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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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Did you know America is an idea?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Most nations are formed on the basis of racial, linguistic or ethnic affinities. For example, England, France, Germany, and China are all nations established on shared genetic and and cultural bonds. America is the only nation that was birthed not by racial or ethnic necessities, not by aristocracy or oligarchy, but solely by the power of the idea of “living to God,” by subjecting civil and religious liberty to His revealed law.

It has been said that God chose Israel, but America chose God.

The heroic story of America began in ancient times in the mind of God who placed man at liberty in the Garden of Eden. Recorded history, beginning with the Bible, shows man’s resistance to God and the enslaving consequences of rule by various tyrants—kings, pharaohs, caesars, despots, emperors, dictators—often governing malevolently. The Bible teaches us God’s plan of redemption through the Gospel and man’s struggle to regain civil freedom. The Gospel not only frees man from sin but makes him wise in governing himself without oppression.

America’s story

Our story is the story of people and events, but ultimately the story of an idea—the capacity of mankind to govern himself, without a king or ruler, with liberty of conscience and with the right to life and property.

Those early colonial patriot-soldiers, who bled and died for the “idea of America,” teach us again several generations later, to cherish that Christian idea.

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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Is America a Christian Nation?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Monday, July 3, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 30, 2017

Christians sometimes have difficulty linking the ideas of America’s Christian history and civil government. It seems to them they are being asked to yoke together that which should not be yoked.

They have assumed that the external separation of church and state, which the United States enjoys, means separation of Christian principles from our civil government, rather than believing as did our founding fathers, that our civil government is based upon and inseparable from Christian principles.

Noah Webster wrote that the moral principles contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.These principles have immutable truth as their foundation, are adapted to people in every condition of life, secure the practice of universal justice and kindness, and prevent crimes and disorders in society. No human laws dictated apart from the principles of the gospel can ever secure peace, liberty, safety, prosperity and national security.

Many believe that civil government can secure these benefits, but government is an intangible idea that describes the flow of power and force in society. The structure or form of government (i.e., legislative, judicial, executive branches) is only the means by which power and force can operate in our nation.

Government operates in two spheres

Government (power and force) has two spheres of operation: internal and external. Internal (power and force) is individual self-government; external (power and force) is civil government.

The internal sphere is always the causative. Jesus taught that a good man brings forth good treasure out of the heart (Matt. 12:35). Natural man, because of his evil nature, cannot bring forth good government, or the good flow of power and force, because he can only bring out what is in his heart.

Whether man accepts the sovereignty of God or the sovereignty of man determines the quality of the good or evil in his heart.

Power comes from the consent of the governed

Our Founders stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence that governments are instituted by men and gain their powers by the consent of the governed.

What is in the heart of the “the governed?” We must forever link America’s Christian history and civil government to enjoy the benefits of Liberty, peace, security and prosperity.

Adapted from Verna M. Hall, “Introduction: Christianity and Civil Government,” The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder (Foundation for American Christian History, 1976), p. xxv.

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Restoring the Memory of America's Christian History

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Monday, June 19, 2017

George Washington at Prayer in the Capitol Prayer Room

Can we restore the lost memory of American Christian self-government?

The knowledge of our American history is so important to Americans that without it we act like a nation that has lost its memory. Knowledge of America’s Christian History provides us with the purpose for which America was established.

Historians who wrote close to the period of our founding were convinced that God reserved this continent for that time when mankind was ready to accept to the fullest the opportunity and the responsibility for extending Christian liberty to every sphere of life. There would be no America if there were no Christianity.

The record of our Christian History has not been destroyed, only neglected.

Few Christians in America really know America’s Christian History. Yet no one has destroyed the record. Rather it has been forgotten and neglected by the very people who should love this tremendous testimony of Christ His Story in America. Now, once again Americans can read for themselves the documentation in the “original” sources of our history.

Historians of today look at America’s early history through the lenses of contemporary philosophies of government and they fail to understand the reasoning of her Founders. Our purpose is to restore the Biblical reasoning of those individuals who were closer to that period.

If we are to appreciate the sacred trust of Christian government we must understand it in the context of a Bible-loving and a Bible-living people.

Excerpted from the original Introduction to Rudiments of America’s Christian History and Government, 1968. Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater.

Look for our new, updated edition of Rudiments to be released Summer 2017 titled Nation Makers: The Art of Self Government, by Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater, edited by Carole G. Adams, President of the Foundation for American Christian History.

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The New Civics and the Transformation of America

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Friday, May 12, 2017

John Signleton Copley, Portrait of Samuel Adams, c. 1772

Let divines (pastors) and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls…instructing them in the art of self-government without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies…

Samuel Adams, October 4, 1790

Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, instructed us to teach our children the “art of self-government”, the only answer to creating citizens that can uphold and govern our Republic.

Liberals and progressives understand Sam Adams’ admonition clearly and know that education is the way to change America to their worldview. The “New Civics” is one example of how they plan to transform America. Instead of teaching traditional government courses by instructing students in our representative form of self-government, our high school and college students are being taught “civic engagement” as a way of bringing leftwing and communist causes to the mainstream, misusing the checks and balances of law. They are coached to participate in walkouts and protests, even to the end of bringing about civil unrest and anarchy.

We must counter this plan to undermine our liberty with the same method—education. We can renovate our classrooms, and thus our nation, by using the historic method of Biblical, classical education known as the Principle Approach. This is the method of education that produced our Founding Generation and birthed America. Our children will be taught to cherish our God-given rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, voluntary association and the law of our land, our U.S. Constitution. It is the way to return our nation, once again, to preserving individual freedom and being “the beacon on the hill”, shedding the light of liberty to all nations.

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Who made me? Why was I made? What is my duty?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Thursday, April 13, 2017

An immense effect may be produced by small powers
wisely and steadily directed.

Noah Webster, 1821

Noah Webster, Father of American Scholarship, believed every individual should ask three questions: “Who made me? Why was I made? What is my duty?” The proper answers to these questions, and the practical result of them, constitute the whole business of life. He said that we are furnished with powers of reason to answer these questions, and by the design of our Creator, reason should be employed in every stage of life.

However, he cautioned, “reason without cultivation, without experience and without the aid of revelation, is a miserable guide.” We daily observe in the secular world the failure of reason without revelation. Reason without revelation leads to ignorance, error and action based upon the impulse of passion.

How do we receive revelation? By “aid of revelation”, Webster meant the Bible—communication of truth by God to men. He instructed to first, occupy your mind with study from the Scriptures to learn of the Will and Character of our Maker; second, learn the end or purpose He has given you for your life; and third, discover the duties He wants you to perform. “In all that regards faith and practice, the Scriptures furnish the principles, precepts and rules, by which you are to be guided.” God’s Word would reveal the answer to each of the questions if this became your “first study to occupy the mind.”

What are the results? It will define your reputation among men, you will have peace of mind, and real hope of future happiness when you conform your conduct to the commands of God revealed in the sacred Scriptures.

Today, when Biblical education is under attack, it will encourage us to return to the instruction of Noah Webster for guidance. Then, we may once again enjoy the blessings of liberty under law in our nation.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. II Cor. 3:17

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Why is George Washington the Role Model of Presidents?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Saturday, February 18, 2017

Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, 1797

Many people today find their role models in the media culture. According to The Barna Group, two thirds of Americans say pro athletes have more influence on our society than faith leaders. However, American Christians, in addition to their pastors and teachers, have traditionally looked to the elected leadership for role models. Can you find a hero there today?

George Washington, our first president, understood that as an elected leader he had a duty to be the very model that all other presidents would follow. He discerned that his entire life would be carefully examined, not by some prying journalist, but by God, to whom Washington knew he would be fully accountable. So he set his heart and mind to be the President that would set the standard for all others to follow and began to build a foundation for a young nation to shine the light of liberty to the entire world.

Washington was also humbly conscious of the tremendous responsibilities of the new office of president of the United States. He knew that the whole world would measure America by the character of the man who occupied that office. And indeed, most nations identified Washington as “America” long before they were acquainted with the nation.

This prayer, found in his writings, indicates how closely Washington associated the success of the American nation with the spirit and practice of the Christian religion:

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

George Washington “Circular Letter to the States” 1783

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Is Christian Self-Government with Union Possible?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Saturday, January 28, 2017

The British Evacuating after the Siege of Boston, March 17, 1776

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1

The recent presidential election has exposed a rift in our national life. Americans are more divided than ever on political and cultural issues, and the spirit of unity that is the mark of genuine patriotism and which keeps afloat the ship of state seems to have drowned in a sea of disrespect, distrust, skepticism and failed hopes.

In the midst of these dark waters that threaten the foundations of the Republic, we must ask, is a spirit of unity still possible and where is it to be found?

FACE founder and Christian historian Verna M. Hall discovered the source of our nation’s unity in the Biblical principles on which it is founded. From the beginning, Americans saw themselves as one nation, under God, with a common destiny and purpose.

In her primary source study, The Christian History of the Constitution, Vol. II: Christian Self-Government with Union, Hall cites an important early example of how our nation’s unity is rooted in Biblical thinking. When the citizens of Massachusetts suffered extreme hardship caused by the closing of Boston harbor, the thirteen colonies acted as one. The British blockaded the harbor in order to punish Massachusetts. The Crown thought making an example of Boston would break the spirit of liberty in the colonies. However to the surprise of the British, the result was not factionalism and submission, but an indestructible unity, which led to liberty. “One by one the colonies declared their solidarity with Boston’s cause, making it their own.”*

The response of the colonies to the plight of Boston was the result of their faith:

Boston citizens, suffering under harsh financial circumstances, were “sustained by the large contributions sent from every quarter for their relief, and by the noble words that accompanied them.” The flow of donations from other colonies lasted 10 months.
Virginia called for a day of prayer and fasting to be observed the day the Boston Port Bill went into effect, and large congregations filled the churches throughout the colony that day.
Newspapers and pamphlets were published which supported Boston and aided in crystallizing public opinion. People were able to learn and understand the principles at stake for all the colonies by the closing of Boston’s harbor.

Because their beliefs and actions were rooted in their Biblical worldview, the colonists were able to throw off the yoke of British oppression and establish a free nation unlike any before or since.“The British were sure that the policy of singling out Massachusetts for punishment would prove the means of destroying the union. Instead, this afflictive act had just the opposite effect.” The response of the colonies became the “cement of American union."

In his inaugural address, President Trump directed us on how to act if the rifts in our national life are to be healed. His words bear keeping in mind:

We are one nation—and their (speaking of fellow Americans) pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity."

If our nation is to once more pursue our glorious destiny, we must not let our hearts be hardened by factionalism and distrust, but return to the “cement of American union”—Christian self-government and Biblical Christian unity.

Learn more about the Christian history of our nation and its founding in Biblical principles by studying Verna M. Hall's The Christian History of the Constitution, Vol. II, Christian Self-Government with Union (CHOCII), and the Study Guide written by Mary-Elaine Swanson. You can buy CHOCII at Get the Study Guide FREE when you purchase with coupon code BMEM117, through January 31, 2017.

*From the Study Guide by Mary-Elaine Swanson.

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Inauguration Day

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Thursday, January 19, 2017

George Washington taking the oath of office at his First Inaugural, April 30, 1789

On January 20, Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. The inauguration ceremony will commence our new president’s fouryear term in office.

The ceremony culminates in the new president taking the oath of office, which is found in Article II of the Constitution. The Constitution states:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

By tradition, presidents add the phrase, “So help me God.”

Our first president, George Washington held his inaugural on April 30, 1789. Washington much preferred to retire to private, domestic life, but reluctantly agreed to take on the Executive Office. As he said in the first inaugural address, “I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love…”.

Washington is remembered as the “Father of His Country” not only because he was the first U.S. president, but also because he set the standard of character, piety, integrity, equanimity and patriotism by which all subsequent presidents have been measured. He rose above prejudice, politics, and personal interests and sought to do what was right for the country. As David Ramsay, M.D., wrote in 1811 in The Character of Washington by His Contemporaries:

Truth and utility were his objects he readily pursued, and generally attained them. With this view he thought much, and closely examined every subject on which he was to decide, in all its relations. Neither passion, party spirit, pride, prejudice, ambition, nor interest, influenced his deliberations.
In making up his mind on great occasions, many of which occurred in which the fate of the army or nation seemed involved, he sought for information from all quarters, revolved the subject by night and by day, and examined every point of view. Guided by these lights, and influenced by an honest and good heart, he was imperceptibly led to decisions which were wise and judicious.*

As we witness the solemn inaugural ceremony held in our nation’s capital tomorrow, we will look to our first president as the example of dignity and honor due to the office of president and chief executive of our nation. We pray for our incoming president, Donald J. Trump that God will give him wisdom, a spirit of unity, a genuine love for our nation and respect for the liberty we treasure.

*George Washington: The Character and Influence of One Man, a compilation by Verna M. Hall, published by Foundation for American Education

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Good Gifts for Christmas

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

So begins Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic Little Women, with a complaint that we all certainly can share. Fifteen-year-old Jo (Josephine) March and her sisters, Meg, Beth and Amy are seated around a snug little fire in their New England home, lamenting the gifts they will not receive for Christmas. Jo, an aspiring playwright, wants a new book. Thirteen-year-old Beth, a pianist, wants sheet music. Little Amy the artist hopes for drawing pencils. And Meg, at sixteen, the oldest and considered the prettiest, longs for a new dress.

These good-hearted girls wrestle with their disappointment. They know that their mother, Marmee, would give them these things if she could afford them and that the absence of their beloved Father, who is far from home, serving as a chaplain in the United States Army during the Civil War, is difficult for everyone. Generously, the girls decide that instead of receiving gifts, they will spend their hard-earned money on presents for Marmee. The arrival of a letter from Father confirms their good intentions. His warm greetings to his “little women,” as he affectionately calls them, are mixed with fatherly wisdom and advice:

Give them all of my dear love and a kiss. Tell them I think of them by day, pray for them by night, and find my best comfort in their affection at all times. A year seems very long to wait before I see them, but remind them that while we wait we may all work, so that these hard days need not be wasted. I know they will remember all I said to them, that they will be loving children to you, will do their duty faithfully, fight their bosom enemies bravely, and conquer themselves so beautifully that when I come back to them I may be fonder and prouder than ever of my little women.

Anxious to merit Father’s praise, the girls regret their recent pettiness and resolve to be even more selfless. The opportunity comes, when, on a snowy Christmas morning, they have a chance to help the mother of a newborn and her six hungry young children, who are living in a cold and fireless home. When Marmee and her daughters bring their own holiday breakfast to the poor family, the mother and her children call the Marches "angels." "That was a very happy breakfast," Alcott writes, "though they didn't get any of it." The March family's sacrifice leaves them with empty stomachs, but full hearts:

And when they went away, leaving comfort behind, I think there were not in all the city four merrier people than the hungry little girls who gave away their breakfasts and contented themselves with bread and milk on Christmas morning.

Alcott’s tale, though told with simplicity, contains rich imagery appropriate for this time of year, when we too are filled with expectations and desires. Like Jo and her sisters, we anticipate our annual celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, with presents and parties, gifts and good food. And although, by today’s standards, the things the March sisters long for are simple, the same longing for things can encroach on our own hearts and distract us from what is truly important. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus came to make known to us the good news that there is another Father, who, like Father March, may seem far away, but in truth is always near us, a Father who, Jesus teaches, gives us “good gifts”—the Holy Spirit and eternal life (Matthew 7:11). The March sisters remind us of both the angels who greeted the birth of Jesus and also the shepherds who left their flocks to worship the newborn King. But the girls also display the love, self-denial, patience in suffering and sharing with those in need that recalls another group of “little women,” the Wise Virgins in the parable (Matthew 25:1–13), who trimmed their lamps and made themselves ready to greet the Bridegroom when he came. We celebrate Christmas because we await the moment when Jesus will come again. Let us prepare by being like Jo and her sisters, anxious to make our Heavenly Father proud of our good works and our love.

Little Women provides a model of the well-ordered Christian home, which is the bedrock of society and the first sphere of government. (Read Rosalie J. Slater's Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, “Home-Government” pp. 23-27) When mothers and fathers faithfully educate their children to love of God and live virtuous lives, then our communities and nation flourishes. Little Women captures the heart of family living because Alcott’s view of the family is centered on Christian ideals and principles.

In this time of preparation for Christmas, what a wonderful way it is to strengthen the foundations of our own families and prepare to receive the infant Jesus by sharing with our families Little Women and learning its lessons of love, generosity, kindness and long-suffering.

To help you get started on reading Little Women with your family, purchase a copy in the FACE Bookstore, along with the Little Women Teacher Guide. Parents interested in establishing a home based on Christian principles will also enjoy Teaching and Learning America's Christian History, also available in the FACE Bookstore.

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