You chose to quote the following.
And Benjamin Franklin said: “If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England.”
For reasons we both know Ben Franklin will not ever be the best example of a person moved by New Testament Christianity of the Royal Law of the Scriptures (Mt 22:36-40) which is to Love God with all the heart and our neighbors as ourselves. But he along with many new believers escaping the horrors of the dark ages, tyranny and the insanity of the inquisition were but fledglings. They were growing and learning along side the rest of civilization. The word of God and the Royal Law had just been released so to speak.
The idea of loving our neighbors above ourselves and even our enemies was new to a society that thought Gods best was kept in the secret annuls and depositories of the papacy and was to be let out by the initiated and well indoctrinated. What came forth from it prior to the release of the gospel for the common man was pure religion, not pure love.
Ceremony, indulgences, et al don’t have much to do with the Royal Law, not then or now. Religion may be the poorest choice of words but it is easier for those in a secular world to understand. The mix that works is the Love of God and man with all civil advances for the health, welfare, education and social advancement of everyone in a nation. No one guided by love is going to injure his neighbors or fellow citizens.
As Christianity grew in America so did other areas of governance and scientific inquiry not to mention patriotism. Civilization likes to credit itself with growing up or more accurately growing out of things like, repressive government, barbarism, ignorance etc. but it does not allow itself to see Christianity growing as the scriptures were freed from the dark back rooms of old cathedrals where the hand scribed versions were both chained and off limits even to all but a few priests of the papacy.
Along came men like Martin Luther who after viewing but a few pages of writ was willing to put his life and future against the entire power of the papacy, to proclaim the freedom the scriptures declared belonged to every man, from tyranny as well as bondage to personal sin.
The list of reformers is too many for this space but lets pop ahead to just one (Tyndale) who was burned at the stake for finally putting the Latinist autographs into English for everyman to read. Not long after that Europeans began seeking both freedoms from the oppression of the religious extremes of the Roman church and were not content to live amidst their detractors and persecutors. Thus the first steps toward the new land. They were forming a new country just as surely as a woman grows a child in the womb.
Some excesses did occur among the new arrivals but let’s not overstate it. Eventually, as they advanced together these things were discontinued. Yet, the nations and the civilization they left behind were still moving nowhere in its own dark mix of civil tyranny and religious error.
Those nations had yet to see their share of despots even after largely shedding the full weight of the papacy’s interventional fiasco with civil rule. Under Britain’s King James the first sign of new freedom was seen. Perhaps England did not learn fast enough after casting of her Roman taskmaster and a whole new breed, a new land and a new start were the only answer. We know the rest of the story. Or do we?
If we are too selective we may tell the story with extreme naivetÃ©, and it will sound like the smooth fairy tale of tyranny, handsome princes and living happily ever after. If we tell the story with extreme prejudice we will make something or someone the dragon (in this case Christianity) and proceed to slay it one blow at a time. Like the swipe you used to start your reply with from Ben Franklin.
While fledgling Christianity grew and flourished in America Europe was yet to see its wars and power shifts and the likes of Bonaparte, Franco, Mussolini, Hitler and others. Where Christianity was all but banned, came others like Mao, Pol Pot, the Emperor of Japan, Joseph Stalin et al. Here is where we see the slaughter not of thousands or even of tens of thousands but millions upon millions. Where the character changing aspects of the gospel were not mixed into the fabric of society it dissimulated into tyranny and disregard for life not just the dunking of a few Puritans.
America had its own Civil war but even that speaks of something different. In fact it may be the only war in world history that was fought over a moral principle. I am among those willing to say that part of that principle was based on the equality of all men and the call to love that is found only in the Bible. Slavery certainly does not fulfill the Royal Law of scripture and I would add to my assessment that if the laws of God had not been allowed to reflect against the laws of our land we may be involved in slavery to this day.
You offered this as a conclusion… “The point of my original comment is to highlight that even today, the words of our Founding Fathers ring true: Religion and politics do not mix.” And “What have we seen of late other than the Christians of this nation lay down the cross in exchange for the carnal weapons of this world? If only Christians would live like Christ instead of trying to force their “superstition, bigotry and persecution” on others?” (As Madison refers to it.)
Take careful note of the fact that from the ancient Roman Coliseum to the present day persecution of Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, India, Russia, Columbia and many Muslim countries Christians are yet being held, tortured and killed. Where is the force of superstition, bigotry and persecution to be found here except in Godless secularisms brutality and indifference, God forbid we mix some Christian love into those governments, regimes and dictatorships?
“Superstition?” We can put a man in jail for life with only one witness to a crime. But we choose not to believe the record of twelve decent men who spoke of and wrote of the miracles, the extraordinary life and the resurrection of the Savior. But even if we don’t believe that, an entire nation saw these things. This is no Area 51 conspiracy or the reported sightings of the Yeti; this is part of history and a very long way from anything that even vaguely resembles a mere “superstition.” I hear echoes of Luke 16:31 here in the answer Jesus gave to those who wanted to be sure with a sign instead of a mere superstition, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Lets me say as respectfully as I can, we both well know that reams of quotes could be used in the argument to the contrary. And there would have to be a separate place just to list them or this blog would be inundating with them. I won’t resort to a preponderance of material to either make an argument or attempt to smother yours. But I will conclude with a few quotes I have carefully selected.
“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” George Washington
Benjamin Franklin in a pamphlet for Europeans titled “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America,” 1754. “Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems…pleased to favor the whole country.”
“To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” George Washington
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry
“The greatest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” John Quincy Adams
Heretofore I have been speaking as a blogger let me now take a short excursion into the calling I was assigned as a messenger or prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ and with no uncertainty let me say this. To the degree that we extricate Christian principles, scriptural guides and the clearest teachings of the Lord from the fabric of our society we will see our demise in equal and direct proportion to that apostasy.
We have already begun a trek into the slaughter of the innocent unborn and are presently considering the idea of assisted suicide as being offered in the Obama health care proposals. These ideas, inclinations and life threatening ideas are coming from a Godless socialistic ideology not from adherence to Christian principles.
When Biblical principles, cease to mix with our law making as a moral guide we will all live in the result or outcome of that chosen direction. Already it seems more each day to be pointing to Armageddon, and death and hell itself. It is only a mix not a marriage I am espousing because up to now it has historically worked out well to create what has been the greatest nation in world history. What follows after this is a subject for another time.
Rev Bresciani is the author of two Christian books one that is entirely on the second coming of Christ. He is a contributing columnist for several online news and commentary sites. His articles are read throughout the world. Please enjoy a visit to http://www.americanprophet.org