In today’s America, the division between beliefs and worldviews is becoming greater and starker. I recently read a brief observation made of those who are “emotionally arrested,” meaning they do not possess a mature, healthy ability to process truth and interact with others.
Three sequential steps are seen in these emotionally immature people. First, they doubt the truth, which means they believe lies. Secondly, they fear knowledge, leading to prejudicial thinking (“Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind is made up!”). Finally, this digression leads emotionally immature people to an inability to handle conflict, leaving them with only mud-slinging as a defense. These are often referred to as ad hominem attacks, in which the one who cannot support his argument with facts resorts to personal attacks on his opponent instead. It was Aristotle who said, “When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”
This is why the Bible holds truth to be so vitally important. The first sin in all of creation was preceded by the crafty serpent telling half-truths and outright lies to Eve in the Garden of Eden. We have been stumbling in deception ever since. In a word picture of gearing up for spiritual battle, the writer of Ephesians in the New Testament dresses the warrior first with the belt of truth buckled around his waist!
Our Founding Fathers believed the eternal truths found in the Bible to be so important they referred to it often in establishing the new nation. One of the verses they often quoted was Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
With that in mind I want to discuss an oft told lie (and which many people believe) about our form of government which has to do with the “separation of church and state.” If you were to ask 100 Americans if that phrase appears in the U.S. Constitution, the vast majority would probably say, “yes.” They have been led to believe that the founding fathers intended for there to be absolutely no impact of religion upon the nation’s government, and established a virtual “wall of separation” between church and state.
But where did the phrase and concept come from and what does it mean?
Far from being included anywhere in America’s founding documents, the origin of the term “wall of separation” can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson who used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In the letter’s context, President Jefferson assured the group the state was not going to meddle in the affairs of the church. He was not suggesting thereby the church and religion should have no influence upon the government. After all, the first amendment to the constitution spells this out quite clearly and for good reason.
The early settlers came to this continent to escape the religious persecution they were suffering under the state churches of Europe. Our founders clearly understood they were to stay out of the business of the church so as not to repeat the tyranny they had fled.
This is not to say the founders were not influenced by the teachings of the Bible. Fifty three of the 55 founding fathers were orthodox evangelical Christians and many were ordained pastors. In 1776, 99.8 percent of all Americans called themselves Christians. (.2% Jewish).
Since nothing like our form of government had ever been tried before, our founders studied past governments and ideas written by great minds. Some years ago, over 15,000 writings of our founding era were examined leading researchers to discover 3,154 quotes in those writings. Fully 34 percent of those quotes were from the Holy Bible. That’s four times higher than the second most quoted source, which was Charles Montesquieu at 8.3 percent. Next were John Locke at 7.9 percent and William Blackstone at 2.9 percent. Furthermore, these three individuals often quoted the Bible as their moral plumb line.
Locke (1632-1704) was the author of “Treatise on Government” which was the primary text used in writing our Declaration of Independence to show the proper operation of civil government. In approximately 400 pages, Locke invoked the Bible over 1,500 times, amounting to nearly four occurrences per page.
Does this emphasis by our founders on the Bible as the source of eternal truth make our country different from others? Oh my, yes! English writer and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton perhaps put it best when he wrote that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” By that he meant most nations were centered around a particular ethnic identity. England is English, France is French but the U.S.A. was a land of immigrants and something more powerful was needed to bring unity to this wide diversity. (This is the very meaning of the Latin phrase found on our currency—e pluribus unum—which means “out of many, one.”) That powerful “something” was the U.S. Constitution which was based on biblical truth.
To come back to where we started, an honest study of the genesis of America’s experiment in self-government proves not only is the phrase “separation of church and state” nowhere to be found in our Constitution, the founders never meant to imply religion and the Bible should have no influence whatsoever on the decisions and actions of the government. Meanwhile, the constant gaslighting from the left on this front has been the source of great mischief, leading courts to punishing public high school coaches for publicly praying at football games and telling school children they can’t bring Bibles to school.
In 2 Corinthians 3:17 we find the statement, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (I would paraphrase that as, “where the Spirit of the Lord ain’t, freedom isn’t.”)
Do we want separation of church and state? Yes, we do want the government to stay out of the church’s business, but the influence of the church (the Spirit of the Lord) must be felt by the state in order to maintain peace and justice and the freedom we have enjoyed for 236 years!
After all, “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!”(Psalm 33:12)