There is yet more evidence that, without the Bible, America would be unimaginable.
Here is a big slice of American history that academics and elitists would like to bury forever. Joel McDurmon writes about it at the American Vision website: “A lost-and-found treasure: When America’s pastors boldly preached politics, resisted tyranny, and founded a nation on the Bible.”
I would like today to introduce you to one of the more remarkable books I have read recently. It is an old and largely forgotten book, but vital to understanding the role the Bible ought to play in politics and government, in national issues—in fact, a role the Bible did play directly in the shaping the American mind and laying the foundations for American resistance to tyranny, and the willingness to fight and die for independence and the rule of law. I would like to introduce you to Alice Baldwin’s The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution, the lost and nearly buried history of when America’s pastors openly preached politics, resisted tyranny, and founded a nation on the Bible.
A few older scholars I’ve talked with knew of this book, and they all love it. But none of the younger generation had ever heard of it. When I told them some of what it contained, it blew their minds. “Wow,” was the common reaction.
The book was originally published in 1928 under the title The New England Clergy and the American Revolution. Dr. Baldwin was one of the few female academics of her day, and she shined in the role. The scholarship is top-notch, and the message absolutely compelling and convicting. One of the many remarkable aspects of it is that Dr. Baldwin was not a partisan and had no religious or political agenda. She was largely a secular academic who had only a family interest in congregational history. She worked from the perspective of a secular academic, and since part of her book was originally her doctoral dissertation, it had to meet the rigorous standards of that guild. Nevertheless, this “secular” version of the history, because it thoroughly and honestly considers all of the original sources, could almost pass today for Christian Reconstruction propaganda. What we have here is a secular, academic witness to the truth of the influence of biblical law in American history.
Yes, there was a time when America’s pulpits regularly dealt with issues of politics and culture—because pastors understood God was interested in more than just people’s “religious life” (whatever the heck that is). No one should be surprised by this understanding, given that God created everything and has a complete and ongoing interest in the humanity He created. As was said so well by Abraham Kuyper, the 24th Prime Minister of the Netherlands, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
Commenting on the classic paraphrase of “life, liberty, and property,” Dr. Alice Baldwin accurately wrote:
No one can fully understand the American Revolution and the American constitutional system without a realization of the long history and religious associations which lie behind these words; without realizing that for a hundred years before the Revolution men were taught that these rights were protected by divine, inviolable law.
Before you quickly dismiss such talk as the product of a past that needs to be forgotten, please note that the freedoms you enjoy today never would have come about without that foundation. Also note that those freedoms are quickly disappearing as we walk away from an explicit belief that God rules in the affairs of men, and His Law is best to promote comprehensive human flourishing.
Those who believe God is a tyrant merely betray an abysmal ignorance borne of that fact that they have never lived under the tyranny of men.
We are like fish, rebelling against the “awful restrictions” of being confined to the fishbowl. The green grass and blue sky appear so liberating… until you’re suffering the death throes, and realize too late that some restrictions are necessary, based on the purpose for which you were made, and limitations given for your ultimate good.