Patrick Henry Patriotism: The Believer's Blessed Hope? |

Patrick Henry Patriotism: The Believer's Blessed Hope?

Dinsmore, Mark

Prominent Pastor Cries "Liberty or Death" in Flight to Mountain States for Historic Last Stand

Few are aware that within a generation of the Revolutionary War's conclusion in 1783, another bloody battle was fought on American soil—a war that was not merely for political independence but for true religious freedom. No, it was not the War of 1812 (sometimes termed the "Second War for Independence"). Set against the backdrop of a fledgling nation suffering from "endemic problems with land speculation, wildcat banking, and counterfeiting," this intense but brief armed conflict was as much about the right to worship and follow God as it was about rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Determined to escape the politics and conflict of the liberal and industrialist-controlled East Coast, a faithful group of hardworking pioneers began settling in "the promised land" of Missouri and Ohio, determined to forge a new life in what they considered to be a veritable Garden of Eden. But when thousands of these church-going Americans began buying land in this region of the newly-birthed United States, property values skyrocketed to nearly seven times their value in a matter of months. As the United States reeled from the Bank Panic of 1837—in which nearly half of the 850 banks in the United States closed permanently, causing a five-year depression—the "senior" settlers in these areas became increasingly resentful and distrustful of the newcomers, and were afraid of the political clout being wielded by the conservative "invaders."

It was in this tumultuous landscape that thousands of freedom-loving American families moved west, seeking refuge to grow and establish town, city, and county governments upon their strong convictions to worship and serve God. But in the face of increasing persecution and danger from those with opposing spiritual and political views, one of the congregation's leaders rallied the believers on July 4th of that year—Independence Day, 1838. Speaking authoritatively and passionately for their cause, Sidney Rigdon's words rang as loud and true to those gathered in the town square of Far West, Missouri, as did those of Patrick Henry in Saint John'sChurch in Richmond, Virginia, back in 1775. Many Christians can quote Henry's famous speech verbatim, but perhaps only a few may be familiar with the equally impassioned cry of Rigdon, whose strong voice echoed an eerily similar declaration:

We take God and all the holy angels to witness, this day, that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ to come on us no more for ever, for from this hour we will bear it no more; our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity; the man, or the set of men who attempt it, do it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. Remember it then, all men. We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people, but shall stand for our own [liberty] until death! (Wikipedia)

Who is this man whose powerful sentiments appear to be alive and well in our land today—not only in the increasingly ecumenical Tea Party movement but even from within conservative evangelicalism? Was he a patriot? A constitutionalist? A Christian? "The rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say, is that Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876), was "an important figure in the early history of the Latter Day Saints movement." Wikipedia notes that "Rigdon's influence over the early years [of Mormonism] is considered by many historians to have been nearly as strong as that of its founder, Joseph Smith Jr." The war into which Rigdon spurred the fervent followers in 1838 is called the Missouri Mormon War.

Rigdon's July 4th oration was meant as a Mormon "declaration of independence" against "mobocrats" and anti-Mormon persecution. His dramatic appeal has every bit the "bite" of the famous Gadsen flag flown by many of today's Christian patriots, which features a coiled rattlesnake on a bright yellow field, emblazoned with the warning to tyrants synonymous with the Revolutionary War cry: "DON'T TREAD ON ME."

Today there is a new rush for freedom in the land, fueled by similar fear and anger against "mobocrats" and their federalized anti-Christian, anti-patriot acts, treaties, and executive orders. But it's not just the "Tea Party" organizers and attendees, nor is it only those involved in ecumenical patriotism against Big Brother, who have issued the rallying cry. After several years of saber-rattling via "talk radio" and his popular syndicated columns, former Constitution Party candidate for President of the United States, Chuck Baldwin, recently announced his resignation from Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, where he ministered for 35 years. Simultaneously, Baldwin declared a "freedom rush" to Montana, where he hopes thousands of faithful patriots will follow him and his wife, their two grown sons, and their wives and children. Indeed, such a pioneering move is sure to spark the wagon-train spirit in many of those who hold romantic ideals of Little House on the Prairie and "one nation, under God." Baldwin explains:

Mark my words: [Sarah] Palin and [Glenn] Beck may see themselves as part of a conservative "movement," but they want nothing to do with an old-fashioned, honest-to-God, Patrick Henry-style revolution. In fact, they are doing everything in their power to keep such a revolution from taking place....My family and I are ardent patriots. To us, freedom and liberty are much more valuable and desirable than wealth and riches-or even comfort and security. And we believe God has been showing us that if there is a place left in America where true freedom has an opportunity to experience a rebirth, it is in the Mountain States....It is our studied opinion that America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm. As Christians, we suspect that this cataclysm could include the judgment of God. As students of history, we believe that this cataclysm will most certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots....As this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive--at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling...many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us! ("We Need a Revolution, Not a Movement," 8/27/2010)

Pastor Baldwin sincerely believes that "God has been showing us..." and "God is calling many other freedom lovers..." to Montana. For what? According to Chuck, to help bring about the "rebirth...of true freedom." Wait a minute! Is God double-minded? Is Baldwin hearing from the same "author and finisher of our faith" who declared, "My kingdom is not of this world...[else] would my servants fight"? Lest anyone mistake his militaristic remarks as simply metaphor, Baldwin decrees,

We are going to fight...! We are going to help the freedom-minded people of Montana make their stand for liberty! In many ways, the Mountain States just might become The Alamo of the twenty-first century, with, hopefully, much better results. But if not, I would rather die fighting for freedom with liberty-loving patriots by my side than be shuttled off to some FEMA camp.... ("Why We Are Moving to Montana," 9/15/2010)

As I've addressed in previous "Extras," we are all concerned with encroaching tyranny and global governance of the New World Order (now emerging, I should add, in perfect accordance with Bible prophecy!) We all lament the loss of " that I love" as it is sold to foreigners, populated by enemies, governed by traitors, and monopolized by multi-national corporations. But as God-fearing believers, we need to search the Scriptures—not our gun racks—for a biblical response. Arch-patriot Chuck Baldwin has drawn his line in the sand, and undoubtedly many will follow. But if he truly seeks a "restored" kingdom on earth where Christians may prosper in perpetuity, is his doctrine and determination very different from that which caused the Mormons to fight and to flee from state to state in pursuit of establishing their own fabled "Zion"?

Should it be to such a city (or state) built by hands that Christians flee today? Or should we follow the example of the saints and martyrs who "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God"? (Heb:11:10). Scripture records that "these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth....But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly...for [God] hath prepared for them a city" (Heb:11:13-16).

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" Should this be the cry of Christians today? Is Baldwin's "old-fashioned, honest-to-God, Patrick Henry Revolution" a biblical one? Or is the quiet confidence of Paul our example, who declared, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain"?