The story of the ages is the cosmic conflict between good and evil. There are times when the conflict is so intense that it polarizes the world for all to see. At these moments a paradigm shifts takes place. Into this conflict a leader or a small minority of people step in the gap to make a difference. History reveals that while people are searching for answers, tyrants almost always step into the gap.
Alexander the Great, the tyrannical Caesars, Robespierre, Napoleon, Stalin, and Mao are some who have promised world conquest but instead brought tyranny – horrific pain, misery, and cultures of death – to billions of people.
But the good news is that there have been many times in history when a different kind of individual has arisen at times of crisis. Instead of using the heavy boot of tyranny, this individual has inspired lasting liberty wherever he has gone. He comes with a commission from on high as an ambassador, reconciling the world to the one true God. (2 Cor. 5) He is the Liberty Hero.
The strategy of the Liberty Hero, as detailed in Scripture, is carved into the Forefathers Monument. This final statue on the monument is that of a man dressed in battle gear seated in peace with his sword sheathed. He has placed his faith in Christ and in His infallible Word. He trusts God to empower him to develop character and biblical morality beginning in his own life. He then helps create civil institutions of justice and mercy based upon God’s Word. He educates his children and others in the biblical world and life view that leads to liberty.
What is his strategy? Throughout the centuries, the godly strategy for defeating evil and displacing it with good has always been a bottom-up, multi-generational, internal-to-external family plan. The liberty hero understands this plan. He is an individual whose perspective is not that of zoom lens but a wide angle, big cosmic picture. His view is not so much focused on careers and years but on generations and centuries. History is full of forgotten liberty heroes whose stories must once again be told (Ps. 78:1-11).
One of the best examples of liberty heroes are the Pilgrim Fathers. The story of the English Separatists, now called Pilgrims, began with about fifty believers. In 1603 this small group gathered in Scrooby Manor, a castle-like estate, for underground worship services. As the reign of terror increased under King James they were forced to meet in secret.
The strength of this small community was built upon the individual covenants, sacred agreements, of the people. These covenants were first with God, as each repented of their sins and received Christ’s forgiveness. They then elected their own church leaders from which they built their church body.
They then deepened their understanding of how to structure society on a covenantal, compact structure. This structure was built upon the biblical republic of the ancient Hebrews and concepts of English common law that were based on the equality of individuals before the law. Their pastor had been part of one of the mightiest brain trusts in all of history at Cambridge University. Pastor Robinson taught the Pilgrims for over twelve years not only in spiritual things, he was also their father in practical matters and their civil affairs. The Pilgrim governor William Bradford said of his beloved pastor, “His love was great towards them, and his care was always bent for their best good, both for soul and body: for besides his singular abilities in divine things (wherein he excelled), he was also very able to give directions in civil affairs, and to foresee dangers and inconveniences; by which means he was very helpful to their outward estates, and so was in every way as a common father to them...”
In 1620, because of the success of the Jamestown settlement, the second wave of English people, the Pilgrims, were authorized by King James to come and set foot on this fertile land. This new path of freedom was being blazed by the Pilgrim Fathers, through the blood, wisdom, and sacrifice of believers from the time of Christ to the time of Patrick of Ireland in the 4th century (and other Celtic missionaries to Scotland, England, and Continental Europe). The trail of freedom had been building its path of liberty all reasoned from the Bible. The Pilgrims had knowledge of Patrick’s Book of the Law of Moses, Alfred the Great’s English Common Law, Stephen Langton’s Magna Carta and Robert the Bruce’s Declaration of Arbrouth. They knew these biblical foundations for a free and blessed society. As the Pilgrims came to the New World following the strategy portrayed in the Liberty Hero, they created the world’s first government by compact in which the people ruled by elected representatives. They knew the principles of a society in which the Creator endows the people with certain unalienable rights and all people are equal before the law. All of these principles were in their hearts and minds as they boarded the Mayflower in Southampton, England in the summer of 1620.
The elder leader of the Pilgrims, William Brewster had given up his manor house and his royal connections in England to become a fugitive for the gospel of Christ. But before he died in the spring of 1644, Brewster had a glimpse of the incredible fruit of freedom that had resulted after tremendous trials and sacrifices in Plymouth. Brewster was surrounded by many grandchildren and hundreds of books and Bible commentaries. He owned a beautiful estate in Duxbury, across the bay from Plymouth. This was not a rented house like he had in England. He was no longer a tenant for a lord or baron or bishop. He was truly a man at peace with God and beneath “his own vine and fig tree.”
The Plymouth Colony was now 3,000 strong. Sixteen thousand persecuted Puritans and others had come on 200 ships to New England’s shores. They had followed in the footsteps of this faithful pioneer and his small band of brothers and sisters. The beachhead of liberty for the world had been established against all odds. The very gates of hell could not stand against it.
The world was forever changed. Liberty had overcome tyranny. Historian Charles Coffin describes the magnitude of their accomplishments. Speaking of the Pilgrims he says, “The new state – the new order of things – has begun. That which the human race has struggled for through all the ages has come at last – the right of the people to rule...Self-government has begun. Take note of it, ye lords, nobles, kings, and emperors, for of this beginning there will come a new order of things in human affairs!”
The Forefather’s Monument was built with gratitude to the Pilgrims, who as God’s liberty heroes, blazed the path of liberty for billions of people over the next 400 years.
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