Back in January (2009) a friend posted a very Christian quote to a Facebook page attributed to our first American President – George Washington. Given the proximity to the swearing-in of our most recent chief executive, it proved to illuminate quite a contrast. I shared the quote with several friends including my pastor, who rejected the quote right out of hand because President Washington was a noted Mason and Deist. I searched the internet for evidence to support the quote, but could find none.
I assumed, for the time, that I had been duped, but after listening to a recent radio interview with the President of Westminster Theological Seminary, PA, Peter A. Lillback, I am starting to wonder whether our first president was actually a believer in Jesus Christ after all.
It seems that so many have such an emotional stake in a question like this, it is very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. On one hand, there are those that would like to paint the United States as a modern day national Israel. They seem to think that the US was founded to be a Protestant and Evangelical Christian nation and that the only path forward out of our current morass is to return to our roots. On the other hand, there are enthusiast Irvingites with their defeatist religious innovations who see a conspiracy under every tree. Since their old fashioned values and traditions have been stomped, nothing remains for our country but apocalyptic doom and destruction. Thankfully, (by their scheme) those not suckered in by the latest new age incarnation will secretly escape just deserts and be whisked off to a self righteously deserved era of health and prosperity. Though Jesuit and English (Irving) in origin, this stands as a distinctly American Neo-evangelical religious system if there ever was one.
Aside from these are the ever dwindling social gospelites and the oh-so-every-hard-working revivalists who are ever on the cusp of the last great revival – if only they could perfect the delicate concoction needed to change the hearts of men. Both of these groups are working feverishly to find the perfect program to manipulate mankind into its greatest estate.
Each of these groups has a unique vision for what the United States is and how it fits into their world view. For what purpose our nation was founded and what its present and future purpose is, is pivotal within the framework of each philosophy.
In all of this, God’s Sovereign Providence is missed, and our understanding of history is shaped more by contorting front page headlines to fit philosophical systms than an honest and intellectual pursuit of God’s truth. Sadly, George Washington’s faith is not so much a historical fact as a football to be bandied about by those with a particular political agenda or theological scheme to uphold.
Regardless, I found the interview with Dr. Lillback to be very interesting and it re-opened the possibility (at least in my mind) that our first President was a genuinely born again believer.