“Are there any moral lessons for modern-day Christians to be learned from the American Revolution?”
That was the question I posed during a recent radio interview with a popular American Christian pastor: Dr. David Jeremiah. With decades of Biblical ministry experience and as an in-depth student of sinful humanity and a best-selling author of a multitude of Christian Living books to boot, Dr. Jeremiah seemed wildly overqualified to answer such a simple question.
However, instead of a clear or concise answer, Jeremiah sounded taken aback by my question and proceeded by avoiding it altogether. I had feared as much.
In fairness to Jeremiah, a quick Google search of the exact phrase “moral lessons of the American revolution” provided zero results, confirming that he is not alone in ignoring this question.
I find the answer to this question to be more important than ever as modern America’s brewing ethnic tensions and political divisions threaten to boil over into yet another violent revolution.
It would seem, however, that Americans, like all sinful humanity, are more astute at identifying the moral failings of other nations than of their own.
Instead of seeking out the moral lessons from the Christian-on-Christian bloodshed of the Revolution, most Americans actively celebrate their original act of rebellion every Fourth of July, spending approximately $675 million on fireworks in 2016 alone.
How strange that modern-day Christians intentionally celebrate a historical revolt against a monotheistic Christian monarchy, especially in light of the Bible’s numerous commands to obey the governing authorities and to abstain from violence and revolts. (See Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13,17) Even more strange is that this celebrated revolt involved American Christians killing British Christians.
Is it wise for Christ followers to celebrate the spirit of revolution that courses through American veins or the rebellion that is a fundamental part of America’s DNA?
Since this broad topic has largely been ignored until now, allow me to introduce a few moral lessons that I have gleaned as a lifelong student of the Bible and American history.
Moral Lesson #1 – Nowhere does the Bible condone Christian-on-Christian bloodshed — for any reason.
What Bible verse permits a Christ follower to murder another Christ follower (or anyone else for that matter) in defense of rights or purse?
Remember, the early American colonists were not slaying Muslims, Satanists, or even non-believers for Jesus. Instead, they slaughtered fellow British Christians, often from the same Christian denomination, while crediting God for their “glorious” victory.
In their defense, most modern American Christians condone the bloodshed by choosing to believe that “Divine Providence” was guiding the guns. But is such self-congratulation — void of self-examination —befitting of a “Christian” nation? Especially considering that the historical narrative of America’s founding era is largely myth, based on selective and twisted portions of history. (For more on the myths surrounding America’s founding era, I recommend a book entitled: “Founding Myths” by Ray Raphael.)
Since 1776, generations of Americans have been assured by many Christian ministers rebellion to the king and the killing of fellow Christ-followers during the Revolution was necessary because of the trampling of the “natural rights” of the American colonists.
But is this the way that fellow Christians are urged to settle disputes in the Bible? (Matthew 18:15-17; Matt. 18:21; Lev. 19:17)
On the contrary, the Apostle John warns:
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15)
God never condones the killing of fellow Christian believers.
Moral Lesson #2 – Christ Followers Do Not Rebel Against the King “For the Lord’s Sake”
The American revolution was a war against monotheistic Christian monarchy. Nowhere in the Bible does God condone rebellion to monarchy.
In fact, the book of Proverbs instructs those who would walk according to wisdom: “Fear the LORD, as well as the king, and don’t associate with rebels.” (Proverbs 24:21)
Because, as the Bible repeatedly declares, God specifically uses the king to execute His righteous judgment. Throughout the Bible, it is clear that it is God Himself who “removes kings and sets up kings.” (Dan. 2:21, 4:17; Rom. 13:1; Prov. 8:15; John 19:11). In addition, the Bible clearly commands that men should not join rebellious factions against the king (Prov. 24:21; Rom. 13:2), but instead that men should submit to the king, not just for their own good, but also “for the Lord’s sake.” (1 Pet. 2:13; Titus 3:1; Rom. 13:5)
In fact, the Apostle Peter commands the ancient church to:
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Pet. 2:16,17)
Notice that Peter connects true freedom to honoring the king. This makes perfect sense as God Himself is a King who reigns over His Kingdom. There are two kings in every believer’s life. Christ summed up this spiritual law when He proclaimed: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21)
Are we really to believe that the monotheistic Christian monarchies of the past were not actually “divinely inspired” as the Bible suggests? And are we also to believe that America, a nation that revolted specifically against a Christian king of a Christian monarchy, was inspired to shed blood by the God of the New Testament? Do we not require even a shred of scriptural evidence to support this sudden and radical reversal in Christian thought?
The Apostle Paul lived under a brutal tyrant king, yet never once called for his head. Paul never sought to remake or reshape the kingdoms of man knowing that the “rulers of this age” were “doomed to pass away.” (1 Cor. 2:16)
Instead, Paul issues this command to the ancient church:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Rom. 13:1,2)
The American Revolution led to a form of government that ignores God’s laws
Moral Lesson #3 – The American Revolution Provided Safe Haven To False Gods
By overthrowing the reigning monotheistic Christian monarchy, America’s founding fathers were able to establish a new tolerant society that permitted the worship of any and all gods — or no god — of one’s choice.
In retrospect, it is clear that American colonists killed fellow British Christians in order to leave a monotheistic society for a pantheistic one.
Any intellectually honest person who examines America’s founding documents will quickly discover that America’s “god” (“Nature’s God”) is not a jealous god as laws against blasphemy and worshipping other gods are notably absent.
Are we to believe that the God of the Bible is no longer a jealous God, but that He actually takes delight in, and encourages, the worship of many gods? (Ex. 20:3,5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 1 Cor. 1:14)
Are we to believe that God desires that we fight and kill others, even fellow Christians, living in foreign nations through wars so as to preserve the “rights” of American citizens to worship any god they choose and even to blaspheme God’s name through their right to the “freedom of speech?”
The American revolution created the safest place for false gods the world has ever seen, as all were instantly legalized with the stroke of a pen.
These are just a few of the moral lessons that I have gleaned from my own research into the American Revolution.
In summary, we should be careful when crediting the inspiration for the Christian-on-Christian bloodshed of the American Revolution to the Prince of Peace. Ours is an age of great spiritual deception, and our very lives are at stake.
As Christ warned, “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword.”
America was created by the sword. The only way it will survive is through the sword.