Prompted by Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton, American Founding Father John Witherspoon (1723-1794) emigrated from Scotland to America in 1768. Witherspoon, Rush and Stockton would each go on to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Witherspoon became president and head professor at a small Presbyterian college in New Jersey, now Princeton University. The college's primary occupation was training ministers and students. All were required to take Witherspoon's moral philosophy course about ethics and "what one ought to do and why."
He became a leading light in early American education with its emphasis on right and wrong and good character, which America's founders considered fundamental to sustainable freedom. Witherspoon was the only active clergyman and college president to sign the Declaration of Independence. He later signed the Articles of Confederation and supported ratification of the Constitution.
In their high regard for the importance of learning, America's founders deemed the Bible central to all education, in accordance with Proverbs 1:7a that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."
Can there be any starker contrast to the mindlessly perverted ideologies of contemporary education theories?
Founder Fisher Ames, who co-authored the First Amendment to the Constitution, became in 1789 so concerned with the drift from biblically based education that he voiced his deep dismay: "We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We're starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools. We've become accustomed to putting little books into the hands of children, containing fables and moral lessons. We're spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principal text in our schools."
In his 1796 farewell presidential address, George Washington issued an equally stern warning. Describing religion and morality as "indispensable supports," the "great pillars of human happiness," and the "firmest props of the duties of men and citizens," he alerted us to the harm that would come if America ever drove religion and morality from our society: "Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
Present-day American government education bureaucrats, Big Tech chieftains and cultural Marxists controlling the levers of influence and power in the culture impudently display their totalitarian tendencies by suppression of dissent and turning a blind eye to virulent deep state distortion and misrepresentation. In the inverted world of Marxist critical race theory dogma, "2+2 = 4 is just a white supremacist decree."
Education bureaucrats insist that diversity and tolerance are the twin pillars of Western civilization and liberty, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In Proverbs 22:1 Solomon recommended that "A good name is rather to be chosen rather than riches, and loving favor rather than silver and or gold." With that, he implied that an individual's glory lies in instilling righteousness as the mainstay of life, rather than in the accumulation of wealth and power.
"Wisdom is principal; therefore get wisdom. And with all your getting, get understanding," Proverbs 4:7 says. Colossians 2:8 warns: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and vain deceit, in the tradition of men and the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ." And 1 Timothy 6:20 urges to avoid the "profane babblings and opposing views from so-called knowledge."
Nonagenarian Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, the foremost living authority on wisdom literature in the Old Testament, quotes British Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner (1913-2008) as to wisdom's easy access for the true seeker, "What wisdom takes is not brains or opportunity, but a decision. Do you want it [God says]? Come and get it."
Still and all, spiritual wisdom has to be acquired by intensive effort as it is neither inherited nor intrinsic. Jewish Hebrew scholar Michael V. Fox explains, "Wisdom cannot be bought— not because it is so expensive, but because no valuables can be compared to it. Wisdom belongs to a different category of value and hence cannot be acquired in this fashion."
Acquiring spiritual wisdom comes with a promise from the living God, such as promotion to high station, societal status and authority by placing a splendid crown on one's head and providing a shield for defense.
As to the latter, Solomon notes in Proverbs 2:7, "He lays up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk uprightly." Fox adds, "God's protection is not a reward extraneous to the knowledge, but rather a consequence intrinsic to it. The first step toward becoming a wise man is to imbibe the teachings, even before understanding and applying them."
This brings us to John Witherspoon's sermon entitled The Petitions of the Insincere Unavailing
"Many can remember their sins without sorrow, they can speak of them without shame, and sometimes even with a mixture of boasting and vainglory. Did you never hear them recall their past follies, and speak of them with such relish that it seems to be more to renew the pleasure than to regret the sin?
"Sin is so abominable a thing, so dishonoring to God, and so destructive to the souls of men [and to the nation] that no real Christian can witness it without concern."
By forcing God from the culture throughout the last century, secularism has imperiled sustainable freedom. Anything that violates God's law, grieves His Spirit or dishonors His name must be called into question if America is to make it through.
This is a prime example is presented by Dr. Anthony Fauci's lies and tutelage of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
At one time, 106 of the 108 established colleges founded in America were distinctly Christian. Religion and morality were considered so essential to sustainable freedom that the Northwest Ordinance of July 13, 1787, required that the new states entering the Union prioritized the teaching of religion and morality.
Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance reads, "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."
To turn things around, every church in America should have a pastor, deacon, elder or congregant running for local office: city council, school board, county commissioner and so on, in 2022, 2024, 2026 and thereafter. We all know too well that the kingdom of God won't arrive on Air Force One.
With Gideons and Rahabs beginning to stand, there is reason for optimism. Men and women of Issachar are coming to a public square near you, in anticipation of 1 Kings 18:44: "Behold, a small cloud as small as a man's hand is rising out of the sea."
David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project.
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David Lane is the founder of American Renewal Project.
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