Dateline: 5 July 2013
America is a nation that was established by God-fearing men. Most who signed the Declaration of Independence and hammered out the details of our Constitution were devout Christians. Some were not as devout as others but, to a man, they believed in Biblical standards of right and wrong, and they established a new republic based on God's law as revealed in scripture.
Thus it is that America was established by Christians, and we were a Christian nation.
What I just stated is clearly supported by the historical writings. It is indisputable. Yet, in the post-Christian (or, more specifically, apostate) America we now live in, the historical facts of our founding are disputed. Worse yet, many of the original intentions of the founders have been twisted to mean things that they were never meant to mean.
America's new religion is secular humanism, which is the faith-based belief that mankind alone, without any faithfulness to the unwavering, transcendental standards of truth as given in scripture, is capable of defining morality by itself. Secular humanists rely on evolving attitudes about what is right and wrong. Secular humanism believes that mankind is fully capable of being its own god.
I dare say that the founders (including the least pious among them) would have immediately recognized that secular humanism is the religion of fools, and a certain recipe for national self-destruction.
As a result of the research and teaching of men like David Barton, the late Peter Marshall, and Marshall Foster, many Americans are well aware of the Christian foundations of our nation, but they are not aware that a great many of our founders also believed that the nation they birthed should be an agrarian civilization. They saw the combination of Christianity and agrarianism (Christian-agrarianism) as the surest support the republic could have; a strong bulwark against all kinds of problems.
This fact of the matter is surely born out in Thomas Jefferson's writings (and I touched on it in My New York Times Editorial). But I have recently come across a discussion of the Christian-agrarian civic beliefs of our founders in a delightful book titled Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf. If you love Revolutionary-era American history and gardening, you will appreciate this unique book.
On page 115 there is this insightful passage:
"...[F]or the founding fathers, free husbandmen with small self-sufficient farms would be the foot soldiers of the infant nation.
This was not a new idea—Aristotle had claimed that for a republic "an Agrarian people is the best" and the Romans had elevated the farmer as the most virtuous kind of citizen, imbuing the hardworking peasant at his plough with patriotic pride. Virgil's poem Georgics had been admired as a celebration of virtuous country life, while Cicero had written that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman."
This emphasis on farmers as the foundation of a free society had its origin in the belief that republics were the most fragile form of government. With the removal of the monarchy, the traditional control mechanisms of society—which were based on fear and force—had to be replaced by self-control, moral integrity and industry. "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom," Franklin had written, "as nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." As such, the strength of a republic—the people—was also its weakness. People's selfishness, ambition, avarice and vanity in America posed such a threat that Adams worried "whether there is public virtue enough to support a republic."
Closely linked to the concept of "public virtue" was that of "private virtue," described as being frugal, temperate and uncorrupted—traits that the founding fathers ascribed to farmers. "Cultivators of the earth," Jefferson wrote, "are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous." They elevated the independent yeoman to an elemental place in American life. Hardworking and independent farmers were the pillars of American society because only a virtuous and industrious people would be able to hold together the republic."
As God-fearing, Bible-believing men, America's founders envisioned, and laid the groundwork for, a Christian-agrarian republic.
The virtue they spoke of, virtue that was so necessary for the survival of the republic, coming from a nation of independent farmers, were not Muslim virtues, or Buddhist virtues, or Hindu virtues. And in no way, shape, or form were they the virtues of secular humanism. They were Christian virtues.
As men who, by and large, had a biblically-informed worldview, the founders fully understood that men are, by nature, not good. The Bible teaches that men (or mankind) are fundamentally depraved (a.k.a., sinful) and capable of all kinds of self-serving mischief and wickedness. That's why the founders established a decentralized government (decentralization is a basic agrarian concept). They limited the size and power of government, and they integrated all manner of checks and balances into the Constitution.
I believe the Christian-agrarian republic, as established by the Christian-agrarian founders, disappeared many years ago. The rise of industrialism and corporate capitalism ripped apart the fabric of agrarian culture in this nation. It was then that families (traditional families)—the backbone of any nation—were fractured and weakened.
Families in agrarian America were once strong, self-reliant and interdependent within their rural communities. But industrialized America is now a nation of broken, government-and-corporate-dependent families.
With the loss of Christian-agrarian values, the republic succumbed to a greater democracy (a.k.a., mob rule), and after Lincoln's war against the agrarian South, greater political power became centralized in Washington, D.C. Now Americans are faced with the reality of various destructive political ideologies—Statism, Socialism, Fascism. Such ideologies are, of course, the fruit of the secular humanist faith.
It's a sad story. We are a nation in decline. Some people have suggested that apostate America is inviting God's judgement. I don't think God's judgement is coming. I think it is already here.
There is, however, always hope. There is always hope in the only place where there has always been hope—in the mercy and grace of God (not government programs or political promises). It's there in the scriptures. It's there for those who look for it. It's there for people who humble themselves, and repent. Seek and you shall find.
I've been a follower of Jesus Christ since I was around 14 years old. After all these years I tend to think that everyone knows that God's word (the Bible) is where hope can be found—that it is the only place where true hope (and the peace that comes with such hope) can be found. But that is, of course, a mistake on my part, especially in post-Christian America.
That said, if you are looking for hope and peace that transcends your personal problems, and the serious problems of this world, I suggest that you begin your quest by reading the book of John in the New Testament.
So there is always hope for men (and women and children) who put their faith in Jesus Christ, no matter how wayward the path of their life has been. But I'm not so sure about nations which have rejected God's standards of righteousness. Such nations usually end up in the ash bin of history.
I'm a praying man. Scripture tells me that, by faith in Christ, my sins are forgiven, and that I have access to the sovereign God of the universe through my prayers. So I pray. And when it comes to my country, I pray that God's judgement will lead not to the total destruction of proud, apostate America, but to the restoration of a godly and moral republic.
In the meantime, I endeavor to live a life that is as agrarian as I can manage. Which is to say, as separate from the mainstream neo-Babylonian cultural expectations, and the industrial-system dependencies as I can reasonably be. In other words, I endeavor to be the kind of Christian-agrarian citizen that the founders once envisioned as the surest support of the Christian-agrarian republic they originally established.
I have little (to no) control over the course of apostate America, but I have a measure of control over how I endeavor to live my life and lead my family in these increasingly desperate days. I believe that Christianity, lived within the agrarian paradigm, is the wisest course for God's people, as it has always been.
7 July 2013—Update: After so many years of blogging here I have a tendency to repeat myself, and not realize it. It turns out I posted an essay much like this one (but more thoughtfully written) back in 2008. You can read it here: Hope For A Troubled America