10 Quotes From “Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers”

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For any students of American history or of the role the Bible has played in affecting world affairs, Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers is an eye-opening book. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from author Daniel Dreisbach. 

“Following an extensive survey of American political literature from 1760 to 1805, political scientist Donald S. Lutz reported that the Bible was referenced more frequently than any European writer or even any European school of thought, such as the Enlightenment or Whig intellectual traditions. Indeed, the Bible accounted for about one-third of all citations in his sample. According to Lutz, ‘Deuteronomy is the most frequently cited book, followed by Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws.’ … Saint Paul is cited about as frequently as Montesquieu and [William] Blackstone, the two most-cited secular authors, and Deuteronomy is cited almost twice as often as all of [John] Locke’s writings put together.”

“The founders often quoted the Bible without the use of quotation marks or citations, which were not necessary for a biblically literate society but the absence of which fail to alert a biblically illiterate modern audience to the Bible’s invocation.” 

“Increasing unfamiliarity with the Bible makes it harder and harder for Americans to understand their origins and their mores, or to put words to their experiences. … Lacking knowledge of the Bible, Americans are likely to be literally inarticulate, unable to relate themselves to American life and culture as a whole.” —Wilson Carey McWilliams

“Knowledge of the Bible and its place in the American experience, in short, helps Americans better understand themselves and their history.” 

“In regard to this Great Book [the Bible], I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” —Abraham Lincoln 

“[T]he Bible has had a literary influence not because it has been considered as literature, but because it has been considered as the report of the Word of God.” —T.S. Eliot 

“[William] Tyndale, who was the first to translate the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek, can be rightly called the father of the King James Bible. Approximately ‘eighty percent of his Old Testament and ninety percent of his New Testament’ were adopted by the King James translators. …  

“There is much truth in the remark that ‘without Tyndale, no Shakespeare.’ It is also true that ‘without Tyndale, no King James Bible.’ ‘Without the King James Bible,’ Alister McGrath observed, ‘there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s Messiah, no Negro spirituals, and no Gettysburg Address. … Without this Bible, the culture of the English-speaking world would have been immeasurably impoverished.’” 

“The size of the vocabulary found in the King James Bible is not extensive. [William] Shakespeare, it is estimated, used between fifteen and twenty thousand different words. Milton’s verse draws on a lexicon of about thirteen thousand words. The Old Testament, in the Hebrew and Aramaic, has approximately fifty-six hundred words. The New Testament, in the Greek, has around forty-eight hundred words. In the entire King James Bible, by contrast, there are only about six thousand different words, according to one accounting.” 

“The opinion that human reason, left without the constant control of divine laws and commands, will preserve a just administration, secure freedom and other rights, restrain men from violations of laws and constitutions, and give duration to a popular government, is as chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac. … Where will you find any code of laws, among civilized men, in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass. … Every wise code of laws must embrace the main principles of the religion of Christ.” —John Adams 

“Moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation; and they are adapted to the wants of men in every condition of life. They are the best principles and precepts, because they are exactly adapted to secure the practice of universal justice and kindness among men; and of course to prevent crimes, war and disorders in society. No human laws dictated by different principles from those in the gospel, can ever secure these objects. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. … For instruction then in social, religious and civil duties resort to the scriptures for the best precepts and most excellent examples of imitation.” —Noah Webster

Prayer (book review)

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John Bunyan was in prison for refusing to bow to the dictates of the ecclesiastical rulers of England, but prison could not silence his pen. Before writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, which Bunyan said came to him in a dream, he wrote two manuscripts on prayer which can only have come from a visit to a much more substantial heavenly realm. 

Prayer is actually two books written in the mid-seventeenth century. The first book is A Discourse Touching Prayer in which Bunyan dives deep on the apostle Paul’s desire, “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). The second book is The Saints’ Privilege And Profit, which is a deep dive into the idea of “the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:15). 

When I say “deep dive” I mean that John Bunyan gives us a masters’ level course on prayer! This is not reading for a new Christian nor for someone who merely utters a superficial prayer here and there. These books are for the mature Christian who is dissatisfied with their current level of prayer and longs for a deeper level of intimacy in communion with our Heavenly Father. 

Let me reiterate that Bunyan wrote these books from jail. Not exactly the idyllic setting for contemplation, nor an environment for pious platitudes that are reserved for the serene time of prayer in a place of comfort. Just imagine: Bunyan uses just one verse from the Bible for each of these works, and then keeps drilling down and down into the immeasurable riches that are found in our relationship with God. 

If you’re ready to take your prayer to an entirely new and more intimate place, spend some time with your Bible and these two short books from John Bunyan. 

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Poetry Saturday—Selections From “The Pilgrim’s Progress”

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The hill, though high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe. —John Bunyan’s Christian, in The Pilgrim’s Progress

He that is down needs fear no fall;
   He that is low, no pride:
He that is humble ever shall
   Have God to be his Guide.
I am content with what I have,
   Little be it or much:
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
   Because Thou savest such.
Fullness to such a burden is
   That go on pilgrimage:
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
   Is best from age to age. —John Bunyan’s Mr. Great-heart, in The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Although this can be said of all Bunyan’s books and sermons, it is abundantly clear in The Pilgrim’s Progress. 

In my mind it’s easy to classify this book as “a classic” because of its enduring message. The journey through life for pilgrims like Christian, Hopeful, Faithful, Christiana, and you and me resonate with readers all over the world. In over the nearly 350 years since this book was first published, the pilgrimage has connected with Christians and seekers alike because it is the pilgrimage we are all on. 

In The Pilgrim’s Progress it’s not hard to identify the biblical messages because Bunyan literally names them for what they are, using names like Talkative, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, the Giant Despair, Mr. Great-heart, the Interpreter, and many more. Some biblical stories are portrayed in this book just as they are in the Bible, while others are fairly easily seen for all modern-day pilgrims to learn their lessons. 

As I’ve said before about this book, it’s an excellent one for parents to read aloud to their children. Then as their kiddos get a bit older, there is an easy-to-read version called Little Pilgrim’s Progress for them to read on their own. But I still highly recommend the original version of Bunyan’s classic in its 17th-century English. To me, the Old English in a story like this makes it feel like an epic adventure story, which, in fact, it is because it is every Christian’s story still to this day. 

I can’t urge you enough to make The Pilgrim’s Progress a friend that you visit often.

Book Reviews From 2016

John Bunyan On The Relationship Between Church And State

Of Antichrist And His RuinJohn Bunyan, as Charles Spurgeon said, was so steeped in Scripture, that he practically bled Bible! In his book Of Antichrist And His Ruin, Bunyan pointed out how God would use earthly governments to bring about the demise of Antichrist. In addition, Bunyan also shared these insights on how the Church should treat the governments of Earth.

“Take heed in laying the cause of your troubles in the badness of the temper of governors. … God is the chief, and has the hearts of all, even of the worst of men, in His hand. Good tempered men have sometimes brought trouble; and bad tempered man have sometimes brought enlargement to the churches of God: Saul brought enlargement (1 Samuel 14:28). David brought trouble (2 Samuel 12:10).) Ahab brought enlargement (1 Kings 21:29). Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did both sometimes bring trouble (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35; 32:25). Therefore, the good or bad tempers of men sway nothing with God in this matter; they are the sins or repentances of His people, that make the church either happy or miserable upon earth.”

“The church therefore, as a church, must use such weapons as are proper to her as such; and the magistrate, as a magistrate, must use such weapons as are proper to him as such. … She [the church] may, and ought, with her faith and prayer, and holy life, to second this work of kings (Ezra 1:2, 3). When the king’s laws, and the law of their God, did at any time come in competition, they would indeed adhere to, and do the law of their God; yet with that tenderness to the king, his crown and dignity, that they could at all times appeal to the righteous God about it (Daniel 6:22). Nor did they lose by doing so; yea, they prospered; for by this means Mordecai was made a great man, and a savior of his people (Esther 2:21-23). By this means also was Daniel made a great man, and helpful to his brethren (Daniel 5:29).”

“Pray for kings to the God of heaven, Who has the hearts of kings in His hand: and do it ‘without wrath and doubting’; without wrath because thy self is not perfect; and without doubting because God governeth them, and has promised to bring down Antichrist by them. Pray for the long life of the king. Pray that God would always give wisdom and judgment to the king. Pray that God would discover all plots and conspiracies against his person and government. Pray also that God would make him able to drive away all evil and evil men from his presence….”

To read more quotes from this book, please click here. And to check out my review of this book, please click here.

9 Quotes From “Of Antichrist And His Ruin”

Of Antichrist And His RuinJohn Bunyan’s works are steeped in Scripture. His thoughts about the Antichrist and other end times events are either directly taken from biblical passages, or else his line of reasoning fits perfectly with the intent of the Scriptures. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some quotes I found enlightening.

“Coercion, in anything connected with religion, whether it imposes creeds, liturgies, or modes of worship, is Antichrist: whom to obey, is spiritual desolation, and if knowingly persevered in, leads to death.” —George Offor, editor

“As God therefore did put it into the hearts of the wicked kings of Babylon, to distress in His church and people for their sins; so He put it into the hearts of the kings of the Medes and Persians, who were to be, in a sense, their saviors; to ease them of those distresses, to take off the yoke, and let them go free.”

“This twenty years we have been degenerating, both as to principles, and as to practice; and have grown at last into an amazing likeness to the world, both as to religion and civil demeanor.” 

“Take heed in laying the cause of your troubles in the badness of the temper of governors. … God is the chief, and has the hearts of all, even of the worst of men, in His hand. Good tempered men have sometimes brought trouble; and bad tempered man have sometimes brought enlargement to the churches of God: Saul brought enlargement (1 Samuel 14:28). David brought trouble (2 Samuel 12:10).) Ahab brought enlargement (1 Kings 21:29). Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did both sometimes bring trouble (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35; 32:25). Therefore, the good or bad tempers of men sway nothing with God in this matter; they are the sins or repentances of His people, that make the church either happy or miserable upon earth.”

“Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly. So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to Him (and this is that mystery of iniquity [2 Thessalonians 2:7]). Against Him in deed; for Him in word, and contrary to Him in practice. … Christ prefereth His Father’s will above heaven and earth: Antichrist prefereth himself and his traditions above all that is written, or that is called God, or worshiped.”

“Nor can all the fallen angels, with all the members and limbs of Antichrist, cause that their brat should abide so much as one day longer than our God’s prefixed time.”

“Now, by ordinances of Antichrist, I do not intend things that only respect matters of worship in Antichrist’s kingdom, but those civil laws that impose and enforce them also; yea, that enforce that worship with pains and penalties, as in the Spanish Inquisition. … What could the king of Babylon’s golden image have done, had it not been for the burning fiery furnace that stood within view of the worshipers (Daniel 3)? Yea, what could that horrible command, to pray for thirty days to neither God nor man, but to the king, have done, had it not been for the dark den and the roaring lions therein ready to devour those that disobeyed it (Daniel 6)? … For as the furnace would have been next to nothing, if void of fire; and the den as little frightful, if destitute of lions; so these laws will be as insignificant, when Christ has slain that spirit that is in them; that spirit that causes that as many as will not worship the image of the beast, should be killed.”

“What say ye now, ye sons of God! Will you learn to make a judgment of things according to the mystery of the wisdom of God, or will ye longer conclude according to sense and reason?”

“Cold blasts in November are not received with that gentleness as are colder in March and April; for that these last cold ones are but the farewell notes of a piercing winter; they also bring with them the signs and tokens of a comfortable summer. Why, the church is now at the rising of the year; let then the blasts at present, or to come, be what they will, Antichrist is assuredly drawing towards his downfall.”

Of Antichrist And His Ruin (book review)

Of Antichrist And His RuinAs I was finishing up reading through the Bible this time, I especially noticed in the last couple of books quite a few mentions of the Antichrist. Wanting to dig a little deeper on this subject, I turned to a man who so throughly knew Scripture: John Bunyan and his book Of Antichrist And His Ruin.

The Antichrist is not something we can just brush off and say, “Well, that’s end-times stuff and doesn’t really concern Christians. After all, won’t we already be in Heaven when the Antichrist appears on earth?” But John, in his first epistle warns us—

This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:3, emphasis added)

Wow, even in the first century, John already saw the spirit of the Antichrist at work. How much more so should Christians today prepare themselves for this onslaught of evil!

I didn’t want any “pop theology” or well-intentioned ideas about the Antichrist, I wanted to know what the Bible said about it. Speaking of John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon said, “Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.”

Indeed, Bunyan’s work in Of Antichrist is a compilation of all the biblical texts, put together in a way that makes sense. Of course, the English is sometimes a bit challenging to follow, since Bunyan wrote over 400 years ago. But if you are interested in the biblical facts about the Antichrist described in the Bible, this must be your go-to source!

10 More Quotes From “Christian Behavior”

Christian BehaviorAlthough written 300+ years ago, John Bunyan has some timeless wisdom for Christians in his book Christian Behavior. You can check out my book review by clicking here, and the first set of quotes I shared from this book are here. Below are some other quotes I really liked.

In a section to parents about children—

“See if fair words will win them from evil. This is God’s way with His children (Jeremiah 25:4-5).” 

“Take heed that the misdeeds for which thou correctest thy children be not learned them by thee.”

“How a Christian wife should live with her unbelieving husband:

  1. Let thy words be few.
  2. And none of them savoring of a lording over him; but speak thou still as to thy head and lord, by way of entreaty and beseeching.
  3. And in such a spirit of sympathy, that the manner of thy speech and behavior in speaking may be to him an argument that thou speakest in love, as being sensible of his misery, and inflamed in thy soul with desire after his conversion.
  4. And follow thy words and behavior with prayers to God for his soul.
  5. Still keeping thyself in a holy, chaste, and modest behavior before him.”

In a section written to employers—“In a word, learn of the Lord Jesus to carry yourselves well to your servants, that your servants also may learn something of the kindness of Christ by your deportment to them. Servants are goers as well as comers; take heed that thou give them no occasion to scandal the Gospel when they are going for what they observe thee unrighteously to do when they were with thee.”

“Pride, in general, is that which causeth a man to think of man and his things above what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).”

“Pride is when you slight this or that person, though gracious—that is, look over them and shun them for their poverty in this world—and choose rather to have converse with others that possibly are less gracious because of their greatness in this world.”

“It argueth pride of heart when men will not deny themselves in things that may be for the good and profit of their neighbors.”

“It argueth pride of heart when a man that hath this or that in his heart to do in reference to God, but yet will slight a sober asking counsel and direction of God in this matter.”

“It argueth pride of heart when persons are tickled with thoughts of their own praise, that secretly lust after it.”

“It is an easier matter to begin to do good than it is to continue therein; and the reason is, there is not so much of a Christian’s cross in the beginning of a work as there is in a continual, hearty, conscientious practice thereof. Therefore Christians have need, as to be pressed to do good, so to continue the work.”

Book Reviews From 2015

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