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

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

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

The King’s English

I grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible. So naturally, this was the version I also memorized. Even to this day (all these many, many[!] years later), many of the verses I memorized still come back to my mind in that Olde English slant. 

A few years ago we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James authorized translation of the Bible into English. It’s astounding to realize how many words, phrases, and concepts from this version have become mainstays in the English language. From Shakespeare’s plays right down to current writings, this “Book of books” infiltrates our thoughts and our  vocabulary. 

Here is an outstanding poem Glen Scrivener put together to honor the 400th anniversary of the KJV, where he attempts to share 100 phrases from this translation in 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Is That In The Bible?

A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” 

(Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂) 

I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. 

Some insightful comments sound Shakespearean, but William never wrote them. 

Some pieces of wisdom sound Socratic, but Socrates never taught them. 

Some religious maxims sound godly, but the Bible never recorded them. 

I would like to invite you to join me in a new series we are beginning this Sunday called Is That In The Bible? I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible. 

By the way, if you have a phrase that you would like to have us explore in this series, please leave it in a comment below. 

You can join us in person at Calvary Assembly of God, or tune in for our Facebook Live broadcast. I’m looking forward to learning with you! 

Poetry Saturday—Prologue

the-empire-striketh-backO, ’tis for the Rebellion a dark time.
For those they have the death Star all destroy’d,
Imperi’l troops did from the ashes climb
And push the rebels closer to the void.
Across the galaxy pursu’d with speed,
The rebels flee th’Imperi’l Starfleet vast.
A group with Luke Skywalker in the lead
Hath to the ice world known as Hoth flown fast.
Meanwhile, the cruel Darth Vader is obsess’d
With finding young Skywalker. Thus he hath
Through ev’ry point of space begun his quest
By sending robot probes to aid his wrath.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In war-torn galaxy far, far away. —Ian Doescher

For Christmas I received the innovative The Empire Striketh Back—Star Wars Part The Fifth by Ian Doescher, in which the entire movie is retold as William Shakespeare would have told it. For both Star Wars and Shakespeare aficionados, a delightful read!

It’s fun to read the Lucas version and the Doescher version of the Prologue side-by-side, so check out the film version here…

Links & Quotes

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“There is a sacred art in being able to handle the shield of faith. Let me explain to you how that can be. You will handle it well if you are able to quote the promises of God against the attacks of your enemy.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant are more learned than their ears.” —William Shakespeare

“It is vain to expect any advantage from our profession of the truth, if we be not sincerely just and honest in our actions.” —Archbishop Sharpe

John Stonestreet discusses the dangers of rushing to legalize marijuana. Also check out my book review of Going To Pot by William Bennett, and some quotes from that book here.

Max Lucado reminds us, “God’s grace is greater than your failures.” Read more about how God uses failures.

Detroit Tigers fans know this is obvious: Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker should be in the baseball Hall of Fame!

“Science is finally catching up with the truth and its findings are simple: porn is harmful. Did you know that porn can mess with your head, seriously rewiring the actual chemistry of your brain?” Read more in this Fight The New Drug’s post.

Look at the cold, hard data: strong marriages and families build a strong economy.

Links & Quotes

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“The reason we know so little about God’s wisdom is that we will only trust Him as far as we can work things out according to our own reasonable common sense.” —Oswald Chambers

“To know God in His glory is to know ultimate reality—defining beauty, goodness, and truth. It is to enter into the heart of reality itself and to glimpse eternity in a most personal, intimate, and loving way. This is what God desires for us, that our hearts might soar within His glory and rejoice in things too wonderful to express.” —T.M. Moore

“My greatest fear in life is standing before the Lord and hearing Him say, ‘I had so much more for you, but you held on too tightly.’” —Larry Burkett

“Give me good proofs of what you have alleged: it is not enough to say—in such a bush there lies a thief—in such a cave a beast; you must show him to me ere I shoot, else I may kill one of my straggling sheep.” —William Shakespeare

“A man must keep his friendship in constant repair.” —Samuel Johnson

Eric Metaxas asks, “Why would a national museum refuse to remove an exhibit honoring one of the leading racists of the 20th century?” Check out his profound answer.

Bear Grylls praying over Barak ObamaThank you, Bear Grylls, for giving us a great example to follow! May we all pray for our President.

Exactly right: Christians cannot stand by and do nothing about these precious people displaced by war.

A very interesting legal look at the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky.

William Shakespeare On Prayer

William ShakespeareSome great lines from William Shakespeare on prayer―

“We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.” —William Shakespeare

“Now I am passed all comforts here, but prayers.” —William Shakespeare

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” —William Shakespeare

“Sweet are the uses of adversity; which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears a precious jewel in his head; and this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” —William Shakespeare

“I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, believing through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Savior, to be made a partaker of life everlasting.” —William Shakespeare’s opening line in his last will and testament

Let Me Give You A Piece Of Advice

How many times have you heard someone say you, “Let me give you a piece of advice”? Ah, yes, everyone has some advice to share. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to give you a piece of their mind. Everyone is an expert in an area where they think you’re deficient.

I remember going through comment cards at the end of a long week of youth camp. I’d read one card that would say the food was excellent. Just a couple of cards later some “expert” would share how terrible the food was. One would say they loved the evangelist, another would give their “advice” on where the evangelist missed it.

Whom should I listen to? Who should get my ear?

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius gives this counsel to Laertes “Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice: Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Nice prose, but how do we live it out?

I like the example I see from a man named Jethro in the Bible. Jethro is Moses’ father-in-law, and he really only appears on the scene in just one chapter (Exodus 18), but his method of giving advice should be a model for us all.

Credentials—Jethro was a God-fearing man. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, weigh carefully the advice given to you by those who don’t have the same biblical foundation.

Relationship—Jethro had a personal relationship with Moses, he wasn’t just a business acquaintance. That means Jethro had a vested interest in Moses’ success or failure.

Firsthand—Jethro heard about what was happening, but he came to see it for himself. Beware of those “experts” who only have secondhand information about you or your situation.

Up-Close—Jethro spent an entire day right by Moses’ side just watching and listening. He saw what was going on from the front row.

Questions—Jethro led with questions, not with advice. Before giving Moses his opinion, Jethro asked clarifying questions.

Wisdom—Only after all of this did Jethro give his opinion to Moses. The words that he shared were then received by Moses as God-given wisdom.

Your counselors should earn the right to be heard. Just because someone has an opinion doesn’t make him an expert. And just because someone has been-there-done-that doesn’t mean that her way should be your way.

Screen out the clamoring voices by making sure they have credentials, a relationship with you, firsthand experience, and godly wisdom.

Wise Guys

I’m facing a big decision. I have an idea of the right way to go, but I’m taking some time to run my options by some wise guys. After all, even King Solomon—who was wiser than any other man, and probably could advise himself—wrote, “The more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances” (Proverbs 11:14, Message).

I also like what George Washington Carver said, “How much of God are we missing because we don’t stop to listen to the many voices God uses to speak to us?”

Of all the voices speaking to me, how am I choosing which wise guys to listen to?

Friendship—I have to know that my counselors are my friends. William Shakespeare asked the question, “Can he that speaks with the tongue of an enemy be a good counselor, or no?” I would answer “no.” I need wise guys that want me to be successful.

B.T.D.T.—I choose wise guys who have Been There Done That. Guys who have walked through the same scenario I’m facing now. Not a travel agent to point the way, but a tour guide who knows the path and will walk it with me.

Scarred—It’s hard to be helpful to someone else when you still have a gaping wound. I need wise guys who have been wounded in the past but now have the scars to show where they’ve been healed. It’s from this vantage point that they can be of the most help to me.

Successful—Finally, I choose to listen to wise guys who are successful. I don’t need some to tell me what should work—I want to hear what does work.

There’s an old attorney’s adage that says, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” If you have a decision to make I would modify this to say, “He who takes advice only from himself is taking counsel from a fool.”

What else would you look for in a wise guy? 

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