Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

England and the Protestant Destiny 

Having studied history since my earliest school days, I am always amazed at God's plan throughout the centuries. Today it dawned on me that American Protestants owe quite a bit to England. Here is why. England was known as a Protestant country by the time Jamestown was founded in 1607. Not only were Protestants of varying doctrines allowed to settle in this "New World," but later, in the next century, Germans of the Lutheran and Reformed persuasions were invited to settle in America as well. Swiss and German Mennonites were also included in the immigration explosion.

This slice of history is particularly significant for those with French Huguenot and German blood. In France, Protestants had been ravaged and ransacked for two centuries. By the mid-1700s they were desperate to find a new place and take a new stab at survival. Germany's Lutherans felt the same, but without the high level of persecution. The system in Germany dictated that if one lived in a territory belonging to a Catholic prince, one must be Catholic, and if one's prince was a Lutheran, he must be Lutheran. Perhaps that worked on the basic level, but occasionally people wanted to live in a place that did not match up with their religious beliefs. Thus, the invitation to settle in America, touting endless land and opportunity, shone like a beacon.

So the Germans and Huguenots and other Protestant groups gratefully accepted England's welcome. All that was required was that they would take the British oath of allegiance and therefore be counted as full citizens with full religious liberties under English law. Especially for the Huguenots, who even still were living through a period of hiding known as the "Church in the Desert," it was a godsend. The idea of a country promising religious freedom was likely met with doubt. Yet Protestant families came in droves. They had little . . . the clothing on their backs, a few personal items that brought a smile to their faces, meager supplies, and their beloved Bibles. Yet they had much, because they had their faith.

Faith sustained the settlers as food and water and shelter never could. During the long and arduous journeys, they prayed. Throughout bitter and seemingly-endless winters, illnesses and hardships, births and deaths and the other large and small events of life, they prayed. They had not given up their faith even when faced with death and persecution. They would not do so now.

Modern politics aside, the next time you see a British flag or hear some news from "across the pond," smile and be glad. Were it not for England inviting Protestants to America, not only would our ancestors not have come to this land of freedom, but we would possibly not be practicing the faith they passed down to us. I believe very strongly that if our ancestors believed so strongly in their creeds, the only fitting legacy is to practice that faith with the same boldness, fervor, and pride. I am very proud to do so. As a Protestant Christian with German and French blood in my veins, I will never fail to pay tribute to those who came before. Solo Christo, sola Gratia, sola Fide. Through Christ alone, through grace alone, through faith alone. The words run like fire through the blood.

Remember them always.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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