This podcast is designed for those interested in the spiritual underpinnings of one of American society’s great foundations — the law. As much as secularists and others with varying agendas and opinions have tried to expunge any signs of Christian influence from legality down through the years, the fact remains that God, in His infinite wisdom and holiness, furnished the law for humanity’s benefit. Sure, we’ve extrapolated it in some areas, but without the Lord there would be no basis for the law. James 4:12 reads, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” As America’s founders acknowledged in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, our “unalienable rights” — among them being “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — are “endowed” by the Creator God and are firmly upheld on this earth based upon the “laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
The Scripture Passage for this episode is Isaiah 51:4 which reads: “Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.”
The quote for this episode is from Jean Jacques Rousseau. He said: “Those who consider Calvin only as a theologian fail to recognize the breadth of his genius. The editing of our wise laws, in which he had a large share, does him as much credit as his Institutes. . . . [S]o long as the love of country and liberty is not extinct amongst us, the memory of this great man will be held in reverence.”
In this podcast, the first book we are using as our text is “Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers” by John Eidsmoe.
Continuing Chapter 1 of Part 1, titled “Calvinism”, Eidsmoe writes:
Bancroft, probably the leading American historian of the nineteenth century, simply called Calvin the “father if America.” Bancroft, far from being a Calvinist himself, added, “He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”
D’Aubigne, a leading Reformation scholar, echoed a similar theme:
Calvin was the founder of the greatest of republics. The Pilgrims who left their country in the reign of James I, and landing on the barren soil of New England, founded populous and mighty colonies, were his sons, his direct and legitimate sons; and that American nation which we have seen growing so rapidly boasts as its father the humble Reformer on the shore of Lake Leman.
The Roman Catholic scholar Emilio Castelar, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Madrid and later President of the Republic of Spain in 1873, acknowledged,
It was necessary for the republican movement that there should come a morality more austere than Luther’s, the morality of Calvin, and a Church more democratic than the German, the Church of Geneva. The Anglo-Saxon democracy has for its lineage a book of a primitive society — the Bible. It is the product of a severe theology learned by the few Christian fugitives in the gloomy cities of Holland and Switzerland, where the morose shade of Calvin still wanders….And it remains serenely in its grandeur, forming the most dignified, most moral and most enlightening portion of the human race.
Many, if not the vast majority of colonial Americans came from Calvinistic backgrounds.
The colonists lived in the shadow of the Reformation. Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle October 31, 1517; the Mayflower sailed just over a century later. John Calvin died in 1564, fifty-six years before the Mayflower sailed. Events like the Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants (1618-1648) were
current events to the Pilgrims and Puritans. [As a side-note, Eidsmoe states the following here: At this point I wish to emphasize, lest I be accused of a Calvinistic bias, that I am an ordained minister of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. While I respect Calvinism, I cannot consider myself a Calvinist. But any objective reading of American history will clearly demonstrate that it was Calvinism, not Lutheranism or any other theological system, that made the most profound, widespread and significant impact on the thinking of early Americans.
Lord willing, we will continue with Chapter 1 in our next episode.
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Now, if you are listening today and do not know the Lord who ultimately formed the just laws of our land, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your
heart that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of His perfect government in the world to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I look forward to joining you on the next episode of this podcast!