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The Revolutionary Ideas of the Magna Charta

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Thursday, June 4, 2015


King John Signing the Magna Carta, June 12, 1215

[It is] the greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”
Lord Denning, British Jurist

On June 15, 1215, in the now famous meadow at Runnymede, on the banks of the Thames, King John signed the Magna Carta, or Great Charter. This moment was a watershed in history. The king’s signature meant that he accepted rule of law, the principle that the law takes precedence over the will of any ruler or government. In other words, King John could “no longer make it up as he went along.” Now, there existed a written law that bound the sovereign as well as the poorest citizen. The English had long recognized the rights of the individual, but the Magna Carta marks the transition from the age of traditional rights to written documentation to protect those rights.

The Magna Carta, named “great” due to its volume more than magnitude, contains long passages concerning property. This is significant, because, as Daniel Hannan writes in The Wall Street Journal (May 30, 2015), the “Magna Carta conceived freedom and property as two expressions of the same principle. The whole document can be read as a lengthy promise that the goods of a free citizen will not be arbitrarily confiscated by someone higher up the social scale. Even the clauses that seem most remote from modern experience generally turn out, in reality, to be about security of ownership.

The Great Charter inextricably unites the concepts of liberty and property: our right to property secures our liberty.

The legal protections secured by the Magna Carta were central to the establishment of the United States. The Founding Fathers took the ideas conceived in the Magna Carta and carried them a step further, recognizing them not only as a statement of the fundamental rights of person and property, but considered this document to guarantee those rights. From this foundation of law was the birth of The War of Independence and eventually The United States of America.

When the Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence, they were not rebelling against the English crown as much as they were claiming their rights as Englishmen. In issuing taxes on the colonies without parliamentary representation, King George III had violated rights explicity enumerated in the Magna Carta. As Hannan writes, “It was therefore not just their right but their duty to resist.”

This year, 2015, is the 800th anniversary of the signing. As we commemorate this significant anniversary we recognize that the rights and liberties first secured in the Magna Carta, the right to liberty and property, have come to be enjoyed world over because English-speaking people have been willing to fight—and to die—for them.

But we also recognize that the rights and liberties that were set out in the Magna Carta and developed in the U.S. Constitution cannot be established by documentation alone. Constitutional law rests first of all on the law of conscience. As Samuel Adams reminds us, even with the “established custom of a written constitution…even this is of little value in the presence of a dead constitutional morality.”

Learn more about the Magna Carta and its monumental significance by attending in person or live online our next Lessons in Liberty lecture “The Great Charter of Liberty: 800 Years of Significance,” given by Dr. Paul Jehle on Tuesday, June 9.

The Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, one of the four original documents, is on tour in the U.S. and is currently on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Read Daniel Hannan's article in the WSJ here.

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A Spirited Memorial

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Thursday, May 21, 2015

Originally known as Decoration Day to honor the Civil War dead, Memorial Day was designated an official observance after World War I. This remembrance day was celebrated in May when many flowers were in bloom and thus the custom of strewing flowers over the graves of those fallen in defense of their country and liberty.

A lesser known “memorial” is “an affectionate, but spirited memorial” of resolutions drawn up by the first General Congress of the original colonies to the people of England, “reminding them that they held their own boasted liberties on a precarious tenure, if government, under the sanction of parliamentary authority, might enforce by the terrors of the sword their unconstitutional edicts.” 

Mercy Warren in her “Prelude to the American Revolution” recounts those days and events leading up to The American Revolution and reprinted in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder complied by Verna Hall. In speaking of one of the original gatherings of representatives from the colonies she wrote:

This respected assembly, the Amphyctions of the western world, convened by the free suffrages of twelve colonies, met at the time proposed, on the fourth of September, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four. 

They entered on business with hearts warmed with the love of their country, a sense of the common and equal rights of man, and the dignity of human nature.

They exhorted all ranks and orders of men to a strict adherence to industry, frugality, and sobriety of manners; and to look primarily to the supreme Ruler of the universe, who is able to defeat the crafty design of the most potent enemy.

Today, let us not only honor those who have valiantly and selflessly given their lives for our liberty, but also recall this “memorial” from our first General Congress on how to live as American Christians.

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Is there hope for America?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Today, the very core of our national character is barely recognizable in light of our nation’s founding principles and virtues. The result: confusion and capitulation.

The signs of the times stir grave concerns causing us to ask, “What kind of world, what kind of community, what crises of conscience, what shred of liberty, or opportunity for happiness are ahead for our children?”

Often as American Christians, we are fearful that we are losing the “culture war” and there is no reason for hope for the restoration of our nation. But the Scripture encourages us to “have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” (I Peter 3: 14-16)

In February, FACE sponsored the Reason for Hope Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We gathered with Christian educators, homeschool parents, pastors and leaders from around the country, and we were joined online with friends from around the world as we deepened our understanding of the Biblical roots of our American Christian history and liberty as applied to current issues in education, economics, religion, politics and social issues. This two-day event awakened our commitment to study and teach the principles of God’s Word, and renewed our HOPE in the purpose and future of our nation. America’s founding theologian William Ames taught, “our hope is strengthened, increased, and stirred up by faith, repentance, good works and a good conscience. True and lively hope exists through these.”

God has given us the means of securing the future for our children, and He holds us accountable. His Word contains the wisdom and knowledge for all of life. Sadly, the abandonment of principles of the Word of God leaves our current common wisdom clueless when dealing with the real issues of the day. Confusion is opposed to hope, and therefore cannot be permitted, especially in our children.

Truly, this is the HOPE: the sure promise of God that His Word stands forever; is eternally victorious; and is always absolutely sound. Join with us as we safeguard, teach and plant the bedrock principles that sustain liberty.

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Live by Truth

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Sunday, March 8, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

 

With the dawning of the twenty-first century this generation of young American Christians has a unique calling and a providential place in history. Just as Daniel and the three Hebrew youths of the Old Testament were “called out” from among their generation to lead in a culture riddled by occult practices and self-worship, in the same way our future leaders have need for an education that will also equip them to make unpopular choices, boldly confront the pagan rulers and evil strongholds, as well as our nation’s decline in every sphere, with discernment, Godly wisdom, personal convictions and a Christian work ethic.

The battle in which we American Christians are engaged is a spiritual and cultural battle for the hearts, minds and souls of our youth. They must be strong in spirit, mind and body so as to help solve, rather than add to the problems of the times. The need for this generation of Christians is to know God and His Word, and through personal scholarship, under the Lordship of Christ, learn to apply knowledge in science and technology, in business and industry, in the arts, and in the economy and civil government.

Principle Approach education is rooted in a philosophy of education that is unique to Christianity and is based upon the individual value of both the teacher and student. Modern methods of education have thwarted the beauty and simplicity of Biblical education by attempting to standardize and mass-produce results. But true education accounts for the individual learner, teaching children one by one. A Biblical education inspires, cultivates, consecrates and instructs, believing the best for each child and calling forth his fullest potential in Christ.

In order to accomplish such noble goals, the teacher must believe the best for himself as well, faithfully calling forth his own potential in Christ. Principle Approach education is rooted in these biblical values and the attributes of The Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, within each educator.

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How to Teach Christian Character This Thanksgiving

Posted By The Foundation for American Christian Education, Wednesday, November 5, 2014

 

Everyone loves stories, and telling stories is one of the most powerful ways to teach. It was the teaching method modeled by Jesus throughout the Gospels and proved to be one of the most instructive ways He mentored the disciples.

The Thanksgiving season is the opportune time to teach the much-loved, Christian history classic, The Courtship of Miles Standish. This story, relayed in the form of poetry, takes place in the Plymouth Colony around 1620 when the Pilgrims were struggling to survive during those early years of sacrifice. It is filled with ideals that delight, instruct and indelibly imprint on the heart a love of the Pilgrims.

At one time, this story was taught as part of every curriculum when God was honored in our schools. The poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most loved and recited American poets, was based upon well-known tradition. Longfellow was a direct descendent of the Pilgrim John Alden.

Each canto overflows with the beauty of tried and proven Christian character and is filled with Biblical imagery. Teaching and learning this masterpiece of literature and poetry, using the Teacher Guide will help students by:

  • Building the habit of scholarship
  • Encouraging a lifelong love of poetry
  • Affirming the value and inspiration of the Bible
  • Building Biblical reasoning
  • Cultivating an elevated vocabulary
  • Inspiring student writing
  • Inspiring art work using Longfellow’s rich setting descriptions
  • Inspiring musical compositions and lyrics
  • Inspiring the writing and production of a dramatic presentation of the Pilgrims

This Thanksgiving season introduce your students to one of the most cherished and instructive episodes in America’s Christian history. Bless your family with the incomparable story from our legacy of Christian character and God’s providence.

The Courtship of Miles Standish Teacher Guide and Poem, The Puritan Pastoral by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For use in the Principle Approach, Teaching and Learning of America’s Christian History through Literature. Includes preparation for teaching the poem, biographical and historical background, study guide for teaching the poem including leading questions, themes, suggestions for composition writing and artwork, references and the complete poem is included. Also included are pages for reproduction for student use and notebooks.

The Courtship of Miles Standish Teacher Guide and Poem, 85 pages, soft cover, black and white illustrations, maps, charts. Regular pr
ice of $19.95 now on sale at 20% off for only $15.97 through November 30, 2014. Click here to order and use code BMFW11 at checkout to receive your discount.


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Why did terror strike America?

Posted By The Foundation for American Christian Education, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, September 9, 2014

 

Thirteen years ago on this day, Americans watched in horror as two buildings exploded into flames, the result of a terror attack on the Twin Towers in New York City’s financial district. Then, in unbelief, we witnessed an attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and mourned the crash of Flight 93 as brave individuals stormed the plane’s cockpit to prevent the destruction of more lives.

Terror struck the heart of our nation and the openness, trust and many liberties, as we knew them, crumbled before our eyes just as the Towers. America would never be the same.

Even today, many Americans question how such attacks could have been executed so swiftly in the heart of some of our largest cities. How could such evil penetrate the veil of protection our nation has so long enjoyed?

What is the answer?
The answer to these questions is very simple. The loss of our Biblical character and understanding of our Christian form of government and law has weakened America from the inside out.

From America’s Christian history we learn:

In order to protect our nation and our liberties, we must restore our national character. From the moment of the founding of the first colony on America’s shores, many battles have been fought, blood shed and lives given to obtain and protect liberty.

However, the real war is a war of philosophies—worldviews—raging continually in the minds and hearts of men, many whom would be patriots but for the loss of principles.

Liberty, like conscience, is both internal and external, the external expression fully dependent upon the internal principle.*

Remember with humble gratitude
Today, as we remember the tragic events of 9/11, let us honor those who lost their lives by acknowledging with humble gratitude God’s blessing and goodness on our nation. Let us work to return to the Biblical and republican form of government that our Constitution guarantees. Only then will we be safe and free.

*From The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America: Christian Self-Government, compiled by Verna Hall.

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Our Nation's Defining Moment

Posted By The Foundation for American Christian Education, Thursday, August 14, 2014

The foundation of all free government and of all social order must be laid in families and in the discipline of youth…The education of youth [is] an employment of more consequence than making laws and preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success.

Noah Webster

 

A Mission Discovered

Noah Webster is known as the Father of American Education. He was born in West Harford, Connecticut on October 16, 1758, a descendent of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor William Bradford.This Pilgrim heritage provided him with the ingredients of Christian self-government, sense of responsibility and work habits that would serve him well throughout a long and active life.

 

After graduating from Yale College, the youthful Noah Webster began his public life as a lawyer, supplementing his law practice with teaching. He recognized early on that the citizens of the newly established United States must be educated with American ideas, and that the arts and literature of the new republic must reflect a distinctly Christian character in order to secure its constitutional liberty.

 

Over the next 60 years, by dint of his own unflagging industry, he produced a repository of school texts unequalled for consistency in teaching the precepts of American spelling, pronunciation and grammar, and American history, civics, geography and literature. Throughout the innumerable revisions and re-publications, the theme of American Christian morality and patriotism never wavered.

 

A Nation Changed

The publication of Noah Webster’s Speller in 1783 was followed by a Grammar in 1784, and a Reader in 1785. Webster’s American Spelling Book, the famous “blue-backed speller,” set a publishing record maybe unequalled by any textbook in America. In print for an entire century, more than 100 million copies were sold. The “blue-backed speller” made its way into log cabins in the wilderness, travelled on flatboats down the Ohio, and creaked across the prairies of the West. It was the standard of virtually every young American’s education, consistently teaching the “principles of a republican form of government [that] had their origin in the Scriptures” and embodied “a love of virtue, patriotism and religion,” so that all Americans would be furnished with the foundation for liberty and a way of life that could bring the most happiness and success.

 

Wherever an individual wished to quench his thirst for knowledge, there along with the Bible and Shakespeare, were Noah Webster’s slim volumes. It might be said that Noah’s books were an “ark” in which the American Christian spirit rode the deluge of rising anti-Christian and anti-republican waters, which so often threatened to inundate the nation.

 

A Legacy Defined

Today, as American Christians and patriots, we can look to the example of Noah Webster’s life for inspiration. The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is still the standard for Biblical scholarship and word definitions. His legacy is his own life and effort demonstrating the power and influence of one individual that is consciously and consistently dedicated to Christ and country.

Click here learn more about Webster's 1828 Dictionary.

 

Adapted from “Noah Webster Founding Father of American Scholarship and Education,” by Rosalie J. Slater, preface to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.

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