I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.” – Benjamin Rush – (at the signing of the Declaration of Independence)
Is the United States of America still “one nation under God”? Was it ever? It makes some people happy to think that we are, at present, a society of God-fearing men and women. Of course, that assumption can also make some people very angry as well. And let’s not forget the millions who could simply care less. Clearly, the Pledge of Allegiance declares the USA to be “one nation under God”. But detractors are quick to point out that the words “under God” were not even incorporated into the Pledge until June 14, 1954. And what about U.S currency? Isn’t it boldly inscribed with the words: IN GOD WE TRUST? So, we must be a Godly nation, right? Wrong. Empty declarations do not a reality make – regardless of the national sentiment at the time these mottoes were first introduced.
Think about it, do you actually believe that the Almighty Creator is impressed by insincere slogans that have little to no significance for the citizens of modern Sodom? For that matter, what about the multiplied thousands of people who vainly recite meaningless spiritual platitudes without any genuine knowledge of or faith in the God to whom they purportedly offer prayers? The Divine entity that we call God is not some good luck charm, or extraterrestrial talisman invoked when blessings are desired.
Not wishing to be accused of intolerant, dogmatic, judgmental religious bigotry, I prefer to let the scriptures speak for themselves on a subject of this gravity. Here is what Jesus – that great religious reformer, liberator and the founder of what many call the Christian faith had to say:
3“And why do your behaviors violate the direct commandments of God? 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
9 Their worship is a farce, for they follow man-made ideas and not the instructions that come from God.” (Matthew 15:3, 7-9)
Hmm. People who honor God with only “lip service.” Jesus called them a farce (a sham).
The last time I checked, the sacred Biblical texts still proclaim that the Ancient of Days (God) is the originator of all things here on spaceship earth. He is said to have planted the human species on this planet and engineered man in His own image. His blueprint made us a self-replicating and adaptive species with limited free moral agency. Man is the creature (that which was made). God is the creator (the one who designed us). Foolish mortals are forever trying to remake the Creator into the image of the creature, or they simply disregard His existence altogether.
So, I ask the question again, is the USA “one nation under God?” Millions would like to believe that it is, and they site the many religious men and women living among the population. But when you consider how far askew modern America has shifted from the sure foundation of a dependence upon Divine providence, I’m afraid the answer to that question is NO.
“We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.” – Samuel Adams, 1776 (at the signing of the Declaration of Independence)
Some will insist that the USA was unequivocally established as a Christian nation. Sorry, that statement is simply not true. Even though many of the founding fathers of the United States were men of deep religious convictions, some were not. To say that the founders were of unanimous resolve on establishing a strictly “Christian” nation would be a distortion of the known facts. A few of them even sharply criticized structured Christianity as a repulsive distortion of the intentions of Jesus himself. In a letter dated April 11, 1823 Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to John Adams:
“The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy, absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.”1
Jefferson was not a fan of organized religion. He even branded a belief in the virgin birth of Jesus and the doctrine of the trinity as “fables” in his writings. However, he wrote with great admiration about the teachings of Jesus Himself. In a letter to Benjamin Rush dated April 1, 1803 he remarked:
“To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.”2
Whatever personal interpretation of the Scriptures Thomas Jefferson held dear, we know that he at least acknowledged the existence of our Creator. Jefferson wrote these now immortal words in The Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
There is no disputing that the Bible played an important and significant role in the shaping of the American dream. Our Founders possessed strong moral and spiritual convictions which helped them to form the fundamentals of this nation. With the inspiration of the scriptures and Divine foresight; they forged a constitutional framework by which we were to be governed.
For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.” – Alexander Hamilton (1787 after the Constitutional Convention)
In spite of their differences, our nation’s designers seemed to understand that without the blessing of Almighty God, this republic would not survive. Some of them even believed that the very laws upon which our society functions could only be understood and obeyed by a “moral and religious” people. On October 11th, 1798, John Adams wrote:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 3
While it may be true that this great nation was not established on an exacting structure of religious doctrine or dogma, it was formed by men who were deeply and profoundly influenced by religious belief – particularly the Christian faith.
If you doubt this statement, consider the denominational affiliations of the 55 core delegates to the Constitutional Convention,
28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists (Benjamin Franklin being one of them) 4
We may never know with absolute certainty just how sincere any particular individual founder was in the practice of their faith. But that really doesn’t matter. Even if we were to conclude that the majority of them were only minimal Christians at best, their lifetime exposure to the fundamental religious and moral teachings of the Bible had a profound influence on them as they framed the documents that would ultimately structure the laws of the land. The United States of America was born in godliness and reverence for the Divine Creator. But times have changed dramatically and this once free and righteous nation has gradually become home to a wicked and perverse generation.
Today the fading echoes of America’s Christian heritage are engraved in the stones of her national monuments and written on the pages of her carefully preserved historical documents. They serve to remind us of just how far we have strayed – a testimony well maintained as a witness against us.
The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them[society and government] if faith in these [biblical] teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” – President Calvin Coolidge, 1923
The Liberator Jesus faced a similar national crisis when he visited the earth. The details are recorded in the New Testament book of Luke,
41-44And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends” but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground” yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another” all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41-44 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
How profoundly sad. The Creator visits His own creation, and the spiritually blinded people reject Him and His message. But, He expected that. The good news is, whenever someone did accept His message, Jesus invited them to follow Him. “I am the Way”, He told them, “the road back to the God who made you”. He is still doing that today – but for how much longer?
I am certainly proud to be an American. But at times I am not proud of America. I am prouder still to be called a follower of the Liberator Jesus. Like him, I weep for the lost and foolish people wandering the decks of spaceship earth in darkness at this eleventh hour, unable or unwilling to grasp what we all really need.
Recorded in the 2nd chapter of the New Testament book of acts is a powerful and persuasive speech given by Peter, one of the first followers of Jesus. In a way, he too was a founder – a pioneer of this sect of Judaism that would go on to become Christianity. His audience at the time was a cross-section of the Nation of Israel. Here is what he told them:
36 “Now therefore the whole nation of Israel must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Jesus, whom you crucified, God has declared to be both Lord and Christ.” 37 When they heard this they were cut to the quick, and they cried to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and fellow-Jews, what shall we do now?” 38-39 Peter told them, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this great promise is for you and your children yes, and for all who are far away, for as many as the Lord our God shall call to himself!” 40 Peter said much more than this as he gave his testimony and implored them, saying, “Save yourselves from this perverted generation! (Acts 2:36-40 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Perhaps it is time for you to dig in and learn about the true mission of Jesus and the message he brought to the earth. This will require of you both an open mind and teachable spirit. Genuine faith comes when we have heard the truth. Are you willing to listening? After all, they say that only fools reject that of which he/she has no real knowledge or understanding. Why not start by looking at the message Jesus and ask God to make it real in your life by the power of His Spirit? Our Creator is still gathering rogues like us to follow His “road” to a new and better home world. Hope to see you on the other side.
Almighty God, we really need you. Forgive us for the fools we have been. Accept us just as we are. Set us free and begin the remolding process that will transform us into the men and women you truly want us to be. In the name of the Liberator Jesus we pray. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
1 412-3. Recipient’s copy at the Library of Congress. The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827
2 Lipscomb, Andrew A. and Albert E. Bergh, eds. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1903-04. 20 vols.
3 The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States; With A Life of the Author Notes and Illustrations of his Grandson Charles Francis Adams. Vol. IX, Books For Libraries Press, Freeport, New York, (First Published 1850-1856, Reprinted 1969), 228-29.
4 John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), p. 43.