Profiles in Faith Gouverneur Morris

Profiles in Faith Gouverneur Morris

Known as the man who wrote the final draft of the Constitution, Morris was also the man who spoke the most often during the Convention (173 times).

But what is known of his faith?

Actually we don’t know that much in spite of his much speaking. Nonetheless, we can surmise a few facts.

First of all we know that he was a member of the Episcopal Church. While little is known of his activities within the church it is hard to believe that this gifted man simply faded into the background. It is likely that he served within the church and, since he came from wealth, gave substantially to it. This is speculation, but this author feels it is a logical conclusion.

Second we know he was familiar with the Bible. This is based on his speeches and his writings where he often quoted the Bible. This suggests that he spent a fair amount of time in the reading of the Bible, which would not be the habit of a deist.

Third, he believed in the depravity of man which was more in line with Christianity than the Enlightenment. Deists tend to believe in an absentee God rather than a personal God. They also reject the supernatural as seen in the Bible. Morris, as stated above, was very acquainted with the Bible and was apt to quote it.

Fourth, while some claim he was a deistic realist, the evidence seems to be more correctly that he was influenced by this thinking.

Fifth, he strongly favored freedom of religion.

Sixth, he was against slavery.

The truth is we simply don’t have enough information to say whether Morris was a Christian or not. However, his career reflected not only a highly education mind (attended King’s College, later known as Columbia), but a mind attuned to Christian thought.

So where do we place him?

In my opinion he would be considered within the Christian faith. Probably a weak Christian (theologically speaking) with ties to both Christian and Enlightened thought. He was also a close friend of George Washington whom we will profile next.

A comment on historians who point to Deism as the religion of our founders. First, this time period coincided with the Enlightment, so historians seem to think this impacted everyone. Second, modern day historians may have a bias against Christianity. Yet the founding documents of this nation (Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution) all indicate a Christian belief. I think the burden of proof must lay with those who claim deistic beliefs of our fathers and we should assume Christian beliefs unless proven otherwise.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Profiles in Faith James Madison

Profiles in Faith James Madison

Many people, including historians, claim that Madison and the other founders as well were deists. But they do so without much evidence. But what do Madison’s own statements reveal?

“watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.” (emphasis added)

Notice the words Annals of Heaven. This is not a deist term, but clearly speaks of heaven, whereas the word ‘annals’ would indicate a book or record. In other words, he is speaking of salvation and having our names written in the Book of Life.

“For men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”  (emphasis added)

Here he indicates a desire that men of high position be bold in their faith, even becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ! This is a strong statement and evinces a belief in personal soul winning.

On these two quotes alone we can safely surmise that Madison was a Christian not a Deist. But there is more.

Although initially opposed to amendments to the Constitution, he supported the idea of freedom of religion where the government does not favor one denomination over another. He wasn’t afraid of the church influencing government, but rather government establishing a national religion. Read:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.” (emphasis added)

An interesting fact was that he was inclined to have paid chaplains for Congress. As President he signed a bill that economically aided a Bible Society to distribute Bibles. Further, as President he signed proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. These are not the actions of a Deist.

Later in life he seems to have retreated from these positions with his ‘Detached Memorandum.” However, this memorandum does not reflect his public statements nor his actions, which in my opinion makes one wonder if it was written by him at all. But whether it was or wasn’t the fact remains that both publicly and historically his actions were that of a believer in Christ and not that of a Deist.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

FOURTH OF JULY

FOURTH OF JULY

Normally I blog about writing, but today is the 4th of July. So let me talk about our great country.

Unfortunately for our children it has become fashionable to judge people in the past by the mores of today. This is not only unfortunate but wrong.

The truth is that while many of the men who gathered together to declare our independence were slave holders, they were men who stood tall above their fellow countrymen. They were men to be admired.

These men laid a foundation that not only won our independence, but also led to the creation of our constitution (by some of the same men), which has undergirded this nation through a the War of 1812, Mexican war, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, and two wars in Iraq. Plus our current war against terrorism.

We now live in an age when some want us to ignore our constitution calling it outdated. But that document has evolved from a strong basic document to one that has made this country the “land of the free.” It may make change harder to attain, but that is a good thing.

Change for change’s sake is never a good idea. Change needs to be examined and searched out. When change is contemplated it should be compared to our Christian faith. What does the Bible say?

Some people ignorantly and/or foolishly claim that this country was not founded upon Biblical principles. I say ignorantly because they obviously have not searched out the historical facts. Did you know that many of the writers of the constitution were ministers or active laymen in their church? But more than that there are plenty of documents showing the desires and intents of the founders.

I say foolishly because some knowing the truth, deny it. Not only deny it, but pervert it. Today our country is teetering. There are strong voices wooing us to embrace godlessness; to call good that which the Bible calls sin; to call bad that which the Bible calls good; and to follow our lusts no matter who it hurts. Today we have “leaders” who either ignore or twist our nation’s Christian heritage.

There are also the voices of the people. Not all are Christians, but as a whole they yearn for the stability of the past. They want a government that is responsive to their wants and needs; an economy that empowers the people to be inventive and innovative; and a church that sticks by the Word of God. These voices must not be silenced.

On this 4th of July it is my prayer that each of us will do more than simply celebrate in our backyards, our schools, and our streets, but we will reflect upon our godly heritage, the Biblical foundations of our country, and the future direction of our nation. And then do something about it.

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  1. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page.