A sense of personal and corporate responsibility to the creator God is what originally shaped our conscience. That is not to say that every single one of our Founding Fathers were Christian, though many were.
There was definitely a time in American history where there was a distinct awareness of personal and national accountability to God that significantly shaped and informed our national conscience, our sense of ought and ought not.
As evidence, I would suggest you take a look at the second sentence of The Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Founders of our nation clearly believed in God. They possessed an awareness of accountability, responsibility and gratitude to the God who made us. That is how our national conscience was originally informed.
In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said, “ … we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom … ” The phrase, “under God” would seem to indicate that Abraham Lincoln viewed our nation as a nation under authority or accountable to almighty God.
Our 16th president was not afraid to use that kind of language as he spoke about the issues involving our nation. It made sense. It seemed reasonable, logical and right.
He said, “We are a nation, under God.”
In the 1950s, a phrase was lifted from Lincoln’s address and added to the Pledge of Allegiance. I suspect you have said it hundreds of times. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Whenever you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you are acknowledging the fact that our leaders once viewed God as the one to whom we are both responsible and accountable as individuals and as a nation. We are, in fact, one nation — under God.
We may not all agree on every single issue we face as individuals or a nation. We may see things from entirely different perspectives. But it is possible to acknowledge the fact that we are accountable to God, we are responsible to God, and we can be grateful to God without necessarily believing exactly the same way.
You can read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at [email protected].