A Christian Nation? (Part II)

Christianity does not need America to thrive, but I think America definitely needs Christianity to survive and thrive.

Our culture has forgotten what our Founders knew. The American experiment is a spiritual, moral and cultural exercise, not just a political one. Private virtue, rooted in biblical faith, is essential for the American experiment to work as the Founders intended.

Our Founders saw America as a passionate and principled people, not just a secular political system. They defined this nation by the values and ideals that animated the hearts and lives of the people. President John Adams wrote:

    John Adams (1735 – 1826)One great advantage of the Christian Religion is that it brings the great Principle of the Law of Nature andNations, Love your Neighbor as yourself and do to others as you would that others should do to you,–to the Knowledge, Belief and Veneration of the whole people. (From the diary of John Adams on August 14, 1796 (Quoted from Sydney Ahlstrum’s book, ‘A Religious History of the American People’).

In other words, Adams saw the “Christian religion” as the source that brings those great principles of law and love to the “whole people.”

Read the acts of congress that decreed days of “Fasting and Repentance” for early Americans. Consider the declarations of Thanksgiving issued by such leaders as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others. They shatter all doubt that we were a Christian nation from the beginning.

The phrase “Christian nation” should not be understood here in a personal sense but as a descriptive adjective (like calling Harding University a “Christian college”). Does America get to go to heaven? No. I use this phrase not to make a theological claim but to strengthen our grateful grip on the priceless Christian heritage with which we were blessed as a people.

The French Revolution in the late 18th century shared many political ideals with the American Revolution that preceded it. However, it ended up as a human disaster, inciting a violent “Reign of Terror,” all in the name of high ideals like “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Ours was more successful in the long run, in my view, because we had a strong colonial Christian base upon which to build our democratic ideals and forms of governing. Questions regarding the biblical justification for our War of Independence are a debatable among reasonable believers but that question lies beyond my point here. I am positing that the deep-seated Christian character of our colonial community and the friendly posture our Founders took with regard to Christian faith were powerful factors that made a significant difference in the ultimate results of these revolutions.

French revolutionaries fancied themselves as “worshippers” of reason and their fierce “enlightened” anti-Christian arrogance fostered a vicious thirst for innocent blood. By stark contrast, our Founders bore an abounding respect for Christianity. That some were not orthodox does not diminish my point.

Later, the Russian Revolution (early in the 20th century) yielded even worse results. Its idealistic Marxist legacy became a longstanding blight on that country and the world. Marxist revolutionaries were atheist to the core. Their 20th century “experiments” led to more human slaughter (under Lenin and Stalin in the USSR and Mao in China) than any other ideology in history.

I believe our Christian heritage and our Founder’s respect for it made the difference for the good in the results of the revolutionary movements compared above. In America, the Enlightenment ideals of the 18th century had the opportunity to take root in a colonial culture wherein Christian values provided a strong moral foundation. Both sets of ideals were flawed when put into practice but they complimented each other generally for the good on our side of the Atlantic.

As early as 1776, John Adams wrote in a letter:

    Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue. (June 21, 1776).

I believe the best politics on earth are worthless without foundations set in faith.


Picture Credits

Founding Fathers

John Adams


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

A Christian Nation?

President Obama may not consider the United States a “Christian nation” (as he denied in Turkey on April 6, 2009), but our Founders certainly did.

But wait! Didn’t President John Adams write: “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” (May 26, 1797, submitted to Congress; The Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11)?

Yes, it’s true. If by “nation,” Obama only meant our government, then he was right. However, there is much more to America than politicians and government (thank God). Our people, culture, language and faith also define us. Clearly stated, America was founded as a Christian nation with a secular government.

Too many of us presume that America was founded when politicians said so. Wrong. The experiment we call America began as Pilgrims, Puritans and others began arriving on these shores to live free of continental monarchies and according to the precepts of God’s word as they understood them. A huge step forward was taken when politicians signed The Declaration of Independence in 1776 and adopted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, but those steps were part of a much larger journey. Americans must learn to look beyond politicians (past, present and future) for our definition and purpose as a nation.

President Calvin Coolidge
President Calvin Coolidge understood the spiritual roots behind our Declaration of Independence. He was aware of the influence of the classics of ancient Rome (which he read in the original Latin) and some Enlightenment philosophers on our Founders, but he was well read enough to also honor the richer home-grown influences, including that of several generations of colonial preachers. In his speech celebrating the 150th anniversary of The Declaration of Independence in 1926, Coolidge said,

    “[The Founders] preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.”

Coolidge continued:

    “[The] Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event.”

Our Founders made it clear that American values emanated not from political documents but from Judeo-Christian convictions. Images of America as the “new Israel” abound in their speeches and writings. The Declaration of Independence itself contains four references to God (“Creator”, “Lawmaker”, “Supreme Judge,” and “Protector”). John Dickinson, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, wrote:

    “Our liberties do not come from charters; for these are only the declarations of pre-existing rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.”

On October 11, 1798, President John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Many similar statements can be cited. Our Constitution did not establish America as a Christian nation. It provided laws and governing terms for us as a Christian nation.

In his book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, Michael Novak outlined the rich roles played by both faith and reason in our founding. In my lifetime, however, the radically secular American education establishment (from K to Ph.D.) has increasingly disregarded most anything related to America’s Christian heritage. This is poor scholarship and it cuts off one of the two wings that once enabled us to soar. Anyone who sees our nation, from its beginning, as more than our politics understands that our Christian heritage is an essential element of our original and ongoing definition as a nation. This priceless heritage may be largely gone in the hearts and minds of many educated but under-learned Americans today, but that’s because intellectual honesty is all too absent as well.


Photo Credits:

Declaration of Independence
President Calvin Coolidge
Christian Heritage


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.


(Insights on Sin from an Expert)

Confession of sin is rare because we tend to think sin is NBD—No Big Deal. Maybe the sins of others are a big deal to you but what about your own?

The power of pornography to destroy lives and relationships is widely minimized. Many (often those who sell it) claim it can be therapeutic. Make enough excuses for smut, gossip, drug-abuse or cheating, and soon you’ll be singing of their “redeeming qualities.”

Profanity and vulgarity are expected in entertainment and defended as necessary to depict “real life.”

Shacking up (living together outside of marriage) is routine. Some see it as smart to test-drive the car before making the deal. The car? The deal? Is nothing sacred?

With an election coming, America is focused on the economy. Never mind the devastating impact of abortion (even live-birth abortion), illegitimacy, shattered families, suicide, lying, homosexuality, violent crime and other such pathologies. In the ‘90’s, a president committed adultery with a White House intern and lied under oath (perjury). The main defense his party offered was that it was NBD—just a partisan distraction. Some defenders shouted, “Move on!” Others said, “It’s just sex!” Just sex?

The serpent in the garden used the NBD approach to minimize the consequences of sin. He said to Eve, “You surely shall not die.” He promised that sin could open up her eyes. He lied. Nothing closes our eyes like sin. Take it from an expert (King David):

First, sin blocks self-understanding, making honesty impossible. In Psalm 36, King David wrote of the man who “…flatters himself too much to detect his own sin.” (36:2). The king continued, “…he has ceased to be wise and to do good.” (36:3). Self-flattery closes our eyes to reality.

Second, sin blocks prayer, our lifeline to God. The Psalmist wrote, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18). Confess sin, don’t cherish it.

Third, sin blocks joy. King David learned that when he kept silent about his sin; his body wasted away, he groaned continually, and his vitality drained away. When he acknowledged his sin and stopped covering it up, his burden was lifted (see Psalm 32:3-5). In pain, he once prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12).

Fourth, sin blocks love. David wrote, “If a man does not repent, he will sharpen his sword.’ (Psalm 7:12). Jesus expanded on the same idea, saying, “Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12).

Above all, Satan hates humble confession of sin. He wants us to boast of our sins and glorify their role in our health and happiness. The modern phrase, “she has a healthy attitude toward sex” does not tend to convey a preference for purity. Sin is not just unhealthy; it kills. Clogged arteries lead to heart attacks. Blocked intestines cannot be tolerated. Sin is deadly because it clogs and obstructs any possibility for a relationship with God, our only resource for genuine hope.

Confession is the key to love, joy, truth and prayer. Covered up, sin enslaves us. Like Dracula, sin hates sunlight. Exposed to the light of day, it is no match for things like love. We cannot know real love, joy, truth or prayer without letting God’s light shine on our sin.

Confession: I write on sin as an expert myself!

Photo Credits:
King David
Garden of Eden


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

The Agency of the Holy Spirit

(A ‘Top Ten’ list, plus two, by Joel Solliday)

The Holy Spirit is…

    1. A Free Agent! We cannot contain the Holy Spirit nor do our expectations control Him. Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). And He freely distributes spiritual gifts “as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

    2. An Agent of God’s Love, which He pours out in our hearts “through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).

    3. An Agent of Life! Paul wrote, “…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6). This includes eternal life: “The one who sows to please the Sprit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8). The Christ child growing inside the virgin Mary came “through the holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18).

    4. An Agent of Liberty! Paul wrote, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17). He makes us free as the wind (John 3:8).

    5. An Agent of Growth! The fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”), require growth. The Holy Spirit makes witnesses (Acts 1:8) and is the real reason the early church grew, despite many obstacles and struggles. This includes numerical growth (Acts 9:31).

    6. An Agent of Leadership. The Spirit was involved in Moses’ delegation of authority (Numbers 11:17). He came upon David mightily at his anointing as a leader (1 Samuel 16:13). He ordains elders (Acts 20:28). Paul adds, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).

    7. An Agent of Truth. Jesus promised, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13). But He hates lies. When Ananias and Sapphira “lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3), they died on the spot.

    8. An Agent of Conviction! Jesus said of the Spirit, “When he comes, he will convict the world with guilt with regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8). His work in us is vital, but not always fun.

    9. An Agent of Prayer. When words fail in prayer, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26). Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” (Ephesians 6:18).

    10. An Agent of Strength! Zechariah put it best; “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6). Later, Luke credited the Holy Spirit for strengthening and encouraging the early church (Acts 9:31). Paul added, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness…” (Romans 8:26).

    11. An Agent of Unity. Paul referred to “the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3) as something we must maintain (rather than create). He advised, “…stand firm in one spirit.” (Philippians 1:27). His instrument for uniting us is baptism: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

    12. A Powerful Agent of Hope. Paul wrote; “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

And that’s the short list!


Photo Credit

Baptism. Retrieved on September 3, 2012


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.