By Editorial Staff
Published May 1, 1988
by Gary Bergel
A recent statistical analysis by David Barton graphically illustrates how America has plummeted from righteous living, prosperity and success in the last quarter century. Consider the following chart compiled from his study, America: To Pray or Not to Pray. 1
As you might have already noticed on Mr. Barton’s graph, America’s moral decline rapidly accelerated following one event – the U.S. Supreme Court’s removal of prayer from our nation’s schools. On June 25, l962, 39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of our nation – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day.
The New York school children which prompted the Engel vs. Vitale ruling had simply prayed: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers and our nation.”
America has experienced radical decline in each of the four areas which the children’s prayer touched upon: youth, family, education, national life. Minor recovery has occurred only since 1980 when the election of President Reagan brought forth a renewed emphasis on “traditional” values.
The removal of prayer from our schools was a violation of the third commandment which commands us “not to take the name of the Lord in vain.” By the judicial act of forbidding invocation, the Court audaciously elevated a secularized system of education beyond the authority, reach and blessing of God Himself. Worse than taking the Lord’s sacred name in vain is treating it with contempt, denying it rightful place and stripping it from public use and even from the lips of children. Jesus’ own expressed desire, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them” was also violated by these judges, many of whom were raised in Christian homes.
But there was actually a gross violation of the third commandment by the U.S. Supreme Court a year earlier. A ruling in 1961, I believe, paved the way for stripping the Lord’s name from our children’s lips. In Torcaso vs. Watkins, the court overruled a provision of the Maryland Constitution which made “a declaration of belief in the existence of God” mandatory for holding public office.
Roy R. Torcaso, a Maryland resident and an avowed atheist, was refused a notary public commission when he would not subscribe to the required oath. His case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled to sanction atheism and overruled the Maryland Constitution.
Rev. T. Robert Ingram records columnist Felix Morley’s shrewd observations on this 1961 ruling in his study, The World Under God’s Law. Mr. Morley, writing in the Nation’s Business September 1961, pointed out “the absurdity of having an official administer to others oaths in the sanctity of which he does not himself believe.”
The effect of this ruling is not just to eat away at the sacredness of the name of God, but to eliminate the sacredness and thereby the substance of the oath itself. With solemn oaths and binding contracts between individuals removed, the state eventually sits where God ought, and only the state’s cause is held valid. There is no longer an absolute and just legal basis for judging “between a man and his brother,” much less a man and his neighbor (Deuteronomy 1:16, 17). All affairs of life become subject to state, rather than individual control.
Rev. Ingram documents and points out that “a broad, organized attack reaching into high places is under way to remove the third commandment from legal standing in the United States and throughout the world.” He points out that, “the World Court, for example, presumably the new fountain of justice, or a prototype of the socialist dream of world government, has no provision for’taking the name of God’ – no oath.” The Socialist agenda of world domination makes no place for solemn “swearing” between individuals.
Jesus’ teaching on oath-taking recorded in Matthew 5:33-37, while often misinterpreted, is actually a strong affirmation of the third commandment and a clear warning that “the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Besides forbidding perjury, (calling God to witness a lie) and false swearing, this passage also forbids all rash and unnecessary swearing, and especially warns against promissory oaths – that require a performance. Our “Yes” should be “Yes,” and our “No” should mean “No.” If understood, our word uttered in integrity should of itself be a sufficient and proper bond.
The “evangelical prophet,” Oswald Chambers (1874 – 1917), saw that the empty promises made by so many Christians actually result in great “spiritual leakage.” He admonished his followers: “Always beware of vowing, it is a risky thing. If you promise to do a thing and don’t do it, it means the weakening of your moral nature. We are all so glib in the way we promise and don’t perform and never realize that it is sapping our moral energy.“2
Think then, what happens to a nation rife with perjury, broken marriage covenants, unforgiveness, cults with demonic covenants, extortion, bribery, libel, slander, profanity, hypocrisy, idle talk, and lawsuits initiated solely for revenge and personal gain. We are living witnesses that truly “the Lord does not hold such a nation guiltless.”
Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, we must each, as Oswald Chambers declared, realize that “God’s laws are not watered down to suit anyone; if God did that He would cease to be God. The moral law never alters for the noblest or the weakest; it remains abidingly and eternally the same.”
After more than 25 years of severe moral decline is it not time to repent, reverence the name of the Lord, reinstitute and keep the third commandment?
1 David Barton, America: To Pray or Not to Pray, (Aledo, TX: Speciality Research Associates).
2 Oswald Chambers, The Best From All His Books, (Oliver-Nelson Books, 1987).
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Education
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
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.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)