Who is Responsible for Religious Liberty In America?

Just recently in my Baptist Heritage class, I learned an interesting fact regarding who was responsible for religious liberty in America. Specifically, who was responsible for the establishment of the Bill of Rights and a separation of church and state. Here is what one author has to say:

In tracing the emergence of religious liberty in America, Joseph Dawson concluded, “If the researchers of the world were to be asked who was most responsible for the American guarantee for religious liberty, their prompt reply would be ‘James Madison.'” However, Dawson continued, “If James Madison might answer, he would as quickly reply, ‘John Leland and the Baptists.'” If that sounds too partisan, overlooking the role of other denominations, it does focus upon Baptists’ great contribution in winning religious liberty in America. Baptists provided many of the ideas undergirding religious liberty, and they spearheaded the public agitation which led to the Bill of Rights [1].

Without my Baptist Heritage class, I would have never known that Baptists were intimately tied to the fight for the Bill of Rights. I am grateful for their work as well as the sacrifice and persecution those men faced in working toward Religious Liberty in America.

Resource

[1] Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 283.

July 4th Reflection: Have we strayed from the founding principles of our nation?

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As most families do on the fourth of July weekend, we had the opportunity to go out of town to visit family. This fourth of July weekend we found ourselves out on lake Tyler with my wife’s family. As I sat out on the dock each morning praying to God, I was assured that this world was not created by chance. I saw many different types of birds hovering over the water, while dragonflies zoomed, spiders crawled, fish jumped, and frogs croaked, all while we humans road behind boats wake surfing, wake boarding, water skiing, knee boarding, and tubing. Certainly, all this did not come about by chance.

As I thought about the creation of the world and the fourth of July holiday, I realized our country did not come about by chance either. 234 years ago Christians founded our country to escape persecution in Europe. Sadly, our country has moved away from its Christian roots in just two short centuries. Instead of protecting life, we are destroying it before it can even take its first breath. Instead of upholding the sanctity of marriage as outlined in Scripture, we are allowing states to define it. Instead of teaching Scripture in our schools, we have banned it. As a result, our nation is not the Christian nation it once was.

With those changes in mind, if we really want to honor our Founding Father’s on this Independence Day, we should pray for revival in our country, and seek a return to the Christian faith we once held so dear. A faith that caused men to drag their families across the Atlantic Ocean to a new and foreign land known as the United States of America.

Everybody’s Somebody

This last week, while I was on spring break, my wife and I went to Fredericksburg, TX. While we were there, we took a trip over to Luckenbauch. My wife had visited in college and she always wears a shirt from there, so I wanted to go. The town slogan, which appears on her t-shirt  is “Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach.” And in Luckenbach that is true. The population is around 3. There are a few houses that dot a small country road, a dance hall, which is what they are famous for, post office, which is actually a store with a bar in the back, and a food stand. Here, truly, everybody is somebody.

But jump to where we live, Dallas-Fort Worth, population over 5 million. Movies stars, models, Fortune 500 CEO’s, millionaires, and even billionaires live in the DFW Metroplex. In the world’s eyes, everybody in Dallas Fort Worth is not somebody.

However, in God’s eyes, everybody in DFW and the world is somebody because we all are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). We all are valuable, even if the world says otherwise.

What does this mean for us?

It means that we must see everyone as important. Everyone deserves our attention and our time, even the person everyone can’t stand.

How do we accomplish this?

Lets face it. We don’t naturally see everyone as important. We don’t naturally think everyone deserves our attention and time, especially those who are hard to get along with. So what do we do? How do we get past this?

We must preach the Gospel to ourselves. God thought we were important. So important that He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. We were not clean when Jesus came to die for us. We were smelly, rotten, sinners, who wanted nothing more than to exalt ourselves over God.

When we think about the magnitude of what Jesus Christ did for us, it should give us reason to treat others as equals because we all equally need Christ to cleanse us of our sins.

But we also must remember that only as Christians, are we able to actually treat others as equals because our heart has been changed by the power of the Gospel. No amount of personal will power or external forces will change our attitudes toward others, only a changed heart will do. A changed heart that only comes through faith in the Gospel.