founders

John Trumbull's painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence

I have spent the past hour reading through an interesting discussion forum from Focus on the Family’s website which asked whether the American Revolution was a biblical response by our founders and what position Christians should have taken.  It caught my eye because I recently started the DVD of HBO’s biographical series on John Adams, chronicling the same story and ethical issues.   How one answers this question determines his outlook on a believer’s political involvement in today’s world.

You can find the discussion here.
 
Block out some time and get some coffee in advance.  It will take awhile.
 
My first observation of the forum has to do with sources.  I saw references to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the writings of Francis Shaeffer, Norman Geisler, Dave Barton, et al.  I read about principles of civil disobedience taken from Scripture in the stories of the Egyptian midwives, Peter and John in Acts 5, even Jesus’ approach to leaders of His day.  There were comments on Old Testament political situations in the examples of David and Saul, Moses and Pharaoh, et al.  I noted points made from other historical periods of rebellion to authority, including the Reformation, the French Revolution and the post-World War II establishment of an Israeli state. 
 
These made for a fascinating and lively discussion, but I found myself looking hard for other texts.  In fact, the texts that should have been consulted first were barely, if ever, mentioned.  There was little attention given to passages such as Romans 13:1-7 or 1 Peter 2:13-17 or 1 Timothy 2:1-4 or Titus 3:1,2.  I saw the Matthew 5 concept of “salt and light” mentioned once, but only in the context of establishing liberty in human government.  The word “gospel” was nowhere to be found.  “Witnessing” was mentioned briefly by someone who had an opportunity to share Christ in prison after being jailed following an Operation Rescue protest.  The Church’s ostensible priority of making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) was conspicuously absent.
 
Actually, Geisler’s idea that Christians submit to government, even a corrupt one, held little water in the thread.
 
A second unavoidable topic was the pathetic state of the church and pastors in contemporary society.  There were plenty of laments that the pulpits of America have capitulated to the government, more concerned about keeping their tax-exempt status than promoting candidates or preaching against political issues of the day.  There seemed to be agreement that a revival is needed in the church before any change will happen in American moral culture, but no real definition of what that revival should look like.
 
I would suggest that the American church’s impotence in affecting its world is found in the lack of conviction and enthusiasm that Christ’s Great Commission is actually our priority.  Justifying the spiritual legitimacy of deists and their writings got more space in this forum which was the original topic, I’ll admit.  But when Christians take so much time and mental energy discussing such an important subject, would we not be better served to search the relevant scriptures rather than recommend the opinions and views of men?
 
Also, should we accept everything the founders wrote without question?  They get quoted more quickly than other sources by many American Christians, so we’d better be sure, don’t you think?
 
The title of the discussion was “Were the Founding Fathers Traitors?”  Maybe a better question is “Did the Founders Follow the Scriptures?”  Then we might be able to get at the heart of what we as believers are commanded to be, not only in 21st-century America but in any culture at any time.