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Faith of our Fathers... Part 1
Contrary to some of the scurrilous written histories of recent years, the founders of The United States of America were men and women of faith who loved and worshiped God and did their best to learn and to follow his word. Be assured, these were exceptional men and women. They were biblical scholars and their love of, and faith in the word of God is found throughout our nation’s founding documents.
God is mentioned in each of the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. God was with the Founders from the beginning. A part of the second paragraphs states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." How did they know this? How did they suppose that all men are equal and that they possess rights granted by God? In his book Wide As The Waters about the translation of the English bible, Benson Bobrick quotes G.K. Chesterton, "America was not thinking so much of her wrongs as a colony, but already of her rights as a republic.... The real case for the colonists is that they felt they could be something, which they also felt, and justly, that England would not help them to be. England would probably have allowed the colonists all sorts of concessions and constitutional privileges; but England could not allow the colonists equality; I do not mean equality with her, but even with each other. (William Pit, the first earl of) Chatham might have compromised with Washington, because Washington was a gentleman; but Chatham could hardly have conceived a country not governed by gentlemen. (Edmund) Burke (the British statesman and political thinker) was apparently ready to grant everything to America; but he would not have been ready to grant what America eventually gained. If he had seen American democracy, he would have been as much appalled by it as he was by French democracy, and would always have been by any democracy. In a word, the Whigs were liberal and even generous aristocrats, but they were aristocrats; that is why their concessions were as vain as their conquests... (The English) did not really drive away the American colonists, nor were they driven. The (Americans) were led by a light that went before."
Bobrick goes on to say, "That light was a biblical light, which the English bible had given them; the idea of the equality of man. But no one faith could claim it as its own. It was the idea of the sacred and equal importance of every man, as made in the image of God."
The personal correspondence of the founders, both men and women, is full of comments and questions regarding biblical passages. They wanted to know the bible and to understand as best they could its doctrines. The understanding they gained informed the founding of this nation. In The letters of Fabius, John Dickinson wrote, "Kings or parliament could not give the rights essential to happiness– we claim them from a higher source– from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the Earth. They are not annexed to us by parchments or seal. They are created in us by the decrees of Providence, which establish the laws of our nature. They are born with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power."
To his youngest son Thomas, John Adams wrote, "‘The Science of the Rights of Man is a new science. The Americans have invented it.’ ... The Americans did not invent this foundation of Society. They found it in their religion." And, what they found was hiding in plain sight for us all to see even now, that wisdom that God has gifted to all mankind in his word. From the wisdom found in the Holy Bible, and with the help of Almighty God, the Founders built the greatest nation on earth. Our inheritance from them is the greatest liberty ever enjoyed by mankind. Only with His word and devotion to its teachings will we preserve it.