Categories: Spiritual Growth Opportunities

Happy Birthday America

Fireworks, parades and picnics are wonderful ways to celebrate our country’s founding, but July 4th should also be a time for remembering the struggles, travails and triumphs that have brought us through 228 years. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for each individual and for each nation as well. I believe our country has and will continue to play a major part in the unfolding of God’s cosmic plan. America has been peculiarly blessed in so many ways: our foundational principles, religious liberties, Judeo-Christian values, abundant space and resources, industrious and diverse peoples, and a strong economic system. Like each individual, our collective nation sins and makes mistakes, but no other country has shed its blood and treasure so freely to help other peoples and spread freedom and human rights and religious tolerance around the world. And nobody else in the world gives more than the American people of their time, talents, and money to help others around the world in times of famine, natural disasters, government and religious persecution.

We have also been blessed with great leaders at critical times, principled leaders who humbly acknowledged God’s sovereignty and will. George Washington, the “indispensable man” to our country’s founding, was a lifelong Anglican, but, as President, often attended services at other denominations and even Jewish synagogues to help unify the fledgling nation and show religious tolerance. Among his many quotes:

  • It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
  • While just government protects all in their religious rites, true religion affords government its surest support.
  • Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
  • Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. 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. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency.
  • Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue?

John Adams was perhaps the single person most responsible for maintaining a sense of balance and purpose in the time leading up to the Revolution and later was a key figure in creating the Constitution and our fundamental precepts of governance. Adams asserted that:

  • The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.
  • It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.
  • Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.

Throughout his life, Abraham Lincoln read the Bible assiduously and was especially taken with the Old Testament and God’s righteous judgment. Lincoln argued repeatedly that slavery was against the teachings of Christianity, which principles included the freedom of all people, and he often considered the Civil War as the price to be paid in blood by both North and South for the sin of slavery. His brilliant speeches are peppered with biblical quotes and allusions, such as “a house divided against itself must fall”, “the better angels of our nature”, “let us judge not that we be not judged” and “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”. Consider these other utterances:

  • The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.
  • In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.
  • The good old maxims of the Bible are applicable, and truly applicable to human affairs, and in this as in other things, we may say here that he who is not for us is against us; he would gathereth not with us scattereth.
  • Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

Religious freedom, personal rights and toleration/respect for others have been key notes of the American experience since our founding. We are always blessed to come together and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. And in America–unlike many other countries–we can do so openly and unafraid. As we share Christ’s bountiful gifts this Sunday, let us also give thanks for God’s many blessings toward America and pray for principled leaders and populace confidently following His good path for the future.

Bruce Fairbairn, Elder