A Bright Light in History

John Ed reading a Bible near an American flag.


Are you aware of the important place that the Bible played in the early history of our nation? What influence does the Bible have today in governing our personal lives and governmental practices?

The Continental Congress was closely related to the American Bible Society. Elias Boudinot was the president of the Continental Congress in 1782 and the first president of the American Bible Society.

Our sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams, also had a role in the American Bible Society. On April 27, 1837, Adams wrote, “The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this—it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the precepts of Christianity.” The author of our National Anthem, Francis Scott Key, was the vice president of the American Bible Society from 1817 until his death in 1843. It has been reported that the Continental Congress purchased 2,000 copies of the Bible from the American Bible Society for the people of this nation.

On September 19, 1796, George Washington indicated the impossibility of trying to govern the world without God and the Bible. He said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

One of the most influential educational tools was the McGuffey Reader, written by William Holmes McGuffey. Public schools used it for over 100 years. It sold over one million copies each year. President Lincoln called him, “the Schoolmaster to the Nation.” McGuffey said, “From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.”

In 1782, the Congress authorized the first American printing of an English language Bible in the U.S. In response to a lawsuit in 1844 involving the teaching of the Bible in a school, the Supreme Court ruled, “Why should not the Bible and especially the New Testament…be read and taught as a divine revelation in the school? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”   

Do you remember singing a little song as a child, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me! I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!” Could there be more wisdom in that verse of that childhood song than the advanced degrees of education that we are issuing today?

Discuss with your friends, family, coworkers, these questions: 1.) Are we smarter than our forefathers? 2.) Has the Bible changed or have we changed? 3.) What place do you think the Bible should play in our political and educational system today? 4.) What are some things our 116th Congress today could learn from the leaders of the Continental Congress?

How bright is the light for your path today? (Psalm 119:105)

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