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American history today has become a dreary academic subject. Yet, most who are bored by American history view Bible history quite differently: they love the stories of David and Goliath, Daniel and the lion's den, and Peter walking on the water. So it's not that people don't enjoy history, it's just that they don't respond favorably to the way American history is currently being taught.

One reason Bible history is interesting and American history is not is that the Bible (as well as American education during its first three centuries) utilizes biographical history—that is, it presents history through the eyes and life experiences of those involved (i.e., the biographies) rather than through the recitation of a string of dates and places. It is the difference between reading the stories in Guideposts and the numbers in a phone book.

Looking at history the way God presents it is exciting and informative; and in numerous verses, God even commends its study: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God" (Isa. 46:9); and "Call to remembrance the former days" (Heb. 10:32); etc. But why would God want us to know history?

The Apostle Paul answers that question in 1 Corinthians 10:1: "All these things happened unto them for example; and they are written for our admonition" (see also Rom. 15:4: "Those things written aforetime were written for our learning"). In short, we learn from history; and what we learn affects our behavior.

American leaders long understood this Biblical truth. For example, Thomas Jefferson noted: "History, by apprizing them [students] of the past, will enable them to judge of the future."

And what can be learned by being "apprized of the past"? According to Benjamin Franklin: History will afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition; and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.

Franklin understood that history, when accurately presented, would demonstrate the need for Christianity because of both the societal and the individual benefits it produces. In fact, the presenting of an uncensored and unrevised history actually causes a recognition of the hand of God—or, in the words of the great statesman Daniel Webster: "History is God's providence in human affairs."

Today, however, history is presented in such an edited, revised, and politically-correct manner that God's hand is rarely visible and even the historic role of famous Godly leaders in education, business, politics, and the military is now virtually unacknowledged.

The Secularization Of July 4
An obvious example of the secularization of history occurs each year around the Fourth of July. Americans are taught that "taxation without representation" was the reason America separated from Great Britain; yet "taxation without representation" was only reason number 17 out of the 27 reasons given in the Declaration of Independence; it was not even in the top half, yet it's all that most ever hear.

Never mentioned today are the numerous grievances condemning judicial activism or those addressing moral or religious or other issues.

What religious issues? In 1762, the king vetoed the charter for America's first missionary society; he also suppressed other religious freedoms and even prevented Americans from printing an English language Bible.

How did Americans respond? They took action; and almost unknown today is the fact that Declaration signers such as Samuel Adams and Charles Carroll cited religious freedom as the reason they became involved in the American Revolution. And significantly, even though Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin (two of the least religious signers) are typically the only signers studied today, almost half of the signers of the Declaration (24 of 56) held what today would be considered seminary or Bible school degrees.

Clearly, for many Founders, religious issues were an important motivation behind their separation from Great Britain; but that motivation is largely ignored today.

Moral issues are accorded the same silence. The greatest moral issue of that day was slavery; and after several of the American colonies moved toward abolishing slavery in 1773, the King, in 1774, vetoed those anti-slavery laws and continued slavery in America.

Soon-to-be signers of the Declaration Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush promptly founded America's first abolition society as a direct response against the king's order. The desire to end slavery in America was a significant motivation not only for Franklin and Rush but also for a number of others; but the end of slavery in America could be achieved only if they separated from Great Britain - which they were willing to do (and six of the 13 colonies began abolishing slavery following the separation).

All About Economics?
There were many other significant issues that led to our original Fourth of July; so why aren't Americans familiar with the rest? Because in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, a group of secular-minded writers (including Charles and Mary Beard, W. E. Woodward, Fairfax Downey, and others) began penning works on American history that introduced a new paradigm.

For this group, economics was the only issue of importance, so they began to write texts accordingly (their approach is now described as "the economic view of American history" and since the 1960s has been widely embraced throughout the education community). Consequently, since "taxation without representation" was the economic grievance in the Declaration, it became the sole clause that Americans studied.

As a result, God is no longer visible in American history; and His absence is now construed as a mandate for secularism. Texts now forcefully assert that the American founding produced the first intentionally secular government in history - even though the Declaration officially acknowledges God in four separate clauses. (But who still teaches the Declaration or even reads it?)

Similarly, leaders such as John Hancock and John Adams receive credit as being the source of our independence, even though 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 principles and feelings" that led to American independence.

Regrettably, God (and His servants) have largely disappeared from the presentation of American history in general and America's founding in particular.

As a further example, consider the legendary Minutemen: even though they are still honored in many texts, their leader, the Rev. Jonas Clark, is no longer mentioned—nor the fact that many of the Minutemen were deacons in his church. And the Rev. James Caldwell is no longer acknowledged as a key leader of military forces in New Jersey—nor the Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (who led 300 men from his church against the British) as one of Washington's most trusted generals.

Long Forgotten: The Role Of Christians
Regrettably, we no longer know much about the indispensable role of pastors and Christian leaders in the founding of our civil government. Americans have been subjected to "revisionism"—defined by the dictionary as "the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view; especially a revision of historical events and movements." Revisionism attempts to alter the way a people sees its history in order to cause a change in public policy.

Consider how successful this has been. Under the economic view of American history, Americans now believe that the early colonists came to America seeking land and gold rather than for the reason most cited by the colonists: evangelization.

And most now accept that the colonies were founded for trade, fishing, and other economic enterprises, even though more than half were founded by Gospel ministers for religious purposes (e.g., Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Georgia, etc.). And if religion is discussed in a text, it will be to present the 21 deaths during the Salem Witch Trials rather than the Great Awakenings, the Civil War revivals, or the turn-of-the-century revivals that led to widespread urban renewal and the end of child labor.

Having now come to believe that economics is what created and made America great, it is not surprising that few Americans commented on the fact that, during the 2004 presidential debates, "jobs" and "economy" were mentioned hundreds of times but "marriage" less than a dozen. Nor is it surprising that over the past decade, 45 percent of evangelical Christians say that economic issues are more important than moral issues when it comes to voting.

There is so much of our wholesome, God-centered American history that we no longer know today. The reintroduction of a truthful and complete telling of American history is long overdue. Daniel Webster was right: "History is God's providence in human affairs," and it is time for Americans once again to become aware of the remarkable hand of God throughout our history.

WallBuilders
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

David Barton
Web site: WallBuilders
 
David Barton heads WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage.
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