If you were to travel around the nation, what one thing would you find repeatedly? The answer may surprise you—especially in light of the violence rocking our nation, the disintegration of common values, the rampant crime, and the breakdown of morals.
Fox News reports (4/18/22): “A New York man who has been cycling to all 50 U.S. state capitals has revealed that no matter where you go in the country, you’re likely to run across one thing: churches.”
Bob Barnes said he is not a religious person, yet he says, “I appreciate churches.”
He was surprised to see how ubiquitous they are in his bicycle journey through the states:
“You can go anywhere in this country, you’re going to see a church…It’s fascinating. All over this entire country…They change—like in the South, we’re at a Baptist church…In the North, it’ll be something else.”
Since secularism is the prevailing worldview of the elites who control so much of the thought and activity in this country, the cyclist’s observations may seem startling. But when you consider so much of our nation’s history, it’s not surprising.
One of the greatest books about America’s history was written by the great British historian, Paul Johnson, in 1997, A History of the American People.
Johnson says this about our nation’s origins: “America had been founded primarily for religious purposes, and the Great Awakening had been the original dynamic of the continental movement for independence. The Americas were overwhelmingly church-going, much more so than the English, whose rule they rejected.”
Consider just a few quick examples of the acts of the early British settlers of North America.
The first permanent such settlement was Jamestown in 1607. When they arrived, initially at Cape Henry before settling down in Jamestown, they planted a cross and claimed the land for Jesus Christ. Reverend Robert Hunt led them in prayer at the foot of the cross.
The Pilgrims who established Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 declared the reason for their voyage on the Mayflower was “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
When the Puritans founded Boston in 1630, their leader, Rev. John Winthrop preached a sermon called “A Model of Christian Charity,”* in which he referred to a metaphor from Jesus—the “city on a hill.”
Winthrop proclaimed, “We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, and ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies. The Lord will make our name a praise and glory, so that men shall say of succeeding plantations: ‘The Lord make it like that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be like a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are on us.”
Our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, appreciated the city on a hill metaphor and spoke of it often. For example, in his last radio address, he said: “The hope of human freedom, the quest for it, the achievement of it is the American saga. And I’ve often recalled one group of early settlers making a treacherous crossing of the Atlantic on a small ship when their leader, a minister, noted that perhaps their venture would fail and they would become a byword, a footnote to history. But perhaps, too, with God’s help, they might found a new world, a city upon a hill, a light unto the nations.”
By the time we get to the founding fathers, was all that godly influence set aside? No. John Eidsmoe, law professor and author of Christianity and the Constitution, once told me of the men who fashioned our founding document in 1787: “When you look to that Constitutional Convention, those 55 delegates, we find that contrary to what is commonly being taught today, the overwhelming majority were actively affiliated with Christian churches.”
As the British author G. K. Chesterton once noted: America is “a nation with the soul of a church.” And now that church needs great renewal.
My long-time pastor, Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, once declared on his television program while on location at the Lincoln Memorial: “Too often we forget that America became a nation soon after a spiritual revival, the First Great Awakening. Then in the early 1800s, America experienced a Second Great Awakening, which helped bring about a moral revolution—particularly in addressing the evil of slavery. But now we are in need of a Third Great Awakening. Will you join me in praying for that to happen? I believe it is America’s only real hope.”
The hope of America is Jesus Christ. The hope of America is the revival of its churches. Churches, by the grace of God, that can be found throughout the land. May God revive the works of His hands.
*See our Providence Today television SEGMENT on “A Model of Christian Charity”—a City on a Hill.