Season 2 | Episode 12 | America | TBN

Season 2 | Episode 12 | America

Watch Season 2 | Episode 12 | America
November 28, 2019
27:09

Jesus the Game Changer

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Season 2 | Episode 12 | America

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  • Every one of the founders knew that in order for true self-government,
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  • true liberty to flourish, you need faith. You need people of faith.
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  • This site is not far from central London.
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  • It's just across the road from Marble Arch and Hyde Park is behind us.
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  • It's the site of the Tyburn Tree.
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  • The Tyburn Tree was a set of gallows on which they would hang political dissidents and serious criminals.
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  • It was a great spectacle. They would set up tiered stands and people would vie for the seats at the front.
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  • But on the 6th April 1593, early in the morning before the crowds,
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  • they hung here Henry Barrow, who was a lawyer, and John Greenwood, who was a minister of religion.
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  • Barrow and Greenwood were hung, not because they were political dissidents, but because they were religious separatists.
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  • They didn't believe in or want to follow the Church of England, at the time that was a crime.
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  • A few years later, in 1620, the Mayflower left England for America.
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  • They went to America for a fresh start.
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  • They wanted freedom of conscience and they wanted freedom of religion.
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  • If you want to why those people boarded the Mayflower and headed to England,
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  • then look no further than what happened to Greenwood and Barrow here on the Tyburn Tree.
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  • If you go back to the start of America, the Mayflower, those who first settled here.
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  • What was their motivation?
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  • Well, there were many. But normally they said there were two.
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  • They came for religious liberty and civil liberty.
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  • Now, obviously different families had different motivations, but those were the two repeatedly said.
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  • The story is really of them fleeing from religious persecution and they needed to escape.
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  • They needed a start. They needed to worship in a way where they could worship freely.
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  • It's interesting to think that the whole idea of the United States
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  • and the settlement of the American colonies is all about religious liberty.
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  • The people on the Mayflower, these were English people who no longer felt safe living in England
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  • because the king of the time was persecuting them horribly.
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  • When North America was founded, it wasn't wealthy.
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  • It wasn't easy. It was hard.
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  • The people who came here came here out of desperation, many of them,
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  • because they were very poor or because they were persecuted religiously.
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  • In the South, you mostly got immigration because people were poor.
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  • It was not primarily religious migration.
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  • It was poverty migration, although there were communities that came for religious reasons.
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  • In the north, it was primarily, at least in the initial stages,
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  • people who came for religious reasons because they were persecuted in England
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  • and Europe more broadly, and they wanted to set up of a community where they could
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  • be free to worship God in the way that they wanted.
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  • Those on the Mayflower came to America. Why come to America?
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  • Well, it has to do with some of the same notions that are driving much of the media stories today.
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  • It's people's desire to live according to their beliefs and to have the freedom to do that.
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  • Is it fear from persecution? Yes.
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  • Is it the longing for exhibiting your love of Christ in a way that you feel is appropriate?
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  • Yes. It's all of those, you know.
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  • And more. But that really is the main reason.
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  • They were under oppression where they were at.
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  • It seems bizarre to talk about religious persecution.
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  • So what religious persecution were they facing?
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  • You had this group of individuals in England who call themselves separatists.
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  • They wanted to separate themselves from the Church of England at the time that was very prescribed.
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  • It was run by the Monarchy there.
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  • And they were told how to worship, what they could worship.
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  • They had to go to church and if they didn't go to church, they paid a tax.
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  • It was very, very restrictive.
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  • And so to even have a conversation about it was illegal.
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  • And, you know, you risked being thrown in jail.
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  • And so there was this group of people who wanted to meet, they wanted to worship God in their own way.
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  • They wanted to read from the Geneva Bible, to actually read the Bible themselves.
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  • John Winthrop writes in 1630 that, 'We want to be a shining city on a hill'.
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  • He's quoting from Jesus to say that we want people to look at the way we live
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  • and say that is so beautiful and so free and so wonderful, we want to be like that.
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  • We want to be a model so that others will say, 'Hey, how can we join this?
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  • This is beautiful. How can we do what you're doing?'
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  • So that's the story, of course, of the folks on the Mayflower.
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  • And then the Massachusetts Bay Colony ten years later.
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  • But it ends up being the story of America in the first decades of our existence.
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  • John Winthrop's sermon on the Abela was a covenant.
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  • John Adams, the second President, actually says that the constitution of Massachusetts is a covenant.
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  • The American Constitution is a nationalized, somewhat secularized form of Hebrew covenant.
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  • America owes everything to its distinctive view of freedom to the Reformation.
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  • And the Reformation's rediscovery of the Bible.
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  • We're in Pennsylvania, and this is the state that was created by William Penn.
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  • William Penn grew up in an affluent family in England.
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  • He was part of the Presbyterian Church.
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  • When he was at Oxford University in Christchurch,
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  • he got involved with the Quakers and his allegiance with the Quakers grew over time.
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  • The Quakers were seen as an illegal separatist religion.
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  • And because of that, Penn was jailed in the Tower of London in 1669.
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  • He spent many months there. And during that time he was able to think
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  • and write about what he believed a nation state ought to be like.
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  • William Penn left England, a country that jailed those who did not worship in the way the state sanctioned.
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  • Like those on the Mayflower, he was looking for a place where religion and the state were separate entities.
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  • We're outside Independence Hall.
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  • This is where the Declaration of Independence was formulated and signed on the 4th July 1776.
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  • Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence were influenced
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  • by the thinking and the writing of William Penn, a man who believed that his Christian faith
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  • would influence what a state and a nation ought to be like.
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  • William Penn is a convert to the Quakers as a young man.
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  • He irritates and befuddles his father who is a Major Admiral.
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  • The father has accumulated obligations from the powers-that-be in England,
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  • and Penn is able to establish his colony in Pennsylvania.
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  • Philadelphia, the capital city, speaks to his aspirations to be a city of peace and one in which humankind can get along.
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  • William Penn was thrown into the Tower of London.
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  • I mean, they thought he was crazy. People had to intervene to save him.
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  • William Penn is someone who has experienced religious persecution.
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  • He is someone who has seen the horrors of people being persecuted
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  • for their faith and not only himself, but many people he has seen, and he's said,
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  • 'This is really wrong. This is sick. We're going to have to think this through'.
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  • And so he's one of the first people really to begin to think about that.
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  • What does it mean to tolerate dissent? How much dissent will we tolerate?
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  • And so it's really funny to think that by dint of who he is,
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  • he's given this vast tract of private land called Pennsylvania.
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  • Right. I mean, I'll name it after myself.
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  • How do you found a colony?
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  • Well, you got permission from the Crown to get a charter and found it.
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  • And so then they came out.
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  • But they, unlike other people, actually negotiated with the Native Americans
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  • and worked out a treaty for where they could be and what they would do and what they wouldn't do.
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  • And actually, throughout American history, Quakers were often involved in the negotiations
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  • with Native Americans because they were peaceful. They didn't use violence.
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  • Penn recruits Anabaptists and Pietists from Europe to come
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  • so eventually you get Mennonites, eventually Moravians, you get Quakers coming to Pennsylvania.
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  • Remarkably, the Penn effect sets up a government in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that's pacifist.
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  • This is the era when France and England are fighting each other every 10 or 15 years in brutal battles.
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  • It's an era in which on the American frontier there is conflict,
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  • military conflict, violent conflict between European settlers and Indians.
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  • And until the mid 18th century, until the Seven Years War, the French and Indian war,
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  • the government of Pennsylvania is at least a semi-official pacifist, Christian pacifist government.
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  • He set it up where any religious group could come and they had equal rights as the Quakers did who set it up.
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  • And one of the amazing things to me is over time you got more non-Quaker immigrants
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  • to Pennsylvania and the Quakers were voted out of power.
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  • And they gave it up. They gave it up.
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  • That's the crucial thing, is when you are willing to give up power, you set up this thing and you say, 'oh, there's freedom,
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  • but as long as they're small and they don't influence whether I make a decision', that's easy.
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  • It's a big deal when you make a commitment to something and then that means you have less power.
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  • Years later, a group of people gathered in Philadelphia and wrote the Declaration of Independence.
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  • Was that completely disconnected to the pilgrims?
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  • They looked to the pilgrims actually.
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  • There was kind of a pilgrim spirit with these individuals,
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  • that they were willing to get on a boat when other people had perished trying to do this.
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  • And for the idea of religious freedom, to create this community,
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  • to preserve their system, their freedom of belief, that they were willing
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  • to take this risk and try something new. Try an experiment.
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  • And so they looked to that model, as these people as role models, that set the spirit of the nation.
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  • In New England, you had Puritans, Congregationalists who fled England.
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  • In Delaware and Pennsylvania, you had Quakers and others.
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  • Rhode Island, you had Baptists and some Calvinists, but there was a lot of settlement that was for religious reasons.
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  • The Puritans were more restrictive of religious diversity.
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  • Others, like the Quakers and the Baptists, set up religious liberty from the beginning.
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  • From the beginning, there was no compulsion based on religion.
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  • And the idea for it was a religious argument.
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  • It was not a secular argument.
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  • The argument was, if you are saved by faith alone, compelled faith is not faith.
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  • Only true faith saves you.
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  • So if I force you to say or do something, it doesn't save you, it's useless.
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  • So all I'm doing is causing you pain and making me do mean, sinful things, but for no benefit for you.
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  • So even if you're wrong, you have the right to be wrong.
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  • I have to convince you, because only true faith will save you.
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  • This is City Hall in Philadelphia.
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  • Here on the sidewalk outside of City Hall is a statue of Benjamin Franklin.
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  • Benjamin Franklin is one of the greats of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, even America.
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  • He was a contributor to the Declaration of Independence.
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  • It's interesting that Franklin ran a printing business and in his business
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  • he printed the books and the sermons of George Whitfield.
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  • Now George Whitfield was an English preacher.
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  • Some have surmised that Franklin was influenced by the thinking and writing of George Whitfield.
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  • On the wall of City Hall is a plaque with a prayer that William Penn prayed for the state of Pennsylvania.
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  • I want you to see what he had to pray for this state that he created.
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  • Come and see what he wrote.
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  • For Penn, faith and religion was always voluntary.
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  • It could not be imposed by the coercion of the state
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  • but he believed deeply in the influence of Christian faith and the importance
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  • of the foundational values that Christianity gave to any nation.
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  • This plaque is of a prayer of Penn for the state of Pennsylvania.
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  • It closes with these words 'My soul prays to God for thee, that thou mayest stand in the day of trial,
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  • that thy children may be blest of the Lord and thy people saved by His power'.
  • 00:15:36.150 --> 00:15:41.090
  • So the Declaration of Independence was formulated in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania.
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  • Is that by accident or is there a link to William Penn?
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  • William Penn and the documents that he created to govern Pennsylvania
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  • were one of the models that were used because no one had ever done anything like this before.
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  • As dramatic as it is, what the founders did to my mind is not less than miraculous, I have to say.
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  • But they did have a little bit of help.
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  • And William Penn and the model of religious liberty that he put forth in Pennsylvania really is the United States in microcosm.
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  • He sort of creates this thing and then in the very same place, a group of men get together some time later and say,
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  • 'Let's take this public. Let's take this across all 13 colonies. Can we do it?' Big question.
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  • They did do it, but it wasn't easy.
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  • Do you think that that sense of freedom of conscience and freedom of faith is still pervasive in America?
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  • Well, I think so. I think so.
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  • I think we're struggling with this right now in this country, is,
  • 00:16:54.120 --> 00:16:59.100
  • 'What does that look like and what does that mean for us?'
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  • I think it does, it continues to define some of who we are, but we're certainly struggling
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  • with that idea and whether, you know, faith is a part of who we are,
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  • and what do we stand for on the world stage related to freedom of conscience?
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  • Are we willing to fight for it? Are we willing to stand up for it?
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  • Or is that something that we're gonna let fade out of our heritage?
  • 00:17:23.130 --> 00:17:28.080
  • And so this idea of separation between church and state has been tragically misunderstood
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  • as the church keeping out of the culture so that we have a naked public square.
  • 00:17:33.140 --> 00:17:38.080
  • Every single one of the founders, including Jefferson, were on the record as believing precisely the opposite.
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  • They believed that not only is it good for liberty and good for America,
  • 00:17:48.050 --> 00:17:53.000
  • good for freedom, good for self-government, good for everybody, if alot of people are religious.
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  • This is not something that can be forced but we want people to be free,
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  • not to do their little thing on a Sunday morning in that little building
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  • and then when you leave the building, bow to the authority of the state.
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  • On the contrary, they wanted that freedom to extend into everyone's life 24/7.
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  • It's the sort of thing that has been so misunderstood that we really need to re-educate ourselves
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  • and to say, 'Look, every one of the founders knew that in order for true self-government,
  • 00:18:25.000 --> 00:18:28.040
  • true liberty to flourish, you need faith. You need people of faith'.
  • 00:18:30.070 --> 00:18:33.030
  • Andrew Walls was a great Scottish missiologist, has suggested that over the course of the 19th century,
  • 00:18:40.000 --> 00:18:44.220
  • American adjustment to the separation of church and state is the world's most successful
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  • Christianization missionary venture since the Early Church.
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  • Over the course of the century, American population increases from about 5 million to about 120 million.
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  • The proportion of Christian adherents grows much more rapidly than the Christian faith.
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  • As an American living in the United States, having studied American history all my life,
  • 00:19:12.030 --> 00:19:16.090
  • I want to say that there's lots of problems with Christianity in America and there are.
  • 00:19:16.110 --> 00:19:21.020
  • But by the same token, the free form, liberty-loving, if not always liberty-enacting,
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  • United States did prepare the way in some ways for the Christian world that comes to us today.
  • 00:19:28.220 --> 00:19:32.240
  • One of the nations most active in mission from a numbers point of view is the American nation.
  • 00:19:35.010 --> 00:19:39.250
  • What was the positives that they've brought internationally through their work in mission?
  • 00:19:42.000 --> 00:19:46.070
  • Well, there's been a recent study put out related to Baylor that talks about the impact of missionaries around the world.
  • 00:19:46.090 --> 00:19:51.000
  • And we see things like missionaries start hospitals, missionaries empower women,
  • 00:19:53.030 --> 00:19:55.240
  • missionaries help instil the idea that each individual is created in the image of God and that changes everything.
  • 00:19:55.260 --> 00:20:00.090
  • The world's a different place because Christians invented hospitals and a thousand other things
  • 00:20:02.190 --> 00:20:06.200
  • because of that driving belief of the value of individual human dignity.
  • 00:20:06.220 --> 00:20:10.210
  • I'm not American. I'm an outsider here.
  • 00:20:10.230 --> 00:20:13.110
  • But they're a generous people. I mean, giving money.
  • 00:20:13.130 --> 00:20:17.160
  • You just see what Americans have given for the poor, for world relief, let alone carrying missions.
  • 00:20:17.180 --> 00:20:22.100
  • They are probably, by far, the most generous nation in all human history.
  • 00:20:25.230 --> 00:20:30.180
  • And that grows out of the church's heart.
  • 00:20:31.270 --> 00:20:34.260
  • So where was America less helpful in mission?
  • 00:20:34.280 --> 00:20:38.020
  • Part of the idea of Westerners being unhelpful in missions is that we exported culture, sometimes before Christ.
  • 00:20:38.040 --> 00:20:42.270
  • Sometimes the scourge of colonialism was evident in the missionary endeavor and more.
  • 00:20:45.010 --> 00:20:48.230
  • So I think we have 2000 years of learning about missions and 2000 years of some mistakes,
  • 00:20:50.290 --> 00:20:54.040
  • often overwhelming mistakes that have sometimes significant impact on peoples that are engaged.
  • 00:20:54.060 --> 00:20:58.270
  • These are American traits that get mixed with missionary endeavors
  • 00:21:01.010 --> 00:21:03.270
  • and I think ultimately we've got to extract and to remove as much unhelpful aspects
  • 00:21:03.290 --> 00:21:08.240
  • of Americanism that are there, so that the gospel itself takes root, becomes indigenous in the cultural context,
  • 00:21:11.160 --> 00:21:15.130
  • whether it's the Iban in Malaysia or whether it's the Pokot in Africa or the Quechua in the highlands of Peru.
  • 00:21:18.020 --> 00:21:22.000
  • The scandal of the American church, this is the one country in the West
  • 00:21:24.020 --> 00:21:27.280
  • where Christians are a huge majority and thoroughly uninfluential culturally.
  • 00:21:30.030 --> 00:21:33.100
  • You take groups we admire, like the Jewish people in America.
  • 00:21:35.130 --> 00:21:40.000
  • They are two percent of America, and yet they punch well above their weight
  • 00:21:40.020 --> 00:21:44.240
  • intellectually, financially, Hollywood and so on. All power to them.
  • 00:21:44.260 --> 00:21:49.170
  • Whereas we are a huge majority in this country and we have almost no cultural influence.
  • 00:21:49.190 --> 00:21:54.130
  • In other words, we are not salty and light-bearing.
  • 00:21:55.290 --> 00:21:59.230
  • Now that the Church is sort of global, what does the ends of the earth mean to you?
  • 00:21:59.250 --> 00:22:04.250
  • Well, there's still a lot of places that the gospel hasn't been heard.
  • 00:22:04.270 --> 00:22:09.030
  • There's a lot of work to be done in parts of Asia.
  • 00:22:09.050 --> 00:22:11.260
  • I've spent a lot of time in Thailand and Burma and the Church exists but it doesn't get much attention.
  • 00:22:11.280 --> 00:22:16.200
  • And so we still have a lot of work to do.
  • 00:22:21.000 --> 00:22:23.090
  • And this is one place where I think you look at the Pilgrims and going new places,
  • 00:22:23.110 --> 00:22:28.050
  • is how do you reconcile that with what happened in some of the islands off the east coast of India this year,
  • 00:22:31.010 --> 00:22:33.200
  • where a young man, a missionary went to these islands and now
  • 00:22:35.140 --> 00:22:39.050
  • it caused an international uproar when he was killed by the islanders.
  • 00:22:39.070 --> 00:22:42.180
  • I think that's a challenge. There are places that have been unreached, that there's no access at all.
  • 00:22:42.200 --> 00:22:47.090
  • Do we go or don't we go? I don't know.
  • 00:22:47.110 --> 00:22:49.150
  • Tell us about the story of John Chau.
  • 00:22:53.030 --> 00:22:55.010
  • John Chau was this missionary sent out by a group called All Nations,
  • 00:22:55.030 --> 00:22:59.050
  • which is a missionary training agency that really specializes in sending people to the hard places.
  • 00:22:59.070 --> 00:23:03.240
  • He graduated from Oral Roberts University.
  • 00:23:03.260 --> 00:23:06.010
  • So he goes and he wants to be a missionary to a people group that he had seen on a website
  • 00:23:06.030 --> 00:23:10.000
  • as a very young man, as one the most isolated, perhaps the last greatest unreached, small people group.
  • 00:23:10.020 --> 00:23:14.240
  • And he goes to engage the North Sentinelese.
  • 00:23:16.190 --> 00:23:20.280
  • So he gets there and to the best of our knowledge, I mean, his body's never been recovered.
  • 00:23:21.000 --> 00:23:25.170
  • In his efforts, he was killed.
  • 00:23:25.190 --> 00:23:27.000
  • The early reports, without context, sounded really strange.
  • 00:23:27.020 --> 00:23:31.210
  • He showed up on the island by himself, started yelling in English, and then it didn't seem that he had prepared at all.
  • 00:23:31.230 --> 00:23:36.160
  • So at that point, I wrote an article for The Washington Post
  • 00:23:38.040 --> 00:23:40.270
  • and I forget the title, something like, 'John Chau Trained More Than We Thought, But What Now Do We Still Think?'
  • 00:23:40.290 --> 00:23:45.250
  • So why would somebody risk all the terrible things that interaction with the developed world could bring,
  • 00:23:48.190 --> 00:23:51.160
  • and his answer was to tell them about Jesus
  • 00:23:52.260 --> 00:23:54.250
  • Probably about 50 meters from where we're recording this right now,
  • 00:23:54.270 --> 00:23:58.050
  • there's a letter that's upstairs on the fourth floor of this building written by a guy named Jim Elliot.
  • 00:23:58.070 --> 00:24:03.010
  • It talks about, 'He is no fool...' and explains he's going to give up what he can't keep.
  • 00:24:03.030 --> 00:24:07.020
  • Right. But he's no fool to do this.
  • 00:24:07.040 --> 00:24:09.070
  • So I wrote in the article about this letter, 'He is no fool',
  • 00:24:09.090 --> 00:24:12.010
  • because that's what the world decided John Chau was. The people who sent him were.
  • 00:24:12.030 --> 00:24:15.150
  • In fact, Christians who thought missions were important were.
  • 00:24:15.170 --> 00:24:18.260
  • And I said, 'So, yeah, we're one of those fools, too'.
  • 00:24:18.280 --> 00:24:21.220
  • I mean, at the end of the day, we're fools for Christ.
  • 00:24:21.240 --> 00:24:24.180
  • Part of the call of Abraham was that promise that he would be a blessing to the earth.
  • 00:24:24.200 --> 00:24:29.140
  • And we're now seeing in the global era, human interconnectedness has reached truly global levels.
  • 00:24:32.040 --> 00:24:36.210
  • But the challenge is, once we reach them, are we really bringing the whole Gospel
  • 00:24:38.260 --> 00:24:43.160
  • in a way that is salty and light-bearing, that is changing the cultures we reach?
  • 00:24:45.070 --> 00:24:48.240
  • And that's the challenge because we're not making the impact in the West that we should be.
  • 00:24:50.250 --> 00:24:54.030
  • At the moment, modernity has proved stronger than the western Church, and that's an insult to the Gospel.
  • 00:24:56.250 --> 00:24:59.130