M E R I C A    A T   I  T  S  E S T


Where did the Bible fit
in our past society? Was
it viewed as an irrelevant
and outdated book of fables,
or as a significant source
of unchanging truth?


   A number of us are aware that the Pilgrims and Puritans, America’s earliest settlers, held the Scriptures in high regard and patterned their lives and their laws by its principles. But what about the men that came after them?
   Interestingly, many of our past presidents went on record with statements concerning the importance and value of the Bible. One such president was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, was already a man of high morals, but through the weariness of the Civil War and the loss of his son, he drew closer to God than ever before. Aware of his strong faith, a group from Baltimore gave Lincoln an elegant Bible as a gift. On September 5, 1864, the Washington


Theodore Roosevelt, expressed a similar sentiment. 1 Throughout his two terms in office, Theodore Roosevelt expressed high value in Scripture, making statements like:
   “(My) great joy and glory that, in occupying an exalted position in the nation, I am enabled, to preach the practical moralities of the Bible to my fellow-countrymen and to hold up Christ as the hope and Savior of the world.” 2 On another occasion, he said:
   “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” 3 Later, in his 1910 message, “The New Nationalism,” President Roosevelt stated:
   “Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally impossible for us to figure ourselves what that life would be if these standards were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards towards which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves.” 4 Twenty-two years later, President Theodore Roosevelt’s fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
Chronicle published the president’s response of appreciation:
“In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from
was elected as the thirty-second president of the United States. Serving on the opposite side of the political aisle from his cousin, FDR’s unprecedented four-term presidency was loved by some and hated by others. Still, statements like this one, from a 1935 radio broadcast,
wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. To you I return my most sincere thanks for the elegant copy of the great Book of God which you present.”
   Our twenty-sixth president,
reveal how he valued Scripture:
   “We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the republic… [W]here we have been the truest and most

 


 

consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity.”5
   On January 25, 1941, FDR wrote a moving introduction to a special edition New Testament published by the Gideons. This Bible was printed by the National Bible Press in Philadelphia and distributed to the soldiers as they left for service during World War II. It read:
“To the Armed Forces:
   As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries, men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel, and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.”6 Maintaining the understanding that our country was founded on Biblical principles was our thirty-third president, Harry S. Truman. On February 15, 1950, in an address to the Attorney General’s Conference on Law Enforcement Problems, he declared:
   “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from the Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”7
   Keeping with this belief and attempting to reestablish the Bible as the “cornerstone of American Liberty” as Thomas Jefferson had stated, our fortieth president, Ronald W. Reagan, declared 1983 as the “Year of the Bible.” The Resolution, Public Law 97-280, declared:
   “WHEREAS the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;
   WHEREAS deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation; WHEREAS Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States;
   WHEREAS many of our great national leaders—among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson—paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as in the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the Rock on which our Republic rests”;
   WHEREAS the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies;

WHEREAS this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and
   WHEREAS that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people:
NOW, THEREFORE, be it
   Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible” in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
   —Approved October 4, 1982 Ronald Reagan.8

   These excerpts from the pages of the past provide us with a very valuable lesson for today: There was, and still is, tremendous value in the Holy Scriptures. It’s true that we may not agree with all the philosophy and the decisions of these men, yet, it is important to see the value they placed on God’s Word. Without a doubt, the Bible is the foundation of this nation. It provided wisdom, strength, and restoration in the past, and it will provide the same for our future…if we will welcome and honor it once again.
   The Bible is God’s unchanging Word. Its principles are timeless and are as powerful today as the day they were penned. Let us join together and pray that God’s Word would be rediscovered by our American society. Let us pray that people from all walks of life and positions of influence will rediscover the truth of God’s Word like King Josiah (see 2 Chronicles 34:14-33), and that God’s Word would be welcomed once again into individual hearts and homes as well as our communities, our classrooms, and our government. As we do, real answers and solutions to the personal and collective problems of poverty, crime, poor education, health care costs, addictions, and the like will be found.

1 William J. Federer, America’s God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations (St. Louis, MO: Amerisearch, INC., 2000), p. 388. 2 See note 1, p. 540. 3 See note 1, p. 540. 4 See note 1, p. 541. 5 See note 1, p. 538. 6 See note 1, p. 539. 7 See note 1, p. 589-590. 8 See note 1, p. 528-529.

 

 

Dave Meyer is a veteran of the United States Army and held a career in engineering prior to joining Joyce in full-time ministry. He is the ministry’s business administrator and has been married to Joyce for over thirty-six years. With a deep conviction to pass on the understanding of our rich Christian heritage to the next generation, Dave passionately shares his knowledge of our unique blessing of liberty and is actively involved in community, social, and political action.