It has been just two weeks since we celebrated the 236th birthday of our nation. Whenever an election year falls, the Fourth seems to carry a greater significance for me as I am reminded of the founding of our nation on Biblical principles. America’s culture and institutions were formed and guided through the influence of her churches The motto of the American Revolution was “No king but King Jesus.”
In 1831 French statesman Alexis de Tocqueville toured America and later wrote about his impressions of the new country: “Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power …The Americans combine the notion of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”
This past Sunday evening I watched the movie by Kirk Cameron titled “Monumental – In Search of America’s National Treasure.” He embarked on a quest to discover what it was that made America great. As he was led to a beginning point in time, he found that it was that point that was instrumental in providing our foundation as a nation: the era of the Pilgrims. It was the faith of this small band of believers in their desire to worship freely, their passion, their persistence, their sacrifices as they struggled to get to the New World.
Featured in Monumental was an 81-foot-tall statue called “The National Monument to the Forefathers,” located in Provincetown, Mass. Formerly known as the “Pilgrim Monument,” this statue commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims, honoring their ideals that were embraced by the United States in the forming of our government. Kirk Cameron summarized these principles by referring to them collectively as “the strategy of liberty.” The central figure on the main pedestal is “Faith” with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible. Around “Faith” are seated four figures representing the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth. Each of those principles refer to the Bible that “Faith” holds: Freedom, Morality, Law and Education. Under each of those principles is carved sub-characteristics, much like an outline: Tyranny Overthrown and Peace, Prophet and Evangelist, Justice and Mercy, Youth and Wisdom. The rear panel is engraved with this quote from Governor William Bradford’s famous history, “Of Plymouth Plantation:”
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all praise.”
Our nation desperately needs to be reminded of the godly influence of the founding of our nation. We need to be reminded that our hope for the future, just as it was in the past, is in the Lord. May we use the principles of Scripture that were so instrumental in founding our nation to sustain our nation in the choices we make at the polls.
• The Rev. Paul Johnson is pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.