17 June 2006

...On the preservation of liberty

Our country was founded on the assumption that its continuing existence is dependent upon the character of the citizens.  John Adams wrote, “The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people.  As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved.” 

Adams had a Biblical view of the world and of human nature.    He knew that history had shown that the tendencies of our fallen nature need constraining.  He knew that constraints-positive and negative-on that nature were part of God’s grace common to all, and that a major positive constraint on sin was the feeding of the character [and minds] of the people through the diffusion of knowledge and virtue.  It was not a secondary matter that the early American Puritans and, later the founders, placed a high value on the education and literacy of the people.  Adams and the other founders knew that true liberty was dependent on an educated population.  The basis of that education is the written word. 

Just as the life of the Church rests upon the Word as its foundation and is dependent on the Biblical literacy of its members, the life of a free nation is dependent upon the literacy of its citizens.  Literacy goes beyond the ability to read.  It requires one to be “well read” and discerning of what is read.  As we celebrate our Nation’s founding in a couple of weeks and ponder the liberty we are graced with by Providence, let us take up our responsibility to nurture our intellectual and moral character.  Let us in the church model that to the world.  Let us take up and read!