This is the fourth part of my take on the results of the Virginia’s General Election (November 7, 2017). Here are the three previous posts.
What connection has Thanksgiving Day with the results of the last election in Virginia? Because of our nation’s drifting from America’s traditional values, many say America needs a revival. The results of recent elections certainly suggest as much. Therefore, the next four posts in this series will be about Christian revival.
- What are America’s traditional values? How do America’s values differ today?
- What does a revival involve? What does the Old Testament suggest?
- What does a revival involve? What does the New Testament suggest?
- What is necessary for a revival today?
What are America’s traditional values? How do America’s values differ today?
So what is the connection between Christian Revival and Thanksgiving Day. What should be the focus on Thanksgiving Day?
We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children. (from here)
America is not a nation founded upon some sort of revival. We have had revivals in America, but many of the people who came to America were already devout Christians. Many came here for the opportunity to exercise already deep religious beliefs in relative peace. Therefore, instead of the theology of revival, America’s national legend speaks of people who in response to great suffering gave thanks to the providence of God. That is why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this time of year. That’s why we speak of the Pilgrims making a dangerous sea crossing in a small wooden boat just so they could live in peace in fertile, but lonely land.
The picture above shows the Mayflower II. The Mayflower II is a replica of the wooden sailing vessel that brought the first pilgrims to New England. Imagine crossing the Atlantic Ocean in this vessel in 1620.
The Mayflower was an English ship that famously transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. This voyage has become an iconic story in some of the earliest annals of American history, with its story of death and of survival in the harsh New England winter environment. The culmination of the voyage in the signing of the Mayflower Compact was an event which established a rudimentary form of democracy, with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. (continued here)
In 1620, what was sailing to America like?
- Weather forecasting did not exist. Sailors just knew some seasons were better for sailing than others.
- Navigation was guesswork (see John Harrison). Because decent sea clocks would not exist until the next century, navigators guessed at the longitude. When the Mayflower arrived in America, the sailors were so disoriented, they ended up at Cap Cod instead of at the Virginia colony.
When America was founded, most of the people sought to live as Christians. There were a variety of that emphasized differing beliefs, most used the same or similar translations of the Bible.
Today there are still some who come to America for the sake of religious freedom, but most Americans give little thought to their Christian heritage. Few have read the Bible. Few have read the books and seriously considered the ideas the Framers of the Constitution wrestled with, but 200 years ago Americans took the Bible much more seriously, and they understood how much Christianity had affected American history. As a result, we have an increasingly secular culture, unmoored from any particular belief.
Two hundred years ago American understood why Jesus is the most important figure in world history, but today many know little of Bible’s teachings. Therefore, those who still revere the God of the Bibles pray for a revival, not to save our country, but to save the souls of the lost, those who have yet to take an interest in God’s Word and love Him.
Are you a Christian? Do you understand that you too are an ambassador for Christ (Ephesians 6:18-20)? Have you prepared yourself?
- Have you read the Bible? Do you study it often, to make its teachings part of your life?
- Have you studied history to learn for yourself the truth? We live in an increasingly secularized society. Most of us are taught in public schools where little regard is given to Christianity. In such places, many administrators regard the Bible and the effect of its teachings on our history as either a nuisance or a source of conflict. Therefore, to learn the truth of American history, we must read and study the important documents of the past ourselves. We cannot rely on history books produced under the guidance of politicians.
- Are you striving for maturity in Christ, or are you content to remain a babe?
Hebrews 5:12-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
How does a revival begin? It begins among those who already believe. If we are truly Christians, then we must study the Word of God, and we must carry that word of good news to others.
Romans 10:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
There is no guarantee that when we tell others about our faith in Jesus that unbelievers will accept Jesus. In fact, Romans 10:14-17 comes from a chapter that explains the failure of the Jews to believe. Nevertheless, we must spread the Gospel, and we must live out Christian teaching. We must leave it to our Savior to change hearts.
- Salvator Mundi (cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com): This post also addresses the nature of struggle between Secularism and the Christian faith.
- Of Course There Should Be an Ideological Test in Immigration (www.nationalreview.com): Today those who believe in traditional American values argue that we should select immigrants based upon what they believe. Others think that would be bigoted. Is it bigotry to deny entry to people who would subvert our culture?
- America’s True History of Religious Tolerance (smithsonianmag.com): The struggle for freedom of religion has been an long and difficult battle that continues to this day. We often forget that Johannes Gutenberg did not invent the printing press until 1439, and that Martin Luther did not spark the Reformation until early part of the 16th Century. Therefore, the settlement of America began in the midst of the religious wars in Europe. For example, the Mayflower arrived in America during the catastrophic Thirty Years’ War.
- The Search For Religious And Political Freedom (let.rug.nl): Provides the point-of-view from a university in the Netherlands.
- Freedom of Religion in the United States (thoughtco.com): This web page, which is supposed to provide a timeline, is kind of funny. The secular bias is blatant. The author includes The Treaty of Tripoli, signed between the United States and Libya in the timelime. That treaty was a somewhat desperate prerequisite for the First and Second Barbary Wars, not as a proclamation that America is not a Christian nation.