- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Another year, another Fourth of July — another round of barbecues, complete with ribs, potato salad and fireworks.

But let’s not forget: The Fourth is about the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. And the greatness of the Declaration of Independence — leading to the greatness of America — is this: the recognition that certain rights come from God, not government.

Without a godly people, that notion fades.

And sadly, that’s where America is right now — in the midst of a fade-out and phase-out of the root of her greatness. President Donald Trump is awesome with his “Make America Great Again” mantra, and his America first mentality and messaging.

But in the end, he’s just a guy — just a human. When he leaves, who will come? Answer: Just another human. America, to sustain its greatness well into the future, to thwart attacks from both internal and external sources, needs something greater than the president — something greater than any politician or body of politicians.

America needs God. America needs the church.

Without, the moral compass of the country falters and shortly after, so, too, the culture and politics. Americans during Colonial times knew this — and moreover, weren’t afraid to speak of it or act on it.

Back during American Revolution days, the pulpits of the 13 colonies were filled with passionate preachers delivering fiery rhetoric.

These pastors didn’t care about losing their tax exemptions — there was no IRS to fear. They didn’t care about offending somebody’s more moderate views of the British, or angering some wishy-washy citizen’s concern about igniting violence with rhetoric.

And they certainly didn’t care about mixing politics into their religion right at the pulpit.

Their goal, their mindset, was singular and intense: Save the nation from the bureaucratic infringements of the king — preserve the notion of the blossoming republic that rights come from God, not government.

And they sold that message with both talk and walk.

Episcopal Church records tell the tale of an ordained priest, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, who was serving as pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Woodstock, Virginia, when, in January of 1776, he delivered what he called his farewell sermon. It was on Ecclesiastes 3, the section of the Bible that speaks of a time for war and a time for peace. At the end of the service, he tore off his clerical gown to reveal his military uniform — after which he headed out the door to do what he considered his patriotic, godly duty for his country.

Muhlenberg served so well that history even remembers him as the “fighting parson.”

The Library of Congress recounts how another preacher, a Presbyterian named Abraham Keteltas, told his congregants that it was settled science — to coin a modern-day term — that the Revolutionary War against the British was approved by God. He didn’t shy from saying so, right from the pulpit.

He broke it down this way: America v. Britain is “the cause of truth, against error and falsehood … the cause of pure and undefiled religion, against bigotry, superstition, and human invention … In short, it is the cause of heaven against hell — of the kind Parent of the Universe against the prince of darkness, and the destroyer of the human race.”

Can you imagine today’s liberals reacting to such a sermon? Even if the stated causes were, say, America versus ISIS? Right. The American Civil Liberties Union would have a cow.

Or how about this one, about Congregationalist minister Jonathan Mayhew who told his West Church congregation in Boston that it wasn’t just their option to fight against a tyrannical government — it was their Christian duty?

“We may very safely assert … these two things in general, without undermining government: One is, that no civil rules are to be obeyed when they enjoin things that are inconsistent with the commands of God,” Mayhew said, according to records compiled by LawandLiberty.org. “All such disobedience is lawful and glorious.”

Now seriously — how many church leaders are out there talking so bluntly and boldly these days?

Yet this is our nation’s founding. Even John Adams called for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence to be recognized as “the Day of Deliverance” with “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.”

As this second president suggested: This country, absent God’s guiding hand, would fall on tough times.

He’s quite right. Politicians come and go, political faces — like platforms — change with the blowings of wind. But the morals and virtues of the country’s people are where politicians get their marching orders.

And morals and virtues, at least the unchanging ones — that’s God’s domain, right there.

Let’s remember this, and serve as proper American citizens accordingly.

Without God, America will falter and fall. Without godly people, America will stumble and crumble. Without church — without churches led by moral men and women bent on being bold for the cause of God, regardless of retribution — America’s brightest guiding lights are dimmed.

Let the Fourth of July be remembered not only as a time of national celebration, but also as a time for spiritual revival — a time for churches to recapture their core missions and go forth, boldly, to remind how very, very crucial God is for America, and how very, very reliant our safety, prosperity and salvation depends upon the strength and steadfastness of both church leaders and church-goers.

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