“Pastors Taught America’s Founders”

Listen to or read this week’s “Think About It” Radio Program: “Pastors Taught America’s Founders”

© 2012 Don Pinson  /  To Download, right-click here: [Download]  / 

To any honest, diligent student of history it is obvious that the generation of America’s Founders was one of (if not the) wisest generation that ever walked this earth.  The Republic they gave birth to would rival the greatest nations on earth after only 50 years.  Many political thinkers would come here just to try to find the secret of the genius of this Republic.  Since then, probably more people have, of their own free will, immigrated here than to any other nation on earth; which shows us the greatness of what they created.

Where did America’s Founders get this kind of wisdom?  Who taught them as children and young people in such a way so as to produce the greatest nation in world history?  It was basically two groups.  Their parents—and their Pastors.  And since the Pastors did much of the teaching of their parents—the average adult heard 15,000 hours of Bible teaching in their lifetime–we can honestly say it was the Pastors who shaped their thinking. Their Pastors were generally men of deep Biblical study.  And most sermons were not on how to go to heaven—parents taught that to their children—Pastor’s sermons were great studies on how to live out the Bible in their present day culture; including the Biblical method of operating education, business, and government.  Thus, you could say that, in essence, our Founders learned to think about education, economy, and government, from their Pastors’ explanation of those subjects from the Bible.

The Pastor of the Pilgrims, John Robinson, taught them how to structure civil government from the Bible.  God had given a Biblical Republic to Moses to give to Israel, and John Robinson gave that Republic to the Pilgrims.  This enabled them to write their own civil government when they landed outside the boundaries of English government.  The Mayflower Compact, as it came to be called, was a civil government based on the Biblical idea of covenant; which is what a republic is.  Thus, it was a Pastor who shaped New England’s earliest government.

In the 1700’s this tradition was continued by such men as Samuel Davies, the great Presbyterian Pastor in Virginia.  As Ambassador to England he preached at the court of King George II.  When, as Davies was preaching, the King spoke several times to those around him, the preacher looked into the eyes of the King and said,

“When the lion roars, the beasts of the forest all tremble; and when King Jesus speaks, the princes of the earth should keep silence.”

(Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, Slater; San Francisco, 1980, p.142)

A young man who often heard Davies preach and would greatly benefit from his example of boldness was Patrick Henry; who’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech would fire Americans all over the continent to stand up and fight for their God-given rights of life, liberty and property.

Another minister, John Witherspoon, would inspire many of our Founders while he was President of Princeton College.  Witherspoon, who himself signed the Declaration of Independence, taught, among other Founders, young James Madison.  After considering going into the ministry, Madison decided that was not his call; but to carry Biblical ideas into government was his call.  It would be Madison who would write most of our original Constitution!

America’s Pastors shaped the thinking that would change the world with Biblical ideas.

Pastor, teacher, parent:  What Biblical ideas are you planting into those God has placed in your charge?

Think about it; because if you don’t, someone else will do your thinking for you—and for your children!  And you won’t like what that brings to you.  I’m Don Pinson this has been Think About It.