This is a Sunday sermon, or rather teaching, (actually my part starts 8 minutes into this video) about how the American commoners who in 1776 declared their independence from the highly authoritarian English King George III were able to achieve a totally unprecedented success – against all odds (all other historical examples ending up with the rebels all being hung or shot) – because they understood that they were doing God's work in their fight to preserve the American social experiment as a "City on a Hill," a "Light to the Nations." They full well knew that they were a society established by God himself to show the rest of the world how God wanted deeply all of his people to be able to govern themselves fully, inspired to undertake greater things simply by their full faith in God ... and directed wisely by his (Biblical) instructions. In short – the American effort to preserve its independence succeeded only because God was with them.
A sermon/history lesson delivered on December 27, 2020 at the New Awakening Church in Schuylkill Haven. I teach when I preach, and I preach when I teach. This is a bit of both ... about how God has "awakened" America in the past rather repeatedly – when it drifts off into self-rationalizing projects, projects which bring confusion and breakdown in the American social fabric. And he sparks these awakenings through just ordinary people ... people like us, people willing to let God (and not human rationalizations) lead them. And ... it seems that we Americans find ourselves in exactly the same condition today – needing God to deliver us from our social folly with another Awakening. We need a "New Awakening"!
A discussion (November 25, 2020) between my son-in-law, Pastor Rimi Xhemajli, and me concerning the Pilgrims who held that famous Thanksgiving feast honoring God ... in the face of all the personal suffering and loss they had recently experienced in getting their Plymouth Plantation up and running. Many are the lessons we could draw today from the way they understood the dynamic that shaped them as a people.
Another discussion (August 13, 2020) on a wide range of issues, but most importantly concerning what it was that motivated and directed the writing of my three-volume history of America's covenant with God.
Here's my first blog ... with my son John. It's just a general look at America ... and where it is headed. It comes at the subject from two different generational perspectives, (more than 50 years separating us!).
I posted the first of a series of Youtube videos based on my historical writings ... but also on how this history informs us of ways to go at life today ... on a much wiser basis. I have thus entitled the series "putting some wisdom back into America's doings." I hope you find this posting to be not only of some real interest ... but also to be a source of some serious thought about how we might better approach our dear nation's future.
Societies are not actual material objects that can be easily manipulated or controlled ... because they are actually ideas and understandings that people live by. This posting begins our inquiry into the actual dynamics of societies ... what they are, why they exist – and what makes for success and failure in their go at life.
I am very concerned about the declining role of the American family ... once the bedrock of American democracy. But government officials seem to want to take on the role of ultimate guides of how America is to live as a nation. However, "democracy from above" is absolutely a horrible alternative to America's long-standing and most spectacular tradition of "government from below." From its very founding, our nation's political system has been fully dependent on the effective role of the American family. And this "grass-roots democracy" has been the key to America's rise to greatness in the world. Now we foolishly think ourselves wise in undercutting the central role of the traditional American family. We claim that greater freedom will result. Actually the results are clearly proving themselves to be merely anarchy and a huge rise in criminal behavior. Thus it is extremely urgent that we recover lost social wisdom ... and bring the well-proven American family back again, front and center, to the very dynamic of American social life. Join me in looking into this matter.
Religion is the very foundation of the way a society thinks about life, what it understands to be the primary forces directing life and how it needs to work with those forces to make life work optimally. Secularism is no less a religion than Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Communism, Fascism, Nationalism. The First Amendment was incorporated into the American Constitution to make sure that all religious thinking directing the life of the American nation would be the people's ... not the worldview of some small or elite group of self-appointed "enlightened" political authorities who would insist on doing such thinking for the people themselves. We call this dictatorship ... certainly not democracy. The Supreme Court needs to respect the First Amendment's "wall of separation" ... and stay out of the business of determining for the American people the "correct" worldview or religion that Americans are to hold as their own ... and to teach their children. The federal courts' prohibiting Christian expression in public schooling – and establishing Secularism as the only worldview or religion allowed there – is in direct violation of the very clear intent of the First Amendment. Even clever lawyers in black robes should be able to read the precise wording of the First Amendment.
Puritan New England was a grand experiment in taking social, moral, and spiritual principles taught by Jesus and practiced by the first century Christian community (as clearly described in the Bible's New Testament) and putting them to work in an egalitarian social experiment (modeled somewhat after the Protestant Reformer Calvin's Geneva, Switzerland). Here the families lived on a unusually egalitarian basis, shared life together, chose their own leaders, and were governed merely by the Biblical principles they put themselves under ... and put the leaders they chose (elected and reelected on a regular basis) under.
This was unprecedented at the time ... when societies (even the English colonial society to the south in Virginia) were ruled "from the top down" by a small, highly privileged, and very authoritarian ruling class presiding over the other 95% of the society totally dependent on whatever the ruling class allotted the common people by way of blessings. Here in New England the people themselves were sovereign over their lives ... and made of them whatever they (in harmony with their neighbors) were able to achieve on their own.
This was marvelous. This was most exceptional. And the New Englanders knew it. They were modeling democracy not only for themselves and their offspring. They were doing it to show the world the same path to personal deliverance ... and all to the glory of the God who stood with them in this enterprise.
This spirit would be enduring, and spread to the Middle Colonies ... and then 150 years later have to be defended in a War of Independence against an English king who wanted to take such democratic sovereignty away from "his subjects" in America. American success in this war then led these Christian Americans to put together a political framework (the Constitution) designed to guarantee that this democratic tradition would be protected and continued through the generations that followed.
Today this legacy is under challenge. It is vital that America recover these Biblical foundations ... lest we find ourselves under the rule of a handful of "enlightened ones" who think that from their positions of political power they know better than the people themselves how America should be governed. Americans need to take their unchanging and well-proven advice from the Bible and its pulpit teachers ... or America will find itself led this way and that by those willing to do our thinking for us.