Written on March 18, 2023 — Published on March 19, 2023
Before you start to read this and future articles, I wanted to share with you, my motivation. My motivation is love for my family, friends and students. These are almost like “letters” to my family, friends, and students. I want them to know this information. Therefore, you (the reader) can benefit from this information / love I share with my family, friends and students. Thank you for reading this and I hope you learn from it and enjoy it!
I am in the middle of a wonderful book, AMERICA’S REVOLUTIONARY MIND: a Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It by C. Bradley Thomspon. I want to share with you excerpts from the book.
The premise of the book is to hold up the Declaration of Independence as the document that changed the world! Dr. Thompson meticulously goes through almost each line of the Declaration of Independence.
The part of the book and therefore, the part of the Declaration of Independence I want to focus on is the word “Equality.” Chapter Four is titled, “Equality – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
My main takeaway is how the “revolution” of that time was made up of not just the Founding Fathers, but your everyday “Joes.” Specifically, your everyday “Reverend Joes.”
From the chapter – EQUALITY:
John Wise, post-Puritan Minister (1652 – 1725)
As early as 1717, the post-Puritan minister John Wise introduced a new idea of man and society into colonial American culture that would have been foreign to his ancestors and that points toward the revolutionary view of equality supported by the signers of the Declaration of Independent. In his 1717 essay “A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches,” Wise constructed a secular theory of social and political organization similar to Locke’s that was grounded exclusivey on the ability to know the law of nature through reason rather than through biblical revelation. Wise, following Locke and Sameul von Pufendorf, argued that men in a state of nature were in a condition of equality and natural freedom. Equality, according to Wise, is a rationally demonstrable fact of human nature that has more implications. John Wise said it would be an absurdity and a violation of the law of nature to believe, that Nature actually Invests the Wise of a Sovereignty over the weak; or with a Right of forcing them against their Will; for that no Sovereignty can be Established, unless some Human Deed, or Covenant Precede: Nor does Natural fitness for Government make a Man presently Governour over another; for that as Ulpian says, by a Natural Right all Mean are born free; and Nature having set all men upon a Level and made them Equals, no Servitude or Subjection can be conceived without Equality; and this cannot be made without Usurpation or Force in others, or Voluntary Compliance in those who Resign their freedom, and give away their degree of Natural Being.
From the chapter – EQUALITY:
Elisha Williams, a Congregational minister (1694 – 1755)
The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants (1744) is remarkable for its unabashedly open use of Locke’s account of human nature and his theory of “the Origin and End of Civil Government.” Williams’s account of human equality follows directly from Locke’s reasoning in the Second Treatise. Reason, claims Williams, “teaches us that all men are naturally equal in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another.” The equality of self-rule is based on two elemental facts of human nature: first, each and every man has been given “an understanding to direct his actions,” and second, all men have a “freedom of will and liberty of acting” within the boundaries established by the law of nature. Thus all men, according to Williams, are born “naturally equal, i.e., with an equal right to their persons,” which Williams describes as a right each has to be his “own actions and labour and to what he can honestly acquire by his labour.”
From the chapter – EQUALITY:
Abraham Williams, Congregationalist Minister (1727 – 1784)
Abraham Williams, whose 1762 election sermon rehearsed all the Lockean themes but with a Calvinist twist. “All men,” Williams announced are “naturally equal.” The evidence for this Williams says, is that they are all “descended from a common Parent” and they all have “like Faculties and Propensities.” As such, no man or group of mean is, according to Williams, born with “any difference, distinction, natural Preheminence, or Dominion of one over another.” In this way, all men are created equal. (Such views would have been incomprehensible to his seventeenth-century Puritan forebears). And yet, Williams did not mean to suggest that all men are “equally industrious and frugal,” which means that society does and should recognize inequalities in “their Properties and Enjoyments.”
From the chapter – EQUALITY:
Samuel Williams, Reverend (1743-1817)
The passage quoted here is long, but it deserves to be read with some care: (I will give part of the quote)
Equality – The nearest equality that ever can take place among men, will also be found among the inhabitants of a new country. When a number of men are engaged in the same employments and pursuits and have all of them to depend upon their own labour and industry for their support, their situation, views, and manners, will be nearly the same: the way to subsistence, to ease, and independence, being the same to all. In this stage of society, the nearest equality will take place, that ever can subsist among men. But this equality will be nothing more than an equality of rights; and a similar of employment, situation, pursuit, and interest. In a new country this similarity will be so great, as to form a near resemblance of manners and character; and to prevent any very great inequalities of privilege from taking place in society, either from rank, offices of government, or any other case ….
What does all of this mean to me? THE CHURCHES NEED TO RETURN TO TALKING ABOUT EQUAILITY, FREEDOM, RIGHTS, LIBERTY, ETC.!
Ever since the government supported the idea of “Tax Exempt Status” for churches, that “support” has hamstrung the churches from being able to speak on what too many people deem “political.” Our Declaration of Independence is not “too political.” That document is our founding document! I know the importance of the Constitution. Yet, the Declaration of Independence is the predecessor to the Constitution! Churches – you trust God? Correct? Well, then accept the risk and talk about the tenets of our nation through your understanding the Biblical approach to how our nation was founded. I even encourage ALL FAITHS look at the Declaration of Independence through the lens of your faith. And, if talking about the Declaration of Independence causes your church to lose its “Tax Exempt Status,” that is part of God’s plan.
Also, what this “new” information means to me is we are not teaching this information to our children! THE SCHOOLS (public / charter / private) NEED TO RETURN TO TALKING ABOUT AND TEACHING EQUALITY, FREEDOM, RIGHTS, LIBERTY, ETC. IN THE CONTEXT OF THOSE WHO ESTABLISHED THOSE RICH WORDS! Not what those words mean in today’s world. NO! What “we” have done with those words is a travesty!
Our children are not given a book such as AMERICA’S REVOLUTIONARY MIND. Not giving this information in this book may be intentional. Teachers are choosing what books to read. How come the teachers are not teaching US HISTORY with this being one of the important books?
PASTORS! COME BACK!
We need you (Pastors) to help defend what these men created and fought for! You literally have the pulpit to motivate people to return to what the Declaration of Independence has given us for over 200 years. Why not return to monthly themes based on the Declaration of Independence. Read this book! Do your research! The government that fought the oppression from the King of England / the Church of England is now the government that shut down the churches and left open the strip clubs and bars! I am sure they made that decision to shut down churches and leave the strip clubs and bars open because their ignorance of what the 17th and 18th century envisioned for the United States of America. Just because the politicians are smart enough / talented enough to win an election doesn’t mean they know their history. Pastors, please around the Fourth of July or September 17, 1787 (date Constitution was signed) ANNUALLY celebrate those events not just with one sermon but the MONTH!! We have other “months-of-celebration.” Correct? How about your churches make July “Celebration of Declaration of Independence Month” and September “Celebration of the Constitution Month?” Please take note Pastors – fill the gap that too many public schools are creating. Those children / those families in your churches will have at least EIGHT-of-fifty-two-Sundays hearing about their nation! Understanding how GOD made the United States of America! How Pastors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were speaking so strongly for what is stated in the Declaration of Independence.
TEACHERS! COME BACK!
We need you (teachers) to help defend what these men created and fought for! Who you are creating now will be the leaders thirty years from now! Do they know the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE through the eyes of those who wrote it? That great document is meant for all people! Much of what they are being taught is not consistent with the Declaration of Independence. For example, thanks to the Declaration of Independence, slavery did eventually go away (FANTASTIC CHAPTER “Equality and Slavery” IN THIS BOOK!). The majority of our nation’s progress – albeit not as fast as some of you want it to be – can be traced back to the Declaration of Independence. When was it the last time you (the teachers) talked about inalienable rights, freedom, liberty compared to Social Emotional Learning? I know you talk about Social Emotional Learning and topics, such as suicide. Why not include liberty, freedom, personal responsibility?
All of us! COME BACK!
I will continue to read this book and report to you what I discover. I AM FIRED UP!
Some articles about the men featured in this article:
BUY HIS BOOK, please!