Why Our Founding Fathers Fought
Why did America’s founding fathers fight? What were they fighting for?
“[It’s] theological….” Douglas MacArthur
Our founding fathers fought for independence from Great Britain in order to establish a civil government which would protect their lives, liberty, and property. They believed the gospel was the kingdom of God and their vision was to extend that kingdom throughout the whole world. They fought for both religious and civil liberty because neither exists without the other. Religion and politics cannot be separated. Church and state are separate ministries but both are to be under God and for the building up and preservation of His kingdom. The state must not interfere with the church in matters of doctrine and individual conscience, and the church should leave corporal punishment and civil law (i.e., biblical law) in the hands of the civil magistrates, but the latter are to be Christian and subject to both civil and church discipline if guilty of malfeasance. Our founding fathers fought for liberty not just because they thought they had the right to, but because they believed that, as Christians, they had the duty to establish and preserve Christian liberty for their posterity. They got this notion—as they did most if not all their other notions—from the Bible: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…ye have been called unto liberty…by love [to] serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself “ (Galatians 5:1,13,14). They fought for the protection of private property because there is no liberty apart from property rights. The spiritual and material are different aspects of our being but inseparable and reciprocal in regard to their effect upon one another, just as politics and religion are different aspects of our existence in community but inseparable and reciprocal in regard to their bearing upon one another.
John Locke (1632-1704) is considered by many to be the father of the American War for Independence because our founding fathers based most of their thinking and actions on his political theory, which was thoroughly Christian. Locke believed that civil government’s role was restricted to that of trustee for its citizens and its raisons d’etre was the protection of their lives, liberty, and property. Furthermore, he believed that if at any time the civil government became corrupt and failed to perform its duties, the citizens had not only the right but the duty to dissolve that government and replace it with a godly government. Locke believed that natural law (by which he meant biblical law) should be the law of the land and that the legislative branch of civil government (comprised of elected representatives) should be the supreme human authority of the country—above the executive and judicial. Of course, both Locke and our founding fathers knew that civil government simply reflects the character of its citizens and its character will be as good or bad as the latter, and on October 11, 1798, in an address to the military, President John Adams said, “We have no government with power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
So why aren’t we fighting today?
“Ideas have consequences.” Richard Weaver
In the intervening years between the American War for Independence and the twenty-first century, Americans lost track of the implications of creation and limited the gospel to the message of redemption (i.e., personal salvation), imbibed the pagan idea of dualism whereby they believed true spirituality meant abandonment of the material aspect of our lives, and that they could somehow have religious liberty without civil liberty. And as though these errors weren’t enough to bring the republic down, its destruction was insured by their espousal of dispensationalism which teaches that we are now under just grace alone and not under the law (meaning we’re under no obligation to obey the moral commandments of the Bible as a standard of conduct). One of the ironies of dispensationalism, which might be humorous if it weren’t so tragic, is that some of those teaching dispensationalism scratch their heads trying to figure out why we’ve become such a lawless society. Ideas have consequences. The majority of twenty-first century American Christians have a truncated understanding of the meaning of the gospel and wrong ideas about eschatology, and it is leading them into some bad consequences.
Our founding fathers believed that when Jesus announced the kingdom of God was at hand at His first advent, that he meant it, and that they were to be his instruments in increasing it through justice—and that of its increase there would be no end (“of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even for ever.” Isaiah 9:7)
But dispensationalists now teach and believe that God’s kingdom didn’t start with Christ’s first advent but has been delayed for an indeterminate amount of time and not only are things not going to get better—they’re going to get worse before His second advent. They draw this conclusion mainly from the following words in verses 1 and 13 of II Timothy chapter 3: “…in the last days perilous times shall come…[and] evil men…shall wax worse and worse….” Notice that the Bible does not say “things are going to wax worse and worse” but rather “evil men…shall wax worse and worse.” First of all, the term “last days” here may just refer to the last days of ancient Israel’s existence as a kingdom prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but whether that is the case or not, those verses simply tell us there will be challenging times (what times in history haven’t been challenging?) and evil men will become more and more perverse—meaning we have the challenge of bringing them to justice. But the dispensationalists interpret this to mean God has predetermined that things will get worse and worse in this our present age and therefore it is a waste of time to try to make things better (i.e., don’t polish brass on a sinking ship). And in accordance with Lord Acton’s observation,“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” their prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. And when they’re not sitting on their hands telling people things are going to get worse and worse, they spend much of their time trying to predict the timing of Christ’s second advent—in direct contradiction to His instructions in Acts Chapter 1: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power…But…ye shall be witnesses unto me…unto the uttermost parts of the earth”.
Financial and political pundits are advising people to either have a hideout in the mountains or move to another country pending the financial and social collapse of America. I don’t know how many Americans can afford to do either of those things, but it doesn’t matter because neither of them is going to do them much good in the long run. The bad guys are running the globe right now (i.e., the evil men are waxing worse and worse) and they can find you in the mountains or another country. There’s no place to hide. We need to stand and fight. We Christians need to round up the bad guys and put them where they belong, and start running things—start re-Christianizing our country and then work to Christianize the rest of the world.
You say you can’t fight city hall? You say the evil powers that be are too powerful—we can’t beat them? You’re wrong—and if you’re thinking like that it may mean you’re wearing the mark of the beast. “…and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:4
The Bible tells us that we can beat the beast and the whore—in fact it commands us to do so in Revelation chapter 18, verse 6: “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works….”
If the people stand for justice, the bad guys can be defeated. “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” Luke 22:2. Those who comprised the beast/whore of that day were afraid to try to arrest Jesus in the open because they feared the people. Ok, so we the people can beat the bad guys if we just stand up to them—we can beat city hall. But you say—what about the devil? Isn’t he too powerful for us? No, he can be defeated too. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). All we have to do is to submit to God and resist the devil and the latter will flee from us. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
What we often refer to as the powers that be (i.e., the entrenched and seemingly unassailable alliance of corrupt big business and government) is not the real power after all. The real power lies with Jesus. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Ideas have consequences. We must stop believing the lies that the kingdom is not until sometime in the future, that things are preordained to get worse until Jesus returns, and that studying to predict the timing of His return is pleasing to God. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). The kingdom of God comes as we strive for righteousness in our individual lives and that of our community. We are to be Christianizing the nations, teaching them to apply the biblical moral laws in their civil affairs and the golden rule in their personal affairs. We need to understand the full meaning of the gospel—the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and that Christ’s redemptive work was not only to get us to heaven, but to enable us to begin the restoration of the glory, goodness, and beauty of God’s creative work as it was before the fall—here and now on earth—a restoration that will be completed in the new heaven and earth. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). We need to regain the vision of our founding fathers.