America: Started by a Church?

A lot of people may not know this—though they certainly should!—that America was started by a church. Did you know? Almost all of the passengers on board the Mayflower were members of one church—a little house church in the tiny town of Scrooby, England. The believers were all Separatists, refusing to affiliate with the corrupt, persecuting state church of England. 

The Scrooby Church began in 1606—right at the peak of some of England's worst persecution of Christians. They met quietly in the home of their Senior Pastor, Richard Clyfton who, every week, boldly and faithfully thundered forth the Word of God. 

Pastor Clyfton had an assistant, John Robinson, whose preaching was every bit as bold and powerful. And there was a young kid in the youth group, named Willy Bradford who, at the age of 16, had shown up one Sunday, heard the powerful Truth of God and never looked back! Never let anything keep him from returning. And—get this!—for young William Bradford, Sunday morning worship at Scrooby was a 12-mile hike! Can you believe it? What is that—three to four hours? (By the way, try to get here on time this week, okay?)

Just a few years later, in 1608, when the persecution became unbearable, almost all of the congregation set sail for Holland to find a new life. William Bradford, now 18 years old, was one of them.

Holland turned out to be not so ideal, and so twelve years after that, in 1620, they set sail on the Mayflower for a place called 'the New World'. By that time, Bradford was in his twenties, a leader of the group, and soon to become the very first governor of the colony of Massachusetts. 

Think of it, dear ones! America was founded by a church! I know. I know: if that hadn't happened it would have been founded some other way, of course. But it wouldn't be the same America, I can guarantee you that! Listen to how William Bradford described the very beginnings of the settling of America: 

"What could now sustain these people but the Spirit of God and His grace? May not the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our fathers were Englishmen who came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness, but they cried unto the Lord and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity.'" 

Here is what the Mayflower Compact had to say: America's very first governmental document: 

"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign King James, having undertaken for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith, and the honor of King and Country, do solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick for our better ordering and preservation." 

This is what we were, dear ones! This was America! 

The first thing those Christians did was build schools: colleges that eventually built our nation. And—get this!—of America's first 126 colleges, 123 were Christian! Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton. The finest colleges and universities in America to this day: Christian through and through! 

Want some proof? How about Rule No. 2 of 'The Rules of Harvard College', written in 1637: 

'Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life; and therefore to lay Christ as the very foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."  Harvard, can you believe it? 

In 1701 a petition was presented to the governor of Connecticut to build Yale University: "as a means of upholding and propagating the Christian Protestant Religion...through the blessings of Almighty God." 

Princeton, 'the Log College', began on the banks of Neshaminy Creek in 1735 "for the training and equipping of young men to preach and teach the Word of God as ministers of Jesus Christ." 

Astounding! The Christians built the schools, and the schools built the nation. Princeton's 6th president—James Witherspoon—was a powerful preacher of the Gospel. A remarkable number of America's greatest leaders studied under him and later publicly credited him for playing an enormous role in their faith and their careers: George Washington, James Madison, 21 senators, 29 representatives, 56 state legislators and  33 judges—three of whom were Supreme Court Justices. (Washington didn't go to Princeton, but mentioned Witherspoon as his personal mentor).

There is more: fifty-two of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence were Trinitarian Christians (that means: not Deists, Unitarians or washed-out liberals) and leaders in local churches. Fifty-three of the fifty-five men, who signed the Constitution, were professing Christians: 29 were Anglicans, 18 were Calvinists, 2 were Methodists, 2 were Lutherans, 2 were Catholic, leaving only one who was a nominal Quaker and Ben Franklin who kept calling himself a 'Deist'. 

A few years ago, our President came out (not this one) and made a ridiculous statement to a gathering of Evangelical Christians: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation...". I think I can agree, sadly, with the last part of the President's statement, but what galls me is the first. "Whatever we once were..."  Was he kidding? Is it possible for an American president not to know what "we once were"? It is everywhere, dear ones! Stamped on every document, carved into every institution! We were Christians! Faithful followers of Christ, living in the fear of God, and faithful to the Word of God. 

And we were great—we were blessed!—because of it! And no wonder! After all: "Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord." Ps 33:12

May it happen again! That's why we're here! 

 

See you Sunday!                            RAS

The Choices that Make You
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