Monday, July 04, 2005

Fourth of July - essay by Stephen Mansfield

My former pastor at Belmont Church in Nashville, Stephen Mansfield was not only an excellent Biblical teacher, but has found success as a speaker and best selling author. Stephen has a passion for history, leadership and if one ever had a seven minute conversation with him, the word "destiny" always came up!

His new book, The Faith of the American Soldier is a follow up to the New York Times bestseller, The Faith of George W. Bush. Stephen Mansfield is a sought after speaker and expert on faith and American culture.

Below is a Fourth of July article from Stephen that expresses the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers, from a perspective that is not always considered. Enjoy.

For 219 years Americans have celebrated the Fourth of July as the birth date of their nation. It marks for them a beginning, a sort of national commencement - of the Revolution, of our nation, and of our vision of freedom.

Yet if we consider this important day through the eyes of our Founding Fathers, we find that the Fourth of July marked for them not so much a beginning as an end to a long and painful process, a troubled time some have called the First American Revolution the one in the minds and hearts of men.

We must remember that the famous Lexington and Concord engagements, as well as the ride of Paul Revere, popularized in the Longfellow poem, took place in April of 1775. However, it was not until July of 1776, some fifteen months later, that Congress formally endorsed the Declaration of Independence. What took our Founding Fathers so long? What was the struggle that raged within?
The men who would ultimately sign the Declaration of Independence were not men for whom the idea of revolution came easily. A conservative lot who held dear their Christian faith, their English heritage, and the unique colonial society they cultivated at great cost in the wilderness, these men were not the wild-eyed malcontents we think of as revolutionaries in our day.

Instead, the Founding Fathers were men of strong principle who could not back down when their ideals and lifestyles were threatened by English aggression. When a war they did not want was forced upon them, when their values, their property, indeed, their very lives, were at stake, peace on British terms was never an option and here we find one of the most misunderstood truths of our national origins.

The American Revolution was fought, unlike modern revolutions, to preserve a social order rather than to change one. What we have called a revolution was in reality a colonial rebellion against a power seeking to destroy a largely Christian and traditional way of life. As Peter Drucker has noted, the American Revolution was a "conservative counter-revolution," fought not by power hungry radicals seeking to overthrow an established government but by loyal citizens against a grasping tyranny.

The truth now so often forgotten is that England first declared war on the American colonies. Attempting to consolidate her possessions following the French and Indian War, the British Parliament passed, on November 20, 1775, the Prohibitory Act which broke off relations with the colonists and declared them a "foreign enemy." John Adams wrote in response that the Act "makes us independent in spite of our supplications and entreaties." England had forced the colonies out from under Royal Protection, declared themselves adversaries. This belligerence stunned the colonial leaders and they sought every means available to prevent separation. Even after Lexington and Concord, they hoped against hope that England would modify her harsh course. It was not to be.

Finally, with every possible remedy exhausted, the colonial leaders pleaded their case in a Declaration before the nations of the world, claiming America's rights according to God's law and the law of reason. America was, and of a right ought to be, a free and independent nation.

The Founding Fathers were not radicals seeking power; they were family men, business men, ministers and, for the most part, Christians, who were now forced to fight a defensive battle, seeking a return to established legal principles and government policies-and it cost them dearly.

Of the signers of the Declaration, many were killed during the War. Some were heartlessly made to watch as loved ones were tortured or hanged by the British. Many lost their estates, their life's savings, and a large number suffered physical ailments for the rest of their lives from wounds incurred during the war. They were hunted, vilified and despised by the British and some colonists alike. Yet they knew (they always knew) that their course was the right one.

The Founding generation knew what it seems at times this generation has forgotten - that there are some things which warrant a pledge of "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." For our own age to rediscover these values would mean nothing less than cultural renewal.

Writing some years after the events of the Revolution but as an eyewitness to most of it, John Quincy Adams wrote, "Posterity, you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." Perhaps we will. Perhaps.

© 2004 Mansfield Group

For more about Stephen's Mansfield's work, blog, articles and much more, visit The Mansfield Group

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