On April 11, 1864 the Congress of the United States authorized the minting of a two-cent coin in which the motto, “In God We Trust,” first appeared. This was done to reflect the country’s ever present dependence upon the God of the Bible.
In the early days of the United States, one would find little argument over the coupling of God with most things secular. God and His Word were the centerpiece of the new country. As time passed, the centrality of God and the Bible has shifted. This is witnessed through such things as the school prayer debate, abortion on demand, the motto, “In God We Trust,” being challenged in federal court during the 1990’s and the like.
Why the dramatic shift? A key reason is the liberalization of Christianity in the United States. Liberal theology has called into question God, His Word and all those who embrace it as absolute, literal truth. Secondly, a “wall of separation” has been erected between Church and State over the last fifty or so years by those striving to secularize America. And lastly, as the United States has increased its multicultural and multireligious status, some have worked to neutralize Christianity in order to create cultural and religious parity. These things have been accomplished by altering the public’s view of the meaning of the Constitution and down playing the central role of biblical Christianity in the founding of America.
When the Constitution was crafted, many who embraced biblical truths such as Matthew 5:37, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” took part. Real men, with real beliefs, with real intentions, helped craft the Constitution. These men, like any other, expected their words to be taken literally and held within the actual context. Modern liberalism has fooled many into believing this is not the case. They have taught that it is perfectly fine to view the Constitution as a “living” rather than “literal” document.
A literal document demands readers to determine its meaning based on the actual words used and the historical context in which the words were expressed. A well written literal document delivers its message in a manner that is clear and understandable to the reader. It leaves little room for subjective interpretation. Its goal is to convey meaning that is understandable. A “living document,” on the other hand, is subject to change over time and is ultimately held hostage to the whims of the reader.
A “living document” affords readers the opportunity to “interpret” the meaning or intention of the author. The clear danger of such an approach is that unintended meaning can be deemed factual by those “reading between the lines.”
Clearly, those interested in altering elements of law and society, have had greater success electing and appointing officials willing to broaden the concepts expressed in the Constitution, than they would have had by means of legislation and amendments. Change via the legislative and amendment process is slow and very difficult (Just as the Founders in their wisdom planned). Change through elections and appointments can bring about radical change in a relatively short period of time.
Deist or Deity?
The dramatic shift from God and His Word is a direct result of those who have worked to minimize the impact Christianity played within the lives of the Founders and the masses who supported them.
Minimization has occurred by encouraging people to believe most of the Founders were nothing more than Deists. Deism is “the belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Third Edition 1992.
This assertion is misleading and wrong. To validate the beliefs of some of the country’s early leaders, one need only to review quotes taken from their inaugural addresses.
The nation’s first President, George Washington, took his oath of office while placing his hand on the Christian Bible. At one point in his speech, Washington made his beliefs regarding the God of the Bible very clear.
Washington said, “Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with a humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.”
Do George Washington’s words sound like those of a Deist, or a Christian? Clearly George Washington believed in the God of the Bible and was quick to note the nation’s dependence and indebtedness to Him.
What about John Adams, the nation’s second President? What were his thoughts about the God of the Bible?
During his inaugural speech on March 4, 1797, Adams said, “I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect. And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.”
John Adams established two important truths in his speech–that he was a Christian and the “people” of the United States in part or in whole were Christians as well. If Adams had mis-spoke, one would expect a national outcry to have occurred. Where are the records of such an outcry?
What about the nation’s third President, Thomas Jefferson. Did he profess deism?
Jefferson said, “I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.”
Apart from Jefferson deceiving the nation, it appears he maintained some strong Christian sentiments.
Did the fourth President of the United States proclaim deistic beliefs in his inaugural address?
James Madison on March 4, 1809 said, “In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.”
Does Madison portray himself as a Deist or someone shallow in their acceptance of God? Once again we must say, no. Madison depicts a deep trust in God.
James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, referenced the God of the Bible three times during his speech on March 4, 1817.
Monroe said, “Who restrained from offering his vows in the mode which he prefers to the Divine Author of his being?”
“If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us.”
“Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.”
Are these the words of a Deist? Are these the words of someone who is uncertain of who and what God is? Clearly not!
Lastly, what about the sixth President, Andrew Jackson? How did he portray himself during his inaugural speech on March 4, 1829?
Jackson said, “And a firm reliance on the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction.”
As with the first five Presidents, Andrew Jackson shows no signs of deistic beliefs, but rather a clear and strong acceptance of the God of the Bible.
The fact is, either these men were lying or telling the truth. They either believed in a personal God, who actively participated in the founding of the United States of America, or they were shams. There is no middle ground for these men, the people who supported them, and undoubtedly their remnant which thrives today.
As with so many through the ages who have professed a trust in the God of the Bible, trust does not equate purity, perfection, or even a richness of faith. Each of the Presidents and Founders had short-comings. Some embraced a deep understanding of God and His Word, others did not. Nevertheless, to misrepresent such men is to misrepresent the truth of who and what they were.
Today, more than ever, there are people striving to strip this country of its Christian heritage and sacrifice it on the altar of plurality. Many have turned their back on the God who “mercifully protected our national infancy.” There are many today who espouse the motto, “In gods We Trust,” rather than “In God We Trust.”
Some may think it does not matter who or what you believe in, but it does. Either the God of the Bible is true, or He is false. Either He did as the Presidents claimed, or He did not. If He did, then He is worthy of the love, worship and servitude He demands. If He did not, then He rightly deserves to wait in line along with the other false gods of this age.
The blessing and the curse of this God is the countries, from Israel to the United States, that have truly worshiped Him have been made great, and those who have turned their back on Him have been reduced to second rate powers. History notes a pattern: Faithfulness equates faithfulness. Continual abandonment equates abandonment.
As we consider whom we shall trust, let us not delude ourselves. There is a major difference between “In God We Trust” and “In gods We Trust.” The fruit of our decision not only impacts our stay in this world, but our standing in the next.
In Joshua 24:15-17, Joshua challenges the children of Israel to decide whom they will serve–God or someone else. He says, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.”
Many years ago, the Founding Fathers chose “whom they would serve” and they said “In God We Trust.” Once Israel was safely established in the Promised Land, over time they turned their back on God and worshiped other gods. The United States has been firmly established, and many generations have passed since the days of our early leaders. Like Israel, we have been entertaining other gods. Like Israel, God’s hand of blessing may soon be removed.
Let us turn from testing God’s patience. Let us call upon the Living God, who miraculously raised this nation from nothing and allowed it to become everything. Let us respect the rights of others to freely worship as they please, while striving to introduce them to the God who made this country great. “In gods We Trust,” or “In God We Trust.” The choice belongs to you.