By Bart Rogers
Consider the unfolding of American history and this conclusion resounds: The builders of the nation deliberately employed the principles of the Bible in broad measure. Convinced of the practical power of its sacred truths and the providential care of its Author, the new nation rooted itself deeply in the divine ideals of the Book. The resulting influence of the Bible on every aspect of American life should surprise no one. Indeed, the surprise––the alarming marvel––is we are so soon removed from the call of the Bible’s past effect on our country. Yet now we stand in the dawn of the 21st century, searching for answers to our nation’s inexhaustible problems, ignorant of the work of some who have troubled us and would pervert the history of the greatest Book ever written on the greatest country ever known.
As David Miller has stated, “For some 50 years now, Americans have been berated and bullied with the propaganda that the Founders were secular deists who demanded ‘separation of church and state.’ We have been told incessantly that they disapproved expressions of religion in government, schools, and public life…maintaining that [the Founders] advocated pluralism and religious neutrality, and that they never would have dreamed of advocating belief in God and the Christian religion via civil institutions” (Miller, Christ and the Continental Congress: America’s Most Pressing Concern, p. 1, Apologetics Press, Inc. 2009). On the contrary, the panorama of American history––from governments, schools and courts, to family life and benevolent institutions, to art, literature, music and language––shows that we have been shaped indelibly by the Bible.
America’s founders unapologetically advocated the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the source of all spiritual and temporal blessings for the young nation. Expressing this allegiance to the King of kings and the Book of books in houses of worship only would have been peculiar for the patriots who risked life and property for the advancement of freedom. Rather, the early leaders appealed directly to the throne of God for the right to break free from the throne of man. In the famous Declaration itself, they asserted their “separate and equal station” among the powers of the earth––and that such right was rooted in the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” Moreover, they declared themselves “created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights.” In cutting their ties with Great Britain, they appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, …with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
Dedication to individual freedoms, privileges, and rights permeated the Founders’ actions. Accustomed to the sovereignty of men as kings and princes, they rejected such, opting for a representative government to advance the common interests of the nation. In so doing, they followed an ancient Biblical model––God’s original form of government for the nation of Israel upon its exodus––relying on God alone as the Supreme Ruler. Moreover, the rights of due process, freedom from self-incrimination, and individual property ownership, along with an over-arching respect for government and the rule of law, are found throughout the history of American jurisprudence, much of which is still intact today––with the notable exception of sodomy laws and blue laws, among othe            The Bible saturated the schools and the homes, evidenced by the prolific naming of children, towns, and institutions directly from the Book. Not merely a textbook, the Scriptures were the textbook. Beyond religious instruction, the Bible served as the model for grammar, prose, and poetry. The narrative texts of both Testaments were the inspiration for the classics of American literature and rhetoric, a point of little surprise considering the impact of the Bible on all of Western civilization. Indeed, the dearth of Biblical literacy today threatens the scholarly study of our great writings. The depth of literature––the Biblical metaphor, the allusion, the simile––cannot be comprehended by the student without Bible knowledge; the full meaning of the author is forever blurred.
Perhaps the most profound evidence of the influence of the Bible is seen in the ideals and conduct of our people. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). America has been strong because it has championed the cause of the misfortunate, the sick, the poor, the orphan, the widow, the hungry, and the weary––mostly in the name of the Almighty. Hospitals, orphanages, schools, and shelters found their beginning in the beneficence of the religious community. Although tempered by burgeoning government aid programs of the 20th century, the charitable impulses of the country still find root in the Bible. In the inimitable words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
The historical perspective prompts a final question: Will the Bible continue to influence America? Nine out of ten American households own a Bible, but how many are actually reading the Bible? With television, movies, Internet, and video saturating our minds with impulsive entertainment, communication with God through His Word seems to be largely relegated to times of desperate personal need. Now nearly lost in the secular public education system, the Bible faces a rapidly declining distinction as the great book of influence on our culture. Will we individually determine to stem the tide? Change can begin only with our own personal habits. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

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