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The Mandate

America's Christian Heritage

By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008

Is America a Christian Nation?

WHETHER YOU’VE BEEN STUDYING IN THE United States for three months or three years, you’ve probably been shocked at one time or another by the decadence, materialism, and violence of U.S. society. Perhaps you’ve also heard the U.S. referred to as a “Christian nation” and wondered what kind of religion would promote such a lifestyle.

To answer this question requires a short history lesson and a look at two very important documents written at the founding of the U.S.: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. These documents set the framework for the country and are based on Judeo-Christian teachings. These, and all founding documents, laws, moral codes, and institutions, are based on Christian principles from the Bible. In fact, you could say the Bible is the “textbook,” “owner’s manual,” or the “book of instructions” for the U.S.

To know the Christian basis of the U.S. is to learn what every school child used to learn about the history of our nation. Sadly, this important part of our heritage is no longer taught in schools. Here are excerpts from some of the documents of our country’s past:

1620 – The Mayflower Compact, written by the Pilgrims before they set foot on this land, stated, “In the presence of God, Amen. We … do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves into a civil body politic.”

1638 – The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (often called the first American Constitution) said, “[We] enter into a combination and confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which we now profess.” It also stated for the first time that men’s rights come from God, as later stated in the Declaration of Independence.

1776 – The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men … “

1777 – The First Continental Congress called the Bible “the great political textbook of the patriots” and appropriated funds to import 20,000 Holy Bibles for the people.

This is the very essence of America – that there is such a thing as Truth, and that Truth can be known by man; that men are “created” and their rights come from God, their Creator, and that governments exist to protect these God-given rights.

It is no wonder that the U.S. national motto – “In God We Trust” – is found on all U.S. coins, engraved on walls of both houses of Congress, and that every session of Congress begins with a prayer by its chaplain. The Ten Commandments are emblazoned on the wall in the Supreme Court just above the place where the chief justice sits as a symbol of the source of all U.S. laws. Biblical quotations are etched on and in the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress and many other official buildings. The Pledge of Allegiance is to the flag of “one nation under God.”

The U.S. exists on the bedrock of biblical Christianity and has so prospered. But in spite of this strong spiritual heritage, as so often happens when man becomes prosperous and feels self-sufficient, he ignores his early teachings and begins to create for his own pleasure an immoral society. He turns his back on God.

Early in this century, a group of intellectuals in U.S. society became enamored with the writings of some European philosophers of the last century. They read the doctrines of Freud, the materialism of Feurbach, nihilism of Nietsche, dialectic of Hegel, communism of Marx, and other proponents of behaviorist-socialism, existentialism, rationalism, fabianism, and humanism.

Humanist teaching – atheism, autonomous man, amorality, evolution, and socialism – began to permeate America’s education system, and the moral and biblical teachings that made America great have been all but lost.

Now, after two generations of this godless philosophy, what are the results? While religion and religious teaching were being forcibly removed from schools in communist China, in the U.S. they were being removed in more subtle ways. The U.S. has a spiritually apathetic society that hardly murmured when the liberal Supreme Court abolished prayer from public schools in 1962 and abolished Bible reading from the schools a year later. The rate of teenage pregnancy has shot up 556 percent. Venereal disease has spread. Divorce has tripled. S.A.T. scores have declined. The high principles that made America great have been all but lost.

What has happened? While religion and religious teaching were being forcibly removed from schools in communist China, in the U.S. they were being removed in more subtle ways. Humanism (which was classified as a religion by the Supreme Court in 1961) was substituted. The children of the 1960s grew to become the parents, teachers, political leaders, and business people of today. They often found themselves ignorant of the great moral and religious strengths of the U.S. and thus unable to impart these to a new generation.

Some people blame television programs, drugs, alcohol, and family breakdown as the cause of the decadence in America. But the problem is much deeper than that. A nation that tosses aside its spiritual heritage must pay the price. Only when Americans rebuild the biblical foundations of their country and restore God to their schools, businesses, and government will the U.S. regain the blessings He promised.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, said, “It is the duty of all nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Let us hope that both the U.S. and China will embrace Jesus Christ, the hope for all nations.


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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.

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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

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