Returning to the True Founding For Hope in 2024

Good Morning,

They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable”

So says Asaph in Psalm 82:5.

In this portion of God’s word we hear the psalmist make plain something central to the problem of all nations which stake a claim in Christ’s world and attempt to disabuse themselves of His rule as King. They are blind, dumb, and ignorant and guaranteed to fail. The history of the earth is filled with the ruins of empires aplenty. We live in a time when our own country seems daily to be tottering on the precipice of its own destruction (or has already begun its slide into the abyss) and when we start to try and diagnose what the problem is it all comes to back to a simple question that Pilate asked two-thousand years ago, whose truth and what truth? In our prayer and worship help today we are going to work through a bit of thinking about why the true ailment of America is not a political one, but a theological and spiritual disease of mind and body. Let’s get back into the word to open it up.

Simply put the foundation of any civil order must be the protection of the physical rights of men to be allowed to do that which is good. (Rom. 13:3). We use the word physical here because the State has no right over the spiritual. That is not its role in the Creator’s creation. To be certain that does not mean the State has nothing to say to the religious for false teaching is in its essence rebellion against the King of Kings, and ruler of all. It’s no different from what we would otherwise call treason. We say all this to explain that when we consider afresh the reason why the United States is in the shape it is in we need first to ask upon what pillars were our nation founded? For sure our revolution was not in type or kind the same as the French Revolution which followed. Our Founding Fathers did not seek to outwardly and openly denounce the Divine in favor of the god of Reason. But we must be honest in recognizing that they didn’t exactly promote the Christian God as the head of the nation either.

We hear much talk of “self-evident” norms cited by Thomas Jefferson in his Declaration of Independence. However, no one would confuse the man from Monticello for a biblical Christian. It is worth making a pilgrimage to the Smithsonian to see his cut-and-paste Jefferson Bible in person, and you can even read it in the public domain. Jefferson feared a public recognition of Christ and His word as the fundamental basis of law in that any association with the divine failed Jefferson’s test of a supernatural world that he flat denied existed. We call men like Jefferson Deist today, but really what he was, really and truly, was an atheist. The god of Human reason can only bear the weight of man’s ability to not consciously borrow from the true wisdom found in the Lord, which is to say that it cannot do too much for too long.

Even in the Constitution itself there is no mention of the Divine, either explicitly or implicitly. The only reference to religion is in the Federal prohibition to recognize one and the law against a religious test for office. In the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” and in Article Six,”. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” These testify in themselves that Patrick Henry wasn’t wrong when he said that he smelled a rat in Philadelphia. A house built on sand will not stand in the face of the winds and waves of the insanity of a culture that has cut itself loose from even the common sense reason that Jefferson fought so hard to enshrine in the nation’s conscience. Or, as Asaph makes note of in our opening verse the foundations in the earliest days of the Republic were unstable and liable to collapse, and they have.

I know that some of this is troublesome to the eyes of those who have bought deeply into the myths made popular on conservative radio and TV. It sounds downright unpatriotic. However, we need to be honest about the reasons why we are in the situation we are in today. The only explanation for why we have lasted this long comes from the fact that we for quite a time were able to subsist on the fumes of the world established (no pun intended) by our Puritan forefathers. I know it is popular to hate on Miles Standish and all the latchet clod pilgrims of yesteryear. Whenever you hear the term Puritan it is usually used in a pejorative attempt to call you Captain No Fun. Well, as someone who gets called that all the time it is probably not unfair of a nomenclature for me, but not for the lads of New England.

To prove that point if you go back and read the Mayflower Compact you find this gem in the midst of it as the purpose of their journey:

Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith. . .Do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid.”

That sounds a lot different from what we read in the founding documents of the 1787 Assembly. The goal of our first founding fathers on the shores of the new world in the seventeenth century was to ground this new nation not in the growing wisdom of European men like Locke and Rousseau, but to rest and trust in the good word provided from above. The fact that this early testimony was left off for a new way makes our revolution look more and more like the French than we may want to admit. The only reason ours went the way it did is because our culture valued the things of the one, true, and living God in a way the French had abandoned when they forsook the counsel John Calvin himself had given in his letter to Francis I.

To be sure this is an unpopular reading of the heady days after the Treaty of Paris in 1783. However, the nature of the United States today gives more evidence to its truth than maybe sometimes we would like to admit. So what is the solution? It can’t be just tossing the Constitution away and “fixing it” with an Amendment. We all know that would be foolhardy in a country that can’t even define the word woman. What Christians can do though is make use of the weapons God has provided in the Bible, that of prayer and preaching and faithful witness. The Church can show the unbelieving nation a better way, much in the same goodness that Moses called for Israel in Deuteronomy 4. If we want to see change in the United States then the Church of Jesus Christ must lead and live by example first, before we can hope to make the new world great again.

No extra reading today.

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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