The Jewish roots of Christianity

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Episode: “The Actions of the Faithful”
Actively living out faith can be counter cultural and sometimes requires boldness. The Bible chronicles Peter’s actions, like his attempt to walk on the water. Benjamin Franklin modernized the Lord’s Prayer for his personal use, promoted church attendance, and called the members of the Constitutional Convention to prayer.
Series: “Faith of our Fathers”
The Old Testament provides many examples of individuals whose faithful lives contributed to the building up of national Israel. Their actions inspired a future generation of dedicated people to begin carving out a modern yet Godly nation in the New World. In this series, Dr. Jeffrey Seif focuses on these people of faith. In addition, Christian historian David Barton presents original source documents, chronicling many of America’s Founding Fathers’ beliefs and efforts to anchor this nation to the moorings of belief in the God of Israel.

Caption transcript for Faith of our Fathers: “The Actions of the Faithful” (7/8)

  • 00:01 ♪♪♪ David Hart: Welcome to "Our Jewish Roots." CC by Aberdeen Captioning
  • 00:09 1-800-688-6621 abercap.com David: The Word of God has given us examples of faith
  • 00:12 that have shaped virtually every aspect
  • 00:15 of the believer's life today.
  • 00:17 Where would we be without the examples of Noah,
  • 00:21 Abraham and Isaac, David,
  • 00:24 and, ultimately, that of Yeshua, Jesus?
  • 00:28 Faith is woven into the fabric of America as well.
  • 00:32 From the pilgrims to John Adams, to Patrick Henry
  • 00:36 and George Washington, God's providential hand remained
  • 00:40 highly esteemed and honored above all.
  • 00:44 Faith unshakable, faith unstoppable,
  • 00:48 "Faith of Our Fathers."
  • 00:53 David: We're so glad you've joined us today.
  • 00:54 I'm David Hart.
  • 00:56 Kirsten Hart: I'm Kirsten Hart.
  • 00:57 Jeffrey Seif: Jeffrey Seif.
  • 00:58 And yes, thank you for tuning in.
  • 01:00 You're gonna be glad you did.
  • 01:01 Good stuff on the menu.
  • 01:03 Kirsten: I think you're gonna be speaking about
  • 01:05 how our actions speak louder than our words.
  • 01:08 Is that right?
  • 01:09 That's a very grandparenty kind of thing to say, isn't it?
  • 01:12 Jeffrey: Well, I was thinking,
  • 01:14 when you said it, "My mother said that to me."
  • 01:16 Kirsten: Totally, but it's true, isn't it?
  • 01:18 Jeffrey: It is.
  • 01:20 David: Let's look now how faith prompts activity.
  • 01:22 Let's go to Dr. Seif's teaching right now.
  • 01:25 ♪♪♪
  • 01:28 Jeffrey: I'd like to put a rhetorical question to you.
  • 01:32 Rhetorical question is said for effect.
  • 01:34 Of course, you can't really answer me,
  • 01:36 but you can answer it for yourself if you can,
  • 01:38 and the question is, How can you,
  • 01:41 how can I, how can we claim to know anything about the faith
  • 01:46 of our fathers?
  • 01:48 By that, I mean, it's sufficient for us to know what resides in
  • 01:52 our own hearts and minds.
  • 01:54 Never mind lay siege to the claim to know somebody else's.
  • 01:58 Never mind individuals that are centuries removed in the sense
  • 02:03 of our fathers of our culture or millennia removed in the case of
  • 02:08 biblical personalities.
  • 02:10 Do you know how come we can know it?
  • 02:12 Because they wrote.
  • 02:15 They wrote on scrolls.
  • 02:17 Now, I don't wanna carry 66 of these around.
  • 02:21 I'm glad I have this.
  • 02:23 And this gives you a window into the hearts and minds
  • 02:27 of the authors.
  • 02:29 As it says, "The long arm of the pen reaches beyond the grave."
  • 02:33 Because they write, we can get a window into their world,
  • 02:38 speaking of which, it's an action-packed world, to be sure,
  • 02:42 walking by faith.
  • 02:44 This wasn't a group of philosophers.
  • 02:45 These were people on the move.
  • 02:47 They were doing. They were active.
  • 02:50 Faith prompts activity and movement.
  • 02:52 It prompts dare.
  • 02:54 And I mention that I'm looking here in the Matthean gospel,
  • 02:57 there's a story.
  • 02:59 You know, Jesus walked on water. Well, that's Jesus.
  • 03:01 There was, once upon a time, a story when Peter got out there
  • 03:04 and took a shot at it, and it didn't work out so well.
  • 03:07 Well, it did at first, but he braved the hazards of it.
  • 03:12 I'm looking in Matthew chapter 14.
  • 03:15 We're told in verse 28, now, Peter is there in the boat
  • 03:19 with the fellows-- that is, the fellowship--
  • 03:22 he's there, and he sees the Lord walking,
  • 03:24 and Peter says in verse 28, "Master," or Rabbi,
  • 03:30 "'if it's you, command me to come to you on the water.'
  • 03:33 He says, 'All right, come on.'"
  • 03:35 And you know, faith prompts us to walk in dangerous places.
  • 03:38 I don't care whether it's John the Baptist,
  • 03:41 who just puts it out there in the midst of a cantankerous
  • 03:45 crowd: "You brood of vipers," you know,
  • 03:48 faith prompts us to challenge.
  • 03:51 John the Baptist does it.
  • 03:52 I can think of our first martyr, Stephen,
  • 03:55 in the book that we call Acts, where he just was emboldened in
  • 03:59 the Holy Spirit, and he just, you know,
  • 04:02 spoke truth as a kind of divine activity there in the words as
  • 04:06 he recounts the activity of God working with the Hebrew people.
  • 04:10 Well, there's movement in the literature,
  • 04:12 and Peter says, "Hey, come on, let me get out there with you."
  • 04:15 And the Lord says, "Come."
  • 04:19 And we're told in 29, then, that he got out of the boat
  • 04:23 and walked on the water.
  • 04:24 So far, so good.
  • 04:26 But then he started to assess the moment,
  • 04:30 and I get that.
  • 04:31 We're told he sees the wind, and then he becomes terrified.
  • 04:37 You know, it's easy to be terrified.
  • 04:40 It's easy to be scared, because faith will prompt us.
  • 04:44 And I said this earlier, faith prompts us to take on that which
  • 04:48 is bigger and stronger than us.
  • 04:51 Uncertainties, whether it's raging waters or whether it's
  • 04:54 raging people, you know, oftentimes,
  • 04:57 there are tyrants, and so it is, the Lord says,
  • 05:01 we're like a sheep amongst wolves, and,
  • 05:04 you know, wolves howl, and I can think of the saliva
  • 05:09 dripping from jaws, and I can think of fiery eyes that wanna
  • 05:13 get a piece of flesh.
  • 05:15 You know, it's scary stuff when you think about it,
  • 05:18 and to be sure, here's a story here,
  • 05:21 we're taking on raging waters, not raging wolves,
  • 05:25 but the point is, is the rage gets out of the cage,
  • 05:27 and we go after it.
  • 05:29 And the good news is that God gives us a victory.
  • 05:32 Now, we know the story here. Peter had a victory.
  • 05:35 It got away from him.
  • 05:37 When I think of the faith of our fathers,
  • 05:40 certainly, when I look--
  • 05:42 and you know in this series we have an expert better than me.
  • 05:45 I love--those of you that support us,
  • 05:47 you not only bring us to Bible lands,
  • 05:49 but you enable us to bring people to offer a telling
  • 05:51 of things, people a lot smarter than me,
  • 05:54 and David Barton is just the best of the best when it comes
  • 05:56 to understanding the faith of our Founding Fathers,
  • 05:59 and they light upon the stories in this book.
  • 06:03 As I've said, I'm so glad people wrote it out in scrolls.
  • 06:07 I'm glad for the innovations that got it into a book so
  • 06:09 that we can have a look.
  • 06:11 At the end of the day, we wanna be able to get into biblical
  • 06:14 literature to learn about biblical fathers,
  • 06:17 our nation's founders, and you know what?
  • 06:19 We can learn a few things about how we can take on the struggles
  • 06:23 of the day because the truth of the matter is we all have
  • 06:26 to tackle the giants.
  • 06:30 I think of the tyrants that were raising their horry heads when
  • 06:34 our founders declared their independence.
  • 06:37 They drew a line in the sand and said,
  • 06:39 "Enough already," and they were the better for it because they
  • 06:44 did it.
  • 06:46 It wasn't easy, and we know it wasn't easy.
  • 06:48 We read their writings, and we read the prayers.
  • 06:53 We read how hearts and minds were taken to the Bible, stories
  • 06:58 like the ones that I've mentioned in
  • 07:00 this particular segment.
  • 07:02 Peter got scared.
  • 07:03 He learned a lesson there about faith.
  • 07:06 We see examples.
  • 07:08 John the Baptist, he had to stare 'em down, you know?
  • 07:11 And he just had to look beyond the faces of the people that
  • 07:13 were angry at him.
  • 07:15 And Stephen did much the same.
  • 07:16 We're told as much in the book of Acts that he looked up to
  • 07:20 heaven and got a vision of glory.
  • 07:22 He saw the Lord.
  • 07:24 And you know, that's what it takes.
  • 07:25 "The Lord," we're told in the Bible,
  • 07:27 "is the lifter of our heads."
  • 07:30 Well, I love the story here. Peter was sinking.
  • 07:33 It's an old story, and you know it.
  • 07:35 He sees the wind, in verse 30.
  • 07:38 He becomes terrified, and he begins to sink,
  • 07:42 subsequent to which he cries out,
  • 07:43 "Lord, help," and the Lord said,
  • 07:45 "Hey, man, I can't believe you did me like that, man--"
  • 07:49 he didn't get all over him because he dropped the ball.
  • 07:52 Lord-- "Could've done it.
  • 07:53 You know, hey, man, haven't I taught you anything?
  • 07:55 Look, you know, I mean, it's--" but he wasn't like that.
  • 07:57 He was gracious.
  • 07:59 The same one who said, "Come to me," gave him a hand when
  • 08:04 he started to falter.
  • 08:05 And you know, that is so good. I love the good news.
  • 08:08 The Gospel, by the way is a Word, good news.
  • 08:10 And there's so much grace in all of that.
  • 08:13 And I love it here where Peter cries out,
  • 08:15 "Lord," or Master, "save me," or "Rabbi, save me.
  • 08:21 Immediately," were told, "Yeshua reached out his hand and grabbed
  • 08:25 him and said, 'O you of little faith, why do you doubt?'"
  • 08:30 Now, it's a rebuke.
  • 08:31 Yeah, it's a slap on the wrist, and people go,
  • 08:34 "Oh, Peter really dropped the ball.
  • 08:35 I can't believe he took his eyes off of Jesus."
  • 08:37 Well, I don't see anybody else trying to get out of the boat.
  • 08:40 You know what I mean?
  • 08:41 And so, as I said in this program,
  • 08:43 you know, faith prompts activity,
  • 08:45 and God blessed him, "At least he's trying, you know?"
  • 08:48 And the Lord gives him a grace, and it's the proverbial--
  • 08:51 the Lord extends him a hand-- what do you think?--
  • 08:54 and helps Peter go on to be the great that he indeed
  • 08:56 turned out to be.
  • 08:58 Would it be that all of us are rebound?
  • 09:00 You know, the Bible says, "The righteous falls seven times and
  • 09:02 get up again."
  • 09:04 Would it be that we all rebound from defeats?
  • 09:06 Truth be known, Peter didn't always get it right.
  • 09:08 He lost a few battles.
  • 09:10 Truth be known, the founders in our culture lost a few battles
  • 09:13 when they were taking on the British, but you know what?
  • 09:15 We get back up.
  • 09:17 We live and we learn, and we get back into the game because faith
  • 09:20 prompts activity.
  • 09:22 It's a noble cause. It's a noble vision.
  • 09:25 They wanted a godly country.
  • 09:26 Our founders fought for it, and isn't it good that we can look
  • 09:29 at the Bible just as they did and learn about the faith of
  • 09:33 our fathers?
  • 09:37 David: Our resource this week: the series
  • 09:39 "Faith of Our Fathers," on DVD.
  • 09:41 These eight programs reveal how the creation of Israel in the
  • 09:44 Old Testament inspired a future generation to carve
  • 09:47 out a modern, yet godly nation in the New World.
  • 09:51 This series features Bible teaching by Dr. Jeffrey Seif,
  • 09:55 interviews with Christian historian David Barton,
  • 09:57 plus dramatic reenactments of colonial times.
  • 10:01 Contact us for your own copy of "Faith of Our Fathers."
  • 10:04 ♪♪♪
  • 10:07 David: Join us right now for additional content that is only
  • 10:10 available on our social media sites:
  • 10:12 Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • 10:15 David: Visit our website, levitt.com,
  • 10:17 for the current and past programs,
  • 10:19 the television schedule, tour information, and our
  • 10:22 free monthly newsletter, which is full of insightful
  • 10:25 articles and news commentary.
  • 10:27 View it online, or we can ship it directly to your
  • 10:29 mailbox every month.
  • 10:31 Also on our website is the online store.
  • 10:35 There, you can order this week's resource,
  • 10:37 or you can always give us a call at 1-800-WONDERS.
  • 10:41 Your donations to Our Jewish Roots
  • 10:44 help us to support these organizations
  • 10:46 as they bless Israel.
  • 10:48 David: Please remember, we depend on tax-deductible
  • 10:50 donations from viewers like you.
  • 10:53 David: For many, a trip to the Holy Land is the dream
  • 10:56 of a lifetime.
  • 10:58 ♪♪♪
  • 11:00 David: The Bible truly comes alive as you see the sights
  • 11:03 where so many biblical events happened.
  • 11:06 Come on a Zola Tour to see Israel and Petra.
  • 11:12 See the land of the Bible for yourself.
  • 11:16 Contact us to reserve your dream of a lifetime.
  • 11:19 ♪♪♪
  • 11:24 David: Many of you have heard the question that's been asked
  • 11:27 to us many times on an Israel tour,
  • 11:29 "What's your favorite part of your Israel tour?"
  • 11:32 And it's really hard to pinpoint,
  • 11:35 but I would say that many folks that go on our tour
  • 11:38 love the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias.
  • 11:41 Kirsten: It is--Jeff was teaching about Peter's faith,
  • 11:44 the faith of our founding fathers,
  • 11:45 the faith to walk out on that water,
  • 11:48 and the greatest thing is you get to be on that same
  • 11:51 body of water.
  • 11:53 It's one of our favorite places to go, ever.
  • 11:55 Test your faith on the Sea of Galilee.
  • 11:57 Go with us. We go two times a year.
  • 11:59 David: Yes.
  • 12:01 Jeffrey: You know, and if you can't go with us, watch us.
  • 12:02 We bring it to you, and we bring it to you because individuals
  • 12:06 help us to do that.
  • 12:08 Someone said the other day, they said,
  • 12:10 "Jeff, I really enjoy your teaching on television."
  • 12:13 I appreciate that.
  • 12:14 When I went to Bible school to learn all this,
  • 12:17 I didn't have two nickels to rub together.
  • 12:19 Someone donated, someone set up a fund to help someone to get to
  • 12:23 Bible school, and I was trained because someone cared to share.
  • 12:28 Thank you in advance for caring and sharing and helping us to--
  • 12:32 by virtue of your loving us in not just word and speech but in
  • 12:37 deed and in truth and making a donation to this ministry.
  • 12:40 Thank you.
  • 12:42 Kirsten: We do thank all of you,
  • 12:43 and we thank you for watching this series,
  • 12:45 and in particular, our retelling of a part of America's history.
  • 12:50 We've watched how Betsy Ross has literally put together our very
  • 12:54 first flag, and we've also heard some incredible
  • 12:57 nuggets of godly wisdom.
  • 12:59 Let's go back in time again.
  • 13:01 Here we are in 1776.
  • 13:03 ♪♪♪
  • 13:06 David: In the formative days of our nation,
  • 13:08 there were some who thought it important to remain loyal
  • 13:10 to the British King.
  • 13:12 Others rejected the monarchy, favoring liberty.
  • 13:16 Meanwhile, there were still others in Philadelphia,
  • 13:19 unknown figures in history, who considered the godly direction
  • 13:23 of the Founding Fathers vitally important.
  • 13:26 ♪♪♪
  • 13:29 male: So clear and yet profound.
  • 13:34 Unless this house is built on solid ground,
  • 13:37 it will surely fail.
  • 13:40 But will we recall these precepts?
  • 13:45 We must.
  • 13:46 ♪♪♪
  • 13:52 male: Lord, please, please continue to guide my hand
  • 13:57 that I might clearly transcribe these extraordinary words of
  • 14:01 wisdom and virtue, and guide my steps this day to those who need
  • 14:06 to hear them.
  • 14:08 ♪♪♪
  • 14:18 ♪♪♪
  • 14:19 Betsy Ross: Good day, sir. Welcome.
  • 14:21 male: Good day, Betsy.
  • 14:24 Betsy, your flag is coming along nicely.
  • 14:26 Shall I assume the stars are about to unfold?
  • 14:28 Betsy: Yes, sir.
  • 14:29 Mr. Washington suggested stars that were six-pointed,
  • 14:33 but I suggested it would be easier and more expedient to
  • 14:36 make five-pointed stars.
  • 14:38 male: Oh? And how's that?
  • 14:41 Betsy: I'll make a larger staff just so you can see
  • 14:43 how it's done.
  • 14:44 I've already pre-folded this piece of fabric.
  • 14:47 Now I just make a cut with the scissors...
  • 14:55 and--
  • 15:00 male: I've never seen such. It's extraordinary.
  • 15:04 It seems appropriate because I've brought with me today some
  • 15:08 thoughts from an extraordinary scientist you know well:
  • 15:11 Mr. Benjamin Franklin.
  • 15:13 Betsy: I so admire him, a statesman and a wonderful
  • 15:16 author as well.
  • 15:18 male: He, like many others who've just signed our
  • 15:21 Declaration of Independence, has placed great importance
  • 15:25 on Almighty God.
  • 15:27 He was selected to be part of the committee to draft
  • 15:30 an official seal for our nation, and Mr. Franklin proposed,
  • 15:35 "Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea,
  • 15:39 and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters,
  • 15:42 accompanied by the motto, 'Rebellion to tyrants is
  • 15:46 obedience to God.'"
  • 15:49 Betsy: Sir, I've heard tell that Mr. Franklin believes
  • 15:53 that God did, in fact, create the universe,
  • 15:55 but then he withdrew, having nothing to do with us since
  • 15:59 that Creation.
  • 16:00 male: No, no, no, quite the contrary, Betsy.
  • 16:04 Yes, here.
  • 16:05 Here, Mr. Franklin, speaking of God,
  • 16:08 "I say there can be no reason to imagine he would make so
  • 16:12 glorious a universe merely to abandon it."
  • 16:17 Betsy: Seems affirmative.
  • 16:20 male: Furthermore, he summarizes the Lord's Prayer:
  • 16:23 "Heavenly Father, may all revere thee and become thy dutiful
  • 16:27 children and faithful subjects.
  • 16:30 May thy laws be obeyed on earth as perfectly
  • 16:32 as they are in heaven.
  • 16:34 Provide for us this day as thou hast hitherto daily done.
  • 16:38 Forgive us our trespasses and enable us likewise to forgive
  • 16:41 those that offend us.
  • 16:43 Keep us out of temptation and deliver us from evil."
  • 16:48 Betsy: Amen.
  • 16:49 ♪♪♪
  • 16:57 Jeffrey: Benjamin Franklin spoke of God Almighty,
  • 17:02 referencing the Lord's Prayer.
  • 17:03 Around here, we call him El Shaddai because we like the
  • 17:08 Jewish roots.
  • 17:10 We go back to our heritage.
  • 17:13 Benjamin Franklin, or Ben Yeoman, actually
  • 17:16 his Hebrew name, is part of our heritage, is he not?
  • 17:20 Let's learn about him now as we consider the faith of our
  • 17:24 Founding Fathers.
  • 17:26 ♪♪♪
  • 17:29 Jeffrey: So many of our Founding Fathers are unknown.
  • 17:31 Benjamin Franklin is better known.
  • 17:33 He had faith in God, did he not?
  • 17:35 David Barton: He had faith in God.
  • 17:37 It's interesting that, today, he's often called a deist.
  • 17:40 And in his autobiography, which he writes his own autobiography,
  • 17:44 and he talked about how that, young in life,
  • 17:47 he was really enthralled with deism,
  • 17:51 and within a page, he says, "But I quickly rejected it,
  • 17:54 finding it not being useful," and he really
  • 17:57 kind of talks about how crazy it is.
  • 18:00 So what people do is they take that quote where he was a deist
  • 18:03 early in life and ignore the next page where it says,
  • 18:06 "But I quickly rejected that."
  • 18:07 And so, when you look at Franklin,
  • 18:09 I think it's safe to say he's one of the
  • 18:11 least religious Founding Fathers, but "least"
  • 18:14 is a comparative term.
  • 18:15 I mean, we're talking of--
  • 18:16 Jeffrey: I mean, some of them were ministers.
  • 18:18 David: That's right.
  • 18:19 I mean, if you have a hundred preachers in a room,
  • 18:20 one's gonna be the least religious.
  • 18:22 Jeffrey: That's true.
  • 18:23 David: And so--
  • 18:25 Jeffrey: It's hard to compete with all these Bible scholars.
  • 18:26 David: And that's exactly it.
  • 18:27 And Franklin, interestingly enough, I mean, he is a
  • 18:29 strong, strong defender of religion.
  • 18:32 One of the greatest examples is a guy that he helped bring here,
  • 18:36 back in 1772, was a guy named Thomas Paine.
  • 18:40 Thomas Paine had been persecuted in England.
  • 18:42 Franklin helped him to get here.
  • 18:43 He got him set up in the printing business with
  • 18:45 Robert Aitken in Philadelphia, and then Thomas Paine starts
  • 18:48 churning out products like "Common Sense," which George
  • 18:51 Washington says it's a real spark plug
  • 18:53 for the American Revolution.
  • 18:54 And he starts writing all these works.
  • 18:56 Well, he's really popular now, really well known,
  • 18:59 and what happens is, in 1790, just before Franklin dies,
  • 19:04 he starts writing the manuscript for this book.
  • 19:06 This called "The Age of Reason."
  • 19:08 "The Age of Reason" is a big-time attack
  • 19:10 on Christians and Jews.
  • 19:13 Doesn't like the Old Testament, doesn't like the New Testament,
  • 19:15 but he's pro-God, but what happens is,
  • 19:19 before he printed this-- and, at this point,
  • 19:22 Thomas Paine is just super popular to everybody.
  • 19:25 He sends manuscript copy of this to his friend Ben Franklin and
  • 19:29 said, "Ben, before I print this,
  • 19:31 would you read it and look over it?"
  • 19:32 And Franklin read it.
  • 19:33 He wrote back to him and says, "You shouldn't print this."
  • 19:36 He said, "You're attacking religion," and he said,
  • 19:38 "Think how many people need religion to restrain them
  • 19:42 from bias, to support their virtue.
  • 19:43 Think how many young people need--"
  • 19:45 and he said, "You're unchaining the tiger."
  • 19:47 He said, "I advise you to burn this piece before it is read by
  • 19:51 any other person."
  • 19:53 Paine ignored him. Came out with it.
  • 19:55 This is where the entire Founding Father community
  • 19:58 turned against Paine.
  • 19:59 Washington never talked to him again for the rest of his life.
  • 20:02 Patrick Henry wrote an entire book refuting this.
  • 20:06 Elias Boudinot, the president of Congress,
  • 20:08 wrote an entire book refuting this.
  • 20:10 He came under such attack that, when he died in America,
  • 20:13 there was no cemetery that would allow Paine to buried
  • 20:16 in the cemeteries.
  • 20:17 He was buried in a cow pasture.
  • 20:19 So turning anti-religious back then--
  • 20:21 and Franklin tried to warn him.
  • 20:22 He said, "This is really a bad deal.
  • 20:23 We need religion in America.
  • 20:25 This is so helpful."
  • 20:26 And when Franklin became the governor of Pennsylvania,
  • 20:29 1785, it's interesting:
  • 20:32 Franklin came up with a plan to raise church attendance
  • 20:35 in the state.
  • 20:36 He actually promoted raising church attendance.
  • 20:38 Jeffrey: And there were so many different kinds
  • 20:39 of churches in that state too.
  • 20:41 Pennsylvania was one of the more liberal ones
  • 20:43 in the best of senses.
  • 20:45 David: In the sense of being really inclusive, 'cause some
  • 20:47 of the colonies were "I'm congregationalist"
  • 20:49 or "I'm Anglican," or whatever.
  • 20:51 And in Pennsylvania, you had Quakers,
  • 20:53 you had "high church," "low church," you had Baptist,
  • 20:56 you had Presbyterian.
  • 20:57 Jeffrey: America at its best, yes.
  • 20:58 David: And Franklin talks about it.
  • 21:00 He said, "I've been a friend to every denomination, and
  • 21:02 I hope to go out of this world at peace with them all.
  • 21:04 I promoted--"
  • 21:05 and it's interesting: Part of Franklin's change really came
  • 21:08 when he and George Whitefield became such close friends,
  • 21:12 the Great Revivalist, and Franklin began printing
  • 21:15 Whitefield's sermons, and his printing business tripled just
  • 21:18 by printing Whitefield's sermons.
  • 21:20 Then they became good friends, and it's interesting that,
  • 21:24 as you look at Franklin, late in life, as he's
  • 21:28 approaching what became his death,
  • 21:31 he gets a letter from one of his close friends,
  • 21:34 Ezra Stiles, who's the president of Yale University,
  • 21:38 and Ezra, a reverend, he writes Ben.
  • 21:40 He says, "Man, we've been friends for a long time,"
  • 21:43 and he said, "I'm doing this room at Yale to honor Founding
  • 21:45 Fathers, and I wanna put a picture of you in there,
  • 21:48 and can I have a picture?"
  • 21:50 And Franklin writes back, and he says,
  • 21:52 "Well, I don't like any picture I have,
  • 21:54 but I'm sitting for a portrait, and if I like that,
  • 21:56 you can have it, and I'm really honored Yale wants
  • 21:58 to honor me."
  • 21:59 And so Stiles wrote back and says,
  • 22:01 "We'll take any picture you send."
  • 22:02 By the way, he said, "I've asked you before."
  • 22:05 He says, "The most important thing in my life is my
  • 22:08 relationship with Christ."
  • 22:10 He said, "I wish everybody had that relationship except for
  • 22:12 any personal flaws I might have.
  • 22:14 I've never asked you.
  • 22:15 What's your relationship with Christ?"
  • 22:17 And Franklin writes back, and he says,
  • 22:21 "That's a interesting question.
  • 22:22 Nobody's ever asked me that before."
  • 22:24 Imagine that:
  • 22:25 living in America and finding nobody asked him that.
  • 22:27 And he said--
  • 22:29 Jeffrey: Imagine someone from Yale caring about that.
  • 22:30 David: That's right too.
  • 22:32 And so Franklin says, "I don't know."
  • 22:35 He says, "I've never really looked into Jesus as to whether
  • 22:39 he's divine or not."
  • 22:40 He said, "He might be," he said, "but at my age,
  • 22:44 I'll know soon, one way or the other."
  • 22:46 And he was dead four months later,
  • 22:47 so who knows what happened?
  • 22:49 But all the way through life, he considered himself to be a
  • 22:52 Christian and friends of Christians,
  • 22:54 et cetera, and nobody had ever asked him the question.
  • 22:56 So even when you look at him as the least religious Founding
  • 22:58 Father, I mean, what he did behaviorally was so significant,
  • 23:03 and maybe one of strongest things I'd point to where
  • 23:06 he had such a dramatic impact on America was in the middle of the
  • 23:10 Constitutional Convention, he started calling for the
  • 23:12 Constitutional Convention way back in the 1740s and '50s,
  • 23:17 so 30 years before it happened.
  • 23:19 And when it does happen, this is what he's been dreaming of.
  • 23:22 He's the first guy to call for the United States of America--
  • 23:24 is Ben Franklin.
  • 23:25 So, when it happens, for the first five weeks,
  • 23:28 it's nothing by fighting and bickering 'cause every state
  • 23:31 came with their own agenda.
  • 23:32 He had the New York plan, the Connecticut plan,
  • 23:34 and the Virginia plan, and after five weeks,
  • 23:37 they're leaving and going home in disgust.
  • 23:39 Alexander Hamilton's going out of there.
  • 23:41 George Mason's leaving. They're tired of it.
  • 23:44 That's when Franklin calls them to prayer,
  • 23:47 reminds them that "God is the one who helped us win
  • 23:49 the Revolution.
  • 23:51 We've gone through the Constitutional Convention
  • 23:52 without praying.
  • 23:53 We need to get to prayer."
  • 23:55 James Madison records it in Madison's own writings,
  • 23:58 and in that call to prayer, in about 14 sentences,
  • 24:02 Ben Franklin quotes 14 different Bible verses to call these guys
  • 24:06 to prayer.
  • 24:07 The result is they take three days off the convention.
  • 24:10 This is a newspaper from the three days that the convention
  • 24:13 was off, and right here across the left side,
  • 24:16 you see that the Constitutional Convention went to church
  • 24:19 together, and while they were there,
  • 24:21 the Reverend William Rogers prayed over
  • 24:23 the Constitutional Convention.
  • 24:25 His prayer was so significant it made the front page of the
  • 24:27 newspapers back in the day.
  • 24:29 When they reassembled after this time of prayer,
  • 24:32 Franklin and others talk about how the tone changed.
  • 24:35 They were suddenly cooperating.
  • 24:37 They suddenly started getting along.
  • 24:39 They came up with ideas they liked,
  • 24:41 and ten weeks later, we come out with a Constitution that is the
  • 24:44 most successful in the history of the world,
  • 24:46 but it almost didn't happen, and I think it probably would not
  • 24:48 have happened had not Franklin called them to remember God and
  • 24:51 get God back in it.
  • 24:53 Jeffrey: Yeah, and it reminds me of the faith of our fathers,
  • 24:55 that is to say, that we're drawn from a biblical worldview where
  • 25:00 we're beseeching the Creator, and we're coming up with a
  • 25:04 document that so much reflects the kind of values and virtues
  • 25:08 that are embedded in the biblical text.
  • 25:10 David: It is, and it's interesting to even see
  • 25:12 how many Bible phrases made it into the actual language
  • 25:15 of the Constitution.
  • 25:16 John Adams specifically talks--
  • 25:19 he references Jeremiah 17:9, has three letters about how
  • 25:22 that created separation of powers.
  • 25:24 So, so much of the Bible actually made it into the
  • 25:26 language of the Constitution.
  • 25:27 Jeffrey: Yeah, I'm no David Barton,
  • 25:28 but I've seen drafts with Bible references in the margins as
  • 25:32 well as they're looking to paper some of this stuff up.
  • 25:35 Again, I'm no David Barton.
  • 25:37 David: It was part of their thinking, for sure.
  • 25:39 Jeffrey: Yes, and I'm glad to have you as part of our thinking
  • 25:42 as we're taking a look at the "Faith of Our Fathers."
  • 25:44 Thank you, David.
  • 25:46 David: Good to be with you, bro.
  • 25:47 ♪♪♪
  • 25:49 Kirsten: We hope you're learning as much as we
  • 25:50 are about the faith of our Founding Fathers,
  • 25:53 and I think something that we talked about,
  • 25:56 watching this last segment, was that the Foundational Fathers of
  • 26:01 the United States of America wrote into our Constitution
  • 26:06 nuggets of Bible quotes: New Testament and Old Testament.
  • 26:12 Jeffrey: Well, speaking of nuggets,
  • 26:15 in 1849, they said "There's gold in them there hills,"
  • 26:20 and everyone went west for golden nuggets.
  • 26:25 There was one Jewish man who went with canvas.
  • 26:29 He got there, and he realized they're digging up these buried
  • 26:33 treasures, and they're tearing up their pants.
  • 26:35 In as much as Betsy Ross sewed a flag together,
  • 26:39 and you mentioned her earlier, Levi Strauss started making
  • 26:43 jeans out of canvas, pants out of canvas--
  • 26:47 came up with denim as well, and the rest is history.
  • 26:49 Yes, Jews that made a difference in the New World.
  • 26:53 Levi Strauss, he's from my tribe.
  • 26:57 Kirsten: Hey, we wanna claim him too,
  • 26:58 and the little digits-- there's a name for 'em.
  • 27:02 I looked it up--
  • 27:03 that go into the jeans and hold them together.
  • 27:05 Jeffrey: There's rivets because they were putting
  • 27:07 ore in their pockets and tearing up the seams,
  • 27:10 and the rivet was patented, and it remains to this day--
  • 27:14 my tribe.
  • 27:15 Kirsten: Who knew it was a Jew--right?
  • 27:17 It's good stuff, and it's part of our history, as are
  • 27:21 the Founding Fathers of our faith.
  • 27:23 David: That's right.
  • 27:24 We leave our program today with a song from our founder,
  • 27:26 Zola Levitt.
  • 27:28 Jeffrey: And a word from Scripture,
  • 27:30 Sha'alu shalom yerushalayim.
  • 27:32 Kirsten: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
  • 27:35 ♪♪♪
  • 27:38 ♪ Brothers, we are needing your mighty arms. ♪
  • 27:43 ♪ Sisters, we are needing your love. ♪
  • 27:50 ♪ Israel, by divine right, ♪
  • 27:59 ♪ God is calling us home. ♪
  • 28:09 ♪ Israel, by divine right, ♪
  • 28:15 ♪ our God is calling us home. ♪

Episodes in this series

  1. What is Faith
  2. Faith by Trial
  3. Faith in the Unseen
  4. Faith to Build a Nation Upon
  5. Faith in Our Leaders
  6. The Cost of Faith
  7. The Actions of the Faithful
  8. The Application of Faith

Links from this show

Guest organizations and links