Oak Leaf #198


August 2017
 
 

The Restoration of America: The Bible Makes Great Nations
by Karla Perry

 

History affirms the power of the Bible to transform nations. This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of The Protestant Reformation. Many of the nations of the world enjoy the fruit of applied biblical theology. We enjoy this fruit because Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Huss, and John Wycliff laid down their lives to live out the truth of the Bible. Many more names belong in this list of honored reformers and Bible translators, but the reason we can name any names is because they made the Bible the standard throughout the world.

If you call Barnes & Noble and ask what the number one bestselling book is they will tell you: The Bible. We still buy it in record numbers, but do we still transform our nation with it?

The reason America was a Christian nation is because of our Bible-based foundational worldview. The reason America is now considered post-Christian is because we are rapidly losing that worldview. Christian thinker and author Os Guinness opines in his new book, Impossible People, that “while the West is no longer Christian . . . it is not yet fully non-Christian (secularist or pagan) either . . . it is in a post-Christian phase. . .” [1]

The good news is that the Gospel is still Good News. It has the same reforming power it has always contained. It has not changed. Its truth still liberates. Its truth still transforms. To quote Os Guinness once more, “Doom, gloom, alarmism and fear are never the way for the people of God.”[2]

The only thing that has changed is our belief in the Bible. Our belief has changed enough that America is rightly classified as post-Christian. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary named the 2016 word of the year as “post-truth.”

In contrast, “in the world of the Founders, the Bible was an unavoidable and useful rod of measurement, a stimulus to intellectual innovation.”[3] The famed conservative writer, Russell Kirk states in his book, The Roots of American Order, that: “In the beginning, America was Protestant: that point has been emphasized by every historian of the United States.”[4] I quote Russell Kirk not to place an emphasis on Protestantism, but on the spread of the Bible’s truth that resulted from The Reformation.

Francis Schaffer wrote:

The Reformation with its emphasis upon the Bible, in all that it teaches, as being the revelation of God, provided a freedom in society and yet a form in society as well. Thus, there were freedoms in the Reformation countries (such as the world had never known before) without these freedoms leading to chaos – because both laws and morals were surrounded by a consensus resting upon what the Bible taught. . .[5]

History is replete with evidence of the power of the Bible to create great nations. We do not find free nations without the Bible at their core. Anywhere we find truth liberating the people, we find the Bible behind it. We see this in the life of William Wilberforce, John Wesley, and William Carey. We see throughout history from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr. Our Founders understood the indispensable necessity for the Bible to undergird all we do as a nation.

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and Father of the United States Public Schools, wrote:

 [T]he Bible… should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness.[6]


Noah Webster wrote in the same vein:

[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion. [T]he Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed. No truth is more evident than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.[7]

 

We are at a juncture in American history where reinstituting the Bible into our way of life as a nation will not only be a reformation, but a revolution. The only way we can pull our Christian heritage into tomorrow is to start afresh today. Instead of lamenting what was, or becoming depressed about what is, or afraid of what will be, we can start where we are today.

The Bible reforms as well today as it did in pagan Rome. The Bible reforms today as well as it did in Victorian England when the first evangelicals became serious about living out the Bible.[8] The Bible reforms today as well as it did when William Carey took it to India where the fruit of his work lives on.[9] And it reforms today as well as it has for 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church.

We must not allow the Bible to become so common place on our bookshelves that it is not common place in our lives. The first step to reformation is a Bible believing and practicing Church. We live in a free nation because Martin Luther read the Bible and believed it. He practiced its truth to the extent that his life was constantly in danger.

Today we fight culture to allow us our freedom to publicly express our faith. But what if we fought with that same tenacity to live out the Bible in our homes, workplaces, and churches. I’m not speaking of a war against culture, but of transforming it because we overcame our own failure to conform to Scripture. When our lives glow with the fruit of living out the Bible, the world will notice.

China is looking for a worldview to replace Marxism. They want something that will sustain their nation. They are seriously considering Christianity, but they don’t understand why we are walking away from it. Why is the West moving away from what they see gave it its success?[10]

My question is: how does our generation see the success of the Bible lived out unless we live it? We cannot start with it in our public schools, until we start with it in our homes. When the world sees the transformational power of living biblical lives they will want what we have. History proves this maxim. Let us make history by making the Bible our standard once again. 

 

[1] Guinness, Os, Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2016) p. 39

[2] Guinness, Os, Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2016) p. 33

[3] Novak, Michael, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the America’s Founding (New York: Encounter Books, 2002) p. 28

[4] Kirk, Russell, The Roots of American Order (Wilmington: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2002) p. 229

[5] Schaeffer, Francis, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1984) p. 47

[6] Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), pp. 94, 100, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”

[7] Noah Webster, A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects (New York: Webster and Clark, 1843), p. 291, from his “Reply to a Letter of David McClure on the Subject of the Proper Course of Study in the Girard College, Philadelphia. New Haven, October 25, 1836.” Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), p. 6.

[8] Bradley, Ian. The Call to Seriousness: The Evangelical Impact on the Victorians, Lion Books; London, November 17, 2006.

[9] Mangalwadi, Vishal and Ruth, The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of Culture (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1999)

[10] Guinness, Os, Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2016), Chapter 1

 


Karla Perry, author of Back to the Future: Rebuilding America's Stability, is an avid writer with a penetrating and thought-provoking style. Karla helps people develop healthy worldviews through kingdom-based thinking. Her articles are published regularly in The MorningStar Journal. Karla lives with her husband, Joseph, in Virginia Beach, VA, where they lead Remnant Ministries, a member of the MorningStar Fellowship of Churches. You can find more of Karla's work at www.karlaperry.com


 

Note the flag at the top of the mast that reads, "Appeal to Heaven."  This was our first national flag, and yet now prayer is banned in most public places.



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