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This Christian Nation Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Aletheia Baptist Ministries Skip to main content

Presidents as Veterans

Presidents as Veterans

by Debra Conley

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That many of our Presidents proudly served in the armed forces and most were significant leaders in the various causes they served. Men who love their country and are not ashamed of it are willing to fight for their country, for its principles, and understand the necessity of providing for the common defense. If you know a Veteran, take time to thank him or her for serving our country, and for willingly defending our freedoms. Remember that our current military is all voluntary! No one has been forced to serve; all take the oath to serve and defend the United States of America. This is also a time to remind the younger generation of the hard fought battles the United States has won over slavery, tyranny, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and now our current fight against terrorism. Writing to William Gordon during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington said, “We have abundant reason to thank Providence for His many favorable interpositions on our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us.” Pray for our men and women currently serving, that God may be their singular dependence.

Twelve Presidents who were Generals

Listed in chronological order

 

George Washington: General of the Armies/ Revolution.

Andrew Jackson: General /Revolution, 1812, Creek and Seminole Wars.

William Harrison: Major General/ War of 1812.

Zachary Taylor: Major General/ 1812, Mexican-American War, Black Hawk War, Seminole War; one of the longest serving Generals.

Franklin Pierce: Brigadier General/ Mexican-American War.

Andrew Johnson: Brigadier General/Civil War.

Ulysses Grant: General of the Army/Civil War, Mexican-American War.

Rutherford Hayes: Major General/Civil War.

James Garfield: Major General/Civil War

Chester Arthur: Brigadier General/ Civil War.

Benjamin Harrison: Brigadier General/ Civil War.

Dwight Eisenhower: General of the Army in WWII; also served in WWI as tank instructor at Fort Oglethorpe, GA.

 

The Resolution of the Continental Congre...

The Resolution of the Continental Congress

by Debra Conley

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Ten years before the U.S. Constitution was formally written, the Continental Congress debated the fight they must take against England. In this resolution, we see that the colonies had come to a point of no return. Either we would fight to keep what we had built so far, forming a government of the people and crafting a document to stand the test of time, or we would capitulate to the former mode of servant colonies. They knew that without God’s help, looking to Him for guidance, they could fail. Every member signed this resolution which clearly acknowledges God as their primary source of strength:

“In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publicly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against Him; and to supplicate His interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity.”

The Bible was clearly used as the model of self-control and individual responsibility by the founders. Anyone who has read the Federalist Papers knows that the conversations between James Madison, the primary writer of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay became the finest explanation of the original intent of this great work. None of them intended it to be a fluid, changing document any more than the Bible was. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “On every construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed” (meaning the original idea).

Our prayer for America ought to be that we return to the tremendous biblically inspired foundation given to us.

 

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon

by Debra Conley

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One man who signed the Declaration of Independence had more Spiritual influence on the direction taken with that document and on the writing of the Constitution than possibly any other member of the Continental Congress.

Described by John Eidsmoe (the well-known Constitutional lawyer and writer) as, “the man who shaped the men who shaped America” John Witherspoon was pastor, teacher, and mentor to more of the founding leaders of the United States than most of us were ever taught.

A Scottish pastor and Theologian (and a descendant of John Knox), Witherspoon’s primary philosophy was that “the law of God is written on man’s conscience, and that while born with natural sin tendencies, remains a responsible moral agent, capable of civic duty if his sinful nature is properly restrained by God’s laws.” This is from his essay collection, Covenanting in America, written concurrently while serving in the Continental Congress of 1776-1782.

Witherspoon was called to America when Jonathan Edwards passed away and a new President for the College of New Jersey (today’s Princeton) was sought. He took the post in 1768 and served until 1794, through the forming of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, the writing of the Constitution, and the first Presidency of the newly formed United States. While serving as the President of the College, head of the School of Divinity, and pastor of the Campus ministry, he mentored 13 future Governors, 3 Supreme Court Justices including the first Chief Justice John Jay (who also became a President of the American Bible Society), 20 future U. S. Senators and 33 Congressmen, Vice President Aaron Burr, First Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, and Presidents John Adams and James Madison. It was Madison, studying for the ministry at the college, who formed many ideas for his later depth in Constitutional contributions from Witherspoon and the biblical concepts he taught. John Adams continued to attend Witherspoon’s church throughout his years and wrote numerous letters to his wife Abigail about the “clear, sensible preacher” he admired. Oh yes, during those years Witherspoon also placed 114 new ministers in local churches. What a legacy for this man of God.

 

 

The Masked Men

The Masked Men

by Debra Conley

When I teach literary history of the 1700’s, two men gain prominence over many others in textbooks, but their stories often slight their true character by giving these men limited scope. I refer to them as The Masked Men. Why?  Because their Christian backgrounds have been masked under the term deist; because their philosophy of religion has been masked behind the misused phrase “separation of church and state” and because their Christian contributions have been masked behind the influence of world cultures we have too long tolerated and allowed to overshadow our own Christian foundations.

Who are these masked men? Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are relegated to being no more than deists in any modern history textbook.  Deism, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “thought based on natural religion of human reason rather than revelation, …denying the interference of the Creator.” The OED also claims deism as a belief that the Creator does not intervene in man’s life. To be a true Deist, one accepts creation, but no action by a Creator beyond that point, no guidance, revelation, or “interference” after creation.

When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 came to a standstill over disagreements in the document, it was Benjamin Franklin who rose to the floor on June 28 with this admonition:

“In the situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce being able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that 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 Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers were heard and graciously answered.

I have long lived, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it.’ I firmly believe this; I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better that the builders of Babel.

I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one of our clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.” (Library of Congress)

 

If Franklin believed that God does not intervene, why did he beg the Convention to seek God daily, to ask for His help, and to state that He governs in the affairs of men?

 

The Masked Men

The Masked Men

by Debra Conley

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When I teach literary history of the 1700’s, two men gain prominence over many others in textbooks, but their stories often slight their true character by giving these men limited scope. I refer to them as The Masked Men. Why?  Because their Christian backgrounds have been masked under the term deist; because their philosophy of religion has been masked behind the misused phrase “separation of church and state” and because their Christian contributions have been masked behind the influence of world cultures we have too long tolerated and allowed to overshadow our own Christian foundations.

Who are these masked men? Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are relegated to being no more than deists in any modern history textbook.  Deism, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “thought based on natural religion of human reason rather than revelation, …denying the interference of the Creator.” The OED also claims deism as a belief that the Creator does not intervene in man’s life. To be a true Deist, one accepts creation, but no action by a Creator beyond that point, no guidance, revelation, or “interference” after creation.

When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 came to a standstill over disagreements in the document, it was Benjamin Franklin who rose to the floor on June 28 with this admonition:

“In the situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce being able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that 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 Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers were heard and graciously answered.

I have long lived, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it.’ I firmly believe this; I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better that the builders of Babel.

I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one of our clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.” (Library of Congress)

If Franklin believed that God does not intervene, why did he beg the Convention to seek God daily, to ask for His help, and to state that He governs in the affairs of men?

 

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

by Debra Conley

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Each year when we think about the 4th of July, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and traditionally, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the final document. It was not an overnight quick pen by Jefferson that brought this document into existence. Many months in the Continental Congress had brought the ideas and words to the forefront after long and fruitless diplomatic attempts to wrestle the colonies from the ever-tightening grip of control and taxation from England.

In reading three different biographies of John Adams and then Thomas Jefferson, it is apparent that it was Adams who was the more copious note taker during the many months of discussion in the CC over the wording of the document. The final draft was left to Jefferson because his writing style was the more eloquent and polished. This is not to indicate that Jefferson’s words were not his own; indeed he agreed in total with the conclusions of Adams and the Congress. The Declaration of Independence was intended to set the tone for not only America’s separation from England, but the idea, still in kernel form, that the colonies would act as one united group. Most historians credit Samuel Adams, cousin to John, with planting the idea first, that the colonies must unite, consolidate its resources, and move forward as one entity. Both John and Samuel Adams were deeply religious men who believed that men were given freedom of conscience in religious matters and desired a land where that freedom was secure. Within the Declaration are no less than three direct references to “nature’s God”, “their (man’s) Creator”, and “protection of Divine Providence” written.

No phrase of history is more distorted or misunderstood than Jefferson’s words to the Danbury, CT, church explaining the “separation between church and state.” If one reads the entire explanation, we also find these words by Jefferson: “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty, that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals.

 

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

by Debra Conley

Each year when we think about the 4th of July, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and traditionally, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the final document. It was not an overnight quick pen by Jefferson that brought this document into existence. Many months in the Continental Congress had brought the ideas and words to the forefront after long and fruitless diplomatic attempts to wrestle the colonies from the ever-tightening grip of control and taxation from England.

In reading three different biographies of John Adams and then Thomas Jefferson, it is apparent that it was Adams who was the more copious note taker during the many months of discussion in the CC over the wording of the document. The final draft was left to Jefferson because his writing style was the more eloquent and polished. This is not to indicate that Jefferson’s words were not his own; indeed he agreed in total with the conclusions of Adams and the Congress. The Declaration of Independence was intended to set the tone for not only America’s separation from England, but the idea, still in kernel form, that the colonies would act as one united group. Most historians credit Samuel Adams, cousin to John, with planting the idea first, that the colonies must unite, consolidate its resources, and move forward as one entity. Both John and Samuel Adams were deeply religious men who believed that men were given freedom of conscience in religious matters and desired a land where that freedom was secure. Within the Declaration are no less than three direct references to “nature’s God”, “their (man’s) Creator”, and “protection of Divine Providence” written.

No phrase of history is more distorted or misunderstood than Jefferson’s words to the Danbury, CT, church explaining the “separation between church and state.” If one reads the entire explanation, we also find these words by Jefferson: “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty, that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals.”

 

The Basis Of Our Government

The Basis Of Our Government

by Debra Conley

John Locke, a self-taught writer and theologian from Bristol, England, wrote, “The Christian man is bound to self-government in all manner of life as he is precisely instructed in the Holy Word. The church is the perfect model of local government; if the Christian will rule himself as he ought, he will have little need of government and be so much the better for it.”1

Samuel Adams (cousin of President John Adams) had thoroughly read the works of Locke and it was he who proposed the idea of independence to the Continental Congress. Arguing for the colonies to unite as a single country rather than just as free and separate, Adams was the force behind forming one body politic. It was Adams who approached John Hancock, then Governor of Massachusetts and President of the Congress, with the idea.

From his studies of Locke and later his influence under George Whitefield’s preaching, Samuel Adams drafted a document in 1772 called “The Rights of the Colonists.” Its premise became a key wording in the Declaration of Independence. Adams’ document reads, “The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God…the rights of the colonists as Christians…may best be understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of the Great Law Giver and the Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”2

Within the Continental Congress, several men whose names are forgotten in modern history texts were instrumental in the formation of the idea of independence and the written document we treasure, The Declaration of Independence. John Adams, the first Vice-President, served at every meeting of this Congress and while reluctant at first to declare all out war, continued abuse from the English crown won him over. It was Patrick Henry who delivered his famous oratory “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” to the Virginia Convention, one of the most repeated phrases at the Continental Congress. Roger Sherman, Church servant and later a Congressman, was the only man to sign all four major historical documents. He is the author of The Great Compromise which gave us two legislative bodies to be part of the system of checks and balances.

In the fight for independence, it was George Washington who assumed the role of Commander in Chief of the Army and won the decisive battles necessary to repel British control of the colonies.

1. The Works of John Locke, Book II, “Of Civil Government” (Oxford University Library, Edition 1714).
2. Gibbs, David, as quoted in One Nation Under God (Seminole, FL: Christian Law Assoc., 2003) p. 121.

 

The Basis of Our Government

The Basis of Our Government

by Debra Conley

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John Locke, a self-taught writer and theologian from Bristol, England, wrote, “The Christian man is bound to self-government in all manner of life as he is precisely instructed in the Holy Word. The church is the perfect model of local government; if the Christian will rule himself as he ought, he will have little need of government and be so much the better for it.”1

Samuel Adams (cousin of President John Adams) had thoroughly read the works of Locke and it was he who proposed the idea of independence to the Continental Congress. Arguing for the colonies to unite as a single country rather than just as free and separate, Adams was the force behind forming one body politic. It was Adams who approached John Hancock, then Governor of Massachusetts and President of the Congress, with the idea.

From his studies of Locke and later his influence under George Whitefield’s preaching, Samuel Adams drafted a document in 1772 called “The Rights of the Colonists.” Its premise became a key wording in the Declaration of Independence. Adams’ document reads, “The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God…the rights of the colonists as Christians…may best be understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of the Great Law Giver and the Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”2

Within the Continental Congress, several men whose names are forgotten in modern history texts were instrumental in the formation of the idea of independence and the written document we treasure, The Declaration of Independence. John Adams, the first Vice-President, served at every meeting of this Congress and while reluctant at first to declare all out war, continued abuse from the English crown won him over. It was Patrick Henry who delivered his famous oratory “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” to the Virginia Convention, one of the most repeated phrases at the Continental Congress. Roger Sherman, Church servant and later a Congressman, was the only man to sign all four major historical documents. He is the author of The Great Compromise which gave us two legislative bodies to be part of the system of checks and balances.

In the fight for independence, it was George Washington who assumed the role of Commander in Chief of the Army and won the decisive battles necessary to repel British control of the colonies.

  1. The Works of John Locke, Book II, “Of Civil Government” (Oxford University Library, Edition 1714).
    2. Gibbs, David, as quoted in One Nation Under God (Seminole, FL: Christian Law Assoc., 2003) p. 121.

 

The Reason for the Thirteen Colonies

The Reason for the Thirteen Colonies

by Debra Conley

Modern textbooks conveniently omit the true reasons for the founding of the thirteen original colonies because historians trained in the rationalist tradition of academia are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, or closed to, religiously formed history and ideas.1 How many of us learned the thirteen original colonies by name and number, but not their reason for existence? Sure, we know that Separatists founded Plymouth, Massachusetts (6th State), and that the Puritans founded Boston, but after that, our textbooks deal only with men and motives. This is an egregious and intentional omission by many, and ignorance by others. Ten of the thirteen colonies were established by religious groups for freedom to practice their beliefs, and of the remaining three New Jersey (3rd) was later re-organized and run by Quakers.

Delaware, the first state, was settled by Quakers from Pennsylvania (2nd) when that state was purchased from New York for harbor access. Georgia (4th) was granted to James Oglethorpe as a penal colony, but was one of the most receptive to religious settlers from the northern colonies. Connecticut (5th) was settled by the Puritans Thomas Hooker and John Winthrop, Jr.

Lord Baltimore was granted a charter to settle Catholics in Maryland (7th). Religious dissenters from Holland, the Netherlands, and New England moved into what became South Carolina (8th). New Hampshire (9th) was an overflow from the Puritans of Massachusetts. Virginia (10th), one of the three non-religiously founded colonies, was a joint stock venture of King James I, and eventually failed. Some think this failure was the reason King James I ordered the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh whom he had sent to secure the Jamestown colony.

The Duke of York obtained a charter to settle a colony for religious freedom seekers from Amsterdam, creating the community of New Amsterdam, later renamed New York (11th). Quakers, Baptists, and others moved south for warmer weather and more space and formed North Carolina (12th).  Rhode Island (13th) was detailed in a previous column as a haven for religious independents and was the first Baptist settlement.

An interesting bit of trivia: Moravians seeking religious freedom eventually immigrated to North Carolina near Charlotte. They called this new area Wachovia after their German homeland. The name is still with us.

*Numbers indicate the order in which the colony became a state.

1. Dreisbach, Daniel, Founders Famous and Forgotten (Intercollegiate Review: Fall 2007)