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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New History

In George Orwell's 1984 the main character, Winston Smith, worked for the Ministry of Truth, the government organization that was constantly in the job of rewriting history in order to control people and thought. One of the Party slogans was, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." The Ministry of Truth controlled the past (and, therefore, the present and future) by rewriting it. Turns out, it's not as much of a fiction as we might think. Rewriting history has become more common these days. Some try to tell us the Holocaust never happened. These days people are outraged with Christopher Columbus the conquering warrior seeking riches in India because they've been lied to about Christopher Columbus the missionary. Some are working hard to tell us that America is and has always been a horrible country. There appears to be a concerted effort to rewrite history in order to control people. Like American history.

The Mayflower Compact was the defining document for William Bradford and the Pilgrims as they came into their new land. Written to avoid factions and promote unity, they spoke of their loyalty to the king and indicated their purpose in coming to this new land: "for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country." In fact, most of the early settlers of America were Christians either running from persecution or running toward the "advancement of the Christian faith", viewing America as a mission field. It should come as no surprise, then, that America's roots are deeply Christian.

According to, George Washington's Farewell Address "definitely embodies the core beliefs that Washington hoped would continue to guide the nation." Washington, an Episcopal vestryman, said in that address, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports1. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens." He went on to say, "Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Washington was not alone. Many of the Founding Fathers understood good government to be at the top of a pyramid whose base was first religion (and they always meant the Christian religion) that informed morality. Freedom itself was dependent on this base.

Most history scholars believe that the prototype for the U.S. Constitution was the original Connecticut Constitution, known as "The Fundamental Orders." Put in place in 1638 (1639 by today's calendars), the document was the first western-written constitution for establishing their government. It begins this way:
For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth:
Heavy on the "Almighty God", "his divine providence", and even "the word of God".

In Isaiah we read, "For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us. " (Isa 33:22) The Founding Fathers believed this to be an explanation of the key components of government -- judicial, legislative, and executive. They believed that the only right way to run a country was the Christian way. They believed that the only way for a country to survive was if its people had a heart for God -- an internal morality predicated on the Word of God. They believed that the only proper education included Christian teaching. (Did you know that Harvard University's original motto was "Veritas Christo Ecclesiae" -- "Truth for Christ and the Church"?) They believed that the farther we got from this religious/moral basis, the less freedoms could be maintained and the more control the government would need to exert.

I would conclude, then, two things. First, we've been lied to by sources intending to control the present by rewriting the past. These are not sources of good. Second, current events seem to be bearing out the claims and fears of our Founding Fathers. We've jettisoned Christianity from the center, removing it as our primary source of morality, leaving us with waning and purely relative moral values, requiring more laws and bigger government until our freedoms are all but gone. Neither of my conclusions are happy thoughts.
1 Interesting sidenote. When the nation's founding fathers referred to the word "religion" they had only one religion in mind -- Christianity. They recognized others. They spoke about "the Mohammedans" and such, but when it came to religion driving morality, they referred exclusively to Christianity. This was true of all of them. It didn't matter if they were Christian or deist or atheist. In reference to the sole valid basis for morality, they saw religion, whether or not they agreed with that religion, as the only valid source and the only valid source religion as Christianity.


Anonymous said...

In 1940s Germany some Catholics, including high-ranking bishops, and some Lutherans too, prayed for a long life for Adolf Hitler and success for the Wehrmacht. Any theory on how God processes prayers like that?

Stan said...

Let me see if I understand your question. "God tries to answer all the prayers of those who claim to be His. What about these?" False premises can lead to false dilemmas like this.

Craig said...

My theory. God doesn't look positively on prayers that evil will live long and prosper. Also that God knows better than humans.

Stan said...

Nice theory. Mine goes something like, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear." (Psa 66:18) (You can quote me if you want.)

But I think there are other problems, too. We know that "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 7:21) Classified as "high-ranking bishops" and "some Lutherans" doesn't say anything about being genuine believers.

And we know that lots of things -- bad things, even horrible things -- have been done in Christ's name. I once told a guy complaining about this, "Imagine I came to you, pulled out a gun, and said I was going to shoot you. You'd ask me why and I'd say, 'Your wife told me to.'" "She wouldn't do that," he told me. "Exactly," I said, "so why is it that every time someone says, 'I'm doing this in Jesus's name' even though it is manifestly contrary to everything we know about Jesus you still believe it?" Because it bears the name does not make it "of Christ" or "godly".

Craig said...

We'll put

Doug Evans said...

Here's God's theory:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, he hears us. (1 John 5:14) {emphasis mine}

Stan said...

You understood, I hope, that when I referenced "my theory" and then quoted Scripture, I was using "my theory" euphemistically. God said it, not me.