thomas said, “This doctrine, the separation of church and state, born in bigotry, should be buried.”  
  • 1962.  Engel v. Vitale.  The court ruled that students could no longer voluntarily offer this 22 word prayer:  “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”  Why?  It breached the constitutional wall of separation of church and state.  “A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”  
    • Ironically, every session of the United States Congress begins with prayer.   The prayer has to be submitted in writing because it is printed in the Congressional record.  But in 1970 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a group of students to gather together before school on school grounds and read the prayer printed in the congressional record!
  • 1963.  Abington School District vs. Schemp.  The SC ruled that students could not voluntarily read ten verses of Scripture at the beginning of each day.  They brought in experts to explain why this was a bad thing.  One expert said, “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation they could be psychologically harmful to the children.”  
  • 1967. DeSapin v. DeKalb County Community School District.  The SC allowed a lower court ruling saying that a kindergarten teacher could no longer have her students recite the following poem:  “We thank you for the flowers so sweet; we thank you for the food we eat; we thank you for the birds that sing; we thank you for everything.”  Even though it doesn’t mention God, it could cause the students to think about God and that is unconstitutional.  
  • 1980. Stone vs. Graham.  Copies of the Ten Commandments had been donated to schools in Kentucky and were posted in hallways.  In 1980 the SC said that was unconstitutional.  “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the commandments.  However desirable this may be as a matter of private devotion, it is not permissible as a state objective under the establishment clause of the first amendment.”  
  • Says Dr. Jeffress, “What has changed?  In these 150 years has the Constitution changed and nobody told us?  Is that what happened?  Of course not!  What has happened is that we have allowed the secularists, the humanists, the atheists, the infidels to pervert our constitution into something our founding fathers never intended, and it is time for Americans to stand up and say, 'Enough!  We are not going to allow this in our Christian country anymore!  It is time to put an end to this!'”  

3.  THE CONSEQUENCES OF RENOUNCING OUR CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION AS A COUNTRY.
  • What has happened since we have abandoned Christainity?  Are we better off?
  • William Bennett, secretary of education under Ronald Reagan issued “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators,” in the early 90s.  It studied the trends for thirty years, between 1960 and 1990, the years that correspond with the judiciary’s all-out assault in our country:  During that time there was 
    • a 419% increase in illegitimate births; 
    • a quadrupling in divorce rates; 
    • more than 200% increase in the teen suicide rate; 
    • a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores; 
    • a 560% increase in violent crime.  
  • Today the trend continues:
    • Over 10 million teens in the US drink alcohol regularly.
    • 20% of those engage in binge drinking.
    • Nearly 2800 children die each year as a result of gun violence, and another 14,300 are injured.
    • Nearly one million children are murdered in the womb every year.
    • One in four women in the US will have aborted at least one of their children by age 45.  
    • In 2011, over half a million teenagers became pregnant, with about 30% ending in abortion.  
  • Is this a coincidence?  
    • Hosea 4:6 answers the question, What happens to a nation that forsakes God?
      • "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons."
    • Dr. Jeffress said, “Ladies and gentlemen, God is no respecter of people or nations.  Any nation that reverences God will be blessed by God.  And any nation, including the United States, that rejects God, will be rejected God.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  
  • Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the 50s and 60s said, “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.  Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or to the charter of New England, or to the charter of Massachusetts Bay, or to the fundamental orders of Connecticut, the same object is present, a Christian land governed by Christian principles.  I believe the entire bill of rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it.  Freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under the law, and the reservation of powers to the people.  I like to believe that we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion.  I like also to believe that as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.

CONCLUSION

Dr. Jeffress concluded with this statement:  “The nation that reverences God will be blessed by God.  The nation that rejects God, will be rejected by God.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

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