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Has America forgotten the idea of self-government?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Sunday, September 3, 2017

The “idea of America” is obscured today by the forgetfulness of Americans.

What is the idea of America? Liberty of conscience with the right to life and property, or Christian self-government. How does one forget an idea that was so ardently pursued and hard-won?

Why does “the idea of America” have power to call forth the sacrifice of so many, so consistently, over so many years? One sentence captures the “idea”:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

This remarkable sentence, written over 240 years ago, has power in every generation because it says a nation should be found upon Truth—self-evident Truth that was true, is true and will remain true for all people, at all times, in all places. It is a truth that cannot be disproved and that existed from Creation.

What is the source of this Truth? What evidence can we see? How did this Truth come to us? What are we to do with it?

It is essential that we inculcate the “idea of America” in the hearts and minds of our youth by addressing these questions thoughtfully. We must linger reflectively in them to form a full understanding of the wisdom needed by each generation to sustain the American Republic.

How can we remember the “idea of America”?

History is driven by ideas, but history is forgotten when it is not taught. When parents and teachers neglect the duty of teaching children the mighty acts of God, that void of ignorance is readily filled with a false view of history, which in turn leaves no place for the knowledge of God’s glory.

Let’s heed the words of the psalmist:

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
…things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done…
…that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,…but keep his commandments…

excerpted from Psalm 78:1-8, ESV

Adapted from Nation Makers: the Art of Self-Government, by Rosalie J. Slater and Verna M. Hall, edited by Carole G. Adams. Originally published as Rudiments of America’s Christian History and Government.

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