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July 4, 2022

What It Means to Be An American


On this special day, July 4, I have asked my friend, Major William Ostan (Retired), to write the Give Him 15 post. Some of you know that Will gave me my first Appeal To Heaven flag and introduced me to its history. He is a great lover of God and country. Will begins:

“In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge said:

‘It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776 ... and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with unalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.’ [1]

“We are now 96 years past the time President Coolidge spoke those prescient words, and 246 years out from the signing of that exceptional document. As Coolidge so aptly pointed out – many would want us to look at the “progress” our nation has made and conclude that it would be appropriate to exchange a document so antiquated with something more modern. But we would be foolish to look upon our Declaration in this way. We must instead educate ourselves and our children on the ways in which our founders set up a lasting and powerful foundation, one that was designed to protect our God-given rights and foster a Republic in which we could live out those freedoms.

Some Americans buy into the leftist ideology that bombards us at every turn, stating that our founding documents are oppressive, discriminatory, and outdated. Those who oppose the content, object on the basis of our nation’s past moral failings. However, we can unconditionally own the sins of our past without discarding the framework of liberty passed down to us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said:


‘When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ [2]


“The misguided objections of some in our current culture could not be further from the truth. 1776 Project states it this way:


‘America’s founding principles are true not because any generation—including our own—has lived them perfectly, but because they are based upon the eternal truths of the human condition. They are rooted in our capacity for evil and power for good, our longing for truth and striving for justice, our need for order and our love of freedom. Above all else, these principles recognize the worth, equality, potential, dignity, and glory of each and every man, woman, and child created in the image of God.”’ 3]


“To understand the brilliance behind the infrastructure our Founding Fathers created for us, we must look at the ways in which the documents are based on timeless Biblical ideas of man and government. These ideals have fostered a sacred freedom, scarcely found elsewhere in the world.

“In fact, historians have found that the average lifespan of a written, national constitution is 17 years! With the founding documents of other nation’s proving to be so fragile, Americans must appreciate the durability of our own founding documents. Historian Stephen McDowell, has found that ‘the reason America has endured so long is because our documents are based on one other, even longer enduring document – the Bible.’ [4]

“In honor of our Independence Day, let’s take a closer look at our nation’s Declaration of Independence, which has far surpassed the 17-year lasting average of such documents. The Biblical ideas found within can be summed up in the following four points – followed by exact wording from the Declaration itself:


1. All men are equal.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal…’


2. Man, being created in the Divine image (imago dei), has independent value.

‘that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…’


3. Man is superior to the state (government).

‘That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men.’


4. The state (government) exists for man.

‘deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed’


‘whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.’

“The Declaration also directly refers to God four times:

1. ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God’ [5]

2. ‘Men are created equal … [and] endowed by their Creator

3. ‘appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World

4. ‘And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.’ [6]

“In their own words, the signers stated again and again that our nation would not succeed apart from God.[7] They understood that the exceptionalism of the Great Experiment, which they fondly called it, was directly rooted in the fact that the people who gave consent to be governed did so with the understanding of what it meant to live in a society governed by Biblical truths. And that they must actively and intentionally fight to protect those truths in each generation that followed.

“Is it not obvious then, that our cause as Christian Americans living in this current culture is to uphold the biblical ideas of our founding and our government? We must remind ourselves of where we’ve come from and the foundations upon which we stand; that the documents themselves do not grant us freedom, but they profoundly recognize that freedom is something granted from God. We’ve been entrusted to protect it.

“To that end – let us consider what it means to live in a nation that acknowledges God-given equality, unalienable rights, and liberty for all. What a vital and honorable responsibility it is to steward these foundational ideals:

  • To be an American is something noble and good.

  • To be an American is to be full of optimism for the future.

  • To be an American is to be marked by determination to fight for what is right.

  • To be an American is to be full of kindness toward those in need.

  • To be an American is to show courage in the face of adversity.

  • To be an American is to embrace hard work and be generous with the fruits of our labor.

  • To be an American is to learn from our mistakes with openness and honesty.

  • To be an American is to instill these values in the next generation.

“Frederick Douglass understood this profound responsibility of the American people when he said:


‘The Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.’ [8]


“Fellow Americans, brothers and sisters, as you celebrate our Independence Day, would you resolve once again to uphold and embody the biblical ideals laid out in the Declaration. Pass them on to your children and fight to preserve the truths on which our nation rests – because isn’t that, after all, what it means to be an American?”

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we come first with hearts full of gratitude for the liberties we enjoy in America. We see Your hand throughout our foundations and thank You that our Founders were guided by Your truths, laid out in the Bible, and that they recognized our Republic cannot stand apart from You. Would You open the eyes of our nation, Lord, to see the biblical principles at the core of our founding. Please silence the voice of the enemy that would seek to discredit our heritage and bring our nation to ruin. Empower us to renew our resolve to live out the biblical ideals necessary for the preservation of this country. Do this in order that America will once again be a city on a hill, shining brightly to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, we pray this. Amen

Our decree:

We declare that America will once again embrace her God-given heritage.


Click on the link below to watch the full video.


Bio:

William J. Ostan is a medically retired U.S. Army Major and combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the Founder and President of Arc of Justice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for wounded warriors still on active duty. Will and his wife Jennifer are currently spearheading the Wounded Warrior Bill of Rights (H.R. 8081) in Congress. You can find out more about their story at www.arcofjusticeusa.org

[1] Johnson, Charles C. Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America's Most Underrated President. New York, Encounter Books, 2013.

[2] 1776 Project. “1776 Report.” The President's Advisory 1776 Commission, 2021.

[3] 1776 Project. “1776 Report.” The President's Advisory 1776 Commission, 2021.

[4] Benson, Rusty. “Rediscovering America's Goodness: Enduring Documents Reveal the Strength of a Nation.” AFA Journal, vol. June, 2019, pp. 22-23.

[5] It is important to note that Jefferson’s original draft only contained the first reference to God. The Committee added reference 2, while the whole Congress added 3 and 4. These were the only major additions to Jefferson’s original draft. Through these additions the Congress wanted the world to know their trust and reliance was upon God. Additionally, the Declaration was primarily the product of Christian men in a Christian society. Even those who were not orthodox Christians, such as Jefferson and Franklin, still had a Biblical worldview

[6] McDowell, Stephen K., and Mark A. Beliles. America's Providential History: Including Biblical Principles of Education, Government Politics, Economics, and Family Life. Providence Foundation, 1991.

[7] “The power and form of the Declaration and the Constitution are biblical. Power being the under- lying ideas that are reflected, and form, the structure of how our government was set up and flows out of those ideas. First, the founders recognized that absolute truth exists. Right and wrong, moral and immoral, legal and illegal – these emanated from a Creator. This is a foundational idea of our nation: there is absolute truth we can know, and it comes from the Creator. The founders declared that fact to be self- evident. And from that, flows the idea that any law contrary to God’s truth is no law at all.” (McDowell)

[8] 1776 Project. “1776 Report.” The President's Advisory 1776 Commission, 2021.