Have you found yourself lately asking questions like, “How can people be so stupid?” or “How can some politicians make such foolish decisions?”
Have you talked to a government schooled 20-something lately? Ever ask them some simple questions about geography, or history or the constitution?
What is the root cause of the destruction of even God’s own chosen people?
Hosea 4:6 says in the Bible, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”
… and that is the observation that potentially alerts us today to make choices to change the course of human events — away from ignorance and toward the knowledge of God and his laws. That naturally leads to liberty, both personal and public, over time.
It’s been said that “Ignorant and free can never be.” In order to be capable of self-government, we must not only be moral but informed. If we are not informed, we will tend to vote for the politician who promises the most. We will vote for more and bigger government until one day we have total government.
An uninformed electorate, whether moral or immoral, will vote itself into slavery. Only a moral, well-informed electorate will vote for people of principle — those who will limit the government to its proper role.
“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.” –
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805.
Jefferson said it this way: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
When do you suppose the concept of equal rights began in human history? My friend Bill Federer, host of “The American Minute” at American minute.com researches and presents historical gems that are so relevant to what is going on in today’s world. He sent me some short articles recently that really got my attention. Why… because they have so much to do with the need of our children’s generation to be well informed and involved according to Godly wisdom as found in the Bible.
The earliest writing known was over 4,000 years ago – Sumerian cu-ne-iform on clay tablets in what is now Iraq.
Perhaps just as old are Egyptian hieroglyphics on stone and papyrus plus the Chinese pictographs being discovered on very ancient artifacts.
Writing was first used to keep track of what the king owned. And then, to keep record of kings’ decrees, genealogies and astronomy.
Only kings, upper classes and scribes could read. Egypt in Moses’ time had a literacy rate of less than one percent of the people.
With thousands of cuneiform and hieroglyphic characters it was difficult to learn to read. The lower classes and slaves were not allowed to learn to write. Do you suppose this enabled governments to make the illiterate masses completely dependent on them. When Kings had their people fearfully obedient to them, why would the want them to learn enough to think critically for themselves?
Pre-Civil War America experienced something similar to this when Southern Democrat States made it a crime to teach slaves to read.
Kings ruled by honoring and rewarding those who obeyed them, and by dishonoring and striking fear of death into those who did not.
Think about this: The first well-recorded instance in history of an entire nation ruling itself without a king was Israel when it broke away from Egypt’s Pharaoh around 1,500 BC.
When Moses came down Mount Sinai, he not only had the Law, he had it in a 22 character alphabet that was so easy to learn the entire nation could read it.
Israel coming out of Egypt, so far as history can tell us, was the first nation to develop an entirely literate population.
Not only were the children of Israel free, they could maintain their freedom because they could read.
And not only could they read the Law, they were required to because the Law was addressed to each individual citizen.
E.C. Wines wrote in The Hebrew Republic (Philadelphia: c1853): “A fundamental principle of the Hebrew government was…the education of the whole body of the people…”
An ignorant people cannot be a free people. Intelligence is essential to liberty.
So what enables a nation or society to be capable of self-government?
If they are not educated in basic life skills, in history and morality, how can they understand and exercise their civic responsibilities.
Throughout history, wherever there is a king, the friends of the king are ‘more equal.’ Those who are not friends with the king are ‘less equal.’ Those who are enemies of the king are traitors to be executed for ‘treason.’
For Israel’s first four centuries there was no king. The nation was supposedly ruled by the Law. And everyone was bound to learn it, obey it, and be judged by it. The “Judges” were the representatives God raised up to lead generations who rose and fell out of favor with their God for their actions.
The Law made clear that there was no respect of persons in judgment. Rich and poor were to be treated the same. Male and female, made in the image of the Creator, were on equal footing with the law in their respective roles in society. Even the foreign born “stranger” who lived among them was under the same Law.
This began the concept of ‘equality.’ There was no royal family to give favors; no superior or inferior class; no caste system.
Israel’s divinely inspired experiment in self-government was dependent on one thing – the priests teaching the people to read the Law.
Think of it! The Law was empowered when people were taught three things:
1) there is a God who knows every thought and sees every action;
2) God wants you to be fair; and
3) God will hold you accountable in the next life.
When the priests neglected teaching the Law, everyone did what was right in their own eyes and the country fell into moral chaos.
Out of their rebellious moral chaos, Israel got a totalitarian ruler. King Saul soon killed a large number of the priests, with the notable exception of Abiathar who escaped to David.
The pattern was clear – for a country to maintain order without a king, the citizens had to be educated in moral self control because of their accountability to God.
This was understood during America’s colonial era, where literacy education and Bible-based morality were high priorities.
After Independence, with large numbers of immigrants arriving to America, the response was to create ‘common’ schools for them.
The ‘Father of American Scholarship and Education’ was Noah Webster.
After graduation from Yale, Noah Webster became a lawyer in New York and wrote the famous Blue-Backed Speller, which sold over one hundred million copies. For generations, American school children learned letters, morality and patriotism from Webster’s spellers, catechisms, history books, and his Webster’s Dictionary.
Webster wrote: The education of youth…lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success.”
Without religious and moral principles deeply impressed on the mind, and controlling the whole conduct, science and literature will not make men what the laws of God require them to be; and without both kinds of knowledge, citizens can not enjoy the blessings which they seek.”
Noah Webster wrote in ‘On the Education of Youth in America’, printed in Webster’s American Magazine, 1788: “In some countries the common people are not permitted to read the Bible at all. In ours, it is as common as a newspaper and in schools is read with nearly the same degree of respect…
Noah Webster published his translation of the Holy Bible, The Webster Bible, in 1833, stating:
“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is ‘good’, and the best corrector of all that is ‘evil’, in human society; the ‘best’ book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the ‘only book’ that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity (contentment; happiness).”
In his 1834 work titled, Noah Webster wrote:
“The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truths by which men are to be guided in government, as well as in all social transactions….
Noah Webster wrote in The History of the United States, 1832:
“All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams, October 11, 1798.)
Our human civil rights are a gift that comes directly from our Creator. When God created man for the dominion of His created earth, He gave mankind certain unalienable rights distinct from anything the world of animals could appreciate.
When we recognize that human rights existed prior to men joining together to form governments, then we can understand that the only purpose of government is to protect these rights. The purpose of government cannot be to grant us rights that we were created to enjoy. Neither can it be to sovereignly dictate those basic natural laws and rights out of existence. That’s what makes them “unalienable.”
Our Biblically based and providentially established form of government in America is founded on this fundamental truth. If we ever abandon that fact personally or collectively, we, as a people, will be ultimately destined to lose the republican form of government that allows us the liberty that can only be maintained by an enlightened and moral people who know that they depend on Divine protection and provision.
Just six weeks after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Harvard College’s President, Samuel Langdon, MAY 31, 1775, spoke to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. America was still a British colony, not a sovereign nation.
Samuel Langdon’s address was titled “Government Corrupted By Vice”:
Do you think our preachers today could help our churches learn from his remarks? Listen to just a few of them.
“They…attempted, by a sudden march of a body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their own security… (the unwelcomed British government troops had destroyed one of the community’s bunkers for storing ammunition for local protection).
The fire began first on the side of the king’s troops… But for what?
Because they have made a noble stand for their natural and constitutional rights, in opposition to the machinations of wicked men…aiming to enslave and ruin the whole nation…”
Samuel Langdon continued:
“We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the ETERNAL KING, as directing all events, setting up or pulling down the kings of the earth at His pleasure…
That for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved; and that nothing but a general reformation can give ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored…”
He was writing about England then, but think how this applies to us now.
Langdon spoke further: “The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full…because there remained no hope of reformation…
Their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices…
…At length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarcely any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them…”
“When a government is in its prime…virtue prevails–everything is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality…
But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on its dissolution.
…This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favored with the blessing of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them; and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust…”
“They were a sinful nation…who had forsaken the Lord; and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger...
Their princes were rebellious against God…seizing the property of the subjects…and robbing the public treasury.
Every one loved gifts…they were influenced in everything by bribery…they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power…
…And God, in righteous judgment, left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken Him…
The public greatly suffered, and the people groaned, and wished for better rulers and better management.
But in vain they hoped for a change…when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal.
The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin…”
Rev. Samuel Langdon continued his address to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress:
“Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins —
if they had again recovered the true spirit of their religion, God, by the gracious interpositions of His providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity…
…We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it.
We have neglected…the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions…
Rev. Samuel Langdon concluded:
“Let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of Providence for our deliverance…
…May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble…We will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banners!…
Wherefore is all this evil upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord?
Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time…
…If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name and professing our trust in Him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land…
May our land be purged from all its sins! Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about.”
That… was the spirit that emboldened the colonists to declare their independence from Britain the next year and fight 5 years for their lives because of these convictions.
More recently, on February 8, 2011, Harvard Professor Clay Christensen, the Robert & Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, observed:
“Sometime ago I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright Fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he had learned anything that was surprising or unexpected. And without any hesitation he said ‘Yes, I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.’
‘The reason why democracy works,’ he said, ‘is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does. But rather democracy works because most people, most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law. And in your past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week. And they were taught there by people who they respected.’
My friend went on to say that ‘Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that they weren’t just accountable to society, they were accountable to God.’
My Chinese friend heightened a vague but nagging concern I harbored inside that as religion loses its influence over the lives of Americans what will happen to our democracy?
Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they, too, need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? Because if you take away religion, you cannot hire enough police.”
|“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” (President Theodore Roosevelt, remark made at the Sorbonne in Paris The Strenuous Life, The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. 13. April 30, 1910.)|
Perhaps one of the most timely statements made by Benjamin Franklin for us today is this:
|“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. ” (Benjamin Franklin)|
|“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites—in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity;—in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption;—in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” (Edmund Burke, A Letter From Mr. Burke To A Member Of The National Assembly, 1791.|
“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic…than in the monarchy…How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?” (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume I, p. 318.)
“I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age, and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of His religion, having no foundation in what came from Him.” (Thomas Jefferson, The Real Thomas Jefferson, p. 366.)
|The father of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams, said: “If ever (a) time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” (Samuel Adams)|
|“I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure.
To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, (pure fantasy)… if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.” (James Madison, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, vol 3, pp. 536-37.)
|“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Psalm, 94:16.)|
|“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people;… then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.” (Samuel Adams, The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams, 1:22-23.)|