Yet a time is coming and has now comewhen the
true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spiritand in
truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.God is spirit,and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The first Europeans who set foot on
North American soil intended to build a Christian community. Fleeing
persecution in Europe, the Pilgrims (and later the Puritans) sailed for the
Americas with the goal of obtaining religious freedom. They sought to worship
God and Jesus Christ in the manner they chose without interference or mandates.
Before leaving Europe, William Brewster
(c. 1567–1644), the leader of the Pilgrims, said he hoped the Pilgrims would
advance the gospel of the kingdom. When they drew up the Mayflower Compact, the
very first European political document in the New World, the Pilgrims began
with the words “In the name of God, Amen.” The compact also included the phrase
“having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian
faith.” Regardless of what others who followed them may have thought, the
Pilgrims saw themselves as forming a Christian colony.
As the colonies turned into states,
many other Christian phrases appeared in founding documents. South Carolina,
Connecticut, North Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, and
Massachusetts all referred to God by a number of names: “one God,” “Almighty,”
“Supreme Being,” “the Creator,” and “Great Legislator of the Universe.”
The Declaration of Independence
contains numerous phrases that reference God, even if they do not mention Him
directly. The founding fathers believed that God extends rights to humanity.
One central phrase has been passed down through the years: “that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
No matter where modern readers fall on
the debate of whether today’s United States should be considered a Christian
nation, the Christian influence shaped the founding fathers’ work. The original
colonists enjoyed the freedom of religion and aimed to create a community where
they could worship as they saw fit.
The desire to worship Jesus had a
profound impact on the founding of the United States of America.
This blog post was adapted from my book How Jesus Changed the World. You can read more about it here.