Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ministers & Politics...

I've had the opportunity on two different occassions this past year to hear presentations by David Barton. I have, in the past, been quite sceptical of Barton's research. I have suspected that he has, at times, stretched the facts somewhat to make his particular point. I still have my suspicions, but I've found that there is plenty that he has to share that I can buy in to. Barton has clearly demonstrated with his historical research that the clergy played a central role in the beginning of our country. The clergy were extremely influential at the time of our nation's founding and through the use of sermons as well as their own example, they provided some of the passion that fueled our independence. I've been reading Barton's book, The Role of Pastors & Christians in Civil Government, and I want to share some of what I'm learning. Let me begin with a paragraph from early in the book that summarizes the role of ministers in the nation's founding.

"Who were the leaders most responsible for the movement in America that led to our independence? Today, we hear names such as Samuel Adams, the 'Father of the American Revolution'; Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration; John Hancock, the President of Congress with his bold signature on the Declaration; and John Adams, who not only signed the Declaration but who also negotiated and signed the Peace Treaty with Great Britain to secure our independence. These were indeed important political leaders behind our independence, but previous generations also knew about other important leaders. John Adams himself declared that the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mayhew and the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper were two of the individuals 'most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential' in the 'awakening and revival of American priciples and feelings' that led to our independence. Other minsters whose influence and leadership were also important included the Rev. George Whitefield, the Rev. James Caldwell, the Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg with his brother the Rev. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and many more" (p8).

I intend to dig a little deeper in the next few posts and provide some insights into just who these ministers were that David Barton references. Stay tuned.

Check out David Barton's website here.

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