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The State of The Union

By Editorial Staff
Published May 1, 2008

By Dr. Marshall Foster

The power elite in America today give little heed to the spiritual temperature of our nation when addressing the state of our nation. To listen to their claims of what they have done through government, it would appear that our future rests on great secular leaders who can organize and inspire the masses. But for those willing to hear, the theological state of our nation is of far more lasting importance than the secular analysis of those in the spotlight.

When the founders of mighty nations are discussed, many different names come to mind. Alexander the Great, Caesar, William Wallace, or Charlemagne, perhaps. Or maybe Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, or George Washington. Conquerors and generals, politicians and potentates would seem to take center stage when nations rise to greatness. But, in truth, the most powerful historical figures in the flowering of the world’s freest and richest nations have been Christian theologians and missionaries.

Matthew Henry, the premier Bible commentator of America’s colonial era stated it clearly: “The mighty heroes of the world … conquered nations for themselves and made them miserable; the apostles conquered them for Christ and made them happy.” To the student of Christian history the above observation is not a surprise. But to a generation largely unaware of any significant, culturally relevant theologians this truth is difficult to believe.

The fact is that the nation transforming power of theology has been pervasive throughout history. For example, who brought hope and order out of a collapsing Roman Empire? The answer is the great theologian, Augustine of Hippo. And who united Ireland in the fifth century, making it a Christian nation? It was Saint Patrick who brought truth and Christian civilization to this heathen horde. Who gave the semi-pagan Angles and Saxons their unifying identity as Englishmen? The quiet scholar, the Venerable Bede, forged their united Christian identity as a people. Who virtually created the nation of Germany and developed her modern language through his Bible translation? The reformer and theologian, Martin Luther, has that distinction. Who was the forgotten founder and guiding inspiration of the leading free and prosperous governments of the world? This nation builder was the theologian, John Calvin. Who freed Scotland from popish tyranny and clannish barbarism? The theologian and preacher, John Knox, united his people under Christ. Who was the theological bulwark of the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell’s constant mentor? The foremost Puritan theologian, John Owen, aggressively applied his great mind to give the people of England the biblical rationale for resistance to tyranny and a heart for liberty. Who was considered the greatest intellect in colonial America and the one who unified the people’s thinking, setting the stage for independence? The theologian and leader of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, was that individual.

The truth is that the study of God as revealed in the Bible and the application of this study to people and cultures is the determining factor in the rise and fall of nations. Politicians and military leaders enter the scene late with their parts already orchestrated by the theologians that have come before, setting the worldview of the people and their leaders.

If the theology of a people is strong, biblical and central to life as it was in early America, then tyrants are restrained. In contrast, if a people’s theology is weak, in other words if their view of God is distorted, then they become easily misled and eventually enslaved.

As Americans contemplate the State of the Union at this time, it is vital to focus on the two hundred year decline in our nation’s theology. Spiritual perspective is pivotal when analyzing a nation’s history because a people’s theology (study of God) determines their view of man, which determines their view of government, the sanctity of life, and so on.

Marshall Foster is the founder of The Mayflower Institute.


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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

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Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy

Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

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Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

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A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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