America’s Faith Foundation: Founding Fathers
I love history and I love America! Thought I’d share a little of both in a brief article. For the record, this isn’t a dissertation. It’s a blog. And I’m not nominating all of our founding fathers for sainthood. Having said that let me say this: there is a lot of revisionist history that totally ignores or distorts the faith of our Founding Fathers. So many of them were motivated by their faith in Christ. Here’s some backstory on a few of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans know next to nothing about these fifty-six heroes who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
John Witherspoon was an ordained minister and authored several books of sermons, as well as editing America’s first family Bible in 1791.
Charles Thomson served as Secretary of Congress and was a Biblical scholar. He helped edit the first American translation of the Greek Septuagint into English.
Charles Carroll, the last of the fifty-six signers to pass away at the age of 95 in 1832, wrote out his declaration of faith at the age of eighty-nine.
On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for my salvation, and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.
Another Founding Father, Benjamin Rush, is considered the “Father of American Medicine.” He personally trained three thousand medical students. Dr. Rush also founded “The First Day Society” which was the precursor to the Sunday School movement, as well as founding America’s first Bible society. It was Benjamin Rush who said the Constitution was “as much the work of Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of divine power.”
Francis Hopkinson was a church music director and edited one of the first hymnals printed in America in 1767. He also set 150 psalms to music.
Roger Sherman is the only Founding Father to sign all four of America’s Founding documents: the Articles of Association in 1774, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation in 1778, and the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Roger Sherman was also a theologian. He wrote a personal creed that was adopted by his church:
I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.
Our Founding Fathers didn’t just craft a constitution. Many of them wrote sermons and creeds and hymns. They founded Bible Societies and Sunday Schools. They served God’s purposes in their generation. And I, for one, am grateful.
Additional information from Stand to Reason www.str.org:
The phrase “Founding Fathers” is a proper noun. It refers to a specific group of men, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were other important players not in attendance, like Jefferson, whose thinking deeply influenced the shaping of our nation. These 55 Founding Fathers, though, made up the core.
The denominational affiliations of these men were a matter of public record. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists–Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin–this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith. [John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), p. 43.]
This is a revealing tally. It shows that the members of the Constitutional Convention, the most influential group of men shaping the political foundations of our nation, were almost all Christians, 51 of 55–a full 93%. Indeed, 70% were Calvinists (the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the Dutch Reformed), considered by some to be the most extreme and dogmatic form of Christianity.
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