-- by Sen. H.L. Richardson
Seems as if Americans today are constantly complaining about the lack of leadership -- someone to lead us out of the political and moral mess in which we now find ourselves. No doubt about it, there's a batch of political figures clamoring and posturing for the job, but as yet -- no one stands out above the rest.
May I make a suggestion? Why not use the criteria our forefathers used to pick their top leader. In fact, one like that may still be available.
Well now you ask -- who might that be?
Let's start by asking our American founders who did they pick -- and pick they did! Let's start by asking John Jay, George Washington, Sam and John Adams, James Madison and Patrick Henry. Who led them in thought and action?
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wrote “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based on and embody the Redeemer of Mankind…it is impossible that it should be otherwise and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”
Madison, the Father of our Constitution wrote: "It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”
John Adams, our second president said, "You have the rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.”
George Washington stated, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible” and “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence [divine guidance] of Almighty God.”
When signing the Declaration of Independence Sam Adams proudly stated, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom men alone ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven… from the rising to the setting sun, His kingdom come.”
Chief Justice John Jay called Him the Redeemer. Madison referred to the “Almighty Hand,” John Adams called Him the “Great Legislator,” George Washington acknowledged “His Providential Hand” in governing, and Sam Adams mentioned “the Sovereign” to whom we should all be obedient.
The most dynamic and outspoken American patriot was Patrick Henry, who said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
There you have it -- Jesus Christ was their supreme leader, their guiding hand, the great legislator, the providential Hand that they all followed in their personal, business and political life. The vast majority of our constitutional forefathers believed in the Triune God, The Father. They believed in the Holy Spirit who guides the believers. They believed and followed the words of Jesus, found exclusively in Holy Scripture. It was Christ who led our founding fathers and the Bible was their manual of action.
And by the way, He's still alive and still available and the Bible is readily available.
Some skeptics usually pipe up and say, “OK, that was then but that was hundred’s of years ago. Few live political leaders think so today.”
Not so. It’s been only in the last few generations that such radical changes have come about, slowly at the beginning of the Twentieth Century then picking up speed in the last forty years. Jesus Christ has become a swear word to a growing number of heathens instead of calling Him the Leader of our nation.
Up until the middle of the Twentieth Century, every American president from Washington to Harry Truman referred to America as a Christian nation, and only a remote few ever doubted or complained about it.
The above quotes aren’t just randomly selected from the late 1700's. They represent the thinking of the vast majority of those who established the Constitution and men who governed our nation for the next 146 years. They were a God fearing people. In revolutionary days, 98% of the people called themselves Christians. Today, 86 % still do.
Let me give you a few more examples of quotes from Christian leaders that followed the founding fathers. Forty years after the Declaration of Independence, Noah Webster, the great educator, stated, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen of equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitution of government.”
Webster said, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws….All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”
President John Quincy Adams stated “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one undisolvable bond, the principles of civil government with those of Christianity.”
Andrew Jackson, our 7th President and founder of the Democratic party said “The Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
Ulysses S. Grant, our 18TH President said, “Hold fast to the Bible as the anchor to your liberty: write the precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “I am nothing but truth is everything; I know that I am right because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God.”
In the 1890's, President William McKinley, not known to be reticent in speaking his mind, boldly voiced this opinion, “Nail the flag just below the cross! That is high enough -- Christ and country, nothing can come between or prevail against them.”
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, our 26th President saw the pagan tempest on the horizon. Theodore Roosevelt stated “There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.” Roosevelt also said, “If a man is not familiar with the Bible, he has suffered a loss which he had better make all possible haste to correct.”
How about President Woodrow Wilson, who warned, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, or where it is trying to go. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about…” He also said, “I firmly believe in Divine Providence. Without a belief in Providence I think I should go crazy. Without God the world would be a maze without a clue.”
Isn't that a wee bit like American politics today, "a maze without a clue?"
President Calvin Coolidge remarked, "It seems…perfectly plain…that the right to equality…has for its foundation reverence for God. If we could imagine that swept away…Our American government could not long survive."
If modern times is the criteria, then how about another who presided over this country during the middle of the Twentieth Century. President Truman said, “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount…If we don’t have a proper fundamental background, we will end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the rights of anybody except the state."
Harry Truman was the last president to publicly refer to America as a Christian nation.
Although our 35th President John F Kennedy didn't call our nation "a Christian nation,” he certainly didn't hide his Catholic beliefs when he said, “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
Neither did our 40th President, Ronald Reagan hide his, for he said, “Without God there is a coarsening of society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure… If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under."
Historical evidence clearly points to the fact that we were a Christian people who, like thirty-three consecutive presidents, followed the leadership of Christ, but it is debatable that we still are, even though subsequent presidents have not hidden their Christian beliefs. We were once a “historically developed community of people” with a “common language.” We had a distinctive culture, we were a common community of people who shared the same ethics, and believed in the same principles. It can be argued that the only common constant we now have is the limitations of territory, bound by two oceans and two porous borders.
Theodore Roosevelt said it so well that it bears repeating, “There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.”
Christian ethics vs. the whole of paganism. This is our present national malady, the eternal struggle between two irreconcilable differences, which only one will emerge triumphant. One believes Jesus is God and our leader, or one really doesn't.
A statement of C.S. Lewis, one of the great intellectuals of the Twentieth Century, said it best when he spoke of Jesus:
I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ This one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic -- on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil in Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. [Emphasis added.]
Are we wise enough to desire the leadership that built this great nation and return to following Jesus, the Son of God? Or, do we stumble down the political atheistic road that has been set before us? Time will soon tell -- and so will eternity.