(Digital Editor's Note: This article was published first in the March 2023 print edition of The Stand. The guest writer is Dr. Robert Jeffress.)
History Gives Evidence of Our Nation's Christian Founding
How can we confidently say that America was founded as a Christian nation? First, let’s examine the spiritual beliefs of the men who were responsible for framing the United States Constitution. They were hardly neutral toward religion. Fifty-one of the fifty-five men who attended the Constitutional Convention were Christians.
In fact, two are our founders. Elias Boudinot and John Jay went on to lead the American Bible Society. They believed the message of the Bible could transform lives and set the nation on a proper moral course.
It is true that of our founders, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, were deists, not Christians. Yet even these deists did not deny the spiritual foundation of our country. For example, the two men proposed seals for the new nation that depicted Moses and the pillar of fire. They believed God’s presence guiding the Israelites should be the symbol of our country.
In addition, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the Constitutional Convention should seek God’s blessing in an opening prayer at every session. During the meeting on June 28, 1787, Franklin said, “I have lived … a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured … in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’”
For further proof of the founders’ beliefs, we can look at state constitutions from the early years of our country. The majority of states had a religious requirement in order to hold any sort of political office. For example, here’s what every elected or appointed official in Delaware had to subscribe to, according to article 22 of the state constitution: “I, A B, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.” Today, many seminaries don’t require their professors to subscribe to these beliefs! Yet such a confession was required to hold office in several states.
Some years ago, researchers Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman from Indiana University did a study to determine which philosophers and schools of thought were cited most often in early American political writings. After 10 years of poring over books, pamphlets, newspapers, and other publications, they found that the Bible was cited just as often as classical sources or English common law. Lutz wrote, “It is relevant … to note the prominence of biblical sources for American political thought, since it was highly influential in our political tradition.”
Even the secular media recognizes the centrality of the Bible in our nation’s founding. In a piece titled “How the Bible Made America,” Newsweek magazine (on 12/27/82) reported, “Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document.” The historical evidence points to the Bible as our country’s founding document.
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted by permission. It is Chapter 1 in Dr. Robert Jeffress’ latest book America is a Christian Nation. The book is available for a donation at ptv.org.