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Engraved In Stone 05/15/2009

Washington Monument Cap

At the tip of the Washington Monument, the words LAUS DEO point skyward, proclaiming "Praise Be To God."

 

As I travel to our nation's capital this week, I am reminded that America historically embraces the concept of a creator, providence and divine intervention. From George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation that "it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor" to Barack Obama's reference this week to the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible's foundational impact on America cannot be disputed.

The Declaration of Independence boldly states, "We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights." Woodrow Wilson called scripture "the Magna Carta of the human soul" and asserted that "the Bible...is undoubtedly the book that has made democracy and been the source of all progress."

The Lincoln Memorial, here in Washington DC, bears the stone-carved words of the Gettysburg Address, in which Lincoln said, "This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." Our national motto is officially "In God We Trust" and those words appear prominently behind Speaker Pelosi's platform in the House Chambers.

In the Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building, eight large statues surround the room, representing eight categories of knowledge. Above each statue is a large tablet bearing an inscription in gilt letters. A portion of Micah 6:8 is inscribed above the figure of Religion: "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Ironically, the only other statue bearing a scripture is that of Science, which proclaims, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork." (Psalm 19:1)

"LAUS DEO" is inscribed in the East Face of the Washington Monument cap. Its meaning: "Praise Be To God."

I could go citing examples of Christianity throughout our nation's history and the impact of the Bible on many of our greatest leaders. But instead I want to point out the danger of allowing these words to be mere inscriptions upon stone. In fact, when religion is handed over to politicians as a tool to gain support, it can become cheap and ineffective.

Political usage of biblical rhetoric is on the decline because it resonates with fewer people these days. When President Lincoln declared that a "house divided" could not stand, the vast majority of Americans understood his reference to Jesus' words. Today, most would not. This is not because the Ten Commandments have been removed from a few courthouses. Instead, it is because God's Word has been removed from our personal houses.

While I am appreciative when leaders genuinely acknowledge the Word of God and equally disgusted when they appear to be invoking His name for vain reasons, I am more concerned that the eternal truths contained in the Bible are not ingrained in the minds of our people.

It is easy for us to complain when our leaders champion policies that clearly violate Biblical principles, but we must remember that our leaders are elected by "we, the people" and typically reflect a majority of voters. If we truly want to change the political landscape of our nation, we must start by winning the hearts and minds of average citizens. My wife, Betty, made the observation that the state of our hearts dictates the state of our nation.

Many of the hot-button social issues for conservatives and Christians, such as abortion, gay marriage, faith-based initiatives, creationism vs. evolution, euthanasia and more, would not be issues if there was a greater spiritual enlightenment among our population. In fact, many other issues, such as homelessness, addiction, hunger and care for the elderly, would be less of a burden on the government if the church was actually doing what it was created to do.

I am grateful that our nation's capital preserves many of the great homages to our Creator, but in order to have, as President Lincoln stated, "a new birth of freedom," we must engrave the Word of God in something stronger than stone; we must engrave it in our hearts and demonstrate its power in our lives.


Author: James Robison

Editor: Randy Robison

Word Count: 690

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.