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Mike is the general manager of Q90 FM and co-host of Stand Up For The Truth. His new book, "The Suicide of American Christianity" published in May of 2012.

Learning From Our History

This image was selected as a picture of the we...The study of History provides us a point of reference to gauge things in the present.  When we study and know the history of our nation’s founding and the men who founded it, we can know what their intentions were and judge if we are adhering to or straying from their original intent.

But when the study of History is altered for the sake of an agenda, it is easy to wander aimlessly as a nation or a church moves forward.  If one takes the time to study our founding documents as a nation, and the men who started this great Republic, you can easily see that they believed that a strong faith in God and adherence to his Law was critical to our nation.  Without our strong roots in Judeo-Christian teachings and law, our founders knew we would stray and end up in chaos.  Sadly this is happening.  Our nation is walking away from God and his perfect teachings, resulting in abortions by the millions and with marriage as God defines it under assault.

Is the same thing happening in Christianity in America?  The Bible, the absolute truth of God, is becoming less our cornerstone of truth, and more a subjective set of writings open to our personal interpretation.  This is leading to confusion within Christianity as the absolutes of God are replaced with selective “truths” of man, who only knows how to love and serve himself.

Progressive politicians and progressive Christians are working diligently to rewrite the constitution and the Bible to better fit their human understanding and change the way we look at our nation—and our God.  And they are winning the battle as more and more each day Christians in Americans embrace our own desires and greed.

At a point, perhaps very soon, we will reach a tipping point where progressive political and religious teachings become entrenched in the minds and hearts of those who have not studied our history as a nation and who have stopped reading the Bible.  If and when that day happens, everything will change.  Our nation will decay rapidly and Christianity in America will become a shadow of what it once was.

But with God there is always hope.  God is more than capable of restoring this great nation and rescuing American Christianity.  But God often chooses to work through his children—and we as his children have to show him we truly desire a great awakening and renewal.  If we do not, expect things to slowly deteriorate and grow much worse.

If there was ever a time for Christians to fall to our knees, repent of our wicked ways, and throw ourselves on the mercy of God, now is the time.  Has our pride and arrogance reached a point where this is asking too much?  Time will tell.

 

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One Response to “Learning From Our History”

  1. Mike,

    Right on about this one, in essence, but I want to offer a more comprehensive look at just what values the Founding Fathers professed. It is sad that so few people have an understanding of the principles which the founders of the nation truly held to be important. Benjamin Franklin was known to have remarked that the new republic could survive only if the people were virtuous. The question of what virtues exactly they expounded is what I hope to address here.

    The specific religious views of the Founding Fathers are quite diverse, but some general trends can be discovered. The most common themes were: most were Christian (most commonly Episcopalian), many were also initiated Freemasons, a few were Deists or Materialists, and several of them held views which strongly diverged from the mainstream religions of their time. I want to look at the views of three of the most important founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

    what we have here is a Franklin, a devout Puritan moralist of Unitarian theology and Freemason initiation, also a scientist and a champion of reason. Washington was a privately-inclined Christian who often refused Communion at church, but attended services at a number of denominations, while mostly devoting himself to personal devotion and the rites and governance of the society of Freemasonry. Jefferson was a radical materialist who believed in Christian morals, but not in any metaphysical reality or theology. All championed religious tolerance and pluralism. All were associated with Enlightenment Christianity. Washtington, along with many of the founding fathers, was principally an Episcopalian, a sect of Protestantism noted for its emphasis on ecumemnism and the Social Gospel movement.

    I will illustrate this below, and in a subsequent post plan to discuss more specifically the religious doctrines that were prominent in the Founding Fathers religions of Episcopalianism and Freemasonry.

    Benjamin Franklin was noted for his “passion for virtue,” and dedication to Puritan values. (He was also a Freemason, which I will talk more about later.) These Puritan values included his devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity and community spirit. Franklin championed Puritan values, but considered himself a Christian Deist. Deist theology is generally rejected by Traditional Christianity, and in some countries it was illegal, but yet it contributed very significantly to the uniquely American theology of Franklin, Washington and Jefferson. Franklin also supported Unitarianism, and was present at the founding of the first Unitarian Church in England, which was the inaugural session of the Essex Street Chapel. This was politically risky, and pushed religious tolerance to new boundaries, as a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity was illegal under British law until the 1813 Act. He prayed to "Powerful Goodness" and referred to God as "the Infinite." John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: "The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker." Franklin was noted for his strong belief in "religion in general" and religious pluralism.

    Franklin's views were fitting with the mainstream Enlightenment Christianity of the Protestants of his time. The famous critic, satirist and advocate of civil liberties Voltaire even blessed his child, saying "God and Liberty." Enlightenment Christianity was noted for its emphasis on rational theology. It held there to be no essential conflict between science and religion, supported religious pluralism, civil liberties, personal theology and humanism. Voltaire said, "What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason." Franklin and Voltaire were both notorious advocates of religious tolerance, though Voltaire did have a noted suspiscion for radical Islam and other fanatical religions. Voltaire also said, "It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?" This is typical of Enlightenment Deism and in it, and in Franklin's views, we can see the historical foundations of Creation Spirituality and Universalism.

    Franklin was an avid and prolific scientist, believed in the scientific method, and produced many profound scientific inventions and discoveries, including some of the first harnessing of electricity. We was a friend and colleague of Antoine Mesmer, one of the earliest inventors of energy medicine in the modern Western world, and Mesmer used his invention, the Glass Armonica, in his energy medicine. While Franklin expressed uncertainty about the truth of "animal magnetism," he did not dispute that Mesmer was able to affect cures. The discovery of biomagnetism is now a medical fact, employed not only in energy medicine, but in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), but Mesmer's methods per se have not been reinvestigated.

    George Washington's views are considered somewhat mysterious. He was undoubtably Christian, waking up early in the morning every day to prayer for hours. His friends remarked that this was his unerring habit. He was also an initiated Freemason, a branch of early Christian Universalism that incorporates scientific principles, Deist theology, and Greco-Egyptian philosophy. The principles of Freemasonry, the roots of their Christian faith, their belief in Universalism, commitment to unifying spirituality and science, as well as social, material and intellectual progress are a fascinating topic for another time. Washington was also noted for often choosing not to partake in Holy Communion, though he and those who knew him declared that he professed a pious faith.

    Thomas Jefferson was known for his committment to Christian values, but his Materialist "theology." Jefferson: ""To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence." However, Jefferson, in a letter to his close friend William Short, clarified his views: "It is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it. Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, of so much absurdity, so much untruth and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being." So Jefferson was a Christian, but he clearly was not a "Bible-believing" literalist. In private letters Jefferson refers to himself as "Christian" (1803),[2] "a sect by myself" (1819),[3] an "Epicurean" (1819),[4] a "Materialist" (1820),[5] and a "Unitarian by myself" (1825).[6] (See Wikipedia: Jefferson and Religion.)

    Jefferson was hostile to conventional religion and was firmly anti-clerical, believing the original Christian traditions to have been corrupted by his time. Jefferson rejected the idea of immaterial beings and considered the idea of an immaterial Creator a heresy introduced into Christianity. In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote that to "talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. . . . At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But a heresy it certainly is. Jesus taught nothing of it. He told us indeed that 'God is a spirit,' but he has not defined what a spirit is, nor said that it is not matter. And the ancient fathers generally, if not universally, held it to be matter: light and thin indeed, an etherial gas; but still matter." He was firmly against the belief in the Trinity, refusing to be baptized in any Trinitarian Church, and practiced Unitarianism. So Jefferson's views here strongly diverge from both Orthodox Christian Theology and from most literally-minded Protestant interpretation of the Bible that is touted as "conservative" today.

    Jefferson remarked that, "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth." (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/education/psd/colony/tjnotes.htm)

    Jefferson also described the "roguery of others of His disciples", and called them a "band of dupes and impostors," describing Paul as the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus", and wrote of "palpable interpolations and falsifications" having occurred in the Bible. See: http://books.google.com/books?id=z-pv0i1qHIYC&amp… and http://books.google.com/books?id=1mIFAAAAQAAJ&amp

    So what we have is a very diverse range of religious beliefs among these three most famous Founding Fathers. Clearly, they held the importance of tolerance, individual liberty, and reason. Many of their views are radically different from the pseudo-conservative reinterpretation of "Bible-based" Christianity that has occurred among reactionary theologians in the last 50 years. The Founding Fathers were unquestionably progressive. They rejected the conservative theology of English society, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Christianity.

    I personally do not agree with all of their views, and in many cases I favor the more conservative doctrines of Orthodox Christianity. However, I believe it is important to take an authentic look at their views in order to highlight their diversity and unconventionality. Let's keep this in mind when we start thinking about the mix of religion and politics and its role in the cultural and historical development of this great nation.

    March 9, 2012 at 8:45 AM Reply

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