The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution

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The New England Pulpit: : When American Pastors Preached Politics, Resisted Tyranny and Founded a Nation on the Bible

The diminishing light of civil liberty in this land is linked directly to the lack of preaching on it in today’s pulpits. Dr. Alice Baldwin’s wonderful book is a welcome antidote to this problem, should we be willing to take it.

Dr. Baldwin illustrates how the preachers of the early American era thought and practiced just the opposite as today. Mountains of research in colonial sermons, tracts, pamphlets, and other publications, reveals how the pulpits of colonial America rang constantly on all aspects of the public square: good rulers, good laws, good forms of government, and the blessings of liberty. We especially hear of those choice values of biblical order that became the battle cries of American independence.

Commenting on the classic paraphrase of “life, liberty, and property,” Baldwin proclaims,

“No one can fully understand the American Revolution and the American constitutional system without a realization of the long history and religious associations which lie behind these words; without realizing that for a hundred years before the Revolution men were taught that these rights were protected by divine, inviolable law.”

Covering the entire revolutionary era, she concludes that the central force behind it all was the pulpit’s application of the Word of God to politics and government. She says, “It must not be forgotten, in the multiplicity of authors mentioned, that the source of greatest authority and the one most commonly used was the Bible.” And she proves that “from the law of God they derived their political theories.”

It is long past time to recover the great and powerful preaching of our founding era—a time when pastors did not fear to preach politics, resist tyranny, and found their governments on the Bible. Dr. Baldwin’s nearly-forgotten book is a powerful resource toward that end. We recommend it to every pastor and every Christian in hope that they follow the example of its subject matter even more.

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