...[W]e cannot consider only the views of Franklin and Jefferson. Most of the other men in that hall likely imagined something different when they read the phrase Divine Providence—not the god of nature but the God of scriptures. John Hancock, the first to sign, had served as president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress when it declared that "it becomes us, as Men and Christians," to rely on "that GOD who rules in the Armies of Heaven." George Read, one of Delaware's delegates, had written the Delaware constitution, which required legislators to take an oath to "God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost." New Jersey's delegate was the Reverend John Witherspoon, the president of Princeton, which trained young men to become evangelical ministers. It was Witherspoon who had authored a resolution the year before, on July 20, 1775, calling for a continentwide day of fasting and prayer, and he was hardly a Deist: "I entreat you in the most earnest manner to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is no salvation in any other [Acts 4:12]," he had written. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, who offered the resolution on independence, would a year later propose one creating a national day of prayer in which the people "may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance." Sam Adams, the influential Boston radical, had called for "bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace."'
Friday, April 18, 2008
"...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world..."
Prominent individuals in the Continental Congress, including those who drafted the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, were not orthodox Christians [or, by orthodox standards, Christians at all], although each of them believed in a God who acted in the affairs of men. But many of the others did profess biblical Christianity. Steven Waldman, in Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America: