Archive for the ‘ The Historical Muse ’ Category

I Remember

I was 18 at the time as I watched Neil Armstrong take “one giant leap for mankind” live on TV. I also remember someone later commenting how we should now begin renumbering the years since this was the most monumental feat in human history. I’m glad we didn’t take that piece of advice. As great as this was, it can never hope to measure up to the most amazing feat in human history: God becoming man to show us His love by sacrificing Himself for us.

Tell Me Again Why the Cold War Ended?

On Tuesday, President Obama spoke to some students in Moscow. He was talking about the end of the Cold War. Here’s his analysis of how it came to an end:

Within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Now, make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.

Really? No one nation stood in the forefront to make this possible? No one nation took a stance against the “evil empire” and followed policies that hastened its fall? It only fell because the people stood up and said, “no more”? This reminded me of a cartoon I use in class:

Our president needs a history lesson. He’s not very open to it, however, because it would point directly to Ronald Reagan as the catalyst for bringing the Cold War to a successful conclusion. That’s not part of Obama’s worldview, so it can have no place in his speeches. History is being rewritten by the “winner.”

The Right Type of Independence and Dependence

Jefferson and His Committee Presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress

Jefferson and His Committee Presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress

Yes, I know I missed the day. Today is July 5th, but that’s okay. In actuality, the Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2nd anyway. The 4th was when they approved the Declaration’s wording.

Whatever day we celebrate, the key is that what we are celebrating is national independence. There are Christians who don’t like that word but they misunderstand the context. The Declaration of Independence did separate the colonies from Britain, but it did not separate them from God. In fact, if you read the document carefully, you realize that they say all their rights come from God, that they are depending on His protection, and that they are asking Him to judge the rightness of their motives in making this break. That’s hardly the wrong kind of independence.

We must depend on God as an independent nation. But there is a false dependence that will only disappoint and lead to disaster—the dependence on civil government to provide all our needs. I fear that in the last presidential election, we gave our approval to a Declaration of Dependence on Government. If that is the case, we won’t be independent as a nation for long, and we will have replaced dependence on an eternal, all-powerful God with dependence on temporal earthy powers that are destined to let us down.

Let’s go ahead, though, and continue to celebrate the historical event, in the hopes that we will regain the spirit of those who led the way into the right type of independence and dependence.

American Character: George Whitefield

George Whitefield Preaching

He was a sensation. He was not even strictly an American, but a traveling evangelist from Britain. Yet America was on his heart.

When George Whitefield arrived in America in 1740, he started in Georgia and traveled up the coast, preaching in all the colonies. The result was the climax of what we call the First Great Awakening.

Whitefield’s voice boomed, and he dramatized his sermons. Thousands traced their conversion to his messages. Ben Franklin became his friend, yet never gave his life to Christ. However, he was astounded by the effects of Whitefield’s efforts. Franklin records in his autobiography:

It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if the whole world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.

Whitefield’s impact was tremendous. He returned to America many times, but his final trip was in 1770. Suffering from severe asthma, his friends warned him against overexertion. His response? “I had rather wear out than rust out.”

One account of his life tells of that final trip:

 He was importuned to preach at a place called Exeter, and though feeling very ill, he had not the heart to refuse. A friend remarked before he preached, “Sir, you are more fit to go to bed than to preach.” Whitefield replied: “True, sir,” and then prayed: “Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for thee once more in the fields, seal thy truth, and come home and die.” Although scarcely able to stand when he first came before the group, he preached for two hours.

Arriving at the parsonage of the First Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, he intended to go at once to bed. However, a great number of friends gathered at the parsonage and begged him for just a short message. He paused a moment on the stairs, candle in hand, and spoke to the people as they stood listening—until the candle went out. At 2 a.m., panting to breathe, he told his traveling companion, “My asthma is returning; I must have two or three days’ rest.” His last words were, “I am dying,” and at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning he died—September 30, 1770.

When Americans heard of his death, they mourned from Georgia to New Hampshire. In one sense, he was the first American figure known and respected by all.

George Whitefield was a man who wore himself out doing what he believed the Lord had called him to do. There is no greater testimony than someone who was obedient to the call of God.

American Character: Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker: Founder of CT

I like pointing out certain figures in Amerian history that few people can recall. It’s important to revive our collective memory. One of those individuals is Thomas Hooker.

Hooker was a Cambridge-educated Puritan who quickly developed into a very talented preacher. He took a pastorate in a town in England that was notorious for its many taverns and boisterous citizens. He is credited with restoring order to that town by his words and his presence.

His Puritanism, however, led to clashes with the Anglican hierarchy. Summoned to an ecclesiastical tribunal to answer for his views, he instead chose to remove to Holland. His reputation was such that while he was in Holland, he received an invitation to come to America to take a pulpit in the newly established colony of Massachusetts. In 1633, Hooker and dozens of his followers left for the New World.

In 1636, Hooker received permission from the Massachusetts authorities to move to a new area to find better land. He also had concerns about the Massachusetts policy of only allowing church members the vote.

He led his congregation to what is now Hartford, Connecticut, where he took the lead in establishing a civil government. He preached a sermon in which he applied Biblical principles to how a government ought to operate. Those concepts included representation and the expansion of the electorate to all who owned property, not just church members. Since taxes were taken from property owners, it was only fair to include them in the making of laws.

That sermon inspired the first American constitution, called the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Historian Paul Johnson says it was actually the first real constitution in the world. The preamble to the Fundamental Orders states that the reason for setting up a decent and orderly government is that God’s Word requires it. Further, it says that one goal of government is to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel. It also established a principle that if the laws of the community do not cover a certain situation, the civil rulers should resort to the Word of God to find a solution.

Hooker, therefore, helped create the Biblical foundation for law and government in America. Connecticut, over time, got a reputation as a place where stability reigned. It became known as “the land of steady habits.” In times of confusion and uncertainty, that sounds pretty good.

So let’s remember Thomas Hooker, a somewhat forgotten Founding Father.

Obama's Historical Knowledge

I’ve linked to an article by Victor Davis Hanson previously. I have another one for you today. Hanson nails our president on his lack of historical knowledge and his penchant for fabricating “facts” for political expedience. He evaluates a number of statements Obama has made, including comments in his much-heralded address to the Muslim world last week.

Read and learn.

The Reagan Solution

New Reagan Statue in the Capitol Rotunda
New Reagan Statue in the Capitol Rotunda

Nancy Reagan came to Washington, DC, last week to participate in the unveiling of a statue of President Reagan, which will stand in the Capitol Rotunda.

I am pleased that Reagan is getting this type of recognition. It’s a little discordant, though, to see Nancy Pelosi beaming at Mrs. Reagan’s side. If it were up to the Speaker of the House, I’m sure there would have been no statue. Pelosi disagrees with everything Reagan stood for.

One of the sad things right now is that many Republicans also seem to disagree with the man who gave new life to the Republican Party. Some are saying that the era of Reagan is over. They say he was fine for the 1980s, but now we face new problems and the solutions must be different.

I beg to differ.

When Reagan took office in 1981, the economy was in shambles after the foolish polices of the 1960s and 1970s, fostered by both Republicans (Nixon and Ford) and Democrats (Johnson and Carter). We were suffering from what was called “stagflation,” a combination of stagnation and inflation, which had never occurred before. Economists even had to come up with that new term to describe the situation.

Interest rates were sky high, much more than today. Unemployment was rising, and in the first two years of Reagan’s presidency topped 10%, a figure we are going to see pretty soon. Inflation was higher than at any time in American history, again more than today.

So what was Reagan’s solution? First, get the government out of people’s way; second, lower tax rates and allow investment to operate. The result? The greatest peacetime economic expansion in American history.

Critics blamed Reagan for the recession of 1981-1982, but that was a holdover from the Carter years. Reagan’s tax cuts didn’t go into effect immediately (Congress didn’t allow that), and his first budget didn’t take effect until October 1981, nine months after his inauguration. The recession obviously wasn’t his fault.

Our current disaster is different in one way. Obama got his stimulus package immediately, promising that it would lead to a quick economic recovery. Five months into his presidency, it is becoming clearer even to his adherents that this hasn’t worked. The rising umemployment we now see is in spite of his supposed “stimulus.” We are racking up debt that may never be repaid. As a nation, we are in danger of losing the confidence of the world—some talk of the United States losing its high credit rating. There is no end in sight, not with Obama’s policies; it will only get worse.

It’s time to acknowledge that Reagan’s path was correct. Changing times don’t mean that principles change. If a principle is true, it will be applicable at any time. Republicans need to regain their perspective. They need a recovery too—a recovery of their principles.