"A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Continuing To Grow INTRODUCTION 1. Growth is necessary in all areas of life: business, science, industry, etc. 2. This is especially true in our lives as Christians - Ep 4:14-15; 1Pe 2:2; 2Pe 3:18; 2Th 1:3 3. But spiritual growth must be well-rounded, balanced growth a. The Christian must grow in knowledge, in zeal, in faith, in Christ-like character, in good works b. The Christian must not be full of knowledge while his disposition remains un-Christlike 4. This final lesson is intended to help us continue growing ever closer to God and more productive in our service to Jesus Christ [It is beneficial to be aware of those things which act as...] I. HINDRANCES TO GROWTH A. LACK OF EFFORT... 1. Growing in Christ is not automatic 2. One may still be a "babe" after many years - cf. He 5:13;1Co 3:1,2 3. Growth requires effort, but those who are spiritually lazy will simply follow the course of least resistance; such will forever remain "babes" , if they do not fall away altogether B. DISCOURAGEMENT... 1. Some people make a good beginning, but get discouraged and quit 2. Reasons may vary: church troubles, personal problems, lack of encouragement from others, etc. 3. But consider the example of the apostle Paul: a. Few of us would ever have the problems he had - 2Co 11:24-29 b. Yet he did not "lose heart" (become discouraged) - 2Co 4:8-9 c. Why? Because he knew his labor was not in vain - 2Co 4:16-5:1 4. And so he encourages us not to grow weary in doing good - Ga 6:9; 1Co 15:58 C. THE LAW OF DISUSE... 1. A knife stays bright when used, but unused it becomes rusty 2. So it is with Christians, we lose what knowledge, ability, and opportunity we have when we do not use them! 3. To use another metaphor, unless we are earnest in our endeavor, we will simply "drift away" from the Lord - He 2:1 D. THE LAW OF INTERFERENCE... 1. Crops, trees and flowers do not grow well when crowded 2. So our spiritual growth will be hindered if we allow others to crowd out our spiritual life a. Businessmen may become too busy to attend to God's business b. A woman may get so occupied with housekeeping that she has little time for God c. Young people may be so busy with school activities that prayer, worship, good works and Bible study are crowded out d. Preachers might get so tied down with meetings, administrative duties, etc., that they too do not have time to spend alone with God 3. Jesus warned about the danger of interference - Mk 4:18-19 [In an effort to prevent succumbing to these hindrances, here are some...] II. SUGGESTIONS FOR CONTINUING YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH A. BECOME ACTIVE IN THE WORK OF THE CONGREGATION... 1. Begin immediately! a. It is important not to delay (remember the "hindrances") b. There is work for everyone, and it is best to start with something you are able to handle c. Even the most humble service can be a source of joy for those who are doing it to please God - cf. Ps 84:10;Jn 13:12-17 2. Offer your services to the elders! a. These men will be glad to find work for you to do in keeping with your ability b. Sometimes they hesitate to call on people for work if they are not sure the people are willing c. But let them know that you have the attitude of Isaiah: "Here am I! Send me." - Isa 6:8 3. Look for work needing to be done! a. The best servant is one who can see things to be done and does them without having to be told every step to take b. Most of us are good critics; here is how we can put that ability to good use: 1) Whenever we see something we want to criticize, take that as an opportunity to SHOW (not tell) how it should be done 2) Someone else's failure is often our opportunity to be of service 3) In other words, "Don't criticize, energize!" B. START A PROGRAM OF REGULAR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS... 1. Spend time each day alone with God, engaged in prayer, Bible study, singing praises 2. Such time consistently spent will supply the spiritual nourishment necessary for spiritual growth 3. Many Christians do not grow because they try to exist on a "spiritual starvation diet"! C. PARTICIPATE IN AN INFORMAL BIBLE STUDY GROUP... 1. Meet weekly with other Christians in an informal setting to study the Bible together 2. This provides opportunity for mutual sharing and encouragement which leads to even more knowledge and spiritual growth D. BECOME INVOLVED IN LEADING PEOPLE TO CHRIST... 1. Begin implementing the suggestions in the lesson on increasing opportunities to share the gospel 2. Even if you don't do the actual teaching, you can do what Andrew and Philip did: lead a friend to Christ! - Jn 1:40-46 3. Those involved in leading others to Christ rarely ever stop growing in Christ themselves! E. PRACTICE CONSTANT SELF-EXAMINATION... 1. The Scriptures call us to examine ourselves in our relation to Christ - 2Co 13:5 2. Here are some questions we should often ask ourselves: a. Do I have a better Bible knowledge than one year ago? b. Am I as interested in Jesus Christ today as when I was baptized? c. Have I helped someone else to become a Christian? d. Am I enjoying life as a child of God? e. Am I improving my life, my disposition, and becoming more like Christ? f. Do I set a good example for other Christians? g. Am I growing in such activities as Bible study, prayer,worship? 3. Self-examination is not an easy process, but true spiritual growth is impossible without it! CONCLUSION 1. Though we have come to the end of this series of studies, if we implement the suggestions in this lesson and those preceding, we will successfully embark on a spiritual journey with Christ that will last through eternity! 2. It is sad, but true, that many Christians are often just religious enough to be miserable; but the life of the Christian is intended to be one filled with love, joy, peace, and so much more! - Ga 5:22-23 3. It is my prayer that these lessons may be useful in helping you to truly experience the ABUNDANT LIFE that Jesus provides! - Jn 10:10 "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1Th 5:23-24)
The Quran and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
One very significant clash between the Quran and the Bible, intimately aligned with the person and deity of Jesus, is His redemptive role. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are showcased in the New Testament as the central platform of Christianity (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:2,10,25-28; 5:30-31; 17:31; et al.). The primary reason Jesus came into the world was to carry out the absolutely essential plan of salvation—the means of atonement that makes it possible for God to forgive sin (Isaiah 53:10-11; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). It is only through Christ that forgiveness of sin can occur (Acts 4:12; 13:38; Ephesians 2:18). And it is only through Christ’s shed blood that this remission could be achieved (Hebrews 9:11-10:4,19; 2:14; Colossians 1:14,20; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Revelation 1:5). Christ’s crucifixion (necessarily followed by His resurrection) is unequivocally the supreme feature of the Christian religion. Without that unique and singular event, propitiation would be impossible (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2). Atonement for sin is a mandatory, indispensable necessity—intimately linked with the very nature of deity. God cannot remain just, while simply overlooking or dismissing human sin (Romans 3:25).
But the Quran, in conspicuous contradistinction, shows abject ignorance of the notion of atonement. It, in fact, denies the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ. In a passage that recounts the frequent disobedience of the Jews, the point is made:
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger—They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise (Surah 4:157-158, emp. added).
Since Jesus (allegedly) was not actually crucified, it follows that He likewise was not resurrected from the dead:
(And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ (Surah3:55, emp. added).
In sharp contrast, the New Testament places the resurrection as the platform on which the rest of the Christian system rests. If Jesus was not crucified and subsequently resurrected from the dead, then Christianity is a sham and completely indefensible. As Paul declared:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, emp. added).
The author of the Quran appears oblivious to this deficiency. He endorses Christianity (as long as Christians will acknowledge God as singular), but denies the resurrection. Yet the Christian religion itself admits that if the resurrection did not take place, it is a false religion. In fact, the very name “Christian” would be a blasphemous term if Christ is not to be worshipped as God and Savior. To identify oneself, or others, as “Christians” in an approving manner should be as unacceptable and repugnant to Islam as the identification of Muslims as “Mohammedans.” Yet the Quran frequently lends dignity to the term “Christian” in an approving manner (Surah 2:62,111,113,120; 5:51,69,82; 22:17)—all the while denying its most central tenet.
Cyrus the Great: King of Persia
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, is mentioned twenty-two times in the Old Testament—an evidence of his prominence in the biblical scheme of things in those declining days of Judah’s history. When Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian regime in 539 B.C., he was disposed quite favorably toward the Jews. Ezra 1:1-2 reads as follows:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and he also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, Jehovah, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Exactly how the Lord “stirred up the spirit” of the Persian ruler no one is able to say precisely. That God is able to operate in international affairs—to effect His sovereign will—is certain (Daniel 2:21; 4:17), but how He accomplishes these things, using seemingly natural means, remains a mystery. But there is an interesting possibility. Josephus, the famous Hebrew historian who had access to historical records long since lost, stated that Cyrus was exposed to the prophecies of Isaiah (44:26-45:7), who, more than 150 years earlier, had called the Persian monarch by name, and had announced his noble role in releasing the Hebrews from captivity and assisting in the rebuilding of the Jewish temple (XI.I.2). It is a fact that Daniel was still living in the early years of Cyrus’ reign (see Daniel 10:1), and he might well have been the very one who introduced the Persian commander to Isaiah’s testimony. Interestingly, there is archaeological information that lends support to the biblical record.
During excavations at Babylon (1879-82), archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam discovered a small (ten inches), clay, barrel-shaped cylinder that contained an inscription from Cyrus. Now housed in the British Museum, the cylinder reported the king’s policy regarding captives: “I [Cyrus] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations” (Pritchard, 1958, 1:208). As noted scholar Jack Finegan observed: “The spirit of Cyrus’s decree of release which is quoted in the Old Testament (II Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2-4) is confirmed by the Cyrus cylinder...” (1946, p. 191).
The science of archaeology frequently has been a willing witness to the integrity of the sacred Scriptures.
Finegan, Jack (1946), Light from the Ancient Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Josephus, Flavius (1957), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, transl. William Whitson (Philadelphia, PA: John C. Winston).
Pritchard, James B. (1958), The Ancient Near East (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Atheist Asks: “Have You Read the Bible in its Entirety?”
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
Since 2008, the Atheist Agenda, a student organization on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio, has hosted an event called “Smut for Smut.” The group offers to give a free pornographic magazine to everyone who will turn in the Bible or other religious books like the Quran (Hallowell, 2012). When the event began it received considerable press, but the 2012 event “barely attracted attention” (2012). In fact, only about 30 people stopped by the booth, and the Atheist Agenda collected just five Bibles, one Quran, and one Encyclopedia of Islam.
While the event was a dismal failure in regard to ramping up hype for atheism on the campus, it did bring to light a very troubling fact about many who call themselves Christians. A video clip posted in Hallowell’s article shows one of the members of the Atheist Agenda confronting what looks like a fellow student. This fellow student is holding up a sign in protest of the event and in support of the Bible. The atheist is attempting to explain why his group equates the Bible with pornography. The fellow student disagrees, and then the atheist asks the student, “Have you read the Bible in its entirety?” The student shakes his head almost imperceptibly, and in a very low voice admits he has not read the Bible. After that, he tries to walk away as the atheist follows him explaining to him all the alleged “horrible things” found “in the Bible” that the young man had not read.
The fact that the young man had not read the Bible utterly demolished any credibility he may have had. Of course, the atheist was misrepresenting what the Bible says. In no legitimate way does the Bible compare to a pornagraphic magazine. But the young student could do nothing to defend the Bible because he had not read it. Suppose that question were asked of you? Could you respond that you have read the Bible? Or would you be shamed into silence and forced to walk away as you listened to an enemy of God revile His precious Word. How in the world can Christians always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks them a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15), if those Christians have not read the Bible in its entirety?
In Romans 2, Paul explained to the Jews that their sinful lives were causing the Gentiles to speak evil of the God of Israel. He scolded them in harsh terms when he wrote: “For ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:24). In a similar way, the modern skeptical community delights in pinpointing “Christians” living sinful lives, or being so apathetic to the teachings of Christ that they do not care enough to read the Bible. Let it never be said of you that your stand for the truth was rendered useless to the cause of Christ because you could not honestly say that you had read the Bible in its entirety. “Hear the word of the Lord…. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:1,6).
Hallowell, Billy (2012), “Atheist Students Encourage Christians to Exchange Their Bibles for…Pornography,” The Blaze, http://news.yahoo.com/atheist-students-encourage-christians-exchange-bibles-pornography-013422828.html.
A Bird, a Plane... Nope, Just a Dinosaur
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
For several years, the mainstream scientific community has been trying to dupe the public into believing that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The dinosaur-to-bird theory is patently false, and the “evidence” for it continues to be, not only extremely tenuous, but oftentimes fraudulent.
Recently the public was introduced to Epidexipteryx hui. The Live Science article described this creature as a “bird-like dinosaur” that “sported bizarre tail feathers” (Bryner, 2008). This little six-ounce, pigeon-sized creature supposedly gives us new insight into the fact that dinosaurs evolved into birds. Yet a cursory look at the article describing the find shows the uncertainty and faulty assumptions packed into such a conclusion. Bryner, the author of the article, noted that the scientists “are not positive about the dates.” She further noted that researcher Zhonghe Zhou said the creature “cannot be the direct ancestor of birds.”
In addition, Bryner wrote that the “tail feathers” sported by this creature are unlike any feathers any person has ever seen. In fact, Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, commented on the alleged tail feathers: “These seem to lack that main shaft down the middle and are just a really long collection of very long, filamentous-like structures” (as quoted in Bryner, 2008). Norell added: “Things more primitive than this [dinosaur] have fully formed feathers. This is just some weirdo kind of thing this animal has” (2008).
In summary, then, a dinosaur that scientists cannot accurately date, which cannot be an ancestor to birds, has some strange filaments unlike any feathers that any scientist has ever seen protruding from its tail. Other creatures supposedly older than this animal have fully formed feathers, yet this little guy allegedly “fills in the gaps about the transition from non-avian dinosaurs to birds” (2008). With all due respect, that is ridiculous. The cold, hard truth of the matter is scientists have never found an animal that is part-dinosaur/part-bird, and they never will. Not only does the biblical record prove that land-living dinosaurs were created after birds (Genesis 1), but the law of Biogenesis precludes the possibility of a “transitional” creature.
Bryner, Jeanna (2008), “Bird-Like Dinosaur Sported Bizarre Tail Feathers,” LiveScience, [On-line],URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,443581,00.html.
America, Christianity, and the Culture War (Part II)
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
POLITICAL DOCUMENTS: SPEECHES AND QUOTES BY FOUNDERS
As one peruses the plethora of speeches, writings, and private correspondence left behind by the Founders, one is literally overwhelmed by their incessant allusion to the critical importance of God and Christianity to national life. One of the great Founders of America was Patrick Henry. On March 23, 1775, over a year before the Declaration of Independence, he attended the Second Virginia Convention (which, by the way, met in a church building in Richmond) to discuss the tyranny of the Crown. The 39-year-old delegate from Hanover County took a seat on the third pew, patiently listening to the pleas of the Tories to refrain from antagonizing the King of England by further talk of independence. When his opportunity to speak finally came, he rose and delivered the following spectacular speech—a speech that cannot be used in the public school system of America today because of its frequent, now deemed politically incorrect, allusion to God and the Bible. Consider a few excerpts:
This is no time for ceremony.... For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. ...There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts [Old Testament term for God in His military might—DM] is all that is left us! ...Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us [2 Chronicles 32:8—DM].... What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it,Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (1775, emp. added).
Patrick Henry’s frequent appeals to God were typical of the Founders. They assigned a theologicalrationale for the Revolutionary War. They viewed the effort to achieve independent national existence as sanctioned by and dependent on the God of the Bible. Such facts have been all but expunged from American history courses.
After independence was achieved, the Founders met for the purpose of hammering out the political principles that would guide the new nation. On June 28, 1787, in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, one of the least religious of the Founders, Benjamin Franklin, now in his 80s, rose to his feet and made the following majestic remarks [NOTE: Lest the reader miss the fact that Franklin’s speech is thoroughly saturated with allusions to God and the Bible, such references are noted in bold and direct biblical citations are indicated in brackets]:
In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights [James 1:17], to illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or, do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs [Acts 1:3] I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men [Daniel 4:17]. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice [Matthew 10:29], is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it” [Psalm 127:1]. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel [Genesis 11]: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages [Psalm 44:13-14; Jeremiah 24:9]. I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessingon our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service (1787, emp. and bracketed material added).
These two speeches by Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin would now be deemed politically incorrect and inappropriate for public schools (unless significantly “abridged”). Even if they were admitted to the history classroom, how many American history teachers today would even recognize the multiple quotations from the Bible?
The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, reflecting on the origin of the nation, stated succinctly the role that God played in America’s founding:
From the day of the Declaration, the people of the North American Union and of its constituent states were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians.... They were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which theynearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct (1821, p. 28, emp. added).The Declaration of Independence cast off all the shackles of this [British] dependency. The United States of America were no longer Colonies. They were an independent nation of Christians (1837, p. 18, emp. added).
Observe carefully that President Adams claimed that all of the Founders believed in the God of the Bible, and that nearly all of them also believed in Christianity. Since John Quincy Adam’s father was a prominent Founder as well as the second President of the United States, surely he was in a much better position to assess America’s founding principles and the intentions of the Founders than anyone today. Yet, the public school system of America since the 1960s has been perpetrating on unsuspecting children the outrageous falsehood that the Founders did not express allegiance to the Christian religion, but were deists at most and more generally irreligious. Who is more qualified to make such an assessment: anti-American, anti-Christian, biased, revisionist historians/educators from the last 50 years—or John Quincy Adams?
Noah Webster, known for his tireless efforts to standardize American English, had much to say about the spiritual underpinnings of America’s government:
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed.... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people (1843, p. 291, emp. added).The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government.... and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence (Snyder, 1990, p. 253, emp. added).
Again, Webster’s remarks are very typical of the Founders in their adamant and repetitious insistence that our form of government can neither be sustained nor perpetuated without the widespread diffusion of Christian principles throughout society.
In a speech to the First Provincial Congress of New Jersey on November 4, 1782, Elias Boudinot, who became President of the Continental Congress, admonished his fellows:
Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned.... Let us earnestly call and beseech him for Christ’s sake to preside in our councils (1896, 1:19, emp. added).
Question: In making such a statement, did President Boudinot say anything that would have been instantly decried as a “violation of church and state” or an insensitive attempt to press his religious beliefs on others? Quite the opposite. The fact that history records this admonition is proof that he was merely expressing the sentiments of the bulk of his contemporaries.
The courts of America once openly avowed the nation’s affiliation with the one true God and the one true religion. For example, in a case that came before the New York State Supreme Court in 1811, a man had been convicted by a lower court for the following offense:
[H]e did on the 2nd day of September, 1810, at Salem, wickedly, maliciously, and blasphemously, utter, and with a loud voice publish, in the presence and hearing of divers good and Christian people, of and concerning the Christian religion, and of and concerning Jesus Christ, the false, scandalous, malicious, wicked and blasphemous words...in contempt of the Christian religion, and the laws of this State (People v. Ruggles, emp. added).
He was found guilty, sentenced to three months in prison, and fined $500. The man’s attorney argued that Christianity was not a part of the laws of the State, and that the Constitution allowed a free toleration to all religions and all kinds of worship. Nevertheless, the State Supreme Court upheld the man’s conviction. The opinion of the court was penned by one of the Fathers of American Jurisprudence, Chief Justice James Kent, whose Commentaries on American Law effectively supplanted Blackstone’s Commentaries as the premier expression of American law:
[W]hatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.... The people of this State, in common with the people of this country,profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; andto scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order.... [T]o revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community, is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound, by any expressions in the constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those imposters (People v. Ruggles, emp. added).
Unbelievable! Not only did this Father of American Jurisprudence forcefully acknowledge the universal recognition that America’s allegiance was to the Christian religion, he committed what would now be considered a grievous, politically incorrect blunder of seismic proportions: he condemned Islam (Muhammad) and Buddhism (the Dalai Lama) as false religions! Yet he was merely expressing the viewpoint of 99.9% of his fellow Americans.
In a case that came before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the court declared America’s unflinching attachment to the general precepts of the Christian religion:
This is the Christianity of the common law, incorporated into the great law of Pennsylvania, and thus, it is irrefragably proved, that the laws and institutions of this state are built on the foundation of reverence for Christianity.... On this the constitution of the United States has made no alteration, nor in the great body of the laws which was an incorporation of the common law doctrine of Christianity, as suited to the condition of the colony, and without which no free government can long exist....No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country.... Christianity is part of the common law of this state. It is not proclaimed by the commanding voice of any human superior, but expressed in the calm and mild accents of customary law. Its foundations are broad, and strong, and deep: they are laid in the authority, the interest, the affections of the people.... [I]t is the purest system of morality, the firmest auxiliary, and only stable support of all human laws (Updegraph..., 1824, emp. added).
In a case that went before the Supreme Court of Maryland in 1799, the justices delivered a unanimous opinion, including the following then-typical affirmations:
Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty. The principles of the Christian religion cannot be diffused, and its doctrines generally propagated, without places of public worship, and teachers and ministers, to explain the scriptures to the people, and to enforce an observance of the precepts of religion by their preaching and living. And the pastors, teachers and ministers, of every denomination of Christians, are equally entitled to the protection of the law, and to the enjoyment of their religious and temporal rights (Runkel..., emp. added).
In 1892, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in which the Court cited instance after instance, proof after proof, that from the very beginning America was closely aligned with the God of the Bible. They brought their review of America’s religious heritage to a close with this grand conclusion: “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation” (Church of the..., emp. added). The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the same in 1931: “We are a Christian people...according to one another the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God” (United States v..., emp. added). How many Americans today realize that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that America is a Christian nation? Many additional instances of the judiciary’s support for the nation’s Christian origins could be cited.
In November of 1861, Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln, issued the following directive to the Director of the Mint in Philadelphia:
No nation can be strong except in the strength of God or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition (“History of In...,” emp. added).
On April 22, 1864, by Act of Congress, the motto “In God we Trust” was approved for placement on American coins, beginning with the 1864 two-cent piece. Congress—a thoroughly political, governmental body—placed an unmitigated religious allusion on government-minted coinage! Apparently, the U.S. Government in 1864 understood neither the Constitution nor the so-called “separation of church and state.” It took the creation of the ACLU to correct such “egregious errors” and provide us with a correct understanding of our Constitution.
Prior to 1864, manifestations of America’s religious preference during the 18th century appeared on the Constellatio Nova copper coins. An eye emanating rays outward toward a surrounding circle of thirteen stars is historically identified as the Eye of Providence, symbolizing divine favor for the new nation (“The Nova...,” n.d.). The same symbolism is on currency notes from the 1770s (“Continental Currency: 1779 $40...”). Other indications of America’s religious heritage manifested on money include the $60 currency note from January 14, 1779. The emblem on the front shows a globe of the Earth with a motto from Psalm 97 in capital letters: “DEUS REGNAT EXULTET TERRA,” i.e., “God reigns, let the Earth rejoice” (“Continental Currency: 1778...”). The 1779 $30 note has an emblem on the front showing a wreath on a tomb, with the motto: “SI RECTE FACIES”—“If you act righteously” (“Continental Currency: 1779 $30...”). Hence, religious references have been on America’s money from the beginning.
Several national symbols provide evidence of America’s premiere attachment to the God of the Bible. Consider three. The Liberty Bell, cast in 1753, served as the official bell of the Pennsylvania State House. However, on July 8, 1776, it rang out to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Since that day, it has served as a national symbol of liberty and is specially housed in Philadelphia near Independence Hall. Most Americans likely do not even realize that the words encircling the bell are taken from Leviticus 25:10—“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof” (“The Liberty...”).
The Statue of Liberty stands on Bedloe’s Island in New York harbor. On the fourth level at the base of the grand lady are seven jade green carrara-like glass plaques, six of which have excerpts from works of great American statesmen (“Statue of Liberty...”). Inscribed on the seventh plaque is Leviticus 25:10—the same Bible verse that is on the Liberty Bell.
How many Americans are aware that we have a National Seal? On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress assigned Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson the task of creating a seal for the United States of America. The seal was to embody the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers wished to pass on to their descendents. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (again, two of the least religious of the Founders) proposed a thoroughly biblical design: Moses crossing the Red Sea, with Pharaoh in hot pursuit. It included the motto: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” (“The Great Seal...”). These two men were so familiar with the Bible, and so believed in the God of the Bible, that they were able to draw the parallel between the relationship of the Israelites to Pharaoh and the relationship of Americans to the King of England. Observe further that both men viewed the separation from England to be in accordance with the will of God. As it turned out, their proposal did not make the cut.
The Great Seal was finalized and approved six years later on June 20, 1782. It has two sides. One side is sometimes referred to as the spiritual side. It contains a 13-step, incomplete pyramid with the year 1776 in Roman numerals at the base. At the top of the pyramid is a triangle (as if finishing out the pyramid) containing the Eye of Providence. Above the Eye is the motto Annuit Coeptis, which is Latin for “He (i.e., God) favors our undertakings” (“Symbols of U.S....”). Both sides of the Great Seal can be seen on the back of a one-dollar bill (“FAQs...”). That means that every dollar bill in America containsthree allusions to the God of the Bible: “In God We Trust,” the Eye of God, and “He favors our undertakings.” ACLU attorneys must be pulling their hair out—though they continue to use the currency.
Government buildings all over the country—from Washington, D.C. to the State capitols—are riddled with religious references, specifically to the God of the Bible and the Christian religion. Ironically, the United States Supreme Court building contains several allusions to the Ten Commandments. Directly above the Bench where the justices sit are two central figures, depicting Majesty of the Law and Power of Government. Between them is a tableau of the Ten Commandments (“Supreme Court...”). In three spots, as part of larger sculptural groups, Moses is depicted with tablets: in the North Courtroom frieze, on the exterior East Pediment, and in one of the Great Hall metopes. Other tablets with the Roman numerals I-X appear on the support frame of the Courtroom’s bronze gates as well as on the lower, interior panel of one of the oak doors that separate the Courtroom from the central hallway (“Symbols of Law”).
Moving to the Library of Congress, eight large statues can be seen above the giant marble columns that surround the main reading room. They represent eight categories of knowledge, each considered symbolic of civilized life and thought. Above the figure of History are words from Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam: “ONE GOD, ONE LAW, ONE ELEMENT, AND ONE FAR-OFF DIVINE EVENT, TO WHICH THE WHOLE CREATION MOVES” (“On These Walls...”). Such words embody the Christian worldview and contradict atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American religion. Above the figure of “Religion” are the words of Micah 6:8—“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Above the figure of “Science” are the words of Psalm 19:1—“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” (“On These Walls...”).
Sixteen bronze statues set along the balustrade of the galleries, each pair flanking one of the eight giant marble columns, represent men renowned for their accomplishments in knowledge. The names of the individual figures are inscribed on the wall directly behind the statue. Representing “Religion” are the statues of the apostle Paul and Moses. Among the murals in the dome of the Main Reading Room are the words: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Holy Bible, Leviticus 19:18)” inscribed in Hebrew. In the north hall is a painting called “Knowledge.” The inscription reads: “Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven”—again, a clear expression of the Bible’s teaching. Also in the Library of Congress is the “Members of Congress Reading Room.” Along the center of the ceiling are panels that represent civilization through the Spectrum of Light. Each of the seven panels features a central figure that symbolizes some phase of achievement, human or divine. The first subject is the creation of light with the words of Genesis 1:3—“Let there be light” (“On These Walls...”).
In the White House is situated the Adams Prayer Mantel which dates from 1800. The inscription constitutes an appeal to God: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof” (“State Dining Room...”). Images of the Ten Commandments are seen in a statue in front of the Ronald Reagan Building titled “Liberty of Worship,” a sculpture in front of the U.S. District Court building (along with a cross), as well as embedded in the floor of the National Archives (Devorah, 2004).
Moving to the U.S. Capitol complex, in the House Chamber, immediately above the American flag that is hung vertically on the wall behind the Speaker of the House, engraved in marble are the words: “In God We Trust” (“House of...,” 2005). Twenty-three marble relief portraits hang over the gallery doors of the House Chamber, depicting historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law. Eleven profiles in the eastern half of the chamber face left and eleven in the western half face right, so that all 22 look towards the full-face relief of—Moses (“Relief Portraits...”).
The House Rotunda doors show depictions of Christopher Columbus and his party carrying a cross. Also in the Rotunda is a 360-degree painted panoramic frieze 58 feet above the floor with 19 scenes depicting significant events in American history, including Hernando DeSoto and Christopher Columbus, again, carrying crosses, the Protestant baptism of Pocahontas, and Protestant pilgrims on board ship headed for America. The latter depicts Protestant pilgrims on the deck of their ship headed for the New World on July 22, 1620. William Brewster is holding the Bible, and John Robinson is leading Governor Carver, William Bradford, Miles Standish, and their families in prayer. The rainbow at the left side of the painting symbolizes hope and divine protection (“Works of Art...”). Also in the Capitol is the Great Experiment Hall (the central east-west corridor) that chronicles in 16 murals three centuries of legislative milestones. The murals include George Washington and Abraham Lincoln taking the oath of office by placing their hands on the Bible, and a Protestant preacher symbolizing freedom of religion (“Works of Art...”).
A stained glass window of George Washington praying on one knee is in the chapel of the U.S. Capitol. Below him is “Psalm 16:1” with the words of the verse inscribed around him. “This Nation Under God” appears above him. At the top of the window is the Great Seal which, as noted previously, contains two allusions to God—the Providential Eye and annuit coeptis (Devorah, 2003).
The Lincoln Memorial houses engravings of some of Lincoln’s speeches. They, too, are punctuated with references to God and the Bible. For example, consider his second inaugural address in which he addresses both sides of the Civil War:
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’sassistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us “judge not, that we be not judged” [Matthew 7:1—DM]. The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh” [Matthew 18:7—DM].If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” [Psalm 19:9—DM].With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations (“Lincoln...,” emp. added).
Also inscribed within the Lincoln Memorial is the Gettysburg Address which speaks of “this nation under God.” Most Americans assume that it was Lincoln who coined the then historically apropos phrase: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Yet he was merely quoting the Bible—Mark 3:25.
The Jefferson Memorial contains engravings from some of Jefferson’s works, including numerous references to the God of the Bible:
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.Almighty God hath created the mind free...All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion... I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively.God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever (“Thomas Jefferson Memorial...,” emp. added).
Also located in the Jefferson Memorial are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence that include three of the four references to God found within that document.
The apex of the Washington Memorial is topped by a 100 ounce aluminum capstone that has on its east face two lone Latin words: Laus Deo, i.e., praise be to God (“The Washington...”; “Laus Deo”). Ascending the internal stairway, one can see 190 memorial stones donated by various states, cities, churches, and civic organizations during the nineteenth century phase of construction. The stones abound with references to God, the Bible, Christianity, and Christian morality. For example, the stone donated by the state of Kentucky reads: “Under the Auspices of Heaven and the Precepts of Washington.” The stone donated by the city of Baltimore reads: “May Heaven to This Union Continue Its Beneficence.” Using biblical imagery (i.e., “ark,” “covenant,” “dove”), one city in Maryland linked the religion of the Pilgrims with the birthright of America in the memorial stone they contributed:
From the City of Frederick, Md. Civil and Religious Liberty first proclaimed in the Pilgrim Fathers of Maryland as emblemed in the Ark of the Covenant of Freedom, and the Dove, the Harbinger of Peace and fellowship that guided them though the danger of the deep, have been secured in the Birthright of the Nation by the enduring Seal of the Minister of Justice, George Washington (“Washington Monument...”).
In addition to the apex and these memorial stones, many artifacts were deposited in the recess of the cornerstone after completion, including 71 newspapers that ran articles commemorating Washington, and a host of other historical objects—a veritable treasure trove of history. However, only one is religious in nature: the Bible (“Appendix C: Members...”).
Adams, John Quincy (1821), Address Delivered at the Request of the Committee of Arrangements for Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence at the City of Washington on the Fourth of July 1821, Upon the Occasion of the Reading the Declaration of Independence (Cambridge: Hilliard and Metcalf).
Adams, John Quincy (1837), An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-first Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837(Newburyport: Charles Whipple).
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Boudinot, Elias (1896), The Life, Public Services, Addresses, and Letters of Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress, ed. J.J. Boudinot (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin).
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457; 12 S. Ct. 511; 36 L. Ed. 226; 1892 U.S. LEXIS 2036.
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