The American Revolution: More Than a Violation of Romans 13
By J. Davila Ashcraft
Recently Bryan Fischer penned a very well thought out article on the American Revolution. In that article he defended the American Revolution on the basis that King George had violated both natural and God’s law. What I wish to do with this article is not engage in a war of words with my brother in Christ, but present information Fischer did not address in his examination of the topic; information which demonstrates that the American Revolution was indeed a violation of Romans 13, and much more. In fact, the entire philosophical basis of the American Revolution was anything but biblical.
Mr. Fischer offers as justification for the American Revolution: the list of grievances in the Declaration, which include a “long train of usurpations”, “oppressions”, and a general tyrannical rule by the King.
Interestingly, most who take the position Fischer advocates also find the secession of the Confederate States of America to be a moral evil, or at the least something that should have been put down. Never mind the fact that the Confederacy could legitimately claim many of the same things in the Declaration, somehow that mini “revolution” was immoral.
And if someone invokes the slavery argument, you can find no emphatic statement in scripture against slavery. In fact, in God’s permissive will, knowing Man would indeed engage in the practice, He gives strict guidelines for the treatment of slaves (Exodus 21); guidelines which are not amended in the New Testament. In fact, if “natural law” were a legitimate reason for rebellion, then slavery would certainly fall into the category of things Christians would encourage rebellion against. And yet, Paul does exactly the opposite.
In the Epistle to Philemon Paul sends a runaway slave back to his master, requesting his freedom rather than praising Onesimus for his rebellion. This is not to suggest that slavery is a just practice. It is not. It is, I believe, immoral and that God’s guidelines were provided to protect the slave from abuse. What it does demonstrate, however, is that even in the most oppressive of conditions such as slavery, scripture does not encourage rebellion whatsoever.
Fischer also gives us the example of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to support what can only be called secession, though he draws equivalency to revolution. Without arguing that minutia, we will conceded for the sake of argument that this is an example of revolution. What Fischer does not address is the basis upon which that revolution occurred. That is, the Northern Kingdom had the direct and clear intervention of God and His Word guiding them at the outset. Can the American Revolution claim the same? In order to answer this question we have to examine the philosophical principles that formed the inspiration for what became the United States.
First, whether one wishes to face the facts of history or not, the majority of those who fomented the American Revolution were not informed by Sacred Scripture, but by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, which most historians place between the years of 1715 and 1789, was not at all based on biblical principles, but rather on the humanistic principles and ideals of reductionism and the doubting of biblical orthodoxy, summed up in the popular enlightenment phrase Sapere aude– “Dare to know”. These principles, which included removing the church from any influence over the State, were spread in the scientific academies and, not surprisingly, the Masonic Lodges. In fact, the modern Leftist movement legitimately traces its intellectual origin to the Enlightenment. Perhaps the two most influential thinkers for the movement are Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. By way of demonstrating just how antithetical this movement was to Christianity I think it prudent to provide direct quotes from these thinkers.
“Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”- Voltaire
“Every sensible man, every honest man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.”
“But I am mistaken in speaking of a Christian republic; the terms are mutually exclusive. Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence.”- Rousseau
Lest one think these men had no influence on the Founding Fathers, keep in mind they were all Europeans and quite familiar with these ideas. So much so that figures like Benjamin Franklin was active in Europe in promoting these principles, and imported them to Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson was an ardent follower of these principles and included them in the Declaration of Independence. Later, James Madison, also a follower of these principles, incorporated them into the Constitution.
While Fischer does not express the idea himself, many of those who share his position on the American Revolution and founding of this nation will forcefully argue that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The First Amendment clearly proves this idea to be erroneous in prohibiting the establishment of a religion. And John Leland, one of the influential Colonial leaders in the stated, “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever.” If we examine direct quotes from the Founders we find they rejected completely the idea of the United States as a Christian nation.
“The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”- John Adams, 1797
“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this land the light of truth and reason triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition.”- George Washington, 1793
“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” ⁃ John Adams, 1787
“Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”
⁃ Thomas Jefferson, 8/10/1787
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
⁃ Thomas Jefferson, 2/10/1814
“Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect…”
⁃ Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress
We could go on and on with quotes from the various Founders refuting the idea of the United States as a Christian nation, but this should suffice to prove this point.
Consider the following as well:
- Jefferson was a Deist, which manifests very clearly in his writings, which included a version of the Bible, edited by him to remove all references to supernaturalism. This is due to the fact that those given to the rationalism of the Enlightenment were first and foremost philosophical Naturalists.
- Washington is known to have never once taken communion, since as an adherent of Enlightenment philosophy, he regarded communion as a superstition unworthy of a rational, reasonable man. In fact, he was always careful never to refer to God as anything but a “Great Author” or “Almighty Being”, both Deistic terms used in the rituals of the Masonic Lodge. These terms are used precisely because they avoid any claim of faithfulness to Christianity, but rather encourage a hyper-ecumenical, or universalist understanding. In fact, 33 of the generals in the Continental Army are confirmed members of the Masonic Lodge as well.
- John Adams, also a Deist, was a member of the Unitarian faith, which today is known as the Unitarian Universalists.
Rev. Bird Wilson, son of Founding Father James Wilson, responding to the historical revision attempting to paint the Founders as orthodox Christians, wrote in 1831:
“The founders of our nation were nearly all infidels, and that of the presidents who have been thus far elected (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, and Andrew Jackson) not a one had professed a belief in Christianity.”
We are not dealing here with second hand information, since Wilson personally knew Washington and many of the other Founders, having grown up in their presence. He went on to write:
“Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one professed religion, at least not more than Unitarianism.”
What all this demonstrates is that, unlike the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the American Revolution was not in any way founded upon God’s Word or guidance, but from the philosophical foundation of humanism, liberalism, and religious indifferentism, thus rendering the comparison a fallacy.
The inevitable results of the philosophy advocated by the Founding Fathers and enshrined in the founding documents of the United States can be, first, seen in their application in the French Revolution. I mention this revolution because it, too, was informed by the very same principles, and took its inspiration directly from the American Revolution.
Whereas the church had been tax exempt, under the new regime of “liberte, fraternite, egalite”, the church now had that exempt status removed. The French Revolution saw the persecution and murder of priests and religious, the rape of nuns, the confiscation of churches, and the establishment of the Cult of Reason and Robespierre’s Deistic Cult of the Supreme Being as a replacements for Christianity. Churches and cathedrals were confiscated and turned into temples for these cults, complete with the erection of idols, such as in the Cathedral of Strasbourg.
The morality of the populace saw a dramatic decline, and chaos ensued with competing political factions vying for control at the expense of the people and of traditional values and morals derived from the Christian faith.
The parallels with the United States today should be obvious. While the French arrived at this point much quicker than the United States has, we are now near where France was. Christians are persecuted for such things as not baking a cake for a gay wedding, with the civil rights of the homosexual being cited as the justification. Churches are empty as a result of, among other things, government schools promoting the religion of Naturalism, and the philosophical principles of rationalism, relativism and Scientism.
The morals and values of this nation are nearly dead, and we suffer under a two party system, each vying for absolute power while the populace suffers. We are experiencing the inevitable and natural results of the principles of the Enlightenment as enshrined in our democratic republic.
So when John MacArthur says that any blessings this nation receives are bestowed by God despite our rebellious founding, both spiritual and temporal, he is correct. This nation’s founding violates not just Romans 13, but violently contradicts God’s Word in its totality.
J. Davila Ashcraft is a Theologian and Apologist, and a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. His website: www.paleoorthodoxy.org
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