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The Founders Wanted the Gospel Preached?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

If one were to make a listing of what America stands in dire need of, the listing would differ dramatically from person to person—and politician to politician. Nowadays, the list would most certainly include concerns over the economy, illegal immigration, the price of oil, taxes, and a host of other issues. Would anyone today place on such a list the need for the Gospel of Christ to be preached and promoted throughout the nation and the world? Incredibly, the Founders of America did just that.

On October 20, 1779, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation to the entire nation:

Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God, with gratitude and praise for the wonders which his goodness has wrought...above all, that he hath diffused the glorious light of the gospel,whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of his eternal glory: therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies, and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States (Journals of..., 15:1191-1193, emp. added).

“The glorious light of the gospel” is an allusion to 2 Corinthians 4:4, and “heirs of his eternal glory” is a reference to 2 Timothy 2:10. Diffusing the Gospel of Christ was of paramount importance to the Founders. However imperfectly they conceptualized the pure, nondenominational, New Testament Gospel, they thanked God that the Gospel had been thoroughly diffused throughout America.

One year later in October of 1780, they issued another proclamation to the country’s population in which they thanked God for “continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace” (Journals of…, 18:950-951)—an expression taken from the New Testament books of Romans (10:15) and Ephesians (6:15). And then on October 18, 1783, with the Revolutionary War drawing to a close, they again proclaimed to all Americans their gratitude for numerous blessings bestowed by God, “and above all, that he hath been pleased to continue to us the light of the blessed gospel [an allusion to 2 Corinthians 4:4—DM], and secured to us in the fullest extent the rights of conscience in faith and worship” (Journals of…, 25:699-701, emp. added).

America has drifted so far from her moorings that the average citizen no longer sees the critical need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be disseminated throughout the population. Indeed, Americans have, in fact, become so enamored with the innocuous and inane notions of political correctness and celebrating diversity that many are openly hostile to Christianity and its vital historical role in the founding and perpetuation of our nation. (Ironically and hypocritically, all other religions are encouraged and affirmed by the same citizens. Cf. the U.S. House resolution commending Islam, H. Res. 635, 2007). Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress (1782-1783), expressed his “anxious desire” that “our country should be preserved from the dreadful evil of becoming enemies to the religion of the Gospel, which I have no doubt, but would be introductive of the dissolution of government and the bonds of civil society” (1801, p. xxii, emp. added). The Founders would be heartsick that American society has gone from vibrant respect for Gospel precepts, to indifference, to being ashamed, and now to outright rejection. The apostle Paul’s declaration ought to be deeply imprinted on every true American’s heart and soul: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16). Indeed, only the Gospel can save our souls—and only the precepts of that same Gospel of Jesus Christ can rescue our nation.

REFERENCES

Boudinot, Elias (1801), The Age of Revelation (Philadelphia, PA: Asbury Dickins), http://www.google.com/books?id=XpcPAAAAIAAJ.

Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.

U.S. House (2007), “Recognizing the Commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic Holy Month of Fasting and Spiritual Renewal, and Expressing Respect to Muslims in the United States and Throughout the World on This Occasion, and For Other Purposes,” H. Res. 635, October 2, Sponsor Eddie Johnson [D-TX].




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