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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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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

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All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
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5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
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9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“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).

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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.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

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With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

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