4th of July – a Christian holiday?
by MARK VOGL
Jun 30, 2014 | 1112 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print


Have you ever considered July 4th to be a religious (Christian) holiday?  LOL, I doubt it.

All Americans know the 4th as our nation’s birthday, the day the delegates to the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.   Larger then a divorce decree from England, this document proclaimed that the Creator had granted man inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  And it’s right here, that God’s presence is known, and the mention of Him reflects the three hundred year process that “baked” a new nation, America.

Secular humanists, agnostics and atheists have actively worked to revise American history over the past half a century or more, erasing the essential elemental role Christianity played  in the discovery, settlement, colonization and creation of the United States.  However, when one surveys the not quite three hundred years of Euro – American history from 1492 to 1789, there is an almost undeniable portrait of a Divine hand at work.   It is as if two large clocks, one in Europe, and one on the North American continent were running simultaneously, but separately.  These separate clocks were interlinked, where what occurred in Europe sent ripples that shaped the West, and what occurred in the colonies rebounded back to England.

To start this story, let’s take a bird’s eye look at the big historical events that occurred during this era;

CHRISTIAN CHRONOLOGY of AMERICA

1492                Columbus’ voyage of discovery; how Christianity became its primary purpose

1498                John Cabot makes it to the New World for England.

1517                Oct. 31 Martin Luther affixes his 95 Theses to a castle church door challenging the doctrine of indulgence, thus the commencement of the Reformation in Europe.

1619                House of Burgess Virginia opens – first legislature in the colonies.[1]

1620                Mayflower Compact written and signed by all the Pilgrims, Puritans and Strangers.

1640                Printing of Puritans’ Bay Psalm Book[2] – first book published in America in English.

1647                The Old Deluder Satan Act (first law concerning public education cited the need to be able to read Scripture.)

1648                Synod of the New England Churches: Churches “defined the nature of civil government“[3]

1649                Governor Cecil Calvert of Maryland issues the “Act concerning Religion” protecting all Christians in Maryland from violence or ridicule. [4]

1653                Oliver Cromwell abolishes Parliament and creates the “Assembly of Saints,” which then abolishes mandatory tithes and church patronage.[5]

1740                First Awakening – first American Christian revival spreads through the colonies and creates the Good News of individual access to God, without church intervention.

1775                American Revolution – weather intervenes in multiple military operations benefiting the colonials.  (Examples include the victory at Boston, and saving Washington’s Army at Long island.)

1776                July 4, Continental Congress in Philadelphia – Declaration of Independence – 55 signers[7]

1787                Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 55 delegates from the various states

1789                First inauguration of George Washington in N.Y.C.

Now before we move on, scan over the dates and the events.  One very important, but little recognized event in connection with the birth of the United States was the beginning of the Reformation.  Have you ever read about a direct connection between the American Revolution and the Reformation?  Probably not.

And yet, it is very possible that the immediate results of the Reformation were to provide the great majority of early pioneers to the West.   It was the creation of new religions, new churches, which provided independence of the soul, and the desire to live free to practice one’s faith that helped provide for the original organization of the colonies and for their purpose.  For the King, it was a way to get rid of trouble makers; for the trouble makers, it was a way to live without persecution.

Further, that the reason for their migration was to live their faith; thus the church was the center point of the early colony.   And normally not discussed is that many colonies did have official religions.   This meant the values of the faith were the values of the society.  In addition, membership in the church was the original qualification for voting!

When you consider the mortality rates for new arrivals in America, five of six new Pilgrims would be dead in ten years, it can’t be economic opportunity that would spur fathers to bring their families into that kind of death trap.  It had to be something more.

These new churches, with little or no infrastructure or hierarchy in Europe, meant that the churches in America were American controlled, the exceptions being the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.  In the case of the Anglican Church, the hierarchy in England did not have an official means to control the local churches across the Pond in the Southern colonies. And, in the case of the Catholics, there were few Catholics in the original thirteen colonies.

Then there is Cromwell, and the two English civil wars and the interaction between church and state, and the eventual separation of the two.

But the tie between Christianity and the formation of a new nation runs the gambit of history during this era.  It starts with Christopher Columbus and the first entry in his log aboard the Santa Maria.  Fordham University provides a translation of this log as quoted below. In this brief statement Columbus identifies the reason for his being sent by the King and Queen of Spain to find a western route to India:

… your Highnesses, and of the Prince my Sovereign; and in the present month, in consequence of the information which I had given your Highnesses respecting the countries of India and of a Prince, called Great Can, which in our language signifies King of Kings, how, at many times he, and his predecessors had sent to Rome soliciting instructors who might teach him our holy faith, and the holy Father had never granted his request, whereby great numbers of people were lost, believing in idolatry and doctrines of perdition. Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, …”

While the French and Spanish worked hand in hand with the Roman Catholic Church to bring priests to bring the faith to the Amerindians, the English evangelism occurred through the various Protestant churches and the independent colonies.  All of the initial colleges in America were started to either act as a place to teach Christianity to Amerindians or to produce pastors for the respective churches of the colony.  And the first laws concerning public education in the colonies identified religion and the ability to read the Bible as the main reason for the creation of schools, and the need for teachers!  (The Old Deluder Satan Law)  This carried through to the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance by the united States under the Articles of Confederation, later through the newly reformed united States under the Constitution.  In that law, the first federal law to address public education, religion, morality and knowledge were provided as the reason for public education.

When you look at the Mayflower Compact, (a voluntary agreement among all the male settlers, whether they be Pilgrims or not), God is mentioned six times!

And so the story goes on all the way to Washington’s first inauguration, where a good part of the inauguration ceremonies was conducted at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City in response to a resolution passed by Congress, days before the event.   At the chapel every federally elected represented attended the service, after Washington was sworn in, but before he gave his address…

Once returned to Federal Hall, the new President offered the first inaugural address.  In that address, George Washington was NOT shy in citing the role of God in the creation of the new nation:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.  In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.  Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.  And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.  These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed.  You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.”

The bottom line is that, this brief review cannot fully articulate the direct and complete connection between American faith and politics.  Nor can the associated dynamism between the planting and growth of the American Christian faith, and the consequential birth and development of the American national character resulting in the creation of the Declaration of Independence or the process to create the present day Constitution be described in a few brief words.  It’s a big story, a full story, touching every aspect of life.  This is your introduction, and we can only hope it will initiate a journey for truth.  What really happened and why isn’t the story told in the public education system?  Why is faith so hated that it receives special treatment by so many non-believers?

And lastly, consider this… Who can be an American?  Who can be a Christian?   The answer to both questions, is ANYONE.  Anyone who chooses to accept the underlying principles of each … America turns no one away, and neither does Christ!  An interesting discussion for your 4th BBQ!

So as you join together with the most important people in your life on the 4th of July you might consider sharing some of what is in this article with them to more fully appreciate the heritage and tradition of your nation.  And to illuminate the Christian nature of this nation from its conception.

[1] Forged in Faith, Gragg, pg. 21

[2] A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, Mark Noll, pg. 14

[3] The Christian Life and Character of of the Civil Institutions of the United States, pg. 73 

[4] A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, Mark Noll pg. 28

[5] Faith and Freedom, the Christian Roots of American Liberty, Hart, P.172 -173

[7] We Hold These Truths, Hon. Lawrence Patton McDonald, pg 130

 

http://www.nolanchart.com/4th-july-christian-holiday

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