America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Though some may gripe at the term “Judeo-Christian values” and not simply Christian values, it is both an accurate and historically sound term.
America’s initial form of civil government and its first laws were inspired by the Ten Commandments, which come directly from the Hebrew Scriptures. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Edmund Burke, and many other founding fathers of the United States looked to great minds who were imbibed with deep piety and the ardent spirit of liberty. This mindset sprung from the Biblical wellspring of both Old and New Testaments such as John Locke (“Of Civil Government”), Algernon Sydney (“Discourses Concerning Government”), Montesquieu (“The Spirit of Laws”), and William Blackstone (“Commentaries on the Laws of England”).
Though we don’t see any professed Jews signing the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers were so moved by the early Israelite culture that many of them identified America’s separation from British rule with the Exodus story. They also saw early America as a type of new Jerusalem. In J. Wingate Thornton’s “The Pulpit of the American Revolution” (1860), he writes:
“A state and its inhabitants thus circumstanced in respect to government, principle, morals, capacity, union, and rulers, make up the most striking portrait, the liveliest emblem of the Jerusalem that is above, that this world can afford. That this may be the condition of these free, independent, and sovereign states of America…”
Sentiments like these inspired some of the founding fathers to want to mint the back of American currency with the image of Moses, the deliverer of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage.
Also, there is a widely known story of our first President, George Washington, being financially rescued by a Jewish businessman. The history goes that the American Revolutionary Soldiers under General George Washington’s command were on the brink of mutiny because they were not being paid wages or given essential items for their military service. As a result, George Washington met with Haym Salomon to secure a grant from the wealthy merchant. This Jewish man also believed in the great spiritual destiny which America had for God’s design. By obtaining the grant from Mr. Salomon, General George Washington was able to keep his troops satisfied and win the battles at Trenton and Princeton, and ultimately the war against the British Empire. Famed American historian David Barton recounts these stories of Jewish roots in America’s founding and more in his American Heritage series.
In a spiritual sense, the Christian that does not honor the Jew or our Jewish roots has little understanding of salvation history. St. Paul asks a common question of early Christians, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” His reply, “Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2). The Apostle Paul realizes that without God choosing the Jews to live out and author the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the books of Wisdom, along with the Prophet books, then our Messiah, Jesus Christ, is never known, nor ever comes into existence.
Some argue that Jesus was against the values of the Jews of His day. However, that argument becomes moot by Jesus’ own words, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus was not against the Jews. Jesus was the consummate Jew. What He was against was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes, the religious Jewish leaders of the day who were following man’s religious institutions and not the Spirit of God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. He is the embodiment of the entire Bible, both the New Testament and Old Testament. Therefore, the term Judeo-Christian values only give a more accurate designation to our heritage as followers of Christ who fulfilled the Jewish Scriptures.
Saint Paul also notes that we, as non-Jews, are grafted into the original “nourishing root of the olive tree,” which are the Jews. For this reason, we should remember that as Christians, “it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Rom.11:17-18). Therefore, we should honor our Jewish roots and the Jewish culture, for it is written, “I will bless those who bless you [the Jews], and him who dishonors you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3).
This inextricable link between the Jew and the Christian is found in the Epistle to the Galatians when St. Paul says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to his promise” (Gal.3:29). Thus, the Apostle Paul links that because Abraham believed in God’s Word to leave his homeland, Ur of Chaldea, to journey to the Promised Land, Israel, he is the father of our faith, being also the father of the Jews. Therefore, we who believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of the Jews and all nations are the children of faith, following in Abraham’s footsteps and walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
There is, however, an ideological disease that has spread into some Christian churches throughout history to today. And that is the attempt to cast its Jewish roots aside into the fire of condemnation. They claim, “The Jews killed Jesus!”, conveniently forgetting that it was under Roman Governor Pontius Pilate’s orders that Jesus was flogged and crucified. Therefore, they insist that the Jew has been blotted out from salvation history. However, these people usually have no knowledge of Scripture in its entirety. To this point, Christian Theologian Lawrence Boadt notes in his book, “Reading the Old Testament,”
Many times, Christians, in the name of the Gospel of Jesus, have labeled the Jews as rejected by God and part of an old and replaced religious faith, as people who refused to accept Christ and therefore have no place or rights in the Kingdom of God which has now been taken from them and offered to the Gentiles instead. This is based on an over-zealous stretching of the New Testament itself, and in practice, has led not to Christian actions but to terrible injustice against the Jews. This occurred throughout the Middle Ages and even in our own time. For example, although Hitler was not Christian, many of his supporters were, and many kept silent during his genocide because of an antisemitic belief that God willed it. In light of all this, Christians must be very careful how they understand the Scriptures.
The Old Testament Scripture states that God’s covenant with the Jews is an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 89:27-33; Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 37:26-28). Even if the Jews transgress their covenant with God and are judged harshly for it, there will be a faithful remnant among them who will be restored to the Lord (Genesis 45:7; Ezra 9:15; Isaiah 10:21-22; Jeremiah 31:7-14; Micah 4:6-7). Also, in the New Testament, the everlasting covenant with the Jews is foretold. In chapters 7 and 14 of the Book of Revelation, Saint John writes of the vision of 144,000 sealed from every tribe of Israel who will be brought to faith in Jesus immediately after His return to earth,
Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising sun, with the seal of the living God… saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel… Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him, 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads… and they were singing a new song before the throne… no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Rev.7:2-4; 14:1, 3).
As a result, not only do we as Americans have a historical root inspired by and aided by both Jewish and Christian values, but we Christian Americans also have a spiritual root in Jewish culture. The first disciples were Jews, the 12 Apostles were Jews, Mary and Joseph were Jews, and Jesus was a Jew and the fulfillment of over 2000 years of Jewish Scripture.
The insidious plot to remove Jewish roots from Christian history, and in extension, American history, stems from the same irreligious fervor that fuels Marxists, socialists, communists, and all those who seek to tear down the beacon of freedom that is the United States. If we allow them to sever our Jewish heritage from our Christian beliefs, it becomes easier to remove our Judeo-Christian heritage from our American values. The term “Judeo-Christian values” honors both America’s physical and spiritual history and her patriotic and faithful people throughout the nation.