“Free institutions are safe only when the great majority of the people have that reverence for law which can spring only from reverence for God.” –Josiah Strong”
“We need an absolute guard against which no encroachment of prejudice or preference may interfere. There must be a foundation that the winds of change and the waters of circumstances cannot erode. There must be a basis for truth and justice that can be depended upon at all times, in all places, and in every situation. –George Grant
How about a little quiz. Mark each one of the following individual if you have heard of them. Give yourself a bonus point if you can tell something about them. Ready? Here goes: John Lewis Dyer, William D. Bloys, Daniel S. Tuttle, Charles Sheldon, Wesley Van Orsdel, Sheldon Jackson, and Peter Cartwright. How did you do?
Okay, quiz number 2. Do the same thing with the following, only this time no bonus points. William F. Cody, Pat Garrett, Bill Hickok, Butch Cassidy, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Calamity Jane, Jesse James, and William Bonney. How did you do this time?
One more quiz (maybe this is a trick question) but in which category would you have belonged? Gotcha? The first group of men were ministers that actually “shaped the contours of western life” (Szasz). They were the ones to bring Christianity to the West and with it a more civilized society. They were not high profile, but they did more to help settle the land than those of the second list. True, some on that list were lawmen, but the law can only work in a society in which there are morals to guide men to keep the law.
Just for example, John Lewis Dyer was a Methodist circuit-riding preacher in Colorado. He was named one of the sixteen founders of Colorado. Wait a minute! What about the miners; the cattlemen? A preacher? His portrait is in the dome of the Colorado capitol. During his life he was known as the “Snow-Shoe Itinerant.”
Szasz writes, “They formed the first churches and Sunday schools, which promoted social stability while reining in local violence; they developed a distinctly western style of Christianity that emphasized a non-denominational message of salvation and personal ethics; and they helped lay the institutional foundations–orphanages, hospitals, and schools–for scores of western communities.”
Then why do we tend to hear about the other list? Do we seek notoriety rather than morality? Are we drawn to the infamous more because of our base nature? Wyatt Earp in Dodge City and Tombstone, and then what? Hickok in Wichita and Abilene, and then dead in Deadwood. I think our society continues to seek out those are on the edge of society or may even be in the shadowy area. Even good men are now derided and it is popular to show how men of renown were frail, weak humans.
Something to think about. Oh, one more thing. Some of you may remember a song, “Deck of Cards.” It was popular during World War II. The deck would represent different themes from the Bible, i.e., the Ace–one God; the deuce–Adam and Eve; the trey–the three wise men. This was actually a sermon given by the Reverend Melton Jones who preached it in a Clifton, Arizona saloon in 1899.
“They seek Me day after day and delight to know My ways, like a nation that does what is right and does not abandon the justice of their God. They ask Me for righteous judgments; they delight in the nearness of God.” –Isaiah 58:2 (HCSB)