All Posts /

Faith of the Founders

Faith of the Founders

While much has been written in recent years to try to dismiss the fact that America was founded upon the biblical principles of Judeo-Christianity, all the revisionism in the world cannot change the facts. Anyone who examines the original writings, personal correspondence, biographies, and public statements of the individuals who were instrumental in the founding of America will find an abundance of quotations showing the profound extent to which their thinking and lives were influenced by a Christian worldview.

That is not to say that all of the Founding Fathers were Christians. Clearly, they were not. But the point is that even those who were not Christians were deeply influenced by the principles of Christianity — a mind-set that helped to shape their political ideals. It is possible to be so distracted with whether Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson ever put their personal faith in Jesus Christ that one misses the fact that the Founders almost all thought from a biblical perspective, whether they believed or not.

  • My only hope of salvation is in the infinite, transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! ~ Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • We recognize no sovereign but God, and no king but Jesus! ~ John Hancock and John Adams
  • The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. ~ John Adams, Second President
  • He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all. ~ Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Clearly, there was a predominant Christian consensus in colonial America that shaped the Founders’ thinking and their writing of the founding documents and laws, resulting in the republic we have today.

The Declaration of Independence identified the source of all authority and rights as “Their Creator,” and then accentuated that individual human rights were God-given, not man-made.

Thus, there would be no king or established religion to stand in the way of human liberty or dignity — uniquely Judeo-Christian ideals.

While most historians do not limit the “Founding Fathers” to the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, this core group of men represents the religious sentiments of those who shaped the political foundations of our nation. As a matter of public record, the delegates included 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and 3 deists (those who believe in an impersonal God who gave the world its initial impetus but then left it to run its course). A full 93 percent of its members were members of Christian churches, and all were deeply influenced by a biblical view of mankind and government.

Even a brief study of the Founders’ last wills and testaments provides convincing declarations of the strong religious beliefs among so many of them. Add to that their personal writings concerning their faith in Christ, plus their leadership roles in establishing and guiding numerous Bible societies, plus their service in active ministries, and the evidence is overwhelming.

Here is a small sample of the convictions of some of the Founders:

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. ~ Attributed to Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia

Principally and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it: and my body I recommend to the earth… nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God. ~ John Hancock, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. ~ John Jay, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the supreme head of the universe — to that great and tremendous Jehovah — Who created the universal frame of nature, worlds, and systems in number infinite... To this awfully sublime Being do I resign my spirit with unlimited confidence of His mercy and protection. ~ Henry Knox, Revolutionary War General

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure... are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. ~ Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Excerpted with permission from The American Patriot’s Bible, copyright Thomas Nelson, Inc.

* * *

Your Turn

Let’s celebrate the long history of the faith of the leaders of this nation. Today, let’s pray for our national leaders wherever we’re from that they would know Jesus, love Him, and follow Him! ~ Devotionals Daily