The Faith of our Fathers
There is a distortion of history frequently heard that our nation does not have biblical or Christian roots and that our Founding Fathers were mostly deists and not Christians.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recent scholarly research has found just the opposite -- that most early Americans were dedicated, Bible-believing Christians who took their faith seriously. In fact, they drew upon their faith and biblical principles to actually construct the framing documents of our country.
Few people know that 52 of the 55 framers of the Constitution were avowed Christians. Almost to a man, our Founding Fathers sought to serve and glorify Jesus Christ with their lives. According to a University of Houston study, 34 percent of all the quotes of the Founding Fathers came from the Bible. Another 60 percent of their quotes from men who used the Bible to form their conclusions. A total of 94 percent of all their quotes came either directly or indirectly cited the Bible.
The father of our country and first President, George Washington, said, "It is impossible to rightly govern … without God and the Bible," and also "To the distinguished Character of a Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the most distinguished Character of Christian."
James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
Alexander Hamilton, ratifier of the Constitution, said, "I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man."
Patrick Henry, American revolutionary leader, said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, said it best: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity."
It is true that a few of the founders were not Bible-believing Christians. However, the influence of the Bible was so great that even those who were not had a biblical world view. Thomas Jefferson is usually cited as a proponent of deism. However, deism proclaims that there is a Creator but that He is an absentee landlord and not involved with humanity. Jefferson may not have been an evangelical Christian but his own words prove that he believed in God’s intervention in human affairs, and it was God who gave us our nation. Consider this revealing warning he gave, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
That last sentence is surely a warning for us today that we must take seriously: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
Benjamin Franklin is also considered a deist, but consider his historic and inspired words to the deadlocked Constitutional Convention in 1787 as evidence of his biblical beliefs. He rose to address the convention president, George Washington: "We have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding. In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. Do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it . . . I firmly believe this."
Historian C. Gregg Singer points out, "Christian theism had so permeated the colonial mind that it continued to guide even those who had come to regard the gospel with indifference or even hostility."
The Founding Fathers got most of their ideas about government from people such as William Blackstone, who got most of their ideas from the Bible. Even the concepts of private property and free enterprise are biblically based.
In 1844, the U.S. Supreme Court studied the subject of the nation’s spiritual roots and concluded, "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based on and must embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind." The Court cited 87 different historical and legal precedents from the Founding Fathers, the Congresses and the state governments.
In spite of our nation’s sins, as with individual people, they have been many, history proves that America was founded largely by committed Christians and on biblical principles. As part of God’s plan to help fulfill the Great Commission, this has produced still the greatest missionary sending nation in history.