Their schools were Bible-soaked as well. When a student entered college, he was expected to be able to translate chunks of the New Testament from the Greek as part of his entrance exam.
If an orator, a politician spoke of the Ark, Cain, Samuel, or Uriah the Hittite, everybody knew who he was talking about; he didn't have to tell them. Even Thomas Paine used I Samuel 8 to illustrate for his readers just how much God despised a monarchy. (Way too many in our churches today can't even FIND I Samuel 8.) Not only that, but Paine recommended reading the Bible for its wisdom.
THE GOOD BOOK
George Washington bought a small Bible, portable, so he could have it with him. His wife, Martha read her Bible everyday and delighted to instruct the grandchildren from it. Thomas Jefferson had numerous Bibles in his library and read them. Although Jefferson thought that every home had a Bible, he contributed to its distribution to the poor.
Children were raised in families who read the Bible and encouraged and saw to it that their children did too. John Adams had questions about Enoch in the book of Genesis and wrote Jefferson to see what his comments on the text were.
Parents named their children after men and women in the Bible. Look around the United States and you'll see one town after another bearing the names of cities mentioned in the Bible.
They founded universities to train ministers of the gospel--the Ivy League schools and then some schools to carry the gospel to the American Indians.
Benjamin Franklin recommended that the Constitutional Congress spend more time praying. He also loved to listen to the preaching of the great English evangelist George Whitfield. He became so interested in Whitfield that he measured the distance his voice carried as he addressed thousands in the open air before the days of public address systems.
Franklin recorded his findings by writing,
He had a loud and clear Voice, and articulated his Words and Sentences so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great Distance, especially as his Auditors [audience], however numerous, observ’d the most exact Silence. He preach’d one Evening from the Top of the Court House Steps, which are in the middle of Market Street, and on the West Side of Second Street which crosses it at right angles. Both Streets were fill’d with his Hearers to a considerable Distance. Being among the hindmost in Market Street, I had the Curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the Street towards the River; and I found his Voice distinct till I came near Front Street, when some Noise in that Street, obscur’d it. Imagining then a Semicircle, of which my Distance should be the Radius, and that it were fill’d with Auditors, to each of whom I allow’d two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than Thirty Thousand. This reconcil’d me to the Newspaper Accounts of his having preach’d to 25,000 People in the Fields, and to the ancient Histories of Generals haranguing whole Armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.
In his autobiography, Franklin writes about attending the preaching of Whitfield:
"I happened soon after to attend one of his Sermons, in the Course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a Collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my Pocket a Handful of Copper Money, three or four silver Dollars, and five Pistoles [Spanish coins] in Gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the Coppers. Another Stroke of his Oratory made me asham’d of that, and determin’d me to give the Silver; and he finish’d so admirably, that I emptied my Pocket wholly into the Collector’s Dish, Gold and all."
His liberal giving didn't get Franklin entrance to the Pearly Gates, only faith alone in Christ alone does that, but it shows his admiration for the character and preaching of Whitefield.
To sum up, every every single one of the 30 Founders of our nation believed in a God who intervenes in history. Of course this didn't make them Christians. Four didn't accept accept orthodox beliefs, but they weren't as we've been led to believe, that our Founders didn't believe that God intervenes in human history. If some historians say they were all deists, as deists are defined today, they're misleading us. If some say that even a few were deists (those who believe that God created man, then walked away) they're not being honest or they're just parroting what they've heard their teachers say.
THE DAY OF SATURATION IS OVER
On a quiz show, the contestants were to press the buzzer if they knew the answer to the show's rapid-fire questions. The emcee began the question, "What is the name of the man in the Bible who was known as a strong man?" A contestant hit the buzzer and answered, "Hercules!" (I rest my case.)
Dr. Carl J. Richard wrote me reflecting on the lack of biblical saturation today: "I share your distress at contemporary Americans' astonishing biblical illiteracy. I think it is the main reason why our society is in so much trouble. Three-quarters of the American public identify themselves as Christians, yet only a small percentage have any clue as to the contents of their professed religion's holy book. For this reason, we now have the surreal situation of genuine Christians being persecuted in a country in which seventy-five percent of the people profess to be Christian."
We need biblical teaching, not "success principles." We don't need the Bible taught as shallow morality stories. We don't need political opinions proffered from pulpiteers. We don't need campaigns and marches for social justice. We need systematic Bible teaching, verse by verse through the books of the Bible, so people can understand the literary and historical contexts and the purposes of the books, then gain the meaning of the text, and apply the Bible to their lives.
Our founding was not a golden age, no era is, east of Eden. But America's founding was a time of biblical saturation. Today, sad to say, our country is rebelling against that saturation by rewriting our history, thus cutting us off from our story. We must begin and continue to turn up the heat of biblical instruction.