Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy Birthday America

William Bradford
Great Puritan Leader in America

July 4 is the 234Th birthday of the founding of America. There is little argument with the notion that the USA is the greatest country ever established in the history of the world. Not only is it the strongest financially and militarily but it has usually been the most ethical, moral and free.

This is not always the case, of course. Our history of slavery parallels that of most nations so we did not rise above all of the evil habits and practices that were common at the time of our establishment in 1776. Failure to live up to the ideals set out in our Declaration of Independence has cost us dearly in the pain, suffering and losses forced on so many through slavery and Jim Crow Laws. Add that to the loss of some 620,000 Americans in the Civil War and the failure to make right choices about freedom of everyone was a huge mistake.

It is very difficult for people in power to easily give that power up. Despite the fact that many of the men who led the fight against Great Britain with such clarity could not live up to their professed beliefs for slaves and women. I have been a Christian for many years and see that same flaw in myself and many others. We claim to love God and others but too often find it difficult to carry out our good intentions.

How does the Bible lead individuals, governments and churches to rise above the cultural mandates in which we live? Everyone two to three thousand years ago with almost no exceptions believed that slavery was normal, reasonable and advisable. But the Bible admonished Believers to love God with a whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Such a command makes slavery very difficult for Christians and churches to support. One would be schizophrenic to do so. St. Paul added to that a command for slave owners to treat slaves as brothers not chattel. This lays the axe to slave owning period.

The Apostles did not usually get involved in politics but they wrote things in the the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that would crush hatred, slavery, domestic and sexual abuse. Our nation celebrates over 230 years of doing good while we were doing well because so much of the history, habits and founding documents came from Christian people and from the Bible.

The Revolutionary War came on the heels of the First Great Awakening and its preaching the word of God to masses of people in the Colonies. When they read the Bible about being created in the image of God, it became immediately apparent that all citizens were created to rule. Thus, King George did not reign because of "The Divine Rights of Kings" but because of selfishness and power. The Revolution was a normal result.

Can we return to those days?

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